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A sermon based on
Isaiah 65:17-25; Luke 21:5-19
Last week, I preached on the words of the prophet Haggai. “Build the temple,” said the prophet. “The latter splendor of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts; and in this place I will give prosperity, says the lord of hosts.”
We build the church because it’s an important witness in a world that finds what we do increasingly irrelevant. We build together, in an act of hope and courage.
And this week we hear very different words from Jesus about the temple. Jesus said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.”
Things will fall apart. Bad things are going to happen. You will be arrested, persecuted, brought before kings and rulers, tried, punished, betrayed and put to death.
Jesus and Haggai were talking about the same temple, but at very different times in history. Haggai was encouraging people to build the temple after they had returned from Babylonian enslavement about 550 years before Jesus. The people rebuilt the destroyed temple; they restored their hope in community and in their relationship to God.
And Jesus was predicting--550 years later--that the temple would fall, that all the work of the Israelites following their captivity will be destroyed again.
The gospel of Luke was written at about the same time as the temple had been destroyed. The temple was destroyed about 40 years after Jesus was put to death, and the book of Luke was written at about the same time as the destruction of the temple. The words of Jesus were written down in this gospel at a time when Jesus’ predictions had just come to pass, when they were living in the the destruction to which Jesus spoke.
Jesus was talking about the temple destruction, but considering that this story was so close to Jesus’ life story, he’s also referring to his own destruction. He’s predicting how his own death will be. Arrested, persecuted, brought to trial before rulers….
And yet, all of this--Jesus said--would be an opportunity to testify. All of the persecution, trials and destruction will be an opportunity to speak the good news of God’s reign among us.
Persecution, destruction and trials--all opportunities to speak of God’s reign. This doesn’t sit well with me. I’m disturbed that Jesus suggests that the hard times are the opportunity to testify, that it may be a time of clarity to see God at work.
I doubt that churches that are closing their doors would see their demise as an opportunity to testify. I doubt that when we think about the possibility of our own death, that we find it easy to think about testifying to God’s love and grace.
Instead we see our wealth as a sign of good news. We see our church’s growth as as sign of success. We see our health as a sign of God blessing us and saving us.
And that doesn’t sit well with me either.
When my family prays over our dinner meal, we typically say something like, “Lord, we thank you for this food, and for our many blessings.” When we pray, we thank God, for what we have been given. But I have often wondered what people who don’t have my many blessings pray at their dinner meal. What do they testify to when their opportunity comes?
How do we testify when things are falling apart all around us? How to we speak to God’s goodness and presence when all of it falls away?
The only way we know this is when things fall apart around us, when our plans are destroyed, when our health is compromised, and when we lose it all.
This summer, my friend Mark learned he was dying. Mark was a theatre director--he loved playing with words. Writing, acting and talking about words were what he did best.
The day he learned that he had weeks to months to live, he wrote this:
Fall Apart in my backyard. THIS IS MY NEW MOTTO. This is what I want this time to be for us. Fall apart in my backyard. I’ll be your backyard you can fall apart in. You can be my backyard I can fall apart in. Let’s all fall apart in my backyard. Let’s run, fall apart, get up fall down meanwhile we keep dancing in my backyard.”
This is not a suggestion that we all cry together about what was happening. It was more like, “let’s practice letting our guard down together. Let’s practice taking the mask off and being real with each other.”
When Mark’s life was falling apart, when there was no stone left upon stone, he asked to be surrounded by his friends, to testify together to what was real and true. And in his bedroom, surrounded by medical equipment, we practiced letting our guard down, and speaking about what was real.
In that time that everything in our lives falls apart, we learn what is most important, and what is real.
This church will not be here forever. What has been built by the faithful for the last 325 years, will fall apart. This building that we love so much will not be here forever. So, what will remain when this all falls apart? To what do we testify when the brick and mortar is gone?
In the same way, all the blessings in our lives will fall away. Those material things we thank God for at our dinner table, will go away. When those things we feel most blessed by go away, what’s left? To what do we testify?
