Friday, July 29, 2016

Do Not Be Afraid

After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” Matthew 28:1-10 

When I worked in a daycare center during college, the children loved to be read a certain book. It's repeating line was, "don't be scared!" They would shout it along with the reader every time it came around. The story was about the things that scare children - the dark, monsters under the bed, strange loud noises - and the parent in the story shed light on all the child's fears. We are easily fearful, in these tumultuous days, but there is always light to be shed and love to spread.

The women, deep in mourning, bent with grief, come to the tomb. To make matters worse the ground shakes and they are surrounded with light. Despite all the fearful things they held their ground and stayed to hear an angel tell them amazing news. All the fear and finality that surrounded them was shrugged off in mere seconds. Their sorrow turned to joy. And God reminds us today, when fear surrounds us and folks seemed armed for violence and destruction, fear will be shrugged off again by the power of God's love.

Today I ask God to help me hold my ground and wait to the turning. May we all be courageous in tumultuous times, knowing God has more goodness and blessings for us than we can see in the darkest moments.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Sitting Opposite the Tomb

Many women were also there, looking on from a distance; they had followed Jesus from Galilee and had provided for him. Among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee. When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb. The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ Therefore command the tomb to be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead,’ and the last deception would be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can.” So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone. Matthew 27:55-66 

Sitting Opposite the Tomb

Some days there is nothing to do
a loving heart wracked with sobs
hands clinging to the lifeless body
eyes full of the open wounds.

Some days there is no action to take
only breathing and sighing
bending and struggling in prayer
helpless watching the scene unfold.

Some days there is no response
but to seek the love of the others
the bereaved and the beloved community
who gather despite the pain.

Today we will sit by and weep
we will talk into the night and wonder
we will tell the stories of love
and be moved once again to action.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Earth Shook

From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And about three o’clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “This man is calling for Elijah.” At once one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink. But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. After his resurrection they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many. Now when the centurion and those with him, who were keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were terrified and said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!" Matthew 27:45-54  

Some days our world is shaken and everything changes. Whether it is a chance encounter with someone, a moment when we turn and go another way, or a tragic moment - we all have times when everything changes and the ground underneath us shakes. We like it when everything is smooth, calm and unchanging. In real life, everything is changing, moving and unpredictable. The constancy in our lives is the love of God and yet we cling to what we think is solid and firm.

Jesus is dying and the world is turning in the peoples' watching. The world was very dark, and then everything was shaken up by divine love, love which has power greater than death. Even the soldiers could not mistake the real power of God's love for the Incarnate Son. We are invited today to stand in the midst of our darkness and shaking, knowing that God is doing a new thing, bringing new love and possibilities for us all.

Today I ask God to help me be strong when the dark settles in. May our hearts be open to receive spectacular newness, wondrous changes and miracles we could never imagine.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Lead Away

 So when Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took some water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.’ Then the people as a whole answered, ‘His blood be on us and on our children!’ So he released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.
 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him. Matthew 27:24-31

Lead Away

We are daily put aside, lead away
the voices of the innocents and aliens
sidelined by power and greed
sent away hoping to silence love.

Love voice stronger than death itself
was not heard by the executioners
the weeping and fallen specatators
felt deep within them the roar of justice.

The powerful will entomb the weak
but love breaks through enormous stones
rolls away the oppression and the doubt
exposing the vicious for who they are.

Love does not bend to punish rulers
instead makes it case daily for the poor
can be found on the margins and in camps
where food is shared and nothing hoarded.

Let us hear the voice of love today
let justice run down like the rain
may we set free the prisoners of the greedy
working with kindness in killing fields.


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Teach Us to Pray

Jesus was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples." He said to them, "When you pray, say:
Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
And do not bring us to the time of trial."
And he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, `Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.' And he answers from within, `Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.' I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.
"So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" Luke 11:1-13

In the last few days, I have had a hard time praying. It isn't that I haven't tried, and it isn't that I don't desire to talk to God. The pain and barriers are not in my relationship with Christ but rather with those who profess to be Christian and scorn the needs and realities of others. They have closed the doors on friend and family. And my heart is breaking. I keep asking for what I can do and meanwhile wait in silence for direction.

