There was an interesting debate among some Facebook friends this past week over the use of national hymns this past weekend, which was Memorial Day weekend. The person starting the conversation suggested that all national hymns (God Bless Our Native Land; My Country, tis of Thee; God of Our Fathers; O Beautiful for Spacious Skies; National Anthem) should be removed from the hymnal. There are other hymns that I know clergy avoid at all costs. I know a priest who refuses to have the congregation sing Alleluia, Sing to Jesus because one line says that Jesus was a victim in his death. This priest is convinced that Jesus knew he would die and acted anyway, and thought it was wrong to call Jesus a victim since he willingly took on his suffering. I know another priest who will not allow Onward Christian Soldiers to be sung due to its violent imagery.
"Why all the fuss?", you might ask, it's just a song. St. Augustine said that singing is praying twice- once through the beauty of music and voice, and once through the words of the hymn. For the same reason that parents don't want their children listening to songs about drugs and sex, the Church doesn't want people singing about bad theology, lest we "experiment" with it.
So what's going on with these national songs? I actually agree that most national songs have no place in a worship service. In thinking about this topic and reading some opinions online, I found one person who equated a church to an embassy. If you go to France, for example, you are on French soil. That is, unless you find your way to the US Embassy, then you are back on US soil. In the same way, a church building ceases to be within the borders of the US (or any other nation), but becomes the soil of the Kingdom of God. In church, the President/King/Leader is not our ruler, but God is. So to sing the national anthem of a foreign land is out of place. Furthermore, there is an assumption that in the Kingdom of God/Heaven, there are no countries, no distinctions of citizenship, as we are all citizens of God's Kingdom, so the fact that we have such divisions on the earth is a mark of sin. To celebrate these divisions, as noble as they might be, is to embrace this fractured reality.
Several of these hymns actually have great words and fine theology, but a few don't. O Beautiful for Spacious Skies has some problems (though we could start by getting rid of "America!" as a refrain). For reasons stated above, I do have an issue with the National Anthem (or flags in the church for that matter). There is nothing wrong with praising God for good land, for beautiful landscapes, and the richness of God's blessing on us. In a sense, there is nothing wrong with patriotism- being proud of your country and it's ideals. You can realize that ideally, there would be no distinction between one group or another while still thinking the the ideas of liberty, freedom, justice, and equality are good things for a state to uphold, and therefore being thankful that you live in a land that shares those values.
The problem is not that these songs foster a sense of patriotism, but rather that they fuel nationalism. Nationalism is a nuanced difference from patriotism; it is about your nation being better than others. Nationalism is seeing the US as the New Israel, or us being the elect and the others being the heathens. Nationalism prays "God bless the USA" while the better prayer is "God bless Creation." Some of these national songs would be better sung on days such as Thanksgiving, because they are songs primarily of thanks. But to sing them on days such as Memorial Day, July 4, or Veterans' Day is to promote nationalism and putting our country above others. And let us not remember, pride is often seen as a sin, so even being proud of our nation is a slippery slope.
Now on to other types of hymns- the example will be Onward Christian Soldiers. I'll admit, I like the tune, and even many of the words. Like the national hymns, the theology is mostly spot on- but there is the issue of war and violence. As the wonderful prayer for peace in the BCP reads "[in God's Kingdom] no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness, no strength known but the strength of love." War, again, reminds us that divisions are sin, and to celebrate sin is dangerous, no matter how noble the cause of war might be. I'm not pushing for pacifism here (that's another debate for another day), but I'm not sure that our prayers (hymns) should promote violence or use metaphors of war for how Christians should act. But it would be such a shame to lose such beautiful music and great ideas (Brothers, we are treading/where the saints have trod;/we are not divided,/all one body we,/one in hope and doctrine,/one in charity. -or- Onward, then, ye people,/join our happy throng;/blend with ours your voices/in the triumph song:/glory, laud, and honor,/unto Christ the King;/this through countless ages/men and angels sing). I guess I'm saying that I don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, either in this case or in the case of national hymns (or at least some of them).
From the Hymnal 1940 to the Hymnal 1982 there were some hymns that were tweaked for the purpose of having gender neutral language. Now I'll be the the first to acknowledge that I'm not a musician, nor do I know much about hymnody, but perhaps someone who does could find ways to reword some of these hymns. Perhaps if clergy and music directors could find ways to incorporate these hymns into the Church year without stirring up nationalism, then we could celebrate their richness and indeed, pray twice with them.
