Sunday, August 28, 2016

15 Pentecost

August 28, 2016

Hebrews 13.1-8; Luke 14:1, 7-14

+ Last Sunday, of course, I was in Southern Minnesota. While there, I ended spraining an ankle. So, for the better part of last week, I was off my feet. Which means that when I wasn’t working from the couch, I was reading. And one of the books I read this past was actually a book I re-read. It was an influential book in my life, called Zen Effects, the Life of Alan Watts.

Now, you might not have heard of Alan Watts. Unless, of course, you were part of the so-called “counter-culture” of the 1960s and early 1970s. He was a pretty major force during that time. Watts, who died 1972, was a Zen Buddhist and Taoist, he advocated such things as drug experimentation, especially LSD, and multiple other psychedelic things.

Now, I know. You’re wondering what about Alan Watts would be so influential for me. Well, what very few people know about Watts was that he was actually an Episcopal priest for about 7 years in 1940s. Not a conventional Episcopal priest, by any sense of the word. But he was one nonetheless.

I loved Watts because of his unconventionality.  He was an inspiration to me , especially when I was applying to graduate schools in my 20s, because we both had very unconvenential, non-traditional educations.  But this past week, as I re-read the introduction to the Watts biography, paragraph really stuck me to my core. Monica Furlong, the author of the biography, writes:

“Among clergy in the Christian churches…some of them,
often less remarkable than Watts, had almost all his characteristics.
Though so splendidly and individually himself, Watts was at the
same time a type, a type that nobody talked about much in the
churches or in other religious communities because representatives
of the type were something of an embarrassment, they were very
often the subject of scandal. Certain sorts of disgrace tended to
follow them, yet of the ones I had known well, there often seemed
to be a special sort of grace as well, as if they were people who
helped to break up rigid social patterns, forcing us to ask questions
about them. We seemed to need them.

I love that description because I think there is a truth to it. Certainly, we all know them—those clergy who are viewed as kind of an embarrassment, behind whom “scandal” follows.

In this sense we are not talking about scandals like we often think. Scandal in the sense Furlong is talking is meaning clergy or other leaders who stepped outside the norm and were somewhat punished for it, at least socially.   Leaders who, no doubt, attempted to live out the spirit of our scripture reading from Hebrews this morning “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” Doing good and sharing what we have—not just our riches, but what we have learned, what we have been gifted with—is hard. Shaking the “rigid social patterns” of the church and other organizations is not easy. In fact doing so is dangerous.  People in authority, and those who sort of “belly up” to those in authority—those who cowtail, shall we say—do not like their social patterns shaken.  And for those doing the shaking, they are often snubbed and ostrasized and shunned as scandalous and an embarrassment. And, let me tell you from my own experience, when you stand up for what you feel is right, when you do not neglect to do good and share what you have been given from God, and when others see that as against the norm—counter-cultural, shall we say—yes, it does seem like scandal and embarrassment. And when it is viewed that way, let me just say, few things are more humbling. But again, being humbled, especially for  the sake doing right, for doing right for God, can be a very good thing.  

Today, we get to hear in our Gospel reading this morning about humility.   For those of us who were listening closely to this morning’s Gospel—and I hope you were—we might find ourselves struggling a bit with Jesus’ words.   I know I was.   And if we aren’t struggling—if those words don’t make us uncomfortable—then maybe we should be.   They are uncomfortable words, after all.

Jesus—a person whose message was also seen as embarrassment and a scandal to those around him at times—is making clear to us that, if we neglect the least among us, if we consistently put ourselves first—if we let our egos win out—we are truly putting ourselves in jeopardy. What we do here on earth—in this life—does make a difference.  It makes a difference here, and it makes a difference in the next world. It makes a difference with those we neglect. And it makes a difference—a big difference—with God. And we should take heed.   We shouldn’t neglect those who are least among us.

But probably the most difficult aspect of our Gospel today is when Jesus summarized everything in that all-too-familiar maxim:

“For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Jesus is not pulling any punches here.  He is as clear as day.  Humble yourselves. It is not all about YOU. (It is not all about ME) If we do humble ourselves, we will be exalted. If we are arrogant and full of ourselves, we will be humbled.

