Monday, December 31, 2012

Gospel text for Sunday 6 January 2013

Matthew 2:1-12     In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, "Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage." When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
 `And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.'"
Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage." When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.
Reflection    I read this story of a frightened king, his kow-towing officials, astrologers who go out of their way to follow a dream, and a peasant girl who consents to let her world be turned upside down based on her encounter with an angel, and ask myself, what is the wisdom here? What possible meaning is here for me? Oddly enough, the aphorism that leaps to mind is AWTTW - A Word To The Wise. 
According to Ben Franklin, "A word to the wise is enough, and many words won't fill a bushel." Clearly, the wisdom of Franklin’s aphorism predeeded his time as is evident in the story of the “men from the East... in the time of King Herod” who searched for and found “the child who has been born king of the Jews.” With little information to go on (one sentence uttered by an ancient prophet and an ah-hah moment) the men from the East hit their mark and were rewarded with joy.  Apparently the astrologers were also familiar with another bit of wisdom, “Keep your eyes open and your mouth shut.” They evaded the duplicitious Herod, “and left for their country by another road.”
I like to think the astrologers saw the handwriting on the wall, as well as in the stars, when Herod secretly called them, questioned them and sent them to Bethlehem in pursuit of information. Surely they sensed that Herod was unsettled. Surely they read between the lines that something was going on with significant social and political implications. So they kept their mouths shut, continued on their way, found the new life they were looking for, and did not spill the beans. 
So what is the wisdom in this story for me? When I have a spark of illumination, an ah-hah moment, a golden glimmer of the peace and love and joy that assures me God is with me and for me, don’t get distracted. Remember it is a treasure, a gift comparable to gold, frankincense or myrrh. Don’t let social and political forces (read, people and their agendas) disturb my peace, colllide with my love or meddle with my joy, steal my gift. Just keep my mouth shut and keep on going. Be wise. Read between the lines. A Word To The Wise Is Sufficient. The wise don’t need lengthy explanations. 

(If you click on Wisdom (Proverbs 8) above and to the right, you will see the full image of Proverbs 8)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Gospel text for Sunday 30 December 2012

John 1:1-18 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.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.
And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father's only son, full of grace and truth. (John testified to him and cried out, "This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.'") From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father's heart, who has made him known.
Reflection     This is the first Sunday in Christmas. Just a few days ago we received (yet again) the Word that enlightens all people. With the creating power of the Word born again in our hearts we cry Abba, Father, because we understand that we really are children of God and as children of God we embody God’s presence right here, right now, on earth. 

We are not waiting for deferred salvation. Salvation is in the sanctuary of our transformed hearts and minds. And as we are changed, so is our world.  Through us God is, right here, right now. As we allow our hearts and minds to be transformed we are compelled to action because we cannot contain God. Just as it is a property of light to shine and illumine the surfaces around it, so too is it a property of the Word God to be expressed and enlighten all people. 

The Word God enters the world through us as we sing, give thanks and worship God. But the Word God does not stop there.  The Word speaks through us to illume the value and dignity of all human beings because it is the Word that enlightens all people. Still, the Word God does not stop there. God’s joy and delight in all of creation is declared through us as we call for the care of creation, of all that God calls good. 

As the Word God is born in us it transforms us and the world in three ways. The Word God inspires us to give praise and thanks to God. The Word God energizes us to dignify all of humanity.  And finally the Word God compels us to care for our environment. With every choice we make we have the opportunity to embody the creating power of the Word that is God with us.  With every decision that we make we can allow the Word that is God with us to call for the transformation of the world we live in. 

The Word God enters the world through us to illumine a world full of broken hearts and crushed dreams. The Word God compells us to offer comfort, encouragement and support to a world full of disease and isolation, of fear, bitterness and marginalization. The Word God energizes us to speak into the darkness, to embody God’s delight in creation and to reveal the promise of new life to friends and neighbors and strangers who feel alienated from God.

The Word God is what makes Christianity unique. It is the promise that ordinary things like bread and wine and our little lives and this fragil earth  - and words - that all things can be holy. This is our work, to speak the Word that enightens all people and makes all things holy.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Gospel text for Sunday 23 December 2012

