Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Widow's Gift




He looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.’ Luke 21:1-4













Yesterday I had the great joy of spending time at Grace Camp. Grace Camp is a week at our diocesan Camp Marshall for children who have a parent or guardian who is in jail. Many of these children are Native. The population of Native peoples in Montana is about 11% while the vast majority of the incarcerated in this state are Native, both men and women. These are some of the most generous children in the world, although many of them have been abused and abandoned. They really work at caring for each other, and love helping and participating. They give more than any of the children from stable two parent families. An interesting contrast. I am always humbled to be with them.


In our Gospel today Jesus finds the religious leaders, trying to show how wonderful they were in their giving. They were actually giving a minimum, but were very self-important and proud in their wealth. Their wealth was certainly gained off the labors of the poor. Yet it was the widow who Jesus shines light on. Her love and generosity is a symbol for us today. We are invited to look on what we have, either much or little, as the gifts from God, putting to good use the love we have been blessed with, sharing it with others.

Today I ask God to help me be generous and grateful in all things. May we give all we have since we are truly blessed by God!




Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Give to God


When the scribes and chief priests realized that he had told this parable against them, they wanted to lay hands on him at that very hour, but they feared the people.
So they watched him and sent spies who pretended to be honest, in order to trap him by what he said, so as to hand him over to the jurisdiction and authority of the governor. So they asked him, “Teacher, we know that you are right in what you say and teach, and you show deference to no one, but teach the way of God in accordance with truth. Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” But he perceived their craftiness and said to them, “Show me a denarius. Whose head and whose title does it bear?” They said, “The emperor’s.” He said to them, “Then give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were not able in the presence of the people to trap him by what he said; and being amazed by his answer, they became silent. Luke 20:19-26

Give to God

Ah this broken body
fearful and wondrous
anointed as a small child
marked with oil and water.

I do not remember  my baptism
but every dive in moving water
reminds me of the indelible mark
I am God's own forever.

Made in the image of the Creator
terrible and wonderful are we
we belong, one family, many colors
to an incredible, expressive God.

We cannot help but turn ourselves
over to the loving arms of God
who formed us in our mother
made us able to see the heavens.

We cannot help but turn to God
in our pain and sorrow and grief
bent over with the weight of living
sleepless with the agony of loss.

Render to God the life given
Caesar may have his head in coin
but we know that eternal value
has been placed upon our heads.

Monday, June 19, 2017

In the Vineyard


Jesus began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard, and leased it to tenants, and went to another country for a long time. When the season came, he sent a slave to the tenants in order that they might give him his share of the produce of the vineyard; but the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Next he sent another slave; that one also they beat and insulted and sent away empty-handed. And he sent still a third; this one also they wounded and threw out. Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’ But when the tenants saw him, they discussed it among themselves and said, ‘This is the heir; let us kill him so that the inheritance may be ours.’ So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When they heard this, they said, “Heaven forbid!” But he looked at them and said, “What then does this text mean: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’? Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.” When the scribes and chief priests realized that he had told this parable against them, they wanted to lay hands on him at that very hour, but they feared the people. Luke 20:9-19

I am always amazed when people who been entrusted with the care of people, decide that they are going to take the place of family. That they deserve to be family even when they are not. Maybe, we in the church are in danger of this, since we like to refer to clergy as father and mother. Many of us have needed foster Moms and Dad, as well as grandparents. But boundaries are important, and knowing to whom we belong is essential. Religious leaders, all of us, lay and ordained alike, are workers in the fields, servants of the people.

In our gospel today Jesus angers the religious authority by telling a tale, a story about greed and hubris. Two things we humans are too easily persuaded by. We easily think we are better than others and more deserving. We imagine ourselves kings and queens. We are invited today to remember that we are mere servants, workers in the vineyard of the Lord.

Today, I ask God to help me remember the many blessings I have received and be humble and grateful in all that I do. May our hearts be so moved by love and compassion, that we might know our roles and be grateful for the blessings in the vineyard.




