glory of god

glory of god

Sunday, November 5, 2017

They Lived Not Only in Ages Past: An All Saints Sermon

One was a soldier, and one was a priest, one was slain by a fierce wild beast…..

Today we celebrate one of the best days in our church year–the Feast of All Saints. Besides the really big days—Christmas and Easter— All Saints is one of my two favorites, along with Epiphany. It’s our annual opportunity to remember all those who have gone before us–the well-known saints like Mary the Virgin and Mary Magdalene; St. Francis and St George who slayed the dragon. We also recall those who aren’t saints in the strictest sense, but nonetheless were people of courage and conviction–people like Martin Luther and Martin Luther King. 

We remember as well those who are less famous–not so much remembered by the church at large, but who nonetheless had a deep and profound faith: our own loved ones, those who worked for the building up of the church, even right here, who helped this parish to grow and flourish. Every culture, age, and place raises up its own saints—people whose hearts are aflame with the light of God, and who by their words and actions are able to draw us, as well, closer to God’s radiant light.  

The church, typically, has come to see the saints as people whose lives are complete and have been received into God’s greater glory. But in the Bible, all Christians are considered saints–those who have died, and those living and sharing God’s love with the world. I like this expanded understanding–saints are not only the few who have successfully completed a lengthy canonization process, but really are the millions who have loved God and witnessed to God’s love for the world with their words and with their lives.

Given this expanded understanding, I wonder, can you think of any saints you have known personally? Are there people in your life, now or in the past, with a special ability to draw others into the heart of God? Who seem to put the needs of others before themselves? Or who stand up against oppression so that others can know the peace, hope, and healing that God intends for us all? Do you know anyone like that?  Do you know any saints?

For me, a few special people come to mind. Some have died, parishioners we have known and loved right here at Emmanuel, and some are still living. One such, for whom I give thanks, is the Rev. Jane Gould, the rector of St. Stephen’s Church in Lynn—but notably only through today, her last Sunday in the parish. Because very soon she’s moving on to St. Luke’s Church in Long Beach, California. I think Paul LaSpina remembers Jane from their days at Church of the Epiphany in Winchester. One infamous Jane in Winchester story has her as a young and very pregnant priest going into Labor at the altar on Easter Sunday morning. If I remember the story correctly, she made it through the service and to hospital before the baby came.

Yesterday, at our diocesan convention, we honored Jane for her tireless, visionary ministry in our diocese, and it only seems appropriate for me to honor her this morning, as well, because her impact on my own life and ministry has been nothing short of profound. The perfect reflection for an All Saints celebration.

I first met Jane just about 20 years ago, when I was in seminary and in search of a field education internship site. At the time, Jane was the Episcopal Chaplain at MIT, and that chaplaincy seemed especially interesting to me—it is a combined Lutheran-Episcopal ministry and at the time I was 25, so not far off in age from many of the students. I knew nothing about math or science, really, which ended up being fine. That time and place in ministry was absolutely life-changing for me, and Jane was a big part of that, along with the interesting, geeky, unusual students, whom I came to love. What I especially appreciated about Jane, besides her always fun-loving nature, was the respect she showed her students—whether the MIT students for whom she was their pastor, or me, her intern. Although I was just 25, without much experience, she treated me like a fellow minister and was enthusiastic about my ideas, which undoubtedly were half-baked some of the time. I can honestly say that the two years I was at MIT was the most fun I have ever had in ministry.

Most important, as I reflect back on it, was Jane’s philosophy that interns like me should have some ministry all their own, without a supervisor looming in the background. Mine was a Bible study. I lured students there with free pizza and soda, or pop, as I call it. It started out rather slowly. I think the first week only one or two students came. But over time, it grew to as many as 20 or more, each week. Can you imagine, 20 MIT students leaving their labs and math problems for pizza and Bible study on a Monday night? Jane let us use her office—students sat in chairs, on the sofa, on the floor. After studying the gospels of Mark or Luke, we moved on to the epistles, with a series called “Pizza, Paul, and Pop.” They were never too convinced by Paul, I am afraid. His arguments just weren’t logical enough for MIT students, but we had fun. Jane wasn’t there for it, unless I was sick or had to be away on occasion, but as a good mentor, she created the space for me to flourish.

It was while I was at MIT that I first applied to be accepted into the ordination process here in the Diocese of Massachusetts. I was turned down. The bishops and the Commission on Ministry didn’t really give a reason—I think mostly it was my age—but it was absolutely devastating. Jane was, for me, a tower of strength—consoling, encouraging, and prodding me along, helping me make the right choices for the future. She was close to our late Bishop Tom Shaw, and I have no doubt that she advocated behind the scenes, so that eventually I was accepted a few years later. When the time finally came for me to be ordained at the cathedral, Jane was one of my presenters, standing alongside me. A few years later, she visited Emmanuel on what was, I think, my third Sunday here—9 years ago—to show her support. What a gift.

Jane’s ministry at MIT was powerful and profound. She mentored divinity students like me. She coordinated a program called the Technology and Culture Forum, drawing together people from across the university and beyond to consider issues of ethics and science. She was a caring pastor to students in what must be the most difficult and competitive university in the world. She encouraged the Episcopal and Lutheran community there to participate in the Common Cathedral homeless ministry on the Boston Common one Sunday every month—sharing in worship, making sandwiches, being present and exposed to the realities of life on the streets.

Not long after I left MIT, Jane did, too—moving on to an even more challenging ministry in Lynn, where she has been for 17 years. St. Stephen’s is a unique place—it’s a grand old building, though not as grand as it once was. It houses the whole kingdom of God. On Sunday mornings they worship both in English and in Swahili. They are the home to refugees from the Sudan, and Spanish-speaking youth in their Kids in Community summer camp. Recently, they’ve begun a Kids in Community after school music program, and they opened their doors to a program called “Be You”—a youth group for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender teens. Knowing of the high suicide and homelessness rates of these teens, the parish wanted to provide a safe space for them. It took time for the teens to trust that a church would welcome and not judge them, but now it’s home. Hearing that the Lynn Public Schools had eliminated summer school for elementary-age children, the parish organized college-age mentors and committed volunteers to provide tutoring in literacy and math, so that the most vulnerable students would not lose grade levels during the summer. While Jane would never take sole credit for these extraordinary ministries, they undoubtedly are due to her leadership and vision which, just like back at MIT, is always focused on lifting others up, helping the people of God to claim their own ministry, their own discipleship, and their own voice.    

