Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Light Has Dawned



 Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the lake, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
‘Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali,
   on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—
the people who sat in darkness
   have seen a great light,
and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death
   light has dawned.’
From that time Jesus began to proclaim, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Matthew 4:12-17


Light Has Dawned

It was a dark night with rain
the wind howled through the cedars
the end seemed near and justified
and we cried out in fear and panic.

These storms of our lives
so cruelly fierce and unrelenting
a rabid dog biting down
tearing us down and apart.

The sea reached up covering us
we were sure to drown at night
the wind persisted beyond all
we said our what were our final prayers.

Yet the morning light did shock us
we awoke to birds singing again
there is new life after such destruction
we will hope in the Lord and never fear.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Not By Bread Alone


Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.’ But he answered, ‘It is written,
“One does not live by bread alone,
   but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

 Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written,
“He will command his angels concerning you”,
   and “On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.”

Jesus said to him, ‘Again it is written, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”

 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; and he said to him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you, Satan! for it is written,
“Worship the Lord your God,
   and serve only him.”

Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him. Matthew 4:1-11


I had the privilege of serving as celebrant yesterday in St. Peter's Cathedral here in Helena. Father Paul Bresnahan, who is acting dean, preached and what a moving sermon it was. It was of course all about forgiveness and I spent most of the day thinking about forgiveness in light of recent evidence of rising racial hatred, swastikas and 666 defacing St. James' in Bozeman, and many other moments in our present reality. It is easy to be angry. It is easy to be hungry as well. We can move to hate, and feed our faces, but we rarely move to prayerfulness and forgiveness.

Jesus is tempted by the devil after more than a month of prayer and fasting. We would all be delirious and probably vulnerable. I know I would. Yet Jesus faces the temptation of stuffing himself, getting his rightful authority and honors by reciting the language of prayer and love he has known since the beginning. He prayed the psalms and held them close at his worst moments. Today we are invited by God to hold close when we are tempted to anger and hate, hold close to those words and actions that draw us into the heart of God.

Today I ask God to help me be faithful in the face of temptation. May we all draw close to the heart of God by refusing to give into the real temptations of anger and hate with forgiveness and love.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Beloved



Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”Matthew 3:13-17

Beloved


Darling you are precious and wanted
The world may reject and despise
yet beloved and sought out daily
Perfect in the sight of love's eyes

And imperfect mother might criticize
A human Father might bluster and yell
We love only partially today
Yet God loves perfectly always.

This is our whole family story
despite our shallow whining
The Creator of all smiles on us
And delights in our human creation.

We are because of one
All beloved in God's eyes
Loved beyond time and space
shaped of star dust and infinity.










Friday, September 15, 2017

God Is Able


In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.'” Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit worthy of repentance. Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
“I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” Matthew 3:1-12

God Is Able

You seem to expect miracles from me
yet I am simply a woman, a mother
a follower of the living God who moves
within us and around us God is able.

We cannot breathe without creation
we cannot function without love
we are nothing short of needy and soft
yet even we are made strong as God is able.

The fires and floods surround us all
we have messed with the world too much
we have not cleaned up our mess for years
we cannot renew the earth yet God is able.

We often stand like stones with fear
we often trembled in our frozen state
life often overwhelms us as we get stuck
yet helping us move again our God is able.






Thursday, September 14, 2017

God So Loved the World


Jesus said, “Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:11-17

God So  Loved the World

Oh tender little one when you began
I held you in my hands and marveled
I wept at your beauty and perfection
and you cried in need with all your breath.

I watched over you in the night time
snuck in while you slept to check
put my face close to yours smiling
you never knew how close I was.

You grew into a beauty and intellect
you pushed back against rules and time
I watched as you found you voice
I hovered as you bent from many mistakes.

This tender creation always breaks my heart
you run far from the love that created you
thinking your strength and beauty is yours alone
unaware of the tender mercies afforded you.4



Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Wise Men


In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who is to shepherd my people Israel.’ ”

Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. 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 2:1-12

Yesterday I flew from my home in Boston to my home in Montana. I always marvel at how different our places and spaces are, and how quickly we move from place to place. Some many of us notice so little, these days, distracted by our phones and other devices that we never even look up or notice the world. I always wonder how much more we would see if we took our time and noticed the world around us completely. There might be more artists in this world, there might be more songs and there definitely would be more poems and wonder.

