Sunday, April 1, 2018, Easter Day

Kristin White

The Feast of the Resurrection

John 20:1-18


Shortly before the time that the March for our Lives event officially began in Washington DC eight days ago, students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School walked in a line through the crowd on their way to the platform. They passed very near to where our group stood, near enough that we could see them, near enough that if I had stretched, I could have reached them.

As they walked, they held up the student identification cards of their friends who had been killed in that short and horrible six minutes and twenty seconds at the end of school on Ash Wednesday. They held up those badges that bore the names and images of their friends: Alyssa Alhadeff, Martin Anguiano, Nicholas Dworet, Jaime Guttenberg, Luke Hoyer, Cara Loughran, Gina Montalto, Joaquin Oliver, Alaina Petty, Meadow Pollack, Helena Ramsay, Alex Schachter, Carmen Schentrup, Peter Wang. They carried with them the names of the adults who died that day trying to protect their students: Scott Biegel, Aaron Feiss, Chris Hixon.

In the substance of that act and many others before and since, I found a defiance of inertia, an unwillingness to accept that this is the way it all has to go. Instead, I saw – I see – this nation’s young people insisting upon hope. I see this nation’s young people demanding resurrection.

This day we celebrate right now began so many years ago in the dark. Mary Magdalene, the one who is too often held wrongly in suspicion, the one from whom Jesus cast out seven demons, the one with means enough to finance Jesus’ and the disciples’ ministry…Mary walked to the tomb before the sun had risen. I wonder: had she slept in those three days since she saw Jesus nailed to the wood of the cross? Did the darkness and her own bleary-eyed grief add to her to her confusion? Whatever the case, what she found when she got there was not the thing she had expected. The stone had been rolled away from his grave. He wasn’t there.

So she ran back and told the disciple Jesus loved, together with Peter: “They have taken our Lord from the grave, and I don’t know where.” So Peter ran. And the beloved disciple ran. And somehow it was important enough to someone along the way to record the fact that Peter came in second in that race to the tomb.

The confusion did not belong only to Mary, though, as that beloved disciple and Peter looked into Jesus’ grave. Peter looked in, and the beloved disciple looked in, and the scripture tells us that the beloved disciple saw and believed (what exactly he believed we do not know)…but that neither of them understood, and so…they left.

Mary Magdalene stayed, though. She refused to accept whatever it was that compelled the others to go. She stayed and she wept as she spoke to the angels who she didn’t seem to know were angels. She stayed and she wept as she spoke to the gardener…who, as it turns out, wasn’t the gardener after all.

“Mary.” he said. And she knew.

He named her, and she knew him.[1] She saw him, and suddenly the confusion and the fear and the way that all of this had seemed to go…it was all turned upside down, by the God who loves her, the God who loves you, the God who loves us all enough to split heaven and earth to be with us.

Mary stayed, and she wept. And she was witness to resurrection.

This feast that we celebrate today, which lies at the very heart of our faith, makes no intellectual sense. We cannot think our way into an understanding of a person – fully human, scripture promises – being resurrected to new life. We cannot comprehend it. And yet the story of our faith insists that this is so.

So we pray our creeds. Maybe some folks leave out those parts you can’t assent to, and I think that’s alright. And maybe some work it into a part of a narrative that you can live with, and I think that’s alright too.

We are reasonable people, after all, aren’t we? We go to work, we raise our kids, we pay our taxes, we try to be kind, we talk to our neighbors, we walk the dog, we try to take care of ourselves, we try to take care of each other.

So what does it say, that the heart of our faith rests on this completely unreasonable event? And especially the way John’s gospel tells it: with the running, and the who-got-there-first, and the who-went-in-and-saw-the-linen-wrappings…when you think about who wrote down the words of this gospel in the first place, and then the generations upon generations of scribes who copied and copied and copied them…those details have to have merit to have made it through, right? But who decided which pieces mattered so much?

The beloved disciple saw and believed, but neither he nor Peter understood. And so they, in their not-understanding-ness, went home.

But Mary stood. And she wept.

None of it makes sense, really. Ours is not a reasonable faith. It’s mysterious. It asks us to follow those disciples running in the dark to an empty grave. It asks us to notice and to care about who got there first, about the linen wrappings that covered him, and the fact that the one from his head is lying in a separate space. It asks us to care about a woman who wasn’t believed…even by her friends, who had to go see it for themselves, and even then, well…it asks us to care about a woman who, people at the time, and in the thousands of years since, have sought to discredit and dismiss. Ours is a faith that asks us to care about that woman, the one who stood weeping, the one who would be the first witness to the resurrection.

That’s a lot to ask of reasonable people.

And yet, here we are.

And yet, we reasonable people now find ourselves in the midst of a world that does not make sense.

We live right now in a world where our children have become experts in the differences between a soft lockdown and a hard one – terms that did not exist when I was in the classroom as a student, or, more recently, as a teacher.

We live in a world in which a friend of mine recently overheard her eleven-year-old child talking about which classroom he hopes he’s in if there is ever a shooting at his school, because he knows where the best places are to hide.

We live in a world where a teenager who was a literal target in his high school on Ash Wednesday has earned enough traction in his effort to be heard on this matter that he has become a threat, enough of a threat to have been targeted by a pundit…who would mock him.

We live in a world, on this Feast of the Resurrection, that through some act of poetic strangeness also happens to be April Fools’ Day, in which a generation of young people sees the violence of mass shootings and the gun violence found every day, every hour, every minute…and says to the powers that be: this world you have created is in fact entirely unreasonable. And we insist on changing it.

A child shall lead them.

That’s what Jesus does, isn’t it? He goes first, through the crowd. He goes first, naming the outrageousness, upsetting the order that isn’t really order after all.

He goes first, to the cross.

First, to the tomb.

We prepare the way for him, so that he can make a way for us to march for our very lives.[2]

He shows us that anticipating the new life of resurrection is the one sane choice in the midst of a crazy system that can expect only death and the grave.

He teaches us to demand resurrection, at the very moment it would seem that death has won. And then he invites us to step into that resurrection and keep going, because resurrection alone was never the end of the story anyway.

Those high school kids whose names and pictures were carried through the crowd last Saturday had lives to live – lives cut short on the first of this 40 days’ journey we have been privileged to share. The young people who carried them have lives now shaped forever by what they witnessed.

