Month: December 2013

Who Really Needs Joseph? Sermon on Matthew 2:18-25

Joseph

Don’t you wonder how the conversation went the next morning when Mary paid a visit to Joseph’s house? However she broke the news that an angel visited her and told her she was going to have a baby. There is no doubt she thought her life was over. What did Joseph say? … “You are what?! You did what? You expect me to believe that? You have got to think I’m crazy. This is insane. YOU are insane. It’s not part of our plan. This isn’t how we were supposed to start out. Why is this happening to us?”

We need to remember that Mary and Joseph were everyday people, who never thought their images would be etched in stain glass windows, living in a culture of strict rules and responsibilities. We need to remember that these people were young, and poor and at the mercy of two dominating systems: Jewish Law and Roman occupation. It is under these circumstances that Mary finds herself unmarried and pregnant. This is a crisis that would have destroyed lives and families. To understand how bad this news was, we need to understand something about Jewish marriage in the first century. Various texts render this passage differently. The NRSV describes Mary and Joseph as “engaged.” The NIV describes them as “pledged” to be married, while the KJV says Joseph was “espoused” to Mary. Regardless, the point is the bond between Mary and Joseph at this time was more than social. It was contractual. So legally Mary and Joseph were married but had not yet moved in with each other or consummated their union. But who cares? I mean who really needs Joseph for the Son of God to be born among us?

Often when we put our nativity scene together, we have to examine the figurines and decipher which one is the shepherd and which one is Joseph. In art, Joseph always appears to the strong silent type. Sometimes he looks more like a grandpa than a young groom. We don’t see much of him in any Gospel after the first two chapters.

Let’s face it we don’t know what do with Joseph. Maybe we are uncomfortable for him. He’s God’s understudy. Joseph complicates an already complicated concept of the virgin birth. Therefore it is easier for Joseph artists and song writers to sort of confuse him with one of shepherds and paint him behind a donkey.

One exception is the artwork found on the front of your bulletin (or screen) this is El Greco’s Joseph which portrays him as a vigorous young man with Jesus clinging to his legs. Joseph looks like a figure of trust and protection and this seems to be a more fair depiction of how Matthew understood. You see according to the prophets, without Joseph, Jesus can’t be the Messiah.
The beginning of the Gospel of Matthew is all about lineage and prophecy. Lineage was always patriarchal and the Messiah could only be an ancestor of King David. It is through Joseph that St. Matthew proves to the Jews that Jesus is the Messiah. If Matthew’s audience was going to believe that Jesus was the Messiah, they had to know that he was from the House of David. Only Joseph could provide that lineage. Joseph is the proof the audience in Matthew needs to believe Jesus is the son of God. So the people of Matthew need Joseph.

Moreover Mary needs Joseph. She needs a partner. She needs someone who doesn’t think she’s crazy, because she was also visited by an angel and told that their life was going to change. Joseph decides to change the entire course of his life because he loves Mary. Only love could make someone say, “whatever trouble you are in, whatever controversy you are about to face, whatever people are going to say about you and me, I don’t care. I love you more than any scandal.” It takes a remarkable person to walk beside someone who carries the weight of the world.

The audience of Matthew needs Joseph, Mary needs Joseph and Jesus, the son of God needs Joseph. In this book, on fatherhood, the late Tim Russert once wrote:

The one thing that I have in my life experienced with my son is that both parents have to be nurtures. You can learn different things from your mom than you can learn from your dad. Charles Barkley, the NBA All Star great, said that his dad was not present as he grew up. And he said, “No one taught me how to be a man” and he had to learn himself and he made some mistakes on that path. I just think it’s worth the sacrifice.

There will always be another meeting to go to. There will always be another promotion. But there will never be another opportunity to raise your child. And it is such a blessing, such a gift, such a responsibility. And if you’re there at the creation, I think you have to be there every step of the way through their growth and development.

