At Wednesday Evening Prayer this week we made room in the service Bronson read to us the letter to the Diocese that Bishop Gates sent out this week in the wake of the terrible tragedy in Orlando. Then we had some open time in the service when members of the congregation could come forward and speak about what was on their hearts. Several people did so, and each sharing was a great blessing. There was one that I wanted to mention this Father’s Day morning, because it was a came from a father who was there with his wife and two children, and it touched my heart so deeply. He came to the microphone and he said that he wanted to speak directly to his sons, and he said something to the effect of, “I hope that you, my sons, will take away from this service the knowledge that there are many, many more good people in the world than there are bad people, and that in our parish, you are among some really great people. When times are hard like this, when people are suffering, I hope you will remember this, that the goodness far outweighs the bad in this world.” What a blessed gift those words were, I am sure to that father’s sons, but to all of us sitting there, and now here.
And those words key into what Paul said to us in our lesson from Galatians this morning.
As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.
Through the love of God in Christ, we have been given to each other in community, to be one. The differences among us do not matter anymore. As another person at evening prayer shared – “We are all human beings, and that is what it is really all about.” And as fellow human beings of different colors, genders sexual orientations, religious backgrounds, socioeconomic backgrounds, ages, etc., we are given the opportunity to simultaneously claim who we are, and to move past our individual selves, by joining hands with each other to be part of the larger self – the body of Christ.
And in days like these where we are confronted with tragic news about how things can go terribly wrong in this world, we need to know we are part of something bigger – something mystical that connects us to the source of all goodness in the heart of God.
And we should take comfort here. But my dear sisters and brothers, that is not all we should take away from the well of grace that we call the church. We are called by God to go forth to be faithful witness of Christ. So we must take with us from this place both comfort and inspiration. We must look and listen here for God’s word to us about how we are to make a change in the world that will push back against forces of hatred, violence and fear.
In our Gospel this morning we are told that Jesus took a boat from Galilee across the Sea of Galilee to a region of a people knows as the Gerasenes. There he encounters a man who we are told is possessed by demons and is living wild, among the tombs, isolated from everyone else in town. This man really caught my attention this week. I wondered what had happened in his life to lead him to such a place of isolation. I wondered how long he had been living like that. I wondered how his family felt about how he was living, and how he could not live under the same roof as him. I imagined their grief and pain and his. And I was struck that on and off all week I had been wondering the same things about the man who walked into the pulse night club early last Sunday morning with guns and brought about this immense tragedy. How and why did this happen?
But then I put my eyes back on Jesus in this Gospel. He does not take time to wonder that way. As soon as he steps out of the boat he is met by this man, and the forces within him which are possessing him recognize the healing power that is in Jesus and beg for mercy. And Jesus shows mercy even to the demons. But those forces, being what they are, once having left the man and entering into the pigs, destroy themselves and the pigs by dashing headlong into the sea.
There are many points a preacher could make about this complex and perplexing story, but in our situation today, I want to say this – this Gospel says to me that one of our healing tasks as the body of Christ must be to work for the well-being of those among us who suffer from what the Biblical writers called demon possession, but which in current day language we speak of as mental illness. And one of the most basic ways of caring for those who have mental illness is to make sure that the VERY SMALL MINORITY of them who might be given to taking violent actions do not have access to weapons. I believe it would be an act of healing in Jesus name to enact more stringent gun purchasing laws, and I am hopeful that this most recent tragedy is a tipping point in that direction. And I know that this is just one faithful action you and I can be called to support in the wake of this tragedy.
I would like to end this sermon time by asking you to take 3 minutes to turn to one or two persons near you in the pews and to share with each other just briefly some hopeful action that you have been thinking of taking, or have taken since you heard the news of this most recent tragedy. I believe that such faithful sharing can strengthen our commitment and help us to be the change we want to see in the world. When 3 minutes is up, I will close us with a prayer.
