Great family

           There was a rich man …
           and at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus…
                           —Luke 16.19, 20



“Father Abraham…”
“Child, remember…”
“Send him to my brothers…”
Jesus tells a story laced with the language of family.
To have invited Lazarus in
would have been to treat him as family.
But the rich man has chosen a smaller family.
And Lazarus belongs to the whole family of Abraham.

When we care for the poor, when bring them to our table,
we enlarge our family to include heaven.
When we close them out, it is we ourselves
who are imprisoned beyond a great chasm
by our own small hearts.
How great a family do you want to belong to?

_________________
Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

Morning glories

On the porch the morning glory vines
want to wander off into the eaves
and get lost in the darkness behind the slats.
Every morning I get out the ladder and train them
up the post, and along the string across the lintel,
gently re-routing the tendrils that have gone astray.
You learn not to resist the way
God gently bends your vines
to bring your beauty into a good place.

__________________
Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

Hope

           Faith is the assurance of things hoped for,
           the conviction of things not seen.

                           —Hebrews 11.1

Hope is not optimism, not wishing,
not a bet on the future,
but trust in what is already present, unseen.
I hope in the sunrise because the earth is already turning.
My faith is not that God will intervene
and make things better or fix problems;
my faith is that love is at work.
I trust in hidden love even as injustice runs loose.
I believe in our Oneness even as war and racism wound us.
I know our Belovedness even as we assault each other.
Even though we damage the earth,
though the violent rage and the rich oppress the poor,
still this world is born of Goodness,
and grace flourishes even in bad places,
and Love holds us in aching but untiring arms.
Even when the way is not well lit, I live in hope.

__________________
Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

Vacation

I’m taking a break for some family time… I’ll be back in mid-July.

Call it vacation:
vacating, leaving the premises,
or perhaps becoming vacant:
empty, open,
passionate—as in passive,
receptive,
ready.
Here I come!
So I’m not leaving,
I’m being present.

See you in July.

Nest

           “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests;
           but the Human One has nowhere to lay their head.”

                           —Luke 9.58

Maybe Jesus is not merely lamenting the life of an itinerant teacher.
He’s just been rejected by a whole village of people.
Maybe it’s not just about a place to sleep,
but a place to belong.
To carry your cross is to bear rejection,
to trust your home is on a plane, in a place,
greater than human society.
Follow, and let the Beloved hold you.

Then again, maybe Jesus was talking about himself.
This world does not readily offer a place
for the Beloved to rest, at peace.

Holy Mystery,
foxes have dens, birds have nests,
but the Beloved has no place to rest,
but in my heart.
I will be a nest for your Anointed One,
a safe place for the Beloved.

__________________
Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

Juneteenth

The news is getting through
that we are free.
Some of us have not yet been told.
Some of us are not yet free.
Others are still coming free
of our unfreedom.
Part of us is not free
till all of us is free.
Keep telling,
Keep getting free.

__________________
Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

The Lord’s Prayer- Ten Paraphrases

Click here to find this in a downloadable (.doc) document.

#1    Your Empire

O Life-Giver at the heart of all Being,
holy is your presence.
May your Empire of grace replace our own,
and your delight be fulfilled,
as this world becomes heaven.
Give us our sustenance, one breath at a time,
and make us completely forgiving of ourselves and others.
Save us from the weakness of our will,
and deliver us from the power of evil.
For all Being is yours; all power is yours; all glory is yours,
in this moment,
in eternity. Amen.


# 2      Creation’s splendor

Our Mother, our Father, giver of life,
Holiness of Presence;
may our hearts always bow to you.
Your Realm break forth,
your delight blossom among us,
making this earth your heaven.
Give us each moment our life, our breath.
Free us from being judged,
as we free others from our judgments.
Guide us safely past our desires and attachments,
and rescue us from the power of evil.
For the world is yours;
the only real power is yours;
Creation’s splendor is yours,
in this present moment
and in eternity. Amen.



#3       Holy Place

O Divine Parent, Giver of Life,
whose presence is holiness,
may our hearts be in you.
Transform the world
according to your delight,
that all earth may become a holy place.
Give us each moment that moment’s breath.
Give us your gift of forgiveness,
that receiving it deeply we may give it freely.
Transform our desires,
and free us from evil powers;
for all creation, and all power, and all beauty
are yours, now and forever. Amen.


