11/24/19 Sunday Sermon
First Congregational Church
November 24, 2019
Thanksgiving Sunday & Christ the King Sunday
Luke 23:33-43 & Colossians 1:15-20
Rev. Dinah Haag, preaching
For those who have been around a while, I’m betting that at least some of you know that I have a thing about words and how they are together. And I love me a good oxymoron, like jumbo shrimp, awfully good, civil war, clearly confused. Even the word, oxymoron, is oxymoronic. It is a combination of two ancient Greek words: oxys, which means "sharp," and moronos, which means "dull" or "stupid."
There are some pretty famous people that have come up with some great oxymoronic sayings. Bing Crosby came up with the notion that "We're busy doing nothing.” Andy Warhol said, "I am a deeply superficial person.” Insightful Henry Ford said, "A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business." And hilarious Winston Churchill said, "A joke is an extremely serious issue.” (Did you catch the punny added oxymoron - hilarious - Churchill?)
There is no humor in the fact that today is the last Sunday of the church year, which is also designated as Christ the King Sunday. There is a tinge of the oxymoronic in this designation, coming right before the new church year that begins with Advent - which starts next Sunday. It almost insensitive - putting one of the hardest parts of Jesus’ life - or, I should say, death - right before we celebrate his birth. And yet, here it is.
It’s also interesting that the people who come up with the lectionary list of scripture passages picked the one we will hear from Colossians. Members of the congregation at Colossae may have been incorporating pagan elements into their practice, including worship of elemental spirits. Elemental spirits are/were creatures like fairies, goblins, gnomes, elves, leprechauns, tree people, brownies and the like, who possessed supernatural powers. So the letter to the Colossians declares Christ's supremacy over the entire created universe and encourages Christians to lead godly lives.
33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”[a] And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”
36 The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37 and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”
38 There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the jews.
39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”
40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.[b]”
43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
Thank you, Cathy and Rob. If you haven’t noticed, I included this weird graphic in the bulletin. This is the sort of thing that grabbed my attention in seminary. In those nine verses from Colossians, the most important one is verse 18 - the line that begins with the letter ‘e’. Christ is the head of the body, the church. The line before it - verse 17 - describes what being the head of the church is like - as does the line right after verse 18 - lines d and d1. Lines c and c1 sort of go together in the build up - and down - of that important verse 18, as do the other pairings of letters. It’s nerdy, but it’s also artistic in a sense.
Pastor Chelsey Harmon, of Christ Community Church (CRC) in Nanaimo, BC, Canada, pointed out that “the structure gives us the same feeling that the words do: Christ surrounds everything, is before everything, in everything, after and at the end of everything. And everything is in Christ. We look out from within Christ and all we see is other Christ-touched things.” That’s pretty cool, too.
This observation of the lines doesn’t necessarily change any meaning of any of the words that Rev. Chelsey called a hymn, but it is pretty awesome, if that sort of thing charges your brain. But it does give you an idea that there is a greater depth to the mere black and white arrangement of letters. Add to that the fact that there is probably no other congregation in the entire world that would have such a point lifted up makes all of you rather special.
Sometimes - maybe even often times - maybe more often than we realize - life is a lot about that idea of opposites or pairings coming together. For instance, this week I realized that the bad news was that it’s was cold, dark, and cold and dark. The good news was that we got glimpses of sunshine every once-in-awhile, all-be they brief. The bad news is that in Barrow, Alaska, there will be no sunsets or sunrises for two months. The good news is that we don’t live there.
A woman entered an ice-cream store on the Kansas City Plaza, and after choosing which flavor cone she wanted, she looked up and found herself face to face with Paul Newman, who was doing some filming in town. He smiled and said hello, but her heart was pounding so hard that she could hardly speak.
She paid for her ice cream, left the shop, walked out into the plaza, and at last realized her purchase was nowhere to be found. Going back into the store to see if she could retrieve it, the woman ran into Newman again --this time on his way out.
"Are you looking for your ice cream?" he asked, and when she nodded, he said, "you put it in your purse with your change."
Kingdoms are ruled by kings. Funny that we don’t call them queendoms, but that’s maybe for another day. In our historic, human experience, we know that kingdoms are time sensitive. In this book of black and white, we know that God’s kingdom is not time sensitive, but beyond time - eternal, even.
