A prayer for justice

Give our leader your justice, O God, and your righteousness to those in power.
May they judge your people with righteousness,
and your poor with justice.
May the mountains yield prosperity for the people,
and the hills, in righteousness.
May they defend the cause of the poor of the people,
give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor.

—Psalm 72.1-4

God of eternal justice and mighty grace,
may your gentle healing and fierce compassion
overthrow those in power, and fill them with your love.
May your care for your littlest ones
invade our desires, sweep up our leaders,
overtake all greed, and transform the power in our hands.
May justice be our passion and love our courage.
May our leaders guide us in generosity
with gentleness, humility and truth.
By the self-giving of your grace,
may we overthrow all greed and oppression,
that none, in using power, may cause another’s suffering.
We give ourselves to the healing of the earth,
that we may be tender with even the mountains and hills.
God of mercy, may justice prevail:
not that we decide one another’s deserving,
but that we defend one another’s needs,
that all may have life, and have it abundantly,
in the spirit of your almighty tenderness and grace.
Amen.

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

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Live that

Dearly Beloved, 

Grace and Peace to you.

         There is nothing outside a person
         that by going in can defile,
         but the things that come out are what defile.
         It is from within, from the human heart,
         that evil intentions come.
                  Mark 7.15, 21

 

Look within, Jesus says, to the heart.
The truth and glory is not in outward appearances,
not in the circumstances of your life,
the conditions of your body.
The failure of your flesh, or even of your mind,
does not defile you or make you less sanctified.
It is in your heart that evil or goodness lives.
The body parts of your lover do not defile you.
It is in your hearts for one another,
not the shape of your flesh,
that love is honored or defiled.
Righteousness does not live
in your outward religious practice,
but in the moment by moment self-giving
of your inner truth,
receiving as a gift God’s own self-giving.

 

Go into your heart,
and open its doors
to every good gift from above.
Give it space, that you may be slow to anger,
and make room for the implanted Word,
so that the Word is not what you merely hear,
but what you do, what you live,
so that the Word is your heart,
your inner self.

 

Receive the gift of God
in the heart of your heart;
let it become the heart of your heart
and live that.

 

 

         

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

 

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

 

To subscribe to Unfolding Light by daily e-mail write to unfoldinglight(at)hotmail.com

 

First Day

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

 

 

To this one grief do not succumb at last–
unlike so many losses, all that tearing,
all the deaths of things that must be passed,
the vital griefs from which you learn by bearing.
Yes, when your child gets on that bus you weep,
trailing pages of your loose-leaf heart,
the rough handwritten story you can’t keep.
How small the steps with which your light departs!
But you grieve not for her–she will return–
but for that soul for whom all things are new,
that child who still can wonder, risk and learn,
the part that you don’t want to lose of you.
So do not let this grief, this death be true:
no, let the new adventurer be you.

 

         

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

 

To subscribe to Unfolding Light by daily e-mail write to unfoldinglight(at)hotmail.com

 

Angels

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

 

 

How astonishing to find
that the angels of God
don’t really judge
whether we are good or bad,
they are not sent on any mission,

they just really like
to be with us.

 

 

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

To subscribe to Unfolding Light by daily e-mail write to unfoldinglight(at)hotmail.com

Kindness

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

Yesterday was Mother Teresa’s birthday. We revere her memory as a great person, but as she continually said, we are not called to do great things; we are called to do ordinary things with great love. We marvel at her impact on the world, when the only power she had was her kindness. But we shouldn’t marvel. Hidden in simple kindness is the power to change a situation, change a life, change the world. What is God’s power in the world, even the power to create the universe, but God’s overflowing kindness?

All the great spiritual teachers tell us this: that loving kindness is not a little thing, or even an ordinary thing. It is a superpower. The baptismal vows in the United Methodist Church include one to “accept the power God gives you to resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.” It sounds like the job description of a superhero. But that’s exactly the promise of baptism: you have this divine power in you. Use it. And here’s the latest news: recent research has found that witnessing an act of kindness, even to a stranger, increases a person’s compassion toward others. Kindness is self-replicating.

Go into this day with the immense power of kindness. Don’t pull back from using it at every opportunity. Trust its power. It is for this that you are here: to bear God’s kindness to the world. God be with you.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

 

__________________

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

To subscribe to Unfolding Light by daily e-mail write to unfoldinglight(at)hotmail.com

 

A difficult saying

Jesus said, “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.” …When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” …Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life.”John 6. 56, 60, 66-68

 

Jesus, I am taken aback;
your words push me to the edge;
I’m not sure I get it.

But still you draw me in,
deeper into your life, into God,
into being the flesh of your love.

Your grace that confounds me,
though its meaning escapes me,
feeds me, creates me, births me.

This mystery is too great for my mind,
my wisdom can’t comprehend it;
I just take it in, swallow it all.

My deepest hunger isn’t for religion;
it’s for life. It’s not for anything sensible.
It’s for you, your infinite, upwelling life.

