Saturday, February 27, 2010

2 Lent Yr C

If you have ever loved someone you could not protect, then you understand the depth of Jesus' lament. All you can do is open your arms. You cannot make anyone walk into them. Meanwhile, this is the most vulnerable posture in the world --wings spread, breast exposed --but if you mean what you say, then this is how you stand. In this story from Luke, Jesus is a mother hen, who stands between the chicks and those who mean to do them harm, in this story that is Herod, who is the fox. She has no fangs, no claws, no rippling muscles. All she has is her willingness to shield her babies with her own body. If the fox wants them, he will have to kill her first; which he does, as it turns out. He slides up on her one night in the yard while all the babies are asleep. When her cry wakens them, they scatter. She dies the next day where both foxes and chickens can see her -- wings spread, breast exposed -- without a single chick beneath her feathers. It breaks her heart, but if you mean what you say, then this is how you stand. It is terribly foolish for a hen to stand in such a vulnerable position. The world looks on this vulnerability as weakness, but it is this very vulnerability that saves the hens, that saves us.
(Excerpts taken from Barbara Brown Taylor, Christian Century 2/25/86.)

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killer of prophets. In the midst of this image of the mother hen with her wings spread wide and her vulnerability fully exposed, is this lament. This is a terribly tragic story, but it is not a hopeless story. Tragedy is not the antithesis of hope, tragedy just is. Tragedy is part of our human existence. Tragedy and death are part of life, love and joy are part of life, but they are not opposites, they are merely parts of a whole. We are not saved from tragedy; you and I both know the reality of tragedy. Ice storms down power lines, a wreck on I-90 kills mothers, fathers, children, a hurricane devastates a city, an earthquake levels a country, a gunman goes to work one day and shoots people.

What we have today is this story of Jesus, the mother hen, who guards the chicks behind her wings and puts herself in between the fox and the hens, in full knowledge that the fox will kill her. This is tragedy, but tragedy is not the end of the story. This is the story of Jesus, who puts himself between the principalities and powers, and each one of us, because of love, and for the Kingdom, his way of peace.

The power of this story is that it shows us what Jesus does on the cross. Jesus puts himself in our place. It is so difficult for us to wrap our minds around, we want to ask why. Why would Jesus do such a thing? Why would Jesus put himself in between us and the principalities and powers? For love. Not a sweet, syrupy, romantic love, but a gritty, tough, and resilient love. It is very much like the love you have for your own children. Which one of us would not put ourselves in the way of sure and certain death for our child?

The problem is that the world counts death as failure. The words we use to describe disease and death invoke battles that are won and lost. We see in obituaries things like she lost her battle with cancer. This idea even sometimes directs our health care decisions. We are afraid that if we don’t wage a courageous battle, somehow we are not good enough. And Jesus’ dying on the cross looks to the world like failure. Jesus suffered, Jesus died. But Jesus did not fail. Jesus redefined death and life. Death does not have the final word; death does not have the victory. The Word of God has the final word.

What Jesus did on the cross was to make it possible for us to have new life, a life that our words cannot begin to describe, a life that our minds cannot begin to imagine. What Jesus did and does is to make it possible for us to be transformed.

Winning and losing have no meaning in Jesus’ Kingdom; love and forgiveness are gifts. Success and failure have no meaning in Jesus’ Kingdom; sharing and walking together are gifts. Isolation and alienation have no meaning in Jesus’ Kingdom; relationship and connection are gifts.

And as those chicks for which the hen gave her life, what is our response? The prayers for our Stations of the Cross say, Lord, teach me, help me learn. When I would snap at those who hurt me with their ridicule, those who misunderstand, or hinder me with some misguided helpfulness, those who intrude upon my privacy—then help me curb my tongue. May gentleness become by cloak. Lord, make me kind like you. This is a prayer of transformation. Lord, make me like you.

But are we serious when we pray a prayer like this, a prayer of transformation. Lord, make me like you. Make me like the hen that puts herself in between the fox and the chicks. Lord, make me like you. The implications of this prayer are enormous. Lord, make me like you who eat with tax collectors and sinners. Lord, make me like you who protect all those who are vulnerable. Lord, make me like you who clothe the naked, feed the hungry, welcome all who come our way. Lord, make me like you who says, love one another, as I have loved you.

