Missing the point!

John 6:1-21

Moments of Clarity

Martha wrote to one of those “Dear Dolly” type columns in the newspaper seeking assistance. “I was running late for work and did not have time to warm up my car, but I still left before my husband as normal, but about a kilometre up the road my car stalled so I walked home to get his help. When I walked in I was shocked when I found him sitting at the computer, still in his pyjamas and with a bottle of whisky next to him. I was shocked and we ended up arguing, and then crying when he eventually had told me that he had lost his job months ago and had been day trading on the share market trying to keep the money coming in, but had basically lost our savings and now has turned to the bottle. I don’t what to do; he’s lost our money, has no job and has lied to me?”

Dear Martha, assuming that everything is o.k. when your car is warmed up, the reason it stalls when the motor is cold may be due to the air/fuel mixture running to lean. The vehicle’s onboard computer is supposed to adjust the mixture based on temperature as well as load and acceleration. For some reason the computer is adjusting wrong. Let’s look at the possibilities why this might be………………………………”

Missing the point

It happens so easily, deadlines, timelines, pressures, what we want to see against what is actually happening and almost above all in our society, no time to simply stop and think. In one of my previous chapters of my work life I was a team leader of 30 people within a building of 2,000. One level, one room except separated every 400 to 500 people by rows of glass offices. It was literally a sea of computer terminals with everyone working to meet deadlines. Deadlines that if were missed threatened fines of hundreds of thousands of dollars per month from the company we were service provider for, and daily potentially hundreds to thousands of dollars compensation per missed individual transaction to the customer, never mind the negative goodwill. Often, I would arrive at say 7.30/8.00am to be hit like a tidal wave and not until 11.00 o’clock did it subside enough to even be able to turn on my computer never mind grab a coffee. Everyday was somewhere between craziness and an adrenaline rush, between despising it and loving it. And everyday succeeded, felt like playing in and winning a grand final.

Occasionally, retreating from the madding crowd to one of these glass offices in order to plan to achieve the unachievable, I would look out-from a step back-and think “what the……is this”.

Moments of clarity, where we see something more than just the moment.

This week’s gospel message describes two very familiar miracles of Jesus: The feeding of the 5,000 and Jesus walking on water. If we were there that day what would we have seen? We’re Jews, oppressed by the Romans who have occupied our land. We are desperately seeking the promised messiah but have been misled or let down by those previous that have announced to be him. Then we hear of a man named Jesus performing unbelievable miracles so we rush to him and see him healing people and feeding thousands from five loaves of bread and two fish-surely this is the messiah. We are in the boat with the other apostles and our teacher, Jesus calms the seas-surely this is the messiah. So we follow him into Jerusalem, this is the moment-waving our palm branches as the promised king, the messiah arrives. Side by side we will stand with our leader against those who have enslaved us. Then we see him powerless, arrested by the authorities, beaten and sent to death-and he cannot raise a finger to save himself.

With our fellow apostles, we remember the amazing teachings and miracles we’ve seen, nothing was impossible. We believed this man was the messiah, but now it’s over as he dies like just another common criminal and we ask ourselves “what was that all about”.

Then three days later, hiding in fear of reprisals he appears to us and we remember the things he had told us, the things that just made no sense at the time. Then we have a moment of clarity where we finally see more than just those individual moments and things that have taken place. We finally see and understand. Understand that everything beforehand, those times of wonder and rejoicing, and those times of confusion and doubt have led to this one ultimate understanding, that Truly Jesus is the Messiah, the promised one sent by God to bring freedom and life. The one who has taken us back to the Father through the forgiveness of sins.

Our lives are full of moments. Moments covering the whole spectrum of our understandings. Some that seem to make sense and some that don’t. Moments where we have a great idea-that seems to fail, yet then seemingly by chance through some insignificant moment, things fall into place.

