Sunday, January 31, 2010
In the synagogue at Nazareth, Jesus read from the book of the prophet Isaiah, and began to say, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, "Is not this Joseph's son?" He said to them, "Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, 'Doctor, cure yourself!' And you will say, 'Do here also in your hometown the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.'" And he said, "Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet's hometown. Luke 4:21-25
Today is All Saints' Church Annual meeting. And although I have been to many annual meetings this is my first among them here. I am a tab bit anxious, wishing I knew better how things were done in the past and how to move us all to a future together. Annual meetings are somewhat like coming home after a long time away. There is some things that have changed, and there are many things that have not. Some things and people might have declined and there accomplishments to celebrate. Coming home requires us all to take stock of what is past honestly and absorb the lessons the past has taught us. Then, starting from right where we are, move to a fuller and more vibrant future with a strong understanding of who we are. Many people just come home for a visit and want it like it always was. But to really comes home is to see home's totality and to speak a loving truth while imagining a brighter future.
Jesus came home and there was a swirl of emotions at his arrival. They wanted him to be a hometown hero and did not want him to tell the truth. The wanted fantasy rather than full and complete acceptance. And so they rejected Jesus, rather than accepting the truth and love he had to bring to his home town.
Today, I want to trust that this day will be a day of looking back and celebrating, while calibrating the compass for the future. I pray that today will be a vibrant and life giving home coming for many. A home where they are loved completely and totally challenged to bring their best to the table. May God grace us all with a sense of home today. A place and people where we are completely loved and invited to grow more with God and one another.
Saturday, January 30, 2010
The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were frightened. But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going. John 16:18-21
When we lived in Delaware, my mother would travel over to see us by Ferry. She would pay to be a walk on passenger - about five dollars then - and we would drive from our house to pick her up -about an hour drive. It was a great way to travel, except when the seas were rough. One year she was delayed coming to visit in early February for her birthday. They had to shut down the ferry, which runs year round, because of the storms. Folks who live on the water know when it's too rough. She got on the first boat after they were sailing again and she was the only foot passenger so had to board with the hand full of cars. They were wonderful and careful with her as she trailed behind the six cars that were loading into the car bays below decks. She has known many storms and many rough passages and taught us all to pray in all circumstances.
Jesus' disciples were seasoned sailors but were out of their depth. The seas were too rough and they were caught by surprise. Even more scary, Jesus came walking to them through the storm. Here was Jesus, right where they needed him, at the right place and time, and they were taken aback at first at his presence. Then they were glad to take him in the boat, and everything was calm when Jesus was around. Jesus comes in the midst of our delights and dangerous storms, to all the places from where we call out and all the places we don't invite. God is there, despite our invitations, neglect and fear.
Today, I want to remember to call on God in every thing I am doing. Scary and wonderful, I want to remember to invite Christ into the everyday, so that I can see and know the presence and be calm. Present all the time, our prayers open our eyes to the loving presence of a loving God. May we offer our prayers in storms and challenges, in joy and celebration, knowing God is always more ready to be revealed than we are to see the blessing.
Friday, January 29, 2010
One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. John 6:8-11
For many years, my mother led a group which fed poor children every week. There were thirty or more children every Friday and they always had more than enough, no matter how many children from the neighborhood showed up. The set up in a church basement and children as young as three would be brought in. When they had a van they picked up the children. There was always enough to send boxes home with each child. The meals were simple and hardy. And there was always dessert. Much of the food was donated by individuals who would drop off food to my mother's home, often coming into her garage and putting the food in the freezer or other designated storage areas. Money was given by many too, as well as several charitable organizations who backed the work. And helpers came from all over. There were no one church group that was exclusively in charge. There was always a small blessing and always enough food for the children who arrived, and always helpers enough for the day.
Jesus is offered a little boys' lunch by skeptical disciples. That already see how they have failed the people and failed to plan for the crowds. Jesus takes the small offering, and after a small blessing, there is enough for everyone. Five thousand or more were fed on one little boys' lunch. How it happened, I cannot say. I just know that it can happen and does happen when faith is active and we offer the little we have, God uses the offering for the many.