It is for love that God came and comes into this world. It is for love that Jesus hangs on the cross, it is for love that Jesus suffers. It is for love.

The Lord is full of compassion and mercy: Come let us adore him.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

1 Lent Yr C

A wondering Norwegian is my grandfather. I have attended Monson family reunions since I was in high school, at least that’s as far back as I remember. And as far back as that memory goes I heard the story of my family coming to this country from Norway. After a few years of hearing the story it was mine, I could tell it. In the valley where the farm was in Norway there was an awful avalanche that covered the house, Dorothy was hurt, but no one in the family was killed. Five siblings came to this country, including my great great grandfather Mons, only one stayed behind in Norway. After coming to this country, my great great grandfather settled near Benson Minnesota, and he and his wife had many children, one of which was my great grandfather Jacob. Jacob and Anna had many children, one of which was my grandfather Nelbert. Eventually, Nelbert and Inga had many children, one of which was my father, Juel. And eventually my dad who was always called Mons, and my mom Pat, had many children. When I was just out of college, I went to Norway and met relatives that live in the very valley where this avalanche was. As I stood looking out over that valley my great uncle who I was with and who I had only just met, told me the very same story and I was connected to those people of so long ago whose story is my story. I read their names on the historical marker that was erected by the road. This story has become very important to me.

These days when we gather for the Monson reunion we tell this same story, and we’ve learned more about ourselves over the years, and all of that is added to the story. As the elders of our family have died, we have been freed to talk more frankly about the reality of life on the prairies of Minnesota and North Dakota. Our story now includes the children born outside of marriage, it includes the truth about the difficult life that was lived in central Minnesota, our story reflects more accurately the joys and the sorrows of life. This is the story that nourishes us today, and gives us hope for tomorrow. We are constituted as Monson’s by this story.

We hear in Deuteronomy this morning, “A wandering Aramean was my father, he went down to Egypt and sojourned there, he and just a handful of his brothers at first, but soon they became a great nation, mighty and many. The Egyptians abused and battered us, in a cruel and savage slavery. We cried out to God, the God-of-Our-Fathers: He listened to our voice; he saw our destitution, our trouble, our cruel plight. And God took us out of Egypt with his strong hand and long arm, terrible and great, with signs and miracle-wonders. And he brought us to this place, gave us this land flowing with milk and honey. So here I am. I've brought the first fruits of what I've grown on this ground you gave me, O God.”

This is a creation story. This is the story that tells us that we are a people who are related to the Creator God. This is the story that constitutes us.

This is the story that tells us about the pain and the suffering that our people have endured. It is the story that teaches us that together we endured the abuse and battering, the slavery. It is the story that teaches us that God listened, saw our plight, and took us out of that land and brought us to a land flowing with milk and honey. After planting and tending crops, our people gave the first fruits to God.

You and I know however that the story continues, as it continues we learn that our people turned away from God and worshiped idols, we turned away from God and believed that we could be self-sufficient, that we didn’t need God. And as the story goes, God loves God’s people even in times such as these. This is the pattern of the story, it is the story that constitutes us, and it is the story in which each of us participates. God’s covenant with God’s people is about always loving humanity, and always loving every one of us, there is no one outside of God’s love.

And then we hear this story about Jesus in the wilderness. Jesus is full of the Holy Spirit, very newly baptized, and tempted by the devil. The story may have many titles, but as I read it again I hear dueling biblical interpretation. The devil throws down a scripture text, and Jesus retorts with a quote from Deuteronomy, “It takes more than bread to really live.” The devil throws down the next text, and Jesus responds again from Deuteronomy “worship the Lord your God and only the Lord your God. Serve him with absolute singe-heartedness.” And lastly the devil takes him to Jerusalem and challenges him to throw himself off the pinnacle of the temple, and quotes to him the psalm “he has placed you in the care of angels to protect you; they will catch you; you won’t so much as stub your toe on a stone.” And Jesus answers, “don’t you tempt the Lord your God.” Nothing the devil said was a lie. The devil quotes straight from scripture, but what the devil forgets in this dueling exchange of scripture, is the relationship. The relationship between God and the people that was constituted from the beginning, the relationship that Jesus renews by being in our midst, the relationship that reminds us who we are, and whose we are.

