Monday, November 14, 2011

20 Pentecost, Year A, October 30, 2011

Joshua 3:7-17; Psalm 107:1-7, 33-37; 1 Thessalonians 2:9-13; Matthew 23:1-12
Preached by Rev. Jason Haddox

In her bestselling memoir Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia , author Elizabeth Gilbert makes the following statement: “There are only two questions that human beings have ever fought over, all through history. ‘How much do you love me?’ And, ‘Who’s in charge?’ Everything else is somehow manageable. But these two questions of love and control undo us all, trip us up and cause war, grief, and suffering.”

The question of “who’s in charge” is a point of discussion in both our Old Testament and Gospel readings this morning. Joshua has been chosen by God as the leader of the children of Israel, after the death of Moses, and now we hear of his being officially established in this role. Whenever a new leader comes into office, there’s always that period of adjustment. Once the so-called honeymoon is over, the real work gets underway. And so Joshua sets out to lead the people across the Jordan River, into the Promised Land. For an entire generation they’ve been wandering in the wilderness, and now finally they are coming into the place that God had promised them.

I wonder what the Caananites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, the Girgashites, the Amorites and the Jebusites thought about all of this? They’d been there first, as the indigenous peoples of the land—and later scriptural accounts demonstrate that they were not all driven out at once, but continued to be a presence in the land in later generations.

When the procession reaches the riverbanks, which were overflowed by the river in its normal cycle of floodtide, those who carried the Ark of God on long poles stepped first into the river, and it was divided. And the people of Israel crossed over on dry ground.

This isn’t the first such story of crossing over on dry ground, is it? No…you remember the earlier one. At the beginning of the Exodus, at the Red Sea, with Pharaoh and his chariots and chariot drivers in hot pursuit of the Israelites, and Moses reaches out his hands to divide the waters on one side and another, so that the people are able to go forward. God makes a way, where there is no way.

This is what God does, in the story of salvation. Out of human catastrophe and disaster, God acts, over and over, to bring redemption and deliverance to the people. Where there is no way, God makes a way. Where there is no hope, God speaks a new word of creation and see! Hope and joy and new life break forth in impossible places.

Joshua and the people go forward, with the Ark of the Covenant—the outward and visible sign of God’s presence and power and protection with and among them—suspended on two poles, carried by the twelve members of the twelve tribes of Israel, holding the waters back as the people pass on through. In the ark of God were found the stone tablets of the Law, the Teaching of Moses, and a container of the manna, the strange food that had sustained and nourished the Israelites all that time, in their wilderness journey. The Ark was the object that spoke most clearly and eloquently of God’s actions in the past, and God’s presence with the people in their current situation.

So what happens, then, when such an object is lost, or taken away, or destroyed?
What happens when our outward and visible signs are no longer available, or are somehow altered beyond comprehension and recognition?

Jesus and the disciples are in the temple, not far from the place where the Ark of God eventually had a permanent home, many hundreds of years later after Joshua and the crossing at the Jordan River. They have just come from a series of discussions (or trick questions) posed by the various religious leaders, who have sought to get J. into trouble by one means or another. And J. is teaching his hearers how to regard these persons.

Listen to them” he says. “They sit on Moses’ seat”. In those days teachers and preachers usually sat to speak, and their hearers would stand or sit on the floor around them. “They sit on Moses’ seat”—they are the legitimate successors to Moses, just as Joshua was the first of many such successors. Listen to what they say—and then go do it, as they do not. All their doing is for show—to get attention from other people.

“They make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long”. Outward and visible signs intended to communicate a deeper connection with the presence of God, rather like the Ark of God there in the temple. But J. condemns the religious leaders, not because of those outward and visible signs in themselves, but because the inward and spiritual realities they should represent are dried up and lost. “They do not practice what they preach” is an expansion of the Greek. Literally it says this: “They say…but do not.” The words are good, the visual cues are good—but there’s nothing behind all of it.

But YOU—Jesus says—all of YOU know better than that. “Rabbi” and “Father” and “Teacher”, all these grand titles! Don’t make the mistake of thinking that anyone but God is God.
(Posy Jackson at ETSS, with the “God is God, and I’m not. And neither are you” tshirts)
You are all students in school together; you are all brothers and sisters, children of the heavenly Father; you are all learning from the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One of God.

