Sunday, May 31, 2015

God Draws Near -- Trinity Sunday

Isaiah 6:1-8
May 31, 2015

            “I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.” Galileo
            “Space: the final frontier.” Captain James Tiberius Kirk and Captain Jean Luc Picard
            “If people sat outside and looked at the stars each night, I’ll bet they’d live a lot differently.”  Calvin from the cartoon, Calvin and Hobbes.
            The pictures that we are receiving from the Hubble Telescope are some of the most amazing, awesome, mind-boggling images I have ever seen. Nebula, galaxies and stars, colors and patterns – they are so lovely, so incredible, I can barely wrap my mind around the idea that they are real, not just paintings from someone’s imagination. These are photographs from our universe, and our universe is so much bigger and broader than I – perhaps all of us – could have ever imagined.
            When I look at these photographs – and if you have not yet seen them, I highly encourage you to go online and do so – I realize that my language is inadequate to describe what I am seeing. Words such as awesome, amazing, breathtaking, inspiring, are perfectly fine words. But as much meaning as they convey, they still don’t do justice to these images I am trying to illustrate.
            When I read these familiar words from the prophet Isaiah, I wonder if Isaiah is not faced with the same dilemma. What he saw in this vision went beyond language.
            “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple.”
            Why, you may be asking, is this something that goes beyond words? At first reading it might seem as straightforward as any image of a throne and king that we might have. I know that my mind immediately turns to all of the movies and paintings I have seen that depict a king on a throne. The throne is ornately carved and decorated. The king is robed in sumptuous cloth and lavish jewels. Perhaps the surroundings are also extravagantly outfitted. There might be rich tapestries on the walls, exotic rugs on the floor. And everyone who is waiting attendance on the king is also decked out in their finest digs.
            Somehow, I don’t think that this is what Isaiah saw. I doubt that the image of the Lord sitting on his throne was anything like a painting of Henry VIII. Again, language fails me. But when I try to put myself in Isaiah’s shoes, I am overwhelmed by the bigness of it all, the enormity of the scene in front of me. Isaiah speaks of the hem of God’s robe filling the temple. Just the hem! God’s throne must have been bigger than the tallest mountain that exists. God must have been so large and so far above Isaiah, that the hem was all that was able to be seen.
            This was no quiet moment of devotion either. The seraphs add more to this vision than I ever realized. The literal translation of seraph is “the burning ones.” We know that smoke filled the temple, but whether they were literally burning, I’m not sure. But I can imagine that something about the seraphs’ aspect was fiery, glowing, shining, flaming. What about the sound of their voices? One Old Testament scholar pointed out that the NRSV’s use of the word “calling,” is misleading. The seraphs were not just calling out to one another in a pleasant, “hey neighbor, how’s your day?” voice. They were not calmly singing a hymn. They were screaming, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts!”
            These fiery, screeching supernatural creatures waited attendance on this enormous, overwhelming God; a God so massive that just the hem of his robe covered the temple like a blanket on a bed. It is no wonder that in the face of all this, Isaiah assumed he was a goner. How could you stand before this largeness and not realize how small you are? How could you stand in the presence of this enormous God, and not believe that you would die because of it? Not only did Isaiah think this was it for him, being in the presence of God’s almighty glory made him realize how sinful he was. He saw clearly how sinful his people were. He was small. He was sinful. He was insignificant.
            Yet here is where the story takes an unexpected twist. Isaiah does not die. Whatever his sins were, when the seraph touches his lips with that burning coal, he is cleansed, sanctified. God does not strike him dead, instead God issues a call. “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Isaiah, who at first was convinced that he would not live another moment, raises his hand and eagerly cries out like a student who knows the answer to the teacher’s question, “Here am I; send me!”
            While this text is often used as a glowing example of answering God’s call, I don’t want to paint an overly rosy picture. If we were to read on to verse 13, we would hear that God’s call was not to rush in and save the people, but to confuse them. Make it so they cannot hear what God calls them to do, and cannot see what God wants them to see. There will be punishment and consequences for their actions. Isaiah’s call, at least initially, will not be a joyful one. But that does not mean that it will be without hope either.
