Monday, November 29, 2010

Advent 1A Sermon: Subversives for Christ

Lectionary (Year A begins): Isaiah 2:1-5; Psalm 122; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24:36-4

A clergy-friend of mine grew up as a preacher’s kid in the rural south. He was the older of two boys and his father was the pastor of a large Pentecostal church. His mother was a stay-at-home Mom who was the organist at his father’s church and taught Sunday school.

One day, my friend’s little brother, who was about 8 years old, came home from school and his mother wasn’t there. Since this had never happened before, he became frightened. What he didn’t know was that car trouble had caused his mother to be late returning from the grocery store. But this was before cell phones and voice mail.

When his mother finally arrived home, she found her 8-year old son curled up on the floor, sobbing. He thought the rapture had come and his family had been taken up to heaven, but he’d been left behind to suffer the tribulation alone.

How many of you have heard of “the rapture”? (The preacher observes how many hands are raised) How many of you have read the “Left Behind” book series? (The preacher again observes how many hands are raised)

Let me be clear: the rapture is a doctrine not supported by the Episcopal Church. “The rapture” was a teaching developed by John Nelson Darby, a 19th century Irish lawyer who became an Anglican preacher, then later started the Plymouth Brethren. Darby is considered the founder of dispensationalism, a theological approach described as “an oddity of Church history.”

This approach breaks Scripture down into compartments or "dispensations” which mark the end of the world. The dispensations begin, according to Darby, with the rapture, the moment when all faithful believers are taken up to heaven all at once. This will happen so suddenly, they say, that in a flash, all that will be left of those ‘raptured up to heaven’ will be a pile of their empty clothes and the shocked looks on the faces of the people who watched it happen.

The unfaithful and believers who lived in sin will be left behind to suffer unspeakable horrors during the next dispensation: the Great Tribulation – a period of seven years of chaos and persecution. After that (the next dispensation) will be the battle of Armageddon, and after that (the next dispensation) – will be a thousand years (a millennium) of justice and righteousness on the earth.

Following that will be the (the final dispensation): the Last Judgment when Christ will send anyone who has ever lived either to eternal bliss or eternal damnation. This, they believe, will bring to a close the story of human history begun in the Garden of Eden.

Another famous dispensationalist was Cyrus I Scofied, who authored the Scofied Bible, often called the handbook of fundamentalism. Published in 1909, Scofield’s Bible is still much used in the church today. It was published just before the start of WWI, and became popular as people tried to cope with what looked to them like the end of the world happening all around them.

Although dispsensational millenialists tend to focus primarily on the Book of Revelation, today’s Gospel from Matthew is a favorite of dispensational millennialists because they believe that in it Jesus prophesies the rapture.

So let’s look at our Gospel reading and see. It begins with a statement by Jesus that no one, not even Jesus himself, knows when the Day of the Lord will be. So the Scofield Bible and all of those supermarket tabloids that predict a date for the end of the world, find no support in Scripture.

Next Jesus references the story of Noah found in the book of Genesis saying, 37For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. People were doing what they usually did, eating drinking, and marrying, until the day Noah entered the ark, 3 …they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, [Jesus said] so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. So, according to Jesus, those left behind after the flood were… Noah and his family – who were chosen by God to stay on the earth in order to restore it.

So far, Scripture shows us that the doctrine of the rapture has it backwards. Those left behind in the story of Noah, did not suffer tribulation - they lived in a covenanted relationship with God – a covenant promising mercy, forgiveness, and salvation.

Back to the Gospel: Jesus continues, 40Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. Please note that the word ‘behind’ in is not in the Scriptural text – not in the Greek and not in the English. The text also does not indicate which one might be a bad outcome and which one might be good.

Jesus, however, does give us the context for understanding this – the story of Noah. Remember, then that in that story, the ones taken off the face of the earth were not the faithful ones. The faithful ones were “left behind” (as it were). The understanding that is faithful to our Scripture, then, is that being left on the earth is not a punishment, but a call from God to be partners in the work of the reconciliation and restoration of the world.

Back to the Gospel: Jesus continues, Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. It isn’t clear whether this refers to our personal end (our death) or our collective end (the end of the world as we know it).

