Sunday, June 24, 2012

4 Pentecost

June 24, 2012

Job 38.1-11; Mark 4.35-41


+ This past week, on Facebook, I posted this update:

“For the first time in almost two years, my life is finally starting to return to some kind of normalcy.”

Now, I know some of you are not on Facebook. And some of you are adamantly against Facebook. But it’s good sometimes to post things like this as a kind of proclamation, It’s kind of an affirmation for myself.

Of course, since it is Facebook, people respond, with comments, “What is normalcy?” A very good philosophical question.

But I do feel like my life is sort of tottering back to normalcy—whatever that might be. Because, as you know these almost two years for me have been chaotic to say the least. It was, of course, two years ago in September that my father died. I know you know about all of this, because you have walked with me through it. And I am thankful for knowing that you have walked with me this far.

Now, it feels good to be coming out that storm. And it was truly a storm. A maelstrom—a hurricane of emotions. I never thought a single event could literally turn one’s world upside down. But for me, emotionally, it did. I think because I wasn’t able to prepare for it, I had to take a longer time to process the very large absence of my father from my life.

Now, certainly I’ve had other storms in my life. My cancer diagnosis ten years ago was definitely a pretty major storm. And I’ve had a few others

But for some reason, beginning with my father’s death in 2010, I seem to have had one set-back after another these past two years. It has felt sort of like an uphill climb during a raging storm. I think those things sometimes just happen when one is somewhat emotionally weak and vulnerable.

Knowing that, it’s good to be on this side of it, looking back at it. My Facebook update is partly a deep belief that I am truly emerging from that time. And partly, it is hope that I am emerging from that time. I hope! I hope!

But, I can say this at this point (and I don’t think I could have said it earlier): I am somewhat thankful for the storm. That’s still a hard thing to say. But I am thankful because, at least in this moment, where I am right now, I can say that I am definitely not the same person I was before that storm. I am different. I have been transformed. And we need to do that in our lives at times. We need to transform.

Now, that doesn’t mean I have not emerged from this event in my life shaken. I am shaken. I am sort of weak-kneed and bleary-eyed after everything. But one thing I have discovered throughout the whole ordeal: God never left me. In the midst of it all, somewhere, I was able to find some kind of peace. And during it all, two of the scriptures I found myself returning to again and again were our Old Testament and Gospel readings for today.

This Job reading is wonderful in many way. What is God saying to us from the whirlwinds that coming rolling our lives? What do we do in the wind storms of our lives, when we feel battered and beaten and bashed?

For me, I found myself, in examining these scriptures, straining against the wind of the storm to hear the Voice of God. The fact is, if we do so, we will hear God’s voice, even then. Not literally God’s voice, of course. But if we turn our spiritual ears toward God, we will hear God.

For Job, the voice of God he hears in the whirlwind has no answers to the questions we find ourselves asking all the time. Why do bad things happen to those of us who are faithful God? Why do our lives get turned upside down? I certainly asked that of God more than once during my ordeal. The Voice that answers Job from the whirlwind answers a question with a question:

“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
[Where were you] when the morning stars sang together
and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy?”

Sometimes that’s exactly what we hear in the storms of our lives. We want answers when we shout our angry questions of unfairness into the storm. Sometimes, when we do, the Voice in the wind only throws it all back at us with more questions. Just when we want answers, we find more questions and we ourselves are forced to find the answers within ourselves.

Sometimes the Voice answering back from the wind with questions, is a voice more succinct. Sometimes it is a more potent questions—a question not filled with poetic and symbolic meaning, but a pointblank question to us. Sometimes the voice from the wind—as we shake with fear and hold on for dear life during those frightening storms—asks us bluntly: “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?”

Why fear the whirlwinds and all that they unleash upon us? Have we no faith?

Again and again God commands us, in various voices throughout scripture, “do not be afraid.”

“Do not be afraid.”

And still we fear. But the message is that although the storms of our lives will rage around us, when we stop fearing, those storms are quieted. They lose their power. Because the other voice that comes out of the storms of our lives is not asking a question of us. The other voice that comes out of the storms of our lives commands, “Peace! Be Still!”

“Peace!”

That wonderful, soothing word that truly does settle and soothe.

“Be still!”

