Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Widow's Gift




He looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.’ Luke 21:1-4













Yesterday I had the great joy of spending time at Grace Camp. Grace Camp is a week at our diocesan Camp Marshall for children who have a parent or guardian who is in jail. Many of these children are Native. The population of Native peoples in Montana is about 11% while the vast majority of the incarcerated in this state are Native, both men and women. These are some of the most generous children in the world, although many of them have been abused and abandoned. They really work at caring for each other, and love helping and participating. They give more than any of the children from stable two parent families. An interesting contrast. I am always humbled to be with them.


In our Gospel today Jesus finds the religious leaders, trying to show how wonderful they were in their giving. They were actually giving a minimum, but were very self-important and proud in their wealth. Their wealth was certainly gained off the labors of the poor. Yet it was the widow who Jesus shines light on. Her love and generosity is a symbol for us today. We are invited to look on what we have, either much or little, as the gifts from God, putting to good use the love we have been blessed with, sharing it with others.

Today I ask God to help me be generous and grateful in all things. May we give all we have since we are truly blessed by God!




Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Give to God


When the scribes and chief priests realized that he had told this parable against them, they wanted to lay hands on him at that very hour, but they feared the people.
So they watched him and sent spies who pretended to be honest, in order to trap him by what he said, so as to hand him over to the jurisdiction and authority of the governor. So they asked him, “Teacher, we know that you are right in what you say and teach, and you show deference to no one, but teach the way of God in accordance with truth. Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” But he perceived their craftiness and said to them, “Show me a denarius. Whose head and whose title does it bear?” They said, “The emperor’s.” He said to them, “Then give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were not able in the presence of the people to trap him by what he said; and being amazed by his answer, they became silent. Luke 20:19-26

Give to God

Ah this broken body
fearful and wondrous
anointed as a small child
marked with oil and water.

I do not remember  my baptism
but every dive in moving water
reminds me of the indelible mark
I am God's own forever.

Made in the image of the Creator
terrible and wonderful are we
we belong, one family, many colors
to an incredible, expressive God.

We cannot help but turn ourselves
over to the loving arms of God
who formed us in our mother
made us able to see the heavens.

We cannot help but turn to God
in our pain and sorrow and grief
bent over with the weight of living
sleepless with the agony of loss.

Render to God the life given
Caesar may have his head in coin
but we know that eternal value
has been placed upon our heads.

Monday, June 19, 2017

In the Vineyard


Jesus began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard, and leased it to tenants, and went to another country for a long time. When the season came, he sent a slave to the tenants in order that they might give him his share of the produce of the vineyard; but the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Next he sent another slave; that one also they beat and insulted and sent away empty-handed. And he sent still a third; this one also they wounded and threw out. Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’ But when the tenants saw him, they discussed it among themselves and said, ‘This is the heir; let us kill him so that the inheritance may be ours.’ So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When they heard this, they said, “Heaven forbid!” But he looked at them and said, “What then does this text mean: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’? Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.” When the scribes and chief priests realized that he had told this parable against them, they wanted to lay hands on him at that very hour, but they feared the people. Luke 20:9-19

I am always amazed when people who been entrusted with the care of people, decide that they are going to take the place of family. That they deserve to be family even when they are not. Maybe, we in the church are in danger of this, since we like to refer to clergy as father and mother. Many of us have needed foster Moms and Dad, as well as grandparents. But boundaries are important, and knowing to whom we belong is essential. Religious leaders, all of us, lay and ordained alike, are workers in the fields, servants of the people.

In our gospel today Jesus angers the religious authority by telling a tale, a story about greed and hubris. Two things we humans are too easily persuaded by. We easily think we are better than others and more deserving. We imagine ourselves kings and queens. We are invited today to remember that we are mere servants, workers in the vineyard of the Lord.

Today, I ask God to help me remember the many blessings I have received and be humble and grateful in all that I do. May our hearts be so moved by love and compassion, that we might know our roles and be grateful for the blessings in the vineyard.




Sunday, June 18, 2017

Sent Out

Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.
These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment. [Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for laborers deserve their food. Whatever town or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you leave. As you enter the house, greet it. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.
“See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”] Matthew 9:35-10:8(9-23)



Sent Out - For All Those Deacons, So Long Ordained

We thought we were fully prepared
for all that we would face beyond
we were so sure we had all the tools
innocent, young and starry eyed.

Ministry is joy, tears and waiting
watching aging and sitting with grief
baptizing and visiting with the sick
alone in hospital rooms and chapels.

Each was sent on crooked paths
some made plans that were undone
many sleepless nights, long days
many prayers on aging knees.