The wise men from the east come to see Jesus after visiting with Herod. Their journey began when they observed the star. Then they had to travel many weeks and maybe months over hazardous terrain, through hostile regions and among people, cultures and languages so different from their own. All of this to find the child king, who became a dangerous threat to Herod. They found Jesus, after continuing to follow the star, with his humble parents, in their humble make shift dwelling, not being able to return home. This small family would become refugees because of the violent threats on the child's life. I imagine that those expensive gifts might have sustained that small family while in Egypt. God invites us today to  notice that strangers brought honor to the child, and that politics caused the living God to become a refugee. God invites us to take notice of our world, so that we might see the living presence of God among us today.

Today I ask God to help me pay attention to God's presence in my every moment. May we look up and see the stars that guide us and look around and see God's love among us.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Terror and Amazement Seized Them


When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint Jesus. 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.” So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
Now after he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. She went out and told those who had been with him, while they were mourning and weeping. But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it. Mark 16:1-8 

Terror and Amazement 

Oh we went out with tears in our eyes
dreading but doing our final duties
we came to wash and embalm his body
there was only a bright angel in his place.

We had been through the worst week ever
from delight and joy in Jerusalem's streets
to the worst of violence, deception and greed
we only brought our final sad offerings.

The jars of ointment flew from our hands
one of us sunk to her knees is terror
could we possibly hope for such a promise
could we be the recipients of such miracles?

No one believed us when we ran home
our aging legs becoming young again
our hope and fear carried us along
we saw love which we thought was gone.

Love eternal and yet often unseen
we cling to solid objects and shun it often
tortured and buried and yet rising again
love has come again and we will sing.
 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Looking On From A Distance


There were also women looking on from a distance; among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. These used to follow him and provided for him when he was in Galilee; and there were many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem.
When evening had come, and since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate wondered if he were already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he had been dead for some time. When he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the body to Joseph. Then Joseph bought a linen cloth, and taking down the body, wrapped it in the linen cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock. He then rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where the body was laid. Mark 15:40-47 

Looking On From A Distance

The terror within looking on from a distance
when love and prayer cannot stop the abuse
beaten and hung on a cross among theives
the helper of all we are helpless to save.

The tears dried like ocean's salt on my face
storms within and without with no relief
the pain is not ours but the horror mine
alone in the crowd who think death a sport.

Helpless and poor, with no clout or say
governments and officials whisk the dying away
I cannot bear to see him buried quite yet
they will not let us near so we just stare.

When there is nothing left to do but see it
taking it in completely and being a part
this day of horror, sorrow and great loss
might someday transform our broken world.

Today is a day for clearly remembering
I will never forget where I was on this day
yet some will thing me foolish and weak
since really I just looked on in the distance.



 

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Loosed on Earth


Jesus said, “If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” Matthew 18:15-20

I have been thinking about the clothes line. It was a place of toil and a place of mystery. We would come home from the beach and sit on the low brick wall, waiting our turn for the outside shower and watch the towels flap in the breeze. As children, we would hide behind the sheets and try to scare people. I was always amazed at how things changed as they were pinned to the line. They became sails and flags and places of mystery. The full clothes line was also our weather vane. We knew when a storm was coming as the wind would pick up and send formerly pinned things flying. It was time to gather everything and bring it in before the storm hit. Otherwise, they may take off and end in another yard.

Jesus instructs his disciples about life in community, both within the church and in the wider community. People sometimes read this passage as affirmation for shunning folks, but remember that  Jesus  hung with gentiles and tax collectors and made some his disciples. No one is to be lost, even if their role has to change. Compassion and care are always the rule. We are not to let the wanderers fly off and be lost but gather everyone and protect all from the storms of life. 

Today I ask God to help me be kind and loving to those who do not listen and refuse to participate. May we live as people who have been forgiven and love, willing to run out as the dark clouds amass, so that all are brought in and saved.


