Sunday, October 21, 2012

Last to First

Mark 10:35-45
October 21, 2012

There is a brilliant episode of The Vicar of Dibley.  Actually there are lots of brilliant episodes of this British sitcom about the first woman vicar to serve the small and slightly insane English village of Dibley.  But the one I’m thinking of in particular is about Geraldine, the vicar, and her sudden rise to fame. The show starts off with her being asked to fill in as the last minute guest on a radio show.  She accepts the invitation because she wants to talk about the importance of getting a nursery school started in the village; a worthwhile and important project.  The vicar is a success!  Geraldine is funny and wacky, much as she is every day, but this time a much larger group of people hear her.  From that appearance she’s asked to appear on all sorts of shows. 
Originally Geri promised herself and the church council that her media career would be temporary.  She knows that her place is with her church, not as the BBC’s newest rising star.  But the fame and the attention go to her head.  If you ever have the chance to watch this episode the montage of her photo shoot for British Vogue is absolutely hilarious!  It all culminates in an interview being done about her in one of the papers.  Geri tells the members of the council that a reporter will be coming to the village to interview them about her.  But it backfires.  The story about the vicar gets forgotten and it instead becomes a profile on the other characters in the show.  They are insulted, humiliated and just plain ridiculed. 
It’s horrible and embarrassing for the vicar and everyone else, and the rest of the episode is devoted to her willingness to make a public fool out of herself as an apology.  The vicar has a shot at personal glory and it doesn’t work out so well.  Geri doesn’t initially seek out glory.  It comes to her, but when she gets a taste of it she can’t let go. 
James and John, the sons of Zebedee we hear about when Jesus first calls his disciples, go to Jesus asking for glory.  One commentator describes the way they make their request of Jesus as being like a child to a parent.  “Dad I want you to do something for me.”  And Jesus, like any good parent responds with, “Tell me what is first.” 
“’Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.’  And he said to them, ‘What is it you want me to do for you?’”  Their request is that they be allowed to sit at his right hand and his left when he is in his glory. There’s a sense of kingship and royalty to their request isn’t there?  You get the image in your head of a king on this throne, with his two most treasured and important advisors on either side of him.  I suspect that’s how James and John viewed Jesus’ glory – a great kingship.  I also suspect that Jesus recognized this too, because he says to them, “You do not know what you are asking.  Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”  James and John reply with a resolute, “We are able.”  So Jesus says then you will drink this cup and you will be baptized with this baptism.  But I can’t tell you who will sit at my right or my left.  That’s not my privilege to grant.  And in a very roundabout way, Jesus reminds them that the privilege is God’s alone.
This would all sound, if not okay, perhaps understandable, if we just read this story by itself with no sense of what was happening all around it.  But immediately before these verses, Jesus tells the disciples his third passion prediction.  They were on the road to Jerusalem.  Whenever we hear about Jesus being on the road to Jerusalem, we know that this isn’t just a geographical destination.  On the road to Jerusalem means that Jesus is on the way to the cross.  Jesus knows that everything will come to a head once he reaches Jerusalem. 
So for the third time he pulls the disciples aside and tells them, point blank, I’m going to Jerusalem to die.  I’m going to be handed over to the religious authorities.  They’re going to condemn me to death.  I’m going to be mocked, spit on.  And I will die.  But after three days I’ll rise again.
Jesus didn’t mince words.  He didn’t try to soften the emotional impact of this truth.  He just told them.  And as I said, this is the third time he’s told them.  The first time he told them, Peter rebuked him for it, because the Messiah couldn’t be someone who was weak enough to die.  The second time Jesus made the prediction, the disciples got into an argument about who was the greatest and he pulls a child into his arms to demonstrate that you have to receive the kingdom of God like a child in order to fully get it.  And after this third time of trying to make them understand the death that he faces, James and John ask Jesus for seats of glory. 
I think this calls for a facepalm. 
Because they don’t get it. 
When the other ten hear about James and John’s request, they get angry with them.  But I don’t think it’s because the ten were upset that James and John don’t get it.  I think it’s because they were offended that James and John would go grabbing for glory, and what if that means they don’t get any?  How dare they try to push to the head of the pack?!  Maybe that glory should be theirs.