We wander in the wilderness of our own pain and suffering, alienation and isolation. We wander in the wilderness tempted by the excesses of our culture. We wander in the wilderness tempted by a sense of power that makes us think we can fix everything, that if we just work harder and longer and better we will live forever. We wander in the wilderness, we wander in the desolate places and we forget our story, we forget who we are and whose we are. We forget that we are in the wilderness together, and that together we encounter Jesus.

This Lent, we have the opportunity to be reminded by the Good News. The Good News that Jesus the Christ, full of the Holy Spirit, came to confront the powers of sin and death, the powers that separate us from one another, the powers that try to convince us that we are not loved or lovable, everything that separates us from one another, from God, and from the joyful, peaceful, loving life for which God made us, and for which Jesus won on the cross. But, I get ahead of myself. On this first Sunday of Lent, Luke shares with us the Good News that Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, confronted the devil and won. Jesus reminds us who we are and whose we are.

Please remember that the victory Jesus won is not a victory that takes away pain and suffering. It is not an easy victory. Jesus accompanies us through the wilderness, through the pain and suffering and betrayal. We learn from our companions on the journey, if your heart is breaking, mine is breaking also, we need to walk together, and our stories and our prayers will sustain us. If you’re laughing, let’s share it, and lighten the way. Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, was led into desolation and victory, and is company for all of us on the winding path toward healing and reconciliation.

The Lord is full of compassion and mercy: Come let us adore him.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ash Wednesday 2010

Almighty, forgiving God, help me to accept your healing love today and to practice forgiveness in my daily walk with you and others. In this, the church’s holy spring, we ask you, O God, to renew us. With a gentle breath, blow from our lives the dust of sin, and make us your people again. Lift us from guilt, and shame, and regret, to repair all we’ve broken, and give us the gift of repentance. With the lengthening days, stretch our hearts, too, to be ready for your risen life; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Just as Advent is the beginning of the New Year, Ash Wednesday and Lent are the beginning of our new life. I think we have a deep desire to start over, to begin again, to turn to God and take a deep, refreshing breath of new life, and to say, here I am Lord, I have heard you calling in the night.

This is our opportunity. This is our call. We present ourselves to God, just as we are, confident in the promise of starting over. Ash Wednesday, and all of Lent are an opportunity. An opportunity to put all our attention toward the Gospel call to love as Christ loves. Ash Wednesday and Lent are an opportunity to examine ourselves and find where we miss the mark of that love. Ash Wednesday particularly is an opportunity to come to our senses, to be reminded of who and whose we are, to start over, to loosen our heart’s grip on the things that separate us from the love of God and our sisters and brothers. Ash Wednesday is an opportunity to do that which is described in our gospel reading, to give alms, to pray, and to fast.

Today we are marked again with the cross of Christ. We were marked as Christ’s own forever with oil at baptism; today that same cross is traced with ashes. These ashes remind us of who we are, and whose we are. These ashes remind us that we came from dust and to dust we will return. These ashes remind us that God is God, and we are not. These ashes remind us that we are chosen and marked by God’s love, delight of God’s life, and that God is right here in our midst to show us the way of forgiveness.

The ashes of this day mark us as human, and offer us another chance at forgiveness. I think we sometimes dwell too much on our own need for forgiveness, and forget about our need to forgive. Today I invite you to remember your need to forgive. God loves us with an abundant love, love that seeks nothing, love that does not exclude. The Greeks had a word for the forgiving kind of love, agape; it means a profound concern for the welfare of another without any desire to control that other or to be thanked by that other. This isn’t an easy love. If we can follow it, it will mean that we will never exclude. Not the old, the ill, the dying. Not the people who have hurt us, or who have done us wrong. Or the people to whom we have done wrong.

Jesus set the standard for forgiveness. What does Jesus' teaching on forgiveness require of us, and how can we begin to practice this kind of love and forgiveness toward others? How have you felt, for at least a fragment of a second, the forgiveness of God?

What you will write today has to do with this kind of forgiveness. When you approach forgiveness with this kind of love in mind, you are able to lay your burden down. Your burden of perfection, your burden of hurt, your burden sadness, your burden of resentment, whatever it is. And you are able to begin to be healed. When you are able to forgive, you begin to be healed.