So what do you think? And don't be shy- leave a comment.
Thursday, May 24, 2012
I've had some conversations lately that have revolved around the purpose/ends/opinions around prayer. As some of you read in my letter to St. Francis announcing that my wife and I are expecting our first child:
And as a resource- I've been using http://www.missionstclare.com/english/ to help me in my prayer life recently. Great resource, and they even have apps available for phones/tablets.
Prayer is a very powerful tool, as it both changes our attitudes, but also has an impact on the world as we work together with God to bring about the Kingdom on earth as it in heaven. As Paul writes in his first letter to Thessalonica, “pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Prayer is not something we “do” at certain times, as all of our life is about being in relationship with God and others; so then everything we do is prayer. So as you go through your day, considering how to prayerfully live in each moment and respond accordingly, we ask your prayers for us, along with the many whom you hold in your hearts.
And I very much mean that- prayer is indeed powerful. One of the benefits to spiritual direction, is that my spiritual directors have always been able to help me to see prayer in new and powerful ways. I once said that I grew up thinking that prayer was done on your knees, hands folded, and Book of Common Prayer open. She pointed out that, while that is prayer, prayer is everything we do. If we believe that God is all-knowing, all-seeing, all-loving, then all we do is in relationship to God- we can't escape God. And if prayer is relationship with God, then the math is pretty simple- everything is prayer.
My spiritual director recommend an article about prayer as a "second breath." It was a helpful read, because it articulated this theology of prayer and recommends living a life of praying blessings instead of curses. I commend it you, dear readers.
But what does prayer do? Well, as I've suggested, I think it has something to do with relationship. Now some people have trouble with prayer with an invisible deity who does not directly say anything back to us (at least, not in the form of sound waves that we think of as being normative in other relationships). It's similar though to all kinds of relationships we have. Some people are estranged from certain family remembers, but they are still in relationship with them, even if they don't speak for years. Others are in relationship with loved ones who have died many years ago. You see things that remind you of that person, you can even hear their words of wisdom echoing in certain situations, you hear a song that reminds you of them, or you feel their presence when you go to place you used to visit together. Relationship with God is somewhat like this. For me, I think of our child in the womb. I haven't met this person, I don't even know their name, or if it's a him or a her- but I'm in relationship with it, I care for it, I can't wait to know it more deeply one day. And I could likely say similar things about God.
I had a professor in seminary who spoke of prayer as action- and I very much liked and agreeing with his assessment. He spoke about quantum physics and the notion that we cannot understand the relationship between matter and energy. The famous example is that a butterfly flapping its wings in San Francisco causing a tsunami in Tokyo. Is this a literal example? Probably not, but it is to say that there are effects to causes that we cannot predict or understand. He then described prayer as working with God, creating space for God to act. Prayer is not just wishful thinking, it is actually effective. Now God can act with or without our help. But if you subscribe to a theology of creatio continua, as I do, then you believe that creation is not finished, and we are indeed working alongside to bring about the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven. Prayer then, is a way to work with God to continue that Kingdom building.
I could say much more about prayer, exploring different avenues, talking about where prayer leads us, how liturgical prayer fits into this, but I'll save that for another day. For now, I'll leave it at this- prayer is about relationship and prayer is effectual.
And as a resource- I've been using http://www.missionstclare.com/english/ to help me in my prayer life recently. Great resource, and they even have apps available for phones/tablets.
Thoughts? Opinions? Conversation starters?
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Ah, the Creed. That part of the service that seemingly everyone has issues with. Do you say it or not? Do you cross your fingers during parts of it? Do you wish those who can't say it would just be deemed as heretics? As the video above suggests, do we say it like robots, or do we mean it? How about the seeker or newcomer that darkens the door of the Church? Do we expect them to immediately confess this Creed, or do we welcome them by letting them stand there confused while we chant words that seem rather odd to them?
Some of the issue with the Creed deals with the word "believe." So when we say "I believe in the Resurrection," what exactly are we saying? Some would say it means that we assent to the intellectual hypothesis that Jesus was resurrected from the dead. This understand would be the same as someone seeing it rain and saying, "I believe it is raining outside." It's a fact of observation.