They are asking for the freedom to live their lives.

They are insisting upon hope.

They are demanding resurrection.




[2] Thanks to Karoline Lewis for this commentary, pieces of which are threaded throughout this sermon.

Sunday, March 25, 2018 - Palm Sunday

Texts: Mark 11:1-11 (Processional Gospel); Mark 14:1-15:47 (Passion)

This has been a weekend of rallies and marches across the country. Hundreds of thousands gathered in “Marches for Our Lives” in Washington, DC, Chicago, and other cities. Led by our nation’s youth people came together in response to the latest school mass shooting in Parkland, Florida to demand changes in our gun laws as well as other changes in our political and social culture.  The youthful leaders saw these gatherings as the beginning of a movement for a better future for this nation. Chicago area Episcopalians who gathered with Bishop Jeffery Lee ahead of joining the Chicago march heard our bishop say that the march yesterday was the beginning of our Palm Sunday procession, and some carried and waved palm branches.

Indeed, I think there are some similarities between the marchers for our lives, who chanted concerning politicians held captive by the National Rifle Association, “Vote them out, vote them out,” and the marchers who accompanied Jesus into Jerusalem chanting “Hosanna!”

Jesus had been making his way from Galilee through Judea, teaching and healing and casting out demons and collecting followers, and was about to enter the holy city at Passover time.  Arrangements had been made for a parade to call attention to his entrance. Those arrangements included securing a colt on which Jesus could ride and cutting leafy branches in the fields. Jesus’ followers spread their cloaks on the road to make a kind of royal carpet. And waving their branches some went in front of him and some followed him shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming Kingdom of our ancestor David!”

This was not a surge of people coming out of the city to greet Jesus. How would they even know who he was or that he was arriving? This was a demonstration by Jesus’ many followers to announce his arrival. It was a political demonstration because they were hailing Jesus as the one who would restore the Davidic kingdom. You can be sure that this caught the attention of the authorities in the city, particularly the Temple authorities---the priests and scribes. They lived in a delicate balance with the occupying Roman administration. Rome was always respectful of local cults and cultures; that was one of the reasons for their governing success. In return for religious freedom the Romans expected priestly support of the imperial administration. Jesus’ entrance into the city upset the status quo. In fact, upon entering the city he went straight to the Temple and assaulted it by overturning the tables of the money changers and driving out the sellers of sacrificial victims. He made claims about replacing that Temple with himself, with his body. “Tear it down and in three days I will raise it up.”

The priestly and scribal authorities needed to get rid of him. But there had been that demonstration by his followers. How many followers did he have mingling among the many pilgrims and visitors in the city for the National Passover? Given this uncertainty, the priests had to make arrangements to grab Jesus under the cover of darkness and have a quick trial and execution. A traitor in Jesus’ inner circle conveniently played into their hands. Jesus was arrested outside in the garden after the Passover Seder, given a trial of sorts in the middle of the night, and delivered to the Roman governor early in the morning.

Here we meet a second demonstration. Some locals turned out at the residence of the Roman governor to ask him to honor of the custom of releasing a prisoner at Passover time.  Pontius Pilate, perhaps sensing an easy way to get Jesus released (since he didn’t find him to be a threat), presented Jesus to the crowd, along with a known insurrectionist named Barabbas. If the crowd gathered before the procurator had included Jesus’ followers who accompanied him into the city the previous Sunday, they surely would have shouted for Jesus to be released. But this was a different crowd and the priests stirred them up to ask for Barabbas.

Why would they choose Barabbas over Jesus? Probably because Barabbas was a troublemaker they knew rather than a troublemaker they didn’t know. Yes, Barabbas had murdered a man, but Jesus had assaulted the holy Temple---the primary shrine of their nation. So when Pilate presented Jesus, they cried out “Crucify him, crucify him.” They were insistent on it and Pilate finally gave in and had Jesus flogged in preparation for his crucifixion.

Where were Jesus’ followers when this dirty deed was being done---all those people who had marched in with him shouting “Hosanna”? We know that Simon Peter had followed Jesus when he was taken away from the garden. He was hanging around the fire in the courtyard of the high priest’s house. Upon questioning by a servant girl, “Weren’t you with that man from Galilee?,” he denied knowing him, and hurriedly left the scene.

Since Jesus was on the cross by nine in the morning, his followers either didn’t know what was going on or, if Peter had spread the word, they were purposely lying low. But according to the evangelist Mark, none of Jesus’ disciples were there. At the cross only a Roman centurion was astute enough to recognize what was going on. “Truly this man was the Son of God.” This is the only statement about Jesus in the entire Gospel of Mark that the evangelist left unchallenged.

We proclaim both the Palm Gospel and the Passion Gospel on this Sunday because we need to see ourselves at both ends of the week. We need to ask: where are we in this story? Are we with the supporters of Jesus who hailed him as king and thought they had a movement going to renew their nation, but weren’t around when they might have made a difference? Or are we among those who felt a need to support the established order by asking for Jesus to be crucified? Will we who marched for the lives of our youth yesterday continue to do what it takes to support their aspirations? Or will we return to our daily affairs and leave the status quo unchallenged and unchanged. Or…are we like the soldier who had a glimmer of understanding about what was really taking place---that the world’s mess is so intractable that God needs to be involved, even unto death on a cross?

This is a story we need to follow throughout this week because it’s important that we know which group we identify with. And if we’re with the group that calls for the affirmation of life rather than the group that accepts death as the price for maintaining the status quo, then we need to gather at the font at the end of this week to renew our baptismal covenant and commit ourselves anew to the kind of Kingdom Jesus ushered in by his death and resurrection. Amen. 

Pastor Frank Senn 

Sunday March 11, 2018 - Fourth Sunday in Lent

Numbers 21:4-9; John 3:14-21

Ever since I was a child, I have had a disdain for Snakes. Gartrer Snakes. Grass Snakes. Tree Snakes. Ribbon Snakes. Water Moccasin Snakes.  Rat Snakes. And Corn Snakes. Growing up in Maine, those are the Snakes I knew, and there were plenty of then given all the fields, brooks, and swampy marshes that made up our area. They didn’t bother my father so much, but my mother could not stand the sight of a Snake, much less being in the presence of one. So, whenever she encountered one, she made it known by shouting what many of us might: SNAKE! 

