Sunday, December 26, 2010

Showing Up

The Three Kings make their way to the All Souls Creche

A sermon for the First Sunday after Christmas Day, December 26, 2010. The lectionary readings are Isaiah 61:10-62:3, Galatians 3:23-25;4:4-7 , Psalm 147 or 147:13-21, and John 1:1-18 .

I hesitate to talk about another Internet site in a sermon, lest the congregation think I do nothing but surf the Web. Nevertheless, I (like some of you) get more emails than I can read or want, but occasionally one surprises me. This season’s “keeper” has been a wildly creative Youtube video called the Digital Nativity, made by someone (or someones) called EccentricPT.

It basically tells the story of the birth of Jesus as though one is looking at a computer screen. After a click on GoogleEarth shows us a satellite image of Nazareth, we are looking at the Virgin Mary’s Iphone as she gets an instant message from the Angel Gabriel, “Mary, you’re going to give birth to the Son of God.” The story continues as screens are clicked and all of early 21st century technology tells a very old story.

As the telling progresses and Jesus is born, Joseph posts a picture of the baby on Facebook. The number of “likes” rises astronomically. He then creates an event called, “Meet the Baby.” The location is the Stable in Bethlehem. If you’re familiar with Facebook, one can create an event, and then send the invitation out to people, or others can simply stumble into the event’s posting. Then one has a choice to respond either, “I’m attending, maybe, or no.” For the event of “Meet the Baby,” we see the name Joseph, since he created the event. And then we see various guests’ names appear as attending. Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar. According to scripture the three kings actually do attend, the occasion of which we celebrate on Epiphany, or El Dia de Los Tres Reyes, January 6.

I’ve read that this “attending” feature on Facebook and on other social media presents special problems. Usually, the list of those who are attending, the guestlist, is public information. The problem is that very few people want to say publicly that they’re not attending. Some email invitations give you space to explain, and that’s a good thing, but still, the statistics show again and again that there are events—especially charity events, social events, fundraisers, openings, to which several hundred people will respond “I’m attending,” and yet, only eight or ten people actually show up.

Showing up is the hard part to lots of things. Showing up for work, showing up for some commitment, showing up for appointments. It’s hard when you depend on public transportation, or when your car breaks down, or when you forget to look at the calendar (or, if you’re like me, and on occasion you’ve forgotten to synchronize your hand-held calendar with your office calendar.)

The term, “showing up,” has come to mean a lot more in popular meaning. For a child to grow up in a loving family, the parents need to “show up,” – for soccer games, and school meetings, and arranged times for pick up or dropping off. In relationships of all kinds, the key to being in relationship has to do with “showing up”—not just physically, but also emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. And we all fail at this. We fail from time to time because we’re human. We fail because we get tired, or cranky, or distracted. We become self-consumed, living life by continually checking the “maybe” column, while refusing to commit to anything that might nudge us out of places that are familiar, comfortable, and private.

In the Christmas story there is a lot of “showing up,” going on. Early, Mary shows up for God, agreeing to be there for God, to be anywhere for God, simply “to be” for God. Then Joseph, who is tempted to run away, or as the scripture puts it (to divorce Mary quietly). But instead, Joseph shows up. The innkeeper shows up by opening his stable. The shepherds show up, as do angels and others, and eventually the three kings. There’s a lot of showing up, but all because of one major, overwhelming, earth-changing appearance.

God shows up. And there’s no “maybe” to it.

In the Incarnation, God comes into the world in a whole new way, physically and bodily, like one of us. He comes into fleshly existence, he is born as Jesus in order to feel like us, to hurt like us, to love like us, to eat and drink and sleep on the earth, even to die like us. But he rises again, and death will never be the same for those who believe.

As we anticipate the unfolding of Christmas and the visits of the Three Kings to meet the baby at the stable, we can think about our own opportunities to “show up.” As we move into a new year, it’s a good time to think about the ways and times that God has shown up in especially strong ways in our lives. It’s a good time to be grateful for all those who have shown up for us when we’ve needed someone most. And it’s an especially good time for us to think about the ways we’ve shown up for others, the ways that perhaps we’ve not always shown up, and to commit to being present in the new year—present for God and for one another.

The Word has become flesh and dwells among us: full, present, and alive.

