What you can do

When injustice strides so easily,
when evil reigns
and you feel there’s little you can do,
remember we are all one.
You are part of the Great Oneness
—some call it the Body of Christ—
and what you do affects the whole.
You can choose goodness.
When you change your life you change the world.

An immense grace hums beneath
the noise of this world.
When you live in harmony with it,
you intensify the great music of life
that renews the earth.

You are a voice in the chorus,
a string on the Beloved’s guitar;
when you change your note
you change the whole chord.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Categorized as Reflections

A prayer for those in danger

God of mercy, by whose grace
in all who suffer is Christ crucified,
we pray for those in danger today,
for all who know oppression, injustice or fear,
whose land is invaded,
or whose home is unsafe.
Be with them and shelter them in your love;
give them courage and hope;
enfold them in your grace.
Touch their wounds; heal their trauma.
May the strength of the earth be theirs,
the freedom of the sky, the peace of the trees.
We bear in our hearts all who are afraid.
May they bear our love in theirs, for we are one.
In the unity of your Holy Spirit
you hold us together as one humanity,
one world, one body, one hope.
May your Peace change the hearts
of those who misuse power.
May the Peace of Christ
be with us all.
Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Categorized as Reflections

Listen to him

            Then from the cloud came a voice that said,
           “This is my Beloved, my Chosen; listen to him!”
                           —Luke 9.35

Set aside what you believe. Listen to him.
What is he saying to you,
in this moment?
Let go of what you think:
what do you hear?
Become a calm meadow
and wait for the breeze of God
to whisper.
Wait for a small bird
to settle and sing.

Reading the texts,
saying your prayers,
silence your thoughts.
Shut out the preacher,
listen for a fainter voice,
from so deep within it’s from beyond,
purer than words,
the voice that wants you,
loves you,
creates you.

The voice may surprise you,
contradict or confuse,
but it will shine with light
from beyond all death.
Listen for the voice
that calls you from your tomb
into the light.

The breeze stirs,
the small trees bend.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Categorized as Reflections

In it

           Peter said to Jesus,
           “Master, it is good for us to be here;
           let us make three dwellings,
           one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”
           —not knowing what he said.
                           —Luke 9.33

Set down the camera.
You can’t capture the moment.
You can only be in it.

This world, yes, this one,
with the bloody wood on the horizon,
is a wonder of beauty and delight. Be in it.

To watch the elegant heron fly
you must let it fly.
Allow, and behold.

This heaven-spangled world,
riddled with the divine,
is always a beginning

which you are always leaving
without staying,
but ever in.

Waken now. Look. Listen.
This wonder,
be in it.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Categorized as Reflections


           Suddenly they saw two men,
           Moses and Elijah, talking to him.
           They appeared in glory
           and were speaking of his departure,
           which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.

                           —Luke 9.30-31

The Transfiguration is a resurrection appearance.
Jesus, having given himself to death,
appears already in resurrection light
as he turns his face toward the cross,
toward his “departure”—
which in the Greek text is “exodus.”

Yes, resurrection is a departure.
As Moses leads his people out of Egypt
Jesus leads us out of lives we know
into the unknown. We sometimes look back.

The bad feelings are easily surrendered,
the habits more wrenching to give up,
but the part of yourself you thought was you,
the self of yourself abandoned to God,
that is the sorrowful departure
at the dark heart of exodus,
the shadow hidden in the light of resurrection.

If you plan to be raised from the dead,
plan to say goodbye,
to feel the hand slip from your hand,
to walk into darkness with only this Light,
to waken among strangers who don’t recognize you,
you who have departed
and become someone new.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Categorized as Reflections

Jesus my sun

           While he was praying,
           the appearance of his face changed,
           and his clothes became dazzling white.
                           —Luke 9.29

Jesus, my sun,
let me see in your light.

Take me into your prayer,
into your heart, shining.

Radiance that was and that is to be,
surround me in your present.

Already risen as you face your death,
be my courage.

Light of Love, show my way,
sun that never dies.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Categorized as Reflections

The light does not insist

Even on the darkest winter days
light reaches in,
gently entering my dimmest rooms:
neither hesitant nor brash,
simply offering itself
with no mind to all that is opaque,
all that distorts,
transfiguring the room.
and the air in the room.

I reach in toward that gentle light,
not anxious or forceful, that calmly glows
and changes everything.

Categorized as Reflections


“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.

Categorized as Reflections

A Foot-washing Liturgy

Click here to download a .doc file of this liturgy.

A Foot Washing Liturgy (Eucharist optional)

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.
Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”

—John 13.34

Leader: Christ, our teacher and our healer,
you call us to your table, to celebrate our freedom in God.
All: We come, drawn by your Word.
Christ, our savior and our Sovereign,
you call us to be close to you in prayer.
We come, drawn by your Spirit.
Christ, our servant and our victim,
you call us to follow you in humility.
We come, drawn by your love. Amen.


OLD TESTAMENT — Isaiah 42.1-4

Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
       my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my spirit within you;
       you are to bring forth justice to the nations.
Do not cry or lift up your voice,
       or make it heard in the street;
Gently, so as not to break a bruised reed
       or quench a faint candle,
       faithfully bring forth true justice.
You will not grow faint or be crushed
       until you have established justice in the earth;
       and far lands wait for your teaching.


Gentle Christ, in humble service you renounce power, comfort and status.
We surrender our fear, and open our hearts to your grace.
You do not cry out; you will not quench even a dimly burning wick.
We confess our anger, despair and violence,
and our distrust of the power of love.
We confess our envy and judgment, our thirst to dominate and control.
You call us to be light for the nations,
to open blind eyes and release imprisoned souls.
May your compassion flow through us to all living beings.
We pray for all whom we think are beneath us.
We pray for all those whom we have judged or wounded.
Gentle Christ, you establish justice in all the earth.
Grant us your spirit of nonviolence, justice and mercy. Amen.


