Monday, November 23, 2015

Apostles, Interrupted

Sermon from Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015, celebrating the feast of St. Andrew
Deuteronomy 30:11-14; Romans 108b-18; Matthew 4:18-22

Given that we’re celebrating the feast of St. Andrew this morning, that Gospel reading we heard doesn’t seem to tell much of a story about our patron saint.  Jesus is walking by the Sea of Galilee, where he sees Peter and his brother, Andrew – playing second fiddle from the very start, at least in Matthew’s telling.  They’re busy trying to make a living, doing what commercial fishermen do, casting nets into the sea.  And Jesus yells out to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people” (4:19).  And that’s it, at least as this story goes.  They leave their nets and their boat and follow him.  The reading goes on to say the same thing about James and John. They’re working hard; Jesus calls them; and they take off.  End of story.
Well, maybe there was a little more backstory than that.  The section before today’s reading describes Jesus beginning his public ministry in Galilee.  “From that time, Jesus began to proclaim, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matthew 4:17).  My hunch is that Andrew and Peter and James and John had heard Jesus teach and preach.  They must have had some idea what he was proclaiming before they signed on.  But still, I do think there’s something important in the way Matthew tells the story of their call.  Andrew and Peter and James and John are hard at work.  They’re doing what they’re supposed to do.  And Jesus just interrupts them – probably pretty rudely, from the perspective of James and John’s father, who’s left holding the fishing nets.  Jesus’ call is anything but convenient.
If we look at Andrew’s experience in the rest of Scripture, this story of interruption continues.  The way John’s Gospel describes Andrew’s call, he’s a disciple of John the Baptist first – but when Jesus comes on the scene, his presence pulls Andrew away.  Later on, in the story of the feeding of the 5,000, Andrew sees a huge crowd about to descend on Jesus, so he stops to try to solve the problem.  Andrew finds a boy with five loaves and two fish – at least a start for the banquet Jesus eventually sets. (John 6:8-9)  And later still, on Palm Sunday, as Jesus rides into Jerusalem in triumph, Andrew hears from some Greeks, outsiders in the crowd.  They, too, want to see Jesus – and Andrew makes it happen. (John 12:22)  Interestingly, we never hear about a normal day for Andrew, or the other disciples.  The stories come when life gets in the way.
Well, after Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit empowered Andrew and the rest to be apostles sent in mission beyond Jerusalem, we don’t know exactly what became of Andrew.  Some traditions tell of him going to Ethiopia.  Others have him traveling to what’s now Ukraine and Russia – and Andrew is the patron saint of Russia for that reason.  Most traditions say he ministered in what’s now Greece and was martyred there, crucified on an X-shaped cross.  (No, he never went to Scotland, but his remains did, centuries later.)  Wherever Andrew was, I imagine he kept looking for interruption, because that’s how it works, being an apostle:  Ministry comes when life gets in the way.
In fact, I’d even take it one step further.  God comes when life gets in the way.  I believe we find Christ, the Word made flesh, most vividly in the interruptions that come into our productive, predictable, well-ordered lives – both the interruptions we create and the interruptions we allow.
One of the great hymns about St. Andrew says, “Jesus calls us o’er the tumult of our life’s wild, restless sea.”  I suppose that’s true, but I think, even more often, Jesus calls us in the tumult – not shouting over the demands of our work and our lives to get our attention, but talking to us directly through the demands of our work and our lives.  Andrew didn’t have to set off on a special spiritual quest to find an encounter with God.  God came to work to find him
Our day-to-day, crazy, boring, draining lives are the dwelling place of the Most High God.  So what you, and I, and all of us need to do is to listen for the interrupting, inconvenient voice of Jesus in the midst of the plans we make and the work we do.  I’m not necessarily very good at that.  Too often, I’m looking for the finish line – or at least the rest stop at the end of the day – rather than looking to see who’s calling out from the sideline.  I have to be intentional to let myself be interrupted.  Maybe you do, too.
