Testify

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         

They will arrest you and persecute you… because of my name. This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict.

         — Luke 21. 12-15

I don’t think Jesus is necessarily promising to channel persuasive arguments or convincing doctrines to us. I think he is inviting us to be aware of how God has loved us, and to testify to that grace by loving others, even our persecutors. The “wisdom” Jesus conveyed is not a proposition or belief. It’s a loving way of living. I don’t think Jesus envisions his followers spouting correct doctrine. I think he envisions us being true to the spirit of love. I think he envisions us being loving instead of being defensive.

In Luke’s gospel these sayings about the end times follow immediately after Jesus praises the poor widow for giving her two little coins to the temple. “She has put in more than all the others.” Maybe your testimony is whatever God has granted you to give, whatever is true of your life. You don’t need to learn some esoteric wisdom; you just need to be aware of your own life, and the truth and power in it, and convey that truth.

When you’re surrounded by cynicism and fear, bear witness to the power and presence of love in your life. That will contribute more than all the rest.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

______________________
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

Published
Categorized as Reflections

Not one stone

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         

When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.”

         — Luke 21.5-6

What do you carve your name in?

He was right about the stones,
how they all came down,
how the temple joined a great line of ruins,
how every stone comes home to Ground Zero,
is dust, and returns to dust,
about your life, carved in stone.

What do you stand on?

Where the temple once was, stones remain,
a wall where the faithful come to pray.
They fold up little papers with prayers
and stick them between the stones,
moving their lips and murmuring.

What do you hold onto?

What we think of as stones
are just brief gatherings of sand.
Long after earth is gone,
the little scraps of paper will remain.
Long after God has forgotten the stones,
God will remember the prayers,
moving his lips and murmuring.

What do you believe in?

Heaven and hell are made of stone.
All that lasts is this living moment,
and whatever love is in it.
Let the stones vanish.
Come and meet God here,
now.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

______________________
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

Published
Categorized as Reflections

What Lucy said

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
God is not far away, watching us “from a distance.” God is with us intimately, lovingly, bringing us into being. When we feel our prayers are not answered, the lack is in our awareness, not God’s. So we practice awareness. Recently my wise and lovely four year old great-niece Lucy was talking to her mother, Anna, who is also wise and lovely. This, word for word, is what Lucy said:

In your tummy,
I saw your bones and they were white.
I saw your blood and it was blue.
God was with me in your tummy.
He didn’t even look at me,
not even once.
He just sat there with his eyes closed
and prayed.
And I watched Him day and night.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

______________________
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

The Milky Way

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         

The Milky Way was created
by a herd of white horses
galloping through water
and the water stayed, the spray
of light, the radiant droplets
hung in the air, the light
slapped the horses’ flanks and
leaped off into the sky, where it stays,
and the joy of the horses,
the thrilling, senseless running,
the unfurling of mane and tail like waves,
like wings, still vibrant in the darkness,
the rings of water ringing like bells,
rings expanding into rings,
and the silence sings, and the horses run,
still running, still flinging stars
into the darkness, where you can feel
the strike of their hoofbeats in your heart,
the flare of their nostrils, the wild energy
somewhere in the night, drumming,
and you want to know what to do,
because you know
they are coming.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

______________________
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

One splendid autumn day

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         

One splendid autumn day
light leaps from leaves,
an ecstasy of yellow, red and orange,
your eyes enflamed with glory,
caught up in the moment’s crimson rapture.
But then, when flame gives way to smoke,
and embers cool to ochre, dull and sere,
when fire gives way to ash
and winter’s long stone wall,
will those moments be any less given,
any less precious and passing?
The light, even the light that languishes
beneath an asphalt sky,
beneath a soggy tarp of cloud,
still leaps within the light.
In the eye behind the eyes,
where grace is more than splendor,
every stain or shadow is a form of beauty,
the angle of a door a prayer,
and glory is the hidden name,
and praise a coiled spring within.

__________________

Weather Report

A glorious day,
as thick clouds,
unpleasant winds and incessant rain
reveal the divine presence
and the wonder of created Being
beyond the visible front
that is continually moving through our area.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

______________________
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

Children of the resurrection

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.


“In the resurrection from the dead … They cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection…. God is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to God all of them are alive.”

                  — From Luke 20. 27-38

Jesus is talking about the afterlife. But also, he isn’t. God is the God of the living, not the dead. Our faith is about how to live, not what happens to us when we die. If we believe in Resurrection, that we are somehow raised after we go to the grave, then we live right now as if we trust it. We live as children of the resurrection. If we know that we are raised after we die, then we have no reason to fear death. It has no power over us. Even before death, we already cannot die anymore.

