The lowest place

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         “When you are invited to a wedding banquet,
         do not sit down at the place of honor…
         but go and sit down at the lowest place.”

                  —Luke 14. 8, 10
         

   
Lord,

I come to your table washed
of deserving, of measure,
of worth, but lovingly invited.

I take the lowest place
so that this day may be
pure gift, pure gift.

I take the lowest place because
I am here not to surpass my neighbors
but to love them.

I take the lowest place because
I wish to sit close to you,
where you always sit.

I take the lowest place
because I love to watch my bridegroom
search the room and come for me.

__________________
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

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 that grief, that death be true:
no, let the new adventurer be you.

____________________

Weather Report

Parting,
—as friends, or as clouds—
clearing throughout the day.
Local incidents of surrender
will build to a low pressure area
where some drops will fall,
but not enough to cause erosion.

         
         
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

March on Washington

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

Fifty years ago today a quarter million people came to march on Washington demanding jobs and freedom. Some would say the same thing needs to happen again: the scourges of racism, militarism and corporate greed still plague us; the progress made since then has been mixed, and still easily erodes. That day violence was expected, but there was none. The marchers were peaceful and hopeful. They were not seething, they were dreaming; Martin’s dream was already theirs. It was a large and powerful event? but it began with only a few people who themselves had a dream. They acted on that dream, and the Spirit took it from there.

What they did is a little different from what we do on Sunday mornings, but not much. We lift up a dream? God’s dream of how we shall live together, a dream that Jesus called the Kingdom of God. And in our dreaming, in our devoting ourselves to that dream, we bring it a little closer. To fulfill that dream will take as much struggle as dreaming, as much sacrifice as believing, but it starts with the dream, the dream the Holy One gives us of a world of love and justice. We don’t gather in worship to “recharge our batteries:” we come to lift up God’s dream for the world and to be shaped by that dream and to devote ourselves to it and to renew our energy to work for it. The words of the prophets, the miracles of Christ, the vision of the Palms, the life embodied in the early church, all proclaim God’s vision for a new order. It’s radical, world-changing stuff.

This Sunday, watch and listen for the Gospel’s march on this world. If you don’t see it, well, maybe you need to march on your church.

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.

Sharing power

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

         When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled,
         the lame, and the blind; and you will be blessed,
         because they cannot repay you.

                  —Luke 14. 13-14

Last Sunday was the anniversary of the ratification in 1920 of the 19th Amendment, “granting” women the right to vote. Wednesday is the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, which led to the Civil Rights Act, enabling blacks to vote. In both cases, laws giving disenfranchised people the power to vote came only after much long, hard struggle, against fierce, violent resistance. It seems we don’t mind giving away a little money, but the hardest thing to share is power. The struggle continues. People complain about the poor having an “entitlement mentality,” but no one acts more entitled than rich, white, powerful people.

Christ did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but in self-emptying became a humble servant. Jesus asks us to surrender our entitlement, share our power and use our privilege for the sake of those who do not have it. Surrendering security, superiority and control is the hardest thing to do— but sharing power is powerful. To invite the poor to a banquet, or to choose a lower place at the table, is not simply an act of kindness; it is a radical way of upending social power structures by giving your power away, making someone of lower status equal to yourself. This is what it means to carry the cross, to share power and vulnerability for the sake of the powerless and vulnerable.

The humble, crucified Christ calls us to find our place not at the privileged end of the table, but among the poor. For we are poor indeed, and only when we take that seriously do we really “get” the grace of God. We are called to welcome the dispossessed to our table, to grant to all people a place of privilege, power and belonging. Only there, in equally shared need and power and glory, do we really enjoy the Banquet of God.
         
         
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

Mouth of my heart

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         “I relieved your shoulder of the burden;
                  your hands were freed from the basket.
         In distress you called, and I rescued you;
                  I answered you in the secret place of thunder;
                  I tested you at the waters of Meribah….

         Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.”
                           —Psalm 81.6-7

Beloved,
even in my freedom
I don’t know how you’ve freed me;
I don’t feel the weight of the burdens
I don’t feel.
The place of thunder
where you have answered me,
and even its thunder
is secret from me.
I’ve been tested in ways I didn’t know,
rescued in ways beyond me.

I only know
that I open the mouth of my heart

and wait.

         
         
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

Longing

Mysterious Lover,
hearer of my prayers,
prayer of whom I am your voice,

save me from fulfillment,
the plea of answers,
the curse of final rest:

no, awaken here
as your deep longing
that is me.

______________________
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.

Home

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
After one month, 4718 miles, 12 states, 11 beds, and visits with 19 family members, we are home. And what did the bear see on the other side of the mountain?

The world goes on. And on and on. Beyond every road, every ten-lane turnpike and two-strand wagon trail, runs another road. Every place you go, and beyond, there is another place, another town, or space between towns, a teeming metropolis or an isolated farmhouse, and people live there. Or something else lives there. For someone, that is home. From where I live to the desert and the tundra, from mountain top to dark sea bottom, there is life living its life, in all its uncatalogable variety. And there are people being beautiful in a million different ways. And there is God’s grace, in all its even greater variety, doing its thing. Whatever is, is in God. And as I look up into a night sky far from cities where I can actually see the stars, they, too, in their silent, mysterious distances, are still in God.

Whatever your day brings, whatever new or familiar experiences come your way, whether you find yourself in a great throng or all alone (or both), know that the One is with you, that Blessing upholds you, that the Presence includes you. No matter where you are, in space or in mind, you are not far away. You are at home in God. Welcome.
         
         
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