Monday, March 29, 2010

Monday Holy Week

O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth
will declare your praise.

For you have no delight in sacrifice;
if I were to give a burnt-offering,
you would not be pleased.

The sacrifice acceptable to God
is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God,
you will not despise.

Psalm 51: 15 - 17

Whenever you
stand praying,
if you have anything
against anyone;

so that your Father in heaven
may also forgive
your trespasses.

Mark 11: 25

Friday, March 26, 2010

Glory be to You

Glory be to You,
who laid your Cross as a bridge over death,
that souls might pass over it
from the dwelling of the dead to the dwelling of life!

-Ephraem the Syrian (ca306-373)

Friday, March 12, 2010



1. Wondrous sight for men and angels!
Wonders, wonders without end!
He who made, preserves, sustains us,
He our Ruler and our Friend,
Here lies cradled in the manger,
Finds no resting-place on earth,
Yet the shining hosts of glory
Throng to worship at his birth.

2. When thick cloud lies over Sinai,
And the trumpet’s note rings high,
In Christ the Word I’ll pass the barrier,
Climb, and feast, nor fear to die;
For in him all fullness dwelleth,
Fullness to restore our loss;
He stood forth and made atonement
Through his offering on the cross.

3. He between a pair of robbers
Hung, our Making-good to be;
He gave power to nerve and muscle
When they nailed him to the tree;
He, his Father’s law exalting,
Paid our debt and quenched our flame;
Righteousness, in fiery splendour,
Freely pardons in his name.

4. See, my soul, where our Peace-maker,
King of kings, was lowly laid,
He, creation’s life and movement,
Of the grave a tenant made,
Yet on souls fresh life bestowing;
Angels view it with amaze;
God in flesh with us adoring;
Heaven’s full chorus shouts his praise.

5. Thanks for ever, thanks ten thousand,
While I’ve breath, all thanks and praise
To the God who all his wonders
For my worship here displays,
In my nature tried and tempted
Like the meanest of our race,
Man – a weak and helpless infant,
God – of matchless power and grace.

6. Gone this body of corruption,
’Mid the fiery hosts on high,
Gazing deep into the wonders
Wrought of old on Calvary,
God, the Invisible, beholding,
Him who lives, yet once was slain,
Clasped in close eternal union
And communion I’ll remain.

Ann Griffiths (d. 1805)

Monday, March 08, 2010


Lent 3C
Exodus 3: 1 - 5; Luke 13: 1 - 9

You know the story of Job? How he was a fabulously wealthy man with seven sons and three daughters and beautiful homes and a prominent place in society and known by all for his righteousness and Godliness – and then, he began losing it all. First his homes burned down, then his children were all killed, his wife died, and last of all, his health was destroyed. Covered in boils and sick unto death, he sat in the ashes of his former life and wept. He didn’t not curse God. He didn’t blame himself. He simply sat and wept, demanding that Godanswer his cry – “Why? Why? Why?”

His friends gathered from far and near, some to gawk, some to comfort– but most all of them, whatever their response, was to find blame. Who was to blame for this tragedy? Their consensus? Job. This was God’s punishment for some terrible wrong that Job had done – Job should search his heart, search his conscience to find what he had done, and confess it. Job did search his heart and conscience, and he could find anything that he had done – certainly nothing that would warrant this kind of tragedy. But he did want an answer. He wanted the God whom he had served his whole life to answer his one burning question – “Why?”

And God eventually did answer. A booming answer – “Where you there when I established the heavens and the deeps? Where you there when I fixed the stars in the sky and the whales in the oceans? Where you there when I brought something out of nothing and set into motion the entire universe?” And Job, deeply humbled, simply worshipped – saying “before I had only heard, but now I know, now I know, that you are God. “

Why am I telling you the story of Job this morning, when none of our readings mention Job? Because it is a true story – and we are still living this story. And the people surrounding Jesus were living that story. “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?” The people had asked Jesus. And now they say – “these worshippers who went to the temple, and were arrested and killed by Pilate’s soldiers, right there in the temple, sacrificed like animals, they must have done something terribly wrong – to be punished by God like this. Jesus ups the ante – well, and what about the innocents in Jerusalem who happened to be in the way when the Tower of Siloam fell? They must have been great and terrible sinners also, do you think?

Pat Robertson is famous for the amazing things he says. When Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, it was because the people of New Orleans were sinners of the first order. When the country was brought to it’s knees in grief over 9/11, people like Pat Robertson said that this was God’s punishment on a country who had embraced feminism and equal rights for everyone. Now it is Haiti’s turn to be punished for selling it’s soul to the devil in return for freedom from French colonists. These are egregious modern examples of the same kind of thinking that Job’s friends had. There are New Age examples as well – you are sick because you are thinking wrong thoughts – which is another way of saying you have sinned and are now being punished.

Jesus cut through all of this with a simple “no. That’s not the way it is.” He didn’t get caught up in the blame game and the finger pointing and any abstract talk about God. Instead he turned to the people he was with and was quite straightforward with them. If the one suffering was present, such as the blind man, he healed him. If the sufferers were not present, as in the gospel today, he attempted to bring the people who were there into the same experience that Job had. In truth, the same experience that Moses had when he turned aside to see the burning bush. It’s an experience of Metanoia – actually being in God’s presence, and the deep humility and tears of worship that follow from real experience.