It can be overwhelming to think about our lives and our congregation being taken down, stone by stone. But in the destruction the tearing down, there are the hopeful words of the prophet, Isaiah:
I am about to create new heavens and a new earth! The things of the past will not be remembered or come to mind. Be glad and rejoice forever and ever in what i create.
Let us not be fear what may be destroyed. Let us not try to prepare, or try to hold on too tightly After everything is torn down, we can see what is most important--and to that we testify. We testify to the New Heaven and new earth we see being made, even in the middle of the destruction. We tell the story of God’s presence all the time--in the blessings and in those times when the blessings seem elusive.
Sermon based on Haggai 1:15b-2:9
In the book of Haggai, the people of Israel have returned from their enslavement, and are back in their homeland. The Babylonian empire sent them home after 50 years of slavery, and provided them with resources to build their temple again, the one that had been ruined when they were taken from their homeland. This is what the people of Israel had hoped for, dreamed of, prayed for, and demanded of God. And now they had come back home from enslavement in Babylon, but things are not immediately easy. They were home, but their homes were destroyed. Their land did not seem like their land any longer.
The people of Israel were dispirited, apathetic, and indifferent. And the prophet was calling them to re-build their house of worship.
These were folks that were just trying to survive. They were just trying to take care of their families, to look out for their children, to put a roof over their heads and food on their tables.
The temple was destroyed. And after 50 years of being away, the Israelites were focused on rebuilding their families and creating stability for themselves.
And this is where the prophet Haggai comes in. We know little of Haggai historically, except for what we read in this book. What we do know is that Haggai called the community to rebuild the temple, knowing that it served a critical function in the community. In chapter one of this book, Haggai suggested that the temple needed to be rebuilt because the state of the house of God reflected the people’s relationship with God.
Haggai prophesied to a recently enslaved, and more recently released people. He’d prophesied to a tired, wary, and protective people. And he told them to rebuild that which was broken. Not just rebuild the temple, but make it more grand and more spectacular than it was before.
“The latter splendor of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts; and in this place I will give prosperity, says the lord of hosts.”
What does it take to rebuild that which was broken? What has to happen inside a person or group of people to continue to rebuild that which has been destroyed?
When we were in Hebron with Christian Peacemaker Teams, Ron, Charlie and I spent a few hours at a Palestinian school that was being built. We were–at the invitation of a Palestinian group called Youth Against Settlements–cleaning up the future site of a small kindergarten classroom littered by barbed wire, trash, and rocks from walls that had been knocked down. This week, I saw this little school in the news–nearly completed, it had been vandalized, covered by racist, hateful graffiti. In that same school yard last week, video was released of soldier harassing the leader of Youth Against Settlements, pushing him, and screaming in his face. He raised his hands to them–not in violence–but as a sign of his unwillingness to fight.
Youth Against Settlements will clean that graffiti of the kindergarten doors and walls. They will rebuild. And young Palestinian children will begin their education in this sweet little building. There is no doubt in my mind about that.
Last year, when Phil, Christine and I went to Far Rockaway with to help out after hurricane Sandy, we worked with a group of Amish men from Lancaster county. When things got quiet on the farm, they would work with Mennonite Disaster Service, clearing out after storms, rebuilding homes.
Christine and I couldn’t keep up with Phil and the Amish guys–we spent a good deal of our time just trying to clean up after their efficient work efforts. What was amazing on this trip is that we didn’t ask questions about the how or the why. We just knew we were there to tear down so that the people of Far Rockaway could rebuild. There was not question that rebuilding needed to happen.
The people of Hebron and the people of Far Rockaway know that rebuilding is a sign of hope. Rebuilding is a sign that people haven’t given up, that they are not discouraged, that they can see things bigger picture.
In the same way and in with that same spirit, we keep building the church. There are some days when it makes absolutely no sense to do so. There are some days when do is completely absurd. Why do we worship? Why do we have this building? Why do we put our time into creating community and interacting with each other?
Haggai reminds us that we build and create to connect with each other. We build and create to connect to God. We build this church, and do the work of God because we can’t live on our own. We can’t live in our houses in isolation. We can’t raise our children or care for our parents without each other. We sing, we worship, we share, we laugh and cry, because we are more than just individuals, we are more than the work we do, we are part of something bigger.
