The stone the builders rejected

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.
      
         The stone that the builders rejected
                  has become the chief cornerstone.
         This is the Lord’s doing;
                  it is marvelous in our eyes.

                           —Psalm 118.22-23

Jesus is not an underdog,
neither an unfortunate, unwitting dupe
nor a small, plucky hero who will get out of this.
No, he chooses this damnation.
Whom we reject God embraces.
Whom we condemn is God,
the least of these.
The leper, the prisoner, the quiet,
the misfit, the queer, the lonely,
the battered, the raped or impoverished
we judge and expel.
They are the Divine among us.
When we do not love them
we do not love God.

What we are afraid of, what we hate the most,
this is Christ on his little donkey.
He will be our king.

The criminal element our own hearts,
the anger, the fear, the lust for power
and for having things our way:
God is there, seeking our mercy.
The sorrows, the weakness,
the great, heavy unknowing:
this is Christ, entering the city.

The mercy we reject, the forgiveness,
the nonviolence and compassion
we forego for the sake of our anxiety,
the love we deny
God makes the foundation.
The holiness we forsake
God builds into our souls.
Even the death we cause
God makes the empty grave of our faith.
The Christ we crucify,
God will make our Lord.

It is the Holy One’s doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

__________________
Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

To receive Unfolding Light as a daily e-mail,
write to me at unfoldinglight (at) gmail.com

March 27, 2015  Leave a comment

Faith

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.
      
         ”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!”

                  —Mark 11.9-10

Jesus presents some street theater,
the new life enacted among us.
People love it for the moment,
but the Powers will have him killed,
and he knows it. He has a week to live.
How’s he going to create a kingdom?
One week. How’s he going to change the world?

He comes on a donkey. He talks. He heals.
No power, no strategy.
Really, not even a kingdom.

No plan but this: just
love people, and forgive them.
Share a meal. Wash their feet.
Love them and forgive them.
And trust God with the rest.

That’s it. No other power, no plan.
Just love and trust God,
who takes our love
and heals the world with it.

This is jesus’ faith:
Do what you can. Do it with love.
Bless and heal and forgive along the way.
And trust that’s good enough for God.
It was good enough for Jesus.

Facing your trials, dealing with conflict,
confronting injustice, small as you are:
do what you can, do it with love,
bless and heal and forgive,
and trust God.

That alone will change the world.
That alone will save.
Watch.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

__________________
Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

To receive Unfolding Light as a daily e-mail,
write to me at unfoldinglight (at) gmail.com

March 26, 2015  Leave a comment

Hosanna

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.
      
         ”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!”

                  —Mark 11.9-10

“Hosanna!” “O, Save!”
Once a desperate cry for help,
became a confident cry of praise.
Because the One we cried to
did save. And will save.

And who is this who saves?
The Humble One, riding on a donkey,
the Loving One, pouring himself out
for us.

Even as our mouths cry out for triumph
and our hands grasp for power and glory,
they will not save us.
Our hearts know this,
even as they prepare to betray and deny:
only love will save us.

Hosanna!
O Love, you who save us
from all that we want,
to you alone
we give our hearts.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

__________________
Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

To receive Unfolding Light as a daily e-mail,
write to me at unfoldinglight (at) gmail.com

March 25, 2015  Leave a comment

Donkey

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.
      
         Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion!
                  Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem!
         Lo, your king comes to you;
                  triumphant and victorious is he,
         humble and riding on a donkey,
                  on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

                           —Zechariah 9.9

Here comes Palm Sunday.
We will wave our palm branches for Jesus,
our King, our Savior, riding on a….
really, a donkey?

Yes, in the tradition of the ancient prophets,
Jesus mocks our love of domination.
The ruler of the word comes riding a tricycle.
It’s not just a gesture. He means this.

He will mock our pompous judgments,
mock our unblinking trust in violence,
catch us taking ourselves so seriously.
He will not fall for our adulation.

He makes foolish our wisdom, overturns
power and sovereignty. Look how he turns
the world upside down and confused
and afraid we hang on, waving palms.

This is how he will be our king.
He will give away his last meal.
He will be humiliated, be wrong and and weak,
for our sake he will be what we hate the most.

Because he can.
Because he is greater than all that.
Because none of that matters.
He will show us how little it matters.

Ride a donkey through our pride.
Wash our fickle, kicking feet.
Die of our own embarrassment.
And count to three.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

__________________
Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

To receive Unfolding Light as a daily e-mail,
write to me at unfoldinglight (at) gmail.com

March 24, 2015  Leave a comment

Here

      
         Cast me not away from your presence,
         and take not your Spirit from me.

                  —Psalm 51.11

         I pray:
God, it is I who cast myself away.
Call to me.
Don’t be so quiet and patient with me;
I am dense. Shout.
Draw me with irresistible forces.
Bring me home
by means of earthquakes and strong winds.
Do not ask me to come home:
break my resistance. Capture me.
Pick me up like Dorothy in the tornado.
Overthrow me. Claim me.

