Friday, August 30, 2013

Transformation

We awoke early once again to watch the sun make its way across the horizon.  Today there was no haze, it was a beautiful pink line that greeted us and welcomed in the dawning of a new day.

It was a day of transformation as we left the sea and made our way to Mount Tabor; the place in which the transfiguration of Jesus occurred.  As we made our way the mountain and could see from the distance, the low lying clouds gave it a majestic and holy appearance; as if God himself had  made bleached it whiter than we could ever imagine.  The road up the mountain is a steep switch back three mile journey and yet one that is filled with a beauty of a one lane road and the glorious views of agriculture springing forth to life below.  Seven pilgrims chose to walk the three miles up the steep road to gain a sense of what it must have been like to travel with Jesus.  While the road was winding and steep the conversations that flowed were joyous and transformative.  The view of shades of green below that held a crop were stunning against the backdrop of the blue sky.

Standing on top of the mountain the wind was blowing ever so gently and provided us with a renewed sense of purpose and lightness within our beings.  Standing in the glorious domed church with the mosaic tile so golden that all you could do was to stand in awe and feel the presence of the divine wrapping in you a life of warmth, grace and mercy.  The welcome of a life of being transformed.  As we worshipped and sang "Sweet, Sweet Spirit"; 'we lifted our hearts in praise without a doubt we know that we will have been revived when we shall leave this place.'

Jesus' relationship with the disciples were transformed that day.  The journey up the hill gave them the gift of having their relationship with their teacher, transformed into what would become a relationship with their friend and Savior.  God assured us that we too are transformed, that we are experiencing something so holy within this pilgrimage that our lives with him can never been the same.

The hush of the Sea of Galilee gave way to the busyness of Jerusalem.  Fr. Frank raised a glass as we gathered in the lobby and said "To Jerusalem"...as if to shout a hallelujah to the King of Kings.  A quick drop of our bags in our rooms gave way to a quick walk through the Old City.  As we neared the Damascus Gate my heart began to sing, my eyes began to fill with tears and a lightness within my soul.  Just as  the disciples followed Jesus;  12 persons followed Fr. Frank Ruff  through the Old City.  Fr. Frank teaching and talking all along the way in a way that made  you feel as though you were walking with Jesus himself.  The love and passion that Fr.Frank has for our Lord is breathtaking.  We listened and walked celebrating that this is where our Savior came as a child to celebrate; made his own pilgrimage for the high and holy festivals throughout the year. It was a moment of touching the define and being transformed.

The beauty of the sea may have given way to the pavement of Jerusalem but the power of our Lord Jesus continues to make the journey with and for us.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Restore...to set right

Ever so gently the sun made its way across the horizon of the Sea of Galilee this morning, it was a gentle pink merely sneaking up and over the hills that encase the Sea of Galilee.  The clouds hung heavily in the sky as the the presence of a new day, the promise of a new life was offered to us once again.

Driving to the Mount of Beatitudes we saw the hills rising before us and forming the perfect amphitheater that makes it possible for one person to be able to speak to hundreds if not thousands of people .  The landscape is golden and dotted with shades of green.  As we gather to hear the words of our Lord proclaiming, 'blessed are those who are poor in spirit, blessed are those who morn, blessed are those who hunger and thirst, blessed are those who are pure in heart, blessed are those who are the peace makers and blessed are those who are persecute" God began to move within us.  The presence of the Holy fell upon us as the vibrant colors of the flowers pressed up against the contrast of the golden hillside.  The Spirit began to awaken us to the reality that our view was once his view.

Just as God's spirit moves, we moved to Capernaum to the place where Jesus offered so many the gift healing and restoration.  The heat began to press down upon us as we gathered  in the shade of a magnolia tree that shrouded us a bit of coolness and allowed us to focus on the movement upon the Sea of Galilee.  Capernaum, the home of Simon Peter and the place in which Jesus called home after he left his parents home in Nazareth.  Just as Jesus had called Matthew, he called us today.  He called us to experience a moment of healing.  Healing literally means to set right or to restore.  Jesus did not just extend the gift of healing; setting right to those of his time he tells us that we to can have our broken relationships healed/set right. Today Jesus offered us the gift of healing the lies within our heads that have told us we are not worthy; we are not good enough.  Today as the wind blew across the lake and the heat pounded upon our bodies, we came with all that we were and received the healing, the setting right, the restoration that our hearts had been longing for.