Let me tell you about some people who are doing a good job of that, in the category of interruptions we create.  Joe Kessinger and I were having a drink a few weeks ago, and the conversation went to a place we both knew well: being a middle-aged guy.  One of the challenges for lots of middle-aged guys is that we’ve gotten pretty good over the years at mapping out our days and weeks.  There’s a lot to be done – not all of it work, but most of it scheduled.  So Joe said something to the effect of, “We need an opportunity for middle-aged guys to stop and let God get a word in edgewise.”  I agreed wholeheartedly.  So, long story short:  Joe contacted several guys he knows, and I looked for some study resources, and voilĂ  – we have a group of guys choosing to interrupt their schedules every couple of weeks to reflect on what God’s up to in their lives.  It’s MAGIC – Middle-Aged Guys Inspired by Christ.  If you want to find out more, talk to Joe or me.
Here’s what’s magical about conversations like this, conversations that happen in the interruptions:  Jesus comes to take part.  I believe that with everything I’ve got.  Jesus is there in the interruptions – those we create, like this men’s group, and in those we allow.  Here’s an example of one of those.
I was talking with a parishioner on the phone the other day; and at the end of the conversation, he said, “Have you got a minute for something else?”  I was driving somewhere, but I did have a few minutes to get there, so on we went.  He said, “Help me know what to think about the Syrian refugees.”  As you know, following the attack on Paris, there had been news stories about proposals to exclude Syrian refugees from entering the U.S., or to allow in only Christian Syrians (as if no self-professed Christian ever shot down defenseless people).  So, my conversation partner said, “Help me know what to think about the Syrian refugees.  How do we love people but keep ourselves safe?  What would Jesus do?  I don’t think Jesus wants us to get ourselves killed.  But that’s basically what he did, the way he loved people…..”  That conversation was probably the best 10 minutes of my week. 
So in those holy interruptions we create or interruptions we allow – what the heck are we supposed to say?  I can hear people thinking, “I don’t know enough about the Bible to be in a discussion group.  What am I supposed to say?”  And, I can hear people thinking, “I don’t know the right answer about the Syrian refugees, and I’d probably get in trouble for saying what’s on my mind.  What am I supposed to say?”
Well, we heard it twice in our readings this morning:  “The word is very near you, on your lips and in your heart” (Deuteronomy 30:14; Romans 10:8b).  And that Word boils down to this, what we remind ourselves every week in the 8:00 Rite I service:  “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all they soul and with all they mind … and … thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (BCP 324; Matthew 22:37-40).  Love God and love neighbor – even if that neighbor is thousands of miles away.  Love God and love neighbor – even if you don’t know the right answers to the hardest questions.  Love God and love neighbor.  If that’s your paradigm, Jesus is right there in the conversation with you, on your lips and in your heart.
Those conversations matter, and here’s at least one reason why:  In this chaotic, uncertain, isolating world of real life in 2015, people need Good News like never before.  And maybe the good news they need most is the good news of relationship – the good news that someone takes them seriously.  Because when we take people seriously – when we have a real conversation, when we can speak a word of hope, when we can just show up and listen – when we take people seriously, Jesus dwells in that relationship.  The Word becomes very near you, in your heart and on your lips and sitting right beside you over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.  When we take each other seriously, we come to see that we are not alone.  We come to see that God shows up when we show up.  It’s in relationships that we get to see the face of God. 
So my challenge to you today is very simple.  Look for a way, each day, to interrupt the tyranny of what you have to do by loving God and the person in front of you.  Look for a chance to listen to someone.  Look for a chance to reflect out loud on what Jesus would do or say about the morning’s headlines.  Look for a chance to speak hope and blessing.  And look for a chance to name the presence of God in that process.  As simple, maybe even simplistic, as it sounds, naming faith brings faith alive.  When I believe out loud, it gives someone else permission to try on the notion that this God stuff is more than kids’ bedtime stories.  And when I believe out loud, it makes me believe all the more. 
So let Jesus interrupt your day.  Offer to pray for someone.  Mention something life-giving the church has to offer.  Relate a story of God opening some door for you in the midst of tough times.  Share a word that’s helped you move from fear to hope.  Remember that the Word is very near you – at your office or at Starbucks, at your book club or your gym, in a phone call or a Facebook post.  For the Word takes flesh and dwells among us every time we take each other seriously enough to stop, and listen, and love.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Center Holds

[Sermon from Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015]
It is a bitter irony that we find ourselves this morning honoring Veterans’ Day and the armistice that ended the Great War, while Europe reels in the wake of Friday’s attack on France, the nation where World War I finally came to an end.  The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for what France yesterday called an act of war.  As voices clamor for retaliation, our call as followers of the Prince of Peace is to pray for peace, as well as the justice true peace demands.  Those who’ve perpetrated horror must answer for their actions.  And the other 99 percent of the followers of Islam must be loved as they follow their way of peaceful surrender to God.
