Sunday, March 26, 2017

God's Twinkling Eyes; Ephesians 5:8-14

Rev. George Miller
March 26, 2017
Ephesians 5:8-14

How do we know?
How do we know that we are loved?

The way someone speaks to us?
The little things they do?
The way their body seems open,
easing into the space we share?

Their eyes- how they look at us, feel warm, engaged.

My Dad would get this twinkle in his eye that was unmistakable and even 22 years after his death, completely unforgettable.

How my Dad’s eyes would be full of light…

Light plays such an important role in today’s reading- it’s mentioned 5 times in 7 verses.

“You are light.”
“The fruit of light.”
“Live as children of light.”

Don’t you just like that? “Live as children of light.”

In other words- live as descendants of your Holy Parent’s twinkling eyes.

Last week we talked about loving God simply for being God, not as a product that had to perform on our behalf.

Today, you are invited to wonder- how do you see God in your heart’s mind?

If God was before you in bodily form, how would you picture the Holy Presence?

Hair- what kind, how much?
Hands- folded, on hips, extended?
Shoulders- slim or large enough to rest your head on?

Body- lean, beefy, muscular, plump?
Mouth- smiling, scowl, full lips, thin?

Do you see God’s eyes twinkling like the lights on 28 as they reflect on Lake Jackson, or as stars in a clear sky?

Like someone you care about when they smile?

As Christians, we believe we get a glimpse of God in the person of Jesus.

We say that in Jesus Christ we have experienced the fullness of God through the things Jesus said, the people he dined with, the way in which he talked about blessings, banquets, and lost sheep that were searched for.

When Jesus was alive, he would walk past people and they couldn’t help but say-

Behold the Wisdom of God!
Behold the Son of God!
Behold the Light of the Lord!

After the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, word spread, people came to know, and people came to experience what it all meant.

They found Jesus in the church.

But what is a church?
A gathering of people?
A place of fellowship?
A school?
A political organization?
A house of praise?
A place of mission?

And what does it mean to be a Christian; to be a follower of Christ?

Today’s letter tries to answer some of those questions. The author states that-

We are no longer living dead end lives defeated by sin and mired in mistakes.

We are no longer alone but unified in the universal body of Christ in which we care about and have concern over one another.

We live in the light of God’s twinkling eyes.

In verse 10 the writer writes “Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord.”

What a likeable line- it sounds so inviting, so radically welcoming, yet so aware of our uniqueness and where each and every one of us are on our particular journey.


Such a different conceit than the Laws or Commandments.

So much freedom in that word.

Such an invitation to explore, to wonder, to engage, to seek, to ask-

“Hey, God- what’s pleasing to you? What is it you like?”

In this portion of the letter we find this notion that in a world seemingly surrounded by darkness, in a world full of fury and fruitlessness,

in a world caught up in un-pleasantries, slander, and shame, the followers of Jesus are invited to be different and to boldly say-

“OK God- what can we do to ease your mind and make your eyes twinkle?”

The adopted children of Christ are ushered off the harsh midnight streets and told “Things don’t have to be so hard. Come- wash, eat, sit by the fireplace and let the heat warm you up and the light shine upon you.”

Now, of course no one is naïve- we know there will always be moments of darkness, moments of deep, deep hurt.

Dark moments that just happen due to things like weather, chance, illness. Dark moments caused by another. Dark moments caused by us.

But even in those dark moments is the flicker of light; that flicker that says “God is here.”

Even when we seem to be the one shutting off the light, God does not say “Well- that’s it; that’s the last time!”

God is there; God does not leave.

God does not abandon; God does not desert.

God’s love is not based on our perfection or our performance.

God’s love is based on God being God.

God’s love is based on God being love.

Because of Jesus, and because we are justified in Christ, we get to try again.

Try to find out what is pleasing to God. Try to find out what makes God smile. Try to find out what makes God’s eyes twinkle.

And we are not talking about tasks you can do, or work that needs to be performed, because Lord knows ya’ll feel like you’re constantly being asked to do, do, do, do, do and give, give, give, give, give.

The kinds of things we’re talking about are not things to put on your to-do-list.

But those fruits of light that makes life so good and makes God’s eyes twinkle.

Like peace, like joy, like kindness, like contentment, like sweetness.

Like love.

Because chances are these fruits will make our eyes twinkle too.

