Play Ball!

Sitting in Fenway Park, packed in bleachers with strangers all around, the sun still high in the late afternoon sky, a few players stretch while workers scurry around, watering the field.  At first, it looks like no one will be in front of us, but by the singing of the National Anthem, there is not an empty seat in the stadium.  We are packed in.  A father and a son with matching, maroon, Philadelphia Flier baseball hats ask me to take their picture, with the Fenway sign behind them.  They sit next to a young, Indian couple.  He is Sikh and keeps his turban on during the singing of the National Anthem.  Next to them are three guys in their 20’s who appear to have grown up going to Red Sox games.  They are all in. They know all of the players, the best seats in the park and are ready to watch some ball!  Next to them is a young couple who are clearly in love.  He is white and she is black.  They become instant friends with three guys and they have a blast talking, drinking beer and singing to Queen and Michael Jackson.  Next to me is a young couple that gets up to get a beer or go to the bathroom at least 10 times throughout the game.  I don’t mind.  The guy seriously could be Jon Snow. (I asked, and he wasn’t). Next to them is a family that appears to be grandparents with their grandchildren.  They look as touristy as we do.  Below us are little girls in baseball hats and pigtails.  They never take their eye off the game and next to them is an elderly couple, with matching Boston Red Sox shirts and baseball caps.

And then there is the three of us. We are just little specks in the sea of people about to watch the game. A mom, a son, and a grandpa.  We are so excited.  It’s our first game in our week-long tour of baseball games and we are sitting in Fenway, Freaking Park!   It happens to be Catholic Night.  They recognize at least four parishes and community leaders who are making a difference in Boston.  They mention poverty, homelessness, domestic violence, and substance abuse.  Then they recognize a little boy, my son’s age, who has a brain tumor.  He gets to throw out the first pitch.  The entire crowd stands and applauds and I am already crying.  The sun is starting to set now over the field and the lights are just about to come on. It’s time for the National Anthem and it’s sung by a large church choir.  There are children, teenagers, and adults all singing with such reference and humility.  As if on cue, birds fly around the stadium, gliding to the music.  As I stand here, with my hand on my heart and look at the flag and all of the people, and try to piece together all of their stories,  this feeling of love for country swells in me, and I have hope. There is more that unifies us than divides us.

We are all there to see an athlete try to hit a ball as hard he can so that he can make it back home.  If he ever makes it around the bases,  we all cheer with satisfaction and mutual respect, knowing that was no easy accomplishment.  If he strikes out, we sympathize.  We all know the feeling of trying and failing.  It’s exciting and can be boring if you don’t pay attention to the game.  You need to be present, or you miss it. It’s life.  And we are all participants in it. Our politics don’t matter. Our religious affiliation doesn’t matter. Our gender, age and where we come from, doesn’t matter.  We can be respectful of one another as we sit together for three to four hours and watch a well-played game.  What matters is a fair game, a good hot dog, some unifying music, and the sheer joy of being together.  It wouldn’t be  as fun, or exciting, or as beautiful if we weren’t all there together. It’s who we are at our best and it’s awesome. One nation. Under God. Indivisible.  With liberty and justice for all.

Play Ball! Happy Fourth of July!

Last Words

scenic view of mountains during dawn
Photo by Simon Matzinger on

Sermon Preached on Confirmation Sunday.

JOHN 13:31-35

31When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. 32If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once.33Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ 34I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Last words are important, especially on days of big transitions, when something is coming to an end and a new thing is beginning.  Sometimes people regret the last thing they have said to a person and they wish they had a second chance to get it right.  They hope that their actions have spoken louder than their words.   My mom has shared a funny story about the last words her parents said to her on her wedding night.  My mom was a young bride, only 21, and after my parents got married and had the reception in the basement of the Lutheran church, they all came back to the house so my mom could change and get her luggage before heading off to a weekend in Chicago for their honeymoon.  As they were leaving and hugging and saying goodbye, her dad  said, “sometime you and Joe will get in argument, whenever that happens, whatever you do, don’t come home.”  Then, her mom, my grandmother, a short, round-faced Swedish lady from whom I get my height pulled on her sleeve and said, “Whatever you do, don’t forget to clean the top of the refrigerator”  – And then they were off on the their honeymoon. Fifty-two years later, my mom never came home and top of her refrigerator is amazing.

I remember the day I moved into my college dorm. I was the oldest and  there was a lot of nervous energy in the air.  Everything was about to change.  After we had moved in and the bed was made, we road down the elevator and walked out to the parking lot.  My dad gave me a hug and said, “Good luck.  Remember, where ever you go, whatever you do, there will always be someone I know watching you.”

And then they got in the car and drove away.

The last words we say to each other are important.

This morning’s small passage are Jesus’ last words before his arrest and death.  They should be very familiar to us, we have heard Jesus say this many times that the greatest commandment is to love another and that people will know, that people will recognize his disciples by how they show that love.  – everyone, he says, will know you are my disciples.  Standing on it’s own this text is meaningful, but if  expand out from this scene, we see that the bigger scene happening here is far more serious. Talk about nervous energy.  Jesus has just been betrayed by one of his own and is about face an arrest, trial and death.  These are his last words before being taken down death row, at the hands of someone he loved, and in this setting he says these words, 3Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ 34I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

He says, people will know you are my disciples not by what you say, by you do. “Watch what people do,” said family systems guru Murray Bowen again and again, “not what they say.”

Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” There is nothing more fundamental to what it means to be a Christian then this sentence.

Karen Armstrong is a former Catholic nun who has become a world-renowned scholar of many religions. Armstrong says that in most religious traditions, faith is not about belief but practice. Religion, Armstrong writes, is not about having to believe or accept certain difficult propositions; instead, religion is “about doing things that change you” (Karen Armstrong, The Spiritual Staircase, p. 270)

So when Jesus gives his parting words to his disciples, he wants them to do something that changes them,  that in return changes others, and that change is the manifestation of agape love.