In the back of the property, there was an old, open bed trailer used for hauling small things. On it, was a gate that served as a ramp and very often this gate rested on the grass. Once when I was younger, my mother and I lifted the gate preparing to move the trailer, and under the gate were a handful of different snakes. SNAKE! My mother yelled, and we jumped away and changed our plans until we thought they probably slithered away. Since then, childhood curiosity always had the best of me, and I couldn’t stop wanting to find them—even though I was completely disgusted and frightened by them. I wanted to feel my heart beat rise just a little, to feel the adrenaline, because surely—if I hung around them—they would strike me. So on some of summer’s hottest and most humid days, my brother and I would go to the trailer…. He would lift the gate…and I would stand back. The adrenaline was palpable, and I swear there was a smell. “Are you ready,” my brother would say. Laughing and anxious, he would lift the gate and I would look down and my eyes getting bigger before I could even shout: SNAKE! After, I would run back to the house, shaking them off me as if they flew and landed on me—because at 8—you can get away with stuff like that. Now, reality says they were probably more scared of me than I was of them and sought shelter more quickly than I did.

Something about this encounter kept me coming back; it kept me curious. Perhaps it was perhaps the adrenaline, the did have a game like feeling to it. Perhaps it was just that it was an activity my brother and I shared. But, regardless, images of snakes still give me pause, and if I am honest, they still cause me to want to yell SNAKE and run away! And so snakes, whether they be encountered in their natural habitat, in scripture, in film or in story, I still find myself getting tense about their very nature, their slithering ways and their scales, their predator tendencies, their mere intimidation. When I think of snakes—I don’t recall the ones used in God’s story throughout scripture; I certainly don’t think of the advantage they are to the eco-system, to pest control, or even their presence in the history of medicine.

Snake oil, or venom, has for centuries been used by cultures throughout the world as a form of medicine for a myriad of ailments. It is thought that small doses of venom, a fraction of the amount one would receive through a snake’s bite, is thought to have healing powers. This has been so much a part of culture since the ancient of days, that it has become the understood symbol of medicine. The Ancient Greek god, Asclepius, was called the god of healing and medicine, and it is his ruling staff that the snake is wrapped around.

However, despite the snake’s possible healing agents, its needed place in our eco-system, and its often underrated help—I still find them bothersome. Scripture does not have them too elevated, either. Most notorious is the serpent in the garden of Eden. They find Paul on the beautiful island of Malta; we have seen them mentioned in the Psalms, and in the stories of the Prophets of old. And we see them here today.

Commentator Elizabeth Webb says,

What kind of God is this who inflicts death on people for their lack of trust? Recall that the people have been to Sinai; they have received the law and are bound in covenant with God. Their lack of faith is, to the writers of this passage, a violation of the covenant, and therefore worthy of punishment. But God does also provide the remedy. It is notable that God does not remove the snakes but provides a means for healing in the midst of danger. God brings healing precisely where the sting is the worst.[1]

And this is just one example of the ways in which God has called us into Covenant—and it is just one of the ways in which God has given mercy in our doubt, our questions, our fears—even if they have not been completely removed.

Several books later, in 2 Kings 18, we come to see the snake Moses made, has one final appearance. Over the years the people had come to give this snake much more power than it deserved, becoming an idol. The king at the time, Hezekiah, found it a complete distraction and had it destroyed as a step of faithfulness toward God.

Now, this kind of a story sounds so familiar to the gospel narrative. Through Jesus, God incarnates the world with grace, with mercies, with hope—all of which criminalize him and see to his death. In our gospel lesson today, Jesus confirms this when he says, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up”.

In a way, God’s judgment is represented in Jesus Christ—just as it was in the snake Moses made. Our involvement in God’s story—in the life of Christ—is a way in which we share peace, grace, light—but more importantly perhaps it is the lens through which we find our own way, and our own healing. And just as the snake who once served this need, a means of salvation for all who gazed upon it, and was destroyed, Jesus is preparing for the same outcome. Even the Apostle Paul today points to the value of Christ’s passion—which is so that no one may boast, so that no one may be left out—so that this world might learn another way to live and to love, together, so that we do not destroy one another.

This week, I attended the village meeting about the new low-income housing that was being planned for Wilmette. While it passed, it was not without controversy, and there were good arguments on both sides being presented. Now, there are ways to present opinions, regardless of what they are, that are both helpful and harmful.  Helpful ways might include the sharing of real data, informed facts, and even remaining questions, but all in a civil and well thought out manner.  Harmful ways might include: the sharing of biased opinion, uninformed facts, and even remaining questions, in demeaning, unkind and uncivil tones. Truth be told, I heard good arguments, kind ones, with meaningful points, from both sides of the matter. However, what bothered me most were some of the ways in which people with lower incomes were talked about.

At least one person referred to people with low-incomes as, “those people,” questioning their character as possible citizens here. Another pointed out that those who could move here might not even “drive nice cars.” Another implied doubt that the potential neighbor would probably not have the skill or desire to care for their property. Another spoke about the privilege it is to live in this community and that it just wasn’t for everybody… everybody… everybody.

Beloveds, the ways in which we talk about or value others has so much power. We can come to believe narratives about people or things, and potential outcomes of situations that just aren’t always substantiated because of our fear, and overtime, I have to wonder of these are the kinds of fears, the kinds of misgivings, that disconnect us from God, enabling us to put faith in our own merits—rather than in God’s good graces.

This isn’t only about the town hall meeting. This is about the ways in which we advocate for others, come to understand people different than ourselves, and live in graceful and compassionate ways that project the love of Christ in a conflicted world. It is about looking at the face of Christ and working together to build a kingdom where bit by bit, we can heal those things that beset us, tear us down, tear one another down, and dispel hope.

Part of our narrative as Christians in this world, is to walk into a marked season where for forty days, we journey. We journey deep into our hearts to look for and work out the fears and misgivings we have against those things which give us un-holy pause. We look to love the person we hold in judgment and see what it is in us that allows us to keep them there. We pray to let God’s love change our hearts, as we live into the love we profess, the love we affirm, and to behold the world—the world that God so loved--and died for. 

My prayer for you, for all of us this Lent is that we live into a light that allows us to be saved from ourselves, saved from our biases, and those things which are different than we know--because God did not come into the world to condemn it—but to Love it—with everything she has.   Amen.





