The gathering one

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.

Some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’ Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!”
— Luke 13. 31-34

Lamb of God,
you take away the sins of the world.
Have mercy on us.

You are not the Demanding One;
you are the Gathering One.

The death squads are lacing their boots
and preparing their weapons
and still you heal and set free.

We bristle with death
and still you embrace us.

You gather our pain,
our violence, our fear.
You gather our sorrow
and hold it
until we come
to be gathered ourselves.

Lamb of God,
you take away the sins of the world.
Have mercy on us.

Their boots echo in the alleyways,
their little jokes between them,
and still you extend your gentle touch;
your embrace awaits us.

Already you are living resurrection,
inviting us to be gathered in.

Whisper this to the sky:
this work will be completed.

Lamb of God,
you take away the sins of the world.
Grant us your peace.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

_______________________________

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
unfoldinglight@hotmail.com

Published
Categorized as Reflections

Suffering

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.

The devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you.’”
— Luke 4. 9-10

Yeah, God I want that one:
not to get hurt.
Not to get hurt if I fall or fail,
never to have to lose anything.
Which means, of course, never to love.

To love is to abandon myself
to another’s well being: to open my heart,
to give myself without repayment,
to feel with another, to renounce control.

To love is to suffer.

So I do not ask that you protect me from suffering,
but protect me from selfishness,
not that you hold suffering away from me,
but that you hold me through it.
Hold my heart open, willing to suffer,
unafraid, for the sake of love.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

_______________________________
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
unfoldinglight@hotmail.com

Published
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Who I am

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.

The devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.
— Luke 4.5-7

God,
I confess that I want the world to like me,
that I believe I am saved or damned
according to other people’s approval.
I please people, impress them, go along,
avoiding the anxiety of disapproval.
I become someone other than myself
in order to fit my fear to their fear.
They tell me who I am.
I am lost.

But the devil who promises
that I may be saved by people’s opinions,
is lying. Nothing has been given to him.
He can’t give life. He can’t give me myself.
The temptation to become false
is bread that is a stone.
No one can tell me who I am.
No one can justify my life.
No one can give me my soul.
No one but you.
You have spoken your sentence:
that I am your Beloved.
You have declared your judgment of my life:
delight. Tender delight.

Like a tree who asks its worth of no one,
and no one tells it who it is,
but your delight pours up through its roots
into the blue air, into the day, into the stars—
I cling to this mightiest grace,
this most indomitable blessing:
that who I truly am is your delight,
your Beloved,
yours.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

_______________________________
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
unfoldinglight(at)hotmail.com

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Let the stone be a stone

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.

       The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God,
       command this stone to become a loaf of bread.”

               — Luke 4.3

God, deliver me
        from the temptation

to refuse to see what is
        for what it is,

to make the world
        into what it is not,

to expect of myself
        power over things beyond me,

to fall for the lie
        that I must prove who I am.

God grant me
        the grace

to honor the power of Being,
        not doing,

to be my self,
        not someone’s expectation,

to love myself,
        not what I can control,

to let the stone
        be a stone.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

_______________________________
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
unfoldinglight(at)hotmail.com

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Categorized as Reflections

In this desert

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.

Jesus was led by the spirit in the wilderness,
where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.

— Luke 4.1-2

In this desert there is no luggage.
Leave behind all desire
and see what stays with you.
Forget all your pride.
Let go of your guilt, too.
Leave it behind.
You won’t need it here.
There is just this moment,
and the One whose silence you enter.

_______________________

Weather Report

Exposure,
with increasing light
working its way into your interior regions,
and high winds of the Spirit leading you
where you yourself do not choose.
In the light, dry air of silence
much of who you thought you were
will evaporate; yet your soul will prevail
until nightfall.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

_______________________________

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
unfoldinglight(at)hotmail.com

Published
Categorized as Reflections

Forty days

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.

Jesus was led by the Spirit in the wilderness,
where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.

— Luke 4.1-2

In Lent we enter The Forty Days. We are not walking a new path; we walk Jesus’ forty days in the wilderness. And in doing so we enter into the forty-day path of all the holy ones who came before him. So it’s a much richer journey than one of temptation alone. Along with Jesus we walk with Moses on Mount Sinai for forty days receiving the Law. It is a journey of revelation. We walk with Elijah to Mount Horeb for forty days, where he listens to the “still, small voice,” the silence of God. It is a journey of prayer. We walk with the Israelites for forty years in the desert seeking the Promised Land. It is a journey of homecoming. We live with Noah on the Ark for forty days. It is a journey of new life.

The forty days of Lent invite us to face our temptations and repent of our sin, but more deeply than merely admitting our wrongdoings and shortcomings. Repentance is not ego-bashing; it’s turning away from the things in which we’ve sought life, that can’t actually give life, and turning instead toward God, the Abundant Source. We embrace our suffering, not because we deserve to be hurt, but because we are learning not to be scared off by difficulty in our search for true Life. You are hungry for God. The thing to give up for Lent is starving yourself.