In that clam, stillness, we feel God’s Presence most fully and completely. As disoriented as we might be from being buffeted by the storm, that stillness can almost be disorienting. I felt it more than once during these past two years. Even in the midst of the stress and the chaos, somehow, there were these incredible peaceful moments in which God’s peace settled there, in the midst of it all.

And there were those even more wonderful moments when I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it would be all right. Not perfect. Not the way it was before. Everything had changed, after all. But it would be…all right.

In that storm, we find Jesus, calm and collected, awaiting us to have faith, to shed our fears and to allow him to still the storms of our lives. This is the best news of all, I think. This is exactly what we want to hear from our God. We want to hear, “Do not fear!”

In our very cores, in the very centers of our being, we want our God to calm us and to tell us in no uncertain terms, “”Do not fear!”

So, in those moments when the whirlwind rages, when the storms come up, when the skies turn dark and ominous, when fear begins lurking at our doors, let us strain toward that Voice that asks us, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?”

And when the storms of our lives abate, when we find ourselves in that mind-boggling peace after the chaos and violence of the storm, we too will find ourselves filled with great awe and will say to one another, “Who is this then, that even the wind…obey[s] him?”

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Funeral for Florence Hagensen

The Funeral for
Florence Hagensen
(May 11, 1920-June 15, 2012)

Boulger Funeral Home
Fargo

June 20, 2012

+ As some of you might know, I am Florence’s great-nephew. My grandfather, John, was her brother. So, Florence, for me, was one of those presences that always seemed to be there in my life.


I always remember Florence as a hard worker, a loyal wife and mother, a very strong and determined presence in my life and the life of all of us in the family. And no doubt most of us who knew her remember her in just that way.

When I met with Florence this past March to plan this service, she gave me a bit of a glimpse into the secret of that strength and determination that really defined who she was. What a lot of people don’t know about Florence is that, as child, she grew up in great poverty. She talked last March of the little bit of food she and her nine other brothers and sisters had to live off, the very basic clothes they wore and how difficult it was, in those circumstances, to gain any respect from others. I can’t even imagine what that life must’ve been like—but let me tell you, from what she shared, it was tough. It was hard.

But Florence in her life, rose above those obstacles. She flourished and she made a name for herself and for her family, despite the sometimes overwhelming odds. I will remember that about her clearly. And I will tell you, I was inspired by her ability to do so.

But I also remember and was inspired by her deep and abiding faith. Florence, as everyone here no doubt knows, was a devout Catholic throughout her life. And her faith was important to her. She often shared with me how important her faith was. Her faith in God. Her following of Christ. The inspiration she drew from the Blessed Virgin Mary (which I also share) And her special devotion to St. Jude (a saint that has been very important to me as well).

I am not surprised that she loved St. Jude as much as she did. St. Jude is the patron saint of impossible or hopeless cases, and I have no doubt she turned to St. Jude many times in her live when a seemingly impossible or hopeless case arose. As she shared with me, St. Jude never failed her. This faith of hers was important to me years ago when I planned to convert to Roman Catholicism at the age of 15.

Back then, I was a nominal Lutheran and I received a little bit of a backlash from some of my family about making that jump. But not from Florence. She was glad for me and supported me in that change. In fact, on that day that I was received into the Catholic Church, she stood up for me as my sponsor. And she also on that day gave me the crucifix that is now lying on her casket.

Although I eventually left the Catholic Church and became an Episcopalian and eventually an Episcopal priest, Florence was one of those Catholics who did not have a problem with my leaving the Catholic Church. In fact, she supported me in whatever I did throughout my life. For her, it was more important that I believed and that I heeded God’s calling, wherever God might be calling me.

Now, for her, she had her own issues with the organized Church. But her faith in Christ and her devotion to Our Lady never wavered. For her, faith was more than just a church building or a set of creeds and dogmas. Faith, for her, was what got you up in the morning, was what sustained you through the hard times and what helped explain why sometimes bad things happened to good people. Faith, for her, was knowing that no matter how bad things might seem to get, Christ will show you the way through and, in the end, you will be taken care of.

Certainly, we know that, for her, in the end, she was taken care of. Christ came for her last Friday night in peace and, in peace, she left to join him.

For me, she was very much an example of faith-in-action. Now, I really have to be careful what I say at this point. Because I know that if Florence were here this morning—and she is here with us—she would take issue with me about talking too much how all good things about her. She would not like me standing me up and calling her a saint, let me tell you. In fact, I can just imagine her waving her finger at me and telling me, “Ok, change the subject now.” But, that’s all right.