Sunday, June 18, 2017

Sent Out

Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.
These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment. [Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for laborers deserve their food. Whatever town or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you leave. As you enter the house, greet it. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.
“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. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”] Matthew 9:35-10:8(9-23)



Sent Out - For All Those Deacons, So Long Ordained

We thought we were fully prepared
for all that we would face beyond
we were so sure we had all the tools
innocent, young and starry eyed.

Ministry is joy, tears and waiting
watching aging and sitting with grief
baptizing and visiting with the sick
alone in hospital rooms and chapels.

Each was sent on crooked paths
some made plans that were undone
many sleepless nights, long days
many prayers on aging knees.

We have sung and we have cried
laughed at all our inadequacies
turned again and again to God
lost hope and had it rested again.

Being sent is never going alone
failing regularly and gaining friends
many miles, wrinkles, coffee hours
we have found abundance in it all.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Weeping Over the City


As Jesus came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side. They will crush you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.”
Then he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling things there; and he said, “It is written,
‘My house shall be a house of prayer’;
but you have made it a den of robbers.”

Every day he was teaching in the temple. The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people kept looking for a way to kill him; but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were spellbound by what they heard. Luke 19:41-48

There was much weeping last night as the Republicans and Democrats played a good natured, charity fund raising baseball game. The shooting of one of their own had changed everything. We as humans too often do not realize the ways to peace until a tragedy or loss befalls us. We are often too comfortable in our complacent buying and selling, arguing and posturing. We forget how fragile life is and how necessary and critical relationships and forgiveness are to our lives. We need each other, we need to live in peace rather than focus on our differences.

Jesus wept over Jerusalem and then proceeded to clear the temple of the money changers and the sellers who were robbing poor people blind in the cost of appropriate sacrifices. They said they were helping but in fact were making faithfulness a huge financial burden. We can get so caught in the rhetoric and taking sides that we can make daily living and faithfulness a burden for those around us. We are invited by God today to live  prayerfully, love completely and make peace the goal for daily living.

Today I ask God to help me leave compassionately and peacefully with neighbors, family and enemies. May we be those who help change the narrative, and turn our words of compassion and peace into action for the whole world.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

These Stones Would Shout Out


After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.
When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it.'” So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” They said, “The Lord needs it.” Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.” Luke 19:28-40

Took a trip this week up the Missouri River through what was called by Merriweather Lewis, The Gates of the Mountains. From both sides of the river, limestone cliffs rose to a spectacular height of 1200 feet. “In many places,” wrote Meriwether Lewis, “the rocks seem ready to tumble on us.” At each bend in the waterway, great stone walls seemed to block passage, only to open like gentle giant gates as the expedition drew near. In his journal, Meriwether wrote: “I shall call this place: GATES OF THE MOUNTAINS“. The picture is from that trip, and this rock formation seemed to be crying out!

Our Gospel story is about Jesus entering Jerusalem. When the religious leaders ask for him to quiet his followers, he tells that the stones would cry out. Creation recognizes the Creator and in many places and times, creation has cried out when we humans have not noticed or honored the living God in our midst. We are invited today to remember how blessed we are in this fragile and honest creation, and to give thanks and honor to the Creator for the many and abundant gifts we receive.

Today, I ask God to help me be thankful for everything and everyone; for all the relatives, human, winged, four-legged and crawling, and for the rocks and trees - the tremendous love that is reflected in all of creation. May we never forget to be grateful and live our lives with reverence and respect for we are truly blessed.



Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Hiding


As they were listening to this, Jesus went on to tell a parable, because he was near Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. So he said, “A nobleman went to a distant country to get royal power for himself and then return. He summoned ten of his slaves, and gave them ten pounds, and said to them, ‘Do business with these until I come back.’ But the citizens of his country hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to rule over us.’ When he returned, having received royal power, he ordered these slaves, to whom he had given the money, to be summoned so that he might find out what they had gained by trading. The first came forward and said, ‘Lord, your pound has made ten more pounds.’ He said to him, ‘Well done, good slave! Because you have been trustworthy in a very small thing, take charge of ten cities.’ Then the second came, saying, ‘Lord, your pound has made five pounds.’ He said to him, ‘And you, rule over five cities.’ Then the other came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your pound. I wrapped it up in a piece of cloth, for I was afraid of you, because you are a harsh man; you take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ He said to him, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked slave! You knew, did you, that I was a harsh man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? Why then did you not put my money into the bank? Then when I returned, I could have collected it with interest.’ He said to the bystanders, ‘Take the pound from him and give it to the one who has ten pounds.’ (And they said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten pounds!’) ‘I tell you, to all those who have, more will be given; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. But as for these enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and slaughter them in my presence.’” Luke 19:11-27

Hiding

The talents and gifts given
are precious and frightening
we worry about ridicule scorn
the laughing of our classmates.