The reason I believe this is because Jesus then pulls them all aside, one more time, and tells them that with Gentiles, or others, there are lords and tyrants that have the power.  But that’s not true for them.  If one of them wants to be great, then they must become a servant to everyone.  If they want to be first, they must become a slave.  The Son of Man came to serve, not be served.  The Son of Man came to give his life as a ransom for many.
One commentator at WorkingPreacher said that folks get so caught up in this last line in verse 45 that the rest of the story tends to get glossed over.  It’s a powerful image, indeed, to think of Jesus giving his life as a ransom for ours; to understand that in the literal meaning of this, Jesus buys back our lives with his own. 
But what about that whole grasping for glory party at the beginning?  How does that relate to us?  How does that raise conflict in our understanding of what it means to be disciples versus what it means to be successful? 
I realize it may be a stretch to make glory and success synonyms, but I think in this case it works.  The disciples, especially as Mark portrays them, had to battle their cultural understanding of the way things should be in contrast to the way Jesus said they were.  A messiah was supposed to be strong, invincible, a warrior, someone who would come and, pardon my expression, kick the butt of the oppressors.  Following that, messiah meant greatness and it meant glory.  It should bring about accolades and victory.  But Jesus turns all of these cultural assumptions on their head.  The Messiah has come to die.  In his weakness, there will be strength.  There won’t be fighting back.  There won’t be a great uprising.  He has come to make the love of God and the kingdom of God visible.  But guess what?  That happens through suffering, through serving, through compassion, through death. 
And that whole bit about glory and greatness?  You want to truly be great?  Truly being great means being a servant, a slave.  You want to be first, you’ll have to be last. 
It wasn’t easy for the disciples to hear.  It wasn’t easy for them to comprehend.  It wasn’t easy for them to live out.  And even though our cultural contexts may be different, it’s no easier for us.  We are bombarded with the message that success and greatness comes from being stronger and tougher and even more ruthless than everybody else.  We are inundated with the idea that those who are famous, who are celebrities are the ones who are supposed to be on top.  Why is it that athletes and actors and actresses get paid so much money for what they do?  I’m not complaining about what they do.  There’s nothing I love more than going to a good movie.  I have my favorite television shows like everyone else.  I’m not a rabid sports fan, but I do have my favorites; favorite teams, favorite sports.  Ask my friends Ellen and Stuart about my choice of phrases at a hockey game we went to in seminary.  I have moments of being an intense fan. 
Yet why is it that the people in those professions get paid so much more than say, teachers, social workers, and yes, I’m going to say it, clergy? 
As a culture we reward our understanding of what it means to be successful.  Glory equates to fame and fortune.  Reality shows buy into this concept.  The earliest reality show phenomenon was Survivor.  A show where people were voted off the island and the winner was the one who had the grit and determination to survive, regardless of the cost to others.  That was the whole point of the show wasn’t it?
We reward our understanding of what it means to be successful, whether it’s through fame, fortune, ratings points.  Success, glory is something to be strived for.  So of course we seek a certain amount of glory.  I can’t deny that I have dreamed of fame.  I’d love to do something that would earn me an interview with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show.  And it’s hard not to want some recognition for being here, in this place, isn’t it?  It’s hard not to want some acknowledgment for discipleship, for trying to live lives that have purpose and meaning. 
Whatever criticism I may level at the disciples for just not getting it over and over again, the truth is I also want a little of what they asked for.  I want a little glory.  I want to know that I’ll be rewarded for what I’ve done, for what I’ve sacrificed.  But I think what Jesus tells them is that the reward doesn’t come at some point down the road, at some future, far off moment in time, the reward comes from doing.  The reward comes from serving.  The reward comes from giving more than receiving.  The reward comes when we finally realize that when it seems like Jesus is turning everything upside down, he’s really making everything right.  Let all God’s children say, “Amen!”

