Monday, January 30, 2017

Even the Dogs

From there Jesus set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syro-phoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.” So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.
Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.” Mark 7:24-37

Even the Dogs

When love rises fierce in a mother's heart
there is no stopping what she will do
how hard she will fight for her child's life
even stand up to the Son of God.

A mother's love was always teaching lessons
when doing battle with authoritative leaders
there is no shame when love rises up
she will fight with all she has for her young.

Love rises up when refugees are shunned
like mothers of a tortured, hurting child
we must speak until healing has begun
we must be sanctuary and loudest voices.

Love can not be hidden for it is fire
burning and insisting on more air
love stirs the embers until there is light
until everyone around is warmed again.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Blessed Are You

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."  Matthew 5:1-12

I am in Oklahoma attending Winter Camp, a gathering of Native peoples across the Episcopal Church. We come here from many diocese, many ministries and many nations. We come here to support and learn, to pray and laugh and to hope together for the future. The obstacles that our people face are many. Poverty and abuse, addiction and disease, not to mention the willingness of corporations and government to destroy sacred lands and pollute our waters. The church itself can sometimes present challenges to our leaders and people. And yet, we also know that we are blessed. Blessed in the love our God, in our traditions and in the love we have been given that binds us all together.

Jesus saw the gathering and taught them about the nearness of God's reign and how blessed they were despite their circumstances and challenges.  Many were meek and many were poor. They heard a message that God loves them, seeks them out and is turning the abusive world order on it's ear. That message is for us today, as we are blessed despite the dangerous and cruel things we see happening to our neighbors and in the world around us. People like us are not overlooked or set aside by God. We can rejoice, despite it all, as children of a living and loving God.

Today, I ask God to help me be a peacemaker and to purify my heart, so that I might better see God in the midst of the present circumstance. May we all have the strength to rejoice in the midst of our present anxieties, knowing God is already working on a solution for us.

Almighty and everlasting God, you govern all things both in heaven and on earth: Mercifully hear the supplications of your people, and in our time grant us your peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Abandoning God'sCommandment

Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus, they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.) So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” He said to them, “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written,
‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching human precepts as doctrines.’

“You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.” Mark 7:1-10

We walk away all the time
when we don't get our way
when we think we have been slighted
when the world wants a small share.

Love is the author, the beginning
and the end of who we are to be
yet we take our share and believe
no one else but us are truly deserving.

The flame of love that is living spirit
breathes promise and forgiveness daily
turn our broken dreams to possibilities
and ruins all our tender vanities.

God's love demands room for all
honor and dignity for the inside and out
enough for the wanderer and the home bound
a banquet for the rejected and the shunned.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Take Heart

When evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and Jesus was alone on the land. When he saw that they were straining at the oars against an adverse wind, he came towards them early in the morning, walking on the sea. He intended to pass them by. But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out; for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” Then he got into the boat with them and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.
When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed. Mark 6:47-56

When I served in Sitka, Alaska, I participated in the Blessing of the Fleet. A very active fishing port, Sitka is surrounded by water and the only way in is by air or water. Life there revolves around the water and many people are employed in the vibrant fishing industry. Part of the very moving ceremony is the reading of the names of those who have been lost in the past year.  As each name was read, family would bring flowers forward and at the end of the ceremony, the flowers were taken out by boat and scattered on the sea. The waters are life giving and life taking. We humans rarely are able to defy the wind and the waves.

When Jesus appeared on the water by the disciples' boat, he was encountering men who knew intimately the power of the sea. They knew that all their skill was no match for it's strength. They had witnessed the power of God's love in feeding so many but knew the sea to be a bigger challenge, a familiar and deadly enemy. Jesus comes to them, in the midst of their real fear, when they are exhausted and spent, and stills their worst combatant. God invites us to imagine our worst combatants as already conquered, already walked on, already solved by divine love and mercy. On turbulent waters, we are never alone.

