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

Let’s do this

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.
      
         
                  
The moon, half dressed,
slips out of bed with me.
Earth holds me in her palm,
each step, carries me out of the house.
First light leans easy against the trees,
lays an arm around my shoulders
and walks with me.
The air, the breath of the world,
cold and hard but willing,
wants to plunge deep into me,
and plunges. The morning,
wearing nothing but the universe,
opens her robe and wraps it around me.
The creator of all things,
the world gathered in her hands,
looks at this day and smiles
and leans a little bit forward
and says, “Let’s do this.”

         
         
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 13, 2015  Leave a comment

Flood

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.
      
         
Thursday, at seven below zero, we had an electrical malfunction at the church: power out in half the building, no heat, major boiler damage, burst pipes, icicles in the sanctuary, imploded copiers, downed internet & phones and a flood in the basement. The place was crawling with the fire department, the boiler guys, an electrician, the sprinkler system guy, the power company, the Verizon worker, the copier tech and a restoration cleaning outfit, all because of a wire. Pretty interesting.

I spent all day on it, instead of going to a workshop, visiting Jim in the hospital and writing a sermon. The sermon was about the baptism of Jesus. Jesus was baptized in the River Jordan, which spewed out of a burst pipe above the cry room, soaked the carpet and flowed down inside the walls, pooling in the basement. As Jesus came up from the water he saw the ceiling torn open, and the Spirit like a dove descending on him. And a voice from heaven said, “You are my Beloved.” That was all I needed to hear in that basement.

That’s all we ever need to hear. The disasters we suffer and create, the tribulations we endure may test our trust, but the promise stays true. Wisdom is learning to be at peace and trust the love. The flood may be unwelcome, but “the rivers will not overwhelm you, for I am with you,“ God says, “for I love you.”

The only real disasters we need to worry about are when we forget that we are God’s Beloved, when we try to be something else, something of our own creating. When distrust that we, and everyone else, are God’s beloved, that’s when things go wrong. The little accidents of life are just accidents. What really matters is that we stay true to being God’s Beloved.

No matter how the water comes to you, remember your baptism and be thankful.

         
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 12, 2015  Leave a comment

Baptism

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.
      
         Just as he was coming up out of the water,
         he saw the heavens torn apart
         and the Spirit descending like a dove on him.

                  —Mark 1.10

Immersed in this loving mystery,
a great river flowing around you,
pulsing as if pumped
by a heart,
carrying you on,
flowing through you,
you surrender to it.

You open yourself to the outward surge,
yearning of God,
upwelling of heaven,
washed,
nourished,
borne.

This river of light
flows out into the earth,
plunges into soil,
circles continents.
Erodes great walls,
drowns the huge, dark fortress.
Green leaves emerge.

You fill the ocean,
the one sea,
the single tear of God.

Even this one handful
waters the world.

         
         
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 9, 2015  Leave a comment

Without mirrors

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.
      

         A voice comes from heaven,
         ”You are my Own, my Beloved;
         with you I am well pleased.”

                  —Mark 1.11

Today, O God,
I will do without mirrors,
seeing myself
perfectly
in your loving gaze,
your loving gaze alone.

         

         
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 8, 2015  Leave a comment

A voice in Ramah

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.
      
         When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the magi. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.”
                  —Matthew 2.16-18

The dark side of our story we avoid.
Ferguson, Selma, Wounded Knee, Bhopal
My Lai, Dresden, Auschwitz, Hiroshima
Salem, the Trail of Tears, every war, every war.

Our fears march armed
into the innocent darkness
unquestioned, and return
to the agreed upon silence.

Sometimes only anger is love,
sometimes only sorrow.
Sometimes only broken hearts
are strong enough.

We cannot pray for peace,
we cannot stand with courage for justice,
we cannot love ourselves
until first we raise a voice in Ramah,
wailing and loud lamentation.

The guttural heave,
the dark, unbidden cry,
innards displaced, guts
stabbed from the inside,
our own hands.

Until we can weep
we can’t breathe,
we can’t breathe,
we can’t breathe,

         
         
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 8, 2015  Leave a comment

Epiphany blessing

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.
      
         

                  
Take the journey,
         road of unknowing.

Behold the child,
         holy, before you.

Honor the child,
         holy, within you.

Kneel in awe;
         let wonder be your faith.

Bow in obedience;
         let love be your sovereign.

Offer the gifts,
         precious, that you bear.

Betray Herod and his use of you,
         free.

Go by a new way,
         changed.

The light, still shining,
         illumine your way,
         make your world beautiful.

         
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 6, 2015  Leave a comment

Twelfth day of Christmas

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.
      
         
                  
To draw out our awe and wonder
and make us loving and gentle,
God comes among us
as a sweet, vulnerable child
who needs our tender care.

God always comes so.
God is not only the Mighty One
to be revered, but also
the Little One to be adored.

In everyone there is a holy child to love,
an infant to be tenderly held.
Your whole life,
and this whole world
is a holy child,
to rock in your arms,
to gaze at lovingly,
to nurse, to protect,
to gift with precious treasures,
to raise with love and hope.

To love your neighbor
as you love the Christ child:
this is heaven on earth.

         
         
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 5, 2015  Leave a comment

A new empire

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.
  
         “God will give him the throne of his ancestor David…
         and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

                  —Luke 1.32, 33
    
         Magi came from the east asking,
         “Where is he who is born king of the Jews?
         For we have seen his star at its rising
         and have come to honor him.”

                  —Matthew 2.1-2

The magi did not seek comfort or even salvation.
They searched long for the One
who came to establish a “kingdom,”
to rule over an Empire
that would replace all our worldly ones.
Thus was Herod troubled.

Christ came to establish justice,
and to engage us in this work.
The miracle we celebrate in the nativity of Christ
is that God chooses ordinary, earthly people
to build a heavenly Realm.
God uses us to enact justice.

As fully as Jesus embodied God’s grace
and came to us for no other purpose,
let your life do the same.
Let all you do be for the sake of justice,
for the healing of the world,
for the supplanting of the empires of this world
with the Empire of God.
Let every choice reflect your baptism
“to resist evil injustice and oppression
in whatever forms they present themselves.”

If you feel like a small child in the face of a great army,
you are in holy company.
You are part of the body of Christ.
Powers from afar, who bear wisdom you don’t yet see,
know you, pray for you, help you and honor you.
“Arise, shine, for your light has come.”

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 2, 2015  Leave a comment

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