Monday, December 30, 2013

Sermon from Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013; Psalm 148

Rev. George Miller
Psalm 148
“Praise, Praise, Praise!!!”
Dec 29, 2013

Last time we gathered we were anticipating the birth of Jesus. For weeks we lit candles representing hope, love, peace and joy. On Tuesday night we dimmed the sanctuary and with candles in hand we sung “Silent Night” as our anticipation neared its close.

Now we have entered the 12 Days of Christmas, a time in which we keep the spirit of the season alive by waiting for Epiphany, the day the Magi arrive bearing gifts.

In the meantime, we eat left-overs, throw away excess wrapping paper, pick pieces of tinsel from off the floor and rub our bellies saying “Why did I eat so much again?”

Hopefully, we’re also basking in the after-glow of what the season is really about and what it means to say God has entered our world as a child so that we may have eternal life.

I’ve been blessed with an abundance of cards, homemade food, and gifts. One of them is a calendar with daily uplifting reminders about the goodness of life.

I’ve already started using it, keeping it on the porch where I like to sit with my morning coffee while watching the birds and spending time with the cats.

The entry from yesterday was a quote by Edith Wharton. It said this- “There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”

It got me thinking. Here’s the thing about candles: they burn out. Candles give and give and give until they are all gone. But a mirror? It can go on reflecting forever as long as there’s something to reflect.

Which lead to another thought: spiritually speaking, we are not the candle, nor are we called to be the candle.

Who is the candle???

…That means we, as Christians, get to be the mirror; we get to reflect the light that comes from God, that comes from Jesus, that comes from the Holy Spirit.

But we are not the candle.

That’s part of the beauty of today’s reading. Psalm 148 is a glorious testimony to God, our Creator. It’s a glorious song that pays tribute to God and makes the claim that we should not only praise God, but that we were created to be praising people.

It also makes a bold claim: that we are not the only beings or things that celebrate God, but all matters of creation do: cattle and creepy crawlies, cedars and citrus, snow and sun.

Even sea creatures that scare us and stars that shine in the sky offer God thanks.

Praise, praise, praise!!! this song commands. The Lord alone is exalted. Can we get an amen? Can we get an amen??

But let’s pause here for a moment because I know what some people are thinking: the sun doesn’t praise, mountains don’t sing.

Not once have we driven past an orange grove and seen the trees move or heard them break out in harmony, and if we did, that would be horrifying!

Cows go moo, ducks go quack, and ask any of your grandchildren: they’ll tell you what the fox says. But have you ever heard one say “Amen?”

Plus, let’s be honest, nature isn’t always so cute. Nature can be downright cruel. We have storms and floods, tidal waves and famines. Animals kill to eat, bugs and vermin carry disease and everything on earth and creation is in a state of decay.

Is the author speaking nonsense? Is the author telling a lie? Is the author naïve?

No. You see, there is something in theology that is called a second naiveté. It refers to the faith process that people go through.

When younger, we see the world a certain way. A place where wonder and magic can happen and we believe all that we are told, be it a Disney film or a biblical story.

As we grow older, those beliefs are challenged. We learn about history and science, philosophy and symbolism. We hear different viewpoints and the opinions of others and we come to discover that things may actually be quite different from what we originally thought.

For example: was Jonah really swallowed by a giant fish or is the fish symbolic of death, making Jonah’s story about rebirth and second chances?

A second naiveté is not about being in denial, it’s about saying “Yes, I know the reality of things, but I choose to believe the story anyway because its truth is more beautiful then facts.”

There is something about the child-like awe that wonder and belief brings into the world. There is trust and joy, and a sense that something good is bound to happen, and that it is always greater then ourselves.

A few weeks ago on TV there was an episode of The Middle that captured this notion. It features Sue Heck, a teenager who is in that awkward in-between stage. She’s uber-enthusiastic about everything and never gives up even when she fails miserably.

It’s hard to tell when her enthusiasm is child-like or childish.

In the scene we’re about to play, Sue claims she saw an image of the Santa Marie on her wall. Her Dad tries to convince her that it wasn’t real; he shares that once he thought he saw his dead grandmother, but he didn’t tell anyone because it sounded insane.

Here is Sue’s response: “No, it sounds incredible. There are so many beautiful, amazing things that happen every day that sound crazy.

Think about it: if I had to explain the miracle of how babies are born to someone who didn’t know, wouldn’t I sound insane?