We are Children of Light. Descendants of goodness, descendents of mercy.

Descendants of 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 500th chances.

We try because we know we are loved. We try because we know we are justified in Christ.

We try because when our Heavenly Parent smiles, we can’t help but to smile too.

Amen and amen.

Note- a portion of today’s message is inspired by the article “The Longing for God Alone” by Sheila Walsh as it appeared in the February 2017 edition of Mature Living

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Loving God Simply For Being God; Exodus 17:1-17

Rev. George Miller
March 19, 2017
Exodus 17:1-7

Months ago when this scripture was selected, it was with the intent of acknowledging St. Patrick’s Day.

We were going to talk about the Irish, their interesting history, and their immigration to the New World.

You were supposed to be impressed with a theological, sociological discourse comparing the life-giving potato to the sustaining rock in today’s scripture.

We were to have St. Patti’s Day supreme, then the Spirit stepped in via Bible Study and scholarship and it has all changed.

First, a recap.

The Israelites have been enslaved for hundreds of years. God hears their cries and delivers them through Moses.

In Exodus 14 they cross the Red Sea. Three days later in chapter 15 they complain to Moses about being thirsty so God provides them with bitter water turned sweet.

About 2 months later in chapter 16, the people murmur to Moses about being hungry, so God provides them with bread from heaven for breakfast and quail for supper.

At least a week later, if not more, in chapter 17, the people are thirsty again.

This time they do not complain, they quarrel. “Give us water,” they demand.

God tells Moses to go ahead of the people, to Mt. Sinai, and when he strikes the mountain the people’s nourishment needs will be met…kind of like the potato.

But then the research revealed some things I had not thought about.

Like how we’re not actually told if what Moses did worked, we just kinda assume it did.

Or how this is the last time in the book of Exodus in which we hear of the people complaining or murmuring.

Then there are the comments from theologian Terence Fretheim, who states that Exodus 17 is a turning point in Israel’s relationship with God, because-

In this story the only evidence of God’s presence that the people will accept is concrete action that saves.

In other words, they only believe God is real if God is doing something specifically for them.

Fretheim further states “This collapses God’s promise into (the people’s) own well being and refuses (God) any life apart from Israel’s well-being.”

See- when the people are quarreling with Moses about wanting water, it is not a simple case of “gimme, gimme”.

In Hebrew, the word for quarrel has legal undertones. It implies that a court case is about to take place.

In other words, the people are giving God an ultimatum- quench our thirst or we are going to take you to People’s Court and sue you for failure to perform.

This is not a simple story about faith or doubt; it is a story about deciding if God deserves to be God, and demanding that from now on God performs on their behalf.

This means that after God gives them freedom, the thanks God gets is having to give up God’s freedom.

After giving them life, God no longer matters to them if God is not catering to their every need.

Think of it-

God spoke the world into being, crafted us out of blessed adamah, filled us with sacred breathe and holy waters, and now God’s role is reduced to meeting the complaints and demands of others.

God is made into a product; an item that only has worth if it does what the public expects.

And God does it: for the sake of the relationship, God gives the people exactly what they threatened to sue God over.

Think of how heart-breaking this is.

Think of what that means to God, our Eternal Parent, our Forever Friend, our Closest Confidant.

God is judged worthy only if God performs, and as Fretheim states “religion is reduced to its utilitarian effect.”

No more can God just walk in the cool afternoon breeze of the Garden, like with Adam and Eve.

No more can God simply enjoy the taste of BBQ, as God did with Abel.

No more can God enjoy a lunch of curds, cake and curried calf as God once did with Abraham under the shady oaks of Mamre.

Or enjoy a song and dance from Miriam and the women.

From this moment on God is expected to work, work, work, work, work and do all things on behalf of the people.

God can only be appreciated if there is something attached.

Like saying a field of clover is only worthy if you find a 4 leaf clover.

Or a rainbow only matters if at the end of it you find a pot of gold.

Which brings up the questions- do we love God for just being God?

Or do we love God because of all the things we say God does?

Would we still love God if all we could claim is that God is present on the path with us?

Would we still love God if all we could claim is that God is holy?

Would we still love God if all we could claim is that God is sweetness, God is love, and God is strength?

Does every communication we have with God, every conversation we have about God have to involve what God has done, could do, would do, and should do for us?

How often do we simply say to God “Thank you” or “How are you?” or “Hey”?

