Tuesday, July 23, 2019

The Measure You Give

Jesus said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under the bushel basket, or under the bed, and not on the lampstand? For there is nothing hidden, except to be disclosed; nor is anything secret, except to come to light. Let anyone with ears to hear listen!” And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear; the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you. For to those who have, more will be given; and from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.”

He also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.”

He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples. Mark 4:21-34

The Measure

I played with the aluminum measuring cups
before I could speak properly or even walk
they hold still the reflections of generosity
that flowed daily from my mother's kitchen.

When older I took hold of te dented wonders
following instructions, watching carefully
listening to my mother's sighs and prayers
such pleasure in the giving of good food.

We made bread together and church casseroles
food for dozens and food for the hundreds
multiple turkeys to feed the newly arrived
the smiles of children sent home with extras.

She gave measure upon generous measure
never weighing the cost, trusting in God
the kitchen, silent now still inhabits dreams
the metal taste of those old cups still lingers.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Go and Tell

Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where the body was laid.
When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” Mark 15:47-16:7 
Things are often not as they seem. We can never know people's true motivations for why they do something. When we guess as to the why, we are most often wrong. Human beings cannot comprehend the complexities and motivations of their loved ones, let alone those of their neighbors. We might think we understand everything, and have control over our own lives. Experience tells me that we can fool ourselves into believing that, only for so long.
The women who were close to Jesus came out to do their required tasks. The sabbath had passed so they were allowed to walk the required distance to the tombs. They knew what they would find and cringed and cried with anticipation. They probably talked about having money to bribe a guard or soldier to roll the stone away, and how to prepare for what Jesus' body would look and smell like. They did not know what was waiting for them. They must have been terrified! Yet, they ran with hope and joy to carry the good news. We are invited today, to be ready at all times to be shocked and awed with joy and to be carriers of good news.
Today, I ask God to give me an open mind and heart, willing to embrace all the new joys and surprises in store for me. May we live the good new by being open to new love and life despite the overwhelming tasks of our lives.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

The Better Part

For Sunday, July 21st

Proper 11

As Jesus and his disciples went on their way, Jesus entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me." But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her Luke 10:38-42

The Better Part

Oh sisters, I have watched us all
work together at the kitchen sink
singing the songs we learned
being good scouts and good daughters.

Oh sisters, we have slaved in kitchens
feeding the church basement crowd
emptying the trash after the guests
wiping up the mess always left behind.

We have stood on ladders in blazing sun
paint brushes and buckets every season
pushed mowers while other played
doing chores until the late afternoons.

Oh sisters, there are surely times
when we are called to let it all go
 liger on the presence of love incarnate
basked in the moment of light.

Oh sisters, the dishes will wait for us
the laundry will continue to pile
these precious ones will not return
these days will never come again.


Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: Have compassion on our weakness, and mercifully give us those things which for our unworthiness we dare not, and for our blindness we cannot ask; through the worthiness of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

A House Divided

Then Jesus went home; and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.” And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.” And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.

“Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”—for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.” Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” Mark 3:19b-35

A House Divided

We might each have strong opinions
each wanting to take the controls
fighting for what we hold very deeply
must take a knee for the ones we love.

The unjust and cruel try to justify
the wealthy and greedy self protect
the arrogant among us find other's fault
yet we must draw them all together.

Washed in water, commissioned as family
we are baptized into a very shaky union
we are constantly seen as outsiders
yet counted on when life grows dim.

Today is the day to stand for justice
the time to lean in for the love of others
the season to seek out the exiled ones
to make a family of this tired rabble.

Friday, July 19, 2019

To the Sea

Jesus departed with his disciples to the sea, and a great multitude from Galilee followed him; hearing all that he was doing, they came to him in great numbers from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, beyond the Jordan, and the region around Tyre and Sidon. He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him; for he had cured many, so that all who had diseases pressed upon him to touch him. Whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and shouted, “You are the Son of God!” But he sternly ordered them not to make him known.
He went up the mountain and called to him those whom he wanted, and they came to him. And he appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him, and to be sent out to proclaim the message, and to have authority to cast out demons. So he appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); James son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); and Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot. Mark 3:7-19a 
I most often dream of the sea. It is where I have done some of my best thinking, writing and living. The sea has always informed my decisions, the shape of my life and the way forward. The sea is the source of all life, and how we care for it in the coming years will determine much. It might even determine whether we thrive or perish. 
Mark's Gospel tells us that before he appointed his disciples on the mountain, Jesus went to the sea. People followed him especially there, but he sought the sea, as a place to decide and begin. He sought out the Source of Life, by the source of life, so that he could clearly call his team together. It was a very motley crew to say the least. Yet he gave them power to tell God's love and cast out demons. He shared his power, so that all who needed relief and healing could find it. And we are invited today to share the love and power we have been given, in a world so sorely in need.
Today, I ask God to help me use the strength I have received to bring good news to the troubled and toemented. May we be empowered to love and forgive, so that the world might know the Source of All.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Law and Mercy

One sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?” And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need of food? He entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions.” Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”

Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. They watched him to see whether he would cure him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come forward.” Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately conspired with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him. Mark 2:23 – 3:6

Law And Mercy

The rules bind us, control us
keep the people safely living
make the steps ahead defined
and let freedom ring for all.