And so I, constantly, realize it’s a long road, it’s a long journey, and we can’t get there alone. And so I’m very open and find it quite necessary to ask for help and assistance and inspiration. And that comes in a very powerful way in the form of prayer. Jesus needs Joseph in the very human form of a Dad. (Big Russ and Me: Father and Son, Lessons in Daily Life).

Matthew’s audience, Mary, Jesus, and God all need Joseph. What if God’s plan had gone wrong? What would have happened if Joseph had said, “No! No way. Choose somebody else.” God calls on Joseph to take a role in history he had not planned or wanted, and he said “yes.” God needs Joseph to faithfully respond and have hope in a hopeless situation.

And finally, we need Joseph. Joseph, in a very quiet, subtle way teaches those of us who are adults, why we still need Christmas.

Christmas, we wrongly say, is for children. We adults need Christmas. We Mary and Josephs who live with expectations, hopes and love for our families. God comes along and breaks into our ordinariness and expects us to believe in something extra-ordinary. He expects us to respond to Jesus the same way Joseph did, and say, “yes, he can come into my life. I am willing to let him change my life forever.”

The only way to let Jesus be born in us this Christmas is by loving each other. And I don’t mean love in a whimsical, fleeting, hokey, pop-music way. I mean Love as a verb, in a profound, self-sacrificing, all giving, selfless love. The only way to experience Christmas is to accept that God loves you in this very profound way.

And why? Why did God do such a thing? Why did God risk it all?

Maybe it’s because of something like this…
There is a story about a young pregnant Korean woman named Bak Yoon, who was walking through the bitter cold on Christmas Eve in 1952 toward the home of a missionary friend where she knew she could find help. Her husband had recently been killed in the Korean War and she had no one else to turn to. A short way down the road from her friend’s house was a deep gully spanned by a bridge. As Bak Yoon stumbled forward birth pains suddenly overcame her. And realizing that she could go no further, she crawled under the bridge and there, alone gave birth to her baby boy.
Bak Yoon had nothing with her except her heavy clothes. One by one she removed all of the pieces and wrapped them around her tiny son. Then, feeling exhausted, she lay back in the snow beside her baby.

The next morning, her missionary friend drove across the bridge and suddenly her car sputtered out of gasoline. She got of the car and started to walk home when she heard a baby’s faint cry from beneath the bridge. She crawled under to investigate and there she found a tiny bundled baby, warm, but hungry, and young Bak Yoon, frozen in death. The missionary named the baby Soo Park and adopted him. He grew to be strong and healthy and never tired of hearing of the story of his beautiful mother and her love for him.
Twelve years later on Christmas Day, Soo Park asked if he could go to his mother’s grave. Beside the grave, Soo Parked asked his adopted mother to wait a little distance. She walked and waited. As the astonished missionary watched nearby, the boy began to take off his warm clothing piece by piece. “Surely he won’t take off all his clothing!” She thought. “He’ll freeze!” But the boy stripped himself of everything, laid it all on his mother’s grave and knelt naked and shivering in the snow. Then in deep sorrow he cried out to the mother he never knew, “Were you colder than this for me, my mother?” Knowing that, of course, she was. (From the Story, “Love Lays Bare,” found online at http://www.holytrinitynewrochelle.org)

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” (John 3:16) He was that cold for us. He loves us that much.

Hail Mary full of grace, most honored are you among women.
Hail Joseph full of grace, most honored are you among men. Amen.

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So That’s, That.

Suddenly, the poinsettia look droopy, the tree is out-of-place, the pants are tighter, the checkbook lighter, the earth quieter and the new calendar busier.

I find poetry to be my closest friend in this season of transition, this time of “oh my Lord, I have so much to do….sit still, rest, chill out and….holy cow I am so behind!” So to alleviate some anxiety between the demands of “to do” and “to rest” I find that poetry helps. These are my favorites.