But it doesn’t matter. The point is, wake up! Don’t waste the gift of life by proceeding through it as if in a slumber. Open your eyes – pay attention! Get up and get going! There is much to do in the ‘already but not yet’ world in which we live – and we have been chosen to do it! There are people suffering right in front of us and around the world. There are people hungry for food, for friendship, and for God!

The Episcopal Church has asked us to remember that Wednesday, Dec. 1, is World AIDS Day. Whole communities of people in Africa and other 3rd world countries are being decimated by this dsease. Children born of infected mothers have no access to the medicines that can treat them and many are left orphaned to die alone of the disease that took their parents from them.

There is much to do.

During his earthly ministry, Jesus was a subversive. He healed the sick, connected with the excluded, and loved even those who executed him. In our earthly ministries, we are subversives for Christ. We are here on this earth as a people chosen by God, chosen to be partners in the plan of salvation.

In the bulletin insert from TEC, we read (on the back page): “We are subversive. We seek to bring the love of Christ into the secular world because we believe that ultimately the world will be restored to God. In the meantime, we work and pray to transform what is into what shall be.”

But being a subversive for Christ takes preparation – intentional, prayerful, continuing preparation. That is our purpose and our goal during the season of Advent – to prepare ourselves so that we can bring the love of Christ into the secular world (I would prefer to call it the slumbering world) to prepare ourselves to be partners with God in the work that transforms what is into what shall be.

All around us the cultural Christmas season has kicked into high gear. Christmas carols are playing in stores and restaurants, holiday decorations and lights are up all over town. I would guess that there are probably some among us who are already bracing for the stress, the depression, and the fatigue this holiday season brings… not to mention the debt.

For Christians, however, it isn’t Christmas yet. It’s Advent – a time of watchful waiting. Being subversive means living our identity as Christians in the midst of a culture that rushes through the waiting and heads right for the prize. And what is the prize? ...Christmas presents! It’s all about us.

Look - it’s OK to prepare for a joyous Christmas morning filled with present-opening, but we can’t overlook the importance of practicing Advent. It’s important, in fact, it’s subversive to quietly leave the chaos of the cultural approach to this season and prepare our souls, so that the amazing event we await – our prize: the birth of the Savior – can have its transforming effect on us, and through us, the world.

To encourage this, Redeemer is offering special Advent services on Thursday evenings: Taizé, Evensong, and Lessons & Carols. Come and worship with us, and bring a friend.

Let’s be subversives for Christ and practice Advent together. Let’s make time to prepare ourselves to be partners with God in the work that transforms what is into what shall be.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Christ the King Sunday, Yr C: Radical freedom

Lectionary:Jeremiah 23:1-6; Canticle 16; Colossians 1:11-20; Luke 23:33-43

I’m sure you’ve heard it said that the opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s indifference. If you love someone or something, you care about them and care for them. When you don’t love, you don’t care.

At our diocesan convention we spent some really valuable time exploring the concepts of fear and love as presented to us both by our featured speaker, Dr. James Lemler and by our Bishop, who in his address to the convention, proclaimed that as Christians we are “called to leave behind our fears.” As I’ve continued to reflect prayerfully on all of this, I’ve realized that the opposite of fear isn’t bravery – it isn’t even love – it’s freedom.

If there is anything we can learn from the life of Jesus it is that he was radically free: free to trust in God and expect the impossible; free to love even the unlovable and welcome them with an equally radical hospitality; free to proclaim the truth by his words and actions, even knowing the that the powerful in the world would push back against it.

In his book, “Jesus Today, A Spirituality of Radical Freedom,” Albert Nolan talks about Jesus’ radical freedom: Jesus “trusted God without hesitation or reserve. He could then quite confidently challenge others to trust God too. He encouraged, strengthened, and liberated people to believe that the impossible could happen.” (Nolan, 88)

And the impossible did happen – over and over again. The blind could see, the lame could walk, 5000 were fed by a couple of loaves and fish, and ultimately, the cross was transformed from a humiliating defeat into the means of salvation of the whole world by the forgiveness of sin.

It was the radical freedom of Jesus, his unhesitating trust in God, that opened the way for freedom and peace. Jesus could give up even his very life on that cross because he knew without hesitation that God’s redemption was certain. The present moment was, for him, just the next step in God’s plan – not the end of it – despite all the evidence at hand in that moment.

