Proper 16C: The Sabbath Is Calling

Spending time with godFIRST LESSON:  Jeremiah 1: 4-10

Read the Old Testament passage

This passage begins a series of readings from the prophet Jeremiah.  Compared to other prophetic books, we seem to know a good deal about the prophet Jeremiah. There are sections of material in the book which appear to be biographical or autobiographical in nature. According to the information in the book, the prophet Jeremiah began his activity in 628 BCE, the 13th year of king Josiah. He saw out the reigns of five Judean kings, from Josiah to the end of Zedekiah. He was a priest from the town of Anathoth, of a Levitic family claiming descent from Moses. According to the book, Jeremiah had a disciple Baruch who acted as scribe. The prose sections of the book have sometimes been attributed to Baruch.

This is an account of Jeremiah’s call to be a prophet. This account is told in a formulaic way. It follows a pattern present also in the stories of the call of other servants of God, such as Moses. Elements of this pattern include: the context of conversation, divine initiative, a protest, divine reassurance, and some act of commissioning and the message. It is as if God doesn’t want to call on people who are so sure of themselves and the trajectory of their lives that they do not listen. The call is initiated by God or God’s word; it never comes from human initiative. The use of the pattern to describe these different experiences of quite different characters, points to the community aspect of these calls. They may appear to us to be quite personal experiences, but until there is a ‘public’ description of a call in language that is publicly recognizable as just that, there is no call. Prophetic authority only exists when it is publicly acknowledged, when the power of God behind a word of judgment or hope within public life is recognized by the community of faith itself.

The call is wrapped up in six verbs—“pluck up”, “pull down”, “destroy”, and “overthrow”, and then “build” and “plant”.  We don’t really know when this call was heard or when it was recognized, but it shapes Jeremiah and it shapes the people who listen to the message.  We are a people called to tear down that which is destructive, which is not part of the Kingdom that God is calling us to build and build the rest into what God calls it to be.

In his response to this call, the prophet will meet strong opposition to his calling. I’m sure at times he will question it and wonder what in the world he is doing or even, perhaps, if he had gotten the whole thing wrong.  There will be resistance from others to this plucking up and overthrowing, and others who will resist the building and planting. Jeremiah will need courage in the performance of his prophetic duty. He will be called on to speak to the leaders of the nation. He will encounter the strong criticism of other prophets and leaders of the temple. His call will be costly. Yet as it unfolds the word he is to pass on, the word which fills his mouth, will prove the only hope for this people. He will be delivered, as is promised, and the people to whom he proclaims this word will finally be delivered.


Recall the words of the poet:

Sometimes when the river is ice
Ask me mistakes I have made;
Ask me whether what I have done
Is my life.

Parker Palmer tells of the time he went to a college to lead a workshop on teaching. Early on, he was warned about the curmudgeonly Professor X. Professor X would come to the workshop, he was told, but likely only to debunk whatever was said. As the workshop began, Palmer asked the teachers to tell the group about a mentor, someone who had taught them how to teach. The teachers related many stories, moving stories. After several people had gone, Professor X began to speak, not in the cranky tones his colleagues were used to hearing, but in a voice full of sadness and regret. He confessed that for twenty years he had been trying to mimic his mentor’s teaching style-the results had been disastrous. His teaching wasn’t working because he was trying to be someone he was not. Twenty years into his career it was just starting to dawn on Professor X that what he was doing was not his life.


Ask me whether what I have done is my life. (From “What’s My Life”, a sermon by Rev. Dr. Kimberleigh Buchanan, available at, accessed 18 August, 2010.)



I was reminded of this as we talked about what God intends for each of our lives:


Years ago, my brother had begun training his Labrador Retrievers to respond as hunting dogs and together they participated in what are called “hunt tests” in which the dogs have an opportunity to receive a title sanctioned by the American Kennel Club.  Now I love dogs but guns and shooting ducks and mud and weeds and swamps are not really my thing.  But one day I went to go watch my brother’s young dog Maggie do whatever it was she was supposed to do.  I didn’t really understand it.  Truth be told, it really made no sense to me at all.  I just went to support Donnie and Maggie.