I invite you to ponder the kind of love God has for you, I invite you to approach the kind of forgiveness that does not want or need or manipulate. I invite you to lay your burden down, to lighten your load, to be marked with ashes, and begin the journey of love and forgiving. A journey that begins with ashes, that includes sadness, silence, and suffering. A journey that passes through some dark and scary places. A journey that moves through ashes once again, but includes the eventual joy of new birth, new life, new creation, resurrection.

Mystery of Goodness, by whose gaze we are called into being and held in life: teach us the secrecy of prayer which seeks no reward; the generosity of love which forgets itself; the gift of a treasure uncountable and unconsumed; through Jesus Christ, the Son of the Wilderness. Amen.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Last Epiphany, The Transfiguration

They saw Jesus in his glory and the two men standing with him, Moses and Elijah. And later, after Jesus ordered the vile spirit gone from the young boy and handed him back to his father, they all shook their heads in wonder, astonished at God’s greatness, God’s majestic greatness. Two stories, one on the mountaintop, one down on the ground, two stories in which people experience God’s greatness and God’s glory, two stories that show us who Jesus is. This is my son, my chosen; listen to him!

But you and I live our lives somewhere in between these two stories. We don’t live on the mountaintop of glory, and we don’t live in the valley of suffering, we live on the plains and the prairies. And as we know, the plains and the prairies have their own kind of beauty, a kind of beauty that you make friends with, a kind of beauty that you grow to love, a kind of beauty that transforms you. The beauty of the plains is not necessarily self evident, the appreciation of the beauty of the plains is acquired, some would even think us crazy to speak of the beauty of the plains, their experience of it may be somewhat different, but listening to Harold Oberlander describing the sunrise and the sunset from the seat of his combine will convince them differently.

The place where we life our lives is like that. We live our lives in the flatland of the world. We are easily seduced by the world into believing that what we see is all we get. We work and we play and we go to school, and sometimes we are seduced into believing that it is the way of the world that is important. We begin to believe that life is about making money, having success, owning lots of things, living in a big house. Sometimes we even begin to think that life is all about us, and eventually we may even begin to believe that being successful is more important than being faithful, that having many and beautiful things is more important than having a meaningful relationship with the people in our lives and with God. This is the flatland, it is place that cannot have meaning, and it is a place that carries no joy, no truth.

We are called to live on the plains and the prairies, where the sunrises and sunsets are glorious, but unless we spend the time and make the space to really see them, we only see the flatland of Interstate 90. But this is what transfiguration is about, seeing with new eyes. The word transfigured is an interesting word. The Greek word is metamorpho, and it means to transform, kind of like the metamorphosis that happens when a caterpillar is transformed into a butterfly. The word is a verb which means to change into another form. Used in this way in the gospel, it means to match the outside with the reality of the inside. The inside reality of Jesus is being God’s son; in this story the outside reality is glory. This is what our gospel is about today. Matching the outside with the reality of the inside.

So what is our reality? The reality is that we are God’s beloved and we are marked as Christ’s own forever. As I say it, it seems easy, on the mountaintop it seems obvious and clear, and yet the message in the flatland of the world is so very different. In the flatland, our worth is measured by our job, how much money we make, who we know, what we can get, what our house looks like. We are scared into believing that we are not good enough, so we have to buy a particular kind of clothing, and lotion, and diet supplements, to be adequate. We have to be young, sexy, thin. We have to be fixed if our bodies are not perfect. But none of this is real.

What is real is that we are loved absolutely, abundantly and unconditionally by the God who is among us, walking by our side, holding our hand when we need our hand held, carrying us when we can no longer walk, being with us in the mess that is sometimes our lives, suffering and dieing so that death does not have the last word, so that death does not win. What is real is that God shows us this love in the midst of the glory, and in the midst of the suffering.

It is on the plains and the prairies of our lives that we are transformed, where the metamorphosis happens. It is on the plains and prairies of our lives where Jesus walks with us and shows us the way, where what Jesus does in his life and in his suffering and on the cross matter. Peter wanted to immortalize Jesus’ transfiguration along with Moses and Elijah with three dwellings; he wanted to enshrine the experience. He soon realized that’s not what transformation was about, he soon realized that transformation was about who you are and what you do all the rest of the time, on the plains.

