Parable before the Sermon in Nazareth

At breakfast on the Sabbath morning
when he was going to preach
in his home-town synagogue,
he looked around the table
at his hovering anxious parents,
maybe a couple fragile new disciples,
the sunlight streaming in the door
reminding him of the other heritage,

and he said, “Sometimes my words
are like a deep chalice
that holds all God’s children
in their most vulnerable times,

and sometimes my words are a spoon
to stir things up,

I will save the chalice for later.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 3 Comments

Prayer for Ukraine (Україна)

Ukraine landscape, public domain

“There are ‘no minor incursions and small nations.’”President Volodymyr Zelensky

God, of the sparrow falling,
the existence of beauty in a field lily,
the bread-potential of leaven
sheltering branches which come
from the mustardseed,
a pearl of great price or single cup of water,

and the assumption of kindness
at the knock in the night
of someone with hungry children.

God of those who become
least of these because of situation,
we give you thanks for Jesus’ stories
so long ago,
that remind us to follow you,

teach all of your world,
who would prefer to yell out
“we are already comfortable in bed
with our own families,”

that it is the holy time to get up
and share that which is helpful. Amen.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 11 Comments

Roll the Scroll – Luke 4 for preachers

I am wearing my preaching shoes,
with a rainbow of shiny glass jewels,
pointed toes, and  
the most comfortable sole
I’ve stood up in for a long time.

You see, we don’t sit down
to preach anymore,
because pulpits help us get a grip,
and maybe sometimes we have
an attitude of altitude
about what we are going to say.

There is plenty of message for everyone
in Jesus’ reading Isaiah,

but the poke at proud preachers
isn’t only Luke reminding
his audience of the common practice
of standing for scripture
and sitting down for what is always
only personal interpretation.

Even Jesus rolls the scroll,

never pretending that even he
has the one-and-only meaning
for the holy words,

much less we preachers
who also must learn to roll the scroll,
even if we stand shaking a little
at some pulpit,

which is not to say
that we shouldn’t wear the best shoes,
sequins and all,
that help us escape the cliff.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Prayer after the South Pacific volcano eruptions

God, Giver of calm in all turmoil,
we pray for those under ash, steam and gas clouds,
and those who feared or experienced
tsunami this weekend, in the wake of
Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai’s eruptions.

We pray for Tonga’s Fonuafo’ou island
nearest to the eruptions,
and Tongatapu Island,
most severely struck by tsunami,
for the capital Nuku’alofa,
where boats and boulders washed ashore,
damaging waterfront and main street,
cutting communications,
contaminating air and water,
as residents fled.

We pray for those in Pago Pago,
American Samoa,
for evacuees in Fiji, especially Suva,
for the nation of Samoa
and for Aotearoa/New Zealand,
braced for impact and sending support.

We pray for Vanuatu, Japan,
Alaska, British Columbia, Australia,
California, and the Hawai’ian islands,
all impacted by the high waves.

You, who are remembered,
often in easily said words, as
speaking from fire on the mountains,
shaping the depth of the seas,
walking on the waves,

come in the core of your truth
to ease fear and comfort all,
for you are recognized by us all  
in the compassion of a global family,

Amen.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Let’s have fun — Some Southern Hemisphere Winter games, saved to share — Guest Post Rosalie Sugrue

These three were challenges written and published by Rosalie Sugrue of Aotearoa / New Zealand last June, that she gave me permission to save and share, for yourself or a small group. This kind of fun is what I do when I discover that all my free time has had 1) a page of someone else’s cozy mystery in front of me or 2) a screen large or small. Remember, we are the children of a playful God.

A Prayer for Play (this heresy is me)

Let me not be too old to fly a kite,
looking into the sky, trusting the wind.
Let me not be too grand,
or grounded in responsibility
to swing high from an oak tree branch,
or build a castle in the sand
that waves will wash away.

How little like a job is that?
How even less like housekeeping
is the flash of jacks,
the sharing of the red rubber ball
with a good, good friend,
or the intricate skip-litany hip hop
of urban-alley jump rope,

how sweet and yet a little like a sanctuary
is sidewalk chalk,
reading a story to a child,
even kicking a pile of raked leaves
though I’m beyond jumping-in age.

