Saturday, October 29, 2011

“What’s Left to Say?” (All Saints 2011)

1 John 3:1-3, for Sunday, 10/30/11

Tomorrow is Halloween; If we attend a party, we often don’t know who are behind the masks we see until the end of evening. AND, if you have little masked goblins at your door, sometimes you can ask them to reveal themselves AFTER you give them their treats.

Many people are like that; we don’t get the real picture of a person until after their life is over and the truth is revealed.
Tho For some people; we get to see behind their mask as they grow older. Maturity and life decisions reveal the person inside.
 I can think of some presidents that became revered statesmen only after they left the White House.

Our lives are not as much as an unmasking as a maturing or evolving and continual growing. Remember last week when we talked about the gospel according to Paul? One of the things he preached, that is central to our faith, was sanctification.
Sanctification comes after our commitment or our acceptance of God’s generous offer, which we confirm and make public with our baptism.
Sanctification is simply the maturing of our faith.
But it doesn’t happen alone.. We can’t do it w/o the mysterious working of the Holy Spirit. We also can’t do it without the mysterious forming by Christ’s Community, the Church.
Our maturing as faithful, -always-growing-Christians is a mystery – one for which we give thanks. But one aspect of our maturing we DO know about; it is this forming that comes in community.

Our on-going forming involves living life like Jesus did. If we go back a chapter in this letter we read, in v.2.6, “”Whoever says I abide in him(Jesus), ought to walk as he walked.”[i] It takes all of us together to ‘walk as Jesus walked’.
We often want to live like someone else.
Have you ever wanted to be part of another family?
Have you ever wanted to live someone else’s life? Sometimes Halloween is a chance to pretend to be someone we could never be in regular life.
But for us it is more than a masquerade. Because of God’s gift, we get to be more as part of Christ’s Church than we could ever be alone.

Our spiritual inheritance is that we are members of God's family; it is our entitlement, and it includes the “blessings & benefits, privileges & powers that a relationship with Christ implies.
It also includes the “relationship with have with each other.[ii] “We not only bear each others burdens but also claim for those who have died the hope & confidence we have together in the risen Christ.” That’s how scholar Grace JiSun Kim puts it. Our membership in God’s family includes an on-going connection to those who have died who continue to be part of God’s family.
This membership is more than a mask we don on Sundays. We are connected to each other all week long, just as we are connected to Christ. It is a great mystery without a doubt that it is in this church, this congregation that we are transformed into the image of Christ . . . and  it is a great mystery that we also remain connected to those we remember today; our Saints.

Our Saints are a vital part of our maturing in faith; our ‘sanctification’ that comes after baptism.
You might ask, How are we formed by people who are no longer with us? Or even those ‘Saints’ who lived so long ago that we never met them?

"We are blessed by them, by their faith, & their witness. Their strength is for us, supporting us and their strength is for our witness to others.”[iii]
They are a vital part of our sanctification as those who have accepted God’s gift of grace and are members of Christ’s church.

What can we do to honor them today?
We can “remember, that, even tho our loved ones have died, it is thru their love and compassion, their instruction & correction,
their laughter & tears, their honesty & humility,
their sacrifice, & dedication, & most of all their faith,
they are still speaking.”[iv] (To us.)

We can join them in the ‘legacy of love that never ends’[v]. The letter we read part of today stress that ‘as in human relationships, only those who love and are loved can speak of love as an experienced reality rather than an abstraction or an unfulfilled yearning.”[vi] We are loved by God, we are loved by our Saints and because we have experienced that love as a reality in our lives we can speak of this life-changing love to others.

Even as our saints are still speaking, our lives are speaking the truth of our living. We are revealing a legacy that shows who we are even now, as we are still being formed.
From the time of our baptism * all thru our sanctification, our maturing in faith is the core of our life in God’s family. We are revealing WHOSE we are every day.