Collect
Grant us, O Lord, to trust in you with all our hearts; for, as you always resist the proud who confide in their own strength, so you never forsake those who make their boast of your mercy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

A Loud Cry


When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “Listen, he is calling for Elijah.” And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!” Mark 15:33-39 

A Loud Cry

The child was born with a loud cry
breathing, wiggling and now living
joy beyond measure for the parents
a hidden fear in his mother's heart.

God had promised this tremendous gift
not just for them for the whole world
shepherds and wise men came to visit
a mother's heart shaken and amazed.

Grown and moving through the world
healing and changing hearts far and wide
sharing the good news of God's love
and his mother wanted another miracle.

There were some who welcomed him
they made him king and threw palms
others jealously plotted against him
and his mother was bent in deep fear.

That last loud cry from the cross
broke her heart and rent a curtain
her sacrifice complete as he died
that last sound she treasured and cried.

This cross is a living memory of love
love poured out, humble and complete
there was a loud cry of birth and death
the whole world was healed for us all.
 

Friday, September 8, 2017

Casting Lots


Then they brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull). And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it. And they crucified him, and divided his clothes among them, casting lots to decide what each should take.
It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. The inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!” In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes, were also mocking him among themselves and saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also taunted him. Mark 15:22-32 

Casting Lots 

Casual insensitivity, deriding, mocking
ignoring another's visible agony
dividing the spoils of tragic life
becoming buzzards hungry for death.

Parents push children to be winners
to crush the opposition and succeed
standing at the foot of the cross again
making fun of the dying incarnate love.

We measure our lives in what we have
others will take it from us now or then
tenderness and mercy are measureless
stockpiles of kindness can never fail.

It is a safe bet that we will all die
yet how we live between no and then
a total mystery and our daily choice
to view the cross and to be transformed.

May we be ever changed into humilty
may our garments be those of respect
may we seek justice for the least here
carrying those who have been shunned again.



Thursday, September 7, 2017

What Evil Has He Done?


Pilate spoke to them again, “Then what do you wish me to do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” They shouted back, “Crucify him!” Pilate asked them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him!” So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.
Then the soldiers led him into the courtyard of the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters); and they called together the whole cohort. And they clothed him in a purple cloak; and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on him. And they began saluting him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They struck his head with a reed, spat upon him, and knelt down in homage to him. After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.
They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. Mark 15:12-21 

What Evil Has He Done?

We would simply do it all over again
stand in the crowd and shout crucify
we who do not want to admit our sin
would put to death love made flesh.

Love is love is love and always
our heart give in to rage and jealousy
we think ourselves better than others
and weep at night for our very lack.

What evil has been done, brother, sister?
is there a cause for your cruel heart
deep within we are angry and ashamed
so we make our heroes the outlaws.

The presence of love incarnate weakens us
we are humbled and afraid of its truth
we feel naked and exposed by authenticity
we cover up with bravado and blather.

Oh, come again to the foot of this cross
judge not the neighbor or the enemy
hear your trembling heart aching for love
know that your savior draws ever nearer.


 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Release


As soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” He answered him, “You say so.” Then the chief priests accused him of many things. Pilate asked him again, “Have you no answer? See how many charges they bring against you.” But Jesus made no further reply, so that Pilate was amazed.
Now at the festival he used to release a prisoner for them, anyone for whom they asked. Now a man called Barabbas was in prison with the rebels who had committed murder during the insurrection. So the crowd came and began to ask Pilate to do for them according to his custom. Then he answered them, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” For he realized that it was out of jealousy that the chief priests had handed him over. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas for them instead. Mark 15:1-11 

When we lived in Sitka, Alaska, one of the great events of the year was the eagle release. The noble birds had all been hurt in some way and had been kept in the raptor center while they healed. The center has a high roof for the young eagles to fly back and forth in once they were well enough to spread their wings. Then at an appointed time, heavy glove clad  rangers would unband their dangerous talons and set them free. The public was invited to watch in the field at a safe distance. The birds were released, one at a time, and we marveled as they first hesitated and then found strength to soar. Most flew for a bit and then found a high branch to rest in. It seemed as if they were contemplating the reality of the freedom of their flight, looking down on all of us, so earth bound and strange. They might just have been thinking about their next meal as well.

