Friday, June 29, 2018

Feed My Sheep

When they had
finished breakfast, 
Jesus said to Simon
 Peter, “Simon son
of John,  do you
 love me more than
 these?” He said to
 him,  “Yes, Lord;
you know that I love

 Jesus said to him,
“Feed my lambs.”
A second time he said  to him, “Simon  son of John, do you  love me?”
 He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him,
 “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, 
do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said  to him the third time,
 “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything;
 you know that I love you.”  Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.
Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your
own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will
 stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you
 and take you where you do not wish to go.” (He said this to indicate the kind
 of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him,
 “Follow me.” John 21:15-19

I am no shepherd although I carry a crozier that is a sign of my role as
 shepherd. I have spent only a little time around sheep, but long enough 
to know how stubborn and defiant they can be at times. They can also
 be compliant, loving and responsive and they know their shepherds well.
 They do not welcome strange persons easily.  Feeding a new lamb is a
 great pleasure I have had,  holding a soft newborn, all legs. This little lamb
 was rejected by his mom  because he was slightly deformed. So sheep are
 as complicated as we are, and many who need feeding have faced rejection
 after rejection, just looking  for a meal and welcoming arms. 

We find Jesus and his disciples in a tender scene\after his resurrection. 
He is not  staying long. He asks  Peter over and over whether he loves him. 
Peter replies emphatically and is hurt by the repetition of questions. and 
answers. That repetition,  a memory device, is for us today. When we ask 
ourselves do we love Jesus, then  the reply has to be then, feed my sheep.
 We are being sent, directed. Our response to love is action and service.

Today, I ask God to give us all the strength to love Jesus and act for the
 welfare  of all. May we be warriors of faith and love, carrying food to the 
hungry, shelter to the homeless, sanctuary for the refugee and freedom 
for all those bound.  May we be the love of Christ in action today.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

To Be Great Be the Servant

While Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside by themselves, and said to them on the way, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified; and on the third day he will be raised.”
Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked a favor of him. And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” But Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” He said to them, “You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left, this is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”
When the ten heard it, they were angry with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:17-28 
This country was possible because of brutal slavery, indentured servitude and theft of Native peoples land. We might call some of those first settlers, who came in to Jamestown and other places, great men. In actuality, they were greedy business men who cared little for human life. They needed cheap labor. They took what they wanted and thought little of the consequences. The historical and political trauma they inflicted still lives with us today. We seem to be in another period when great means one who is shrewd in business, one who will do anything to win.
Jesus is confronted by the mother of James and John who wants the best for her sons. A dispute ensues. Jesus knows it is our nature to want to be first, best and to be great. He also knows the horror and the cost of this compulsion. Throughout history being great has been at the cost of people's destruction. We are to hear that we are called to serve and those who serve, who willingly take a back seat so that others may ride in front, who offer to share their food, their homes, their wealth so that all may rise, are those who are known as great in the eyes of God. 
Today I ask God to help me put others first and to serve them with great joy. May we understand we are drawn close to the heart of others when we let status go and embrace the holiness of being alive so that all may rise.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The Last Will Be First

Jesus said, “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” Matthew 20:1-16 
The Last Will Be First 

The belly is empty now
 a child without parent or home
 they knows the names you call them 
treating them like dirty animals.

Your children sit at palatial tables
educated by expensive vetted tutors 
your walls are so high so well protected
you cannot see the rot that is everywhere.

This little one embodies Christ's love
he who was a exile in Egypt
lives within the shunned, disregarded
among "criminal" people He is found.

The people who walked in darkness
are these who look across our borders
they ache for freedom and a home
they desire only peace and safety.

Remember you who gloat and preen
your position of first is secured now
yet the true kingdom of the Creator
you will serve the ones you rejected.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

All Things Are Possible

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astounded and said, “Then who can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.”
Then Peter said in reply, “Look, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man is seated on the throne of his glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.” Matthew 19:23-30 
I was fascinated with kaleidoscopes as a child, and I still am. Each turn reveals another set of designs and colors, each turn opening the light to new designs. As often as I tried to anticipate what would be on the next turn, it was never exactly what I had predicted. It was always a variation, light bouncing, being fractured and reflected in startling ways.  I still have a few kaleidoscopes, which I keep close, to remind me of the possibilities I cannot anticipate nor control.
Jesus' talk about the difficulties of rich people entering God's kingdom made the disciples very uncomfortable. They truly had given up everything to follow Jesus, but he was making what seemed like harsh statements when they wanted a little comfort, a little encouragement. They failed to hear him say "all things are possible with God." We too, often fail to hear it. We get stuck with camel and the needle's eye. In our dark places we think we are at an impasse. We fail to see the slide in the viewer change, the possibilities of new life, when we are facing a blank wall. Yet with God, the impossible is possible. Walls come up by fear and self protection and break down when love enters the scene. 
Today I ask God yo help me usher God's love onto the scene, so that impossible becomes possible. May we love beyond measure today so that those with no hope might see the change of scene, the hope awaiting them today.