What happens when the outward and visible signs are no longer available? Because for the first readers of Matthew’s gospel, that’s exactly what they were dealing with. The setting for this passage, the Jerusalem temple, was destroyed, razed to the ground, in the year 70. The place they had known as central to faith and culture and identity was gone. Their world had been turned inside out and upside down, and what were they to do now?

And into that fear and shock and heartbreak, Jesus speaks. “You all know what to do. And you know who you are. Don’t worry about the titles, and the changing structures, and the hierarchy. You are all students of the Good Teacher; you are all children of the Heavenly Father; you are all followers of the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One of God.”

The early Christians would hear those words and remember that they too had been anointed—rubbed on the crown of the head, or possibly all over their bodies—with fragrant oils at the time of their baptism. Just as Jesus was “the Christ—the Anointed One of God”, they too were part of that anointing, that fragrant, extravagant, messy pouring of a new outward and visible sign that conveyed the new and transforming action of God in the midst of their lives. Which were also messy, and complicated, and in great need of God’s mercy and guidance and wisdom.

Who’s in charge here? Jesus answers that question, for his hearers then and for us today, with a curious and seemingly backhanded response. “The greatest will be the one who serves; the one who exalts himself will be humbled; the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Let us be clear. Jesus is not telling his followers (then or now) to be conspicuous in their humility, to “show off” as it were, how they can put up with humiliation or discomfort or unhappiness for the sake of cultivating some sort of martyr complex. (Uriah Heep in David Copperfield, who speaks often and at length about “bein’ ‘umble” as he plots the downfall of the other characters in the story.) What he is saying, rather, is that when God’s priority list and values get put into action, it looks very strange. It looks like wide phylacteries and long tassels and fringes dropping down into the dryness and dust of the streets, to help and hold and lift up. It looks like dirt under fingernails, in the garden of St. Stephen’s House on Greene Street, or gallons of soup and smiling faces at The Master’s Table.

Outward and visible signs to be sure—some of venerable antiquity and tradition, some newly created or improvised on the spot, by the Spirit’s leading. But all of them filled with the power and the presence of God, and all of them answering both questions at once: Who’s in charge here—God is, and God’s dominion has just broken in; and also “how much do you love me?” Love beyond comprehension or limit, without measure or qualification.

For not with swords loud clashing, nor roll of stirring drums…with deeds of love and mercy, thy heavenly kingdom comes.


19 Pentecost, Year A, 23 October 2011

Deuteronomy 34:1-12; Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17; I Thessalonians 2:1-8; Matthew 22:34-46
Preached by Rev. Jason Haddox

In the book The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible writer A.J. Jacobs documents his attempt to keep all 613 of the commandments found in the Hebrew Bible over an entire year. At the end of the year (and the end of the book) he observes that choices must be made, that not every commandment (nor every word of the Bible) can be held in equal importance. There has to be some way of prioritizing this collection of material, otherwise it’s just endless and impossible.

What is the key to all these teachings? How are the people of God to live and make sense of life in this world?

Jesus has been asked this very question: What is the greatest commandment? The person asking this question is identified as “a lawyer.” This is not someone who puts on a suit and tie on Monday morning and goes the courthouse in downtown Jerusalem to get a citation waved after his client has double-parked his camel in a no-camel parking zone. This is someone who has been carefully and thoroughly trained in the religious teaching and tradition of Israel. Jesus’ interlocutor himself knows the commandments—all 613 of them—very very well.

And so our expert in the law asks Jesus: What’s the number one commandment? And Jesus, being a good Jewish boy, answers with the words he has known from childhood. “Hear, O Israel, the LORD is our God, the LORD alone. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might.” To this he adds a verse from Leviticus: “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love God with everything you are, everything you have, everything that is in you. And love your neighbor as you love yourself. Everything else is commentary on the text.

Those who question him are looking for an opportunity to make trouble for Jesus. He’s in the temple when he tells this to his hearers. And it is the third time he’s been interrogated there, by leaders of various factions within the religious hierarchy. He came into the temple and threw out the merchants and moneychangers, and upset the ordinary flow of “business as usual.” And when he came into the temple, the people who accompanied him, even little children, were shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David!” Palm Sunday shouts, leading to Good Friday’s cries of “Crucify him!”

