Suggestions for Celebrating Women

On the 9th of August in South Africa we remember more than 20 000 South African women of all races who, in 1956, marched peacefully to the Union Buildings in protest against the tyranny of apartheid – many with children upon their backs.

Celebrating their nobility, bravery and solidarity becomes a profound moment of acknowledging the feminine image of God who creates and nurtures and transforms, of affirming the part that each woman plays in God’s unfolding salvation story, and praying for those who bring us into life – often in the most difficult of circumstances.

Below are some Scripture suggestions and prayers written specifically for a service that longs to emphasise the power and place of women – God’s beautiful beloved.

Call to Worship – Psalm 131 – God, our mother
Lord, my heart is not proud;
I don’t look down on others.
I don’t do great things,
and I can’t do miracles.

But I am calm and quiet,
like a baby with its mother.
I am at peace, like a baby with its mother.

People of Israel, put your hope in the Lord
now and forever.

Prayers of praise, presence and confession
O labouring God who held us in the hidden depths of your heart’s longing and mind’s wild imagining before bringing forth into being the wondrous beauty of earth and sky and sea,
we put our hope in you – now and forever. 

O affirming God who declares the goodness of each Word-birthed, Spirit-breathed creation, and the nobility of each man and woman that you make from scratch in your image
we put our hope in you – now and forever. 

O accompanying God who draws near day after day and moment after moment with outstretched hand to walk and talk, to laugh and dance, to work and play with those you have uniquely named your “beautiful beloved,”
we put our hope in you – now and forever.

O embracing God who demonstrates the length and breadth and height and depth of your great love through the self-offering and sacrifice of your own son –
a far cry from our stubbornness and selfishness and superficial ways,
we put our hope in you – now and forever.

O nurturing God who comforts and consoles us when we falter, when we fall, when we fail and guides and strengthens us when we dare and dream and strive,
we put our hope in you – now and forever.

Indeed, O mothering God, we love you
and we long to place ourselves in your arms this day and every day;
to be cradled there as peacefully and securely as a baby with its mother.

Forgive us for the pride, the greed, the fears, and the ambitions
that keep us from your embrace.
Soothe the worries, the wounds, the doubts, and the demands
that intrude upon the sacred quiet of this moment.
Open our eyes to the beauty and the abundance 
of your love, your compassion, your grace.

And bless in this time of remembrance and celebration every woman who has been a living expression of your labouring, affirming, accompanying, embracing and nurturing nature.

<naming> 

In Jesus’ name.

Scripture readings: The Crimson Cord – Rahab’s story
Old Testament – Joshua 2 and 6:22-25
New Testament – Matthew 1:1-6,17

Prayers of intercession
O transforming God who not only shares our story
but has the capacity to change the plot in surprising ways
we pray, this day, for the women that you have named and know –
the women in our family, in our community, our country, and the whole wide world:

for the Hannahs who have given up hope of ever having a child of their own,
and the Hagars who have no safe, welcoming space to call home,
for the Tamars who have known only rape and violation,
and the Leahs who have always felt inadequate and unwanted,
for the Rahabs who sell body and soul to make ends meet,
and the Ruths who leave everything behind them to face an uncertain future,
for the Esthers who gently work for the good of others,
and the Miriams who lead your people in unrestrained worship,
for the Abigails who speak peace into conflict,
and the Deborahs you raise up to speak truth to the tyrant,
for the Marys who long to spend life at your feet,
and the Marthas who are always worrying about what must still be done,
for the Dorcas’s who dedicate their lives to doing good,
and the Lydias who open up their homes in abundant hospitality –

infuse them with your wisdom,
encircle them with your love,
empower them with your presence,
that they may know in the very depths of their being
their beauty and their belovedness,
Amen.  

Communion prayer
O life-giving God, as we come to your table, we remember
that we are all sinners, equally in need of your mercy and compassion:
free us from the power of sin and death through your body and your blood.

We remember that no one is unwanted or excluded from your love, nor should be from ours:
Bind us together through your goodwill and your grace.

We remember that through you, our lives are deeply significant and full of surprises:
Lead us into new ways of being through your servanthood and surrender.