By our very nature, we think of our needs and our wants, but how often do we stop and wonder what God needs, what God wants?

We come to worship so we can be spiritually filled and experience God’s presence.

What if God comes to worship so God can also be spiritually filled and experience our presence?

If worship can recharge us, does it also recharge God?

We gather around the table to be fed by the Lord’s Supper, but have we ever wondered if God would like to be fed too?

Have you ever done something just so it pleases God?

Not talking about money in the offering plate, or jumping on the latest cause, or asking “Thy will be done.”

We’re talking about something like simply admiring creation, seeing what’s around you and saying “Mmm hmm mmm.”

Or planting something in the yard just so God can look upon it and smile.

Spotting something in the store that’s beautiful and buying it just because you think God will find it beautiful too.

Ever enjoy a meal, and invite God to sit alongside you, so God can enjoy it too?

Has there been enough times in which God wasn’t expected to do, or save, or act? God is not judged by outcomes but appreciated, simply for being God?

That’s the gift our weekly Mindful Meditation gives- a chance to just sit with God, no words, no requests, no tasks, no pleas, no murmurings.

Just quiet being and just our breath.

God must like it when, if even for just a moment, folk sit with God as Abraham once did under the oaks of Mamre, or sing for God just as Miriam did, or enjoy the cool afternoon as Eve and Adam did…

…Today’s reading tells us the people journeyed in stages to the Promised Land.

This Lenten Season we journey in stages too. Except we are journeying to a cross and an empty tomb.

We have learned that because of Christ we have been acquitted of our sins and found virtuous.

We have been reminded that not everyone’s mountains are the same, nor does everyone shares the same experience.

Today, let us welcome God into our journey not for what God can do, but simply for being God.

Let us each find our own ways to feed, to nourish, to care for God in ways that leave our Lord refreshed, that allow our Creator to be fully free.

Let us honor the different ways in which God’s presence is made known.

Amen and amen.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Mountains and Their Meanings; Psalm 121

Rev. George Miller
March 12, 2017
Psalm 121

Once upon a time, long long ago, in a land far away, there were five children. Five children who were each unique and very much their own person.

There was Dustin, the dreamer. Everything was wonderful; every chance an opportunity; every place filled with the promise of God’s presence.

There was Patty, who was petite and polite. She was cautious, mindful of her own safety, aware that there were times and places in which she, as a young lady, was best at home.

There was Walter who was worried about everything and everyone. There wasn’t a cold he did not catch, a bit of bad luck that didn’t befall him, a woe-is-me opportunity that was not relished for all it was worth.

There was Dale. Not much to say about Dale. Dale just did, and was the kind of person people forgot was there.

Then there was tough and tenacious Tina, a warrior who said “Uh ah, I’m not going to let anybody scare me.”

Tina knew how to fight, how to stand her ground, and she knew a thing or two about how to use a machete to crack open a coconut or to crack open a head if need be.

One day it came time to head into the big city for a festival that was fixin’ to take place. A festival that their parents, and their parents parents, and their parents parents parents had attended.

It was the kind of festival in which you’d get to see folks you haven’t seen since the last one, coming together, remembering their roots, remembering how they came to be, and recalling all the things God had done for them.

The kind of festival in which there would be good food, good singing, and good times to be had for all.

But the festival was far, far away, and to get there one had to pass through huge mountains, mountains so magnificent they blocked out part of the sky, mountains that were perfect for goats to live, and critters to hide.

Well, this family of 5 was ready to leave for the festival. Friends and town folk gathered to wish them well.

Dustin the dreamer looks at the mountains lining the way, filled with optimistic joy. He is certain that the hills are alive with the sound of music.

He recalls how it was atop a mountain that Moses received the law, Elijah met the Still Speaking God, and Jesus sat with the people.

So Dustin is filled with hope, so sure that God is in every rock, every tree, every clump of dirt that make up the mountain that he says “I look to the hills- from there will come my help!”

Petite and polite Patty sees the mountains and all the places that robbers and bandits can be hiding, and she says “I look to the hills- where is my help going to come from?”

Worrying Walter, who is sure another cold is coming on, sees the mountains and says “I look to the hills, so big, so scary, I might trip and break a leg or be eaten by a lion, or sold into slavery- where oh where oh where is my help going to come from? Goodbye dear world, goodbye dear friends!”

