God has place this wonderful creation in our hands. As U2 sings, "It's a beautiful day, don't let it slip away." We have this one life to live on this beautiful planet so enjoy these reflections on God, faith, life, and music. "After the flood all of the colors came out. It's a beautiful day."

Monday, June 26, 2017

Are any among you suffering?

Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. 14Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. 16Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. 17Elijah was a human being like us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18Then he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain and the earth yielded its harvest. James 5:13-18
Are any among you suffering?
pray
Are any among you sick?
have elders pray
the prayer of faith will save the sick
God will raise them up
prayer for one another so you may be healed
the prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective

are any among you suffering?
pray
pray but don't stop there
pray for the suffering
then act
act to make sure they have healthcare
act to make sure that the medicine needed is avaible
act to make sure that doctors and nurses are present where there is illness
act to make sure that our governments do something to heal people
act to support health systems (doctors without borders, planned parenthood, free clinics)

are any among you suffering?
pray
then call your legislators
       to save your healthcare,
                   your child's healthcare,
                   your neighbor's healthcare,
then call your legislators
        to save the healthcare
                   of poor children,
                   of nursing home elders,
                   of those suffering with addiction

are any among you suffering?
pray
then protest in front of your legislators office
then join in on rallies and sitins
then vote for those who will protect the vulnerable


Friday, June 23, 2017

He's Smiling, I worry

Have you seen the pictures?
Feelin great. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
they have just released their plan for healthcare
he is surrounded by reporters asking for his response
he is smiling.

He is smiling.
I am worried.
what does this mean for my family?

the age group I just entered
you know the one.
where when you go to the doctor
they talk about blood pressure, cholesterol
they start speaking about pills and tests
you think I'm only 50
when did things start falling apart

he is smiling
I am worried
the picture is even labeled feeling great
he can feel great
he is in no danger of losing his healthcare
he will have it free for life
he will probably even get a huge tax cut
I'm not smiling
I'm worried

now that I have a prexisting condition
now that I am on Obamacare because of job decisions
I find it hard to smile
will I be able to afford insurance come January
will the insurance I can afford cover what I need medically
what if I someday need surgery
how will I be able to afford the new high deductibles and copays
he smiles
I worry

he smiles
I remember the stories
 “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;  ...  I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” 37Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, ... And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” ... “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” Matthew 25:35-39
I remember the man he says of course I chose to make you well
I remember the ones he grants mercy, forgiveness, and healing to
I remember those children, lepers, bent woman, broken men
I remember those he healed
I remember the least of these

he smiles
I worryhe smiles
I resist
he smiles
I cry out for justice
he smiles
I pray




Thursday, June 22, 2017

I Will Be With You



 






On my vacation, we went on the Architectural Tour of the Chicago River. It was a beautiful day to float down the river. You get a very different sense of the city when you are down on the river going by all of the buildings. You see building that you have never seen before and become aware of the variety of building styles there are.


One of the buildings that fascinated me was 150 North Riverside. When you begin to go by the building the first thing you notice is that the bottom is smaller. As some people say it looks like a tuning fork. There is an angle to the building for five stories it expands. Then you notice the beauty of the glass. The way you can see the clouds and other buildings. Our guide told us its history. There was this empty space that couldn’t be utilized because of the challenges of having the railroad blocking part of the land. They gathered together engineers, architects, and construction workers to develop a plan that would make building possible. They came up with the design people jokingly call the guillotine. The final test they had to run was what would happen in a strong wind. Would the sway be too great for the building that was smaller at the bottom. They figured out how to place the pilings deep enough to help keep it strong enough for the load. But they needed something more. So they placed at the top these giant tanks of water. When the wind blows the water shifts in the opposite way from the building creating the stability needed for high winds so the building does not sway too far.
These invisible water tanks create stability. 
"When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior." Isaiah 43:2
God provides that water that makes us stable. When we have hit a rough patch in life, God serves as a ballast to help us come through to the other side, to keep us upright when the winds want to knock us down. To steady us when its seems like the world is shifting beneath our feet. God is with us in the moments of trouble, challenge, and difficulty allowing stability to reemerge.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