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Season of Grief

            “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die, a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;”            Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

            When I was a junior in high school, I took an Introduction to Psychology class.  Why did I choose this particular elective?  I was interested in psychology.  Others who had taken it said it was good.  I liked the teacher, and it beat taking something like wood shop.  (No offense to anyone who loved wood shop.  It just wasn’t my thing.)

            A class requirement was a book report on one of several books chosen by the teacher.  I chose to read and report on the book How to Survive the Loss of a Love by Melba Colgrove, Harold H. Bloomfield and Peter McWilliams.  I’d like to say that I chose this book because of my deep compassion for those who suffer loss.  It would be nice to claim that I had some premonition of the vocation I would someday pursue; a vocation that calls me to walk with people who grieve.  It would be downright swell to say any of those things and more, but the truth is that the book was short.  I was chin deep in love for the first time and schoolwork was not high on my list of priorities, whereas my young man was.  So even though I was an avid reader, a book that looked to be a quick read was okay by me. 

            I soon discovered that the size of the book belied the depth of its content.  A unique fusion of psychology, prose and poetry, the authors took the reader not only through the stages of grief but gave voice to the multitude of losses that we all experience.  From the “biggies” to the small losses we may not even recognize as occasions for grief – growing older, retiring, moving, etc.  I found that I not only read the book, I absorbed it.  Yet once the report was done, I put the book on my shelf and didn’t think much about it.  Until my relationship with my first love ended, then I read it again.

            Over the next several years I would read and reread that book, and it showed.  Its dog eared corners were often turned down to mark some particular point or poem.  It had gotten wet and the pages swelled and dried.  Passages were highlighted.  Each loss I experienced drove me to it, poring tearfully over each word, seeking comfort and reassurance from these people who obviously knew exactly what I was feeling and told me over and over again I would survive.      

            I learned that grief would wash over me in waves, growing stronger then ebbing; a brief respite before it crashed against me once more.  I learned that no stage of grief was neatly defined, the lines of one stage blurred with another.  I could move from agony to anger and back again several times.  Grief observed no rules as far as that was concerned.  Yet there are some rules when it comes to grieving.  One rule is that when you suffer a loss you will grieve. Not allowing yourself to grieve at the time of a loss doesn’t mean you escape grief.  It will catch up with you – one way or another.

            I found this out the hard way when I was living in Richmond, Virginia.  My mother called me at the office one day to tell me the horrible news that a high school friend had committed suicide.  I was devastated beyond words.  But before I’d had time to process this friend’s death, I found out that I was getting laid off.  One loss replaced another.  I didn’t really think about this again until several months later.  I was spending a weekend taking care of two-year-old twins.  Once I had strapped them into their cribs (I mean gently put them to bed), I sat down to watch the movie Dead Poet’s Society – a film I had seen once before when it first came to theaters.  Even though I knew what happened, when the pivotal scene of the young man’s suicide approached I went from calmly sitting on the couch to lying on the floor weeping.  Grief. 

            Somewhere in all of my moves I lost my copy of How to Survive the Loss of a Love.  Perhaps I gave it away, thinking that I knew everything I needed to know about grieving.  I guess I do know a lot more about it now.  I’ve been through it enough I should have gained some wisdom.  But a new season of grief is upon me.  And I wish more than anything that I could open my book and read each page, finding solace once again in the knowledge that grief, like everything else, doesn’t last forever. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

What Must I Do?