# 4       Center and Source

Beloved, Center and Source of our living,
whose presence is heaven,
your holy love fills Creation.
May your delight be fulfilled
and your Realm unfold among us,
the visible world blossoming out of the unseen.
We turn to you alone for our sustenance,
the bread of life each day.
Set us free from our failings,
as we set free all who have failed us
Lead us beyond our desires
and save us from the grip of evil.
For the world is within you;
all power is from you,
and all glory is about you,
in eternity, which is in the present moment.
Amen.

#5        One day’s bread

Our Mother and Father in heaven,
holy be your name.
Impose your Reign,
that we may do your will, on earth as in heaven.
Give us today this one day’s bread.
Forgive our wrongs
as we forgive those who do wrong against us.
Save us from our temptations
and keep us from doing evil.
For the Realm, the power,
and the glory are yours,
now and forever. Amen.



#6        Community of grace

Giver of all life, whose presence is holy,
may you come first in our hearts.
May all Creation become your community of grace,
and your desire be fulfilled throughout the earth,
as it is in your own heart.
Sustain us with the breath of life moment by moment.
Forgive us, and give us the gift of forgiveness.
Lead us past our temptations,
and save us from the power of the evil that would ensnare us.
For all that is, and all power, and all glory, come from you,
now and forever. Amen.


#7        Holy!

O Infinite, Intimate One, Source of our being,
whose presence is heaven,
all Creation sings of you, “Holy!”
May your Realm unfold among us;
May our only story be the story of your grace,
this world blossoming out of your delight.
Give us the breath of life, one breath at a time.
Accept our brokenness;
give us acceptance of others who are broken.
Lead us beyond our desires
and save us from cooperating with evil.
For the world is within you;
all power is from you,
and all glory is about you,
in eternity, which is in the present moment. Amen.


# 8 Mother-Womb, Father-Shoulders

O Mother-womb, O Father-shoulders
at the heart of all Being,
holy is your presence.
May your rule of grace replace all powers,
your delight be fulfilled,
and all Creation become all that you hope for us.
Help us receive the grace of the present moment
as you unfold it before us.
As you completely love us and forgive us,
grant us love and forgiveness for others.
Protect us from the allure of our twisted desires,
and rescue us from the power of our selfishness.
For all Being is yours; all power is yours; all glory is yours,
in this moment,
in eternity. Amen.


#9       Your story

Our Mother, Our Father,
author of all life,
holy is your presence.
May your story replace our own,
the story of this world
become the story of the unfolding of heaven.
Give us this moment, moment by moment.
Forgive us completely,
and make us completely forgiving of ourselves and others.
Save us from the weakness of our will,
and keep us from doing injustice.
For all Being is yours; all power is yours; all glory is yours,
in this moment, in eternity. Amen



#10 Mommy

Oh, Holy Mommy, Mommy,
Unimaginable but Here,
may our hearts revere you,
our lives name you who are Unnameable.
Your delight—unfold!
This world—be as you intend!
You are our life in this breath… and this one, and this one.
You who cancel our debts, real and imagined,
help us let go of everyone’s:
no one owes anyone anything. It’s all a gift.
Steer us past our desires and attachments;
save us from our selfishness.
Beloved, you are the only power;
you are the whole world;
you are the beauty of everything.
Wow.
Amen.

A path to yourself

When your path diverges, wonder this:
which way leads to myself?

Is my name on this path or someone else’s,
their expectations, their images?

Does this path lead to my truest, deepest self,
or merely satisfy an anxiety?

On this path would I walk
the way I want to walk?

Can I walk this path with gratitude,
trusting blessing to abound?

Will this path separate me,
or lead me to connect more deeply with all creation?

Can I imagine God unfolding in me
on this path?

The path that invites you to be authentic
is for you. Travel it with confidence.

__________________
Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

OT 24

Lectionary Texts

In Jeremiah 4.11-12, 22-28 God will send a hot, destroying wind because of Israel’s evil. There will be earthquakes and barrenness. Psalm 14 celebrates God’s presence, even though sometimes it seems like God is not really there—especially amidst injustice.
In 1 Timothy 1.12-17 Paul thanks God that God has patiently sought him out even though he is “the foremost” of sinners, affirming that “Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.” In Luke 15.1-10 some Pharisees criticize Jesus for welcoming sinners. He responds with images of God as a woman and a shepherd devotedly seeking something that’s lost, and rejoicing when it is found. God does not exclude us or forget us, but deeply desires us.