form

squares
rectangles
stark
concave
circles
waves
spiraling
reaching
crawling
how high
how big
glass
stone
concrete
granite
steel
metal
the stor they tell
the buildings tell about us
some speak of our mastery
some speak of beauty, transcendance
some speak of function
some speak of forms that show
gothic
bauhous
brutalism
modern
postmodern
student
teacher
green
in the lines
in the waves
in the form and function
even as they try to get away from earth
the forms reflect mathmatical principles
the form reflects us
the form reflects God


photos from the Architectural Iver Tour of Chicago.





Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Handkerchiefs and Aprons

God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12so that when the handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were brought to the sick, their diseases left them, and the evil spirits came out of them. Acts 19:11-12
Holy One,
we need an extraordinary miracle
there were six mass shootings this week
since Sunday 7 have been killed and 30 injured in 7 incidents
we know about the unique ones (is any shooting in the US unique)
we know about political shootings and employment shootings
but did we hear about the the black bodies killed
we need your healing presence, your healing love

Holy One,
 we need Paul's handkerchiefs or aprons
we need that healing love that moves us beyond our camps
we need that healing love that changes how we react, who we care about
we need those handkerchiefs
we need those scrapes of clothe that older gentlemen still carry to staunch those wounds
we need those aprons
we need that symbol of love and care, that symbol of home and heart
we need that apron that brings your healing love

Holy One,
we need you to touch and heal those wounded by this violence
we need you to touch and heal those who believe violence solves any problem
we need you to touch and heal us
we need your handkerchiefs and aprons
we need you extraordinary miracle

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

There Is Hope


Morton Arboretum

Morton Arboretum

Morton Arboretum

7 ‘For there is hope for a tree,
   if it is cut down, that it will sprout again,
   and that its shoots will not cease.
8 Though its root grows old in the earth,
   and its stump dies in the ground,
9 yet at the scent of water it will bud
   and put forth branches like a young plant.  

                                            Job 14:7-9

the guide said this set of trees
they were killed
by an invasive non native insect
our scientists worked to develop a tree from the same family resistant to the insect

you can see in that field
the trees have all died
we wanted to return the land to its natural state
it used to be a bog
the trees that had grown in the area
were not meant for wetlands

you see that tree
notice the difference between the bark on the old tree and the bark on the young
 this tree is created to withstand fire
fire makes its bark stronger
fire makes the tree stronger
beside making the wildflowers bloom

Job talks about the resilience of trees
he speaks of how even when a tree is destroyed they will often send up shoots
a new tree, a part of the old tree is born

Job doesn't think he is like a tree
he believes that he will wither and fade
he won't be resurrected
Morton Arboretum
but he doesn't want to go until God explains why
Job wants to know why tragedy has struck him
he wishes he was resilent
but right now he is broken
he wants to know why

I want to know why
we go out to the park, the arberetum
we see the beauty of creation
yet we ignore the destruction we have caused
continue to cause
we don't think about the future
we don't think about life for our grandchildren
we aren't worried
we have only been a littel inconvienced
Morton Arboretum
winter was really mild this year
where was the snow

because it is mild for us
we don't have to change
we don't have to demand change
we don't mind the milder winter

for there is hope for the tree
we are the trees hope

Morton Arboretum
 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Time For Singing Has Come

Chicago Botanical Garden
 ‘Arise, my love, my fair one,
   and come away;
11 for now the winter is past,
   the rain is over and gone.
12 The flowers appear on the earth;
   the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtle-dove
   is heard in our land.
13 The fig tree puts forth its figs,
   and the vines are in blossom;
   they give forth fragrance.
Arise, my love, my fair one,
   and come away.
14 O my dove, in the clefts of the rock,
   in the covert of the cliff,
let me see your face,
   let me hear your voice;
for your voice is sweet,
   and your face is lovely.
15 Catch us the foxes,
   the little foxes,
that ruin the vineyards—
   for our vineyards are in blossom.’ 