Lent is not a time of punishment or deprivation, but a time of deeper receiving. It’s a time of mindfulness, a time of opening up more deeply to God’s grace-filled presence. Our fasting and prayer is not wallowing in guilt and severity, but letting go of all but God so that we may be richly, deeply, abundantly fed. It’s a time of becoming a seed, still and waiting in the darkness, open to the miracle of resurrection yet to come. Lent is a time when we plant ourselves in the mystery of God and wait in simplicity and humility. We wait because it says right on the seed packet, “Germination time: forty days.”

May these forty days be rich for your soul.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

_______________________________
Copyright (c) Steve Garnaas-Holmes
unfoldinglight(at)hotmail.com

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Ash Wednesday: Remember you are dust

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.

Remember you are stardust,
and to stardust you shall return.

You are the ash of a great fire within a star.
The star shines within you.
You are the dust of the earth, given breath.
The breath of God breathes within you.

In fear you have shrouded that light,
and led yourself by the darkness.
In fear you have fled from the dust,
only to cling to dust that has no breath.

You don’t need to punish your body,
you need to honor that it comes from God.
You don’t need to separate from your body,
you need to return to it.

You can’t be other than dust
but you can return to the Breath.
You can’t be other than light
but you can free yourself from trying.

What veils your glory?
What catches your breath?
What betrays your belovedness?
What separates you from the world’s flesh?

Become dust of the earth again,
moved only by God’s breath.
Given life by the Breath within the Breath,
become an earthling.

Your repentance is to return to the stardust that you are,
return to your heavenly Source.
Return to the light that you are,
shed all that shrouds your light.

Remember that you are stardust,
and to stardust you shall return.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

_______________________________

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
unfoldinglight@hotmail.com

Published
Categorized as Reflections

Today

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.

My mind keeps wanting to jump ahead to Lent, but today is not Lent. Time will come for self-examination and repentance, for fasting in the desert and marching the Via Dolorosa. Yes, and time will come for crocuses and alleluias and warm, sunny days. But not today. It’s Shrove Tuesday. Mardi Gras. Carnival. The Day of Not Yet Lent. It’s today. It’s beginning to snow. I will not ask this day to be what it is not yet, and it will not ask me to be who I am not yet. We will both be ourselves, this day and I. What is not yet is unfolding within us, but only here in the present moment. Last night I watched the sun settle in its nest of twigs and branches in the bare trees. This morning snow settles there, silent and calm. I stand still and watch. I reach out, and the universe falls into my hand.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

_______________________________

Copyright (c) 2010

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
unfoldinglight(at)hotmail.com

Published
Categorized as Reflections

Smiling Buddha

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

Buddha sits in the garden
by the corner of the garage
and smiles. Doesn’t he get cold,
sitting there in his flimsy robe,
frost on the domes of his shoulders?

He doesn’t seem to. Snow settles
in the folds of his robe
along his contented belly
and he just smiles.
Ice drips on his foot from the eaves
and he doesn’t even move it. He just
smiles.
Wouldn’t you like to be
so serene and contented,
so attentive without distraction,
so impervious to attitudes
and free of demands?

Yeah, well, he’s made of cement.
Doesn’t that make it easier?

Why should it, since you yourself are made
of light?

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

_______________________________
Copyright © 2010
Steve Garnaas-Holmes
unfoldinglight(at)hotmail.com

Published
Categorized as Reflections

You are light

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.

All of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.

— 2 Corinthians 3.18

Before the beginning was God. Then later, as far back toward the beginning as we can imagine, which is about 13.5 billion years ago, God said, “Let there be light,” and the universe began in a single speck of pure Word. Then God separated the light from the darkness and for a time all of Creation wavered between matter and pure energy. The Big Bang expanded into a universe of hydrogen and helium, deuterium and lithium, which clumped in globs here and there and made stars, where matter and energy kept becoming each other. And in those stars the elements burned together, drawn by their attraction to each other, and danced with the ferocity of God, and created new elements: carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, calcium, iron, magnesium. And then in an exuberant supernova explosion, the stars sowed those seeds across the universe, and God said, “Grow!” And over the next thirteen and a half billion years those atoms that were made in the heart of stars made their journey through space and time, having many adventures, until certain ones of them came together and became you, your body.

You are made of stars. Which are made of the light of God, God’s pure energy, God’s love. The molecules in your body were gathered up from the dust of the earth, which was sculpted from light, the light of stars, the heart of stars, the burning of the light of God. What you see in the mirror is the Big Bang in slow motion. You are the light of God walking around in a spark that has cooled and calmed and become matter and is still and small enough for us to see. But you are really a star, the pure energy of God.

Sometimes it shows. Especially when you return to your Source, and be who you are created to be. The light seeps out in your smile, your kind words, your attention to beauty. It radiates in your courage to love people. Like the primordial elements, attracted to each other, it glows when you honor the light in others. It burns, inextinguishable, in your courage to prevail in the face of struggle—for that light in you has already endured much and come a long way, and will not fail. As the stars burn brilliantly all day long and we do not see them, the light of God shines within you, veiled and unnoticed, but present, and fierce, and beautiful. We are embarrassed about it at times, but it is the beauty of Creation, and the presence of God. Trust it. Give thanks. And let it shine.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

_______________________________

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
unfoldinglight(at)hotmail.com

Published
Categorized as Reflections