Today I remind you that you are saints as much as this cloud of witnesses surrounding us.
Have you accepted God’s offer of adoption? And if so,
as a saint, adopted into God's family at your baptism,
what is your life saying?

[i] Grace-Ji-SunKim Feasting on the Word – theological (Louisville: WJK, 2011) 232
[ii] ibid 230
[iii] William N. Jackson Feasting on the Word pastoral (Louisville: WJK, 2011) 232
[iv] ibid 232
[v] ibid
[vi] D. Moody Smith Interpretation 1,2,3 John, J.L. Mays, ed. (Louisville:John Knox, 1992) 80

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Blessing of the Animals

Fun time tonight at the blessing for 2 Guinea Pigs, 3 Dogs, 1 Cat, and 2 Cats by proxy (picture). Good times, good treats, good coffee. Thanks be to God.
See for yourself:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

"Vote for me or burn in Hell"

I'm reading the texts for Sunday and read this from 1 Thessalonians,
2:3 For our appeal does not spring from deceit or impure motives or trickery,2:4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the message of the gospel, even so we speak, not to please mortals, but to please God who tests our hearts.
I read this just after the following article on CNN: Who does God want in the Whitehouse? 
 Some of this might just make it into the sermon. Can I do it without getting "too political" or should I not worry about criticism? My political stripes are usually obvious and that may be more of the problem. (Not Zebra but Donkey...)

We shall see as the week evolves.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

I Call Your Name

Isaiah 45:1-7, October 16, 2011

Remember the song, “I Call Your Name”? It was written by John Lennon prior to the formation of the Beatles. In 1963, he gave the song to Billy Kramer of The Dakotas, another Liverpool band.
Lennon was reportedly dissatisfied with the Dakotas' arrangement of his song as well as its position on the B-side of their record (if you are old enough to remember records, you know what the 'B' side means).  So the Beatles eventually recorded their own version of “I Call Your Name”, which came out on their 2nd album.
I tend to remember the Mamas & Papas cover of the tune on their 1966 LP because I thought they did such a good job with Lennon’s original creation.

An artist, --a-creator, won't let their creation go to waste. John Lennon wasn't satisfied with the song so he produced it himself. A Creator is willing to take unplanned action, to insure that things come out to his/her satisfaction.

God, in the Isaiah passage, is notifying God's people of the Creator prerogative. God is dissatisfied with the way life is turning out. So God is going to make some changes. The Creator will do what the Creator will do, using whomever the Creator wishes. IN this case, the Almighty calls Cyrus, the ruler of Persia. God will use him to conquer Babylon (where most of the Israelites are living in captivity) and this major change will “set the scene for the journey of the exiles back to their homeland.” Cyrus, a foreign King, with no Jewish blood at all, will even end up decreeing the rebuilding of the Jerusalem Temple.

Like the early People of God, we should remember that God does call whom God wants. If we ignore the call, God will find others - and with or without their knowledge - God will use them. This is the Creator’s prerogative.

This message quickly puts us in our place as creatures, doesn't it?
It reminds us of our limited power to control. When God calls, who are we to say no, or not right now, or I'd like to think about it. Maybe later God, when I'm more ready.  ?

A passage like this leaves the question of free will unanswered.
How much can God do without our consent? Why does God bother to call people, if God can do what God wants? We turn to the stories of scripture, which tell us that God does call us, and God's preference is for us to respond--- willingly; as individuals and as communities of God's children.

God's message was often to an entire community or nation -or nations.
God's call began with Abram and Sara's story, which was a CALL to become a Nation of God's people. They answered, “Yes” and became a wandering couple who WAITED, many, many years for the 'call' of God to be fulfilled in the promised family of descendents. Eventually their descendents became two nations of God's people; Israel & Judah, consolidated from the 12 tribes of Abraham.

