Thursday, January 31, 2019

Take Heart

 When evening 
came, the boat
 was out on the
 lake, and he was alone on the land. When he saw that they were straining
 at the oars against
 an adverse wind, 
he came towards them early in the morning, walking 
on the lake. He intended to pass 
them by. But
 when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought it was a ghost 
and cried out; for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately
 he spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.’ 
Then he got into the boat with them and the wind ceased. And they
 were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the 
loaves, but their hearts were hardened.
 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret
 and moored the boat. When they got out of the boat, people at
 once recognized him, and rushed about that whole region and 
began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was.
 And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid 
the sick in the market-places, and begged him that they might
 touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were
 healed. Mark 6:47-56

Take Heart

Straining against the oars
gale force winds in our faces
we pull and strain together
inching backwards, never gaining.

All of our efforts, the hard work
back breaking daily labors
to carry the hope and dreams
just might be lost out here.

The fear builds up like fire
kindled in our empty bellies
we cannot stop for a minute
we cannot face this storm alone.

Across the roiling, rolling ocean
in dark shadowed alley ways
across impossible surfaces
love comes walking to us.

When we can no longer breathe
the heart no longer pumping
we are held in the hand of God
who whispers, it is I do not be afraid.

Abundance in the Wilderness

The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. When it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now very late; send them away so that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy something for themselves to eat.” But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” They said to him, “Are we to go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread, and give it to them to eat?” And he said to them, “How many loaves have you? Go and see.” When they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” Then he ordered them to get all the people to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and of fifties. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and he divided the two fish among them all. And all ate and were filled; and they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. Those who had eaten the loaves numbered five thousand men.
Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After saying farewell to them, he went up on the mountain to pray. Mark 6:30-46 
Often times, these days, it feels like there is not enough. There is not enough time to accomplish every thing that needs to be done. There is not enough of me to respond to the needs before me. I feel like I only have  small amount of skills and gifts which will not stretch to meet the needs where I have been called. It is at this time that I recall that God doesn't need a big heroic act to make miracles happen. Miracles happen among the small things, the daily offerings we can give.
Jesus is seeking out quiet and is followed. I suspect he has feeling drained, as we often do. But the needs of the people made him respond, their lack of direction as well as their empty stomachs. The small lunch, packed for one person for one or two meals, became the miracle of every belly full and satisfied. Often we hold back because we are sure what we can give is not enough. We are invited by God to share what we have, trusting that God will make miracles out of the offerings we have, no matter how small.
Today I ask God to help me offer what I have and then trust God to provide abundance. May we not hold back because of our lack but trust God always to provide the abundance.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Deception and Grudges

They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some were saying, “John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; and for this reason these powers are at work in him.” But others said, “It is Elijah.” And others said, “It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.”

For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her. For John had been telling Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him. But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.” And he solemnly swore to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.” She went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the baptizer.” Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her. Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb. Mark 6:13-29 

David danced before the Lord
his joy and gratitude moving him
twirling and leaping with hope
observers saw and felt the love.

Often what we do is otherwise
acting out deception with our bodies
living out our revenge and greedy climbing
captivating all witness the show.

We worship and we perform
holding others captive to our need
we can choose dancing in the light
or working cruelty in the very dark.

Smoldering anger can get folks killed
grudges and hurt can be inflamed
like a growing cancer in our souls
they leap from us to destroy others.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Nothing For the Journey

He left that place 
and came to his 
home town, and
 his disciples
 followed him. 
On the sabbath 
he began to teach
 in the synagogue,
 and many who 
heard him were 
astounded. They said, ‘Where did this man
 get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? 
What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this
 the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses
 and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?’ And
 they took offence at him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Prophets are
 not without honor, except in their home town, and among their 
own kin, and in their own house.’ And he could do no deed of 
power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people
 and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief. 

Then he went about among the villages teaching. He called the
 twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them
 authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take 
nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no
 money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two
 tunics. He said to them, ‘Wherever you enter a house, stay
 there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome
 you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the 
dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.’ So 
they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They 
cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were 
sick and cured them. Mark 6:1-13

Driving on the highway today I saw several road signs telling us
to prepare for there was winter weather coming. It is winter in
New England. It snows regularly. It is cold and getting colder. 
We can prepare and plan ahead, yet life here, and in most 
places is often unpredictable. Each day is a journey, one of
both unexpected joy and challenging sorrows. We can take so
much with us, so many burdens and still be useless in the end.