In our diocese—at conventions and whenever people gathered—Jane pushed and prodded on issues of justice and inclusion, whether it was about racial justice, equality for women and LGBT persons, or against gun violence and poverty. Wherever there was a microphone, you could expect Jane to be there. And most importantly, you could be sure that wherever Jesus stands, Jane Gould would be standing alongside him, speaking truth, challenging powers, lifting up God’s people. I know for a fact that I would not be here with you today if it were not for Jane. She is my hero. She will always be one of the most special saints in my life, just as I know you have special saints in yours.

You know, we often say that “so and so” is no saint, or that we are not saints. When we do that we make a disclaimer about our lives or suggest that because we are not perfect, God wouldn’t choose us to spread his love. But this, really, is messed up thinking. None of the saints were perfect—not Mary, not Paul, not Peter or Francis. They were, and are, all human. But they also knew that whatever their frailties or shortcomings, God still needed them. God still wanted them. God still used them–to live holy lives, to spread the gospel, and to shine with the light of Christ. And through their examples, they call us to do the same, right here, and right now.

Yesterday, at our diocesan convention, Bishop Gates ended his address by sharing the words of Jonathan Daniels, a seminarian from Episcopal Divinity School—30 years before me, 20 years before Jane Gould. Daniels was martyred in 1965 in the civil rights era. I shared the some of the same piece with you this summer, on the anniversary of his death. It makes sense to reflect on Daniels’ words now, again, on All Saints Day. Describing his ministry in Alabama, he wrote:

“This is the stuff of which our life is made. There are moments of great joy and moments of sorrow. Almost imperceptibly, some men grow in grace. Some men don’t. The thought of the Church is fraught with tension because the life of the Church is caught in tension. For the individual Christian and the far-flung congregation alike, that is part of the reality of the Cross.

“We have activists who risk their lives to confront a people with the challenge of freedom and a nation with its conscience. We have neutralists who cautiously seek to calm troubled waters. We have men who are willing to reflect on the cost and pay it. Perhaps at one time or another we are all of these. Sometimes we take to the streets, sometimes we yawn through interminable meetings...  Sometimes we confront a posse, sometimes we hold a child.  Sometimes we stand with men who have learned to hate, sometimes we must stand a little apart from them. Our life in Selma is filled with ambiguity, and in that we share with men everywhere. We are beginning to see as we never saw before that we are truly in the world and yet ultimately not of it. For through the bramble bush of doubt and fear and supposed success we are groping our way to the realization that above all else, we are called to be saints. That is the mission of the Church everywhere. And in this, Selma, Alabama is like all the world: it needs the life and witness of militant saints.”

Daniels was killed a few months after writing this, shot while saving a fellow civil rights activist. If our faith tells us anything, it is that we don’t need to be rich to care for the poor and the weak, we don’t need to be powerful to share the love of God, and we don’t need to be kings to build the kingdom of God.

On this Feast of All Saints, may we be inspired by the examples of the saints all around us, and then shine just as brightly with the light and love of God.

To God be the glory: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.


© The Rev. Matthew P. Cadwell

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Loving God and Loving our Neighbor: A Sermon for the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation

Jesus said, “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

That’s it. Love God, with all your heart. And love your neighbor as yourself. When you strip away all the words, the dogmas, and doctrines that people get so fussed over, when you take away all the extras, that simple command is the core of faith. Love God and love your neighbor. The rest, really, is elaboration. And if lived and practiced truly and fully, this faith will transform souls, communities, societies, and the world. Because, of course, it’s hard to drop bombs on neighbors whom you love as yourself. It’s hard to cheat or rob or shoot or abuse them. It’s hard to burn them at the stake, as our Reformation ancestors did to those with whom they disagreed. Probably you wouldn’t even have time for such, because all the while you are loving God—with all your heart, soul, and mind.

Unfortunately, we know that these commands, simple as they sound, can be rather challenging to live up to. All too often we put ourselves and our narrow concerns first. We can become so turned in on ourselves sometimes that we don’t have enough space or time left for this extraordinary and life-giving loving of God and neighbor that Jesus commends to us—at least not in it fullness.

It was precisely the resultant inner sense of “spiritual inadequacy,” or some might call it “guilt,” at the inability to live into these Great Commandments—loving God and loving our neighbors—that led directly to the event we commemorate today, the start of the Reformation, 500 years ago. Because people then, living in a different context but with the same human condition as we today, felt that they, too, had failed to live up to the great commandments. Like us, they struggled with spiritual and emotional and physical temptations. They fought with their families, and sometimes they didn’t care much for their neighbors and co-workers. They didn’t always put their faith in God first, and they knew it, just as we do.

Where they differed from us, probably, is in believing in a God who would punish them for their sins and limitations. Thankfully, we’ve largely left that vengeful God behind. Or at least we try to. But for our ancestors—five centuries ago—he was a present reality and a future fear. It’s not that they believed that they would go to the eternal punishments in hell if they messed up in their loving and living. If they were baptized and went to church and confessed their sins, they believed they likely would make it to heaven… eventually. But before they got there, they had to make a detour by way of purgatory—a place and experience of spiritual cleansing, of purging the soul of its sinful ways and deeds. One’s time in purgatory depended on the nature and depth of one’s sins in life.

It makes rational sense. After all, it wouldn’t seem fair for a notorious sinner, one who lived a dissolute and worldly life, to end up in heaven with St. Francis or Mother Theresa, without first accounting for his or her actions. Very early on the church fathers concluded that there must be a stop along the way, a layover on the flight to heaven, where sins are purged—through suffering after death, as well as through prayers and spiritual offerings, such as votive masses, offered by one’s loved ones left behind. Those prayers and masses aided the deceased on their journey toward paradise with God.

So, people did what they could, for family and friends who had died. They prayed for them. They made donations to the church, so that special votive masses would be said on behalf of deceased family. And they received, and sometimes bought, indulgences. The idea of an indulgence is a special act of grace, offered by the church, to lessen time in purgatory. Sometimes, one received an indulgence for doing a special kind of good work—such as supporting a hospital, or making a spiritual pilgrimage to a holy site or shrine. Or maybe one donated to the construction of a new church.