The Bible is full of stories of individuals who were called into God's service.
Moses' story began before he encountered a burning bush. He felt the pull of being a Jew, before he even recognized there was a Divine presence behind his actions.
He didn't want to accept the call, you'll remember. He listed every excuse he could think of and God countered every one. Eventually bringing Moses' brother Aaron into the mix as spokesperson to help Moses' deal with a speech impediment. Moses was special above all others because he got to talk to God directly. He was quite bold as we heard in the passage read from Exodus 33. Basically –saying to God, “if you are not going to go with us, don't even bother to take us any further than this place.” And God promises to stay with the people because God has called Moses' by name.

Many prophets were also called into God's service; this wasn't a prime career position. Isaiah & Jeremiah, have stories of obeying God's call even when it meant saying what no one wanted to hear and suffering for it. You might even remember Jonah who initially disobeyed God's call and ran away on board a ship. That adventure ended rather unpleasantly. If you don't recall the entire story, the book of Jonah is short & exciting read!

All through the scriptures heard today, are messages verifying the fact that God does call. People ARE chosen by God and our answer makes a difference.  Cyrus's call is different than most. His is a unique circumstance where God uses someone who is not aware of his call, and doesn't even know God.

Cyrus is literally named, “God's anointed” – you may remember how that word translates, in Hebrew it is, Messiah and in Greek it is Christ. Cyrus is the ONLY non-Jew named God's anointed.

It certainly sounds strange to us who have come to hear “the anointed” as referring only to Jesus, but “Cyrus's call will bring redemption to the Israelites and enlightenment to his own life.  This is how the story of God's people evolves in the second part of the book of Isaiah. God calls this people back together, back to their land. --we could say God is calling them to return to faithfulness from the place of exile where they have been living.

The call to faithfulness brings life back into the CREATOR’s original design. Faithful response often needs renewing in God’s creation.

Much of our world today lives apart from any dependence on God.  Unlike the universalist perspective in 2nd Isaiah, where all people are not only dependent on God, they will ALL be 'saved' by the God who “is responsible for all aspects of the cosmos, both the origins of the natural world (“I form light and create darkness”) AND the events of human history (“I make weal and create woe”).

Today, We don't all share this perspective on God's intervention in human affairs or of the extent of God's saving grace. Being not of one mind, we struggle to interpret God's call and wonder if and how a particular event can BE part of God's Will?

I find it helps to read these stories of God's call. In stories we learn what others have done and how God acts. In real-life stories we learn the true character of God. We learn to look for themes that resonate with the way God wants the world to be. The stories lift us from our short-term vision and help us see the way God works. In stories we learn what the Creator is dissatisfied with and where we can expect God to makes changes. (Just like the composer who wants his song to come out just right.)

There are a few consistent themes to listen for:
The 1st is Hesed, (I didn't sneeze) this is the Hebrew word every Christian should know. It is the word for the most basic character of God. Hesed is a relational word about faithfulness, steadfastness, kindness and grace. (Exodus 34: God is rab hesed; rich in faithfulness.)            
            Any action - rich in faithfulness, any action that is grace-filled, is compatible with 'God's will' and call. We are always called to join in with God’s grace.

2nd – theme is liberation or salvation.
            Within the big-picture of biblical stories, God acts to liberate and save. God intervenes to save the Israelites from the curse of the 1st born. This is the heart of 'passover'. God liberates the Israelite slaves from Egypt. God saves the Israelites from the Wilderness. (even if the shorter perspective stores also condemn a generation to wander.) God calls Moses' into the job of liberation leader.
            And of course, Jesus liberates all those who are bound by sin and brokenness – and who isn't?
            We can expect to be called to work with the Almighty in the big-picture job of liberating and rescuing people from whatever is holding us or others down. Which leads us to another theme;

  - God's preference for the oppressed. God seeks to save, & God asks US to help. Which means we are called to work for changes to the 'way life is turning out'. Like the prophets, We may not be popular with the world around us, but what an honor to be called to help write a verse in God's song of liberation.