I ask God to help me face the obstacles ahead with the confidence of God's presence in the midst of each battle. May we live without fear and take heart for God is with us in the storms we face today.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Sheep Without A Shepherd

The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. When it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now very late; send them away so that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy something for themselves to eat.” But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” They said to him, “Are we to go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread, and give it to them to eat?” And he said to them, “How many loaves have you? Go and see.” When they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” Then he ordered them to get all the people to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and of fifties. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and he divided the two fish among them all. And all ate and were filled; and they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. Those who had eaten the loaves numbered five thousand men.
Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After saying farewell to them, he went up on the mountain to pray. Mark 6:30-46

Sheep Without A Shepherd

You can see it in their faces, a hunger
a whole deep in the pit of their stomachs
yearning to be satisfied and finally safe
a shelter where they can rest and restore.

The homeless ache for kindness and recognition
the hungry for a full belly, the abused, safety
hope and dignity has been stolen from them
they dream of coming home again.

From little there can be overflowing plenty
from a small gesture can come a symphony
from wandering lost we can have shelter rest
and the Divine will rest along with us.

The shadows have deepen and fears arise
our land is threatened, our herds are rattled
God is in the midst here in troubled times
willing to sit us down as a banquet to feed us.

Our worry, brokenness and shame can become
the needed miracles for these turbulent days
our acts of love and gratitude can spill over
making home again for all us refugees.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Confession and Conversion

Jesus said to the twelve, "See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved." Matthew 10:16-22

Several years ago, my husband and I had the privilege of a private tour of the Scavi below St. Peter's Basilica, where the bones of St. Peter are supposed to be buried. It was damp, close, and dark and I was overwhelmed by the holy and very moist, very human in that place. To me, that is who Peter remains, no matter how we honor him or put him on a pedestal. He was rough hewn, vocal, hot headed and often wrong. But he got love right and knew he was changed forever by the love of God as he knew it through Jesus. Earlier in  the week, Archbishop David Moxin took us on a tour of the subterranean jail and house church where Paul spent his final days. It was moving to be in the place where the most changed man in the Gospel story spent his last days. His heart of hate had turned to a heart of love. The living love of God had touched him in such a way that he lived for others and made the church a place of welcome for all.

Last week we celebrated the confession on St. Peter, who go on to be designated as the first Pope and leader of the church. The role did not and cannot define the man. He was, and remained throughout his life, a real, physical, rough and ready human. He was broken and flawed. And God came into the flesh for such as him, for folks just like us. God invites us to see love in the flesh and know that God seeks out the challenged, the broken, the real human condition.  Today, we celebrate the Conversion of St. Paul. Both, real men with real human challenges and problems. They offer us examples of what it means to live the love that God has given us. May we not forget their humanity in tier sainthood, but rather live to serve as they did, willing to go into rough places and angry mobs and carry the undiluted reality of god's love and presence.

Today I ask God to help me follow in their footsteps, willing to go and be sent. May we take the love we have been given, and live like those early apostles, who not ashamed of their humanity, told their story and gave people hope.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017


Then he went about among the villages teaching. He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. He said to them, ‘Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.’ So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.  Mark 6:1-13

Since my mother's passing, it is hard for me to really define my hometown. Although we grew up in Harrison, New York, north of the city, the only home our parents ever owned was in Cape May Point. Our best family memories are all  there. My Dad was clergy, we had little money, so we all had to do the work of upkeep. Painting, repairing, mowing were the minor jobs. My parents retied to Cape May Point in 1985.  My Dad passed in 1994 and my mother in 2015. Since the house is sold, we're pretty powerless to be there. Now when we go "home", we have to rent a place or crash with old friends. My children have grown up there too over the summers, and they all find themselves rooted to that place. We see ourselves as part of the fabric, the sand itself, and yet, it is hard to go home sometimes, truly.

Jesus returns home and finds that his lifetime associates are completely skeptical about him. His family doesn't even get him. He is pretty powerless in this situation. Yet, despite all that is hard and frustrating, he shares his strength and power with his disciples and they go out and change the world. God invites us today to see our feelings of powerlessness as an opportunity to share. Whether in our home town or wherever we are on the road, God has promised to help us find a way to share the love and healing the world needs.