It was the latter, especially, that got the church in trouble. Early in the 16th century, the Pope decided that St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome needed to be rebuilt, the previous structure beyond repair. Construction on the new St. Peter's began in 1506, and continued for over a century, until 1626. Only, the costs for the massive project were just that-- massive--requiring considerable financing. Thus, the church invited and encouraged the faithful to help. In contributing to such a holy site, by buying an indulgence, they would be engaging in a spiritual act, a good work, which benefited the church in the present, and had eternal benefit as well—freeing oneself or one’s family from the suffering of purgatory. The more the faithful spent, the less time in purgatory. They even got a nice certificate, with the name of the beneficiary hand written on it, noting the amount of time released from purgatory. For us, today, it starts to feel uncomfortable. But it got worse.

In 1515, the church, looking to earn more with the costs in Rome accumulating, voided indulgences already purchased, for a period of eight years. If the faithful wanted that time covered, they had to buy new indulgences. Knowing this would be a hard sell, the church declared that purchasers of these new and improved indulgences did not have to make confession or show remorse for sins they or their deceased loved ones might have committed. Just pay, and eternal freedom was secured.

In Germany, sales were strong, due to an innovative Archbishop named Albrecht and a Dominican friar by the name of Johann Tetzel, the 16th century equivalent of one of those "as seen on TV" infomercial salesmen, who can slickly sell you all kinds of stupid stuff you don't need. Tetzel traveled around Germany, utilizing creative techniques to sell freedom from purgatory. His most famous line was “once the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs.” 

While Tetzel’s words and actions likely moved beyond the official teaching of the church, as slick salesmen often do, there were indeed significant abuses in the 16th century. The church had become increasingly powerful—spiritually and politically. Even kings had to submit to the power of the Pope. So, it should not come as a surprise that there would be some kind of resistance or protest, and there were some from time to time. What made the 16th century such a tinder box was the invention of the printing press—allowing for wide distribution of new ideas.

Enter Martin Luther. The father of the Reformation was a complex person. He was brilliant, beyond brilliant, and also deeply disturbed. He was tortured by the thought of his own sinfulness, his inability to live up to Jesus’ command to love God with all his heart, soul, and mind, and to love his neighbor as himself. He suffered from what he called his Anfectungen: his tribulations, which included “cold sweats, nausea, constipation, crushing headaches, ringing in his ears, depression, anxiety, and a general feeling that… the angel of Satan was beating him with his fists.”  See here: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/10/30/how-martin-luther-changed-the-world

Luther entered the monastery to calm his distress, engaging in spiritual and physical humiliation to free himself of his sense of sin and failure. He went to confession daily, with long lists of sins to be forgiven. And then left, worried lest he had forgotten one. His superior at the monastery suggested that he teach—to set his mind at other things, instead of focusing on his troubles all day. It was while teaching New Testament that Luther discovered in Paul’s epistles the idea that we are “justified” or made acceptable before God, not by our actions, but by God’s grace, made available to us through Christ’s life and especially his death. What’s more, there’s no way we can add to what Christ has already done for us. We can’t earn it and we can’t buy it. It is always God’s free gift. Indulgences were absolutely worthless, because we can never do more than God has already done in Christ. For Luther, the discovery was revelatory. It freed him from his spiritual prison and allowed him to live. He thought it would do the same for others.

In October of 1517, 500 years ago, Luther wrote his 95 points of dispute, his theses, attacking the sale of indulgences for perverting the doctrine of grace. Tradition tells us that on October 31 he nailed them to the door of the castle church in Wittenberg. Historians are not sure whether that happened. It may have, the church door was sort of the town bulletin board where notices were posted for discussion. Or, he may have just sent them to Archbishop Albrecht. Whatever it was, soon people were discussing his ideas, some appalled at the monk’s audacity, while others agreed with his concerns.

Over time, Luther became a celebrity across Germany. The church didn’t know what to do with him, and they surely didn’t foresee what was to come. If they had, they might have found a way to accommodate his ideas. In the moment, though, he seemed to be hammering at the heart of the church—striking the power and authority of the pope, driving nails through the sacramental system and the faith of believers. So, he had to be rejected, excommunicated. Some powerful friends saved him from arrest and possible execution as a heretic, kidnapping and hiding him in a castle—the Wartburg—where he translated the Bible in German, and wrote secretly, his works smuggled out and printed, spreading like wildfire. A revolution had begun. Within 20 years, the church was torn in two, with some loyal to the Pope and the faith they had known, and others inspired by the spiritual freedom offered in Luther's interpretation of the Gospel. 

Sometimes Luther was profoundly right, as in his beliefs about God’s grace, and sometimes he was profoundly wrong. In 1525, German peasants rose up against landowners who exploited them. Inspired by Luther, they believed that the freedom in Christ meant not only spiritual but physical freedom and liberation as well. Luther disagreed, siding with the nobles and princes. He wrote: “Let everyone who can, smite and slay... nothing can be more poisonous, hurtful, or devilish than a rebel. It is just as one must kill a mad dog; if you do not strike him he will strike you.” Not his finest hour.

Far worse, and longer-lasting was his anti-Jewish attitude. Early in life he assumed that once the Jewish people heard the liberating Gospel of Christ (especially as he presented it), they would be drawn to conversion. When they weren’t, he became virulent in attack, suggesting actions to deprive Jewish residents of their rights, including setting fire to synagogues and schools, forbidding rabbis from teaching on the pain of loss of life and limb, destroying homes, seizing property, and setting them to work as manual laborers in fields. Even by the standards of the time, his ideas were extreme. Thankfully, they were not followed to the full, in his time.

But they would be re-read centuries later. His pamphlet, “On the Jews and their Lies” was cited as a blueprint for Kristallnacht in Nazi Germany. Of course, the Nazis didn’t have use for the rest of Luther’s teachings—on grace and love. But they found what they needed. It is a bloody stain that no amount of bleach can wash away. So much for God's grace and love. So much for loving your neighbor as yourself.