Humility and pride are too often huge issues for all of us Christians, whether we are laypeople or clergy.   I have seen it again and again. For those of us who have spent a good part of lives in church, we have known too many arrogant, self-centered, conceited Christians in our lives.  And they have, in many ways, destroyed the Church!  They sometimes are on the Vestry, in the pews, in the kitchen, in the Bishop’s chair, or in the pulpit.

Pride is an ugly thing.   It doesn’t do anyone any good, especially the prideful one.   But to be fair, it’s easy enough to do.   It’s easy enough to fall in that ugly trap of pride.  I’ve done it.  We all have.   When we encounter those prideful Christians we need to be careful how we deal with them.   Because we need to remind ourselves: “there but for the grace of God, go we.”

Pride is an easy trap to fall into as Christians.   We know we are loved by God.   We know we, as followers of Jesus, through our Baptisms, have a special place in relationship to God.   It’s easy sometimes to feel smug and self-assured.  And when we are fully immersed in Church work, when we are patted on the backs for the work we do, when we are told how invaluable our work is to the Church, it’s easy for us to think that the success or failure of the ministry of the Church depends on us as individuals.

Earlier this summer I preached about lone wolf ministry.  Lone wolf ministry doesn’t work. And Jesus certainly never intended his followers to be lone wolves.  Discipleship means community.  

Still, even knowing that, we do it. I do it more often than I care to admit.   It is a dangerous road to take when we start thinking everything revolves around us. And for clergy, they are in an even more vulnerable place.

As often as I fall into the pride trap in my life, I am lucky because I have a very clearly defined circle of friends and colleagues who put me in my place very quickly whenever I find my head getting a little too big for its own good.   As clergy, we occasionally find ourselves being praised and treated with a sometimes undeserved respect.  And although I have found my vocation to the priesthood to be a very humbling experience, there are times when we might find ourselves feeling very smug over a job well done.  That’s true with all of us, as Christians.   It’s easy to fall into that ugly trap of believing everything is about us as individuals.  It’s easy to convince ourselves that the world revolves around us and only us.  

Life, after all, is a matter of perspective.   And from our perspective, everything else does in fact revolve around us.

But our job as followers and disciples of Jesus is to change that perspective.   Our job as Christians is to, always and everywhere, put God first.  It is not all about us.  We are just a breath.  We are just a blink of the eye in the larger scheme of everything.  We are born, we live, we die.  And then we are gone.  And, without God, that is all we would be.  There would be no hope, there would be no future, there would be no us, without God. God gives us our definition.  God gives us our identity.  God gives us our purpose.  And this is what Jesus is getting at today, when he talks about the humbled being exalted.  

Even the writer in our reading from Hebrews gives us some very practical advice on how not to let pride win out:

“Let mutual love continue,” we heard. “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.”

What beautiful poetry! When we are full of pride, we are unable to show hospitality—real hospitality. But when we are humble and we love each other humbly, when we serve each other humbly, without thought of reward, without thought of our own exaltation, then we realize, yes, we are entertaining angels without knowing it.

So, when we find ourselves falling into the pride trap, we need to stop and remind ourselves to put God first. When we find ourselves seeing the world as revolving around the all-mighty ME, we do need to stop and remind ourselves that God is at the center of our lives and, as such, our world revolves around God.  After all, as we hear in that beautiful reading from Hebrews, God says to us,

“I will never leave you or forsake you.”

As long as God is with us—as long as God’s light is shining through us—we can simply be who we are without trying to be something we are not. When we find ourselves shining with the glow of self-pride and self-contentment, let us remember that the light shining through us is not my light or your light, but Holy Spirit’s light and that any of our works is accomplished only through that light. When we find ourselves becoming prideful, let us stop and listen to the voice of Jesus as he says to you, “those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

God wants us to be exalted.  God wants to exalt us.   But we will be exalted as God wants us to be exalted, not as we want ourselves to be exalted, as frustrating as that might be.  This can only happen when we come before God as humble servants, as humble disciples of Jesus, as humble friends of one another, serving God in those poor and needy people around us—those angels we are entertaining without knowing it.  This can only happen when we place God at the forefront of our lives

So, let us put God first. Let us humble ourselves before our God.   And let the light of God shine within us and through us in all that we do.   Amen.




