Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday Sermon

“They shall mourn for him as one mourns for an only child; for the Lord who is without sin, is slain.”
These words from the prophet Zachariah, spoken as an antiphon at Tenebrae on Wednesday, is a reminder that our experience of Good Friday is the mourning of one who was slain, like those who mourn the loss of their only beloved child, it is a tragedy and a great loss.

Jesus death on the cross, strikes at the heart of our faith and our lives. It is one thing to think back and consider the events some two thousand years ago. It is quite another to realize that we have mourning parents nearby whose child was slain.

Good Friday came early for many parents & godparents, and in fact the whole community of Newtown last December. They are still very much grieving the tragic loss of those children (and adults).

As I thought about Good Friday & Sandy Hook, I remembered an anthem I had sung years ago on Good Friday. (Think about music and the power it has, memories of childhood, or significant events, songs you want played at funeral, etc. – they have meaning for us)

On that Good Friday some 16 years ago or so, we sang When David Heard. It is based on the passage from II Samuel, 18:33 (KJV):
“When David heard that Absalom was slain he went up into his chamber over the gate and wept, my son, my son, O Absalom my son, would God I had died for thee!”
As an anthem it is sad and disturbing, and the constant refrain, O Abslaom, my son, my son… you could feel David’s great pain, & through singing it, it became my own and it brought the loss of Good Friday home to me.

It is the song I have come back to since Sandy Hook because David’s cry is the cry of any parent who has lost a child. MY son, my son, my daughter, would God I had died for thee…

The anthem was written by Thomas Weelkes, organist of Chichester Cathedral, after Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales and the son of King James VI of Scotland and England, died tragically at the age of 18. After Henry's sudden death in November 1612, artistic memorials to him invoked the grief of the nation, which included several musical settings of King David's biblical lament for his son Absalom.

“When David Heard” was a musical way for a nation to mourn the death of the king’s son. I wonder if we as a nation have lost our way in mourning the victims of Sandy Hook, lost the nerve to ask the hard questions, we have shied away from the cross of December 14 and of so many who die too young at the hands of others.

The cross on Good Friday does not let us escape from any of it, we must sit and weep at the loss of sons and daughters, all of them, with too many parents and friends weeping at their graves. We weep with Mary & the disciples at the foot of Jesus cross.

This Good Friday, Jesus on the cross beckons us to stand near and take notice, that his death not be avoided in vain, but held on to, so that we can be with one another in grief that is too often too much to bear.

When his mother and the beloved disciple came close, Jesus connected them in their grief, so his mom and the disciple whom he loved would not be lost. Let us not lose one another, let us embrace the cross, the pain and sorrow, for we mourn for him as one mourns for an only child; for the Lord who is without sin, is slain. Amen.

A Song for Good Friday

When David Heard...

Walking the Way of the Cross

Paying Attention

I heard this on NPR and was impressed that it speaks to our need to pay attention, "to see the sacred in the mundane and the profound in the prosaic."

This is the first in a series of commentaries by Adam on the theme of "How To See The World In A Grain Of Sand." Stay tuned to All Things Considered and 13.7 for future installments!
More than two centuries ago, the great poet William Blake offered the world the most extraordinary of possibilities:
To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
and eternity in an hour.
Yeah, that would be nice.

Unfortunately, most of us don't know how to hold eternity in the palm of our hands. In fact, most of us feel lucky if we can just hold it together until the end of the day. The problem, of course, is that mostly we've lost our minds. And I mean that literally. Our attention is endlessly lost in the endless blur of appointments, to-do lists, worry, concern and agitation that makes up modern life.

Sometimes, however, for the briefest moment, we do pick up a scent that there is something more going on than this daily round of survival. But those moments pass and waves of mundane urgency swallow us again. Tumbling through the chaos of our day-to-days, we wonder if Blake's vision of a broader, more expansive experience is nothing more than a poet's fancy. Can we really see the Universe in a grain of sand, even as we slog through traffic? Can we really hold infinity in our hands, even as we drop off the kids to violin practice?

The answer, I believe, is "yes." In fact I am sure of the answer is yes. The connection between the everyday reality we experience and boundless landscapes of cosmic beauty, inspiration and joy is actually so close, so present for us. It's there in the dust on your car, the mess on your desk and the swirling water in your sink.

