Risen today

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.

Christ is risen.
Right now.
Resurrection is about today,
not the day of your funeral.
Live today as if you know that
even if you die God will grant greater life,
that even if you give away all of yourself
God will create you anew,
that if you surrender yourself to a greater love
that will be miracle enough.
Live this day believing
that even in defeat and loss and failure
God creates unprecedented victory.
Live today knowing that when all seems hopeless
God transforms things.

Listen: When you sow seeds
God does not give them back,
but breaks them apart, pulls their insides out,
and turns them into beautiful plants.
(Taken… blessed… broken… given…)

Live today ready to be sown.
Live as if Christ is risen
in you.
Let your life—each moment of letting go,
each act of love, each breath—
be resurrection.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

_______________________________
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
unfoldinglight(at)hotmail.com

Christ is risen

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.

Christ is risen.
Don’t debate it, or try to prove it or understand it.
That’s like trying to prove that the moon is lovely.
Just let it be true.
Give up, and let it be.
Don’t try to guess (which is all we could do)
what kind of body, what sort of process.
Just let the sun rise.
Let God have the way of love and life.
Let goodness overpower evil,
love drive out fear, life defeat death.
Christ is risen.
Don’t try to make it into a theory;
let it be a mystery.
Let it haunt you, let it startle you,
let it push you out of bed in the morning,
let it draw you into love.
Christ is risen.
Let Christ rise in you.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

_______________________________

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
unfoldinglight(at)hotmail.com

Father, forgive

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.


“Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”

— Luke 23.34

God receives our fear and violence and betrayal and all that is in us that works against life; God receives it and does not return it. No one pays for this sin, no one atones. There is no exchange. God suffers, and is not avenged or compensated. God simply, willingly, completely forgives us. This is the grace that sustains our lives.

God inhabits our pain. The Eternal One endures our suffering. The Creator knows our fear and isolation. The Holy One lives inside our sin. God experiences our cruelty and inhumanity, our injustice and oppression. God embraces our sorrow, and is laid in our tomb. The cross is not the working out of some complex plan, nor is it a unique occasion. It simply God’s presence with us and for us, loving, blessing, forgiving. It is God’s way. This is the grace that sustains our lives.

Let this day be one of awe and reverence, humility and gratitude.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

_______________________________

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
unfoldinglight(at)hotmail.com

Jesus, remember me

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.

The criminal crucified with him said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
—Luke 23.42-43

Jesus, this is all I need to hear:
at the center of my ruined world,
whispered in the ashen wreckage,
this gentle promise, that I,
condemned and guilty,
afraid and mangled, belong.
Not a mere pronouncement,
not an achievable goal,
but an already gift,
a claiming, a receiving.
Into your mystery
that defeats pain and shame
you take me.
In my brokenness
you bless me.
In the certainty of my despair
you break me.
To your kingdom
you give me.
When everything had seemed meaningless—
O!—my failures mean nothing to you.
Here in my abandonment
you are present,
here in my hell is Paradise,
here in the heart of my oblivion
I am saved.

O Re-Creator, somehow in your bloodied hands
my life is a fine thing,
and its wings shine calmly.

I am honored to be a citizen
of your kingdom of gentleness.
May this ever be my prayer:
Jesus, remember me
when you come into your kingdom.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

_______________________________
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
unfoldinglight(at)hotmail.com

Watch Jesus

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and peace to you.


One of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him.

— Luke 22.50-51

The church has theologized the heck out of the story of Jesus’ passion. When the doctrinal bricklayers get hold of it, it becomes little more than a monument, an audiovisual aid for a theological statement. But listen. It’s a story.

If you want you can read it as a story about the working out of God’s “plan.” But violence and injustice are not a part of God’s plan. Face it: that’s more like our plan. This is a story about our cruelty; about oppression and injustice, and the evil of military, political, economic and even religious coercion; about how individual evil lodges in social structures. It’s a story about death squads and hate speech, about Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, about Oscar Romero and Martin Luther King, Jr.; about inciting angry mobs (yes, even these); about the demonic nature of capital punishment.

It’s story about fear. Everybody is scheming, or dealing in lies and threats and death, or fluttering into a panic with swords and defensive strategies, or posturing with false courage, or else in deep denial, arguing over who’s the greatest.

But mostly this is a story about a person. Throughout the story, watch Jesus. Keep your eyes on him. In every scene, at every turn, every opportunity, what is he doing? He’s just loving people. He gathers to eat with his beloved, and he gives himself to them. He washes their feet and prays with them. When Peter brazenly promises to stand by him, Jesus knows better, but he gently draws Peter back in, and gives him a way to go on, even before he fails. When they arrest him and violence breaks out, he stops it, and heals the very one who has come to arrest him. Even as he is crucified he provides for the care of his family and his community; he extends his love to the criminals executed with him, and blesses the people who kill him. It’s all about his undying love.

We’re easily distracted by the swords and tunics, the blood and violence. But watch Jesus. Watch his love at work, reaching out to the lost and shattered, reaching out even to you. In the end, despite all the tragedy, what this is, is a love story. And it’s about you.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

_______________________________

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
unfoldinglight(at)hotmail.com

Your will be done

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.

“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.”
— Luke 22.42

God, you know better than I the troubles I hope to avoid.
I want to pray for safety, for comfort and security.
I want to pray for things to go my way,
for my life to be easy and pleasant.
But your Spirit in me will not pray for that.
Your delight for me is not in my circumstances, but in my soul.
Your will is neither that I suffer nor escape suffering, but that I love.