Every year at this time I pull out this poem by Auden:

Well, so that is that, Wysten Hugh Auden

Well, so that is that. Now we must dismantle the tree,
Putting the decorations back into their cardboard boxes –
Some have got broken – and carrying them up to the attic.
The holly and the mistletoe must be taken down and burnt,
And the children got ready for school. There are enough
Leftovers to do, warmed up, for the rest of the week –
Not that we have much appetite, having drunk such a lot,
Stayed up so late, attempted – quite unsuccessfully –
To love all of our relatives, and in general
Grossly overestimated our powers. Once again
As in previous years we have seen the actual Vision and failed
To do more than entertain it as an agreeable
Possibility, once again we have sent Him away,
Begging though to remain His disobedient servant,
The promising child who cannot keep His word for long.

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And then my friend, only because I read him every day:

The Future, Wendall Berry

For God’s sake, be done
with this jabber of “a better world.”
What blasphemy! No “futuristic”
twit or child thereof ever
in embodied light will see
a better world than this, though they
foretell inevitably a worse.
Do something! Go cut the weeds
beside the oblivious road. Pick up
the cans and bottles, old tires,
and dead predictions. No future
can be stuffed into this presence
except by being dead. The day is
clear and bright, and overhead
the sun not yet half finished
with his daily praise.

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Ring Out, Wild Bells, Alfred Lord Tennyson

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow;
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease,
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

as printed in The Book of Christmas by Hamilton Wright Mabie, 1909

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And then,

Psalm 90

A Prayer of Moses, the man of God.
1 Lord, you have been our dwelling-place*
in all generations.
2 Before the mountains were brought forth,
or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

3 You turn us back to dust,
and say, ‘Turn back, you mortals.’
4 For a thousand years in your sight
are like yesterday when it is past,
or like a watch in the night.

5 You sweep them away; they are like a dream,
like grass that is renewed in the morning;
6 in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;
in the evening it fades and withers.

7 For we are consumed by your anger;
by your wrath we are overwhelmed.
8 You have set our iniquities before you,
our secret sins in the light of your countenance.

9 For all our days pass away under your wrath;
our years come to an end* like a sigh.
10 The days of our life are seventy years,
or perhaps eighty, if we are strong;
even then their span is only toil and trouble;
they are soon gone, and we fly away.

11 Who considers the power of your anger?
Your wrath is as great as the fear that is due to you.
12 So teach us to count our days
that we may gain a wise heart.

13 Turn, O Lord! How long?
Have compassion on your servants!
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
so that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
and for as many years as we have seen evil.
16 Let your work be manifest to your servants,
and your glorious power to their children.
17 Let the favour of the Lord our God be upon us,
and prosper for us the work of our hands—
O prosper the work of our hands!

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Blessings to you and your loved ones in the coming year.

Jesus Who? The Age of Reverent Agnosticism

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Earlier this week, a friend of mine sent me a study that said that 50% of Americans don’t think that Christmas is a religious holiday. Another friend sent me a survey that said 47% of Americans don’t trust clergy– the highest percentage since the question was asked! Another friend called and said he attended the worst clergy Christmas party ever, because one colleague lamented the whole time over the looming reality that clergy will no longer have their housing tax exempt and they can’t get any respect. I have a lot of depressed clergy friends!

In a society where the only press clergy get is when a denomination defrocks one of their own thereby creating a war within themselves one week before Christmas, lets face it, we clergy are our own worse enemies. We are accused of being divisive, because we are. We are accused of having double standards, because we do. We are accused of not practicing what we preach, because we don’t. We clergy are as human and sinful and vulnerable and needy as anyone. We are trying to figure it out just like everyone else. And if anyone out there suggests that they have it all together and they have all the answers, run!