We have sung and we have cried
laughed at all our inadequacies
turned again and again to God
lost hope and had it rested again.

Being sent is never going alone
failing regularly and gaining friends
many miles, wrinkles, coffee hours
we have found abundance in it all.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Weeping Over the City


As Jesus came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side. They will crush you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.”
Then he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling things there; and he said, “It is written,
‘My house shall be a house of prayer’;
but you have made it a den of robbers.”

Every day he was teaching in the temple. The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people kept looking for a way to kill him; but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were spellbound by what they heard. Luke 19:41-48

There was much weeping last night as the Republicans and Democrats played a good natured, charity fund raising baseball game. The shooting of one of their own had changed everything. We as humans too often do not realize the ways to peace until a tragedy or loss befalls us. We are often too comfortable in our complacent buying and selling, arguing and posturing. We forget how fragile life is and how necessary and critical relationships and forgiveness are to our lives. We need each other, we need to live in peace rather than focus on our differences.

Jesus wept over Jerusalem and then proceeded to clear the temple of the money changers and the sellers who were robbing poor people blind in the cost of appropriate sacrifices. They said they were helping but in fact were making faithfulness a huge financial burden. We can get so caught in the rhetoric and taking sides that we can make daily living and faithfulness a burden for those around us. We are invited by God today to live  prayerfully, love completely and make peace the goal for daily living.

Today I ask God to help me leave compassionately and peacefully with neighbors, family and enemies. May we be those who help change the narrative, and turn our words of compassion and peace into action for the whole world.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

These Stones Would Shout Out


After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.
When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it.'” So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” They said, “The Lord needs it.” Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.” Luke 19:28-40

Took a trip this week up the Missouri River through what was called by Merriweather Lewis, The Gates of the Mountains. From both sides of the river, limestone cliffs rose to a spectacular height of 1200 feet. “In many places,” wrote Meriwether Lewis, “the rocks seem ready to tumble on us.” At each bend in the waterway, great stone walls seemed to block passage, only to open like gentle giant gates as the expedition drew near. In his journal, Meriwether wrote: “I shall call this place: GATES OF THE MOUNTAINS“. The picture is from that trip, and this rock formation seemed to be crying out!

Our Gospel story is about Jesus entering Jerusalem. When the religious leaders ask for him to quiet his followers, he tells that the stones would cry out. Creation recognizes the Creator and in many places and times, creation has cried out when we humans have not noticed or honored the living God in our midst. We are invited today to remember how blessed we are in this fragile and honest creation, and to give thanks and honor to the Creator for the many and abundant gifts we receive.

Today, I ask God to help me be thankful for everything and everyone; for all the relatives, human, winged, four-legged and crawling, and for the rocks and trees - the tremendous love that is reflected in all of creation. May we never forget to be grateful and live our lives with reverence and respect for we are truly blessed.



Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Hiding


As they were listening to this, Jesus went on to tell a parable, because he was near Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. So he said, “A nobleman went to a distant country to get royal power for himself and then return. He summoned ten of his slaves, and gave them ten pounds, and said to them, ‘Do business with these until I come back.’ But the citizens of his country hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to rule over us.’ When he returned, having received royal power, he ordered these slaves, to whom he had given the money, to be summoned so that he might find out what they had gained by trading. The first came forward and said, ‘Lord, your pound has made ten more pounds.’ He said to him, ‘Well done, good slave! Because you have been trustworthy in a very small thing, take charge of ten cities.’ Then the second came, saying, ‘Lord, your pound has made five pounds.’ He said to him, ‘And you, rule over five cities.’ Then the other came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your pound. I wrapped it up in a piece of cloth, for I was afraid of you, because you are a harsh man; you take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ He said to him, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked slave! You knew, did you, that I was a harsh man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? Why then did you not put my money into the bank? Then when I returned, I could have collected it with interest.’ He said to the bystanders, ‘Take the pound from him and give it to the one who has ten pounds.’ (And they said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten pounds!’) ‘I tell you, to all those who have, more will be given; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. But as for these enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and slaughter them in my presence.’” Luke 19:11-27

Hiding

The talents and gifts given
are precious and frightening
we worry about ridicule scorn
the laughing of our classmates.

What we have been given withers
dries and folds up like old paper
is lost in the messiness of our days
hiding too long what is so needed.

These little treasures we are given
much be used and worked like clay
touched and lifted into beauty
polished to ring out love's joy.

Let fear be sentenced to the closet
where we have too long hidden
gifts and expressions we so fear
become the visible savior of the world.