Stars: I read that when a star explodes the dust they find is the same thing that makes up humans, animals, the entire universe.

How amazing is that? The same stardust is in everything and everyone. Me, you, even Christopher Columbus.

You know, in his day some people still thought the world was flat. Columbus said it was round and people thought he was crazy.

Look, I know there are always going to be doubters but it just takes someone who thinks ‘Why can’t it be true’ to truly change the world, and I am one of those people.

So how can you sit there, on this planet made of stardust that was once thought to be flat and still not think anything is possible?” (from ABC’s The Middle episode titled “Halloween IV: The Ghost Story” aired Oct 30, 2013).***

I love her logic, her passion and her claim that we are all made up of stardust. Hers is a belief that anything is possible.

And it’s because of people like Sue Heck that impossible things do take place. The Sue’s of the world are the ones who sail across an ocean, create airplanes, build parks out of swamps and believe that things like injustice can be eradicated and hunger can be defeated.

And this notion of all things being made of the same material, being made of stardust, brings us back to the imagery of Psalm 148.

In this Christmas season, it makes the child-like claim that all people, all creatures, all things praise God.

It makes the child-like claim that all people, all creatures, all things have the capacity and the ability to praise God; that the hills literally are alive with the sound of music.

Naïve? Perhaps. But think of what that means: that all things are of value, all things are of worth, and all things have a purpose and a place.

It also means that all things, all creatures, and all people come from the same source: God.

That as different as we are, as disjointed as we may seem, as at odds with one another we may feel, we are actually all connected, we are all a part of…we all belong.

What would the world look like if we chose to believe this to be true and to act in such a way, every day? What if we believed and acted that God is the source and author of all life?

What if we chose to believe and to act that God is the candle, and not us?

And that the light that came into our world is Jesus. The one born to peasants, placed in a manger, surrounded by what?: stars that shine, lowly shepherds who visit, magi who come bearing gifts, and a bevy of animals who sing their own song.

All of creation has been groaning up to this moment, but with Jesus, the light of the world entering in, all of creation gets to sing and celebrate and to anticipate the good that is bound to happen.

We get to play our part; we get to sing along and to share our gifts.

We get to praise God because we realize we are not God; we are not the candle that gives the world light, but we get to be the mirrors of that light.

We get to be mirrors with what we say, what we do, in how we live, by how we love.

Do we shine the light of Christ just to others who are like us, or can we be mirrors bright enough to shine the light of Christ to all of creation?: cattle and creepy crawlies, cedars and citrus, snow and sun, sea creatures that scare us and stars that shine in the sky.

If we are all indeed endowed with the same stardust made by the same star-maker, then we can shine just as bright as the evening sky and believe that anything is possible.

Amen and amen.

***to see the clip that was played during service, you can go to my FaceBook page. It's a shoddy copy but it's more powerful then just reading the words.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Sermon for Christmas Eve 2013; Titus 3:3-7

Rev. George Miller
Titus 3:3-7
“Prepared for Pouring Out”
Dec 24, 2013

When encountering Luke’s telling of the Christmas Story it’s hard not to be moved when we hear there was no place in the inn.

It’s a phrase that packs an emotional wallop, centering us on the reality of Jesus’ birth: no proper place to rest one’s head, no proper place to store one’s clothes, no proper place to give weary feet a rest.

The inn was so full that it could not accommodate the birth of our Savior, so a manger had to do. And yet somehow, even with such limited space, that was enough.

It was enough for God to accomplish what God set out to do.

Jump ahead 100 years later. In a letter to Titus, the author states that the Holy Spirit is being poured out so they we may inherit eternal life.

It’s a contrast to what Joseph and Mary had experienced. The notion of being poured out sounds so lavish and extravagant; a gift given in abundance.

Trouble is, how do you receive such a wonderful gift if you are not prepared and you yourself are filled to capacity with things that may not seem so…godly?

How do you receive such a pouring out if you are filled with foolishness or envy, malice or hate for one another, the love of gossip and the constant need to put your own desires first?

If all those things fill your heart and time, how can an outpouring of the Spirit be received? How can there be any place for Jesus inside the inn of your heart?

Now I’m not one of those pastors who believe in immediate change, who will tell you to give yourself to Jesus and all your negative attributes will quickly fall away.

