What's the difference between a hippo and a zippo? One is really heavy, and the other is a little lighter. What do you call bears with no ears? B– What did the janitor say when he jumped out of the closet? SUPPLIES!
I was thinking yesterday - and now everyone is a little nervous - about humor - and now even more nervous. The definition of humor may still be what it has been for a long while; according to Merriam Webster, “that quality which appeals to a sense of the ludicrous or absurdly incongruous : a funny or amusing quality”. I think that for a long while, I thought that humor meant jokes. Then humor meant stories. Perhaps it is now more about irony. And who has ever thought about a personal evolution of humor?
There is certainly a difference between good and bad humor - and the difference between the two is becoming more and more relevant and poignant. With more and more studies being completed every year, as a human species, we are becoming cognizant of the effect of humor and it’s healing potential along with the release of stress and its ability to make a point. Having lived with a second language - sort of - for a while - it is also apparent that when you can appreciate humor in another language, you get that sense of “really arriving” in that culture.
In “really arriving” at this morning’s scripture passage from Romans 6, it’s helpful to know that the apostle Paul wrote this letter to the Roman Christians not for any correction or encouragement, but more for explaining his understanding of the impact of Christ’s life on God’s people. There was one website that suggested that Paul wrote the letter as an introduction of himself to the Roman Christian Church, ahead of a visit that would serve the purpose of them supporting a mission trip.
Our passage from Romans 6 begins, “What shall we say then?” It is the sort of question that implies that there was discussion before that point that is the basis for the “answer in Romans 6.” Retired Methodist minister, William H. Willimon’s thought is that Paul is responding to a perceived question, “Since we are saved by grace, then why don’t we sin even more so that God can be more gracious?” In terms closer to home, why should I care about what doing right and good now, because isn’t God going to make it all good in the end?
Rev. Willimon tells this story - and actually, I’ve seen versions of the story as well. “I know a person who was raised by a set of loving, if perhaps a bit overindulgent, Christian parents. As he moved into his adolescent years, he got into much trouble at school; then, by high school, graduated into petty criminal activity, shoplifting, alcohol, you name it. One of my friends attempted to intervene and pled with him to stop his misbehavior, reminding him that he was causing his parents great grief.
“Do you think my parents are going to stop loving me just because I get into trouble with the cops?” the miscreant replied. “No matter what they say, they’ll keep taking us to the beach in the summer, keep paying for my school, keep giving me everything I want. It’s their job.”
Rev. Willimon ends that story, "Now will you agree with me when I say that there’s a person who has badly misunderstood, and therefore badly abused, the love of parents for their children?” Most folks would resound - yes! The apostle Paul, rather than respond with derogatory comments or demeaning rhetoric, takes a different tact in painting the reason for living fully.
Scripture Romans 6:1-11, Phil Gates, reading
1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?
2 By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?
3 Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
5 If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.
6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin -- What shall we say, then? Shall we go 7 because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him.
10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Thank you, Phil. I’m a little sad to say that even our current New International Version pew Bibles - probably some 15 years old now - are outdated in their copyright. But I’m glad for this version - for verse 9 - where it says “death no longer has mastery over him.”
What has mastery over you these days? If we were able to be honest, I’m guessing that that question is offensive to some people. “Me? I’m not afraid of anything! I’m not weak.” Even so, if someone made me pick, I’d guess that a lot of folks would reply that fear or anger or both has some degree of mastery over them - regardless of how strong or independent one might feel. When we are mastered by fear or anger or both or other emotional monsters, we can live a little less - a little more huddled so as to protect our heart.
I would also venture to guess that there a significant number of people who might not be so bound up in fear or anger, but in burdens - burdens of worry, mistrust or inadequacies. Whatever it is that has crossed the paths of some folks, it has caused them to take the terrors as burdens, and after a while, the burdens become burdensome - to the point that we forget that we can set the burdens down - we need to set the burdens down - because Christ took care of the business that hinders any fear or burden or misunderstandings we have - so that we can - through grace - live as people who are alive and free. Yes, fear can be good, but it can also be deadly.