Today, I want to be abundantly thankful for what I have. And I want to find ways to offer my portion for the good of others. It is easy to see how much we might lack. And yet we lack nothing, if God is in the midst and we offer what we have for the good of all. May this day be a day of miracles, where the food and the faith stretch and multiply to feed everyone until they have had enough.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. John 5:35
I woke up this morning to a darkened sky and bright flakes of snow falling from the sky. We had heard last night that we might have a few flurries, but the ground was already covered and the roads looking a little chancy. The snow is clumped up on leaves and branches, and still coming down in a steady stream. The car head lights bounce off the snow and the sun is muted in the sky. The day is beautiful and gentle with subtleties of light and sound. This kind of snow makes the world seem profoundly different, if but for a moment.
Jesus is talking about the witness of John and comparing their radiance. Each reflected the glow of the Creator, of God's brilliant and constant love for the world which is embedded in and yet beyond creation. His disciples and those listening were confused and wanted to know who the right person was to follow. We know more of the complete story and understand the complexity of the relationship of John to Jesus. But the folks in their time, well, they felt themselves in the midst of a storm with the world changing around them. They couldn't see clearly for there were so many sources of light - or so it seemed.
Today, I want to embrace the world in it's difference today and delight in the changes in light and sound. I want to understand God profound capacity to be within creation and beyond creation as well. I want to marvel and delight in the work of God today. May God's love, new every morning, be real and profound today for us all.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
" Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live." John 5:24-25
I was a pretty determined child and grew up to be a fairly determined woman. When I was small, if there was something I wanted to try, I found a way to attempt it. I have an older brother and anything he could do, I thought I should do also. My mother would try to tell me that I was too small, or a little girl, but I was bound and determined to try it. Often times the attempt would end up in some bump or scrape. But I was dead to her cautions and her words. Too often, when people try to alert me to the dangers, if I don't listen now, I can find myself with more than a few bumps and scraps -very few of which are physical. The determination in a child or adult can make us deaf to the world around us, and careless with the needs of others. We can find u ourselves in dangerous places and on the brink of tremendous hurt.
Jesus tells his disciples that his words are life and life eternal. We often discount the words and cautions of others. Jesus reminds us that his word is life and we, who chose life must accept the words that he brings. If we do so, then life is ours in its full abundance.
Today, I want to have ears and a heart to heed Christ's words for me. Too often, I run headstrong into something and then have to retreat. I want to walk and live Christ's words today, knowing that each step of the way will be life, and life abundant. May we all listen with our hearts today and recieve the life and love that God has promised for each of us.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. John 5:7-9
In my household, there are often shoes all over the place. My family prefers to go barefoot whenever possible, and weather permitting, we will go barefoot out of doors. Several of us have very wide feet, so shoes are a challenge - to find a good fit along with an attractive pair is near impossible. During the summer, we will take long walks and talk with one another and with friends as we walk barefoot along the beach and on the streets. I am always amazed when someone visiting takes time to put on the correct walking shoe or sneakers, as we slip in and out of flip flops and bare feet. Walking requires only the willingness to go out the door and explore.
Jesus meets a man who can't walk and who has been waiting years for healing. He has sat by the pool, knowing that if he could get in, he would be healed, but no one has helped him. He has been exposed to the possibility over and over but never got near enough to get better. Jesus tells him his wait is over and tells him to get up, take his bedding and walk. No one around thinks it is right that so simple a few words would heal the man. They wanted something correct, proper and dazzling. They wanted a big deal, a dram for the healing. What the got was raw love, the power of God changing that man's life for ever. He only wanted to so simple things like normal people. Get up and walk.
Today, I want to remember that healing comes in the simplest of things. God's love works as we take small steps to improve, get well, and move forward. As we forgive a little, believe a little, get up and walk a little, God is active in great abundance. I want to go barefoot on the path today, open and trusting, knowing the love of the love of God to be more than adequate for the day ahead. May we all take simple steps so the love of God can change our world.