In the gospel this morning, Jesus tried to impress upon the people around him, the urgency of the truth that when God is passing by –it is time to bow down – now – because it will not always happen. He told the story of the fig tree that had already had Three years, and still God is merciful. But you cannot take this for granted. And you cannot assume entitlement, you cannot assume that you are entitled to grace. That is the ego’s way, but it is not God’s way.

At another time, he put it a different way. He said “Unless you become as a child, you will not see the Kingdom of God”….remember? A child is dependent and knows, deeply knows, that she is not in charge and that there is very little actually, that she can control. Of course, children try – and they often try very hard to be in charge, but that is only to manage their fear and the anxiety of being vulnerable and frail. When the parent is strong and obviously in charge, a child relaxes and feels safe and happy because she knows that she is protected and that someone who can actually manage things is in charge. Of course, we adults know that we can’t always manage things, and that there are so many aspects of life that we are not in charge of. Hence, our need to give our lives over and to trust, what our 12 Step friends call, a Higher Power – whom we know as the Lord - the One who actually is, wholly and completely, trustworthy and adequate. But as long as we are trying to fix blame for things that go wrong, and as long as we are beating our selves up in an attempt to re-establish control, we will miss the actual and real grace of God, the burning bushes that are all around us.

Jesus did not want his listeners to miss it. He doesn’t want you and me to miss it. And so he pointed to the one thing that is urgently needed – the one thing that Job found – the one thing that Moses did – and that is repentance. The “take your shoes off because you are on holy ground” kind of true repentance – Metanoia. This kind of repentance is about getting down from the pedestal of your ego, and planting yourself firmly on the ground – “you are made of dust and to dust you shall return.” It is about embracing Reality and that almost always requires a complete change of heart. A change of mind. A change of orientation, away from trying to beef yourself up to manage what is essentially unmaneagable – Life – and instead, bowing down in worship before God.

In the story of the fig tree, we tend to focus on the figs – whether there is fruit or not. But it’s the manure that’s magic. That wonderous substance that all farmers know about. The people around Jesus were focused on grand theories about God and who God protected and who God punished. But Jesus , completely in the here and now, pointed to manure. How like him! He “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, and becoming obedient even unto death on a cross..(Phil. 2: 6-8)

St. Augustine said that manure is a symbol of humility. It is a lowly substance, something we don’t talk about much, but it can bring life into a place of no life. It can work a kind of alchemy, a mysterious transformation from what is basically "manure" into what is basically gold. And isn’t there plenty of room in this world for a lot of that kind of transformation!

If you are suffering, try to leave off blame. “Why did God do this?” “How have I sinned?” It does not help, and it leads you down a path that takes you further and further from Reality. Further and further from any encounter with the God who is the I AM.

If you are not suffering right now, Jesus invites you to join with those who do suffer, whether they are in Haiti or sitting next to you. He invites you into metanoia. To come down off of whatever pedestal your ego has persuaded you to climb, and let the deep humility of Christ – the One who could command wind and waves, but who went, of his own free will, to the cross, in order to not swerve or run away from the path of deepest love and loyalty – let this humility enter into your blood and bones, into your mind and heart– and create new life and new possibilities in you.

And the Glory of God which is the Humility of God which is the Love of God will sustain you, and will produce good fruit, in this life and in the next.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Mark 4: 35 - 41

Asleep in the stern
his breathing slow and steady
his warm breath curling
around my head like a halo -
his arm heavy around me - I lace
my fingers in his.

When they awake us,
shivering fear splashing cold water -
but his heart beat so calm, so strong, is still
at my back - and so I hear the
compassion in his eyes.

"Peace. Be still."

And we are all then, wrapped
around in his breath. His heart.
His power.

And know awe.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

St. David of Wales

Thanks to the Deacon of Good Shepherd, The Rev. Cynthia Montague, for remembering and blessing the anniversary of my ordination, the Feast Day of St. David of Wales.

Maggie Ross, Anglican Solitary in residence at The Bishop's Ranch, wrote this Collect and Poem for this St. David's Feast Day. It was written for the group that gathers for daily morning prayer at the Bishop's Ranch chapel. Her blog is Voice in the Wilderness.

David of Wales

Lord of Peace, your servant David walked the edge of the world, conscious of its dangers and deceits. May we, like him turn from possessions and preferment to the humble service of your life-giving Word. Grant us thirst for the water of life and hunger for the bread of angels; salt us with the sting and savor of eternal truth, and bring us to the courts of joy, for your Love's sake. Amen.

A Canticle for St David of Wales

Wild was the storm — the day of his birth,
Narrow the strait — a perilous place
the wrack of the world — and the song of the sea.
Simplicity his coracle, — his rudder, humility;
wings of angels — fanned his sails.

"Small acts" — he said
"swing the compass — towards peace."
His purified heart — now sings forever;
eternity's haven — his radiant home.