Today is Confirmation Sunday – It’s a day we ask 14 -year-olds to say what they believe about God and the church.  It’s a rite of passage.  It’s day when they the testify to what they believe and we have asked them to testify to those beliefs by using words.   We’ve asked them to put words around their faith.  This exercise is really something we should all do every decade of our lives, if we are fortunate enough to live another decade. -To see how our faith has changed and been shaped by life circumstances. 

I was in confirmation in the 80’s which was the last great boom of the church.  We had a huge confirmation class of about 35 kids and I remember it was taught by two dads in the church.  I remember very little about the class except that I drew a picture of what God looked like.  On the day that we were examined by the session,  e chose one representative from the class to answer all of the questions for all of us. – I never had to answer a question.  So we nominated a kid named Dak Drake to be our spokesperson.  They asked him about John Calvin and John Knox, and the reformed tradition.  Dak did a great job, and I got approved to be confirmed in the church. – It was a win-win.  My point is, I knew very little scripture, very little church history or theology when I professed my faith and joined the church, the only thing I knew, or felt, or believed was love of God.  And I knew this through the action of others.   I knew the adults in the church were Christian by their love, and I wanted to be someone who loved others like they did. It just seemed really freeing to love people the way they did.  They set an example of being the church and I wanted to be a part of it.

Those are really the best parting words to give our confirmands today, isn’t it? To tell them  and assure them that we love them as Christ loves them.    Confirmands if you remember anything about your confirmation day, when you are older and on your own, I hope you remember that in this place you are loved. Not because of what you do, or how you look, or what you have, or what you create, but because you are a child of God.  I hope you find that compelling. I hope you are intrigued by this belief that you are loved and that it motivates you to love others in that same way.  I hope you know that deep down on your hardest day, when you break up with your significant other, when you fail a test, when you  don’t get the award, when you are anxious and when you are sad, my prayer is that there is a little light in you that swims all around you, like a marble in a pinball machine and that light covers you in love.

I hope some day you want to learn more.    I hope you find yourself wanting to study the Word of God, or read the wisdom of past theologians. I hope you are compelled to live out the commandment Jesus gives today.

If you find yourself in a place where someone questions your Christianity, or if you question someone else’s motivation – your litmus test is this:  Is the action out of love for another human being? If’ it’s not spoken or done out of love, it’s spoken or done out of something other than the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

You know, I didn’t tell you the whole story about the day my family dropped me off for college.  My dad did say that no matter where I was there would be someone watching me, in other words, whatever I did would get back to him.  He then laughed and  gave me one more big hug, and said no matter where you go or what you do, I will always love you no matter what..  And then they got in the car and drove away.

The last words  are important.

They will know we are Christian by our love, by our love, yes they know we are Christian by our love.










Holding Fireflies: Mother’s Day Devotion


Motherhood is a paradox.  You give birth to a little being.  They are warm and gooey, soft and loud, dependent and demanding.  I remember saying to my pediatrician, when I was nursing that I couldn’t get over the feeling that was solely responsible for somebody else’s nutritional needs.  She said, “Yes, that’s right. Don’t think too much about it, just move on.”  – As if obsessing over the reality of being someone’s life source would make you go crazy.

When they are little, you try to control things like nutrition and sleeping, safety and what they are exposed to on television.  You think that if you show them shows like Veggie Tales and Little Einstein that they might somehow love Jesus and become brilliant.  You talk yourself into these false narratives, telling yourself that you actually have control over this life that you brought into the world.

When they are little, you can take them to the library and read them books, and to the park and children’s museums. You expose them to things you want them to see, like nature and art, counting thunder claps and catching fireflies.

When they hit junior high, this slow transition begins. It begins with shopping at different stores and the independence of self selection.  It begins with friends having a higher priority and a greater awareness of self.

Then things start getting dramatic.

A friend group dissolves, leaving the new feeling of loneliness and loss.

A girl leaves a note on the last day of school calling her an anorexic.

A boy ditches her two days before the 8th grade dance.

The phone begins connected to the hand and the feeling of everyone’s life being better than yours seeps into your brain.

Everyone seems to be an honor student.

They start making decisions that have consequences.  That frontal cortex starts igniting. Impulsiveness sets in, sometime leading to “you did what?” moments.  They experience shame and embarrassment, forgiveness and grace.

Self esteem starts to take a plunge, and then it gets better, and then it plunges again, and then it gets better.   It’s like holding a firefly.

And there is no longer a quick remedy to provide comfort.   At first, you can guide. You can even call the other mom.  You can call the teacher, without looking like “one of those moms.”  You can intercede and help prop up.  You can keep giving life support.

Then, they start to stand on the edge and start peering over into adulthood.

The music in your car is nothing short of terrible.

There are cups and spoons left in rooms and clean clothes are thrown in the laundry.

You suddenly become an idiot.  It’s a wonder you have made it this far.

And, could you be more annoying?

You think, somehow that it won’t happen to you.  That somehow the stories that other moms told you would pass over you.  I always hated it when moms of older kids told me that “while I was busy now, just wait… it gets worse.”  I now bow to their wisdom.

I remember hearing moms of older daughters tell me that their teenager was so hateful and rude, and I thought, “that won’t happen to me.”  I now confess my own arrogance.

I remember hearing older parents say that parenting starts out physically exhausting and ends mentally exhausting.  They were so right.  It’s this crazy, paradoxical moment where on the one hand you don’t want them to leave and at the same time you are ready for them to go.  It’s such a conflicting feeling of holding two truths at the same time.

You will have a moment when all of sudden it dawns on you that you have arrived at a moment that you always thought was a long way off.  Suddenly you are there, and they are there, and you think, “What the hell is happening? I seriously just give birth 5 minutes ago.”

But then you go home and look in the mirror and realize, “Nope, something has definitely happened.”

I am so grateful for all of the moms who have taught me how to be a mom.

I remember having a preschooler and going to friend’s daughter’s graduation party.  She (the daughter, not the mom) seemed so old to me.  My friend told me to just blink and I would be where she was.  She was right.

I remember sitting with a mom of a high school student and she was telling me, in front of her daughter, that she knew her daughter would make good decisions. I thought that was so wise.