Dale says “Eh, I look to the hills; will anyone even realize that I’m there?”

Tina takes up her machete, throws her duffel bag over her back, and says “I look to the hills! Where does my help come from? Me! Let’s go.”

So the five siblings go off to the festival, each saying the same words, but thinking different things:

-God is everywhere and will do everything!
-Danger can be present, who will protect me?
-This is it! We’re doomed!!!
-Does anyone care?
-I ain’t scared ‘cause I got my own back.

Joy, caution, histrionics, bleh, and warrior- all 5 voices can fit into today’s opening verses.

Psalm 121 is one of those biblical readings that is deeper than it appears.

Two reasons are because in its original language, Hebrew, sentence structure is different than ours, plus Hebrew does not use punctuation. So, translators have to make educated guesses.

Maybe the psalmist is saying a statement of fact “I lift up my eyes to the hills, from where my help comes.”

If so, what does the help refer to? Help from God? Help from others gods who were said to dwell in the mountains? Help that comes when you’re toting your own weapon?

Or did the psalmist intend this to be a question? “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where will my help come?”

Or is the psalmist so sure that God is by their side, that they end their statement with a huge exclamation point!

No one can know for certain; therefore almost every version of the Bible has a different take on line 1.

It’s not until line 2 that we get somewhat of an answer- “My help comes from the Lord...”

But what do we mean by help?

Help as in the Lord does any and all things for you, so you don’t have to do nothing but trust that everything will be alright?

Help, as in God will guard you from anyone or anything that will try to hurt you?

Help, as in somehow, someway things will work out in the end, so take a chill pill?

Help, as in God is with you in spirit, but other than that you’re on your own?

Help, as in God will empower and inspire you to fight your own battles and sustain you to be strong?

We don’t fully know, so the interpretation is up to you, to wrestle with, to wonder, to ask.

There is also the second part of the scripture. Verses 3-8 are the response of those who are there to wish the travelers well, to affirm, inspire, and to assure them that God does not sleep, declarations that God does not divert his or her eyes.

Statements that God is a guardian; that God is like the shade.

It is this image of God as shade that originally attracted me to this reading.

We all know what it is like to sit in the shade of a tree. We know what it is like to work outside during a hot day and be thankful when a cloud covers the sky, cooling down the atmosphere.

This notion of God as shade attracted me because it made me think of last year’s Vacation Bible School.

Last year’s Vacation Bible School was based around being “Grounded In God”, focusing on the ecological poetry of Psalm 104.

We talked about how water provides drink to thirsty animals, and how animals create homes and seek shelter.

We talked of trees, how evergreens can grow 130 feet tall and create the wood to make timber, temples and ships.

As part of the week, the children had a chance to go outside with Cindy to plant a holly tree.

They took part in digging up the adamah to plant the tree; they took part of watering the dirt to make sure the soil was moist enough to support life.

They planted the tree, and in an unexpected move, the children took it upon themselves to name the tree- Hollywood.

They loved them some Hollywood, spending the rest of the week making sure she was watered, cared for, standing upright.

I will be curious to see how many of those children from last year will return to Vacation Bible School this year and remember Hollywood and want to check her out, to see how she is.

I also wonder, what will the make-up of this year’s Vacation Bible School be?

How many of those kids will be like Dustin- filled with joy and happy about everything?

How many will be like Patty- cautious, perhaps because they’ve been hurt by someone who should not have ever hurt them.

How many of this year’s kids will be like Walter- worrying over every little thing, unfortunately learning that the best way to get attention is to have everything go wrong?

How many will be like Dale- a child who is easily forgotten about and falls through the cracks, because they are neither over the top nor in need of rescuing or ready to rescue.

How many will be like Tina- self sufficient who are not afraid and know how to care for themselves?

I share this, because Tuesday night our Christian Ed team is meeting and I’m sure this year’s Vacation Bible School will be a topic.

Do we have it? If so, when? Who will be present? What is it we would like to teach them this year?

Today’s scripture is about someone who is about to go on a journey, a journey that will take them through hills and valleys, through moments of hot sun and times of darkness, a trip in which feet can slip and there is the need to be watched over and kept safe.

Kind of describes childhood.

Kind of describes adolescence. Kind of describes adulthood. King of describes the middles ages. Kind of describes the golden years.

Kind of describes life.