Jesus goes home and finds his friends and neighbors reluctant
to recognize his gifts. They knew him too well to let him grow
into the role for which he was born. He does what he can and
then moves on to preparing his disciples for ministry. He sends
them out with nothing, so that they can learn to trust God and
one another as they go. They were blessed, over and over, by
being willing to live, day to day, for the blessing of others. We
are invited to drop all the burdens we lug around and which 
impede us from moving forward, so that we can see God
in action, and so that we can see God's blessing within us.

Today, as I journey forth, I ask God to help me put down
everything that is a barrier and to take on radical trust. May
we live each day by faith, caring for those around us and
trusting that we are never alone and blessed as we go out.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Get Up!

When Jesus had crossed 
again in the boat to the 
other side, a great crowd 
gathered round him; and 
he was by the lake. Then 
one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus 
came and, when he saw
 him, fell at his feet and 
begged him repeatedly,
 ‘My little daughter is at
 the point of death. Come
 and lay your hands on her,
 so that she may be made 
well, and live.’ So he went
 with him.
And a large crowd followed 
him and pressed in on him.
 Now there was a woman
 who had been suffering
 from hemorrhages for
 twelve years. She had 
endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that 
she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had 
heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and 
touched his cloak, for she said, ‘If I but touch his clothes, I will
 be made well.’ Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she 
felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately
 aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about 
in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my clothes?’ And his 
disciples said to him, ‘You see the crowd pressing in on you; how
 can you say, “Who touched me?” ’ He looked all round to see
 who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened 
to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and 
told him the whole truth. He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith
 has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.’
 While he was still speaking, some people came from the
 leader’s house to say, ‘Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the
 teacher any further?’ But overhearing what they said, Jesus said
 to the leader of the synagogue, ‘Do not fear, only believe.’ He
 allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John,
 the brother of James. When they came to the house of the
 leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping
 and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them,
 ‘Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead
 but sleeping.’ And they laughed at him. Then he put them all
 outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who 
were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by
 the hand and said to her, ‘Talitha cum’, which means, ‘Little girl,
 get up!’ And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about
 (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know 
this, and told them to give her something to eat. Mark 5:21-43

Get Up!

Faith sneaks in when all else fails
when death is turning the knob
when the pounding grows so loud
when the bombs explode close by.

We believe in our own mastery
until the foolish notions crumble
as age and worry bear us down
when we can do nothing but give in.

The moment when we lose it all
we find there is still a bit more
a light breaks through the window
fracturing the worst of our fears.

There is a touch and a recognition
our need has not gone unnoticed
our strangeness brokenness is wonderful
 and our lives are regarded as precious.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

At Home - Third Sunday after the Epiphany

For Sunday, January 27, 2019

Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about
 him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their
 synagogues and was praised by everyone.
When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue
 on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the
 prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where
 it was written:
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down
The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them,
 "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." Luke 4:14-21

I remember returning to my home church years after I had grown up and moved away. 
Our lives were in transition and we were staying with my folks for a spell. My father
was the minister at the church, so I knew the space very, very well. Yet that day, on
my return, I was struck by how everything seemed smaller and very different. Although
nothing had really changed, I had changed as had my perspective.

Jesus returns home after his ministry has begun. He is not the same, although he is 
participating in a way that would be normal and very natural. No longer, though,
does he fit in the role he once inhabited. No longer was he a carpenter's son. He had been
called for more. We are invited by God to understand that we too, are called to be
more than we once were, to be the hands and hearts of a living God in our present

Today, I ask God to help me live in all the transitions and changes, as one who is
called to more and willing to respond. May we know that we are essential to the Good
News of God's love in this world.

Give us grace, O Lord, to answer readily the call of our Savior Jesus Christ and proclaim to all 
people the Good News of his salvation, that we and the whole world may perceive the glory of 
his marvelous works; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever 
and ever. Amen.