It was so muddy that the only way to get into the test was with my brother’s four-wheel drive pick-up and then we had to walk about another half mile or so to go watch the test itself.  We stood and waited and I just listened to the early morning quiet.  Maggie and Donnie were standing at the end of this huge piece of flooded pasture land.  Then the quiet was interrupted by a gun shot followed by something falling into the water.  Maggie did not move.  She watched her destination and then when Donnie said “Maggie”, she took off toward it.  And I had the wonderful blessing of watching the most magnificent piece of Creation that I had ever seen.  With ears laid back and her whole body in connected motion, Maggie seemed to skim the shallow water, never veering from or taking her eyes off the mark.  What I realized was that Maggie was not acting out of obedience to Donnie or what he had taught her; she was being who she was supposed to be in the very deepest part of her being.


Living out one’s call from God is not easy.  Truth be told, I’m pretty sure that it’s not meant to be.  Some of it makes no sense in light of how we see the world.  I mean, really, look at Jeremiah.  Wouldn’t it have been a whole lot easier to just pull out the pastoral side of himself and tell these people what a great job they were doing being the people of God?  But instead, he became what God called him to be in the deepest part of his being.  He became who he was created to be.  And God saw that it was good.


  • What is your response to this passage?
  • What is it that you are called to “pluck down”?
  • What is it that you are called to “build up”?
  • Why do you think there is almost always a denial of a call before the acceptance?
  • What do you think of the notion of God knowing you before you were?
  • What does it mean to you to do with your life what God intends?


NEW TESTAMENT:  Hebrews 12:18-29

Read the passage from Hebrews

“This is your final warning!”  Throughout this book of Hebrews, the unknown writer has been warning us against neglecting our salvation, against neglecting our relationship with God.  Toward the end of the writing, there is one last warning issued.

The writer uses a contrast to issue this warning.  Two mountains, Sinai and Zion provide the basis for comparison.  The writer reminds us first of the experience of the Israelites at Sinai: the flames of fire, the mist and gloom, the trumpet blast, and a Voice too terrible to endure. But we have not come to worship at this frightening, inaccessible, isolated mountain. Instead, we have come to Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem. A marvelous company gathers in this city of the living God. There are countless angels who have come to join in celebration and worship. There is the congregation of the first-born, the brothers and sisters of Jesus the firstborn. There are the spirits of righteous people. There is Jesus, who mediates a new covenant making possible a new access to God and divine blessing.

The writer interprets the prophetic word to refer to a global destruction of created things (“what is shaken”) so that eternal things (“what cannot be shaken”) may remain. For us, this shaking, painful as it is, is a moment of crisis that reorients our lives. As a result of this process of judgment, we lose the things that can be shaken—all that is temporary. But in the midst of such cataclysmic trial, there is good news because that which cannot be shaken abides. Most importantly, what abides is God’s unshakable kingdom—a kingdom we are receiving even now due to the new and living way to God that Jesus has opened for us. That awareness leads to joy and thankfulness because we participate in the eternal realm and reign of God. Through our participation in that kingdom, we may worship God aright, with reverence and awe, knowing our God is a consuming fire who burns away the ephemeral things of our lives and purifies the precious gold that abides.

The “final warning” is that we need to remember this and not get so wrapped up in what sustains us now, in what fulfills our life today.  There is something more.

  • What meaning does this passage hold for you?
  • What are those things in our lives that should be lost in this “shaking” and reorienting?
  • What should be kept?
  • What do you think of the image of God as a “consuming fire”?
  • What is bothersome about this passage?



GOSPEL:  Luke 13:10-17

Read the Gospel passage

While this appears on the surface to be another healing passage, it is probably more about Sabbath, about what it means and what it doesn’t mean.  We first encounter the Sabbath at its very Creation.  But many of us read the beginning of the second chapter of Genesis as sort of a pretty poetic “wrap up” to the whole Creation account. But the Sabbath is much, much more.  This divine resting is part of the created order.  This divine act of blessing the Sabbath is God’s act of giving power to the temporal order; it is the honoring of the cycle of work and rest that is part of the implicit rhythm of Creation.  God did not stop working at Creation to lay down and take a nap.  God rather created the Sabbath that we might embrace all that had been created.  Essentially, the Sabbath is the climax of all there is.  And so, we are given the commandment to “remember the Sabbath” or to “observe the Sabbath”, depending on where you’re reading, not because it’s a rule but because it’s part of who we are.

But in the Gospel passage we read, there are those who forgot this.  In one of his poems, T.S. Eliot said that “we had the experience but missed the meaning.”  This describes it to a tee. They were so worried about Jesus breaking the “rules” of the Sabbath that they forgot compassion; they forgot justice; they forgot who they were; they forgot what the Sabbath was meant to be.  The Sabbath is not merely a list of rules. And Jesus is not merely a keeper of the rules.