Your presence in me draws me toward you, into your blessing,
into your bottomless love and forgiveness.
In your compassion I am not afraid to go with you
into the dark places, the hurting places.
In your healing I do not resist entering the wounds of the world.
In your presence I need no other security.
I don’t ask to be delivered from suffering,
but to be delivered into your hands.
I don’t ask for things to go my way.
I ask that I may go your way.
I pray that your will be done, not to me, but by me.
I pray that I may trust you deeply,
and receive your blessings freely,
and that in that grace I may be loving,

now and always.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

_______________________________

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
unfoldinglight(at)hotmail.com

Passover

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.

From slavery in the Egypt of our sin,
slavery to what we have to do,
you free us.

You do do not send plagues but suffer them,
the death of your firstborn,
the loss of your every Beloved.

There is no sacrificial lamb
that is not you, no one made to suffer
who is not Christ crucified.

No blood is shed that is not yours,
sacrilege and tragedy,
surrendered.

There is no pain or violation
that is not yours, defiling
and yet forgiven.

No sin is paid for, but is absorbed,
suffered, and every sacrifice
compounds it.

We always think it right
to slaughter the innocent,
to require you to require absolution,

murderers disguised as supplicants,
lost to the power of our violence,
robbed of ourselves.

Centurions, we stand bloodied
over the steaming carcass and stammer,
“Oh, my God.”

Your uncomplaining blood frees us
from the tyranny of having to pass
our anguish on to others.

The angel of death, the demon
who would have us to end us,
passes over.

Through the Red Sea of your tears
we go with your blessing,
where only the forgiven pass.

Holy One, Lord of Tenderness,
slaughtered and ever beseeching,
spare us from our deathfulness.

Forgiving One,
unreturning our violence,
set us free.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

_______________________________

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
unfoldinglight(at)hotmail.com

Hosanna

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.

So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord— the King of Israel!”
— John 12.13

Hosanna, “Save us!”

Save us, God, from all our shiny false gods
who take from us our honesty
and give us a drugged heaven of complacency.
Save us from our successful saviors
who protect us from reality,
our mighty armies that defend us from each other
at the cost of our souls.
Save us from our fear of being ourselves,
our fear of the Nothing of which are created
our fear of death, as if it could
take us from ourselves, or from you.
Save us from all the junk that we cling to,
that rusts even as we clutch it to our chests,
that sinks even as we hold it to stay afloat.
Save us from the selfishness that we justify.
Save us from trying to be saved instead of spent.
Save us from our despair, our resentments,
our poisonous replacements for compassion.
From the fear that we breathe
and the prayers that we lob at one another,
from the distractions that wrench us from this life,
save us.
From the lives we try to construct of our own desires,
save us.
From the habits and attachments and addictions
that run our lives into the ditch every time—
and yet we follow them as slaves—
save us.
By your mighty love, your wrenching truth,
your re-orienting forgiveness, your grace
that takes us and blesses us and breaks us and gives us,
that delivers us into the Heaven of this world,
that bears us into the infinite, eternal life of this moment,
that resurrects us always into your presence,
your love, your delight,
save us.
Hosanna. Hosanna in the highest.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

_______________________________

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
unfoldinglight@hotmail.com

Full circle

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.

“You will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
— Luke 1. 31-33

As we approach Holy Week we stumble upon one of those quirks of a literalistic interpretation of scripture: today, March 25, is exactly nine months before December 25, and therefore celebrated in the Roman tradition as the day of the Annunciation, when Gabriel announced the coming of the miraculous child to Mary. Never mind that the Bible says nothing of when Jesus was born; let’s take it as it is.

This week Jesus’ life comes full circle, and we see the fulfillment of Gabriel’s promise: not that Jesus came to die, but that he came to love. Now we see Jesus on the cross, his throne, reigning in love, his compassion supreme over all forces, even the greatest powers of evil and violence, even the power of death itself. None of these puny forces can stand up to his gentleness; even the most crushing blows evil can think of do not budge Jesus in the least, or begin to dent his tender forgiveness. It’s as if Caesar is trying to stomp on a little flower, and it won’t even bend. Love is invincible. Christ’s forgiveness is absolute. He reigns forever, and of his realm of healing, forgiveness and grace there will be no end.

As you stand here and contemplate the cross, under the reign of the Son of the Most High, I wonder if the promise comes full circle again? I wonder if I hear the voice of Gabriel. Is such sovereign compassion conceived in you today?

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

_______________________________
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
unfoldinglight(at)hotmail.com

The peace of Christ

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.

As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes”
— Luke 19. 41-42

Peace is not mere quietude; it’s harmony. What makes for peace is not an ideology or a political strategy or any formula. It is active engagement in relationships marked by compassion, respect, nonviolence and justice. It requires self-sacrifice and the willingness to reconcile and connect across perceived “otherness.” It requires the desire to live in harmony with one another and care for each other’s well being. It requires us to honor others, no matter how different they may be. It requires us to be vulnerable, and when we receive ill treatment or even violence it means we do not return it. It requires forgiveness. In other words what makes for peace is love.

It’s not an idea, but a way of relating. And the only way to know it is to experience it. To recognize the things that make for peace we have to receive peace. We have to experience the deep harmony, grace and connectedness in which God sustains our lives, so that we can live in that peace with others. So we come to Jesus’ cross and behold the peace of Christ. In Jesus’ peace, in his forgiveness and unfailing love and steadfast nonviolence we see how God loves and heals and forgives and frees us, how God gives of herself for the sake of reconciliation, how God suffers our violence and injustice and does not return it or retaliate. In the cross we see that nothing can deter God from living in harmony with us. And we see how inviolable our souls are, how it is God and not our own efforts that secures our life, so that we can have courage to risk for the sake of healing, justice and reconciliation, so that we can take up our cross for others.

Come to the cross, to the place of our deepest anguish, and find God there, granting peace. The peace of Christ be with you.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

_______________________________

Copyright (c) Steve Garnaas-Holmes
unfoldinglight(at)hotmail.com