The disciples asked Jesus for help in their prayers and he gave them an immediate answer, an immediate model, a prayer will still all pray. He then invites them to understand that this prayer is just a beginning to understanding our relationship with God. We are invited to know God as one who is more generous than we can imagine, more abundant than we have witnessed, and more respond than we are to ask. Our prayers might often seem unanswered, but indeed God is willing and able to bring about unseen answers and abundant miracles.

Today I ask God to help me continue to listen for answers and direction. May we never give up our hope in the possibilities that God has before us and never loose hope in answered prayer.

O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Going to the Tomb

Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where the body was laid.
When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.”Mark 15:47-16:7 

Going to the Tomb

There were not guards or politicians
no lords or lawyers or physicians there
only several heart broken women
tears spilling down exhausted faces.

The important people the governors
sat satisfied in their soft linen seats
knowing they pulled off an impossible task
proud of their legacy and control.

They were not out at the crack of dawn
did not gather spices and weep all night
they proudly danced and fully feasted
resting in their warm and soft beds.

The dark early morning was silent
they might have sung an ancient hymn
they solemnly went to pay loving tribute
and were greeted with an outrageous miracle.

Miracles are not for the powerful and set
resurrection withheld from the overlords
healing does not come to the proud and vain
but to outcast women, rejected and the scorned.

The price of our freedom is our pride
our offering of self for others and the world
our humility in the hardest task of life
the care with which we go to the tomb.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Come Out With Swords

 While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; with him was a large crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, ‘The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him.’ At once he came up to Jesus and said, ‘Greetings, Rabbi!’ and kissed him. Jesus said to him, ‘Friend, do what you are here to do.’ Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and arrested him. Suddenly, one of those with Jesus put his hand on his sword, drew it, and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the scriptures be fulfilled, which say it must happen in this way?’ At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, ‘Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. But all this has taken place, so that the scriptures of the prophets may be fulfilled.’ Then all the disciples deserted him and fled. Matthew 26:47-56

Come Out With Swords

From a very private agonizing moment
praying alone in the night garden
to an agitated and violent mob scene
we are found in the midst of drama.

From this very intentional kiss
from a long time friend and colleague
to battle and blood in minutes
and we lean in to the thrill of it all.

God stands in the center of the battle lines
along the perimeter of the angry crowds
beside protestors and frightened guards
cradling the bruised and the bloodied.

God would come willingly and yet we won't
the incarnate One would dwell among us
we would barricade love behind steel bars
we would limit the possibility of God's presence.

We are created all of us from the same cloth
blood and sinew, rage and tenderness interwoven
brought forth and nourished by tender parents
destroyed by angry and hurting humans.

Let us return to the crime scene again
wondering what part we would have played
betrayer, runner or wounded slave
torch bearer, soldier or terrified onlooker.

Let us see the God in our midst today
in the midst of our violence and rhetoric
in our worst present terrifying moments
on the borderlands where aliens and God dwell.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Let This Cup Pass From Me

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated. Then he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.” And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.” Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again he went away for the second time and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” Again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.” Matthew 26:36-46 

There are things I really rather not do and some which are so painful and hard they seem impossible to face. I wish that God would take away the responsibility and the pain, the impossible tasks and the betrayals. I have been searching for a way out of a very hard and complex situation that is directly before me. Today I have decided to pray for the courage and strength to face what is ahead with God's love and compassion.

Jesus has celebrated with his disciples their traditions and is full of food, drink and anticipation. Nothing will be the same after this night and he knows it. He would rather, like all of us, continue in the love of friends and in the fellowship of community, but it is not to be. He pleads, very humanly to have the cup taken away, and finally asks for the strength and courage to see God's will complete. We humans wisely run from danger and conflict, but there are times we need to face it head on. God is inviting us to know we are never alone in what we face, and we will be guided and strengthened as we seek to do God's will.