Monday, January 25, 2010
The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way. As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was recovering. John 4:49-52
When I woke up this morning, the wind was rattling the windows and the rain was pounding on the roof. Tree branches were bent low and some were scrapping against the clapboards on the house. It was a day to stay indoors, a day to stay off the roads, a day to roll over and go back to bed. Some days, it doesn't seem worth it to venture out, only to be overcome by water and other challenges. When things happen that are hard to bear, we often retreat into ourselves and shut the weary wolrd and the woolly winds out.
Today erh ear the story of the father who heads out on the rough roads, hoping that Jesus can do something for his child. He has a plan to bring Jesus back home with him, hoping and praying that this would make his son well. The challenges in front of him were great. When he finally gets to Jesus, Jesus sends him home alone. And yet, the man believes and is comforted and relieved to find his son whole. Many of us would not have believed, nor would we have trusted since our hearts were broken our hopes let down. It wasn't at all as we had hoped. And yet Jesus is working despite the plans and rules we make. Love is active and ready to heal despite how we know things should be.
Today, I want to live with the road ahead of me. Today, I want to let go of schemes and dreams and accept the road that God has put me on, knowing that there are more wonders and miracles than I can imagine. Despite the days when I want to curl up and crawl into a safe cave, I know that God is on the road with me and love will conquer all the challenges ahead. May we all rejoice in God's love which is in the midst of our trials and storms, a love which is active and ready, in spite of our fears and hesitations this day.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. Luke 4:9
A place, a door, a season
a coastline from the airplane
window,breath catching, tears
welling up, I am home.
They know me and I'm scared my past
might interfere with present
my presence here is suspect
challenged, welcomed, rejoiced
I am home.
I read the words memorized
I speak the hidden words of heart
and promise, they marvel
and I fear that
I am home.
Everybody wants something
different for each, and incomplete
human capacities are normal
but expectations are huge and I fail
to see that I am home.
God is within and without,
there is enough worry for today
storm clouds gather trouble
collecting dark hearts and aching
sings and wonders too much
for the crowd at home.
I ask God in heaven to be here
with me at home, sheltering me
from storm and onslaught, terror
and jealousy, I am sure here
I am called and God is climbing
down from heaven
and I am home.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.” John 4:39-42
Today, we head out to take our daughter Phoebe back to college for her last semester in her undergraduate career. We have had a daughter in school since 1983, and someone in college since 1996. A chapter of her life is coming to a close. A chapter of our lives too, is coming to a close. One cannot really imagine the next phases of life before they happen. I know these will be wonderful times for her and for us. There will be new and different things to look forward to. There will be accomplishments in all of our daughters lives to celebrate in the coming years. We will be surprised and delighted, over and over again by all their good work and relationships. And not knowing completely what lies ahead seems a bit scary and fragile, at least for today.
So today, I want to seek the smiles and laughter that we have today. Not looking for the big plans for the future, or even worrying about tomorrow, but really focus of today. Just today. For I am convinced that if I focus on the gifts of today, God will have the days to come. More wonderfully than I can imagine. I know and have heard and seen for myself how God takes care of us - abundantly and fully. May we all, as we face life's changes, entrust our days to God. For God is willing and ready to abundantly provide.
Friday, January 22, 2010
"But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.” John 4:23-26
I have had the privilege to visit many beautiful houses of worship in my time. I have even been asked to preach in some great cathedrals and participate in some incredible liturgies. I am always amazed by the beauty and elegance that is visible. There is an awe that is tangible when visiting these places, especially those in Europe which are ancient buildings by American standards. Generations of the faithful have offered their wealth and their poverty to the glory of God and the buildings which are set apart for worship. And yet I can't help but think of the times when I have worshiped in simple little spaces, in simple little towns and villages overlooked by most of the world. Some of the most magnificent worship experiences have happened when I was in a humble little place. Worshiping in a large and glamorous place can be distracting. Worshiping in a small gathering all voices can be heard. Spirit and truth demand a transparent honesty of need, an open and available heart.
Jesus continues the incredible theological conversation with the woman. He has demanded she go to her husband and it is revealed that she has had many. Her life is laid bare before him, and aches to be known by God in complete honesty and with an open heart. She wants a relationship with God that can transform her inside and out, not dazzle her eyes and leave her broken and scarred.