In April, 1966, Time Magazine wrote on the cover or their magazine the now infamous words, “Is God Dead?” They wrote that the current crisis of faith could be healthy for the church, and that it might force clergymen and theologians to abandon previously held certainties: “The church might well need to take a position of reverent agnosticism regarding some doctrines that it had previously proclaimed with excessive conviction.”[5]

Today, some fifty years later it seems to me the church has taken the position of reverent agnosticism to the point that we have lost our sacred identity.

I don’t think Christmas will ever be forgotten, but Jesus might.

The other night I heard Ben Stiller explain the meaning of Christmas to Steven Colbert. He said, “Yeah, I like Christmas. Its a time to give thanks and appreciate all the blessings in our lives.” Really? That’s the meaning of Christmas? About all the stuff we have and how fortunate we are to have it?!

In the name of reverent agnosticism, Christmas has become a day when we count all our stuff and say, “Man, I am lucky!!”

Charles Schulz tried to bring some Jesus back when he had Linus read from Luke 2, and then say:

“That’s was Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

Christmas will come and go this year. We will eat, unwrap, sing, play and give. The question is will Jesus be remembered, and if he is remembered, how we will remember him? Will he be remembered as a personal friend? God, I hope not. Will he be remembered as a personal counselor or physician, or our personal genie who will make all our wishes come true? Lord, in your mercy.

Will he be remembered as the ultimate representative of Love? Real, honest, profound love? Will he be remembered as the ultimate representative of sacrifice? I pray it be so. Will we own up to words like sin and redeem and recognize that we do and we are. It’s about love. It’s about redemption. Christmas is not a day, or 12 days. Christmas is a state of mind. Not our minds, but the mind of Christ.

This is not a question of “what would Jesus do?” It’s the question of “how would Jesus be?” How would he be in a world where most people don’t know what to do with him, where many commercialize him, where others make false statements in his name?

Wait.

I think that happened.

Here is how he responded. He had meals with people everyone hated. He hung out with sinners. He healed wounds and he called out demons. He wrote in the sand. He considered the lilies. He welcomed children. He calmed troubled waters.

Here is how he was. He was welcoming. He was honest. He was angry. He was direct. He named injustice. He noticed bleeding women and little men. He liked calling people “brood of vipers.” He listened. He forgave. He lived peace.

I don’t expect this little essay to make a dent up against the business of Christmas. I do not expect us to do the season differently. I do hope that in some way we can all be different. Can we be Christ-like? Can we live not doing more, but being other?

I don’t want to be a reverent agnostic, I want to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Christ Has No Body

Christ has no body now on earth but yours,
no hands but yours,
no feet but yours,
Yours are the eyes through which is to look out
Christ’s compassion to the world;
Yours are the feet with which he is to go about
doing good;
Yours are the hands with which he is to bless men now.

– St Teresa of Avila

Prayer on The Drive Home

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A poem by Portia Nelson:

1) I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost . . . I am hopeless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

2) I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

3) I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in . . . it’s a habit.
My eyes are open
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately

4) I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

5) I walk down another street.

……Well, at least I’m predictable. At least Portia is with me!

It would be nice if it only took five tries to find that I am not once again on that same street, in that same hole. Why is it so hard for us to change our behavior, particularly when we know our behavior is not good for us?

I was driving home, listening to the radio, flipping channels as I drove through snowy streets. One station was talking about teenagers and sexting and the commentators were having so much fun talking about boobs and other body parts. They were basically saying to the teenagers that they should not do what the commentators clearly thought was fun. The more shocking their comments, the better. They talked about sex like it was a sport event. I was annoyed. And disturbed. And glad my 10-year-old was not in the car.

I changed the channel.

“Satan is here,” the voice said. I decided I would listen a little longer. “All of those Jews, Catholics, Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists can say they know about God, but one thing I know,” the commentator said, “is that Satan is real! He’s with me when I wake up and when I go to bed and even when I go work.” And then cackling laughter from the other commentators…..

I think this was a “Christian” radio station. I was annoyed. And disturbed. And glad that my 10-year-old wasn’t in the car.