But I do believe that a life which sincerely welcomes Jesus is a life that experiences change and transformation, but it is usually a slow, continuous process, and certainly lifelong.

Do we ever get it right? Do we ever discard all the things that hurt us and hurt others?

Do we ever become so completely empty of all our stuff that we are filled with nothing but the Holy Spirit and the love of Jesus?

If you know of someone who has, let me know.

But here is an analogy that seems right for tonight. For the last 10 years I’ve put up a tree each Christmas, which means I have many decorations and being that kind of guy, virtually every ornament tells a story.

There are those given to me when my father died. There are cheap ones I bought when I couldn’t afford anything else. There are used ornaments purchased at thrift shops that never really felt like they were mine.

There are ones given during chapters in my life that were good, but are now long over. There are others given by people who didn’t really know me or know what else to get.

Each year I put up the tree and hang these ornaments, but they emotionally lacked luster; they felt heavy. I didn’t really want to look at them or be reminded of what they represented, so I’d hang them off to the side or in the back. They couldn’t be seen, but they took up space.

Then, there are the ornaments that bring joy, luster and feel light: the handmade ones by my sister, the funny ones sent by my brother, the playdough ornaments crafted by my nephews, and mementos from trips to New Orleans, Arizona and Saugatuck, MI.

These go on the front of the tree so they can be seen and bring a sense of deep love and joy.

Recently, my acquiring of ornaments has become intentional, collecting one every time I go somewhere: a whale ornament from Greenport, a row boat from Port Jefferson, princesses and Pixar creations from Disney, a sunbathing turtle from Wauchula.

I not only know where I was but I know who I was with when I got each one.

This year I did myself a favor. I went through the ornament collection and began removing the ones that no longer bring joy: the ones that were reminders of when I couldn’t afford anything else, the one’s that reminded me too much of a beloved’s death.

Some I left in my apartment’s laundry room for people to take, others I donated, some I kept in a box because maybe next year I will want them.

The result: a Christmas tree at its most alive, decorated mainly with ornaments that pop with colors and goodness and stories I want to recall, memories that involve the places, the people, the family, and the friends that are in my life.

Yes, there are still some ornaments hiding in the back that I’m not yet ready to take down. And I know that some of the current ones may lose their meaning and will have to be let go too. But when they are, there will be a space for new ornaments to take their place.

Let me ask you this: on this Christmas Eve, what are the symbolic ornaments you have been holding onto that need to be let go?

What are the ornaments you keep putting up that really don’t bring beauty into your world, or may actually cause you hurt?

What are the ornaments that when you look at them you don’t feel so good about yourself? Are there ones that remind you of who you use to be but no longer want to be reminded of anymore?

What ornaments are best to be taken down so that new ones, inspiring ones, beautiful ones, can be put up?

Through Jesus Christ the Holy Spirit is ready to be poured out, to decorate our lives with the most beautiful of decorations: hope and joy, peace and love, patience and generosity.

Each of us can always benefit from extra baubles of kindness and faithfulness, grace and gentleness, justice and mercy.

But we can’t have space to place these ornaments up if we continue to keep the old ones.

It doesn’t have to be a quick exchange; it can’t be a quick exchange. But with Jesus, over time it can happen.

Over time we can exchange our broken or outdated ornaments for others that are full of light and full of life, eternal life.

Eternal which means we are more than our foolish, sinful selves, but we are part of something greater.

The way that hope and kindness help to build community.

The way that love, peace and patience help to build a family.

The way that joy and gentleness helps to build friendships.

The ways that faithfulness, generosity and grace help to build the church

The ways that doing justice, loving mercy and humbly walking with the Lord help to build the world.

There will always be ornaments on our tree of life which will need to be taken off, stashed away or fully discarded.

There will always be new ornaments that are in need of making room for. Today we can simply start by welcoming Jesus into our lives.

Jesus, born in a place as small and simple as a stable.

Jesus doesn’t need the cleanest of places or the quietest of spots or the most elaborate of locations to enter into our lives. All Jesus needs is space, some space, to enter, to shine, to be radiant, and to flourish.

The color of foolishness fades; the glimmer of disobedience dims. Ego driven passions and pleasures pass away.

What is left is the light of Christ and that is forever. It is the love that is most valuable. It is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that leads to new life, better life.

