Sermons

Sermon: Sunday, June 8, 2014: Day of Pentecost

Texts: Acts 2:1-21  +  Ps. 104:24-34,35b  +  1 Cor. 12:3b-13  +  John 20:19-23

No one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:3b-13).

I’ll admit that when I was young, this verse was confounding.  I wondered if it could be true, in a literal way. I wondered if there was magic in the words “Jesus is Lord” that summoned the Holy Spirit, or if maybe it was the other way around; that by hearing or reading those words, I was inviting the Holy Spirit inside me, where it would work to bring me to say the words as well, “Jesus is Lord.”

With time I’ve come to a different understanding, though not completely different. I now hear these words, “Jesus is Lord,” as an early creed, a Christian reimagining of the tradition handed down to us through the words of the Torah, the prayers recited in the morning and evening by our Jewish brothers and sisters, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD is our God, the LORD alone” (Deut. 6:4).

But it’s not a creed in the way that we sometimes experience the creeds in worship, like a fragment of memory preserved in amber and recited as a testament to the past.  To say “Jesus is Lord” is a creed in the way that creeds may first have been used, as a public declaration of independence from all the forces of this world that work so hard to enslave us. The forces of greed, of violence, of envy, of terror. The forces that masquerade as the basis for our life together, the marketplace and the military, a strong economy and the power to keep it that way. To say “Jesus is Lord” is an act of bravery and imagination, because it implies that there is another way to live than the way we are living now, another world than the one we know, and it commits the speaker to the work of bringing that world into existence.

You know what I am talking about, because you are dreamers.

In his speech to those gathered in Jerusalem from every nation of the known world, Peter foretold the moment we now inhabit. He said,

“In the last days it will be, God declares,

that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,

and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,

and your young men shall see visions,

and your old men shall dream dreams.

Even upon my slaves, both men and women,

in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.”

(Acts 2:17-18)

What have you been dreaming about lately?  Do you know?  Do you remember your dreams?  What is your soul trying to say to you about the deepest yearnings of your heart?

Dreams are powerful things, in part, because they create a space where the mind can conjure up impossible solutions to impassable problems.  I remember that as a boy I had a recurring nightmare that I was being chased by a mob of children down the street on which I lived.  Each time I had the dream I would run as fast as I could until the children would finally grab hold of me, pull me to the ground, and begin to beat me.

a71013ea374c84f9efb44b25ee607130_largeOne night, as I was fleeing, it occurred to me that I might escape them by climbing a tree. So I leapt up and grabbed the lowest branch, pulling myself up and resting as the children gathered around the base of the tree yelling at me.  Soon they began throwing sticks and rocks at me, so I jumped from one tree to the next, evading their attacks, until I came to the end of the street and there were no trees left. Then the children began to climb the tree so that they could drag me down again.

It went on like that for another year or so, the nightmare visiting me every so often as I slept, always ending with me in that last tree at the end of the street, until one night when it occurred to me that I didn’t need another tree to escape, because I could fly. As the children began swarming at the base of the tree, reaching for its lowest limbs, I climbed up to the highest branch and looked up into the sky. I remember there was a bird coasting on the wind, barely working at all to stay aloft, and I decided to fly. I didn’t even have to leap, I just spread out my arms and rode the wind away from that tree on that street with those children. I never had that nightmare again.

Dreams make the impossible possible, they give us a chance to practice imagining a world different than the one in which we spend our waking hours.  For a little boy, the daily anxiety of navigating rooms filled with children who could be carelessly cruel seemed inescapable. In my dreams however I discovered that I could rise above my fears and found the freedom to explore the wider world.

Do you remember any of your childhood dreams?  What were they trying to tell you?  What new possibilities, what new worlds, did you create with your prophetic imagination?

lead_brueggemannI’m borrowing that phrase, “prophetic imagination,” from Walter Brueggemann, a biblical scholar who was interviewed by Krista Tippett a few years ago for her radio program “On Being.”  In that interview he said,

“I think at the broadest level, it is hard to talk about the fact — I think it’s a fact — that our society has chosen a path of death in which we have reduced everything to a commodity. We believe that there are technical solutions to everything, so it doesn’t matter whether you talk about over-reliance on technology, the mad pursuit of commodity goods, our passion for violence now expressed as our war policies. All of those are interrelated to each other and none of us, very few of us, really want to have that exposed as an inadequate and dehumanizing way to live. I think, if one is grounded in the truth of the gospel as a Christian that’s what we have to talk about.”