Mark 10:17-31
October 14, 2012
            It’s hard to believe that over a year has passed since I first moved to Shawnee.  I know in the time between accepting the call to come here and actually moving, I  kept a running list of all the things that had to be done before I actually got in my car and drove to Oklahoma.
            Because it worked out that I would come ahead of the family, I had to think about what I would need to bring, and what needed to stay in Iowa for the time being.  I went back and forth on whether I should buy a hitch for my car and just put my stuff in a trailer.  When I discovered that trailer hitches were so expensive they might as well be made out of gold bullion, I decided to abandon that idea.  I ended up shipping my books and packing my Subaru as tightly as I could with all the other things I figured I would need until I found a house and the final moving day arrived. 
            Looking back on it now, it seemed that everything fell into place fairly simply.  But I know that at the time I lived in a constant state of anxiety.  It felt as though I spent most of my days in that interim time asking, “What must I do?”  What must I do to make this move happen?  What must I do to be ready to go?  What must I do once I get there?  What must I do?  What must I do?  What must I do?
            With each major life change that I make, I find that I have a deeper understanding of anxiety, of dis-ease with what’s happening in my world at the time.  I wonder if it was this kind of anxiety, this dis-ease that prompted the man in our passage to ask this question of Jesus.
            Although he’s commonly referred to as the “rich young ruler,” we know very little about him, other than he owned many possessions.  Wealth was considered a sign of blessing in that time and context, but it seemed that his wealth wasn’t adding up to a contented life for this man. 
            He came to Jesus and knelt before him.  Usually when someone knelt before Jesus, they were seeking healing – either for themselves or someone they loved.  Perhaps this man wanted healing as well.  Perhaps he wanted healing from a deep, gnawing fear that nothing he could do, even following all the commandments to the absolute letter, would bring him the eternal life he desired.
            Perhaps he was seeking reassurance about just that.  He wanted to know that he was living a life that was good enough, that what he did to be a good person was good enough.  Again, there is a sense of dis-ease about him.  He kneels before Jesus and asks, “What must I do?” 
            If it was reassurance he was seeking, he may not have found Jesus’ answer all that satisfying. 
            “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”
            That isn’t an easy answer to hear.  In fact, it would have seemed liked a shocking, even radical answer to receive.  As I said, wealth was considered a sign of divine blessing.  If you were wealthy, you must be doing something right with God.  But Jesus tells this young man that the opposite is true.  The way to inherit eternal life is to sell all that you own, give the profits away to the poor, than follow him.
            The man can’t do it.  He walks away from Jesus grieving. 
            What must I do?
            We live in a society where the material – material possessions, material wealth – are given high value.  To not own the latest, the greatest, the newest and the most improved is to somehow fall short of being the best person you can be.
            None of us are completely immune to this.  None of us are exempt.  I can’t be overly upset with my children for wanting the things their friends have, the game systems, the computer accessories, the clothes, the toys, etc, because I want things too.
            I know that I can live without a lot of things, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t want them.  I want a nice house and I want nice furniture.  Whenever my friend Ellen and I spend a girls weekend together, we like to say that we get our antique on.  We go to antique stores and if we’re lucky, we find antique flea markets to walk around in.  And I imagine my world filled with beautiful antique pieces.  I want things.  I could probably create a gigantic list of all the things I want.
            When I began to search for a call, the search that led me here, one of the things I wanted most was a smart phone.  All my friends had them.  I knew texting was the way of the future, but we didn’t have a texting plan and even if we did, trying to text on my old phone was a nightmare.  I wanted to have the ease of communication that smart phones provided.  So I made the decision that when I found a call I would buy my smartphone. 