Luke 1:39-45      In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord."
Reflection      What does it mean to be blessed? In this context it means to be favored by God, which is how the angel Gabriel greeted Mary before she left to visit her pregnant cousin Elizabeth, “Greetings favored one. The Lord is with you!” What a fantastic announcement. And it was not long thereafter that Mary received essentially the same message from Elizabeth, “Blessed are you...(favored are you),” and “blessed is the fruit of your womb,” (the Lord is with you). It’s no wonder Mary believed that she was blessed and with the Lord. Not only did she receive the message from an angelic messenger she also heard it from the lips of her kinswoman. 
Here is the thing about being blessed. Blessing is not fulfilled unless it is believed. When we believe something we accept that it is true, we have confidence in it. But it does not stop there. Mary “...believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord,” and acted on it. She believed the angel’s claim that her elderly cousin Elizabeth was six months pregnant and so went quickly to Judea to be with her. It seems Mary believed the divine declaration, “For nothing will be impossible with God” (Lk 1.37) and it set her in motion.
The angel Gabriel didn’t do something to Mary. The angel did not impose the will of God upon Mary. Mary did something. She chose to believe. And that is the essence of faith. Faith is not the particular doctrine or theological perspective that we adopt in an attempt to explain the inexplicable (pregnancies). Faith is not the explanations and justifications of our behavior. Faith is our intellectual consent to what we cannot understand or explain. Faith is our decision to believe the angel’s message that along with Mary and Elizabeth we are blessed and the Lord is with us. 
In the wake of the tragic shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, we desperately need to hear the angel’s good news. “Blessed are you. The Lord is with you.” And perhaps even more than that we need to choose to believe that even in the midst of the debacle at Sandy Hook school, we are blessed. God is with us and something good that we cannot begin to explain or even imagine will rise from the ashes of this tragedy because “nothing will be impossible with God.” May we, like Mary, act such that it be so.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Gospel text Sunday 16 December 2012

Luke 3:7-18          John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our ancestor'; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire."
And the crowds asked him, "What then should we do?" In reply he said to them, "Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise." Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, "Teacher, what should we do?" He said to them, "Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you." Soldiers also asked him, "And we, what should we do?" He said to them, "Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages."
As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, "I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."
So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.
Reflection            “What then should we do?” I believe we need to join the disquieted crowds in Luke’s gospel and respond to the gnarly prophet John’s indictment that “every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” asking, “What should we do? How are we to bear good fruit?”
We are three weeks into the season of Advent. We are “filled with expectation” as we await the coming of new light and life in the birth of Jesus the Christ and the question in our hearts ought to be, “How are we to prepare our hearts and minds to receive the Chirst? Said another way, “How are we to prepare the Way of the Lord?”
The prophet John is unequivocal. Bear good fruit. Share your resources. Treat others with compassion and justice. Don’t be greedy. Be satisfied with what you have. In so doing you prepare yourselves to be revelations of the Light of Christ born again. It is simple and straighforward. The Way of the Lord is the Way of compassion and justice. And, the Way of the Lord is not all warm and fuzzy. The Way of the Lord is swaddled in danger and risk. There are trials and consequences along the Way.
What is not compassionate and just, what is not good fruit, will be thrown into the refiners fire because the innocent babe in the manger, the fragil light of new life, will grow up to be a radical, subversive, firey presence who initiates a movement that changes history. That tiny light becomes the refiner’s fire that settles for nothing less than transformed lives.  But even though the prophet’s words may sound harsh they are not about punishment. They are about transformation. You see the refiner’s fire is not out of control and destructive. The refiner’s fire is controlled fire. It extracts the gold from the ore, it plies metal into exquisite creations, it culls followers from among the crowds and produces good fruit. The refiner’s fire transforms our frightened, selfish, greedy creatureliness into the image of the Chirst born again in our hearts. It is for this that we await, filled with expectation.
May the refining fire of Advent give birth to a deeper and more refined experience of God’s Presence in your heart, in your mind and in all of your relations.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Gospel text for Sunday, 9 December 2012

Luke 3:1-6         In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah,
"The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
'Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.
Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth;
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'"

Reflection          “....all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” Wow! Isaiah’s unequivocal, all inclusive assurance precedes by about two thousand years another prophet’s words, “And all shall be well, all shall be well, all manner of things shall be well.” Born in England in the middle of the fourteenth century the mystic Dame Julian of Norwich was the first woman to write a book in the English language.   Like Isaiah, Julian turns away from obsession with sickness, corruption and sinfulness and experiences gratitude and joy in God’s unlimited forgiveness and assurance that “...all shall be well.”
What if we really believed the words of Julian and Isaiah? What if we looked at the world and the people of the twenty first century through the eyes of these ancient and medieval prophets who also lived in violent,  corrupt, disease plagued and morally bankrupt times yet did not let their hearts be hardened? Regardless of their circumstance, inside and out, Julian and Isaiah never stopped recognizing God’s compassionate Presence. Might we too encounter God’s limitless compassion and love in the ceaseless suffering of humanity?

