Everyone's Story Matters

Sarah laughingReflection Series on a semi-continuous reading of Hebrew Scriptures: Gensis 18:1-15 for June 14, 2020, St. Luke's Lutheran Church, Richardson, Texas

I love this piece of art showing Sarah in her advanced years, laughing inside the tent door. Three visitors, though serious in their promise that she will bear a child in her old age, come across more like an ancient form of the 3 Stooges. The Hebrew says that Sarah laughs in her womb—she lets out a belly laugh from deep within her, scoffing at the ridiculous idea that at age 90, she will have both the pleasure of making a baby, and the joy of giving birth after being barren her whole life. It is a moment where comedy and tragedy are so close—if Sarah could not burst out with a belly laugh, she would cry from the emptiness of her womb, from a promise unfulfilled and a dream dried up like a raisin in the sun.

The 3 visitors are new for Abraham and Sarah, but the promise they deliver is not. In fact, this is an old, familiar promise God had been making for 25 years, a promise that had not been fulfilled. It began in Genesis 12 when God called then-named, “Abram and Sarai,” who was barren then, to leave Ur of the Chaldeans with a three-fold promise: 1- that they would be given land, 2- that they would become a great nation and have many descendants, and 3- that they would be “blessed to be a blessing”—that through them all families of the earth would be blessed. At this point, Abram was 75 and Sarai was 10 years his junior, already pretty old to start a family.

But many years go by and there is no child. God reiterates the promise of descendants to Abram in Genesis 15 as he looks at the number of stars in the sky, but still, this promise remains unfulfilled, and Abram and Sarai grow older. By the time Abram is 86 years old, Sarai is tired of waiting on the Lord to fulfill this promise, so she takes matters into her own hands. Sarai offers her slave Hagar as a surrogate to produce an heir for Abram, and Ishmael is born. But the story is not over yet.

God again appears to Abram to repeat the promise yet another time in Genesis 17. This is when God changes Abram's name to Abraham, "for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations.” And God made it clear that Sarai was part of the covenant, too: "Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her, and moreover I will give you a son by her.” This is where laughter first enters the story—Abraham falls on his face laughing.

Both of them laughingly scoff at God—because both of them have given up on God’s promises. It is physically impossible and beyond human nature. They have aged out; too much time has passed and they have given up hope that things can be different than they are. No one would expect the promise of a baby to come true now. Abraham is 99, Sarah is 89, and next year they are going to have a baby? That is laughable and beyond ridiculous.

Perhaps you, too, have given up hope when dreams are physically impossible and seem beyond human nature. When too much time has passed and we stop expecting things to change and good things to become true. Maybe it’s as laughable as an end to racism in our country, where it has still been ok to look the other way while an officer uses enough force to kill a black man in handcuffs. Where we have grown accustomed to white schools always getting what they need and schools of color nowhere near funded at a similar level. Where we are used to the job applicant with the white sounding name being the preferred over the ethnic sounding one. Where we have made no effort to redress the economic and educational gaps between blacks and whites intentionally created by Jim Crow laws which seeded crippling generational poverty.

Like Abraham and Sarah having a baby at ages 100 and 90, imagining these changes to our society may seem physically impossible and beyond human nature. People do not give up power or comfort or their version of the truth that easily. Too much time has passed. This is just the way it is. Like Sarah, we would rather laugh at the ridiculous suggestion than cry from an empty womb that such a dream could come true.

But this is where the story gets really interesting. After Abraham laughs in God’s face, he lets God off the hook and tells God not to keep this particular promise of a baby. His son by Hagar is enough for him: "O that Ishmael might live in your sight" prays Abraham. “I have Ishmael and I am happy with him. Just bless him, and we are all good.”
In other words—"I got what I need, I have what I want—there is nothing and no one else to consider.” That is privilege. Abraham only thinks about himself and his experience. Abraham has completely forgotten about Sarah—not only that she’s his wife with the pain of being barren, but also, that God’s promise was to her as well! What were God’s exact words? Oh yeah, “Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her, and moreover I will give you a son by her.” But, Abraham is a man in a patriarchal culture, so who cares about those at the margins. Even if he loves her, she is not that important to him.