How do I know this? Because I am a scientist dammit and I know that Science — under all its theories equations, experiments and data — is really trying to teach us to see the sacred in the mundane and the profound in the prosaic.

The trick is in the noticing and that happens by unpacking the question hidden in Blake's poem.

Can we really see the whole world in a grain of sand?

Through the lens of science we can see how even the smallest thing can be a gateway to an experience of the extraordinary, if only we can practice noticing.

We walk past a thousand, thousand natural miracles everyday, from the sun climbing in the sky to the arc of birds seen out our windows. Those miracles are there waiting for us to see them, to notice them and, most importantly, to find our delight in theirs.

You want some transcendence? I got if for ya. Let's start with that grain of sand.

You can keep up with more of what Adam Frank is thinking on Facebook and on Twitter: @AdamFrank4

Addressing Christian Anti-Judaism

As we hear again the Passion stories from the four Gospels in Holy Week, we need to recall also how the very construction of these stories in their times and places have come out of conflict between Christians and Jews, and have directly caused terrible violence over the centuries by Christians against Jews. This hatred has been institutionalized into the Church from its first days. It does dishonor to Jesus the Jew, and to our Jewish neighbors, and to our own Jewish religious roots to behave as though this is not the case – as though our sacred texts describe history with faciticity rather than through the lens of ancient conflict. Whether by footnotes, or by preaching and teaching, we must change our thinking about our relationship with Jews present and past if we are not to repeat the pogroms, genocides, and holocausts of history in the future.

The Greek word judaios (Ioudaios) might refer to Jews or to Judeans – residents of Judea whatever their religion. This substitute may work in some places. But changing the English word doesn’t address the issue adequately. Roman Catholics and members of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith consulted together to make changes in the famous Passion Plays of Oberammergau who noted that the high priests in Jesus’ time exercised their power at the behest of the Roman government and were not well-liked by their own people. Also, that Jesus had supporters in Jerusalem who caused some hesitation by those in power in acting against him (Mt. 26:5; 23:27); and that the Gospels were written when Rome was at the height of its power and Judaism was at a state of almost constant civil war with it. There were uprisings 60-70CE, 112-115, and 132-135 CE that met with fierce retaliation by Rome. Romans did not always differentiate between Jews and the followers of Jesus’ Way (hodos) who later came to be called Christians. They were easily lumped with Jewish followers of the Way (halacha in Hebrew) of Yochanan ben Zakkai, a leader who opposed the Sadducees, survived the emperorship of Vespasian and helped protect the town Jamnia (Javne) where a new school of Jewish sages arose after the destruction of the Temple to rebuild a Phariseeic Judaism centered on Torah not Temple. Jews and Christians who originally worshiped together in the early first century drifted apart and finally fell into enmity and polemic from both sides. As Christianity eventually became a majority religion, this polarization led to official policies of violence against Jews.

It does disrespect to our Gospel texts to simply expurgate parts that distress us. When Pilate had the notice nailed to the cross that satirically proclaimed (in 3 languages) Jesus as “King of the Jews”, it was the Jewish people indeed to which that Roman would have referred. The Sadducees and Levites– so connected with the cult of the Temple – were largely wiped out when the Temple was destroyed in 70 CE. Sages of the law (Pharisees and scribes) survived in larger numbers though many fled into the diaspora of the empire and beyond. There is little doubt that there were Jewish collaborators with Roman authority among them: people appointed to collect taxes from their own communities, people appointed to religious leadership offices to keep order, and those who may have sought to line their pockets or protect their interests by siding with power. If the imperial representatives opposed Jesus, so would they. And some quite likely opposed what they may have seen as a fringe rabbi questioning some of the practices and commitment of their own leadership. Other Jews either followed Jesus, or didn’t consider him of any importance one way or another. There may well have been some Jewish leaders who conspired to stop Jesus and who may have called for his arrest and execution, but only Rome had power and authority to condemn to death and crucify someone.