Jesus is tested before Pilate, who seemed very reluctant to condemn  the gentle prophet. As a political ruler, he had to always plot what was best for him to stay in power. He was comfortable in his role and uncomfortable with the behavior of the religious leaders, wondering what this was all about. Relying on what he thought would be his out, he offers to release Jesus for the people. Obviously, they had other ideas. We often want to cage and abuse those who we fear, our of jealousy and pride. God's love lacks the conniving of politics, jealousy and fear. God invites us to release the gifts of love daily, rather than caging up those who make us unsettled and fearful.

Today, I ask God to help me release only love and understanding.  May our work and desire be always to set others free. May we live for justice in a world that craves power, live for love in a world that condemns what they fear and work every moment for the freedom of all.


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Denial


While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant-girls of the high priest came by. When she saw Peter warming himself, she stared at him and said, “You also were with Jesus, the man from Nazareth.” But he denied it, saying, “I do not know or understand what you are talking about.” And he went out into the forecourt. Then the cock crowed. And the servant-girl, on seeing him, began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” But again he denied it. Then after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them; for you are a Galilean.” But he began to curse, and he swore an oath, “I do not know this man you are talking about.” At that moment the cock crowed for the second time. Then Peter remembered that Jesus had said to him, “Before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept. Mark 14:66-72 

Denial

Oh you can stick your head in the sand
pretending that you cannot see the world
acting as if the suffering of others is in silence
demanding that gates be shut and walls built.

You can weep salty tears after the fact
after you have sold your people down river
cry as much as you want but we all know
self-preservation is your single motivation.

Someone knew you were only out for you
they have watched you all along and know
just how much honor and respect you demand
just how fearful you are of any mess or conflict.

We can all emphatically deny like Peter some days
we pretend we are compassionate and always kind
yet the heart of God is never fooled by our whimsy
the heart of God is solidly made out of love.


 

Monday, September 4, 2017

Condemned

They took Jesus to the high priest; and all the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes were assembled. Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest; and he was sitting with the guards, warming himself at the fire. Now the chief priests and the whole council were looking for testimony against Jesus to put him to death; but they found none. For many gave false testimony against him, and their testimony did not agree. Some stood up and gave false testimony against him, saying, “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’” But even on this point their testimony did not agree. Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?” But he was silent and did not answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” Jesus said, “I am; and ‘you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power,’ and ‘coming with the clouds of heaven.’”
Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “Why do we still need witnesses? You have heard his blasphemy! What is your decision?” All of them condemned him as deserving death. Some began to spit on him, to blindfold him, and to strike him, saying to him, “Prophesy!” The guards also took him over and beat him. Mark 14:53-65 

Condemned

We are so quick to condemn others
our discomfort becoming another's fault
their difference becoming a sign of guilt
our fear turning into righteous hate.

We think ourselves so open minded
believe ourselves to be tolerant moderns
yet so quickly we turn welcome to dust
inclusion is for those who are in the club.

God used our weaknesses to show great love
the Divine bear witness to that love still
daily we have the invitation to be welcomed
as we are the foreigners in the kingdom of God.

We invoke the resurrection yet live crucifixion
those who upset us or confuse us must die
ones who differ must be the true enemy
those who healed us and brought us life must go.




Sunday, September 3, 2017

Take Up Your Cross

Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?
“For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” Matthew 16:21-28

We want it easy and want to be recognized for what we do. I think being a mother, more than anything, taught me what denying myself truly meant. For the love of one of my children, I would give up anything I needed, completely without thinking. Love freed me to be selfless. When the world looks at heroes, it never looks for moms and dads just doing their everyday work. But truly,  the love for my children has taught me much about the love of God. In my very imperfect way, I learned a small understanding of God's love for us. Taking up my cross is a daily decision, and yet I do it freely and now instinctively thanks to my children, for love's sake.

Peter has just recently declared that Jesus was the Messiah. Within a very short time he rebukes Jesus and forgets the divine love that propels all of Christ's work. Because of love, he freely goes to the cross for each of us. Yet, we humans, would rather control the outcome, make things easy and comfortable, or avoid them all together. Yet love, real love, makes us face the hardest places, encourages carrying our crosses, despite how much we want to run and hide. Love helps us to stay by the dying's bedside, walk with the poor and homeless, pray with the weary and afraid. Divine love helps us to make room despite our fears, make welcome despite our discomfort, give ourselves despite our desire to preserve our lives. God, the author of all love, invites us today to take us the cross of discomfort, fear, and self-preservation and to enter this needy world for love's sake alone.