Today, I want to live as honestly and openly as I can. I want to rejoice in the intimacy of my community, and the transparency by which we live. I am so grateful for the openness of heart, and I want to keep my heart open for the spirit of God moving in my life today. May we all have the courgae to continue the dialogue of the heart with Christ, so that we might ache to be known completely and honestly by God. And may we know God's healing love today, transforming all the places and relationships we have hidden, glossed over and cover with pretty veils which mask terrible scars. May we know God today.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again,but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” John 4:11-15
Water moves. Any one who lives near an ocean or a river knows that the water is in motion and constantly changing. Water moves with tides, with the rotation of the earth and with the cycles of the moon. It is different in winter than in spring, fall or summer. Wind can make it dance and fly. Cold can make it slow, then hard and it will freeze, even salt water will freeze. And it will thaw again. In the north water can become winter roads shaving hours off summer's traveling time. Water cleans us, refreshes us, challenges us, entertains us and can frighten and trouble us. When there is trouble on the water, entire communities are effected. And without water, none of us can survive. Water is a valuable commodity. For most life forms on this earth, without water, we will die.
Jesus talks with a woman at a well. They are enemies in the eyes of their cultures and religious traditions. He asks her for something to drink - a simple enough request - which begins one of the most profound conversations in the Gospels. Jesus is talking with a woman about the profound and life giving nature of God. God who is not bound by human traditions, societal norms, nor the rules of any given polite society. A loving God, who, poured out like water for us all, is ready and willing to give and renew life to every person. A God who is not frozen in time but living and true. A God who is willing to have profound conversations with people at the margins, and who gives prominence to the outcasts, the poor and the marginalized among us.
Today, I want to remember that Jesus is standing at the well, ready to give living water. No matter how drained and exhausted I may be, Christ is willing. No matter how out of the loop, dropped from the club, broken or in pain I might be, Christ is ready and willing to bring healing, restoration and life. All I need do is come to the well. May we all have courage today to seek the living waters of the well of God. May we seek love, renewing courage and life abundant. No matter what happened yesterday, may we trust God today to bring us living water and new abundant life today.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:27-30
I am just arriving home after a wonderful trip to a gathering of Indigenous leadership. It was hosted in Alabama by the wonderful folks at St. Anna's Church on the Poarch Creek Reservation. We were delayed getting home by a day since my daughter was violently ill and couldn't fly yesterday. Thinking back though, I was happy and encouraged by all the new and young leadership which is coming forth and the folks who are working to encourage others. Challenges abound and yet so many are working so hard for the good of others and their various communities. And I begin to have an idea of what it means to have complete joy - both in the blessings of others and safe home -all which seem to be gifts from heaven.
Today, as the sun sets, home life returns and laundry gets done, I am grateful to God for wonderful friends all over the globe who are faithful in their own places and for the common good. I am grateful for my family who happily welcomes me home, no matter what shape I am in. And I am grateful for a home, warm and secure, when so many have nothing and no one to go home to. May my joy be demonstrated in the way I care for others, how I offer what I have and my gratefulness in prayer and song for God's good and abundant gifts in my life.
Friday, January 15, 2010
Very early tomorrow morning, my daughter Emily and I will set out for a trip to Alabama. We are spending four days, guests of the Poarch Band Creeks, participating in the annual Wintertalk. Wintertalk is a time where native leadership from around the Episcopal Church and many of our indigenous friends and partners come together for worship, sharing, learning and renewal. Folks come from many tribes and become one family for a time, laughing and dreaming together. I ask your prayers for safe travel and for a good spirit throughout. As I do not know if I will have access to a computer, I expect that the daily nature of this blog will be interrupted once again. But only briefly. Please know that you are held in prayer across this wide and near distance, and tenderly cared for in the hands of God who has made us each so wonderfully different and yet all one family. Many blessings and much love until we are safe home again.
