Heavy snow

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
Heavy snow fell, changing everything,
every limb and twig.
The woods were wondrous and wounded,
trees bent double, branches down.
Even fence posts were transfigured,
beautiful and stylish in their hats.

Sticky, wet snow is perfect for snowmen
but a pain to shovel,
dense and heavy. The piles
by the driveway are not pretty.
But you keep stopping
to look up and be astonished.

Afterward you look out,
a little damp from the grace and pain,
and wonder:

what will you do
with the beauty you’ve been given?

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

February 8, 2016  Leave a comment

His exodus

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.
         

         Two men, Moses and Elijah, were talking to him.
         They appeared in glory and were speaking of his exodus,
         which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.

                  —Luke 9.30-31

Most translations say “departure” but the Greek word is “exodus.” His death in Jerusalem is not a mere exit, but an exodus, a mass movement in which Jesus will lead us. It is a journey, not a static moment. From the mount of transfiguration stretches the Way of Jesus, a journey of liberation from what oppresses us, a journey from what we know into something unknown, across the sea of chaos into a new Creation, a journey of death and new life.

As he has just told them, it is the way of the cross. This is no metaphor, but his own actual suffering. Jesus prays, contemplating his death, already in Gethsemane, alone in the world. Already he is in arduous prayer while his disciples drift off to sleep. And into that agonized place of prayer comes a support team, two father figures, guardian angels, to encourage him. Moses and Elijah know about journeys, and about self-giving, and people’s resistance; and they come to talk with him about the path he faces. For a moment Jesus is not leading his disciples: he’s just gathering strength, wrapped in the warm, splendid embrace of God, which shines like light.

Of course the disciples don’t get it. What for Peer is a mountaintop experience is a moment of somber poignancy for Jesus. But Peter is clueless. This is not the last time he will find himself sleeping through Jesus’ prayer, or lost in a fog, disoriented at the very moment Jesus reveals his glory, unable to say the right thing or affirm Jesus. But that is just what Jesus is preparing for: to love us even when we are in denial.

Before him?and before us as well?stretches the path to the cross. But for the moment there is simply the comfort of God, a reassuring dawn, a loving voice. Even when he is most alone he is not alone.

And then the moment passes, and the journey begins, down the mountain.

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

February 5, 2016  Leave a comment

Glory

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.
         

         We are all being transformed
         into the image of God
         from one degree of glory
         to another.

                  —2 Corinthians 3.18

You are changed
into your own glory
which is God’s,

unfolding in radiant splendor,
quiet as a waxing moon
growing day by day.

As a mother sees in her infant
even when no one else sees,
the glory shines in you.

All of us, the child on the bus,
the stranger on the street
growing into the image of God,

the rape victim, the rapist,
from one degree of glory
to another.

What is our evil
but the desperate search,
digging with tooth and claw

for the magnificence
we do not see in ourselves
even though we are glowing?

What is our calling but to shine?
What is love
but seeing?

__________________
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

February 4, 2016  Leave a comment

A light, a tent, a cloud, a voice

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.
         
         Jesus went up on the mountain to pray.
         And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed….

                  —Luke 9.28-29

A light shone, a revelation,
so glad we were, sleep-lulled, to see it, clear,
yanking us out of our vague dreams…

Moses and Elijah spoke but then began to fade,
like God’s glory already fading beneath Moses’ veil
when he came back down, like dreams fade…

How could I not ask for certainty, for structure
to pen the revelation, suit it to our dullness,
draw the notion from the mystery…

Then the bright erasure, luminously dark,
the palimpsest, the blurring fog of God
preventing definition, shunning outline, only asking…

But from the cloud a voice, a Word, a revelation!—
yet no final word, no tablets, only this:
“Behold my love. Keep listening”….

And then no more. No light, no voice, no visitations,
just him, and what we dare to see, to hear,
revelation and mystery swirled as one, unlimned,

knowing and yearning to, and doing without,
not the carved stone but the word unfolding,
the daily mess and muddle and our listening ear….

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

February 3, 2016  Leave a comment

Leap

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.
         

         
The poet gives you a little stone to stand on,
a ledge, a moment of the world or your own mind
to notice, to ground yourself in,
and from there to leap

maybe to another stone, a similar noticing,
maybe to another star, the light you are made of,
or a beauty pouring itself into you,
or maybe just leap all the way to God.

When you are praying
the smallest thing
can be what you stand on,
can be your prayer.

Any time, from even a single twig
you can leap
and wherever you land will be God.
The leaping is God.

         

         
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

February 2, 2016  Leave a comment

Transfiguration

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.
         