When I ask myself, “what keeps me from “seeing” the way Julian and Isaiah see?” the painful truth is this. Judgement. I look at the world around me and I see what is wrong rather than what is well. My heart is hardened and the judgement of my mind says, “We’re going to hell in a handbasket.” And that makes me anxious and so I contract, begin to build walls to keep the world out except my walls bump into your walls and then we have to battle over property rights and human rights, which executes our humanity because we see each other as threats rather than the vulnerable creatures created in the image and likeness of God that we are. On guard rather than in God. 

Oh to see with the eyes of the prophet who looks into the face of corruption and calamity and experiences God’s limitless compassion. In the wilderness of our lives the prophet assures us that everything that is crooked will be made straight, whatever is rough will be made smooth, “all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” This is how I choose to be, in God rather than on guard. "And all shall be well, all shall be well, all manner of things shall be well."

Monday, November 26, 2012

Gospel text for 2 December 2012

 Luke 21:25-36       Jesus said, "There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see 'the Son of Man coming in a cloud' with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."
Then he told them a parable: "Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
"Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man."
Reflection           Pothos (longing) and Himeros (desire) were sons of the Greek God Eros (love). Whereas Himeros desired that which is humanly possible to acquire, Pothos longed for that which is beyond human reach. As we enter this Advent season of anticipation and expectation I find myself standing between the brothers Pothos and Himeros. I desire the things of the world be made well, I long for union in my God, and I wonder if either is possible? But as I look around and see wars exploding across the globe, economies faltering, pillars of society falling; as I experience my neighbor’s fear and my own trepidation, Jesus’ warning to , “be on guard...not let your heart be weighed down,” cuts to my core, it rings true. With Pothos on my right side and Himeros on my left I must “stand up and raise my head.” I dare not fear that my desire and longing will not be satisfied. 
When in all of history have human lives not been fraught with times of trial? Not a single epoch I’ve read about lacks the “distress among nations,” and “people fainting from fear and foreboding” that Jesus talks about. I guess that’s why Jesus taught his friends (and us) to pray.... “save us from the times of trial.” It seems the inevitable earthly times of trial are the very ground from which springs our desire for a more whole and holy world. When all the signs point to a world shaken and in distress, we are to turn around, “to stand before the Son of Man,” the only One who may satisfy the deepest longing of our souls. We are to pray, to stay in relationship with God.
On the subject of desire, longing and prayers St. Augustine wrote, “Thy desire is thy prayers; and if thy desire is without ceasing, thy prayer will also be without ceasing. The continuance of your longing is the continuance of your prayer.”
Advent is a season of desire and longing, longing for what is and for what is to come. Perhaps another way to say that is, Advent is a season of preparing our hearts with prayer to receive what is and what is to come.

Image above is skopas' Pothos; the lyre is a modern addition, the head - with the features of Alexander - is an ancient restoration (Archaeological Museum of Naples)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Gospel text for Sunday, 18 November 2012


Mark 13:1-8      As Jesus came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, "Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!" Then Jesus asked him, "Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down."
When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, "Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?" Then Jesus began to say to them, "Beware that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name and say, `I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birthpangs."
Reflection   A little more than three weeks ago the news was flodded with images of Hurricane Sandy’s effects . But when I saw one photographer’s still photo of New York’s shadowy skyline it stole my breath, and like NYC I was stopped in my tracks. This grand edifice, the economic center of the world, a beacon of Western civilization and culture, stuttered in shades of pale and grey. From Staten Island to Yonkers the lights were out. The great buildings were dark. Jesus’ words echoed in my heart, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left upon another...” But is that the end of the story? I don’t think so. 
Jesus said, “This is but he beginning of the birthpangs.” This is not the end. It is meaningful anguish and suffering. It is productive labor. And this is a lynchin of Christian faith. We understand that anguish and suffering need not be pointless or futile. In God’s economy anguish and suffering are the productive labor that leads to new life. But what are we to do?

I imagine that is the very question millions of folks in the northeast were, and still are, asking. What are we to do in the wake of hurricane Sandy? And they dug in. Shoveling away tons of sand, cutting up fallen trees, inviting strangers into their homes, feeding them, giving them clothes and a warm dry place to stay. Because anguish and suffering are not the end. They are the beginning of productive labor.

Since the Age of the Enlightenment western civilization has elevated the status of the individual, individual rights, privilege and entitlement. We’ve all heard the mantra, “It’s all about me.” In the wake of a storm such as Sandy those words dissolve like dust in a hurricane as millions of people are stopped in their tracks with the realization that, “It’s all about US. Not only are we inextricably interconnected, we are also utterly interdependent.” Of course some people take more kindly to the news than others, but none can escape the fact. We are in this thing, this life, together.