What we have been given withers
dries and folds up like old paper
is lost in the messiness of our days
hiding too long what is so needed.

These little treasures we are given
much be used and worked like clay
touched and lifted into beauty
polished to ring out love's joy.

Let fear be sentenced to the closet
where we have too long hidden
gifts and expressions we so fear
become the visible savior of the world.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

To Save The Lost


Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.” Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.” Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.” Luke 19:1-10

To Save The Lost

Too many nights on the road
in a  strange city or right at home
lost among the familiar and strange
a change of weather, a change of heart.

Thinking running away will save us
we find ourselves back at the start
the burdens we carry grow heavier
the fog settles in for the long haul.

Some around us seem to know the way
but offer no help and no directions
they are proud in their smug selves
we know we are struggling and alone.

Love looks for the lost day and night
through fog, storm, wind and snow
we are sought, desired and needed
by the one who would bring us home.



Monday, June 12, 2017

Sheep in the Midst of Wolves


Jesus said to the twelve, “As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment. Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for laborers deserve their food. Whatever town or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you leave. As you enter the house, greet it. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.
“See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” Matthew 10:7-16

My husband Mark has been visiting with me here in Montana. It is the season when people from all over the world come to see the parks, the wild animals and the majestic scenery. It is a real gift to live and serve here where there is so much unspoiled beauty. And yet, humans are the biggest threat to our wild world. We are the ravenous wolves who want to take for ourselves, disregarding others. We are rarely humble enough to recognize the danger we put others in with our ravenous appetites.

Jesus was sending the disciples out to serve the world. His sending instructed them (and us) to be wise but remain sheep among the wolves. Our needs and appetites can never be our motivation, otherwise we can become hungry wolves. Our gentleness and humility must be visible, living and real. We are called to be loving in the face of greed and wise enough to name it, and walk away from all that tempts us.

Today, I ask God to help me remain gentle and loving in the face of pushy and selfish people. May we set aside greed and anger in our lives so that God's love might shine in a desparate world.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Trinity Sunday 2017


The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20

Trinity Sunday

The promise I am with you always
spoken from the mountain top
a sacred covenant of eternal  love
we are woven and bound together.

Returning to the majestic mountains
awesome and dreadful cloud shrouded
we experience rain and wind together
and wonder whether we survive it all.

We have been soaked and battered yes
yet the ancient promise returned
we looked up again and saw shimmering
a rainbow stretching across the valleys.

We have come so far still getting lost
yet again and again we hear those words
I am with you always to ages end
we are bound together in the holy.








The Collect

Almighty and everlasting God, you have given to us your servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of your divine Majesty to worship the Unity: Keep us steadfast in this faith and worship, and bring us at last to see you in your one and eternal glory, O Father; who with the Son and the Holy Spirit live and reign, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Saturday, June 10, 2017

Such As These


People were bringing even infants to Jesus that he might touch them; and when the disciples saw it, they sternly ordered them not to do it. But Jesus called for them and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.”
A certain ruler 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 commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother.'” He replied, “I have kept all these since my youth.” When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “There is still one thing lacking. Sell all that you own and distribute the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” But when he heard this, he became sad; for he was very rich. Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, 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.” Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” He replied, “What is impossible for mortals is possible for God.” Then Peter said, “Look, we have left our homes and followed you.” And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not get back very much more in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.”Luke 18:15-30 

SUCH AS THESE

We were such as these and yet
We seemed  inferior dangerous
In need of mending, fixing and changing
Not good enough for the kingdom of heaven.



Perfect and beloved as sacred gifts
Included always at the table
Snuggled and held close always
Laughing and dancing in the sun.

