Knowing

Spring can’t decide  MVIMG_20180324_084510

snow

rain

sun

Snow today

 

Wind can’t decide

which way to blow today

west

east

swirl

catch

 

One thing the snow knows

without a doubt

 

Down

Eucharist

Fallen seed

hidden

not taken.

Moistened

overtaken

broken.

Awakened

called out

to outgrow its death

fill its latent shape

push and seek

the light

bathe

breathe earth’s air

enfold time

into its fiber

defying gravity.

 

Smooth shell

greying

crusting itself

into wizened story.

Green hands

receive

radiant life

reshaping

taking shape

pushing up to

reach for more

of itself.

 

Divine seed

fallen

into tissue and blood

overtaken

fed and formed

in the body

he made.

Seeded woman

humble soil

offering her offspring

to earth’s air.

 

Broken boy

clinging to the tree

he made.

Life force

defying gravity

pushing up

spilling out

down

moistening the soil

reshaping

into love’s food.

 

Wood felled

and riven.

Sun and soil

rain and air

bound together

holy altar

offering its offspring.

 

Grain and fruit

sun and soil and air

love’s ancient force

shaping

binding to unbind

broken boy

fallen

into greening hands

reaching for life

defying gravity.

Oahu, January 13

Oahu
Photo by Karen Mechler

To find the sermon for this week, please go to the “Lectionary Sermons” section in the Menu.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unhurried morning

stepping out our door

coffee warming

surf pounding

eyes trained

on the horizon

anticipating surprise

of spout

breach

delight

whales

tasting air

reminding themselves

that they dwell

in the deeps

 

Unearthly noise

breaks the mood

 

MISSILE INBOUND

TAKE SHELTER

 

Disbelief

 

Confusion

 

Disturbance

breaking

the surface

 

Malevolence

invading

questioning

the balance

reaching its

dark

finger

to strum

the cord

between

human

and

human

 

Unexpectedly

it sounds

the eternal

tone,

emits

calm

that holds

tenuous

attentive

 

Eyes trained

on the

horizon

hold images

familial

indelible

 

The moment

passes.

False alarm.

 

But we are

changed

 

The beast

has touched

the depths

 

 

 

The Last–and First–Word

Nativity-2017-1024x649

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”  (Jn 1.1-5)

You may have heard before that “word” in this passage is logos in Greek, which means a lot more than letters strung in order to symbolize an idea.  It is the root word for logic, and so it can be translated as reason or structure or purpose.  If Jesus is the Word sent to us, then he is the divine key that unlocks the very substance of existence itself.  “In him all things hold together,” wrote one of the apostles.  (Col 1.17)

One reason we know that Jesus is eternal with God the creator is that John put it right there in his gospel.  “Without him not one thing came into being.”  So Jesus is not only the Son sent to save us, he is the Alpha and Omega (Rev 22.13).  Every single thing that has ever existed, from the tiny tree frog to the galaxies yet to be discovered, all of it has spun out from the mind and being of Christ who was in on creation.

Something, someone so big cannot be defined in human language.  We have language, and we use language to describe God, but that doesn’t mean God is confined by our lexicon.

I was visiting with a friend recently about her faith, and she told about a recent evening with her husband, when she tried to describe to him the depth of her experience as God’s beloved, and she burst into tears because she couldn’t find the right words.  She still can’t.  She writes and writes about it, but the profound experience itself defies language.

Perhaps you know about that.  You have had moments of holiness that washed over you unbidden.  Somehow you felt connected with everything in the universe…or it was a sense of deep contentment and hope…or you felt forgiven—really forgiven—for the first time…or the love you felt for a child or parent was bigger than you remember feeling before.  You got a glimpse of eternal reality.

Our faith is such a small sampling of the life God has for us.  It comes in words of the creed, words of the Bible, words of our prayers.  Yet these are only door latches just within our reach, handles on a portal to a dimension far beyond our imagining.

