Smallest seed

         The reign of God is like a mustard seed,
         which, when sown upon the ground,
         is the smallest of all the seeds on earth;
         yet when it is sown it grows up
         and becomes the greatest of all shrubs,
         and puts forth large branches,
         so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.

                  —Mark 4.30-32

You are a tiny speck of God’s infinite love.
When you let yourself be sown into this world,
given to low places,
what seems tiny unfolds,
miraculously multiplied
because it is God,
and becomes great,
a cedar of Lebanon, a mighty oak of love,
a safe refuge for the weary,
a source of life and comfort for the meek,
a welcome home for God’s little ones.

We only see the seed,
but the unfolding awaits.

June 15, 2018

 

 

Getting old

Today I turn 65.
When Medicare was invented, 65 was old.
If I’m over the hill, I’m loving the ride.

Seems to me what we learn from aging
is pretty much what Jesus was teaching.
Finding God’s grace in loss of power.
Slowing down.
Knees aren’t everything.
Seeking joy in relationships, not things.
Forgiving yourself.
Trusting second chances. And third.
The wisdom of lived experience that overrules rules.
The grace of ripening.
Being present. Moving on.
Feeling the living presence of the unseen.
Courage to be gentle, and the firmness in that.
Blessing in dependency.
Befriending death.
Being OK with being drawn into a transcendent mystery.
Allowing change. Accepting loss.
Being a seed, slowly breaking open.
Knowing grace keeps coming in new ways.
Appreciating, not acquiring.
Being, not accomplishing.
Letting God do in you what you couldn’t.
Beauty that has nothing to do with strength.
Confidence that weakness is not weakness at all.
Love of mercy.
Trusting that as your outer nature wastes away
your inner nature is being renewed day by day.

And ice cream. Jesus was all about that.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in 65 years, it this:
Treats for everybody.
Have some on me..

―June 14, 2018

 

 

A prayer for the church on earth

God of mercy, we pray for the church,
and for all who have a love-hate relationship with your church.
We pray for our struggle to be faithful, and our failure to struggle.
God, it is your love, not our opinions, that unites us;
may we bear fruits of justice, not judgment;
may we let go of being right for being loving,
and work for the mending of the world.
We pray for those for whom the church is an unsafe place,
and those who return again and again
to make gentle this bruised community.
We pray for those who are oppressed by the church,
who are too queer or angry or hurting or black or visionary for us.
We pray for hearts to hear your Word beneath the roar of our fears.
We pray for eyes to see the path of humility, grace and surrender
so often obscured by our pride, dogma and domination.
We pray for the honesty to confess our greed, our violence,
our white supremacy, our complicity with war and poverty.
We pray for your breathing Spirit alive and afire among us,
your beating heart among us, your mercy and grace among us.
Burdened by powers and privileges, we cry out for your Spirit:
awaken us. Heal us. Set us free. Help us follow Jesus.
Light our structures afire with your love. Burn our hearts.
Enflame our souls. Free our spirits to love outrageously,
to heal boldly, to confess and forgive with abandon,
to do justice with joy and hope and courage.
Make us people of mercy.
Give us faith to die, and die nobly,
and, gladly defiant of all that kills us,
to rise in your love, rise with grace, rise to serve,
to serve the lowly beautiful ones, your secret beloved ones,
our siblings, our strangers, our saviors, our Christ.
Bless your weird church, weirdest God, in the name of Jesus,
that we may be a blessing.
Amen.

   —June 13, 2018

Seed growing secretly

[Mark 4.26-29]
         
The mystery of God
is as if someone scatters seed on the ground,
         letting it go, letting it go,
         allowing what is fecund to return to its source;
and she sleeps and rises, dies and is raised,
         surrenders to the unseen, and returns,
         endures the dark loss, the helpless awakening;
and the miracle grows in that unseen place,
         the gravid darkness, life-giving grave.
         Something beyond, beneath, does this,
         and the sower knows she doesn’t know how.
It emerges slowly, the grace:
         first a promise, then a sign,
         then the whole thing in its fullness.
And when the time is ripe,
         when the fruit gives itself up,
she enters with the sharp blade
         that separates seed from chaff,
because now is the time.