Jesus was a Jew by birth and upbringing and remained so through his death. As a young adult, he read Torah in the synagogue as should any young Jewish male, and interpreted and preached about the texts. In all four Gospel accounts, Jesus is constantly worshiping and learning and teaching and healing in the assemblies of his Jewish people. As Mark says: 1:39 And Jesus went throughout Galilee proclaiming the message in their synagogues”, and Matthew says 4:23 “Jesus went throughout Galilee teaching in their synagogues…” and in 26:55 Jesus says to his arresters: “Day after day I sat in the Temple teaching and you did not arrest me.” He went up to Jerusalem for festivals, and blessed the bread and cup at meals at home with friends, just as would any Jew at table. It is pretty certain he quoted the Psalms and prophets from memory as he taught, and was natural that the Gospel writers (the likely-Jewish Mark and Matthew, and even Luke who seems to have written for a Roman Gentile audience) would also quote the Psalms and Prophets as they reconstructed the story of his life and death. Jesus is inseparable from his Judaism.

One reasonable approach – particularly when we adapt the Gospel texts for dramatic reading in Holy Week – to help us hear the texts differently would be to substitute religious officials and elders of the community for the Gospels’ punching-bag generalization the scribes and the Pharisees, the chief priests. When we get to Matthew 27:25 where the Jewish crowd shouts “His blood be upon us and upon our children”, there is no easy remedy. Matthew’s particular spleen is that of an insider Jewish author who was evidently angry that, from his view, his own people rejected the one he believed to be the Messiah when they should have known better. Because of his vindictiveness, the whole Jewish people ever after have been saddled with the entire blame for rejecting and crucifying Christ. Not until very recently has the Vatican publically acknowledged the role of Roman empire and the harm done by blaming the Jews for Jesus’ death – and this despite a theological understanding that the suffering and death of Jesus became the occasion for the exceptional and salvific outpouring of grace, mercy and forgiveness for the “whole world” (kosmos) by God.

So as you hear the Hebrew Scripture lessons that we call “the Old Testament” each week, and especially when you hear the stories of Jesus, including the Passion stories, pray for our Jewish neighbors who live beside us. Remember that – as Paul taught and has always been the case – faithful Jews keep the irrevocable covenant God made with them through Abraham and Moses, and God still keeps with them. We Gentiles have the privilege, through Christ, to be grafted onto the vine rootstock of Judaism by adoption. We are not the only people God loves and saves.

Written by the Rev. Jennifer Phillips, Lent 2013 (posted with permission)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Holy Week at St. Peter's Church

Remember our Church is open 24/7/365.
You are welcome to come in anytime and pray this Holy Week.

Here is our Holy Week Schedule:

Holy Wednesday, March 27
Tenebrae (Service of Darkness) - 7 PM

Maundy Thursday, March 28
Holy Eucharist & Washing of Feet - 7 PM*

Good Friday, March 29
Children's Stations of the Cross - 12 noon*
Good Friday Evening Service - 7 PM

Holy Saturday, March 30
Easter Vigil at St. Peter's - 7 PM

Easter Sunday, March 31
Easter Sunrise on the Green - 6:30 AM (Led by the Monroe Clergy Assoc.)
Our Easter Morning Festal Services at 8 & 10:15 AM

*especially appropriate for children

All are welcome to all of our services.

The Lenten Offering will go to an outreach project of Deacon Christopher's choice.
The Good Friday Offering will go to the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East.

More Money, Lesss Charitable?

An interesting article:

Why the Rich Don't Give to Charity by Ken Stern - The Atlantic, April 2013
The wealthiest Americans donate 1.3 percent of their income; the poorest, 3.2 percent. What's up with that?

A couple of excerpts:
Wealth affects not only how much money is given but to whom it is given. The poor tend to give to religious organizations and social-service charities, while the wealthy prefer to support colleges and universities, arts organizations, and museums.

Underlying our charity system—and our tax code—is the premise that individuals will make better decisions regarding social investments than will our representative government. Other developed countries have a very different arrangement, with significantly higher individual tax rates and stronger social safety nets, and significantly lower charitable-contribution rates. We have always made a virtue of individual philanthropy, and Americans tend to see our large, independent charitable sector as crucial to our country’s public spirit. There is much to admire in our approach to charity, such as the social capital that is built by individual participation and volunteerism. But our charity system is also fundamentally regressive, and works in favor of the institutions of the elite. The pity is, most people still likely believe that, as Michael Bloomberg once said, “there’s a connection between being generous and being successful.” There is a connection, but probably not the one we have supposed.
The article is worth reading!

