There is a poem by Ian Crichton Smith
TWO GIRLS SINGING
It neither was the words nor yet the tune
Any tune would have done and any words.
Any listener at all.
As nightingales in rocks or a child crooning
in its own world of strange awakening
or larks for no reason but themselves.
So on the bus through late November running
by yellow lights tormented, darkness falling,
the two girls sang for miles and miles together
and it wasn’t the words or the tune. It was the singing.
It was the human sweetness in that yellow,
the unpredicted voices of our kind.
Source: Scottish Poem Book
May you find yourself, this day, together with another – singing.
Singing with raucous voice released by darkness and adventure and the courage that comes with company,
In the human sweetness, with the unpredicted voices of shared struggle and shared hope.
An attribute of good character is Courage.
It is the stuff respect is made of.
Heart like this is not bravado
Real bravado is heart like this: risk takers and justice seekers who win over the mind of others because they conquered themselves first.
Today we practice courage:
When we are afraid, still we will act.
Fear and courage are brothers.
We will follow our heart.
To dare is to lose your footing for a moment. To not dare is to lose yourself.
We will continue on in spite of adversity.
Emerson said, “A hero is no braver than an ordinary person, but the hero was braver five minutes longer.”
We will stand for what is right.
From caring comes courage.
We will go farther and see more
No one ever sees new oceans without the courage to no longer see the shore.
We face everything with dignity.
There is no need to be ashamed of tears. Tears are courage packaged in suffering.
Today, we will practice courage.
Let the exercises begin.
And be stronger because of them.
Adapted from the article:
In my tradition
wrong or right
we teach one another to
invite Jesus into your heart
into your life.
(Though it might be better said
that Jesus invites us all into His life
is a blog post for another time.)
Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. ~Luke 10:38
Hospitality was the first virtue of Christendom.
It is really quite simple.
Make the stranger feel at home in your home. Put the tired traveler at ease.
But today we are terrified. Paranoid. Worried over many things.
All the doors are bolted; even the ones to our heart.
Convinced that the stranger is only after what is ours we build motels and hotels for our peers
and with our imagination play “pretend like -” to create fairy tale make believe shelters big enough for all the homeless people where taxes and charities and 1 per centers dig deep to provide food, clothes, showers. Then sleep easy in our dreamland.
The art and practice of hospitality has been lost.
the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. ~Luke 10:41
The service of hospitality.
All that was needed was for one to welcome Jesus into their home: this is heart and life.
Welcomed into the vault where we lock up all our treasures.
A beautiful sentiment lost on a generation far away from all things hospitable.
Because, how do we tell ourselves: our friends and children
Invite Jesus into your heart! Welcome Jesus into your life!
when we no longer know how to entertain a guest? what to do with the stranger?
They have no idea what inviting anyone into their life should look like.
Would Jesus even feel comfortable in your life?
Does He feel “in the way”? A bother? “Asking too much?”
How often is this guest attended to, and what is not provided or offered because of the silent politeness of the visitor?
What would a heart and life look like if we actually tried to make Jesus “feel at home”.
I think we’ve left Jesus on the front porch.
“Don’t worry. It’s screened-in. The mosquitos won’t get him.”
“We’ll bring him some iced tea and a few magazines.”
“Make yourself at home” isn’t hospitable. It’s neglect with a polite smile.
She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying…”there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.” ~ Luke 10:39,42
When Spring rains are soft and the grass grows green, change is celebrated.
But not all rains are light. Some are harsh and heavy and cold.
And though we hated the cold hands and arms of winter’s embrace it is hard to cheer for rushing waters that wash away the hard work and good soil and flood the homes and streets once safe and quiet beneath the snowy sleep.
For change, both expected and unexpected; change hoped for and change undesired
Give us strength to manage, hope for restoration, and the joy of new life and same life awakening fresh to warmer suns and brighter days.
May the sunlight and the rain be reminders that God is at work renewing the earth. As a God of renewal, You are ever working in our lives, too.
So, open our eyes and lives to the necessary, unwanted, overwhelming, beauty bringing changes in our lives.
We are wide awake, walking in the rain, ready for whatever will fall from heaven for us.
Mary arrived early at the tomb to clean up the broken body;
wrap it with soft cloth and spice.
Jesus forbad it.
Hands off. Don’t touch.
Broken punctured twisted bloodied naked shredded skin
A glorified body
presented to God in all its brokenness
visible to friends: see my hands, my feet, my side
Don’t hold on to me, Mary.