I can say this, though. She knew that God works in God’s own way in each of our lives. Sometimes in ways we might not fully understand. Today is truly an example of that. Today, this day we say our goodbyes to her, is the twentieth anniversary of the passing of her husband, Gerald. It’s hard to believe it’s been twenty years since Gerald left us. And it’s hard to believe that on this day, we are saying goodbye to Florence.

But for us, goodbyes are not times for despair. For those of us who, like Florence, call ourselves Christians, who follow the way of Jesus in our lives, this is not a time to feel hopeless. It is a time to be sad, yes, because she is not with us. But it is not a time to feel hopeless. Because we know where Florence is this morning, and we know that we too will be there with her one day. That is why we are not hopeless today. For those of us who have known the prayers of St. Jude, we know there is no such thing as a hopeless moment.

In a few moments, I will pray what is called the Commendation at her casket. It is that point in which we commend Florence to Christ’s loving care. In the Commendation you will hear me say those wonderful words,

“All of us go down to the dust; yet even at the grave we make our song: Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.”

Yes, we will all die one day. Florence knew that and she had no fear of that fact. But the real sign of spiritual strength that I know she would want to pass onto to us is the fact that not everybody, at the grave, can make a joyful sound like “Alleluia.”

Florence could. And we can as well today.

Today, we can, although we are saying goodbye to her, say Alleluia because we know she is in a place of light and glory. And we can say alleluia also because know we too will be in that place of light and glory one day.

So, as we say goodbye to this strong, wonderful woman, we do so with tears in our eyes, yes. We do so with sadness in our hearts that she is not here with as she was before. Yes. But we do so, as she would exepect us to do. We do so with that joyful “Alleluia” on our lips.

Even at the grave, we make our song, “Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Florence lived out this Alleluia in her life. St. Augustine once said that a Christian is an Allelluia from head to toe. Yes, she lived out this alleuia in her life And so should we. If we leave here with no other lesson, it should be that one.

See, she still continues to lead us by her exmaple. She still continues to be that strong presence in our lives.

So, let us go from here today with that alleluia ringing in our ears and burning in our hearts. And let us know that the joy Florence is experiencing right now in that glorious place awaits each of us as well.





Sunday, June 17, 2012

3 Pentecost

June 17, 2012

Mark 4.26-34


+ A couple of weeks ago, on the Pentecost Sunday, I repeated a story about the priest who tried to describe the Holy Spirit as Casper the Friendly Ghost. I said then that that story has become kind of a Pentecost Sunday tradition. Well, today, I need to share something that I shared the last time I preached on the parable of the mustard seed—which we, of course, kind in our Gospel reading for today. Who knows? Maybe this will be a “Mustard Seed Sunday” tradition.

But the reason I share it is not that I want to repeat myself. I share it again because I am now at the point in my spiritual life when I can’t hear the parable of the mustard seed without thinking of this poem.

The poem is by one of my all-time favorite poets, (you’ve heard me reference him many times), the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. Neruda is not a typical poet you hear in churches on Sundays. He was a Communist and, for all practical purposes, an atheist. But we won’t hold either of those things against him. See how open and welcoming we are, here at St. Stephen’s!

I just love this poem of his. It is called “Oda al ├ítamo” or “Ode to the Atom.” And it is perfect for this Mustard Seed Sunday:

Ode to the Atom

Infinitesimal
star,
you seemed
forever
buried
in metal, hidden,
your diabolic
fire.
One day
someone knocked
at your tiny
door:
it was man .
With one
explosion
he unchained you,
you saw the world,
you came out
into the daylight,
you traveled through
cities,
your great brilliance
illuminating lives,
you were a
terrible fruit
of electric beauty…
[Then] came
the warrior
and seduced you:
sleep,
he told you,
curl up,
atom, you resemble
a Greek god…
in springtime,
lie down here
on my fingernail,
climb into this little box,
and then the warrior
put you in his jacket
as if you were nothing but
a North American
pill,
and traveled through the world
and dropped you
on Hiroshima.

See what I mean! Beautiful! And this fragment of the poem we just heard just touches a bit on what something as small as an atom can do. An atom—this smallest of all things—can, when it is unleashed, do such horrendous damage. It truly can be, as Neruda said,

a
terrible fruit
of electric beauty…

An atom. That smallest of things. And look at what it could do.