A Prayer for the new Archbishop of Canterbury

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, through whom all things live and move and have their being; pour out your Holy Spirit and the boundless gifts of grace upon your servant Justin, that being daily renewed, he may faithfully serve you in the ministries which you have entrusted to him; giving glory to you, who with the Father and the Spirit, are One God, now and for ever, to the ages of ages. Amen.

(from the Episcopal Cafe: the Lead)

Palm Sunday Sermon

Gracious God, you are the source of life and love; Be present with us today in the Palms & in the Passion that your Word may inform our minds and your Spirit inflame our hearts; then send us out with that life and love and knowledge for all who seek you. Amen.
“The real witness of Palm Sunday is not the parade or what the disciples or secular authorities saw; it is the encounter between Christ and the power of death.” So says the late author & theologian William Stringfellow.
The power of death is the cross, a tool of terror and control by the Romans but it is in the power of the authorities to arrest, beat and kill, a world full of suffering at the hands of others. Jesus would experience all of this when he confronted those powers in Jerusalem.

The Power of Death. The Cruelty of this World. Is also our experience, many of us remember these violent events that have shaped our lives, to name just a few:
  • December 7, 1941 – Pearl Harbor
  • November 22, 1963 – JFK assassinated
  • April 4, 1968 – MLK, Jr. assassinated
  • January 28, 1986 – Space Shuttle Challenger Destroyed
  • September 11, 2001 – The Terror attacks in NYC and Washington DC
  • December 14, 2012 – Sandy Hook Tragedy
We have been shocked as a nation, our peace was shattered, how fragile life is. We all have witnessed the loss of life, the power of death come close. Even our families are not immune, death and tragedy have been part of all our lives, even if we tend to forget about those events. And yet, we live not in anxiety and fear, because we remember the moments of joy and love that we experience and we live in hope. That was true of the people in Jerusalem.

In the midst of the Roman occupation, Jesus was celebrated as he made a triumphant entry into Jerusalem. The whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully, throwing down clocks and palms on the ground in honor of the humble king riding a colt.

Some among them knew how provocative this would be to those in power. They asked Jesus to tell his disciples to stop it. Jesus answered, “I tell you, if they were silent, the stones would shout.”

Jesus confronts the power of death as he enters in Jerusalem, just as he had done in the villages, by the sea, and out in the highways. Even in the presence of death, it was not time to back down, even the stones would shout out… "Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!"

When Jesus threw the merchants out of the Temple, he would not only have angered the Jewish authorities who were looking for a way to arrest him, but also the Romans, who would want to quell the disturbance created by Jesus and his disciples.

Jesus resisted their power all the way to the cross, for he came to bring all of us life, but his confrontation with the authorities would lead to his death.

In the words of William Stringfellow, “Resistance to death is the only way to live humanly in the midst of the fall.” Such resistance and sacrifice is what Jesus did so we could understand what our lives were meant to be.

In a short story for children, Leo Tolstoy tells us about a king and his falcon, in a very subtle way, tells us about Jesus:
A certain King let his favorite Falcon loose on a hare, and galloped after him.

The Falcon caught the hare. The King took him away, and began to look for some water to drink. The King found it on a knoll, but it came only drop by drop. The King fetched his cup from the saddle, and placed it under the water. The water flowed in drops, and when the cup was filled, the King raised it to his mouth and wanted to drink it. Suddenly the Falcon fluttered on the King's arm and spilled the water. The King placed the cup once more under the drops. He waited for a long time for the cup to be filled even with the brim, and again, as he carried it to his mouth, the Falcon flapped his wings and spilled the water.

When the King filled his cup for the third time and began to carry it to his mouth, the Falcon again spilled it. The King flew into a rage and killed him by flinging him against a stone with all his force. Just then the King's servants rode up, and one of them ran up-hill to the spring, to find as much water as possible, and to fill the cup. But the servant did not bring the water ; he returned with the empty cup, and said :

"You cannot drink that water ; there is a snake in the spring, and she has let her venom into the water. It is fortunate that the Falcon has spilled the water. If you had drunk it, you would have died."

The King said, "How badly I have repaid the Falcon! He has saved my life, and I killed him."
The falcon gave his life to save the king. This fable, by Leo Tolstoy, mirrors Luke's narrative of Jesus' passion and death. In the Gospel, we see the "poison" – the power of death that leads Jesus to his cross - and to ours. In giving his life, Jesus shows us how to live our lives in the peace, wholeness and grace of God. This Holy Week, let us enter the events of Jesus' passion, death and resurrection with open hearts and attentive minds, aware that the power of death – violence, anger, selfishness, greed and arrogance that brings Jesus to crucifixion are the poisons in the streams we drink from every day of our lives.