The blistering winds and raging waters of hurricane Sandy were the beginning of the birthpangs, the productive labor that gave birth to kindness and generosity among strangers, to mass efforts to kindle new light and life in the midst of anguish, suffering and loss. Now, if only we would not forget and would continue to live our lives “provok(ing) one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together... and encouraging one another.”

Monday, November 5, 2012

Gospel Test for Sunday 11 November 2012

Mark 12:38-44       Teaching in the temple, Jesus said, "Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets! They devour widows' houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation."
He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, "Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on."
Wow! Jesus is bold. While standing in the temple and teaching he publicly insults the scribes, the very people whose job is to record and sustain temple tradition. He accuses them of being hypocrites, taking money from the most vulnerable (widows) who are required to pay for prayers and using that money to elevate their position of honor. It makes me think of a true story Bishop Kirk Smith told last Sunday during his stewardship sermon. I shall paraphrase.

When parishioners were invited to respond to God’s generosity in their offerings of financial pledges one man told the priest that his economic situation was difficult, that he did not have enough, and he would not be able to make a pledge that year. A week or so later the man bought a  pair of “his and her" mercedes for his wife and himself. The thing is, as I thought about the story it occurred to me that the person in Bishop Smith’s story who was the most vulnerable, the most spiritually impoverished was the man with two mercedes. 

I am willing to speculate that no matter how much he had, the man with two mercedes did not believe he had enough. The man with two mercedes had no idea that everything he had was gift - every breath, every beat of his heart, every stitch of clothes, every cent of his wealth. I believe the man with two mercedes was telling the priest his truth when he told the priest that he did not have enough. He did not have enough gratitude for the abundance in his life. He did not have enough humility to know that all that he had was gift. He did not have enough faith to know that the God who had provided for him would continue to do so. Much like the scribes in Jesus’ parable who fluanted their long robes and took the took the seats of honor, the man with two mercedes flaunted his riches and exposed his spiritual impoverishment. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Gospel text for Feast of All Saints Sunday 4 November 2012

John 11.32-44
When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to him, "Lord, come and see." Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said, "See how he loved him!" But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?"
Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, "Take away the stone." Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, "Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days." Jesus said to her, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?" So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, "Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me." When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go."
We preach this gospel in Lent. We preach this gospel at funerals. One of the reasons we preach this gospel is because it speaks to our grieving hearts when we have lost our physical relationship with someone we love because of illness, change in life situation or death. We preach this gospel not only to affirm that loving and weeping are integral qualities of the human experience but also to proclaim  that loving and weeping are fundamental revelations of Divine Presence.

When Jesus saw Mary and the Jews weeping, “he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved,” and he too began to weep. Jesus, the Word made flesh, the revelation of God present with us and for us, is united with us, with all of humanity, in our quintessential experiences of love and grief. Jesus personally experienced both the fullness of love and the emptiness of grief and was “deeply moved” as he shared these experineces with Mary and the others who were present at Lazarus’ tomb. And so Jesus reveals to us three things about grief. It is personal. It is universal. It is Divine. 

The thing about grief is that it feels so lonely. Emptiness and loss abound. Other people’s words and presence seem hollow and pointless. It is as if we are floundering in an ocean with no land in sight. All that we can do is weep. And, it is in our weeping that we are united with all of humanity and with God. In the depths of our desolation there is an unexpected seed of consolation. Sometimes we recognize it in the teary eyes of a friend come to sit with us in our sorrow. Sometimes we hear it in the words of a prayer offered to God on our behalf. Sometimes we feel it in the warmth of hands laid on our shoulders. However we may glimpse it, when we allow ourselves to be “deeply moved” we are intimately connected with all of humanity and with God. And when in the midst of our grieving we believe God is indeed present with us then like Lazarus we too are unbound and set free from the tomb of our isolation.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Gospel text Sunday 28 October 2012