What Brueggemann is describing is our calling as Christians to imagine a world other than the one in which we live.  He describes the commodification of creation as the primary obstacle to envisioning a new world, and I agree.  We see this most easily in the advertising that surrounds us, a kind of waking dream in which impossible ideas get expressed as though they were reality — cosmetics equal beauty, cars equal power, cereal equals health, cell phones equal friendship, new homes equal family. The waking world in which we live and move and have our being has adopted the symbolism of our dreams, offering us a kind of pseudo-escape from the very real problems that pursue us. Except that, when we spread our wings and try to fly away from the anxieties of our lives in our new car, or our new home, or our new vacation, or our new phone, we find that we have really only leapt from one tree to the next, and our problems are still waiting for us.

What Peter preached to the people of Jerusalem, what Paul confessed to the people of Corinth, was not just another illusion, another substitute for the deepest longings of their hearts. What they offered was a new vision for the world, a living dream that was breaking into reality, that was calling people to renounce their old allegiances to empire and exploitation, to fear and accommodation.  The alternative they proposed was like a word spoken in a dream at the beginning of time, planted deep in the mind of every dreamer.  The word was light in dark places. The word was truth in a culture of lies. The word was power to the powerless.  The word was hope for the despairing.  The word was food for the hungry.  The word was love for the lonely. The word was life, rising up from every grave and waking every dreamer from the long night. The word was loose, and could not be contained, could not be silenced, could not be bought.

The word has a name, it is Jesus, and he is LORD.

When we say that, it is like the moment that sometimes happens while you are dreaming when you realize that you are in a dream, and it dawns on you that you might shape the dream rather than just observe it. Lucid dreaming, it’s called. When we say, “Jesus is LORD,” we are making the choice to not simply observe the world around us, but to change the world around us. We are committing ourselves to God’s dream for the world, and we are working to birth it into reality.

Sisters and brothers, these are the last days, and God’s Spirit has been poured out on us. We are God’s dreamers, God’s visionaries, God’s prophets. We rise from our beds like Christ rose from the tomb, undefeated by the powers and principalities of this world. We rise from our beds like Christ rose from the earth, glorifying the God of creation for whom nothing is impossible. We rise from our beds with stories to tell about the dreams and visions God has placed within us all, dreams that point the way to God’s preferred future.

Tell me, you prophets and seers, about your dreams. Tell one another. Can you see the new world coming? Come, let’s build it.

Amen.

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Sermons

Sermon: Sunday, October 6, 2013: Feast Day of St. Francis (transferred)

Texts: Genesis 2:18-25  +  Psalm 148  +  Revelation 5:11-14  +  Matthew 6:25-29

The life of Francesco di Bernardone, the man history remembers as St. Francis of Assisi, is a life of stories. Stories surround the memory of this man who, legends say, calmed a marauding wolf, humbled the rich, and addressed all of creation — from the sun in the sky to the earth beneath his feet — as if each was a brother and sister in his family.

Francis is remembered as a man simultaneously filled with joy and haunted by pain — the pain of the world, which took on shape in his own body as he renounced his wealth in order to rebuild the church and care for the needs of the poor around him.

One of my favorite stories from the life of Francis recounts the day he confronted his father and renounced his wealth. His father, Pietro, was a wealthy textile merchant who’d hoped Francis would follow in his footsteps and inherit the family business.  Instead, Francis used his father’s wealth to rebuild a crumbling church and to feed the poor. Filled with the Spirit of God, Francis entered the city of Assisi to preach the good news of God’s infinite love, by turns dancing and weeping as he preached. Incensed by his son’s unauthorized expenses, and embarrassed by the ridicule of his friends and neighbors, Pietro drug his son before the bishop of Assisi to demand a verdict on his behavior.