Today, I ask God to help me lift these crosses of mine again, following the One who embodied perfect love. May we all move, despite all our fears and anxieties, so that love can be born again into this needy and aching world.



The Collect

Lord of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things: Graft in our hearts the love of your Name; increase in us true religion; nourish us with all goodness; and bring forth in us the fruit of good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Running Away


 Immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; and with him there was a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, ‘The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.’ So when he came, he went up to him at once and said, ‘Rabbi!’ and kissed him. Then they laid hands on him and arrested him. But one of those who stood near drew his sword and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. But let the scriptures be fulfilled.’ All of them deserted him and fled.
 A certain young man was following him, wearing nothing but a linen cloth. They caught hold of him, but he left the linen cloth and ran off naked.  Mark 14:43-52

Running Away

Oh how I wish to hide from my troubles
from the things too painful to face
aching to run from the storms that come
wishing to turn and hide from the world.

Some run away for self-preservation
some run away out of sheer fearfulness
others because it means facing the truth
yet others run to avoid being caught.

We all have turned tail, deserted and fled
all have boasted one day of great faith
the next have denied and distanced ourselves
we cannot move fast enough when we are called.

The human heart is shallow and surely fickle
always wanting to be on the winning side
yet we are losers and part of the outcast
we are loved because of our true brokenness.




The Sheep Will Be Scattered - Feast of David P. Oakerhater


And Jesus said to them, “You will all become deserters; for it is written,
‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep will be scattered.’
But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” Peter said to him, “Even though all become deserters, I will not.” Jesus said to him, “Truly I tell you, this day, this very night, before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.” But he said vehemently, “Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And all of them said the same.
They went to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be distressed and agitated. And he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and keep awake.” And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. He said, “Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.” He came and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep awake one hour? Keep awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And once more he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know what to say to him. He came a third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Enough! The hour has come; the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.” Mark 14:27-42

The Sheep Will Be Scattered - in honor of St. David P. Oakerhater

Working in the field of broken promises
from church and government to the people
like scattered sheep without a shepherd
we serve the lost, forgotten and denied.

From Oklahoma to the Dakotas to Alaska
Montana, Minnesota, Virginia, Alabama
we looked the other way when progress rolled
denying our people their languages and land.

Yet there were those who were always faithful
released from jail they went back home
to honor the Divine and restore their people
to love beyond measure and live without fear.

Let us honor those sainted before us
who faced down ignorance and correction
who offered love in the face of abuse
who shared and lifted up when beaten down.

Those times have changed they change little
still left in the margin are our tribal people
we will not be put in museums and sideshows
we will thrive among the ones who would conquer.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

This Is My Body

On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, Jesus’s disciples said to him, “Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?” So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks, Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.” So the disciples set out and went to the city, and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.
When it was evening, he came with the twelve. And when they had taken their places and were eating, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” They began to be distressed and to say to him one after another, “Surely, not I?” He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the bowl with me. For 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.”
While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly I tell you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Mark 14:12-26

Both simple and beyond understanding, the last supper drama always makes me sit up and take notice again. I love celebrating the Eucharist in churches, and I miss participating as a congregant at times. My job is to remember and bring us to that place of God's love for us, so tangible given to us who are so broken. I have to concentrate on the words and the gestures, yet those who receive can just be drawn in again, as if for the first time.

Jesus and his disciples are observant Jews and the Savior of the world goes to the cross as one. He made sure they honor God in their traditions, and showed them how their lives would change after that night. They couldn't possibly understand what was in store for them, as we cannot. Yet we have these lasting moments, this holy drama, to remind us of God's loving presence in and with us as we face the worst challenges ahead.