It is an interesting time to be speaking to a bunch of people who look a lot alike, of living a life as if you are alive and free. Regardless of skin color, background, location or circumstances, there are people who live watching over their shoulders, every single minute of every single day, not really having the great opportunity to walk freely, without worry. There is also the great sadness that we can fall into - the trap of “there but for God’s grace go I” - which can, if you think about it, be a little condescending.
Paul reminds us that the death Christ died, he died to sin once for all. We are held accountable to take up our responsibility in asking for God’s forgiveness. But when we ask, it is acknowledging what God already knows, and reminds us set down that which is not ours and not to take God’s grace for granted. At the same time, it gives us the ability to live fully.
Rev. Willimon wonderfully painted this idea of living fully. He said, “Daily the Holy Spirit must pry our hands off those things to which we so tightly cling. Daily we must let go of the side of the pool and venture forth into deeper waters. Daily we learn to let go and let God.”
There was a visitor to a rather staid congregation. He became excited during the sermon and exclaimed, "Praise the Lord!" An usher rushed to him and said, "I'm sorry, sir, but we don't do that here." "But I've got religion," the man explained. "Well," huffed the usher, "you didn't get it here." It's like the fellow who said, "I would have become a preacher if they didn't look like undertakers.”
We will all continue to make mistakes. And we all have work to do in deep listening - even when we are in beautiful places intended to move the soul and mind. We all have the charge to live as those in whom Christ’s Spirit lives to make us more and more like Jesus Christ.
We all have the charge from God, through the hand of Micah. “God has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Paul reminds us all today that we are to “count ourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus” - not just a little bit, not just in thought, not just on Tuesdays - but in the same way that Christ is alive so are we to live - fully, completely, even with the stuff we may have to carry for the moment. But for the next moments, however, I ask you to close your eyes, and imagine.
You are standing at a train station, ready to board for your destination. You have a bag or suitcase in your hand, or a pack on your back. The train isn’t here yet, so look around for the bench that sits empty, waiting for you. Set the bag or pack down and take a seat. Notice Christ walking your way, and without any exchange of words, sitting down next to you. You close your eyes, because you know that Christ is keeping watch for you, and you take a deep breath, holding it for just a moment, and then you let the air out.
As you exhale, the thoughts that have been haunting you this past week are released from your body. As you exhale, the anxiety causing tension leaves long enough for you to relax and drop your shoulders and realign your head so that it is high on the top of your spine, rather than caved into it. As you continue this conscious breathing, you realize Christ’s still sitting with you, still peaceful, still alive, very much like a friend sitting next to you who doesn’t need to utter a word in expressing their care and love for you.
In this little moment, you are alive - and free - in a way you are not usually. It is a safe moment, that no one can take from you. As you sit, you realize that there is an energy that you hadn’t realized was there before. As you sit, you realize that the energy you feel was used - before - to hold your bag or pack. And you may need to take up that bag or pack again in a few moments. But for this moment, you are free. There is nothing that will harm you, nothing that will threaten you, and you are at peace with your Christ.
You may return to this moment in the week ahead, but in this week, you have this moment. There might be a time when it may feel as if this little moment was but a blink. Hopefully not. Before you go to pick up that pack or bag, you turn to Christ.
Jesus, I’m so grateful for your love for me. For those moments when I have messed up or diminished you, I ask for your forgiveness. When you’ve asked that I set that pack or bag down, and I’ve held is so much more tightly, I know you understand. But still, I’m sad for the missed opportunity. As I go into the week, Lord, help me to set down my worries or guilt or loneliness or anger or fear when you nudge me to do so, so that I can live as if I am truly alive and free in you. Nudge me, too, when I have the opportunity to help others put their bags or packs down for however long they can or need. Thank you, too, Lord, for the bar you set in loving those who need to be loved, and enable me to reach that bar - as often as possible this week - that we all may live as alive and free in you. And all your people say, Amen.