We remember that through your generosity we are bound to an eternity beyond our imagination:
Anchor us in your promises and your peace.

In Jesus’ name.
Amen.

Benediction
O sustaining God may the perfect peace and power of this moment spill over
into the busyness and the routine of our daily lives
and may we ever seek the warmth and comfort of your all-embracing arms,
now and forever. Amen.

***

~Featured image: Ruth and mother-in-law Naomi by painter Sandy Freckleton Gagon

Affirmation

*testimony shared at my Witness service as a candidate for Ordination*

The Methodist Church of Southern Africa has always been home to me – family.

From my youngest years when I was content to eat the chocolate cake crumbs that escaped my mother’s plate as she fellowshipped with other young mothers, to my formative years when the stories of Jesus sat proudly beside “The Adventures of Hercules” and Enid Blyton’s “Enchanted Wood” on my bookshelf, church was a place to play, to be, to belong.

At the age of 13, as I watched the Easter story being dramatised at our youth church one Sunday, it suddenly struck home: the reality of God’s great love for me and the suffering that Jesus was prepared to endure for my salvation. And so I became a participant rather than an observer – in God’s story and in God’s community – attending Bible studies and youth events and then leading them.

At 18, I was passionate about God and God’s people, but I also had very distinct plans for my future.

Then, one evening during worship, I heard the voice of God within and around me telling me that God had other plans. I returned home feeling a little confused, a lot anxious; wondering whether I had imagined the whole thing; praying for confirmation of God’s will in God’s Word.

The Spirit led me to Paul’s first letter to Timothy (1 Timothy 4:12-16) and the message was clear:

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity….

Devote yourself to preaching and to teaching….

Watch your life and doctrine closely and you will save both yourself and your hearers.

I was surprised to discover that very few rejoiced with me that I had discovered my life’s true calling. Some ridiculed my experience. Many friends abandoned me as I abandoned the life plans that had bound us together. Even those in the church who I trusted for guidance and support seemed to throw obstacles in my way: doubts and questions I was ill-equipped to answer.

It took many years for me to candidate for the Ministry of Word and Sacrament: years in which I tried my best to live up to my calling at church, at work, at home; years in which I felt that I was giving my all but it was not good enough; years in which I grew more and more frustrated with a God who would stir up such things in my heart yet not make a way for me to use the gifts that I had been given for this particular purpose.

Yet when the way finally opened up through the non-itinerant, non-stipendiary category, there was no pat on the back; no “well done my good and faithful servant;” simply hard truths about my own limitations, about the imperfection and discomfort of what it is to be community; and, ultimately, about the true cost of discipleship.

Over the past seven years, I have had to wrestle with God and with myself.

I have listened to how my family would be butchered in front of me if I did not learn my place as a white, female minister in training. I have been afraid to close my eyes and pray after a colleague was knifed during a service I was leading by one that we had been called to serve and to love. I have grieved at the non-itinerant category being closed and felt with some of the soul friends with whom I have journeyed for so long that the church suddenly does not want the unique gifts that we have offered. I have worried about how my family are connecting with God in the diverse and different communities in which we have worshipped and served.

But today I thank God.

I thank God that as we have wrestled, God has never let go of me. I thank God for the people who have accompanied and supported and tested and taught me. I thank God for the countless moments of love and laughter and and intimacy and self-offering that have presented themselves as I have served and been served within this Methodist family. I thank God for the hundreds of babies I have held in my arms at their baptism and see now walking into Sunday School class for the first time. I thank God for the table at which we are all equal in our need of God’s grace.

But above all, I thank God for those things that have touched me in a way that has caused pain for a while but opened up new ways of being and seeing and loving.

It has been in those moments that God has shown me that obedience to God’s call is actually an invitation into intimacy with the One who made me by hand, and not the expectation of a distant and demanding God.

It has been in those moments that I have learned to be a servant and not to try and be a Saviour. God’s got that covered already!

It has been in those moments that I have experienced the liberating power of forgiveness and the full extent of people’s desperation that inspires me to love, love, LOVE; even when that love leaves me vulnerable.

It has been in those moments that I have discovered that our greatest differences from one other can indeed be our greatest gifts to each other.