This story is about 4,000 years old, yet, it is like it was yesterday. How easy it is to ignore someone else’s pain when our needs and wants are satisfied. How simple it is to forget those at the margins when we think that our story, our culture, our religion are what matter, and are at the center of life. What a miracle that the patriarchal Hebrew story-tellers of 4,000 years ago—in the Bronze Age, no less—felt compelled to include Sarah’s role in the fulfillment of God’s promise to create a nation that would be a blessing to the whole earth.

Sarah’s story mattered and when this history was written down in Genesis, Sarah, is included as a central part of fulfilling God’s promise. From the very beginning of God’s promise to Abraham, God has included those at the margins. God does bless Ishmael, and he becomes the ancestor through whom Muslims trace their lineage to Abraham.
And God also includes Sarah. God includes her so much so, that when the angel visitors arrive at Abraham and Sarah’s tent in our text today, they specifically ask for her again. God includes Sarah, not because she is always righteous—she was not. She was jealous of Hagar and sent her and Ishmael away. God includes Sarah in the promise, because that is who God is—it is the nature of God to include and to bless all peoples of the earth, and calls us to do the same. Everyone’s story matters because God is working through all of us to fulfill God’s will for creation.

God’s inclusion of Sarah in the promise shows a God who turns our laughter of disbelief into the laughter of joy. For God fulfilled his promise to Sarah and she did give birth to a son when she was 90 and Abraham was 100 years old. God waited 25 years so there would be no mistaking whose power was at work in this blessing. They called him Isaac which means “Laughter.” For God can do what is impossible for us, changing our laughter of disbelief into the laughter of joy.

  • We can laugh with joy when we hear our youth and their stories and their experience. What wisdom they have to share and to teach us. Their stories matter and when we can gather in person, I hope you will ask them yourselves about their experience.
  • We laugh with joy in Spanish class— Rick Rodriguez is giving us a chance to learn a new culture and listen and learn stories from people we were not able to hear before.
  • We can laugh with joy as we pray with our community. Our prayer cross is helping us listen to the stories in the community and what people are praying for and how they cry out to God.

Find one new neighbor, one person of color, one person from a different ethnic or cultural background and build a friendship and listen to their stories. Tell them your stories. Your story matters, too. Get to know them well enough to laugh with joy at what God can do.

God worked through Abraham and Sarah together—not one instead of the other, not one over the other, not one while ignoring the other, but side by side. God made sure both of their stories mattered. With Abraham, we can listen to God reminding us to pay attention to the pain of the person beside us or in the next neighborhood, or of a different skin color or culture, who is not be having the same experience we are. With Sarah, we can remember that our story matters, too. And as we share these stories, we laugh we joy as God can do what is impossible for us alone—to build bridges, create bonds, tear down walls, and transform hearts that have already effected some change, like seeing Ferguson, MO police officers kneeling in protest, and the NFL and Nascar changing their policies and practices.

God’s promise for life and life abundant includes everyone—and we are living at a unique moment to see what God can do that’s impossible for us. And everyone’s story matters—Abraham’s, Sarah’s, our story and every person who may be at the margin—God’s great story of salvation is being lived out through all of us, so tell that story, too. From just this one story of Abraham and Sarah, we witness this amazing God who has a vision to bless the whole earth in partnership with us and all of humanity whom God has created. As we listen to each other, our sorrow is turned into hope and we encounter this God who is ready to turn our disbelieving chuckles into the laughter of joy.

 

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Spirituality and Self-Examination While Sheltering in Place

House of Courage bookThis essay and one other one, Heads Up are published in the book House of Courage, being released today with a Facebook launch. This is the 6th book in a series of books published by the Retreat House Spirituality Center and includes essays and poems by affiliated Spiritual Directors and members. I have one or two essays published in each book in the series (House of Blessing, 2020, House of Love, House of Hope, House of Compassion, and House of Joy, all 2019). You can contact me for copies or message Retreat House at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Sheltering-in-place can be an energy-sucking, life-draining experience for extroverts like me. As a parish pastor, I am a people-person in a people job that now has no people. Yes, we have meetings, book groups and classes on Zoom during which we plan, learn, and even play games to surprising effect. But it is not the same and constant electronic communication is often depleting rather than life-giving.