Such drink doesn’t cause immediate death, but as Pink Floyd would say, it makes us comfortably numb. It is up to us to not take that drink, not wait for stones to shout, we need to shout out with our lives even in the midst of the power of death, the promise of life that Jesus has given us. Amen.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A Prayer for the new Pope

Most Holy and Gracious Father, we give you thanks for the Roman Catholic Church, our brothers and sisters in Christ. With them we celebrate and offer you our thanks and praise for the election and calling of Pope Francis. Fill his heart with such love of you and of all the people, that he may feed and tend the flock of Christ, exercise without reproach the high priesthood to which you have called him, serve before you day and night in the ministry of reconciliation, declare pardon in your Name, offer the holy gifts, and wisely oversee the life and work of the Church.

By your grace, and sustained by the prayers of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Francis, and all the saints, make him an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let him sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

In all things may he present before you the acceptable offering of a pure, and gentle, and holy life; through Jesus Christ your Son, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and power and glory in the Church, now and for ever. Amen.*

*Adapted from the Book of Common Prayer, “The Ordination of a Bishop,” and the Prayer of St. Francis by Rev. Michael K. Marsh. a priest of the Episcopal Church serving a parish in the Diocese of West Texas.

Monday, March 11, 2013

A Prayer for the Conclave

Gracious God, watch over our brothers and sisters in the Roman Catholic Church as they await the election of their new pope. We pray for the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the cardinals who are in conclave. May the hearts of the cardinals be open to the wisdom of the Holy Spirit as they elect the next pope. We pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior. Amen.

- Posted using BlogPress from my mystical iPad!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Bible in Perspective

The history channel is offering "The Bible" each Sunday for two hours - (according to its website)
The Bible comes to life in HISTORY’s epic new series. From Genesis to Revelation, these unforgettable stories unfold through live action and cutting-edge computer-generated imagery, offering new insight into famous scenes and iconic characters. Created by producer Mark Burnett and featuring an international cast that includes Roma Downey, this 10-hour docudrama explores the sacred text’s most significant episodes, including Noah’s journey in the ark, the Exodus and the life of Jesus.
As I have watched the docudrama and reflect on the stories they picked for it, I came across two good articles that got me thinking about the Scriptures we read:

R-rated: How to read the Bible with children
Christian Century - Feb 25, 2013 by Sarah Hinlicky Wilson
When my son was very small, his favorite story in The Beginner’s Bible was the one about Rahab from the book of Joshua. It must have been because of the pictures: Rahab shrugging her shoulders innocently at the city soldiers while the Israelites’ bulbous eyes peer down from under a thatched roof; then the Israelites clambering down a rope while Rahab leans precariously out a window. The heroine is cute, blonde and dressed in a pink robe. She rushes to her eventual husband at the end of the story in cheerful exuberance. It’s a nice story about rescuing the good guys from the bad guys.

Of course, this retelling omits a few details. Like the fact that Rahab was a traitor. That she gave over the entire town’s population to slaughter in exchange for the immunity of her own kin. Or that the reason she met the Israelites in the first place was her line of business, namely prostitution. It’s odd to include this of all stories in a children’s Bible, given the amount of bowdlerization necessary to make it palatable. But then who am I to criticize Jesus’ great (times 29) grandmother?