Today I ask God to help me be active in the pursuit of sharing. May we turn our powerless and grief into opportunities to include others. May God use us in our weakest places and well as in our strong times.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Leaving Nets

When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, 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.”
As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.
Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people. Matthew 4:12-23

The regular images of my young years include drying fishing nets, boats coming in to the harbor surrounded by squawking gulls, bridges being raised to make way for the catch, and all the daily rhythms of life by the sea. Fishing is hard, grueling work, even today. It is a life of long hours, massive catches and even more massive disappointments. It is a life of separation from shore and family that is neither pretty or ennobled. It is an absolutely necessary occupation, supplying sustenance for whole villages and regions, but it is never aspired to by most young children. I knew many commercial fisherman and admired even more, but knew I could not withstand the rigors of their lives.

It is from these folk, rough handed, rough tongued and socially isolated that Jesus called his disciples. Jesus called them to another grueling task, another impossible movement, that of following Jesus and spreading the Gospel. As hard as they had worked in their lives, what was ahead was even harder. They were to witness amazing miracles and suffer great losses. Their challenges would be even greater than anything they had experienced. And yet they knew immediately they wanted to follow, they wanted to join, they wanted to be counted as the reign of God drew near. We are invited to stand up and join as well. The reign of God's love, the time of love conquering hate, the moment of new awakening, a new movement is upon us. 

I ask God to give me the strength to drop my busy work and follow. May we all rise up to love's call. May we spread hope where there has only been fear, share capacity where there have only been limits, to follow the Beloved and march in the light of God, today.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

I Will Bear

Listen to me, O house of Jacob,
   all the remnant of the house of Israel,
who have been borne by me from your birth,
   carried from the womb;
even to your old age I am the One,
   even when you turn grey I will carry you.
I have made, and I will bear;
   I will carry and will save.  Isaiah 46:3-4

I rarely use the Hebrew Scriptures as my text but today, it seems most appropriate. Women and men around the country and around the world are marching, raising signs and voices to protect the rights of all people in this country and everywhere. I wish I could be with them. After a week of illness, I can do nothing more than pray and send love and support. I can also remind myself and all of us who truly is in charge. God is, and we who march, as well as we who stay home, can be confident in the One who carries us all.

In the midst of trying times, the words of the prophet come loud and clear, that darkness is as much about giving life, about protection from birth, as it is about ending life. God has promised the Ancients love and protection, and likewise, these words echo for us today. We are not alone as we sit and worry, as we march and sing, as we kneel and pray. We are surrounded by God's love, so intimate and universal, so within and without, that we do not need to ever imagine ourselves alone in the struggles. Whether personal or political, our struggles resound in the heart of God. God is ready to carry us and ready to save.

Today, I ask God to help me to pray for all those who find themselves on the edge, or the center, of darkness. May we trust that the Divine, who surrounds us with love throughout time and space, is very present with us as we  move through this day. May we feel the arms of love carrying us, the dawn of hope breaking forth within us, the seeds of new days on the horizon.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Stormy Seas

On that day, when evening had come, Jesus said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” Mark 4:35-41

Stormy Seas

There is no doubt but it's getting rough
a storm of unknown proportions rises up
churning, hungry, greedy and selfish
tearing into open water, wave after wave.

We huddle like missile fearing school children
wring out hands as the skies darken to night
hide in alcoves and under the stairs
hoping that this disaster passes us by.

We have forgotten all that we have been given
hidden love and faith under the mattress
taken the enormous blessings for granted
now cowering we cry out for rescue.

The Divine is always among us, even now
recharging for the coming high tides
building love's bank account for the neediest
storing up compassion for the generations.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Come and See

John saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.” And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.”
The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter). John 1:29-42

Come and See

The light on the water makes it sparkle
 like the light that shines in you eyes
beholding your sweet faced chilren
shining for well recognized love.

We can hide our hearts but eyes do show
the hidden delight, the packed away need
aching to be called by named and noticed 
love breaks through the tears and sorrow.

Come and see where love is dwelling
there is light and sustenance enough for all
a place at the table for the high and mighty
a treasured seat for the shunned and deported.