Sunday, August 14, 2016

13 Pentecost

August 14, 2016

Jeremiah 23.23-29; Hebrews 11:29-12.2; Luke 12.49-56

+ I know this might come as a shock to some of you. And I apologize in advance. But…I have, more than once, been very tempted to leave the Church. The Church here being the Capital “C” Church—the larger Church—the BIG church organization. There are times, we all have to admit, in which the Church—Capital C—is just not a great place to be. (Not St. Stephen’s)

There are people running it, after all. Fallible human beings. And, because there are,  there will be divisions in the Church.

There are divisions among us, even in this congregation.  Those divisions, at least here at St. Stephen’s, are, for the most part, little ones.  Minor ones.

In the larger Church, they are much bigger ones.  Issues of interpretation and personal convictions continue to divine the Church.

I get pretty firm about such things, as many of you know.  Although I am patient when it comes to people telling me there are certain things about the Church they might not like personally—trust me there are many things I too personally don’t like about the Church and the way things are—even then, you have no doubt heard me say, “this is not an issue of any one of us.” We, as the Church, are a collective.  And when one of us stiffens and crosses our arms and stands aloof off to the side, the divisions begin, and the breeches within the Church widen, and…and…the love of God is not proclaimed.  When those moments happen, the rest of us, in those moments, must simply go on.  WE must go on.  And we do.

We must proclaim what needs to be proclaimed.  We love what needs to be loved.  We must move forward.  And when it happens to me—and it happens to me quite a lot—I will occasionally speak out. But for the most part, I realize: this is the Church (Capital C).

 And we must plow forward together because that is what Jesus intends us to do as his followers.  He makes this quite  clear. Jesus tells us today that he did not come to bring peace, but rather he came to bring division.  

What? Did he just say that? The Price of Peace just said he did not come to bring peace? He came to bring what? Division? You mean, Jesus isn’t all peace and love and compassion? We want Jesus to bring peace, right? He’s the Prince of Peace, after all! We want Jesus to reflect all we want him to reflect.

Well, his message, of loving God and loving one another, is a message that does divide.  We, who rebel against it, who inwardly stiffen at it, we rebel.  We say, “no.”  We freeze up.

But, Jesus makes this very clear to us.  It is not our job, as his followers, to freeze up.  It not an option for us to let our blood harden into ice.  For, he came to bring fire to the earth.  To us, his followers. When we were baptized, we were baptized with water, yes. But we are also baptized with fire!  With the fire of the Holy Spirit that came to us as we came out of those waters.  And that fire burned away the ice within us that slows us down, that hardens us, that prevents us from loving fully. That fire that Jesus tells  us he is bringing to this earth, is the fire of his love.  And it will burn.

Now, for most of us, when we think of fire in relation to God, think of the fires of hell.  Ah, but not so.  (I actually think that is there is an eternal hell, it is a place of ice and cold—a place so far removed from God’s love) Again and again in scripture, certainly for our scriptures for today,  fire in relation to God is seen as a purifying fire, a fire that burns away the chaff of our complacent selves.  Fire from God is ultimately a good thing, although maybe not always a pleasant thing.  The fire of God burns away our peripheral nature and presents us pure and spiritually naked before God.  And that is how we are to go before God.

But this fire, as we’ve made clear, is not a fire of anger or wrath.  It is a fire of God’s love. It is the fire that burns within God’s heart for each of us.  And that fire is an all-consuming fire.  

When that consuming fire burns away our flimsy exteriors, when we stand pure and spiritually exposed before God, it is then we realize who we are. The fact remains, we are not, for the most part, completely at that point yet.  That fire has not yet done its complete job in us.  While we still have divisions, while we allow ourselves to stiffen in rebellion, when we allow our own personal tastes and beliefs to get in the way of the larger beliefs of the Church, we realize the fire has not completely done its job in us.  The divisions will continue.  The Church remains divided.

For us, as followers of Jesus, we are not to be fire retardant, at least to the fire of love that blazes from our God.  As unpleasant and uncomfortable it    might seem at times, we need to let that fire burn away the chaff from us.  And when we do, when we allow ourselves to be humbled by that fire of God’s love, then, we will see those divisions dying.  We will see them slowly dying off.  And we will see that the Church is more than just us, who struggle on, here on this side of the veil.  We will see that we are only a part of a much larger Church.  We will see that we are a part of a Church that also makes up that “great cloud of witnesses” Paul speaks of in today’s Epistle.  We will see, once our divisions are gone and we have been purified in that fire of God’s love, that that cloud of witnesses truly does surround us.  And we will see that we truly are running a race as the Church.

