Friday, September 30, 2016

Blessed Are You

Now during those days Jesus went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, and James, and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Simon, who was called the Zealot, and Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. He came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon. They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them.
Then he looked up at his disciples and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
“Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.
“Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.
“Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.
“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.
“Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry.
“Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep.
“Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.” Luke 6:12-26

Blessed Are You 

I see these faces of tender children
refugees and encamped for freedom
I see Jesus among the gentle and weeping
and know our greed has made us weak.

Our strength is in our beloved people
grandmother earth who has fed us well
grandfather sky who has watered and warmed
the generations yet unborn who need us now.

Our weakness is in our chosen blindness
our unwilling to see the crisis before us
our choosing comfort over community
choosing ease and looking the other way.

We will be blessed or cursed depending
on how we live this day, how we raise children
how we walk with others and love them
or how we turn a blind eye on their need.

I see the faces of tender weeping children
and see my babies, my children in their eyes
I see that we are all related and share so much
if  we will but open our eyes and see.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Michael and All Angels

When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” John 1:47-51

Today is the feast day of Michael and All Angels or Michaelmas. " St Michael is one of the principal angelic warriors, protector against the dark of the night and the Archangel who fought against Satan and his evil angels. As Michaelmas is the time that the darker nights and colder days begin - the edge into winter - the celebration of Michaelmas is associated with encouraging protection during these dark months. It was believed that negative forces were stronger in darkness and so families would require stronger defenses during the later months of the year. Traditionally, in the British Isles a well fattened goose, fed on the stubble from the fields after the harvest, is eaten to protect against financial need in the family for the next year; and as the saying goes: “Eat a goose on Michaelmas Day, want not for money all the year”. (Historic UK) This time of year, as the light diminishes we often find ourselves wanting for protection and safety.

Jesus is at the beginning of his ministry and dealing with some folks who are very skeptical about him. Nathanael identified him as the son of God after Jesus surprisingly understands who Nathanael truly is. Being understood at our core invites us to let love in completely. Our defenses, built up after many hardships and challenges, often shut out love. Nathanael is thrilled and probably shocked by being known and loved completely. God invites us to let down our defenses, knowing we are defended by a heaven full of angels.

Today I ask God to help me be open to love and understanding. May we live honestly like Nathanael, and open our hearts to the living God and the people around us.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Fresh Wineskins

After this Jesus went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up, left everything, and followed him.
Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house; and there was a large crowd of tax collectors and others sitting at the table with them. The Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus answered, “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 to repentance.”
Then they said to him, “John’s disciples, like the disciples of the Pharisees, frequently fast and pray, but your disciples eat and drink.” Jesus said to them, “You cannot make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them, can you? The days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.” He also told them a parable: “No one tears a piece from a new garment and sews it on an old garment; otherwise the new will be torn, and the piece from the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine desires new wine, but says, ‘The old is good.'” Luke 5:27-39 

Fresh Wineskins

There are important times to recycle
for reusing, re-purposing, making do
there are other times when only new works
we are called to know the difference.

Starting over requires a new slate
new chalk, new ideas, new direction
leaving the old dance steps behind
the old habits, communities of destruction.

We are children of fresh wineskins
despite the desperation of these times
blessed with imagination, reason and skill
invited to build a new vessel for love.

Our old familiar ways are now obscured
our homes are burned down, covered up
the old songs have been taken from us
we must paint a new horizon with new paint.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

I Do Choose!

Once, when Jesus was in one of the cities, there was a man covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he bowed with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.” Then Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I do choose. Be made clean.” Immediately the leprosy left him. And he ordered him to tell no one. “Go,” he said, “and show yourself to the priest, and, as Moses commanded, make an offering for your cleansing, for a testimony to them.” But now more than ever the word about Jesus spread abroad; many crowds would gather to hear him and to be cured of their diseases. But he would withdraw to deserted places and pray.
One day, while he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting near by (they had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem); and the power of the Lord was with him to heal. Just then some men came, carrying a paralyzed man on a bed. They were trying to bring him in and lay him before Jesus; but finding no way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the middle of the crowd in front of Jesus. When he saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.” Then the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, “Who is this who is speaking blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” When Jesus perceived their questionings, he answered them, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the one who was paralyzed—“I say to you, stand up and take your bed and go to your home.” Immediately he stood up before them, took what he had been lying on, and went to his home, glorifying God. Amazement seized all of them, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen strange things today.” Luke 5:12-26 

There have been times in my life when I can forget what God desires for my life, as well as for everyone else. God does not want us to suffer or be broken. We humans are broken and sinful, and we are often undone by disease. Often times, well meaning people will tell us that suffering is good for the soul, pain reminds you that you are alive and so forth. None of that is helpful when you cannot get up from your bed, or when your body is wracked with pain and covered with disease.

