1 Corinthians 13

No matter how powerfully or eloquently I speak,
if I do not speak in love,
it’s all just noise.

If I know everything
and understand life completely
and have miracle-producing faith
but do not act in love
it’s all for nothing.

If I give away everything I own
and die a heroic martyr’s death
but do it without love,
I have just wasted my time.

To love is to be kind.
To have time for the other.
To be generous, humble and gentle.
To let go of keeping score of faults,
and instead to rejoice in what is good and true.
To love is to bear willingly,
to trust deeply,
to hope boldly,
to endure patiently.

Love does not die.
Beliefs will end; languages will fade;
knowledge will exhaust itself:
knowledge and belief are not the whole picture.
But there is a wholeness,
and we let go of the part for the whole.
When I was a child
I spoke and thought like a child.
Becoming an adult, I abandoned those ways.
Now we see through foggy glass,
but in time we will see clearly, face to face.
Now I know only partially;
in time I will know fully—
and know that I have been fully known.

We have these three great gifts: faith, hope and love.
And the greatest is love.
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__________________
Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

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write to me at unfoldinglight(at) gmail.com

Appointed a prophet

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         Now the word of Yahweh came to me saying,
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
Then I said, “Ah, Yahweh God!
Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a child.”
But Yahweh said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a child’;
for you shall go to all to whom I send you,
and you shall speak whatever I command you,
Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.”
Then Yahweh reached out and touched my mouth; and said to me,
“Now I have put my words in your mouth.
See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms,
to pluck up and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow,
to build and to plant.”

                  —Jeremiah 1.4-10

Read it again. Put yourself in there.

Imagine God’s presence in you, God’s power—
not to get your own way, not to sway crowds,
but to convey love, to be truth,
not just to say words but to live life
with power in it.

You do not have to apologize for yourself.
You do not have to be afraid
of those to whom you bring yourself.
You only have to be yourself.

And because it is from God
the truth of you will prevail.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

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write to me at unfoldinglight(at) gmail.com

Love

         
         If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels,
         but do not have love,
         I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

                  —1 Corinthians 13.1

I am a candle
whose only light
is love

Created by Love
in love
for love

Let me burn today
in all I do
with love

my only hope
my only success
or failure

love not devised
but given
and received

your love
O Love
flowing through me

mercy for every person
gratitude for every thing
love in every breath

I your candle
love
my only flame

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

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write to me at unfoldinglight(at) gmail.com

Painful healing

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         There were many lepers in Israel
                  in the time of the prophet Elisha,
         and none of them was cleansed
                  except Naaman the Syrian.

                  —Luke 4.27

The urge toward “us” and “them” is instinctive, as old as the split between neanderthals and homo sapiens. Religion is especially apt to be twisted into systems of privilege and exclusion. Such bias is built into our cultural, economic and political systems at the deepest level. Border walls, gated neighborhoods, ethnic cleansing, apartheid, voting rights, the idea of race or sexual identity, Indian Reservations, redlining, Jim Crow, nationalism, mass incerceration and so on— serve no purpose other than to define “us” and “them.”

But God has no favorites—or rather, there’s no one who isn’t God’s favorite. Jesus spends his ministry confronting systems of exclusion, bearing God’s grace especially to those who are systematically excluded by human injustice. “God is just as likely,” he says, “to choose a Syrian as an Israelite, because God includes everyone.” This enrages his privileged hearers: they try to throw him over the cliff. It doesn’t surprise him. Insiders are always threatened when you try to expand the circle.

There are always people who fall through the cracks. But the cracks are not there by accident. We who walk humbly with God are to love mercy and also to do justice: to reach out to those who fall through the cracks and also to fix the damn cracks. That will be hard for people who like the cracks that way.

Notice how privilege affects you and those around you— privilege granted some and not others because some are white or male, middle class, good looking, straight, healthy and so on. You can’t disavow your privilege; it’s given to you. But you can use it to confront and dismantle systems of exclusion.

What you do will likely anger someone. Reconciliation usually begins with the pain of seeing the truth. Trust the deeper process. Today be aware of your privilege and how you use it for the sake of God’s special love for those whom we leave out. After all, you, who do not “deserve” it, have been given infinite love and forgiveness and inclusion in God’s household. How can you not pass it on? Trust that even the pain is part of the healing.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

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write to me at unfoldinglight(at) gmail.com

From within

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
A mighty storm hit the mid Atlantic coast,
a blizzard in the wrong place.
Forty inches of snow in West Virginia,
and hardly anything up here in New England.
We have the road crews, the snow shovels—
but they got the snow.