                         Song of Songs 2:10-15

 the time of singing has come
Chicago Botanical Garden
as I walked in beauty
seeing the flowers blooming
the birds singing
the water running
as the squirrels scampering
the time of singing has come

the time of singing has come
having to dust off and pull out
Eddie Brickell, Bob Dylon, Sweet Honey and the Rock, Joan Baez, Peter Paul & Mary, Midnight Oil,  Pete Seeger, Woodie Guthrie
the time for songs of protest and revolt
the time for songs that inspire us
the time for songs that sustain us
the time for songs that comfort us

Arise, my love, my fair one
with creation showing its goodness
with creation showing its beauty
with creation in bloom

Arise, my love, my fair one
open the hymnal to the first pages
Chicago Botanical Garden
start singing
All Creatures of Our God and King
For the Beauty of the Earth
Thank You, God, for Water, Soil and Air
Let All Creation Bless the Lord
God, You Spin the Whirling Planets
Let All Things Now Living
I Sing the Mighty Power of God
Creating God, Your Fingers Trace
All Things Bright and Beautiful
God of the Sparrow
Touch the Earth Lightly
We Cannot Own the Sunlit Land

the time of singing has come
we sing our hope for life everlasting
we sing our hope of a planet resurrected
we sing our hope that its not too late
we sing our hope that my great great grandchildren will walk in beauty
the time of singing has come
arise, my love, my fair one
come away with me

Sunday, June 4, 2017

The Spirit Stirs

In Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet and had never walked, for he had been crippled from birth. 9He listened to Paul as he was speaking. And Paul, looking at him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, 10said in a loud voice, ‘Stand upright on your feet.’ And the man sprang up and began to walk. 11When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, ‘The gods have come down to us in human form!’ 12Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. 13The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates; he and the crowds wanted to offer sacrifice. 14When the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting, 15‘Friends, why are you doing this? We are mortals just like you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. 16In past generations he allowed all the nations to follow their own ways; 17yet he has not left himself without a witness in doing good—giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, and filling you with food and your hearts with joy.’ 18Even with these words, they scarcely restrained the crowds from offering sacrifice to them. But Jews came there from Antioch and Iconium and won over the crowds. Then they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. 20But when the disciples surrounded him, he got up and went into the city. The next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe. Acts 14:8-20

Paul and Barnabas were preaching about Jesus
there was a man listening who Paul sensed had faith
Paul followed the prompting of the Spirit
Paul listened to that inner prompting of God
Paul told him to stand upright
this man had never walked, had been crippled from birth, who couldn't use his feet
Paul told him to stand upright
Paul listened to God about healing this man

do you listen to that voice
do you listen to that push
do you take the unexpected insight
do you use what God has given you
do you follow the Spirits prompting
do you find the healing that lets others stand upright

they called Paul a God for listening to the Spirit
they tried to worship Paul
they tried to sacrifice to Paul
Paul spoke of Jesus
Paul spoke of God
they didn't want to hear that
they wanted him to be a God
Paul showed them the way
they wanted more
when they didn't get more
they tried to kill Paul
they stoned him and dragged him
they believed he was dead
the disciple surrounded him
Paul was able to rise and move to the next group of people
Paul continued to listen for the prompting of the Spirit
Paul found the next group of people needing to hear about Jesus

when the Spirit stirs you will you listen
will you find the one you can help
will you find the one who needs to hear about God
will you seek out the one who needs to learn of Jesus






Thursday, June 1, 2017

Hope or Groaning

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. 19For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; 20for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; 23and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? 25But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Romans 8:18-25
hope
when words are spoken and action taken
when facts are made up and science is denied
when leaders are shortsighted and out for their own gain
when the world is groaning
mountains are burning
deserts are expanding
coral reefs are dying
glaciers are disappearing
islands are shrinking
droughts are expanding
weather is harsher
the world is groaning
creation is groaning
humans are groaning

hope
Paul reminds us to hope
hope pushes us to see what cannot be see yet
hope pushes us to understand what seems impossible
hope pushes us to dream of a world redeemed
hope shows us what could be when God's love reigns