So it’s an in-between sort of time. Things have happened; there is more yet to come. It’s not a safe, or easy, or comfortable time for Jesus or his followers. Anxiety is high; time is growing short. He’s been asked about paying taxes to the emperor—a question about loyalty and ultimate values. He’s been asked a preposterous question about marital relations in the life of the resurrection—by people who don’t believe in such a thing in the first place. And now he is asked about “the greatest commandment.” It is the last question he will be asked in that conversation, and it is perhaps the most important of all.

Love God with everything you have, and everything you are. All of which is from God in the first place.

When I am attacked by anxiety, or assaulted by fear, or tempted by despair—at the ways we treat one another, or the ways we abuse the creation, or the state of our national and political and cultural life—I remember. “In the beginning, God.” And “At the end, God.” And at every moment in between, “God.” As the psalmist writes, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or the land and the earth were born; from age to age you are God. Time is nothing to you—a thousand years in your sight are like an evening gone/short as the watch that ends the night before the rising sun.”

There is no place where God is not, even in the valley of the shadow of death itself. We are held in life—and in death—at every moment, in the hands and love of God. If St. Paul can say of his experience with the Thessalonian Christians, “We were as gentle and loving with you as a woman nursing an infant at the breast,” how much more are we then nurtured and nourished and tenderly held in God—who is both Father and Mother of all life?

In the beginning—God. At the end—God. In between, at every moment—God.

What if we could remember just that? At every moment—to be constantly aware of “Emmanu-el—God-with-us” as we moved through each day? To remember, as we will sing in just a moment, always and everywhere, to give thanks to God. How would that affect our response to Love our neighbor as ourselves? How would it affect how we loved ourselves? I suspect it would affect both of those things enormously—we might possibly even discover something of how God loves.

We are dust, and to dust we shall return. That is true.
But it is the same dust of which the sun and the moon and the stars are made. We are part of the creation in our very molecules, the very same creation over which God spoke, in the beginning, and pronounced: It is good, it is good, it is very good.

Go then, friends. Know that you are beloved and created in the image and likeness of God, know that there is no place where God is not. Go out this day, this week, and discover the places in your own lives where God’s dominion of mercy, justice and abundance is seeking to burst forth—even in places of pain and sorrow and need. And when you find those places, and those people, roll up your sleeves and get on with the work of being Christ’s hands and heart in this world.

May it be so for us.
May it be so among us.

18 Pentecost, Year A, October 16, 2011

Exodus 33:12-23; Psalm 99; 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10; Matthew 22:15-22
Preached by Rev. Jason Haddox

The goal of the life of faith is Union with God.
That’s what we’re after here, at St. Augustine’s Church.
It’s not about being nice to one another—although we do that.
It’s not about having programs and activities and services to give people stuff to do—
we’ve all got plenty of things we could be doing at any given time.
It’s not even about serving those in our community and town and world who need help—
as important as that is.

The goal of the life of faith is union with God. That’s what we’re seeking, as people of faith.

That sounds very ambitious, doesn’t it? Union with God—like something that only the professional religious people, monks and nuns and hermits and the very truly pious could even hope for. Moses, for instance, in our first reading this morning, is someone we might think of who got close to such union.

Moses had heard the voice of God in that burning bush, out in the desert, calling his name, telling him “Take off your shoes, you are on holy ground.” All the children of Israel had heard the voice of God on Mount Sinai, in the cloud and fire and trumpet blast, giving them the Teaching, the Torah of God. Moses had come down from that mountain, out of the cloud and fire, to discover that the people were running amok—they had decided that Moses was not coming back, that they needed to make another God to worship, the golden calf. And Moses, who had been with them for so long as they wandered in the wilderness, was MAD. So mad he took those stone tablets with the commandments inscribed on them, and threw them on the ground, where they shattered. And then, eventually, he—and the people he was leading—both realized they had done wrong. And said so, to each other and to God.

So now Moses asks God: “Show me yourself.” He has heard the voice, the words, many times over. Now he asks to see God’s own presence.