Mark 10:46-52      Jesus and his disciples came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" Jesus stood still and said, "Call him here." And they called the blind man, saying to him, "Take heart; get up, he is calling you." So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, "What do you want me to do for you?" The blind man said to him, "My teacher, let me see again." Jesus said to him, "Go; your faith has made you well." Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.
Reflection                                                                                              Have you ever felt restless or apprehensive, that things were just not right? A bit off center, uneasy, unclear making it hard to stand up and move on? I certainly have and I experience it as a kind of spiritual blindness. Although I have eyes to see the world around me, somehow I do not understand what is going on. I am spiritualy blind. In my blindness the best I can do is sit at the side of the road not sure which way to go. In the absence of self understanding where can I possibly go? When I do try to move I falter and stumble because, though I have eyes, I do not see. What is this unsettling mystery that is so difficult for me and the disciples in Mark’s gospel to see?
I believe this may have something to do with why the writer of Mark’s gospel tells the stories of  the blind man in Bethsaida and blind Bartimaeus and places them like bookends before the first and following the third time Jesus predicts his suffering, death and resurrection. The thing is, who can understand the mystery of Jesus, fully human and fully divine? Who can understand the mystery of a messiah whose glory is born in his consent to drink the cup of suffering and death? Who can understand the message that the last shall be first and the least shall be greatest? How can I follow Jesus if I am blind and do not understand? 
The best I can muster is joining blind Bartimaeus shouting, “Lord have mercy on me! I don’t understand and I don’t know which way to go. I am sitting on the curb watching life pass by because if I stand in my own power I will stumble and fall. Teacher, have mercy on me. Please call me and show me which way to go.”
Maybe it is all in that one word, teacher. When I call out asking for  the teacher’s mercy I am admitting that I do not know. I am making myself least in the relationship. From the position of open, empty receptivity I am ready and waiting for the teacher to pass by and call me. I am not so full of my self or my plans that I cannot see or hear the teacher call. That’s where I am today. Sitting on the curb with blind Bartimaeus. Though I am still uneasy I sit in faith with hope that the teacher will call, restore my sight and  show me the way.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Mark 10:35-45
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to Jesus and said to him, "Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you." And he said to them, "What is it you want me to do for you?" And they said to him, "Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory." But Jesus said to them, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" They replied, "We are able." Then Jesus said to them, "The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared."
When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. So Jesus called them and said to them, "You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many."

Reflection       During this season of lobbying and campaigning, the presidential 'race' to win the November election, it is easy to imagine life two thousand years ago, not much different from today, as James and John strive for power and prestige by attempting to ally  themselves with the man they experience in charge. No doubt they saw Jesus as the proverbial ‘man of the hour,’ and conspired to leap to the top of the pack of twelve disciples and sit in places of honor, right next to Jesus. Jesus sees right through their ploy. James and John are interested in securing their advantage. Though they call Jesus “teacher” they are not getting Jesus’ message of the upside down kingdom of God. They are reacting in the same old status quo way, the race to the top.
So Jesus reminds them, “Whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all.” This is not conventional wisdom, it is not the way the world proceeds then or now. Jesus’ wisdom breeches the status quo. Poor James and John are still striving for power over others, they desire to become great. Their tactics are not lost on the other ten disciples. Their peers are angry because they too see the situation through the common lens of personal gain. Can’t you just hear them muttering, “Who do James and John think they are trying to get ahead of us?”
Essentially Jesus says, drink the cup and pick up the cross of suffering. Life as a real human being is not a race to the top where you get to exert your power over others. Life as a real human being is about serving others, giving your life for the benefit of others. And yes, that means you will be swimming against the tide. People will misunderstand you, even persecute you. That’s what the cup and the cross are about.
It reminds me of a fifth grade civics lesson. Our teacher told us about servant leadership, about people who set aside their desire for money and power in order to run for public office. (As I recall my young friends and I were shocked to learn that the president of the United States didn’t earn anywhere near the money they would in the private sector). Our teacher put teachers and mayors, senators and presidents in the category of servant leaders. She told us that rather than using their positions for personal gain servant leaders make decisions to build community. They lead for the greatest common good, for the stewardship of resources to benefit all.  She told us that personal sacrifice is what sets true leaders apart. “Whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant.”
Hoping to identify the characteristics that distinguish servant leaders I went to wikipedia. Their list begins with listening, then follows healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of others and building community. Perhaps these are the qualities we ought to consider when choosing our next servant leader to serve the people of these United States. 
**The image above is of Ghandi leading the Salt March to the sea in 1930.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Gospel Text for Sunday 7 October, 2012

Mark 10:2-16        Some Pharisees came, and to test Jesus they asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?" He answered them, "What did Moses command you?" They said, "Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her." But Jesus said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation, 'God made them male and female.' 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate."

 Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. He said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery."

 People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, "Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it." And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.

It is interesting to me that when I read the Gospel of Mark, generally  I relate to the stories and parables allegorically, as texts pointing beyond themselves. So I surprise myself when I read this text and find myself responding in a most literal (O.K. be honest – defensive) manner. I suppose it has something to do with the fact that I was divorced and I have had too many birthdays to call myself a child.

