Greetings from Peter Mayer

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

h2odevos encores 022912 Leap of Faith

"The day-to-day procession of human charades
Our chances fade and shine
But somewhere in between the distance and the dance
The water turns to wine

The days are going by us hours too fast
Past you right or wrong
The solitary pleasure of your hand
Makes my heart beat strong

Some will say you're born free others say it can't be
Nothin's  gonna change your mind
First you say you'll leave me then you say you need me
Somewhere in between you're mine"


Somewhere in Between by Roger Guth and Peter Mayer


I have always appreciated those signs or displays which show an arrow marking a particular spot, accompanied by the words, "You are here."  They give one an opportunity to get oriented, to discover where one has been and perhaps where one is going.

Peter's song "Somewhere in Between" accurately describes where many of us happen to be at this particular point in time. In terms of a Lenten journey, we are somewhere in between ashes and alleluias. Others of us are somewhere in between doubt and faith, somewhere in between hope and fear, somewhere in between tears and laughter, somewhere in between pain and healing, somewhere in between resentment and forgiveness, somewhere in between hearing and listening, somewhere in between hunger and satisfaction (the list could go on and on).

But somewhere in between the distance and the dance
The water turns to wine

In recent years many preachers have lamented the fact that Biblical literacy has apparently decreased. They say, "Folks just don't know their Bible anymore like they used to."  I am sure there is some truth to that statement. However, I am amazed that many people, whether they read the Bible or not, whether they attend church or not, seem to have the basic information regarding Jesus' first miracle, namely, changing water into wine. As I wrote last year in the Stirrin Up the Water H2o devo's, this was Jesus' IPO, his initial public offering. It was at this event when he declared, "I will serve no wine before it's time." Well, actually that's what the GRV (the Glusenkamp Revised Version) states. The NRSV (New Revised Standard Version) reads, "My hour has not yet come." Here's the rest of the story from John 2: 1-11:

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, 'They have no wine.' 4And Jesus said to her, 'Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.' 5His mother said to the servants, 'Do whatever he tells you.' 6Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7Jesus said to them, 'Fill the jars with water.' And they filled them up to the brim. 8He said to them, 'Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.' So they took it. 9When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom 10and said to him, 'Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.' 11Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

But somewhere in between the distance and the dance
The water turns to wine.

Miracles happen. I believe that. I don't know if that is a leap of faith for you to experience or not. Or maybe you believe miracles happened back in Bible times, but you're not so sure they happen anymore.

I've been somewhere in between these feelings and thoughts a bunch of times. And if you find yourself somewhere in between, you're in good company. But, I would like to propose a toast.

"May each one of us to become wine tasters today, to rejoice in the celebration that Jesus attends in our lives and to give thanks for God's presence somwhere in between."

l'chaim,
rtg

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

h2odevos encores 022812 God Loves You!


"You're an Angel waiting on her wings
Getting by on what each new day brings
I'm a silent prayer waiting for a voice
I sing because I have no other choice

Don't know what will be
Just around the bend
'Til I'm there
It's good to have a friend
It's good to have my friend"

It's Good to Have A Friend by David Bailey & Peter Mayer


"I'm a silent prayer waiting for a voice
I sing because I have no other choice"

I'm wondering what it is that you do because you have no other choice. In other words, what is your gift? What is your passion, if you will?  I mean something that you are called to do which you do because it ultimately makes you more you. And in the doing of it makes your friend, your neighbor, your community more of a friend, more of a neighbor and more of a community.  Now, this aggressive line of questioning isn't intended to cause you worry or concern this morning. In fact, it is intended to bring about confidence and certainty as opposed to anxiety or discomfort. I can tell that I'm in a didactic mode this a.m.

My hope and prayer for you is that you realize, feel, know, internalize, personalize (and simply take it to heart) that God loves you. Maybe, I should just stop right there because it is so central and foundational to what life and love is all about. If you get nothing else from these devos, I hope you know and experience God's love. The following Bible passage is a great message to handle. And maybe not so much to handle with care, but if you have cares, worries, concerns and troubles, pick up these words and let them handle you, to let them speak to you. Jesus said,

"As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 11 I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. 12 'This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. 16 You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. 17 I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another." (John 15:6-16)

Jesus was talking about bearing fruit. I simply love that line which Peter sings, "I sing because I have no other choice."  Pete has been called to sing. That's his gift and one of the ways he bears fruit.  And so his words and melodies bring joy to folks who don't know what the future holds or what's around the bend. I think he is also reminding us to celebrate having a friend and at the same time is encouraging us to be a friend as well. When that happens, we get a piece of paradise.

