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."

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.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Speak Your Word with Boldness

After they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24When they heard it, they raised their voices together to God and said, ‘Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth, the sea, and everything in them, 25it is you who said by the Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, your servant:
“Why did the Gentiles rage,
   and the peoples imagine vain things?
26 The kings of the earth took their stand,
   and the rulers have gathered together
     against the Lord and against his Messiah.”
27For in this city, in fact, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, 28to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. 29And now, Lord, look at their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your word with all boldness, 30while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.’ 31When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness. Acts 4:23-31
What do you pray when your world is upside down?
What do you pray when you have been dragged before the authorities?
What do you pray when your truth conflicts with their truth?
Peter and John were arrested by the temple authorities
brought in for questioning, because they continued to preach and follow Jesus
they don't back down
they were bold
What do you pray?
Peter, John and the Believers
pray to speak you word with boldness
pray to the one who made everything
pray that when the threats come
that they will speak your word with boldness
stretch out your hand to heal
bring your signs and wonders

What do we pray when our world is upside down?
What do we pray when it feels like were threatened?
What do we pray when it feels like everything is falling apart?
environmental regulations rolled back
Muslim bans
ice raids and deportation
rolling back changes to drug sentencing laws
tax cuts in the disguise of healthcare reform
What do we pray in these moments?
we pray to speak your word with boldness
we pray for your healing presence and touch
we pray for signs and wonder

Thursday, May 11, 2017

What I Have I Give You

One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, at three o’clock in the afternoon. 2And a man lame from birth was being carried in. People would lay him daily at the gate of the temple called the Beautiful Gate so that he could ask for alms from those entering the temple. 3When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked them for alms. 4Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, ‘Look at us.’ 5And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. 6But Peter said, ‘I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.’ 7And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. 8Jumping up, he stood and began to walk, and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. 9All the people saw him walking and praising God, 10and they recognized him as the one who used to sit and ask for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. Acts 3:1-10
what I have I give you
Peter and John are heading to prayer
they have a lot to pray about
the have much they need guidance for
how will they keep the mission, ministry, word, love of Jesus alive
they seek the wisdom of the Spirit to guide them
at prayer they encounter a man who is lame
he is brought to the temple to ask for alms
he solicits Peter and John
he asks for money
Peter and John look at him
really look at him
they seem to look beyond the question
they look beyond the begging
they see him
he thought that look meant
I will get something for sure
Peter is honest
I don't have silver or gold
what I have I will give you
he heals him
he speaks of Jesus and heals him
he took hold of his hand and raised him up
he could jump and dance
walk and run
he began leaping and praising god

Holy One,
teach me to see
teach me to look intently
teach me to truly see the one in front of me
the one trying to get my attention
don't let me avert my eyes and just walk on by
help me to see

Holy One,
with eyes that look tenderly with love
teach me what I have to give
I wish I could touch the hurt. the sick, the lost and raise them up
I try to open my hand and heart
to see who is before me
to give what I have

Holy One,
we as a country seem to have forgotten
we often look at people not as a commodity, an object to be consumed
we often don't look, we walk by with our eyes or heads down
we don't want to see, to look intently at our neighbor, our stranger
teach us to see, to look, to open our hearts

Holy One,
with our eyes open, our hearts full of love
show me what it is I have to give
show all of us what it is we have to give
we place ourselves in a world where we don't think about those you told us to love, to serve, to see
we can say the sick are that way because they are not blessed,
we can say the sick didn't lead the life they should have
we can say the sick aren't my responsibility
we can say the sick can pay more for help
 forgetting if they are sick, work becomes a challenge
 forgetting that many people don't have any extra money for a unexpected or long term illness
 we forget that the American Dream is just a myth
 if you are born poor you will stay poor
 if you are sick and your family doesn't have the money
 you will be in debt forever to receive care

Holy One,
what I have I give you
you - the lame one,  the sick one, the one in front of me
what I have I give you
you - the ones Jesus loved
you - the ones Peter and John saw
what I have I  give to you

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

I Was Sick and You Took Care of Me

‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. 34Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” 37Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” 40And the king will answer them, “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.” 41Then he will say to those at his left hand, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” 44Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?” 45Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” 46And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’ Matthew 25:31-46
eternal punishment, eternal life
come, you that are blessed
I was sick and you took care of me
Lord, when was it that we saw you sick and visited you
Just as you did it to the least of these
you did it to me
You, that are accursed, depart into the eternal fire
for I was sick and you did not visit me
Lord, when did I not take care of you?
just as you did not do it to one of the least of these
you did not do it to me

eternal punishment, eternal life
did you ever wish that this was true
that God divided us and looked at our works
looked out how we cared for the sick, the poor, the thirsty, the stranger, the imprisoned
looked at how we dealt with those not of our tribe, race, class, country
looked at how we treated the least of these

eternal punishment, eternal life
Jesus promises us life
life where we have enough to eat
food to eat that makes us healthy and whole
food that enriches our bodies and heals our ills
Jesus promises us life
water that nourishes
water that doesn't contain lead or radium
water that isn't set on fire
water that doesn't contain particles that harm instead of nourish
Jesus promises us life
a stranger, a person not of my tribe, class or race
a stranger is welcomed
a stranger is cared for, shown compassion, given hope
Jesus promises us life
when we are sick you will take care of me
visit me, heal me, comfort me
when we are sick you will take care of me
Jesus promises us life
when we are imprisoned
you visited me
you didn't leave me trapped and alone
you promised me care and comfort
you promised to walk with me in the danger, in the darkness
Jesus promises us life

God here my prayer, my call, my pleading
for people don't seem to be listening to your voice, your word, your promise
people, well government people want to go backward  instead of forward
people, government people, outspoken Christians who wield your word like a sword
people, government people, Christians, who forgot the least of these, the call to service
people, government people, Christians, forgive me for my desire to judge them
please God hear us crying out, change the hearts that are hard
change the hearts that forgot your promise of life, life abundant
God comfort those of us full of fear, full of heartache
God show us how to rise up, stand up, fight back for the least of these