Sunday, March 4, Third Sunday in Lent

Kristin White

John 2:13-22


Preparing for baptism feels like one of the most important things I do as a priest, and I love it. I love talking with parents about their hopes for their children, about their relationships with the people they ask to serve as a child’s godparents. I love sharing about the life of this congregation, and the choice that parents and adults deciding to be baptized have made, to take a share in this community of faith here at St. Augustine's. I love walking through the service itself ahead of time, sharing the theology of why we do what we do and the pieces of history we still carry from the earliest days that the church was church.

And…that is not all.

One of the lessons about baptism that I can’t stop thinking about right now has nothing to do with white dresses or liturgical preparation. Instead, this lesson, one that I’ve taught, one that was shared with me by a friend and mentor, talks about baptism as entering into chaos.

It teaches the reality that the world began in water and darkness, but that none of us can live without shape and form and substance. It shows that the stories of the Bible are really stories about how people have dealt, throughout the millennia, with that chaos.

And we do, too. The darkness and the waters and void exist, at some point, for all of us. So we create ways of building barriers that hold it off and give our lives shape and form: we study, and get a good education; we floss our teeth; we wear seat belts and drive (close to) the speed limit; we exercise; we get to know our neighbors; we eat vegetables; we save money; we choose a safe neighborhood to raise our children; we buy insurance; we get a flu shot; we go to church; we get regular checkups; we read the newspaper; we vote.

And most of these barriers work. Most of them help most of us give our lives shape and form, most of the time.

Until they don’t.

Until the chaos hits, and the thing that wasn’t supposed to happen, does.

You get hurt by a driver who never should have been behind the wheel. After years and years of clean tests, your screening reveals a diagnosis that terrifies you. You do good work at your job…and lose it anyway. Your kid gets into some kind of trouble that you can’t fix. Or your kid is in danger, and you don’t know how to keep them safe.

Is that the real moment that I'm preparing people for in their lives, as we come to the waters of that font? Is that what baptism is for? The time when we find ourselves asking, demanding, in a thousand different ways and at elevated levels: what is real, and who can I trust, and where is God?


This is our opening prayer from the beginning of worship today:

Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul…

Keep us in our bodies, we pray. Keep us in our souls.


John’s gospel gives us a word about bodies in today’s passage. But before we even get to it, the poetry of that otherworldly evangelist echoes into the conversation: “And the word became flesh and dwelt among us,” John says, “Full of grace and truth…and from that fullness have we all received, and grace upon grace.” The irony of that beautiful and ethereal account is that it describes the very earthy fact of God taking up space in this world with flesh and blood and bone. God is word and God is more than word. Because in the person of Jesus, God has a body.

God is fully human. God is fully divine.

Two chapters into that gospel lands us in today’s lesson. In a discussion with the powers that be, Jesus says by word of a sign that if people destroy the temple, he will raise it up in three days. The authorities are confused by such a statement, confused by such a teacher who disrupts the shape and form that they have known to make their own lives make sense. They don’t understand that Jesus is not talking about the temple of marble and gold that has been under construction in Jerusalem for 46 years. They don’t know that he is talking about the temple that is his body; the temple that for 33 years on this earth showed us what God looks like.

And this is what God looks like, what the scripture before us in these next weeks will reveal: “A body anointed, a body beaten, a body on a cross, a body laid in a tomb.”[1] Through it all, and through the 33 years that his body was a temple in this world, and beyond, Jesus shows us that his body is what God looks like. And yours is too.

The word became flesh and dwelt among us…full of grace and truth. “We are baptized into that word made flesh, that we might become the flesh made word,”[2] that we might embody the truth of the gospel, become agents of the fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.

Keep us in our bodies, we pray. Keep us in our souls.

The grave danger in this is that we get fractured and lost, that somehow we get separated from who we are, body and soul. The danger of believing we can control the chaos is that our baptism becomes more about that white dress (which is of course lovely), and less about knowing our need of God.

“Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves…” that’s a terrifying thing to pray, and entirely contrary to the narrative that this world would strive to teach us.

And yet:

Keep us, we pray.

Defend us from adversities, which may happen to our bodies.

Defend us from evil, which may assault and hurt our souls.

Be with us in the chaos we inhabit, O God, and help us to see you right here.


When I meet with people preparing for baptism, usually with parents getting ready to have their children baptized, our conversation includes what we call the “renunciations and affirmations”: six questions from the earliest days of the church. They begin with these three:

·      Do you renounce Satan and all the spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God?

·      Do you renounce the evil powers of this world that corrupt and destroy the creatures of God?

·      Do you renounce all sinful desires that draw you from the love of God?

It’s not the kind of language we tend to use in our day-to-day lives. And so what I say to parents and godparents if they ask about it (and sometimes even if they don’t) is that, whatever you believe about the personification of evil, my guess is that we can agree that the world as it is is not the world of God’s promise. That there are forces striving to keep us fractured and separated, and those forces are what we renounce in these prayers.

Which is to say, there is chaos.

No matter where you fall on the political spectrum right now, I believe that we find ourselves in a moment of collective chaos the likes of which I have not known in my lifetime.

Things are not as they should be. Kids should not have to text their parents from a closet during lockdown, but they have. Teachers should not have to identify themselves as first responders, but now they do. Parents, you should not have to clutch a little at your throats when you drop your children off at school, hoping that you will pick them up again safely at the end of the day, and yet my hunch is that – at least at the back of your minds, at least a little bit – you do.

Churches should not have to be a space with a contingency plan for what if…but Mother Emmanuel, Charleston, and First Baptist, Southerland Springs, would teach us otherwise. I did not know this might be asked of me at the time of my ordination, but I know it in my bones now, that I would put my body between yours and a gun.

Keep us in our bodies, we pray. Keep us in our souls.

We inhabit a time of chaos. But take heart – because in the person of Jesus, God chose to come into the chaos we inhabit. Take heart, because God chose to take the same frail and fleshy form that we do, in order that God could be with us.

“He was speaking of the temple of his body,” the gospel tells us. And it’s true – his body was destroyed. Death is real. Still, our faith teaches us that it is not ultimate.

“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up,” he said. And they did. And God did.

Keep us in our bodies, we pray. Keep us in our souls.