It's good to have a friend.

Rtg

ps:  Many of you have inquired how to get a cd or Peter's music. Go to www.petermayer.com and check out the tunes available.

Monday, February 27, 2012

h2odevos encores 022712 Heaven Help Us

"Day come white, Night come black 
You could wait forever to get this loneliness off your back
Even the moon waits for another sun
To shine a light shine a light on everyone

Heaven help us all
If we should fall from Love
Heaven help us all
If we should fall from Love

That's us beneath your umbrella
We both walk in my shoes
Oh some impossible storyteller
Wrote me in right next to you

You say this could be forever
I say maybe so

But God only knows
where would I be without you?"

Heaven Help Us by Peter Mayer/Roger Guth/ Jim Mayer 

It's a prayer you know. The words "heaven help us" are a request that God in heaven do something about some situation with some one. It's about as basic and simple as one can get. But, as you know very well, by the time those words are uttered, the situation is no longer basic or simple. Most likely it has increased in perceived difficulty and corresponding frustration.

Peter is singing about a relationship. From all appearances it sounds like a typical relationship with the usual ups and downs associated with it. The couple has progressed to some point or plateau of love. Maybe things haven't moved beyond where one party of the couple wished they had gone. Or perhaps, both parties realize that things aren't what they once were, nor will they be where they thought it was going to go.

"Heaven help us all
If we should fall from Love"

Peter's request/prayer is also appropriate to consider in regards to how one lives one's life in relationship with others. I believe that if one falls from love, then it would seem that hate is at the other end of the spectrum. My sense is that an appropriate prayer for our time and age would be, "Heaven help us all if we could fall from Hate." For it is in the absence of love where we act out certain things that aren't lovely, heavenly or even helpful.

The "impossible storyteller" is the One in whom all stories have their endings and beginnings. It is the One who makes our story complete.

Heaven help us as we attempt to love, to walk together, to realize where we are right now.

Still in one peace,
rtg

Sunday, February 26, 2012

h2odevos encores 022612 I Brake for Rainbows


"There is a river of life all around us
It's our common ground, the gift we are given
Ocean and sky, the wild of the forest,
Were here long before us and meant for all children
We bring our differences, our hopes, our faith our fears
We'll build a home for love in this family
For the light that brought us here

In this blueprint for living
From the word that touched the earth
Round this house we plant a Garden
God's grace is our rebirth
Lend your voice in celebration
Lend your hand in lifting up
This is the day of creation
Built on the cornerstone of Love"

Blueprints by Peter and Jim Mayer



Rainbows are great. They often happen to appear when one least expects them. I've never seen a rainbow that was simply average or just okay. Have you?  Each one is a masterpiece of colors, radiance and engineering style and grace. When children see them, they know God is sending a colorful text message to them.  

Information gleaned from the website of the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research Office states, "the traditional rainbow is sunlight spread out into its spectrum of colors and diverted to the eye of the observer by water droplets. The 'bow' part of the word describes the fact that the rainbow is a group of nearly circular arcs of color all having a common center." http://eo.ucar.edu/rainbows/

In the first lesson for today, we are told how this bow of color in the sky serves as a reminder to God to keep his promise to never, ever flood the entire earth again. And this promise is made not just with humans but  "the birds, the domestic animals and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark" (Genesis 9:9). So it includes, the "itsy bitsy spiders" the dolphins of the sea, the eagles of the sky, porcupines, skunks, squirrels, chipmunks, pigeons and everything else from aardvarks to zebras.

The rainbow is like a Technicolor "post-it note" that God sticks up in the sky every once in a while. It is a reminder for God and for everyone else, each and every animal, for all living beings who see it, that God has made a promise and intends to keep it. The rainbow is the "sign of the promise."

Promises in the Bible are called covenants.

