New Year’s resolution

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         

Why not grow roses in your soul?

Don’t try to invent them,
it’s been done.
Don’t labor over making them,
it will happen.

Ask what the Beloved is doing in you,
ask again and again,
slowly,
until you see.

Ask what you can do to help,
to clear the space,
to hold the light,
and that will be your path.

And promise that no matter
how disappointingly plain
or outrageously beautiful the results,
you will husband the fruits
of God’s work in you.

Even if you spend the whole year
simply wondering
it will be a splendid year.

         
              
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

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Categorized as Reflections

Sojourn

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         Behold, magi came from the east….
         They returned by another road….
         “Take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt….
         “Return to the land of Israel….”
         He went away to the district of Galilee….

                  

You travel on long journeys,
detours and indefinite sojourns,
and not alone.

Notice the momentary delights;
enjoy them and let them go.
The soul is here for a longer haul.

The Holy One who stirs within you
seeks a place in this world,
and will not leave you behind.

The blessed homecoming
is an exploration, a path of missteps
and long hesitations,
an exodus issuing into wilderness wandering,
known by neither route or destination
but divine accompaniment.

Every day you are leaving the house,
never to return.
And not alone.

         
              
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

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The slaughter of the innocents

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.”
                  — Matthew 2.16-19

Poor Herod,
helpless to stamp out love,
all he can do
is have a tantrum
and kill people—
weak ones, of course,
no stronger than himself.

Against the holy
evil will lash out in fear.
But the tyrant has lost
before he began.
His fury is his despair.

O Gentle One,
be not afraid.
The Holy One is in the manger,
and has taken over the world.
The darkness will resist,
but the light will endure.

Pray for Rachel,
weeping for her children,
and do not be afraid to
let your broken heart
be a manger for the holy child.
         
              

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

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Messiah child

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         

         
Can this be he?—still bloodied from birth’s strife,
whom I could crush or cradle in my hands,
whose gifted breath does not know hope from life,
nor love from death, which is his swaddling bands?
What victory can they earn, or honor get,
these hands who trust of lap, and mouth of breast,
these eyes, content with dark, that wonder yet
at earth and light and equally the rest?
This child of dust and ashes, son of pain,
who won’t survive, whose hands still bless with good
the very ones that pierce them—though in vain—
somehow draws my love like wounds draw blood!
         Yes, the manger is so like a grave,
         for only such simplicity can save.

         
         
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

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A son is given

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
         For unto us a child is born;
             unto us a son is given.

                            —Isaiah 9.6

Behold the Christmas miracle,
that loving as a loving mother,
God has not just sent
but given us a child:
has given her Beloved to us
for our adoption,
entrusting Christ to our human care,
for us to claim, to raise,
to love as our own,
to lead into this world with pride,
and sorrow mingled in the joy.

What faith in us, and love, God has!

Open wide the arms of your heart
to the divine presence entrusted to you.

And take all the delight God hopes,
to see how much the holy child
looks just like you!

         
         
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

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Annunciation

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
         
Greetings, Beloved!
The Lord is with you.
Do not be afraid; God is delighted with you.

The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Holy One will overshadow you.
You will conceive in your soul:
a new life will spring forth within you,
which is holy, for it is from God.

Your life will not be wholly your own now.
You will be moved—compelled, sometimes—
by the Holy One within you.
You will feel it stretch and kick.
You will feel it grow,
and you will have aches and pains because of it.

Nourish it. Care for yourself,
for what is alive in you is holy.
You are not unique in this:
your sisters and brothers are also great with God,
those who were said to be barren.

In the fulness of time,
bring your holy gift forth into the world.
Do not be afraid; it will be great,
and its light will shine forever
in the sky 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

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Holy child

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
         “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife,
         for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.”

                  —Matthew 1.20

Today I helped distribute gift bags to all the inmates at the state prison. Nine of us greeted them, and gave them the packages, and we all shook their hands. All 1380 of them. To greet 1380 people, to encounter such a wave of humanity, eye to eye, hand to hand, hit me deeply. They were in all states of age, race, health, stature and personality. Some were meek, some imposing; some fit and some in shambles, some appreciative and some aloof. But they are all neglected, condemned, and treated as less than human. One guy said, “This is the only touch of normalcy all year.” It took us a couple of hours, but for each of them it lasted less than twenty seconds.

As they filed by one by one and I greeted them and shook their hands I wished I could pack so much more blessing and hope and dignity and the promise that God is with them than was possible in one quick, “God bless you.” (How powerful a single moment can be!) I prayed that somehow they might even unconsciously behold some grace, experience some love. It was like serving communion: one after another of God’s beloved people coming by, each with their own story, needs, wounds, sins and gifts, each getting a little symbolic gift in a brief holy moment, a gift of pure love no matter their past. You hope they get it.

Joseph was asked to trust that Mary’s child was of God. We too are asked to trust that God is present and at work in everyone we meet. I know a few of these guys have done terrible things. But God is still in them. They still have something holy going on in them. Everyone has a “holy child” inside. Everyone. Some of us are pretty rough mangers. But the child is holy. Few know it. But all are longing to know. Every holy child is longing to be loved.

Advent is a time to practice loving every little bit that we can, trusting the holy that we can’t yet see, loving the holy child in each beautiful, dear, precious, screwed-up person, every one a beloved child of God, so far from home.

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

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Joseph

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
         “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife.”
                  —Matthew 1.20

Joseph
in the dumb background,
saint of the detour,
of the unknown road,
no belief or wisdom is asked of you,
only your willingness.

Much is taken;
that divine thief in the darkness
has stripped you of your desire,
your hand upon the tool,
your way,
the plan in your head
with which you needed no other plan.

Now you are asked
to become a tool without knowledge,
faithful partner to a mystery.

Marry this world you can’t yet know,
bearing grace you can’t imagine.
The blindfold is of God.
Say yes to the mystery
beyond your hand, beyond your mind.
Your willingness in this darkness
is the womb of the holy.

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

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Emmanuel

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
         “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
         and they shall name him Emmanuel,”
         which means, “God is with us.”

                  —Matthew 1.23

Forget all the fancy theories of salvation,
how this birth will be the latchkey
to our otherwise impossible forgiveness.
No, it is much more simple.

God wants to be with us.
That’s all.
Messed up as we are,
the Beloved likes to be close.

God desires to be with you,
delights to be with you.
Our Heavenly Lover delights
to be with all humanity,
because that’s what love is like.

All the stars in the darkness,
all the aching hearts,
the strangers who,
after all, are lovely,
all of this marvel
is just the divine plea
for friends.

How simple it is
to give God
immense pleasure!

        
         
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

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Tears

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
         Restore us, O God; let your face shine,
                  that we may be saved.
         You have fed us with the bread of tears,
                  and given us tears to drink in full measure.

                           —Psalm 80.3, 5

The Gentle One does not cause us pain,
yet all tears come from God.
The joy of Christmas
is the presence of Christ
in the dark night of our hurt.

Let your sorrows
be a manger for the Christ child,
a lowly resting place for the Beloved,
who transforms it
into a heavenly throne.

The real “reason for the season”
is not Jesus all by himself,
but the presence of the Beloved
embedded in the world’s suffering,
transforming it
into a place of holy encounter.

Go to the rough manger,
and behold the tender child.

         
         
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

Published
Categorized as Reflections