Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Light Has Dawned



 Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the lake, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
‘Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali,
   on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—
the people who sat in darkness
   have seen a great light,
and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death
   light has dawned.’
From that time Jesus began to proclaim, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Matthew 4:12-17


Light Has Dawned

It was a dark night with rain
the wind howled through the cedars
the end seemed near and justified
and we cried out in fear and panic.

These storms of our lives
so cruelly fierce and unrelenting
a rabid dog biting down
tearing us down and apart.

The sea reached up covering us
we were sure to drown at night
the wind persisted beyond all
we said our what were our final prayers.

Yet the morning light did shock us
we awoke to birds singing again
there is new life after such destruction
we will hope in the Lord and never fear.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Not By Bread Alone


Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.’ But he answered, ‘It is written,
“One does not live by bread alone,
   but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

 Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written,
“He will command his angels concerning you”,
   and “On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.”

Jesus said to him, ‘Again it is written, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”

 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; and he said to him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you, Satan! for it is written,
“Worship the Lord your God,
   and serve only him.”

Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him. Matthew 4:1-11


I had the privilege of serving as celebrant yesterday in St. Peter's Cathedral here in Helena. Father Paul Bresnahan, who is acting dean, preached and what a moving sermon it was. It was of course all about forgiveness and I spent most of the day thinking about forgiveness in light of recent evidence of rising racial hatred, swastikas and 666 defacing St. James' in Bozeman, and many other moments in our present reality. It is easy to be angry. It is easy to be hungry as well. We can move to hate, and feed our faces, but we rarely move to prayerfulness and forgiveness.

Jesus is tempted by the devil after more than a month of prayer and fasting. We would all be delirious and probably vulnerable. I know I would. Yet Jesus faces the temptation of stuffing himself, getting his rightful authority and honors by reciting the language of prayer and love he has known since the beginning. He prayed the psalms and held them close at his worst moments. Today we are invited by God to hold close when we are tempted to anger and hate, hold close to those words and actions that draw us into the heart of God.

Today I ask God to help me be faithful in the face of temptation. May we all draw close to the heart of God by refusing to give into the real temptations of anger and hate with forgiveness and love.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Beloved



Then 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

Beloved


Darling you are precious and wanted
The world may reject and despise
yet beloved and sought out daily
Perfect in the sight of love's eyes

And imperfect mother might criticize
A human Father might bluster and yell
We love only partially today
Yet God loves perfectly always.

This is our whole family story
despite our shallow whining
The Creator of all smiles on us
And delights in our human creation.

We are because of one
All beloved in God's eyes
Loved beyond time and space
shaped of star dust and infinity.










Friday, September 15, 2017

God Is Able


In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.'” Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit worthy of repentance. Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
“I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” Matthew 3:1-12

God Is Able

You seem to expect miracles from me
yet I am simply a woman, a mother
a follower of the living God who moves
within us and around us God is able.

We cannot breathe without creation
we cannot function without love
we are nothing short of needy and soft
yet even we are made strong as God is able.

The fires and floods surround us all
we have messed with the world too much
we have not cleaned up our mess for years
we cannot renew the earth yet God is able.

We often stand like stones with fear
we often trembled in our frozen state
life often overwhelms us as we get stuck
yet helping us move again our God is able.






Thursday, September 14, 2017

God So Loved the World


Jesus said, “Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:11-17

God So  Loved the World

Oh tender little one when you began
I held you in my hands and marveled
I wept at your beauty and perfection
and you cried in need with all your breath.

I watched over you in the night time
snuck in while you slept to check
put my face close to yours smiling
you never knew how close I was.

You grew into a beauty and intellect
you pushed back against rules and time
I watched as you found you voice
I hovered as you bent from many mistakes.

This tender creation always breaks my heart
you run far from the love that created you
thinking your strength and beauty is yours alone
unaware of the tender mercies afforded you.4



Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Wise Men


In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who is to shepherd my people Israel.’ ”

Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road. Matthew 2:1-12

Yesterday I flew from my home in Boston to my home in Montana. I always marvel at how different our places and spaces are, and how quickly we move from place to place. Some many of us notice so little, these days, distracted by our phones and other devices that we never even look up or notice the world. I always wonder how much more we would see if we took our time and noticed the world around us completely. There might be more artists in this world, there might be more songs and there definitely would be more poems and wonder.

The wise men from the east come to see Jesus after visiting with Herod. Their journey began when they observed the star. Then they had to travel many weeks and maybe months over hazardous terrain, through hostile regions and among people, cultures and languages so different from their own. All of this to find the child king, who became a dangerous threat to Herod. They found Jesus, after continuing to follow the star, with his humble parents, in their humble make shift dwelling, not being able to return home. This small family would become refugees because of the violent threats on the child's life. I imagine that those expensive gifts might have sustained that small family while in Egypt. God invites us today to  notice that strangers brought honor to the child, and that politics caused the living God to become a refugee. God invites us to take notice of our world, so that we might see the living presence of God among us today.

Today I ask God to help me pay attention to God's presence in my every moment. May we look up and see the stars that guide us and look around and see God's love among us.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Terror and Amazement Seized Them


When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint Jesus. 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.” So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
Now after he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. She went out and told those who had been with him, while they were mourning and weeping. But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it. Mark 16:1-8 

Terror and Amazement 

Oh we went out with tears in our eyes
dreading but doing our final duties
we came to wash and embalm his body
there was only a bright angel in his place.

We had been through the worst week ever
from delight and joy in Jerusalem's streets
to the worst of violence, deception and greed
we only brought our final sad offerings.

The jars of ointment flew from our hands
one of us sunk to her knees is terror
could we possibly hope for such a promise
could we be the recipients of such miracles?

No one believed us when we ran home
our aging legs becoming young again
our hope and fear carried us along
we saw love which we thought was gone.

Love eternal and yet often unseen
we cling to solid objects and shun it often
tortured and buried and yet rising again
love has come again and we will sing.