We are that boy amongst the 5,000. We have five loaves of bread made from barley and two small fish the size of sardines, the type of bread and fish that only peasants ate. Surely this is only enough to feed ourselves for the next few days. Do we hide it and keep it for ourselves as it won’t be enough anyway for everyone and then we’ll just starve just like the rest. But against all logic, for some reason we hand it over-and the rest is history and we wonder “what was that” only to find out that our one small act would be used by the saviour, recorded in history as a testament to his power, a testament of his care for those in need while he was walking to his own death. His death that would bring the greatest miracle of all, the forgiveness of sins-for us in the crowd that fell away in his hour of need, for we the apostles who in fear for ourselves denied him in his hour of need, and for us the peasants who have seemingly nothing to offer. Peasants that without knowing and through none of our own design, our insignificant gesture which we only begrudgingly did in the first place have somehow has been used by Jesus on the road to his destiny. His destiny that brings salvation to all those that believe-on his road to the greatest miracle and gift we will ever receive-faith.

The road to faith. Johnny Cash’s brother, called to be a preacher dies very young in his teens. Johnny the musician, who broke most of the rules in the book on his way home, who in his later years would tour with the great preacher Billy Graham and open up his evangelist shows. One evening Billy said “I’m starting to think they are only coming to see you” to which John replied “Whatever gets them here Billy”.

The miracle of faith.

I worked with a physically handicapped girl who was always positive, friendly and helpful. Somehow it came up about the difficulties in our society for handicapped people to which she responded “we all have handicaps, the only difference is that mines on display for all to see”.

I talk of arguably the greatest Australian Rules Footballer player of the modern era. It is said to make it at the highest level you must excel in two of the three musts: speed, strength and ability. He had all three. His ability and speed would dumfound and his strength intimidate. A player, seemingly born of unnatural gifts. But a humble shy man who wrote in his book that he came to despise and hate the attention that his talent had brought him. So much so that at times, in despair he would find himself locked in the toilet before the game in tears. Moments that brought him some clarity and allowed to him to recognise a man of who he would later talk of and say: “that if it wasn’t for His Lord and Saviour Jesus, he would not be here today.”

The miracle of faith-through no power of our own, given to us, to sustain us.

Last week with Josh we were looking through DVD’s and he noticed me eyeing off the movie “Any given Sunday” and he instantly said “oh no, not again, not tonight”. (So we watched Fawlty Towers)-AGAIN. I’ve only watched it in full a couple of times-but there’s one scene I’ve watched countless times as it reminds me of everything that’s good about team “combat” sport.

In the scene Al Pacino is addressing an American football team that are losing at half time, and it goes like this: We are in hell at the moment. We either crumble as individuals or as a team we fight our way back into the light. In football the inches we need to win are everywhere. They are there in every break of the play and in every second of the game. In football as in life, we claw with our fingernails for those inches; we’ll die for those inches. Look into the eyes of the guy next to you and you will see a guy that will die and go the distance with you.

It’s a stirring speech that every time I hear it makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and there’s a lot of truth to it: except in our salvation. The one clawing with his fingernails is Jesus. Joy and suffering are all around us, but Jesus died for us, and he does go the distance for and with us. Jesus searches and seeks out sinners to show the work of God in their lives, to bring them to faith.

Us here today, we did not welcome Christ and we did not deserve to be in his presence. But he came to us all the same, brought us forgiveness and has given us life here and life ever after.

A boy with five loaves of bread and two small fish amongst the hungry multitude. We too may be but peasants with only crumbs to offer, but crumbs we offer that when in our Lord’s hands bring his miracle of faith and salvation to those still lost in the multitude. Praise be to Christ. Amen.


The right sales pitch

 Get the message

Mark 6: 30-34, 53-56

The disciples had just returned from a missionary expedition. (&) We could assume they would be excited to tell Jesus of their successes and maybe even question him regarding their unsuccessful moments. Did we say the wrong thing? Should we have stayed longer? And so forth. We can almost hear Jesus saying, or at least thinking: “well done my good and faithful servants”, and with compassion, realising of their aching and hungry bodies, –saying first come with me and rest.

The meaning of the word disciple is messenger, and these messengers must have had much success in sharing the good news as it has spread quickly and Jesus is besieged with people.

Following verse 34 is the feeding of the 5,000 men. Men, add the rest of the family and what are we talking? 10,000, 15,000? Quite a crowd. It may not seem like a Foo Fighters concert at the SCG until we take in the logistics of the situation. The neighbouring towns of Capernaum and Bethsaida-goods sized towns in their day had populations of 2,000 to 3,000 each. So in today’s times, here in Dubbo, with no public transport or cars, say 220,000 people on foot converging on the shores of the river with no PA systems and no crowd control. In relative terms this is a huge crowd of people, all searching and looking for answers, and “Jesus had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd”, and heals people and teaches them: gives them his good news, the Gospel.