Come and see that love illumines all
shadows disappears and sorrows fade
when we are welcomed as we fully are
God sits among us and we all laugh.


Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ's glory, that he may be known, worshiped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Stretch Out Your Hand

One sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?” And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need of food? He entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions.” Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”
Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. They watched him to see whether he would cure him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come forward.” Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately conspired with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him. Mark 2:23 – 3:6 

We are in very troubled times and some people are very afraid about the political and governmental changes that are to come. Whatever happens, sick people still need to be made well, prisoners visited and released from the binds, the vulnerable embraced and compassion increased. We can protest and we must pray, we can be outraged but we must be self-critical as well. The holy will remain holy in these times, no matter what humans can do. I expect I will be doing a good deal of praying in the coming days.

The religious leaders were upset by the disciples' behavior. Jesus reminded them of God's actions and God's priorities. The love of God empowers us to forgive and heal, to welcome refugees and shelter the vulnerable and homeless. God's love never demands us to be judgemental and cruel, nor does it make us fussy, exclusive and shaming. Jesus reaches out to us through history and through troubled times and implores us do the work of love today.

Today I ask God to help me be present and not to withdraw in had times. May we be ever moved to compassion, ever ready to serve and welcome, always ready to love with all we have been given, and constantly stretching out our hands to those in need around us.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Follow Me

Jesus went out again beside the sea; the whole crowd gathered around him, and he taught them. As he was walking along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. And as he sat at dinner in Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were also sitting with Jesus and his disciples—for there were many who followed him. When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard this, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.” Mark 2:13-17

Follow Me

We are more tax collector than saint
more leper and lame than perfect athlete
more shattered and easily misguided
than we are righteous and holy followers.

Called to a movement and to get on the road
out into the very broken world of sorrow
that mimics our hidden and tearful shame
bringing light to universal ache for love.

We are to follow the one who carried a cross
who totes our burdens and baggage with ease
who dispels our shame and myriad failures
making our hands instruments of light.

Come follow me is said to each and everyone
the courageous leaders and meek shy introverts
we are on the way, companions in the struggle
led by love and compassion yet to come.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Through the Roof

When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. So many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door; and he was speaking the word to them. Then some people came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this fellow speak in this way? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” At once Jesus perceived in his spirit that they were discussing these questions among themselves; and he said to them, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and take your mat and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic—“I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.” And he stood up, and immediately took the mat and went out before all of them; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!” Mark 2:1-12 

Through the Roof

A roof over our heads has become
a portal for love to pour through
a tear in the fabric of order and control
we are broken open so healing can come down.

Love urged men to break through the roof
love received them with great joy
repairs and remittance when all was done
healing and transformation come first.

The epiphany moment when the very rigid
is pliable, fluid, broken and in motion
sweeping up, making room for the excluded
open arms raised to receive the needy ones.

May we be those who break down walls and roofs
who let love motivate us and make us whole again
may our brokenness be used for the healing of others
and may there be no borders no limits to how we love.


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

I Do Choose!

As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.” And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.
A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, “If you choose, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I do choose. Be made clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. After sternly warning him he sent him away at once, saying to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” But he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word, so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter. Mark 1:29-45

We all have bad days. It is part of being human. I had a bad day yesterday, nothing earth shattering, but it made me question whether I was on the right path. Our bad days can shake us to our core, even as the world notices nothing. We can be broken inside and people can pass us by. We can also normalize our suffering, saying it is nothing, and never ask for the help we need. Today is the day to ask for the help and to expect that God chooses healing for each of us.

Jesus has begun his ministry and was quickly in demand. We see that his close disciples have all sorts of ideas and direction for him, and yet he goes his own way, in his own time. He touches a deathly ill mother and gives her the strength to return to her active life. Along the road he willing chooses to make a leper whole again. God constant activity is to be reaching out to us, giving us whole cloth when we were once in shatters. God's whole mission is the work of love. We are so fortunate to be invited to join in that choosing, that calling, that willingness to bring healing and restoration to this world.