If the people of Jesus’ day knew what atoms where, he would no doubt would’ve used the atom instead as a symbol of the Kingdom of God, Can you imagine that! The parable of the Atom as a Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is like an atom. It is the smallest of all things. And yet, it makes up everything. Without the atom, we wouldn’t be. And yet, there it is. And when we discover it and recognize it and realize its potential, we find it permeating every aspect of our existence. It’s wonderful!

In our Gospel reading is Jesus comparing the Kingdom of God to the smallest thing they could’ve understood. A mustard seed. A small, simple mustard seed. Something they no doubt knew. And something they no doubt gave little thought to. But it was with this simple image—this simple symbol—that Jesus makes clear to those listening that little things do matter.

And we, as followers of Jesus, need to take heed of that. Little things matter. Because little things can unleash BIG things. Even the smallest action on our part can bring forth the kingdom of God in our lives and in the lives of those we serve.

But those small actions—those little seeds that we sow in our lives—can also bring about not only God’s kingdom but the exact opposite. Our smallest bad actions, can, like that atom, destroy. Our actions can destroy the kingdom in our midst and drive us further away from God.

Any of us who do ministry on a regular basis know this keenly. You will hear me say this again and again to anyone who wants to do ministry: be careful about those small actions. Those small words or actions. Those little criticisms of people who are volunteering. Those little snips and moments of impatience. Those moments of frustration at someone who doesn’t quite “get it” or who simply can’t do it. I always tell people in ministry: “use velvet gloves all the time.”

I cannot tell you how many times I hear stories about clergy or church leaders who said or did one thing wrong and it literally destroyed a person’s faith. I’m sure almost everyone here this morning has either experienced a situation like this first hand with a priest or pastor or even a lay person in a leadership position in the church. Or if not you, you have known someone close who has. Now, possibly these remarks by ministers were innocent comments. There may have been no bad intention involved. But one wrong comment—one wrong action—a cold shoulder or an exhausted roll of the eyes or a scolding—the fact that a priest did not visit us when were in the hospital or said something that we took the wrong way—is all it takes when a person is in need to turn that person once and for all away from the church and from God.

Now I’m happy my mother isn’t here this morning. She doesn’t like me telling this story. But….

My mother is a prime example of one of these people. My mother was somewhat active in the little Lutheran church I grew up in for years. But one day, the pastor made plans to have a package delivered to my mother’s home. The package never came—it simply got lost in the mail—and the pastor jokingly made the comment that my mother probably still had it at home. Now, I know for a fact that the pastor never meant to accuse my mother of “stealing” the package. I actually talked to him about all of this and he was shocked to know that my mother felt this way and he really beat himself up about saying such a thing.

But my mother took his comment to heart as an accusation and, for some reason, she couldn’t bring herself to go to church. In fact, she never went back to that church.

That mustard seed all of a sudden takes on a whole other meaning in a case like this. What grows from a small seed like this is a flowering tree of hurt and despair and anger and bitterness. So, it is true. Those seeds we sow do make a huge difference in the world. And I can tell you, I have done it as well. I have made some stupid comment in a joking manner that was taken out of context. We all have.

So, knowing that, we now realize how important those mustard seeds in our lives are. We get to make the choice. We can sow seeds of goodness and graciousness—seeds of the Gospel. We can sow the seeds of God’s kingdom. Or we can sow the seeds of discontent. We can, through our actions, sow the weeds and thistles that will kill off the harvest.

These past several weeks you have heard me preach ad nauseum about change in the church. Well, I am clear when I say that the most substantial changes we can make in the church are not always the BIG ones. Oftentimes, the most radical changes we can make are in the little things we do—the things we think are not important. We forget about how important the small things in life are—and more importantly we forget how important the small things in life are to God. God does take notice of the small things.

There a wonderful poem that the poet Daniel Ladinsky translated from the Sufi poet Kabir (you are getting poems like crazy this morning, aren’t you):

What
kind of God would [God] be
if [God] did not count the blinks
of your
eyes

and is in absolute awe of their movements?