We are building and re-building church because it matters. It matters that we have a place to ask questions, to celebrate, to hold each other up. What we do matters.
When things get hard, it can feel like this isn’t worth doing. When relationships within this place feel strained, we want to return to our own homes, and focus on our four walls. That can feel safer than trying to build something that can be destroyed again.
Nadia Bolz-Weber, Lutheran Pastor and writer, describes what she says to new attender at her church. People come to her church because she’s cool, and her church is edgy. It’s easy for people to become enamored with the hip atmosphere at The House for All Sinners and Saints, where she is the pastor. But she tells new people–”We will let you down, we will upset you. But if you run away in the middle of the conflict and in the middle of the hard stuff, you miss the change to see resurrection happen again.”
We fear rebuilding because it’s hard work, and because it involves risk. But, building the church, showing up here week after week, is an act of hope in a world that feels hopeless. It is an act of turning to God, in a society that scoffs at reliance on anything other than ourselves. It is an act of courage, when everything about what we do defies logic and reason.
Sisters and brothers, we are building the church–with our time, with our talents and with our money. We build the church, day by day, stone by stone, an act of solidarity with God and each other, and an act of hope and courage. AMEN.
A sermon based on Luke 17:5-10
Increase our faith. An intriguing statement, and one that many of us can relate to. How often to we feel that our faith is not strong enough.
It’s important to take the stories in the gospel in their context. So before we get to the statement by the disciples--”Increase our faith”--I want to look at what would cause the disciples to say such a thing.
Keep in mind that Jesus had just told the Pharisees the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus. It was a scandalous story. And the disciples heard it too. Jesus told the Pharisees that they had enough information about what God wanted for them--sending a dead ancestor would not change their minds.
And after that story, Jesus turned to his disciples and said this: “Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come! It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble. Be on your guard! If another disciple sins, you must rebuke the offender and if there is repentance, you must forgive. And if the same person sins against you seven times a day and turns back to you seven times and says, “I repent,” you must forgive.”
Jesus painted a stark picture with Lazarus and the Rich Man. And Millstones around the neck and the call to repeatedly forgive those that offend us is hard to hear.
So I could imagine that the disciples have the fear of God in them about what they’ve heard. Forgiveness can test faith. Riches can test our faith.
So they disciples exclaimed to Jesus, “Increase our faith!” Help us Lord! This is hard! Following you is difficult work. Give us what we need!
The trip to Hebron with Christian Peacemaker Teams was hard on my faith. I would come back from visiting people’s homes or walking kids to school and feel the pain of the people I met and wanted to cry. But I was so numb--I didn’t know yet what to do with all that I had seen and with all the stories I’d heard. I felt like I had no faith left.
So, I’d go back to the Christian Peacemaker Teams apartment and read. I read a book by Gregory Boyle, called “Tattoos on the Heart”. It’s a book about hope and compassion as witnessed by Father Gregory, a priest that lives in the gang infested neighborhoods of Los Angeles. Father Gregory has seen a lot of hard things in his life. He’s buried over two hundred youth in his tenure-most of them who were killed because of gun violence. But he also had faith, and a way to see the hope.
He writes: “Homies get stuck in the morass of desperation, both the impasse writ large and the ordinary mud of inertia.” and then he tells stories about youth he’s worked with that struggle, and make some strides to make their lives better. He concludes, “I’ve come to trust the value of simply showing up--and singing the song without the words. And yet, each time I find myself siting with the pain that folks carry, I’m overwhelmed with my own inability to do more than stand in awe, dumbstruck by the sheer size of the burden--more than I’ve ever been asked to carry.”
Father Gregory understood this burden of pain that I was carrying, and his faith and hopefulness even in a difficult setting gave me hope that I might be able to make it through this trip.
In Hebron, if it wasn’t Father Gregory it was my roommates and I laughing at something absurd, and reminding each other of the joy and humor of life, even in seemingly hopeless places.
Increase our faith.
It’s understandable that the disciples would demand this of Jesus. So Jesus told the story of the mustard seed. He said, “If you had the faith of a mustard seed” (which--by the way--mustard seeds are very small and round, and if you try to hold them in your hand, they roll around, and spill out everywhere. So, these mustard seeds are elusive.) “If you had the faith of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, “uproot yourselves and plant yourselves in the sea, and it would obey you.”
