Heaven is a shy bird

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         

Heaven is a shy bird.

If you march out and demand a song
you will hear nothing.

But sit still for a long time,
again and again, and let your waiting
spread a safe, green meadow of silence,

and because you have waited—
not for your own sake but for her—
she will sing.

         

         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

Being shepherded

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
       
When we pray for God our shepherd to lead us, we usually have green pastures in mind. But when Peter and James healed a paralytic, preached to the crowd, and testified to the authorities who arrested them, they didn’t do this out of their own personal desire; they did it because God led them to. God didn’t exactly lead them beside still waters.

Our lives are richest in blessing, peace and vibrancy when we live not according to our own impulses, but in harmony with God’s grace. Whether it is toward peaceful rest or challenging action, God leads us from within, guiding, nudging, sometimes compelling us, and leads us from without, alluring, beckoning, pleading, needing us. We much prefer going our own way, of course? so we do what we can to ignore God’s shepherding. One way is to believe that God is on our side, so that we don’t feel the need to listen to God. We already know. Another way is to limit our faith to ideas, so that we can “believe” without actually acting. Another escape is to be busy, so that we believe we can’t afford to slow down as much as is needed to listen to God. Many believers are so sure and busy that if God really is a shepherd, they’re atheists.

You will not likely know God’s will for your life by pushing hard. You’re more likely to find out by listening for the voice of your shepherd and following. Whether you feel the need to stand up and act or lie down and rest, let God shepherd you. Let the Spirit within you and in others speak to you. Let God’s “rod and staff” gently lead you. Rather than deciding where you ought to be, discern where your shepherd is, and be there. Renounce all your ideas of where God ought to lead you. Let the shepherd decide. In stillness, listen. In openness, wait to hear. In humble trust, resolve to follow the shepherd before you know where he’s going.

Don’t resist when the shepherd leads you either to pastures greener than you think you deserve or valleys darker than you think you can handle. If you are with your shepherd, you are in the right place. You are in “the house of the Lord.” Listen, trust and follow. And don’t worry about saving the world. That’s God’s job. Neither shrink back in despair nor run ahead on your own; just stay with the shepherd. Just show up and take your place in the flock, where God needs you. Surely goodness and mercy will follow you all the days of your life.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve
______________________
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

Shepherd me

A prayer for nonviolence

Gentle companion, shepherd me today,
beyond my fears and wants.
Make me let go and rest
in the green pasture of your grace.
Lead me along still waters.
Breathe life into my soul.
Lead me in the path of loving kindness
for the sake of your delight for the world.

Even in my darkest valleys,
shadowed by death,
in my fear of evil,
you will be with me;
your presence and guidance
are my only security.

Bring me to the table you set
with my enemies.
Drench me in your gentleness.
May I overflow with your grace.
May kindness and mercy be with me
all this day;
may I live in your eternal presence
each moment.
Amen.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve
______________________
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

Shepherded

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

As I write this I am sitting in my sister’s house in Montana watching the sun rise over the Elkhorn Mountains. The mountains are just waking up, opening their snow-topped eyes. A scattered herd of clouds grazes in the southeast. The sun sits there just behind the ridge with his bathrobe on. And in the pasture up the hill a horse is sitting, watching, and some elk are grazing. At first I thought they were all the neighbor’s horses, but five of them are elk, gradually moving this way. It’s quiet.

We are led to lie down in greener pastures than we think, surrounded by a wider, deeper blessing than we notice or trust. We complain about rushing around, but we can lie down. We are accompanied by others who are different from us, but there is no reason the horses and the elk can’t graze in the same pasture. When Jesus said there would be one flock, he didn’t mean we would all be the same. But we do all belong to one Creation, to one God. It’s not easy, as attached as we are to getting where we’re going, to lie down, to appreciate the wonder of the world, to let others lie down in our world. But that’s actually the way it is. We are shepherded. We are grazing in green pastures whether we know it or not. We are part of one flock, whether we see it or not. And it’s a quiet morning.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

______________________

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

Living

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

         
         We know that we have passed from death to life
         because we love one another.

                  —1 John 3.14

You can die from holding your breath forever.

Breathe out the love God breathes into you;
that is living.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve
______________________
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

Good shepherd

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         

         “I am the good shepherd.
         The good shepherd
         lays down his life for the sheep.”

                  —John 10.11

Oh, Jesus,
I want you to be mighty,
to rescue me from all danger
and vanquish my enemies,

but you are not there
on that throne.
You have gone
and laid down your life for me.

What do I do
now that I am
this beloved,
now that you are
beneath me?

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

Children of love

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

See what love the Mother- Father has given us,
          that we should be called children of God;
          and that is what we are.
The reason the world does not know us
          is that it did not know God.
Beloved, we are God’s children now;
          what we will be has not yet been revealed.
What we do know is this: when God is revealed,
          we will be like God,
          for we will see God as God is.
And all who have this hope in God
          purify themselves, just as God is pure.

                    –1 John 3.1-3

Like a mother with her newborn infant,
God does not demand anything of us,
but purely loves us, for our own sake.

We are created like her,
made of her loving kindness.
The unseen, immutable truth
shines in all things visible.

Become the love of God,
the love that you are.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve
______________________
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

Yom HaShoah

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         

         Yom HaShoah
            Holocaust Remembrance Day

Children in a line
    disappear one by one
        through a sooty door.

Who remembers
    what they are leaving,
        who they used to be?

Our fear is the fuel
    for the furnace.
        There is always more.

Forgiveness comes,
    but first we are stripped
        of our forgetfulness,

standing naked in line,
    breathing the foul air.
        There is no demarcation

between any of us now.
    A pile of ragged things
        we once clung to.

Who remembers
    who we used to be?
        They go first; we may follow:

children in a line
    disappear one by one
        into the mercy of God.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

Flesh and bones

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         

         “Look at my hands and my feet;
         see that it is I myself.
         Touch me and see;
         for a ghost does not have flesh and bones
         as you see that I have.”

                  —Luke 24.39

The Roman Imperium by its sword
tried to sever Jesus from his life,
to pry him from his own flesh;
and their minions ever since have sought
to separate the spiritual from the physical.
Death, they reasoned, ought to do it well.

How daft of them to think
The One who made all things,
who crafted earth and us from dust,
who fashioned smooth and rugged stones,
and lungs and lips and eyes and hands,
and bones that bear their burdens
with such elegance and grace,
and skin, its mounds and cups and curves
and plains and folds so eloquent,
alluring, and divine—
that the Creating One would by their force
forget pronouncing all things,
in their concrete thingness, good.
They didn’t know the one thing that God wants
is for all love to be made flesh.
So when they robbed poor Jesus of his breath
and blood, the one thing that God gave him, new
and holy, raising him from death, was this:
a body, flawed but breathing, flesh and bone.

Believer, show yourself your hands and side,
your trembling, lusting, spiritual mass,
your creaking, flabby, leaking, blessed flesh.
Look at your hands, that God has made. This is
the glory in which resurrection comes.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

God’s eyes

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         

Through the narrow slot
of the blinders of suffering or shame
we see only desolation.
At times we despair of this within,
unable to reach out of the black pit.
At times it is just as we wish,
filling the void with other people’s bodies.
But there in the darkness,
within the obscuring wound,
beneath the wailing silence,
from within the wrenched heart,
God sees glory,
honors the living soul,
and raises the Blessed One
to life that is eternal and victorious,
untouched by cruelty or grief,
given firm and radiant flesh.

Those with dead eyes
go on believing they are dead.
The living appear living
only to those who see with the eyes of God.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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