Just before I offer that prayer I want to mention that on the back table there are 25 copies of a document that has Bishop Gates letter, a statement from an Islamic Center in our region, and some prayers from the Book of Common Prayer which may be of comfort and inspiration in these days. Let us pray:
Most Gracious and Merciful One, come to us with healing in your wings; free us from the fear and anger that all too often can possess our hearts in times like these; equip us with a sense of your grace and our connection to you and one another, that we may follow where Jesus has led the way, and together may be strong witnesses of his abundant and all-inclusive love. In his holy name we pray. Amen+
Once a year, as students in formation for the diaconate or the priesthood, we were expected to spend three days on retreat together at our diocesan camp in New Hampshire, the Barbara Harris Camp. The remaining four of us from this diocese who started the diaconal formation process at the same time, took the opportunity each year to ride up and back together. Those hours in the car were lots of fun and full of laughter. The trip this past March, while lots of fun, was a bit different. We all knew it would be the last Camp retreat before ordination. It hit us that for the first time, we would each be preaching on the same readings on the three Sundays following ordination – at our sponsoring and internship churches, and at our newly assigned churches. So as good students, all of whom truth be told were pretty tired of studying, we decided to join forces and come up with joint sermons. So one of us pulled the readings up on an i-PHONE and we talked about them. Despite our combined efforts, I am afraid we never did come up with a single sermon for either of the weeks, but we did see a repeating theme in the readings about this time in Jesus’ travels. As one of us said, and I am afraid it wasn’t me, “Well, Jesus sees people who need help – and so he stops what he is doing — and he helps”.
You see, during this period of Jesus’s ministry, he is performing many miracles. The series of miracles we heard about in the past two weeks’ Gospels and now in this week’s Gospel, take place shortly after Jesus proclaims the Beatitudes, when he moves on with his disciples to Capernaum and then on to Nain. The first of these Gospels, you may recall, was about the Centurion who sends messengers to Jesus beseeching Jesus to heal his slave – which Jesus does without ever seeing the slave. In that Gospel, we saw Jesus dealing with the outsider — the Roman — and with the person on the very edge of society — the slave. And in last week’s Gospel, Jesus and his disciples came upon the funeral procession for the only son of a widow who will undoubtedly be destitute and cast out to the fringes of society, as a result of her son’s death. Without being asked to, Jesus restores the young man to life. In today’s Gospel, Jesus interacts with another person who is at the margin of acceptable society: the uninvited dinner guest, the woman described as immoral, and whose sins Jesus forgives. In each of these Gospels, Jesus displays great compassion for the people he recognizes as society’s outsiders and cast offs — people he knows are the very, very needy people living at the margins of their worlds.
Jesus is well known by now and moves across the landscape with large groups following him. It would be known that he was dining with the Pharisee, Simon, a religious leader and a large crowed would probably be there. As was the custom in that day, they would dine in a section of the home where the architecture allowed for onlookers to stand and watch the host dine with his guests. It was through the gathered onlookers that our uninvited guest, this woman described as a sinner, would have had to push in order to quietly position herself behind Jesus at his feet. Imagine how brave she must have been to move her way through the crowd and then to station herself behind Jesus on the floor.
Have you ever found yourself in a social setting where you really felt out of place? Sometimes just experiencing the discomfort of attending a gathering where you don’t know many people can be daunting, much less experiencing the discomfort of inserting yourself into a social gathering where you are not invited or wanted. Will you be invited in or will you be asked to leave? Have you ever been the host where an unexpected guest arrives? If so, you know how uncomfortable a situation that can be, what do you do and say to the surprise visitor – do you make a scene or just try to ignore it all?
I remember one such time in my family. For many years, we lived on Martha’s Vineyard. For a portion of those years, my stepchildren lived in our home with their families and we would join them on most weekends. We were a family of folks living together with ages that spanned fifty years. Even though we all knew many of each other’s friends, we had very different jobs and professions, and knew folks with many backgrounds, so it wasn’t unusual for there to be some people there who were unfamiliar to some of us. It made for fun and eclectic evenings with wonderful conversations. I remember well one weekend during which we had a multi-generational, pot-luck dinner party. We had all invited most people we knew to “stop in”. Now this was a time when MVI was pretty isolated, most houses didn’t have street numbers and you often found places by using landmarks. You know, “Make a left at the first road past the high school and at the third mail box on the right turn right and go down the dirt road until you see the dead tree – then you’ll know you’re there”. Our home was sort of tucked in the corner of some woods down one of those seldom traveled roads and we liked it that way….so we were none too happy when another house was built a bit behind ours and even though we had a goodly amount of space between us, on a quite night you could occasionally hear music from their home or see the odd light shining through the trees. The evening of the pot-luck, our house was full, and people were coming in and out of various doors. I came upon a young woman who had apparently came in the back door with a covered dish of some sort as she was putting it on the kitchen counter. We smiled and said “Hi” to each other. She joined in the conversation with everyone, ate and seemed to be enjoying herself, when all of a sudden we all realized at the same time that she didn’t know any of us and none of us knew her. She was at the wrong place: she was supposed to be at the new house behind us through the trees. We invited her to stay — but the poor, extremely embarrassed woman, grabbed her by now, nearly empty casserole bowl, and fled out of the back door and took off through the dense trees toward the house behind us. We have often talked about that evening, and laughed at how easily we and the uninvited dinner guest had gotten along.