Sometimes we get distracted by life - the ups and downs of being human - and we forget that we are a part of a kingdom where love is stronger than fear, where Love reigns supreme. We don’t always live out the life we were designed to live - one not lead by an imposing soldier on a war horse, but a promised Savior Messiah, who came to heal and make wrongs right.
This Wrong-Righter showed us ways to live through this life by living above it. Christ demonstrated for us the incredulity of asking for God’s mercy on those whose job it was to kill him. Christ demonstrated the choices we often have in life in determining our paths, even when it seems like the goofiest, most impossible possibility.
Being fully human, and at the same time, the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation had the power to save himself, but chose not to. Even in that moment, he had the power to determine his path. We don’t always get such a choice, but a lot of times we do - even when we don’t think we do. In that moment, Christ didn’t have to ask for mercy that day, but he did. Majestic mercy from the middle of a garbage dump while hanging on the tree of death. Humble Majesty - that is allotted to us far more than we realize.
There is also the added irony that in this country, we will celebrate a holiday this week that has the very essence of it in its name. Even in that, the name is not Thanks-taking, but Thanks-giving. It is likely that none of us need reminding that the giving of this thanks can certainly be given to and for those who sit with us for dinner on whatever day your important people decide to celebrate. It is hoped - and my prayer - that a good many of us will remember that the greater thanks is for the One who has given us so much more for which to be grateful.
Even so, I will encourage each of you - and myself - to remember in the coming week that no matter how insensitively another may have treated you or how cruelly you may have treated yourself, that we take a moment or two to see from Christ’s splintered throne the King who gives life in the midst of death, and hope in the face of despair. As you journey through life’s difficulties and joys, we have the added ability to live with an awareness that no matter what happens to you or others, you can live with hope and in living with hope, live in Christ’s kingdom. And for that, too, we can be grateful. So let us do just that.
Holy King of Majesty, we thank you for the richness of this life that allows us moments to escape what might ensnare us - to grant us appreciation and gratitude for all you have done for us throughout time. Thank you for your Son and your Holy Spirit, your family that is our family. Thank you for those who love us and want the best for us, even when we sometimes stab ourselves in our own foot. In those times when we have failed to see and be your humble followers, we ask for your mercy and forgiveness, that we can live freer and more able to be humble, majestic forces of love and grace and mercy and healing for this part of our lives as well as for eternity. Thank you for the richness of being your children. And all your people say, Amen.
11/17/19 Sunday Sermon
First Congregational Church
November 17, 2019
23rd Sunday after Pentecost
Rev. Dinah Haag, preaching
In preparing for the trek into our morning scripture passage, what’s the most ironic thing about the Bible? It is the most shoplifted book in America.
What is the most ironic thing about McDonald’s? Before being shut down, McDonalds’ employee health page once warned against eating McDonald’s burgers and fries. What’s the most ironic thing about duct tape? According to researchers, duct tape should never be used for sealing ducts.
What is the most ironic thing about Charlie Chaplin? He once entered a “Charlie Chaplin walk” contest… and came in 20th. What’s the most ironic thing about Al Capone? His older brother was a federal Prohibition agent.
In some ways, this morning’s scripture passage may seem like one of the more ironic aspects of Christianity’s Good News. It continues the path we’ve been on, based on the book of Luke, thru most of the summer and fall. Jesus has entered Jerusalem for the last time, to celebrate the Passover. Between his arrival and that famous last supper, Jesus does some story telling and teaching, no doubt wrapping up some of his bucket list items. This morning’s passage finds him and some of the disciples outside the temple, marveling at it - as a first time tourist might.
No doubt, the temple was something to take away one’s breath. For those who weren’t able to be at the Bible Study Bill Hirschfeld did on the temple, allow me to offer - not the Cliff Notes - but the Dinah Notes.
During the 40 years the Hebrew people toured the desert, they used a tent for their worship that was a little bigger than the footprint of this church building. Deciding that God needed a permanent dwelling place, King Solomon ordered a temple to be built, about half the size of a football field. That temple was attacked over the years and it was finally destroyed almost 600 years before Jesus was born. It took 70 years before the next temple was dedicated by Governor Zerubbabel, which had a footprint perhaps as big as the church and parsonage properties combined.
Zerubbabel’s temple stood for some 500 years, although it too, suffered attacks from surrounding peoples. King Herod decided to do a little renovation to the Temple about 20 years before Jesus was born, upping the size to about 3 square city blocks. So it was huge.