            So along with all the other what must I do’s rolling around in my brain as I prepared to move to Shawnee, there was also a countdown taking place.  Two months and I get my smart phone.  One more month till I buy my smart phone.  Two weeks and that smart phone is mine. 
            Some of you may remember that my first night in Shawnee was interrupted by a gall bladder attack.  It was 2 am.  I had no idea how to get to the hospital, which I might add I would have been able to find had I had my smart phone.  I called an ambulance because I was most afraid I was having a heart attack.  While being checked out by the paramedics, I asked their advice about where to go looking for the particular smart phone that I wanted.  So after finally getting back to the Winterringer's and sleeping for a few hours, I set out to find the Verizon store and bought my phone!
            Does wanting that phone, does that buying that phone mean that I have about as much chance of getting into heaven as that camel does in going through the eye of the needle?
            I don’t know. 
            Maybe material possessions weren’t all Jesus was referring to here.  Maybe he wanted the man and all who would listen to consider what it is that impedes them in their life of discipleship.  What stops them from answering the call to follow him?
            Maybe Jesus was saying that it isn’t what we own, but what owns us that throws a stumbling block in our paths when we try to follow Jesus.  What is it that owns us?  What do we need to root out of our lives so we can follow?  Is it a thing?  A person?  Is it a belief or an ideology or a behavior?  Is there something in our lives that could literally come between us and our call to follow Jesus?  Is it our fear?
            What must we do?
            It seems to me that there is a tension in this passage that we cannot ignore or make light of.  We live in a world of both enormous wealth and equally enormous scarcity.  Poverty is literally all around us.  It camps out on our doorstep.  The number of people who are hungry, homeless, hurting haunt me.  But I still wanted my phone.  I got my phone.  I’ve gotten lots of other things too. 
            I want to be a disciple.  I want to be faithful.  I want to follow Jesus.  But I want the comforts that are out there as well.  I know how lucky I’ve been, in my opportunities, in my lifestyle, in the riches I’ve been given.  But could I give everything up and follow?  What owns me?
            Tension.  What we must do and what we want.  What we are called to do and what we are capable of doing.  How to be in the world and yet not of the world. 
            This is the tension of this passage.  Jesus continues to stand there, calling us, reminding us to look first at the least of these, calling us to accountability through his words and actions.  To whom much has been given, much is required.
            There is no easy, all-sufficient way to resolve this tension, and I don’t have any quick answers to offer.  I certainly don’t expect any of us to be able to leave here today and without a second thought, pack up the house and sell everything off so the proceeds can go to the poor.  But it does seem to me that leaving this text without feeling unsettled, without feeling a sense of dis-ease, that all is not well with us, means that we have somehow missed the radical nature of Jesus’ words.
            We come into this passage about a man looking for reassurance looking for our own reassurance.  What must I do?  At first glance, that reassurance doesn’t seem to be there.  But listen again.  Listen carefully.  Jesus looked at the man and loved him.  His love for him didn’t end even when the man turned and walked away.  Jesus loved him.  When the disciples, who are just as shocked by Jesus’ words as the man, ask, “Then who can be saved?”  Jesus gives us a far greater reassurance than any we could imagine.  “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”
            For God all things are possible.
            I know I can be a better steward of God’s gifts.  I know I can be a better disciple. I know I can do more.  But I also know, and this is not an attempt to let myself or any of us off the hook, that sometimes I can only the best I can within my limited realm of possibility.  There will always be more need than I can meet, and those needs will always have to be held in tension with what I want.  My realm of possibility is limited.  But God’s realm isn’t.  That’s the good news.  That’s the good news of Jesus’ words.  For God all things are possible.  The world and all that is in it, including us with our conflicting wants and desires, belongs to God.  For God all things are possible.  Our hope lies within the realm of God’s endless possibility.  Let all God’s children say, “Amen!”