This is a very strange passage of scripture. “To see God” is not just about visual perception; it’s about intimate understanding. It is a metaphoric request—Moses does not merely want to “get a look at the Almighty”; he wants to know God in the deepest and fullest way possible. “Who are you that you will go with us? Do not send us away if you do not go with us, for then we shall surely be cut off from you.”

And God answers him, in a wonderful and poetic way. “You cannot see me fully face-to-face (that is, you cannot know me completely, for you would be exploded by my fullness.) But I will cover you and protect you when I come near, and afterward you will see my back. In other words, at the time of the close encounter you will be in darkness—only later, afterward when you think over what happened, you will see how I was there, as it were, from the back.

Is this not, indeed, how we see God? Or experience God’s presence? Sometimes we might be able to see God acting, in the moment, as it happens. But most of the time in my own life—maybe in yours too—it’s afterward. Looking back, thinking over “I was here, and this happened, and then I met this person, and then that other thing happened…and surely God must have been in there somewhere. I could never have manipulated it that way by myself.”

I know you by name, God says to Moses and the children of Israel. I KNOW you, inside and out. Top to bottom; beginning to end.

What do we say, every Sunday, as the liturgy begins? “Almighty God, unto whom/to you all hearts are open, all desires are known, and from whom/you no secrets are hid…” All hearts; all desires; no secrets. God knows it all, before we even know it ourselves, or can say it out loud. All the ugly and mean and cruel stuff; and all the weak and frightened and crazy stuff. And knowing us so completely, God loves us, each and all. Just as we are. No explanations needed; no excuses required.

That is the reality of who we are, as the sons of Adam and the daughters of Eve, made in the image and likeness of God. Whether we know it, and welcome it, and live in that reality or not, it is still the reality of who we are, and whose we are.

The goal of the life of faith is union with God. Not just the faith of monks and nuns and hermits; not just the faith of Moses and St. Paul and the early Christians. But all of us are on that journey of faith too. As Christians, we look to Jesus as “the pioneer” of our faith. The one who goes before us and leads the way.

When we say that Jesus was “without sin” we don’t mean that he never got angry, or never asked questions of God, or never back-talked his Mama. He did all those things. When we say that Jesus was without sin, we mean that he was never OUT of union with God. He was never seperated from being fully aware of God’s embrace and presence with him. Even when he was standing in front of his accusers and detractors, like this morning in the temple.

The religious and social leaders of Jerusalem are looking for a reason to get him into trouble—because he has been troubling them. He has come into the temple—the religious, civic and commercial center of the capitol city, and thrown a major tantrum. He has kicked out the vendors and merchants—the sellers of sacrificial animals, and those who took people’s money, the currency of the civil society, and exchanged it (at rates suited to their own profit) into unmarked coins for use in the temple. He has made it impossible for “business as usual” to continue as usual, and the leaders are scared, and angry. They are afraid of what will happen if the Roman occupying forces get wind of all this; they are afraid of what will happen to THEM if the system they have lived with all this time is destroyed or changed in some way. So they are looking for a reason, and a way, to get rid of the trouble by removing the troublemaker.

One group comes asking him a loaded question: Is it lawful to pay taxes to the Emperor?
Please understand—this is not a question about paying taxes as such. This verse has been jerked out of context many, many times and used as a proof text to argue both for, and against, political economic policy. That’s not the point here.

The issue is not paying taxes as such; the issue is idolatry. The children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were quite clear in their faith that no depiction of God, in stone or wood, or gold or silver, or paint or any other medium, was a true picture of God’s whole being. If even Moses could not look upon God directly, but only see God “from behind” as it were, then it was impossible—even sacrilegious—to attempt to create an image of God in any artistic medium. NO IMAGES of the Divine Being were acceptable.

The Roman Empire, on the other hand, thrived on images. It was full of images. Everywhere the Roman Army went, they took their library of images with them. The imperial eagle; the military uniforms, the swords and spears and all the other paraphernalia. And above all: the image of the Emperor. On coins, and painted in colors on boards, and in a thousand subtle—and not-so-subtle ways—reinforcing the subjugation of the conquered peoples under this siege of carved, and painted, and metallic images.