Such was not the case for the uninvited guest in today’s Gospel. In fact, it doesn’t seem as if the invited guest, Jesus, was very welcomed at the dinner at all, despite having been invited to attend by Simon. There is much about this encounter that we are not told. We don’t know why Simon invited Jesus to eat with him — but we do know that there was no warm welcome for Jesus — with any of the usual acts of hospitality normal in Jesus’ day. Simon did not have one of his servants wash Jesus’ undoubtedly dusty feet or provide water for him to wash his own feet. He received no welcoming kiss and no oil was given to cool the skin on his face and head with upon arrival.
So we have a big dinner, a not very hospitable host, onlookers and an unwelcomed, uninvited female guest at a time when women did not eat with men — and — she was well known, she had a reputation and not a good one. We are told that the woman was a sinner; we are not told what her sin was, however, it is clear that she had violated some element of the acceptable social code of behavior.
And she came to see Jesus, for reasons we don’t know. Perhaps she came because she needed help and she had heard of the miracles Jesus had performed or maybe she was grateful for something she had learned from him on one of his trips. Whatever the reason, she came prepared to love, honor and to serve him by giving him the hospitality that Simon failed to give…..and she went further — washing his feet with tears, wiping them with her hair, and eventually anointing his feet with a costly ointment contained in an alabaster jar. How brave she must have been.
Jesus recognized the women’s sinfulness, he recognizes her pain and has great compassion for her. This is the Jesus who wept at his friend Lazarus’s tomb. This is the Jesus who understands the plight of this woman, who knows that she is considered immoral by society. And then, through his love and compassion, he shows her great benevolence and forgives her sins in front of all those present, giving this social phyriah public and visible value. Jesus forgave her her sins out of his love through God’s pure gift of grace that no human act can justify. This Jesus is the Son of Man who knows each of us fully – who perceives our needs, knows and understands our pain and as the Almighty Son of God, forgives us our sins.
In today’s and the last two week’s Gospels, Jesus displays great compassion for those in need. ——— Now, feeling compassion for others is a good thing and it is certainly preferable to ignoring people’s pain, or blaming victims for their situation — but it isn’t enough. And while at times it can be hard to feel compassion, it certainly can be easier to feel compassion than it sometimes is to do something about the situation, at least for me that can be true. It is so much easier to feel compassion for those in need, especially if they are far away from us, than it is to participate directly in doing something about the situation as some of you did and are doing through your work with the needy in El Salvador.
In Luke we see the link between compassion and action, we see in fact, that compassion requires action. Luke shows us that for Jesus, compassion – that intense inner emotion and sympathy – motivates the desire to alleviate the suffering and is accompanied by mercy. We are brought back to Jesus’ words in a previous chapter of Luke, when he teaches his disciples by telling them, “be merciful, just as your Father is merciful”. He reminds them, and us, that compassion is the heart of God’s very being. Whether becoming ritually impure by touching a coffin, or crossing cultural boundaries by healing a gentile slave, or by rising above the social norms of his time by eating with Pharisees and forgiving sinners, Jesus demonstrated again and again God’s regard for those on the fringes of society. He consistently chooses compassion followed by action rather than the Law of his religion, despite the very real personal risk his choices posed.
As our retired Bishop Barbara Harris has said, “Love always trumps the religious Law.” And isn’t that our task? As simple and as difficult as it is at the same time – to try to be a companion of compassion with everyone we meet, to serve those who need help? Jesus is merciful, he acts — he heals, he restores life he forgives sins, he has mercy.
