Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Begin to Serve

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

Begin to Serve

My story begins with serving
in truth it does not end there
each star signing in night sky
tells the tale of all my relations.

We are gestated in a round place
live and die on a circular orb
we are born into love's response
gratitude gives us new voice.

These deep winter days heal us
from the burning sun of summer
from the sore muscles of harvest
from the anxious autumn hunts.

We are dependent on one another
humble with respect for the elders
fired up to be the Creator's hands
on this earth where we are bound.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Time Has Come

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”
As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.
They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee. Mark 1:14-28

In every old movie or television show where a woman is pregnant, she usually waltzes in to where her husband is and says with a smile, "honey, it's time." Real life doesn't work like that. There is often pain and confusion, and we can surely misread signs. The work of discernment is complicated and often confusing. We ask ourselves, "is this the time for a change, or am I doing the right thing?" Clergy are particularly conflict avoid-ant.  We don't' want to hurt anyone, but we feel in our hearts that God is calling us to do a new thing, to challenge the old ways and to unintentionally cause pain in those we love. And yet, we must say, "the time has come!" In these days when innocents are dying, it is really time to say, "it's time!"

Jesus has been finding his footing in his ministry. John has been arrested and it is his time to use the gifts he has been given. He first gathers some friends to help him and then, Jesus, still very human, goes to worship with his friends. It is the unstable person who sees most clearly who Jesus is, and shouts it out. The evil spirits say to Jesus, "it's time!" His time of healing is made real in this very conflicted and uncomfortable situation. God invites us today to discern in the midst of our great discomfort and to expect the Creator to show us who we truly are to be.

Today, I ask God to help me face the uncomfortable situations and see God's hand in the darkest places. May we all hear the invitation to use the gifts we have been given to help heal a very broken world.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Crying In the Wilderness

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

Crying In the Wilderness

There are many voices crying in the wilderness
then and now, so much like modern John Baptizers
they call us to repent and clear up the highway
so the embodied love of God can come among us.

We turn a blind eye to so much suffering
ignoring it, we encourage it and are all tainted
by greed and selfish folks with very deep pockets
who own so many wealthy unknowing slaves.

We must follow the children to the wilderness
they are crying and our task is to bring comfort
being baptized anew for righteousness, justice
so our world, which ache for love, might know it.

We must carry the water and build a new font
find the strength to speak up and to act
encourage speaking out in place of putting up
singing loud songs as we go to the waters.

It is time to be strong enough to face it
our sin and collusion with gnawing greed
we are part and parcel of the problem
we must be renewed so we can help solve.

The embodied love of the Divine is weeping
our selfishness has torn at God's heart
we cannot pray for comfort if we won't provide it
love will not come our way without repentance now.


Sunday, February 18, 2018

Beloved and Tempted

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.
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” Mark 1:9-15

My mother's voices rings in my ears, "you know you are getting close to God when the devil works overtime!" And, it has held true in my life, as I am always finding myself in a good place, only to have my body or my spirit broken by something or someone. We can live a life of faith, yet we must expect both the mountain top experiences and the deep dark valleys. We can one day be on top of the world, in love with everything, and the next day, be starving for any support or any strength.  

Jesus is baptized and the crowd hears and sees the presence of the living God. God speaks of great love and pleasure in Jesus, and in baptism they are words for us all. Right afterwards, as Jesus seeks to strengthen his faith and spirit for what lies ahead, he is challenged, body, mind and soul. He knows he is loved and yet his journey includes all of the challenges, pitfalls and pains that break our spirits. How amazing is it that God chose to be in the flesh, just like us?  And as long as God is with us, we will often be overwhelmed and saddened by our broken humanity.

Today, I ask God to help me breath when the pressure and pain are too much, knowing that even in the darkest of places, I am not alone. May we all recognize God in the midst of our brokenness, grief and sorrow. May we understand we will be tempted and we will always be surrounded by great love.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

That They All May Be One

Jesus prayed, “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
“Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” John 17:20-26

That They All May Be One

The heart of the Divine, full of love
aches that we might share one heart
desires only our love for one another
seeks only compassion and kindness.

We would all be winners so others lose
we would stoke our anger and violence
we ache to crush those who oppose us
we desire to be separate and superior.

Our blood types may be different
yet our blood is all the same by design
we think it a right to stand on our own
yet we stand only on the backs of others.

There are no crowns so precious
like the crown of thorns worn for us
like the sacrificial love that suffered
so that we might live and thrive.

Honoring those who came before
means seeking out and repairing
all the breaches and divisions
refuting all our past abuse and crimes.

It is the season for seeking out the other
for seeing the face of God in strangers
for feeding the smiling and growling alike
for being one for it is the Creator's desire.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Protect Them

Jesus prayed, “I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.” John 17:9-19 

I have a mother's heart. For twenty seven months it shared everything with my children and the shared my life blood, the food I ate and every tear I shed.  They are a part of me and my whole being changed forever with their lives. There is not a day that goes by that I do not think of them, pray for them, aching for their safety and their happiness. Every breath I take recalls them to me. I can still feel their presence with me, their newborn breath on my skin, their laughter and their tears. My children's lives have been threatened and they have been in danger. I am grateful everyday for their safety. When the news of 911 broke, although I was in a church meeting and we lived far from all of the destruction, I had to get in my car and drive home, to make sure they were all okay.  This mother's heart is breaking for the innocent student and teachers who died in their school. It is unbearable.

Jesus, in John's gospel is overheard praying for his disciples. We glimpse, in this moment, the heart of a parent, a mother, a father, begging for the care and protection of the children. His love for them is complete and familial. His love for us is the same as well. God desires our safety and our thriving and invites us to live for the safety and thriving of others. We are invited to have the heart of parents, who would do anything for those in our care. May we, in these days of destructive self-interest, put down our weapons, our words and our politics, and act for the love of the innocent around us.

Today, I ask God to move me beyond worry and prayer to action. May we remove the walls and barriers that divide us, and see that all of our community is in our care. We have been given to one another. May we love with a mother's and father's heart.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Know in Truth

After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.
“I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.” John 17:1-8 

Know In Truth

What begins anew in Lent's season
is an honesty of heart and mind
understanding the destruction caused
in the name of the holy and the right.

Each generation and every individual born
carries the seed of compassion and healing
as well as the germ of selfishness and greed
here today we look at what we have wrought.

Tearing down those who would be tender
building up those who use weapons in anger
covering for the cruelty and deprivation
calling it genius, the right of the powerful.

Yet we are known in truth by our maker
we know in truth how broken we truly are
this season calls us to face the ugly truth
waiting for the easter moment of rebirth.