I am grateful to the mom who told me how she talked about sex to her son and his girl friend.

I am grateful to the mom who told me that in high school she never called a teacher. She let her kids figure it out.

I am very grateful to the mom’s that have curfews and limits on phones and gaming devices.  I am grateful to the mom’s that call and make sure parents are home. I am grateful to the mom’s that have boundaries on driving, overnights,  and use “find my friends.”

I am mostly grateful to all of the moms you have shared a glass of wine or cup of coffee and have been so honest with what their kids are going through. It’s really hard to admit that your kid isn’t perfect.  But parents need each other’s horror stories.  We need the confession that our kids are kids.

I am so grateful to the stories that make us laugh and cry at the same moment. I am grateful to the moms who have confessed that they have cussed their kids out and had to apologize later.

I am grateful to the moms who have confessed that they let their kid go do something, because it was easier than fighting.

I am grateful to the moms who have modeled self care in the middle of all of this.

I am grateful to the moms have showed me how to let them go….

It’s a paradox.  And it’s hard. Really, really hard.  It’s also good. Really, really good.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you who find yourself holding the wonder of your own, fragile, strong, beautiful,  firefly and stand in amazement of their light.  Do not hold them too tightly,  or their light will go out.  Let them explore your hand and enjoy the air.  Eventually, the will come to the edge of your finger tips.  Let them stand there, peering over the edge.  And then, ever so gently, the Breath of God will let them go…


Practice Resurrection


John 21:1-19

After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. 2Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin,* Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. 3Simon Peter said to them, ‘I am going fishing.’ They said to him, ‘We will go with you.’ They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

4 Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5Jesus said to them, ‘Children, you have no fish, have you?’ They answered him, ‘No.’ 6He said to them, ‘Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.’ So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. 7That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’ When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the lake. 8But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards* off.

9 When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. 10Jesus said to them, ‘Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.’ 11So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. 12Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ because they knew it was the Lord. 13Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. <!– 15 –>

15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ 16A second time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Tend my sheep.’ 17He said to him the third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ And he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep. 18Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.’ 19(He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, ‘Follow me.’

There is so much happening in this story this morning. It’s like the grand finale, when the author throws in every metaphor and miracle, in one, big triumphant, final message. There is a fishing expedition, boat, which symbolizes the church. There are fish, lots and lots of fish, some in nets, some cooked. There are sheep and unbreakable nets and even a foreshadowing of a death that is still to come.  Every line is symbolic and packed with meaning.  It takes place after the resurrection, in a familiar setting.  The disciples have returned to their routine to what they know best.  It’s their grief therapy, and so they go to the familiar feeling of their hands on the nets and the waves rocking their boat and in that familiar spot, they see a man standing, looking at them, on the side of the shore, he just appeared there, out of nowhere and he tells them to cast their net on the other side.  Now they have no reason to trust this guy on the shore.  They are skilled fisherman, they are independent minded, but something in them tells them to listen to this voice and they do and pull their net down into the water and 152 fish, a bounty submerges the net and they heave the net in, and at this miraculous moment, Peter has a moment like Mary did in the garden and he goes from not recognizing him to recognizing him in a flash and he’s so excited he puts his clothes on to jump in the water, which is crazy, but he jumps in and does a fifty yard sprint to the shore, while the boat and the 153 fish follow behind him.

Jesus does this over and over again in the resurrection stories, doesn’t he? He is constantly mistaken for an everyday person. This is not a coincidence. He’s a gardner, a fisherman, a traveler on the road.  This is important because, people who knew him and should have recognized him, don’t, because he looks like everyone else – he could be anyone else and that’s the whole point. He’s universally present.

So Peter makes it the shore and Jesus is there and so is charcoal fire. Another symbol. The last time Peter saw a charcoal fire, things did not go well. You have to wonder if Peter had a flash back to the last time he was by a fire like this one. Did he feel a twinge of pain, remembering that the last time he was a fire, he lied and denied knowing Jesus? Did he feel guilt going up the back of his neck?  Could he look Jesus in the eye?  If he did, it doesn’t say.  But that fire wasn’t there by accident.  Jesus could stand there and ask for an explanation, or let him know how hurt he was, instead Jesus doesn’t dish out shame or blame, he dishes out breakfast.  The smell of charcoaled fish and bread warms against the sea salt air inviting the disciples in around the fire.  He feeds them. He tends to them. He forgives them. Isn’t that beautiful?  But the story doesn’t end there.

They gather around the fire and a dialogue begins where Jesus asks Peter the same question three times. Now Peter represents the church, you know. Which means Peter represents you and me and all of us.  Peter is the stand-in for all of us.  Peter gets a second chance and Jesus gives him that.  He asks Peter if he loves him, not because Jesus needs to hear it, but Peter needs to say it.  He needs to know he can start again with his relationship with Jesus, that even though he fell far short the first time and acted out of fear, this time he can act out of faith, he can be redeemed and respond to Jesus’ call.

Now before we get to the second part of this story, let’s just stop and reflect here on the universal truths. Point number one,  only you can believe Jesus is actively working in your life.  No one can convince you that Jesus is in front of you.  How many times have we walked by Jesus, mistaking him for the gardener, or another fisherman, or the mechanic that changes your oil. Our first response is to doubt, to not even notice.  If you don’t have faith, no matter what is front of you, it doesn’t matter because you wont be able to see him, you won’t see the miracle.  But if you have faith, you see him in ordinary people, like fisherman and gardeners and the baggers at the grocery store, and the travelers at the airport and the children on the playground. You don’t need to wait for the second coming to see him. He’s made his presence known in the kindness of strangers, in the helpers and the healers.  In the truth tellers and the prophets.  That’s the first big message in this packed story.

Point number two,  Jesus forgives and provides room for forgiveness. – Always. Rita Snowden wrote:

“You ask me what forgiveness means; it is the wonder of being trusted again by God in the place where I disgraced him.”