Since today is my first Sunday at the first church where I have been assigned as newly ordained clergy, I hope you will allow me a moment of personal reflection. I remember I mentioned in the sermon on Maundy Thursday that the Deacon’s stole represents the towel that Jesus picked up and used when he washed his disciples’ feet and gave them the commandment to serve others as he had served them. And here I am wearing the green Deacon’s stole for the season of Pentecost. I am full of gratitude that I have been assigned here and will be able to try and serve you and with you to serve those in the larger community of Newburyport for the next three years. After studying this Gospel, I purchased a small alabaster bowl that I will keep on my desk upstairs as another visual reminder of the vows I took last week to look for Christ in all others, being ready to help and serve those in need.
Those who follow Jesus, who profess to be Christians, must try to be vehicles of his compassionate presence, in today’s world. Through his actions during his short life of ministry, Jesus teaches us about God’s desire for mercy to be given and of the need for social justice for everyone, and he shows us repeatedly, giving us examples of how to fulfill God’s wishes for the compassionate care of all people. Right up through the last night of his life when he washes his disciples’ feet, Jesus teaches about relationship – about love and caring shown through service, reminding his disciples, “by this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
And as my compatriot said that day in the car when we read the Gospel readings together, Jesus came upon those who needed help, and so he helped – isn’t that what God calls us to do.
In thanksgiving for his love…..and to the glory of his name. Amen.
The Rev. Dr. Jay Jordan, Deacon
This week has been extremely busy around here. We have had a death in the parish family, as Fred Walker passed from this world to the next last Saturday and his family and several of us from this parish gathered Friday to remember him and let him go into God’s full embrace. It was a beautiful and tear soaked time of remembrance, and I ask you to keep Pam and her family in your prayers as they grieve. Then yesterday we had a day of much rejoicing as Jay Jordan became the Rev. Dr. Jay Jordan, Deacon of the church of Christ! What a wonderful service at our Cathedral as Jay and 10 others received the laying on of hands that sets them apart for ordained ministry. And what a wonderful party at Jay’s house here in Newburyport afterwards. Jay in at her home parish in Charlestown this morning, as preacher. How blessed we are to have her starting her 3 year assignment with us – She will be here next week as our preacher!
So what a week, and as you might imagine, all the goings on which I have just named, and then some, have kept me pretty busy. So, I am going to be offering you a reprise of a sermon I preached to you 3 years ago. As I reread it this week I thought it might be helpful to me to preach it again, so that I can revisit and put into practice again my own advice about prayer that I preached to you three years ago. I hope these words will bless all of us in all facets of our lives, and especially as we engage with each other as citizens in this election year. Here it is a reprise of that sermon:
This week I read a story that writer Dorothee Soelle tells of a rabbi who asked his students how to recognize the moment when night ends and day begins.
‘Is it when, from a great distance, you can tell a dog from a sheep?’ one student asked.
‘No,’ said the rabbi.
‘Is it when, from a great distance, you can tell a date palm from a fig tree?’ another student asked.
‘No,’ said the rabbi.
‘Then when is it?’ the students asked.
‘It is when you look into the face of any human creature and see your brother or your sister there. Until then, night is still with us.’”
(From The Strength of the Weak: Toward a Feminist Christian Identity by Dorothee Soelle)
In our Gospel reading from Luke this morning Jesus embodies this kind of daylight coming on. Here he is just fresh from the healing of the centurion’s servant and he comes upon a funeral procession. There among a large crowd is a grief stricken mother with the dead body of her only son. We might easily understand if Jesus had felt compassion fatigue in that moment with so many in need constantly seeking his attention. But he does not show that. Instead his compassionate heart reaches out to this woman and resurrection takes over. The son is raised and given back to his mother.
In returning her son to her alive Jesus brings about resurrection for both of them. The story notes that she is a widow and that the dead man is her only son. That means that with his death she had lost her only source of livelihood. Not only does Jesus replace grief with joy, he also saves this woman from a life of abject poverty.
She is a person who is not often noticed. She along with other widows and orphans were seen as insignificant and on the fringes of society- as good as dead. But not so to Jesus. Instead of writing her off as not worth his while, Jesus treats her with esteem and compassion. As the rabbi said, he looks into her face and sees the face of a sister whom he loves beyond measure.