  WINTER DELIGHTS

HFLBOARDRAC
OFROSTUGSFO
TCISUMALWSS
DFPRYMXOACY
RFUSELTVSAC
IROSBSIEGRH
NISTTOISIVA
KETEPRODJET
SNOWFLAKESS
PDOCRAFTSER
SSBGNITTINK

FIND; arts, board-games, books, boots, card-games, cosy-chats, crafts, fireside, friends, frost, gloves, hats, hot-drinks, jigsaws, knitting, music, scarves, snowflakes, soup, stew, TV

Words may: cross each other, read horizontally, vertically, diagonally, or backwards. Ring each word or mark with a hi-lighter or crayon. Mark off list as found. After finding all ‘search words’ circle each unused letter. Write them out to complete the sentence below. X may mark a space or a full stop. Hyphenated words may not be on the same line but will be adjacent to each other.

Now, try your hand at MAKING a Word Search.

In winter I like wearing ______________________________.

WINTER FUN (make a word-search)

WINTERETAWT
A    B    O
R    O    H
M  M T     
C I  T     
LL   L     
O    E     
T          
H          
E          
S       FUN

 FIND: fun, hot-water-bottle, Milo, warm-clothes, winter

ADD:    (Make a list and see how many words you can fit in!)

Begin with pencil and rubber. Don’t go over with biro until you have

placed a few longer words then fit smaller words around them.

HIDDEN BOOKS

Underline 42 ‘Books of the Bible’ hidden in this paragraph

Biblical word games evoke lukewarm responses in some folk but they make a most enjoyable pastime for religious pro verb sorts. Finding hidden books is a joy not a job. At least it usually beats learning facts. Perseverance brings revelation. Yes, there are easy ones but in all truth you may judge some as maddening. Do not dissolve into loud lamentations. Keep working silently. You could get in a jam especially if you only look at whole words. Gene, Sis and Matt hewed each word into pieces. Jud encouraged Johnny to join gaps. For Jon, a help was avoiding all punctuation. Nanna hummed a tune. Hemi, a handyman, ignored capitals. A chap from church, Ron Icles, says he brews a cuppa to help concentrate. His wife, Danielle, says she drinks to keep salm, she means calm. Jo Shua (who invented anti moth yarn), and Levi Ticus (who sealed the deal) worked together. However, a Corinthian soldier named Abishag gained more. Mala Ching called to his ex, “O dusky maiden please help.” But she only sang a song of Solomon’s. From answers found Jo elected to compile a list. Her numbers totalled 36. Then a gal at Ian’s found one more. ‘I got zero man,’ sighed Samuel. Lez ranked better but bibliophile Monica got all 42. See how you compete. Really it is fun. Mark my words!          Ó RMS              (226  wds)

Books to find – listed here in Biblical order (Cross off as found)

Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Solomon, Lamentations, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Jonah, Nahum, Haggai, Malachi, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, Peter, Jude, Revelation

[PUT ON ANOTHER PAGE]

Hidden Books in paragraph order: luke, amos, proverbs, job, titus, acts, revelation, esther, ruth, judges, lamentations, kings, james, genesis, matthew, jude, john, jonah, nahum, nehemiah, chronicles, hebrews, daniel, psalms, joshua, timothy, leviticus, hosea, corinthians, haggai, malachi, exodus, song of solomon, joel, numbers, galatians, romans, samuel, ezra, philemon, peter, mark.

Hidden Books revealed

Biblical word games evoke lukewarm responses in some folk but they make a most enjoyable pastime for religious pro verb sorts. Finding hidden books is a joy not a job. At least it usually beats learning facts. Perseverance brings revelation. Yes, there are easy ones but in all truth you may judge some as maddening. Do not dissolve into loud lamentations. Keep working silently. You could get in a jam especially if you only look at whole words. Gene, Sis and Matt hewed each word into pieces. Jud encouraged Johnny to join gaps. For Jon, a help was avoiding all punctuation. Nanna hummed a tune. Hemi, a handyman, ignored capitals. A chap from church, Ron Icles, says he brews a cuppa to help concentrate. His wife, Danielle, says she drinks to keep salm, she means calm. Jo Shua who invented anti moth yarn), and Levi Ticus who sealed the deal) worked together. However, a Corinthian soldier named Abishag gained more. Mala Ching called to his ex, “O dusky maiden please help.” She only sang a song of Solomon’s. From answers found, Jo elected to compile a list. Her numbers totalled 37. Then a gal at Ian’s found one more. ‘I got zero man,’ sighed Samuel. Lez ranked better but bibliophile Monica got all 42. See how you compete. Really it is fun. Mark my words!

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Prayer for Ukraine

God, may the words of all the mouths
speaking this week on the fragile
safety of the Ukraine
ease the fearful meditations
of so many hearts,
with Russian troops massed
along the border and
live-fire exercises
leading to new terror.