It’s been a tough week.  Closer to home, we’ve seen the fraying of our state’s social fabric on the national news once again this week, as the University of Missouri became the latest flashpoint of our nation’s racial conflict.  We’ve seen reports of racial slurs hurled at students, vandalism of dorms, a hunger strike, threats posted on social media, and the removal of the university’s president and chancellor – all in the space of a little more than a week.  It was hard even to keep up with the story’s unlikely twists and turns as the days passed.
Amid the chaos and heartbreak of the past week’s news, I found myself remembering a poem composed a year after the Great War ended.  It’s “The Second Coming,” by Irish poet William Butler Yeats.  As Yeats wrote almost a hundred years ago, so it seems to be today: “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.”1
We could see that breakdown of the center in the coverage of the protests at Mizzou.  I was struck by a poignant video posted on social media and reported by The Kansas City Star.2  It shows former university President Tim Wolfe being confronted on the street by a group of black students.  It’s especially sad to me because the president knows the conversation is going to fail before it even begins.  A student asks him, “What do you think systematic oppression is?”  Wolfe says, “I will give you an answer, and I’m sure it will be a wrong answer.”  He may not understand systematic oppression, but he does understand that he and the students inhabit very different realities.  So he says it a second time:  “I will give you an answer, and I’m sure it will be a wrong answer.  Systematic oppression is because you don’t believe you have equal opportunity for success….”  And that’s all you can hear of his response, because the students shout him down, demanding, “Did you just blame us for systematic oppression?!”  And then Wolfe turns and walks away.
“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.” 
So what about the content of the students’ question?  Does the controversy at Mizzou reflect racism at a systemic level?  To me, that’s the real question underlying the racial discord our nation has been experiencing, especially in the past year.  We’ve seen a pattern:  Something happens that spurs the anger of black citizens, whether it’s conflict with the police, or black people being shot at church, or university administrators ignoring protests.  Whatever it is, something happens – and two competing narratives arise.  One narrative says these are specific, tragic incidents caused by broken individuals in a confluence of momentary circumstances.  The other narrative says these tragic incidents reflect a systemic power differential combined with prejudice – in other words, racism.  The chasm between these two narratives is vast.  It is so vast that, as multiple protests have sprung up in the past year, I’ve heard people say, in complete sincerity, “I just don’t understand what they’re protesting about.”  With the news from Mizzou this week, I think the chasm remains about as wide as it was a year ago, when protests in Ferguson, Mo., dominated the news.  Twelve months later, we’re really no better at entering into someone else’s narrative.  Things are still falling apart, and the center seems barely to be holding.
Uncertainty and chaos are nothing new, of course.  This morning, the lectionary happens to give us readings that speak to the uncertainty and chaos of two other significant moments in the life of God’s people.  The reading from Daniel is the end of a prophetic vision in which the writer describes how he hopes God will deliver the Jewish people from the reign of an oppressive Syrian ruler in the mid-160s BC.  Even though God’s people will be delivered from their suffering, the prophet says, the process won’t be pretty:  “There shall be a time of anguish such as has never existed,” the prophet writes (12:1).  But the outcome will bring life to those presently suffering and resurrection to the faithful departed; it’s a glimpse of the end of the age. 
Similarly, in the Gospel reading from Mark, Jesus is warning the disciples about serious challenges for the Jewish people coming down the line in that time and place.  He tells them the Temple will be destroyed amid “wars and rumors of wars” (13:7) – a reality Jerusalem experienced when the Romans crushed a rebellion in 70 AD.  But here’s the point, Jesus says:  Don’t mistake passing chaos for the coming of the Kingdom at the end of the age.  All “this must take place,” he says, “but the end is still to come” (13:7).  Uncertainty and chaos may reign in the moment, but they’re not the end of the story.