                  •

We are small in this world,
and it is not in our hands.
Our plans are driven snow.

                  •

More than the way is is supposed to be
is the way it is.

                  •

We are invaded from beyond
by troubles, sickness, anxiety, grief,
but in the house, even without heat,
we flower into being.

We are not the weather we live in.
Even shame and despair will pass.

                  •

In the inner rooms
we sit with the great I AM,
who always comes from within.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

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write to me at unfoldinglight(at) gmail.com

Your vessel

         
         
Great Spirit,
I am your vessel;
your Breath is flowing through me.

I am the hand;
you are the nerve,
you are the poem.

In my prayer I am your vessel.
As I rise and serve the world
I am your vessel,

as I talk on the phone,
eat my lunch, grateful for its taste,
bend over my shoes,

as I stand against evil,
embrace the outcast,
honor the cashier,

smile gently at a stranger,
pray for light and peace,
close the refrigerator door,

you see through my eyes,
you breathe compassion through me,
you create a world through me.

I become the flesh of your love,
the tissue of your desire,
the speaking of your Word.

Great Spirit,
your Breath flowing through me,
I am your vessel.

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

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

One breath

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         In the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.
                  —1 Corinthians 12.13

There is one atmosphere on this planet,
one air that we all breathe.
It is in me and you and our neighbor
and the stranger,
in the saint and the terrorist.
It is the whoosh of the whale’s breath
and the little puffs of cloud
of the song of the wolf.
It is the breath of God.
You may take it into yourself
but it is part of the One Breath we all share.

There is one life in us all.
In the one Spirit
we are all fingers of the same hand.

The love that gives us life
is the love that joins us to each other.
There is no other life.
There is no other wholeness.
When you love your neighbor,
when you love your enemy,
you return to your own,
you enter your wholeness.

There is only One Breath.
Return to it, and be made whole again.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

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write to me at unfoldinglight(at) gmail.com

Many members

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         The body does not consist of one member but of many.
         The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you.”

                  —1 Corinthians 12.14, 21

         
                           I

God has so ordered the symphony
that all the different notes are indispensable.
Your gift may be a note of the melody,
shouted out by the trumpets
or it may be the harmony from the third violins,
subtle but changing everything,
or the oboe quietly offering a countermelody.
Each is part of the song.

                           II

God is about healing, not wounding,
creating, not destroying.
Life for the body is its members joined,
not severed, not judged bad and good.
The healing of the world
is the mending of its tissues,
the weaving together of its peoples,
all of us.

                           III

The energy of the Spirit is harmony,
the togethering of different members.
The energy of judging and dividing
is the energy of evil.
The Spirit’s loving energy is more powerful
than fear and separation.
All the gifts you have been given
are for the sake of the healing of the world.
Even the smallest gifts are mighty.

                           IV

Everything belongs.
Your prayers, your conversations,
your riding a bicycle or a subway,
all are part of the symphony.
Religions are like that.
The observance of Torah,
the path to enlightenment,
keeping kosher, the hajj, the rosary, the fast,
the praise song, the compassion meditation,
each is a different gift,
but no less a part of the body.
Belong, and be at peace.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

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

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write to me at unfoldinglight(at) gmail.com

Telling the truth

         

         In recognition of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Dear heart, stop and wait
at the street corner where the lie is told
until you hear, and know.

The society in my head won’t believe,
so it will take time to see through
the intentional fog

who I allow to be human
and who I exclude: black, white,
gay, straight, on and on,

how I wear the mask of normalcy,
but make them bear it for me,
and how deeply in their body.

And then, seeing, heart,
pray for courage to speak
because not to speak is the lie.

Silence is our shackle,
and truth telling the key,
one lock at a time.

The lie is in all of us
but when one starts telling the truth
all of us can begin to get free.

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

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write to me at unfoldinglight(at) gmail.com

Varieties of gifts

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.
                  —1 Corinthians 12.4

To one God has given the gift of good humor,
to another the gift of resilience, to another courage,
to another the appreciation of beauty,
to another truth-telling, to another soft-heartedness,
to another the ache for justice,
to another quiet presence, to another exuberance.

What gifts live in you? What passions and callings,
what energies consistently rise up in you,
leave people blessed in your wake,
lean toward the healing of the world around you?
They may seem small, odd or ordinary,
but they are the bricks with which God builds
the Realm of Joy and Justice.

God gives to each of us gifts of God’s choosing.
What gifts does the Spirit of love activate in you?
Name them, give thanks, and devote them this day
to the Great Work of the mending of the world.

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 unfoldinglight(at) gmail.com