Sunday, February 18, First Sunday of Lent, The Rev. Heidi Haverkamp

Mark 1:9-15

It is a pleasure and a privilege for me to be here with you this morning. My name is Heidi Haverkamp and not only did I attend seminary with your rector, but she introduced me to the man who became my husband. I have known her many years, however, she did not invite me here this morning to tell you stories about the old days, but to talk about a book that I wrote about Lent. I was a parish pastor myself for ten years, here in the diocese of Chicago, but about six months ago I stepped away from parish life to focus on my vocation as a writer and teacher.  I’ve just published my second book with the Presbyterian press, Westminster John Knox – I did submit a manuscript to two Episcopal publishers, but it was the Presbyterians who were interested (what can I say?) – I am grateful to be under contract for a new three-volume series, and I write regularly for The Christian Century magazine. 

My Lent book is called Holy Solitude, and one of its core scriptures is the forty days that Jesus spent in solitude in the desert wilderness before his public ministry began. It’s also always the gospel for the first Sunday of Lent. Jesus is baptized by his cousin John in the Jordan River, and then Mark tells us that “the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.” Around the Jordan are green things, gardens, and farms, but just up a short way from the water, the land is dry as bone and all rocks and sand. This is where the Holy Spirit pushed Jesus to go, as Mark tells us: to fast, to endure the heat and cold, to go be with wild animals, Satan, and angels, for forty days. In other words, to encounter danger both within and without, to encounter himself, and to really, deeply, spend time with God. This was solitude as an extreme sport – very, very difficult. But also, imagine how wondrous and beautiful the vastness of the desert land and sky would have been, especially the stars at night. And how prepared, solid, alive, and able to depend completely on God, Jesus would have been.

He is not the only one to spend time alone with God in the desert in scripture, to prepare for ministry. John the Baptist spent many years in the same desert in Judea. Moses tended sheep alone out on the deserts of Midian, where one day he was startled by a burning bush. Hagar met God in the desert, trying to escape from slavery, and named him El-Roi, the God who sees me. Elijah fled to Mt. Horeb in fear and encountered the presence of God, not in an earthquake, or a great wind, or a fire, but in the sheer sound of silence. The Israelites were alone in the desert with God for forty years. The story of Noah that we heard this morning might be an example of the opposite of solitude, being stuck on a boat full of people and animals – and things did not go well for Noah when he got back to land, I’m afraid.  

So, in my book, I am not trying to say that solitude is an endurance feat, or a way to get some peace and quiet necessarily, or to focus on your goals and plan of action. Solitude is a way to spend time with God – a way to open yourself to the presence of the Holy Spirit, a way to grow your relationship with Jesus. Solitude can be used for many things, but in Lent and as Christians, I want to invite you to use it – whether you spend forty days or just four seconds in the moments of your day – to reach out for the presence of God in your life. To recall to yourself the power and love that Jesus has for you. That may make me sound more like an evangelical than an Episcopalian, but you know, having a personal relationship with God in your life and nurturing that relationship, is an amazing gift that God offers each one of us. And that relationship can become a bedrock and a deep well that we can use to serve others, to face fear and danger, to do our best work, to do the best for our families and friends -- by depending on God and not just ourselves. Having a relationship with God and Jesus is not just about “me and God,” but about loving my neighbor and changing the world.

But how do you have a relationship with God? What is that? A relationship with the ineffable eternal? I find that evangelicals often have better language around this than mainline Christians as I’ve had a few of them as teachers in my faith journey. One put it this way: “God is never more than one thought away. If you want to experience God in your life, think about Him. Talk to Him.” That’s it! Just think about God.

A Roman Catholic, Ruth Burrows, a Carmelite nun from England, says to forget about all the fancy prayer methods and disciplines – just sit still and let God love you. That’s it. That’s how you grow a relationship with God.

My book has a very long title: Holy Solitude: Lenten Reflections with Saints, Hermits, Prophets, and Rebels. I wrote it because I wanted to think about people who had spent time in solitude, trying to grow their relationship with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Whether you love solitude or dread it in your own life, using it to sit with God can be wonderful but also tricky. Solitude is a place to encounter God – the holy, the great mystery, the great love and grace. But it is also a place where demons and the Evil One may lurk, wanting to grab and shake us, pulling us away from God. They can come as distractions, boredom, bad thoughts, a sense of pointlessness, a sense of selfishness.

I wanted to write a book that help people create more solitude and places of open emptiness in their lives for God, with a back-up army of people in scripture and Christian history who had encountered or practiced great solitude themselves, including Jesus himself, and who not only emerge unscathed but had their lives changed in turn, changed the world around them, too. Francis of Assisi, Catherine of Siena, Thomas Merton, Howard Thurman…  I believe we all can do this, not just through forty-day sojourns in the wilderness or years spent in a monastery, but also through moments in everyday life.

Again, not to calm your mind, exactly, or to find peace, or to focus your to do list, but to talk to God, about what you’re doing or worried about. To lean on Jesus, and even to ask him, as one of my elderly parishioner taught me, “Jesus, I can’t do this today, so I need you to come and do it for me.” I realize this may sound corny, or evangelical, but you know, God didn’t come down to earth in Jesus Christ to tell us how follow the rules or fix the whole world or find the right answers, but to have a deeper relationship with us.

The thing is, our moments of solitude and our times alone with God are not always beautiful or blissful. And Jesus shows us the way by starting his ministry in a desert. Sometimes we find ourselves in a solitude or loneliness we did not choose, and that is hard. And yet, we can step back and remember that this is the kind of place God usually chooses to reveal Godself to people – desert places. Why is that, I wonder? We will talk more about this if you come join me in the workshop after worship. But when we are feeling alone, we can know that Jesus did, too. And that God wants to be close to us even in those tough desert places.