First Congregational Church
June 9, 2020
2nd Sunday after Pentecost
Rev. Dinah Haag, preaching
A wiley older lady handed her bank card to a bank teller and said, “I would like to withdraw $500.” The teller told her, “For withdrawals less than $5,000, please use the ATM.” The older lady then asked, “Why?” The teller irritably told her, “There are rules. Please leave if there is no other matter. There is a line behind you.” The teller returned the card to the older lady.
The older lady remained silent… but then she returned the card to the teller and said, “Please help me withdraw all the money I have.” The teller was astonished when the account balance came up on the computer screen. The teller leaned down and said to the older lady, “My apologies ma’am, you have $3.5 million in your account and our bank does not have so much cash currently. Could you make an appointment and come again tomorrow?”
The older lady then asked, “How much am I able to withdraw now?” The teller told her, “Any amount up to $300,000” The older lady then told the teller that she wanted to withdraw $300,000 from her account. The teller did so quickly and handed it to the older lady respectfully. The older lady kept $500 in her bag and asked the teller to deposit the balance of $299,500 back into her account.
Throughout the summer, the lectionary of prescribed Bible passages uses Matthew for the gospel readings. Last week, the passage was also from Matthew, but the end of Matthew - the very end when Jesus sent the guys out to make disciples and baptize people. That passage was used because it was Trinity Sunday, and that section of Matthew is one that mentions the persons of the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Today’s passage goes back before that time, after Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, after numerous accounts of healing, teaching and a few miracles like walking on water and raising a girl from the dead.
Matthew 9:35-10:8 - The Workers Are Few
35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
Jesus Sends Out the Twelve
1 Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. 2 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. 7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.
Thank you, John. I don’t know about anyone else, but I sort of remember the first part of this passage, from when I was maybe 8 or 9 years old, and thinking, the harvest maybe plentiful and the workers few, but I sure don’t want to do anything like having to do work - for God! That would be like having to be all churchy and good and stuffy maybe, and I certainly would not want to be that boring or fuddy-duddy.
There’s a Lutheran pastor by the name of John Stevens from Oregon who does weekly blogs on Dollar Store Children Sermons. As he was talking about this passage, from his home, with hair that needs cutting a beard needing trimming, covered with with his favorite baseball cap and camp tee shirt, he mentioned Judas’ name being in this list of the original twelve disciples.
I don’t know if it would have struck the strings of my heart as it did this week, if it were any other time in history. But the mention of Judas’ name with all the others, is an interesting piece, particularly in this moment of reconsidering the names of people associated with monuments, military bases and athletic teams. Before anyone gets all hot about getting close to a political topic, just give me a minute.
The events of this passage probably took place 30 years after Christ’s birth - give or take five years either way. The writing of the book of Matthew probably took place 50 years later - give or take a few years either way. For those who are 50 years and older, when you think back that number of years, what things stick out in your mind? And what things, regardless of the event, are important now - from that time then - in how you operate today?
The point is that the writer of Matthew could have left out the name of Judas. Granted, the writer would have had to do a fair bit of change over all with that gospel, but for simplicity sake, the writer could have left Judas out of the picture, because just about everyone knows what a bad character he was. But his name was left in - in all four Gospels.
I know there are folks for whom it would be easy to take this piece of information and create it to be a justification for whatever political purpose. But know this - I think this inclusion of Judas’ name was about a spiritual purpose - God’s purpose - to remind us all that no matter what, God can use our lives - other people’s lives - even what society deems to be bad people’s lives - in ways we may have a hard time seeing, much less appreciating.