Today, I ask God to help me face the day with joy in my heart. Despite the mountains and challenges ahead, may we hold to the gifts of Christ we have been given, taking in the Body and Blood so we can go out again, singing a hymn.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

In Remembrance of Her


It was two days before the Passover and the festival of Unleavened Bread. The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him; for they said, “Not during the festival, or there may be a riot among the people.”
While he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at the table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment of nard, and she broke open the jar and poured the ointment on his head. But some were there who said to one another in anger, “Why was the ointment wasted in this way? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me. For you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.”
Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. When they heard it, they were greatly pleased, and promised to give him money. So he began to look for an opportunity to betray him. Mark 14:1-11

In Remembrance of Her

Love is never wasted when poured out
demonstrated by generosity and honor
love is never wrong or embarrassing
even when the audience is jealous and unkind.

We can store up our resources and gifts
build walls and towers in great fear
or releasing great love and compassion
burn fear away like the gray morning fog.

The drying sun will surely come one day
today we deal with the overwhelming flood
storms destroying the precious homes
winds taking down what has always been.

In remembrance of her love poured out
may we surround the needy with that heart
may we live without reservations and walls
changing the world by never holding back.




Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Keep Awake


Jesus said, “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
“But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.” Mark 13:28-37

Keep Awake

I woke to the rain pouring down
wanting nothing more than to roll over
windows streaked with flowing water
a warm soft pillow beckons me back.

There is much to do every morning
the earth turns and the seasons change
there is ache in me to dive under cover
let others face the groaning world.

I would like to roll yesterday back
and take away all the mistakes I made
erase all the wrong words and sighs
living only for love and kindness then.

We can not but wake and start again
face the day before us with a song
welcoming the challenges and the rain
pushing onward through gulfs of sadness.



Monday, August 28, 2017

Days of Suffering


Jesus said, “But when you see the desolating sacrilege set up where it ought not to be (let the reader understand), then those in Judea must flee to the mountains; the one on the housetop must not go down or enter the house to take anything away; 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 it may not be in winter. For in those days there will be suffering, such as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, no, and never will be. And if the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would be saved; but for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he has cut short those days. And if anyone says to you at that time, ‘Look! Here is the Messiah!’ or ‘Look! There he is!’ – do not believe it. False messiahs and false prophets will appear and produce signs and omens, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. But be alert; I have already told you everything.
“But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory. Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.” Mark 13:14-27

Days of Suffering

The rain won't quit nowhere to go
water filling every street and byway
houses crumbling, families separated
where is God in the center of this storm?

The winds rise up from four directions
the water engulfs all races and clans
we are tormented by the historic loss
wondering what to do and what to pray?

There is much to fear in the coming days
the troubles seem to swell all around us
fear and loathing rise like flood waters
when will we be rescued from this place.

Let us pray and be watchful with fervor
for our suffering is known and shared
the heart of God is breaking for the victims
aching from the lack of our compassion.

May we be those who do not idle by
but rush to those who cry out loud today
for God is by our side in our activity
the Divine rejoices when we end abuse.




Sunday, August 27, 2017

Keys of the Kingdom


When Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah. Matthew 16:13-20

I have been known to lose my keys and get frantic trying to find them. It usually has happened when I am running behind or when things are already hectic. When my daughters were young, there were even times when a small child would deposit them in an unknown location in the house like a toy box or a bathroom, and completely forget when questioned. It's a very human thing to loose things and to feel foolish and frustrated. We can even feel like a failure when the simple but things like keys get misplaced.

Jesus asked the disciples what folks are saying, and then asked what the disciples think. Peter blurts out what comes to his head, like he often does. Jesus promises him the keys to the kingdom. Peter, the very human, very fallible, self-doubting rough edged disciple is the foundation of the church. And we too, the fallible the ones who lose keys and our way sometimes, like Peter, are still given the keys and are never far off from God's love and guidance.

Today, I ask God to help me forgive my failures and move forward with the work of living out God's love in this world. May we, when we lose our keys, or lose sight of God's love for us, remember Peter, and forgive ourselves and others so that we too might loose divine love into a needy world.





The Collect

Grant, O merciful God, that your Church, being gathered together in unity by your Holy Spirit, may show forth your power among all peoples, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Thursday, August 24, 2017

Rule of Love


 One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, ‘Which commandment is the first of all?’ Jesus answered, ‘The first is, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The second is this, “You shall love your neighbo
r as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’ Then the scribe said to him, ‘You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that “he is one, and besides him there is no other”; and “to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength”, and “to love one’s neighbor as oneself”,—this is much more important than all whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices.’ When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’ After that no one dared to ask him any question. Mark 12:28-34

Rule of Love

We are on this road together
travelers all with one Creator
bound together daily to strangers
we can choose to love or hate.