Electronic interaction does not convey another person’s emotions, expressions, and energy like in-person conversations where I receive immediate feedback, catch nuances of body language, or notice unspoken thoughts that flash across the face. Being with others energizes me, and being alone, while essential and enjoyable, needs the energy-giving balance of real people. I miss being in worship together, and while I hold people in my mind and heart as I preach into a video camera, I miss the gathered community. It has become abundantly clear not only why humans are social creatures, but also why God calls the church into Christian community as the body of Christ together.

You can imagine my surprise, then, when earlier in the shelter-in-place order, my prayers revealed the Spirit’s new goal for my growth during this time. I was carrying on an internal conversation with God during my morning ministrations one day, wondering what God wanted me to do. The Spirit’s urging entered my head, startling me at its directness and cutting me to the quick: Now you can learn to love without manipulation; come to Me for love, for all you need.

What did this really mean? I thought I gave a lot to others in ministry without manipulating them to my own ends—to be sure, outcomes are not always what I would choose. I inquired deeper. I realized God is inviting me into an even deeper spiritual relationship that allows me to love and serve people without any attention to what I get in return—love, affirmation, feedback, relationships, even “extroversion energy.” Is this what the mystics aspired to in their prayer life—St. Francis, Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila, and others? Not that I would ever compare myself to them, but the deepening spiritual life calls us to more and more fully satisfy our needs in God so we require less stuff, have fewer appetites, and hunger after fewer desires.

I wonder if God wants to me to think less about what I love and enjoy about ministry and the church, and more about what I love and enjoy about God, allowing ministry to flow from that? Maybe God wants me to wonder less about what ministry I am to do in a church member’s life, and instead, listen more deeply to what God is doing in their life? Maybe God is inviting me to spend more time receiving Jesus’ love for me, so I have an overflowing cup from which to pour, regardless of the external circumstances in which this ministry is shared? God was calling me to look more deeply inward than I ever had before.

I shared this spiritual challenge with two friends—one a counselor and one a Bishop—and they, too believed they needed to reflect on what it means to be a care-giver who loves and serves without manipulation, extrovert or not. Those of us in helping professions are in these positions because making a difference in other people’s lives also makes us feel good. How do the limits that the COVID-19 pandemic place on our work of helping others hold up a mirror to our own underlying motivations? How can we become purer in how we give, always relying on an eternal, internal Source for our needs rather than the feedback loop of good feelings that come from those we serve?

This takes a spiritual courage, a new level of self-examination and a deeper trust in the daily, moment-by-moment presence of the Spirit with me. I have begun to ask myself if the questions I am posing, the conversations I am having, the email I am sending, the ministry I am offering, constitute giving love without manipulation, without seeking to meet my needs in the process. I have expanded my own time in meditation and reflection as I seek to discover answers these questions. What at first felt like a sharp judgment, is really an invitation for me to experience the ever deeper presence of God filling me as a well-spring of holy love.

None of this magically reverses the life-draining experience of persistent electronic communication or the real human and Christian needs for community. What I am beginning to discover is that days with little or no human contact outside my home require a different rhythm to be life-giving. Zoom meetings are best spread out and followed by physical movement and prayer, which need to be planned as part of my schedule. This small change does a great deal to manage my energy since it refills my physical and spiritual cup. It begins to re-orient how I plan my schedule, inviting me to make a “spiritual schedule” as much as a work schedule. Perhaps that is what loving without manipulation is, after all.

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Empowered by the Holy Spirit

Pentecost Worship Tent CroppedMessage for Pentecost on Acts 2:1-18 given on May 31, 2020 at the first in-person, Parking Lot Worship at St. Luke's Lutheran Church in Richardson, Texas

I was trained and ordained, but I still felt so inadequate in my first church. My first call was at an urban congregation on the east side of Detroit; I was only 27 and knew I still had a lot to learn. The community was 85% African American, and the church, which was only 30% African American, wanted to become more of a neighborhood church. We worked on developing relationships with families through our summer program, and one summer, one of our youth had a conflict with one of the younger teens in the community. I had not even arrived at their house yet, and the teen came outside, looked at me, and said, “I’m not listening to this skinny girl.”