Jesus gives Peter a gift, and that gift is the opportunity to redeem himself, to put himself right with Jesus to get his relationship back on track. Now remember again, Peter represents us, He’s the church, He’s everyone.  So I ask you, when was the last time you told Jesus you loved him and that you would follow him?  Love is always a selfless act. Even loving Jesus.

Now we haven’t even gotten to the second part of the story, where Jesus commissions Peter and the disciple to go out and be a disciple. Remember those nets full of 153 fish?  If that seems like a rather specific number, its’ because it is.  The Israelites believed that during this time in history that there were 153 nations on the earth.  These fish represent the whole world.  Every single nation has been caught in that net.  Everybody is worthy. Everyone is included. Jesus knows them and captures them all.  They may not see him,  just like the disciples didn’t at first, but he sees them. Our job is not to question if anyone is worthy of seeing him, our job is tend and feed and to be Christ to others, regardless if they ever see him or not. Eventually, the scales may come off, and they will see.

Our job, and this is the third point, is to practice resurrection. Remember that the disciples thought that after Jesus died, that that was it for them, that that was the end of the story. Best get back to business. And so when the resurrected Jesus comes to them and gives them instructions on how to be a disciple after he’s gone, he’s asking them to practice their faith.  And specifically to practice resurrection. We think of the resurrection as one time event. Something God did a long time ago… but I want to suggest to you that God has never stopped the miracle of  resurrection.  We do that by as Wendell Berry writes, “by being joyful though you have considered all of the facts.”  If you remember one thing about this sermon today, remember that sentence. – Be joyful even though you have considered all of the facts.

In the resurrection Jesus proclaims, “I am not done!  There is more , and this more will change everything you think you understand about life and how the world works.”

I don’t know about you, but I can get pessimistic pretty quickly these days about lots of things. This week I went to a presbytery meeting where we closed another church in our presbytery and a pastor told me that his two small churches each have one or two years left. Both are worshipping about 18 on a given Sunday.  In a couple of weeks you will be getting a letter from me with some actuarial numbers based on the age of our congregation and giving projects, and yall  we are just like every mainline church out there.  We are in a lot better shape than most and the reality is we are a Mainline Church in 2019 and we are who we are. – Those are the facts and we can’t pretend it isn’t so.  We aren’t immune to death.  But we aren’t immune to life either.  We practice resurrection by believing that God shows up in unexpected ways through unexpected people, that God gives direction if we but only listen, that God  casts a net that doesn’t exclude any nation or kind of person, that God feeds and tends, forgives and redeems.  Theoligan Jergenn Moltmann writes, that in the Christian life, faith has the priority, but hope has the primacy. 

We practice resurrection by living our lives with two gifts in our hands faith and hope. Without faith’s knowledge of Christ, hope becomes a utopia and remains hanging in the air. But without hope, faith falls to pieces, becomes a fainthearted and ultimately a dead faith. It is through faith that man finds the path of true life, but it is only hope that keeps him on that path. Thus it is that faith in Christ gives hope its assurance. Thus it is that hope gives faith in Christ its breadth and leads it into life. – Theology of Hope

Ooh that’s heavy. This is what I think he means: it is by faith that we know that we find our purpose, it is by hope that we live out our purpose. It is by faith that we come here and worship God, it is by hope that we take that worship into the world.  It is by faith that say yes to serving, loving, caring, giving, it is by hope that we see the fruits of our service, love, care and gifts.  We practice resurrection by holding two gifts in our hands.  They are gifts left to us by the one whose hands were nailed that we might have the faith to live into hope.

Jesus stood at the lake shore watching them as they worked in vein to catch fish.  They hadn’t seen him yet, so he just watched them, his disciples, his church, working so hard in vein to catch fish.

As he watched them, he loved them, if only the changed what they were doing a little bit, if only they changed their perspective, and tried the other side of the boat, oh what a catch they would find.  He stood there, and his heart of was full of love.

This is the good news of Jesus Christ. Let us trust him, recognize him, love him and rise and be on our way.



Woundedness Refined

Sermon on The Transfiguration According to the Gospel of Luke


“The beauty that emerges from woundedness is a beauty infused with feeling; a beauty different from the beauty of landscape and the cold perfect form. This is a beauty that has suffered its way through the ache of desolation until the words or music emerged to equal the hunger and desperation at its heart. It must also be said that not all woundedness succeeds in finding its way through to beauty of form. Most woundedness remains hidden, lost inside forgotten silence. Indeed, in every life there is some wound that continues to weep secretly, even after years of attempted healing. Where woundedness can be refined into beauty a wonderful transfiguration takes place.”
John O’Donohue  

Every year after the season of Epiphany and before the season of Lent, we have a significant holy day called Transfiguration Sunday. Now the stores do not carry special merchandise for Transfiguration Sunday, and we do not all go out and buy special clothes for the day.  There is not a market for this day in the liturgical year, but it’s an important day, a festival that the Greek Orthodox Church says some in second after Easter in importance.

Mike Pietranczyk and I were saying that there isn’t even a bunch of hymns in the hymnal for the day, and I would imagine very few of you sprang out of your bed this morning, ran down the stairs and jumped with glee because Transfiguration Sunday has finally arrived.

Maybe it’s the word – Transfiguration. It’s a big word, five syllables.  It’s not really a pretty word like “Easter” or  “Christmas.”  I would say it’s the strange miracle story that goes with it that trips us up.  Maybe we just can’t imagine the miracle, but we take in the miracle of a virgin birth and resurrection without much intellectual pause.  This story is found in all three synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke, and it is told almost the exact same say with a few nuances brought in depending on the author.  In all three versions, the story takes place on a mountain.  Now hearing mountain stories as a Jew or a Gentile, you would know that people went up on mountains to get closer to God.  Remember the story of Moses when he went up the mountain and came down all glowing white?  Or Elijah when he went up on Mt. Horeb?  Big things happen on mountains – things called Theophanies – God moments.  There are moments when people encounter the divine and are forever changed.

