Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         

Violence never changes the world. It only adds to the wounds. Only nonviolence will heal us. Nonviolence is not passivity; it is more than “not fighting.” It is the transformative act of bringing the power of compassion to bear upon the world. It requires of us the courage to risk suffering, and the love to care for those who oppose us.

It begins with the transformation of our own hearts. We confront ourselves in humble self-honesty, confess our own violence, and ask the God of Peace to remove from us our anger, fear, greed, and the willingness to hurt and dehumanize others for our own gain. We experience our own forgiveness by the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Forgiven of our own faults and injustices, we remain aware of our own sin. We see ourselves as part of a unified whole of humanity, not a separate individual. We are able to love others as ourselves: mindful of our common failings and frailties and that we are all equally flawed and forgiven, God’s Beloved. We then can act for the sake of justice without judgment toward persons, without bitterness or blame, but with clear hearts loving even our enemies. Ultimately it is not our actions but the love with which we carry out those actions that accomplishes powerful things and changes the world.

Many will laugh and say that simply being kind in the face of great evil will not change the world. But think of it: who changed the world, Jesus or Pilate? The British colonialists or Gandhi? The sheriff with the dogs, or Martin Luther King, Jr? Nonviolence is the only power capable of changing the world. Let it begin in your own heart.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

______________________
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

After a big snow

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         

Sometimes prayer is simply this:
the city hushed, the highway slowed
and now of no concern,
walking knee-deep in woods
and out into the meadow,
along a narrow way
through this sky made flesh,
each step an exploration, a baptism,
giving time to wonder,
attending to the effort,
letting this re-creation of the earth
occur within as well,
the little tufts that top the snow
bowing patiently and asking,
“What’s the hurry?”
and knowing there is none,
there is none.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

______________________
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

What are you loking for?

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         

John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?”
         — John 1.35-38

What are you looking for?
The hunger that spends you?
The clearing where you will
set down your burden and say,
“This is the place?”
What are your eyes open for?

All the little cravings and distractions
are really trying to lead you there,
the wants, even the dreads.
Deeper than those, what is it?
Compassion, maybe? Wakefulness?

Sometimes the noblest journey is simply
looking for what it is we’re looking for.

Trust this.
The migrating bird knows the way.
High on the mountain,
the little brooks turns this way
and that.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

______________________
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

The Lamb of God

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
John saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

         —John 1.29

We deplore the recent shootings, but in fact we all have the same murderous instinct: we want to outsource our pain. When we’re mad we yell at someone. It just feels right. When we’re troubled, we believe deep down that our troubles will be resolved if we can give our suffering to somebody else. It’s why shooters rampage, and it’s why we insult people who make us mad. It’s why we execute criminals, wage wars, hate minorities, blame our opponents, punish wrongdoers, break dishes and scold our children. It’s all the same violent gesture. It’s all scapegoating. (We make some distinctions, but Jesus would have none of that. “You’ve heard it said, ‘You shall not kill.’ But I say if you are angry you are liable to judgment.”)

We suppose that only more suffering will relieve us of our suffering. But shooters never solve problems, do they? Yelling never heals anything. Scapegoats never actually take away our sin. No matter how clinically it’s applied, anger, violence, blame, judgment, punishment, retribution or prejudice never relieves us of our pain; it just adds to it.

No, it’s not suffering that saves us— not ours, not our enemy’s, not our scapegoat’s, our sacrificial lamb’s, or even Christ’s on the cross—it’s forgiveness. God forgives us: this is the only way we are saved. It’s God who takes away the sin of the world; God’s Lamb is the nonviolent one who forgives because it is God’s will. Such a one will surely become a victim; but it’s the forgiving, not the suffering, that takes away our sin.

To follow the Lamb of God is to join in companionship with the Loving One, to live gently in a violent world, to allow Christ’s spirit of peace and compassion to flood our hearts. It is neither to be a judge nor a doormat, but to grant compassion to all, even—especially—to those whose fear leads them to violence.

Behold, the Forgiving One of God, who takes away the sin of the world. Come, let us follow.
         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

______________________
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

A simple prayer

         
         

Holy One,
you who breathe in me,
may I be simple this day,
as the world juggles
its complications around me:
not straining to match its frenzy
or catch its anxiety,
but simply being present in you,
listening for your Word,
enjoying your presence,
beholding,
being—
a stone in a river,
a word in a poem,
a child in it’s mother’s arms.