I resisted the urge to say, “you think I’m skinny?” and instead tried to act like the grown-up pastor I was trying to be. But I felt inadequate. Later that year, one of our members was murdered by her neighbors, drug addicts who got her to open her door and shot her point blank. Oh yes, I felt inadequate. I discovered that you can pray and have faith, and even think you are doing what God wants you to do, but still feel you are not up to the task and inadequate in every way.

I wonder if that is how the disciples and other followers of Jesus felt while they were praying in that upper room. There were about 120 of them—including some of Jesus’ family, and all the women who stood by him at the cross and witnessed the empty tomb. They did what Jesus told them to do after he ascended into heaven—they went back to Jerusalem and waited to receive power from on high. But how were they—this motley crew of people, rejected by their religion, and some by their families—how were they supposed to fulfill a mission that included being Jesus’ witnesses to the ends of the earth? How many people was that anyway? How many languages? How do they do THAT without Jesus here, when they only managed to get around this region when he was here?

Their numbers, training, time with Jesus, even their culture and language skills were woefully inadequate. They prayed, they had faith, they were even doing what Jesus told them to do, but they did not feel up to the task and inadequate in every way.

Even those of us who, a few months ago, might have felt we were operating at the top of our game, may feel woefully inadequate in this world in which we now live. Do we have the resilience, the flexibility, the emotional maturity, to keep adapting to changing circumstances, letting go of expectations, and still be the reliable presence for those we love? Moreover, can we make a difference in overturning the racism in our institutions so that skin color does not determine how people are treated, and whether we, or our brown-skinned friends and family fear dying when they are arrested, go jogging, or walk home from the corner store in a hoodie.

Jesus did not leave the disciples, feeling bereft and inadequate to the tasks and challenges that faced them. With the rush of a violent wind and the power of tongues of fire, the Holy Spirit blew into the house where they were praying and pushed them out into the city, where immigrants from the whole region lived. The power of the Spirit enabled them to speak in diverse languages, so everyone heard the good news of Jesus’ forgiveness and victory over death. It sounds like Peter became the star of the show—he preached a great sermon and people experienced the power of God in Jesus Christ.

But there is an important thread in this Holy Spirit story that often gets overlooked when we are wowed by fire, by Peter’s preaching, and by the difficult-to-pronounce languages and cultures. I learned to pay attention to this thread when in my first congregation.

There was a man with Down’s Syndrome named Alex, and he and his mom, Ella, who had struggles of her own, lived in the neighborhood. About a year after I started, they began to walk to church.

Alex and Ella loved to participate in whatever was going on—they would sing with the choir, they loved church potlucks and spending time in fellowship. Sometimes, they would get mixed up on what day it was and show up for church on Saturday instead of Sunday. But I knew when I saw them in their Sunday best on Saturday, that they weren’t just confused, they were excited to get to church, they were ready to sing, to pray and praise, and to be all together with everyone in one place.

One Sunday after worship, we were all in the fellowship hall and Alex said he wanted to give me something. He took me by the shoulders and positioned me in the middle of the room, and then backed up about 5 feet, put out his arm, and began to sing, “You are so beautiful, to you…”

The gift of the Holy Spirit rested on Alex, because he shared with me his spiritual gift of encouragement. We chuckle because he got the words wrong, but I have always known he actually got them right. The Holy Spirit rested on me, too, and I needed to believe it. It was easy for me to see the gifts of the Spirit in other people, in other pastors, in my church members, and even in Alex and Ella, but not in myself, not in those difficult situations I faced. I needed to believe that God would use me, that God could make me more than I was, or none of my gifts would be available for God to use. I would be hiding them under a bushel.

Here the Pentecost story is extremely specific, and we tend to miss it, as I did: “a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit.” With the words, “you are so beautiful, to you…” Alex was saying, “a tongue of fire from Pentecost is resting on you and you better start believing it for yourself! Alex reminded me that I was not only adequate, I was more powerful than I would ever understand, not because of my training or my ordination, but because the Holy Spirit is in me, blessing me with skills, words and ideas I do not even possess—just like on that first Pentecost.

Because even when they felt inadequate, the Holy Spirit made the disciples not just adequate—but empowered way beyond their abilities to fulfill the mission Jesus gave them. The Spirit was so powerful that day, that later in Acts, it says that 3,000 people joined the church! From 120 to 3,000—that’s 2500%--what a growth curve!