Compassion: The dictionary states it as “a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering”.

Jesus in compassion, teaches, heals and in the accompanying verses feeds them.

I asked a colleague of mine why he became a Pastor and he replied that he would do various acts of kindness supplying food to the needy and giving away money, but it always seemed he was like the boy that put his finger in the dyke, and during this he came to see that the long term answer to their pain was to hear of Christ.

Jesus in his compassion healed those who come to him because he felt their pain. How blessed were those who he touched and healed, yet this was not Jesus’ main reason for being. His healings were more like the boy with his finger in the dyke-see a problem, fix a problem. We know from Jesus’ recorded miracles that almost always he told the recipients not to tell anyone. Why? Because of his nature how could he say no to those coming to him, he couldn’t, so he healed people as they turned up. But his reason for being-the reason he walked our earth was to die for our sins-to bring the long term never ending miracle of spiritual healing. He came, to lead the lost home, to be their shepherd-on his way to the cross he healed people’s short term woes, but much more important he taught them-that they would know in him the love of the father-because he felt their pain, their need for the truth, their need for a shepherd and their need for a leader.

Leadership is so crucial, in all aspects of life.

We’ve all heard the term “it all stems from the top”. (and) generally it does. The leader sets an example, keeps it together when everyone else is confused, fearful and so forth. Yet ironically, the best and most effective leaders, while yes, “in them it does all stem from the top” do not talk down to those below them, they talk with them, are concerned for them, serve them-and that’s what alternatively leads into their leadership from the top.

I found this insightful quote on compassion: “Compassion is not a snob gone slumming. Anybody can salve their conscience by an occasional foray into knitting for the poor. Did you ever take a real trip down inside the broken heart of a friend? To feel the sob of the soul-the raw, red crucible of emotional agony? To have this become almost as much yours as that yours as that of your soul-crushed neighbour? Then, to sit down with them-and silently weep? This is the beginning of compassion.” (Jess Moody).

Our shepherd, our leader-Jesus, from him it all stems- from the top. But he did he sit in a ivory tower- he came down to our level. The bottom rung, the lost, to lead us home. To take our just deserved pain and sin on himself.

It always amazes me that when there’s a tragedy, quite often God gets the blame, or at the least said that he doesn’t seem to care. For a moment, even with our feeble human wisdom let’s think about this. We do know and understand what love is. Think of someone that no matter what they did, you love them so much-that when they are hurting, all you want to do is take away their pain. That even though they may error in their ways towards you, there is nothing that you would not forgive them for. That’s love.

Then we read in the bible that our love, the best of our love is small, miniscule to that of God’s. That God in His perfect love gave us His son, to be hungry, to feel physical pain, to be beaten, tortured and ultimately die a tragic death. We would forgive that loved one of ours of anything-unconditionally. Yet the powers of darkness sometimes succeed in making us wonder of our forgiveness before God. We feel the pain of that loved one of ours, yet the powers of darkness sometimes succeed in making us doubt that our Lord cares about us.

Can you see how ridiculous and utterly wrong that is? Our love to others doesn’t rate a mention to that of God’s or our Saviour Jesus. Yet even we know the hurt from seeing our loved ones suffer. Imagine the hurt that Christ feels in his perfect love when he sees us in pain, sees people hungry, dying and lost. If we just thinking rationally of this we can understand it when we are told that the whole of “heaven cheers in joyfulness when one sinner turns to Christ” and is saved.

Compassion. Why doesn’t God just cure all our ailments now, bring world peace and bring food to the starving? He has the power to do so, but God is not a puppet master. He lets us have a brain, free choice-he didn’t make robots that are just yes sir, no sir-he has given us the right to decide, to think for ourselves-even when that leads to doing things that are totally opposite to what’s good for us, or him. That’s love.

In the garden when we fell to sin, the earth became fractured and so did our perfect relationship with God the father. In our 50, 60, 100 years on this planet, due to sin we have times of suffering-God has had to live with our suffering for thousands of years. Every soldier on the battlefield, every one cold on the streets, and every person not full of hope who has believed the lies said against our Saviour: God, perfect in love has endured.

