Pigeon

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Pigeon

He sits on the
Park bench when
A pigeon lands nearby.
Awkward and unassuming,

She stands in front of
Him, staring with her
Beady little eyes. She
Waits and watches.

She wants him to drop

A bit of the stale bread crumbs
He is hesitant to let go. He
Waits for the perfect moment
To release bread from hand.

I drop what I’ve held so tightly to
Hoping that she will leave me alone
But she always asks for more.
God’s Holy Spirit is always

Pushing me
To drop the things
I will not
Let go.

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Be Careful What You Wish For; Be Careful How You Pray

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Be Careful What You Wish For;
Be Careful How You Pray

“Be careful what you wish for,”
They say as I dream
Of a reality different
Than it is today.
“It might just happen
Changing everything.”
And then, I pray:

“Our Father,
who art in heaven”
A father, the one who
Loves me beyond
Measure, still
Asks for obedience
That I don’t want to give.

“Hallowed by thy name”
Not my name, but yours
The prayer I’m taught to pray
Is not about me;
Asks I step back from
Myself and hallow
Something else.

“Thy kingdom come”
My kingdom of strength,
Wallet, and position
Replaced with your kingdom that
Scatters the proud and brings down
The powerful while lifting the
lowly ones I ignore.

“On earth as it is in heaven”
Pain and fear,
Waste and weary,
War and despair.
Complicit, I wait for a day
They are no more.
This prayer promises heaven here.

“Give us this day our daily bread”
Leftovers fill my fridge.
Someday soon, they will be scraped
in the trash. Forgotten. I go to the store
Thinking there is nothing to eat,
Taking food out of the hands of
Ones without.

“And forgive us our trespasses as we
forgive those who trespass against us”
I do not forgive my neighbor,
Stranger, family, or friend.
My memory holds on to hurt.
Still I pray forgive me
As I forgive others?

“And lead us not into temptation”
Temptation surrounds,
And I succumb. Temptation is
A powerful mistress
I choose to follow
All the while praying for
Temptation’s grip to loosen.

“But deliver us from evil”
There is evil all around,
Some of it my own.
Evil is easy,
Comfortable, and safe.
Evil allows me to justify myself
And still I pray, deliver.

Be careful what you wish for.
Be careful what you pray.
It might just change
Everything.

Blood Clots and Ashes

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Blood Clots and Ashes

I love leading Ash Wednesday service. There is an authenticity in Ash Wednesday. There is a truth telling that isn’t always present in other services. This is a day that all the baggage we bring along with us, all those ways we try to outdo one another, all the ways we try to justify ourselves are picked up by the wind and blow away.

“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
We all hear these words.
Grandchildren and Grandparents
Ranchers and insurance agents
Teachers and hospital staff
Life of trial and life of privilege
Immigrant and 5th generation
Indigenous and colonizer
Black Lives Matter and law enforcement personnel
Refugee and safe and secure
Addicted and recovering
Abused and comfortable
Hear the same thing,
“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

Ash Wednesday is an equalizer. We all hear of our mortality. We all hear of the consistent death of our bodies. You and I come from the same dust. You and I return to the ground to decompose, returning to the dusty places. And to those grimy places Jesus points reminding us where we are met.

Most Ash Wednesdays I’m hustling around, trying to visit nursing home members, putting final touches on the evenings sermon, trying to figure out the perfect mix of oil and ash for the impositions. But yesterday, I sat in a hospital room feeling vulnerable and depressed. I was gaining strength and health and sulking after a blood clot took over my entire left leg. I was sad because I did’t get to do one of the things I love. I was disappointed because others were doing what I am called to do. I felt helpless because it was all going to happen without me. Insignificant because without my presence, things moved right along.

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But, isn’t that what Ash Wednesday is all about? I take myself too seriously. I am certain nothing can happen without my expertise. I feel like I’m letting people down when I don’t do my absolute best. And yes, I do let people down. I fail. I’m not always the best father or husband or son or brother or friend or pastor. As I sat in the bed, self-pitied and pained, my friends came with a mason jar of wine, bread in Tupperware, and some ashes. In that place of hospital gown humility and mortality facing vulnerability, we shared words of promise and words of hope. These words weren’t ours, but they are promise that belongs to those gathered around the story. Remember, you are dust and to dust you shall return. Body and Blood given and shed. For you! For me? Yes, for you! I returned the promise.

As an infant, an oily cross marked my baptismally dripping forehead. Forever I am sealed by the Holy Spirit. Yesterday in that very spot I was marked with an ashen cross, a visible sign of death and still a visible sign of life and promise. Through ordinary things, whole grain bread, and a jar of wine, Jesus very body and blood was received in faith. In the dust of death, in the deserted feeling of depression, in the clot filled leg, swollen and purple, aching for relief, Christ is there sitting in the ash beside us.

Beatitudes On January 29, 2017

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Beatitudes On January 29, 2017

Blessed are those with crippling medical bills,
for they will find relief.

Blessed are the hungry stomachs,
for they will be fed with healthy and life sustaining food.

Blessed are those whose water is undrinkable,
for real, visceral thirst will be quenched.

Blessed are the original inhabitants of a land,
for God has been with you through persecution and genocide.

Blessed are those who are persecuted and targeted because of the color of their skin,
for they are created in the image of God.

Blessed are those who are stuck in a cycle of poverty,
for they are rich in the love of God.

Blessed are refugees and those fleeing from harm,
for God goes with them into the unsafe waters and arrives with them on safe shores.

Blessed are the feet that stand against unjust systems,
for God goes with you.

Blessed are those who are surrounded by walls,
for God is a God of bridges.

Blessed are you who turn your back to the pain and suffering of the world,
for your eyes will be opened and your heart will beat in love.

Let it be so…

This Morning I Heard

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­This Morning I Heard

This morning I heard
­

a white but one jury
is unable to agree on
a verdict in a trial of
a black man murdered
by a man charged to
serve and protect

This morning I heard

a black man who was once
considered a football god
was shot dead in a fit
of road rage. The shooter,
white
has been released from custody.

This morning I yearn

for justice
for deliverance for people who cry out
for the oppressor to be crushed
for disposable lives to matter
for a new tomorrow
for a savior

Fractured

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An Advent reflection based on #RendTheHeavens
Day 3: Fr(act)ured
Genesis 9:15b — And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.

Fractured

God has placed the archer’s
bow of death in the sky;
its colors radiant and bright.

Refracted light. A
reminder of God’s binding promise;
never again destroy the created.

The bending of light
will not heal the
fracture

we’ve created
between
ourselves.