Today I ask God to help me face what is before us and to seek God's will in every moment. May we, who have been running away, turn and face the places we are called, knowing we will never face what is ahead alone, but will be surrounded by God's mighty love.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Poured Out

While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus said to them, “You will all become deserters because of me this night; for it is written,
‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’

But after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.” Peter said to him, “Though all become deserters because of you, I will never desert you.” Jesus said to him, “Truly I tell you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.” Peter said to him, “Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And so said all the disciples. Matthew 26:26-35 

Poured Out

No one likes to consider giving up
letting go,  turning away, poured out
spent for the life of other people
we all imagine ourselves be conquerors.

Lost and change constantly surround us
like waves continuous and unpredictable
life defined by adaptation and innovation
days defined by loving the present only.

We want to be heroes of our own devising
cringe when we need help to cross over
small little diversions confuse us
we ache to return to a home long gone.

We  are poured out daily and remade
shaped anew by loving hands pulling
gently stretching us ever upward
tenderly molding nearer to the earth.

Friday, July 15, 2016


On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?” He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’” So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal.
When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve; and while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.” And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another, “Surely not I, Lord?” He answered, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.” Judas, who betrayed him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” He replied, “You have said so.”  Matthew 26:17-25 

Last evening, as the whole of France was celebrating their independence, one person betrayed the revelers by driving a truck into a crowd innocent people. It was a wondrous celebration turned into a nightmare of horrific proportions. One individual betrayed the goodness of people, took his anger out on the undeserving, used by violent people who hide behind their faith. Sadly, we live in a world where one person can destroy the joy of so many.

Jesus knew he was to be betrayed, as he knew the heart of humanity. Greed and celebrity were no less on Judas' mind than any other weak human heart. We are too easily persuaded by violent and selfish people, who hide behind their righteousness and their faith to perpetrate evil and betrayal. Jesus knew that God's love could not stop the actions of one angry man. But God's love is conquering the evil in our world, day by day. The betrayal by Judas is not the end of the story. We are invited to live, not giving in to the weaknesses and greed which we are offered, but rather live so that love is all we do, love is all we know.

Today I ask God to help us all take a moment to clear our hearts of all greed, envy and anger. May we not be swept up in retaliation or justification in the face of betrayal, but rather find new ways to serve the people who need love desperately today.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

What She Has Done

When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.”
Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, and they conspired to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. But they said, “Not during the festival, or there may be a riot among the people.”
Now while Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment, and she poured it on his head as he sat at the table. But when the disciples saw it, they were angry and said, “Why this waste? For this ointment could have been sold for a large sum, and the money given to the poor.”
But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? She has performed a good service for me. For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. By pouring this ointment on my body she has prepared me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.” Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I betray him to you?” They paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he began to look for an opportunity to betray him. Matthew 26:1-16 

What She Has Done

That woman, poor, outcast and rejected
made a normal meal a holy moment
turned the betrayer's heart to stone
gave her all for the love of God.

For the love of money and security
we shield our eyes from want and pain
we close our windows to the cries
we shutter out the other from our safety.

She broke the rules of culture and religion
she moved in a circle where she didn't belong
she honor the heart of God in her offering
and shamed the righteous in their greed.

What she has done for all of us shows
there is no outcast among God's beloved
the table is set for the hungry and needy
plenty available for all who would come.

She gave her small gift and she is remembered
the rule breaker, the harlot, the rejected
love is bigger than any label or any shame
love breaks barriers and sets captives free.


Tuesday, July 12, 2016


 ‘For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents,* to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, “Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, “Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, “Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.” But his master replied, “You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 25:14-30

The world is full of fear and reactive behaviors these days. Fear is our own worst enemy - fear of failure, fear of judgment, fear of others' opinions, and fear of those not like us who won't understand. Fear limits us and causes us to keep from sharing what we have, those good gifts that can change the world for the better.  We can left fear rule the day and our lives, or use the talents and gifts we have been given, however big or small, to make the world a less fear-filled and harsh place.

Jesus tells another parable after being sorely tested. He is still speaking to the religious leadership and those in power and authority. The story challenges all of us to invest wisely, to use our gifts for the betterment of human kind and to not let fear ruin our capacity. God had blessed us all with so much and our faith demands that we use everything we have been given. God invites us to override the fear and be a blessing to this world.