Now what is very remarkable is that in the covenant which God proclaimed to Noah there are no strings attached, there are no terms, no "ifs,"  "ands" or "buts." There is no conditional language like if the party of the first person hereafter to be referred to as God Almighty does promise to treat the parties of the second person, hereafter to be referred to as "you and every living creature of all flesh" then this is what you have to do and the rainbow will be a sign that everything is okay. God simply says,
"I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.' 12God said, "This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth."  (Genesis 9:11-13)

"God's grace is our rebirth"

The gospel lesson for today (Mark 1:9-15) is like a poetic or theological rainbow. Baptism, temptation and announcement of the kingdom are all hung together, connected to a common center, namely Jesus Christ. The water droplets from the baptism flow right into the temptation which lasts for 40 days, just like the rain back in Noah's day and then, there is the promise of a new day, a new time a brand new world. Jesus proclaimed the good news by saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news." (Mark 1:15)

Jesus announces the kingdom of God is near and it seems to me that sandwiched between this announcement and his baptism is a very short report on temptation. As you and I know quite well, temptation or testing comes almost like rainbows, when we least expect them. Sometimes, it would be helpful if we knew how long the test would be or that it is actually a test. Oscar Wilde, who knew a thing or two about temptation, once said, "I can resist everything, except temptation."

 The good news for us is that Jesus successfully resisted temptation. There are a couple of passages which I know are very helpful in dealing with temptation, in resisting it:

"No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it." (I Cor 10:13)

Now sometimes, I have said in response to that particular passage, "I wish God didn't have such a high opinion of me."

"Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested." (Hebrews 2:18)

Jesus knows us. Jesus knows what it is like to be human. Jesus knows our testings and our trials.

The Sign of the Promise comes to us as a rainbow. The Sign of the Promise comes to us in bread and wine. As we eat and drink in remembrance of Jesus may we see, feel and tell one another that the kingdom is coming near. God's blessings to you on your Lenten journey.  Perhaps we should have a bumper sticker that reads, "I brake for rainbows."

Peace,
rtg

Saturday, February 25, 2012

h2odevos encores 022512 Accompany


"How can I come before you?
What worthy give would I bring?
What glorious feast would I offer?
What songs of majesty sing?

Lift this heart of sadness into gladness by your peace
Before I can come before You, You come to me

Ever walk with me Lord
Each night and day a rejoicing
With kindness the harmony, justice the beat
You've turned my footsteps to dancing
Oh Ever walk with me Lord"

Ever Walk With Me Lord by Peter Mayer


Good morning. Thanks for walking this Lenten journey together with cyber sisters and cyber brothers. It is good to do this with each other because there are times when it is quite difficult to attempt to do it all by oneself.

Yesterday, after I wrote the morning's devotion about walking, I was shuffling (a mix between walking and running through the light snow) on my way to the bus stop. On my right shoulder was the strap for my bag (which my colleagues suggest I could live out of for about a week). So, if you get the picture, I was running a little late, I'm off balance due to this heavy bag I carry, and all of a sudden I slip and fall.

Fortunately, I didn't injure anything except bruising my pride a little bit. But, I received a quick reminder of how easy it is to trip, slip and even fall when one is weighted down or off balance.

The words of St. Paul came to mind, "for we walk by faith, not by sight." (2 Cor. 5:7).

I like the fact that he uses the plural pronoun "we." And so if I have just one word for you and me today, it is simply "accompany." As you and I go about our day today, my hope and prayer is that you will accompany someone on their journey. In turn, you will have someone accompany you on your journey.

Research reveals that anyone looking to increase their physical activity has a better success rate if they have a partner, friend, colleague, family member or neighbor to walk, run, skip, hop or dance with. Someone might be at a particular place or point in their life and be wondering if they could or should take another step. By walking with another, you will help them make progress toward their destination.

And of course, the blessing, the gift in all of this is the amazing grace that as we walk together, we are joined by Jesus who comes to us in the breaking of bread.

To accompany is to "share bread with."

So, I'd like to propose a "toast" of sorts, "may you accompany and be accompanied today!"