As we see in today’s reading, there are many ways the journey of life can be approached. There are statements that are made; questions that are asked.

There are also other voices than our own; voices of those who offer testimony, those who love us, those who care about our well being; those who have been there as well.

With those voices comes assurance; assurance that no matter what happens, no matter what we face, we are not alone.

That God is with us; God sees whatever we are going through.

Which not only includes the evil, but it also includes the harm and the hurt that can come our way- things that are too real for too many.

Though it is barely Spring, we get to look ahead to Summer, realizing we get to be the voices of strength, joy, and safety to our children.

This summer, as we gather the Dustins and the Patties, the Walters, the Tinas, and the Dales, we get to be that chorus of voices that speaks to them.

We get to be the supportive people in their lives that get to say “God sees you and God knows who you are.”

We get to be part of their life journey and to say “We don’t know what is going on in your life, but here your feet will not slip, here you will not be burnt by the sun or troubled by the moon.”

Here, in this Holy Congregation we get to be a chorus of supportive voices that tell the Dustins, Patties, Walters, Tinas and Dales- “Here you are safe from evil, here you are kept from harm, here you don’t have to worry about danger.”

The world is so full of wondrous things AND it is so full of worry; the world is so full of warmth AND it is so full of woe.

We never do fully know what the mountains mean for those who enter our doors; we never fully know anyone else’s story.

But at least we can say that while here one can experience God providing, God keeping, and God loving us so.

Because here in God’s house we know where our help comes from; and it comes from the Lord.
Amen and amen.

Monday, March 6, 2017

We Are Worthy of Fighting For; Romans 5:12-19

Rev. George Miller
Date: March 5, 2017
Scripture: Romans 5:12-19

I have a confession to make- things at my Cozy Cottage have not been so cozy. The honeymoon phase is slowly fading with the realness of home ownership.

Such as how fleas, carpets and cats do not make the best combination.

My poor cats have had to deal with the discomfort of flea bites, which have meant an increase in cleaning, scratching and chewing themselves, developing almost OCD-like behaviors and cuts on their body.

I’ve done what I needed to do to get the situations under control. Amazing what regular vacuuming and a prescription of Frontline can do.

But the cats did not fully return to their previous state of calm and zen-like behavior.

That is, not until last week. I began addressing my cats differently, as if they were fantastical felines.

Jesse, the orange cat, is the Mighty Tiger. Sterling, who looks like he has a mane, is the Mighty Lion.

So upon waking up, coming home, and feeding them, I’ve referred to Jesse and Sterling as Tiger and Lion, approaching them as royal, majestic creatures who are beloved by God.

Seeing them and calling them as such, I’ve become more intentional in my interactions with them. Speaking praises, offering extra attention, playing with them a bit more.

I’ve noticed a change. They seem to be spending less time incessantly grooming themselves, spending more time positioning themselves on high places, like the top of furniture, sitting up and exposing their front chest.

They’ve resumed being calm, napping side by side on the couch, with neither a twitch, a lick or a scratch.

Maybe the flea medication is working. Maybe calling them Tiger and Lion has changed my energy. Maybe being called positive, affirming names has changed them.

Maybe all these things have worked together to make them no longer captives to the gnawing of a flea.

Is it possible that words can affect our reality, our mood, and our health?

Last week we talked about numbers, today, we are going to talk about words, and with good reason, because Paul’s letter is filled with a multitude of words that are combined in ways that are confusing and mind numbing.

This is a letter Paul wrote to folks in Rome saying that he hopes to visit them soon. Some scholars believe this is the last letter Paul wrote that we have a copy of.

Meaning this is a letter composed towards the end of his ministry, a letter written by a man who has lived, made his mistakes, has had a change of heart, has developed new eyes and ears from which to see and hear the world.

He has grown and gathered new understandings that come from life’s lessons.

In today’s reading we see Paul process and create a complex statement of faith.

Death is referred to 4 times; sin appears 8 times. Trespasses/transgressions appear 6.

On the flip side grace appears 3 times, free gift appears 4, while justification and righteousness appear a total of 5 times.

What word doesn’t appear? To forgive.

Although forgiveness appears in all of the Gospels, it only appears only once in Romans.

But justification appears at least 50 times.

Now- ya’ll are wondering why does that matter.

And let’s be honest most of us, myself included, have no idea just what the heck justification even means.