Jesus came to us from that divine dimension to tell us there is more.  The life that is truly life, the life God has for us, is rich with beauty and love and belonging.  The ways we pervert that life and obscure the riches are no obstacles for Christ.  He wears his forgiveness on his sleeve and offers his own self to enliven our curiosity and enrich our lives.  He loves us so much!

Words can’t describe it.

And so he became the Word.  A human.  A baby.  He pitched his tent among us as a walking, talking message from the God of the universe that life is meant to be filled with beauty and meaning.  He offered himself on a cross to clear away the layers of guilt and violence and greed that we have allowed to masquerade as life.

The light is coming.  It shines in our darkness.

The Word is coming.  He makes sense out of our confusion.

God’s promise of a Savior is the Word made flesh, the light the darkness cannot overcome.

This is an excerpt of a sermon–The Light and the Word–on my “Lectionary Sermons” page.  You can access it by going to the menu.  

 

For Terry

My friend Terry was a farmer, a man who embodied faith and joy.

Rising early

first thoughts

of tasks

toil

contained in a vessel

of trust

and praise

and thanks

 

Pulling on worn jeans

familiar as the

breakfast

and markets

soft voices

going over the day’s schedule

flexible as farming requires

prayer

intention

a joke or two

a wry acceptance

of what is here

and hope

always embedded

cultivated

as surely as the soil

 

Awakened machine

trained to walk

the uneven ground

to climb the fueled beasts

of burden

and planting

and harvest

hands reaching for controls

that cannot control

the sun

and rain

 

Body fueled

by home cooking

and love

and Spirit force

and legacy

of cherishing the land

and the coaxing

of creatures

to be born

and eat

and grow

as they know to do

 

Body diseased

but never dis-eased

by its betrayal

forced Sabbath

strange gift

opening the heart

to joy

and wonder

healing over with

scar tissue

of trust

 

Father, lover, grandpa, friend

spirit expanded

bursting

the bonds

of this world

the door opens

to Presence

glory

life

wider

deeper

wonder full

 

Beloved whispers from beyond

I am here.

 

Sunday Morning Confession

If you are looking for ideas for this week’s lectionary text, go to the Menu and click on “Lectionary Sermons.”  They appear in order for the current year.  

Folks will come at the appointed hourFall 2015

dutifully, happily

visit a bit, then settle into their familiar pews

expectant, ready for a song, a prayer,

a word or two of inspiration

to nourish their steady faith for a few more days.

Where are the words?

They are tangled up, bound, uneasy,

resistant to casual exploitation.

Feeble, not equal to the task

nor strong enough to emerge

from the morass of questions,

preoccupied with contradictions,

busy elsewhere with tweets and posts and shrillness.

Better to give them a break this once.

Better to ponder the vivacity of the children among us,

the blaze of yellow grass in the ditches,

the relentless, rhythmic caress of the waves on the lakeshore.

Worthy satisfaction for a Sabbath morning.

 

 

 

 

 

Over the Mountain

Sometimes, while writing the weekly sermon, other ideas swirl and prod, but editing is critical, and they don’t make it into the final draft.  Some of them linger.  This is one idea that persisted and emerged in a poem, having pondered Philippians 3:13–“forgetting what lies behind, reaching out for what lies ahead…”

pioneer-women

I rescued

one teacup

to honor

Grandmother

hid it among the quilts

I alone unfold

each night.

The memory

is safe

for now.

 

Her silken hands

handing me

milky tea

veins in relief

tracing the map

of her years

life blood

testifying

that she

is here.

Was there.

 

We will have

a new here.

 

The china

painted peonies

she selected

as a bride

had to go.

The careful wrapping

the harsh warnings

the birthday meals

the thin connection

to the old country

had to go.

 

Shattered

in a ravine

bright treasure

for the crows.

China flowers

among the real,

payment

for carrying

our hope

lightly.

 

Flowers

along the way

anyway

columbine

fireweed

sego lily

 

and the

teacup

snatched

to hold

my grandmother’s

memory

will find

its new place

at the end

of the trail.