Cast out my demons

      
         There was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.”
                  —Mark 1.23-27

Yes, he has come to destroy them.
Demonic forces that wreck people:
do not doubt that he has come
to cast them out, all of them,
not merely to touch individuals
but to disarm evil itself,
to reclaim the cosmos.
Demonic spirits of injustice
that dehumanize,
that possess people,
that bind us and blind us
with hate and diminishment of others,
with hard heartedness and violence,
demons of fear and self-protection—
he has come to do away with them.
He is not afraid of the loud voices,
the convulsions they will incite.
He has called all his beloved
to share in the baptism of his power.
He comes with authority.
For this love has the power, yes,
to overcome evil.

O Mighty One, Loving One,
O Capable Hand, O Willing Heart,
cast out my demons,
my fear and inadequacy,
and fill me with your Spirit instead,
the power to resist evil,
to set free from the grip of the demonic
what is human, what is fragile and beautiful,
what is yours.
         
         

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

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write to me at unfoldinglight3(at)hotmail.com

With authority

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
      
         “A new teaching—with authority!”
                  —Mark 1.27

         Authorization
God, you give me authority to heal,
to confront evil, to reveal your grace.
I embrace the role you give me.

         Expertise
Jesus’ knew what he was talking about,
and his acts and words harmonized.
May I live out your true delight.

         Power
You gave Jesus power to resist evil,
power to effect change.
I accept the power you give me.

         Authenticity
Jesus didn’t teach a list of beliefs,
but gave of himself.
Help me to be authentic and present.

         Authoring
Jesus wrote a new story in people’s lives.
Use me to me create anew,
to write a new page in the story of your love.

By your Spirit in me
help me be
your living, authentic teaching.
         
        

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

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write to me at unfoldinglight3(at)hotmail.com

Deep in it

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
      
         
                  
Three feet of snow, drifts up to five,
the silence of heaven,
spread over the streets, the yards,
a prayer shawl about the city.

It will take time to dig out.
There’s no escaping this.
Walk through snow thigh deep
or snowshoe in the woods:

step high, lean carefully,
balance yourself, go slow.
Feel its arms around you.
Feel yourself belong to it.

Yet how we traipse
through this God-thick world
waist deep in glory
as if we were somewhere else.

____________________
Weather Report

God,
all day,
all over.
Not letting up.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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


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Light as a daily e-mail,
write to me at unfoldinglight3(at)hotmail.com

God in the blizzard

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
      
         
Here in New England we’re having a great blizzard. We have a couple feet of snow and it’s still coming down. And God is in the blizzard. Yesterday moving some heavy stuff around in the shed to get at the snow blower I strained my back, so shoveling won’t be fun. And the snow blower won’t start. God is in that, too.

As I often do I might think of some metaphors for God in all this, like “getting a sermon out of it”: God’s grace piles up around me… God’s presence is vast and my effort so small…I can only make my way with God’s grace… I should plan head or ask for help. And God might “come to me” in a particular way: I’ll shovel anyway and God will sustain me… or the machine will start.. or I’ll borrow the neighbor’s… or Beth and I will clear three feet of snow with soup spoons and good humor. But beyond all outcomes, beyond all my metaphors, no matter what happens or how I experience it, The Holy One is simply here. This, too, is holy. God’s presence is as pervasive as the storm, as deep as the snow, as intimate as the pain in my back. But God is beyond and beneath and before all those thoughts. This day is not an illustration of God; it is the presence of God.

God is in this blizzard with me: in the snow and wind and cold, in my back, in my wife, in our warm house, in my minutes and hours. God is with you, in the desert southwest where it’s a nice day, in northern Canada where it’s been a blizzard for months, in Australia or South Africa where it’s a midsummer evening, in England and Kazakhstan and your own little town. God is with you in your grief and your hope and your struggle and your relief. In your chronic pain, your deep questions, your wordless joy, your ordinary day, God is there. God is not in certain things but in everything. God is there, with you, in you, in this moment.

Everything you do you do holding hands with God. You don’t have to search for God. Let God be present.

      
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

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write to me at unfoldinglight3(at)hotmail.com

Beloved

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
      
         
                  
There is a young man
I woke up loving,
whose being I cherish,
his fingers, his kidneys,
his humor, his kindness,
his mornings and evenings,
all his loves and desires,
and every sob and guffaw
in his heart’s dark seedbed.
He is mine. He lives in me.

There is a little child
taking apart his world
with delight and curiosity.
He doesn’t know who I am yet.
He is learning to walk
inside my chest, my legs.