"Saint Francis," by Nikos Kazantzakis

“Saint Francis,” by Nikos Kazantzakis

In his fictionalized account of the life of Francis, Greek author Nikos Kazantzakis sets the scene like this:

“Lord Bishop,” old Bernardone answered in a hoarse, exasperated voice, “this son of mine is no longer in his right mind. He has insane dreams, hears voices in the air, takes gold from my coffers and squanders it. He’s ruining me! Until recently he spent it in having a good time, and I said to myself that he was young and would get over it. But now I’ve finally lost all hope. He goes around with ragamuffins, sleeps in caves, weeps and laughs without rhyme or reason, and lately has been seized with a mania to rebuild ruined churches. But tonight this disease simply went too far. He came to Assisi and began to sing and dance in the middle of the square while everyone laughed … He is a disgrace to my blood. I no longer want him!”

“And so…?” asked the bishop, seeing Bernadone hesitate.

“And so,” said old Bernadone, holding his arm over his son’s head, “and so, before God and man I disown him, disinherit him. He is no longer my son.”

There was muffled whispering among the notables and people, but the bishop restored silence with a wave of his hand. He turned to Francis, who had been listening with bowed head.

“What do you have to say in your defense, Francis, son of Christ?”

Francis raised his head.

“Nothing,” he answered. “Only this —”

And, before any of us could prevent him, with a sudden movement he threw off the velvet clothes he was wearing, rolled them up into a bundle, and calmly, without uttering a word, stooped and placed them at [his father’s] feet.

Then, naked as the day his mother brought him into the world, he went and stood before the bishop’s throne.

“Bishop,” he said, “even these clothes belonged to him. I am returning them. He no longer has a son; I no longer have a father. Our accounts are settled.”

We all stood with gaping mouths; many eyes had filled with tears. Bernadone bent down, seized the bundle, and placed it beneath his arm.

The bishop descended from his throne. His eyes were wet. Removing his cloak, he wrapped it around Francis, covering his nakedness.

“Why did you do it, my child?” he asked in a melancholy reproachful voice. “Weren’t you ashamed before these people?”

“No, Bishop, only before God,” Francis replied humbly. “I am only ashamed before God. Forgive me, Bishop.”

The bishop of Assisi protects Francis from his disowned father’s violent wrath, provides him with a simple gardener’s robe to cover his nakedness, and escorts him to the courtyard of the church. Kazantzakis continues,

Bending over, he said to him in a hushed voice, “Careful, Francis. You’re overdoing it.”

“That’s how one finds God, Bishop,” Francis answered.

The bishop shook his head. “Even virtue needs moderation; otherwise it can become arrogance.”

“Man stands within the bounds of moderation; God stands outside them. I am heading for God, Bishop,” said Francis, and he proceeded hastily toward the street door. He had no time to lose.

All the texts assigned for this Feast Day of St. Francis find their home somewhere in this story.  Francis enters the town of Assisi filled with the vision of the heavenly chorus in the reading from Revelation, his sermon an extension of the ecstatic praise of the angels, and elders and all God’s creatures singing “to the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever.” (Rev. 5:13)

Then, as his father disowns him and he is stripped of his family name and inheritance, Francis stands defiantly naked before church and society, refusing to be shamed for his joy in the gospel. Beneath his wealth, beneath even his family associations, Francis knew that the deepest, truest fact of his existence was that he was one of God’s own beloved creations. In his testimony we hear echoes of Genesis, “and the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.” (Gen. 2:25)

Francis was immodest in his witness, immoderate in his living.  He stood in the line of the prophets of Israel whom we studied this past summer, willing to use his own life to make dramatic sign acts that testified to an extraordinary confidence in the providence of God. Even as the bishop of Assisi, his recent protector, covers his nakedness, guides him safely to the gates, and urges caution, Francis throws caution to the wind with words that sound like Jesus’ own from Matthew’s gospel, “do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” (Matt. 6:25)

Last week I began a 12-week class with the junior high and high school youth in our congregation.  We’re meeting the hour before worship on Sunday mornings to study the bible, skimming the entire book from beginning to end by focusing on its major themes. So, last week we began with creation, noticing that when God looked at what God had created, God declared that it was good.