We have often heard the term “the devil is in the details.” But I can’t help but believe that it is truly God who is in the details. God works just as mightily through the small things of life as through the large. This is what Jesus is telling us this morning in this parable. Take notice of those small things. It is there you will find your faith—your God. It from that small place—those tentative attempts at growth—that God’s kingdom flourishes in our lives.

So, let us be mindful of those smallest seeds we sow in our lives as followers of Jesus. Let us remind ourselves that sometimes what they produce can either be a wonderful and glorious tree or a painful, hurtful weed. Let us sow God’s love from the smallest ounce of faith. Let us further the kingdom of God’s love in whatever seemingly small way we can. Let that love be the positive atom which, when unleashed, creates an explosion of goodness and beauty and grace in this world.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Closing of Blue Cloud Abbey


Today came the official announcement that Blue Cloud Abbey in Marvin, South Dakota is officially closing on August 5. It is a sad day indeed! It is a sad day for the monks who will now be dispersed among other monasteries. It is a sad day for the community around the monastery. It is a sad day for the larger Church and all those who have found comfort and solace and sanctuary at Blue Cloud over its 60+ years.


And it is a sad day for me (despite it also being the 8th anniversary of my ordination to the Priesthood today). I have been visiting the abbey since I was 14 years old and would have been oblate there for 20 years on Aug. 13. When I told my friend and fellow Blue Cloud Oblate, Pastor Mark Strobel about the closing, he said (after the initial shock wore off): “It’s like losing a parent.”

And it is. It is very much like the death of a loved one. In my own estimation, Blue Cloud always was and would always be. But, alas, like all things of this earth, nothing always was and nothing will always be. Except, of course, our assurance of what awaits us. After all, “here we have no lasting city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.” (Hebrews 13.14)

When I visited Blue Cloud last week, it was the first time I had visited since my father died in September 2010. Memories of flooded back to me of that first time I came to Blue Cloud with my parents and how even they, good Lutherans they were, loved this Catholic monastery in the rolling hills of eastern South Dakota. I remember like it was yesterday when I saw the bell tower rising over the trees as we made our way past Marvin toward the monastery.

As I walked around the monastery and grounds, memories of welled up of the times I came here, often just for some kind of spiritual centering, but also often in very bad times, when I seemed to have no where else to go.

And as I walked through the cemetery, I paused at the graves of those several monks I knew well who lie there, such as Brother Gene, who always had fresh roses in my room every time I came (and who was, in his own right, a very accomplished poet), or Father Stan, who always greeted me with a hearty smile and a pat on the back or Father Wilfred, who signed by Oblation certificate in 1992 (the Abbey being in between abbots at the time).

For me, as someone who has cherished and held dear my vocation as an Oblate, I will now look for another monastic community with which to associate. This is no easy task. Some fit. Others most definitely do not. Only with much prayer and with the guiding of the Spirit will the right community be found.
 
But I know that wherever I go, I go with those Benedictine ideals I learned at Blue Cloud ingrained deeply in my soul. And it is for that grace that I am truly grateful.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

2 Pentecost

Corpus Christi Sunday
June 10, 2012

Mark 3.20-35


+ As you know, it is very rare that I get mad. By mad, I mean, like angry-mad. I am just not one of those priests. I have to be pushed and prodded and backed into a corner for me to be truly mad. And when I do, as some of you know, it’s not pleasant. And it is even more rare for me to be so mad that I actually see RED. But it happens. Yes, even to the nicest of guys, like me.

But this past week, I got a bit angry. I heard in a very round-about way that the there is some serious thought and consideration for an Episcopal church plant in West Fargo. Now, of course, we’ve all heard this before. We’ve heard the talk about how West Fargo is the fastest growing community in North Dakota (this before the oil boom out west). But, still, if it’s true (and again, I stress this is only a rumor at this point): I would be quite angry.

Here is St. Stephen’s doing exactly what is expected of a church to do. We are reaching out beyond our walls. We are going out into the community and being a representative of Christ and his Church to this community. We certainly are not sitting here in isolation up on the north side of Fargo, afraid to leave these walls of our building. We are doing exactly what is expected of a church. And it’s working. We have grown and are flourishing.

My concern on this is how divisive such a move as a church plant would be. Divisive from the perspective of all three existing Episcopal churches in Fargo-Moorhead. I am at loss to try to rationalize what the thinking might be to pumping money into a church plant in this community and not ever consider helping out the existing congregations to do a more effective job of evangelizing.