Preaching Thoughts

Call to Worship

1. All: Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Loving Christ, we give thanks that you search us out and bring us home.
Rejoice, for the lost is found!
Holy Spirit, keep working in us to reach out for you and for all who are lost.
for in your love we discover one another; we enter our own lives; we meet you at last.
It is your will to seek and to save.
So we worship you. Alleluia


Collect / Prayer of the Day

Prayer of Confession

Readings

Poetry by Steve Garnaas-Holmes

Response / Creed / Affirmation

Listening Prayer

(suitable as a Collect, preparation for hearing scriptures, or invitation to prayer)


Eucharistic Prayer

[The body of the prayer may be read responsively or by the presiding leader(s) alone.]

God is with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your heart.
We lift them up to God.
Let us give thanks to the Holy One, our God.
It is good and beautiful to give God our praise.


     (Sanctus)

Blessed are all who come in your name,
and blessed is Jesus, your Christ,

     (The Blessing and Covenant)
As long as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection, until he comes again.
Therefore, remembering these your mighty acts in Jesus Christ,
we offer ourselves as a living and holy sacrifice,
in union with Christ’s offering for us,
as we proclaim the mystery of our faith:

     (Memorial Acclamation)

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,
(Amen.)

____________
* The Blessing and Covenant
[I usually don’t print the words. I want people to be looking at the bread, not their bulletins.]

On the night in which he gave himself for us
Jesus took bread, blessed it,. broke it, and gave it to his disciples,saying,
“Take and eat; this is my body.”
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup,
blessed it with thanks and gave it to them, saying,
“Drink of this, all of you. This is my blood,
poured out for you and for many, in a new Covenant,
which is the forgiveness of sin.”
As long as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection, until he comes again.


Prayer of Dedication / Sending

Gracious God, we give you these gifts as symbols of our lives. Receive them with love, bless them with grace and use them according to your will. You bless us that in our giving is our receiving; in our searching is our finding; in our living for you we find your purpose for us. God of love, send us out in ministry for the sake of the healing of the world, in the name of Christ. Amen.

Prayer after Communion

God, we thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us.


Suggested Songs

(Click on titles to view, and hear an audio clip, on the Music page)


OT 24

Lectionary Texts

In Jeremiah 18. 1-11 God says, “You are the clay and I am the potter. I reshape you as I see fit.”

Psalm 139 prays, “God, you created me.” (Knitted and woven, specifically, which were women’s work). “You know me; you are always with me. Help me to avoid doing evil.”

Philemon was apparently indebted to Paul, and owned a slave, Onesimus, who had possibly run away to work with Paul. In this letter Paul returns Onesimus and asks Philemon to set him free, not as an obligation, which Paul could have demanded, but in love, asking Philemon to see Onesimus not as an inferior but as a brother.

In Luke 14. 25-33 Jesus invites us to love at all costs. And he gets honest about that cost. If you’re building a tower you first count the cost to make sure you can finish. To truly follow Jesus is to carry the cross, letting go of all that we cling to and our loyalty to everything and everyone but God—even our own loved ones. Don’t lose your saltiness, Jesus says.