"For we walk by faith, not by sight."

rtg

Friday, February 24, 2012

h2odevos encores 022412 The Priest of the Forest


“Rust or diamonds
You wonder who you are
Under who you are
Oh Lord, I'm tryin'
All the while I'm tumblin' barrel rollin'
In the arms that save me

Every plan that I made
Has been mystified by grace
Loving arms swept me away
And it's too late, it's too late

(We are) tumbled in the stream
(We go) crashing over and over
(We are) broken at the seams
(We are) Filled with Holy water”

Waterfall by Peter Mayer

Last fall I had the opportunity to spend a couple of days in Nashville with Peter and his family. One afternoon Peter and I went for a walk in a forest not far from their home.  As we hiked we were talking about family, friends, food, music and God of course.  All of a sudden, we saw a deer. I remarked to Peter, "We were so busy talking about God that we almost missed seeing God."

Here was a deer which stood majestically and regally in its place. It stared at us as it presided over the communion lovingly offered in the cathedral of the forest. The birds chanted their songs, the squirrels collected their offerings and butterflies danced a dance of joy and wonder. The deer pronounced the benediction and dismissed us before heading off for another service.

Every plan that I made
Has been mystified by grace
Loving arms swept me away

You might be taking Lent so seriously this year, or yourself so seriously, or maybe even God so seriously this year that in all the "talking about God, you might miss seeing God."

Here are some passages to keep on the hard drive of your heart, your soul, your mind:

Isaiah 35:6
"Then the lame shall leap like a deer,
      and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
      For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
      and streams in the desert;" 

Psalm 18:33
He made my feet like the feet of a deer,
      and set me secure on the heights.

Psalm 42:1
As a deer longs for flowing streams,
      so my soul longs for you, O God.

Drink it up,
rtg

Thursday, February 23, 2012

h2odevos encores 022312 My Friend, Lent


"I'm a lonesome chord looking for a song
Still not sure I know where I belong
You're a tired word looking for a rhyme
Feel as though you're running out of time

They say Joy will be
Just around the bend
'Til I'm there
It's good to have a friend"

You're a quiet whisper dancing in the breeze
I'm a hurricane tumbling toward the keys
You're a wild dream on a falling star
To me the destination seems too far
 It's Good to Have a Friend by David Bailey & Peter Mayer



I was on an elevator the other day when I heard someone say, "I hate Lent."  I didn't respond verbally, but my heart exclaimed, "I love Lent!  Lent is my Friend."  For folks who know me quite well, maybe you are now saying to yourself, "Well, okay, that explains it."  Or some of you may be thinking, "How can anyone like Lent, let alone love Lent?"

I have always lived in places where the four seasons each claim distinct parts of the year.  Around this time each year, Peter's words ring very true for me:
     "I'm a lonesome chord looking for a song
     Still not sure I know where I belong."

In these days I experience restlessness.  The magazine covers that I see in the checkout line at stores all diagnose SAD-Seasonal Affective Disorder.  However, Ash Wednesday suggests the same acronym, SAD, but let me say it's clearer, it demands different words and behavior, namely, "Some Alternate Direction."

"Yet even now, says the LORD, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; rend your hearts and not your clothing.  Return to the LORD, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing."  (Joel 2:12-13)

In other words, my friend, Lent invites me, and each one of us to change, to undergo a metamorphosis, an extreme makeover (if you will) and return to Sender, the creator of the world.

"You're a tired word looking for a rhyme
Feel as though you're running out of time"

As the sign of the cross is made in ashes on our forehead, the following words are said, "Remember, you're dust and to dust you shall return."  It's confirmed, we are running out of time.  Lent reminds us that "time flies" and "time waits for no one."  I wonder how many people would like to file for extensions, for an exception to the rules, to be exempt from the deadline.

My friend, Lent doesn't visit me for more than 40 days each year.  I know some people who seem to entertain Lent as a guest 365 days each year, but I've found that 1/9th of each year is good enough.  In fact, it's perfect because after Lent comes and goes 50 Days of Easter arrive.

"They say Joy will be
Just around the bend
"Til I'm there
It's good to have a friend"

Thanks for taking time for this journey.  As people who have a mutual friend, let's get to know each other and God better during these 40 days and nights.

Peace,
rtg