These 3 big themes help us determine God's will and learn to what we are called by God. But it never hurts to remember that some things are beyond our vision. We won't understand everything that God does. We almost never think death is a good thing and yet in God's design, we all die.
Many of the things that happen within a lifetime are beyond our ability to comprehend.

A Friend of mine signs all his emails, AIGW; “All In God's Will”. He has written several books seeking to help short-sighted humans accept that God does what God wants and often calls us to work in unexplainable ways. You've heard the Muslim phrase, "Inshallah" or you heard your grandparents say it in English, “God-willing” - which is almost a quote from the book attributed to Jesus' brother, James. 4:13-15, says,

“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, …Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wishes, we will live and do this or that.” - or “Inshallah”

One scholar, Fred Gaiser, said, “Isaiah's [story] might be paraphrased this way,
“Whom would you rather have in charge of even the dark realities of the real world: gods created by human hands and human culture? or the God who loves you and who will give Godself to you and for you in whatever way it takes to set you free?”

            Isaiah (& OT world) doesn't yield to a simplistic formula of “IF it happened, God did it.”
 God works thru the forces of creation and thru the agency of human beings (like Cyrus & us) to make the song of life turn out to God’s liking. The fact that we are all VERY HUMAN, means that both the world and human beings might revert to the chaos God seeks to overcome. But liberation and redemption remain God's “purposes”.

We have one more thing to remember as a community of the called, to be careful not to mistake our own purposes for God’s-- just like Israel did again and again.  It ..’wasn't always clear how God would accomplish a future for God's people, Israel.” We are a bit like them, wondering about the future of God's community called the Church.

“We know God has worked in a particular way before and we assume God will work again in the same way. New methods, which include new people [being] called to God's work, are hard to accept. But it is clear that being chosen by God doesn't exclude God choosing and calling others to be included in God's story. --Even when the newly chosen people are from a different tradition or family or have different ideas--– maybe like Cyrus?

As WE look to the future and listen for God's call we need to remember God's priorities and not only ask,How will we share God with others, but  - How is God sharing others with us? “God has a habit of using people who we would not have anticipated. After all, God chooses whomever God wishes to choose. ..

“I Call Your Name” is God's message to us today. What is YOUR answer?
 NIB Study Bible, Isaiah 44:27-28 notes p. 1018
 Ibid p. 1018
 Ibid p. 1019
 Fred Gaiser, Isaiah 45:1-7 commentary
 Jeff Carter Feasting On The Word – Pastoral Taylor & Bartlett eds. (Louisville: WJK, 2011) p. 174
 James Burns Feasting – Homiletical ibid p. 173, 175
 Ibid p. 175

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Yesterday I plugged in the fan that was set aside to be put away for winter. The house seemed so warm and stuffy that I set it near an open window to blow in the fresh air. This morning I went around closing or lowering windows. The cool rain feels good and I really enjoy sleeping under an open window (much to my husband's displeasure). Yet it seems strange to again be in the season of rapid change.
There is a metaphor here for the state of the church. We are known for being slow to change. "We" persecute those with revelation for which we are not ready. We label as heretic those who see the world differently. Sometimes I think we have never understood the message of our 'own' scriptures.
In this season of change I vow to watch for my own resistance to other's visions and my own disinclination to 'see' what I don't want to accept. Beginning with good old Christopher Columbus and extending to Cyrus in this weeks Isaiah passage (45:1-7). (Neither message is easy to accept.)
And I will pray the prayer of the COB M&M board for those who are suffering within changes of weather and life; [we will] "express faith through humble service, simple words, and courageous proclamation" with our words and our lives.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


