Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, told a story on himself. He was waiting for a taxi outside the railway station in Paris. When the taxi pulled up, he put his suitcase in it and then got in the car. As he was about to tell the taxi-driver where he wanted to go, the driver asked him: "Where can I take you, Mr. Doyle?”
Doyle was astounded. He asked the driver if he knew him by sight. The driver said: "No Sir, I have never seen you before." Doyle was puzzled and asked him how he knew he was Arthur Conan Doyle.
The driver replied: "This morning's paper had a story that you were on vacation in Marseilles. This is the taxi-stand where people who come to Marseilles always wait. Your skin color tells me you have been on vacation. The ink-spot on your right index finger suggests to me that you are a writer. Your clothing is very English, and not French. Adding up all those pieces of information, I deduce that you are Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.”
Doyle exclaimed, "This is truly amazing. You are a real-life counter-part to my fictional creation, Sherlock Holmes.”
"There is one other thing," the driver said. "What is that?" Doyle asked. "Your name is on the front of your suitcase."
It wasn't the powers of deduction. It was the power of observation. That taxi driver's lenses were clean enough to observe what was going on around him.
Bartimeaus was waiting at the edge of town, maybe one of the least appreciated towns in the world, because it is believed to be one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world, the one with the oldest know protective - and famous - wall in the world. As the last glacial period came to an end, hunters and gatherers would gather around a spring there, some 10,000 years ago. As the climate changed from drought and cold, the people transitioned into agriculture and to the tending of animals, which lead to a year-round habitation and permanent settlement around this spring.
As time went on, perhaps as a defense against flood-waters, a wall was built around this settlement that soon grew to 70 modest, circular buildings, roughly 16 feet in diameter, made of clay and straw bricks and mud mortar. What’s fascinating is that it likely took a hundred men right around a hundred days to construct a tower and this famous stone wall, that was 12 feet high and over five feet wide at its base. Before they knew it, the city grew to somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 inhabitants. No wonder singing and playing instruments around this city, bringing the walls down, was such a big deal!
Taking a gigantic leap forward, to 360 B.C., Plato writes a dialogue with the title Timaeus. Actually it’s not as much a dialogue - as we think of such things - as much as it is a long monologue that speculates on the nature of the physical world and human beings. In other words, it has to do with perceptions and observations. Bouncing forward another 350-400 years, back to Jesus’ day, we get back to Bartimeaus, which means “son of Timaeus.”
Adding a couple more items to this mix, before we get to the scripture passage, we should take a minute to think about fashion back in Jesus’ day, specifically that of men, although it was rather similar for both sexes. Most wore an inner garment, like a loose-fitting t-shirt, the earliest of which were sleeveless and came down to the knees. If one was particularly repentant or contrite, this inner garment might be made of burlap or camel hair, although they were usually made of linen, cotton or soft wool. A person wearing only an inner garment was considered naked.
Naturally, there were outer tunics, sometimes called mantles or robes. It was usually a square or oblong strip of cloth with a hole for the head, sometimes with sleeves and sometimes without. One did not go out in public without an outer garment. To keep all this fabric in place, some sort of belt was used. The expression, “to gird up the loins” meant to put on the belt, freeing the lower legs to move easily, signifying that a person was ready for service - like the phrase we use now - rolling up our sleeves.
Cloaks were usually worn over the inner and outer garments, not just for warmth, but they could serve as a blanket as well as a container for holding various items. Cloaks were personal items, and they had meaning, such as being laid down for an important person when they came into town, and if all you had was a cloak, it could have been a symbol for reverence - like a priest - or humiliation - like a poor person - or a divestment of power - as in someone with a handicap - back in those days. And ironically, a woman is healed when she touches the hem of Jesus’ cloak.
We live in such a different culture when it comes to the - other abled. The para-Olympics this year raised awareness and understanding of amazing athletes that most of us probably never gave much thought. There’s a video on YouTube about a young man named Zion Clark, who was born without legs due to a rare genetic disorder. He’s the fastest man on two hands, according to Guiness World Records, but his real deal is wrestling and working to be a multi-medal Olympian. Talk about an amazing personality!
But any kind of handicap in Jesus’ day automatically put you at the bottom rung of the social ladder. If you had more than one handicap, you were lower than low, thought to be overlooked by God, at the very least. Whether it was a handicap, illness or disease, because so little was known about them, people who suffered with those maladies were hardly even people.