One desert place I am especially aware of today is Parkland, Florida, where seventeen people – mostly teenagers – were killed in sprays of gunfire from an AR-15 assault rifle in a high school last Wednesday, Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday. I am someone who simply becomes totally overwhelmed whenever these terrible shootings occur in our nation – where in many places, an AR-15 is easier to buy than a handgun, a car, a dog or cat, or a box of Sudafed. We might well ask, well, what can solitude do about school shootings? The thing is, solitude what gives us the strength to do the work God is calling us to do, whatever that may be. Solitude, prayer, and coming to church, puts our center and strength not in our own strength, or our own wisdom, which is mortal and flawed, but in God’s, which is eternal. Solitude – or prayer – is something we often discard these days as frippery, but as I learned over and over in my research, solitude is a formidable force. I will just mention one saint and rebel, Catherine of Siena, who spent three years alone in a closet in her parents’ house, leaving only to go to Mass – she spent three years alone with Jesus. But then you know what she did? When she emerged, it wasn’t long before she was changing all of Italy with her activism and witness, even changing the mind of a Pope. She changed the world – because of solitude. Not solitude for its own sake, but for the sake of God’s love and so then, for love of her neighbor. Martin Luther King was no hermit, but he spent time in solitude as suggested by his teacher and spiritual director Howard Thurman, who wrote from the heart of his life of deep prayer and meditation: “Of all weapons, love is the most deadly and devastating, and few there be who dare trust their fate in its hands.”

In memory of the people who died on Wednesday, and for their loved ones now left with terrible holes in their lives and hearts, I want to close with a passage I think of as the Valentine’s Day verse of the prophet Hosea – chapter two verse fourteen, “Therefore, I will now allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.” I pray this Lent, for God’s love to allure and tenderly hold all those in the wilderness, whether one not of our choosing or of Lent, a wilderness set in time. I pray that we will all remember to let God love on us, and to believe, really, that God’s love is the only thing that can ever really transform the world, as we can make space for it to move in us and through us, for us and for our neighbor, in Christ’s name. Amen.

February 11, Last Sunday before Lent and the Baptism of Francesca Meriwether

Kristin White

Mark 9:2-9


It is good for us to be here. It is really good for us to be here.

Rachel Meriwether came to us at St. A’s for the first time about a year and a half ago. She hoped to have a family of her own, and to have family around the children she hoped to be a mother to.

And here you are, Baby Francesca Elizabeth – Baby Frankie, as we know you. And here you are, family by birth, and family by choice. And here you are, family by church.

Indeed. It is good, really good, for us to be here.


Today’s gospel tells the story that is always told on the last Sunday before Lent begins: the story of Christ’s transfiguration. Peter and James and John go with Jesus up a high mountain – and it really is high, I’m telling you, with switchbacks and all manner of craziness to get to the top. And there, as the gospel tells us, in Mark’s economical language, Jesus is transfigured before them. His clothes become white like you cannot even imagine. They are too bright for you to even look at them. And as if that’s not enough, suddenly the four of them are not alone. Because the prophet Elijah, who we heard about in the first reading, the one who got fantastically swooped up in front of the prophet Elisha in that business about chariots of fire and went on to ascend in a whirlwind into heaven, well Elijah (not Elisha) is there with Jesus also. And Moses as well, who died before leading his people into the Promised Land that was his 40 years’ journey…Moses is there with Jesus too, there on that high mountain, in the midst of the land that he had promised the people.

Can you even imagine?

Do you know people who, in spaces where they get anxious or scared, just start talking? Are you one of those sorts of people? I can be. And in those moments, when I don’t know quite what to say, if I’m particularly out of my skin, I can sometimes just start saying lots of words in the fervent hope that some of them stick, that a few of them turn out to be the Right Thing To Say.

So I have some sympathy for the apostle Peter, who I think has lots of feelings, who seems from time to time to be well outside of his own skin, and who can tend to throw a whole bunch of words up against a wall, hoping that a few of them just might stick, that one phrase, that one sentence, that might be the Right Thing.

We know that Peter and James and John are terrified. Not “a little anxious” or “maybe rather uncomfortable.” The text says “terrified.” It does not, however, tell us that James and John stammer around, though. No, that’s Peter’s role. Peter is the one who just starts talking: “It is good for us to be here,” he says. “Let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” And I'm pretty sure that, left to his own devices, he would have just kept on with the words and the talking. Because ‘he did not know what to say,’ the text tells us…because ‘they were terrified.’

God saves them, though, in spite of their terror, in spite of Peter’s stammering and wordy solution to his own fear. God saves them from that moment – because a cloud overshadows them.

(Can you imagine? A high mountain, and your friend and teacher suddenly transfigured before you, too bright to look at, and then he’s there with the greatest hits of prophet and patriarch, and then you can’t see because you’re in a cloud?!). I reflected on this passage this week with a group of colleagues, and we talked about this cloud being the Cloud of Shushing…the Cloud of Be Quiet.

There comes a voice: “This is my Son, the Beloved: listen to him!”

Could the be: The Cloud of: Listen!

Here’s the thing, though: we’ve heard that phrase before, and recently.

In the place where this gospel account begins, without reference to angels or magi or a baby, we hear instead about another prophet, one who wears camels’ hair and eats locusts and tells people to repent. John the Baptist meets his cousin Jesus, at the beginning of the good news of Mark’s gospel, out in the wilderness of the Jordan River. Jesus goes there, to be baptized by John, over that prophet’s protest. And as he comes up out of that muddy baptismal water, the heavens are torn apart, and the Spirit descends like a dove, and a voice from heaven says: “You are my Son, the Beloved. With you I am well-pleased.”

It’s not so very far away from “This is my Son, the beloved. Listen!”

And still, it is good – really good – for us to be here.


Baby Frankie, your mother Rachel and I have been talking about your baptism for a while, now. As church, we laid hands on her and prayed for you on Mother’s Day last spring, when it became real for all of us to anticipate that you were coming into the world. I came to bless you just before your birth at the hospital, at a time when it felt like a kind of cloud was descending, when your mama was scared, and was back again the next day to welcome you into this life. Your first trip anywhere was to come here, to this church, where people have been scooping you up since probably almost that first visit. One of our members, as she held you, said to me, “The church has a new baby!” She joked about saying that you get to go home with your mama, but that really, you belong to us all.

When your mama and I talked about her hopes for your baptism, she said, “I want Frankie to know, for the whole of her life, that she belongs. That she is loved. And this is the place where I know that is true.”


Well. It is good for us to be here. And that is true indeed.

So we celebrate this day, this very good day, when it is good for all of us to be here – for you, Baby Francesca Elizabeth, and for your family of birth, and your family of choice, and your family of church. You remind us of how good it is, for all of us, because our love for you reminds us of God’s love for us. Because I believe that the same love that makes our hands itch to be the next ones who get to hold you, is the very love that God has for each one of us, the God who is always waiting impatiently to hold us near…to adore us…to say “This – THIS – is my child, the beloved.”