Such as these the Lord of love
Invited us to follow as children
The messy laughing, crying ones
Like we once we're before time.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Be Merciful To Me A Sinner


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

Yesterday we were traveling so we were only able to see parts of the Comey hearing. Getting to Helena takes a full day and sometimes a day and a half. We try to see what we could in the airport but it was hit or miss. We, as a nation, are in the grip of people telling tales, whether true or false. Most of us are not insiders, and don't really know what happened, or will happen. Life would truly be much easier if everyone told the truth all the time. We would have no need of lawyers or hearings. But the world is full of liars and sinners and we are all part of that benighted and broken group. The problem today is that,  people in power, no matter their reasons, must be scrupulously honest or the nation fails. Deception can ruin good leaders, but even worse, it can destroy the most vulnerable.

Jesus told stories that everyone can understand. He knew that the religious rulers were self-deceivers and often exalted themselves and kept the poor and aliens under their thumbs. They saw themselves as better, more perfect, than the average riff raff. Anytime we assume ourselves to be better than others, we deceive ourselves. But God knows just how broken and sinful we are. And in these days of controlling the narrative (another term for creative fiction), we are invited by God to be honest and humble, for that is where God will find us and raise us up.

Today, I ask God to help me be honest and humble everyday. May my life, as fragile, broken and sinful as it is, be a sign of God's love for this sinful and broken world. May all our lives, in our deepest humility, give hope and promise to an anxious world.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Enduring Suffering


Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, “The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.”
Then he said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. They will say to you, ‘Look there!’ or ‘Look here!’ Do not go, do not set off in pursuit. For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. But first he must endure much suffering and be rejected by this generation. Just as it was in the days of Noah, so too it will be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking, and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed all of them. Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot: they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day that Lot left Sodom, it rained fire and sulfur from heaven and destroyed all of them—it will be like that on the day that the Son of Man is revealed. On that day, anyone on the housetop who has belongings in the house must not come down to take them away; and likewise anyone in the field must not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife. Those who try to make their life secure will lose it, but those who lose their life will keep it. I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. There will be two women grinding meal together; one will be taken and the other left.” Then they asked him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” Luke 17:20-37 

Enduring Suffering

Daily the trips, fall and failures
pile up like  discarded linens
we cannot see the other side
our agony real and permanent.

We are changed by pain and loss
wracked by this endless suffering
hopeless and fearing the worst
we run to hide our tearful faces.

Our burden, this  human condition
a heavy yoke, slogging endless uphill
we curse and cry out in our dark nights
believing ourselves lost and laone.

We forget that we are bound together
siblings in the household of love
broken yet enduring along side
the one who would take it all on.

We are drenched in love offering
given freely and completely for each
we find our strength again when we cling
to the one who is by our sides now.

 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Except This Foreigner


On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.” Luke 17:11-19

I am the first to admit that they are days when it's hard to be grateful. When the traffic is snarled and the tests are many, it is easy to see only the brokenness and not the blessings. The past few days have been filled with tough tasks, yet nothing really miserable. A trip to Urgent Care, man trips into Boston for appointments, and traffic snarls of massive proportions. The blessings can sometimes get lost. There is always a moment, an opportunity, however brief, to give thanks for the healing. There is always an little space to reflect back and see the many gifts around us.

Jesus heals ten lepers on the road. He told them to go and see the priests and in the went with haste and with joy. They had things to do, places to get, people to see. One of the lepers took that moment to see the blessing, the healing and stopped to give thanks for it. Maybe, because he was a foreigner he expected to be rejected and turned away. Maybe people like him knew they were banned. In his wonder and joy at being included and being healed, he saw the true gift in his life. He took the time to be grateful, just a moment to turn around and demonstrate his gratitude. God invites us today, in the midst of our busy days and our challenges in life, to give thanks for the wonders that we have been blessed with today.