The funny thing is, this woman didn’t even ask to be healed, according to the passage. And no one from her family made that request either.  Jesus healed her, set her free from her affliction, because that is who Jesus was.  The story essentially portrays Jesus as keeping the Sabbath because he sees it differently.  If the purpose of the Sabbath is to stop and rest that we might be free to praise God, Jesus heals this woman so that she can do exactly that.  Commentator Sharon Ringe makes the point that “this is not “whether” but “how” to keep the Sabbath.”

The Sabbath is essentially a gift of freedom.  Jesus realized this.   The body-bent woman realized this.  It means freeing one to be with God—freeing us from afflictions, from bent-over bodies, or from starved souls, from clocks and commitments, from tensions and worries.  It means giving us the freedom to look beyond where we are.  You see, we are all body-bent, whether it be physical, emotional, or spiritual.  We all have afflictions from which we need to be freed.  God can do that.  God does it all the time.  We just have to pay attention and let go so that it can happen.  And then we will experience the freedom that God created us for us.

There is a story of an American traveler on safari in Kenya.  He was loaded down with maps, and timetables, and travel agendas.  Porters from a local tribe were carrying his cumbersome supplies, luggage, and “essential stuff.”  On the first morning, everyone awoke early and traveled fast and went far into the bush.  On the second morning, they all woke very early and traveled very fast and went very far into the bush.  On the third morning, they all woke very early and traveled very fast and went even farther into the bush.  The American seemed please.  But on the fourth morning, the porters refused to move.  They simply sat by a tree.  Their behavior incensed the American.  “This is a waste of valuable time.  Can someone tell me what is going on here?”  The translator answered, “They are waiting for their souls to catch up with their bodies.”

That is what God has given us in the Sabbath—the gift of reconnecting with our soul, the gift of reconnecting with God, the gift of once again realizing what the freedom of life means.  It is the chance to once again stand up straight and praise God for all that we are and all that we will become.  It is the freedom to be what God intended us to be.  Maybe that’s something we ought to put on our “to do list”.

The traditional Jewish Sabbath begins at sundown, the Christian Sabbath with morning worship.  In both, Sabbath time begins with the lighting of candles and a stopping—to welcome the Sabbath in.  Marcia Falk writes that “three generations back my family had only to light a candle and the world parted.  Today, Friday afternoon, I disconnect clocks and phones.  When night fills my house with passages, I begin saving my life.”(Marcia Falk, in Sabbath:  Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in our Busy Lives, Wayne Muller (New York, NY:  Bantam Books, 1999), 21.) This is the beginning of sacred time.  This is the beginning of eternity.  This is where we find life.


  • What meaning does this passage hold for you?
  • What is “Sabbath” to you?
  • What keeps you from “keeping Sabbath”?
  • What are those things that make us “body-bent” or “soul-starved”?
  • What do we miss if we miss the Sabbath?
  • What does it mean to you to wait for your own soul?
  • What does that mean to you to “find your life”?



Some Quotes for Further Reflection:

God…leads us step by step, from event to event.  Only afterwards, as we look back over the way we have come and reconsider certain important moments in our lives in the light of all that has followed them, or when we survey the whole progress of our lives, do we experience the feeling of having been led without knowing it, the feeling that God has mysteriously guided us.  (Paul Tournier)

Every way of seeing is a way of not seeing. (Alfred North Whitehead)

Unless one learns how to relish the taste of the Sabbath while still in this world, unless one is initiated in the appreciation of eternal life, one will be unable to enjoy the taste of eternity in the world to come.  Sad is the lot of the one who arrives inexperienced and when led to heaven has no power to perceive the beauty of the Sabbath. (Abraham Heschel, The Sabbath, p. 74.)





Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam

Asher kidishanu b’mitz’votav v’tzivanu

L’had’lik neir shel Shabbat.  Amein


Blessed are you, Lord, our God, sovereign of the universe

Who has sanctified us with [these] commandments and commanded us

To light the lights of Shabbat.  Amen.           