We might find ourselves in need
as we journey the lonesome highway
the neighbor that we carried carries us
we live another day because of them.

God is near to the weary and sorrowful
close to laughing children doing chores
close to the poor and neglected as well
who need love today as we travel on.

Early in the morning in muted light
we are drawn to the Creator's beauty
we breathe deep as we face east
we give thanks for another day to love.

And as the day closes in deep darkness
we rejoice in those who made us whole
the ones who walked with us sharing burdens
the ones who we were able to carry today.



Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Testing


Then they sent to Jesus some Pharisees and some Herodians to trap him in what he said. And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality, but teach the way of God in accordance with truth. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?” But knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why are you putting me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me see it.” And they brought one. Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” They answered, “The emperor’s.” Jesus said to them, “Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were utterly amazed at him.
Some Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him and asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that ‘if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no child, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother.’ There were seven brothers; the first married and, when he died, left no children; and the second married her and died, leaving no children; and the third likewise; none of the seven left children. Last of all the woman herself died. In the resurrection whose wife will she be? For the seven had married her.”
Jesus said to them, “Is not this the reason you are wrong, that you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the story about the bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is God not of the dead, but of the living; you are quite wrong.” Mark 12:13-27 

Testing

The air has changed ever so slightly
a few leaves beginning to turn
the signs of the season are all around
we are tested mightily by our turning.

These feelings and notions take us
back to our childhood and school
getting shoes back on after months
a new schedule more rigid than summer.

The smell of pencils and chalk appear
the quavering on tummies about this year
will the teacher think I am very good
will there be friends for me to have?

We are never far from our childhood fears
tested regularly by notions of failure
divine love abides despite our terrors
these turning will refine us ever more.

 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Rejected


Again Jesus and the disciples came to Jerusalem. As he was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to him and said, “By what authority are you doing these things? Who gave you this authority to do them?” Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin? Answer me.” They argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But shall we say, ‘Of human origin’?”—they were afraid of the crowd, for all regarded John as truly a prophet. So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”
Then he began to speak to them in parables. “A man planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a pit for the wine press, and built a watchtower; then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. When the season came, he sent a slave to the tenants to collect from them his share of the produce of the vineyard. But they seized him, and beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. And again he sent another slave to them; this one they beat over the head and insulted. Then he sent another, and that one they killed. And so it was with many others; some they beat, and others they killed. He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they seized him, killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others. Have you not read this scripture:
‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord’s doing,
and it is amazing in our eyes’?”

When they realized that he had told this parable against them, they wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowd. So they left him and went away. Mark 11:27—12:12

I would like to believe I take rejection well, but I know myself and am often angry, hurt and despondent after being rejected from a position or something I wanted to be a part of. In a very short time, I can hear my mother's voice saying, " Carol Joy, God is protecting you from something, keeping you safe for another wonderful new thing we can't even imagine yet." Of course she was right and there isn't anything good that comes from moping.

Jesus's parable about the vineyard tenants set the religious leader on edge and they want to crush him. They fear him because they want the love, position and power that they recognize in Jesus. The people who are in power can often be abusive to those who threaten their perfect little world. We who have roles of leadership can easily be tempted into holding on to what we have and pushing others away. God invites us today to share the gifts, the vineyards which have been given to our care, and be thankful for the roles we have been given for the time we have them.

Today, I ask God to help me honor the vineyard I serve in by sharing all that I have been  freely given freely. May jealousy and greed be rid from our lives so we can see and embrace the "wonderful new thing we can't even imagine yet."

Monday, August 21, 2017

Asking In Prayer


On the following day, when they came from Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see whether perhaps he would find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.
Then they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves; and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. He was teaching and saying, “Is it not written,
‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’?
But you have made it a den of robbers.”

And when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching. And when evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.
In the morning as they passed by, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. Then Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and if you do not doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you. So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
“Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.” Mark 11:12-26

Asking In Prayer

I prayed that I might have a sign
I asked for guidance and wondered
is this silence as important as an answer
as the night and day surely need each other.