I think Jesus was being sarcastic here because the disciples do have the faith of a mustard seed. They’ve been following Jesus all this time. They know they are on to something. They just need to access that faith, hold on to it.
Increase our faith.
So then, what is faith? Well, let me tell you what it’s not--it’s not a question of “Do you believe it?” or “Can you organize this into an intellectual construct?” It’s not an intellectual question. It’s relational trust. It is following in the way of Jesus, even if you don’t know exactly where you are going. It’s having questions--and having some of the answers, but being willing to live into the mystery and to lean into the questions.
In the words of Paul to Timothy--our faith is something that we already possess, that is handed down to us from our spiritual ancestors but must be rekindled. Paul doesn’t describe faith as something we must earn, it is a gift freely given. Paul said, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you. 6For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; 7for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.
Faith is something we already possess--it is a gift of God. ut like a flame on a candle, sometimes it can go out. Sometimes we must borrow the flame from our friends in faith to re-kindle our faith when it is weary.
Nadia Bolz-Weber, in her recent interview with Krista Tippett, said this about the rekindling of faith:
Faith is not given to individuals in sufficient quantity, necessarily, I think it’s giving in sufficient quantity to communities. In the same way, we hear “God will not give you more than you can bear,” I think God will not give the community more than it can bear. We’ve individualized this idea of faith so much, in a way that makes it inaccessible to people.
This is western individualism run amuck in religion. This is not your faith, it’s the faith of the church and we’ve lost track of that in my personal Jesus, personal piety, prayer life thing. This is about community. It always has been “the body of Christ.”
There is grace in that. Because on the days that my faith is tired, I know that you will have the faith to carry me through. And on the days when your faith is weak, I can be there with my little mustard seed of faith to carry you through.
Faith is not something that happens alone. I happens with all of us, and because of all of us. It is many of those slippery rolly mustard seeds of faith make that make our communal faith strong. We don’t all need to have a grasp on our little bits of faith to know that it’s being held and honored and that we can access it.
Sermon based on Luke 14: 1, 7-14
Hospitality is a fact of life for us. We share what we have with each other. We bring meals to families after illnesses or after babies are born. We invite each other over into our homes and our lives. We answer the calls when needs are made known.
I have a real and genuine sense of pride when I hear what people say about this church. THey say this church is hospitable and welcoming. We look after each other, we take care of each other, knowing that there will come a time when we will need help and someone will be there for us.
Hospitality is about reciprocity. It’s about knowing that it will come back to you. At least that’s how we tend to practice hospitality.
But in my last two weeks in Israel and Palestine, I experienced hospitality that expected nothing in return.
Last week, our Christian Peacemaker Teams delegation hiked from the small village of ATawani to the even smaller village of Al-Fakheet. All Fahkeet is located in Firing Zone 918, land that the Israeli Military has claimed so that they can perform military exercises. This land is inhabited by thousands of Palestinians that have lived and farmed on this land for generations.
It’s difficult to imagine that anyone could farm this dry, dusty rocky land, but they do. It’s difficult to imagine that the land could sustain a farmer’s herd of sheep, but it does.
On top of the terrain being rugged and dry, Palestinians are not allowed to dig wells or cisterns on this “reclaimed” land. They are not allowed to access any water found under their land. Instead they had to truck water to their farms–that water is poor quality, because it sits in trucks for days at a time. But the people drink it and the animals drink it. Those trucks are often not allowed to enter the firing zone, so the Palestinian’s access to water can get to a crisis point.
We walked towards Al-Fahkeet after an early dinner. We brought in our own water and breakfast but by the time we got to the village at sundown, we were hungry.
We prepared for bed in a little two room schoolhouse, which had recently been threatened by the Israeli military who have come within a few yards of the school with helicopters, kicking up dust, and frightening the people of Al-Fahkeet. We stayed there to be a peaceful presence, and to be in solidarity with the folks at Al Fahkeet.