The location of the story in the larger context is important too. It’s sandwiched between two other stories and what happens before and after this story helps us understand a bit more.  Just before the story takes pace, Jesus tells his disciples that four things are going to happen: he is going to suffer, he is going to be rejected, he is going to die, and he is going to be resurrected.  Peter, acting as the spokesman for the group, does not like this plan.  This is not how he wants to see Jesus.  This is not the direction he wants Jesus to take them and this is not his expectation of who Jesus is.  Peter tells him as much, to which Jesus replies, “Get behind me Satan.”

Jesus then takes Peter, James and John away from the group and they go up on the mountain. These disciples see Jesus in yet a different way that they did not expect.  He is lifted in the clouds and they hear a voice, understood to be the Holy Spirit, that echoes the same voice of God that we heard at Jesus’ baptism. “This is my beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”

Here, though, the voice adds a firm instruction: “Listen to Him!” as if telling Peter to stop what he’s going, be quiet for a minute and listen to what Jesus is saying. He’s just told Peter what comes next!  Suffering, rejection, death and then the glory of resurrection of which this is just a foretaste.  Listen to what he’s said to you about what awaits him, the bad news and the good.  Listen to what he said about taking up your own cross.  Yes, experience this bright and shining moment, but know that it’s not for keeps.  You’ve got to listen and keep listening to him as you follow him back down the mountain where the rest of humanity lives and where the glory of the mountaintop meets the guts of the valley.

What happens after this experience is equally important. They come down from the mountain and they are faced with a demonic boy and father and the inability for the disciples to cure the boy from the demon.  It’s a quick move from the glorious moment that the disciples just experienced to the chaotic reality of the people to are suffering at the base of the mountain.

So before this story is reality and after this story is reality, but in the middle is a miracle that the disciples do not understand. This is a miracle that happens so that the disciples will see Jesus differently and maybe some to understand who he is.  Here is how I simplify this story so I understand it.

Sometimes we tell kids to pray and that God will hear their prayers. We encourage them to believe that God hears prayers.  Sounds like a good this to tell kids. So kids are taught to believe that God is on their side, that God loves then and won’t let anything bad happen to them.  Then one day there’s a competition or a test or something they really, really want and so they decide to pray. If they believe that if they pray really hard that good things will happen to them because that is what they have been taught.  And when they win or get the award, they assume that God answered their prayer and the God likes them.  But when they lose or fail, they assume that God wasn’t listening and must be angry with them.  This kind of thing doesn’t just happen with kids.  Adults do it too.  We see Jesus as a personal savior who came to keep our lives from getting too messy.  We have an expectation, like Peter did, a belief in who Jesus is and that belief limits our relationship.

Think for a second about all of the beliefs you have about who Jesus is – maybe for you Jesus is in the sky somewhere, sort of distant and abstract, not personal, but more of a judge or celestial caregiver. Or maybe for you Jesus is very personal, like your own personal Jiminy Cricket who sits on your shoulder and helps you make right decisions. And then one day, something unexpected happens, something you weren’t expecting, something hard.  Something that changes your whole world view.  Maybe you face the reality of mortality.  Maybe you face the reality of your vulnerability.  Maybe you face the reality of injustice and sin in our society and as a result you can no longer see Jesus or your religion in the same way.  These are hard moments.  They are raw and painful, but also honest, and they can blow up your whole belief system.  They are those moments when you think, this isn’t how I thought my life would turn out, or how parenting would be, or how retirement would feel, or what my marriage would be like, or how my health would be.  It’s whose really hard moments that you can’t pretend aren’t happening, like Peter did.  It’s the experience that you have as a demarcation that changes your perspective.  This is what I think the disciples are facing when Jesus tells them he will get put on trial, suffer and be crucified.  This is not what they expect to hear or ever wanted to happen.  They don’t want Jesus or them to go through any of that.

It is in that context, in that dark reality, Jesus takes them to a mountain where he’s transfigured. He’s taken up into the clouds where a bright light shines all around him. Elijah and Moses are there, but then the only thing they can see, the only thing you want to see is Jesus.  Then they hear a voice that says, “This is my son, my beloved.  Listen to him.”

After this experience, they see Jesus in a different way. They no longer see him as the savior they thought he was, but the savior that he truly is.  When they come down off the mountain, they enter a chaotic scene of humanity at its most vulnerable and messy.

So before the transfiguration story, the predominant feeling is fear and chaos. After the story is fear and chaos, and in the middle is this miraculous story of light and assurance. All around them is chaos and in the center is Jesus Christ.

Desmond Tutu has said that” God places us in the world as his fellow workers, agents of transfiguration. We work with God so that injustice is transfigured into justice, so there will be more compassion and caring, there will be more laughter and joy, there will be more togetherness in God’s world.”

We all have hard days, dark moments, times so hard we can’t imagine that it will come to an end, and it is those times when we need to whistle in the dark. We want to whisper in God’s ear and say, “God, we know that you are in charge, but can’t you make it more obvious?”

You will find those obvious moments of transfiguration when the brown grace becomes green, when winter gives way to spring. Transfiguration happens when you realize that you are completely loved, and you are precious in the sight of God. Can you hold that image for just one second, allow yourself to be held in the hand of God and let God just look at what he created and see what a beautiful thing it is? Can you be transformed by that love and lifted up in that love?  What would happen if you disciplined yourself every day in this upcoming 40 days of Lent to spend 3 minutes silently being held in the hands of God, letting God’s love pour over you, shaking away all of the chatter and negativity?

Lastly, I want to ask just how great is the God you believe in? Do we believe that nothing, no one and no situation is ‘untransfigurable?’  “Do we believe that the whole creation, nature, waits expectantly for its transfiguration when it will be release from its bondage and share in the glorious lives of the children of God, when it will not be just dry inert matter, but translucent with divine glory.”  (Desmond Tutu, God Has A Dream, p.3) Do we believe that God can cast out the demons in us?  Do we believe that God transfigures the horrible into the beautiful?

God can take our woundedness and refine it into beauty. It is at that moment when God’s world and ours meet, where heaven and earth are being wed, and where God’s matter — God’s highly original creation within us and within our world – begins to take on the beautiful shape and form of possibility and comes to light.