One last little layer: in Jesus’ time, only the emperor was considered to be the recipient of the term “lord.” Some pieces of music use the phrase, “kyrie eleison,” which means “lord have mercy.” If that phrase gets any attention these days, it’s usually a reference to God. Back in Jesus’ day, “lord” did not mean God, but ruler. To give such a title to anyone not worthy of it was an act of betrayal and sedition. So with all of that cultural background, we get to this morning’s passage.
Mark 10:46-52 - Blind Bartimaeus Receives His Sight
46 Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”
So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” 50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.
51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.
The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”
52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.
Thank you, Naomi. Steven Molin, author of Sermons for Sundays after Pentecost, tells the story of when he and his wife were in Tanzania. Steven said for the first time in their lives, they felt like socio-economic minorities.
“At worship, we were the only white faces in a sea of black. In the market, we weren't merely the only Caucasians; we were among the few wearing shoes! Everywhere we went, we were the wealthy, healthy ones. When we were approached by a roving gang of small children rushing toward us in Mlafu, we assumed they would beg for money.
My wife clutched her purse, and I felt for my billfold. Here came the poorest of the poor! And when the children finally reached us, do you know what they asked for? They asked, "Will you take my picture? Will you take my picture?" And when we had snapped several photos of these beautiful children, they began to squeal with delight "Now let me see it! Let me see what you see!"
One of the fascinating points about this morning’s passage is the “sight” blind Bartimaeus had - before he was healed. Or maybe it was more his hearing, because on that day, it probably wasn’t the first time he heard about Jesus doing crazy, amazing things. As too often happens, people probably talked right over him, not even recognizing that he was a human being as much as he was a “situation.” Hearing that Jesus was near, it was as if Bartimaeus “saw” his opportunity, and took it.
And it wouldn’t look good on the disciples, letting Jesus see this guy. Irony or cynicism, the disciples turn from shunners to embracers in the snap of a finger, and how shallow our human nature can be sometimes.
William G. Carter, author of No Box Seats in the Kingdom, tells the story of a women who received eyes to see. With the help of Presbyterian mission money, she was able to establish a halfway house for recovering drug addict women. She schedules twelve-step groups, arranges for child care, and generally tries to get the women back on their feet. In a lot of ways, you would never expect her to be involved with such work. She is even-tempered, gentle, and articulate. But something happened a few years ago that caused her to see anew.
She was a graduate school student in Pittsburgh, looking for a part-time job. A newspaper listed an administrative position with a soup kitchen. That looked interesting, so she clipped it and prepared for the interview. On the day of her interview, she put on a dark blue business suit, put together a manila folder full of resumes and references, and clipped back her hair.
Arriving a few minutes before noon, she saw the sign: "East End Cooperative Ministry” and knocked on the door. Someone inside said, "It's unlocked." She went in, only to find a long line of people in front of her and disappointment washed over her. Then she realized it was lunch time; the people in the line weren't there for the same interview, they were waiting for soup.
She grew nervous as she looked at the people in line. Some of them, in turn, looked at her. She felt self-conscious about the way she was dressed. Apparently others began to sense her anxiety. A woman in a moth-eaten sweater smiled and tried to make conversation. "Is this your first time here?” "Yes, it is.” "Don't worry," said the lady in the sweater, "it gets easier."
"The scales fell from my eyes that day," reflected the young woman. "I went there looking for a job, and that woman thought I was there for soup. As far as she knew, the world had been as cruel to me as it was to her. But in the kindest way she could, she welcomed me as a fellow human being. She saw me as someone equally in need, which I was and still am. I didn't realize it at the time, but that was the day when God began to convert me." Looking around the halfway house, she smiled and said, "You see all of these wonderful things God is doing here? They began when God gave us eyes to see where Jesus was leading us.”
"What do you want?" asked Jesus. A church could ask for more prestige, a greater impact, and a sense of power. But for a church with the eyes of faith, the answer is clear: "to see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, follow thee more nearly" ... all the way to the cross. So shall we pray.
Holy, Omniscient God, thank you for seeing so much farther than we are able, and for being able to communicate the sights to us. Help us to see further, in our personal lives, in our church family life, in the life of this state and country, world and universe. Forgive us when we turn our eyes away from the truths you have for us, and help us to see them for what they are - points of view that broaden our perspective. Give us the persistence of Bartimaeus to ask for you, for your healing and your life-giving direction. Help us to see as blind Bartimaeus, before and after his encounter with you. And all your people say, Amen.
First Congregational Church
October 17, 2021
21st Sunday after Pentecost
“Grace and Greatness”
Rev. Dinah Haag, preaching
An unemployed man is desperate to support his family of a wife and three kids. He applies for a janitor's job at a large firm and easily passes an aptitude test.