“Mine!” October 9, 2011                                     Matthew 21:33-46 

The Story –
            Jesus stories are not always easy to understand, sometimes the good guys are really bad guys and the ‘bad guys’ are good guys.
But in this story nicknamed the “wicked tenants” it is rather easy to find the “right” side. Just imagine an owner, an investor, buying a prime piece of property and putting in the entire infrastructure for a good vineyard. A fence is needed to keep predators out. A wine press is needed to produce the product once the grapes are grown. Grapevine starts are planted and a watchtower is built to oversee the property. This Owner is investing for the long haul because it takes a while for grapes to produce. It could be five years before grapes suitable for wine can be harvested.
            Then the Owner advertises for help:
            “Wanted, responsible men & women to live on and manage new vineyard. Get in on the ground floor of this promising business. Farm experience a must, previous winemaking a plus.”
He hires his staff, makes contract agreements and goes off leaving them in charge of the farm. The Owner knows this is a long-term investment. The owner knows he is subsidizing the workers for the next few years. Yet the profit should be good when the grapevines mature and the grapes are ripe.

            The grape vines grow and are tended. The families live and work on the farm all year long. Its hard work, pruning vines is an art not a science. It takes skilled knowledge and long hours spent in the arbors to know what, and where to cut.  The new growth actually begins a year before the grapes shoots sprout.
Vineyard farming is slow. Patience is required and the hard labor of managing weeds, watching for predators and growing some intermediary crops to condition the soil around the vines must be done year after year after year. Eventually the quality grapes grow and mature, are harvested and crushed in the press. The juice is collected and stored for fermentation. Everything needs to be done just right for the juice to be profitable.  Then, when there is income, it is time to pay the rent and the owner sends his accounting staff to collect his profits.  The rent is likely high, as much as 40-50% of the profits since it’s been 5 years of building the business and staying in the red. But here the story takes a nasty turn;

            The tenants beat-up one employee, kill another, and stone a third.

Do we need to read any further? . . .What would you do if you were the owner?
I can imagine any number of responses that are different than what THIS owner does.

Instead of one of our solutions, another delegation is sent, more people this time – which makes sense, the first few were obviously not enough. Only the tenant farmers treat these representatives the same shameful way. . NOW what would you do?

            This Owner is determined or generous or, we might say, naïve? And decides to send his son to the tenants on the premise that the SON will be respected – at least as the Owner’s legal representative - and be able to collect what the others could not.

We know the sad ending of the story. The tenants decide that this is their chance to make the property their own. --Perhaps relying on the common law of the day that a property left alone for three years could be claimed by the settlers-- They seize the son, throw him out of the vineyard and kill him.

If you were the owner, what would you do? (pause)

This is one of Jesus’ stories where it is actually easy to take sides. The hardest thing to understand is the Owner’s generosity. Why keep sending emissaries? Why give the tenants another chance – and then another?

But before we give up on the tenants all together, WE should give the a chance to relay their side of the story.
These workers were brought in at the ground level. They are skilled vintners. True, the infrastructure was already in place, but all the long years of labor are theirs.
Grapevines take a considerable time to mature before they are ready to be harvested for wine. The workers may have as much as 5 years of  “sweat equity” invested in this vineyard.
We can start to understand that as the grapes began to grow and the hard work of tending, weeding, trimming, & grafting continued, year after year, these tenants naturally began to feel “ownership” in the winemaking venture.
After all, the vineyard is their home and they have totally “bought into” the investment with their labor.
Even if we disagree with their methods, we can understand their perspective. 

In this nation we value people who work hard to provide for themselves and don’t rely on others or institutions for help, at least not for any length of time.                We hold to a work ethic that expects advancement for good labor. And ownership of a home or property is pivotal to the American dream.

            Dreams of ownership begin early in our culture and extend into all walks of life. I listen to the radio regularly and several advertisements caught my attention.
"Act now to make sure your grass is the greenest in the neighborhood."
"You TOO can own your own home."
"Update your Will so that your money stays in your family."
Ownership and the focus on what is MINE is ingrained and constantly reinforced by society.