It's interesting, though, that at the same time the Nazis were finding inspiration in Martin Luther's writings, so too was a Black American Baptist preacher named Michael King. After taking a trip to Germany for a Baptist conference in 1934, a year after Hitler's rise to power, this preacher and early civil rights leader was so inspired by the faith and bravery of the reformer that he decided to change his name. Thus, he went from Michael King, to Martin Luther King. He changed his son's name, too, becoming Martin Luther King, Jr. 

So we balance the good, even the extraordinary, with the bad, and the dreadful.

Thankfully, the Reformation was and is not about Luther, nor any person—John Calvin or John Knox, Henry VIII, Thomas Cranmer, Queen Elizabeth. Rather, it was and is about the gracious gift of God, the love of God, and the people of God, searching for fresh and authentic ways to express their faith. The Reformation reminds us that God’s church, God’s Body, is not static, but is ever changing and growing, evolving and becoming. Which also means that the Reformation didn’t stop with Luther in 1517. If it had, we wouldn’t have Presbyterians and Congregationalists, Baptists, Mennonites and Unitarians, and maybe not even Anglicans.

In fact, Reformation has never stopped. We have been living it for 500 years—in prayer offered in the language of the people; in democratic church governance—like vestries and the Diocesan Convention several of us will attend next weekend; in the ordination of women; in multiple translations of the Bible; and who knows what to come—changes that likely seem unimaginable today. Even the Roman Catholic Church has adopted some of the reforms that were so contentious in the 16th century. They haven’t sold indulgences for years, and now they, too, worship in the language of the people, just as Protestant churches have re-adopted Catholic practices and traditions in recent years—such as celebrating the Eucharist each week. We have found ways to grow closer together, in and through Christ, setting aside centuries of division. Loving God and loving our neighbors.

And so, we are back to where we started. In every day, in every age, and in every life the Great Commandments—love God and love your neighbor—stand before us, written in our hearts, as the substance of our faith. What’s more, they apply whether we identify as Protestant or Catholic, or even Jewish or Muslim. Unfortunately, human history suggests that sometimes, we are not very good at living into them. Try as we might, we know that sometimes, too many times, we will fail in living up to Jesus’ simple yet profound commands. However, with the gift of God’s grace, we also know that we can live in hope and faith, assured that our sins and failings are not held against us, but are instead always covered and wrapped in God’s forgiveness and love— a love we can’t earn, a love we can’t buy. And, thankfully, it’s also a love we can’t ever lose.

To God be the glory: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.


© The Rev. Matthew P. Cadwell, PhD

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

You Shall Not Kill: A Sermon on Guns, the Ten Commandments, and Human Flourishing

Back in the olden days, in the foggy mists of time, when I was growing up and going to church, it always felt like an all-day activity: first Sunday School for an hour, and then church for a second hour. My mom taught Sunday school herself, so we were in our classes while she taught hers. We’d go to coffee hour in between, and then attend the later service for the second hour. I admit that I would have preferred to stay home sometimes—watching cartoons in my pj's—but that was rarely an option.

I was one of those kids that preferred being in the church service itself, over Sunday School classes. Not that I paid attention to the sermons much, but I always appreciated the music and liturgical action. I guess that’s why I do what I do today! One aspect of Sunday School that I really didn’t like was memorization work. We had to memorize lots—the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostle’s Creed, and the Ten Commandments. Usually, our teacher would give us a line from the prayer, creed, or one of the commandments that we were supposed to memorize over the coming week. If we did and could recite the line the following week, we’d get a star or something. We don’t emphasize that so much today. But it was the thing then, 30 or 40 years ago. What I really don’t remember from those Sunday School days, though, is if our teachers ever gave us any context or content for what we were learning. You know, did they ever tell us what the prayers or creeds or commandments mean? If they did, it wasn’t in much detail. Mostly, I think it was just memorizing.

When it comes to the Ten Commandments, some of the themes are rather adult—like adultery. We wouldn’t have understood what that was about when kids learning the lines. Though, interestingly, that’s the Commandment Moses is pointing to in the stained-glass window above the altar. It makes you wonder just what the congregation here was dealing with in the 1950s and 60s. Others hit very close to home at any age—like honoring your Father and Mother—my parents loved to emphasize that one at particular moments. And the last one about coveting what it is your neighbor’s used to strike awfully close to home, too. Still does, sometimes.

Further removed from the real-life experience of most of us—whatever our age—is the one commanding us not to murder or kill, depending on the translation. It’s interesting that it’s even included among the top 10 dos and don’ts. The others deal with more every day temptations and struggles, while thankfully for most of us killing another human is beyond the pale. But it must have been something that people struggled with in ancient days. Indeed, any read through the Bible makes clear that the impulse to kill has infected the human heart from the very start—beginning with the brothers Cain and Abel, sons and Adam and Eve; down to Moses—who himself killed an Egyptian; to the tenants in this morning’s gospel parable, reflecting the crucifixion of Jesus himself.

Something in the human heart and soul, some seeds of violence and hatred are so deeply planted and deeply rooted, that God felt the need to inscribe on tablets of stone, for all to see and know, that this is absolutely not how we are called to live. Murder, killing, like adultery, covetousness, and faithlessness are as far from God’s design for human life as anything.

For those of us instilled with the values of faith—whether Christian or Jewish, and doubtless from other traditions as well—this should be obvious. But, of course, it’s not. Increasingly, we seem to live in a society that considers murder and killing ordinary, routine, and even expected, if not exactly okay. Last Sunday’s mass murder, we might even call it a massacre, in Las Vegas, is just the latest example of what has become all too commonplace in the United States over the past years.

Last week it was at a country music festival, last year it was at a gay night club, the year before an African American church in South Carolina during Bible study, and five years ago an elementary school in Connecticut. What’s next? Who’s next? We learned over the past week that the shooter in Las Vegas had also considered a music event in Chicago and even Fenway Park as possible sites for his killing.

Whatever the motivations—whether hatred caused by racism or homophobia, or mental illness that would lead one to target school children and their teachers, or even an indiscriminate hatred of people in general and the perverted thrill of power—it is a manifestation of those seeds of violence, hatred, and division planted in the human heart, and nurtured and watered by a culture, a society, that seeks always to divide people into categories of us vs. them, me vs. you, instead of all of us together.