To be required to deal with these images—which competed with the imageless, unseen face of God Almighty—was a sore spot among the people in Jesus’ time. Do we simply give up and go with the flow? (If Jesus said “It is lawful” it would be understood as an admission of acquiescence.) Or do we resist and refuse, even to the point of death? (If Jesus said “it is not lawful” then the leaders could turn him in as a political threat.)

But Jesus outwits them all, and asks them a deeper question still. He asks for one of the Roman coins, and holds it up before them all. “Whose image is this, on the coin?”
The word translated “Image” is the Greek word Icon. You know Icons…those little graphics on the computer screen that you click on, and they open up a new program or feature or package—some reality much bigger than the little picture on the screen.
That’s what an icon does—now and in Jesus’ time. An Icon, an image of any kind, carries associations with it. It participates in some reality larger than itself, and is an opening (a window, a door, a passage) into that larger reality. The sacred icons of Eastern Orthodox Christianity are just such openings—“windows into heaven” they are sometimes called.

Jesus is telling his hearers “Look y’all…this icon on this coin, this image of the emperor, is connected to the emperor’s reality. That version of reality is based on fear, and military power, and propaganda. Let him have it…it’s not the real thing anyway. Let the false Gods have their false images; Give to the true God all that belongs to God—which is everything that is real. It is God who made it all, in the first place. And calls each creature, each being, by name. In particular, yourselves.

What are the false images, that we could give back to the false gods, of our own time? Where do we see fear, and power, and propaganda, making demands on our lives—individually and as a people?
How can we claim the true image of God, the maker of heaven and earth, of all things seen and unseen? And of ourselves, children of God and beloved, always and for ever?

The goal of the life of faith is Union with God. The false images, and false gods, do all in their power to distract, and to entice, and to turn aside all those who seek that union. But they shall not have the victory. In Christ, the Icon of God—the true image and likeness, who opens the door to God’s own presence and self—we have an entry to that goal, that union. All our images and visions and depictions are but pale tracings of God’s fullness, and yet even in looking backward, even in “seeing God’s backside”, we see enough to urge us to go forward on our journey together.

17 Pentecost, Year A, October 9, 2011

Exodus 32:1-14; Psalm 106:1-6, 19-23; Philippians 4:1-9; Matthew 22:1-14
Preached by Rev. Jason Haddox

In the movie “Where The Heart Is”, starring Natalie Portman and Ashley Judd, the protagonist, Novalee, has taken her best friend Lexie and her four children into her home after Lexie’s boyfriend has beaten Lexie so badly that she is unable to work. In her despair at the state of her life, Lexie asks Novalee “What am I going to tell them? What am I gonna tell my babies, when they ask about why this happened?” Novalee pauses, and then says to her friend “You tell them…you tell them that our lives can change with every breath we take. You tell them that we’ve all got meanness in us, but we’ve got goodness too. And that the only thing worth living for is the good. And that’s why we’ve got to make sure to pass it on.”

We’ve all got meanness in us…yes, friends, we do. But that is not all to Lexie’s story, or to ours. There is goodness, and love, and joy, and peace, and patience and kindness and mercy and selflessness…all that is there as well. And all of that is worthy of our notice today.

Paul writes to the Christians at Philippi to remind them of these things, and to encourage them to remember. Not just remember, as in “call to mind intellectually” but to live into that reality. To commit an act of anamnesis.

“Anamnesis” is the vocabulary word for today—say it with me. It usually gets translated “Remember” or something similar, but that is too light a translation. “Anamnesis” means to remember something in the power of its reality. To be present in that power NOW, in the event that is recalled. When the Passover meal is eaten every year, and the children of Israel say of themselves “God led us out of bondage in Egypt into freedom” that is an act of anamnesis. When the cantor sings to us at the Great Vigil of Easter every year, “This is the night…when Christ rose from death and hell and delivered God’s people” that is a word of anamnesis. When we quote Jesus, concerning the bread and wine, “Do this in memory of me.” we are again speaking of anamnesis, the power and the immediacy of the event recalled is present and available to us right here, right now. We are there, in the upper room, ourselves.