Because the temple had to be built by priests, Herod had 1,000 trained as masons and carpenters, assisted by 10,000 skilled workers. The laborers were needful because the pretty part was made of white marble, gold leaf, precious woods and gems of all sorts. But the supporting materials included carved stones, the largest measuring 45 x 11 x 16 feet and weighing around 600 tons, the average school bus weighing 12 - 15 tons. So it was really huge.
The Destruction of the Temple and Signs of the End Times
5 Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, 6 “As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.”
7 “Teacher,” they asked, “when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?”
8 He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. 9 When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.”
10 Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.
12 “But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. 13 And so you will bear testimony to me. 14 But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. 15 For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. 16 You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. 17 Everyone will hate you because of me. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 Stand firm, and you will win life.
Thank you, Chris. One could guess that back in Jesus’ day, destroying such a temple would not be an easy task. Today, I’m guessing that one or two clicks of particular buttons, and the entire Temple Mount would be a massive pile of rocks and ash. So back in Jesus’ day, his prophecy was nearly preposterous. In our day, it is, if nothing else, quite conceivable.
A man was checking into a hotel some years ago when he noticed behind the counter what he took to be the hotel’s slogan: “There are no problems, only opportunities.” Given the key to his room, he rode the elevator to the eighth floor, walked down the hall, and opened the door to his assigned room only to be greeted by a growling guard dog. In near panic, he inched his way around to the phone, called the desk, and stuttered out, “I have a problem in my room,” to which the desk clerk responded, “At our hotel, there are no problems, only opportunities!” “You can call it what you want, mister,” he replied, “but there’s an attack dog in my room and I need some help!”
You can call this passage from Luke 21 what you want, but I don’t know that it would fall under the Good News category - at least at first. And then there’s that middle part, where Jesus says, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.”
Well, there have been 2 World Wars so far, kingdoms have been fighting kingdoms long before Robert the Bruce fought England for Scotland’s independence in the Middle Ages, long before the Visogoths invaded Italy well over 1600 years ago, the five biggest earthquakes in recorded history have taken place since 1906, Wikipedia listed 241 eras of famine since 300 AD, and we’ve made it through the Black Death in the 1400’s, the 1918 Spanish Flu, not to mention cholera, small pox and a host of other pestilences. And here we sit. If this passage does nothing else, it could remind us of our tenacity, determination and ingenuity as human beings, standing up to some of the worst that “life” has thrown at us.
Living here in crazy, beautiful Benzie County, we aren’t very likely at risk of someone persecuting us for our faith, unless we open our mouths before engaging brain. So maybe this passage is closer to us that first glance.
Even so, we are certainly not in the same position that the early missionaries in Jesus and Paul’s day were. We’re far from the place of a small group of Christians amidst a larger group of Babylonians or Assyrians. In fact, despite all that is going on around us these days, a good many of us are sitting a lot prettier than those who went before us. And as it was for them, so is it for us - that there is something for everyone in this passage that seems so far removed. That something for everyone is not in the details of the “what” the future holds, but Who holds the future.
What’s ironic about a man who survived going over the Niagra Falls? He died after slipping on an orange peel. What’s ironic about the inventor of Liquid Paper? The woman was fired from her secretarial job for failing to white-out a mistake. What’s ironic about bullfighting? Three weeks after Bill Hillman, a bullfighting enthusiast, wrote a book that was released, called How to Survive the Bulls of Pamplona, he was gored by a bull.
As I reflected on this passage and the general direction of this message, I wondered how it fits into some of the lives of those close to the heart. Perhaps it has been the accumulation of the year, or the upside down timing of the early snow, or what feels like the constant pounding of unrest in our lives, but it seems like there are a lot of tired folks out there these days. Not everyone, but a goodly number.
Whether the heart has been broken or the spirit has been bent, or external factors are whacking our souls, our passage reminds us that our actions bear witness to Christ, regardless of our intentionality. Whether we are bone-weary or bright eyed and bushy tailed, we get to decide how we will meet the way of life on this side of eternity. We get to determine, each day we put our feet on the floor, to move away from our nest of warmth and seclusion into the brisk air of reality - not just if - but how we will do it.