So what is the end of the story?  Well, if it weren’t for the fact that we’ll be celebrating the feast of St. Andrew next Sunday, we would hear about the end of the story in the readings next week.  For the rest of the Church, next week is Christ the King Sunday, the last Sunday before the beginning of Advent.  On Christ the King Sunday, we celebrate what the author of the Book of Daniel was also celebrating: that the Kingdom of God, and the kingship of the messiah, supersedes all other claims of authority.  In the fullness of time, Christ will come in ultimate power, healing things that fall apart, holding all peoples together, gathering the nations before the glory of the heavenly throne.  Clearly that process is neither quick nor easy nor free of suffering along the way.  But it is the arc of history, the arc of reconciliation, the arc of the kingship of God.
So, in times of uncertainty and chaos, our call as followers of Christ the King is to be harbingers of his rule and reign.  That means two things:  First, we must consciously, intentionally, insistently refuse to lose hope, even when things fall apart and the center seems not to hold.  And second, as a sacramental proclamation of that hope in the power of our risen Lord and reigning king, we must bring our king’s rule to life in the here and now. 
I wrote about one example of that in the newsletter and bulletin this week.  At Diocesan Convention, Fr. Marcus and Cheryl Cementina led a session helping people talk about racism out loud.  People shared their fears of even addressing the topic.  We spoke about prejudices.  We struggled with the difference between political correctness and beloved community.  We raised the awkward question of whether black people should modify culturally conditioned behaviors to fit white culture, or whether white culture should flex to accommodate them.  It was a glimpse of the kingdom, I believe – a glimpse of what it looks like when the center does hold and community is knit together.
We’ve seen that here at St. Andrew’s, too, during this year of discord and division on our nation’s streets and campuses.  In May, we went to United Missionary Baptist Church on the east side to worship with our black brothers and sisters.  Our choir sang, and I preached, and we all raised our prayers together.  Then in August, the people of United Missionary Baptist came here and shared Eucharist with us, with Pastor Mike Patton preaching and their choir bringing down the house.  Well, in the coming year, we’ll keep moving down this road of reconciliation.  We’ll worship at United Missionary Baptist again on Sunday, Jan. 17 (and there will be worship here that morning, too).  For Lent, we’re putting together a series of shared Bible study, so we can learn firsthand how our brothers and sisters hear the Good News in a different context.  And we’ll be collaborating in mission, too, serving together as agents of healing and new life.  You’ve heard about the social-entrepreneurial start-up we’ve been supporting, Empower the Parent to Empower the Child, which trains moms for solid parenting and living-wage jobs.  Well, I spoke with Pastor Mike this week, and United Missionary Baptist is interested in getting involved, too, with some of its members serving as mentors for women in the program. 
We’re doing this because we worship a common king.  We’re doing this because Jesus is Lord over St. Andrew’s and United Missionary Baptist.  We’re doing this because Jesus is Lord over the protesters at Mizzou and the university’s administrative team.  We’re doing this because the Church, at its best, is the center that can and will hold, a sacred space we can inhabit together, where we can learn from each other and enter into each other’s narrative, without feeling the need to tear the other narrative down.  We worship a common king who longs to deliver us from both interpersonal and systemic harm.  We worship a common king who lovingly, peacefully, powerfully demands that we turn away from turning away from each other.  In fact, we worship a common king who will soon take William Butler Yeats’ poem full circle, though Yeats wouldn’t have seen it this way.  Advent is coming, when our common king will take off his crown, and bend down low, and enter into the muck and the mire of this blessed creation that always seems to teeter on the brink of despair.  Our king is coming, not in the regalia of power but emptied of power as he asks us to be, “slouch[ing] towards Bethlehem to be born.”1

  1. Yeats, William Butler.  “The Second Coming.”  Available at:
  2. Williams, Mara Rose, and Tod Palmer.  “Tensions over racial issues at University of Missouri smolder amid calls for ouster of president.”  Kansas City Star, Nov. 8, 2015.  Available at:  Accessed Nov. 12, 2015.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Making Space for Daily Bread

[Homily from Ascend liturgy, Nov. 8, 2015]
In tonight’s Old Testament reading, the prophet Elijah is living on borrowed time.  He’s challenged the authority of an evil king, so he lit out for the country to hide.  He’s been relying on food brought by the birds, and now his water source has dried up.  It’s not exactly a sustainable model.