How well, how often do we trust God without hesitation or reserve? At our convention, Dr. Lemler talked about “practical atheism” - those times in our lives when we convince ourselves that we need to take control of something because God isn’t. We are willing to wait for God to act on our behalf as long as
1) it doesn’t take too long;
2) it doesn’t hurt too much; and
3) we see evidence that God is acting according to the plan we had in mind;

That’s because, on “the whole [Nolan says] we don’t take Jesus seriously - whether we call ourselves Christians or not. There are some remarkable exceptions, but by and large we don’t love our enemies, we don’t turn the other check, we don’t forgive seventy times seven times, we don’t bless those who curse us, we don’t share what we have with the poor, and we don’t put all our hope and trust in God.” (Introduction)

Why don’t we? I think the answer is simple: fear. In my sermon at Morning Prayer on the last day of convention, I discussed the many faces of fear. That sermon is on my blog, but I know that most of you don’t read the blog, so I’ll review the three faces I discussed that day and add one more.

1. WE FEAR BEING WRONG – which is why we fear what is different from us. How you dress, how you pray, the language you speak, the color of your skin, whom you marry… if you are different from me, which one of us is right? And how can I make you wrong?

2. WE FEAR PAIN AND DISCOMFORT. Ours is a world of quick fixes. Got a headache? Take a pill. Don’t get me wrong - I’m glad that I can take a pill when I have a headache! But that isn’t the way of spiritual life… 40 years in the desert… 3 days in the tomb. Christians are called to wait through the discomfort and trust in God who is already working to redeem and whose grace is enough.

3. WE FEAR DYING – which is strange for a people who profess to believe in the resurrection and who know the end of the story – that death is not the end for us, it is simply the next step in God’s perfect plan for us. What follows death every time, without fail, for believers is resurrection – new life. Still, we fear dying.

4. WE FEAR SUCCEEDING – because that would mean laying aside our favorite excuses and walking ahead in faith. A friend of mine had a terrible thing happen to her years ago. Her community of friends gathered around her, upholding her in prayer, seeing to her needs – as you would hope. It seems, however, like my friend decided she had filled her quota of “bad things” and will tolerate no more. When the littlest thing impinges on her comfort, she cries out and gathers her community around her to take care of her. This is a gifted woman whose gifts are now dying because the flow of her life is mostly inward. Little flows back out – it’s all about her and her comfort.

This particular fear also has the added complication of humility. When we succeed, we must own up that the success wasn’t ours, but God’s. As God’s instruments, we don’t get to take credit, and the world likes credit-taking.

Radical freedom... How do we build that into our faith and into our lives?

We remember the victory of the cross which we celebrate today. Jesus’ love was for God and for us. He put himself and his own comfort last in order of priority, sacrificing himself for our sake. We are called to do likewise.

We remember that Jesus redefined leadership – kingship as the Bible calls it – showing us that true leadership is the way of humility (that is selflessness) and service in the name of God. That's what leads to life.

We remember that the notion that we have any power or authority is in error. God alone possesses power and authority. Isn’t that what Jesus said to Pilate at his trial? Any power or authority we possess is given to us by God and we are stewards of God’s gifts which are to be used for the glory of God and the welfare of God’s people.

We remember that it is God who acts to forgive, heal and renew. We don’t know if Jesus forgave from the cross. We do know that he called upon God to forgive and by doing so, he showed us how to respond to the darkest moments in our lives: calling upon God to act, then waiting while that happens.

Finally, we remember that for Christians, death is truly the gateway to eternal life. Unless we are willing to die to the ideas we cling to about God, about church, about this church, about life; unless we die to our need for control, or certainty, or comfort – we can not have the life Jesus died to give us.

We are a people called to run at full speed into a life of joyful, radical freedom - trusting God without hesitation or reserve, and expecting the impossible to happen – for the glory of God and the welfare of God’s people.

Today, we mark the day of our rebirth; the day we choose to be radically free and open to God’s leading for ourselves and our church. Today, we lay our fears down and look up at the cross, knowing that the only truth that matters happened there.

We are a people forgiven, healed and renewed. Today, we choose to live as if that’s true. Today, this becomes our mantra, our theme.