Mercy sets us down beyond
the structure and the frame
for mercy sees where justice blind
cannot measure the real lived need.

So let us be both seeing and blind
judging noone with Pharisee eyes
feeding the hungry on the sabbath
bringing healing to underserved.

The angel of mercy leans in today
whispering loudly that justice is not
caging asylum seekers, small children
naming calling or inciting the crowds.

Mercy reaches out daily and pulls
our heartstrings and tugs our hands
it is time to put aside gavel and scales
and welcome the stranger as family.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Again Beside the Sea

Jesus went out again beside the sea; the whole crowd gathered around him, and he taught them. As he was walking along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. And as he sat at dinner in Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were also sitting with Jesus and his disciples—for there were many who followed him. When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard this, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”
Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and people came and said to him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them, can they? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day.
“No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak; otherwise, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.” Mark 2:13-22 
I am always drawn back to the sea, whether in real life or in my dreams. The light and the sounds are different by the ocean. I am at home by the ocean. The water has baptized and renewed me over and over. The gifts of the sea - the fish, shellfish and all sorts of magnificent life -bless me again and again. Most of all, the realtionships fomed there are part of the core my being. 
Jesus returned to the sea, over and over again. From there he found his best friends, who would walk with him throughout his short life. He would defend them, despite the criticism of the high and mighty. He knew them to be blessings of God in the imperfections and their simplicities. They were authentic, honest friends. We are invited today to reflect on those who have formed and blessed us. May we rejoice in their gifts and be grateful for all the lives that have blessed us.
Today, I simply ask God to help me be grateful for those who love me and have held me through thick and thin. May we be grateful for the blessings our friends and family give us. And may we truly be blessings to others.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Letting Down

When he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. So many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door; and he was speaking the word to them. Then some people came, bringing to him a paralysed man, carried by four of them. And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’ Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, ‘Why does this fellow speak in this way? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ At once Jesus perceived in his spirit that they were discussing these questions among themselves; and he said to them, ‘Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven”, or to say, “Stand up and take your mat and walk”? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’—he said to the paralytic— ‘I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.’ And he stood up, and immediately took the mat and went out before all of them; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this!’ Mark 2:1-12

Letting Down

When we love fiercely 
we are let down mightily 
getting up again to see
our friends who carry us.

We ache for what's not ours
we think others have it all
we limp and bend with tears
cursing our brokenness. 

We fear being let down often
when others are trying to lift us
when we have been carried
we complain about the bumps.

Healing looks up as we come down
love reaches out before we arrive
God in the midst of the broken
the Divine here among the abandoned. 

Monday, July 15, 2019

I Do Choose

As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.” And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.
A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, “If you choose, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I do choose. Be made clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. After sternly warning him he sent him away at once, saying to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” But he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word, so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter. Mark 1:29-45 
None of us choose to be sick, diseased, mentally ill, disabled, overweight, unattractive or different. These are some but not all conditions of being human. Many people want to fix those who they thinkare broken, having quick cures for what ails them. Many people judge others, and the person judged often knows exactly how cruel other people can be, including family members. Rarely do folks who judge want to fix what's wrong with themselves. Nor would they ever think they need healing. 
Jesus begins his ministry in an explosion of healing. He chooses to share his message of love and divine heaing. God chooses to love us as we are and to bring wholeness and healing. We often want something different. We want to be right and perfect, beautiful and gifted. We rarely like what it means to be well, because with true wellness come responsibility. Simon's mother-in-law got up ande served. The leper told his story everywhere. The disciples went on with Jesus to bring the message of God's love for everyone. We are invited to humbly offer ourselves, with our brokenness and our giftedness,  as carriers fo the good new of God's love.
Today, I ask God to help me choose to share the radicale love and welcome of our Creator. In oue present climate, where creulty and exclusion seem to be the norm, may we choose always to be agents of healing and love. 

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Who Is My Neighbor?

For Sunday, July 14th, 2019 proper 10

Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he said, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" He said to him, "What is written in the law? What do you read there?" He answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself." And he said to him, "You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live."
But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" Jesus replied, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, `Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.' Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?" He said, "The one who showed him mercy." Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise." Luke 10:25-37

My Neighbor

Who is my neighbor said the lawyer
the wealthy, comfortable and righteous
 to the scruffy, lowly, captivating teacher
and the truth stung him like a snake bite.

In our comfort we ask from a distance
as if a debate on vague public policy
as children sit, hungry, dirty and dying
aching for a simple chance to be safe.

In our blindness we have failed to ask
failed to see that every generation
fears the newly arrived who look different
while we crush the first peoples of the land.

We don't even ask the question anymore
we turn away from them in disgust
as if we deserve what we have illegally gotten
when they have stolen nothing but a dream.

Collect:  Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of your people who call upon you, and grant that they may know and understand what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.