Since God gives us life that even death can’t overcome, that is the life we seek, and the grace we trust. We are not bound by the need to protect ourselves or preserve ourselves. We have no reason not to give ourselves away. We have no fear of taking risks for the sake of compassion. We can give of ourselves in attentiveness to others, unburdened by defensiveness, competition or greed. As children of the resurrection, in this life we are free. By the grace of God we are truly, deeply, joyfully alive.

Today, live with courage as a child of the resurrection.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

Voting and praying

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
Yesterday your vote went into a pile, became a number, and got added up and compared to another pile. And then it disappeared. It’s over. But when you pray your prayer goes into God, and is treasured forever.

When you vote, you are trying to influence an outcome. When you pray you let go of outcomes and become open to God’s inflowing grace.

When you vote, you try to get someone or something else to change. When you pray you yourself change—which changes the world.

When you vote and lose, nothing comes of it. You lost. When you pray for something that has not come yet, as when you pray for peace, or justice for the poor, your prayer vibrates in harmony with the delight of God, which is the energy of the world, and transforms the world.

Your vote may or may not have an effect but your prayer always has an effect. You are a nerve cell of God. When you pray you deepen the world’s awareness.

It was good that you voted yesterday. Now pray, and exercise some real power.
         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

______________________
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

Voting

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
One might think that it’s Halloween when the witches, ogres, monsters and all those scary figures finally take their costumes and go away. But it’s really not ’till Election Day. Political ads have become increasingly negative to the point where it seems like an election is a Halloween contest for the scariest costume (we all know it’s pretend) and the winner is whoever comes in last.

It’s a symptom of our fear—not just fear of somebody doing something we don’t like, but fear of what’s inside us, fear of our own inner monsters. We want to be distracted from our vulnerability and our powerlessness and our shame. We want some cheesy issue to distract us from what really gnaws at us. We get inflamed about what other people ought to do so that we can ignore how we ought to change. We’re glad to be made afraid of terrorists or immigrants or welfare cheats so we don’t have to be afraid of our own selfishness and violence. We obsess with political issues so we can ignore God’s issues, like poverty and war and our abuse of God’s Creation.

The Bible says that love of money, that is, the desire to protect one’s riches, is the root of all kinds of evil. Yet candidates will brag about how much of your riches they will protect (while actually putting in the hands of rich, powerful, unregulated corporations). The Bible says to love your neighbor, but candidates promise to separate you from your neighbors and disengage you from their struggles. Lusting for power, candidates pretend to be “ordinary people.” Candidates will claim to be “outsiders” with fresh perspectives, but ignore the needs of the real outsiders, those who are dispossessed and despised, foreign or voiceless.

It’s as if we are invited, begged, to vote with fear and rancor, with cynicism and disregard for reality. But you—you, my friends, reading this on your computer screen this Tuesday morning— you will vote differently. You will vote prayerfully. You will vote gently and compassionately, with courage and generosity, without fear or self-serving, without bitterness or hate. You will vote as you live, in love and grace, and in truth. As Jesus bids you, you will vote for the sake of the poor, for those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst, the peacemakers, those who are persecuted. You will vote with love. And if voting does not seem to accomplish this for you, if you leave the voting booth no more loving and courageous than you entered, then you’ve got the rest of the day to work on that. Shed the costumes, face your deepest fears, and learn to trust more deeply in the grace of God. The “results” won’t show up in tomorrow’s papers, but they’ll change the world.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

______________________
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

All Saints Day

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         

You are God’s holy saint,
chosen and blessed,
given sacred gifts,
invested with divine powers.
You were born to radiate the glory of God,
to fulfill God’s deepest desires,
to complete God’s delight.
You are given an extraordinary heart
for love, if only you discover it.
All that you do
has hidden in it this holy purpose,
this infinite potential.

You are not unusual among saints,
neither more nor less sanctified than any of them.
They are all people who have lives,
who wake up and make choices,
who do chores and forget things
and do not understand their place
in the splendor of the heavens.
This is not an excuse.

You were born to be holy.
This is not a burden,
not a duty, a command or an obligation,
not a threat or a trap.
It is a gift.
Let it be a wonder,
a mystery to ponder,
so that in your hands
it becomes a gift,
and you join the great choir
singing the magnificence of this life
and the One who gives it.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

______________________
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net