            So God, who’s pretty good at providing daily bread, tells Elijah to go ask a poor widow for food in the midst of a drought.  It’s kind of like passing the plate at the soup kitchen.  This widow is down to her last handful of the meal she uses to make bread.  But the prophet asks her to give up the last little bit she has, all she has to live on, even in the face of famine.  Elijah tells her not to be afraid – in fact, to feed him first and then bake some bread for herself and her child.  To our ears, it sounds appalling.  But Elijah brings God’s word of abundance into this world of scarcity:  The meal and the oil will hold out until the rains come, Elijah says.  And they do.  Elijah, the widow, and her child – they all eat happily ever after.
            Trusting God’s abundance….  We see the same dynamic in the Gospel story of the poor widow’s offering to the Temple treasury.  Jesus and his followers are watching people put their money in the offering plate, so to speak.  Jesus sees wealthy people giving large sums while the poor widow – the lowest and the least in society, someone with no visible means of support – the poor widow puts in small change, just a fraction of a worker’s daily wage.  For us, think of it as a dollar.  But Jesus recognizes value others don’t see.  He says to his followers that she put in “everything she had, all she had to live on” – which, translated literally, actually says, “She put in her whole life.”
            Giving your life.  That’s what both widows did.  How scary is that?
            I don’t know about you, but I’m not so willing to give my life away.  Sure, there are things I manage to turn over to God, and that makes me feel good for a while … right up until I see the next part of my life that I want to hang onto and control.  Whatever their motivations may have been, these two widows trusted, in an astonishing way, that God was going to take care of them.  In such a situation, our worldly wisdom says, “Great – but be sure you have a backup plan, too.”  Jesus says, no – there is no backup plan.  It’s not, “Trust and verify.”  It’s not, “Trust and plan wisely.”  It’s just, “Trust.”
            Now, I don’t think Jesus is saying to us, literally, that we should put “all [we] have to live on” into anybody’s offering plate.  He’s actually asking something harder.  Put your whole life into the offering plate.  Whatever you want to hold onto most, that’s the offering he’s asking for.
            We name that kind of deep trust every time we pray the Lord’s Prayer, even if we may not realize it.  “Give us this day our daily bread,” we say.  Give us today our bread for tomorrow.  Teach us to rely on you, Lord.  And whatever we need to part with, in order to learn to trust … help us to let go of that.
            In your life, how is God asking you to trust?  What’s God asking you to give away to make room for your daily bread?

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Heavenly Courage

[Sermon from All Saints' Day, Nov. 1, 2015]
In this strange and wonderful line of work, you find yourself at deathbeds.  And I'm blessed to say that I’ve never seen a death wrapped in fear.  Maybe I’ve just been fortunate, but my experience of being with people as they die is that they’re not afraid.  Nearly to a person, they seem to find peace and freedom.
Instead, where I see fear of death is among the living.  It expresses itself lots of ways:  We deny our age, being perpetually 39.  We have mid-life crises, making choices more like teenagers than 55-year-olds.  We build up possessions until we find ourselves possessed by them.  We invest ourselves in overwork, trying to hang our portrait on the office wall rather than build relationships at home.  We become chronically ill and seek a third or fourth or fifth opinion, unable to step into a new normal of decline.  And at the end of the line, we find ourselves prolonging life for the sake of postponing death.
Well, on this All Saints’ Day, as we come to the end of our sermon series on “The Generous God,” let me share with you what I believe to be God’s greatest blessing to us, the most astonishing act of generosity we’ll ever receive.  Here it is:  We need not fear death.  Let me say that again:  We need not fear death.  This truth is so central to what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ that we may miss it, like the fish that doesn’t notice the water in which it swims.  When we enter the waters of baptism, as Charlotte Cynthia Murray will do in a few minutes, we are buried with Christ in his death.  Enlivened by that water, we share in his resurrection.  Rising from that water, we are reborn by the Holy Spirit.  The battle with death is a battle we simply need not fight because it’s a battle Jesus has already won. 