When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” John 2:3-5
In a few weeks my mother will celebrate her 87th birthday. She has lived through so much in her life and remains positive and faithful in her daily life. She still lives on her own and takes care of herself. She's active in the community and many church and outreach endeavors. She has also grown into her own leadership. Let's admit it, my mother is still in charge. She often calls herself the family patriarch, and when I was made a bishop decided to call herself the Mother Superior. And from early on, I learned to do what she told me. Whether from self preservation, instinct or intelligence, I caught on to the idea that doing what she said was not an option. This is true, even in my adult life, although she rarely asks me to do something I wouldn't be glad to do. When I was younger, it was another story entirely.
Jesus is at a wedding in Cana and the wine has run out. Mary thinks her son can do something about it. We hear his initial response, the rebellion of a child to a mother. But we soon learn that he quickly assesses the situation and does what his mom says. Praying that God would make a miracle happen just might have been easier than crossing his mother. Mary also urged Jesus to act on his capacity, a capacity she had waited for all of his life. Sometimes a parent can see potential and capacity when they child can't. And sometimes, there is a job to be done. Mary knew both her son's capacity and the promises of God. Folks were waiting.
Today, I want to rejoice in the gifts my mother gave me, along with the support, urging, chores, discipline and upbraiding I received. From her strength and faith I have received endless gifts. And I want to give thanks for all the others who have helped form me as a Christian, a Bishop, a mother, a wife and a child of God. It is never easy to receive discipline and direction, but God has blessed me with many faithful folks who gave to me from their heart and their wisdom. May this day be the day we honor the wisdom we have received and the people that have been faithful in our formation and "fethcin' up". May we know the hand of God love in their faithfulness to us today.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
“Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you,you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” John 1:50-51
Some of the most beautiful visual moments I have witnessed happened by the water. Part of this is that I have spent so much of my life near the water. One can't help but see magnificent moments when the sun and the water dance together and sometimes they even sing. Seasons change the light and the water and provide another kind of beauty and display. It is a constantly changing palette, one I feel drawn to time and time again for its mystery and elegant beauty. The seas can also be harsh, horrible and destructive and tear apart peoples lives. The ocean is no gentle subject, rather powerful and magnificent, and constantly changing.
Nathanael believed because Jesus saw him under the fig tree. We often make belief statements when something amazing or beautiful happens. We likewise often wonder where God is when terrible tragedy happens, like the earthquake in Haiti. It is a horrible thing and it is hard to fathom the pain, loss and devastation. These are the times when I wish to see the greater things of God - heavens opened, angels descending- to heal and renew the broken. I am also aware that God gives us an opportunity in these moments to demonstrate our best selves, our compassion and care, to live for others for a time. In these times when most have drawn in and are just trying to stay alive, we are invited to do greater than these times.
Today, I want to find ways to live my fiat and my thanksgiving for blessings I know. I want to be grateful for the beauty and community, family and health. And I want to use my life for the strengthening of others. May we all in our small way be agents of God's demonstrated love in this world today.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi, where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. John 1:38-39
Last year, for Christmas, my daughter Ariel gave me a GPS for my car. Knowing that I often have to go to unfamiliar places on crazy busy roads, it was a kind gift and something that I use a great deal. Other members of the family borrow it if they are going somewhere unfamiliar. It is very helpful. But I have found myself in conversation with what I know is an inanimate object. The voice doesn't ask me where am I going, when I make a wrong turn. She just tells me she's recalculating. It infuriates me, since I was following her directions all along. I often remind her that I am doing the driving. She does usually get me to where I am going, but often not by the way I imagined. I occasionally remind here that it would be nice if she would appreciate a job well, another mystery driving event without an incident.
Andrew was looking for direction. He wanted to be closer to God and so had followed John and been baptized and listen often as he gave people directions for preparing for and finding the messiah. When he and another disciple of John finally found Jesus, they were reluctant to say what they were seeking. "Where are you staying ?" was their reply. I don't think they wanted to see the room where Jesus lived or get home design suggestions from him. They ached to be close to God and firm in their faith. And seeing Jesus they knew they were in the right place -just embarrassed to admit their needs and desires. They ached to be on the road with him, and desperately wanted to know God's hand in their lives. They wanted their journey to be touched by God.
