God in the blizzard

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.
      
         
Here in New England we’re having a great blizzard. We have a couple feet of snow and it’s still coming down. And God is in the blizzard. Yesterday moving some heavy stuff around in the shed to get at the snow blower I strained my back, so shoveling won’t be fun. And the snow blower won’t start. God is in that, too.

As I often do I might think of some metaphors for God in all this, like “getting a sermon out of it”: God’s grace piles up around me… God’s presence is vast and my effort so small…I can only make my way with God’s grace… I should plan head or ask for help. And God might “come to me” in a particular way: I’ll shovel anyway and God will sustain me… or the machine will start.. or I’ll borrow the neighbor’s… or Beth and I will clear three feet of snow with soup spoons and good humor. But beyond all outcomes, beyond all my metaphors, no matter what happens or how I experience it, The Holy One is simply here. This, too, is holy. God’s presence is as pervasive as the storm, as deep as the snow, as intimate as the pain in my back. But God is beyond and beneath and before all those thoughts. This day is not an illustration of God; it is the presence of God.

God is in this blizzard with me: in the snow and wind and cold, in my back, in my wife, in our warm house, in my minutes and hours. God is with you, in the desert southwest where it’s a nice day, in northern Canada where it’s been a blizzard for months, in Australia or South Africa where it’s a midsummer evening, in England and Kazakhstan and your own little town. God is with you in your grief and your hope and your struggle and your relief. In your chronic pain, your deep questions, your wordless joy, your ordinary day, God is there. God is not in certain things but in everything. God is there, with you, in you, in this moment.

Everything you do you do holding hands with God. You don’t have to search for God. Let God be present.

      
         
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 unfoldinglight3(at)hotmail.com

January 27, 2015  Leave a comment

Beloved

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.
      
         
                  
There is a young man
I woke up loving,
whose being I cherish,
his fingers, his kidneys,
his humor, his kindness,
his mornings and evenings,
all his loves and desires,
and every sob and guffaw
in his heart’s dark seedbed.
He is mine. He lives in me.

There is a little child
taking apart his world
with delight and curiosity.
He doesn’t know who I am yet.
He is learning to walk
inside my chest, my legs.

The Loving One from whom
this splendid Creation blossoms
loves you infinitely more
and more particularly
than I my son or my grandson,
nor feels any less delight
when you come near.

         
         
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 unfoldinglight3(at)hotmail.com

January 26, 2015  Leave a comment

Psalm 62.5-12

Beloved, for you my soul waits in silence.
         My hope is hidden in your silence.
Life of my living, you are my earth.
         You are what cannot be taken.
In the gravity of your grace I rest.
         In your silence is my deep belonging.

I trust in you, Holy One.
         I pour myself into your hands,
         into this light, my resting place.

Rich or poor mean nothing;
         they are an illusion.
I abandon my little “happy” and “sad.”
         They are both lint.
Do I catch myself trying to gain?
         Ah, ignore all that fool’s gold.
         Ignore it. Let it go.

I keep hearing this in the silence;
         the silence says it over and over:
the only power is Love,
         and love, all love, is God.

Beloved, you live, you speak, you resound
         in all we do.

         
         

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

To receive Unfolding Light as a daily e-mail,
write to me at unfoldinglight3(at)hotmail.com

January 23, 2015  Leave a comment

Fishers of people

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.
      
         
                  I

In his little boat the fisherman
floats out on a deep
mystery that provides.
His net woven of many strands
is a gathering, for gathering.
He casts it into dark waters
and hauls in light.
Not for himself
but those hungry in the village,
from the unseen he offers
sustenance.

                  II

The fly fisher admires the river,
runs her eyes along its surface
like her hands on fine furniture.
She sees beneath into the depths
and sees unseen the beauty flashing,
knows without knowing
the life given there.
Not with will to overpower
but adoration of the holy
she casts, she works the fly
and waits
for the communicating tug,
the splendor rising.

With this focus,
not to catch but to evoke,
not to control but to connect,
she loves people,
and seeks out the grace
flashing beneath their eyes,
the love
rising in them.

         
         
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 unfoldinglight3(at)hotmail.com

January 22, 2015  Leave a comment

“Follow me”

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.
      
         
                  
The call may come as a word,
a voice. Maybe not.
It may come as a feeling,
a nudge, a leaning, a suspicion,
or less.
It may be to new work, new places.
But it might not involve an ocean.
It may come as an invitation
to love like this,
to live in this manner.

It may simply be the call
each moment:
Stay with me.
Come with me
as I move
through your life
before you,
this moment,
into this room,
this conversation.
I plunge deep into this life.
Stay with me.

Here we go….

         
         
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 unfoldinglight3(at)hotmail.com

January 21, 2015  Leave a comment

The church of last resort

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.
      
                  
I preached and led a retreat on prayer and poetry at the Presbyterian church in Shepherdstown, WV this last weekend. It’s a lovely bunch of people. They explored fearlessly and shared deeply. They inspired me, not by the certitude of their beliefs but in the depth of their presence for God, for one another and for whoever walked in the door. Several members of the church spoke of how they were close to giving up on church till they found that one. A “church of last resort,” they say. There are churches like that.

We hear much about the decline of the neighborhood church in the shadow of big, rich, megaplex churches. Never mind that. Here’s the good news. Real communities of authentic people who want to grow in love and wonder are thriving here and there. If you are searching, don’t give up. Honor your hunger for the Holy. Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. There are communities—most of them small—where you can be yourself, seek God, serve justice and find companions on the way. They are doing good work. Give thanks.