Today I ask God to help me be a blessing. May we enrich and bring peace to our world through our generosity and love. May fear be wiped out by hope, anger replaced with joy and lives be changed by our offerings today.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Lighting Lamps

Jesus said, “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’
Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. Later the other
bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’ Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” Matthew 25:1-13 

Lighting Lamps

For a time we let anger rule
let it seep across us like a storm
raging and howling in the dark
pouting and stomping in the day.

Storms flare and whip us passing on
the hard work is to heal the tears
to take up hammer and nails instead
of picking up rifles and firing into the pain.

Deep faith demands an even deeper response
ready hands and humble hearts, open arms
ready to embrace the victims and perps alike
ready to greet the trembling dawn of new life.

We are soldiers in an army of love
warriors who will fight for peace and steady
all the raging, the pained and the confused
bringing light where once was darkness.

Light your lamps O you who would love
surround the darkness and storm with hope
give possibilities where there were none
bind up the wounds of those caught in between.


Sunday, July 10, 2016


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 neighbor 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

Some lectioary readings are more appropriate than others This Sundays readings seem all too appropriate after the week we have had. It has seemed as if we have lost sight of our neighbor. Young men are being killed by police and angry young man killed several police who were keeping the peace. We easily justify our own anger for our own but want calm from others. We have failed to do the work of loving our neighbor.

Jesus is challanged by a young man who is a lawyer. The lawyer wants to be on the side of right. Jesus invites him into a story about loving God and loving neighbor. The Samaritan - one of the outsiders - was the person who exemplified loving our neighbor. He took time out of his life to make life better for another. We are invited by God to see the neighbors all around us and do what we can. Small things like recognizing the person, acknowledging their need, offering them help, no matter who they are or how much they might scare us or be different from us.

Today I ask God to help me see the neighbor in strangers, in enemies and even in my family. May we each do our part to spread the love of God as we take a moment to help someone else, someone so different and so like us.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Gathering From the Four Winds

Jesus said, “So when you see the desolating sacrilege standing in the holy place, as was spoken of by the prophet Daniel (let the reader understand), then those in Judea must flee to the mountains; the one on the housetop must not go down to take what is in the house; the one in the field must not turn back to get a coat. Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days! Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a sabbath. For at that time there will be great suffering, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no one would be saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look! Here is the Messiah!’ or ‘There he is!’—do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and produce great signs and omens, to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. Take note, I have told you beforehand. So, if they say to you, ‘Look! He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look! He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.
“Immediately after the suffering of those days
the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
the stars will fall from heaven,
and the powers of heaven will be shaken.

Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see ‘the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven’ with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” Matthew 24:15-31 

This is the season for pow wows and traditional gatherings across Native country. In winter we tell our stories in our small familial groups and remember the years past, and in summer we set out to gather with our larger families to reconnect and to learn how our world has changed. We find new stories for our winter sharing and new experiences to add to remembrances.  We don't just recite our successes or keep a tally but pay attention to the heavens and the earth in motion around us.

Jesus is telling anyone who will listen that the season has changed and they are to pay attention. So many want to be a part of the "elect" but few a willing to be servants of others and of the world. We are invited to not worry about the "end times" as many generations have in the past, but pay attention to the living needs about us, to the heavens and the earth in motion around us. God invites us to elect a posture of caring, of living for others and not for self.

Today, I ask God to help me pay close attention to all that is in motion, and to be ready at all times to serve. May we let our self cares go and see the needs of the nations gathered around us today.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The One Who Endures

As Jesus came out of the temple and was going away, his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. Then he asked them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly I tell you, not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.” When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
Jesus answered them, “Beware that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah!’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places: all this is but the beginning of the birth pangs.
“Then they will hand you over to be tortured and will put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of my name. Then many will fall away, and they will betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world, as a testimony to all the nations; and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:1-14

The One Who Endures

You are happy to be in my life
when the food and wine flow
when the laughter chases away hurt
when nothing is expected of you.

How quickly you draw away
when tears flow and grief overwhelms
when loss and sorrow are garments
when there is nothing for you to gain.

How swiftly you fly to my side
with hope of meeting celebrities
how quickly you deny me when trouble
surrounds and they call me a fool.