This though is not really the intention of the Creed, as it is not a faithful translation of the word "believe." In her book The Case for God, Karen Armstrong does a word study on "believe." She notes that the word in the New Testament is the Greek pisteuo (and note, this is a verb, not a noun), and it means "trust, loyalty, engagement, commitment." This word would be translated into English as faith. But before it got to English, pistis (the noun form of belief) was translated at fides (meaning "loyalty" in Latin). But fides is a noun, and has no verbal form. So when the action was needed, the word credo was used, meaning "I give my heart to." Credo derived from cor do, so you might see the connection to words such as cardiology (heart). There were other words available though, opinor could have been used to convey a sense of opinion or intellectual thought, but credo was preferred. In the King James translation, both pisteuo and credo became "believe," which at the time was a decent translation. But over the years, especially with the rise of science in the 17th century, belief came to be more about opinion that it did action. In Middle English, believe was bileven, meaning "to prize, to hold dear, to value" and was derived from German words related to "belove." Belief was more about theory and the hypothetical than it was about trust.
This word study is important because the word "belief" trips a lot of people up. Today, you can believe that the world is flat and that is valid as a belief, because most people will say things like "belief is your opinion, as as long as your beliefs don't hurt me, you can believe whatever you'd like." But belief is more about what you do and how you do it than what you think.
A better translation of the Creed might be I dedicate myself to God...Jesus...the Holy Spirit. Or instead of dedicate, perhaps "trust," "am loyal to," "live for," or "love." The Creed really is a simple statement, with some explanations attached to it. At it's core, the Creed is "I belove God, I belove Jesus, I belove the Holy Spirit." And who is God? God is the creator of heaven and earth. Who is Jesus? Jesus is the son of God, who died and rose again. Who is the Spirit? The Spirit guides and animates the Church.
It has been said lex orandi, lex credendi- loosely translated as "what you pray will shape what you believe." The words of our liturgy will shape our thoughts about God, as well as our dedication to God. If we pray to God as if God is an angry Father who is hellbent on atonement, then we will live in fear of God and will act as if saving souls is the most important thing in the world. And if we pray to a God who cares for the widows and orphans, then we too will likely take up issues of justice.
And in the same way, if we say the Creed with our fingers crossed, like it's some sort of superstitious incantation, then we're likely going to see God as the old man in the sky who we're not really sure is even there. When we force the Creed to be something it was never meant to be, it becomes destructive, divisive, and confusing.
Remember, we don't worship the Creed, nor is it a lithmus test. Instead, the Creed is a prayer of devotion, an act of trust, words of hope. As Diana Butler Bass says, "a creed is considered a symbol of faith, not the faith itself." And, I think a lot of people's trepidation around the Creed comes from a confusion of these two.
In fact, the word "doctrine" comes from the French word "doctor" meaning "healing teaching." The creeds and other doctrinal statements are not meant to hurt or exclude, but instead to be life-giving instruments for healing division and confusion. Creeds were to draw people deeper into relationship with God, but often they are used as a reason for people to break up with the Church.
But you still might ask, "how do I love/dedicate myself to/trust in the Virgin birth? Our sinful nature that needed redeeming?" You might point out that the Creed comes out of a Greek world view and is obsessed with issues such as homoousios (substances and nature of being), which really aren't part of our worldview any longer. Maybe you're not sure about the final judgment.
Just like the Bible, the Creed was written in history by people with preconceived notions, biases, and agendas. And these people, just like the authors of the Bible, weren't perfect. But they were vessels for the Holy Spirit; and they put a lot of work, thought, blood, and discernment into developing the Creed. The Creed is a holy statement of belief (loving). In the same way that we use Biblical criticism (historical, literary, tradition, redaction, canonical, etc.) to better understand the Bible, we should apply this to the Creed. How we understand the Virgin Birth in the Creed should mirror how we interpret it in Scripture. But just because we have trouble with intellectual assent to the Virgin Birth, doesn't mean that we don't believe it (as in, see Truth in it, even if not historical truth).
Not to go off on a tangent, but whether or not Jesus was literally and historically born of a virgin doesn't mean much. This claim was made about him because, in his time, all savior figures were born of a virgin. For Jesus to be seen as Messiah, he had to have been born of a virgin, in the same way that the Emperor was also born of a virgin. So to claim the truth of the Virgin Birth is to claim it as an actual fact of history; but to claim it as Truth, it testifies to Jesus as Messiah. And this Truth is more important than any historical truth. Historical truths happened, they stay in the past. But Truths transcend time and affect us today. So I'd much rather have a Bible and Creed full of Truth than one full of truth. And this is how I read the Creed- it contains some truths of history, some theological claims that are not rooted in history, but it all points to the Truth of God.