Today I ask God to restore me and all those who are flagging. May we be stood again on our feet so we might serve, and healed again so we might tell the stories of love to a world so in need of restoration, healing, and loving service.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Prepare the Way

The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,
“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way;
the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.'”

John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him. Mark 1:1-13

Prepare the Way

When we have bundled up the leftovers
and packed away the beloved ornaments
swept out the needles from the floors
there is still more work to be done.

The Epiphany light twinkles at night
like crystal in the cold January reality
we light the flames of hope in darkness
carrying it to every shadowed heart.

Deep blues and darkness can move in
can break the celebrating spirits
the load of failure can obscure the gratitude
joy can slip away in these long winter nights.

Arise early and laugh into the night
prepare again the table for many guests
the world groans with anxiety and despair
our small candle can reignite the needed flame.

Dance into the pungent fetid alleyways
embrace the homeless sleeping rough
welcome the repellent and the refugee
open the doors so that God comes in.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Let It Be

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

We come to the first Sunday after Epiphany, when some use this Sunday to celebrate Epiphany. With the arrival of the kings, or the baptism of Jesus, we have to accept that the holidays are over. It feels akin to being called in from recess. Time has fled by and we laughed, hugged, sang and celebrated. It is time for the decorations to come down. We are invited into the work of Epiphany, the celebrating of God's light and love for all. Yet, like reluctant kids dragging in from recess, there is wonderful work to be done. We will be stretched, like John, to see people and things differently. We will be invited to spread light where there is darkness and indeed it is time to let it be so.

Jesus comes to John for baptism. John is horrified, knowing that he, John, is simply the messenger and Jesus is the messiah. The knew their roles and then Jesus reversed everything. John ached to be baptized by Jesus. Love and humility marked the beginning of the Messiah's ministry and became the hallmark the Jesus Movement. We are invited to invited to turn and stretch, to humble ourselves for new insight and new relationship. God's love will spin us around and send us into dark places. God's love also declares that we are, like Jesus and John, beloved children of the Divine.

Today I ask God to help me accept the changes and the stretching that is needed in my life. May we rejoice in the knowledge that we are loved by God and humble ourselves so that we might let love prevail. Let it be so, that the whole world might receive a love so deep that everyone and everything will change for good.

Father in heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit: Grant that all who are baptized into his Name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly confess him as Lord and Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Fill The Jars

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. John 2:1-11

With Epiphany, the letters from Mary to Elizabeth end. I am always a bit sad to stop writing those letters and likewise a bit happy to begin more normal a blog. This blog began about eight years ago, when I was between things and trying to find my voice again. I chose the name Mamabishop, because, the first time women bishops were at Lambent, many of the African bishops would shout at them, "Mama Bishop, go home and take care of your babies!" I wanted to turn a negative into a positive. I am a mother of three and when I was elected, all three of our daughters were living with us. I have concerned myself with their welfare every moment, and it is a privilege and a blessing to do so. And sometimes, God calls the strangest people to do remarkable and new things. I am the first Native American woman to be elected bishop in the Episcopal Church and the first Indigenous woman to be elected Bishop in the world wide Anglican Communion. God calls the peculiar to the particular, and sometimes the reasons and ways forward are not always clear.

Mary was anxious about the wedding and many have wondered if this was a family wedding. It is no matter for the exchange between mother and adult child is revealing for many reasons. Mary truly draws out her son's capacity. She knows well what God has promised and has watched her child grow. Maybe she even watched him struggle and doubt himself, a painful experience for all parents. How she knew it was time, we will never know, but in her coaxing, miracles began. Those miracles continued then and continue now God's love was revealed as she gave the push that was needed. She helped her son find his voice, his calling, his capacity and place in the world. We all need people who can help us with that.

Today I ask God to help me be a mentor, friend and positive enabler to those who struggle with their place and calling. May we all draw out the capacity and miracles in others, so that the world might know of God's love.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Epiphany 2017 Final Mary Letter

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

Dear Elizabeth,

this is the last letter I will be able to write for some time. The world around us has changed in an instant, and it is both wonderful and frightening all at the same time. I have come to realize that this  is how God works among us, in light and darkness, in an unexpected instant and always bringing a radical change of direction. Let me tell you about our night and what it means for today and our near future.