Proper 11B: Living in the House of the Lord

beautiful-creation-0-0-god-the-creator-9762092-1280-960OLD TESTAMENT: 2 Samuel 7: 1-14a

Read the Lectionary passage

Up until now, David has been anointed king of Israel, has consolidated power in Jerusalem, and has brought the ark of the Lord to rest in a tent in Jerusalem. Things seem to be going well. And so David envisions now a more permanent structure to house the ark of the Lord. In other words, David now desires to build a temple in Jerusalem.

But that night the Lord intervenes by way of Nathan with a promise not necessarily of a permanent “house” but, rather a permanent dynasty, an everlasting house of the line of David. David has risen from shepherd boy to king and has apparently felt God’s presence through it all. He now sits in his comfortable palace and compares his “house” to the tent that “houses God” in his mind. So he decides, in spite of the message, that God needs a grand house too.

God, through the prophet Nathan responds by asking, in a sense, “Hey! Did you hear me complaining about living in a tent? No, I prefer being mobile, flexible, responsive, free to move about, not fixed in one place.” God then turns the tables on David and says, “You think you’re going to build me a house? No, no, no, no. I’M going to build YOU a house. A house that will last much longer and be much greater than anything you could build yourself with wood and stone. A house that will shelter the hopes and dreams of your people long after ‘you lie down with your ancestors.'” God promises to establish David and his line “forever,” and this is a “no matter what” promise, even if the descendants of David sin, even if “evildoers” threaten. This Davidic Covenant is a promise of life eternal.

Walter Brueggemann identifies this Scripture as “the dramatic and theological center of the entire Samuel text.” But this also would represent a major upheaval to the way that the people understood God. The permanent temple structure would no longer represent a God who traveled with the people but rather a God who expected the people to come to God.

The truth is, the “House of God” is not, contrary to what we sometimes say, the sanctuary. In essence, it is all of Creation, all that we see and know, all that we experience in life. But, as humans, we often think we need something tangible to secure our life as we know it, something to “hold onto”. We crave something that “matters”, something that can prove, I suppose, that we exist, that WE matter. So, do we then try to squeeze the “House of God” into that model? This Scripture could be taken as yet another warning to not get so comfortable with who we think we have figured out God is. And, after all, is it so important that the “House of God” be conveniently located, user friendly, and of historic significance? What does it say to us that in order for our churches to “succeed”, we need to have good coffee, air conditioned classrooms, and a never-ending array of children and youth activities? Do we risk colonizing the “House of God” and, thereby, limiting God to what we can imagine and what we can control? We continue to live with that tension. It is part of our faith; it is part of who we are as Christians. There is nothing wrong with a beautiful sanctuary or a comfortable pew. There is nothing wrong with trying to systematize our belief system into theological precepts or acceptable hymnody. It is who we are. It is our way of understanding God. But we need to remember that our belief system, our theology, and even our sanctuary is NOT “God”. In fact, it’s not even the “House of God”. Rather, it’s what helps us experience the God who is already with us, already inviting us to the table, already providing the promise of life forever. THAT is the House in which we live and move and have our being.


  1. What is your response to this passage?
  2. Are there places that you sense God’s presence more than other places?
  3. What does the change in this understanding of God mean for you?
  4. What does this say about our “model” of church?
  5. Where do our thoughts about “church” and “House of God” get in the way of our faith?


NEW TESTAMENT: Ephesians 2: 11-22

Read the Lectionary Epistle passage

In the opening of this passage, the writer addresses his or her readers as “Gentiles by birth”, so this was probably intended for converted Gentile Christians. But rather than incorporating Gentiles into Israel, the writer is claiming that both Jews and Gentiles are brought together as one in Christ. They are both now members of something new. There is a new household of God, a new building or temple, if you will. The community is now celebrated as one with a new access to God through Christ.

The dominant theme here is reconciliation between the two groups—peace with God and peace between the two peoples. There is an allusion here that the “dividing wall” is the old religion, the old laws, in other words, the commandments themselves. So perhaps it is a recognition that sometimes what we have revered as infallible and irreversible may actually be destructive and dividing.

But this is in no way meant to create a smugness about the “new people”. This passage and all of Ephesians has sometimes been used for that, as a type of religious imperialism or religious conquering. This is, rather, a new creation of all.

Dr. Sally A. Brown says this about this text: “No doubt some relatively tame sermons have been preached from this text from time to time — maybe taking to task a congregation fussily divided over the color of the carpet or over the price of adding ten parking spaces to the parking lot. But the text is meant to do more than coax cranky congregants toward compromise. This is a text meant to shake empires.” (From “Preaching This Week”, 07/22/2012, available at, accessed 18 July, 2012.)

