Doing sacrifice

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
         Every priest stands day after day at his service,
         offering again and again the same sacrifices
         that can never take away sins.
         But Christ has perfected for all time
         those who are sanctified.

                  —Hebrews 10.11, 14

Our modern version of the sacrifice— the ritual action performed over and over again in order to deal with our inadequacy before God —is not the slaughter of animals, but our busyness. Some little god in us, some demanding voice, believes that we need to accomplish, control and experience a lot of things. We need to make ourselves useful. We need to cover the sacrificial altar of our lives with all that we’ve done. We are afraid that that little god in us would be displeased if we just sat there.

But we are set free from that. We don’t have to do everything. We don’t have to rush around. We don’t have to over-function, overachieve, over-schedule. In fact, we don’t have to do anything. We’ve already been perfected and made holy (“sanctified”). We can stop the slaughter of the innocent animal of our time and mindfulness.

Look at Christ: he not only gave up his ministry (think what miracles he could have done had he escaped the cross!), but he gave up his life, not to accomplish, but to simply be. And though his doing ended in death, his being went right on beyond death. That’s how free we are: like those who have already died and gone to heaven, we don’t have to do anything. Just be. We don’t have to offer the sacrifice of doing again and again. It turns out that an infinite number of angels can dance on the head of a pin, but they’re not that driven.

Yeah, I know, I have a lot on my to-do list, too. But don’t forget the one sacred thing on your to-be list. If we take time every day to remember that our holy calling is to be, not to do, then the things we do will be holy, and not so neurotic. We don’t have to crowd our whole life onto the head of a pin: we have space to dance all over heaven.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

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All will be thrown down

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
         “Do you see these great buildings?
         Not one stone will be left here upon another;
         all will be thrown down.”

                  —Mark 13.2

The temple did come down,
impossibly, the great twin towers fell,
and autumn leaves,
civilizations fell like desert rain,
your mother died,
your body, once naïve and strong
is slow and weak with wisdom.
Thrown or gently tugged,
it all comes down.

And here you are.

The present moment
is the only permanence.
You too some day will fall,
be born anew,
and leave here in your empty place
nothing but love.
In the world inside this world
when all is sand it is
the only thing still standing.

In all that’s lost,
oh, everything that passes,
in love alone you fall
into the arms of the Beloved
forever.

         
         
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

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Reckoning

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
         

All the greatest things you have done,
with those of all the masters,
are little purple berries
on the end of bare branches
that songbirds come and eat
and then migrate far,
strong and beautiful.

                  •

All the mistakes you ever made
fall like leaves and rot
in God’s good dark earth
until, after time and regret
and a winter of letting go,
it all becomes rich, black soil.

         
         
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

Published
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Nothing required

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
Christ … offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins…. By a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified…. The Lord says, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.
                  —from Hebrews 10. 12-18

Imagining our relationship with God in terms of sin and burnt offerings may seem archaic, but it speaks to where we’re at. We are haunted deep down by a sense that we’re not “making it,” that we’ve done something wrong, that we’re not good enough, that there’s something we need to do to be OK with God—or for God to be OK with us. But the good news is that this is not true. Whatever shortcoming there is between who we are and who we were created to be, whatever deficiency we feel there is in us, whatever gap is between us and God—God fills it. God in us makes up the difference between who we are and who we are afraid we “ought” to be. We are perfected—just right for God.

This doesn’t mean we’re perfect, or that we don’t need to repent, or that we are not always continually becoming someone new; nor does it mean there aren’t consequences of our hurtful choices. It means that we don’t have to do anything to be acceptable to God. We don’t have to make up for anything or prove anything or pay for anything. We don’t have to do penance. Sure, we’ve done awful things. But God lets go of them. God dwells in the present moment, not the past, and invites us to start fresh each new moment. Of course God has to let go of a lot to do that. That’s the whole point of this “sacrifice” language: whatever has to be sacrificed for us to be close to God, God has sacrificed. We don’t have to. It’s done.