We don’t know a whole lot about Judas’ life, except that money seemed like a great reason to do something that he might not have done for any other reason. We all have things in our lives that we’ve done, that on any other given day or time, we wouldn’t have done. But it happened, and has been recorded on our hearts, and with our confession to God, God’s mercy and forgiveness have restored us - to do some harvesting labor that desperately needs to be done - regardless of how much we want to offer our harvest help - or not.
As I thought about how this passage pertains to us - on this day of June 14, 2020, it came out as this possibility - as today’s mission. So the re-read goes
Matthew 9:35-10:8 - The Workers Are Few
35 Jesus went to all the towns and villages, teaching in their churches, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw this crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were mostly happy, not really in want and used to having their own way, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to this crowd, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the place of satisfaction, therefore, to send out workers into his place called Benzie - or whatever county you live in.”
Jesus Sends Out the Twelve
10 Jesus called his disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.
2 These are the names of the disciples: Mary and Molly, Scott and Judy, John and Dennis, Kris and Jeanne, Tom and Paul, Julie and Bill, Sonia and Pam, Missi and Sherry and Kelly, Randy and Norma, Katherine/Catherine and Marjorie, Chris and Jim and Peggy, Robin and Pat, Donna and Signe, Jane and Andy, Marti and Mary Ann, Susie and Marilee, Leo and Phil and all the others, including Dinah, the one who betrayed him.
5 These people Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the strangers or enter any town that is unlike yours. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. 7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick (heart, mind and soul), raise the dead (the life-less), attend to the wounds of those who have been ostracized, drive out fear. Freely you have received; freely give.
I’m guessing that some folks are thinking, “All right!” while others might be thinking, “Aw, nuts.” Some of us crave a mission, others of us have a pile of missions sitting on our desks or the desktops of our minds, and really don’t need one more thing to add to that pile. And yet, because of all that any one of us have received - freely - so ought we give - just as freely - even if we don’t know exactly how that can possibly happen.
Over there at desperatepreacher.com, and yes, it’s a real place, back in 2002, Eric in KS wrote, “In the Episcopal Church, third-year (senior) seminarians are required to take a four-day battery of tests called "The General Ordination Exams" between their fall and spring semesters. The year I took them, my class had sweatshirts made with this text on the back: " When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you." Eric said, "I can't read this (Matthew) text without thinking of that.”
I’m thinking that we could have sweatshirts and tee shirts made that say, “proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick (heart, mind and soul), raise the dead (the life-less), attend to the wounds of those who have been ostracized, drive out fear. Freely you have received; freely give.” Except it should not be on the back of the shirts, but on the front, and upside-down, so that we could read it often - to remind ourselves of today’s mission.
There was a frail old man who went to live with his son, daughter-in-law, and four-year grandson. The old man's hands trembled, his eyesight was blurred, and his step faltered. The family ate together at the table. But the elderly grandfather's shaky hands and failing sight made eating difficult. Peas rolled off his spoon onto the floor. When he took the glass, milk spilled on the tablecloth. The son and daughter-in-law became irritated with the mess. We must do something about Grandfather, " said the son. I've had enough of his spilled milk, noisy eating, and food on the floor.
So the husband and wife set a small table in the corner. There, Grandfather ate alone while the rest of the family enjoyed dinner. Since Grandfather had broken a dish or two, his food was served in a wooden bowl. When the family glanced in Grandfather's direction, sometime he had a tear in his eye as he sat alone. Still, the only words the couple had for him were sharp admonitions when he dropped a fork or spilled food. The four-year-old watched it all in silence.
One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps on the floor. He asked the child sweetly, "What are you making? " Just as sweetly, the boy responded, "Oh, I am making a little bowl for you and Mama to eat your food when I grow up. " The four-year-old smiled and went back to work. The words so struck the parents that they were speechless. Then tears started to stream down their cheeks. Though no word was spoken, both knew what must be done.