In the name of God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Day

Detail of the All Souls Altarpiece

A sermon for Christmas Day, December 25, 2010. The lectionary readings are Isaiah 52:7-10,Hebrews 1:1-4, (5-12) , Psalm 98, John 1:1-14.

The other week, the Foundation Fighting Blindness had its second annual “Dining in the Dark" dinner. [See the Washington Post article here.]

About ten years ago, some in Europe and here began turning out the lights for dinner. But not just turning out the lights. All door and window cracks are covered up. Cell phones and watches and other things that light up are not allowed. (At the dinner the other week, it was reported that whenever the flicker of a cell phone was seen, the people around that person began shouting, “Cheaters!”) This way of dining was created as a way of heightening the senses, of helping people really pay attention to the food (even as they paid exorbitant prices for the experience.)

But the dinner for the Foundation Fighting Blindness had another goal. It raised money, but it also invited people with sight to experience a little bit of what being blind might be like. Those helping to put on the fundraiser walked around the room wearing special night-vision goggles. But the wait-staff were all people who were blind or visually impaired. They had been trained earlier in the day.

Darkness and light are primary images for Christmas. A dark church glows with candles and merry faces. The first scripture reading last night was from Isaiah: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined.” And then we have today’s Gospel.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world….And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of the father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

God has come into the world in human form. That means that God understands how we feel (whether good or bad), how we move (whether easily, or with some challenge.) God understands what it’s like for us to be in relationship with other people—the difficulties and the absolute joys of family, of friends, of possibility. The Gospel actually hints at the relationship of the Holy Trinity within God—that ongoing dance of light that is Creator, Christ, and Holy Spirit. At Christmas we celebrate the incarnation of God, God’s becoming flesh, and it’s this “becoming flesh” that allows God to lead us through the dark and to be with us in the light.

At that Foundation dinner, some of the wait staff were people who couldn’t see. But that meant they had other senses that were heightened. Because they knew what it was to walk in darkness, they could lead others.

We have probably felt this kind of help and support from other people. It’s the person who has been there before—who has survived the cancer, the heart attack, the difficult family, the divorce, the death of a loved one, the pull of addiction—it’s the person who has walked through the darkness that is often able to help us find the way out.

Because God has come into the world in Jesus Christ, God has that same ability, but to an infinite degree. Having experienced rejection, sadness, pain, suffering, temptation, death, hell--- Jesus rose again to lead us in love, laughter, joy, peace, serenity, and the ability to live—to live in our own skin in this life, and to live in spiritual bodies in the next.

Christmas is earthy. It is rooted in reality. It is about the here-and-now, the relationships in which we live, and the relationships in which we put energy in a new year.

Frederick Buechner expresses the importance of the skin and bone, of body and limb, of the incarnate, when he points out that

All religions and philosophies which deny the reality or significance of the material, the fleshly, the earth-bound, are themselves denied. Moses at the burning bush was told to take off his shoes because the ground on which he stood was holy ground (Exodus 3:5), and incarnation means that all ground is holy ground because God not only made it but walked on it, ate and slept and worked and died on it. If we are saved anywhere, we are saved here. And what is saved is not some diaphanous distillation of our bodies and our earth but our bodies and our earth themselves . . . One of the blunders religious people are particularly fond of making is the attempt to be more spiritual than God.” (Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC, p. 43.)

This Christmas, may God give us patience with our bodies and the bodies around us, so that we might perceive the life of God in the flesh, so that we might celebration the incarnation of God in our world.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Words for Adoption

Nativity window at All Souls

A sermon for Christmas Eve, midnight Mass, December 24, 2010. The lectionary readings are Isaiah 9:2-7 , Psalm 96, Titus 2:11-14 , and Luke 2:1-20 .

One of my favorite sites on the Internet is called Save the Words. It is a promotional site, in some ways, for the Oxford English Dictionary. When you reach the site, the screen to your computer is quickly wallpapered with words. Words like, plenishere, essomenic, crassulent, and macellarious appear. As you pass your curser over this screen-of-words, you hear little voices. “Hello!” “Pick me.” “Yo, over here.” “Me, me, pick me!” The words want your attention because the words are lonely and are seldom used.

If you click on a word, the definition is shown, along with a sentence using that word. I learn that “adecimate” means “to pay a tenth of one’s income, especially to the church.” (Ahh, what a quaint, old-fashioned, seldom-used word—but I digress.) With each word, there’s a little form which can be filled out if you agree to “adopt” the word. If you adopt a word, you are promising to use the word, in conversation and correspondence, as frequently as possible, to the very best extent of your ability.” This is all a fun and very clever attempt to save words that are endangered, words that are disappearing, words that are forgotten.

There is power to words, whether seldom used or overused. They can enlarge or enliven. They can also cut or castigate. Words can be chewed. We especially rdo this with words of scripture—we chew them, like ruminants (cattle, sheep, goats, deer and reindeer) chew the cud. We mull over scriptural words so we can (like the old prayer says) “read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them.” In the manger, as elsewhere, there must have been a lot of ruminating going on the night Jesus was born.

The Gospel for Christmas Day proclaims, “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” The birth of Jesus is described as a word, a word spoken, a word whispered, a word offered. And in tonight’s Gospel we see how various people hear this Word of God. They hear it. They ruminate upon it. And they begin to respond to it. But I imagine the characters in our Gospel each hearing God’s word in a slightly different way.

For Mary, I think she hears a word of love. She hears of God’s love for her from the beginning of time. “Full of grace,” she is called. And so, she is calmed, and soothed, and told by God’s angel that everything is going to be all right. Fear is swept aside by angel’s wings and Mary dares to believe. God loves her. God is bringing new love into the world through her.

For Joseph, the Word of God, this little, tiny, baby boy of a word, it must have sounded like new life. I love the tradition that Joseph was a good bit older than Mary, and so as foster father, Joseph sees in Jesus a chance to live again, perhaps to get a few things right this time. Joseph may fallen into the habit of imagining God as some tired old man in the sky, distracted and disinterested. But here, God reminds Joseph that nothing could be further from the truth. The life of God is young and vital and new, always and everywhere. It has to do with energy and creativity.

The shepherds are listening, and they hear a word of excitement and adventure. Their lives are about to change. The day-in and day-out of tending sheep (while romantic and manly and all) must have gotten a little old. But God comes into their lives so that nothing will ever be quite the same again. Even the sheep will look different as creatures of God’s work and whimsy.

The angels are listening, and while they must have been used to the goings-on of God, even they must have been flummoxed by the birth of Jesus to an ordinary young girl, in an outlying area, in a lonely barn. But the angels hear in God’s word beauty, and so they add their words and make music. “Gloria in excelsis Deo.” Or if they were like the angels in our new altarpiece and didn’t know Latin, they simply sang “Happy Birthday.”

God’s word is spoken and born, but it sounds different in different ears. Joseph is surprised when he hears how Mary has heard God’s word. Mary is surprised when she hears how the shepherds have heard God’s word. And King Herod is going to be very surprised at the sound of God’s word for him. I would probably be surprised to hear how God’s word sounds to some of you, even as I something about the way I hear God might surprise you. The Word that is made flesh can sound like a word of love, or rejuvenation, or adventure, or beauty, or many other things.

And so, what word do you hear? What word might you adopt, if you were given the opportunity?

Christmas is a season of adoption. God adopts us as beloved children. God adopts human flesh and becomes one of us. But we, too, are invited to adopt the Word of God, to adopt a word of God. What would you pick? Which will you have? The love of God? The new life of God? The adventure, the strength, the passion, or the beauty of God? It’s ok to ask for it. It’s ok to reach out and make it yours. It’s Christmas, after all.

Scripture says that Mary “treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.”
May the Word of God speak to us and through us, this Christmas and always.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve Children's Mass

The children and their families place the nativity figures in the creche in the Mary Chapel.

A homily preached at the All Souls Children's Mass at 4 p.m on Christmas Eve. The Gospel was Matthew 1:18-25.

If you were to draw your own picture of the birth of baby Jesus, what would it look like? Is it a barn out in the country, or a garage in an alley of Washington, DC? Is he born on a bale of hay, on a used mattress found in the trash, or in a borrowed crib? How would you picture it?

This year, Louis von Rago, a member of our church, painted a new altarpiece for us. And it’s funny, if you look at it. There’s a cat in the barn (because everybody knows that there’s always a cat in the barn), and there’s a great light in the barn. It almost looks like it’s on fire. But it’s not on fire—it’s just a whole lot of light because, as Louis says, “The Holy Spirit’s in there and the Spirit’s really busy.” The angels are funny. One is playing a saxophone. One’s playing a guitar. Some are singing “Gloria in excelsis Deo” and others (who must not know Latin yet) are singing “happy birthday.” And we’ve added other people, haven’t we? We’ve added all sorts—we read the Gospel story about how angels came and shepherds came. We know the other stories in scripture about how the Wise Men come, and the shepherds. We might even know other traditions about other people who come to the manger—there’s a song about a little drummer boy, and in our own crèche, you bring others—Barbie and GI Joe sometimes appear, and we’ve had various Transformers come to see the Baby Jesus. Barney came one year, but I think the other animals laughed at him because he was purple and all…. Dora and Diego might come by, but then, they’re so busy, who knows?

So, again, if you were to draw or create your own crèche, your own manger scene, who would be there? I hope you would be there. And I hope everybody you love would be there. And I also hope even the people you might not like very much—people who’ve been mean to you, or ignored you, or said ugly things to you—I hope they might be invited too, because God’s love can change all of us. Jesus is born to bring love and to help us be more loving. By watching him, by worshipping with him, by loving like he loves, we become closer to God and God comes closer to us.

I’m thankful for our funny crèche. And I’m thankful that around Jesus, there’s always room for everybody—the people who love us, the people we love, and the people we need God to teach us to love.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The All Souls Altarpiece

The new Christmas altarpiece for the Mary Chapel, completed in December 2010, was made entirely by parishioners. The altarpiece was constructed by John Coates and painted by self-taught artist Louis von Rago, based on a design by Ed Perlman. Intended as a celebration of the love and light of Christ that comes into the world at Christmas, it combines both traditional and contemporary elements. It is meant to be especially accessible to children.

Among the traditional symbols are those from scripture: the angels, the sheep, the ox, and the donkey. Following traditions in art history, flowers can take on biblical and theological meanings. White lilies represent the purity of the Virgin Mary but also foreshadow the crucifixion of our Lord, as some white flowers are a part of the mustard family, whose Latin name is Cruciferae. The red carnation is known in Northern Europe as Naegelblume or nailflower, because its blossom was thought to represent the serrated edges of a medieval nail. Together, the flowers represent all creation’s joy at the birth of a savior, but also connect his birth with the death and rebirth we celebrate at Easter.

The more contemporary symbols include shepherds wearing “technicolor dreamcoats” and multicultural angels playing instruments (including a saxophone) who sing “happy birthday” as well as “Gloria in excelsis Deo.” The black sheep among the others represents all of God’s children who may come to Christ through unconventional paths, many of whom form the heart of this parish. The manger is complete with a barn cat, whose sainted relative (a cat who has died and gone to heaven) can be seen watching from the top left side of the roof. The All Souls altarpiece serves as a background for our needlepoint nativity figures, also made by parishioners.

A contemporary altarpiece with needlepoint figures in an English Tudor chapel might seem incongruous—except for the theological truth these things represent. Like the householder in the Gospel of Matthew, we seek to “bring out of our treasure what is new and what is old.” At All Souls we combine ancient and modern, old and new, the comfortable and well-worn with the jarring and contemporary. Our God is large, and so is our faith.

Glory be to God in the highest.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

God's Timing and Ours

The Annunciation Window from St. Mary's Church, Bedingfield, England.

A sermon for the Fourth Sunday of Advent, December 19, 2010. The lectionary readings are Isaiah 7:10-16, Psalm 80:1-7, 16-18, Romans 1:1-7, and Matthew 1:18-25.

They say that timing is everything—whether we’re in the right place at the right time to get the interview, to meet the right person, or to get this year’s latest gadget at the store—timing matters. A Judeo-Christian understanding of God suggests that God arranged the world according to time—light and dark: one day. Seven days and nights: one week, and so on. From a biblical point of view, God seems to like time, and seems especially partial to segments of forty—forty years, forty days.

But when we look closer at the stories about God’s working in our world, and when we think about the ways in which God has worked in our lives—I think we often find that God’s sense of timing is very different from ours. And many times, it seems that God has very bad timing, indeed.

In today’s Gospel, God’s timing seems completely off. Mary and Joseph are engaged to be married, but during this time, God visits them both. First, there is the visitation of the angel to Mary, which we hear about from the Gospel of Luke. We don’t know what Mary must have thought, but imagine—God is asking her to do this incredibly hard thing and she could have responded in other ways—she could have waited till she was older, till the political or economic climate got a little better, till Joseph had a better job, till they were able to be in their own house, till she and Joseph were married. But according to Luke, Mary understood this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and she felt like God was behind it all, so she said “yes.” Even though God seems to be a little early. God seems to be rushing things.

Joseph must have seen things in an even more different light. If tradition is right and Joseph was a good bit older than Mary, who knows what he must have thought when he learned that she was going to have a baby. Matthew suggests that Joseph was going to simply break the engagement very quietly, not make a big fuss out of things, but they would simply go their own ways. But then an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream. And Joseph learns that God is behind all of this, and that it’s going to take a lot of faith, a lot of trust, a lot of daring… but it will be ok because God is behind it all. Joseph wakes up from his dream with a new-found faith. But he must have thought God was showing up a bit late.

In our first reading from Isaiah, God tells the people of Israel that they will be given a sign, and this will be the sign of a savior. In other words, God’s in charge, even though it might have felt like they were spending too much time in exile, too much time in disarray, too much time wondering if God even still cared. But into this confusion, God says, “hold on a little longer, help is on the way, in time….

We do our best to manage time. We have watches and clocks and phones and all sorts of devices to help us show up, perform, compete, or finish “on time.” Because we pay so much attention to it and invest so much in time, it can sometimes fool us into thinking we’re actually in control of time. Until the Metro stops, or the beltway is clogged, or a child needs to come home from school right during a big meeting, or any number of life’s interruptions reminds us that time is a made-up thing, and sometimes life happens at its own pace.

For many people, the holidays are sad because loved ones have died around this time. Death and disease don’t pay attention to a calendar. Too many people we know who have just bought a house, or just had a child, or just begun a new chapter in their lives have suddenly lost their job. Companies, out-sourcing consultants and HR departments rarely pay attention to the timing of peoples lives when cutting positions.

In my very first parish a young family, with a small child and a baby, had been visiting the church for a while and I went to visit them at their house. As we were talking, they finally asked if I they might be able to have their eldest child baptized in the church. Well, of course, I responded. We’d love to have the baptism. And then the couple got a sort of odd expression and said, “Well, we’d also like to ask you something else.” Sure, I said. “Would you also be willing to marry us?” “Of course,” I said, we can do that too. The couple then relaxed and began to explain that they had both been working at extremely demanding jobs and were working toward buying a house. They found the house of their dreams, bought it, and began to work on it, and then found that she was pregnant. Then all of their energy went into getting ready for the child. And then, before you knew it, it was four years later. They had never really gotten around to getting married. A few weeks later, we baptized both children. Then, in another month or so, we had a wonderful wedding. I don’t think one could easily separate out their timing from life’s timing, from God’s timing. It was all mixed up, and that’s the way it often is for us.

The trick to faithful living, I think, is to try to be aware of when God might be trying to break in, and to be open to God’s Spirit when this happens. It might not be according to our watch or plan or expectation. It might not be convenient in the eyes of others. But we can learn from Mary and Joseph and see how they dealt with God’s timing.

When Mary was visited by the Angel Gabriel, sensing that God was behind it, she said yes. But she also went to visit her cousin Elizabeth. She checked in with someone she trusted, someone who also knew God, someone she could trust.

When Joseph heard that God had visited Mary, we’re told that he had a dream. I think this also means that he mulled things over, he prayed, he discerned, he slowed down and allowed for possibility and for promise. Perhaps he did the equivalent of taking his own watch off for a while and listening.

Most of us probably wouldn’t get through a day if we completely took our watch off, or refused to look at a clock, or ignored the passing of time. I’m not suggested that we should. But I am suggesting, especially in such a busy time as Christmas, that we might be alert to God’s timing—sometimes God comes early, and we have to catch up. Sometimes God comes later than we might have wanted, and so we’ll have to reconcile our expectations with reality and adjust. And then, there are those times when God comes, with angels or without, and almost seems to stop our clock. And we’re left reeling and wondering, “what just happened.”

Theologians sometimes talk about God’s time as “kairos time.” Kairos comes from the Greek word for “the right time, the most opportune time, the supreme time.” We’re used to thinking of what they call “chronos” time, chronological, sequential, time that can be counted and measured. It’s no coincidence that “kairos” also means “weather” in ancient and modern Greek, which points to its tendency to be unpredictable—wonderfully so, at times, but troubling and surprising when you’re caught in a storm. When Peter asks Jesus, “Lord, how many times must I forgive my brother or sister—as many as seven times?” Peter is asking in “chronos” time.

But Jesus answers with “kairos” time, as he says, “I don’t say seven times. I say seventy times seven.” Forgiveness can’t be counted up and tallied. Neither can love.

The Good News of this season is that whether we’re noticing kairos time or chronos time, good times, or bad times, God is present. God steps into time. God becomes human like us, with us, along side us, for us. God interrupts the plans of Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, Zachariah, Herod, the Wise Men, the Shepherds, and centuries of believers, and me and you. But the interruption is one of love. God is love, and this love is the light of the world, for this time and for ever. Let us make time for God, even as God confounds our timing.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Homily for St. John's Eye Hospital

A brief homily offered at the Service of Lessons and Carols at Christ Church, Kensington, on December 5, 2010. The event was sponsored by the Order of St. John of Jerusalem and raised money for the work of the St. John Eye Hospital in East Jerusalem and the St. John Clinics in Gaza and West Bank.

There is a tension to the season of Advent. On one hand the church is encouraged to wait and to watch, to pray for the Day of the Lord. But on the other hand, we are told to prepare the way [now], to get ready, to be alert and stay awake.

In scripture and song we have heard how God’s hope builds to a culmination that hangs upon the word of one young, Jewish girl named Mary. And Mary has a choice.

Perhaps she will wait. Perhaps she will wait on some further word from God, a better set of circumstances, a husband with a steady job, or simply a more convenient time.

Or, she will respond. She will act. She will try to live into God’s word, even as God’s Word takes on new life within her.

We, like Mary, have choices-- as individuals, as families, as congregations. We can choose simply to wait, and allow God’s will to unfold (in God’s own good time). Or we can make our waiting meaningful and productive. We can do our part to assist God’s kingdom on earth, (doing all those things the prophets talk about) beating swords into plowshares, spears into pruning hooks, and walking in the light of the Lord. We can do that here, now, and every day.

And so we don’t always just wait. We also act in faith.

The St. John Eye Hospital is one place where many of us in this room and beyond have decided to act. With regard to those in East Jerusalem, Gaza, and the West Bank (a third of whom are under the age of ten) we have not been content simply to wait.

When we heard that children could not have need eye procedures because of the lack of equipment, we sent $10,000 for equipment which was used in the clinics. When the people of Christ Church, All Souls, and others learned that it only takes $2,000 to cover the cost of a cornea transplant, we got busy, we raised money, and over the last few years, twelve transplants have been done. Two corneas came from Tissue Banks International, in Baltimore, and one was even hand-carried to the hospital by Victoria Sheffield, a St. John’s Board Member from our area.

When could still send toys for children in the hospital, we did that. Some of you have done amazing things on your own. Our local fundraising committee has been busy—showing us how to have fun or learn something (while we reach for our wallet). Last year, Father Hague and some of you visited Jerusalem and took baby blankets and medical supplies. Dr. Larry Schwab and Martha Schwab have visited, worked, and assisted. Others from our churches and the Washington, D.C. chapter have visited the hospital and clinics, and in so doing, have enabled a ministry of presence and relationship.

Though we continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, we pray for our leaders—both political and ecclesiastical—we do not only wait. In different ways and in different contexts, we sing, and bake, and encourage, and harangue “for the faith and in the service of humanity.”

And there is more to do.

More education and medical outreach needs to be done (and that costs money.) More equipment needs to be purchased and put to work. With more money for transportation, medicine, and medical salaries, more operations can be done. More eyes can be opened more vision made clear, and in so doing, a better future emerges.

As we continue through this season, may our waiting be full and productive. May we be ever alert to opportunities for service, for love, and for sharing the light of Christ. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


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