         
Walking in the woods I got lost
in a thicket of shoulds, my to do list,
all the things I have to accomplish.
I came upon a deer. We stopped.
And then

I looked at her with my soft eyes
letting her gaze at my amazing body,
letting her wonder at how I moved,
how I had slept last night
so at peace in these woods,
how I found food to eat even in winter,
how these gracious eyes and ears
see and hear what they need to
for me to live gloriously,
how there must be young nearby
that I have raised,
how my face, without words, is beauty,
how my very being is praise.
She stood still a while
in the presence of this creature of God.

Then I turned and gradually disappeared
between the trees,
along the path to the road
and to my house,
no longer lost.

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

February 1, 2016  Leave a comment

1 Corinthians 13

No matter how powerfully or eloquently I speak,
if I do not speak in love,
it’s all just noise.

If I know everything
and understand life completely
and have miracle-producing faith
but do not act in love
it’s all for nothing.

If I give away everything I own
and die a heroic martyr’s death
but do it without love,
I have just wasted my time.

To love is to be kind.
To have time for the other.
To be generous, humble and gentle.
To let go of keeping score of faults,
and instead to rejoice in what is good and true.
To love is to bear willingly,
to trust deeply,
to hope boldly,
to endure patiently.

Love does not die.
Beliefs will end; languages will fade;
knowledge will exhaust itself:
knowledge and belief are not the whole picture.
But there is a wholeness,
and we let go of the part for the whole.
When I was a child
I spoke and thought like a child.
Becoming an adult, I abandoned those ways.
Now we see through foggy glass,
but in time we will see clearly, face to face.
Now I know only partially;
in time I will know fully—
and know that I have been fully known.

We have these three great gifts: faith, hope and love.
And the greatest is love.
+

__________________
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

January 29, 2016  Leave a comment

Appointed a prophet

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.
         
         Now the word of Yahweh came to me saying,
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
Then I said, “Ah, Yahweh God!
Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a child.”
But Yahweh said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a child’;
for you shall go to all to whom I send you,
and you shall speak whatever I command you,
Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.”
Then Yahweh reached out and touched my mouth; and said to me,
“Now I have put my words in your mouth.
See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms,
to pluck up and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow,
to build and to plant.”

                  —Jeremiah 1.4-10

Read it again. Put yourself in there.

Imagine God’s presence in you, God’s power—
not to get your own way, not to sway crowds,
but to convey love, to be truth,
not just to say words but to live life
with power in it.

You do not have to apologize for yourself.
You do not have to be afraid
of those to whom you bring yourself.
You only have to be yourself.

And because it is from God
the truth of you will prevail.

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

January 28, 2016  Leave a comment

Love

         
         If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels,
         but do not have love,
         I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

                  —1 Corinthians 13.1

I am a candle
whose only light
is love

Created by Love
in love
for love

Let me burn today
in all I do
with love

my only hope
my only success
or failure

love not devised
but given
and received

your love
O Love
flowing through me

mercy for every person
gratitude for every thing
love in every breath

I your candle
love
my only flame

__________________
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

January 27, 2016  Leave a comment

Painful healing

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.
         
         There were many lepers in Israel
                  in the time of the prophet Elisha,
         and none of them was cleansed
                  except Naaman the Syrian.

                  —Luke 4.27

The urge toward “us” and “them” is instinctive, as old as the split between neanderthals and homo sapiens. Religion is especially apt to be twisted into systems of privilege and exclusion. Such bias is built into our cultural, economic and political systems at the deepest level. Border walls, gated neighborhoods, ethnic cleansing, apartheid, voting rights, the idea of race or sexual identity, Indian Reservations, redlining, Jim Crow, nationalism, mass incerceration and so on— serve no purpose other than to define “us” and “them.”

But God has no favorites—or rather, there’s no one who isn’t God’s favorite. Jesus spends his ministry confronting systems of exclusion, bearing God’s grace especially to those who are systematically excluded by human injustice. “God is just as likely,” he says, “to choose a Syrian as an Israelite, because God includes everyone.” This enrages his privileged hearers: they try to throw him over the cliff. It doesn’t surprise him. Insiders are always threatened when you try to expand the circle.

There are always people who fall through the cracks. But the cracks are not there by accident. We who walk humbly with God are to love mercy and also to do justice: to reach out to those who fall through the cracks and also to fix the damn cracks. That will be hard for people who like the cracks that way.

Notice how privilege affects you and those around you— privilege granted some and not others because some are white or male, middle class, good looking, straight, healthy and so on. You can’t disavow your privilege; it’s given to you. But you can use it to confront and dismantle systems of exclusion.

What you do will likely anger someone. Reconciliation usually begins with the pain of seeing the truth. Trust the deeper process. Today be aware of your privilege and how you use it for the sake of God’s special love for those whom we leave out. After all, you, who do not “deserve” it, have been given infinite love and forgiveness and inclusion in God’s household. How can you not pass it on? Trust that even the pain is part of the healing.

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

January 26, 2016  Leave a comment

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