That evening the husband took Grandfather's hand and gently led him back to the family table. For the remainder of his days he ate every meal with the family. And for some reason, neither husband nor wife seemed to care any longer when a fork was dropped, milk spilled, or the tablecloth soiled.
The point of this story is not about older parents being cared for at home. It’s about the openness of heart we have when people don’t measure up the way we think they should. It’s about forgetting that we all spill milk sometimes and sometimes we are the ones who wipe up the milk. The point is that raising the grandfather from the dead took relatively little real, physical work, after the great work of heart was done. We all have missions - today - to “see” another person that others might overlook, to raise from the dead by reaching out a hand, even if it is a virtual hand or extended over electronic devices, to embrace another human being by opening our heart to God’s call that has always been on our lives. Which seems like a really good place to pray.
Holy God of Life and Purpose, we are reminded today that although we may not always get things right, you have greater goods and higher purposes than the limits of our imaginations. Thank you, for forgiving our faults when we ask for your forgiveness, for your mercy and grace in overcoming those faults, and for the new life that comes from moving further into the mission you have for us as people of your heart. Help us, Powerful God, to be your missionaries when we feel mission less, weak, or tired. Remind us that we don’t do your mission alone, and that this mission of opening hearts is so much bigger than what we may think. Empower us to do what you have for us in this day and the days yet to come, as all your people say, Amen.
First Congregational Church
June 7, 2020
Trinity Sunday and Communion
2 Corinthians 13:11-13 , Matthew 28:16-20
Rev. Dinah Haag, preaching
There is so much in this world that is good for expanding our minds and understandings. This week I learned that there is a family of herbs, shrubs and trees called polygonaceae (pəˌligəˈnāsēˌē) - flowering plants also known as the knotweed, smartweed or buckwheat family. The old-fashioned rhubarb plant falls into this family - and as such, it is a vegetable. That’s right - rhubarb is a vegetable - like tomatoes are a fruit. And yes, you heard it right here, this morning, folks.
The other thing I learned this week is that one shouldn’t use a big word when a singularly unloquacious and diminutive linguistic expression will satisfactorily accomplish the contemporary necessity.
When I looked at the lectionary passages for this morning, deciding on the two that will be read shortly, it wasn’t too long before I realized that the passages had a big - unwritten - thing in common. The passage from 2 Corinthians 13:11-13 contains the last words of that letter that the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, and the passage from Matthew 28, 16-20 are not only the last words from the book of Matthew, but Jesus’ last words in that book.
2 Corinthians 13:11-13
11 Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. 12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. 13 All God’s people here send their greetings.
Matthew 28:16-20 The Great Commission
16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
I don’t know how many others caught that bit about greeting one another with a holy kiss. I had to think about that one for a while, being covid-conscious these days, but I finally realized that it didn’t give any specifics on kissing one another. So - at least in my mind - we can do as he requested with the gesture of a softly blown kiss.
But the richness of Paul’s other words is huge. Rejoice! It may seem that these days are rather lacking in reasons to rejoice. In fact, it might seem like it could be disrespectful to rejoice with all that is going on in the world. Except that babies are still being born, irises have begun to bloom around here, the sun gave us another sunrise and there is the promise of a sunset this evening. And anyone who was looking at the sky Friday night, that Strawberry Full Moon was just brilliant.
“Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace.” Interesting exhortation, considering that at that time, the Greek city, overthrown by Romans, was reconstructed - literally reorienting the foundation - and repopulated by slaves - people deprived of liberty regardless of skin color - into an international commercial center supported by traditional gods and goddesses from Greek and Roman religions, local deities and heroes and even Egyptian deities. Oh, and Jewish people, too. Paul’s last words to them included ““Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace.” Then either as a statement of fact or a causal encouragement, he ended his “And the God of love and peace will be with you.”