The human resources manager tells him, "You will be hired at minimum wage of $5.35 an hour. Let me have your e-mail address so that we can get you in the loop. Our system will automatically e-mail you all the forms and advise you when to start and where to report on your first day.” Taken back, the man protests that he is poor and has neither a computer nor an e-mail address.
To this the manager replies, "You must understand that to a company like ours that means that you virtually do not exist. Without an e-mail address you can hardly expect to be employed by a high-tech firm. Good day."
Stunned, the man leaves. Not knowing where to turn and having $10 in his wallet, he walks past a farmers' market and sees a stand selling 25 lb. crates of beautiful red tomatoes. He buys a crate, carries it to a busy corner and displays the tomatoes. In less than 2 hours he sells all the tomatoes and makes 100% profit. Repeating the process several times more that day, he ends up with almost $100 and arrives home that night with several bags of groceries for his family.
During the night he decides to repeat the tomato business the next day. By the end of the week he is getting up early every day and working into the night. He multiplies his profits quickly.
Early in the second week he acquires a cart to transport several boxes of tomatoes at a time, but before a month is up he sells the cart to buy a broken-down pickup truck.
At the end of a year he owns three old trucks. His two sons have left their neighborhood gangs to help him with the tomato business, his wife is buying the tomatoes, and his daughter is taking night courses at the community college so she can keep books for him.
By the end of the second year he has a dozen very nice used trucks and employs fifteen previously unemployed people, all selling tomatoes. He continues to work hard.
Time passes and at the end of the fifth year he owns a fleet of nice trucks and a warehouse that his wife supervises, plus two tomato farms that the boys manage. The tomato company's payroll has put hundreds of homeless and jobless people to work. His daughter reports that the business grossed over one million dollars.
Planning for the future, he decides to buy some life insurance. Consulting with an insurance adviser, he picks an insurance plan to fit his new circumstances. Then the adviser asks him for his e-mail address in order to send the final documents electronically.
When the man replies that he doesn't have time to mess with a computer and has no e-mail address, the insurance man is stunned, "What, you don't have e-mail? No computer? No Internet? Just think where you would be today if you'd had all of that five years ago!"
"Ha!" snorts the man. "If I'd had e-mail five years ago I would be sweeping floors at Microsoft and making $5.35 an hour.”
35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”
36 “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.
37 They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”
38 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”
39 “We can,” they answered.
Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, 40 but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.”
41 When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. 42 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Thank you, Scott. American Franciscan priest, Richard Rohr once said, “Christianity is a lifestyle - a way of being in the world that is simple, non-violent, shared, and loving.” Boston University School of Theology Assistant Professor of New Testament, Luis Menéndez-Antuña says that the writer of Mark lays out a series of teachings that seek to structure just how the prospective community should organize itself, particularly around governance issues. So it makes sense that Mark’s writer would include such an anecdote about who is greater and who will sit where in the coming kingdom.
Even so, there is an aspect of today’s passage that is rather paradoxical in nature - in that although the disciples didn’t know the magnitude of what they were asking, it’s also true that if we don’t ask for what we want, we most likely won’t get it.
If we follow that line of thought just a little bit, there is a paradoxical aspect to this life of faith, in that when we pray, God already knows what we need and want, so praying may seem like an unwise use of time. Except that the real point of prayer is not so much what we are asking for, but in the exchange of sentiment between us and God, what changes in us when we make our needs and wants known, because it’s not just a one-sided conversation, but two sided - with God having a part in the exchange. And just as there is more to prayer than what meets the eye, so it that point true in today’s passage.
When the disciples asked a question that some might consider less than tactful, Jesus didn’t reply by yelling or belittling or using derogatory language. His answer was one of grace, with the corrected truth of God’s decision of who will sit where and when.
Without rancor or irritation or impatience - that we know of - Jesus points out that “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.” (Sidebar - the Greek word for slave is interchangeable with the word child - so let that flavor your coffee for a while.)
I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m getting the point, Jesus. How many Sundays have we heard the 'first shall be last and last shall be first thing’? But maybe the early gospel writers had already figured out what communication experts have known for a long time - that if you want someone to take action, they need to hear the request at a least seven times - and please be careful with that information and the person closest to you. At studentdoctor.net, they say that one needs to read through class notes 2-5 times before they “get it.” So the writer of Mark does us the favor of making the point - repeatedly.
I doubt that the lectionary preparers had any magical abilities or insight into where we would be as a nation and world when they assigned this passage for this day, but it is certainly apropos. Grace and greatness are both highly desirable character traits, but we can’t buy them anywhere, regardless of shipping container or transport issues. And I wonder if greatness is nothing about power or volume or fist pumping as much as it is about genuine care and the way one lives life.