I groan today
I mourn today
how can we reject what we see before us
how can we elect leaders who rush forward with our destruction
how can we not understand that we are all connected
when creation is healed we are healed
stardust is what we are made of from the gnat to the sun
stardust shapes us all
hope save us
God send your hope, your redemption, your truth


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

He Gave her his Hand and Helped her Up

Now in Joppa there was a disciple whose name was Tabitha, which in Greek is Dorcas. She was devoted to good works and acts of charity. 37At that time she became ill and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in a room upstairs. 38Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, who heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him with the request, ‘Please come to us without delay.’ 39So Peter got up and went with them; and when he arrived, they took him to the room upstairs. All the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing tunics and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was with them. 40Peter put all of them outside, and then he knelt down and prayed. He turned to the body and said, ‘Tabitha, get up.’ Then she opened her eyes, and seeing Peter, she sat up. 41He gave her his hand and helped her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he showed her to be alive. 42This became known throughout Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. 43Meanwhile he stayed in Joppa for some time with a certain Simon, a tanner. Acts 9:36-43
Tabitha, get up
resurrection people
we are meant to be resurrection people
people who believe that there is always a second chance
people who believe that the end is never the end
people who believe that a new day will dawn with a new chance at life

Tabitha, get up

she was a woman of good works and charity
she was ill and died
Peter come to us without delay
Peter came with them
she was surrounded by widows
they told him their stories
they share her good works
they told of the cloth and showed him
they shared all she had been to them

Tabitha, get up
Peter kneeled with her
Peter prayed with her
Peter said, Tabitha get up
she opened her eyes
she sat up
Peter gave her his hand and helped her up

he gave her a hand
he didn't leave her alone
he didn't leave her to herself
he didn't tell her she has access to care
he didn't tell her to get a better job with better benefits
he gave her a hand and helped her up
he helped her up
he provided the means for her to rise

he gave her a hand and helped her up
will you do the same
when you see someone dead inside
will you give them hand and help them up
when you encounter the lifeless
will you give them a hand and help them up
when you encounter the stories of a life well lived
will you give those sharing a hand and help them up
when you the powerful, the deciders, the ones who can change the law
when you in charge encounter the ill and dying
will you give them a hand and help them get up


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Get Up and Make Your Bed

Now as Peter went here and there among all the believers, he came down also to the saints living in Lydda. 33There he found a man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden for eight years, for he was paralyzed. 34Peter said to him, ‘Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; get up and make your bed!’ And immediately he got up. 35And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord. Acts 9:32-35
get up and make your bed
for eight years
for eight years he was paralyzed
for eight years he had to rely on others
for eight years he needed the help of those around him
for eight years simple things we take for granted were difficult
for eight years life presented obstacles
for eight years

get up and make your bed
can you imagine what went through his mind
do you not understand what it means to be paralyzed
getting up requires help
making the bed requires someone who can move around
what part of being paralyzed do you not understand

Peter went here and there
Peter was wandering through the believers
he chanced upon Aeneas
Peter believed that Jesus could heal
Peter believed that by invoking the name of Jesus, a paralyzed man could get up

get up and make your bed
I wish faith worked like it does in Acts
I wish I could walk into the hospital room
say Jesus Christ heals you
I wish that than they could get up and make their beds
I pray for the healing love of Jesus to pour out on those I encounter
I pray for God's will to be done
I pray for the doctors, nurses, aids, techs, caregivers to be God's hands, heart, and healing energy