The Loving One from whom
this splendid Creation blossoms
loves you infinitely more
and more particularly
than I my son or my grandson,
nor feels any less delight
when you come near.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

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write to me at unfoldinglight3(at)hotmail.com

Psalm 62.5-12

Beloved, for you my soul waits in silence.
         My hope is hidden in your silence.
Life of my living, you are my earth.
         You are what cannot be taken.
In the gravity of your grace I rest.
         In your silence is my deep belonging.

I trust in you, Holy One.
         I pour myself into your hands,
         into this light, my resting place.

Rich or poor mean nothing;
         they are an illusion.
I abandon my little “happy” and “sad.”
         They are both lint.
Do I catch myself trying to gain?
         Ah, ignore all that fool’s gold.
         Ignore it. Let it go.

I keep hearing this in the silence;
         the silence says it over and over:
the only power is Love,
         and love, all love, is God.

Beloved, you live, you speak, you resound
         in all we do.

         
         

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

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write to me at unfoldinglight3(at)hotmail.com

Fishers of people

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
      
         
                  I

In his little boat the fisherman
floats out on a deep
mystery that provides.
His net woven of many strands
is a gathering, for gathering.
He casts it into dark waters
and hauls in light.
Not for himself
but those hungry in the village,
from the unseen he offers
sustenance.

                  II

The fly fisher admires the river,
runs her eyes along its surface
like her hands on fine furniture.
She sees beneath into the depths
and sees unseen the beauty flashing,
knows without knowing
the life given there.
Not with will to overpower
but adoration of the holy
she casts, she works the fly
and waits
for the communicating tug,
the splendor rising.

With this focus,
not to catch but to evoke,
not to control but to connect,
she loves people,
and seeks out the grace
flashing beneath their eyes,
the love
rising in them.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

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write to me at unfoldinglight3(at)hotmail.com

“Follow me”

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
      
         
                  
The call may come as a word,
a voice. Maybe not.
It may come as a feeling,
a nudge, a leaning, a suspicion,
or less.
It may be to new work, new places.
But it might not involve an ocean.
It may come as an invitation
to love like this,
to live in this manner.

It may simply be the call
each moment:
Stay with me.
Come with me
as I move
through your life
before you,
this moment,
into this room,
this conversation.
I plunge deep into this life.
Stay with me.

Here we go….

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

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write to me at unfoldinglight3(at)hotmail.com

The church of last resort

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
      
                  
I preached and led a retreat on prayer and poetry at the Presbyterian church in Shepherdstown, WV this last weekend. It’s a lovely bunch of people. They explored fearlessly and shared deeply. They inspired me, not by the certitude of their beliefs but in the depth of their presence for God, for one another and for whoever walked in the door. Several members of the church spoke of how they were close to giving up on church till they found that one. A “church of last resort,” they say. There are churches like that.

We hear much about the decline of the neighborhood church in the shadow of big, rich, megaplex churches. Never mind that. Here’s the good news. Real communities of authentic people who want to grow in love and wonder are thriving here and there. If you are searching, don’t give up. Honor your hunger for the Holy. Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. There are communities—most of them small—where you can be yourself, seek God, serve justice and find companions on the way. They are doing good work. Give thanks.

And be aware you may be a “person of last resort.” You may pass by someone who is ready to give up on the human race—or maybe just their part in it—or give up on God, until they meet you. This is nothing heroic, just part of what we’re here to do: to be light and life for each other. To be deeply present, and a source of hope. We are given the gifts to shine with the warmth of heaven, by our love to attract people to God and gather them to each other. Maybe that’s what it means to be “fishers of people.” Don’t give up. Keep seeking. Go fish.

         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

To receive Unfolding Light as a daily e-mail,
write to me at unfoldinglight3(at)hotmail.com

The stream of justice

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
      
         
                  
When you stand for justice,
when you work for peace
it may seem that you are alone.
But they are with you,
and speak through your voice:
Sojourner, Martin, Mohandas, Dorothy,
Dietrich, Rigoberta, Oscar, Cesar, Malala.
You are legion.

When you offer yourself for reconciliation,
when you live truth in the face of resistance
it may seem that you face overwhelming forces.
But those who abet injustice
or sever our bonds of human unity
draw only from the dry cisterns
of their own fear and self-serving.
You flow with the deep-flowing stream
of justice that is God’s energy,
the power that orders the universe.
Regardless of this outcome
you embody infinite grace.
You are immense.

The temple of oppression is impressive,
but the tree of peace already
is cracking the foundations.
You are a root hair of the Empire of God.

Even in the deepest darkness,
you are light.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

To receive Unfolding Light as a daily e-mail,
write to me at unfoldinglight3(at)hotmail.com