I have set before you life and death,
blessings and curses.
so that you and your descendants may live.
You have heard, “You shall not murder,”
but I say if you are angry
you are out of tune with God’s mercy.
God me help to truly love:
to let go of getting my way,
to let go of being right,
let go of my agenda
even to be just and righteous,
to satisfy you…
and instead to love people,
to choose life— not for me
but for them.
Share with me your love
that I may live for others’ sake
and all my choices be
for the sake of their life,
their deep and free and abundant life,
trusting that you have already chosen life for me.
I lay upon your altar a stone, maybe,
or a feather, a cup,
some rain, some words, or some earth.
I set on your table a bowl,
an unlit candle, a window,
a fish still swimming in the sea.
These are my struggles, my joys,
my gifts, my weaknesses, my sins.
They are my gratitude, my sorrow,
my shame, my wonderings, my light.
I offer them to you.
Receive them with love,
bless them with grace,
and use them according to your delight.
The sun shines in onto the table.
I hear the silence, and something in it,
your offering to me.
I hold it in myself,
like the sun on the table.
You have heard, “You shall not murder,”
but I say if you yell at somebody,
you will be liable to judgment.
You have heard, “You shall not commit adultery,”
but I say if you look at someone lustfully
you have just committed adultery.
—from Matthew 5.21-28
Jesus is not skipping the law,
nor reinterpreting it.
He’s getting at the heart of it:
not a rule you can get around,
but an invitation to love. He’s drawing us deeper into it,
into actually caring about the other person,
not just making sure we’re legal.
Jesus help me. Guide me.
When I’m embroiled or offended,
help me love that person,
not just contain my anger,
but deeply respect and cherish them,
even as I oppose them.
When my own desires flare up,
help me to see each person
as a precious individual,
not an object for either lust or scorn,
not an object at all, but a soul,
a pilgrim on this journey with me,
blessed, imperfect, and worthy.
Help me speak and act
for their sake, for their sake, in love for them,
as you love me.
Jesus, take me deeper.
You are God’s field, God’s building.
— 1 Corinthians 3.9
Sown or fallow, the field opens to the sun.
A pilgrim wind runs fingers over its skin.
Shadows in the corners, a little.
Some crows visit a while, then move on.
The field looks as if sleeping, but it is dreaming.
Already what is to come
is being made possible.
The building was built by purposeful hands,
the floors and walls, the hooks on the walls,
the tools hanging on the hooks,
purposefully worn and ready.
In the rising dawn a figure stands in the doorway,
silent, then passes into the shadows.
The day is just beginning.
What unnumbered things go on
we cannot know
in the body of God.
Sun and rain,
both early rains
and later rains, and dry spells,
according higher purposes than yours,
yet not diminishing
the fertility of your fields.
Unless your righteousness exceeds
that of the scribes and Pharisees,
you will never experience the kingdom of heaven.
Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke?
My child, I desire for you that you be surrounded
by a world of love and joy and beauty.
I have hidden this treasure in the hearts and lives
of people around you, especially those
who are despised and oppressed, forgotten and abused,
the ones whose lives do not matter to the world.
To know this loveliness and nobility, to live in its world,
you have to set those people free.
You have to undo the chains of injustice,
and to undo their chains you have to stand with them,
be near them, be among them, befriend them.
My law is to love. This is righteousness:
right relationships, just and loving and freeing.
The laws I have given you are the signs but they are not the road.
The rules are the practices but not the love.
To fulfill righteousness is to break the separations
between you and them, rich and poor, black and white.
How can you undo the thong of the yoke
if you do not stand with the slave?
When your righteousness exceeds being good enough
and becomes love then you will know this realm I have prepared for you,
the joy and beauty I promise you, I who love you, who stand with you,
who set you free.
You are the salt of the earth.
– Matthew 5.13
When the seawater finally evaporates
the pure salt of you remains.
Of the earth, stout crystal,
marvelous in your you-ness,
as first you left the Creator’s hand,
your grain, your truth,
this do not lose or trade,
or meekly become otherwise.
That of you that is purely you,
blood-mineral of life, of tears,
salting not in virtue or deeds
but essence, simply being you,
bringing out in others
their own flavor as well,
offer without apology,
with love and courage,
for God, savoring you so,
has chosen to salt this life with you.
You are light for the world.
You do not need to fetch it or make it
. It is in you.
The chaos out there roars, so dark,
but sit still and listen:
“Let there be light” speaks in your darkness.
Let it be.
Let it become you. Fill you.
Ageless, it claims you.
Calm, unworried by what it falls on,
it radiates peace.
Let it shine in you,
a simple lamp by the window,
before you bear it
out into the world
that needs it so badly.