I’m sure this tendency is found across other nations and societies. Clearly it is, or we wouldn’t find examples of the same actions in scripture, as in this morning’s gospel parable of the tenants in the vineyard killing the owner’s slaves and son. But for some reason, it seems particularly alive and acute here in the United States. Perhaps it’s because the nation was born in the crucible of revolution, with guns drawn and a shot heard around the world. Or perhaps it’s because our early financial system and economy was undergirded by slavery—both in the north and the south—which relied on violence to rip people from their homes, chained them in ships, and then sold them to the highest bidder. Human beings treated like property that you could beat, starve, kill. And perhaps it is because the expansion and flourishing of the nation could only come with the bloody acquisition of land and power at the expense of those native peoples who were here first—pushing them further and further out, starving, killing, and massacring along the way.

Whatever it was or is originally, there is something in our national identity, even still, that seems to idolize violence and even murder. Just consider the fact that inscribed in our American constitution is the right to bear arms. Now, some would argue that the original meaning of that right has been perverted over the years—since in its original context it was focused on the ability of a dispersed populace to organize into a militia, in the event of attack from foreign powers. We don’t need that today, with a proper military and police force and all the rest.

But even if you are of the view that the American right to bear arms is absolute and must be preserved, surely one would have to recognize that the framers of the constitution couldn’t have imagined semi-automatic machine guns that could indiscriminately injure hundreds and kill nearly 60 people in a matter of minutes. After all, the guns they knew were muskets. There is no conceivable reason that an individual should have ready access to such instruments of death and terror. That militaries have and use them are bad enough—also in violation of God’s commandments. But ordinary citizens, people like you and me, with full arsenals in their homes—serving no purpose but the potential murder of fellow citizens, fellow human beings—is to me, beyond comprehension.

I imagine it is beyond comprehension to God as well—the God who spoke through the prophets and came among us in Christ Jesus, to teach us a different way. Indeed, Jesus was himself killed by the powers of evil and death. By the hatred which so infects human hearts. And in his death, Christ showed us the power of love. He showed us the power of life. He showed us that retaliation, armaments, and weapons are not the instruments of human flourishing. The instruments of human flourishing are love and hope and trust. What’s more, in raising Jesus from death, God broke the human cycle of violence and hatred. God showed us, through Jesus, that there is another way, a better way. A way that leads to fullness of life.  

As some of you know, I was very briefly in Minnesota over the past week. It was perhaps my shortest trip there ever—just Thursday to Saturday. So, I didn’t have much time for visiting. I went primarily for the meeting of the National Scandinavia Advisory Board at Gustavus Adolphus College, of which I am a member. I can’t go to all the meetings, but I try for one or two a year. At Friday’s meeting, we were joined by a number of students—some who studied in Sweden last year and reported to us on their experience, and others who are from Sweden, studying in Minnesota for the semester or year.

It was particularly interesting to hear of the experience of the Swedish students. They were impressed by how friendly and welcoming everyone is. They universally felt supported in their studies—despite being unprepared for the amount of weekly homework expected of them. But they also said that some of them were worried about coming to the United States, or in some cases, their families were worried about them coming here. Because there is a perception across the world that the United States is a dangerous place. That people are randomly and routinely shot here. We think of the US as a place of liberty, freedom, and hope—the land of the free—and yet, others from other lands worry that they might even be shot as they step off the airplane upon arrival here.

Thankfully, we know that would be highly unlikely. Even so, many in this country do live in dangerous circumstances. And random acts of hatred and death are all too common—not only on a massive scale as in the horrific events of Las Vegas last week, but also as children are hit and killed by stray bullets on neighborhood streets. Something has to change. For the sake of our nation and its people, something desperately has to change.

In my mind, that change has to come through bipartisan work to change gun laws. I realize there’s no way to get all guns out of the hands of all bad guys. But that sad fact should not stop us from making it harder to access weapons that are built for the sole purpose of killing people, in many cases on a disturbingly massive scale, as we witnessed last week. We have to move out the realm of political bickering and grandstanding, worrying about lobby groups and special interests, and instead worry about human life, and human flourishing. We have to mend the fabric of our national life, moving us away from a culture of death to a culture of life. After all, that’s what the Ten Commandments are all about—moving God’s people away from a culture of death to a culture of life. That’s what Jesus’ life was all about as well.

And the good news is, we can all embrace this work and this calling—whether we are men or women, young or old, liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat, whatever our background, race, color, sexuality. In fact, we need all our voices, speaking and acting in love, for each other and for our world. Those of us who follow God in Christ have the perfect model, with laws, commandments inscribed not only on stone, but on our hearts. They can guide us to fullness of life.

To God be the glory: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

© The Rev. Matthew P. Cadwell, PhD

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Reality is a Kaleidoscope: A Sermon on Jonathan Daniels, the Canaanite Woman, and the Struggle Against Racism

It is very good to be here in church, in God’s house, with all of you, after such an intense and emotional week. It has been a week that challenged our very sense of self, when we haven’t known what would come next. We have been called to speak the truth and choose sides as long ago history and hatreds, the racisms of the Civil War, World War II, and Jim Crow, lurking like a specter in the shadows, have been horrifyingly brought back to life, carrying torches, waving swastikas, twisting and turning the world upside down. One life was mowed down in Charlottesville by a 20-year-old Nazi-sympathizer and many, many more in Barcelona by terrorists bent on evil and indiscriminate murder. Perhaps appropriately, given everything else, tomorrow the sun is even going to go dark. We are living, I think, in a kaleidoscope kind of world, our many colors, backgrounds, and beliefs all twisting, turning, and tumbling in confusion and disbelief.

Given all that intensity and uncertainty, where do we, who long for a different kind of world, maybe a rainbow instead of kaleidoscope, turn for inspiration, for guidance, and for hope? Well, for me, two figures stand out—one ancient, and the other more recent. I’ll start with the ancient. We just met her in this morning’s gospel. History doesn’t remember her name unfortunately. In Matthew’s gospel she is simply a “Canaanite woman.” In Mark, she is the Syrophoenician woman. In either case, she is one of my heroes—steely, resolved, and of great faith.

She’s also, unfortunately, not easy to preach about. Because her encounter with Jesus reveals what was, in the First Century, a wide cultural and religious divide between Jewish and Gentile communities and persons. Their encounter reveals the racism and prejudice of their time, just as the last week has revealed the racism and prejudice in our own. And unfortunately, in this case, Jesus and his disciples are on the wrong side—at least at first.  That sounds shocking, when we are used to thinking of Jesus as sinless, the incarnation of God. So, context is probably helpful.