One of the exercises we were invited to try out over the course of this past week was to either put sticky notes on our bathroom mirror, or to write with washable markers, characteristics we believe are true about God. So, if you were doing this exercise with us, your bathroom mirror might have framed the reflection of your face with words like, “creative,” “powerful,” “forgiving,” “loving,” “steadfast” and so on.

I loved this suggestion, because — at least the way I remember those years — junior high and high school can be so tough on our self-esteem.  We are so painfully conscious of all the ways we stick out. We want nothing more than to fit in. We can barely imagine making the kind of scene St. Francis did, the equivalent of marching into the cafeteria and making a huge, embarrassing spectacle of himself that ended with him standing naked in front of everyone he knew and disowned by his family.

The cast of Glee

The cast of Glee

Then I think about the TV show Glee, and how it’s not just young people who watch that show, but so many of us, Gleeks one and all. There’s something powerful about that show, the way that it invites us all, teens and adults, to dream about a different kind of reality. A world where all life’s daily humiliations are overcome with a song and a dance and a community of friends who will not let you go. A world where a Jewish Korean girl is elected prom queen; where the head cheerleader trades in her pom poms for the love of a nerdy, wheelchair bound boy; and a combined chorus of rival schools set aside their competitions to serenade two young men as they commit to a life of marriage to one another. It is a ludicrous comedy about the way we wish the world actually worked.

I wonder if the legends that follow St. Francis aren’t a bit like that.  In a time before television and Netflix, when we still gathered around campfires and came to church, we still hungered for stories of people who’d figured out how to learn from the life of Jesus and to make his story their own.

So we get Francis, who sang and danced his way through life, surrounded by the brothers minor and the poor clares, the brothers and sisters Francis and his friend and co-worker Clare gathered around them. We get scenes and stories from their lives, like episodes of a necessary dream, that keep hope alive that there is a place on this earth for all who feel too poor, too sick, too different, too far gone to ever belong to anything real, anything important.

But best of all, we get the church. Like the walls of San Damiano, the church that St. Francis restored and where St. Clare built her community of sisters, we have a building in need of restoration, but already filled with the songs and dances and arts of a hundred saints. Saints like you, who God sees through the eyes of love and calls good every day.

You see, the world’s necessary dream is not confined to an hour-long episode once a week, and it is not confined to the stories of brothers and sisters who lived and died eight hundred years ago.  The dream this world needs, God’s dream for the world, is enacted each time we gather here. It is the songs that surround the stories we tell week after week that counter the tales of terror that drench our morning news.  It is the warm sharing of peace with our neighbors in a world marked by too much hostility and suspicion.  It is the food shared at a table where all are fed in a neighborhood where food prices keep rising.  It is the daily witness and ministry of life that each of you is carrying out in your homes, on the streets, in classrooms and boardrooms. It is the life of the baptized, God’s glee club, singing God’s song dressed in nothing but the waters that gave them new life.

Your life, the life of St. Luke’s, the life of the church, the life of Christ, is a life full of stories. Stories of a people and a creation that God looks at with love and calls good, very good. Let love make you immodest in your witness, immoderate in your enthusiasm. Come, let us sing to the Lord!

Amen.

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Sermons

Sermon: Sunday, June 23, 2013: Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

Texts: 1 Kings 19:1-15a  +  Psalms 42 & 43  +  Galatians 3:23-29  +  Luke 8:26-39

amos-mlkThroughout the summer we’ve been enrolled in what I’ve been calling “A School for Prophets,” following the stories from Hebrew scripture of the prophets of Israel.  Within this series, for the last few weeks, we’ve been focusing specifically on the prophet Elijah, who was called to speak out against the idolatry of Israel’s king, Ahab, and his wife, Jezebel.  We’ve remembered the story of the widow of Zarephath, who fed Elijah out of her meager pantry.  We’ve witnessed as Elijah called down fire on the prophets of Baal.  We heard with horror how Jezebel engineered a plot to steal Naboth’s birthright. Throughout, we’ve been challenged to understand that prophesy is less a form of fortune-telling, and more a vocation of truth-telling, a vocation that is not confined to the past, but is called for in every age.

If this summer School for Prophets had a textbook, something other than the bible, something more like those heavy hardbound chapter books we got back in high school and lugged around in backpacks, then today’s lesson would be laid out in a single page, followed by two case studies or examples.  The chapter would be titled something like, “The Freedom of a Prophet.”