It is on the plains that we live as the new creations, we live in the freedom that is the promise of resurrection and new life. Jesus’ transfiguration and our transformation are the birth of spiritual and moral discipline for us. Spiritual practices help us develop new holy habits; new ways of seeing the world and what God is doing in the midst of it. What we really hunger for, what we really yearn for, what we really want as people of faith, is transfiguration, transformation of our very cores, and that comes from God, not from the world. But it is in the world that we live.

Spiritual practice and moral discipline are a thankful expression of our transformation; they are our response to being transformed. We are in the world as God’s new creations. Spiritual practice and moral discipline are also an opportunity to see and hear God more clearly. Traditionally Christians have given something up for Lent. You know, you give up chocolate or you fast or you give up something that you are used to doing. Now the idea is not to beat your self up and it’s not to lose ten pounds. The idea is to create space in a crazy, busy life so that God can see us, so that we can see God. To get rid of the rubble so that our sightlines are clear and that takes some giving up of stuff’ whatever the stuff is of our lives and more importantly it calls us to do something very positive.

I invite you to create space in your crazy busy life. I invite you to do something positive. There are many opportunities for you here at St. Andrew’s, Morning Prayer, Friday afternoon Anglican rosary and Stations of the Cross. Wednesday morning Holy Communion, Wednesday night soup supper and program. I invite you to create space in your crazy busy life, to open your eyes and see the beauty of the ordinary, the beauty of the plains, the breath of God on the prairie, I invite you to put your coins in your Habitat house, to change the life of someone as your life has been changed.

The Lord has shown forth his glory: Come let us adore him.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

5 Epiphany Yr C

My dad loved to fish. I remember being very small out in the boat with him holding my fishing pole. I don’t remember catching anything, which I think was a good thing because I hated touching the worms and the fish. But I’d sit with him in the boat, for hours. Years later my dad finally built his lake cabin, out of concrete blocks of course, and he spent his time fishing in the summer and ice fishing in the winter. In those later years it was catch and release of course, but I don’t recall too many fish either way. For my dad, fishin was always more about recognizing the wonder of the lake, the cool breeze in the summer, the amazing trees forming the cathedral that is the shore of the lake, and the eerie and beautiful call of the loon.

This fishing story we hear today is about recognition as much as it is about fish. The setting is out beside the lake, where there was a huge crowd that had gathered to listen to Jesus teach, it was such a crowd it was pressing in on him. It’s in the morning, the fisherman had come in for the day, after having fished all night, as is the way fishermen did it on the lake of Gennesaret, they could get their biggest catch in the night. They were cleaning up, washing their nets. But Jesus needed some relief from the crowds, so he asked Simon Peter if he could get into one of the boats and do some teaching from out in the water. When he was finished teaching, he asked Simon Peter, the captain of the fishing boat, to put out into deep water and let down his nets.

This is where the story gets quite interesting. Jesus, who is the son of a carpenter, and who we assume to be a carpenter himself, is telling Simon Peter, a well seasoned fishing boat captain, how to do his job. Jesus is like a city boy telling a rancher how to ranch. He’s absolutely out of his element, he has no fishing credentials. He’s a carpenter, what does he know about fishing? Simon Peter told him that they had been out all night and hadn’t caught anything. But, Simon Peter conceded, and put the nets out one more time. And when they put their nets out, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. Simon Peter, the fishing boat captain, the big fish if you will, drops down at Jesus’ knees, and confesses, right there in front of his whole crew, he acknowledges Jesus as Lord. And everyone was amazed.

Jesus tells them not to be afraid, from now on they will be fishing people, not fish. How stupid is that. Fishing for people sure won’t pay the bills.

So what is this story about? It’s not about how to pay the bills. Simon Peter, James and John, and all the others left the catch of their lives, what they caught that morning probably would have kept them all in food, clothes, and new sandals for some time to come.

Simon Peter recognized that day something amazing. He recognized Jesus’ holiness and authority, catching those fish was proof of that. Simon Peter recognized Jesus and was willing to leave life as he knew it, life that was probably not cushy, but probably comfortable, for something that was completely unknown, for something that would scare him to death.

Jesus introduced to them that day a new way, a new economy if you will. So what does that have to do with us, we’re not fisherpeople. We live in an absurdly abundant world. A world where worldly faith rests in our power to choose and our power to get. The world is about an economy of greed, an economy of getting.