A neighboring shepherd noticed that we were at the school, and invited us to an impromptu meal at his tent. It was late, and dark and we didn’t expect much. But this shepherd pulled out all the stops. He served us like we were honored guests. We had cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, hummus, eggs, and hands down the best bread I’ve ever eaten. He served us hot tea, and kept it flowing.
I think it was the best meal we ate in those two weeks. And it wasn’t just about the food. It was that this man who works so hard to get the basic necessities for his family, while living in a firing zone in the middle of what seemed like nowhere–he shared all that he had with us. He was the rich one, and we were poor Americans could never repay him for his generosity.
What happens when someone does something nice for us here? We send a note of thanks. We buy a gift. We make cookies. We try to repay. We work to make things even, fair. We don’t want to be a burden to others in our need.
Jesus says these words to us today, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or relatives or rich neighbros, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind. An you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
It’s hard for us not to repay, to accept the gift as just what it is–a gift–and not feel any obligation to even the score.
But this meal in the tiny village of Al-Fahkeet was a gift freely given, and one that I could never repay. I was the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind. And I was this man’s enemy–our government funds the evil that is done to his family and his village. I was more than just a poor in spirit stranger. I was a participant in a government that sought to destroy this man’s livelihood and displace him from his home and his land. And he expected nothing from me.
The call to hospitality is bigger than giving so that it will come back to us. It’s about more than “karma” and runs deeper than expectations of reciprocity. Hospitality is giving without expecting anything in return. It’s giving without concern for efficiency or positive outcomes. Hospitality is giving not only from our excess but from our own storehouses.
The experience of this deep true hospitality is what we experience at this communion table. We receive the gift of hospitality at this table with no expectation that we can ever pay it back. In fact, we understand that the gift here is something we can’t even begin to return. It is grace at it’s truest, mercy at it’s most pure and love at its deepest.
This morning, as we enter into a time of communion, I invite you to think about this gift of communion, this hospitality and goodness we cannot repay. Imagine this meal as an invitation to experience the love of God–a love that needs no repayment, and a love so extravagant the likes of which we, the broken people, have never experienced. AMEN.
Sermon based on Philemon; Luke 14:25-33
“None of you can become my disciples if you do not give up your possessions.”
That’s the kind of text that makes me wish I could skip preaching this week. Or, if I had planned better, maybe I should have given this week to my intern to preach on.
But here we are, talking about the hard words of Jesus. We can’t sugar coat this text, or explain it away. This is no metaphor and no funny punch line. Jesus is saying we must give up our possessions in order to be his disciples.
When the Christian Peacemaker Teams delegation was in the West Bank, we saw a lot of guns. I’m not talking about the guns you see on police officers here–the ones that fit conveniently on someone’s belt. I’m talking about large machine guns slung over a soldier’s back, or carried around by settlers for protection. Guns were always large and in view–an intimidating steel force, and a fact of life in Israel and Palestine.
It certainly intimidated me.
These large guns are worn and used to enforce “peace”, to enact security in insecure places. They are possessions relied upon for the protection of people and land, at the expense of another people’s safety. And they were worn by people who had so much to lose
“None of you can become my disciples if you do not give up your possessions.”
In the book of Philemon, which is a short 25 verses, Paul writes a letter to his brother in Christ, and appeals to him to release from the bonds of slavery, Onesimus, Philemon’s slave and fellow Christian. Onesimus means “useful” in greek–a demeaning name for a slave, to be called by his value, not for the beautiful person he was.
Onesimus had escaped from Philemon’s house, and run to the prison where Paul was staying. Paul returned Onesimus, with this letter, appealing to him in love to release his slave, his human possession, for the sake of the gospel.
We do not know the results of this beautiful letter to Philemon from the Apostle Paul. I have always thought that Philemon, reading this letter appealing to his Christian brotherhood with his slave, would do the right thing and release Onesimus from his obligation.
There’s nothing in the text to say what Philemon did either way. There’s no historical record. We can only hope that Philemon, released Onesimus and experienced the freedom that came from releasing his slave, a brother in Christ, his possession.
Our possessions create for us a sense of security. Our cars help us to get where we are going and give us a sense of safety–usually–that we will get there unharmed. Our homes are protection for our families from the elements. Our phones and computers help us to work and keep in contact with our families.