Sunday, October 7, 2012

We Broke It

Mark 10:2-16
October 7, 2012/World Communion Sunday

            The movie Eat, Pray, Love tells the story of author Elizabeth Gilbert, who wrote the book by the same name about her year long journey to challenge, change and expand her life.  Her particular quest for new understanding and recapturing her passion for living began when Liz realized that her marriage was coming to an end.  She divorced her husband, attempted a relationship with another man which also failed, and then made the decision to rediscover herself by spending a year living in three different places: Italy, India and Indonesia, specifically Bali. 
            In the movie when she first gets to Rome, she is looking at an apartment to live in during her stay.  The landlady is showing her around, sees that her ring finger is empty and asks Liz about her marital status.  Liz, in faltering Italian, tells the landlady that she is divorced.  The lady asks back in Italian, “why divorced?”  Liz, struggling to piece together the words in Italian, gives up and answers in English.  “We broke it.”
            We broke it.
            There is no passage that I want less to preach on than this one from Mark.  In years past when it’s come up in the lectionary, I’ve taken a variety of approaches to it, including not preaching on it at all.  But it’s hard to hear a passage of this intensity read in worship, and then not hear something said about it.  The topic is too personal, too prevalent and all of us, in one way or another, has been touched by it.  Divorce.  We broke it.
            Jesus’ words are in response to a question asked of him by the Pharisees.  This is an old trick of the Pharisees.  They ask him a question they already know the answer to – or think they know the answer to – as a way to trap Jesus.  Jesus always sees through their trickery though, and usually throws the question back at them.  This time is no different.  The Pharisees ask if it’s lawful for a man to divorce his wife.  This wasn’t some hypothetical question.  Divorce happened.  There wouldn’t be rules regarding it if it didn’t happen.  In fact it was relatively easy for a man to divorce his wife according to Jewish law.  As I understand it a husband basically just had to say, “I divorce you.”  Prenuptial agreements weren’t unheard of then either.  Marriage essentially was a contract between two people or between two families.  There were clauses provided for separation of property, etc. in the initial contract.  Divorce wasn’t unheard of.  And the Pharisees knew it when they asked this question of Jesus.  Jesus immediately asks them a question.  “What did Moses command you?” 
            Well Moses allowed for a man to write down a certificate of dismissal, essentially a document that says, “I divorce you.”  But Jesus tells them that the reason Moses did this was because the people had hardness of heart.  They were stubborn and persisted in knowing the ways that a relationship could be broken.  But that wasn’t what God intended.  What God intended was that people should be in relationship.  Marriage was one way that two people could be in a relationship, to support one another in relationship.  That divorce was allowed was Moses’ way of acknowledging that we mulish, hard headed and hard hearted human beings struggle with being in relationship.  And too often we are about broken relationships. 
            Jesus’s tough words about divorce also point to how seriously he took marriage.  As I said earlier, a marriage at that time was a contract.  Marriages weren’t often made for love; they were made for alliance, stability, security.  A woman needed marriage for protection.  The family name needed to continue, so children had to be born in legitimate relationships.  I don’t know if the idea of true love was a factor in marriages at that time.  But I think Jesus understood that marriage was more than just contractual.  It was a promise.  He challenges the Pharisees to think beyond Moses to Genesis, and the intention of the marriage relationship stated there. 
            God intended us to be in relationship.  I agree.  But I also know that for most of us divorces don’t just happen randomly or without thought.  Divorce may be a broken relationship but that broken relationship can be necessary.  Sometimes two people just shouldn’t be married, and the only way forward is divorce. 
            In writing on this passage for Working, Karoline Lewis, a professor of New Testament at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, wrote about her own parent’s divorce when she was a senior in college.  They were married for 27 years, but that length of time didn’t mean that their divorce wasn’t necessary.  She writes that they are better people, better parents, better grandparents, because they made the tough but courageous decision to end their marriage.  They broke it. 
            Our cultural expectations about marriage have also changed.  Not everyone walks through life hoping to be married.  I know far too many people who should have stayed single, and ended up in unhappy marriages because they felt enormous pressure to be married.  Marriage has been set as an ideal in our culture, but not everybody finds their happiness, their fulfillment or their purpose in marriage. 
            We’re also fighting a culture war about the definition of marriage.  Who should be married?  What is marriage supposed to look like?  Who has the right, legally and morally, to decide that?  I’m not prepared to head that debate, but these are questions we have to find a way to talk about faithfully and compassionately. 
            It seems to me that when we struggle with a passage like this, a passage where Jesus speaks hard, even harsh words, we also have to hold these words in tension with who Jesus was overall.  Jesus wasn’t afraid to be tough when that was necessary.  He didn’t soften his words to appease his challengers and critics.  But he also didn’t tell broken people, “Too bad for you!  You broke it!”  Jesus came for the broken people.  He came for those who were sick and hurting.  He came for those who were grieving, who were angry, who were outcast and marginalized.  That was his primary concern.  The reason these words on divorce are followed by the story of him taking children on his lap, in spite of the disciple’s objections, was because of his concern for those marginalized in society.  Children were a prime example of marginalization.  They had no power, no voice and no real place.  They were completely dependent on others for everything.  Jesus came for them.  He came for the powerless and the voiceless, the weak and the dependent.  He came for the broken. 
            We’re all broken.  And we all have some hand in our brokenness.  But I just cannot believe that Jesus would tell a broken person, divorced or otherwise, you have no place with me.  I think the opposite is true.  You’re broken?  Be with me.  Follow me.  Find wholeness in me.  Be in relationship with me so you can be in relationship with others. 
            Jesus came to show the world a new way to be in relationship with God and with each other.  No matter how broken we are, we still need relationship.  We still need community.  Nothing makes me sadder than hearing someone say that they stopped coming to church after their divorce.  They were too embarrassed.  Too ashamed.  As if church is for the perfect people?!  No, this is where the broken people come.  Or at least it should be. 
            There’s a quote I found online from the author John Green that says, “The world may be broken, but hope is not crazy.”
            This morning we will come forward to this table and take bread and drink from the cup as a community, in relationship not just with each other but with people around the world.  And even though we aren’t saying Green’s words aloud, that is what we are proclaiming, “The world may be broken, but hope is not crazy.”  Because at this table, in this bread and this wine, in the people around us, in the Spirit moving in our midst, in the love of God and in relationship with the Son, we find hope.  We know love.  We are broken, but in relationship with God we are made whole.  Let all God’s children say, “Amen!”