It has been in those moments that I have learned to dance …
… and to let God lead.

And so, today as I whole-heartedly proclaim that I am grateful for the community of the church (as imperfect as she can be) and confident of God’s continued calling and constant presence in my life, I can only echo the words of Charles Wesley with all my heart:

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus and all in Him is mine!
Alive in Him, my living Head,
and clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach the eternal throne
And claim the crown, through Christ, my own!

 

On scattering and gathering

*a meditation on Genesis 11:1-9 and Acts 2:1-21*

Once upon a time, the people of the earth spoke one language and had everything in common.

They were a family – a BIG one – who moved together, stayed together, lived together.

When they sat around the fireplace over dinner each night and told stories of days gone by, no one ever felt left out or excluded because the tongue of the storyteller was the same tongue that they had learned in the lullabies that their mothers had sung to them as they were cradled tightly to the breast.

And so the people were on the same page; always in perfect harmony and accord.

People on the same page can accomplish great things with no misunderstanding or miscommunication to get in their way.

Yet of all the great things that this great big family could do, they decided to build a great city with a great tower in the center that would reach to the top of the heavens so that everyone throughout the ages would remember how great they truly were.

Shame. People can be so silly at times. And selfish. And self-important.

No one remembered “the Word” who had brought the world into being, or given them the language that they shared, or the very ability to speak for that matter.

So they gathered bricks and stones together and began to build a monument – a testimony to their dominion and domination; an empire, a kingdom destined to last forever, to put them on equal footing with the God they had forsaken; a tower of pride, of ego, of ambition.

And God came down to see what they were doing:
~ with their unity,
~ with their authority,
~ with their humanity,
~ with their mutual understanding.

But it was not very good.

God could have spoken a word and reduced them all to nothing. God could have devastated them as they had so uncaringly devastated the earth around them in their pursuit of greatness. God could have seen in them a seed of ego, of ambition, of pride that would be passed down from generation to generation and cause not very good things to happen and wiped them all out.

But God didn’t.

Instead, God took away their common tongue, and when they no longer spoken one single language, their other differences became intolerable.

These differences made it hard for them to look at one another around the common fire. Hard to share stories. Hard to plot and to plan.

And so they did what people do when their differences become uncomfortable, when they cannot find common ground: this one great family split into smaller clans and tribes who could still understand each other, and each set off to find their own place in the world.

The great city of Babel lay unfinished, abandoned; the great family fragmented, scattered all over the face of the earth.

Hundreds of years later, there were people of different lands and different languages gathered in a city called Jerusalem. There were Medes and Parthians, Egyptians and Cretans, Greeks and Libyans, Romans and Arabs – some living there; some just passing through for profit or pleasure or pilgrimage.

And on that day God came down again.

The Holy Spirit, like tongues of fire, settled on the heads and in the hearts of those who called themselves the children of God.

God came down not to give the people of earth a common language again for pride and ego and ambition still lurked in many of their hearts, but a common message in ALL of their own languages that they might know of God’s power and presence and love.

The God who had scattered is also the God who would gather all who felt unloved, unknown, insignificant and unimportant into God’s great family.

Some were amazed.
Some were perplexed.
Some even mocked the miracle.

Yet the words rang out of the presence of God with and within us always, and of the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.

As we celebrate the gift of Spirit, the season of Pentecost, may we know the assurance of God’s presence in both the scatterings and the gatherings of our lives.

Dancing with Love

“May I have this dance?” you ask, holding out a hand that shaped the moon and set the stars in place.

“I’d be honoured,” I reply, offering my grubby digits a little timidly.

You bow gracefully. I curtsy self-consciously.

As you weave your fingers through mine and pull me close, your arm wrapping snugly around my waist, I whisper solemnly, “I’ve got two left feet; just so you know.”

“Then stand on mine,” you offer without hesitation.

Feeling a little foolish but completely disinclined to prove myself an utter fool, I do.

Your footing firm, with me secure, you start to step, to dance, to swirl

To swirl and twirl across the floor
Until the bounds of room – no more;
the proper crowd left out of sight
for rapturous breadth of starry night;
the scent of earth upon the air,
the chirp of crickets, everywhere …

Beyond the cobbled paving stones,
Into the forest overgrown,
Where beneath the scent of oak and pine
I twirl still with my Love Divine.