NEW TESTAMENT — 1 Corinthians 1.18-31

Suffering Christ, you humble yourself to death,
even to the shame and pain and injustice of the cross.
We confess that we hurt others, seeking our own security.
We pray for all who suffer, who are ashamed,
who are accused, for they are the Lamb of God.
You lovingly serve even those who harm you.
Grant us your spirit of humble servanthood.
Your tender love is more powerful than all our evil.
Grant us your spirit of self-emptying love. Amen.





SCRIPTURE — John 3. 1-17

Loving Christ,
in our sin you wash us clean; in our grief you bless us,
in our shame you honor us, in our weariness you restore us.
We confess our resistance to your grace.
Wash the feet of our hearts, that we may wholly belong to you.
You pour out your Spirit upon us, and make us your brimming vessels.
Anoint our spirits, that we may find joy in serving you.
Grant us your spirit of love, O God, your life-giving spirit of love.



SCRIPTURE — John 13.34-35

PSALM (Psalm 141, paraphrased)
Holy One, you who are always present for me, I call to you.
Hear the cry of my heart — oh hear!
My prayer rises like incense before you,
my hands I raise as my evening sacrifice.
Beloved, keep watch over my mouth;
stand guard at the door of my lips.
Keep me from evil thoughts,
from joining in other people’s anger.
Help me stay free from joining them in accusing;
may I never seek comfort in belonging with them.
Let righteous people strike me,
let the faithful condemn me,
but may the wicked never anoint me with the acid of their praise:
for every day I pray blessing in defiance of their evil.
When with the stones they would throw they are wounded,
then they will see how gentle my way has been.
The whole warring world is divided and split:
our bones lie at the edge of hell.
So we turn to you, O Loving One:
You are our healing, and our only hope.
Keep me out of the trap of blaming and judging,
the pit of evil so easy to fall into.
Let the violent be entangled in their own nets,
while I go freely on a different way.




A Maundy Thursday Service (#4): Anointing

Click here to download a doc. file of this service.

Maundy Thursday Worship: A Service of Anointing

———— The Miracle ————



Leader: As children of God our Creator we come together.
All: Upon the invitation of Christ we gather at this table.
In the power of the Holy Spirit we who have been served by love
are led to serve in love.
Holy One, Holy Three, bless us this night with your love;
anoint us with your grace, that your joy may be in us,
and our joy may be complete.


SCRIPTURE — John 11.17-27, 43-44*

John 12.1
Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany,
the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.

SCRIPTURE — Romans 6.1-11

All of our failure, O Christ, you bear,
you bear with love to the cross.
All of our losses, O Christ, you bear,
you bear with love to the cross.
Our world-weary clinging we surrender to you.
Our old lives we commit to you.
We die in you, O Christ;
raise us from our death.
Call us, with Lazarus, to new life.
Raise us with you, O Christ.





———— The meal ————

John 12.2
There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served,
and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him.

SCRIPTURE — Mark 14.22-25

God of love, we hunger for your love.
In this meal we are fed by your promise to be with us in love.
You set us free, and bless us, body and soul.
You make of us one flesh, the Body of Christ for the world.
Fill us with your Spirit, that we may live by the mystery of our faith:
Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.


Pour out your Holy Spirit on these gifts of bread and cup,
that they may be for us the body and blood of Christ.
Pour out your Spirit on us,
that we may be for the world the Body of Christ,
baptized into his death and raised with him by your glory.


———— The anointing ————

John 12.3
Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard,
anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair.
The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

SCRIPTURE — John 13.3-11

O Christ, you bear the suffering of the world.
Help us join you in compassion.
You died in loving service to even the lowest among us.
Give us the faith to serve you humbly.
As you took the lowest place,
help us find our place of service.

Anoint us with the oil of your gladness.
Anoint us with the oil of healing.
Anoint us with your Spirit, who calls us to serve.
May we receive and share the love of Christ.


[You may receive anointing of your head, hands or feet. (For anointing feet, if you keep your shoes on, a few drops of water will be used.) You may remain to anoint another. Pray for those who come forward to be anointed.]SONG

——— The charge ———

John 12.4-8
Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said,
“Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii
and the money given to the poor?”

Jesus said, “Leave her alone.
She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial.
You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me

SCRIPTURE — John 13.12-17, 34-35

Creator God, you make us new each moment, raising us to new life.
Loving Christ, you have given yourself to us.
Holy Spirit, you have anointed us with your power and your grace.
In humility and gratitude may we go into the world
to love and to serve, in the spirit and the company of Jesus.




* Recent scholarship has revealed that “Martha” is a character invented and inserted into the original text in the 2nd or 3rd Century. In John’s original gospel it was Mary Magdalene who proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah, as well as the one who first witnessed the risen Christ and proclaimed the Resurrection.

By the 2nd Century male church leaders sough to downplay Mary’s significance in relation to Peter by taking the the Messianic proclamation away from her and giving it to an invented character, Martha, likely lifted from Luke’s story of a Mary who has a sister Martha. In light of this, I read the passage according to John’s original story:

          When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.”
            … Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. … He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”


Suggested Songs

At Your Feet (original Song)

Jesus, at your feet I bow.
I am yours completely now.
By your mercy show me how
to be loving.

Jesus, Master, you who save,
you have served me as a slave.
This, the perfect gift you gave:
to be loving.

In each hurting one I meet
it is you, O Christ, I greet.
Make my faithfulness complete,
to be loving.

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