When we sin (and we will as long as we are incarnate in our bodies) we will repent and return to God, giving up ourselves in obedience to the will of God – as Jesus did on the cross – and opening ourselves to receive the renewal God has waiting for us SO THAT we can be instruments of God’s transforming love in the world, stewards of God’s gifts for the renewal of the whole world.

I’ll close today with the prayer I closed my sermon with last Saturday at convention - and with the same explanation. As you know, I begin my sermons with the sign of the cross in Spanish. I also usually do the peace in Spanish first, then in English. I do this to honor one half of my half-breed identity: my Spanish half. I will close now using a prayer that honors the other half: my Irish half.

It’s the Prayer of St. Brendan and I think it’s relevant to our rebirth:

Lord, I will trust you.
Help me to journey beyond the familiar
and into the unknown.
Give me the faith to leave old ways
and break fresh ground with you.

Christ of the mysteries, I trust you
to be stronger than each storm within me.
I will trust in the darkness and know
that my times, even now, are in your hand.

Tune my spirit to the music of heaven, and somehow
make my obedience count for you.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Meditation for Morning Prayer at Convention

Lectionary: Psalm 133; Isaiah 63:7-9; Acts 20:28-32

En el nombre del Padre, y del Hijo, y del Espiritu Santo. Amen.

It’s been interesting these last few days exploring the concepts of fear and love as presented to us by Dr. Lemler (our featured speaker at convention). As often happens with me, these reflections kept bringing to my mind the words from a song. The song is by Dar Williams, an indy artist, and the phrase that kept running through my mind was: “Go ahead, push your luck, find out how much love the world can hold.” (Album: Green World, Song Title: After All)

Yesterday, the Bishop reminded us that we are "called to leave behind our fears.” To do that, it would help to understand and learn to recognize the many faces of fear. There truly are many faces of fear, but we’ll just look at three of them now.

1. WE FEAR BEING WRONG – which is why we fear what is different from us. How you dress, how you pray, the color of your skin, whom you marry… if you are different from me, which one of us is right? And how can I make you wrong?

2. WE FEAR PAIN AND DISCOMFORT. Ours is a world of quick fixes. Got a headache? Take a pill. Thank God too. I’m glad that I can take a pill when I have a headache! But that isn’t the way of spiritual life… 40 years in the desert… 3 days in the tomb. Christians are called to wait through the discomfort and trust in God who is already working to redeem and whose grace is enough.

3. WE FEAR DYING – which is strange for a people who profess to believe in the resurrection. Still, we fear dying. But as we heard from the Psalmist: “the ordained blessing of the Lord is life evermore.” Life in God, life in the eternal presence of God is the promise for us. But to know this life, we must die to ourselves. We must be willing to lay down whatever “practical atheism” lingers in our lives (as Dr. Lemler said) and trust God.

So, how do we do that? Risking yet another quote from Dr. Lemler, we “use what we’ve got” and build our spiritual muscles. In the Book of Common Prayer, on page 461 is a prayer called “For Trust in God.” I commend it to you. It’s a great way to start the day, every day. Also in that section, which is the section called “Ministration to the Sick,” is a prayer for the sanctification of pain – ours and others – which sets the pain apart and helps us discover its holy purpose.

We need to remember: it isn’t all about me (I really, really want that video we saw yesterday, the "Me-Church" video). When someone attacks us, or reviles us, or breaks relationship with us, we must respond with love first, then prayerfully reflect on which face of fear we are seeing in them so that we can be instruments for God’s love to transform their fear into faith.

Jesus said, Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you – as Ruby did that day on the sidewalk by her school. (Note: This refers to a story the Bp. told in his sermon at our Eucharist last night) We know this. We know what we’re supposed to do. Jesus said, When someone slaps you on the face - what do we do? Finish it for me (the preacher invites the listeners to respond): ‘turn the other cheek’ (they say). Right – we know this stuff.

Wait in the discomfort and trust God who is already working to redeem.

Finally, we need to remember the cost of Christian discipleship (as the Bishop said yesterday). When we proclaim by word and deed the Good News we know, when we carry Christ’s love into the world, we become lightning rods for fear. Drawn by the light of the living Christ in us, people will come to us, their faces reflecting their fears, hoping to be set free from the fear that binds them. We can’t do that, but God can – in and through us.