Paul is clear here too: that the only way to win the race is with perseverance.  And perseverance of this sort is only tried and perfected in the fire of God’s love.  

Yes, this is the Church.  This is what we are called to be here, and now, as followers of Jesus.  This is what we, baptized in the fire of God’s love, are compelled to be in this world.

So, let us be just that.   Let us be the Church, on fire with the love of God, fighting to erase the divisions that separate us.  Let us be the prophets in whom God’s Word is like a fire, or a hammer that breaks a rock—or ice—in pieces.  And when we are, finally and completely, those divisions will end, and we will be what the Church is on the other side of the veil. We will truly be the home of God among God’s people.





Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Requiem Mass for Betty Spur

Betty Spur
(August 30, 1935-July 27 , 2016)

Psalm 121; John 14.1-6

+ Today, of course, is a day we all knew was coming. Betty certainly knew it was coming. She planned this service. She thought ahead and took all of this into consideration. But knowing that this day was coming, doesn’t necessarily make it easier.

I can say, in all honesty, that Betty Spur meant quite a bit to me personally.
And I’m sure many of us here today can say the same.

It struck me in these last few days that I have known Betty for at least eight years.  Eight years. Eight years is a good amount of time to get to know someone. And I can tell you, in those eight years, I got to know Betty very well.  And she knew me very well.  In those eight years, I walked with her through some major highs and some major lows together. Many of us were with her through highs and lows in her life.

We journeyed  alongside this very interesting person—Betty Spur. And she was truly interesting. There are not many people in the world quite like Betty Spur.

She had very strong convictions and opinions and a very clear sense of what she saw as right. And I respected that in her. Even if I might not have agreed with her on an issue.  But, no matter what: I cared for her. And I know that she cared for me.

Well, actually one area of my life she didn’t care for. As many of you might know, I am, in addition to being a priest, I am also a poet. I’ve published a few books of poems. And Betty always made an effort to purchase copies of those books as they were published. But she was also quick to say: “I don’t really care for your poetry.”

“That’s all right, Betty,” I would say. “There are a lot of other people who don’t either.”

“I just don’t ‘get’ them,” she would say. “And they just don’t rhyme.”

Despite that, I knew she really did care for me. And I am grateful—very grateful—that she did.

I also know that Betty’s life was not always an easy one. And knowing how hard and difficult and tragic her life was at times made one more understanding of who she was.  There were many times when I would go to her house to bring her Holy Communion when there were many tears shed. Holy Communion always seemed to bring out the tears.  It was vitally important to her.

Which is why I am very grateful we are able to celebrate it today as part of this service for her. Communion was more just a quaint church-action for her. It was her sustenance. It was in Holy Communion that she truly found her spiritual strength. And she was spiritually strong.

So, it very appropriate that we celebrate this Living Bread and Living Cup today.  We, in the Episcopal Church, call a funeral service in which the Eucharist is celebrated, a Requiem Eucharist.  Requiem comes from the Latin phrase Requiem Aeternum, “Rest eternal grant to them...”  There’s a great statement from The Anglican Service Book that I always like quote at Requiems (which you’ll find on the inside of your booklet this afternoon):

“A Requiem is a testament of triumph and hope, for those of us who remain know that we also journey toward the same eternal home…In the Holy Eucharist, which transcends all time and space, we are closest to our faithful departed loved ones, joining our prayers and praises to theirs. We pray for them, as we believe that they pray for us, so that all may be strengthened in their lives of service.”

I love that. And I believe that. And I know Betty believed that as well.

I think many of us today can feel that that separation between us here and those who have passed on is, in this moment, especially at Holy Communion, a very thin one.  And because of that belief, I take a certain comfort in the fact Betty is close to us this afternoon.   She is here, in our midst, with us. She is here, and she is full of joy and life. And she is, finally and completely, happy.

In her last days, as she repeated that one phrase, “I’m happy” over and over again, I know for a fact that she had no fear of what awaited her. She knew where she was going. And just as I know she cared for me, I can tell you, Betty knew that she was loved by God.  And because she knew she was loved, and she was happy, Betty had no fear of death. She knew where she was going.  And she knew that it was good.