God invites us into the present moment, invites us to be present for God, who is perfectly present for us. Start now. Come as you are. No cover charge, no entrance requirements, no dress code. Just be here. Really, you already are.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

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Power outage

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
Winter storm, power out for days. People without heat or electricity stay with friends, or come to public buildings to warm up, cook, check email and charge cell phones. People bring food and water to neighbors with none. We huddle together. But without TVs and computers we say we feel isolated. We wait for the power to come back on so that we can go back into our houses by ourselves and pretend to be independent again.

                   •

Now and then, for a little while, we enter into a sort of personal rolling blackout called prayer: we unhook from all the things that make us feel like we get power from outside us, and let our power come from God alone. We deepen our connection with all of life and its Source, and deepen our awareness of God’s power within us. We notice the things that obstruct our connection with the Holy One and we let go of them. We let go of the illusion that we are isolated beings. We become powerless so that we might claim the true and pure divine power within.

                   •

In the darkness of prayer we see the light within. In the solitude of prayer we are deeply connected. In the silence of prayer we hear the voice of Love. Sit in the blackout. It’s where the warmth and light are.

_____________________
Weather Report

Storms, of course.
What did you expect?
But it won’t matter:
there is peace within.

         
         
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

Published
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Letting go

Generous God, in the woods the trees are bare; they have let go of everything. But I confess my fear. I imagine letting go of what I cling to, and I am afraid. I am paralyzed. Beloved, being one with you is the only treasure I desire; everything else is a burden. Yet I cling. But I want to be in the grip of love, not fear. Heal me, and set me free of these heavy loads! Set free my paralyzed heart. Even if my fear clings to me, I open my arms to you. You are my only security, my only rest. You are the spring within that I trust enough to let go of the autumn leaves. Help me to want you more than what I cling to, to be eager to be free. Bless me, that generosity will be for me not a test but a gift. Amen.

__________________

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

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Psalm 127

                  

Unless the Holy One builds the house
         the carpenters are hammering illusions.
Unless the Beloved holds the city
         the guards are all asleep.
You get up early and stay up late for nothing,
         chomping down your anxiety bars.

The Beloved blesses you
          in sleep.

The love you generate
         is God overflowing.
The love with which you surround yourself
         is God’s gift to you.
Like flowers in a bride’s bouquet
         your love makes your life more beautiful.
Happy is the one
         whose arms are full of them.
You will hold your own
         in this busy, warlike world.

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

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Widow’s mite

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
         

What you have to offer is enough.
Hold nothing back.

The blessing is not in the treasure
but in the letting go.

In your simplest offering
God finds delight.

Reach into the small pocket of your heart:
there is all the treasure in heaven.

         
         
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

Election day

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

                  Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory.

No matter what choices we make today,
what wisdom or folly we give authority,
what greed or compassion we give voice,
what prophets or scoundrels we give power,
no matter who wins and loses,
God is at work in the world,
and the world belongs wholly to God.

Our work and our choices matter,
and God uses them as a master uses tools;
but God also has far greater, unseen powers,
at work in the world beyond our knowing,
before whom all our laws and leaders are puny.
Whatever dreams or fears we empower today
it will not be enough:
we have neither saved nor ended the world.
Grace will abide; and the work will go on:
the gentle man with holes in his hands
will continue to feed the hungry and heal the sick
and tear down the scaffolding of evil,
will continue to die with the outcast
and rise with healing in his wings
and his children in his arms,
and will continue to call his laborers
into the field to lay their hands
on the great harvest of life.

Make your choices today,
and cry out with the voice of peace and mercy.
And trust that greater by far
than all our human triumphs and suffering,
greater than our nations
and the walls be build around them
is the Realm of one whose power and glory
is infinite, the steady, healing hand of One
whose very name is Love.

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

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

Vote tomorrow

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         

My prayer is that you will vote
in love, not in fear,

that those who govern
will act in love, not fear,

and that you will make every choice,
large or small,
every day, all your life,
not in fear, but in love,

for this alone can heal the world,

and I believe it shall.

         
         
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