Writing about this passage for the Christian Century Magazine this week writer E. Louise Williams writes:
The message comes through loud and clear in Luke. The family of God includes outsiders – those there because of accidents of birth like the gentile centurion and his sick servant; those there because of the circumstances of their lives like the bereft widow; even those there because of choices they have made, like the criminal on the cross next to Jesus. They all belong to the reign of God that Jesus ushers in. Compassion doesn’t give up but keeps translating and retranslating the message until all can hear in their own language and know that they belong…
God gives us birth, looks on us with compassion and sees the family resemblance. God also empowers us to look with the same eyes on one another.”
(From Reflections on the Lectionary, in Christian Century, May 29, 2013, p. 21)
The question is can we remember to keep practicing that kind of vision? It may not be too difficult with those we love easily or feel we have the most in common with. But what about those we don’t like too much; those we struggle with; or who we have the privilege of not even having to think about too often – the orphans and widows or our lives or our communities – those we write off as not worth our time or energy?
This gospel extends us the invitation to practice bringing more daylight into the dark regions of ourselves and our world. It invites us to take notice of situations in which we have written someone else off, and to take a second look? In the name of Jesus, think of someone you do not easily feel compassion for and join me in asking, how can we bring healing into the frame with us and that person? Dare we begin by changing our thoughts about that person? Instead of thoughts of anger, frustration or any other sort of negativity, can we instead try to picture them in our mind as a child, and appreciate them as their mother or father would have? Or can we find another way into feeling compassion for them? Can we find some attribute of theirs that we admire and focus only on that when we think of them? Can we take this practice of compassion into prayer? Can we pray for the person we have in mind? Can we ask God to show us their good attributes? Can we ask God to give us the compassionate vision of them that we are seeking?
Once we have found a way into some sense of compassion for the person we have in mind, can we begin to relate to them from that place? Can we look to open up new avenues of interaction with them? Can we pray for the new life of resurrection to grow up between us – that we might not be widowed or orphaned from one another anymore?
A good way to get going on this sort of practice is to begin with someone that you have a reasonable chance of finding some success with. It does not even have to be someone you know well – it could even be a news reporter on TV whose voice or mannerisms you find irritating. It is a bit like strength training – you begin with lighter weights and then work your way up. What we are working on here is an inside job, so choosing someone who is not the most challenging person in your life will help you meet some success early on and that will be a foundation to build on later with the heavier weights in your life.
And know this – whatever success you have in this practice will not just benefit you, or the other person – it will add to the coming dawn, begun in Jesus, which is for the healing and resurrection of all of God’s creation. For as the rabbi said: ‘The night ends and the day begins when you look into the face of any human creature and see your brother or your sister there. Until then night is still with us’
In Christ’s name and for his sake. Amen+
If you have not heard it yet this morning, let me be the first to say, I love you! And I am not just saying that. I really do love you. I love you because together we are so much more than we are individually. I love you because gathered in here we, we share in God’s word to us in scripture and in the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist, and we become re-energized to serve the world in Christ’s name. God has taken you and me and woven us together to live as the mystical body of Christ in the world.
And it is not just us here in this congregation, it is this congregation and many others as we come together to be the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. And it is not just the Diomass, it is the Diomass and 79 other dioceses in the Episcopal Church USA. And beyond that it is the ECUSA and all our partners in the Worldwide Anglican Communion. And still further it’s not just us Anglicans, it’s all Christians everywhere. And still further, because God is so able to bring grace in all things, it is Christianity in fellowship with all other world religions. God is so good, loving us all so much!
And I got thinking about all of this when I read the Gospel lesson for this week where Jesus is using his authority over the powers of disease and death, on behalf of the servant of a Roman Centurion. The amazing thing here – which the original audience would not have missed- is that Roman Centurions were the visible presence of the dominance of Rome over the Jewish nation of Jesus day. And although it was fellow Jews who brought the Centurion’s request to Jesus, all relationship between Jews and Centurions in that time and place, no matter how cordial, were fraught with complex power dynamics. This Centurion had built the local synagogue, but he was still a part of a chain of command that required his complete allegiance to his superiors, as he notes in his own words about authority that he sends to Jesus.