Chelsey Harmon, from the Center for Excellence in Preaching, put it so plainly. “Jesus Christ is both the Lord and Master and the servant and slave of humanity. He came to earth as part of us in order to serve us, giving his life as the payment for our deliverance—including deliverance from the rat race, the battle for power, prestige, and position….He lived and died so that we can be from from the need to be great over others.”
A couple of weeks ago, part of the 100 Years Ago in Benzie County section read “When a farmer sold his corn recently and tried to explain to a banker the necessity of a loan to tide him over a lien., the niceties of market problems faced by the farmer now were outlined. "But," the banker said, "I don't understand why you should want to borrow money when you have just shipped your corn. What did you do with the money?” “De ducks got it,” replied the farmer. “What do you mean by “de ducks?”
“Shipped the carload to market and sold it for 52 cents a bushel. They de duck freight, that left 31 cents; de duck 1 cent commission, that left 30 cents; de duck elevator charges, that left 27 cents; de duck husking, that left 15 cents; de duck hauling, that left 5 cents; de duck the hired man’s wages from that, and you are a darn sight better farmer than I am if you find anything left.”
There is nothing that is de ducted from us when we are kind and embracing and conscious of serving those around us, even if we do so imperfectly. There is nothing de ducted from our character when we stop mid-sentence - to rephrase or re-express ourselves so that we maintain dignity and kindness - in others as well as in our own selves. In fact, when we take those second runs at making a point or connecting with someone, it not only reaffirms our practice of serving others, but it actually serves others.
There are temptations to think that we’ve done enough serving of others, or that what we’ve done is good enough. Jesus doesn’t ever hint at that, nor does the rest of the Bible. Jesus and the Bible continually point us to the way of service and grace, because that’s where and when we become great.
Perhaps the empty store shelves of the past eighteen months have embedded the idea that there is only so much to go around. While that is true in some parts of life, it is not true in faith or love or grace or greatness.
Retired pastor-poet Steven Garnaas-Holmes put out a prayer this week that bid the reader to “beware of a faith that is no more than James and John’s request: believing what you need to believe in order to go to Heaven - and receive all the benefits appertaining thereunto, including getting to be with Jesus in glory. What if Heaven means the perfection of serving, the deepest bliss in kneeling at the feet of the undeserving, the most profound join in pouring out your life for another? At the heavenly banquet newcomers are the guests, but the real angelic souls are the servers.”
Our bodies may cause stumbling blocks to opportunities to serve, and the pressing needs of family may cause stumbling blocks to opportunities to serve. But it’s not even so much about the actual serving as it is the heart - the heart of serving - because that is what shines through - regardless of age or circumstance, ability or opportunity. So shall we pray?
Holy, Holy God, thank you for not giving up on getting your point across to us. Thank you for your encouragement, your direction and those who have served us in allowing us to be where and who we are. Forgive us when we willingly or unknowingly turn away from those opportunities to not only serve others, but serve ourselves in the process. Renew our passion to follow the ways of your Son, to become the community you have seen us to be from so long ago. For these and all the blessings that come from your Spirit, your Son and our servant, all your people say, Amen.
First Congregational Church
October 10, 2021
20th Sunday after Pentecost & Communion
Rev. Dinah Haag, preaching
A man in the desert rents out a camel to ride. The rental guy asks, “Have you ever ridden one of these?” The man replies, “No.” “It’s simple. If you say Woah, it will walk. If you say Woah Woah, it will run. If you say Woah Woah Woah, it will run so fast you have to pray for it to stop.”
The man hops on the camel and says “Woah.” It starts walking. He says “Woah Woah.” It runs. He says “What Woah Woah,” and the camel runs so fast the man has to pray for it to stop. Now it’s a good thing he did that because the camel stopped right at the edge of a cliff. The man looked down the ravine with wide eyes and said “Woah!”
This morning’s scripture passage comes after the time when Peter, James, John and Jesus went up on a mountain, and while the three disciples stood at a distance, two others appeared with Jesus, two very much like Elijah and Moses. After Jesus’ pre-resurrection hint at future glory, what we call the Transfiguration, the disciples and Jesus went back down the mountain and Jesus started on his “first shall be last and last shall be first” lessons using quips and linguistic catches.
While there were some other healings and teachings, last week, Jesus was teaching the disciples, and as people were bringing their children for Jesus to bless, the guys tried to keep the people at arm’s length. But Jesus told them “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And Jesus took the children in his arms and blessed them.