First, let’s look at the location of this encounter—the region of Tyre and Sidon. That was a Gentile area—modern day Lebanon. It seems Jesus and his disciples, seeking some space and rest, leave the area in which they would be known or recognized, and go to predominately Gentile area to get away from it all—a sort of vacation. Only even there they can’t escape recognition. Second, you’ll notice that the woman is called a Canaanite. Canaanites are, of course, the ancient enemies of the Jews. The Book of Joshua in the Old Testament is all about battles between the Israelites and the Canaanites, fighting over the rights to the promised land.

And, now in this encounter, Jesus—the Jewish Messiah (whose name in Hebrew is the same as Joshua, by the way)—meets a Canaanite woman, a modern-day incarnation of Israel’s long-time enemy. That old, ancient conflict is suddenly made manifest again. When you think about it, the story couldn’t possibly be any more racially or religiously charged. Only, the woman, despite her Gentile background, somehow recognizes Jesus for who he is, and for the power he has. Sure, she knows they are supposed to be enemies or at least antagonistic. But she doesn’t care. Because she also knows that he has the power to heal, and her daughter needs that healing desperately. So, she’ll take whatever she can get—even the crumbs that no one else wants.

Only, it seems, Jesus was not so sure. His ministry, at least as he and his disciples first envisioned it, was for Israel. He was their Messiah, not hers. And so, first his disciples and then Jesus himself try to dismiss her—even saying that it isn’t right to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs. In other words, it’s not right to offer his ministry and healing to this foreigner, a Canaanite. It’s helpful, though disturbing, to know that in the First Century Jews often called Gentiles dogs. It was a racial insult, like those we are all too familiar with today, reflecting the fact that Gentiles kept dogs as pets, while their Jewish neighbors did not, because dogs were scavengers and unclean. It’s hard to believe that the Jesus we follow would say such a thing. But, this encounter reflects the state of Jewish-Gentile relationships in the First Century.

After being so insulted, a less self-assured person probably would have left—hurt, demoralized, angry. I would have. But not our hero. She fights back, twisting and turning Jesus’ words like the kaleidoscope, offering a different view on reality and saying confidently: “Yes Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs from their master’s table.” So impressed was Jesus—by her faith, her strength, and her determination, perhaps also her clever wit —that he healed her daughter.

When I was in seminary 20 years ago, I wrote an essay on this passage and I argued that this story must be authentic—reflecting an encounter that Jesus really had with a Gentile woman. Otherwise, why on earth would it have been included in the gospels? It makes Jesus look so bad, at least at first. But, you know upon deeper reflection, there’s something about Jesus that I love in this story, too: his ability to change his mind and have his vision enlarged. And I think that for the early church, struggling with its own identity, with questions of inclusion and diversity, this story may have provided a needed example for Jewish Christians. If Jesus could change his mind, if he could see beyond their society’s in-grained racial and religious boundaries, maybe they could as well. Maybe God’s grace and love are expansive enough to include their Gentile neighbors. And if that’s true, then it turns out that Jesus, as he is here, can be a powerful model for us as we confront our own prejudices and narrow worldviews. So, now today, I am wondering if this passage less reflects Jesus’ actual encounter with a Gentile woman 2000 years ago—though it still may be that—and is also and even more a message for the early church and for us now, twisting and turning the kaleidoscope, trying to see more clearly.

You remember I said that I have two heroes I want to recall today. The second was named Jonathan Daniels. He was born in 1939 in Keene, New Hampshire, about 90 miles from here. By the 1960s, he was a student at the Episcopal Theological School (now the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge), exactly 30 years before me. Jon Daniels is the patron saint of the seminary, and really of the wider Episcopal Church. That’s because he was so moved during a service of evensong in the seminary chapel, hearing the Magnificat, Mary’s song of justice in which she sings of God casting the mighty from their thrones and lifting up the lowly, that he felt compelled to go to Selma, Alabama to work for civil rights. And rather than just go for a few days or weeks, as many did in response to Martin Luther King’s calls for witness by white clergy in the north, Daniels and another student named Judith Upham petitioned the seminary for permission to pursue their studies there from a distance while working full-time for integration.

In Selma, Jonathan Daniels lived with an African American family for several months. He participated in demonstrations and vigils, and worked especially to integrate St. Paul’s  Episcopal Church, which wouldn’t permit African Americans. Eventually, in August of 1965, while picketing a whites-only establishment, Daniels and his friends—about 20 of them—were arrested and locked up in a cell for 6 sweltering days, no air conditioning, no showers, there weren’t even toilets.

Upon their release, Daniels and a few friends (a white Roman Catholic priest and four young African American activists) walked about 500 yards to a convenience store to get a Coke. When they got there, a man stood in the doorway holding a shotgun. He shouted at them to get off his property and then he opened fire. He was a deputy sheriff, as it happens. Daniels pushed a 17-year-old African American activist named Ruby Sales to the ground and took the bullet himself. He was hit in the stomach and killed instantly—just 26 years old. The date was August 20, 1965—52 years ago today.

Afterward Martin Luther King, Jr., said: “One of the most heroic Christian deeds of which I have heard in my entire ministry and career for civil rights was performed by Jonathan Daniels…. Certainly there are no incidents more beautiful in the annals of church history, and though we are grieved at this time, our grief should give way to a sense of Christian honor and nobility, for this church and the movement gave to the world a true follower of our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ.”

“One of the most heroic Christian deeds of which I have heard in my entire ministry and career for civil rights was performed by Jonathan Daniels….” Isn’t that extraordinary, coming from Dr. King? And today, in our time, we—disciples of Jesus—stand on the shoulders of Jonathan Daniels and the Canaanite woman as we make our witness, and envision a kingdom and world built of love and justice, not hate and exclusion. They help us to see that God’s grace and God’s love are not limited by race or color, by nationality or ethnic background. Indeed, they tell us, that God’s grace and God’s love are open and free for all.