Tonight, are we ready to receive the Christ child? Tonight, are we ready for a pouring out? Tonight, are we ready to decorate our hearts with the good things that a life in Jesus brings?

Amen and amen.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Sermon for Dec 22, 2013; Isaiah 7:10-16

Rev. George Miller
Isaiah 7:10-16
“Present to Past”
Dec 22, 2013

Imagine this scenario if you will: it’s Dec 8, 1941, the day after the Pearl Harbor attack. President Roosevelt addresses the nation.

He states that he has been visited by the prophet Isaiah who has told him that the Lord says to wait and be patient, to not enter into war with Japan and to trust that God will work through the tragic events.

What would your reaction be? Do you think that the world, do you think that our nation, would have been for the better?

Would Germany and Italy have declared war on the US? What would’ve happened to the people in the concentration camps? Hiroshima?

Imagine, if you will another scenario: it is Sept 12, 2001, the day after the attack on the Twin Towers. President Bush addresses the nation.

He states that he has been visited by the prophet Isaiah who has told him that the Lord says to wait and be patient, to not retaliate, or launch a War on Terror and instead to trust that God will work through the tragic events.

What would your reaction be? Do you think that the world, do you think that our nation, would have been for the better?

The two situations given are in some ways similar to the events in today’s reading.

The prophet Isaiah is ministering during a tricky time in Israel’s history. Ahaz is the king of Judah, trying to mind his business. But Assyria is causing problems, attacking smaller states to build up their empire.

Syria and the Northern Kingdom are scared for their lives; they form an alliance against Assyria and try to get Judah to go along.

But King Ahaz says “No.” So Syria and the Northern Kingdom decide to attack Judah and put a puppet leader in the king’s place.

What is King Ahaz to do? War seems to be the only option. He comes up with a plan: to side with Assyria and to fight against Syria and the Northern Kingdom.

It is a political maneuver based out of fear and the kind of maneuver that will either greatly succeed or fail miserably.

This is where the Isaiah enters in. The prophet comes to King Ahaz with a message from God: “Wait. Be patient. Don’t do anything. God will work this out.”

It must have sounded ridiculous: two nations are ready to attack and the King is told that God says to wait.

Really? Wait, and do nothing. At all?

Isaiah continues. He points to a woman. He says to the King “You see that young lady over there? She is pregnant and will give birth to a child named Immanuel. Before the kid is old enough to know right from wrong, this whole thing will have blown over.”

Can you imagine?

Isaiah is telling the King “Trust me; trust God: in a few short years this’ll all be kaput and you don’t have to do a thing.”

Wait the prophet is telling the King during a time of turmoil.

Trust the prophet is telling the King when alliances are being formed.

Listen the prophet tells the King who chooses to be deaf.

In an act of impatience, Ahaz forms an alliance with Assyria, and like a wolf in wolf’s clothing, Assyria devours the people of Judah with fire and war, leaving their streets destroyed and many of their people dead.

God, speaking through the prophet, used the promise of an unborn child to create patience and peace. The King, by choosing not to listen, experienced the consequence of worry and war.

Last week we heard our Regional Conference Minister, Rev. Sarah Lund speak so eloquently about patience.

As a dreamer from New York that’s not such an easy concept for me to embrace or a life-style choice to commit to. Therefore living in Sebring where there is no choice but to be patient can be one of the reasons why living here can be so refreshing and so infuriating.

It’s nice to go into a store or home and operate on southern or Midwestern time. It allows one to be able to talk, to meet folk, to appreciate the moment.

Then there are other times where it’s like hurry up, stop talking, get your wallet out, step on the gas, figure out where you want to go and what you want to do!!!

Ecclesiastes 3 tells us that for everything there is a season: a time to be born, a time to die. But it doesn’t say anything about a time to chill and trust God and a time to get to steppin’ and to act quickly on faith.

And Lord knows the biblical narratives don’t make it easy to figure out.

Genesis 1 tells us God took 7 days to create the world. Does that sound like a lot of time or a little bit of time to you?

What about Exodus 3? Moses is tending the sheep when out of nowhere God speaks to him from a burning bush and says “I have decided it’s about time to free the slaves and I want you to do it.”

There is no warning or preparation for Moses. Just an immediate before and after: Have a meeting with the elders and tell them the great I AM has sent you.

If you ask me, it’s God who sounds a bit impatient. Where’s the planning, the sign of a pregnant woman or words of assurance that if Moses just simply waits and does nothing God will have their problems resolved?