17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’[a]”
20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is[b] to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
26 The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”
27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”
28 Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!”
29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
Thank you, Phil. It’s interesting that while the children crawled up into Jesus’ lap, when he called the young man to essentially do the same, he walked away. I would venture to guess that a lot of people think this passage is about money, or wealth, or even a crisis of character. Those are certainly interesting parts of the story, but I think the real meat of the story is in understanding and recognizing the postures - how the characters sit or stand or reach out or put their hands in their pockets.
It doesn’t say so explicitly, but Jesus being “on his way” means that he is not only going down the road, but that he is on his way to the cross. So there is intention and purpose in his journey. His walking is probably different than before, different from simply going on an afternoon hike from one little town to the next.
The young man kneels. It would be an interesting master’s thesis to study historic films to see if there were any made about Roman or Greek gods or rulers where someone wasn’t kneeling in front of someone with great power and/or authority. The man recognized Jesus’ authority, but kept that relationship at arm’s length. I wonder how many of us cry to God in dire situations and when God provides answers, answers that we weren’t really envisioning, we just sort of turn aside, allowing our situation to grow greater, having more control over us. Just a wonder.
I don’t think Jesus was really asking the man to give up his money, but to give up what he thought was more important than following Jesus. If he’d have been a farmer, Jesus might have asked him to give up the farm. If he’d been a sailor, Jesus might have asked him to give up his boat. (Actually, he did that - to James and John and Peter and Andrew, and they let go of their boats and nets.)
The passage says that the man’s face fell when Jesus told him to let go of what had a hold of him. I wonder how many people ask God for blessing, and like this man - not only walk away, but somehow that turning away from what might seem overwhelming and even scary, leaves people with sad faces - and hearts - that never seem to go away. Sadness that turns into poison over time. Posturing.
Camels though needles - the greatest of ironies and hyperbole! Of course it can’t happen - mostly because of rhetorical clenched fists blocking the passing through the needle.
So a question for us this morning is - what are we holding that is keeping us from greater blessing? Maybe nothing. Maybe something. Maybe we know. Maybe we don’t. But there is a thing, a posturing thing, that we can all do, that can start us or get us back on track or give us a richer experience of that which God has in mind for us. And it’s as simple as turning your hand over.
It might feel a little exposed, because some of us have greater peripheral vision than others. So if you do, turn off that peripheral vision for the moment. Because this question of posturing is for no one else than you - and you - and you. Most of the time our hands are probably turned down, because it feels more natural, safer, and more protective. After all, when the palm of our hand gets hurt, it’s a real pain to do even the simplest of tasks.
Turning your hands over, where you are, whether sitting here or in the car or wherever you might be, is an act of allowing one’s self to be vulnerable, and open to what can fill those hands. It’s such a great way of entering into our Lord’s Supper because it reminds us that there is more to the eating of bread and drinking of cup. With little combo communion cups, it’s not as easy to incorporate this idea of intentional posturing of our faith, but hang with me and I think we’ll be able to get there.
As we enter into this time of being together, using our hands as representations of our hearts and participating in the meal Christ gave us, I’ll invite you to first open the smaller end, with the “bread” wafer. You might want to wait to eat is because if you transfer the wafer to the palm of your other hand, you can flip the combo cup so that the liquid is on top. While holding the wafer in the bottom of your hand and the cup with your fingers, you can open the larger side and you can take both parts together when we are ready.
Among friends gathered around a table, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “This is my body which is given for you. Do this to remember me.” Later, after they had eaten, he took a cup of wine, blessed it and said, “This cup is God’s new relationship, made possible by my life and death. Whenever you drink it, do it remembering me.” So now, following Jesus’ example, we take this bread and cup; for in them he has promised to be with us, making us whole, making us one. In celebration of God’s goodness, let us internalize that love. The bread of life and the cup of love for the people of God.
So shall we pray, perhaps with open palms. Almighty and Glorious God, thank you for understanding our lives as human, tactile people, and for the ways that you speak to us, through hands and objects and ideas and people and your Spirit. For those times of clenched fists and spiritual tantrums, we ask your mercy. Help us to be more attuned to our faith posturing, how it comes off not only to others, but to us. Remind us to lift our shoulders in hope and straighten our heads in endeavor and to breath deeply of the love and grace and joy and peace that you offer us each and every day, each and every minute, each and every second. May our faith posture not only energize us, but those with whom we come in contact. And all your people say, Amen.
Just the messenger. And the collector and arranger of that which has been received. References available upon request.