The truth is that the “household of God” is not just something that we visit on Sundays when we are at our best.  It is part of who we are at the deepest core of our being.  It is part of every aspect of our lives.  So what does that mean, then, to live as spiritual and reconciled people in EVERY aspect?  What does that mean to knock down not just the walls between us comfortable pew-sitters but rather the walls between us and the outside?

In a commentary on this passage, Walter B. Shurden relates a story from quintessential storyteller, Dr. Fred Craddock:

Craddock tells about returning to his small west Tennessee hometown each Christmas. Every year he would visit an old friend named Buck. Buck owned a cafe on the main street of the town, and he always gave Craddock a cup of coffee and a piece of chess pie. One Christmas when Craddock went in to get his coffee and pie, Buck said, “Come on, let’s go get a cup of coffee.” “What’s the matter?” asked Craddock, “isn’t this a restaurant?” “I don’t know; sometimes I wonder,” Buck fired back.

Later, sitting across from Craddock, Buck asked, “Did you see the curtain?” “Yes, Buck, I saw the curtain; I always see the curtain.” The curtain was in Buck’s cafe, separating the front half of the cafe from the back half. White folks came in the front of the cafe from the main street, but black folks came in from an alley behind the cafe. The curtain was there to separate, to separate white people from black people.

Buck looked up and said, “Fred, the curtain has got to come down.” “Good,” Craddock responded, “Pull her down!” “That’s easy enough for you to say,” said Buck. “You come in once a year and tell me how to run my business.” “Then leave it up,” Craddock countered. In personal agony, Buck said, “Fred, I take that curtain down, and I lose my customers; I leave that curtain up, and I lose my soul!”

Buck was right, of course. Some curtains have to come down. Some curtains have to come down because if we leave them up we will lose our souls, no matter how many church customers we gain! The church of Jesus Christ simply must rip some curtains from top to bottom and dump them in the garbage. So “Jesus cried again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom” (Mt. 27:50-51).

Not only curtains but walls came tumbling down that day when Jesus cried with a loud voice. The walls of anger, the walls of hostility, the “I’m-better-than-you walls,” the “I’m a chosen one and you are not walls,” the “I’m a male one and you are not walls,” and the “I am a clergy one and you are not walls.” [(or the “I am righteous and you are not”, “I am right and you are not”, or “I am straight and you are not”)—inserted by Shelli] My! My! My! How those walls came crashing down at Calvary! And no one has described it better than Eugene Peterson in his rendering of Ephesians 2:14 in The Message:

The Messiah has made things up between us so that we’re now together on this, both non-Jewish outsiders and Jewish insiders. He tore down the walls we used to keep each other at a distance. He repealed the law code that had become so clogged with fine print and footnotes that it hindered more than it helped. Then he started over. Instead of continuing with two groups of people separated bycenturies of animosity and suspicion, he created a new kind of human  being, a fresh start for everybody. (From “When the Walls Came Tumbling Down”, by Walter B. Shurden, available at, accessed 18 July, 2012)

So, what, then, are we holding onto? Let it go. Let this New Creation come to be!

  1. How does this passage speak to you?
  2. What “dividing walls” do you see still exist?
  3. What does this “new household” mean for you?
  4. What is the first wall that we need to take down in our understanding of this “Household of God”?


 GOSPEL: Mark 6: 30-34, 53-56

Read the Lectionary Gospel passage

The beginning verses depict the returning of the twelve. They had formerly been sent out and now they return. In the verses preceding the ones we read, we hear the account of the death of John the Baptist. And at this point, we are told that the apostles return and gather around Jesus, telling him everything that had been happening with their mission. Earlier in this same chapter, they had been sent out to continue the work of healing and teaching. And during that time, John the Baptist had been brutally executed. This is certain to have cast a somber shadow over their elation at the success of their mission. This had to be scary. After all, John had been part of Jesus’ work. John had, essentially, been one of them. But, as we know, we cannot always control or predict what happens in life. And so, in the midst of their shock and sadness and grief, and probably fear, Jesus tells the apostles, to “come away and rest”. He tells them to go to a deserted place, away from the crowds, away from the terror in which they now live, and just rest.