If we do it alone, we not only disrespect the very God whose great desire it is to be our partner in this life, but we will wear out faster and be far less pleasant to those around us - perhaps not necessarily ugly, but definitely not a good as we could be.
When we rest in Christ’s promise of giving us words and wisdom, we get out of bed and move into the world stronger, more assured, because just as God fulfilled the promise of sending a Messiah, so will God fulfill the promise of taking us home, where we will not perish and we will no longer be at risk of harm or uncertainty.
Our passage this morning may not be one of rainbows and unicorns with sprinkles, but there is some good, old fashioned sustenance in it, knowledge that will get us through the day-to-days and not just the mountaintops to mountaintops. This part of Luke 21 may not be a gourmet dessert for the brain, but it is certainly the hot dog or bologna sandwich that gets us from one meal to the next. And when the alternative to a hot dog or bologna sandwich is starvation, then plain old, plain old is pretty darn good. So let us pray.
God Almighty and God Who Sees, thank you for your promises and plan, even when those things seem strange or unreal. Thank you for all the words and wisdom you have provided us, much of which we have been oblivious. Help us to rest in your peace and to trust in your love, that we can meet the world and all the opportunities of being your ambassadors. Grant us that which we need to go from this moment of plainness to the next moment - whether it be plain or fancy - that the journey to eternity be good and edifying. For all the moments of this life - gourmet or simple staple - knowing that you have it all in hand, all your people say, Amen.
11/10/19 Sunday Sermon
11/3/19 All Saints Sunday Sermon
First Congregational Church
November 3, 2019
All Saints Sunday
Rev. Dinah Haag, preaching
Saint Peter is at the gates of Heaven. He's been standing all morning and needed a lunch break. He sees Jesus walking by and stops him. "Jesus, thank goodness you're here. I have a favor to ask. Can you watch the gate while I have lunch?” Jesus, ecstatic at the chance to help says, "Of course! What do you want me to do?” "Its simple, as people come up you check their names to see if they are in this book I have. If they are, then welcome them in. If not, turn them away." And with that Saint Peter leaves for lunch.
Jesus waits for some time and eventually an elderly man walks up to him. Jesus greets him energetically and asks his name. The old man looks dismayed. "I was hit on the head when I died... I don't remember it.” "Well sir," says Jesus, "tell me about yourself. Perhaps I can help you figure it out.” "Oh boy," the old man thought out loud, "all I can remember is that I was a carpenter and my son was beloved by millions of people. Now Jesus begins to choke up. "Dad... Dad?” The old man looks hard at Jesus and says “Pinocchio!?"
For those who don’t spend hours steeped in church doctrine and definitions, there are three important dates in the life of the Church - all of which fall into the second level of infamy and importance and all of which were brought about due to the Catholic Church’s influence.
October 31st is All Hallows Eve - what we now know as Halloween - the day to ask for God's blessing and protection from the evil in the world. The source of modern celebrations stemmed from the donning of saintly and evil spirit costumes to act out the battle between good and evil. All Hallows is an old English term that means "the feast of the saints.” In its original sense, it is ”a celebration of the communion of saints, those people believed to be in heaven, through good works and God's grace.”
November 1st is All Saints Day and was originally the day to offer prayers to those in purgatory - those stuck between heaven and hell. While that is more of an historic understanding, the modern version of All Saints is that it’s a call to live as saints, to remind us how we're supposed to live.
On All Souls' Day, November 2nd, we’re talking about all souls and asking God's mercy for them. I don’t know if it is still done, but traditionally, All Souls was the day that the Book of the Dead is opened to allow parishioners to write the names of relatives to be remembered.
For a long time, Americans have had an uncomfortable relationship with All Saints, All Souls, and some still struggle with Halloween. I was listening to some radio program the other day that said that very same thing, noting that much of the rest of the world is far more comfortable with this part of life. As our world has grown smaller through the aid of technology, we are coming to hear more about other cultural celebrations such as the Mexican Day of the Dead, Dia de los Muertos, or the Chinese Ghost Festival.
The traditions of honoring and even loving the deceased is called the veneration of the dead. Some people wash the bones of dead family members while picnicking in the cemetery, some build tombs. Some Native Americans “buried” the dead on poles - closer to the Great Spirit, while Vikings sent great leaders on to the after life in Valhalla in a burning ship. In Vietnamese culture, birthdays aren’t celebrated, but death anniversaries are. As vast as our cultural differences might be, what connects so many of us in great and minute ways is how we understand Christ and the life of following his leading.