I know you claim me and accept me and serve me.
The only question
is whether I will accept you, and serve you.
The hard thing about faith
is always questioning my own faithfulness.

         And you answer:
I will not force you.
You are already overwhelmed.
You are already home.

You are here.

Beloved, here.

         
         

__________________
Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

To receive Unfolding Light as a daily e-mail,
write to me at unfoldinglight(at)gmail.com

March 23, 2015  Leave a comment

Hope

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.
      
         
You who live temperate zones,
who haven’t lived through these months here
of cold, shoveling snow, shoveling more
snow, living in box canyons of snow,
under worried roofs, dripping walls,
chipping ice, walking stiff-kneed on ice,
dressing complicatedly for every sojourn,
the layers, the precautions, things matted,
frozen shut, the dark skies,
skies continually falling, dark,
if you haven’t looked out windows
trying to remember what a yard looks like,
trying to guess where the ground is,
longing for green, longing for smells,
longing to walk across grass, to be outside
and not hurt, longing for something
to be easy—do you know this yearning
for light, for warmth, for beauty, for release,
do you know this ache?

I believe you know it
with or without the metaphor in your yard.
It’s the ache for the new world,
for the old life to close its winter eye,
the ice grave to crack wide open,
for your true self to walk toward you
out of the darkness. It’s the ache
for freedom, the long, dark ache for Easter.

It’s not a bad thing
to live in the longing, with even grace
not merely laid at your feet yet,
not of your doing, but purely gift.
To know you are waiting,
and what you are hungry for.
And how deep is your longing.
And that it is coming.

Today is the first day of spring.
The forecast is for snow.

I am filled with hope.

         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

__________________
Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

To receive Unfolding Light as a daily e-mail,
write to me at unfoldinglight (at) gmail.com

March 20, 2015  Leave a comment

Psalm 51

A paraphrase

Be gentle with me, O God,
         hold me in your constant love.
With your abundant mercy
         free me from my sins.
Wash away the grime
         that covers your image in me.
I know I don’t live the life you give me;
         you know the difference.
My love is not perfect;
         this you see.

But you lead me to live in harmony
         with my inner truth,
to be transparent
         to your presence within me.

Purge me with your love,
         that I may be pure love.
Fill me,
         that I may be pure light.

Deep within me, in your light,
          I discover joy,
gratitude even for bones broken
         to be reset.
When you look at me you don’t see sins;
         you see love.

Create me all over again, O God;
         breathe your life-giving breath in me.
Hold me close
         and give me your loving spirit.
You are the joy that sustains me;
         you give me my willing heart.
O Beloved, when I open my lips,
         my mouth will sing praise, only praise.

I can’t offer a thing to please you,
         can’t determine your love for me.
What delights you is just me,
         this broken heart,
         this true, simple heart.
Use me as I am to love the world.
         That will be gift enough for both of us.

         

__________________
Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

To receive Unfolding Light as a daily e-mail,
write to me at unfoldinglight (at) gmail.com

March 20, 2015  Leave a comment

Your love – a breath prayer

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.
      
         I will put my law within them,
                  and I will write it on their hearts.

                  —Jeremiah 31.33

Steady my wandering heart, O God,
long enough to write your love.

On my heart, frail and loose,
write your steady love.

Deep in my beating heart,
your breathing love.

In my heart,
your love.

         
         

__________________
Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

To receive Unfolding Light as a daily email
write to me at unfoldinglight (at) gmail [dot] com

March 18, 2015  Leave a comment

But if it dies

      
         Unless a grain of wheat
                  falls into the earth and dies,
         it remains just a single grain;
                  but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

                           —John 12.24

         
This is faith in resurrection,
not some speculation on the future,
but the trust to die in love.

Why be afraid to give myself away
when You have come
and died in my arms
and now live more vividly
than before?

You have poured out yourself like drink
and only afterwards
did I realize how I was feasting.

Why be afraid to disappear
into love?
Why not be nothing but love,
and so only life?

To get over my self-clinging
and become a seed in the hand of God,
be flung, be burst, become the opened grave
from whom the tender stalk of Christ
emerges and grows and becomes me, new.

To be a gift that is not returned,
light that sinks into a stone heart,
a luscious taste on the tongue of the world.

         
         

__________________
Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

To receive Unfolding Light as a daily e-mail,
write to me at unfoldinglight(at)gmail.com

March 17, 2015  Leave a comment

Presence

      
         
                 
Eternal Beloved,
bring me deeper:
not to mere insight,
but to presence;
not to feelings,
even feelings of your nearness,
but deeper presence
for you
and for your stirrings in me,
compassionate presence
for my neighbor
and for all the world.

By your presence in me,
deeper presence.

By your grace…
presence.

         
         

__________________
Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

To receive Unfolding Light as a daily e-mail,
write to me at unfoldinglight(at)gmail.com

March 16, 2015  Leave a comment

« older posts