Today, I want to remember how important it is to ask for directions, and whatever I need. And how reluctant I am to admit that need. Today, I want to honestly admit, in prayer and in relation to others, the real needs and hopes that are in my heart. God is willing and we are often so reluctant. May today be the day we offer our real needs to God, trusting that God is faithful and just, the source of love and all good desires. And may we be blessed, whatever our journey to know the touch of God's love in our lives today.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
“I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ John 1:23
There are days when no eye contact no
voice recognition, no touch or greeting no,
we feel invisible unheard, crying
from the pinnacle of an abandoned tower.
Some nights darkness envelopes like heavy wool
covering the sighs and whispers the silent
mouthed prayers the lips exorcising
dark spirits from a broken heart.
There are mornings when sleep regrets
the list of things left undone and the dim
aching morning sun barely lifts
the dark is lingering and winter bites
down leaving marks for days to come.
Today God is listening to the mumblings
the broken sidewalks rants, the mother's sorrows
and the artist lament, today, God sends
a voice to the wilderness to listen
and to announce love's arrival on our
Today, the announcements overhead familiar
and grating are heralding a new love
a new heart, a new home.
God has lived with us in the wilderness
the wild, untamed, abandoned alleys, lived
along side the aching and the broken.
Along side you and me.
Today, God's messenger is running full tilt
down the avenue through obstacles
leaping barriers to deliver life and
love that will melt the snow's crust
and our hearts of stone.
Monday, January 11, 2010
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”)And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. John 1:14-16
In talking with the children during yesterday's sermon, I asked them what present they received overwhelmed them. We were talking about the rare treasures that the three kings brought to the infant Jesus. Several told me about the various computer games and other electronic toys they had received. From near behind me, I heard one of the Dads in the congregation say the names of his children. Tears came to my eyes.The sweet faces of my beautiful daughters sprang immediately to mind. Somehow a little projector showed me slides of their various life stages. I asked the children if they realized what treasures they were. Did they know that they were they best gift their parents had ever received? Despite all of the frustrating moments children have with their parents and parent with their young, ever head nodded - among the children and the adults gathered. The one thing we can all agree on is the value and preciousness of our little ones, and our loved ones. Grace upon grace, gifts I didn't deserve but I thank God everyday that they are in my life. Gifts beyond measure - Mark, Emily, Ariel, Phoebe, my mother, siblings, relatives and this community that nurtures me as well. I am blessed by these gifts.
It is often easy, when faced with challenges to forget how much love God showers upon us. It is easy to think, when tragedy and illness strike that God doesn't love us or is actively "doing this" to us. It is a normal, human response and we are all human. We might even ask, "why is God doing this to me?" We ask because we are human and we do not know the mind of God. The one thing I do know is the heart and mind - the totality of God - is love. Grace upon grace is the path of God. The things that befall us in this world cannot shut out the love and light of God. The evil, hurtful things cannot consume God's love for us. Even when we feel that God is far off, when we feel lost and afraid, God, who is love, is nearby, within us, seeking love's solutions to all the broken places.
Today, I am planning on seeking God's love in my life. Noticing it, absorbing it, rejoicing in the sounds my family makes and the smiles people bring my way. For today, I want to rejoice in the love I have been given -grace upon grace -which is manifest in those around me. I pray this day you might see the grace that abounds in your presence, the realized gifts from God.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road. Matthew 2:12
We will celebrate the Epiphany in Church today with the children telling the story of the arrival of the wise men from the East. Often this arrival is depicted immediately after the birth of Jesus, but it is clear that some time passes before they arrive. They have a long way to get there. Their expedition was challenging. They were charmed and entertained by the local governor, chief priests and the king. All this before they found the child Jesus with his parents in a humble dwelling in Bethlehem. Although struggling to find him their joy was great when they did. And yet these wise men listened to their dreams and took another detour to get home. We can often find ourselves on roads we didn't expect following detours that seem unexplained and mysterious. It seems at times that our lives are filled with yet another road.