The world must see me just like this.
You cannot clean him up, Mary.
Let’s all stop trying to wash away the blood
and spice up the body broken.
Lest we all start believing the lie that people are basically good…
That the arc of human nature bends toward justice…
It is the disfigured figure of innocence savagedly razed to life
that testifies against the human race: a depraved race.
Holy Love embodied walks on calloused heels searching out the concentration camps of the soul:
unblinded eyes see the self-haters forgiven who embrace the leprosy-free as they dance with the lame-no-more.
Only one punishment to fit this crime against humanity:
No, Mary, you cannot clean him up.
We must see Him as he is
as we made him
or we will never believe it is true –
that we are the darkness we fear
disguised as angels of light.
Creator of the universe,
you made the world in beauty,
and restore all things in glory
through the victory of Jesus Christ.
We pray that, wherever your image is still disfigured
by poverty, sickness, selfishness, war and greed,
the new creation in Jesus Christ may appear in justice, love, and peace,
to the glory of your name. Amen.*
*Revised Common Lectionary, Vanderbilt Divinity Library (online)
It is the brave hearts and bold minds who test God with a dare.
If you are real, come to my life in a real way.
So we pray with boldness that the healing presence would be revealed.
We accept that life is a gift; that health is a blessing;
that this new day is filled with awesome potential;
that we all have the capacity to bring something new and unique and good into the world we share.
Let the realness remind me to be kind and to be patient with people: not just the ones who love me but those who work with me too.
Let the realness teach my eyes to see all the beauty I ignore in anger
and teach my ears to hear that silent longing of my own soul.
Let the realness reveal you, God. Let this be a good day.
Reveal your healing presence; reveal goodness; reveal love.
They have been hidden from my sight for too long.
As the sun sets each day, so the year also disappears across the horizon of its winter.
And though the setting sun says a lot about closure and things that are final;
though the end of the day cries for things
neglected, undone, and forgotten that can not be recovered;
The disappearing sun also brings permission to rest and to reflect, not on this day,
but the day to come;
a charge to prepare for the new day sun.
So it is with the setting year.
It is here we find the promise of renewed goals and brand new dreams.
It is with the end of the year we get to imagine what the next will be;
what we will make it; what will be finished and what we will begin.
The new year is a great big box of brand new days.
What a wondrous world has been provided. The year past has brought the glory of spring, the warmth of summer, and again the cycle of autumn, and winter.
All nature responds to the rhythm of life.
Teach us to value our days as gifts. Teach us how to receive the day.
Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
May the favor of our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us;
give us purpose and let us become competent.
May this coming year be a joy to us; let blessings fall like the hard, spring rains on us all.
Teach us to dance in their puddles and not to fear the dark skies.
Gracious and giving God,
We are busy and when we get busy we get bold: acting decisively, deciding quickly, quickly moving, to move the day’s business forward.
So guard our activity with wisdom and fill it with compassion.
If You give us only one gift this holiday season, let it be this: grant to us the blessing of stillness; some quiet, soul searching time. Let us have time to move slower, choose with consideration, and question what we do.
Give us rest.
May all the ways You are beyond us bring us comfort: You are able in all the ways we are unable.
May all the ways You are near us bring us hope. You understand us and love us: calling us by name and looking into our eyes even in this moment.
In this season where Peace and Hope are anticipated, allow Your virtue which is both beyond us and near us to inspire us: like a candle at the end of its wick let malice, intolerance, hatred, bigotry and exclusion burn itself out to a sputtering, flickering end.
Instead, let us find within us love, acceptance, and peace.
On this morning we wander off in search of the things all creatures need: kindness; a smile to reassure the one who doubts their worth. And encouragement: a word that rebuilds what has been torn down.
If we are lucky, we find forgiveness like the scout stumbles upon berries in the woods. A soft quiet rain would be like the pardon we receive freeing us from guilt.
Let us hear when peace is spoken. It is transparent and moves silently. Give us ears to hear it. Give us hearts to sense it when it brushes by.
After all, what is salvation except two friends driven apart by broken trust: reconciled, bonded, and stronger together than before?
Where love and faithfulness meet; where righteousness and peace embrace
Trust will spring up from the ground like grass through the snow.
We wander off this morning in search of what is good; and the earth, and our neighbors, and our faiths will provide it exponentially; if you search.
Relationships made whole again are always just ahead of us, if we wander in search of them. It is only by our footsteps trails are made. We will make a path so their steps will lead them to us.