At the end of this service, at the Commendation, we will hear these wonderful words:

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

Yet even at the grave we make our song, Alleluia.

Betty’s joy and happiness in her last days were her Alleluia.  That joy, that happiness, was her last defiant act in the face of death. We all can learn a few things from Betty Spur about facing death.

On every visit I made to her, Betty always requested one thing, again and again. She always requested Psalm 121, which was just led by Jessica. Betty loved that psalm because it captured perfectly her faith in God and in herself in the face of hardship.

I lift up my eyes to the hills; *
from where is my help to come?
My help comes from the LORD, *
the maker of heaven and earth…
The LORD…watches over you; *
the LORD is your shade at your right hand,
 So that the sun shall not strike you by day, *
nor the moon by night.
The LORD shall preserve you from all evil; *
it is [God] who shall keep you safe.
The LORD shall watch over your going out and your coming in, *
from this time forth for evermore.

God has watched over Betty and kept her safe. She has been preserved from all evil and is now truly and completely safe. Her God has truly watched over going her out and her coming in “from this forth forevermore.”

I prayed this psalm with her the Sunday before she died. As I did, although she could no longer follow along, she seemed to look past me as  I prayed. Or rather I should say, she looked beyond me.  I have no doubt that, in that moment, she was looking toward those hills, toward that place to which she was headed, where her God would keep safe forever.  It was truly a holy moment.  And I will remember it always.

I am going to miss Betty Spur. I already do. There is definitely an absence in the wake of her death. But, despite all this, we also have an abiding and overpowering faith. 

She has taught us one very important thing: These negative things in life—no matter what they are—are ultimately temporary. The great and glorious things are eternal.  They will never end.  Betty knew that. She believed in that. And she is reminding us of that fact this afternoon.  That happiness that she has finally gained will never be taken from her again. And we can all rejoice and be thankful for that.

May the angels lead you into paradise, Betty;
May the martyrs receive you into the holy city Jerusalem.
May the choirs of angels receive you, and may you, with Lazarus once poor, have everlasting rest and a joy that never ends.  









Sunday, August 7, 2016

12 Pentecost

August 7, 2016

Luke 12:32-40


+ I don’t know about you, but I have to admit this this morning…I am kind of mourning summer already. It feels like summer is kind of winding down.
Yes, I know it’s still hot, we’re still getting bad thunderstorms and all, but it feels like summer is on the down-turn. And that makes me sad. It makes me sad because I didn’t really get to enjoy it much.

It has been a very busy summer here at St. Stephen’s, with weddings, funerals, and parishioners’ health issues and all the other issues that normally don’t seem to happen during summer.  I remember when I first came to St. Stephen’s. Summers were very quiet. Nothing much happened, it seemed.  Not so anymore.

And let’s not even get started on what this summer was on a larger scale. It was a violent summer—a summer of shootings and murders. It doesn’t seem like that is letting up as summer winds down.  And then…don’t even get me started on the political situation raging around us this summer.

As I was thinking about all of this, I found myself this past week really hearing our Gospel reading for this morning anew.   I really let the Gospel reading sink in and I realized that, in it, Jesus was telling me—and all of us—two things that strike us at our very core:

First, he tells us something that is essential. It is, by far, the most important thing we can hear.  He begins with “Do not be afraid.”  With all the violence and uncertainty going on in this nation, with our collectively uncertain future, those words never sounded sweeter in my ears, and hopefully in yours as well.  Those are the words we want Jesus to say to us and those are the words he tells us again and again in the Gospels.   And those are words I love to preach about.

If I could peach on nothing else but Jesus’ commandment of “Do not be afraid” I would be a very happy priest.  (Actually, I am a pretty happy priest anyway)

Do not be afraid.

Second, he tells us something else that is so vital. He says, “where your treasure is, there you heart will be also.”   Now, at first, we might find ourselves nodding in agreement with this.  But don’t nod too quickly here.  Let’s listen very closely to what he is saying.

“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

When we hear him talking today of where your heart is there is your treasure, he isn’t talking so much of our material treasure.  He is saying that where your heart is, that is where your passion will be.  There is where your attention and your fulfillment will be found.

