Palm Sunday now

The story of Jesus is not some long-ago drama we come to church to hear.


The story of Jesus is NOW.


All of the things that Jesus did and taught and longed for us to know with our whole lives.


Those things are NOW.


And the wild hope of Hosanna and the brutal chill of silence as lives are hung on a cross and left to die.


Those things are now too.


Jesus rides into Jerusalem yet.


Jesus rides in on the back of a humble beast meant to remind us that the way of power used by the world is not the way of God.


Jesus rides into the halls of power yet and the hopeful raise their song yet and Palm Sunday is now.


It is now.


Palm Sunday is now while the legislature of our state is in session hearing the cries of the hopeful – save us! – as housing for homeless and marriage for same-sex couples and health care for the poor and adequate education for our children are tussled over in the halls of power and Jesus rides into schools where bullying is being addressed and Jesus rides into nations grappling with how to deal with violence that mangles the souls of women.


Palm Sunday is now.


On Palm Sunday we acknowledge that Jesus is riding toward the cross.


The cross: the place where the passion of love hangs in agony as the wounds borne by those who work with their lives to overcome hatred and injustice are hammered time and time and time again.


The cross is the price of hope and loving:  tell me that is not so.


It was and it is and Jesus teaches us that we must be willing to know the pain of the cross.


It is our own.


The cross, as theologian Dorthee Soelle names it, is the world’s answer, given a thousand times over, to attempts at liberation.


In long ago Jerusalem, Jesus rode into the streets to the cheers of his hopeful followers.


He knew that the audacity of his message – that we are to love God with all our hearts and minds and imaginations and our neighbor as our very selves – he knew that such teaching was going to challenge those who made money and wielded power through cultivating a world where money and privilege were enjoyed by the few when the needs of the non-elite were deemed a non-issue.


Jesus knew that liberating the poor and the marginalized from the grinding injustice that kept them invisible and powerless could not be allowed to be imagined in the hearts of others.


He knew keeping people cowed and poor kept the privileged in power.  He knew.


And yet he got onto the back of that donkey and rode toward the cross.


The cross.


The place that waits for all who dare to love.


Come, you that love the Lord.


Allow yourself to feel and feel deeply.


Allow yourself to be swept into the hope in Christ Jesus that swells your heart with Hallelujah and shout it shout it shout it and follow it to the place where God calls you to witness for justice – in your school and in your work place and in your community and in your nation and in your home – and allow yourself to feel the pain of loving because through the present power of Christ Jesus – through the NOW of Christ Jesus – you are no stone.


You are a called disciple of Jesus. You are walking love and you will not let hatred and indifference to the pain of others numb your heart.


Oh, that we would ride into the Jerusalem that awaits us each.


Palm Sunday is now.  Jesus rides with us yet.



signs and wonders

The seminary that held and stretched me as I trained for ministry has a giving opportunity that is providing me challenge and grace.

Said seminary was also the place where my pastor father served as adjunct faculty for a time.  United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities sent into my growing-up church and life long-ago seminary interns that are kindred yet.

United Theological Seminary is a place of life-change for me and for so many.

The seminary is offering the purchase of paving stones to complete a stunning chapel that now radiates grace on its campus.  On the paving stones the donor may inscribe names and words of gratitude and witness.

I will purchase one to name my father.  I am hungry for a place where his name will be made permanent; trod upon by those seeking ground.

When we were in Ireland this past fall, Cooper and I were moved by the power of memorial.  We spent silent and powerful time beside the graves of people who made life so very long ago.  To read their gravestones and wonder about their stories made us aware that we too will be in that number.

What do we want, we who are living?  What do we want for others to remember as they pause and remember our being?

How can I speak in five lines or so the quirky power of my father?  What words can name his witness and the snargle and shine of his remarkable life?

It is a powerful question.

For now, I am paying attention.  I am paying attention to the deep longing that calls me to this witness.  My father lived.  He lived and touched and blessed and provoked.  His witness spools yet.

I trust that the words will come.

In the meantime, I savor the assignment.


Carole King’s Tapestry album was the soundtrack for my teens.  The album somehow found each part of me and gave it voice.

One of the songs that has been sounding in my being this past week is the song “Home Again”.  It begins: “Sometimes I wonder if I’m ever going to make it home again, it’s so far and out of sight.  I really need someone to talk to and nobody else knows how to comfort me tonight.”

Besides the fact that the song is soul-woven, it has sung in my heart because of the power of the story of the Prodigal.  Jesus tells a story about a man who loses himself in the so-many distractions that can lead us to groundlessness.  Jesus tells us that the man “came to himself” and decided that he wanted to return home to the place where he is known and taken in, stupendous stumbles and all.

It is our story in so many ways, is the story of the Prodigal.  We sing the song of “Home Again” so many times in our lives.

We wander seeking home throughout our lives.  We convince ourselves that home can be found in chemicals or time fritters or shopping or something someplace someway that will take away the great lonely of living.  We wander and long and wonder and then, oh then, we come to ourselves and remember Home.

Home in the great expanse of the Holy whose song dances through us yet.  Home in the wrap of claiming and welcome that awaits us if we would but cease our scurry.

Home in the heart of God;  taken in, welcomed and fussed over are we.


time and rivers

Of time and rivers flowing
The seasons make a song
And we who live beside her
Still try to sing along
Of rivers, fish, and men
And the season still a-coming
When she’ll run clear again.

So many homeless sailors,
So many winds that blow
I asked the half blind scholars
Which way the currents flow
So cast your nets below
And the gods of moving waters
Will tell us all they know.

The circles of the planets
The circles of the moon
The circles of the atoms
All play a marching tune
And we who would join in
Can stand aside no longer
Now let us all begin.
                Pete Seeger

How is it we are given this gift of life?

Having returned from vacation a scant 24 hours ago, I officiated this morning at the funeral of a woman who blessed.  She blessed through laughter and quick humor.  She blessed through a willingness to “join in” as Seeger sings in the lyrics above.

She lived a singular life; unrepeatable and precious.

And so it is for each who join in.

I don’t know what tomorrow holds.  My prayers for my loves and the real clamor of my longings sound relentlessly in my soul.

Sometimes the “I want” is a gong noisy and clanging and that gong has the power to create such cacophony within that the still small assurances of the Holy are near overwhelmed.

And then I remember.

Mine is to cast my nets below; deep into the moving waters of grace that will tell me all I need to know.

Still.  Small.  Powerful.  Deep.

Let us all begin.