Now how to decide what is historical truth and what isn't? This is where the legacy of Richard Hooker guides me in his speaking of the via media and grounding in scripture, reason, and tradition. I don't decide that the Virgin Birth is metaphor and the Resurrection is historical, or vice versa. I realize that more than speaking about fact in either instance (historical or not), it refers to Truth first and foremost. But beyond that, we debate such issues by being grounded in Scripture which testifies to Jesus as the Word of God, we do it in the community of tradition, and we use our skills of reason and critical thinking.
So back to the point I was making- in the same way that we don't worship the Bible as the word of God, we shouldn't put too much emphasis on the Creed as the be-all, end-all of faith. Instead, our focus should be on the Word of God, and that is Jesus (John 1). The Bible testifies not to itself as word of God, but to Jesus as the Word of God, and the Creed does the same. Jesus it the measuring stick which we measure all things against- Bible, Creed, Church doctrine, etc.
It is with this broader and more nuanced view that I faithfully, confidently, and prayerfully proclaim the Creed in the Daily Office or Sunday Eucharist. The Creed is a product of history, but I do trust that it was faithfully written and guided by the Holy Spirit. I proclaim it because in fact, I do love, dedicate myself to, and trust God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and the Truth about God conveyed in the Creed.
Questions? Comments? Disagreements?
Sunday, May 6, 2012
May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of our all our hearts, be always acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our strength and our redeemer. Amen.
Do you ever get that sneaky suspicion that things aren’t how they should be? That somehow the Kingdom of God isn’t coming on earth as it is in heaven? That somehow we’re disconnected from what is true, what is genuine, what is worthy of connection? Well, I do. Those of you who are participating in the Diocesan-wide book study using Diana Butler Bass’ book Christianity After Religion are likely getting a sense of this disconnection. There are many who are disconnected with the Church because they sense a disconnect between the institution and God. There are others who label themselves as spiritual but not religious, embodying this disconnect in their own self-identity. Religious institutions now have approval ratings around those of Wall Street and major corporations. And because of this trend, many people are disconnecting from the Church. Many complain of the disconnect between politicians and their constituents, as evidenced by Congress’ 14% approval rating. We see this lack of connection manifest in a plethora of lawsuits, a near 50% divorce rate, and in tensions around the world.
As we see in our reading from Acts, there is also a disconnect between religion and our understanding of it. The eunuch in this story represents many of us. We read things in the Bible, or we hear sermons, or we read a book about theology, and we’re left scratching our heads, wondering- “what does this mean?” Philip asks, “do you understand what you are reading?” And the eunuch responds “how can I, unless someone guides me?” Here, we see the importance of connection. We bring others to faith by guiding them. As much as we wish it would, faith does not spread by osmosis; faith is not something you “catch.” Faith, instead, is something we work at, and we’re never done with it.
We have become disconnected from our story, from the story of God that continues to unfold in each generation. Poll after poll reveals that the average Christian American cannot come even close to passing a religious literacy test. Now, that isn’t to say religion is about knowing facts, but if we don’t know the story, then it’s awfully hard to take part in it. There are lots of reasons for this disconnection. We’re busy, we think people who are overly religious are a bit crazy, we’ve learned that religion is something we do in private; whatever the reason, we’ve lost touch with God. Simply put, we are disconnected from God and from each other.
So how do we reconnect? How do we get back in touch with God and with others? The answer is our readings from today. When you read through this portion of the 1st epistle of John and the 15th chapter of the Gospel according to John, two words should jump out at you. The first is “abide,” which shows up 14 times in these 23 verses; the other word is “love”, showing up 14 times as well. “Abide” comes from the Greek meno, but it means more than that- it’s more of “exist in” or “dwell in”. And “love” is agape, which is the highest of the all the words for love, representing God’s love for Creation. Jesus uses the parables of the vine and the branches to drive the point home.