Matthew’s version of Jesus’ resurrection is the shortest, and aside from giving us the chief priests cover-up with the guards, it goes from Sunday morning to Jesus’ last words about the Great Commission - to make disciples and baptize in the name of the Trinity. There is no place in the Bible that uses the word trinity, but Jesus’ words here are like the cherry on the top of one of Christianity’s big theological premises.
On any other given Sunday, any number of subjects or pieces might rise out of these passages. But the idea of the last words of two great men - to two staggeringly larger audiences - whose numbers continue to grow - is not a bad topic to think on.
One of the pieces that I’m missing - and maybe others - is our printed bulletin and the Meditative Sentence(s) at the top. Not much reference is given them in worship services, but today, they would have been interesting. It is said that clergyman and hymn composer - most notably of Amazing Grace - John Newton’s last words were “I am still in the land of the dying; I shall be in the land of the living soon.” According to Steve Jobs’ sister, Mona, his last words were “Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow.”
Charles Gussman was a writer and TV announcer, who wrote the pilot episode of Days of Our Lives, among other shows. As he became ill, he said he wanted his last words to be memorable. When he daughter reminded him of this, he gently removed his oxygen mask and whispered: “And now for a final word from our sponsor—.”
Richard B. Mellon was a multimillionaire. He was the President of Alcoa, and he and his brother Andrew had a little game of Tag going. The weird thing was, this game of Tag lasted for like seven decades. When Richard was on his deathbed, he called his brother over and whispered, “Last tag.” Poor Andrew remained “It” for four years, until he died.
Not all that many people get to have someone hear - much less record their last words. Some people get their “last words” on their tombstones. But most of us, as it has been for so long - and ever shall be - have last words that are expressed more in the memories of others - not necessarily in actual words, but in what we do - and how we do it.
But if each of us were given the opportunity now - to chose our last words - for then - what would yours be? I’m thinking that what I’d like my last words to be would come out of what I’d like my life to represent - and that that would be true for most all of us.
If a person would like their last words to be “I’ve lived a good life,” I’d wager a couple cups of coffee that that person actually lived a good life. If someone said, “I hope I’ve made the world a better place,” it is quite probably that that individual did make the world a better place. The people that chose to have certain words on their tombstones tell us something about their lives - like those who have written “I told you I didn’t feel well.”
We don’t know all Jesus’ last thoughts, yet we know a lot of his actions. So when he was with his disciples on that last night - he not only told them - he showed them the bread of life and the cup of love - and that those things were given for them - for us.
Whether partaking of our Lord’s Supper is our last act or not - and please - no one take that as a challenge - taking the bread and the cup add a piece to the overall message that we leave behind - a message that includes trust in Christ’s words and actions, a faith that we will one day eat and drink in peace and utter safety, and a note about our aspirations to follow God, Christ and the Holy Spirit.
Not all churches will be celebrating our Lord’s Supper this day, but a whole lot of churches will be filled with words of hope and faith and endeavor to do what is right and good. As we begin to prepare for this shared time, go ahead and exhale as much air as you can, then breath in as deeply and fully as you can - realizing that in that breath is God’s Holy Spirit - traveling down into the very smallest parts of you - as you replenish, fortify and nourish yourself for this next leg of our journeys.
The Lord’s Supper
Let us pray. Holy God - Three in One and One in Three - we thank you for giving us aspirations and desires that make us so human. We readily admit that sometimes we don’t make the best of our opportunities nor our actions - be they in thought, word or deed. Forgive us, God of Mercy and Grace, for those times when we stray, times we turn our backs, times when we fail to be the best we can be as your people. In the coming days and weeks, God, help us to think about how we act and react, to evaluate how we are here on this side of eternity and how we can make this place better, that our legacies will leave lasting words of inspiration and affirmation. Most especially God, when the way seems drear or hard, give us extra measures to help others that may need the benefit of what we want our lives to represent. For all the blessings you bestow on us, that we may bless in return, all your people say, Amen.
Just the messenger. And the collector and arranger of that which has been received. References available upon request.