Just how big is God’s love?

Just how much do you think God loves you?

Just how much light do you think shines in you?

Just how much hope are you called to give

Just how much justice are you called to speak

Just how much love is in you to offer the world?

Seek these questions, go up in the mountains, into the chaos of our lives, stay centered on the light of Christ, and be transfigured. Amen.



I Want to Talk To You

Sermon on the Beatitudes according to Luke.


I want to talk to you this morning about Jesus. – Which probably doesn’t sound like such a radical idea, or even that surprising. It’s seems likely that you would have anticipated that when you came here this morning you would hear something about Jesus.

There’s a basic assumption I think that when people come to church and gather in prayer and sing together, that we all have some kind of personal and corporate relationship with the Son of God, that we have professed a faith, that we have committed our lives to his teaching, that we seek to understand him and his word in our lives.  I think we all have that assumption, at least that’s my assumption. – That some way or another we all share in a common desire to be a faithful disciple, which means a student of Jesus Christ and to follow him and his word.

So today I want to ask you a fundamental question, What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus Christ?    What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus Christ?  What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus Christ in 2019 in America, in your town, at your age, at this time in history, what does it mean?  Has being a disciple of Jesus Christ always meant the same thing or does it mean something different based on our culture, based on our generation?

It’s a question we may have been asked at the time of our confirmation, and may be never asked again. – And really it’s a question we should be wrestling over daily, seasonally, even hourly,  because if we lose sight of that question, we aren’t asking the right question.  It’s the first, essential question we need to ask ourselves if we really are serious about our faith. And if you think you know the answer before deeply exploring scriptures and engaging with others who are asking the same the same questions, then you are assuming to much.

What does it mean in this postmodern context to follow Jesus Christ.  Postmodern, what does that mean?  The first thing we have  to accept and acknowledge is that we are living a culture that has moved from modernity to postmodernity.  – We have been in this new era for about 20 years now. These shifts in culture happen about every 500 years when the church changes and tosses everything out and starts over.  The first shift occurred between 30-70 AD, the second one occurred around 590AD with the end of the Roman Empire and the beginning of the Dark Ages, the third one occurred in 1054 known as The Great Schism, the next one occurred around 1517 known as the Great Reformation and the Beginning of Modern Period and now 500 years later in 2000 plus we are in what has been called the postmodern period. Here is a snap shot of what that means.  This is a time when we embrace multiple world views, (consider the internet), when we realize the universe is more complex than we realized, that your culture and experience frames how you see the world and that people are far more open to spirituality than those in the modern era.   While the world may be fully functioning in the postmodern era, with these concepts in play in our work lives, our home lives, our leisure, everything, the church is still living in the modern era. – And friends, they aren’t coming back around the block to pick us up.

So, I ask again, what does it mean in this postmodern context to follow Jesus Christ?  The answer requires reading the Bible, and really seeing and hearing what Jesus had to say, not what we hoped he said, or what we wanted him to say, but what he really said,  like today when he came to  level places so that people from all over could come to him and touch him and be healed and near him and then he looked at his disciples and said:

2 “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21“Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. 22“Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. 23Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets. 24“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. 25“Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. “Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep. 26“Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.

You will see a pattern here in his preaching in which he makes parallel comments between blessings and woes.  This was a common preaching technique in antiquity – this back and forth way of speaking.  Jesus goes back and forth between blessings and woes.  Blessing, the Greek word meaning happy and woe, meaning pity.  So Happy are those who are hungry and pity those are rich…. Wait, what?  What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus Christ?  How can we turn this around so we aren’t uncomfortable?  How can we rework this so we aren’t challenged?  How can we give an alternative meaning so that we don’t have to believe that he said it… What does he mean? – How can hungry people be happy, and why would pity those who are wealthy?

Remember the parable about the farmer who was so wealthy that he planned to tear down all his barns and build new ones so he had enough room to store all his grain. He measured his wealth in possessions, but Jesus’ commentary on his life was that he was “not rich toward God” (Luke 12:16-21).  So blessed are those, happy are those who are hungry for God, hungry for spiritual growth, hungry to be closer to God and pity, woe those who are rich in stuff, but don’t have anything deeper more meaning in their lives then stuff, and stuff is great, but it’s just stuff.

But saying blessed is the poor and woe to the rich and believing that in this culture of wealth and materialism is so contrasting to everything out there that says you will be happy when you drive a certain car, or live in a certain house, acquire more and more.  I wonder, are we willing to give up this belief system and follow Jesus, or do we sort of hope we can worship both God and money and get away with it?  Can we sort of cheat the system and hope Jesus won’t mind? I don’t think that’s how it works.

What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus Christ?  It means living in direct contrast to the world around us. If we are all in on this desire to follow him, we need some support.  We need each other. We need to know there are other people with the same desire. We need to be held accountable.  We need others to help keep us honest.  When we center our lives in Jesus Christ, when Jesus becomes the one who organizes our lives, then there is no way we can stay the same.

Robin Meyers describes the risk of discipleship in his book, Saving Jesus from the Church. He writes,

Jesus’ invitation was not to believe, but to follow.  Since it was once dangerous to be a follower of The Way, the church can rightly assume that it will never be on the right track again until the risks associated with being a follower of Jesus outnumber the comforts of being a fan of Christ.  Until we experience Jesus as a radically disturbing presence, instead of a cosmic comforter, we will not experience him as true disciples.   The first question any churchgoing should be asked and expected is:  What are you willing to give up to follow Jesus?

I want to talk to you this morning about Jesus.  I want to tell you that I do not have all of the answers or even some answers, in fact, I have more questions than answers. I only have a desire, a desire to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, and like Thomas Merton I have to believe that the desire to be a disciple pleases him, that desire to know him, that desire to be more about what he taught then what the world taught, has to speak for something.

In this time of history where being a disciple of Jesus Christ seems harder to define and definitely cheaper to obtain, I pray that as a community of disciples we can all come together with that shared desire and that we never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if we do this we will be lead on the right road, though we may know nothing about it. Therefore will let us trust him always, though we may sometimes seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. Let us will fear not for he is ever with us, and he will never leave us to face our perils alone.”