The moon covered the sun for a time
but the clouds obscured my vision
yet still the event took place as promised
even though I am not a true eye witness.

I know that my parents prayed for me
but I wondered what they prayed for
as I pray for my beloved children
do they know what I ask God for?

Some days the light gets blotted out
we think ourselves unloved, unanswered
yet faithful parents still fiercely pray
a loving God still  acts for all of us.





Sunday, August 20, 2017

Have Mercy On Me

Jesus called the crowd to him and said to them, “Listen and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.” Then the disciples approached and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?” He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.” But Peter said to him, “Explain this parable to us.” Then he said, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.”

Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly.  Matthew 15: 10-28


Have Mercy On Me

I am that Canaanite woman begging
not one of the chosen and exalted tribe
I am outside of the circle yet I too
need the healing that God provides.

We stand together as fragile and strong
mothers who beg for their children's lives 
sisters who fall asleep praying at night
daughters who live our lives for others.

We know the living God within us
life is passed on and born through our kind
we are never far from the divine love
to you we appear as only refugees.

A war never resolved any kind of thing
but a mother's faith has changed the world
no matter our tribe, circle, kin or clan
holy love will find us and renew us again.



Saturday, August 19, 2017

Look Around At Everything


When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.'” They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,
“Hosanna!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve. Mark 11:1-11 

Look Around

A week or two or turmoil
the moon will cover the sun
we are not where we once were
we will not be here for long.

Look around the world as we know it
turns and turns to and from the sun
we cannot stop the turning or change
we can only love who is with us now.

There will be bullies in every corner
tyrants and violence at every turn
change is surely coming soon
like the sun rising to burn away fog.

This moment of terror and pain
will teach us to make love real
taking on the angry with silence
facing the fury with tender prayer.
t

Friday, August 18, 2017

Let Me See Again


They came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way. Mark 10:46-52 

One of the things that is most hurtful to those who have been abused, victimized or injured, is to silence them and to take away their voice. Too often, nice well-meaning folks want to speak for those who are hurting, abused and neglected. We often don't listen to them. I am convinced that true healing comes when we listen to the people who know what they need the best. When we know them by name, when we sit and listen, refusing to tell them what to do, then we are Christ's body in the world.

Jesus is in the neighborhood and Bartimaeus calls out to him. Folks tried to silence him in their own embarrassment and awkwardness. They didn't want Jesus to see just how broken their community truly was. Jesus calls out in response, he stops and listens, asking Bartimaeus what he wanted. Once healed, Bartimaeus followed Jesus, and with those restored eyes probably witnessed the horrors and the miracles of the journey that followed. God invites us today to seek out the healing we need and to follow Jesus, being the body of Christ to the world that needs it now more than ever.

Today, I ask God to help me ask for the healing I need, so that I may follow Jesus every step of the way. May we all let the wounded speak, let the silenced voices ring, so that Christ's body may walk again among us in the church.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

But To Serve


They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles; they will mock him, and spit upon him, and flog him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise again.”
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They replied, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”
When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:32-45 

But To Serve

We fragile humans look for fame
for a lasting legacy and praise
we are shaped to hold one another
we are made for loving service.

The master potter molded each
a unique design and gorgeous image
perfected by a familial gentle touch
formed to reflect divine goodness.

We ache to be set apart and hallowed
yet our biggest use is in our giving
our greatest triumph is a smile shared
our simple song a gift to the world.

Oh sit again by the teacher's feet
love has come your way to stay
our response is not to hoard it
but to serve that love all our days.


 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

First Will Be Last


As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.'” He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.
Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”
Peter began to say to him, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.” Mark 10:17-31 

First Will Be Last

The monuments went up to cleanse history
from the shame, torture and abuse
of human suffering and indignities
from wealthy men who wanted more.

You can put your name on stolen goods
but they are still stolen and must be returned
you can bathe your world in gold and silver
but the water will wash it all away.

A child will calls us what we really are
look now, the emperor has no clothes
wealth cannot buy us love and devotion
unless we use greed to subjugate others.

Our poverty and loss is a rough road
and it is filled with loving souls
who have no need to push another down
who live to give another help along the way.