You are the seed to be scattered, dead and buried,
         and raised, transformed, and given over.
Your life is the seed, you let go of it,
          and after much dying and rising
          it produces, you know not how.
We are the seed, God’s people,
          and only after much death and resurrection
          do we become life-giving bread.
God is the seed, growing secretly in you,
          bearing fruit abundantly.
God’s promise is the seed in this world,
          God’s grace, silently flourishing beneath our feet.
          ripening, ripening.

   —June 12, 2018

 

Marriage

Recently Beth and I celebrated our 38th anniversary.
Faith is a lot like a long marriage.
It takes time. It takes commitment.
It gives more than it takes.
There are good, easy times, and some hard ones.
You lean to trust that.
You learn to trust the Beloved.
You learn to trust yourself.
You learn to think of the Beloved
more than you think of yourself.
You learn.
It’s not a thing you have, it’s a way you live,
a way you be yourself, a way you grow,
entwined with another, evoked, reflected.
You come to see yourself more clearly,
more blessed, more gifted, more beloved.
You learn the long road of forgiveness.
You discover the walled garden of vulnerability,
the power of letting go, the sweet fruit of gentleness.
You learn the thousand shapes of love.
You share in something eternal.
You experience the grace and gratitude
of making something grand together
neither of you could have done alone.
Every day, you say thanks.
 

   —June 11, 2018

Taking a break

I’m going to take a break for a couple days.
Every once in a while it’s important to be useless.
That’s the point of Sabbath, that you sit and do nothing,
since it’s God and not you
who made you, who keeps you, who sets you free.
Even if you do good work, even if people need you,
like Jesus sometimes you go away just to go away.
You lose a little of your self-importance.
You renew your God-importance.
You just sit on the park bench with God.
You breathe.
You are God’s Beloved.
No reason.
Just because
God is like that.

___________________
Weather Report

Clearing.
Enjoy the moment.

―June 6, 2018

Who you are

         Even though our outer nature is wasting away,
         our inner nature is being renewed day by day.

               —2 Corinthians 4.16

         
The great cathedral, reliquary of dust,
stones slowly vanishing, not one on another,
glacial, archaeological, yet prayers still hover,

the vast city built on a plan now lost, underfoot,
abandoned, inhabited now by the unknowing,
descendants of descendants, but still dancing,

the shirt you loved longest, tattered like Grecian isles,
a screen, threads gently departing one from another,
the years it recalls, also faded, emptied,

the characters you’ve played, all victory and debacle,
the strength to bend this world to you—all is husk.
Your flesh, your proof, your precious dust—all go.

Let them go, let them be, or not be. The husk gives way.
The miracle, that most is, is in the seed.
You are the growing child within your aging womb,

the love your flesh inhabits, unfolding, unending,
renewing, chrysalis after chrysalis, your tender Lover
working every wound and find and step into a gift.

This is who you are, the river, not the bank,
the flowing, heaven’s breathing, new, and new,
and every moment singing, “Let there be light.”

   —June 5, 2018

 

Prayer for an end

Unfailing heart,

walk with me
on this path not made yet.

Make as you do
of this darkness
evening and morning,
a day.

Let this end
unfold
as you yourself become

and with me
rise anew.

   —June 4, 2018

 

The light, not the jar

         We do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ…
         It is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”
         who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge
         of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
         But we have this treasure in clay jars,
         so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power
         belongs to God and does not come from us.
         We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed….
                  —2 Corinthians 4.5-8

Here is the secret to happiness:
you are not the jar.
You are the light.

The jar cracks and breaks.
The light spills out.
Nothing can hurt the light.

Breath prayer:

Godly ∙ ray

June 1, 2018