The simple fact is that the Bible is not a book fit for children, neither in its unsavory parts—murders, rapes, genocides, betrayals, mauling by wild animals, curses, divine retribution and apocalyptic horrors—nor in many of its neutral or even uplifting parts, including statutes and ordinances, proverbs, genealogies, geographies, prophecies, censuses and pretty much all of the epistles. It’s no surprise that most of these sections get dropped from children’s versions altogether, though at some point we may begin to wonder with what justification they still call themselves Bibles. Scripture is definitely something to ease the little ones into, not drop them in cold. So what’s the best way to go about it?  (Read more! Follow the link above.)
The Bible: What's up with that?
Abbey Letter, Easter by Br. Martin (pg. 5-6)
We need to acknowledge that when it comes to violence and depravity in
religious writings, precious few can hold a candle to the violence and
depravity that is condoned throughout the Bible. (It is important to say, given
the situation throughout the world, that the Quran doesn’t even come close
to the Bible. Christians who claim otherwise clearly have not read the Bible,
much less the Quran). The Book of Joshua, a text that sanctions genocide and
ethnic cleansing, justifying it as commanded by God, is a quick example. All
through the Bible, the so-called “good guys” commit the same atrocities as
the so-called “bad guys.”
So what’s up with that? And how is it that we can call these stories divinely
inspired, and encourage even children to read such horror stories as the
Exodus and the conquest of “the promised land?” After all, I have read and
know of Christians who use these stories to argue in favor of torture, and
criticize President Obama for stopping it. (Read more! Follow the link above.)

Sunday, March 3, 2013

March 3 Sermon - The God Box

This may look like an ordinary shoe box. But it isn’t. It is a God Box & we all have one.

The God Box is our understanding of the one who created us. It is those experiences we have had with the divine that have touched us. It is the studies we have done. The prayers we offered. It is our faith.

The God Box is neither good nor bad, it is our way of trying to comprehend the ground of our being, of our connection to creation and one another. Of Jesus in the midst of us…

The problem with our God boxes is that we like them neat and tidy and with the cover on. Its safe and secure, God in our grasp but as Deacon Christopher beautifully pointed out last week, our God is not safe, but good…

Moses learned that. Leading his father in laws flock in the wilderness, Moses on Mount Horeb comes to a burning bush; it was aflame but it was not consumed. And God spoke to him… I suspect that was not in his God box… It shattered his understanding and God called him from the bush and would send him to Egypt to free the Israelites from their bondage.

Moses tries to persuade God that he is not the right choice, but God insists and tells Moses to let the Israelites know that “The God of your ancestors has sent him.” And Moses went to Egypt… and Moses understanding and experience of God changed and so to his God box changed.

As Jesus was walking along, people told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices, others were thinking about the tower of Siloam that fell and killed 19. Many in that day (and today!) believed that pain and premature death were signs of God’s judgment. There must be a reason that happened! And their God box spoke of judgment and sin and reason. But Jesus said, No. No

They were not more sinful. They did not deserve such a death. Some were murdered. Others were killed in an accident. It is tragedy.

Jesus wants us to get out of that God Box, don’t think about their sin, worry about your own. Repent. Change your ways, he says.

And to illustrate his point, Jesus tells us a parable about a barren fig tree. The owner wants it cut down for wasting the soul because it has not produced anything for three years, but the gardener says to let it be, while the gardener tries again to help it produce fruit.

As a parable about the Kingdom of God, Jesus is reminding us that we are to produce such good fruit, fruit that comes out of repentance, that is born in a life lived fully. Jesus is the divine gardener who is looking to help our barren lives produce, the one who breaks out of our box to push us to bear fruit.

If we spend our times worrying about others for their supposed sin, pointing out where God has acted against them, we will miss God really acting in the world through us & others. We will not be bearing that good fruit.

And in the midst of tragedy, whether caused by the Pilate’s of our world who murder others, or in natural acts when earth shakes and towers fall, we are called to live into our faith.

And our faith commits us to showing up, not ignoring the suffering and not saying there is a reason, its a God’s will or anything else. When Job’s three friends sat with him on the dung heap after the calamity happened to his family, they did the right thing. And then they started to talk, big mistake!, about how sinful Job & his family were, they talked out of their God box which didn’t help Job nor were they right about God.

We are called out of our comfort zones in situations of great pain and we can’t get out of them with a few glib remarks. Moses tried - goodness how he tried to avoid going to a situation of great pain, and of spending the time required to remedy it. But ultimately, he answered God's call and a people were saved.

Miracles do happen, for our mysterious God moves in unexpected ways through our world, and who breaks out of the confines of our boxes and reminds us that God continues to act in unexpected ways, who is always with us, and wants us to move beyond those boxes we grasp so tight.

It takes guts, patience, & love to be open to the movement of God in our lives and in our world, to have our experience of God, our God box, be open and ready to be remade by God all the time. That is the mark of repentance and of good fruit.

For then we are at our best: open and willing to listen to those in need, to those who are suffering and to listen to Christ who will guide us in helping them. That is our calling. Amen.