So that poses a very hard question in all of our lives this morning, that really does cut through all the violence and political uncertainty in this world.

Where is your heart this morning?

Where is your treasure?

Where is your passion?

Now, for me, I will tell you where mine are. I have two passions in this life.  They are not secrets.   The first, of course, is my vocation to the Priesthood.   And, of course, my other passion is poetry.   If I was asked where my treasures are on earth, I would say it was squarely within those two areas.  Maybe that’s not too bad of places for one’s heart to be.

“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

So, where is your treasure? This might not be as easy for us to accept, because we know it is a very true statement.  And few of us can say with all honesty that our treasures are built up enough in heaven that there too is our heart.  

Our treasures, for the most part, are here on earth. But I’m not going to let you off the hook this morning. I really want you to carry this with you. I want you to truly ask yourself these questions.

Where is your treasure?  

Or maybe the questions: what is your treasure? What is your passion?   What is it that drives you and motivates you?  Is it money?  Is it fame?  Is it your job?  Or is it family or spouse?

It’s important to be honest with ourselves in regard to this question and to embrace and accept the answer.  They are hard questions to ask and they are hard questions to answer. Jesus is clear here that we shouldn’t beat ourselves up about what our treasure is.

Rather, he says, we should simply shift our attention, shift our focus, and center ourselves once again on the treasure that will never disappoint, which is, essentially, God and all that God stands for.  

Now, either that sounds really good to you or really bad to you.  But bear with me for a moment.  When we find our treasure in God, we find that that treasure is more than just  some sweet, pious, God-and-me kind of relationship.  Recognizing God as our treasure means making all that God loves and holds dear our treasure as well.

I’m going to repeat that:

Recognizing God as our treasure means making all that God loves and holds dear our treasure as well

To love God means to love what God loves as well.

And striving to see that and do that is where our real treasures lie.  It seems that when do that—when we love as God loves—it all falls into place.   I don’t mean that it falls into place in a simple, orderly way.  It definitely does not ever seem to do that. God does not work in that way.  (Sometimes I wish God did!)

More often than not, when we recognize all that God loves it only frustrates us and makes our lives more difficult. You mean, God loves that person I can’t stand? You mean God loves that person I think is vile and despicable?  God loves even those people we think God shouldn’t love? Oh, this is a lot harder than I thought.  Yup. It is a lot harder than we thought. Because that’s what it’s all about.

Loving God means loving all that God loves. And God loves fully and completely and wholly. And realizing this is truly the greatest treasure we will ever find.

“Where our treasures are , there our hearts will be also.”

For us here at St. Stephen’s, we know how to build up that treasure in heaven.  We do it by following Jesus, and in following Jesus, we love God and strive—honestly—to love all that God loves.  We try to make that our goal. Sometimes we fail, but we always keep on trying.  We build up our treasures by doing what we do best.  We do it by being a radical presence of love and peace and hospitality in a violent world or in an uncertain political environment or in a Church that sometimes truly does ostracize. We do it even when it’s really hard. We do it even when we don’t feel like it. We do it even when we would rather be doing our own thing, sitting by ourselves over here, all by ourselves.

For us a St. Stephen’s we are a place of radical love and acceptance, because Jesus, the One we follow, was the personification of radical love and acceptance.   And because the God he represents and loved and stood for is our treasure, we know we are heading in the right direction in what we do. God and God’s radical, all-encompassing love is where we should find our treasure—our heart.

 But even if we are not there yet, spiritually, it’s all right.  We should simply cling to that command that God continues to make to us again and again, when the world around us rages and our futures seem uncertain and frightening:

“Do not be afraid.”

Do not be afraid.  Do not be afraid of where our passions lead us and where our treasures lie.   Do not get all caught up in the things of this earth.  

Instead, just love as God loves.  Love your neighbor as you would love yourself. And love your God who loves you in return.

 So, let us build up our treasure.  Let us embrace our passions.  Let us move forward so we can build up our treasures, even when we’re tired, even when we are weary and beaten by this world.

Jesus tells us in no uncertain terms,  “It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

The Kingdom is here, in our midst.  Right here. Right now.  We are bringing it forth, increment by increment.  Step by step.  Loving act after loving act.  Truly, the Kingdom is just that close. And within it, all our real treasures lie.