So - go ahead, push your luck, find out how much love the world can hold.

I began this meditation using words that honor one half of my half-breed identity: my Spanish half. I will close now using a prayer that honors the other half: my Irish half. It’s the Prayer of St. Brendan. If you can, if you are comfortable - take a deep breath, close your eyes, and receive the gift offered by this prayer:

Lord, I will trust you.
Help me to journey beyond the familiar
and into the unknown.
Give me the faith to leave old ways
and break fresh ground with you.

Christ of the mysteries, I trust you
to be stronger than each storm within me.
I will trust in the darkness and know
that my times, even now, are in your hand.

Tune my spirit to the music of heaven, and somehow
make my obedience count for you.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

November Newsletter article: A very merry Rebirth-Day to us

On November 21, the Feast of Christ the King, which is our patronal feast, we are having a Rebirth-Day party and everyone is invited! On this day we will mark the end of the celebration of our 150th anniversary. We will also mark this as the day of our rebirth.

There is a rich and varied history that forms our identity at Redeemer. The happy events in our past affirm our hope for the future. The painful moments have made us stronger. Since February, we have been honoring our forebears in the faith at Redeemer. Now the time has come for us to go forward and create our own legacy.

That’s why we are marking this date, the Feast of Christ the King, as the day of our rebirth. All that was, all that went before, is done. It is part of us, but nothing in it hinders us (unless we let it). Claiming our Baptismal promise of being marked as Christ’s own forever, we know that the truth for us is, “if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation…everything old has passed away, see everything has become new!” (Col 5:17) It truly is a new day at Redeemer.

On this day, we will remember and give thanks that we have already seen God’s plan at work restoring us, and through us, the world. The Shepherd’s Table is a gift God has given us all. Beyond its fundamental purpose of feeding the hungry, The Shepherd’s Table has restored life to tired souls among us, strengthened relationships with our partners in mission at Westside Praise and Worship, and glorified God who is acknowledged and praised weekly with all who come to eat and serve there. The Shepherd’s Table is for us, a living example of what happens when we trust that God’s grace is sufficient, and that God’s power is made perfect in our weakness. (2 Cor 12:9)

On this day, we will also formally renew our commitment to God and to one another, renewing our baptismal vows together and re-clothing ourselves in love, “which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” (Col 3:14) This will be our day of Jubilee (Lev 25:8-27:24), our day of release from whatever debt or sin holds us bound. “Forgive us our sin as we forgive those who sin against us…”

As we gather in “holy convocation” (Lev 23:7) at our Rebirth-Day party, we will bring a Rebirth-Day gift. Giving freely and generously to God who has given freely and generously to us, we will return our forms that pledge our time, talents, and financial commitment to the church - an offering set apart for the Lord. (Num 18:28). Watch for these forms to be sent out this week.

Finally, on this day, we will remember the three members of our vestry who will be retiring in December - Karen Lattimore, Brett Niblack, and Maggie Watson – and we will thank them for their faithful leadership these last three years. They have worked hard (and I mean hard) with the vestry to build Redeemer’s new foundation. Because of their devotion, their free gift of their time and talents, Redeemer has been made ready to forge ahead into the new day and the new year God is preparing for us. Don’t forget - the new year for the church begins Advent 1 (Nov 28) and we have another party planned for that - the Advent Festival and Chili Cookoff!

We have so much to be grateful for at Redeemer. So let’s gather up, party hearty, give thanks, and get going creating our legacy! Redeemer has a 150th anniversary remembrance gift for you too when you come! See you there!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

All Saints Day sermon, Yr C: Blessed, holy, and worthy of praise

Lectionary: Daniel 7:1-3,15-18; Psalm 149; Ephesians 1:11-23; Luke 6:20-31

Happy All Saints day! According to one definition (and I like this one!): a saint is “a dead sinner revised and edited. But that’s not the whole story, is it?

The Old Testament uses two words Hebrew words:
• קדיש /kadesh/ [which means] "holy" and
• חסד /hasid/ [which means] "loyal, faithful; pious"

The New Testament uses the Greek word hagios [which means] “holy; holy one" to describe all faithful Christians. The Prayer Book says this: the communion of saints is the whole family of God, the living and the dead, those whom we love and those whom we hurt, bound together in Christ by sacrament, prayer, and praise. (BCP, 862)

As we processed in today we remembered and honored those saints who lived and died before us, ones we consider to be exemplars of the faith.