In this city, most of us here, can go to the grocery store, and have before us an array of choices. We can choose what we want to eat; we can choose how and when we want to eat it. We can open cans and put beans and tomatoes and meat together for chili. We can walk up to the deli counter and buy our chili already made, or we can go to the frozen food isle and get some frozen chili and pop it in our microwave. And yet, among us are those whose only choice is what is available at the food shelf, or each night at Cornerstone Mission.

Most of us can go to the mall, or to Target, or to Wal-Mart or an assortment of other places, and before us will be an array of choices. Not only can we find clothes for all events and purposes, sizes and colors, we can choose from a number of different brands of headache remedies, or heartburn remedies, as well as remedies for dysfunction in a number of areas. And yet, among us are those whose only choice is to endure the headache while sleeping under the bridge by the greenbelt.

Many of us go to school or to work each morning with a host of choices before us, what to wear, what to eat for lunch, who to count as friends, what classes to take, what sports to go out for. And yet, there are those among us whose only choice is to endure the teasing they get each day because they’re just not like the others.

After an absurdly abundant catch that Simon Peter, James and John and the others made that day, what on earth would make them pull their fishing boats up on the beach, leave them, and follow this prophet, this Jesus, the one who ate with sinners and women, the one who healed anyone, Jews and Greeks alike, the one who would be tortured and put to death. Wouldn’t they say, wouldn’t you say, do it again? Do it again Jesus, we can be rich. But instead, Simon Peter recognizes Jesus’ holiness, and confesses at that holiness. And Jesus responds to Simon Peter and the rest, with the call to bring in people, not fish. In the midst of the abundance, in the midst of such wealth, they turn to follow Jesus and the new economy that he has for them.

What on earth would make anyone of us say yes to Jesus’ call of a new life, a new economy? Even in a downturn in our economy, in the midst of the absurdly abundant life many of us live, we recognize Jesus in our midst. People who recognize Jesus are not necessarily holy people, we are people who pale in the light of holiness, we are ordinary fishermen and wives and mothers, fathers and children, youth and elders.

Recognizing Jesus is waking up to the truth of our existence. And the truth is that the absurdly abundant is not far from the hard rock pillow under the bridge. The choices of what do I wear and how do I look each day are not so different from the teased and alienated kid.

Recognizing Jesus in our midst is the call to be fishers of people. How can we not be fishers of people, how can we not spread the Good News, when we know the truth. The truth that God loves us so much, God came into this world as one of us, so that we may be in relationship with God and with one another. God’s love is absurdly abundant. God’s love washes over us, as do the waters of baptism. God’s love nourishes us, as does the bread we break each time we meet together. God’s love is absurdly abundant, as the fish that were caught that day in the boat.

We do have choices however. We can continue on living as if everything we have is ours. We can continue on living as if all we have we will have for ever. We can continue on as if our children belong to us, we can continue on as if we can have it all.

Or, we can choose to follow Jesus, and be fishers of people. Making that choice is hard. Because then we are transformed into someone who lives so that others might live. We are transformed into someone who lives as if nothing belongs to us or is possessed by us. We are transformed into someone whose absurd abundance is grace, it is gift, it is wonder. We are transformed into someone who becomes a steward, and who cares for all that has been given because it does not belong to us, it belongs to God. And that is the holiness and the authority of which Simon Peter spoke, the holiness that causes us to bow down before our God.

Being fishers of people is to speak, and live, and behave in ways that Jesus in our midst is evident. It is to be with the other, as grace and gift and wonder.

It is to go to the grocery store and give thanks for the opportunity to choose, and it is to choose to fill the food basket at church each Sunday. It is to give thanks for the opportunity to be able to afford to buy food, and it is to advocate for those who cannot buy food not to be taxed on the food they buy.

It is to go to the mall and give thanks for the opportunity to choose, and to choose to dress modestly in fashion and in price, and it is to give a pair of shoes away for each pair of shoes we have sitting in our closets. It is to work for fair wages for those who make shoes.

It is to give thanks for the opportunity to learn each day, to go to school or work each day, and it is to approach those who are different than us with love and respect. It is to stand up for those who are teased or mistreated.

We live in an absurdly abundant world. A world in which all that we have, and all that we are is bestowed upon us by an absurdly abundant God.

The Lord shows forth his glory: Come let us adore him.