My husband and I have been traveling for several days - a little time away after a busy season for some rest. We traveled some familiar roads, yet had to make detours because of traffic and circumstances. On Friday night our plans changed suddenly when we got a call from our son-in-law, Adam to tell us our daughter Ariel was hit by a car. She was fine but suffering from a severe concussion and multiple bruises - no bone were broken. We made haste and tried to get to Bethlehem (PA) where she was in the hospital. She was released and home before we arrived, since we had to take many roads and detours on the way. I was thrilled and relieved to see her, and it was as if I could finally breath again. I couldn't help but wonder whether the wise men felt both the frantic compulsion to find the child as well as the frustration of the detours we felt. And the joy we felt when finally being able to see our child - well, it must have been something like that for them.
Today, I can only be grateful for the love we have from God, which traveled with us on our detours as well as the straight highways. Love that knows a mother's heart. Love that is on the road, with us for the distance, no matter how far we have come from and no matter how far we are sent. May God bless us all with the knowledge of this love that surrounds and protects us all despite the challenges, detours and journeys we face.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
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 2:10-12
Today we celebrate the moment when the Son of God was made known to the whole earth. God's love was not for a few, a treasured nation but for the whole world. A light for the whole world, through whom we are all made family, relations in the family of God.
Collect for Epiphany
O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Epiphany is also the end of the Christmas season, if it hasn't been shut down already by so many. Today is the day to celebrate the coming of Christ to the whole world but also to continue to be light bearers. The strange, exotic men that sought the child were wise men, shamans, medicine men and the scholars of their community. They came to lay their gifts at the feet of Jesus, to acknowledge that the one God had reached out to them through a star and brought them to the place where they could understand the Creator's love in a whole new way. Today is the day to celebrate that the walls have come down, the barriers broken and the whole of humanity is invited to the table once saved for a chosen few.
May we live this day rejoicing in the breadth and depth of God's love for us which is willing to reach out to us no matter how far away we are and will speak in our language -even the language of stars in the night sky. My we live today with the light that never fades away, but continues to burn, seeking us out in our darkest nights.
The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” John 11:44
It is the time of year and time of life to start over again. And it is impossible to start over again if we are clinging to things, people and places that have bound us. Ways of living that have wrapped us in a deadly spiral, a twisted, caught way of being that seems death like in it's grip, sour in it's longevity, binding in it's unwillingness to change. We do have to let go of somethings to make room for new life. We might have to fall, thinking there is no net. We might have to welcome the dead back to life. WE might have to make room in our hearts and homes for others. And for God. Love asks us to let go, so that our hands our open for receiving.And letting go can be one of the hardest things to do for most of us.
Today, I want to let go. Whatever creeps into my mind and raises anxiety and consternation -it will be time for me to unbind it and give ti to God in prayer.
"Oh what peace we often forfeit, oh, what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer." Wonderful words of an old standard and beloved family hymn. May we all have the courage to let them all go, so that God might bring us all new life.
Monday, January 4, 2010
" We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” John 9:4-5
I am one among many who misses the light during the winter. These past few weeks make me feel like I should hibernate, find a cool cave and sleep until spring returns. The day light is so short - and I know the shortness of days cannot compare to other places where winter means little or no light. No matter how much technology we surround ourselves with, there is no comparison between natural and artificial light. We can light everything in the darkness and it is still dark night.
Jesus heals a man born blind. He life had always been the dead of winter. He could feel the light but never see it and never take it in. There are those around him who are questioning Jesus wanting to know if the blindness is some punishment. But Jesus answers all of this by healing the man. God's activity of making whole. His work was always to restore and heal, to bring light to darkness and life to the dying. We are invited to work when there is light, in the daytime with Christ. To live with the light of the world so that others might know healing and reconciliation.
So today, despite my natural inclination to hibernate, I want to be a beacon of hope for others, a source of light where there is little in this dark winter. Each of us has a light to shine, and daylight to use. May we all have the courage today to use the light we have for the restoration of others.
Sunday, January 3, 2010
When Herod died, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, "Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child's life are dead." Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And after being warned in a dream, he went away to the district of Galilee. There he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, "He will be called a Nazorean." Matthew 2:19-23
Some of us have had a year past where lots of good things happened. Many others had difficulties because of the economy. Some have relationships end suddenly, and have had to move and try to begin over. If not this past year, at least some time in the past we have all had to change direction and find a new dream. When this happens, it feels as if God is far off, or that we are being punished for some failure. We can incriminate ourselves, others and God when our known world collapses and we have to change course. We can feel alone and betrayed, and left by the wayside as the world moves on.