And then Moses does exactly what God asks him to do, and what happens? The Israelites end up having to wait and wander the desert for 40 years for God’s plan to be realized.

It’s like hurry up…to wait.

We see this also in the ministry of Jesus. He’s walking along the sea, spots Peter and Andrew and with nary an introduction he tells them “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they let down their nets and follow.

But when news gets out that his good friend Lazarus is sick and Jesus should come pay him a visit, what does he do? Jesus takes his time, three days to be exact, before going. By then, it appears to be too late.

After the crucifixion we’re told Jesus is in the tomb for 3 days before God raises him up. In your opinion is 3 days east-coast quick or southerrrn slowww?

Throughout the Bible we have examples of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit being like “Now!”, “…not yet.” “Now!” “…not yet.”

How can we ever know which is the right option? How can we ever be sure we are actually hearing a word from the Lord and not just a voice in our own head or the musings of an unstable person?

There is no solid answer for that. I read this passage and feel so bad for King Ahaz, wishing that for his sake and the sake of his people that he listened to Isaiah.

But then I think of the imagined situations we started today’s message with. How would you have felt if President Roosevelt or President Bush had based their decisions on a visit from the prophet?

To wait or to act? Which is the best to do?

I can’t say, but I believe an answer rests in something Tracy Miller, our-vice moderator, stated earlier this week “Seek first the Kingdom of God.”

In other words, as we do what we do, are we doing it for us, or for the betterment of God’s Kingdom?

Are we focused on what God ultimately wants and hopes for the people?”

Sometimes the answer we get is a very clear “yes!” Sometimes it is a very clear “no!” A lot of times we may find the answer a bit in the middle, mindful of all the complexities and sides of an argument.

So perhaps to get a sense of how to respond in the present, we bravely look back upon our past.

To learn and listen to what God has said before to get a better understanding of what God is still speaking today.

To recall the teachings of Jesus, to consider the stories he told, to look at the people he helped, healed, and reached out to and the people he ate with.

To celebrate the ways in which the Holy Spirit broke into the world, the fire it brought with it, the peoples it touched, the tongues it let loose.

Advent is a time to look forward; it is a time to anticipate.

Advent is a time to wait. To stay; to stay right where we are. To pray. To praise.

To remember the promises of the past as we are centered in the present. To be centered in the present so we can embrace the future that Immanuel (God is With Us) is creating.

Advent is a time pregnant with possibilities. A time pregnant with hope. Pregnant with joy. Pregnant with peace. Pregnant with love.

Can we stop and listen for the voice of God? Are we willing to trust that it’s not the ways of the world that are in charge but God is?

Are we willing to believe that God is still speaking, and it’s not just with periods, but commas, and dashes and even long, quiet pauses?

Are we willing to seek first, above all else, the Kingdom of God? Amen and amen.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Sermon from Sunday, Dec 8, 2013; Matthew 1:18-25

Rev. George Miller
Matthew 1:18-25
“Life is But a Dream”
Deb 8, 2013

(This sermon is done in character, as Joseph)

Ever since I became engaged to Mary, I’ve had the most wonderful of dreams. Of what the ceremony would be like. The wedding feast. The wedding night. The children we’d have.

These joyful dreams are based on hope. Hope for a better tomorrow. Hope that life will become easier.

It was my auntie who once told me “When you hope, you are hoping with God.”

What she did not tell me, however, is that life can change in an instant. That in a single moment, everything can be turned upside down and nothing is what you expected it to be.

I discovered that Mary is pregnant and we are not yet officially wed.

We are engaged, which legally means we have a binding contract: she is mine and I am hers. This makes her my wife, but for the next year, until our wedding day, Mary is to stay in her father’s home. Any sign of unfaithfulness is considered adultery.

The fact that Mary is pregnant before our wedding day means she has brought great shame onto both her father’s household and onto mine.

Shame is not something we welcome.

Now it feels as if all my dreams have been shattered; all the joy has been ripped away.

Soon Mary will be showing; soon people will point their fingers and talk. Soon the names will begin and the gossip will start.

I know what needs to be done. I am, after all, a righteous man. I desire to be free from guilt and sin. I know the Laws of Moses; I know what is considered morally right and good.

The Law, the Holy Scripture, is very clear. I could take her to court and demand that her family repay the bride price.