It was not just the Peter-preaching show either—every single believer had a tongue of fire on them

• Someone started teaching people who had questions and doubts
• Someone provided food
• Someone made comfortable places for the elderly to sit
• Someone helped the families with children
• Someone prayed for healing for the sick.
• Someone preached in other languages
• Someone started baptizing
• And someone put up a tent, others passed out bulletins, and others blew up balloons!

We cannot be the people God calls us to be, the disciples Jesus beckons us to be, the church the world needs us to be, when we shun or shirk the gifts of the Spirit and the tongue of fire God has put on us. “A tongue of fire rested on each one of them” and a tongue of fire rests on YOU.”

This Pentecost fire is about YOU and YOUR gift and YOUR belief that the Holy Spirit is landing on YOU today! What are YOU going to do about it?
You are not just adequate, you are empowered beyond your abilities, skills and training to be a vehicle for God’s love and justice in the world! Accept the gift of the Holy Spirit on you and ask how God is leading you to share love and forgiveness, hope and encouragement, justice and belief, in your circle of influence, in your community, and in this church’s mission!

None of us have the gifts to do everything, but all of us have a gift to do something, something vital, something essential. St. Luke’s needs your something, your gift, your life that has been touched by the flame of the Holy Spirit.

In this time when patterns of church have been so radically altered, this is our time to flourish beyond what we think we are capable of—we will know for sure it’s the Holy Spirit’s work!

• This is our time to continue to feed the hungry and clothe the naked.
• This is our time to reach out with love and prayer and compassion to those who are grieving or scared.
• This is our time to figure out how God calling us as a predominately white congregation to listen to and stand with communities of color who are not only suffering disproportionately from COVID-19, but who fear for their lives in a justice system that is supposed to protect all of us.
• This is our time to evangelize, to find new and creative ways to tell the love of Jesus and say he died for all.
• This is our time to try more neighborhood parades, parking lot events, and creative ways to connect with and serve our community.

Author Marianne Williamson writes,

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
We ask ourselves
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small
Does not serve the world.
We were born to make manifest
The glory of God that is within us.
It's not just in some of us;
It's in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we're liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

As God sends the Holy Spirit of Pentecost anew to us today, God says to each one of us, “you are so beautiful to me.”
Embrace the power of the Holy Spirit in you, as you also affirm: “you are so beautiful to you!”

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It's Still There!

kaylee stepkoski fRvBsJNNlZw unsplashMessage for Ascension/Easter 7 on Luke 24:44-53, Acts 1:4-14 given on May 24, 2020 for St. Luke's Lutheran Church, Richardson, Texas and can be viewed on video here.

I recently read about a day care center in Jersey City that welcomes the children of homeless families. One day the nuns who run the center took the pre-schoolers to the Jersey Shore. The 3 and 4-year olds scrambled up the big dunes and when they got to the top, they could not believe what they saw—water as far as they could see. It was something they had never seen nor could ever imagine.

They chased the waves and played in the tide. At lunch time, they went off to a park for a picnic and afterward, they begged to go back to the sand dunes. One little boy Freddie ran to the top of the dunes ahead of the rest. He looked out at the ocean and turned back to the others and shouted, “it’s still there!”*

So much had disappeared in Freddie’s short life, it seemed possible the ocean could vanish over lunch. Of course, we know that the ocean is still there when we are not looking at it, but sometimes we are more like Freddie than we imagine.

These days, many things feel transitory. Life feels like we are standing on shifting sands and we are not confident about what will remain and what will disappear. What will the future hold? How will the church need to change? Will our new normal life be anything like “normal” used to be?

The truth is that no one knows—even the most experienced public health experts, research scientists, and economists do not know exactly how our lives, jobs, finances or future will unfold. In one of her poems, Adrienne Rich says, “you live in a different place though you have never moved.” We need something with staying power.

The disciples must have felt the shifting sands under their feet, as if they too, were about to live in a different place without moving. Jesus is still with them but is talking in the past tense as though he were already gone: “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you.” He keeps talking about going away and really, they just got him back from the dead, so no one is interested in more change.