Still, I do not believe that the writer of Mark’s gospel intends for us readers to sink into discussions of acceptable versus unacceptable grounds for divorce or property or custody agreements. At every turn the gospel invites us to look beyond superficial details and discover Divine Intention.  So what are the jewels hidden in this text? What does it have to say to me, a single person who once upon a time was married? What does it say to me who once upon a time was a child? When I look at marriage and childhood as pointing to spiritual truths that lie beyond themselves I begin to glean some meaning and relevance for my life.

A fundamental truth that Jesus articulates regarding marriage is “the two shall become one flesh.” In other words, what once was separated is now united. According to the writer of John’s gospel Jesus says, “I and the Father are one, “ (John 10.30) and later expands his message of union and unity when he says, “In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.” (John 14.20) In God’s economy, in the realm of the Spirit, God intends that we all are one. Paul explains this in his letter to the Romans, “…  so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” (Rom 12:5). Our journey of faith is an inclusive adventure during which we discover that our deepest meaning and value, the revelation of each of our individual truest selves, is revealed in the network of connections between us and all of God’s creatures. We are one in the interconnected web of being. We are fundamentally joined; to behave otherwise (to divorce ourselves one from another) is to turn away from God.

 And that I believe is something children know instinctively. Children know they are connected. They know they are vulnerable and dependent upon others. And we adults are to receive one another “as a little child,” acknowledging our interdependence, full of hope and wonder, and we will be blessed.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Gospel text for Sunday 30 September 2012

Mark 9:38-50      John said to Jesus, "Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us." But Jesus said, "Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.

 "If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell., And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.

 "For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another."

I spent twenty three years living in Northern New Mexico, some of that time in horse and cattle country. As a transplanted city girl there was something I never quite figured out. Why did some of the landowners surround their acreas with electric fences while others did not? Was the land and the livestock inside the electric fences more precious? Were the people inside the electric fences more vulnerable? Were they keeping things in or were they keeping things out?

 When John and the disciples saw a stranger casting our demons in Jesus’ name apparently they wanted to stretch an electric fence around themselves and Jesus. Can you imagine a sign flapping on their buzzing barbed wire? “Warning, keep out, you are treading on holy ground. If you are not one of us you have no right to call upon Jesus’ name and cast out demons.” And if we read the text hidden in John and the other disciples’ hearts it might be, “Hay, who’s the guy stealing our thunder? Who does he think he is? Jesus gave us the power to heal and cast out demons and he is not one of us. We are the authorized exorcists. We have to stop him.”

 But Jesus would have none of that. Can you imagine Jesus shrugging and saying, “Tear down your electric fences. This stranger is casting out demons and freeing God’s people. He is doing God’s work of tearing down fences and removing stumbling blocks. Truly, he is no threat, he is not against us.”

 Somehow John and the disciples have lost track. They are possessed with preserving and protecting their special relationship with Jesus and their unique access to power. (Can you hear echoes of them bickering over who is greatest? Who will be on Jesus’ right and left side?) Their concern about themselves has blinded them to the good the stranger is doing. Their concern about their priority has become a stumbling block, which Jesus says is problematic and must be removed.

“If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off.” Jesus is serious. There is no equivocation. “If your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off.” John and the disciples must tear down their electric fences, let go of their claims to special power and privilege or the consequences will be dire. If they continue to see strangers as adversaries, competitors, or threats they will not only be separating themselves from their neighbors they will also be separating themselves from God. And the suffering they will bring upon themselves will be endless.  

So where is the good news in all of that? From the beginning and for all time the land and all that is therein (people, trees, horses) is valuable. There is no need to build fences and stake claim, no need to hide or to keep others out. All we need to do is claim our inheritance and be our true self.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Gospel for Sunday 23 September 2012

Mark 9:30-37
Jesus and his disciples went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, "The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again." But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.

 Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, "What were you arguing about on the way?" But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, "Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all." Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, "Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me."

“They did not understand… and were afraid to ask…” I don’t know about you, but I have been there. Keeping up appearances, not wanting to look like a fool. And the irony is, by being silent and not asking for clarity I have been the fool!
So what about the next inscrutable sentence, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” Really? How can that possibly work to my advantage? I want to shout, “Jesus, you are forever turning things upside down and I don’t get it.” I can almost see Jesus smile, shake his head and reply, “Yes, that is precisely my point. You don’t “get it” and you won’t “get it” if “get it” means grasp it and claim it for yourself. Are you willing to lower yourself, to give up your advantage, instead of striving to be great? Are you willing to be the servant instead of the served?” I want to answer Jesus, “Sure I am willing but I still don’t understand how being last will make me first.” Oops, there I am again, willing to be last if, and it’s a big if, if it will get me to first.