We were about to settle in for the night. Joseph and I were standing outside in the sweet chill of the darkness, looking up at the stars. It was a beautiful, cool, windless night and the stars seem so bright we felt like we could reach out and touch them. All of the sudden, three strange men and their entourage arrived! They were decked out in the finest robes, robes which were embedded with sparkling jewels and ropes of gold cloth. We really were taken by surprise and stood like statues as they approached. Their interpreter, a gentle young man, told us that they were wise men from the far east, and they had traveled a great distance to meet a king. They had followed his star for many days and it brought them here. They had come from Herod's palace this night, where they had met with the king and told him of their journey. We welcomed them in, with trembling hearts but they were amazingly kind and knelt before our little boy. They brought extraordinary gifts, and despite our protests, they told us they were meant for him. They also told us to flee this place, as we were no longer safe. Joseph told them of his dream and they confirmed his suspicions. They encouraged us to go into Egypt, they would send word ahead of us, and once we crossed the border, they promised we would be safe. Blessings abounding in one moment and fleeing our homeland in the next.

So, Auntie, it is settled. We go to Egypt, to a strange and frightening place, as refugees from our homes and families. We carry a sacred bundle, this beautiful and dangerous gift, this child that is desired, feared and hated. How can God's love be so scary to some? The wise men promised we would be safe, and that this child would change hearts in ways we could not imagine. They told us they were honored to meet us and would do all in their power for our safety. Off we go,  running like fugitives with all that we own! I hope we can come home soon, but I now can only trust in God's love for us, and put one foot in front of the other. Please never stop praying for us! I will write when I am able. Send Mama and Papa our love too, please.

love always,


Thursday, January 5, 2017

Christmas 2016-17 Mary Letter Day 38

Jesus said, ”I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name.” John 15:1-16

Dear Aunt Elizabeth,

you have been so kind to listen to me and write me back. Your letters have been encouragement and strength when my spirits flag. I am particularly low today as Joseph had a dream. Now he is out talking with some of the elders and verifying what he heard and saw in the night. Supposedly it remains unsafe for us to go home. That's what he heard from God in the dream. He might just be afraid since all sorts of things have been happening, but both of us have dreamed by God's hand and so far, everything has come true. It seems that the authorities are seeking out this child and we will not be safe in our own country. Joseph is going to talk with some of relatives here to find out if we have safe shelter anywhere in adjacent countries and regions. Yesterday I was so hope filled about returning home. The tears have been running down my face. We must do everything to protect this little boy, so I must not be selfish. It's so hard.

I will send word where we are going when I know. Please tell Mama and Papa that I love them and am praying for them every day. Oh Auntie, I want to be brave but my heart is on the ground. I was so excited about coming home, showing my sweet child to Mama and Papa and all the relatives. I know his little life will bring them joy and love. I know he would heal all the divisions we have seen. Now we will have to wait a long time to bring this gift of love home. Please pray for me for strength and faithfulness. I want to be strong and a good mother but today I feel like I can do neither.

much love,


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Christmas 2016-17 Mary Letter Day 37

Jesus said to Thomas, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
Philip said to Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.” John 14:6-14

Dear Auntie,

Learning to be parents is a challenge at times. We find ourselves wondering whether we are doing the right things for this little one. Without family around, close family, I feel adrift at times. Joseph does too although he rarely shows it. The wise women are very helpful but also too nonchalant. They seems to think we're doing fine but we both get sweaty and nervous when he cries. Sometimes my milk doesn't seem enough to fill him and other times it overwhelms him! How strange this role that has been from beginning of time - parents - should be so challenging and frightening. We feel so responsible and often inadequate. I miss Mama terribly. She would know what to say to comfort me.