The lesson, in its simplest form, comes not from Hebrew scripture, but from Paul’s letter to the Galatians.  He is writing to a community of people who have begun to turn away from his teaching, who have begun to impose a kind of legalism onto the faith they’d received, making their religion into an exercise in following the right rules rather than cultivating and maintaining relationships.

“Now before faith came,” he writes, “we were imprisoned and guarded under the law.”  In the narrowest sense, the law Paul is referring to is not Roman law, but Jewish law.  It seems that the people who have come around since he left Galatia have been teaching a different gospel.  Paul had taught that we are all justified, or made right with God, through faith — which is to say, through a living, loving, trusting, dynamic relationship.  Those who came after Paul were teaching that in order to be right with God, to be justified, the people needed to follow a set of rules and practices connected with Jewish faith and life.

Remember that Paul was speaking as a Jew to and among other Jews.  So, in his context, he was experiencing a reformation of religious identity.  He was talking and teaching others about what it meant to be freed from slavish religious legalism, and to experience relationship with God as a source of liberation, not regulation.  If we wanted to draw parallels to our own day and time, rather than contrasting our religious experience with people from other religions, it would be more appropriate for us to look for examples within our own tradition, or even our own lives, where we have come to experience faith in God as a living, loving, trusting, dynamic relationship.

But, just as we think we’re beginning to understand what Paul is talking about.  Just when we’re beginning to think this religious liberation sounds pretty good, Paul continues,

“for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.  As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:27-28)

You and me, we live in an age of growing comfort with and acceptance of religious pluralism and multiculturalism.  So, to us, this passage may just sound like the preamble to a song from “Free to be You and Me.”  But try to hear these words with other ears, ears tuned to the dynamics of power, violence and abuse.

Instead of “there is no longer Jew or Greek,” try on “there is no longer American or Afghan;” or “there is no longer White or Black or Latino or Native or Asian or Arab.”  Even for those of us who embrace diversity and strive for something better than mere tolerance of difference, Paul’s words feel dangerous.  We don’t want our differences to be demolished.  We aren’t looking for one identity into which we can all be dropped, erasing all that makes each of us distinct.

Instead of “there is no longer slave or free,” try on “there is no longer undocumented or born-and-bred,” or “there is no longer hungry or well-fed,” or “there is no longer rich and poor.”  Now Paul’s rhetoric sounds not only foolish, but feeble.  What can he have meant?  In his day there quite clearly were citizens and there were slaves.  In our day there are quite clearly citizens and undocumented, people with papers and people without.  People with wealth, people with food, and people without.

Finally, he says, “there is no longer male and female.”  Here the pattern has been broken.  Paul has said Jew or Greek, slave or free; but now he says male and female.  This is an echo of the language we first heard in Genesis, when God sets out to create humanity saying,

“let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness… So God created humankind in God’s image, in the image of God did God create them; male and female God created them.” (Gen. 1:26-27)

Men and women are created in the image and likeness of God, but in Paul’s day and to this day, men and women both here in the United States and around the globe are not treated equally.  Whether we look at women’s pay, women’s education, women’s access to health, or rates of violence against women, it is clear that the world has not set its societies up to affirm what our scriptures tell us is true, that both men and women are created in the image and likeness of God.

Far from being some kind of proto-hippie love anthem on how we should all just be free, and get along, and enjoy our diversity, Paul has rejected a rules-based religion in favor of a relationship-centered faith in which we are called to live and act as though all the people with whom we are in very complicated relationships of power and privilege are integral to our own life, are a part of our own body.

This kind of living is a prophetic challenge to everything we’ve been taught about what it means to be free, because it means our freedom is not from other people, it is for other people.

So now, if we were reading our “School of Prophets” textbooks, we would come to the case studies, one from the gospel of Luke, the other from First Kings.  Both of these stories are incredibly rich, and deserving of a slow reading in a solid bible study, or a full sermon of their own.  I’m not going to be able to do either, so I’ll just make a plug here for another way you can delve into these texts.