As it happens, that was the message heard around the state, nation, and world yesterday, radiating out from Boston. While a few—maybe 50 or 100— inspired by last week’s Neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville gathered on the Boston Common to express a narrow vision of hate and exclusion, as many as 40,000 thousand more marched and witnessed and prayed for love and inclusion. 40,000 people! I was there, too. Though, I decided that the best place for me to make my witness was in our Cathedral facing the Common—offering prayer for justice and peace on the streets outside. It was a powerful experience. The congregation was small at first, but eventually, as events unfolded, people streamed in and there was standing room only. People of every color were there. There were Episcopalians, Lutherans, Congregationalists, Unitarians, all united in prayer and song across our different traditions.

During his sermon Bishop Gates reminded us that the day before, in that very same space, as many as 300 or 400 Muslims gathered for prayer, as they do every Friday afternoon—witnessing to our shared humanity and life of faith, in its different expressions. And the cafĂ© next door, which is owned by the organizers of the Friday Muslim prayers, even provided a free lunch to all who participated in the Eucharist on Saturday during the rally, crossing barriers and boundaries to raise up lives of faith and hope and love. The cathedral’s mission statement is that it strives to be “A House of Prayer for All People.” That is who we are. That is who we are called to be, in this church, too.

Before his murder, Jonathan Daniel wrote a seminary essay titled “The Burning Bush.” Here is an excerpt:

“Reality is a kaleidoscope …. Now you see it; now you don’t. Light, dark, white, black: a way of life blurs, and the focus shifts…. a rhythm ripples in the sun, pounds the steaming, stinking shacks, dances in the blood.… Somewhere, in the midst of the past, a tenor sang of valleys lifted up and hills made low. Death at the heart of life, and life in the midst of death. The tree of life is indeed a Cross….

“This is the stuff of which our life is made. There are moments of great joy and moments of sorrow. Almost imperceptibly, some men grow in grace. Some men don’t.… We have activists who risk their lives to confront a people with the challenge of freedom and a nation with its conscience. We have neutralists who cautiously seek to calm troubled waters. We have men who are willing to reflect on the cost and pay it. Perhaps at one time or another we are all of these. Sometimes we take to the streets, sometimes we yawn through interminable meetings... Sometimes we confront a posse, sometimes we hold a child.  Sometimes we stand with men who have learned to hate, sometimes we must stand a little apart from them. Our life in Selma is filled with ambiguity, and in that we share with men everywhere. We are beginning to see as we never saw before that we are truly in the world and yet ultimately not of it. For through the bramble bush of doubt and fear and supposed success we are groping our way to the realization that above all else, we are called to be saints. That is the mission of the Church everywhere. And in this, Selma, Alabama is like all the world: it needs the life and witness of militant saints.”

And you know what, so does Boston. And so does Wakefield. So does every place we go. Every place that is divided by race, color, religion, sexuality. Every place that is a bramble bush of division, doubt, and fear needs the life and witness of saints—saints like Jonathan Daniels, saints like the Canaanite woman. And, most especially, saints like us. As Jonathan Daniels says, reality is a kaleidoscope, twisting and turning, mixing and jumbling. And it is our job, our calling, with God’s help, inspired and empowered and fed by Christ, to take those individual pieces of the kaleidoscope glass—green and red, blue, purple, orange, and yellow—and from them craft mosaic, or even a rainbow that gives hope of new and abundant life to all.

To God be the glory: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.    


© The Rev. Matthew P. Cadwell, PhD

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Walking on Water: A Sermon on Fear, Racism, and the Hand of Christ

The past several weeks, for me, have been filled with adventure—some planned and some less so. The biggest part of the adventure was my first-ever cruise, a 7-day journey traveling from England to Norway and back. It was wonderful, gliding into the Norwegian fjords at sunrise, standing out on my balcony sailing past snow-covered mountains —that was spectacular. I don’t know that I have ever been anyplace so beautiful in my life.

Now as some of you know, my mom invited herself on this trip, with the argument—persuasive enough, I guess—that she and her husband Jerry had been on several cruises before while Jeffrey and I hadn’t. So, she told us, she would be a good guide. And, in the main, she probably was. But, she also had this tendency, from time to time, to mention the unmentionable, which if you are on a cruise ship would be what? The Titanic. Which, as it happens, launched from the same port that we did. Not a happy coincidence if you ask me! Even at dinner, with other people at the table—since you often have to share, she brought up the Titanic. When the water starts getting choppy, things start swaying a bit... it’s probably not the best topic of conversation.

I understand that once, on a cruise to Alaska with friends, as water was crashing over the sides of the ship and it was kind of lop-sided, so much so that they had to drain the pool because it was spilling water everywhere, she actually said, “I wonder if this is what it was like on the Titanic.” Her friend Morrie, who was more than a little on edge to start with, just about had a nervous breakdown. Thankfully, for us, in July, there were no icebergs between England and the Norwegian fjords. Though, it did get rough as we entered the North Sea on approach to Scandinavia, with white caps on the waves and darkening skies. One night I wondered if the swaying was from the ship or my having drunk too many Manhattans. The feeling was much the same.

It was, perhaps, a lot like the waves and storms experienced by Jesus’ disciples out on the sea in today’s evocative gospel reading. Only they were on a small little boat, easily tossed, while we were more safe on a large ocean-liner. And what’s interesting to notice in this story is how Jesus actually sent the disciples out on the boat by themselves. A better translation might even be that Jesus forced or compelled them to get into the boat. Which kind of makes me wonder if maybe, for a time, he just a needed a little space to himself—a mutual “time out.” In the gospel, this follows directly on the feeding of the multitudes with a few loaves of bread and two fish. After that chaos, maybe Jesus was just done with people for a while, with the crowds, and with even his own friends. So, he sends them far away, out on a boat, while he climbs a mountain to pray. Water and mountains, it’s a lot like the Norwegian fjords, as it happens.

I remember about 11 years ago, teaching confirmation class at another parish, and the young boys, especially, were inquisitive about this story and whether it was all really possible—Jesus walking on water, even Peter walking on water for a time. After all, there’s nothing that excites young boys like the possibility or hope of having super powers. One boy, in particular, said that if he were Jesus he’d be using his superpowers all the time and not for boring things, either, like multiplying bread and fish. I had to explain, unfortunately, that the point of Jesus’ miracles is not so much to do cool things (though that might be a side benefit). Rather, they are there to tell us something about God, about ourselves, and about God’s love and care for us.