I think we can sympathize with tenants who desire ownership of the vineyard. Ownership is a goal of life. Ownership is admired, understood and shared by people of every social class. We are conditioned to work toward ownership; Don’t we say, “owning is better than renting?” We even struggle to understand decisions where leasing makes more sense than outright purchase, so we search the lease agreement for the “buy out” amount at the end so we can OWN that which we’ve become accustomed to.
We even get tax breaks for ownership.  .  .  .

(slowly) From the understandable desire to provide for ourselves, can grow a greed that turns the sweat of hard work into justification for the gluttony of possession.
We understand greed as the “overwhelming desire to have more of something, more than what is actually needed”. Yet isn’t the ownership we value just a good step along the path of self-sufficiency?

The danger comes when our desire for self-sufficiency is raised to the level of a 'god’.  When the ideal, becomes an idol, we join ranks with the tenants and plot ways to keep what is OURS. .

Our desire for ownership is compounded by our fear of loss. We need to protect what is ours. We want to OWN it so no one can take it away from us. 

            I even find myself thinking, “It’s our land, we should be able to do whatever we want with it.”    The possessive tendency extends to MY job, MY insurance, MY benefits, MY pension, & MY rights.  How much of our time do we spend just trying to hang-onto what is OURS?

If we look closely at our own intentions, we can see how easily ‘fear of loss’ and ‘not getting what we “deserve”’ warps honest minds into re-defining what is FAIR. What’s “Fair” gets re-defined from playing by the rules, to whatever is reasonable – by my own definition-- that is.
“FAIR” when warped by my fear and self-interest leads t the justification of violence --- so that I can keep what is rightfully mine ---
                        so our nation can protect OUR OWN self-interest.

For the Vineyard tenants, fear of loss changed gratitude for gainful employment to tightfisted possession of something they didn’t own.
Fear of loss allows them to justify attacking the messenger.
The spiral of justifiable action spins downward until “what is fair” is linked to eliminating the heir of the Owner, the son, so they can KEEP “their” vineyard.
Ultimately understanding this parable is a matter of perspective …            IF we view it from owners’ eyes we say, “Certainly when the Landowner comes, those wicked tenants will be thrown out. They will get what they deserve!”

Or we can view it with wide open eyes and see that
‘they’ are us. . .                      
Just like Jesus’ audience of religious leaders, once we have pronounced judgment and Þ pointed our finger at the tenants, we realize there are FOUR fingers pointing back at us. . .

---   A time comes in every life when our eyes are opened to a greater wisdom.
 At a certain age, friends and family members may begin to give things away.
You’ll hear phrases like, “Well, I can’t take it with me.” Or
“They’re only things and I don’t need more things.”

True wisdom is more than realizing we “can’t take it with us.” Wisdom is the realization of Ownership. Who is the real owner of my life -and all I have?
(Or think I have?)
It is easy to lose perspective about what we own and what we are in charge of tending.
When fear rules us we sound like little children. “It’s mine!”
“Who will take care of me - if I let go of what is ‘mine’?”
If we let fear of loss control our decisions,
the tendrils of greed will warp our minds and choke off the breath of God that seeks to sustain us.

We are tenants and stewards of  the earth; it’s land, and it’s produce. This IS God’s vineyard. We don’t own it.

We are loved by the Owner; the One who knows us and who can be trusted to ‘keep’ us. Such Love -when let loose in our lives- drives us to FAIRLY distribute the produce of God’s vineyard.
Such Love makes us recognize our unity with all the other tenants of God’s world and realize that when we keep too much – we’re taking it from another one of God’s tenants.

Such Love is our ONLY possession.  It’s as close to eternal ownership as we can ever get.
and LOVE is the only possession that we may never fear losing.

God’s love is so great that we are given chance after chance to act justly
and to produce the fruit of justice. 
Then, when the Owner comes, we will happily show off the vineyard- and give thanks to the ONE who has provided for us- all our life long.