As I close my eyes,
take a deep breath,
and rest my head
upon your chest,
your twirling footsteps start to slow:
there’s nowhere that we need to go.

So here we stand and step and sway;
May it ever be this way!

* Artwork by Kendra Halterman

The final word

When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.”
With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
~ John 19:30

It is finished. We’re over. I’m done. Goodbye.

Endings bring to most of us a tumult of emotions:
sometimes a deep sense of relief and a welcome anticipation of something new, something better to come;
sometimes hopelessness, despair, the crippling cries of a broken-heart as we have to let go of someone or something that we long to hold on to;
sometimes numbness and disbelief at what we have come through and an aimless, empty wondering about where we should go next;
sometimes a sense of victory and accomplishment, of soaring confidence at what we can do when we put our minds and our hearts and our resources into a goal or a project.

Jesus’ last words on the cross are so final.

So sudden given the hours of unending agony that he has endured since the anguish of the garden in which he so fervently prayed, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42).

It is finished.

There is a temptation for us to read into those three little words our own emotion at endings: It is finished! Jesus is triumphant! He’s done it! Sin and death have no power over the world any more! He has accomplished what the Father sent him to do!

It is finished. Thank God it’s over. The pain. The suffering. The abandonment by friend and Father. I don’t know if I would have been able to endure such torture. And if I’m absolutely honest, I’m glad I don’t have to watch what he was going through anymore.

It is finished. He’s dead. He’s gone and we don’t know how to carry on. He meant everything to us: he called us, he taught us, he loved us. He gave our lives a sense of meaning and purpose but he’s been killed, murdered, annihilated and we don’t know what to do or where to go.

It is finished.

Where does that leave the remarkable story of God-with-us? What does it mean for us as we try to make sense of the endings within our own lives?

Luke’s Gospel, fortunately, leaves us with a more complete conclusion.

Darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Having said this, he breathed his last.
~ Luke 23:44-46

The ending is the same: this chapter in the Christ-story is complete; his suffering is over; his mission of mercy and reconciliation fulfilled but the primary emotion at the end is not one of victory nor relief, nor brokenness nor disbelief.

It is trust.

Trust in God to turn the page and begin the next chapter; to play God’s part in the fulfillment of the promise. Resurrection has not happened but in this moment hope has dawned as Jesus lays himself to rest within the Father’s hands.

It is an amazing moment given those heart-wrenching words that broke free from thirsty lips about an hour before: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

It is finished; the sense of being alone, of being lost in the darkness and the depravity of human sin.

In the final hour, with his final breath, Jesus lays his past, his present, his future into the hands of the One he was always trusted, whose love is certain: his Father.

It is finished. May this become your final word today. The sin that holds you, the hurt you hold onto, the anxiety about your future, the parts of your story that need to come to an end, the desire for revenge or success that drives you, the dark depression from loved ones you have lost, the disbelief and doubt that has gained a foothold at unanswered prayer, the whole unpredictable tumult of human life, the feelings of forsakenness and wondering about where God is in the midst of your circumstances – let them be finished as you commend your life into God’s hands trusting in the sufficiency of God’s love for this day and tomorrow.

The Shadows of Selfishness

An outline of themes and readings for the Service of Shadows (Tenebrae)

Introduction
Shadows hunted you –
shadows of those who did not understand you, did not want you,
did not like the way you challenged their laws and way of living.

Shadows loomed before you –
the shadow of the cross, the shadow of the grave,
the vast and creeping stain of the whole world’s sin.

But you did not turn back.
Jesus, lamb of God, Saviour of the world,
you walked the way of self-giving
even though there was no darkness within you;
even though the shadows pressed heavily upon you.

I need some of your light to glow in my life
and burn away the darkness
that dwells in the hidden desires of my dreams
for the disobedience of Adam and Eve is my disobedience;
the envy of Cain is my envy;
the dishonesty of Jacob is my dishonesty;
the lust of David is my lust;
the fearfulness of Elijah is my fear;
the unfaithfulness of Israel is my unfaithfulness.

