Monday, October 24, 2016

Wise as Serpents and Innocent as Doves

Jesus said, “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. Matthew  10:8-16

Wise as Serpents 

It is that season when the earth turns
Away from the light and into shadow
When cold blows through cracked windows
And danger seeps in arounder everyndoor.

The season is of a thinness between
The barely living and the barely dead
Leaves piles up like broken dreams
We are forced to close our eyes too early.

It is the season of reckoning and decision
Where we can choose life or selfishness
Humility and honor or deep treachery
Stocking up for the winter or hopenness depair.

The world consumes and forgets
Yet there is still more life to come
We areally pregnant with hope
Wisdom and love will return in season.

Sunday, October 23, 2016


Jesus told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, `God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.' But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, `God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted." Luse 18:9-14

I have had a batch of tests lately. Being sixty it seems lots of systems get challenged. Right now I have  a mysterious infection they cannot seem to identify. Tests answer probing make one very humble, as bits are examined and a series of questions are asked over and over. One can not be proud or shy in these circumstances. Age itelf challenges pridesign and learning to ask for help is a new way of being humble.

Jesus is talking to those who are in roles of leadership about humility and therefore to all of us. We can get so full of ourselves we forget how human and broken we are. The tax collector reminds us that we are in need, daily need of forgiveness and salvation. That humilityou and human fragility are a gift and a vehicle to drawing closet to the heart of God.

Today I ask God tohelp me joy in my humanity and be ever willing to be humble in all things. May we draw  closers to God as we accept

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Better Part

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42 

Tradition and specific gender roles are very important to Native peoples. We understand inherently how to put ourselves among our people, and are taught from a very young age what to do and when to do it. Honor and respect are essential to our lives and we tread very carefully when we have to step out of normal roles to step up in leadership. Many Native women, despite, like myself, being from matriarchal and matri-lineal tribes, are extremely careful to cross lines that would disrespect another. Balance and harmony are critical to our share lives.

Mary had upset the balance and harmony of the household and their culture. Martha goes to Jesus, the teacher and leader to help things get back in balance, for she fears for the safety and continuity of her household and life. Jesus understands Martha concerns and also understands that there are times and places where the traditional boundaries must be disregarded. A Jewish rabbi telling Martha that her sister had the better part was truly an outrage. And yet, Jesus wants us all to understand that there are times and places where balance and harmony have to take a back seat to justice and inclusion, where the circumstances demands more than a status quo response. Jesus was invited Martha to also chose the better part, no matter how difficult that might be.

Today I ask God to help me understand, day by day, how to chose the better part. May we not be persuaded to fall back on the familiar and comfortable, but step forward when necessary for the sake of justice and inclusion.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Our Neighbors

Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he said, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the law? What do you read there?’ He answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.’ And he said to him, ‘You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.’
 But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’ Jesus replied, ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, “Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.” Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?’ He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’ Luke 10:25-37

Our Neighbors

Those who live rough on the streets
congregating in dark alleys, in deep doorways
they must be up to no good, they're troubled
not like us cossetted and comfortable.

We easily cling to the group we know
old friends, school chums and desireables
folks who will help us get ahead
and those who know our importance.

They must be damaged in they do not agree
do not live like us and share our values
they must be failures if not well endowed
God must be looking away from them.

We cannot see the love in their eyes
nor the hope they harbor despite everything
the world has crashed down around them
and yet they pray and hold each other up.

God give us the eyes to see love living rough
our neighbors who don't frequent our club
the ones from whom we can learn a new gift
who can show us how to draw near to you.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Return With Rejoicing

The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!” Jesus said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
At that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Then turning to the disciples, Jesus said to them privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.” Luke 10:17-24 

I arrived home bleary eyed after a trip on the red-eye. Somehow though, it all vanishes when one is enfolded in hugs and get to sit at the table with family and laugh. There are always challenges in engaging in mission, setting forth to uncharted territories. And there is also the amazing possibility of good, transforming work done while being surrounded by the love and prayers of family and community.

Jesus has sent out seventy who returned, overjoyed, overwhelmed and amazed. More than likely they were also living on fumes. They had trusted and done good work and felt the true joy of loving service. He reminds them that their joy is a gift as are the miracles they have witnessed. Being embedded in the love of God is the greatest gift of all.

Today I ask for strength in the midst of weariness and gratitude in response to all that is ahead. Ma we understand that we are held in the heart of God and that all we are able to do is a result of divine love for us and for the world.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

St. Luke

Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed. Luke 1:1-4

When I was in graduate school, I had to study advanced social statistics which involved data collection and too much math for me. One of my professors, reminded us regularly, " fast and dirty is just dirty". He wanted us to be measured, careful and exact in our studies, so that no one could challenge the work that we did. He wanted for us to be well regarded scholars and researchers.
He felt the work we would do would be too important to lose by being careless.

Luke, the physician and evangelist, is for many of us a great story teller. But to me, he is also a symbol of  clear and careful thinking, wanting to present a thoroughly investigated account of  the story of Jesus. He didn't want to present evidence without doing hard work. His faith was so strong that he wanted to pass it on in a way that was without question and clear. God invites us to do the hard work of our faith, and calls us to be willing to understand who we are and where we come from.

Today I ask God to help me do the hard work even when I just want an easy life. May we, like Luke, take on the task of telling the story, by doing the hard work to deepen our faith daily and know all the stories.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Plowing Ahead

 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set towards Jerusalem. When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, ‘Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?’ But he turned and rebuked them. Then they went on to another village.
 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’ To another he said, ‘Follow me.’ But he said, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’ Another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.’ Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’  Luke 9:51-62

Plowing Ahead

Right now, nothing looks promising
the grey dripping tears sky somber
light disappearing into her winter self
we are on the cusp of a fruitless season.

Bitterness and despair can over take
when the snow flies and winds blow
when the four walls seemed dreary
and even the paint is wearing thin.

There is always work to be done
songs to be sung, babies to rock
elders to comfort, food prepared
love's labor is never lost in winter.

Shoulder to the plow means forward
despite challenges and biting wind
we dig deep furrows and bury seed
possibilities waiting for new light.