God perfect in love, calls people to be volunteers, nurses, doctors, all of us in our occupations to heal the sick, alleviate some of the pain, and to bring some joy and laughter to our human world. God perfect in love, saw his Son endure pain, the pain we brought to him.

We cannot imagine how hard that must have been for God-yet the world, we, are tempted to doubt what he says. Our Lord, who on the cross-in agonising pain says of those that put him there: “forgive them father they don’t know what they do”.

Our Lord who his way to the cross, when people came to him for physical cure, healed them because of his perfect love.

In our lives he brings health or at least some relief from the pain through those he calls in their vocations in life. In His perfect love he is not a puppet master. In His prefect love God lets us make our own mistakes. In His prefect love he gives us shelter, food and assistance in the hurt-through his children like us.

In His perfect love, he puts up with our doubts towards him, our anger toward him, the hurt we do to others and ourselves and asks no more than that we accept His Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ-that in him we receive complete and utter forgiveness, life today and eternal-that we accept our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ so that amongst the pain we can feel his love to sustains us in faith, that we may follow His son Jesus back to him.

Compassion: On our way home, The Father, The Son and The Holy spirit will continue to endure in our pain, endure with our mistakes, vices, and anger towards Him. Continue to provide for us and all people-that we may know the truth-that in Christ-nothing can separate us from the love of God.

Even in our small portions of human wisdom and love-how could we think anything different? How could anyone think different?

Jesus said “Forgive them Father for they do not know what they do”

They don’t know: so he teaches.

Let’s pray we always hear and know that truth, let’s pray that those that still “don’t know what they do” hear and know the truth. Pray that we won’t be deceived by half-truths and lies, but hear and know the full truth, that in Christ, no matter what we are, where we’ve been or what we’ve done, that when in Christ, all are home: totally, absolutely and unconditionally forgiven. Amen.


Are you telling the truth?

Sermon Based on Amos 7:7-15, Ephesians 1:3-14, Mark 6:14-29

“The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”

One of my previous pastors had a great talent in bringing to life, or of hitting the point of the weekly message within our lives. Two come to mind clearly, one a public sermon and one just for me. I’ll talk of the second first. It was the football season, and there’s only one way to play footy-hard. You’re not just playing with your team mates, you’re playing for them. You stick by them, through thick and thin-on and off the field. Due largely to this attitude, not consciously-but doing it all the same-I was rocking up to church a little too tired and dazed from what in country footy circles, would be considered the appropriate form of recovery the night before. On one such Sunday, upon being greeted by my pastor at the end of the service-with a big smile, his outreached hand and the other around my shoulders, he joyously said “It’s always great to see you on Sundays looking so good”. I knew what he meant, he knew that I knew what he meant-but how it was done, with tact, humour and in good natured love-strengthened our relationship.

The second was in a public sermon. I think there might have been some scobling within the ranks (or something but that is not the point). He went through the truth-the Gospel but then finished with “you know what you are doing that is wrong, so stop it, and stop it today”. It is an unusual end to a sermon and whether it hit his desired point I’m not sure-but it certainly did with me. That is not the recommended way of finishing a sermon, but he was right. He was not preaching to those who knew no better, he was preaching to the converted-we who should know better.

But as we also know, the truth can hurt, and the truth is what is in play in all three readings today.

In Amos, after the death of King Solomon the land of Israel was divided into two kingdoms, the south and the north-the north of which had gone off track. The prophet Amos is given a vision by God that shows this kingdom is totally out of line, both politically and religiously. So off Amos goes to tell the king this truth. Only to receive back biting, being caused of stirring trouble and so forth, and the response-if that’s the truth we don’t want it-so rack of, get out of here.

In the Gospel of Mark, again the truth gets in the way of things. John the Baptist, as outlined in Leviticus tells the King that he is committing adultery by being married to his own brother’s wife while his brother is still alive. This charge infuriated his wife Herodias and she nurtured a sustained against John and bided her time to silence him. Yet ironically, the King was at least on the right track so to speak as we hear in verse 19 and 20: “And Herodias set herself against him, and desired to kill him; and she could not; for King Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and kept him safe. And when he heard him he was much perplexed, yet he heard him gladly.

