Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

As I write this I am sitting in my sister’s house in Montana watching the sun rise over the Elkhorn Mountains. The mountains are just waking up, opening their snow-topped eyes. A scattered herd of clouds grazes in the southeast. The sun sits there just behind the ridge with his bathrobe on. And in the pasture up the hill a horse is sitting, watching, and some elk are grazing. At first I thought they were all the neighbor’s horses, but five of them are elk, gradually moving this way. It’s quiet.

We are led to lie down in greener pastures than we think, surrounded by a wider, deeper blessing than we notice or trust. We complain about rushing around, but we can lie down. We are accompanied by others who are different from us, but there is no reason the horses and the elk can’t graze in the same pasture. When Jesus said there would be one flock, he didn’t mean we would all be the same. But we do all belong to one Creation, to one God. It’s not easy, as attached as we are to getting where we’re going, to lie down, to appreciate the wonder of the world, to let others lie down in our world. But that’s actually the way it is. We are shepherded. We are grazing in green pastures whether we know it or not. We are part of one flock, whether we see it or not. And it’s a quiet morning.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve


Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light


Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

         We know that we have passed from death to life
         because we love one another.

                  —1 John 3.14

You can die from holding your breath forever.

Breathe out the love God breathes into you;
that is living.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Good shepherd

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

         “I am the good shepherd.
         The good shepherd
         lays down his life for the sheep.”

                  —John 10.11

Oh, Jesus,
I want you to be mighty,
to rescue me from all danger
and vanquish my enemies,

but you are not there
on that throne.
You have gone
and laid down your life for me.

What do I do
now that I am
this beloved,
now that you are
beneath me?

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Children of love

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

See what love the Mother- Father has given us,
          that we should be called children of God;
          and that is what we are.
The reason the world does not know us
          is that it did not know God.
Beloved, we are God’s children now;
          what we will be has not yet been revealed.
What we do know is this: when God is revealed,
          we will be like God,
          for we will see God as God is.
And all who have this hope in God
          purify themselves, just as God is pure.

                    –1 John 3.1-3

Like a mother with her newborn infant,
God does not demand anything of us,
but purely loves us, for our own sake.

We are created like her,
made of her loving kindness.
The unseen, immutable truth
shines in all things visible.

Become the love of God,
the love that you are.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Yom HaShoah

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

         Yom HaShoah
            Holocaust Remembrance Day

Children in a line
    disappear one by one
        through a sooty door.

Who remembers
    what they are leaving,
        who they used to be?

Our fear is the fuel
    for the furnace.
        There is always more.

Forgiveness comes,
    but first we are stripped
        of our forgetfulness,

standing naked in line,
    breathing the foul air.
        There is no demarcation

between any of us now.
    A pile of ragged things
        we once clung to.

Who remembers
    who we used to be?
        They go first; we may follow:

children in a line
    disappear one by one
        into the mercy of God.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Flesh and bones

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

         “Look at my hands and my feet;
         see that it is I myself.
         Touch me and see;
         for a ghost does not have flesh and bones
         as you see that I have.”

                  —Luke 24.39

The Roman Imperium by its sword
tried to sever Jesus from his life,
to pry him from his own flesh;
and their minions ever since have sought
to separate the spiritual from the physical.
Death, they reasoned, ought to do it well.

How daft of them to think
The One who made all things,
who crafted earth and us from dust,
who fashioned smooth and rugged stones,
and lungs and lips and eyes and hands,
and bones that bear their burdens
with such elegance and grace,
and skin, its mounds and cups and curves
and plains and folds so eloquent,
alluring, and divine—
that the Creating One would by their force
forget pronouncing all things,
in their concrete thingness, good.
They didn’t know the one thing that God wants
is for all love to be made flesh.
So when they robbed poor Jesus of his breath
and blood, the one thing that God gave him, new
and holy, raising him from death, was this:
a body, flawed but breathing, flesh and bone.

Believer, show yourself your hands and side,
your trembling, lusting, spiritual mass,
your creaking, flabby, leaking, blessed flesh.
Look at your hands, that God has made. This is
the glory in which resurrection comes.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

God’s eyes

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

Through the narrow slot
of the blinders of suffering or shame
we see only desolation.
At times we despair of this within,
unable to reach out of the black pit.
At times it is just as we wish,
filling the void with other people’s bodies.
But there in the darkness,
within the obscuring wound,
beneath the wailing silence,
from within the wrenched heart,
God sees glory,
honors the living soul,
and raises the Blessed One
to life that is eternal and victorious,
untouched by cruelty or grief,
given firm and radiant flesh.

Those with dead eyes
go on believing they are dead.
The living appear living
only to those who see with the eyes of God.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

What God does

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
Resurrection does not mean everything turns out OK. It does not save us from suffering, evil or death. It means that God’s one pure will is to give life and bless, and to set us free. This is what God does. Always. And no matter what else happens, what God does triumphs.

God is as present and active as gravity in every moment of our lives, including the hurt that we receive and the hurt that we cause. Everything belongs to God, and everything, no matter how awful, is gathered up in the final victory of God’s life-giving grace.  Usually we can only see the triumph afterward, and from a wider perspective. But we can learn to trust the grace, even in the most difficult times. We can learn to trust that the Present One is within us. We can learn to trust the Resurrecting One even amidst evil, injustice and suffering. Even when we do not know, we can trust. Grace will happen. Despite the gravest evil, grace will happen.
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light


Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
         As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
         When he had said this, he breathed on them
         and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

                  —John 20. 21-22

Jesus, your Beloved, is dead,
no longer present, no longer able
to give those gifts, to heal and bless,
no longer able to love,
and it has laid you low,
and in the locked room of your loss
suddenly he breathes his spirit into you
—this is all he came to do,—
fills your blood with his pulsing love,
his passionate nevertheless,

and the one who is miraculously alive after all
is you.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Unless I see the marks


              “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands,
              and put my finger in the mark of the nails
              and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”
                            —John 20.25

Oh, Thomas was no doubter.
The least naive, he trusted in the dark
the promise of our rising,
the open door of death.
He was the one, when Jesus stood
to go to Lazarus’ tomb in Bethany,
where enemies awaited him
with threats of death, who said,
“Then let us go and die with him.”

Oh, more, not less than all the rest,
Thomas believed in love, and how it bled.
He sought not proof of Jesus’ life,
but marks of what he suffered and forgave,
the scars of Thomas’ own betrayal,
to know that he had risen
not from bed, but from the depths
of hell, where Thomas needed him
to have gone, and been, and left transformed.

He didn’t ask to see his smiling face,
has famous, radiant eyes;
he didn’t hope to see him break the bread
the way he always did.
No, he asked to see his wounds,
the marks of love, the wounds of one
who weeps with those who weep,
who has walked with us through the valley
of the shadow of death.

Oh, Thomas, I’m with you:
I would not follow the safe and happy one,
the well-dressed Christ from a catalogue;
I will follow only the wounded one,
the one with most to forgive
and least reason to expect his hope.
I will follow the loving one with steady eyes,
who knows how much his love will cost.
I will follow the gentle man
with holes in his hands.


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