Words like justification, righteousness, and grace are strange words that are very abstract, religious words that religious folk throw around to make it seem like they are all…religious.

What good are religious words if they can’t be applied to everyday life?

Yet, most religious words are based in everyday life even if we don’t realize it.

Justification is a legal term. Something you would use in a court of law or a matter of crime and punishment.

Justification means “to be pronounced and treated as righteous.”


…but what does righteous mean?

Righteous means to be morally right or justifiably virtuous.


…but what does virtuous mean??

Virtuous can mean to be good, pure, honorable and decent.

Great! Anyone who passed 6th grade should know what those words mean.

But what does justifiably virtuous

It means that in a court of law, it can be shown, and proven without a doubt, that you are good and you are pure.

Justifiably virtuous means that before a judge you are worthy of being defended as being honorable and decent.

As Paul writes, because of Christ’s actions, we have received the gift of righteousness, which means that we are worthy of being saved, we are worthy of victory, we are worthy of blessing, we are worthy of being rescued.

Paul uses the word justification to say that through our faith in Christ, we are acquitted of our sins.

We are set free and any charges pressed against us are discharged.

Not only that, but we are set free as if nothing had happened, as if we have been good, pure, honorable, and decent all along.

Think of how amazing this is, especially from who it is coming from.

Paul was a very law-abiding Jew. He was very harsh when it came to following the commandments.

When people broke the Jewish Law, Paul was right there to arrest them, jail them, and have them persecuted.

Paul had it out for the Christians, standing by and approving the death of their earliest martyrs.

Paul was all about punishment, going into people’s homes, dragging them out and sending them to jail in chains.

Until Paul had an encounter with the resurrected Christ, an experience that made him challenge everything he knew and reevaluate his ways.

Paul went from persecuting Christians to proclaiming the Good News and bringing it around the ancient world.

So it makes sense that for a man who lived by the Law, arresting and punishing people, that he would experience Christ’s love and God’s abundant grace through legal terms.

It makes sense that Paul would use such words to say that in Christ we are

-Virtuous- meaning pure, good and honorable.

And that we are

-Righteous- meaning that we are worthy of being rescued, worthy of being blessed, and worthy of being triumphant.

Paul is stating that because of our faith in Christ we are worthy of fighting for.

That’s deep.

Paul is saying that even though we all sin, we are all worthy of being saved.

Even though we all sin, we are all worthy of victory.

Paul is saying that in Jesus Christ we are bright lights and life’s seasonings.

…which brings us to the big “so what?”

If we are justified, if we have received the free gift of righteousness, how does it affect how we see and treat ourselves?

How different would you be if you said to yourself “In Christ I am good, in Christ I am pure, in Christ I am worthy of being blessed, and in Christ I am triumphant.”?

Would this affect how you see yourself? Would it affect the way you feel? Would it affect the choices you make and the style in which you lived?

If, because of Christ, we know others are justified and have received the gift of righteousness, how would it affect the way we interact with each other?

How different would life be if we looked upon another person and thought to ourselves “In Christ they are good, they are pure, they are worthy of being blessed, and in Christ they are triumphant.”?

How would claiming our own justification and righteousness allow us to celebrate the success of others and to live knowing that in Christ there is enough for all?

Finally, I’ve been thinking lately about things I have heard -in our church, in our community, and in the news.

Why, as Christians, does it seem like we are so preoccupied with revenge, and people getting theirs?

Why do we say karma’s gonna get them?

Why do we as a nation live in such a way that 1 in 20 people will go to prison in their lifetime? (

Why do we say “In God We Trust” and yet each of us are taxed $260 to pay for someone else to be incarcerated?

Why, if in Christ we have received an abundance of righteousness do so many of us walk around as if we are angry….like, ALL the time?

Why do we, as a people of faith, and a nation, focus so much on sins and punishment instead of grace and the free gift of righteousness?

In conclusion, God wants to count us as happy. After all, we are created out of blessed adamah, filled with Living Waters, and empowered by God’s holy breath, shining with light, endowed with so much flavor, and living in the Land of Delight.

God has given us so much; God gives even more than we can imagine.

Through Jesus Christ God has given us the gifts of righteousness, the gifts of justification, and the gifts of grace.

Abundant, unceasing, and available to all who believe.

Believe that you are pure, believe that you are good, and believe that you are worth fighting for.

Amen and amen.