We find Jesus in two separate instances where his only goal is to bring healing. We find him in these circumstances a good deal. The incarnate God wanted nothing more than to bring healing to the world. The obstacles were put in his way by humans, misguided, controlling and fearful humans.  The ones who loved so well and lowered their friend to Jesus found healing and forgiveness as well. God's desire for our lives is to find healing and forgiveness. Sometimes it happens in very strange times and places, and we are invited to be ready at all times for love does not keep time or scores.

Today, I ask God to help me always be ready for healing and forgiveness. May I let go of being right, let go of the identity the disease has given me and lean in to love and possibility. May we all make ready for the desire of God's heart.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Put Out Into Deep Water

Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him. Luke 5:1-11 

I have spent my life by the ocean and love being on the water. I am not afraid of deep water, as I barely remember learning to swim and am often most comfortable in the water. Deep waters can be very dangerous, though, even for the most experienced sailors, swimmers and fishing folk. A storm can arise and destroy boats and lives. Deep water means losing sight of the shore, too far to be rescued quickly, too dangerous to traverse unless skilled and practiced.

Jesus found himself among the folks who make their living by the sea, the rough and skilled folks who fish for a living. They know their seas and the seasons, they watch the skies and the weather indicators. Jesus, obviously not a seaman, tells them to go out into deep water and put down their nets. They've been unsuccessful and are frustrated. The last thing they need is for someone who knows nothing to tell them what to do. And yet, that is where God meets us, in the midst of our worst frustration and exhaustion, inviting us to go into deep water by faith.

Today I ask God to help me go into deep waters and cast my nets again. May we not give up on love or faith because of our failures, but renew our efforts to wait upon the Lord and live.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

She Got Up

After leaving the synagogue Jesus entered Simon’s house. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked him about her. Then he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. Immediately she got up and began to serve them.
As the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various kinds of diseases brought them to him; and he laid his hands on each of them and cured them. Demons also came out of many, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Messiah.
At daybreak he departed and went into a deserted place. And the crowds were looking for him; and when they reached him, they wanted to prevent him from leaving them. But he said to them, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other cities also; for I was sent for this purpose.” So he continued proclaiming the message in the synagogues of Judea. Luke 4:38-44 

She Got Up

After all she had been through
she got up and served them
her joy made her ache to serve
her love made a place for everyone.

Near death she had asked to live
aching to only be restored and back
back to the life she knew so well
back to the life of making a home.

No one thought she would live
God brought a new way of being
love brought a new way of seeing
the sick still have potential to rise.

We are often sick and sick to death
God stirs in the midst of our anguish
God moves in the midst of our pain
God moves so that we might serve again.


Friday, September 23, 2016

With Authority and Power

Jesus went down to Capernaum, a city in Galilee, and was teaching them on the sabbath. They were astounded at his teaching, because he spoke with authority. In the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, “Let us alone! 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!” When the demon had thrown him down before them, he came out of him without having done him any harm. They were all amazed and kept saying to one another, “What kind of utterance is this? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and out they come!” And a report about him began to reach every place in the region. Luke 4:31-37 

Yesterday I was looking at the movies that are out in the theaters. There was a plethora of horror movies, which seems to happen this time of year. As we get close to Halloween, we ache to be terrified, as if there is cleansing, some healing these scary movies provide. We like it best when they are based on true stories, of people beset with horrible houses, horrible children and horrible communities. The problem is, when people are truly beset by unexplained things, we run in terror the other way and are powerless to help.

Jesus was not afraid of the man in the synagogue, nor did he run the other way. He brought healing and freedom to the man, ridding him of the pain and damage that bound him. They people who witnesses this were frightened and amazed, both wonderfully excited and ready to run. In the face of God's loving presence, we often find ourselves feeling this way.  We are invited today to be fearless in the face of things we cannot explain and to call on the ultimate authority and power, the love of God which is ever present and unending. In the face of the worst evil, social and personal, we can count on the ability of God to conquer even the worst that comes at us.

Today I ask God to help me remember to seek God's love and power and not rely solely on my own. May we remember that there is much in our daily lives we cannot conquer alone, and may we completely rely on the power of God's love to conquer that which seems impossible and unchangeable.