And be aware you may be a “person of last resort.” You may pass by someone who is ready to give up on the human race—or maybe just their part in it—or give up on God, until they meet you. This is nothing heroic, just part of what we’re here to do: to be light and life for each other. To be deeply present, and a source of hope. We are given the gifts to shine with the warmth of heaven, by our love to attract people to God and gather them to each other. Maybe that’s what it means to be “fishers of people.” Don’t give up. Keep seeking. Go fish.

         
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 unfoldinglight3(at)hotmail.com

January 20, 2015  Leave a comment

The stream of justice

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.
      
         
                  
When you stand for justice,
when you work for peace
it may seem that you are alone.
But they are with you,
and speak through your voice:
Sojourner, Martin, Mohandas, Dorothy,
Dietrich, Rigoberta, Oscar, Cesar, Malala.
You are legion.

When you offer yourself for reconciliation,
when you live truth in the face of resistance
it may seem that you face overwhelming forces.
But those who abet injustice
or sever our bonds of human unity
draw only from the dry cisterns
of their own fear and self-serving.
You flow with the deep-flowing stream
of justice that is God’s energy,
the power that orders the universe.
Regardless of this outcome
you embody infinite grace.
You are immense.

The temple of oppression is impressive,
but the tree of peace already
is cracking the foundations.
You are a root hair of the Empire of God.

Even in the deepest darkness,
you are light.

         
         
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 unfoldinglight3(at)hotmail.com

January 19, 2015  Leave a comment

Heaven opened

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.
      
         
In the Gospels Jesus calls attention to himself, saying even such grandiose things as “you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” But as much as the Gospels point us straight toward Jesus, Jesus points us toward God. He invites attention, and even devotion, not to himself alone but to the God he is revealing. Jesus knows we are not dependent even on him: our connection with God is direct, inward and absolute. We connect with God “in” or “through” Christ because Christ is God’s embodiment in this world. We are already one with God; Jesus is the one who uniquely shows us that. We may feel dependent on a certain teacher or pastor, but even the best is merely an icon, someone we look through to see God. My ego can get hold of me and I think my parishioners need me alone to preach at them and pray on them. But I’m leaving my folks in Massachusetts this weekend to lead a retreat on prayer and poetry in Shepherdstown, W Va. They’ll be just fine without me. So will the folks in Shepherdstown. I don’t have the good stuff to give to them; the good stuff is already in them. It’s already in you. God is there. God’s dwelling is not closed off to us. God is not hiding in some temple or guru. God is the center of your being. You don’t need to “seek” God or “acquire” anything. Be still and discover God within; be attentive and see God among us, shining in all Creation.

A meditation on Psalm 139:

O mysterious Love,
Being within my being,
voice of my song,
you know me
because I arise from you.
You breathe me,
you speak me,
you become me.
You encompass me,
you fill me,
you accompany me.
As a candle becomes nothing
but light
your desire in me desires
to become you,
to be your light,
your Word,
your praise,
your joy.

         
         
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 unfoldinglight3(at)hotmail.com

January 16, 2015  Leave a comment

I saw you

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.
      
         Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God!
                  —John 1. 45-49

Notice the reversals. Nathaniel starts out with a snarky comment, dismissing Jesus with a stereotype of people from the sticks. Clearly he’s wrong. Jesus could accuse him of being bigoted, or at least insensitive. Instead, he praises Nathaniel as being “without deceit.” Then, on the flimsiest evidence, Nathaniel suddenly changes his story and declares Jesus to be the Son of God. What’s going on?

Maybe Nathaniel was changed because Jesus saw him—saw the good and true in him that others hadn’t seen. Jesus “saw” a new Nathaniel into life. And Nathaniel in turn saw something good, something holy even, in Jesus.

God sees us as we truly are, and we let ourselves be seen. “O Lord, you have searched me and known me. Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely” (Ps. 139). And we see ourselves the way God sees us: as precious and beloved and even, despite everything, good. And we become the people that God envisions. Jesus says “The eye is the lamp of the body” (Mt. 6.22). Just as God spoke “light” into being, God sees us into being, creates us by seeing us anew. And the people we become are good, and see the good in others, even the holy. “Then I will know fully, even as I am fully known” (1 Cor. 13.12).

Don’t be afraid to be fully seen, for you are God’s Beloved. Seek to truly see others—even someone hurtful— as God’s Beloved. It is the light that re-creates us.

       
         
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 unfoldinglight3(at)hotmail.com

January 15, 2015  Leave a comment

Speak, for your servant is listening

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.

The Lord came and stood there,
calling as before, “Samuel! Samuel!”
And Samuel said,
“Speak, for your servant is listening.”

—1 Samuel 3.10

Spirit of Truth,
I give thanks for those saints and prophets
who have listened for your Word
and spoken with their lives.

I listen for your voice,
whether your Word be harsh or comforting.
May my whole life be my listening,
every moment my listening.

Help me to discern
when speaking is part of listening,
when bad news is part of your good news
for the sake of the mending of the world.

Give me courage to speak,
to embody your truth without fear,
to live so that my life speaks your justice.

Help me to trust
that your Word in me will not fall to the ground,
but will accomplish what you send it for,
even if only that another may hear.

Grant me to listen clearly,
to trust the grace in your Word,
to embody your love in faith.

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

January 15, 2015  Leave a comment

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