I turned off the radio.

And I spoke to God.

Dear God,
This world you created is so messed up. We, your people are looking for answers on stupid radio stations instead of reading your Word, or even more shocking of an idea, being quiet and listening. We fill our days with meetings and events, with creating and producing and we forget to live. We have temptations and thoughts we don’t want to admit so we live false lives. We forget our true selves. We put on facades so that people don’t know we are lonely, or insecure, or angry. We like to pretend. We want to blame someone for this, so it must be Satan. He or She makes us do things we know we shouldn’t. It’s not our fault.

Lord, in your mercy. Forgive our inability to take responsibility
for our actions,
for not seeing that our sin is ours and not anyone else’s,
for not loving ourselves as you do,
for not seeing others as you see them,
for thinking we have it all together and we don’t need you.

Give us the grace to be honest with ourselves and each other. Give us the wisdom to see when we are stuck, and give us the courage to walk another way.

And, lastly Dear God, do something about the radio.

Amen

The Unthinkable: A Sermon for a Suicide

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John 20:1-2, 10-18

The Resurrection of Jesus

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.’ Then the disciples returned to their homes.
Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’ When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbouni!’ (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, ‘Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” ’ Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

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We come here today, O God, many of us hunger and thirsty for your word. And, we come here today, O God, many of us with such confusion and sadness we don’t know where to begin. And so, we pray, that you would speak to all of us that we might be nourished by your Word. And, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight for you alone are our rock and redeemer. Amen.

It was day three. It felt like day 300 and like 3 seconds had gone by at the same time. It was third day of walking through a fog of shock and disbelief. How could something so horrible have happened? Why did it happen? Could his friends have prevented it from happening? It all seemed so horribly unfair, unjust and unreal. His family and friends were raw with emotions of disbelief in the violence of it all. They had more questions than answers, more fear than faith and more doubt than hope. It was not supposed to be this way. He was so young. His whole life was ahead of him. Why? Why? Why?

It was day three. And just like the day before and the day before that, she got out of bed. She counted the day. She put her feet on the floor and pushed on. Finally the Sabbath was over and she could go to the tomb where they laid him. She was a doer. It was easier if she kept busy. It was easier if she had something do. So she was in charge of the spices and oils that they were going to lay on him. With stiff joints and wrung out eyes she prepared the basket for the tomb. She was an early riser. – If she slept at all. She had things to do, to take care of his family and his friends so that they could grieve him as she did. She knew they were rattled and she felt the pain of their loss.

She stepped out into the cool morning, the dew seeped into her feet and the wind kissed her face , she pressed on through tear clouded eyes.

So she walked on.

Even from a distance she could sense that something wasn’t right. Something just didn’t look right – the stone…the stone was moved. Oh God, what have they done?

Can you imagine the desperation.. no, no, no, this is not happening! This is not fair! First they kill him. Then they take him. It must have been like watching him die twice.

Even angels could not soften her weeping. They were there when she worked up her nerve to look inside the tomb, sitting where he had lain. “Why are you weeping?” they asked her. “They have taken away my Lord,” she answered them, “and I do not know where they have laid him.”

It never occurred to her that they might be the culprits, apparently, but it was not as if she was thinking clearly. She was operating on automatic pilot, so that when she left the tomb she bumped into the gardener without even seeing him. In haste her hope was that he might know the answer to her question. “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him and I will take him away.”

She’s angry. She wants someone to blame. She wants some sense out of the senseless. So she says to this gardener, “what have you done?” She is so angry that she cannot see the that person standing before her is Jesus himself. He is right there in front of her to tell her that he is with her that while he is not the same, he is not completely gone.
And once she sees him, she wants to hold him. To make him come back. But Jesus says, “Don’t hold on to me,” he said to Mary “Don’t hold on to me,” he said, which means, I think, “Regardless of how you try to understand and explain this, as much as you try to hold me, in this moment, I am always ahead of you, out in front of you in the future. I will be there in your future. And therefore there is no tragedy so great that I cannot in some way redeem it, and there is no personal loss so profound that I cannot overcome it, and there is no pain so deep that I cannot bear it with you, and there is no cause so hopeless that I cannot fill it and you with new energy and hope and passion and life.”