get up and make your bed
I want to invoke the name of Jesus
me, a person who rarely ends a prayer in Jesus Name
me, I want to invoke the name of Jesus
I want us to get up and make our beds
I want us to not be complacent, complicit
I want us to push back against a system that leaves people struggling to find and receive care
I want us to push back against a budget that would cut
 The National Institute of Health  86.5 billion
  research and training by 5.1 billion
  clinical training by 4.5 billion
  consumer and occupational health and safety by 16.5 billion
  food and rug administration by 12.6 billion
  food and safety inspection my 1.8 billion
  occupational and mine safety and health by 1.8 billion
  consumer product safety by 253 million
  medicare by 68.2 billion
  grants to states for medicaid 627 billion
...
I want us to get up and make our beds
we need to speak up and fight back
we need to call, protest, sit down, stand up, march
we need to say Jesus Christ heals you
we need to get up and make our beds
so no one is left bereft, no one is left without help
we need to get up and make our beds
so no one is paralyzed who could be made well
we need to say if you claim Christ then you need to follow him
you need to heal and providing healing they way Jesus dis
we need to remind them to get up and make their beds

Monday, May 29, 2017

A Shadow Might Fall

Now many signs and wonders were done among the people through the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico. 13None of the rest dared to join them, but the people held them in high esteem. 14Yet more than ever believers were added to the Lord, great numbers of both men and women, 15so that they even carried out the sick into the streets, and laid them on cots and mats, in order that Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he came by. 16A great number of people would also gather from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all cured.  Acts 5:12-16
when you worry
when you worry about cost
when you worry that the bill will take your house
when you worry that the prescription costs more than you can afford
when you worry that in order to be well you will have to give up food
when you worry with the prescription you will have to turn off you last splurge the internet
when you worry you don't go to the doctor because you know you can't follow their advice
when you worry you don't go to the doctor until you need the emergency room
when you worry

when you worry
you wish a shadow would fall
you wish that the prayer would cure
you wish you lived in Jesus' time for then you might get lucky and get healed
you wish you lived at the time when even the shadow of Peter could heal you

when you worry
you don't have time, energy, the hope of a political solution
when you worry
you don't have the will to fight for the right to healthcare
when you worry
you don't have the voice that will be heard by those who are supposed to represent you
your voice is too poor, too ignored, too quiet
when you worry
you grab for anything that might change what you have now.

Holy One,
pour our your healing love
pour out you will
hold us who worry
may your shadow fall on us

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Bless to Me



“I will bless the Lord at all times; God’s praise will always be in my mouth.” — Psalm 34:1
I was out visiting one of you the other day, as we were sitting drinking lemonade this bird dropped into the bird bath. Shaking and flipping water. Wiggling and just enjoying the feel of the water all over. Watching the bird dance in the water brought a smile to our faces and joy into our hearts. In that moment, as the bird bathed I couldn’t help but say (ok only in my head, for who wants the pastor to break out into poetry):
bless to me the bird
bless to me the water
bless to me the joy of bathing
bless to me the beauty of a garden
bless to me the soft patter of the rain drops
bless to me the simple moment out of time
bless to me the simple pleasures of sharing a lemonade with friends
bless to me God who made this moment holy
I have started trying to say these prayers as I am stuck in the moment. These are times when I am deeply present to what is happening. I truly see what is before me and am not rushing to think about the next thing I need to do or worrying about that which I have yet to accomplish. Instead, I take a breath and say bless to me.
Beth Richardson, in her book, Christ Beside Me, Christ Within Me, teaches this practices of writing “bless to me” prayers. The prayer focuses on a tool, item, or activity and expresses gratitude for that moment. You celebrate the object and activity and the way it connects us to the present moment. With these prayers we rest in the presence of the holy in our ordinary life and activities. So if you are washing the dishes, walking the dog, sharing a meal, laughing with friends, picking weeds, fixing a car…… You pause and bless the moment.
Do you long to feel God’s presence in your daily life? This summer we will spend our worship and study time becoming aware of God’s presence in all the moments of your life — from waking to sleeping, from birth to death, from mundane chores to momentous celebrations. Hopefully you to will have that moment while with other you want to break out into a bless to me prayer.