He promises that they will be “clothed with power from on high,” but what does that mean? What does this power look like? When will it happen? We hear some of their frustration in the verses from Acts. Like us, they too, would like answers to their questions about what’s coming next, what the future holds: “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” What will the future hold? The disciples wonder what will give them the staying power they need.

Jesus gives one of those answers I that just bugs me—he essentially says Mind Your Own Business! The timing of God’s plan of salvation is not your business. “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority.” Even though I do not like being put in my creaturely place, it is true—God’s timing and cosmic plans are not mine or yours to know—and neither is the future for that matter. And that was as true on March 1 before the coronavirus changed our daily lives as it is true today. We may have more questions and more anxiety, but our ability to know or control the future was no greater two and half months ago than it is today. Still, we wonder what will give us staying power.

But Jesus does not leave the disciples or us hanging with our unanswered questions and our anxiety about the future. He gives us the next step, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

This is not any old spirit—this is power from on high—from beyond ourselves. This is the Spirit with staying power. Look at the life of Jesus to know what Spirit this is.

• This is the same Spirit that filled Jesus at his Baptism;
• This is the same Spirit that sustained Jesus for 40 days in the wilderness;
• This is the same Spirit that led Jesus to make the lame walk;
• This is the same Spirit that allowed Jesus to calm the storm;
• This is the same Spirit that enabled Jesus to turn 5 loaves and 2 fish into a feast;
• This is the same Spirit that empowered Jesus to call Lazarus from the grave back to life.

This is the power from on high that would soon be given to the disciples and even now is given to us.

Jesus blesses the disciples as he ascends into heaven because it is his departure that initiates the next chapter in God’s story of salvation—making Jesus presence and power spread throughout the whole creation. At this moment Jesus’ presence moves from one historical spot on the map to every place in the world moving out in concentric circles from Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria to the ends of the earth!

The only way to do this is through the risen power of Jesus’ Spirit coming from on high and enlivening the whole creation. “Stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high. “From now on,” Jesus says, “I will be with you in the power of the Spirit. Though I am leaving, you will not be left alone.” This is the staying power that we need to be Jesus’s witnesses even to the ends of the earth.

In the Creed we confess that Jesus is seated at the right hand of God. We often think of the right hand of God being a physical location—a place where Jesus sits for eternity. But the right hand of God is not a physical place, rather it is a description of his authority and his power. To sit at the right hand of God is to reign over all creation. Jesus’s physical ascension leads to his spiritual expansion; his bodily absence gives all of us his complete presence; his departure into heaven signals his arrival in all our hearts. Jesus had to ascend in bodily form in order to descend in spiritual form everywhere. This is staying power.

That is why the disciples needed to go back to Jerusalem to the upper room and wait and devote themselves prayer. The staying power of Jesus’ Spirit was coming and they needed to be ready to receive that Spirit and carry the message of forgiveness of sins, freedom from all that binds us and newness in Christ, to others as far as the ends of the earth.

They did not know what the future held, and they did not need to know the details. Because they knew the staying power of Jesus’ Spirit was with them and that would provide them with whatever they needed when they needed it.

We do not know what the future will hold and how the details will work out. The staying power of Jesus in the Holy Spirit offers us peace and confidence to live into the future in the midst of not knowing. Sands can shift, and plans can change, and we will continue to live in a different place even when we have not moved. All of that has been true through the ages and it will be true once we have a COVID-19 vaccine.

But like Freddie discovered on his first trip to the beach—as the ocean is there even when he does not see it, the staying power of Christ is with us even when Jesus has ascended into heaven. For he has filled all creation, us as believers, and his church with the staying power of Holy Spirit and that is our constant even when all things around us change. Even if you cannot see it today, the Spirit has staying power with you and through you and that is what enables us all to move confidently into every tomorrow.

God has given us each other so that when we cannot see or feel the Spirit, we can be Freddie for one another. One of us will run to the top of the sand dune and shout, “It’s still there!”

*Shared by Barbara Lundbland on workingpreacher.org for the commentary on Ascension for May 5, 2016. I am indebted to her for the ideas and structure behind this sermon.

Photo by Kaylee Stepkoski, unsplash.com

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The church does not have a mission in the world, God's mission has a church in the world.

 

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