Beyond all thoughts and feelings
I taste your heart: you say simply,
I want to be with you.”

Oh…
Ah…
Yes.

Heavenly Lover, you who live in me,
Mystery of my own being, Dear One,
I love you so much I could eat you.

 

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

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The armor of God

          Put on the whole armor of God. —Ephesians 6. 11

 God of love, I confess
the defenses I thought I needed
that shielded me from my fears,
that walled me from my world.
Even my own faith has been at times
a gun beneath my pillow.

Hand of Grace, hold me safe,
not from danger, pain or loss,
but from anger, fear and bitterness.
Protect me from the urge
to remove myself. Purge me
of my sinful armor.

Gentle One, be my armor.
Lift from me the shell that held me.
Let me rest in you alone,
exposed to all of life, and unafraid.
Don’t give me faith to hide behind,
or strength, or crafty piety:
my only armor you yourself,
my only hope, my surest rest.
Be my death, from which
no other death can take me.

Be my armor, God of love,
my skin, my world, my home.

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

Contemplative prayer on the Jersey Shore

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

Beth and I spent a couple of days last week down in New Jersey helping with wedding plans for Dan and his fiancee, Jill. While we were there we spent a day and half at the beach at Ocean City. (The town was founded, by the way, by four Methodist ministers, as a church camp.) It’s not my idea of being out in nature, crammed in like roasting coffee beans with umbrellas fringe to fringe like that. I think there were more people on that beach than in all of Montana where I grew up.

Of course I knew how to find peace and beauty there: I went to the beach at 6 in the morning for the sunrise, when there were only about nine people and a party of dolphins, and at midnight, when there was nobody there but stars. But I also found peace and beauty in the middle of the day, in the mad clutter of the crowd. I swam in the ocean, and even though it was spangled with shouting bathers and jet skis and para-sailers and whatnot, it was still the ocean. I could still float in it and let it hold me. I was with the dolphins, too. I was a part of Creation, and the people were, no less than the invisible fish an the diving birds and the waves in their line dance from Portugal.

And I could sit and pray. As cluttered as my view of the ocean was, I didn’t see any greater fraction of it than I usually do: even on a mountain looking over the Pacific I only see a tiny bit. So I looked at the tiny bit between the beach umbrellas, and it was the sea. Each little bit is a part of the whole. I watched the people, the splendor of God unfolding in each of them. I looked at all the different bodies, knowing that we are all one body. I took in the colors of the umbrellas—such color!—and the glory of people at play, and knew the delight of God. Even in the noise I could be quiet and listen for God. Even in the crowd’s chatter and the life guards’ whistles and the throb of speed boats and the drone of the planes dragging advertising banners, there was a deep Silence welling up in everything like an ocean, embracing us all like the sun, loving every bit of this crazy scene.

The Sanctuary is everywhere, always hidden. The Silence is never broken; all our noise is only on its surface. The Holy Presence is always here. The glory is undiminishable. You can be at peace on the mountain top or the boardwalk, the quiet room or the busy street. The sacred place is within you; go there and find it all round you.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

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The bright darkness

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.


Then the priests brought the ark of the covenant of the Lord to its place, in the inner sanctuary of the house, in the most holy place, underneath the wings of the cherubim. … And when the priests came out of the holy place, a cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord. Then Solomon said, “The Lord has said that he would dwell in thick darkness.”

—1 Kings 8. 6, 10-12

When darkness descends on you,
the unknown enfolds you,
the unseen holds you close,

when you look about for light
and see only shadow,
a way that can’t be found:

know that you have entered
the holy of holies,
the presence of God.

In the darkest regions,
the shady neighborhoods,
places under a pall of gloom

where mercy and justice are hidden:
God is not absent, but cloaked,
and holds her beloved even closer.

Bright mystery, holy darkness,
strip us of knowing too much.

Glory so thick you absorb all light,
bless us, who cannot see.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

To subscribe to Unfolding Light by daily e-mail, write to unfoldinglight5 (at) hotmail.com

Today

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
Instead of waking up and thinking, “Now, what do I have to do today?” try this: “I wonder what is God doing today?”

Don’t dwell on your obligations, what you have to do, what you can’t do. Set aside what you have to face, what you have to endure. Ignore your thoughts about what you want, what you wish would happen, what you’re afraid might happen. Stop trying to predict or prescribe a day that either you or God ought to match. Never mind all these restrictions.

Instead start by wondering, being open. Focus on God’s presence. Be open to what God is already doing, hidden and easily mistaken for nothing at all. Be open to how God might use you in whatever God is doing. You are free. Be ready to be available to God. Be curious how you might show loving kindness today. As you awake prepare to spend your day awakening, becoming more mindful of the grace flowing within and around you.

God enters the day, and chooses to bring you along. I wonder what will unfold?

____________________

Weather Report

Open,
as the weather reads the forecast for you,
and finds much that is not written.

         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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