Saturday, August 19, 2017

Look Around At Everything


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

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

Look Around

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

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

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

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

Friday, August 18, 2017

Let Me See Again


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

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

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

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

Thursday, August 17, 2017

But To Serve


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

But To Serve

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

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

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

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


 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

First Will Be Last


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

First Will Be Last

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

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

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

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


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

My Hour



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.
After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples; and they remained there a few days. John 2:1-12 

We have all been forced by family members and others to do things we know it is not the time or the place to do them. People want us to show off our gifts - "sing for us!" "dance for us!" "tell us one of your great stories!" They mean well, but we can know in our hearts we are performing rather than giving of ourselves truly.  We become known as the wine maker, the performer and the like when we have much bigger work to do - changing the world through love and sacrifice.

Jesus is at a wedding and his mother wants him to perform.  She is confident in his abilities and want to showcase them for her family and friends. She wants her boy to make her proud, and he reluctantly agreed. Yet Jesus knew it was not his time and place and knew that God had created him and helped him thrive for the love of the world. We are invited to see that we are created by God as well, to bring light and love to a world wrapped in darkness, fear and hate.

Today I ask God to help me live humbly and sacrificially for the good of my neighbors throughout the world. May we not be satisfied with parlor tricks and flowery speeches but rather, live and labot for peace and kindness to be reborn in our world.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Salt and Peace


Jesus said, “If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.
“For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” Mark 9:42-50 

Salt and Peace

We live in a world of stumbling blocks
many we have created of our own doing
threats hurled across international lines
we find ourselves anxious and afraid.

We ache to be accepted as we really are
yet we let fear and anger rule our days
we do not take the time to know our neighbors
we do not salt the world with flavor and joy.

It will always ne the vulnerable who suffer
their small portions obliterated by greed
their dwelling destroyed by cruel hubris
their lives lost because they were not seen.

A child  was placed in our angry midst
among the mobs ready to fight neighbors
there is no flavor or goodness in any of us
when we seek to destroy the fragile peace.

O send us light, peace and wisdom now
ans make us the instruments of love today
that we might return sweetness to the hurting
and exchange our might for the hope of peace.






Sunday, August 13, 2017

Stepping Out of the Boat

Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”
Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” Matthew 14:22-33

There are times when we need the safety of the familiar boat, and other times when we are called to step out. Last week, when we were in Virginia, at the Indian View Baptist Church, the preacher wondered whether it wasn't Peter's lack of faith in Jesus that made him sink, but lack of faith in himself. I have been thinking on that all week. We often get in our own way, and in the way of receiving God's love and goodness. We rely on ourselves and realize we can't do it. We sink and yet God is still there to stretch out a hand. Can we step out of the boat in the midsts of the storms that are raging these days? I have never feared falling out of a boat because I am a good swimmer, but if called to walk off the boat, I  don't know how I would respond.

The disciples, all skilled water men and fishermen were overwhelmed by a storm. The wind and the waves were against them. It was a perfect storm and they feared for their lives. They saw Jesus coming and it frightened them even more. It took messy, hard headed Peter to be willing to put fear aside and reach out to Jesus. He sunk when he saw his own limitations, suspecting he had to do it all on his own. But Jesus was right there the whole time, as he is now, and we are invited to step out of the boat during these stormy times and reach out.

Today, I ask God to help me be faithful in Jesus and in the strength and ability given me. May we all use what we have for the good of others, knowing God is in the midst of our very worst storms.

 

 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Welcome One Such Child


They went on from there and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.” But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.
Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”
John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.” Mark 9:30-41 

The history of this country and Canada as well, includes the real attempt to "kill the Indian, save the child." Small children were shipped off to boarding and residential schools, taught to be like "normal people " and often worked very hard in fields, shops and industry. The stories folks tell of this schooling is heartbreaking. The church and the government did not welcome the children but worked overtime to fix them. So many died of heartbreak, loneliness and disease. The one who lived are often broken by their experience.