Preaching Thoughts

Luke
     “Hate father and mother..” — Strong language, typical of Jesus. Obviously he doesn’t mean dislike, enmity or mistreatment. (Notice how he defends “honor your father and mother” in Mark 7.11). He means honoring your discipleship even above family loyalty. We easily surrender our beliefs or our integrity to avoid upsetting people we care about (well, yeah, and even strangers). We “go along to get along.” This can be hardest in families or bonds of significant friendship. How many folks don”t talk politics” with family members? Jesus invites us to stand for who we are, even when the resistance is costly. That’s when we really become ourselves. Of course, the point is not to start family arguments; some disagreements are best left untested. But not arguing about our beliefs is one thing; staying true to them is another. That’s what counts.
     “Carry the cross.” — A “cross to bear” is not an annoyance. It’s our willingness to suffer for the sake of loving others. And love requires suffering. Mayne not much, but always at least a little. Sometimes a lot. Every parent knows your heart will be broken a thousand times. But you do it, because the cost is actually a good deal. Love is worth it. But don’t think it won’t hurt. “Count the cost.” I think people need help discerning the difference between the authentic cost of discipleship and unrelated struggle or suffering. Not every “thorn in the flesh” is a result of our love, forgiveness, generosity or work for justice. “Stuff happens.” On the other hand, we often minimize just how much we have to let go of to really live lives of love, forgiveness, humility, vulnerability, reconciliation, healing and justice. Each of us needs to discern: What do I need to let go of to be perfectly loving? What are the things I cling to that are likely to hold me back from loving deeply, forgiving entirely, or risking for the sake of others?
     “Salt is good.” — What a cryptic, evocative image. Be salt. There’s not much correct doctrine to it, nor any clear senses of definition. In the context of carrying the cross, it seems to mean “be loving.” Its ambiguity invites us to ponder: What feels like “salty” living to you? Loving? Kind? Authentic? Simple? Bringing out other people’s beauty, as salt brings out other flavors? It certainly seems to describe behavior, not belief. Who has “salted” your life? What do you value in that? The image of salt invites a lot of play, imagination and storytelling.

Call to Worship

1.
Leader: Creator God, divine artist, you fashion the universe with skill and beauty.
All: We praise you!
Jesus the builder has shaped our hearts with loving hands and a steady eye.
We thank you!
Holy Spirit, breath of new creation, you continually fashion us anew.
We worship you. We open our hearts to you.
We surrender ourselves to your shaping hands. Alleluia!


2.
Leader: God, you have searched us and known us.

All: Holy Mystery, we wonder; and we praise you.

Where could we escape your presence? Even in the farthest desolation, you are there.

Loving Presence, you accompany us; you sustain us, and we thank you.

You have formed our inner nature; you create us by your grace.

How vast is your love! We praise you,

for we are astoundingly and wonderfully made.

Search us, and remove whatever is evil in us,

and lead us in the way everlasting.

3.
Leader: Creator God, we praise you!

All: We thank you and we worship you.

God, you search us and know us;

you are all about us, within us and among us.

Your presence is everywhere; help us to be aware.

Come be with us now, God, and help us in our worship.

Alleluia! Come, Holy Spirit, and transform us by your grace. Alleluia!

4.
Leader: Creator God, you are the potter; we are the clay.
All: Shape us by your Word.
By your grace help us to turn from the things we possess

and worship you with all our heart and mind and soul and strength.
By your grace help us to take up our cross and follow.

Savior of the world, we devote our hearts to you. Alleluia!

Collect / Prayer of the Day

1.
Potter God, shape us by your Word. Fashion us with your divine skill. In your grace re-make us in your image. Speak to us, and your Word will call us to new life. Amen.

2.
God of love, Christ calls us to take up our cross and follow him. But we confess that we hold back; we cling to many things. Grant us the faith to trust your grace, to let go of all that burdens us, and to take up Christ’s love for the world and follow him in faith and service. Speak your Word to us, call to us in our fear, and give us courage to follow. Amen.

3.
God, we want to worship you. Christ, we want to follow you. Living within us, you know better than we what holds us back. Spirit, rise up in us now, and bend us toward you. You are the potter; we are the clay. Shape us by your Word. With your steady hands upon us, change us from one degree of glory to another, and form us into your delight. You are the weaver. Weave the threads of our hearts into the tapestry of your image, the Body of Christ, our Savior and our brother. Amen.

4.
Gentle God, you know that we cling to many things in this life. Help us now to let go of them all, and to open ourselves to your presence and your Word. As your scriptures are read and your good news proclaimed, help us to hear your voice, and to allow ourselves to be changed, in the Spirit of Christ. Amen.

5.
God of love, Jesus called his hearers to leave behind their worldly attachments and follow him. Lead us by your grace to let go of everything to which we cling, so that we can be open to your Word. Open our hearts, so that as the scriptures are read and your good news proclaimed, we may hear with joy what you are saying to us today. Amen.

Prayer of Confession

Great Potter God,
we confess we have had a mind of our own,
and shaped our lives as we have chosen,

not as you have hoped for us.
In stillness we repent.
Lay your strong and gentle hands upon us,
and reshape us according to your delight.
Forgive our sin, heal our wounds,
and shape us by your grace,
as vessels of your light.