 Two thousand years ago Mediterranean folks were also concerned with being first. They fret over issues of honor versus shame which for the most part was determined by class structure, who is valuable in society and who is not. At the time children had a rung on the ladder close to lepers and widows. They had no social status, no rights and were utterly vulnerable. And Jesus is teaching, "Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me." Another one of those inscrutable sentences. What’s this fool to make of that?

 Greatness is measured by how we serve others, not by chain of command, corporate ladder, position, power structure, hierarchy. That was as hard bite to swallow two thousand years ago as it is today.

When I was a lot younger I believed that from time to time God would look favorably upon me and send an angel, in the form of another human, to bring good things into my life. Generally the ‘good things’ improved my situation or status and were for me evidence of God’s Presence. Now that I have worn out far too many pairs of shoes I understand God’s favor and Presence differently. Regardless of whether I notice, God is present and active at all times in all persons. The question is, “How do I welcome (recognize) God?” Jesus’ answer; "Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me."  When I serve others I come close to the One who sent Jesus. When I am the servant I am close to the Source, to God.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Gospel text for Sunday 16 September 2012



Mark 8:27-38

Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that I am?" And they answered him, "John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets." He asked them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered him, "You are the Messiah." And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.
Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, "Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things."
He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels
“Who do people say that I (Jesus) am?” Subversive? Liberal? Progressive? Regressive? Orthodox? Heretical? Blasphemer? Possessed – by a demon? By the Spirit of God? It depends on who answers the question. Jesus’ family think he is out of his mind. The religious officials declare he is a heretic. Possessed by Beelzebul  is what the Scribes decide. Herod figures Jesus is John the Baptist returned from the dead to get him back for cutting off his head. The masses are not quite sure what to make of this Jesus;  teacher, healer, exorcist, magician, a prophet like Moses or Elijah. It’s hard to tuck Jesus into neat little categories and groups.

Jesus asks Peter, ““Who do you say that I am?” Peter answers, “You are the messiah.”” OK then, that clears it up  - as long as we know what “messiah” means.  Peter thought he did. Messiah is the person for whom the people of God have been waiting for a very long time. Messiah is the one who bursts onto the scene and ends suffering and injustice. But Jesus doesn’t understand “messiah” that way.
Jesus launches into a terribly problematic teaching. Messiah is “… the Son of Man (and) must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes and be killed and after three days rise again.” First problem. Jesus calls himself the Son of Man. That must mean that somehow messiah is associated with or finds identity in humankind. Messiah is not some supernatural force that is going to break in and create a happily ever after life. Second problem.  Messiah is supposed to end suffering, not be subjected to it, and certainly not be rejected and killed. What good is a dead messiah? Third problem. “After three days rise again.” What does that mean? And even if he is killed and comes back to life he will just be a dead man walking. How is that going to out my enemies and secure my life?
I’m afraid I am right there with Peter. I don’t want to hear what Jesus is saying. I want my messiah to make my life better, and that would be according to my definition of better. But Jesus makes himself painfully clear. All the things of the world that I seek (end of suffering, security, justice) are about enhancing my situation or status. And I will lose them. End of story. Or is it?
Following Jesus means dying to the self-focused way I (and the culture around me) see things. Because when I decide to ally myself with Jesus and act to spread God’s all inclusive love rather than to secure my share and keep everyone else a safe distance away, I will infuriate the people around me. My family, my friends, the religious and government officials will not like it one bit. And I will be persecuted, even killed. That’s what Jesus tells the crowds, disciples and us. But - and this is a big but - when I make my choices in alliance with God's purpose and in solidarity with God's people, I find my identity in God.  The little me with my meager wants to have it my way dies, and I rise again in the Christ.

Find the story that accompanies the image

  “ Muslims in Pakistan, show compassion and justice” at

Monday, September 3, 2012

Gospel text for Sunday 9 September 2012

Mark 7:24-37
Jesus set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, "Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children's food and throw it to the dogs." But she answered him, "Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs." Then he said to her, "For saying that, you may go-- the demon has left your daughter." So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, "Ephphatha," that is, "Be opened." And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. They were astounded beyond measure, saying, "He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak."

When I hear Jesus’ words to the Syrophoenician mother who is begging Jesus to heal her daughter, “Let the children be fed first. It is not fair to take the children’s food and feed it to the dogs,” my first impulse is to attack him, hands on hips shouting, “What do you mean calling us dogs? Just because we aren’t Jews doesn’t mean we’re not people! I thought you were a man of God. Well, if your God is only a God for Jews than I don’t want anything to do with you or your God. Harrumph!!” And we all know where that would have gotten me and my daughter – nowhere!