Even more extreme, Deuteronomy 22 says that Mary can be brought out in front of her father’s home, or the gates of the city and stoned to death by the men of our village.

Both are humiliating and in my opinion, inhumane. I am a righteous man; but I am also compassionate.

Mary, my betrothed, is distressed. How can my heart not care?

…but what about the Law. The Law is said to be a gift from God, a source of joy.

The Law is what kept us alive when times were rough. The Law maintained our identity when all seemed lost.

The Law tells us that we are not unimportant as the rest of the world says we were. The law reminds us that we matter to God and that God cares for us.

And that gives us joy.

Does being righteous mean to only look in a rule book or can it also mean to wrestle with the complexities of life, listening for the Voice of God during difficult times?

And doesn’t the Law also speak about mercy? Doesn’t is speak about grace? Don’t the 10 Commandments tell us how to love God and love our neighbor?

Aren’t we called to do justice and love kindness?

How does holding Mary up for public humiliation and possible death do any of these things?

I’ve had a difficult decision to make: follow the letter of the law or the supreme demand of love.

To decide if God speaks in static periods; or if God allows for commas and dashes.

So I decided the best option was to divorce her; to send Mary away quietly. I know she has a cousin somewhere in Judea; perhaps she can live out her life with them.

She can leave before she starts to show, therefore removing any shame from my and her father’s household.

Still the choice was not easy. I needed more time to accept my decision.

I don’t know about you, but when faced with a difficulty, I sleep. Some people pray, some seek the counsel of others, I nap.

It clears my head, it settles my soul.

I had the most unusual of dreams. As clear as day, an angel came to me, a heavenly being of bright light.

He said to me not to be afraid to wed Mary. That her child is the work of the Holy Spirit. That he will be called Jesus and will save God’s people from their sins.

I awoke, muttering the words “Emmanuel” over and over again.

“Emmanuel”: God is with us.

That’s what the dream had felt like: that God was with me. It lead me to think of all the ways God has been with us.

How long, long ago, when we were enslaved in Egypt God was with us and set us free.

How when we crossed the wilderness, God was with us and fed us with manna from heaven and water from a rock.

How Isaiah’s prophecy came true and we were taken into exile, but God was with us and encouraged us to plant and build, sing and dance, get married and give birth.

How God was with us when my people returned to the ruins of Jerusalem and were called to rebuild and start anew.

And we did.

“Emmanuel”: God is with us.

I thought of my own history, the women in my family tree who had endured their own scandalous relationships: Tamar and Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba.

Each of these women had pregnancies that raised eyebrows. Yet God worked though those events and changed the course of history.

If the letter of the Law had been followed back then, there would not have been a Boaz, there would not have been a King David, there would not have been a King Solomon…therefore there would not have been a…me.

I am a righteous man, a just man. But my dream has revealed that being righteous also means showing compassion, and not being afraid.

Even if that decision means believing the life inside of Mary is greater than the Law that has been handed down for generations.

Life is but a dream, and I realize that our life will not be easy. I know that as Mary starts to show, people will say things. I say let them.

People like to think they know the truth but they don’t; God does- and that’s what matters.

I have decided that no matter what anyone else says, we will get through this and it will be a time of joy.

As the life inside of Mary grows, it will be a testimony to the Sacred’s ability to act in our life. That even the poor, meek, and lowly, like us, matter to God.

When Mary gives birth, I will care for that child like he is my own, because in many ways he is. I will cradle him in my arms, aware that within him earth and heaven have met.

I will teach him what I know: how to build, how to be part of a community, how to live both as a righteous man and a man of compassion.

How to make the right choices even when they are not the easiest thing to do.

How to dream and to believe in a better tomorrow and trust that nothing is impossible with God.

How to not judge people solely on the events in their life, but to see them through the eyes of their maker.

Life can change in an instant. The future we imagine is not always the future we will get.

Circumstances occur that make us wrestle; that challenge what we think and what we’ve been taught.

But with God (and a good night’s sleep), we can make choices that allow us live in the heart of the Law: to act with compassion, to do justice, to love kindness.

We get to humbly walk with the Lord and play our own role in creation.

As long as we believe that God is still speaking, we can find joy in believing that there is a better tomorrow.

This allows us to have joy; joy based in knowing that as long as God is with us, there is always hope for the world.

Amen and amen.