Love is not a safe docile harbor
but is lived on open swelling seas
the day of glassy stillness and calm
will always predicate a huge storm.

Love delivers in the worst weather
finds passage through the shallows
will not let anyone drowned in high water
pumps out the boat when all is sinking.

Love raises the flag when bombarded
lifts the spirits when all seems lost
endures to the end and beyond
as a sign and promise to the nations.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

To the Least of These

 ‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family,* you did it to me.” Then he will say to those at his left hand, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?” Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’ Matthew 25:31-46

To the Least of These

Broken and ailing you came
these shore enveloped you
promised a new life, new hope
unwanted at home you came.

Someone found you and helped
someone saw Christ in your eyes
someone was moved by your need
someone put others first for a time.

They still need the love you got
the forgiveness you were afforded
the shelter that another shared
the meal that was set before you.

The true inheritors of this land
those who gave thanks for each day
knew that hospitality was more important
than judging or condemning you.

You were broken once and embraced
despite the filth and shame you carried
despite the overwhelming, aching need
they saw God's love in your eyes.

They say the hope that you had lost
and found their hearts renewed again
their abundance was your inheritance
your legacy is to be constantly generous.

The least of these are here to teach
to show us they way back to the divine
to open our selfish hearts and break them
open again for new family, new friends.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Clean the Inside

Jesus said, “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. For you do not go in yourselves, and when others are going in, you stop them. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cross sea and land to make a single convert, and you make the new convert twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.
“Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the sanctuary is bound by nothing, but whoever swears by the gold of the sanctuary is bound by the oath.’ You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the sanctuary that has made the gold sacred? And you say, ‘Whoever swears by the altar is bound by nothing, but whoever swears by the gift that is on the altar is bound by the oath.’ How blind you are! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? So whoever swears by the altar, swears by it and by everything on it; and whoever swears by the sanctuary, swears by it and by the one who dwells in it; and whoever swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by the one who is seated upon it.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel!
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may become clean.” Matthew 23:13-26 

Too often we look for signs of success and goodness from the outside. We easily trust the beautiful and the flawless and easily suspect the lumpy, inconsistent and human. And all too often the church has chosen leaders who have great credentials and are fetching, never looking any deeper than the outside. As leaders in the church, we are invited today to look at out insides, the stuff we would rather hide from the world and which God sees all too clearly.

Jesus challenges the religious leaders of his day constantly. He asked them to put themselves through a thorough examination and he knows all too well how corrupt and selfish they are. There is no humility or compassion, only greed and competition. Our present world, and too often our present church, could be described in exactly the same way. We are called to regular, daily self-examination, checking for the signs of selfishness and confessing our real selves to God. God has already promised to love us completely, and we are called to learn to love ourselves as well, by living as our true selves, humble and unashamed of the challenges that make us real.

Today I ask God to help me face my real self and offer my life to the service of others. May we take the time to look inside, cleaning out that which has bound us, setting us free to love and serve others.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Giving To God

Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap him in what he said. So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, ‘Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?’ But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, ‘Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin used for the tax.’ And they brought him a denarius. Then he said to them, ‘Whose head is this, and whose title?’ They answered, ‘The emperor’s.’ Then he said to them, ‘Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away. Matthew 22:15-22

I remember playing Monopoly for hours and cringing when pulling a card that demanded I pay the bank some money. I like buying properties, especially railroads, much, much more. We would wile away rainy summer days trying to win at being rich and controlling. Today, I still wince when I look at the taxes we pay. I also know that children get educated, streets are safer, elders have care - these taxes provide needed services and support for us all.

Jesus is being entrapped again. The religious leaders wanted to catch him in a legal battle. They wanted him to show his heresy by saying the emperor was the highest law, or get him into legal trouble by saying taxes didn't need to be paid. His answer to them was really, "grow up!" As adults were are expected to participate fully in our common life, support our local and national communities. We are also expected to participate fully in our religious communities, local and world wide. God invites us to understand healthy faith as being present and real to both God and community.

Today I ask God to help me be grateful to take my place and do my part for the support of our communities. May we all be dedicated to a life of service, not withdrawing but fully present carry the Lord of God wherever we go.