We see some hope here for John. In fact he had only put John in jail to try and appease his wife. Essentially to protect him from a worse fate by imprisoning him. Is this not the same scene in which we see in Pontius Pilate with Jesus being put up for his death by the Jewish authorities-for his telling the truth?

(and) like Pilate, knowing the man is innocent, knowing it wrong-but not having the strength of his convictions, the king falls meekly to those offended by the truth, and lets them have their way.

Amos, John the Baptist and Jesus-scorned, convicted and punished for what? Because they brought before their societies the truth of God.

And we ask ourselves what has changed?

The church preaches the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. That we bring our sins before him, we give them to him and he sets us free-forgiven. How could anyone not think that is good? Simply because of that word itself, sin. Because sin tells us we are doing something wrong, and that doesn’t quite fit into the “if it’s right by me, then its right” mentality.

We preach salvation in Jesus, we don’t preach damnation. We don’t preach God hates you, we preach he loves you. But in the “if it’s right by me, then its right” society it has become our right to sin-and if that’s the case there’s nothing to forgive and anyone that tells me otherwise is a bigoted judgemental fool. Well that part I’m not arguing with, because I am a sinner. I sin all the time-but that does not make it my right to sin, unfortunately its part of our human condition.

That’s why we need Jesus, because we sin. We do what’s not right. Like Paul said: “I don’t do what I want to do, and do what I don’t want to do”. That’s why we need Jesus, that’s why God gave his own son and why Jesus gave himself-that although what we are-in him we are saved.

There’s the truth. But the truth that unfortunately cannot be understood when the need for it cannot be seen.

One author whose name does not come to mind gave a scenario showing this plight:

“A man in in a burning house, but he doesn’t know it. So when the fireman turns up, he says he doesn’t need him. When he asks him to leave the house he resents it and resists. Eventually the fireman takes him kicking and screaming against his will from the building, which only after getting out-does he realise that the house was on fire and that he was in peril”.

So what to do? We hang in there. We don’t preach the law; we preach the truth by showing the need for Jesus the Saviour. We don’t interpret the truth of God according to society; we interpret society according to God.

We live in the world, but not of the world. We live with our own faults and those of others. We put our arm around those who ridicule us and allow Jesus to put his around us.

We are all care and no responsibility. We were not responsible for our own salvation-Christ brought that, and we are not for others-God will bring that as he sees fit.

Jesus, who as we heard in Ephesians “God has chosen for us to be holy and blameless before his sight by being adopted as his sons and daughters through Jesus Christ, that in accordance with his pleasure and will, to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding, and made known to us”.

There’s the truth and we care by telling the truth-that like in Amos day, John the Baptists day and the when days Jesus walked on this earth-that now-today, we all need Jesus-Jesus who brings life-today and for evermore. Amen.


An Unlikely bunch

Mark 6:1-13

“An unlikely bunch”

Bruce Willis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Jobs of Apple, Gary Larsen-the Far Side Comic’s guy, Johann Sebastian Bach, John “Cougar” Mellencamp, Stormin Norman Schwartzkophn-Leader of the Allie forces in Desert Storm one, Ace Freley from Kiss, David Hassellhoff, Theodor Geisec-The Author of the Doctor Seuss books and Kris Kristofferson all have something in common. They are all Christians, and incidentally, Lutherans.

Actors, rock stars, extremely clever humourist, millionaires, Leader of the military, and the Hoff-“Babe watch” Aren’t Christians meant to be sought of like boring or goody two shoes’…well I’m not sure-but some of these “guys”-Christians, oh then I remembered myself. No they’re fine.

A lecturer at the sem. said it best. Half way through our first class, he looked around and stated “It never ceases to amaze me of just how ordinary (make that un-special) the people are that God calls to this place”. As usual, he was write-at least in my instance (if Greg, Harry or Jade are reading this).

It reminds me of some call meetings where you get the sense that they might not be happy to call Jesus himself. Obviously the good people of the Gilgandra-Dubbo parish aren’t so pious as seen in their recent Pastoral appointment.

But we might ask what’s changed. We heard that Jesus goes to his home town and they essentially ridicule him. Seriously, they’re hanging with the man and won’t listen to him. (and) what of the disciples, they see this-and then Jesus sends them out to preach and teach-sounds to me like a bad career move to me.