Paul is doing something similar, reminding the Philippians of what they already know. Previously in the same letter, Paul has encouraged them: “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself, and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross.” (Phil. 2:5-8)

Paul is quoting what we think is an early Christian hymn, which presumably the Philippians knew and had in their collective memory. He’s inviting them to be unified—“let the same mind be in you (y’all) that was in Jesus”—as they work together as ministers of the Good News of God in Jesus Christ. He is inviting them to let go of their own agendas and need to be in control, and instead seek to discover what God is doing in their own time and place, among them.

Only against this background does the opening of our lesson from Philippians this morning make any sense. “My brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for…stand firm in the Lord in this way, beloved.” The way of Jesus’ unselfish giving of himself for others, the way of mutual gratitude and respect.

This way of self-giving, of gratitude and respect is not about some strange dismissal of our own identities or personalities, but rather an ongoing, daily, even moment-by-moment awareness of our primary identity as Christians, as followers of Jesus Christ, who modeled that giving over of himself into the world (we call that the Incarnation, by the way) for the salvation of the world. Think of water, poured out of a pitcher into more water, in a large bowl or container. The water is still water, it hasn’t changed character. But it is part of a larger reality than if it just stayed in the pitcher by itself.

Jesus is poured out into the world, and we are followers of Jesus. Paul calls upon his hearers to recognized that we are also called to be poured out—not to stop being who we are, as if that were even possible—but to be participants in this redemptive, reconciling work into which Jesus leads us.

You do know, of course, that you are all ministers of Christ, right? That when you had the water of baptism poured over your head, that you became forever after marked—scarred, if you will—by the cross of Jesus? That your ministry as a follower of Jesus is mostly not here in this building, but out there—as parents and grandparents, as teachers and physical therapists and television producers, as engineers and personnel managers and writers, as whatever it is you do the other 6.5 days of the week. That is where your ministry is located. Not here in this building—out there, with them people.

And out there, them people are in great need of Jesus. Not the Jesus of bumperstickers and sappy piety; not the Jesus of evangelistic tracts handed out surreptitiously at First Friday on Broad Street. The Jesus you have met, here at the font in baptism and at the altar in the Eucharist; the Jesus you have encountered in each other in this congregation—sometimes hidden, often elusive, but nevertheless present. The Jesus you come seeking, like Mary in the garden on Easter morning, even in desperation. “They have taken him away, and I don’t even know where to look for him!” And Jesus speaks, and calls us by name.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; I’ll say it again: Rejoice!” Don’t be afraid of anything; in everything (and always and everywhere) give thanks to God…and the peace of God, which cannot be understood or explained, which is not dependent on outward circumstance, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

We’re used to that last phrase, from the blessing at the end of the Eucharist. But it’s a bit different. We normally hear “The peace of God…shall keep your hearts and minds.” Here it’s “guard”…Guard from what?

How about fear? That’s a big one. Or jealousy, or bitterness. Prejudice, and violence, hatred and greed, selfishness, angry words and angry spirits. Just a few things like that, from which we pray God’s guarding and protection.

We need such guarding, for the temptations are all around. When I was fired from my position at St. Crazy’s in New Jersey, I was mad. And sad. And hurt. And I held on to all that for quite a while. I didn’t really want to forgive that woman for what she had done. You see I haven’t forgotten it. But I learned a lot in that experience—about myself, about being part of a community of prayer and support and love—and something else. Something about God moving in mysterious ways, something about that peace which passes all human understanding and logic.

The temptations to fear and anger and hatred were—and are—all too real, and all too common.

All of that was out there for me in those days; all of that is still out there; all of that is in here. (In here—in us.) We’ve all got meanness in us. But we’ve all got goodness too.

“Whatever is true; whatever is honorable; whatever is just; whatever is pure; whatever is pleasing; whatever is commendable: if there is anything exellent or worthy of praise, think about these things.” Think about these things; ruminate and meditate and feed your mind and soul with these things, for your own soul’s nourishment. The other thoughts and feelings—anger and fear and all the rest—don’t give those any more attention and nourishment than they are already getting.

“Keep doing the good things you have learned and received and heard and seen…and the God of peace with be with you.” Not just “the peace of God” given, as it were, from a distance somewhere far away, but “the God of peace will be with you.” Here, in the midst of a people who pray and work and long for peace—in the world, and in every human heart.

May it be so for us;
may it be so among us.