Our possessions create for us a sense of security, but they also have potential to enslave us. The more we have, the more we must look after. THe more we have, the more we feel we must protect. The more we have, the more time and energy we must devote to our possessions.
When we accumulate possessions, our cars must be bigger to carry our things, our houses must be larger to accommodate our stuff, and all of those things need security systems to protect them from outside people that want to steal our things and infringe upon our security.
A lot of money, time and energy goes into maintaining our things. And all that takes away from our ability to follow Jesus.
None of us can become Jesus’ disciples if we do not give up our possessions.
Our possessions also make us complicit in the evils of this world. We all know this–shopping at some stores means we are accepting poor treatment and lack of healthcare for low wage workers. Buying certain foods means were are complicit in the use of pesticides on our lands. Investing in certain companies means we are contributing our wealth toward oppression of people and depletion of land resources.
And Jesus said, “None of you can become my disciples if you do not give up your possessions.”
Oh, Jesus. You make this discipleship thing so hard. There is so much you are asking us to give up.
This is the dilemma Philemon faced in letting go of Onesimus as his slave. And before you say, “but that was slavery–that was different”, let me say this: our system creates enslavement of other kinds. Distant enslavement that we don’t have to face personally, but enslavement nonetheless. It’s the kind of enslavement that allows us to own clothing made cheaply in bangladesh in poorly constructed factories that crumble and kill it’s workers. It’s the kind of enslavement that allows us to buy produce picked by undocumented folks in this country, who have no healthcare, security or safety net. That is enslavement. We are possessed by a system that enslaves and Jesus is calling us to be free of what enslaves us to follow him.
This is hard news for privileged people like us.
But there is hope and good news here, I believe. Freedom from our possessions is freedom to see things more clearly. Freedom from our enslavement is freedom to have deeper compassion and fuller love for our wider humanity.
I don’t speak about this good news lightly. It’s more than pie in the sky, poetic ethereal love. It’s important, hard work. Being free of our possessions opens our imaginations, and allows us to see each other more clearly.
In the West Bank, there were a lot of shocking things to see and hear. But among the most shocking was what we heard several Palestinian folks say about Israeli soldiers. “We try not to hate them, because they are victims too.”
We heard that about us too. A poor shepherd said to us, “I can’t hate you for being a victim of your country’s policy against us.”
Those statements about the soldiers and about me–they took a lot of faith to say. They took a lot of love to say. It took a lot of letting go to peak honestly. These were Palestinian people that lived in a system that was solidly against them. This is a system that created and upheld laws that made it legal for them to be stripped them of their land, their possessions and their dignity. And still–or perhaps because of that–they could see things clearly. They could not hate,even when the system promoted hate. They could not hate people that pointed guns in their faces, that profiled their kids and stopped them from going to mosque to pray. THey had given up everything, whether they wanted to or not, and they were enslaved by nothing. They had the freedom to love the soldiers that oppressed them, and the well meaning Americans that kept them enslaved in an apartheid system.
These are the hard words of Jesus. And there is truth in these difficult words. There is good news in giving up our possessions. When we give up our possessions, we gain a freedom and a courage to love more.
And I’ll admit–I’m not there yet. None of us are. God knows that, and offers us grace as we loosen our grips on our possessions, the things that enslave us. This road of discipleship is a journey. It doesn’t happen overnight. And with every step we take on the road to discipleship, we see a little more clearly, and the possessions that enslave us loosen their grip on us just a bit. With every step we take on this road to discipleship, we feel deeper love and commitment to our brothers and sisters and less of a burden of our possessions. It is freedom in Christ to let go of what enslaves us.
We don’t know what happened between Onesimus and Philemon. I hope Philemon did the right thing, and let Onesimus go. I’d like to believe that the book of PHilemon is in the bible because Philemon did the right thing, and not just because Paul knew how to write a convincing letter.
Like Philemon, we have a choice to make on the road to discipleship. Can we let go of those things that enslave us? I’d like to think that we can–together–begin that journey of letting go. With God as our strength and Jesus as our guide, and grace in abundance. AMEN.
What can I do?