Monday, June 25, 2018

My Joy Has Been Fulfilled

After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he spent some time there with them and baptized. John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim because water was abundant there; and people kept coming and were being baptized—John, of course, had not yet been thrown into prison.

Now a discussion about purification arose between John’s disciples and a Jew. They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you testified, here he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” John answered, “No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven. You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah, but I have been sent ahead of him.’ He who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. For this reason my joy has been fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:22-30 

My Joy

I thought the best things in life
like ice cream and sandy beaches
hours of play and no homework
were all I needed until joy came.

When they were young just watching
them enjoying water ice or digging
burying each other in the sand 
this was the height of complete joy.

Then their own came along too
and their are more laughing voices
more cries and phone calls
more of everything from joy itself.

We decrease because we want to
we are so aware of what love we have
how many blessings we are given
that stepping back is but joy's dance.

Why Are You Afraid?

When evening had come, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving
 the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. 
A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped.
 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you
 not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! 
Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? 
Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is
 this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” Mark 4:35-41

Why Are You Afraid?

I used to jump from the perilous heights
of refrigerators, furniture and sand dunes
fearless with youth and cartoons in mind
I used to be fearless when all protected me.

I was willing to follow my big brother
into the woods into the darkest storms
there was no fear when the fearful when first
no worries when mom was around the corner.

I have taken a few corners alone in life
seen some things I cannot remove from sight
lost too many friends as illness barreled in
grew to realized some nightmares are real.

This present storm might be the end one
it might stop the love and joy that I treasure
the precious faces no longer gazed upon
the darling hands no longer held tight.

I am afraid because I admit to being human
I wake in the night trembling for the losses
I weep in the long afternoons when they
should be surrounding, protecting us all.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Welcome One Such Child

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
 ‘If any of you put a stumbling-block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of stumbling-blocks! Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to the one by whom the stumbling-block comes!
 ‘If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life maimed or lame than to have two hands or two feet and to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into the hell of fire. Matthew 18:1-9

One Such Child

She didn't cause the fighting
he didn't take anything from others
their families wanted them to be safe
this is the child blessed by Jesus
they are the one to model life after.

There is self preservation in our land
there is enough for everyone here
the Creator wise and seeing need
built mountains with snowmelt
in spring made our land so fertile.

A little girl cannot cause our troubles
the little boy know nothing of our shame
they sing their lullabies as the sky darkens
hoping love will return to them soon
praying for mama y papa to come back.

Jesus was made to be little refugee boy
moving at night for fear of the ruler
greedy and selfish wanting no competition
the Incarnate One hid with his mother
by the side of the road countless nights.

These are the ones we should welcome
whole families who cry for mercy 
small children constantly moving
people who have been victims of tyrants
those ragged ones who show us God.

The Children are Free

As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised.” And they were greatly distressed. When they reached Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax came to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the temple tax?” He said, “Yes, he does.” And when he came home, Jesus spoke of it first, asking, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their children or from others?” When Peter said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the children are free. However, so that we do not give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook; take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a coin; take that and give it to them for you and me.” Matthew 17:22-27 
We are in a crisis in the United States as some children are not free. This has happened throughout our history and it is as ugly and inappropriate as ever. We can abide by the rules of our laws, but those must be challenged if they are abusive and cruel. I am a mother who once had to spend a month away from my toddler child  because of an infection and I nearly lost my mind. She was cared for by family by the pain was and still is very real. I cannot imagine the pain these families feel. And truly, not of us will be free, until the families are reunited and they are given the chance to be free. 
Jesus is challenged about paying his taxes. He knows that all people are royal, heavenly children and that we should not be ground down to support the wealthy. And yet he abides by the law and teaches faith at the same time. Our faith is calling us to be motivated to do something, just as Jesus told Peter to go fish. The act of engaging makes miracles happen, even in the midst of repressive and cruel governments, now as it was then.
Today, I ask God to help me move and act for the healing and freedom of all. May we know that every single human being is made in the image of God, and not quit until all are set free.