The preacher invites those in costume to call out the names of their saint.

But as St. Paul reminds us in the letter to the Ephesians, the saints are the members of the Christian community. That means we are saints too, exemplars of the faith in our day.

There are also the saints who are yet to come, those not yet born, whose images are unknown to us but whose lives will be affected by our actions now. These are the ones who will come to know God by the witness we live and proclaim today.

The preacher points out the “stained-glass mirror” gets help carrying it to the center of the chancel and explains the features in it: the shape of the church at the bottom; the church’s steeple with the cross connected by a line with the downward facing Holy Spirit in the form of a dove (see the feet?).

This is a representation of what we believe. The church is here on the earth, and by the cross of Jesus, we have been reconciled to God. We are connected, reconciled to God in Christ, as promised.

Our costumes and icons honor the saints that were, those that have gone before. Persons/children are invited to stand in front of the stained-glass mirror. This is a reflection of the saints that are. Look - there’s St. Taylor, Sts. Will and Matthew, St. Lily, St. Timothy...

Then the mirror which is pointed upward toward the ceiling. This is a reflection of the saints that are yet to be, those whose images we don’t yet know, but heaven knows.

Why is this important? Because I think we give ourselves an easy out and let ourselves off the hook when we conceive of sainthood as something that happens after we die, or when we hold up saints only as heroes or sheroes of the church, holier than most others. Then we can say to ourselves, ‘I’ll never be that holy’ or ‘I’ve already messed up too much, so sainthood is beyond what’s possible for me.’

Well it isn’t. Sainthood is already our reality.

If we have donned the white robes of Baptism then we are members of the community of the faithful and beloved children of God. And if we are members of the Christian community, then we are saints.

But the expectation that as saints we must be sinless or miraculously powerful is in error. Humans sin. And only God is powerful to redeem. But that’s the point, isn’t it? God IS powerful, and willing, and always ready to redeem.

The gospel reading today provides a kind of Word-mirror which which reflects for us the qualities of saints, that is, those who share life in Christ. These aren’t people who rise above their humanity. On the contrary, Jesus makes very clear that saints are deeply and totally human. And he calls them blessed, that is, consecrated (set apart), made holy, and worthy of praise.

Jesus says that saints are blessed when they know poverty or lack of spirit, because knowing they need God, they place themselves in God’s care, and find themselves in God’s kingdom. Saints are blessed when they suffer loss, or desire justice …when they are generous with mercy in the face of sin, … when they work to bring peace out of conflict …when they keep God’s will as their priority, even though they may suffer indignities and injustices themselves for the sake of the gospel. Blessed are they, Jesus says.

One saint I loved was an 8 year-old beggar I met in Romania. Some of you have heard me talk about him before. This little boy was smart, savvy, and doomed by his poverty. But while he lived he was a saint, at least for me. One day, as we walked along the streets of Cluj Napoca, this precocious little guy begged some money (which, by the way, he could do in about 5 languages), then went and bought a banana. As he returned to where I was sitting near the fruit stand, he broke the banana in two and offered me half. I was overcome by the generosity that came so naturally to him. Blessed was he, and holy.

Another saint I loved was my beloved aunt and God-mother, whose bitterness and anger, though justified by the circumstances of her life, made her quite unlovable to many, but her authenticity – I could say her purity – made her beautiful to me. Blessed was she and worthy of praise.

The call to purity, to blessedness in our Scripture readings isn’t about the color of our souls or the rightness of our behavior. It’s about our willingness to rely totally on God. Those who rely on themselves, or put their trust in their wealth, or their good reputations will be sadly surprised to learn that they were wrong. Our hope is in God – and only in God.

As we suffer and struggle through the days of our earthly lives, as we celebrate and shine with the light of Christ in our world, we do so always in the care and grace of God. Our trust is in God who continually (eternally) holds us close and speaks in our hearts, so that as we live the fullness of our lives, individually and as a community of faith, we do so according to God’s will.

Then we too are blessed, holy, and worthy of praise.