Jesus was trying to help his disciples understand humility and compassion. They had been arguing about who was most superior in their group. They were behaving like children. Jesus chose a little child, held him close and invited his disciples to do likewise. To embrace and not fix, to welcome and not judge is the way of following Jesus.

Today, I ask God to help me have a humble and welcoming heart in all that I do. May we not try to fix people, but rather hold them close, make them welcome and give them what they need to survive.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Only Through Prayer


When they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and some scribes arguing with them. When the whole crowd saw him, they were immediately overcome with awe, and they ran forward to greet Jesus. He asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” Someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought you my son; he has a spirit that makes him unable to speak; and whenever it seizes him, it dashes him down; and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid; and I asked your disciples to cast it out, but they could not do so.” He answered them, “You faithless generation, how much longer must I be among you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him to me.” And they brought the boy to him. When the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. Jesus asked the father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. It has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us.” Jesus said to him, “If you are able! All things can be done for the one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out, “I believe; help my unbelief!” When Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You spirit that keeps this boy from speaking and hearing, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again!” After crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he was able to stand. When he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “This kind can come out only through prayer.” Mark 9:14-29 

Only Through Prayer

A skilled surgeon can do so much
medicines can help with the cure
therapies of all sort can mend
yet some healing is only through prayer.

We may believe in science alone

but are hearts are still flesh and spirit
love is not a simple chemical formula
some healing comes only through prayer.

God lives within and without us
we are bound and constricted by fear
the pain of the past and compiling loss
releases us only through prayer.

We are spirit, stardust and human
bones and organs wondrously made
we know more each day and less as well
peace can only come through prayer.

This day my heart is troubled
my brokenness is ever before me
God help me to see today's beauty
setting this child free with prayer.

 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Overshadowed


Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.
As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean. Then they asked him, “Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” He said to them, “Elijah is indeed coming first to restore all things. How then is it written about the Son of Man, that he is to go through many sufferings and be treated with contempt? But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written about him.” Mark 9:2-13 

Overshadowed

There are days when no clouds come
when the light is perfect the air soft
most days are a mix of cloud and light
exact clarity is surely hard to find.

We glimpse now as through guaze
hoping to understand before long
the light and shadow refine and refract
rarely defining, more rarely explaining.

Sometimes we find ourselves standing
on the shoulders of faithful giants
some days we sink into holes we have dug
never seeing daylight or hearing birdsong.

We must cling to the images of love
focus on the delights and joys we have
there is a downside to every mountaintop
real living requires us to work and pray.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Take Up Your Cross


Jesus called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.” Mark 8:34 – 9:1

I sometimes wonder what the disciples heard when Jesus said this phrase. The suggestion that we take up our burdens and challenges, denying ourselves and following him can be hard to hear. Yet, the cost of discipleship is nothing less that being very human and still stepping out. The reality of our lives is that we do not wait for perfection, we move when God calls us and  knowing our brokenness and frailty can work for the blessing of others. I try to avoid my call, had all sorts of excuses, tried to put the call on others but in the end it was my job to put one foot in front of the other and follow.

Jesus is talking to the crowd and the disciples. Many just wanted a quick healing and to go about their lives, unchanged. Jesus knew that there was a need for all of us to give up ourselves for the life of the world. It cannot be about number one, the self. Life is about the whole community and we are called to step out in faith despite the weights we bear and the fears that gather around us. In this time of increased fear God needs us evermore to be stepping out in faith, not holding back, making love the gift we bring to each and every encounter.

Today I ask God to help me keep stepping out, keep walking and following Jesus. May our lives be examples of letting go of fear and moving in faith, so that love, which casts our fear, might be spread far and wide.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Like Trees Walking


They came to Bethsaida. Some people brought a blind man to Jesus and begged him to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village; and when he had put saliva on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Can you see anything?” And the man looked up and said, “I can see people, but they look like trees, walking.” Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he looked intently and his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. Then he sent him away to his home, saying, “Do not even go into the village.”
Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.
Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”Mark 8:22-33 

Like Trees Walking

Sometimes it takes time and trial
like Jesus healing the blind man
once with saliva again with touch
we heal over time and don't always see.