The only way that the branches, that is us, survive is by being connected to the vine, that is Jesus. Abide isn’t a very common word. No hotel signs say “abide here tonight,” nor do baseball announcers say “bottom of the 9th with a runner abiding on second base.” We don’t abide much in our culture. We move from place to place for work, we upgrade appliances all the time, we even change friends rather fluently. Not much abides in our world. Abiding is planting your roots. A preacher I knew once said that if the world is about hanging on, then abiding is about hanging in. When you hang onto to something, it’s often something you should let go of, and something you wouldn’t mind losing. But when you hang in, you are committed to staying the course.
And so Jesus tells his followers to abide in him, to remain forever in him, to be rooted in him. If you’ve ever been to a vineyard, upon looking a vine, it’s easy to tell that the braches would be no where without the vine. When people, churches, communities disconnect from the vine, they wither up and die. When we hang-on to ideas about Jesus, we die; but when we hang in with Jesus, we thrive. As funny as it seems, many Christians have become disconnected with Jesus.
It’s even there in the name, we call ourselves Christians, not disciples of Jesus. Somehow, Christ is easier than Jesus- because Christ is about the savior and the glory. But Jesus was a rebel-rouser, he hung out with tax collectors and prostitutes, he talked about the poor and sought to turn this world upside down. Jesus was crucified, and calls his follows to take up their crosses. Bishop Curry often remarks that when he came to this Diocese and starting using the name “Jesus” in writings and sermons, people talked about this new bishop who “talked about Jesus all the time” like there was something wrong with that. We’ve become afraid of then name of Jesus- what would people think of us if they heard us saying his name?
If we follow Jesus, we think people will hear us say Jaay-suz. Jesus has been kidnapped by the religious right, by those who put words in his mouth. And lest we be counted as one of them, we’ve stopped abiding in him. Instead, we focus on social justice, on outreach, on God without Jesus. We have a disconnect with Jesus. But Jesus makes it very clear, the only way to life, is to abide in him.
And the focus of this abiding is in love. The writers of these texts knew that the one thing that could be trusted was the love of God, and that was the one thing worth emulating. Earlier in this sermon I referred to studies that point to declines in Church attendance and religiosity. But what is interesting is that that these same studies point towards a deep hunger in people’s lives for spirituality. Part of the reason why people are so disillusioned with the Church is that they came to it with such high hopes and dreams. They wanted to find a place where they could abide, a place where the fruit of love thrived.
These readings show that we are supposed to abide in Jesus, and in his love. That is the way we thrive and bear fruit. When I was in Israel, I experienced a profound sense of affirmation of my work as a priest, but more than that, as a Christian. I saw that the world needs more people like Jesus. I was blessed while I was there to meet some very faithful Christian leaders, who strive their best to daily model the love of Jesus. Think about what your family, our church, Greensboro, the United States, the world would look like if every day, people who call themselves Christians tried to live as Jesus did. What if we found a way to put aside our differences and abided in love. What if churches could refocus on abiding in Jesus instead of fighting over him? In fact, the roots of the word “religion” mean to “re-connect.” What if religion was more about reconnecting God to humanity?
What if we were more like Jesus? What if we took the time to help each other carry crosses, what if we washed each other’s feet, what if we reached out to the poor and oppressed, what if we everything we did was done, first and foremost, out of love?
And the beauty of this is that each branch that is connected to the vine is important. Each act of love changes the world. I know that in my life, I am always profoundly moved when someone acts out of a deep sense of love towards me. I am always inspired when I see someone who is clearly abiding in Jesus.
There is a story I once heard about a group of soldiers who were friends in World War II France. One of their colleagues died, and they carried him to a church they saw in the distance, so that he might have a proper burial. The priest greeted them and consoled them, but he told them that according to Catholic law, only Catholics could be buried in the cemetery there. But he agreed to bury their friend just outside the fence of the Catholic cemetery. Several years later, after the war, this group of friends journeyed back to that small country church to pay their respects to their fallen friend. When they arrived, they walked around the perimeter of the fence to find the gravesite. But when they found no tomb marker, they stormed into the church, enraged that the priest had not properly buried their friend as he had promised. The priest explained to them, “before I buried your friend, I scoured all the books of doctrine I could find to see if I could somehow bury him in the cemetery, but I could find no such provision. However, I found no rules against extending the fence after I buried your friend.” This is abiding in God’s love which has no boundaries.