Readings

Poetry by Steve Garnaas-Holmes

Response / Creed / Affirmation

1.
       Loving God, you are our creator. You create all things in your love; you create us as an image of your love. You are the potter; we are the clay. We submit ourselves to your shaping hands.
       Loving Christ, you who perfectly embodied God’s love, who taught and healed, who fed the hungry and gathered the outcast: you call us to follow you. You were willing to pay the cost for your radical faithfulness to God: you were crucified. But God raised you from the dead. The way of the cross is not the way of death, but the way of Life! Christ, you call us to surrender all and follow you. We submit ourselves to your life-giving Way.
       Loving Spirit, it is by your power alone that we are faithful, You breathe in us; you give us grace to take up our cross and follow. Make us people of trust and forgiveness, people of prayer, people of resurrection. You are the potter and we are the clay: mold us and shape us according to your will. Amen.2.
Leader: God, like a thoughtful grandmother you knit each of us a life.

All: Like a weaver at her loom of beauty you weave us together.

Like an artful potter you shape us for your purposes.

And when we are distorted you re-shape us again.

You are the beauty that draws us toward life.

You are the love that beckons us out of self-centeredness

and toward our sisters and brothers in compassion and gratitude.

You are the treasure that is worth the greatest cost.

Alleluia! We gladly give up everything and turn to you.

Bless us, and transform us by your grace. Alleluia!

Listening Prayer

(suitable as a Collect, preparation for hearing scriptures, or invitation to prayer)


Eucharistic Prayer

[The body of the prayer may be read responsively or by the presiding leader(s) alone.]

God is with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your heart.
We lift them up to God.
Let us give thanks to the Holy One, our God.
It is good and beautiful to give God our praise.


     (Sanctus)

Blessed are all who come in your name,
and blessed is Jesus, your Christ,

     (The Blessing and Covenant)
As long as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection, until he comes again.
Therefore, remembering these your mighty acts in Jesus Christ,
we offer ourselves as a living and holy sacrifice,
in union with Christ’s offering for us,
as we proclaim the mystery of our faith:

     (Memorial Acclamation)

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,
(Amen.)

____________
* The Blessing and Covenant
[I usually don’t print the words. I want people to be looking at the bread, not their bulletins.]

On the night in which he gave himself for us
Jesus took bread, blessed it,. broke it, and gave it to his disciples,saying,
“Take and eat; this is my body.”
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup,
blessed it with thanks and gave it to them, saying,
“Drink of this, all of you. This is my blood,
poured out for you and for many, in a new Covenant,
which is the forgiveness of sin.”
As long as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection, until he comes again.


Prayer of Dedication / Sending

Prayer after Communion

Gracious God, we thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us. You have shaped us by your Word; now send us into the world to embody that Word, forsaking all our possessions, our habits and attachments, to follow Christ with courage, to heal the broken and set free the oppressed with compassion, and to praise you in all things, by the grace and power of your Holy Spirit in us. We pray, as we live, in the name of Christ. Amen.


Suggested Songs

(Click on titles to view, and hear an audio clip, on the Music page)


I Am Open (Original song)

Dear gentle Jesus, I open to you
the deepest secrets of my soul.
My heart is open, wounded and broken.
Heal and forgive and make me whole.
Open, I am open, open to your grace.

Beloved Jesus, my eyes are open;
your healing touch restores my sight.
Like open windows, they shine, and in flows
your glory filling me with light.
Open, I am open, open to your grace.

My wounded Jesus. Your arms are open,
our hurt and dying to embrace.
When I would close them, hold my arms open,
to be so loving by your grace.
Open, I am open, open to your grace.

Now risen Jesus, my life is open,
a flower unfolding in the sun:
by your light growing, and boldly showing
the love of God, as you have done.
Open, I am open, open to your grace.


I Take Up My Cross (Original song)

Congregation:
Letting go, I am held. I take up my cross and follow.

Cantor
1. Jesus, you call to me, and draw me into your life.
2. Christ, I leave all behind, to follow you in love.
3. I yield my life to you, for you alone are God.
4. Loved with your costly love, I’ll suffer for the sake of love.
5. Christ, make my one desire to be to serve you in love.