Show me on this night of shadows, in the deepening darkness,
the shadows within me that I have been in love with for so long.

Readings
Candle 1: The shadow of greed
Luke 22:1-6 – Judas agrees to betray Jesus

Candle 2: The shadow of pride
Luke 22:24-27 – The disciples argue over who is the greatest

Candle 3: The shadow of laziness
Luke 22:39-46 – The disciples fall asleep in the garden of Gethsemane

Candle 4: The shadow of betrayal
Luke 22:47-48 – Judas hands Jesus over with a kiss

Candle 5: The shadow of fear
Luke 22:49-53 – The disciples strike out with their swords

Candle 6: The shadow of denial
Luke 22:54-62 – Peter disowns Jesus

Candle 7: The shadow of death
Luke 22:44-49 – The watchers are plunged into the darkness of despair

 

A prisoner of hope

Return to the fortress, you prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.
Zechariah 9:12

I am a prisoner of hope.

Hope does not set me free; it binds me to the hard places, to the dry places, watching and waiting for the bud to blossom, for the river to run, for the promises of God to become a present reality.

Sometimes, I wish that God would release me: allow me to wallow in self-pity; to throw up my hands in despair and declare, “There is nothing to be done!”

Yet hope catches the lie between my lips and counters,
“Just wait and see what God can do.”

***

Keep me grounded, God,
even in those places that seem scorched and inhospitable;
when then are no short cuts – no way round – 
just a hard way across the wilderness
hoping, praying, begging,
for Your restoration to break through.

 

To the God who dresses dandelions …

Inspired by Philippians 3:17-4:1

O Divine Seamstress,
who dresses dandelions in dainty white
that with the wind’s gentlest caress
they might dance into the light;

who decorates the peacock
with a thousand gleaming eyes
that glisten in moss and midnight hues
whenever he’s surprised,

who gives the elephant her trunk,
the cheetah grace and speed,
that they might forage or endure the hunt
according to their need,

who pins the stars upon the sky –
piercing the velvet night,
and hems in the ocean’s awesome power –
creating land and life,

who dreams of a love vast and wide
and all that it can be,
and then – within my mother’s womb –
so tenderly knits me,

help me to see the pattern
when life is just a mess
of You at work for my own good
with care and tenderness.

 

 

 

Breathe

A guided meditation for sensitising people to the Spirit of God with and within them… to be read slowly with periods of silence between paragraphs.

***

Make yourself comfortable. Lie down or sit in a comfortable position – body relaxed, heavy, relying on the support of the floor or a chair, feeling the connection points, the texture beneath your skin, the tension in your muscles ….

Close your eyes and listen to the sounds outside the room – of traffic passing by; people rushing around on errands, chatting on the phone, laughing with friends; of birdsong and wind in the trees … picture in the myriad of sounds the whole world around you.

Now shrink the big world outside and focus on what you hear immediately around you – people getting settled, shifting … breathing, breathing, breathing.

Focus on your breath – breathed into your nostrils by the very God who made you and gave you life …

And the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being.
Genesis 2:7

Breathe in deeply. Breathe out slowly. Acknowledge the breath within you – a breath which without we would return to lifelessness like the dry bones of the valley …

Man’s fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: as one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath … all go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.
Ecclesiastes 3:19-20

Breathe in deeply. Breathe out slowly. How easily are you breathing? Do you feel short of breath, harassed, hurried, unwell? Are there places in your life that are dry and dusty, even dead?

Breathe in deeply. Breathe out slowly. Allow He who makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth; who sends lightning with the rain; who brings out the wind from his storehouses (Psalm 135:9) to reach into life with a creative energy and active power that may be invisible but is surely felt – like the breeze rustling amongst the trees, or the wind whipping up the waves on a once-calm sea.

Now a wind went out from the Lord and drove quail in from the sea. It brought them down all around the camp to about three feet above the ground, as far as a day’s walk in any direction. All that day and night and all the next the people went out and gathered quail. No one gathered less than 60 bushels.
Numbers 11:31-32

Breathe in deeply. Breathe out slowly. Let your body relax more deeply beyond the chair or the floor that holds your weight into the certainty of God’s creativity and activity at work in your body, in your life.