Rounds of diplomatic talks
and threats of sanctions are weapons.

Somehow in the midst
of days of nothing being acceptable
to the positions of Russia,
the United States and NATO,
may this be the day
of de-escalation and hopemaking,

for strength is not in the security
of armed forces,
nor is redeeming ever invasion,
and they are rarely gained
in one week’s diplomacy,
but in a commitment to
a long, complicated discourse,

may this be a day of troop withdrawal,
and of people in Ukraine
beginning to trust the process,
and know the world cares,

and those of the Ukrainian diaspora
in Canada, Russia, Brazil,
Argentina, US, resting their hearts
and deepening their prayers.

May the words of our mouths,
and the meditations of our hearts
be acceptable to you
God, our strength, and our redeemer. Amen

(Psalm 19: 14)

In Kiev, monument of Independence, public domain
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Walking among the gentle ones

I have been walking the sidewalks
alongside the gentle ones,
and I hear them whispering.
They don’t seem to be grieving
all the ornaments, the tinsel, the lights,
but to be planning
what will come next.

“I’m going into the woods
to rest in last year’s sharp needles
and the deep compost
of my ancestors,
under the hopeful branches
of our many children.

“I’m going to New Jersey
to shore up the sand dunes there.”

“I’m going to be mulch
heaped up around bulbs of flowers,
protecting still-unfolded beauty
until the spring comes.”

“I’ll be chipped to become a path
winding through the community park,
and children will run on me
all the way to the swings.”

A jaunty one, still hiding
a renegade candy cane, says –
“I’ll be part of an illegal bonfire
on the beach and my sparks
will float up and light the dark ocean.”  

One with a hook left in
seems to want to hook me,
as I walk quietly
on the obedient end of the leash,

“Remember, when it is your time,
there will be so many ways
to show that you were one of those
with ornaments, tinsel, and lights.
I promise …

… you won’t need them on the outside.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 11 Comments

Reflection on Luke 3:15-17

I tied my children’s shoelaces
when they got up in the morning,
and after removing stones
that made their walking hard,
and I untied them
when, feet tired, sweaty, dirty,
they got ready for bed.
It was a very tender time.

I often tied and untied the laces
of my grandma’s old-time black shoes,
and my mother’s sneakers
when those vibrant women
could not bend over well enough,
and it was a chance to talk
about the day past and the one to come.
It was a very tender time.

Mostly my grandchildren don’t have
shoelaces on their expedited shoes,
and their “help me”
is to keep the shoes upright
so, three to twenty tablespoons of sand
don’t have to be cleaned up.
We tell the day’s adventures,
tickle, count toes and are tender.

I suspect John the Baptist was in a rush
to get to the ‘winnowing fork,’
and not being shoelace-worthy
was code for ‘skip to the big preach,’

of course, no one else would help Jesus,
that happened often. Perhaps it explains

why there was and is still
so much time-taken and tenderness
that emerge from Jesus’ words,
not to speak of his willingness

to tie things together,
help with the hard knots in life,
listen to our small stories.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Prayer for Kazakhstan

God, we pray for the sorrows
of Kazakhstan.
You who love without limit,
care without cursing,
hold all your people
without breaking their spirits,

be among those who hear,
“kill without warning”
when they seek to protest.

Inspire peace in the leaders
of this and supporting nations who call
for calm through violence.

Comfort those who are afraid,
who cannot afford fuel or food or hope,
who live in desperate conditions,
and do not lie down in safety.

Open the heart of your world.
Amen.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Awkward lessons from Epiphany

People from far away bring the greatest gifts
not family, born or chosen, but strangers.
Watch for them.

Stars that guide people to God,
are probably not what church folk expect
(after all, astrologers?)
Could be AA, yoga, facebook, Zoloft.

Stars are usually visible
in someone’s deepest night.
If it’s someone you love, remember that.

At one time or another,
we ask directions from the wrong people,
and get to the Messiah anyway.

The not-very-useful gifts we bring God
are not what God needs,
but what we need to give away.

After meeting God,
we have to go home another way,
both things –
it is a very different journey
and yet we end up home.

As Matthew tells the story, and as we do,
on January 6, long ago, last year, so also this one –

it is always about the choice of kings.

Pittman, Lauren Wright. Shining Hope, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. Original source: http://www.lewpstudio.com – copyright by Lauren Wright Pittman.
 
 
Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments