From Fox News online.
I didn’t understand what it meant to be an American until I stood on Omaha Beach.
An excellent piece. Read and reflect on it all.
Check this 12 year old young man out. Twelve years old!! Awesome. Simply awesome. Good on him and good for us.
You meet all kinds of interesting people when you are a priest. Take this dude Fr. Mark and I met yesterday at our local tiki bar. His world had clearly gone to the dogs. We told him to lay off the sauce and go home to his wife.
Sermon delivered on the seventh Sunday of Easter, May 20, 2012, at St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, Columbus, OH.
Lectionary texts: Acts 1.15-17, 21-26; Psalm 1.1-6; 1 John 5.9-13; John 17.6-19.
In the name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
On Thursday we celebrated the Feast of the Ascension, the day when our Lord and his resurrected body moved from our earthly dimension to God’s dimension in heaven. If my experience with the church’s teaching about the Ascension is in any way typical of what most Christians have been exposed to (or more accurately, not exposed to), the Ascension remains a puzzle for most of us at best and an irrelevant and confusing event at worst. For example, are the NT writers, especially Luke, telling us that Jesus was the first cosmic space man to blast off from this planet? Are we supposed to look at Jesus from the soles of his feet?
But on a more serious and troubling note, does Jesus’ Ascension mean he has left us alone here on earth to fend for ourselves? Again, if you are like me, this is not an insignificant fear. Who among us does not worry about being abandoned and left all alone one day? And if John’s account of Jesus’ resurrection is indicative of the first followers’ experience with their risen Lord, it seems that they too shared this fear that Jesus was now going to abandon them. How else do we explain the curious comment Jesus made to Martha in the garden when he told her not to hold onto him because he had not yet ascended to the Father (John 20.17)? It seems that almost immediately after he was raised from the dead, Jesus began telling his followers that they were going to have to get used to interacting with him in a different way because he was not going to be with them physically any longer. So this morning I want us to look briefly at what the Ascension might mean for us, especially through the lens of this morning’s gospel lesson.
The first thing many Christians think about the Ascension, if they think about it at all, is to see it as reinforcing the idea of a deistic God. The line of thinking goes something like this. God is far away in heaven and so Jesus has gone there to prepare a place for us. Out of sight, out of mind, so to speak (which conveniently frees humans to run the world they see fit). Sadly many Christians hold some version of this belief and as a result the god they worship is distant, aloof, and irrelevant. If truth be told, most folks who believe this is what the Ascension is all about would admit that God probably has left them to their own devices to fend for themselves in this world with all its problems. But of course this god is bound to fail us, precisely because he is not here to help us in our need or to provide us guidance and support as we seek to live faithful lives. After all, it is pretty hard to love, let alone develop a relationship with, someone who is distant and who never speaks to you or interacts with you. Hopefully no one here this morning tries to worship a god like that.
But thankfully this remote god is not the God of the Bible, the God who created the earth and then humans to be his wise stewards over it. This is not the God who called his people Israel to help him redeem his broken and fallen world and who remains faithful even in the face of his people’s stubborn and willful rebellion against that call. This is not the God who became human in Jesus to be for Israel what she could not be for herself so that in the Messiah God could finally rescue his fallen world and broken people as he promised. No, the God of the Bible is quite active in the affairs of his people and of his broken world, putting to right all of its ancient wrongs and conquering evil, sin, and death through Jesus’ death on the cross. In other words, the God of the Bible is a God who cares for us and who is actively involved in our lives if we have the good sense not to push him away or hold him at arm’s length.
And this is where the Ascension is so important. When the NT writers talk about the risen Jesus ascending into heaven and sitting down at the right hand of the Father (cf. Romans 8.33-35; Ephesians 1.19-21; Colossians 3.1-3; Hebrews 1.2-4, 8.1-3, 10.11-13, 12.1-3; 1 Peter 3.21-22), they aren’t saying that Jesus has gone away to heaven for a well-deserved rest and we his followers are simply out of luck. They are telling us that Jesus has gone into God’s dimension to assume his rightful role as Lord of this universe and who is right now actively working on our behalf to complete the saving work his death and resurrection started. In other words, they are telling us that Jesus is Lord and we are to do our work in his power and Name.
Not only that, but as the writer of Hebrews tells us repeatedly, as Lord, Jesus is also praying for us in all of our weakness so that by his power we will be able to accomplish the healing work he has given us to do. Think about that for a moment! The Lord of this universe is right now interceding to God on our behalf so that we will continue to enjoy our reconciliation with God and the peace that results, which is foundational if we ever hope to be Jesus’ followers. This was made possible by Jesus’ blood shed for us on the cross and Jesus continues to be faithful to us even now as risen and ascended Lord by being our great high priest. This is neither a God who is distant or who does not care about us so that he leaves us to our own devices!
We see this poignantly illustrated in today’s gospel lesson. The context for today’s lesson is the Last Supper. Jesus has told his disciples that he is about to be taken from them and this has left his disciples more than a little distressed. Think about it. Imagine the most wonderful person in the world you have ever known has just told you he (or she) is about to die. How would that make you feel? You would definitely feel sad and maybe even a bit angry as some survivors feel when they learn that a loved one has died. They get angry, in part, because they feel the loved one has abandoned them. Likewise for Jesus’ disciples. So here we see Jesus praying for them in this great priestly prayer. Notice carefully that implicit in Jesus’ prayer is the notion that God’s care for the disciples will not be much different from Jesus’ care for them. God will continue protect them just as Jesus had, and keep them holy, a word that simply means they are set apart to do the work Jesus has called them to do. In other words, because the disciples have known Jesus, they will know God! The point here is that whether Jesus is present with them physically or in Spirit, his disciples will not have to fend for themselves for guidance, wisdom, and protection. They will continue to be enveloped in God’s great and faithful love for them.
Second, we notice that Jesus is not praying for his disciples to get all spiritual and withdraw from the affairs of the world to take up navel gazing. No, there is kingdom work to be done in Jesus’ name, the work of new creation that his resurrection inaugurated! When Jesus tells us he is not praying for the world, he is not referring to God’s material creation or its people. If Jesus really believed God’s creation and people were not worth redeeming, it would have made his impending saving death a farce. Instead, Jesus is referring to the powers and principalities of this world who propagate evil and who are implacably opposed to God’s good intentions and work in his good but fallen world. This alerts us immediately to the fact that we too have a job to do in Jesus’ Name and for his sake. And like Jesus’ first disciples, we too can count on Jesus’ promise never to leave or abandon us, no matter how bad things might get in our lives and world.
And from our NT lesson from Acts, we see that the disciples took Jesus’ promise to be with them to heart. Luke tells us that after Jesus ascended to the Father, his disciples understood that they were going to have to interact differently with him now that he was no longer with them physically. So the disciples spent a lot of time in prayer (cf. Acts 1.12-14). We see how that played out in their selection of Judas’ replacement. His successor had to be an eyewitness of Jesus’ ministry, death, and resurrection, showing us how important eyewitness testimony was to the first followers of Jesus. Then in prayer, the disciples asked Jesus to show them the man to succeed Judas. They had work to do and needed both the guidance of Scripture and Jesus’ own guidance so that they wouldn’t begin the work of proclaiming the Good News of Jesus and working in his power to bring about God’s new creation short-handed.
If we are serious about both our church’s mission statement, Changed by God to make a difference for God, as well as our discipleship, we would do well to pay attention to what Scripture is telling us here. The first lesson we learn from today’s readings is that we must reject the lie that we have a distant and remote God who has called us to be his holy people but who has essentially left us to our own devices to figure out how to do that. Nothing could be further from the truth! As we have seen, the risen and ascended Jesus has now assumed his rightful place as Lord of the universe and is available to us right now in the power of the Spirit through prayer, Scripture, the sacraments, worship, and Christian fellowship. Of course, if we are not faithful in partaking in these proven means of grace, we should not be surprised if we don’t really know Jesus or that he seems quite removed from our lives. Like any other relationship, the health of our relationship with Jesus depends on the amount of time and effort we invest and how much we are aware of Jesus’ presence in our lives is a critical indicator of the state of our relationship with him. So how are you doing in that regard?
The second lesson we can learn from our readings is that there is plenty of work to do in Jesus’ name right now. Jesus calls each of us to bring his healing love to bear on God’s broken world and hurting people. We do that in various ways and we get our marching orders as individuals and as his body, the Church, primarily through prayer, Scripture reading, and fellowship, just the way the apostles did. There is first and foremost Good News to proclaim as John reminds us in this morning’s epistle lesson, and if we really understand the significance of the Ascension, we should never, ever be ashamed of proclaiming it. Jesus is Lord! There are also, among other things, hungry and naked people to feed and clothe. There are lonely and frightened people to visit and comfort. There are unlovable people to love and reconciliation to be sought, even when it seems impossible to accomplish. What Jesus calls us to do will vary by individuals and congregations, but the point is if you call yourself a Christian, you have work to do right here and now. And this is how Jesus can use us to bring about his kingdom on earth as in heaven. Every time we refuse to retaliate when someone wrongs us, or when we give to the undeserving, or when we are simply present to someone who desperately needs the human touch, or when we seek reconciliation when nobody else gives us a snowflake’s chance on water to succeed, we do not allow evil to gain a toehold through us and we can have confidence that the kingdom comes by Jesus’ power as a result, precisely because Jesus is Lord.
Denying ourselves and taking up our cross each day to do Jesus’ work and be his people requires character transformation, patience, and great perseverance. And of course we can expect fierce opposition against our work in Jesus’ Name because the Evil One and his minions will not give up easily, even though they have gotten the memo that God has defeated them in and through the cross of Jesus. But we won’t lose hope if we do the things needed, the things we have just talked about, to cultivate Jesus’ power and presence in our lives because when we do, Jesus will remind us that he is Lord and it is not up to us to save the world. He has already accomplished that for us in his death and resurrection. No, our job is to embody Jesus’ presence in the power of the Spirit to others and then let Jesus do the rest. As Paul reminds us in his great tract on the resurrection body and new creation (1 Corinthians 15), our labor on Jesus’ behalf is never in vain, even when we ostensibly fail, because Jesus will use our work and our transformed and redeemed character to help bring about his new creation, and our labors will apparently carry over into the new creation when it arrives in the fulness of time. Power for living our lives right now and a wondrous hope for the future are surely the essential ingredients we need to live meaningful and purposeful lives, even in the face of great hardship, disappointment, and opposition. Here is the antidote to hopelessness and despair that can come from feeling abandoned in life.
This is why Jesus’ Ascension is so important to us because it reminds us that he is Lord and available to us right now in and through the power of the Spirit to help us be the men and women he calls us to be—fully human and wise stewards of his good creation. If you really understand this, you will make it a point to celebrate Ascension Day each year (it falls on the 40th day after Easter, which is always a Thursday) because it means you really understand that Jesus is Lord and evil has been defeated, if not yet fully vanquished. And that, of course, means you really do have Good News, now and for all eternity. Alleluia! Christ is risen and ascended! The Lord is risen and ascended indeed! Alleluia!
In the name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
21 For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.
–Jesus of Nazareth (Mark 7.21-22)
Our Lord nailed the human condition succinctly (see above) and Brooks offers an astute analysis of the human condition and how democracies must compensate for and interact with it. See what you think.
The people who pioneered democracy in Europe and the United States had a low but pretty accurate view of human nature. They knew that if we get the chance, most of us will try to get something for nothing. They knew that people generally prize short-term goodies over long-term prosperity. So, in centuries past, the democratic pioneers built a series of checks to make sure their nations wouldn’t be ruined by their own frailties.
But, over the years, this balanced wisdom was lost. Leaders today do not believe their job is to restrain popular will. Their job is to flatter and satisfy it. A gigantic polling apparatus has developed to help leaders anticipate and respond to popular whims. Democratic politicians adopt the mind-set of marketing executives. Give the customer what he wants. The customer is always right.
Western democratic systems were based on a balance between self-doubt and self-confidence. They worked because there were structures that protected the voters from themselves and the rulers from themselves. Once people lost a sense of their own weakness, the self-doubt went away and the chastening structures were overwhelmed. It became madness to restrain your own desires because surely your rivals over yonder would not be restraining theirs.
The Facebook campaign is “Stop marital affair .co.uk advertising publicly in the UK.” When I joined, on Saturday, there were about fifty of us. Two days later, there are now about 1,300 members. Do join if you agree with the premise.
The campaign is led by Jon Kuhrt, a father of three, who – like many others – is offended by the marketing of infidelity as “uncomplicated fun”. He complained to the Advertising Standards Authority, only to be told it would only consider complaints about advertising which offend “against widely accepted moral, social or cultural standards.” I believe the reasoning – to reject the complaint – is absurd on all three counts.
Words fail. to market adultery as uncomplicated fun represents delusional thinking at its finest and that is the most charitable thing I can think to say about this. Read it all and raise your voice against this if the Spirit so moves you..
See what you think. From Fox News online.
The sexual orientation of a new pastor in a Missouri church softball league has put his team on the bench.
Rev. James Semmelroth Darnell, the 27-year-old pastor of St. John United Church of Christ in Saint Clair, told FoxNews.com that pastors of three other churches in a local church softball league said their teams would no longer take the field against St. John after hearing rumors questioning Darnell’s sexuality. Rather than force the issue, St. John pulled out of the league.
“Three teams had issue with that and no longer wanted to play against our team since I am an out bisexual person,” Darnell told FoxNews.com. “And it’s surprising because I don’t even play, I have no affiliation with the league.”
Good for him and for his family.
From Fox News online.
Four decades after his brave actions in Vietnam, the family of Spc. Leslie H. Sabo Jr. accepted the Medal of Honor on his behalf Wednesday at the White House.
His widow, Rose Mary, and her brother-in-law, George Sabo, were at the White House to accept the military’s highest award for bravery on behalf of Spc. Sabo for his actions in May 1970.
“His indomitable courage and complete disregard for his own safety saved the lives of many of his platoon members,” the White House said in a written statement.
Read it all and thank God for raising up heroes like Sabo.
The only two-time Miss America, great-grandparents of Liza Minnelli, and Abraham Lincoln’s bodyguard all saw fit to be buried in Oak Grove Cemetery.
But more Americans are choosing to forgo a traditional burial and opt for cremation, leaving many historic cemeteries in the lurch.
If you are interested in seeing whether people are embracing the Christian hope of new creation (or even know about it), this is an eye opener, and not for the good if you care about folks and the Christian faith. Very little indication from the commenters that they have a clue about the hope of resurrection and new creation. Yuck.
On May 7, 1945, Germany signed an unconditional surrender at Allied headquarters in Rheims, France, bringing an end to World War II in Europe.
Read the original AP story. From here.
From the Archives of The Associated Press:
Edward Kennedy, AP’s chief of bureau in Paris, was the first to file a story announcing the end of the war in Europe. Kennedy and other reporters had witnessed the German surrender at Reims, France, and had been told by military officials that they could not report the event until it had been announced by the Allied governments in Washington, London and Moscow. The military later said it would be the following day before the surrender news could be transmitted because a second surrender ceremony was being planned for Berlin. Kennedy decided to break the embargo when the surrender was announced – at the request of the Allies – on German radio. Military censors retaliated by suspending the AP’s filing privileges from Europe. (The ban was lifted after six hours.)
Here is the first word that moved over the AP wire at 9:35 a.m. New York time on May 7, 1945:
REIMS FRANCE–ALLIES OFFICIALLY ANNOUNCED GERMANY SURRENDERED UNCONDITIONALLY.
That transmission was followed one minute later by:
BY EDWARD KENNEDY
REIMS, FRANCE, MAY 7-(AP)-GERMANY SURRENDERED UNCONDITIONALLY TO THE WESTERN ALLIES AND RUSSIA AT 2:41 A.M. FRENCH TIME TODAY.
Here is the rest of Kennedy’s story:
The surrender took place at a little red schoolhouse that is the headquarters of Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower.
The surrender was signed for the Supreme Allied Command by Lt. Gen. Walter Bedell Smith, chief of staff for Gen. Eisenhower.
It was also signed by Gen. Ivan Susloparov of the Soviet Union and by Gen. Francois Sevez for France.
Gen. Eisenhower was not present at the signing, but immediately afterward Gen. Jodl and his fellow delegate, Gen. Admiral Hans Georg Friedeburg, were received by the Supreme Commander.
They were asked sternly if they understood the surrender terms imposed upon Germany and if they would be carried out by Germany.
They answered yes.
Germany, which began the war with a ruthless attack upon Poland, followed by successive aggressions and brutality in concentration camps, surrendered with an appeal to the victors for mercy toward the German people and armed forces.
After having signed the full surrender, Gen. Jodl said he wanted to speak and received leave to do so.
“With this signature,” he said in soft-spoken German, “the German people and armed forces are for better or worse delivered into the victor’s hands.
“In this war, which has lasted more than five years, both have achieved and suffered more than perhaps any other people in the world.”
Sermon delivered on the fifth Sunday of Easter, May 6, 2012, at St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, Columbus, OH.
Lectionary texts: Acts 8.26-40; Psalm 22.24-30; 1 John 4.7-21; John 15.1-8.
In the name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
So what is guaranteed to make you rejoice after hearing this sermon? Here it is: Jesus loves you. Amen. Let’s recite the Creed. Just kidding! No, today I want us all to take stock of our faith, in your ability to hear the Good News preached (a sign of the Spirit’s Presence in you), and in my ability to preach it (a sign of the Spirit’s Presence in me). No pressure there for anybody! Seriously, there really is no pressure on any of us, precisely because of Christ’s presence working in us in the power of the Spirit. So today I want us to look primarily at our story in Acts to see what might be contained in it to send us on our way rejoicing, just like the Ethiopian eunuch.
To appreciate part of what Luke is wanting us to see in this story, we have to look at some rather unpleasant facts about the eunuch in today’s lesson. He would have been castrated and probably also mutilated. This would have qualified him to serve in the royal Ethiopian court, presumably because he would not have posed a sexual threat to the women there. All well and good if serving in a royal court is your one and only goal. But being castrated would have also prevented him from ever being circumcised, which would have therefore excluded the eunuch from becoming a Jew or being part of any Israelite congregation, and thus also from participating in public worship in Israel (cf. Deuteronomy 23.1).
And so we have the makings of a rather sad and poignant story. Despite being banned from worshiping the God of Israel, at least with other Israelites, this Ethiopian had apparently been drawn to God and had come to Jerusalem despite being excluded from the Israelite worshiping assembly to see for himself and perhaps to worship this God at a distance. Now on his way home the eunuch represents all that it means to be marginalized and excluded because of an inherent condition. We don’t know why this man was castrated but it really doesn’t matter. The point Luke wants us to see is that here is a god-fearer who is drawn to Israel’s God and finds himself excluded from their worship because of who he is.
None of us here has to be castrated to know what it feels like to be marginalized because if we have lived long enough it has happened to us. We may have been shunned by a friend because of what we believe or do. We might have been the last one chosen for the neighborhood pickup games when we were a kid (or not chosen at all). We may have been shunned as a teenager because of our body size or looks or lack of athletic ability which made others consider us to not be cool enough to hang out with them. Or we may have been passed up for a promotion at work, despite the fact that we were eminently qualified for the position. The list is endless but you get the point. When we are marginalized, whether knowingly or unknowingly, it doesn’t make us feel very good. In fact, it dehumanizes us because when we are marginalized we are tempted to lash out at others in an attempt to make them feel our pain. And it almost always makes us wonder if we can ever really be loved, unless we go through some interesting psychological gymnastics to mask or camouflage our hurt and pain at being rejected. And of course human rejection (which is what marginalization really is) can often lead us to wonder if God will not also reject us because of who we are or have failed to be. We need to be honest about this if we are ever to go away rejoicing after hearing today’s NT story because it is yet another representation of the alienation and isolation that human sin has caused.
And it is to the glory of God that the eunuch doesn’t let his marginalization turn him away from God as so many others who are marginalized have done. No, here he is on his way home after having been ostracized, reading from the Hebrew Scripture and trying to learn more about this God whose Spirit had obviously descended on him and had begun the work of claiming him forever. Imagine that. Here is God pursuing one who was generally shunned by both Jew and Gentile alike, albeit for different reasons, and we need to pay attention to this because like the eunuch, with all his hurts and brokenness, God pursues each of us too, with all our hurts and brokenness.