This wonderful story leads me into something that I must say this morning. There is a passage in Luke that happens on Palm Sunday. As Jesus enters Jerusalem, the Pharisees tell Jesus to make his disciples be quiet, as they are causing a scene. Jesus responds by saying “if they were silent, the stones would cry out.” The issue at hand is Amendment 1, and indeed, the cry for justice needs to be heard.
Before I get going on this topic, I realize that this is a sensitive topic, and I realize and respect that we will not agree on every aspect, but that does not mean that we should be silent. I also want to make it clear that I am speaking not about politics, but about abiding in love and justice. I am not telling you how to vote; I do not condemn anyone for voting differently than me, nor do I speak for St. Francis Church or any other institution, but rather I speak as a disciple of Jesus.
I will be voting against Amendment 1 on Tuesday for several reasons. I take this encounter between the Ethiopian eunuch and the deacon Philip very seriously. After having the Scriptures explained, the eunuch sees a body of water and boldly asks “what is to prevent me from being baptized.” He very well knows the answer- a lot. He is black, he is a eunuch, meaning, in the language of Deuteronomy, that he was unclean because he had undergone genital mutilation, and he was a foreigner. But you know how Philip responds? He says “nothing is preventing you from abiding in Jesus or experiencing the love of God” and he baptizes him.
So the same-sex couple comes to sanctify their love before God and get the same legal benefits that any other married couple gets asks “what is to prevent us from being married?” I hope and pray that the answer is not “Amendment 1.” If we’ve learned one thing in the country, it is that legislating discrimination, even for religious reasons is never a good idea. One hundred years ago, women could not vote because of a law. Just 40 years ago in the church, women could not be ordained because of a rule. Hundreds of thousands of lives were lost on plantations and in the Civil War because our Constitution said that blacks were only 3/5 of a person. In Nazi Germany, we saw the dangers of saying that the ideal person should look a certain way.
Perhaps though the most compelling reason to vote against this amendment is, to use Jesus’ metaphor- we don’t know where the vine will grow in the future. We are branches, and we are only part of the plant, not the whole thing. Passing this amendment would close the door to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has guided the Church to see things in a new light. The first followers of Jesus wanted to exclude all Gentiles from the Church, and we’ve excluded people from full life on the vine ever since then, on the basis of gender, nationality, race, education, economic class, theological beliefs, and now we’re prepared to do it again based on sexual orientation. And if history is any guide, some generation down the road will apologize for us, will overturn laws, and wonder how it was that we called ourselves Christians and did not abide in God’s love. Love has no qualifications, no boundaries, no fences, no limits, and we do not need to act or legislate it as if it does. The love between people need not be limited; nor should our love of them, or rather our lack thereof, places limits upon them.
There is a major justice issue with this law, as people on both sides of the aisle recognize that this is a poorly written amendment which will have many unintended consequences. Marriage between same-sex couples is already outlawed in North Carolina, which is unfortunate enough. But we do not need to pass a law that would harm children, elderly unmarried couples, and victims of domestic violence by dissolving all relationships other than marriage between one man and one woman. This amendment is more about justice than marriage. In our baptismal vows, we promise to “strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.” This amendment would do a lot of injustice to all kinds of people, and I do not know how I can honor my baptismal vows and support this amendment, because it is not about abiding in Jesus or his love. We do not need to speak for future generations, we do not need to cut off the Holy Spirit from moving in our hearts and minds. We do not need to cut others off from the vine of God’s love. What is to prevent me from abiding in Jesus the true vine? I pray that no one answers, “the close-mindedness of the church,” or “the hypocrisy of those who follow Jesus but don’t share his love.”
This amendment will be decided though not based on justice, not even on the will of the people, but rather by the small handful of people who go out of vote in the primary. This amendment could very well pass if those who wish to stand up for justice do not take the time to stand up at the polls and vote. So I urge us all, as people of faith, as people who stand up for the oppressed, as people who take part in the welfare and governance of our land, to vote, regardless of how you cast your ballot.
It all goes back to abiding. Our world is hungry to have its roots planted in something stable, something true, something life giving and affirming. For a variety of reasons, we’ve become disconnected from the true vine, which is Jesus. Today is a day to reconnect. Today is a day to reach out to those who have been cut off from the vine, to those who have been wounded by the branches, to those who want a connection, but aren’t sure how to graft themselves into the vine. We have the opportunity to change our world with each and every breath that we take. By choosing to abide in Jesus, to be rooted in his love, to follow his pattern, to love like he did, then we will bear much fruit in his name.