But the Syrophoenician mother has something lacking in my defensive attitude. Humility. Rather than taking offense at Jesus’ dismissive attitude toward non-Jews, she willingly accepts a lesser place under the table with the dogs. From this position of submission the mother implores Jesus once more to allow her daughter to taste even the left-overs, the crumbs that the Jews would not eat from the floor.   When the Syrophoenician mother came to Jesus “and bowed down at his feet,” she did so not only with her body but also with her heart. This is true humility.

But it is more complicated than this. In order for this mother to come to Jesus she had much to overcome.  As a woman and a Gentile she was doubly unclean. And having a demon possessed daughter only made matters worse. In addition to humility, this mother who bowed down at Jesus’ feet must have had amazing courage. Courage and humility, two sides of one coin.

t takes much courage to know our smallness and nonetheless dare to present ourselves to God. And it is in the very knowing and embracing of our smallness that we humbly present ourselves to God, willing to eat the crumbs from beneath the table, as it were. I believe the blend of courage and humility is irresistible to God. It reveals an interior strength and purposefulness that is in the very image and likeness of God. And as we lay claim to our likeness to God, so are we healed. No wonder the Syrophoenician woman’s daughter was healed without Jesus even lifting a finger!

 Reflecting on his life, I believe Neil Armstrong embodied the qualities of courage and humility, and that his words speak of the place of humankind in God’s creation. “I put up my thumb and blotted out the planet Earth.”

Monday, August 27, 2012

Gospel and Hebrew Testament 2 September 2012

Mark 7.1-8, 14-15, 21-23 & Song of Solomon 2.8-13

Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus, they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.) So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, "Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?" He said to them, "Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written,

'This people honors me with their lips,

but their hearts are far from me;

in vain do they worship me,

teaching human precepts as doctrines.'

You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition."

 Then he called the crowd again and said to them, "Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile. For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person."

“Listen to me, all of you, and understand:” God wants our hearts. That’s what Jesus is telling the self- righteous religious folk who keep pestering him with divisive issues of, who is in who is out, who is clean who is unclean, who may be married who may not, who may vote who may not, who is holy who is not, who is right who is wrong.

 Can’t you just see Jesus wringing his hands and shaking his head as he pulls Isaiah’s wisdom from his heart saying, “this people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” Can you hear how frustrated Jesus is when he says to the people, to us,  “Listen to me, all of you, and understand:” God wants your heart.” Oh dear – I have no idea how to give my heart to God?

 Thank goodness for the wise ones who went before. Nine hundred years before Jesus was born the writer of Solomon’s love songs knew all about giving his heart to God. And these love songs, these tales of transforming love between God and God’s people, were the wisdom tradition in which Jesus grew up. Who knows how many times he heard Solomon’s songs; on high holy days? maybe even every Friday night? I believe Jesus carried Solomon’s love songs in his heart and they shaped his relationship with God and God’s people.

 Today we join Jesus and reach into this beautiful wisdom tradition to learn about love, God’s love and human love. To hear love call us the beloved, to discover that love is strong as a stag and alive as a gazelle. To hear love’s invitation “come away with me,” and love’s promise of new life, “the vines are in blossom, they give forth fragrance.” Life alone, in darkness, in isolation, alienation, desolation is over       because God is calling to us, the beloveds, “arise my love… and come away with me….with me.” God is calling to us as individuals and as a community. There is new life for us, for all of us because God intends us to live in love with God and one another.

In the early 12th century St. Bernard of Clairvaux described coming away with God this way. “As a drop of water seems to disappear completely in a big quantity of wine, even assuming the wine’s taste and color;  just as red, molten iron becomes so much like fire it seems to lose its primary state… so it is necessary … that all human feelings melt in a mysterious way and flow into the will of God.” Flow into the will of God. How do we flow into the will of God? In what might be the world’s longest sermon series, Bernard wrote 86 sermons on Solomon’s Songs trying to answer that question, how do we flow into the will of God?  In the end I believe it comes to this… love God without measure.

 “Listen to me, all of you, and understand,” God wants your heart.

 Song of Solomon 2:8-13

The voice of my beloved!
Look, he comes,
leaping upon the mountains,
bounding over the hills.
My beloved is like a gazelle
or a young stag.
Look, there he stands
behind our wall,
gazing in at the windows,
looking through the lattice.

My beloved speaks and says to me:

  “Arise, my love, my fair one,
and come away;
for now the winter is past,
The rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth;
the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove
is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth its figs,
and the vines are in blossom;
they give forth fragrance.
Arise, my love, my fair one,
and come away.”