I want to talk to you this morning about Jesus. ~Amen.



photograph by Dominic Bianchi

Eternal God,

We come to you this morning as your people.  Some of us weary, others refreshed.  Some of us in pain, others healed.  Some of us worried, and others of us at peace.  Some of us doubting and others of us believing.

And we all come here to be closer to you, to pray for each other, to be prayed for, and to be reminded that you hear our prayers in here and out in the world.

You hear our prayers when we pray in the parking lot before a meeting; as we walk into school and sit down to take a test; in the waiting room as we wait for surgery to end; in the moment we hold a new grandchild; in the moment we hold fear, in the moment we hold hope, you hear our prayers.

We are grateful that you hear our prayers and we confess that we take the miracle for granted.  We are grateful that you answer our prayers, and we confess that we take that miracle for granted.  We are grateful that you are with us when we do not know how to pray, and we confess that we take the miracle for granted.

We come together and pray knowing that you are with us in our praying and that this moment is a miracle, because you are listening, you are leaning in to hear us and respond.  Help us to pray in earnest, as we pray for the world.

We pray for places of violence and unrest.  We pray for places of hunger and thirst.  We pray places of sorrow and pain. – Lord, we pray you hand may reach down in those places and that you may create life and healing for this hurting world.

We pray for those who are need of healing of mind. Those with anxiety. Those with depression. Those with addiction and all mental illness.  We pray that they may find healing and resources, hope and understanding.

We pray for those who are in need of healing of the body.  Those who are in chronic pain. Those who are feeling new pain.  Those are facing surgery and those are in treatment.  We pray that you may be in every cell, every vein and that you may provide healing and hope and new birth.

We pray for the church.  We pray for all churches who are praying right now, all around the world.  We pray for the church in the world, that it may strive every day to reflect your purpose and not our purpose.  We pray for our church community. We pray for those who are traveling, those who are not here and we pray for our neighbor sitting next to us, in front of us, behind us.  Keep us in your light, help us speak your truth and guide us in your way, we pray in the name of Jesus.


Imagining the Unimaginable : A lament


I sit against the cement block.  The blue, rubber mat sticks under me.  “How did I get here?”   My hands tighten in my fists, my eyes burn from tears no longer able to make water.  My head pounds. My breath ends.  I am trapped. Here.  “What is happening?”  

We made the long journey from the gangs and violence of our streets.  I held him tightly  to my chest as we bumped over rocks and holes in the earth.  I told him we would be safe once we crossed the border.”   My grandmother’s gold, cross necklace glistened in the moon light.  His little hand reached up and rubbed it between his fingers.  I kissed them gently and told him we were in God’s hands.

When we got to the border they took us to a room.  They told me they were getting him a drink and they would be right back.   I waited and waited.  Where is he?!  Where is he?!   I could hear him screaming from the other room, “Mamaaa!!!!  Mamaaa!”    My God, My God, My God, what have I done?  What have I done?  What have I done?  I started screaming, “Give me back my son!  Give me back my son!”   I banged on the metal door until my hands bled. I hit my head over and over again, until ringing filled my ears. I kicked with all of my might.  Please God, NO.

He was gone.  I am here. On the blue, rubber mat.  I must remember that he was wearing a blue and white striped  t-shirt and jeans and green tennis shoes.  I must remember the scar under his left ear from when he hit his head on the counter top when he was two.  I must remember his little hands and his brown eyes.  Oh God, what have I done?  He will think that I did this to him, that I threw him away.  How will he sleep without me as a pillow?  He has never slept without me for day in his life.  His little body has breathed next to mine since before he was born.  Will someone know when he is scared?  Will someone bring him comfort when he cries?  Will someone tell him I love him?  Oh God, please, please let him know he is loved.  Please let him know he is mine.

I sit on the blue, rubber mat.  I rub the golden cross between my fingers.   I find myself weeping again, as the tears come and rock back and forth.  Please God. Please. Hold him. Hold him. Hold him. Hold him. Hold him.  

Deep within me, a stirring occurs.  It comes up into my throat, and I begin to wail.




Code Red: What are we doing to our kids?

back bus education school
Photo by Pixabay on

Secondary traumatic stress is the emotional duress that results when an individual hears about the firsthand trauma experiences of another. Each year more than 10 million children in the United States endure the trauma of abuse, violence, natural disasters, and other adverse events. These experiences can give rise to significant emotional and behavioral problems that can profoundly disrupt the children’s lives and bring them in contact with child-serving professionals. For therapists, child welfare workers, case managers, and other helping professionals involved in the care of traumatized children and their families, the essential act of listening to trauma stories may take an emotional toll that compromises professional functioning and diminishes quality of life. Individual and supervisory awareness of the effects of this indirect trauma exposure is a basic part of protecting the health of the worker and ensuring that children consistently receive the best possible care from those who are committed to helping them.

When the children at Sandy Hook Elementary School were murdered, my children were 5, 8 and 11.  My kindergartner was shielded from the news and didn’t know what had happened, but my older two kids knew about it, and were traumatized by it.  They could imagine themselves there, in that school, on that day, in that room.  They, and I imagine millions of other children experienced secondary traumatic stress.  I believe an entire generation of now high school and middle school students are walking around, living every day with this diagnosis.  Every day, they go to school thinking, “Is this the day there could be a shooting in my school?”  Like all trauma, it can go deep into the memory, and be covered up by distractions such as studying, activities,  sports, etc., but it’s always there, like a knot in a necklace it clogs the memory stream of the mind.

Parents too have this secondary trauma, but it’s different for us.  We aren’t the ones walking into the school.  We are the ones dropping them off.  We get to drive away and feel slightly sick all day, until that feeling wears off, until another shooting happens somewhere else, and it’s all brought back again.

Teachers. I can’t imagine what it feels like to be a teacher. The responsibility that is on them to both teach and to recognize that these young brains, that are not yet fully developed, are at some level traumatized, the burden is too great.  They too are traumatized.