So how do we know God loved this eunuch? Because in the Spirit the Lord sent Philip to explain a key passage of Scripture to the eunuch. As John reminds us in today’s epistle lesson, God is love and shows that love to us by what he has done for us in Christ and what he is now doing for us in the power of the Spirit. Love is always demonstrated in our actions, not our feelings, and so Philip interprets verses from Isaiah 53, that great chapter that talks about the Suffering Servant and how God’s rescue plan for sinful humanity will come to fruition in Jesus the Messiah. We have to wonder if the line from Isaiah that talked about humiliation and being deprived of justice had not caught the Ethiopian’s eye and lit a fire in his heart for God’s justice to finally come on earth as in heaven. Whether that’s true or not, here was Philip explaining to him that in Jesus, God had taken on all the evil of the world, and the wrath it had incurred, and born it himself so that we wouldn’t have to bear it, including the evil of being marginalized and rejected for our physical or psychological traits. Here is a Messiah that the eunuch could love, especially since he got a very real taste of Jesus’ love and God’s new creation in the way Philip treated him. The eunuch’s condition didn’t stop Philip from sharing the Good News of Jesus or baptizing him. No one is excluded from the Kingdom who responds to God’s healing love in faith! What’s not to love about that?
Here is a Messiah that we can love too, and for the same reasons! As John also reminds us in his epistle, this is a God we can love because God first loved us and has shown us his love by becoming human and atoning for our sins so that our alienation from God and each other can be ended forever. It does not matter who we are or what we have done or failed to do. It does not matter if we have been accepted by others or shunned by them because God does not see or judge us as the world does (cf. 1 Samuel 16.7ff). No, God sees through our brokenness and knows that we have the capacity to be his true image-bearers and reflect his glory out into the world if only we will respond in faith to his healing love offered to us. That is God’s heart’s desire and he has shown us that in tangible ways, most notably in Jesus the Messiah, but also by giving us a community of faith who will love us and for us to love in return.
And because God does love us, while God always accepts us as we are and where we are, God is never content to leave us there. That is why he has given us his Spirit to help us become the human beings he created and longs for us to be so that in the power of the Spirit we will develop the character needed to live in his promised new creation! If you really believe this and do not go away today rejoicing in God’s great love for you, I don’t know what on earth can possibly ever make you rejoice. And if you really don’t believe this, I encourage you to ask us to join you in a serious and ongoing conversation with God in prayer so that you do believe it.
So what do we take from this? Two things come to mind immediately. First, as all our Scripture readings suggest this morning, when we finally accept God’s gracious offer to us in Christ to live and be changed, it makes us want to share what we have with others because the Gospel is about God’s love for us, not our worthiness to be loved. The love of God in Christ was a game-changer for Philip, and he wanted to share his Good News with the Ethiopian eunuch. Apparently, Philip’s desire to share the Gospel with the Ethiopian was catching because tradition has it that the eunuch went home to become the first evangelist to his native land. Imagine that. And like Philip and the Ethiopian, when we really believe that God loves us, warts and all, it cannot help but change us and make us want to respond to Christ’s love by sharing that love with others, through both our actions and words. People will see us and wonder what drugs we are on—and they will want some too, which will give us a chance to explain things to them!
Of course, if we are going to share our story, we must know it thoroughly. So second, we must be diligent in reading and wrestling with Scripture on a regular basis. We must also persevere in prayer and be faithful in our worship. And we must do this both individually and together because as we have seen, the church is a tangible sign of God’s new creation and we are called to live in it together starting right now. But in the end, our witness is about the faithfulness of Jesus and our willingness to let him be the vine so that we are not caught in the lie of self-help and the hopelessness that inevitably ensues from trying to be self-made people.
Don’t let the world, the flesh, or the devil deceive you. People are starved for the truth (and there is a Truth to be had—his name is Jesus). People are also starved for a relationship with God. They long for a better day and we as Christians can promise them a better day starting right now by living in the power of the Spirit so that like us, they too can be changed gradually into the very image of God and become fully human. And because we have seen the empty tomb, we believe God’s new creation has arrived, although not yet completely. Of course, when that day arrives in full, we will see clearly what we only see dimly by faith right now. We will see the love of God directly because we will be living in God’s direct presence. There will be no more marginalization or rejection or brokenness or evil or death or suffering when that happens. Christ has defeated evil, sin, and death decisively and claimed us as his own, unworthy as we are, and nothing can separate us from his great love for us except our stubborn refusal to accept his gracious invitation to us to come and join the party. We don’t have to worry about having to qualify for this great gift because it is offered freely to us. That is the kind of God we love and worship, the God of Scripture, and in that love we find God’s peace and joy in any and every circumstance of life. And when we appropriate God’s love for us, it means we really do have Good News, now and for all eternity, which will of course make us go away rejoicing in this great and awesome God of ours. Alleluia! Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!
In the name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.