Even in my most earnest activities today,
may I simply Be, in you.

Amen.

         
         

______________________
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

Frontwards

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         

Thank God Eden is guarded
by an angel with a flaming sword.
Since the beginning of consciousness
it seems we’ve been trying to go back
and get that first day right
all over again, re-doing it, correcting
something so compellingly wrong,
all of us, like crusaders swarming a wall,
over and over again,
walking desperately backwards,

until the day we give it up for lost
and turn around
and live frontwards
for a little bit.

.

.
____________________
Weather Report

Today’s,
continuing moment by moment;
as winds out of the now
prevent the previous
from condensing into anything.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

______________________
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

The baptism of our Lord

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

Wade in. Over your head.
“Go out into deeper waters.”
The river of the water of life
flowing from the throne.
“Fill the jugs with water.”
The heavens torn open.
“The water I give you will become
a spring in you gushing up
with infinite life.”
Baptize me in this, Jesus.

“Lord, don’t you care that
we’re about to drown?”
“Peace, be still.”
Then wash my hands and head, also.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit
and with fire.
Jesus wept.
A rickety little ark on a great, wide sea.
Baptize me in this, Jesus.

When all was dark and chaos,
the Spirit brooded over the waters.
“She has bathed my feet with her tears.”
You who were baptized into Christ
were baptized into his death.
“Pick me up and throw me into the sea,
then the sea will quiet down for you.”
Deep calls to deep at the thunder of thy cataracts.
Baptize me in this, Jesus.

They went into the sea, the waters
a wall for them on their right and on their left.
My beloved, in whom I am pleased.
I am poured out like water.
“Whoever gives a little one a cup of water…”
You must be born over and over from above.
Let justice roll down like waters
and righteousness like an everflowing stream.
Baptize me in you, Jesus.

Deep Blessings,

Pastor Steve

______________________

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes

Unfolding Light

www.unfoldinglight.net

An Epiphany blessing

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         

Child, come to me.
Leave your tower and draw near.
Seek me, and I will disclose myself to you.

My stars that led magi watch over you.
Stars of night sing of beauty.
Stars hidden in daylight continue to pray for you.

Beloved, my light shines not from afar
but from within.
Close your eyes and see.

It hides in your darkness,
the trustworthy luminosity
of the unknown, the unseen.

My radiance bless the dark;
my presence dawn in your night;
my love glow in your eyes.

I wait in the shadows,
I long for you, among the poor,
in your doubts, in your deaths.

Once I revealed myself to the world;
now I reveal the world to you,
that you may reveal me in yourself.

This be your Epiphany: that I dwell here,
yes, here. Open your eyes and see
the child smiling in his mother’s lap,

the star gleaming in the world,
the treasures laid at your feet,
the rose unfolding in your heart.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

______________________
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

Twelfth day of Christmas

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         

Twelfth day of Christmas
too long, too late
for any but those
committed unlike others,
devoted to something counter
to all that out there:
in no hurry,
impervious to expectation,
to quick fix, instant on,
no drive-by incarnation:
a rhythm from otherwise,
a stream from elsewhere
within, a blessing
that takes more days
to take in
than most will surrender,
infinite heaven on earth,
a dwelling among us
(most of us uncomprehending)
that gestates slowly,
emerges only in fullness of time,
unfolds leisurely,
a faith that gives us,
God within us, permission
         to sit here
                  and ripen.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

______________________
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

Wonder

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         
         
Have you been saved by being told
to believe, and what, and how?
What we need is not
to believe what we haven’t seen
but to see what we have.

Enough of shadowed pulpits,
enough of having to believe.
Let star-led magi instead
teach you to wonder—
to see with the eyes of your heart
what is before you, shining;
to look for grace and beauty,
and expect holiness;
to see this world as wrapping paper
with a divine gift within;
to seek the holy child,
the radiant Presence,
the Indwelling One,
in every moment.
You don’t need a once-in-a-lifetime star:
any one will do.
Travel this wonder-spanlged world
with a heart open to glory,
open to heaven on earth,
open to God among us.
Don’t be surprised how many times
you fall on your knees and worship,
and open gifts from your treasure chest.
Could the very next moment
be the one of epiphany, of revelation?
I wonder.

         
         
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

______________________
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net