After a recent school shooting in our community, I was disheartened to see how quickly people went to their corners of defense and blame.  Immediately people were blaming parents, schools, guns, entitled kids, school safety, teachers.  Immediately people were fighting.  In the mean time, our children our standing in the middle of the room, wondering if anyone is going to look at them.  We need to care more about our children then being right.  We need to act like a community first, before we act self righteous.  We need to blame ourselves before we blame others.   Our children are afraid and we can’t be in control and we want to fix it and we think we know the answers, and we start fighting and blaming and pushing and as a result we end up avoiding the very people we are trying to protect.

We need to show our kids what it looks like to live in a safe community, where people are held accountable for the actions and where our social norms of valuing every life and common decency is not lip service but modeled.

As you may have read, the parents who lost their children at Sandy Hook have filed a lawsuit against those who have profited on their deaths, by saying the mass murder that happened that day was a hoax.



It’s unimaginable to think that our children could be shot on any normal Tuesday afternoon.  It’s despicable to think that people would deny that truth and mock that reality.  When society allows for violence to occur and then denies the injustice, the society has lost its common humanity and we have lost our moral center.

We cannot allow evil to win out, and right now, it’s winning.  The more we hate each other, blame each other, mock each other,  and avoid having meaningful conversations about peace, reconciliation, conflict resolution, common decency, and truly model a respect for our fellow human, our children will continue to kill each other and themselves.  We are responsible for the society we create.  We are responsible for the denigration of the human condition.  Our children are taking their ques from us.

If we want things to change, if we want our schools to be safe, and if we want our children to heal, we need to stop shouting at each other and start focusing on them.  Let’s talk to our kids, ask them what they think, what do they need, what do they want in their schools, and how would they know they were safe?  Let’s honor the voices of our children, and let’s respond to their wisdom.  Our kids need to know that they are being heard. They need to know their trauma, either first or second hand is valid.  They need to know that adults believe them, hear them, and will try to protect them.  Most importantly, they need to be empowered to believe things can be different.

We can heal.  We can be better.  We must, for the sake of our kids.







The 3:00 a.m. Parent Prayer


Well, we are all awake right now — so we might as well talk.  The brain, or the heart, or the gut has pulled us awake and we turn over to check the time, knowing it can’t be time to wake up yet, and yet we are wide awake.   It’s 3:00 a.m. – Are you kidding me?

So, I might as well ask,  How are you doing?

What’s keeping you awake right now? What visitor has come and rested on your chest and poked your soul awake? Maybe you are thinking about your kid and you realize that you are out of control of the decisions they make, the challenges they face, the heart ache they feel and yet at the same time you are tethered to them and your heart aches. Maybe you are afraid, or angry or fearful.  Maybe you have piled on worst case scenarios in your mind,  like blankets, one on top of the other, and now your body is so heavy it can not move, with the weight of it all.  May you want to fix something that can’t be fixed.

Maybe you are little annoyed that you are awake at this hour.  I mean, those nursing days are over!  We shouldn’t have to have sleepless nights anymore, right?  I don’t have an answer for you, except for maybe some sleep medication.  But let’s talk about the heart of the matter – which is your heart.  Look you birthed that kid.  You were responsible for their helpless bodies.  You kept them alive.  You managed what they ate, what they watched, what they read, when the slept, what they wore and where they went.  And now?  They don’t tell you jack.

I am not here to give you some pithy advise.

I can’t tell you that limiting screen time, or taking their phones at night, or control their social media, or making sure they don’t have a Finsta account, will save them from the trials and tribulations of adolescence.  I can’t tell you to be stricter, have more consequences, teach them to do their laundry and cook meals, and take on a summer job will secure their professional future.  I won’t tell you what to do, or how to do it, or  give you some sarcastic anecdote about how I have this figured out, and you don’t — because I don’t have this figured out. Let’s just put that on the table – I don’t have answers.  I will know how to parent teenagers when I no longer have teenagers and I can look back and say,  “Oh! So that’s what I missed.”

I can tell you what I am learning.

What I am learning in all of this is that I am watching a person evolve before my eyes and become an adult, and becoming an adult means experiencing life, and life is messy.  The only way to become an adult is to live life.  We cannot protect our kids from life if we want them to be an adult.  Here is what life looks like.  Life looks like making a ton of mistakes.  Life looks like getting your heart broken. Life looks like making decisions that aren’t healthy.  Life looks like losing life. Life looks like failure. Life looks like forgiveness. Life looks like joy.  Life looks like hard work.  Life looks like unfairness. Life looks like empathy.  We want our kids to have full lives.  We want them to live fully. This means it’s going to hurt.

So, my early morning riser, what are we going to do as we lie here and try not to check our phone?  I think, the only thing I can recommend is a prayer.  It could be the Serenity Prayer.  That’s always my go to. – God grant me the serenity to accept  the things I cannot change.  That’s usually as far as i get.

The other prayer I would recommend to you  is the one I often say that goes something like this:

God, you know my worries and fears.  You know that I am freaking out over this and there is nothing I can do about it.  I would like for you to please take this worry I have and fix it, so that I can sleep and everything will be alright.  Thank you. Amen.

.But wait, that’s not how this works. I know, God, that you aren’t my personal fixer and that while I would like to pray this and you would make all my dreams come true, I know that’s unfair to you and our relationship. I know that you are in a relationship with me and my children. I know that you made us. You made me and you made them. You know them completely. You know me completely.  You know every part of me.  You know every part of them.  You hold them as you hold me.  You hold them. You have a hold on them.  You behold them.  God, remind me this morning that you always hold your children.  You do not let them slip through your fingers.  While this worry of mine is distracting and it’s making me very sad, angry, or fearful and seems so huge, your hold is greater.  And one more thing, remind me that you hold me too.  And God, please quiet my mind and take these random thoughts, so that I may sleep.  The alarm goes off in just a few hours….  Amen.

Hang in there, friend. You are not alone.

Good Night.