Zacchaeus the Tax Collector
19 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Dead to Sin, Alive in Christ
6 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have 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 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been set free 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, Hugh and Naomi. These might seem like rather odd passages for a day in which we honor those who have reminded us of the circle of life - at least that passage from Luke. And yet, how do we all remember Zacheaus? That he was short, a tree-hugger, and that he wasn’t well liked? How often do we remember him as Jesus called him - a Son of Abraham - which is code for a man of faith? And how often do we think of him as a man of restoration, a man who tried to make right of perceived wrongs?
On this day of lifting up the circle of life, we have the opportunity to remember the good that was done by those on the Necrology list and the good that will be done by those on the Cradle Roll list. All the names read today - with all their potential - are not complete without their struggles - opportunities that gave and give way to being people of Abraham - people of faith - however that faith may look or be revealed.
For whatever reason, I got to thinking about the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier this week. Whether we pay more attention to it on Memorial Day or Veteran’s Day, it still is a stunning tribute to one, unidentified individual. Incidentally, in just two years, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier will be 100 years old. Since 1937, regardless of whether or any other event, an unknown individual’s remains have been guarded 24/7 by the third least awarded qualifications of the United States Army, following Military Horsemen and Astronaut badges.
For 82 years, 21 steps are followed by a 90 degree turn, waiting for 21 seconds, another 90 degree turn, change of gun to other shoulder and waiting another 21 seconds, continually repeated over a shift of a half hour that the Cemetery is open in the summer and every hour in the winter. And during the night, the guard is changed every two hours, regardless of weather or any other event. At any time during a particular shift, the sentinels will confront people who cross the barriers at the tomb or whom they perceive to be disrespectful or excessively loud.
It might sound like a relatively easy gig, with such short shifts, but it takes six hours to ready the year-round heavy wool uniform for the next day, plus physical training, tomb guard training, field exercises, cutting their hair before the next work day, and the odd regimental functions. We don’t treat every soldier that way, much less every person that has died. And yet, the symbolism demonstrates the high degree of honor and respect that is to (hoped) to be given to every soldier - and by extension - every other person - plain or particular. The intention is that “just as” it is for this one unknown, so would it be for each and every other - unknown or known.
The extrapolation is that “just as” Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of God, we too may live a new life - being raised from the dead. Just as Christ cannot die again, neither can those who have gone before us. “Just as” the death that Christ died was the death of sin once and for all; so, too, the life we live to God is the life Christ lives to God. Which is the Good News worthy of sharing with those who will follow in our footsteps.
A man stood at the pearly gates, waiting his turn to talk to St. Peter. He noticed a sign that said you can bring one briefcase full of anything you want from Earth. He noticed a stack of empty briefcases to the side and picked one up.
When the rich man got to Peter, the saint acknowledged him and told him that all he had to do was imagine what he wanted and it would show up in the briefcase. The man already knew what he wanted, so it only took a second for the briefcase to be filled to the brim with gold bars, all stamped with 24k on them. Peter looked at the rich man and raised an eyebrow. "That's fine if that's what you want, but I gotta ask. Why are you bringing pavement?”
The Bible gives us teasers of what eternal life will be like, but the truth is is that none of us know. At least for now. Those names read today, as with all those lifted up this day, came to this earthly life from the eternal life in which they lived when God created all of creation, intended to return to that life when we’re done here. In so many different ways, the Bible tells us that we are spiritual beings having a human experience, so our birth and death are but small parts of our entire circles of life. Just as that was and is true for Christ, so is it for each and everyone one of us and our loved ones - however that works out in practical terms - which is God’s business. So let us enter into part of our business on this side of heaven as we pray.
Holy and Eternal God, thank you for life - all of it. Thank you for the hard parts as well as the good parts - because otherwise we would be far more shallow and even more fickle than we actually are - at least at times. Thank you for those who came before us, all the two steps forward and one step back, dancing to the music of a life so much more than what we are cognizant of here on earth. Thank you for all those who will come after us - continuing the circle that connects us and completes us - as individuals and as your people. For the blessings that connect us to your most Beloved, and all that faith in such a Savior means, all your people say, Amen.
Just the messenger. And the collector and arranger of that which has been received. References available upon request.