Beginning next week, and running through the rest of the summer, there’s going to be a Sunday morning adult bible study on the prophets we’re covering in worship from 9am – 10am.  These bible studies are being led by Ray Pickett, Greg Singleton and Erika Dornfeld, each of whom brings a deep understanding of scripture and a unique perspective on how the vocation of the prophets is shared by each of us who, by baptism, has “put on Christ,” who himself inherited the mantle of the prophets.  I am looking forward to learning from all three of these teachers, and I hope you’ll make an effort to join me for at least a couple of these two week units on each of the prophets.

To return to the texts, I want to draw our attention to a feature that each text has in common: their endings.

In the gospel of Luke we hear the story of the Gerasene demoniac who has been chained up in a graveyard, possessed by demons who say their name is “Legion,” whom Jesus exorcises into a herd of swine that then run off a cliff and into the sea.  As I said, this story deserves a good long bible study.

But as the story comes to its conclusion, the Gerasenes, the people who had chained this demon-possessed man up in their graveyard have asked Jesus to leave them.  Jesus, by casting out their demons, has disrupted their social order.  They’d had a system for handling their demons, namely by scapegoating a man they kept chained up like a slave.  Now that he’d been set free, they were afraid.  Jesus does what they ask, and leaves them there on the far side of the sea, and the man he has healed begs to come with him.

But Jesus sends him away, saying, “return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you. So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.” (Luke 8:38-39)

Jesus may have freed this man of his demons, but he will not liberate him from his people.  Even though he will still be an outcast among the Gerasenes, though now for a different reason, Jesus does not invite this man to leave his community and withdraw to some better place among better people somewhere else.  Instead, liberated from death, he is sent back to proclaim a new world order.  Set free for, not from.

In the story we hear from First Kings, Elijah — like the Gersasene demoniac — is enduring a kind of living death.  He’s not chained up in a graveyard, but he is hiding in a cave from Queen Jezebel who has promised to see him dead within a day.

As Elijah is hiding out, away from the people God sent him to serve and to save, the word of the Lord comes to him, saying, “what are you doing here, Elijah?”  Elijah offers his complaint, essentially saying, “this prophetic work is hard work, it has not made me any friends, and I’m worried that I will lose my life.”  God tells Elijah to go stand on the mountaintop, the place where God had traditionally met God’s people, and then we hear all the ways that God had traditionally been manifest among the people — winds, earthquakes and fires.  But God was not present to Elijah in those ways.  Instead God was present in silence.

Again, God asks what Elijah is doing hiding out in a cave; and again, Elijah complains that this work is hard, and it has not made him many friends, and he is worried that he will lose his life.  But, does God carry him away from this danger and hardship to be with better people in some better place somewhere else.  No, instead God says, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus.”

Here, in the School for Prophets, I think we learn one of a prophet’s hardest lessons.  The prophet is called to live with, to love, to lead in a world that, frankly, didn’t ask for the word the prophets have been sent to deliver.  Paul’s radical relationships sounded a lot harder than rule-based religion, and people weren’t sure they wanted to stick with it.  The Gerasenes had figured out how to manage their demon problem, and keeping one guy chained up in a graveyard seemed like an acceptable price to pay for their relative freedom.

The prophetic word wasn’t welcome in Israel under Ahab and Jezebel, and it’s not really all that welcome here, in Logan Square and Humboldt Park, in Chicago, in the United States, among the nations.  Because the prophetic word is this: there is no escaping each other.  There is no freedom from each other.  There is no neighborhood you can live in that exempts you from the violence done in other communities.  There is no wall you can build that keeps one nation separated from another.  There is no trade agreement you can sign that can differentiate the humanity of one worker from another.  There is no getting away from each other.  We are all in this together.

Even in our churches, we sometimes come, huddling, like Elijah in his cave, stinging from the hurts of so much hard work out there in the world.  Hoping God will maybe show up this Sunday to say, “well, yes, that’s enough.  You can be done now.”  But God doesn’t do that, because somewhere there is still a widow in Zarephath running out of food, and somewhere there is still a man chained up in a graveyard, longing to be free.

So, instead of giving us a way out, God gives us each other, a company of prophets.  Freed, not from the world, but for the world.

In the name of Jesus.  Amen.

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