I wish I could say that it will all be easy, that you will never be terrified, that you won’t have those moments that we do that cause us to lose ourselves. I wonder if you, like Peter, like me, will be the kind of person who finds herself out of sorts and just starts saying a lot of words.

Remember, when they come, that those are moments. Jesus doesn’t stay there in the waters of the Jordan River, he isn’t stuck up on that high mountain forever. Sooner or later, the cloud dissipates. Jesus leaves the river of his baptism and goes out into the wilderness of temptation, and from there will begin his ministry of healing and teaching and feeding people. He walks down off the mountain of transfiguration, and very soon will set his face toward Jerusalem.

You will come and go from this place, Baby Frankie, and all of you who are here with us. And maybe this will be the place where you will see the heavens torn open. And maybe this will be the place where you are transformed. Whatever comes, I pray that you will know that this is your home – that you may know, that we all may trust, that we are known, that we are loved, that we belong, together at home in the God who claims us at the mount of transfiguration, at the waters of baptism.

It is good for us to be here.

So, Beloved, God's chosen, let us go, now, together, to the font of our salvation.


January 28, Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany and Annual Meeting

Kristin White

1 Corinthians 8:1-13

Hear again these words from the apostle Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians:

“Now, concerning food sacrificed to idols: we know that ‘all of us possess knowledge.’ Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge; but anyone who loves God is known by God.

“…As to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that ‘no idol in the world really exists,’ and that ‘there is no God but one’…

“It is not everyone, however, who has this knowledge…We are no worse off if we do not eat (the same meat that is sacrificed to idols), and no better off if we do. But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.”


Paul loved the church at Corinth. He began this whole – very wordy – letter with this greeting to them, seven chapters earlier: “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ: grace to you, and peace.”

And so to this church, comprised of those called to be saints together, Paul offered instruction. Ample, and detailed instruction…with many commas.

The Corinthian church had a number of members who were reasonably wealthy, reasonably educated, reasonably sophisticated people. They were comfortable in the knowledge, based in Holy Scripture, that idols do not exist. And so they were also confident in the practice of eating meat, sold in the markets, which had begun as an offering in the temple to idols.[1]

Life among this group at that time involved a number of parties, receptions, banquets, and public celebrations. And each of these was an occasions to eat good food, which meant people shopping for their own households and guests at the same markets that sold the meat that had been a temple offering.

The church at Corinth was not comprised only of this refined group of people, though. It included regular folks, too, people who worked for a living. It included slaves, and poor people, people who didn’t have the money to shop at those temple markets. And many of them had only just left the culture in which their two hard-earned coins would have purchased a dove to be sacrificed at the temple. These members were recent converts to the Christian life. They didn’t know the Scriptures yet. They weren’t experienced. They had only just accepted the invitation to “come and see.” They were learning how to love God in this new way. So for them to assume the liberty being asserted by their fellow members could be confusing at best, if not outright harmful, to their new life of faith.

And the tricky thing about all of this is that, in terms of theology and understanding, Paul agreed with the sophisticates. In fact, they probably believed and practiced as they did because of Paul’s own teachings. They knew the Shema of Israel: “The Lord your God: the Lord is one.”[2] Paul knew that idols are not real, and would have said so. He knew that food has no impact on either our salvation or our condemnation, and he would have taught that, too.

But he stepped into the midst of this thing that was dividing the community, in order to ask them to pay attention to what it was for: “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up,” he wrote to that beloved church. “Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge; but anyone who loves God is known by God.”

Food is at the center of a lot of what we do, in whole of the Christian faith and especially here at St. Augustine’s Church. Every Sunday, our worship focuses on a sacred feast – one to which everybody is welcome. After we meet today for our Annual Meeting, to share stories of this past year and hope for the future that lies ahead of us, we will continue in fellowship over the food that you all have brought to share: homemade soup and salad and bread and desserts.

Many of you know that I have Celiac Disease, which means that my body can’t tolerate the gluten found in regular bread and other foods. Now, you have the freedom to eat whatever you like and what nourishes your bodies. But I can tell you the blessing that it has been for me, the ways that you have extended yourselves to make sure that there is food safe for me, and for others, to eat when we gather, so that we can all join together at the table, so that we can all take part in the fellowship that food provides.

This is to say that the specifics of things matter – food and drink and fellowship, the hospitality extended in the life of the community and the nourishing of this Body – that matters.

And. I don’t believe that is the entirety what Paul is talking about here, in his letter to the people who are the church. I believe that the deepest part of what he has to say is about what freedom means in the context of Christian faith. Because, set within that frame, freedom is not just about the absence of rules that we have to follow or else be punished, it’s something more that the elimination of the law. “Christian freedom is grounded in love, God’s love for us in Jesus Christ.”[3]

Choosing to be a part of the Body of Christ means choosing to belong to one another. We can’t do that in isolation. Our faith cannot be only abstract. It has to be made manifest, in who we love and how we live. Does knowledge matter? Absolutely it does. But having the right answer is not the only thing that is important. Because relationships matter, too. What we do – right down to the practicalities of the food we share – affects who we are, together, and it has, since the earliest moments that the church was church.

Our Annual Meeting today involves many of those very same kinds of practicalities, relocated from the context of Corinth in the very first century, right here to Wilmette in the twenty-first. We will hear and read the stuff of our shared life together over this past year. We’ll talk about where the money we hold in common comes from, and how it is used. We will ask questions like this:

·      Who is here, and who is not here?

·      When are we silent?

·      What do we pay attention to?

·      What is our relationship to this neighborhood?

·      How do things feel to you at St. A’s right now?

·      How are children treated?

·      How do we handle conflict?

We will do this as a church comprised of members who have been part of this Body for decades, and we will do this as a church comprised of members who walked through this door for the very first time a week ago…or maybe even this morning. And my sisters and brothers, we are all, together, the beloved Body of Christ. We all belong to one another: everybody, everybody, everybody.

I give thanks for the conversations we will share today, and for those that lie ahead of us. I give thanks for the life we share in common, set within our love of the God who knows us. I give thanks for the fact that you are the church that I love and am called to serve. And I pray that in all that we do, we will strive to build up this Body, this church.

Because just as the members of the church at Corinth, so many years ago, I believe that you, each one of you, is sanctified in Christ Jesus. I believe that we are all called to be saints, together, with those who in every place and at every time call on the name of our Lord Jesus. And, together with the apostle Paul, I wish you grace. And peace.


