One body

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
         You are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

                  —1 Corinthians 12.27

When you despair
that your life is small or insignificant,
when you grieve
that your life is troubled or a mess,
when you doubt
your life’s benefit to the universe,
remember that no matter your faults,
regardless of your disappointments,
you are more than this one individual flesh:
you are a part of this vast, wondrous humanity,
this glorious Creation,
that you are part of God’s healing of the world,
and know that your life, your whole life,
is wonderful, beautiful, and worthy,
holy, and belonging to God…
and give thanks.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

To subscribe to Unfolding Light by daily e-mail write to unfoldinglight8(at)hotmail.com

Moon blessing

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

To you I wish

the peace of the moon,
who waxes and wanes
and is not troubled;

the beauty of the moon,
only partly seen
but always wondrous;

the silence of the moon,
who does not insist
if you do not notice;

the courage of the moon
who is not afraid
of her own darkness;

the steadiness of the moon,
who never gets caught
in the tricky branches;

the constancy of the moon,
who never forgets
to come back;

the wisdom of the moon
who sees clearly
when we close our eyes;

the faith of the moon
who is always full
to the sun.

The blessing of the moon
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 unfoldinglight5(at)hotmail.com

Extremes

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

Out running in the cold winter air, most of my body was warm, but my fingers were cold. Riding my bike, it’s my forehead that suffers. But they’re all a part of me. And while I deal with the winter cold I think of you who are in Australia, who have been living through this awful summer heat. We’re at different extremes, but we’re all part of the same planet. While we in the US celebrate the inauguration of our elected president, others suffer tyranny and repression. But we’re all part of the same humanity.

Paul says we’re all parts of one body. Somehow, even without our knowing, when one suffers we all suffer. When one rejoices we all rejoice. Our sadness and gladness mingle together into one joy. In prayer we enter a deeper consciousness, even if it’s beyond our knowing: the reality that we belong, that we are all one living being. We enter into the suffering, and the joy, of the world. We become one with all our body. Our joy is there for others, and our pain is not ours alone. We receive the gift of their happiness, and help them bear the weight of their sorrows. Our souls are woven with theirs. In this way, even sitting in our room in silence, by the mystery of God’s grace in us, we become part of the mending of the world.

         Receive us, Holy One.
         Hold us in the mystery of your one love.
         Your compassion flows through us to all living beings,
                  with whom we share one life.
         We give thanks.

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 unfoldinglight8(at)hotmail.com.

Good news to the poor

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
         The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
                  because God has anointed me
                  to bring good news to the poor.
         God has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
                  and recovery of sight to the blind,
         to let the oppressed go free,
                  to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

                          —Luke 4.18-19

It is no political agenda, nor an economic vision.
It is simply compassion for those who are hurting,
and a will that their world reflect the created order
that God has provided for all of us:
a world that includes us, that offers beauty,
that gives life, free and abundant,
tendered in verdant hands,
that weaves us together in one living being,
one body, one life.
It is simply passion that the wanting child be fed:
for she is your own.

The self-created who disbelieve are the blind
whom the Spirit sends us to heal;
the successful who have earned their food
are the oppressed who need to be set free.
Only the grateful are wise;
only the compassionate see clearly.
Only those who would suffer oppression to free others
are truly free.

The divine in you is not the power to conquer wrong
but simply the passion to be good news,
to open eyes, to set free.

The martyrs and prophets,
who have known glares and stones,
pogroms, marches and fire hoses,
each trail of tears the same via dolorosa, they know:
this is not a goal or agenda, a plan or a program;
it is not born of human will at all.
It is a gift of God, the life of the Spirit breathing in you,
the maker of worlds uttering, “Let there be light.”

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

To subscribe to Unfolding Light by daily e-mail write to unfoldinglight8(at)hotmail.com

Dark red wine

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         

Only when you’ve run out of wine,
the wine life gave you, the dark red wine
that flowed through your veins,
only when the merest drop
of plain water would be enough,
only when you have nothing
to offer, nothing to save you,
does the unseen mystery occur.
When you’ve tasted the wine of death,
had your last meal day after day,
each breath, each moment becomes
an improbable gift, a miracle.
When the wedding feast is silenced
and you ponder being without,
when you’ve drunk the cup of grief,
then every one is dear.
When you quit your purification
for what gives life, then something new
flows beyond measure or belief.
When you’ve given away your blood
red wine, the Guest will see
to it that you are given the best.
Then even the later music, more dark
than before, the more difficult music,
the treacherous passages, the slow dance
into the night, even the sorrowful songs,
the tragic laments, are beautiful.
Among the crushed grapes, the losses,
the fermented sugars, none of the flavors
can be separated out of the dark wed wine
of joy.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

To subscribe to Unfolding Light by daily e-mail write to unfoldinglight8(at)hotmail.com

The good wine

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.”
                  —John 2.9-10

Each moment
is miraculous wine.
You don’t know
where it came from.

           •

The person who annoys you,
whom you judge,
is transformed wine
that you have not yet tasted.

           •

New snow
makes everything look different.
When it is gone,
will you see everything anew?