We are almost ready to return home which gladdens my heart. I think of how troublesome and stubborn I was at times towards Mama and Papa and now see how much they have done for Joseph and for me. They protected us from the worst of our village and kept us safe until we went on our journey. There is nothing I can give them that would make up for all their kindnesses. Maybe this little bundle will bring them the joy they truly deserve. We are trying to get as much sleep as possible so we are strong for our travels. We are well supplied with food from all the kind gifts we have received. I only pray that God will guide us each step of the way and bring us safely home.

With so much love,


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Christmas 2016-17 Mary Letter Day 36

So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.” John 10:7-17

Dear Aunt Elizabeth,

the weather was milder yesterday and the anxiety we had about the government seeking us out seems to be over. That is what everyone has told us so we ventured outside. He loved going to the market and seeing so many people. He also loved the noise and the music that seemed to be everywhere. A very remarkable thing happened as we were sitting and having a little snack. A small lamb wandered over and got very close to the baby. I was afraid and wanted to snatch him up, but Joseph held me back. The little lamb came right up to Jesus, nose to nose, and the baby smiled. He reached out and touched the lamb ever so gently as if he was blessing him. They spent a few minutes looking at each other, then the lamb was called and rejoined the flock and the shepherd. Joseph thinks he might have a future as a shepherd!

We are making plans to return home in four or five days. The wise women want me to heal more but think I might be ready for the journey by the end of the week. The hover over me as if I were some important woman, although I imagine they like to hover over new mothers while the coo at the baby and play with him. Have you noticed how people just ignore parents and go right for the baby? It is as if babies send out a signal so large that no one can ignore it. We have been blessed with such a happy child! I am so grateful since while we were out I saw several weary mothers with crying infants, ones that seem not to be comforted. Well, this little one seems to provide comfort and comfort himself as well. I am so blessed!

Well, I will get back to my packing and supplies. We picked up many things in the market to take with us. Joseph think we might need an extra donkey just to cart all of this home!

With so much love,


Monday, January 2, 2017

Christmas 2016-17 Mary Letters Day 35

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away; for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day.”
Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I have come down
from heaven’?”

Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” John 6:35-42, 48-51

Dear Auntie,

today I wrote a little song, and it is so unpolished and unrefined. But it is my heart on paper, something to hold on to when the world changes, as I expect it will and this child grows beyond me, which I know he must.



Mary's Song

Oh undeserved and blessed am I
who said yes without a clue
who now in quiet moments ponder
what God has done for me.

This small and needy child mine
will be for all the world a word
eternal food and hope in distress
life when darkness has overwhelmed.

No tyrant he but a poet and leader
standing in the midst of the people
loving from within the darkest places
staying here in this imposed isolation.

I am mother but I know not how to be
essential and yet still a vessel only
he will fly when I will stay rooted
he will be more than a mother's imagining.

For today and today alone we are here
wrapped in a blanket of love and hope
warmth from within radiating out
the world will know love from this middle place.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Christmas 2016-17 Mary Letter Day 34

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us." So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. Luke 2:15-21

Dear Aunt Elizabeth,

today the tender little boy was circumcised and named! His name is Jesus as the angel told us. The ceremony itself was troublesome for me, and even though I knew what was coming, I could not bear to watch! I sat to the side as the men did what they had to do. He was a good baby but couldn't help but cry, surrounded by so many bearded old men and his mother no where to be seen. There are some customs that I will never understand but I do know that God has a reason for it all. Just because I don't like it, and don't understand it, doesn't mean that God isn't using this moment for good purposes. The old rabbi really took a liking to baby Jesus and asked us to stay in town for as long as we would like. He said they would help us with whatever we need after hearing our story. Joseph may also have some work here while Jesus and I rest up for the journey home.

The air has been cool and the sun warm these last few days, so I have taken to sitting in the sun on the small porch here and letting the baby be surrounded by fresh air and birdsong. Our dwelling is quite dark and that dark makes me sad and homesick sometimes. The wise women check on me daily and said we both need to bathe in the air and the sun. They like to sit out with me too, playing with our little one and telling their stories. I wasn't sure I would like this place or these people, but the company of these women has changed my heart. I am grateful for every hour they spend with us!

Please pass on the news to Mama and Papa. We'll be home soon and can catch them up but I really don't want them to be scared or worried.

Love always,