But they did, and had success. Were they better orators or had more charisma than Jesus? Hard to imagine. No the power, their power was that they were doing God’s work, preaching and teaching the truth-The Gospel of our Lord Jesus.

Incidentally, a study of effective leadership found that charisma is only a very, very minute part. It’s more to do with consistency, fairness, not just talking too-but listening and so on.

But we do know that many people listened to Jesus and came to faith-but also we know, many didn’t which we see with Jesus on the Cross. But why didn’t they listen, who knows, led by the devil, worried about their own status-we could go through all our human traits. But one thing for sure that confused them was Jesus himself. He seemed to come from back to front land. He’d have a crack at the up standing Pharisees and yet, seemed drawn to the outer fringe of society. He would openly declare that Roman guards-the opposition, the Samaritans-about as popular in those times as a New South Wales person in Brisbane at the State of Origin last Wednesday, that a thief, prostitutes and so forth-he would openly declare that their faith will see them living in one of the many rooms in heaven.

Look through the bible, some of God’s and Jesus’ “support staff” where frightenly a lot like us.

(and) right there we see the gospel. Certainly Jesus’ has workers in the field from the top shelf, but he also has plenty as well from the other end of the scale and all the way in between, so that HE can be heard, so that he can save Prime Ministers, farmers, small business owners, CEO’s, Bank workers, the homeless, the shamed and even pastors.

Likewise, Jesus speaks in Cathedrals and on death row. Amongst others, there are two worship services I’ve been too that I’ll never forget.

One, under the stars in one of the bush camps out of Alice Springs, with the Pastor reading by a gas lantern. The worshippers sitting in the dirt, and many with a VB in hand. (and) I’ll remember till I die when one of the VB guys started getting a bit too loud and his wife giving him a good old clobbering.

And two, in a small bush church-Not a Lutheran one as we couldn’t find one. But a town with a few houses and the church. There were about ten people there, the pastor had a strong stutter and was the only musician, and he certainly was no Darryl Reichelt, Janet Cheal, Jenny or any of our talented musicians.

But in those two services-it felt as if I could almost reach out and shake Jesus’ hand. Every Christian in the world owes our salvation to Jesus-we know that. But Jesus didn’t write it down, the only thing we hear of Jesus actually writing was only one time and that was with a stick in the dirt, and we don’t even know what he wrote. That actually intrigues me, I’ll have to ask him what we wrote when I meet him.

We owe everything to the Triune God-we know that: but how do we know that, because a group of unlikely gentleman called apostles and others that witnessed the life of Jesus. An unlikely bunch-that now sees us, a just as unlikely bunch-hearing for ourselves the Words of our Saviour-His Words direct to us.

His Word that is powerful, His Word that works, His Word that saves.

An unlikely bunch. A friend of mine several years ago had a good job, a loving wife and family and was liked, trusted and respected by most. But outward appearances can be very deceiving, as no one knew of his long inner fight in what he saw of himself. But one night, he found himself with no fight left. So after drinking in the shopping centre car park for a while-he realised it was just too much, so he drove thru the bottle shop to buy a few last drinks for the “trip”. As he was being served, a bedraggled homeless looking gentleman approached the attendant as he was walking over with my friend’s drinks, but remained by the car-which by now had alcohol bottles on the seat, cigarettes and money lying around.

But he did not ask for any of these things, but in an obviously NOT inebriated tone asked for a ride to the nearby suburb. My friend replied that he can’t as he’s not sure where he’s going. This bedraggled looking man, then clearly and with authority said “Jesus Christ knows who you are, and you are one of his” and walked off. My friend is now alive and well, and a committed Christian.

An unlikely bunch they were and an unlikely bunch we are, to hear his Word for ourselves-and live in that Word that others might just somehow find peace with their Lord and Saviour.

I’ll finish with a prayer.

Lord, we did not ask for you but you came to us anyway. We do not deserve your love and forgiveness but you give it to us anyway. Lord, as unworthy as we are-we thank you and ask that whether it be preaching in a Grand Cathedral, loving and serving our family and friends, befriending those who do not like or agree with us, or simply a smile to a stranger-that somehow, your Word will be heard-and they will find peace. Amen.