I know we at St. Stephen’s would certainly be open to such wisdom. And I can’t imagine that the Cathedral and St. John’s in Moorhead would be opposed either. A church plant in West Fargo, I believe, would actually build up more walls than it would create a healthier Episcopal community among the churches already existing here. And hence, my anger.

In today’s Gospel, we find Jesus saying that wonderful statement of his: “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.” And it is true. It is true of our church and it is true of our own community.

Last week Sandy preached a sermon in which she referenced Diana Butler Bass. I love Diana Butler Bass because she is one of the rational voices in the Church today. While other Christians—and specifically Episcopalians—are singing their songs of doom about the demise of the Episcopal Church and other mainstream churches, Bass actually says we shouldn’t be crying doom quite yet. It’s not doom. It’s not the death knell.

It’s just…change. The church is changing. And because it is, we need to change too. This has been my almost tiring siren song for the last several weeks. Change, change, change.

But change does not necessarily mean reinventing the wheel. Which I think a church plant in West Fargo would do. Change means taking a look at who we are and where we are and realizing that maybe we need to look at new ways. It is does mean not abandoning what we have. It does not mean tearing everything down. It simply means taking what we have and expanding from it. Change means looking at our strengths and our weaknesses and building up our strengths, while dispelling our weaknesses.

I have thought and prayed a long time on this issue of change. And I am one person who does not hear a death knell. I am one person who does not heed the prophets of doom who are already mourning the death of the Episcopal Church, And I am one who can still get mad and frustrated when I hear about divisive ideas being touted as cutting edge and the only way of survival. This is not the way forward. It is not the one and only way the Church is going to survive. In fact, divisiveness is only going to erode and destroy the Church even quicker.

My point on this is that the Church needs to work together on proclaiming the Gospel and its message of love to others. We are all in the same boat and, as such, we should be working together. We should be frustrated and, yes, dare I say, angry, when we find division in the Church. It is not, in these instances, necessarily a bad thing to feel a certain level of healthy frustration and anger—as long as we don’t act out in anger or let anger define us or destroy us—or when it makes is bitter and difficult to those around us.

If we do so, we end up hurting whatever cause we are fighting for rather than moving forward. And anger will only cause our divisions to continue and grow deeper.

Love, always needs to overcome anything negative. And love always needs to win in the end.

For me personally, I am struggling to keep an open mind and an open heart about such things as a church plant in West Fargo. Close mindedness and hard heartedness are counter to the Gospel—to the Gospel of love of God and love of one another. Close mindedness and hard heartedness are truly the sins against the Holy Spirit that Jesus speaks of in our Gospel reading today. Close mindedness and hard heartedness are ways in which we stifle the Spirit of God at work in our world and in our church.

And prophets of doom who are already shouting the death and destruction of the Church are also running the risk of being counter to the Spirit as well. Where is their faith in God’s Spirit in this Church? Where are their prayers and petitions and fastings for God’s Spirit to blow through this larger Church and renew it?

This is what we should be doing. We should be working together as Church to allow Christ’s Spirit to flow and to flourish. And our job is not hinder it. Our job sometimes is simply to be the conduits for that Spirit to work. To be the pliable vessels through which that Spirit can do the work the Spirit does in the Church and in our lives.

When anyone asks what it is we do well here at St. Stephen’s, I am honest. What do we do well here? We love well here? We are good at welcoming. We are good at being open to the Spirit of God at work here.

And the Spirit IS at work here. We can feel the Spirit of Christ here at St. Stephen’s. Christ’s Spirit flows through us and the works we do. Christ’s Spirit is manifested in the love we have for God and for each other and for others.

There’s our big secret here at St. Stephen’s.

So, yes, I am angry, if it’s true there will be a church plant in West Fargo. Yes, I am frustrated. But I’ll get over it. I have not closed my mind or hardened my heart to what might be done. But I will continue on what I have been called by Christ’s Spirit to do here at St. Stephen’s and in Christ’s Church. And so should we all.

There is glorious future awaiting us as Christians—and I am not just talking about what awaits us in the nearer Presence of God. I am talking about here, on this earth. God’s Kingdom is breaking through to us—again and again. Our job is to share the news of that wonderful Kingdom as it break through, and to allow it to be manifested in those we are called to serve. So, let’s do just that.