The joy of knowing receiving such an amazing gift was overwhelming to some.  The movement of the Spirit continued as we traveled to Peter's Primacy.  Peter runs away after the crucifixion and goes fishing and takes the others with him. In the early morning after the guys have been fishing; a place that says I am running away, I want to be safe from the crowds pressing in; Jesus starts a fire and ask the guys to come and have breakfast.  The fire is once again burning and Jesus ask Peter three times if he loved him  Of course Peter loves Jesus but he is ashamed of how he walked away, how he ran home to go fishing because it was easier to go fishing than to face his friend.  There in the heat of the day, the sun basking down upon us Jesus reminded us that he comes to us the dawning of a new day and invites us not just to breakfast but to the feast of love and acceptance.  We submerged our feet into the Sea and felt the warmth of being accepted flowing upon us.

The promise of a new life, of setting things right and experiencing restoration comes into its fullness when we stand hand in hand with our Savior and renew our baptism vows.  The covenant is filled with wholeness and offers to us a kingdom far beyond what we can imagine.  The Spirit was upon us as we stood alongside our brothers and sisters and renewed our baptismal vows at the banks of the Jordan River.

The Spirit of our Lord has been upon us today.  May you accept the gift of healing within your life....the gift of something, that one thing that is hidden away being restored or set right. May your healing come without hesitation.  New life is given, restoration has been received. Go forth and do likewise.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Building

Today has been a day of building.

We stood on the edge of the Mediterrian Sea listening as the waves crashed onto the land.  It was the land in which Herod  the Great built his great city and dedicated it to Ceaser.  Throughout history it has been a place in which building was central.  Building the Jewish community, then the Christian community and finally building and growing the Muslim community.  We began to ponder and ask ourselves what are we building in our lives? What kind of kingdom are we being asked to build, are we buildling one that is self serving? Are we building a kingdom that honors the Holy of Holies?

 We have been building community and building our relationship with our Christ.  As we climbed the hill to Nazaerth we carried the annunciation and promise of a new life that was given to Mary into our own hearts and minds. Mary's willingness and faithfulness to say 'have thine own way Lord' calls us to think about the ways that we are allowing God to have his will in our life b e done.  We have been challenged to ask if we meet God's annunciation upon our lives with a spirit of openness and willingness.  As we walked with Mary we wondered what our lives would be like if we did not have the gift in which God has bestowed upon us through Jesus Christ.

The hustle and bustle of Nazareth gave way to the scluded church in Cana.  An intimate setting in which we are reminded of the covenant that Jesus began to reveal as he turned water into wine.  We listened and understood that the wedding wasn't merely a family affair but a time in which the community/the village gathered to celebrate all that was happening.  Jesus celebrates each of us as he offers a relationship of transformation.

The day has come full circle as we saw the richness of the wood that was used in the boats during the time of Jesus.  The deep hues of wood that were crafted in such a way to withstand the winds of the Sea of Galilee.  As the winds blew across this lake this afternoon we heard the strength of the one that calls to us each morning asking if we will follow him for the day.  Our calling isn't just one of peronsl status it is one that ask us to go into the deep waters calling building relationships with others so that they too might know the joy and wonder of the Almighty.  Jesus invites us into the journey, ask us to consider doing life differently.  He shows us that no matter how powerful the winds may become the call to build and 'fish for others' leads us into a new life.

What are you building today?  What promise has God revealed to you to give you hope? Are  you willing to cast your nets deep into the life of relationship building?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Traveling

  Disclaimer...the bold or different font means nothing!! The blog was simply written at two different times....


   Pilgrimage in its purest form means to take a journey to a sacred place.  Today the pilgrimage is two fold.  It is a pilgrimage for my own soul, one that returns me to the land of my Savior. In less than 24 hours we will be landing in a land so holy and so rich that every step takes your breath away. It is a personal journey of walking the land once again and watching and listening in a new way.  It is a pilgrimage in which I hope that my steps are purposeful and slow.

     It is also a pilgrimage in which I get to lead 18 others who have never step foot on the land of our faith.  It is a pilgrimage in which I have the honor of helping to create space for others to feel the presence of our Lord in a new way.

     As we sit in the airport waiting the pilgrimage the pilgrims are each trying to find their own space and rhythm with one another.  Books and i-readers are being read and space is being found.



As the pilgrims find their space with one another a strange yet holy community begins to be formed. 

As community begins to form kindness and gentleness begin to emerge. Moments of unsettledness blossom into moments of grace and the unfolding of what it means to travel this journey together.
The pilgrimage to a holy place is not always a straight path with the shortest route (three flights and 20 something hours later) and yet that journey opens doors beyond what we could have imagined or expected.
The sun has set and risen again and we are gathering with our fellow Christ followers, jewish and ,muslim brothers and sisters awaiting the moment we can step onto the Land of our Faith....the Land of the Holy of Holies!

The hustle and bustle of the people has begun. The shades are up and children are laughing. A renewed sense of purpose has emerged as we near the Holy Land.  "take off your shoes for you are walking on holy ground."