So, then, what does this story tell us? Well, first, one rather obvious thing to notice is that the miracle happens on the water, during a storm. In the Bible, in both the Old Testament and here in the New, the sea is a place of mystery, of chaos and danger, even the home of monsters, which God alone has the power to control. In the biblical mindset only God would have the ability to walk on the waves, going ahead of God’s people to bring them to safety—whether those people are the 12 tribes of Israel escaping slavery in Egypt and crossing the Red Sea, or here today, the 12 disciples rocked by waves.

Second, it’s interesting that Jesus says to the disciples as he walks to them, “Take heart; It is I; do not be afraid.” We often read in the Bible, when something extraordinary happens or is about to happen, that a divine messenger will say “do not be afraid.” As many as 70 times angels and prophets, Jesus and God himself say “do not be afraid.” To Abraham and Hagar, Joseph and Moses, David and Solomon. Also to Joseph and Mary, to the shepherds keeping watch in their fields, to the disciples on the Transfiguration mountaintop which we heard about last week, and finally to the bewildered and grieving women at the empty tomb, the greeting is always the same: “Do not be afraid.” Know that God is doing something amazing for you and for the world.

Then, perhaps even more significantly Jesus also says, “It is I.” But in the original Greek it is closer to: “Take heart: I AM; have no fear,” using the same words God used in the burning bush to reveal the divine name to Moses so long before, calling himself “I AM.”  As on the Transfiguration mountaintop, here too on the stormy sea Jesus reveals himself to be one with God—one in power, one in identity, one in meaning and purpose—an extension of God in human life. It is the revelation and the reminder that God is not locked up in the heavens above, far away, but alive, among us and even in us. We can reach out our hands to touch him, and he can pull us up when we stumble or sink.

Which, of course, leads us to Peter’s attempt to walk on water himself. There seems to have been something special, if rather impulsive, about our friend Peter. He had these fantastic moments, glimpses of faith, which impress even Jesus. But, alas, they invariably fade and he ends up saying or doing really stupid things, and then sinking into the deep. Of course, Peter’s a lot like us. Like him, sometimes, our faith is clear and strong. But then, there are those other times…. And like Peter, when we doubt, often we too say and do stupid things. We engage in wars, we believe that there’s not enough land, or love, or even enough God to go around. We try to horde everything we can to ourselves, and like Peter, weighed down, we, too, start to sink into the seas and deeps of our own lives.

This weekend’s appalling, racist, white supremacist march in Virginia is, I am convinced, a stark and powerful manifestation and revelation of this very belief, wrong as it is, that there isn’t enough—there isn’t enough wealth, there isn’t enough prosperity, and there isn’t even enough life to go around. And so, as a result, many, many lives are little or no consequence—especially the lives of people who are African American or Mexican American, or Jewish or Muslim American, gay American, or anything that does not fit into a narrow and exclusive definition of “White America,” which they seek to “take back.”

So, what do they do? They take out their torches, their Confederate and Nazi flags, and try to hoard what they can for themselves, chanting “Blood and soil” and “You will not replace us.” They took one life and injured many more, driving a car into the crowd and engaging in fist fights. Sadly, the driver of the vehicle was just 22. Already at that age he was infected with hate. If that isn’t a manifestation of sinking in the muck and mire of human greed, hatred, sin, I don’t know what is. It is painfully clear that our nation and its people are being rocked by waves and storms, much like the disciples out in their boat—all the while looking, desperately, for a savior.

For some, unfortunately, that savior is exclusion, repression, violence, racism, and hatred. That savior carries a torch and wears a swastika, or romantically recalls the “good old days” of “honor and glory,” when some Americans kept others in chains.

Thankfully, for others, the savior we seek is love and understanding. And for those of us here this morning, and in churches across the nation and world, the Savior we seek is love and understanding embodied in Jesus Christ.

As a Christian, as a disciple and follower and friend of Jesus, I simply can’t imagine anything further from his life and teaching than the displays of racism and hatred that have so infected and infested our nation and world. As our Bishop Alan Gates, said: “the hatred behind Saturday's gathering in Charlottesville of white supremacists, neo-Nazis and other purveyors of bigotry… is equally un-American and un-Christian.” Waves and storms, sometimes even hurricanes and icebergs, threaten to sink us.  

But, when we have faith—when we reach out and grasp Jesus’ hand, when we grasp God’s hand and when we let go of all that weighs us down, especially jealousies and fears, racism, hatreds, and the vain hope for power and prestige and privilege, especially when they come at the expense of others—well, then, we inevitably find that once again we are able to walk, toward Christ and toward abundant life. We find that we are full of the mighty power of God—not a superpower, like Superman, Spiderman, or Wonder Woman—but a real power, a life-giving, world-transforming power rooted and nourished in love.

Amidst all of the politicians I heard yesterday, speaking against racism and hatred, I thought two stood out. One was Utah’s Republican senator Orrin Hatch, who said: "Their tiki torches may be fueled by citronella but their ideas are fueled by hate, and have no place in civil society. We should call evil by its name. My brother didn't give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home." The other was former President Obama, who powerfully shared the words of Nelson Mandela. Mandela knew and experienced the full power of racism, but he—better than almost anyone--also knew that we are not powerless to overcome it. He said: “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love. For love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

As it happens, that’s exactly what Jesus, the human embodiment of love and compassion, the human embodiment of God—the great I AM—teaches us as well. He teaches us that in God there is neither Jew nor Greek, as Paul reminds us in our epistle reading this morning. He teaches us that there is no room for hate or exclusion in God’s kingdom. He teaches us that left to our own devices, desires, and narrow interests, we will undoubtedly sink beneath the waves of the world. But with him, through him, in him, we can and will rise.

So, now, today, in the midst of this chaotic, storm-tossed, and ever challenging life, I invite you, in fact I urge you, to reach out and grasp the hand that is seeking to draw you up. Grasp the hand that will keep you afloat, and will fill you, and us all, with the ability to love, and heal, and transform life—whoever we are, where ever we are, whatever our race or background. The events of the past days tell us that our nation and the world need us. They need us to be filled with the transformational, life-giving power of God, now more than ever. 
Do not be afraid. Reach out. Rise. Walk. Live.

To God be the glory: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.


© The Rev. Matthew P. Cadwell, PhD