But Jesus moves past all that. He isn’t naïve about the relationship between Jews and Romans, he doesn’t ignore the complex power dynamics, but he moves past them. Jesus recognizes that the power of God can take root in the midst of even the most dysfunctional systems of power. And Jesus notes that the power of God breaking into the relationship between Rome and Israel was yielding faith in unlikely places.
In a moment of clear eyed faith the Centurion recognized that though he was one who had authority bestowed upon him by the state, he was powerless to save his servant who as ill. So he looked to one who had healing authority- he looked to Jesus who he recognized was operating with a much higher authority than his. And Jesus, who was constantly seeking to bring people together across barriers of human difference responded and healing occurred.
This Gospel dynamic prompted me this week to ask myself how we use the authority given to us through our baptism and our ongoing transformation deeper into the mystical body of Christ, to bring peace and healing to God’s world in our day and age? And that is when I was overcome by how much I love you all. One reason I love being in ministry with you is that together we use our baptismal authority to seek equality in the church and in society for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.
I will always remember the phone interview I had 9 years ago with St. Paul’s search committee when I was still in Germany. I remember one of the members saying something like, “we are committed to being a congregation where our gay and lesbian friends in Christ feel safe and are full members. How do you feel about that and what would you do to continue that if you were to become our Rector?” What a gift to be asked that question! For centuries the authority of the church was used to oppress gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people. Praise God that has changed in our beloved Episcopal Church over the last several decades. But there is still so much more ground to cover. And I hear our Gospel today as a call to reach across boundaries of difference and continue to use the authority that we share in Christ Jesus to bring healing to the wounds created by the historic oppression of our gay and lesbian, bisexual and transgendered brothers and sisters by the church.
This week while I was visiting with my sister and her family in Maryland, we watched the movie Invictus on Net Flix. It is set in South Africa in the mid- 1990’s, shortly after Nelson Mandela’s release from prison and his election as the first black president of South Africa. Many of Mandela’s black supporters were in favor of disbanding the national Rugby Team – the Springboks – but Mandela knew that the team meant a great deal to many, many white South Africans. So Mandela with great compassion, forgiveness and gentleness set out to partner with the Captain of the Rugby team to bring them from being at team of mediocrity to being the Rugby world cup champs. And that event proved to be a very unifying moment for blacks and whites in that society.
I read somewhere once that there is not greater power than gentleness. Just as Mandela, in his gentle compassion and wisdom choose the game of rugby as a tool to begin the reunification and healing of his country’s citizens, Many in our own society have chosen the parade to push back against oppression that has wounded so many! What could be gentler than a parade where the pervading color scheme is the rainbow?
For a number of years now this parish has had a small contingent in the Boston Gay Pride Parade? I would love to see us represented again this year on Saturday June 11. Now maybe you are like I was: thinking about marching in the gay pride parade may make you feel a bit uncomfortable. You may wonder if you will fit in – can heterosexuals join this parade – is it allowed? What will your friends and family think of you if you join in- will they wonder if you are gay? Take it from me – if you push past those discomforts– walking in this parade is a joy! No matter one’s sexual orientation or gender identity, everyone is accepted and welcomed with open arms. The loving spirit that infuses it all is a true inspiration! And it feels so good to be with so many other people who are taking to the streets to put an end to inequality around sexual orientation and gender identity! Come join me on June 11th behind the St. Paul’s Banner in Boston!
One story before I end. A few years ago Nicolas and Marcella joined me in the parade. They had a great time! On the way home Nicolas asked me why the parade had taken place. It was then that I recognized that all the talk about it in the weeks beforehand had gone right over his head. So I explained that the parade was a celebration of the truth that people should be allowed to be whomever they feel called to be, and that love is love and that we believe in the right of each person to fall in love with whomever they fall in love with. He gave me a bit of a perplexed look, and said “Why do we need a parade for that?” I explained that not everyone holds these same values. The conversation that then ensued between me and my children on our ride home that day made me realize that we have come quite a distance since I was a child. My children now go to school with a good number of kids who have two moms or two dads and that is normal! I remain very hopeful that our children will grow naturally with that new normal and equality for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities at all levels of church and society will be the norm they live by. May our gentle, yet powerful show of healing authority in the name of Christ in the parade on June 11th be just one step in our continuing work toward that future. In Christ’s name and for his sake Amen+