Sunday, January 15, 2017

Come and See

John saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.” And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.”
The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter). John 1:29-42

Come and See

The light on the water makes it sparkle
 like the light that shines in you eyes
beholding your sweet faced chilren
shining for well recognized love.

We can hide our hearts but eyes do show
the hidden delight, the packed away need
aching to be called by named and noticed 
love breaks through the tears and sorrow.

Come and see where love is dwelling
there is light and sustenance enough for all
a place at the table for the high and mighty
a treasured seat for the shunned and deported.

Come and see that love illumines all
shadows disappears and sorrows fade
when we are welcomed as we fully are
God sits among us and we all laugh.


Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ's glory, that he may be known, worshiped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Stretch Out Your Hand

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 

We are in very troubled times and some people are very afraid about the political and governmental changes that are to come. Whatever happens, sick people still need to be made well, prisoners visited and released from the binds, the vulnerable embraced and compassion increased. We can protest and we must pray, we can be outraged but we must be self-critical as well. The holy will remain holy in these times, no matter what humans can do. I expect I will be doing a good deal of praying in the coming days.

The religious leaders were upset by the disciples' behavior. Jesus reminded them of God's actions and God's priorities. The love of God empowers us to forgive and heal, to welcome refugees and shelter the vulnerable and homeless. God's love never demands us to be judgemental and cruel, nor does it make us fussy, exclusive and shaming. Jesus reaches out to us through history and through troubled times and implores us do the work of love today.

Today I ask God to help me be present and not to withdraw in had times. May we be ever moved to compassion, ever ready to serve and welcome, always ready to love with all we have been given, and constantly stretching out our hands to those in need around us.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Follow Me

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.” Mark 2:13-17

Follow Me

We are more tax collector than saint
more leper and lame than perfect athlete
more shattered and easily misguided
than we are righteous and holy followers.

Called to a movement and to get on the road
out into the very broken world of sorrow
that mimics our hidden and tearful shame
bringing light to universal ache for love.

We are to follow the one who carried a cross
who totes our burdens and baggage with ease
who dispels our shame and myriad failures
making our hands instruments of light.

Come follow me is said to each and everyone
the courageous leaders and meek shy introverts
we are on the way, companions in the struggle
led by love and compassion yet to come.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Through the Roof

When Jesus 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 paralyzed 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 

Through the Roof

A roof over our heads has become
a portal for love to pour through
a tear in the fabric of order and control
we are broken open so healing can come down.

Love urged men to break through the roof
love received them with great joy
repairs and remittance when all was done
healing and transformation come first.

The epiphany moment when the very rigid
is pliable, fluid, broken and in motion
sweeping up, making room for the excluded
open arms raised to receive the needy ones.

May we be those who break down walls and roofs
who let love motivate us and make us whole again
may our brokenness be used for the healing of others
and may there be no borders no limits to how we love.


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

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

We all have bad days. It is part of being human. I had a bad day yesterday, nothing earth shattering, but it made me question whether I was on the right path. Our bad days can shake us to our core, even as the world notices nothing. We can be broken inside and people can pass us by. We can also normalize our suffering, saying it is nothing, and never ask for the help we need. Today is the day to ask for the help and to expect that God chooses healing for each of us.

Jesus has begun his ministry and was quickly in demand. We see that his close disciples have all sorts of ideas and direction for him, and yet he goes his own way, in his own time. He touches a deathly ill mother and gives her the strength to return to her active life. Along the road he willing chooses to make a leper whole again. God constant activity is to be reaching out to us, giving us whole cloth when we were once in shatters. God's whole mission is the work of love. We are so fortunate to be invited to join in that choosing, that calling, that willingness to bring healing and restoration to this world.

Today I ask God to restore me and all those who are flagging. May we be stood again on our feet so we might serve, and healed again so we might tell the stories of love to a world so in need of restoration, healing, and loving service.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Prepare the Way

The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,
“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way;
the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.'”

John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him. Mark 1:1-13

Prepare the Way

When we have bundled up the leftovers
and packed away the beloved ornaments
swept out the needles from the floors
there is still more work to be done.

The Epiphany light twinkles at night
like crystal in the cold January reality
we light the flames of hope in darkness
carrying it to every shadowed heart.

Deep blues and darkness can move in
can break the celebrating spirits
the load of failure can obscure the gratitude
joy can slip away in these long winter nights.

Arise early and laugh into the night
prepare again the table for many guests
the world groans with anxiety and despair
our small candle can reignite the needed flame.

Dance into the pungent fetid alleyways
embrace the homeless sleeping rough
welcome the repellent and the refugee
open the doors so that God comes in.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Let It Be

Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”  Matthew 3:13-17

We come to the first Sunday after Epiphany, when some use this Sunday to celebrate Epiphany. With the arrival of the kings, or the baptism of Jesus, we have to accept that the holidays are over. It feels akin to being called in from recess. Time has fled by and we laughed, hugged, sang and celebrated. It is time for the decorations to come down. We are invited into the work of Epiphany, the celebrating of God's light and love for all. Yet, like reluctant kids dragging in from recess, there is wonderful work to be done. We will be stretched, like John, to see people and things differently. We will be invited to spread light where there is darkness and indeed it is time to let it be so.

Jesus comes to John for baptism. John is horrified, knowing that he, John, is simply the messenger and Jesus is the messiah. The knew their roles and then Jesus reversed everything. John ached to be baptized by Jesus. Love and humility marked the beginning of the Messiah's ministry and became the hallmark the Jesus Movement. We are invited to invited to turn and stretch, to humble ourselves for new insight and new relationship. God's love will spin us around and send us into dark places. God's love also declares that we are, like Jesus and John, beloved children of the Divine.

Today I ask God to help me accept the changes and the stretching that is needed in my life. May we rejoice in the knowledge that we are loved by God and humble ourselves so that we might let love prevail. Let it be so, that the whole world might receive a love so deep that everyone and everything will change for good.

Father in heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit: Grant that all who are baptized into his Name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly confess him as Lord and Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.