He’s right out front redeeming, overcoming, bearing, loving. There is no tragedy that Christ cannot redeem. There is no loss that Christ cannot overcome. No cause so hopeless that Christ cannot energize his people to devote themselves and his kingdom earth.
Throughout history people have been trying to make sense out of the senseless, to put words, where there are no words.

In his sermon for his son Alex, The Reverend William Sloan Coffin preached this homily to his congregation:
As almost all of you know, a week ago last Monday night, driving in a terrible storm, my son — Alexander — who to his friends was a real day-brightener, and to his family “fair as a star when only one is shining in the sky” — my twenty-four-year-old Alexander, who enjoyed beating his old man at every game and in every race, beat his father to the grave.
Among the healing flood of letters that followed his death was one carrying this wonderful quote from the end of Hemingway’s “A Farewell to Arms”: “The world breaks everyone, then some become strong at the broken places.”
My own broken heart is mending, and largely thanks to so many of you, my dear parishioners; for if in the last week I have relearned one lesson, it is that love not only begets love, it transmits strength.

When a person dies, there are many things that can be said, and there is at least one thing that should never be said. The night after Alex died I was sitting in the living room of my sister’s house outside of Boston, when the front door opened and in came a nice-looking, middle-aged woman, carrying about eighteen quiches. When she saw me, she shook her head, then headed for the kitchen, saying sadly over her shoulder, “I just don’t understand the will of God.” Instantly I was up and in hot pursuit, swarming all over her. “I’ll say you don’t, lady!” I said.

The one thing that should never be said when someone dies is “It is the will of God.” Never do we know enough to say that. My own consolation lies in knowing that it was not the will of God that Alex die; that when the waves closed over the sinking car, God’s heart was the first of all our hearts to break.

While the words of the Bible are true, grief renders them unreal. The reality of grief is the absence of God — “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” The reality of grief is the solitude of pain, the feeling that your heart is in pieces, your mind’s a blank, that “there is no joy the world can give like that it takes away.” (Lord Byron). (William Sloan Coffin, Homily for his Son Alexander)

I cannot explain why we are all here today. It doesn’t make sense. I imagine that we are all in different stages of grief. Some of us are in denial, some are angry, some are deeply sad, some are bargaining. Wherever you are tomorrow will be day ten without Jeremy in your lives. And you will get up and you will face the world without him in your life. Some of you will want to do something. Like Mary you will want to help. You will want to somehow fix it. Some of you will stay away like the disciples, you will want to grieve in silence. But we will all carry a measure of pain. I would encourage to support each other. See the pain in your brother and sister in Christ. Check in on each other. We can honor Jeremy by being gentler with each other, by recognizing our common humanity. We are all so human and although we are fearfully and wonderfully made we are also dust. Please be gentle with yourselves and with each other. Be kind to yourself. If you are hurt by another human being, let it go. The stuff we carry is too heavy to carry alone. Look around. See that Jesus is right in front of you in the person next to you, behind you and before you. Honor Jeremy by telling someone you love them and they matter and you are better person because they are in it. Say to someone, whatever it is you are carrying, nothing, nothing, nothing will keep me from loving you.

Some of you may want to hold on to the past, on all to anger or hold on to grief. But friends trust that you do not need to hold on so tightly because by the Grace of Jesus Christ you are being held and Jeremy is being held together and he will let neither of you go. And that grace will get you through day 10, day 11, and the next and the next until at last you meet again.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow
The sun forbear to shine
But God, Who called me here below
Will be forever mine
Will be forever mine
You are forever mine

Amen.

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