[1] V. Bruce Rigdon, “1 Corinthians 8:1-13: Pastoral Perspective.” Feasting on the Word: Year B, Volume 1. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2008. 302. Much of this sermon is informed by Rigdon’s essay, for which I am grateful.

[2] Deuteronomy 6:4

[3] Rigdon, 304.

January 21, Third Sunday after the Epiphany

Deacon Sue Nebel

Earlier this month I was at the Diocesan Center in downtown Chicago for a meeting of the Commission on Ministry.  It was our first meeting of the new year, a time to welcome new members.  A time to get to know each other and to orient the new people. Prior to the meeting, we had been told to be prepared to respond to this directive: “Tell briefly about an important decision you have made.”  After a brief go-around to introduce ourselves, we divided up into small groups of three or four, to share the stories of our decisions. In my group, one person told us about asking a woman he barely knew to accompany him to a business social function.  It was the beginning of a relationship that led to marriage.  The other three of us had made decisions related to vocation. In each one of the situations, the person faced a choice. They could move forward on a well-defined path, a path shaped by family background, role expectations for women, and a sense of security.  Or they could opt for a non-traditional path, responding to a deeply-felt conviction that it was what was right for them.  Each of them chose the second one, moving out of their comfort zone into the unknown. 

We have a situation like that—people making important decisions--in this morning’s Gospel lesson.  The setting is the Sea of Galilee, where fishermen are in their boats out on the water, engaged in their work.  Jesus comes walking along the shore.  Spotting two brothers, Simon and Andrew, he calls out to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.”  They drop their nets, get out of the boat, and follow him.  Continuing on, Jesus finds two more fishermen.  James and John, with their father and some hired men, mending their nets.  Jesus calls out, “Follow me.”  Like the other two, they drop their nets and join up with him.  An important, life-changing decision for the four men.  They choose to join up with this man Jesus to head off to who knows where.  They turn their backs on a secure livelihood.  A familiar pattern of going out each day in their boats to fish.  Bringing their daily catch back to sell.  Keeping their boats and their nets in good repair.  In the blink of an eye (Mark uses his familiar term “immediately.) they leave it all behind to set out on a different path—into the unknown.

It is quite a story.  Like so many Gospel accounts of Jesus’s ministry, this one is pretty thin on details.  I find it frustrating. What’s going on here?  I want to know more about the decision made by Simon, Andrew, James, and John. I want more information.  When I was in Deacons School, moving toward ordination, the instructor in one of my preaching classes offered some good advice. Words I have remembered and put to use.  When faced with a challenging passage of Scripture, he told us, approach it in a stance of asking questions. First, what questions do you want to ask the text?  Then, what questions is the text asking you?  What questions do I want to ask this passage about Jesus calling his first disciples?   I want to ask about the back story.  Did those four men make their decision to follow Jesus on an impulse?  Or, was it something they had been thinking about?  Was his calling to them on the Sea of Galilee their first encounter with him?  Was he a complete stranger, or had they already met him?  What, if anything, did they know about his plans?  Not much to go on here. 

But the version of this story in the Gospel of Matthew gives us a clue about the situation—and a possible scenario.  Matthew begins his version of the story by telling us that Jesus had left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the Sea of Galilee. So it could be that Jesus had been in the area for a while.  He may have been looking for followers.  Maybe he was talking with lots of people. Talking about his mission to spread the word about the good news of the kingdom. Keeping an eye out for people the potential to do the work of ministry.  It is possible that Simon and Andrew, and James and John, had heard about Jesus and his mission from others.  Or maybe they had been involved in some of his conversations.  Maybe they were more than a little curious about his vision of a different world than the one they knew.  One that would be better for everyone.  So, when Jesus comes walking along the shore with his invitation “Follow me and I will make you fish for men” they might have been open to possibility. Open to setting out on a different path. They respond to Jesus’s invitation.  They choose that different path. A path that will take them to places far beyond the limits of the place where they lived and the work they did.  They will indeed “fish for people,” bringing new followers to Jesus. They will learn to do new things, like teaching and healing. and, eventually, they will begin to  build the church. 

Now to the other question, the more important one. What question, or questions, is this text asking us?  I think it is this: Will we do what Simon and Andrew and James and John did?  Will we decide to follow Jesus?  The answer is yes.  The fact that we are gathered here this morning testifies to that.  We said yes in our baptism. The question is right there the baptismal liturgy, as clear as can be.  Candidates for baptism, or their parents and sponsors, are asked: Do you turn to Jesus Christ and accept him as your Savior?  Do you promise to follow and obey him as your Lord? They answer: I do.  Most of us, I would guess, were probably too young to understand what was happening in our baptism.  What was being pledged on our behalf.  The Church, thank goodness, makes sure that, as we grow older, we learn what baptism means.  We claim those commitments as our own.  They shape and form who we are and what we do. The Church gives us many opportunities to affirm the promises of baptism.  We can do in liturgical rites like Confirmation or Renewal of Baptismal Vows.  We do it in baptismal liturgies, joining with the persons being baptized to renew our Baptismal Covenant. To respond to questions about how we live our lives.  In the Diocese of Chicago, renewing that covenant is often part of a Celebration of New Ministry, the official welcoming of a new priest as rector or vicar.  Again and again, we claim ourselves to be followers of Jesus, his present-day disciples. This, we affirm, is who we are.

Follow me, Jesus says to the four fishermen in the Gospel story. Follow me.  Jesus has continued to say it to people down through the years.  He says it to us. Every single one of us. Every single day.  The question is not if we will say yes, if we will follow him.  We have answered that one.  The question is how.  How will we follow Jesus today? How will we continue the work started by Jesus and, the four fishermen on the Sea of Galilee, along with others who joined them?. Each morning, as we look to the day ahead, we should ask ourselves: What will I do today as a follower of Jesus? How will I live out my promise to love my neighbor, understanding neighbor in the broadest terms? How will I respect the dignity of everyone I meet or with whom I interact today? What can I do to work for justice? To make the world a better place for everyone.

Follow me, Jesus said to them. And they dropped their nets and followed him.



Epiphany 3; Year B: Jonah 3:1-5,10: Psalm 62:6-14; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31;  Mark 1:14-20