When we have to walk away from trauma
when we have to leave our pasts behind
we seldom see the reconstruction hope
we seldom take the long view of love.

The arc of history bends towards justice
Martin said and still was mowed down
love conquers all but comes too slowly
we live in the in between seeing trees walking.

Let us be grateful today for healed scars
that remind us of divine love and faithfulness
what we survive has brought us a new day
we will thrive as we let love in again.


Sunday, August 6, 2017

Transfiguration


Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah” —not knowing what he said. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen. Luke 9:28-36

We are in Virginia so that we could attend the 75th anniversary of the founding of Indian View Baptist Church in King William, VA, It was so named because one of the matriarchs at the time said she looked around and everywhere she looked she could see Indians. At the time, 19 dollars was collected for the construction of the church. Today, there were more than a hundred people jammed into the little country church. All those years ago with lots of faith and very little money, they made an incredible witness to God's love and presence in the midst of their community.

Up on the mountain. the disciples witnessed an incredible view of the true relationship of their teacher to God. It was a view of intimacy and connectedness. This vision, this view, would hold them through incredible trials and tribulations that were to come. That view would give them hope and renewal in the days to come and for the generations of faithful that followed. We are invited by God to view the glimpses of God's loving presence among us as the possibilities and hope for the future.

Today I ask God to help me to hold on to the view I had today, of the faithful people gathered, standing on the faithfulness of their ancestors and their people. May we hold on and move forward so that those who follow us may be standing on holy ground and supported with strength and hope.


Friday, August 4, 2017

Even the Dogs


 From there he 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 Syrophoenician 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

Sometimes the holy takes time
never as long as we humans do
it took a desperate women to teach
that a parent's love is always fierce.

Our faith is nothing less than love
it demands that every child is fed
every limb mended, every demon banished
every prayer is for some needy child.

The living God among broken humans
was overwhelmed by the need at first
parents taught him the inclusion of all
every child aches for a place at the table.

We who can welcome or prohibit now
need to look at the lesson from one mother
God will provide food and healing enough
if we open our hearts and let love thrive.

Wednesday, August 2, 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 

Take Heart

The quiet interrupted in the blueberry patch
anxious folks who cannot see the miracles
the abundance that weighs each laden branch down
is the life that we are given every single day.

Take heart you who worry and flail in pain

the one who walks on water and heals everyone
also watches over your waking and sleeping
the terrors of the night are no match for him.

Life is never easy but always overflowing
our problems like winds and waves dominated
by love that does not sleep or ever waiver
love that renews us again and again.

Take heart for the incarnate divinity stills
both storms of body and storms at sea
calms the children in their frantic joy
and holds you close as you weep and sigh.

 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

All Ate and Were Filled


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. Mark 6:30-46 

As clergy, we are often asked to do impossible things. A call can come in the middle of the night, while on vacation, or even in our offices. Standing with family by a death bed, sitting with folks in a waiting room, praying alone with the dying and with those whose world is falling apart - all of these and more are just part of the call. Hungry, sick, lonely and afraid people are all our people. Sometimes we feel that we don't have enough to give, there aren't miracles enough, or that words and actions have failed us. God never fails to stand with us, even when we feel so inadequate and empty.

Jesus looked on the people and had compassion on the lost, anxious and hungry crowd. He put his disciples in charge of finding food and they freaked out. They could only scrounge up a child size lunch. That small offering became the food for many, so much so that they were all filled. We, like the disciples, freak out when the task is too big - we're just human. And yet God stands with us in our small capacity and blesses even the smallest offering. We are invited by God to continually offer what we have, small as it might be, knowing that God will use and multiply it.

Today, I ask God to help me continue to offer all that I have, especially when it seems so small. May we all be open to God's new blessing on our inadequacies, so that the world around us, so in need, might be blessed with abundance.