Let the wind of God blow away the dust and dirt that has settled within you during this long day, the words of doubt or discouragement that still linger, the worries that drift over and over within your mind …

Let it carry to you in gentle whispers what you need to nourish your soul and restore your strength and remind you Who it is that made you and to Whom you belong. Breathe in deeply. Breathe out slowly.

Breath. Wind. Ruach – the Hebrew word used in the Old Testament to describe them. A feminine noun; the gentle, yet powerful, touch of God.

Breath. Wind. Ruach.

Yet there is another word too:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the “Ruach” of God was hovering over the waters.
Genesis 1:1-2

Breathe in deeply. Breathe out slowly. Feel the Spirit of God with and within you.

God grabbed me. God’s Spirit took me up and set me down in the middle of an open plain strewn with bones. He led me around and among them—a lot of bones! There were bones all over the plain—dry bones, bleached by the sun.

He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

I said, “Master God, only you know that.”

He said to me, “Prophesy over these bones: ‘Dry bones, listen to the Message of God!’”

God, the Master, told the dry bones, “Watch this: I’m bringing the breath of life to you and you’ll come to life. I’ll attach sinews to you, put meat on your bones, cover you with skin, and breathe life into you. You’ll come alive and you’ll realize that I am God!”

I prophesied just as I’d been commanded. As I prophesied, there was a sound and, oh, rustling! The bones moved and came together, bone to bone. I kept watching. Sinews formed, then muscles on the bones, then skin stretched over them. But they had no breath in them.

He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath. Prophesy, son of man. Tell the breath, ‘God, the Master, says, Come from the four winds. Come, breath. Breathe on these slain bodies. Breathe life!’”

So I prophesied, just as he commanded me. The breath entered them and they came alive! 

Breathe in deeply. Breathe out slowly. Not just breath, but ruach – Spirit. God’s Spirit touching the tired, aching places. God’s Spirit knitting together the fragments and compartments into which we break ourselves, our time, our lives, our day. God’s Spirit expelling lifelessness and monotony for movement and real life. God’s Spirit filling us with possibility …

Breathe in deeply. Breathe out slowly.

And in the days that lie ahead, when life is tiresome or troubling, when people have pushed you to your breaking point, take a breath with the awareness that you invite in each inhalation something more: the Ruach of God. Turn your face towards the wind and open yourself up to the gentle caress of God.

God’s Spirit within us. God’s Spirit around us. God’s Spirit in me. God’s Spirit in you.

Breathe in deeply. Breathe out slowly. And when you are ready, arise alive with energy and vision for the life and work that God calls you to.

“I am with you”

But the Lord says, ‘Zerubbabel, be brave. Also, Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, be brave. And all you people who live in the land, be brave,’ says the Lord. ‘Work, because I am with you,’ says the Lord All-Powerful.
Haggai 2:4

Without God at the centre of our lives, we are merely going through the motions of being alive: nothing is good enough; nothing truly satisfies; nothing is of lasting significance.

Yet it seems to fly in the face of human reason and instinct to stop scratching for survival in order to first establish God’s place and trust that all else will unfold in place. There seems to be within us some unspoken yet commonly-held belief that we must work, and then God will reward and bless us; yet in springing into self-centred, self-determined action we deprive ourselves of the blessing of God’s presence in every choice, in every action.

Can it be that we are keeping ourselves in places of drought and scarcity by not comprehending fully the wealth and extravagance of God’s simple promise: “I am with you?”

“I am with you,” links us to thousands of generations of people brought through wilderness and barrenness, exile and slavery through God’s presence and activity so that we can know with certainty what God makes possible.

“I am with you,” gives us the courage to face all that the day may bring – despite our fears and hesitation – in the knowledge that when we are weak, God is strong.

“I am with you,” harnesses all of the power and creativity of God in our work, connecting us with vision and energy and purpose.

“I am with you,” invites us to a present experience of the future promise of the full glory of God’s reign and peace: heaven on earth, here and now.

May you know this day, the immense blessing of the Lord All-Powerful, the God of Angel Armies, with YOU.