Today I ask God to help me focus on the abundance instead of the frustration, in the many gifts instead of the few things lacking. May we all take the moment to be grateful, as we are all beloved members of the family of God.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Occasions for Stumbling


Jesus said to his disciples, “Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come! It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble. Be on your guard! If another disciple sins, you must rebuke the offender, and if there is repentance, you must forgive. And if the same person sins against you seven times a day, and turns back to you seven times and says, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive.”
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.
“Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here at once and take your place at the table’? Would you not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink’? Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!'” Luke 17:1-10 

Occasions for Stumbling

Someday there will be a story to tell
we will all laugh and say how ridiculous
once we were worried and afraid
sure that we were drowning in it.

Someday we will find a way to learn
from what we had to suffer today
these huge mistake drawn out
in front of all the world to see.

Someday we will forgive and go on
today we weep a good deal and pray
hoping that the slate might be cleaned
and sorrow washed fully away.

We hope for broken hearts mended
and take one step forward on that road
knowing we are broken and human
and bound for better holy things.

 

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Pentecost


When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” John 20:19-23

Pentecost

Once they were all gathered together
tongues of flames descended like doves 
once they were overcome by joy
speaking Creator's love to all hearing.

Once a movement was born in a day
a moment of light and inclusion
all being called as sacred children 
beloved living in God's presence.

Once a gentle Savior came 
to disciples fearful and broken
who huddled in a hidden room
expecting the worse in their grief.

We are at once the sacred children
and those hiding in the  upper room
we are filled and empty on the jounrey
praying there is always more spirit to come.


Saturday, June 3, 2017

A Kingdom Divided


Now Jesus was casting out a demon that was mute; when the demon had gone out, the one who had been mute spoke, and the crowds were amazed. But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons.” Others, to test him, kept demanding from him a sign from heaven. But he knew what they were thinking and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself becomes a desert, and house falls on house. If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? — for you say that I cast out the demons by Beelzebul. Now if I cast out the demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your exorcists cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out the demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you. When a strong man, fully armed, guards his castle, his property is safe. But when one stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his plunder. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” Luke 11:14-23 

A Kingdom Divided

It love doesn't build the house
if healing isn't woven into each
if growing and changing is lacking
then all will fall to the ground.

There is no sorrow like a dream lost
no pain like the ravages of pride
no torment like refusing to change
no sadness like not joining the dance.

We are meant to be interdependent
like water falling together from clouds
like grains of sands that define our shore
we are part of a whole or we are nothing.

 

Friday, June 2, 2017

Martha, Martha




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






Martha, Martha

Always the one who is practical and planning
cleaning and washing, serving and hovering
living the roles I was taught from childhood
we daughters looking on from a distance.

My sister leaves me and her duties
to sit where she does not belong
listening to the teacher as if she was man
as if she was privileged and right.

He will not send her away to help
I am furious and jealous at the same time
I too ache to be sitting among them
learning of God's love for me today.

He tells me she is welcome in that circle
I too am welcomed in at the table
two daughters, plain and simply average
get to sit at the feet of the master.

I am too unsure of myself in this circle
more comfortable in the kitchen
more at home where the women dwell
and ache to be brave like my sister.

Gracious God give me the strength
to walk where I am told I do not belong
to brave criticism, ridiculous expectations
to sit at the table with the lord of love.


 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Love Your Neighbor


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

We are living in a time when fearing our neighbor and hate for strangers and aliens seems acceptable in society. And yet, it has always been acceptable, in many ways, to champion's one's rights over another's, and to push others down. Women are still subjugated and abused, and treated as less than lovable in many places, including in this country, particularly women of color. Most abuse here is done behind closed doors, a politeness in public, wretched cruelty in private with partners, coworkers and young girls. So, as much as things change, they stay they same.

Jesus challenged the traditional and cultural behavior of overlooking the needs of aliens, enemies and strangers. Jesus told his disciples that loving our neighbors (as ourselves) was second only to loving God. In the hierarchy of commandments that's pretty top shelf. And, as if we didn't understand, Jesus' story points out the religious leaders have been doing it all wrong, and the Samaritan, the hated neighbor and enemy, knew how to follow God. Making love visible is our daily task.

Today, I ask God to help me demonize no one, loving everyone as I would like to be loved. The world is in need of those who are willing to stand up to abuse ans denigration in all places, sharing God's love and respect for all.