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

To subscribe to Unfolding Light by daily e-mail write to unfoldinglight8(at)hotmail.com

Water into wine

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
I’m thinking about water being changed to wine, the ordinary transformed into the glorious. I’m thinking about blessing, abundantly overflowing. I’m surrounded by it. Heaven spills out into this world. I’m exulting in this good news: my sister’s lymphoma is in remission. Her chemo goes on, but not the disease. I feel like the host at the wedding in Cana. How am I going to spend all this joy?

While I drink from these vats of gratitude, I also think about people I know who are not celebrating, who are looking for work, whose kids are struggling with addiction, who are beginning chemo without any assurance, who are facing the loss of loved ones. I’m rejoicing for my baby sister, but my wife’s baby sister just died. How can I dance for my sister while there’s so much suffering in the world? But how can I not dance for my sister? So I can feel like an awkward guest at the wedding. Why doesn’t everybody get the wine?

Well, everybody does. My sister’s healing is not a special order, but a glimpse of the natural order, the heart of the world. The “wine” is not that we get what we want, but the wondrous, mysterious glory of life. Everything is miraculous. God has turned the water of my sister-in-law’s life to wine no less than my sister’s. God’s grace is not in certain places, but at the heart of reality. The whole world’s water is changed to wine. The glory of God is hidden in all things.

The man who changed water into wine knew suffering. He never promised to excuse anyone from it, but changed it by sharing it with us on behalf of God. God is in every person and every moment and every life, and what we think is ordinary water is heavenly wine, and what we fear is not enough is more than enough. The wine may be relief of suffering or grace to endure it, but there will be enough of it. Sometimes we know it; most of the time we haven’t tasted it yet.

All of life is God’s wedding to us. Happiness comes and goes with certain gifts and losses, but nothing diminishes the joy of life, the wonder of this beautiful, painful, holy life, the grace of being alive. Every moment of this life is wine miraculously made from ordinary water, abundantly provided in love, consecrated for a holy sacrament. Drink it, and dance.

         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

To subscribe to Unfolding Light by daily e-mail write to unfoldinglight8(at)hotmail.com

Our water changed

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         

Oh, how we stagger and slouch
in habitual sleepy stupor,
while the clear air dances
in and out of us!

Oh, how we stumble and whine,
hung over with resentment,
blank and bitter, so sure, so sure,
while the new life leaps within us!

Oh, how we lie about,
limp and vague and unseeing,
our water changed, unknowing,
while God pours glory into us
from the miraculous pitcher of life!

         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

To subscribe to Unfolding Light by daily e-mail write to unfoldinglight8(at)hotmail.com

Joy

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

Who says God has to be so serious all the time? That God can’t have some fun, go on a lark, crack a good one? That God has to talk in King James or Latin, issue decrees carved in stone, and keep on frowning? Who says God can’t evolve a platypus instead of a woodchuck, or a flightless bird just as a joke? Or give you a gorgeous sunset just to see the expression on your face? Or invent laughter? Or remove a tumor without a trace just for the heck of it? Who says God’s passion is reasonable and not unrestrained celebration?

Even ponderous old John with his heavy-handed Gospel can’t miss the light: Jesus’ first miracle was a party trick. Pure fun. Wine from water. And really good stuff, too. And at a wedding, no less. It’s a parable of covenant faithfulness, and love, and an ironic reverse-foreshadowing of the Last Supper. It’s a parable of abundance and beauty and mystery and needless splendor. It’s about life, and about blessing, and about joy—way too much and too good, way more and better than we need. Ridiculous. Over the top.

God’s love isn’t sensible. It’s flagrant, overzealous, overgenerous, prodigal, out of bounds. It’s dancing on the table. Dancing in the streets. Dancing on our own graves. God’s will, decreed from the mighty throne on high, surrounded by dark clouds and glowering angels, is the joy of life—unexpected blessing, deep joy, wild delight, wine at a wedding—your wedding to God—the best wine imaginable. Just for fun. Why not?

Raise a glass! Drink deep.

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 unfoldinglight8(at)hotmail.com.

Ice out

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         

John the Baptist takes his ax down to the frozen river.
Black trees, scalpel wind, malignant cold, blades of light.
The gift does not come easy. Death comes first

in this season of longing and refusal, the denial of the ice.
We go by way of brokenness. The living wound, the surgery.
Offenses hacked wide open. The ax, the confession. Dig in.

(Under the ice the grave water, so lovely, so cruel,
the terrible rebirth. Even good news a shock to the system,
the chemo, the first step, the sword of the angel of life.

It makes you take a breath like you’ve never taken before
You come up out of the water grabbing breath,
gasping like a newborn, fierce for that given air.)

But first the ice, the breaking through, the ax.
You’ll bear the disappointment of the gift withheld,
and set your shoulders to the hard work of staying alive.

But look, there’s been a thaw: the ice has given in,
the brook is open. The ax is laid at the root of the trees.
Something releases. You sing in thanks with curling breath.

Beneath the ice the black water was always moving, telling you,
beneath the sin or cancer or despair a dark grace, constant,
flows: an opening. An offering. Remission.

Winter and its pain won’t disappear. The seasons roll
like breath drawn out and in, and death will come and leave
again like geese. But you can be amazed, and even grateful.

Now you hear the song of winter birds you hadn’t heard,
the faithful voice: “Beloved, ice will vanish and return,
but this light is forever. I am with you. You are mine.”

         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

To subscribe to Unfolding Light by daily e-mail write to unfoldinglight8(at)hotmail.com