Pumpkin cottage ministry resources used.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


"Lord, teach us to pray without ceasing, even when words escape us, & to work toward your kingdom, even when we cannot see it."
I am enjoying @shaneclaiborne & Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove Common Prayer book! "A liturgy for ordinary radicals"

Sunday, October 2, 2011

One From Many, Philippians 4:1-9

Do you remember the movie – Michael; a 1996 movie where John Travolta plays the archangel? The tag for the movies says, “He’s an angel, not a saint.” On their travels, Michael diverts the group because he wants to see the world’s largest ball of twine; 12' tall at least. The task of unifying that much string, yarn, or twine is quite a job.

Yarn Ball - Can you imagine how many individual strands have to be knotted together to make a giant ball? Each strand alone seems inadequate, too small to do much but together they make more.

It’s a classic statement,“Together we are more than any of us alone." We know statements like that about unity but they take on a deeper level of understanding when we have shared an experience of unity. A Lifeboat experience; something that we go thru together can form bonds between people.
I had those experiences during my CPE training at Sibley hospital. The first death you attend, the first hospital-wide crisis.
Life-boat experiences don’t have to be traumatic. A work-camp, a week at summer camp, a week at disaster relief, a retreat weekend, can all be experiences that form lasting bonds between the people who share the common experience.
The common experience crosses the boundaries that might normally keep people apart. We can talk about being one, but until something pushes us across those boundaries, we don’t really feel it.     When we do cross over, the feeling of unity is powerful and good, but it isn’t enough to prevent all future struggles.

LIFE TOGETHER is tough. The 2 co-workers about which Paul writes, evidently had some difficulty getting along. There was enough struggle that the community didn’t feel like ONE. Paul not only encourages them, like anyone might appeal to a leader to solve their congregation’s internal conflict. But Paul immediately turns to the rest of the community, placing responsibility in the whole “life-boat” for the well-being of the members.

Paul sees a bigger picture than most of us have at any given moment. When he speaks of the Book of Life, we are to remember that bigger picture. We are to hear his words, “The Lord is near” and stop trying to figure out when or what it means, and instead realize that the Lord is truly HERE, - every time we act like it, he is here. And our action is what makes us truly ONE.

Perhaps it is easier to talk about than to accomplish.Oh, Paul gives us specifics, saying in v. 8
“whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure,  whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, …think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned . .and the God of peace will be with you.

God’s Spirit’s that brings God's power right into our community, can transform simple humans into more than we can imagine. Remembering that we are part of a bigger picture that includes others, maybe even others with whom we disagree is part of our call as Christians to be ONE.

This transformation of many into one is the way a gifted artist transforms simple strands of yarn into much more. You’ve seen talented knitters and crochet-ers take a ball of yarn and make a masterpiece.
They really change the picture we see from a simple ball of many pieces, into a work of art and a functional cover.

Our lives, our community & our world can be transformed.

But it doesn’t happen passively. Just as the Artist opens her-him self to inspiration then adds their own perspiration to create a masterpiece, so we have to take the life God gives us and make more of it.

God is working here in this place, in this congregation. God has given YOU the ability to work for unity. God GIVES US the ability to create ONE world from many persons.

We are more than yarn strips that someone winds into a ball.
We have to ask ourselves what have we done lately to add or create unity across the borders of life?

1. If other cultures are OUR challenge, perhaps attending one of the many festivals.. Latino TODAY, 1-5 at Thomas Jefferson Middle School.

2. If other political views are your challenge, listening, reading and inviting discussion with someone we differ with, can help us learn how we are One beyond our differences.

3. If the border that separates us from others is the difference between support for America’s military action and the work of a peace activist; then we need to find a way to speak to which ever is the "other side" because in spite of these dramatic differences, we are ONE.

The choice is NOT whether to remain a single string or join a communal "BALL."
The choice is whether to be merely part of a ball,
[deluding ourselves into thinking we are in ONE b/c we are all wrapped up tight] or
to add our perspiration to the spirits inspiration in order to create a God-blessed-world where the many make a Beautiful ONE.