Joseph, had to change directions and path a lot in the early days of his role of father to the God child. Just as he got established in Bethlehem it was time to go to Egypt. Just as things were working out in Egypt, God sends him back. But he can't go home, he has to start over again in Galilee. A place he probably didn't like growing up and said it was the one place he never wanted to find himself. A few dreams and his life changed radically, over and over again. It couldn't have been easy for him. He was just trying to be a good husband and faster.
Today, I want to embrace the reality that God is with us even in the worst moves, the most challenging situations and in places we would rather not be. God may not send each of us angels in dreams, but God does say we are family and that God will take care of us - even send us a new direction and to new places to save our lives. Lif3e isn't easy for many these days. And God promises to be with us in the hardest of times, in our weakest most vulnerable states and when we have lost our way. We will have new dreams and new directions. God is with us and we are cared for as tenderly as a beloved child, even when we feel lost and totally alone. Gos is with us.
Saturday, January 2, 2010
“Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” John 6:12
Yesterday was overcast and dreary early but as New Year's Day continued the sun struggled to come out. Mark and I decided to take a walk along the beach at Rye Playland. It was a nice afternoon, slightly above freezing with little wind. We walked for a while and then decided to go in and look at the ice rink. The young woman behind the booth was kind and let us in to watch the skaters and look at the rink. A thousand years of memories came back as I enter the rink where I took skating lessons and where I whiled away hour after hour on the ice. As a young girl, I dreamed of being good enough to skate in competition, but it was never to be. None of that really matters now, what matters are the old images of myself connected to the present day. The possibility colliding with present reality and a good dash of the child's joy, excitement and enthusiasm lingering behind. We all have remnants from our lives of an earlier era. I am reminded that in God's economy nothing is lost. There is an intention to gather up the fragments, the broken pieces and people to seek restoration and completion.
This story from John's Gospel of the feeding of the five thousand has lately not focused on the miracle for me. I am strapped with the conviction that gathering up the fragments is the most remarkable part of this Gospel and the verse that has renewable power in my life at present. For Jesus did not only feed those gathered but instructed all of us to gather us the discarded and the lonely, the set aside and shunned, the lonely and the maligned, and draw them in for God's love to reach.
Today I realize this gathering in has meaning for my life as well. Nothing good is ever tossed away. God will use it, and us for the restoration of ourselves and others.
Today, in this early day of the New Year, I want to linger on this verse and take it to heart. For a whole year, open my heart to what it means to gather up the fragments. May we all know ourselves invited by God to gather up the fragments - and may we know ourselves to be the gathered up. Since nothing and no one is lost to God.
Friday, January 1, 2010
When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him Matthew 1:24
It is New Year's Day 2010 and people are awake, some regretting already how they started 2010. Some just gently saw it through until the ball dropped in the safety of their home. Others partied with strangers and friends. All of us carry some wild expectations, whether we admit them or not. We want things in the new year to be magically different. Many will sign up for weight loss and gym programs in the next few days, mixed with hopefulness, self-loathing and/or desperation. We want something radically different, and want to be someone completely different.
Today we hear the story of Joseph's dream, the one which set him on the path to accept Mary's story and live with the consequences of accepting that honor. He would work and struggle his whole life to understand what part he had to play in God's plan. Hid faithfulness and willingness to take on the challenge of God, changed the whole story of our faith. It wasn't his kid and he didn't have to do it. He felt betrayed at some level and drawn into a mess not of his own making. And yet he woke up and was faithful. And God was faithful to him and we honor him to this day. Thousands upon thousands of youngsters and adults have vied to play the role. we all want to be the heroic Joseph. Few want to face the weight of his dream and his faithfulness.
Today, as we face 2010 together, let us remember that God is always faithful and loving to us, and always willing to inspire us to do great things. These things are not the things that the world thinks are great, but rather constancy and sacrifice for others are the marks of God's activity in our lives. Whatever personal goals you set, may they be surrounded by the dreams of God - that love and compassion will be the path for this and every year. Happy New Year and may God bless us all!