We hear that story every Holy Week and Easter, and we heard it foreshadowed in this Gospel reading for All Saints’, too.  Though Jesus has healed many people before this crucial turn in the story, he chooses not to heal his dying friend.  He’s told that Lazarus is sick, but he waits two days to come see him.  By that time, it’s too late.  Lazarus’ sisters meet him on the road and rail at Jesus in their grief; and Jesus himself breaks down, sharing and bearing the sorrow of all.  But he’s done this to accomplish a larger purpose: that the crowd might believe Jesus is the Son of God, the one who brings eternal life into the here and now, the one whose restoration of Lazarus will cost him his own life at the hands of church and state.  Jesus tells them to roll away the stone, roll away the power of death; and then he commands, “Lazarus, come out!” (John 11:43).  And “the dead man came out” (11:44), Scripture says, still bound in his shroud, still struggling, like us, with the remnants of death.  Unbind him, Jesus says, from the body of decay.  Unbind him from the human expectation of finitude.  Unbind his friends and family from their grief.  Unbind them and the disciples from their fear of what might come when the powers of the world do their worst.  Unbind them from their fear, Jesus says, and let them go.
For as we remind ourselves when we commend a saint to God’s care and pray the burial rite: To God’s faithful people, “life is changed, not ended” when we die (BCP 382).  Life is changed, not ended.  That means two things.  First, of course, it means death is not the end of our stories, no matter how final or fatal transitions may feel.  As baptized people who commit ourselves to follow Jesus as Lord and to live in the light of his sovereignty, we are assured that “neither death, nor life, not angels nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God” (Romans 8:38-39) – much less the death of our physical bodies.  We know this, even though we may forget sometimes, in our worry and anxiety.  We know this promise for all the saints, the promise of life in God’s presence, the promise of heavenly life that never ends.
What we may not know so well is the other stunning implication of that statement that “life is changed, not ended” when we die.  If it’s true that life is all of a piece, from birth to heavenly life, then we must be living in eternal life right now, not merely waiting for it later, in the sweet by and by.  Of course, we don’t experience it as fully now as we will.  For now, we still know “mourning and crying and pain” (Revelation 21:4).  We still suffer the brokenness of creation and the smallness of our own hearts.  But that is not the whole story because, just as the divine Word once spoke forth creation, the One now seated on the throne has spoken forth new creation:  “See, I am making all things new!” (Revelation 21:5).  God has given us the most astonishing gift of all, the gift of Christ’s resurrection.  And with it, we are set free from death now, even as we wait for life to be changed into its fullness.  “I am the resurrection and the life,” Jesus says – present tense.  Welcome to the kingdom of heaven, every day you rise from sleep.
Some days, we’re blessed to see it more clearly than others.  I remember seeing it right here one morning, three years ago, when someone else stood in this pulpit.  It was Connie Smart.  One of the great sadnessses of my time here is that I was on sabbatical last fall, when Connie joined the company of saints gathered around the heavenly throne.  A couple of years before that, Connie had received the news of her cancer diagnosis; and all of us were fearful for her – fearful of the pain of treatment, fearful of the disease’s course, fearful of the likely outcome.  Well, Connie stood here in this pulpit one Sunday morning, and she proclaimed eternal life in the here and now.  She proclaimed the love of her family, and the love of her church family, and the love of God she’d known through her life.  And then, she said,
“This cancer has turned my prayer life in a different direction.…  In my daily prayers, I [once] held up others in need [and] expressed my thankfulness for my many blessings….  However, now I really want to have more one-on-one [with God] by asking questions and hearing his answers.…  I have been blessed with an amazing life, and I have no fear of dying.…  It’s up to us to learn and be trusting, through our ears and our hearts, and to know, no matter what, that [God is] always there for us.”1
With the power of death set aside, Christ invites us to embrace what Connie embraced: courage.  Heavenly courage.  If we truly don’t fear death, imagine what that freedom empowers us to do.  It empowers us to live as new creations.  It empowers us be the people we talk ourselves out of being – people who love unreservedly, people who speak the truth, people who give generously from abundance, people who risk – not for our own gain but to accomplish God’s purposes.  If we truly don’t fear death, we can be living sacraments of the generosity of God – icons of the Creator who gives us all we see and hold, icons of the Son who gives himself to redeem us, icons of the Spirit who gives us life day by day. 
So free us, generous God, from the boundaries the world sets around us.  Free us from the fear of death that keeps us small and still.  Unbind your saints, Lord, and let us go.

  1. Smart, Connie.  Address to St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Feb. 23, 2012.  St. Andrew’s Archives.