And yet, the disciples have been carrying out the mission of healing and teaching. They have been doing what they are called to do. Jesus calls for them to take a rest. He was encouraging them to desist and take care of themselves and not feel that they have to respond to every need or every cry. They are not God. They are not Saviors. They are limited human beings who need their rest. A life of faith is a balancing act between all aspects of life.

This “broken up” passage frames the account of Jesus feeding the thousands. This passage comes out of the height of success of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus is pictured here as a shepherd-king with Godlike compassion as he looks upon the multitude wandering like sheep without a shepherd. He looked at the people and saw the hurting, the sick, and those who needed him. And he recognized that they also needed the sustenance of rest. They needed that time of Sabbath to renew themselves in God. Fully participating in life with God is realizing that.

In her book, Sabbath Keeping, Donna Schaper says that “Sabbath is a way of living, not a thing to have or a list to complete. By observing it we become people who both work and rest, and who know why, when, and how we do either. We also recognize the occasions on which we do both at the same time. We know how to pray, how to be still, how to do nothing. Sabbath people know that “our” time is really God’s time, and we are invited to live in it. We are living our eternity now—this Tuesday and Wednesday, this Saturday and Sunday. (Sabbath Keeping, p. 8)

Isn’t that what we are trying to do—find that rhythm of life to which God invites us, that balancing act, if you will, that is God’s call to us? This is the way that our time and God’s time converge and become one. This is the way that our hearts beat the heartbeat of God and our ears hear God’s music. This is the way we become the Household of God. In a Christian Century article by Martin Copenhaver, he says this:

A COLLEAGUE of mine recently resigned from a suburban parish where relentless demands on his time and energy were beginning to wear him down. He left to become a missionary on the coast of Maine. In his new position he visits small clusters of Christians in remote locations. He reports that in many ways his ministry is the same as it always has been: he preaches, teaches, visits the sick. But there is this difference: between ports of call he travels long distances by boat. Between sermons he can listen to the wind. Before teaching another class he can study the horizon. After visiting the sick he is anointed with sea spray. Interspersed with his demanding pastoral duties he takes a watery road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.

John Westerhoff has remarked that atheism in the modern world is characterized by this affirmation: “If I don’t do it, it won’t happen.” The apostles–even after their newfound success as teachers, preachers and healers–knew better. They waited in the boat.

Those who are empowered by the gospel and act under the influence of Christ’s spirit need that reminder too. The apostles learned two lessons: that the power of God can be at work through them, and that God can be at work without them. When their compassion was spent and their ability to respond to need exhausted, people were fed anyway, as if with manna from heaven, while the apostles could only watch from the boat. (From “Watching From the Boat”, by Martin B. Copenhaver, The Christian Century, 1994)

  1. What meaning does this passage hold for you?
  2. What does the directive to the disciples to rest say to you?
  3. Why is that so difficult for us?
  4. What does that say about us?


Some Quotes for Further Reflection:

Help me, Lord, to remember that religion is not to be confined to the church, or closet, nor exercised only in prayer and meditation, but that everywhere I am in Thy Presence. (Susanna Wesley)

Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you can find. (Jesus)


Faith dies when religion declares its certainties beyond question. Faith is a journey, and there is always more to discover. If you want a solid “Biblical truth,” it is that we have more to see. The other is the freedom to rest. Not just take a day off from work, but rest, stop, open our mouths to sing and, from no hymnal ever fought over, discover the song we and God are composing. We cannot know what that song is until we stand still. We cannot know what work God is doing in our lives until we stop our own striving. We cannot know what truth God would show us until we set aside all that we think we know. We cannot accept the gift God would give us until we put down tools, weapons, certainties, and pious accoutrements, and simply hold out open hands to God. (Rev. Tom Ehrich, from “Rest”, 05/22/2005)



Consider the lilies of the field, the blue banks of camas opening into acres of sky along the road. Would the longing to lie down and be washed by that beauty abate if you knew their usefulness, how the natives ground bulbs for flour, how the settler’s hogs uprooted them, grunting in gleeful oblivion as the flowers fell?

And you, what of your rushed and useful life? Imagine setting it all down papers, plans, appointments, everything, leaving only a note:  Gone to the fields to be lovely. Be back when I’m through with blooming.”

Even now, unneeded and uneaten, the camas lilies gaze out above the grass from their tender blue eyes. Even in sleep your life will shine. Make no mistake. Of course, your work will always matter. Yet Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Lynn Ungar from What We Share (Collected Meditations, Volume 2)