            I don’t want to dismiss the serious and punitive tone of the call Isaiah is given. But I also don’t want to dismiss the powerful encounter between God and Isaiah either. What I find so striking, so incredible is that this enormous God, this God who could have crushed Isaiah and all of Israel like a bug, draws near.
            God draws near. I know that in this particular text, that doesn’t seem to happen. It is the seraph who touches the coal to Isaiah’s lips, not God. Nor does God suddenly shrink down to human size and pat Isaiah on the back for his willingness to take on this call. But still God draws near. The God who calls Isaiah is also the God who is born as a baby. The God who calls Isaiah is also the God whose Spirit blows across ordinary people and empowers them to do extraordinary things. God draws near.
            The pictures from the Hubble telescope make me feel small. I am just a dot in a universe that is so massive, we cannot yet see or know its boundaries. In this text from Isaiah, I feel the same way. God is so big.  God is so mighty. God is so holy and enormous and overwhelming, who am I but a speck of dust before him. But this big God is also the God who draws near. This big God is the God who called the universe into being for the sake of love. Love. The familiar words from our text in John’s gospel state clearly that God created for love; God sent his Son into the world because of love. Love.
            This week I listened to a beautiful interview with Jean Vanier, the founder of L’Arche. L’Arche began as a small community in France when Vanier invited some men with disabilities to come and live with him. He saw the way that people with physical and mental disabilities were excluded from communities, set aside or even hidden away. So he reached out to include them. L’Arche communities can now be found around the world. They all seek to be intentional about inclusion and about living the love of God that we find exemplified in Jesus.
            In the interview Vanier spoke of how his experience with L’Arche and the people he feels called to live with and learn from has caused him to grow in faith and in his understanding of God’s continuing work in his life. He was described by the interviewer as the epitome of tenderness, and it was in his tender voice that he spoke of his relationship with God. He talked about how he sees the crucial element of his faith as being a friend to Jesus. And then he described God as being Love. We know that when we love someone we become vulnerable. When we love another, that person has the power to hurt us and break our hearts. We grieve at the loss of a loved one because loving that person makes us vulnerable. If God is a God of love, indeed if God is Love, which Vanier believes God to be, then God is a vulnerable God. God is a vulnerable God.
            That doesn’t seem to reconcile with the vision that we have of God from Isaiah. But I cannot help but think that Vanier is absolutely right. God is about love. God is Love. This enormous, almighty, holy God is Love. God called this world into being because of love, for the sake of love. God is Love which means God is a vulnerable God.
            It is easy to think about God being all-powerful and almighty. It is much harder to think of God being vulnerable. I think we want God to be almighty and powerful, because then we can blame God for everything that goes wrong. But to think of God as vulnerable, that is both frightening and profoundly beautiful. God is vulnerable because God loves us. However small and overwhelmed I might feel when I read this text from Isaiah or look at those pictures from space, this reality makes me feel even more so. God is vulnerable because God loves me. God loves us. That is God. That is good news. How will we respond?
            Let all of God’s children say, “Alleluia!” Amen

Sunday, May 24, 2015


Acts 2:1-21
May 24, 2015/Pentecost Sunday

            I had a different opening planned for my sermon this morning. But last night when the sirens went off, I went into my bathtub, which is about the only semi-safe spot in my house, put pillows over my head, and waited. While I was lying there – and I admit that I went back to the bathtub even though the sirens were no longer going off – I listened to this fierce wind blow and bluster and rage around my house. It was so loud, like this never-ending roaring. I wondered if maybe this was a taste of what the disciples heard when they were sitting together, waiting. I don’t believe I’ve ever really given much thought to the noise of that wind from heaven before, but it must have been deafening. This cacophony of sound and noise was not limited to the wind. From the hissing of the flames as they descended to the jumbled tones of all of them suddenly speaking different languages at the same time; I cannot begin to imagine that enormous sound. But I can imagine this. I can imagine that all of that noise was probably more than a little frightening to some. Maybe the people who were witnessing this were a bit scared. Maybe the disciples themselves were scared at what was happening to them and in them and through them. I would have been. But whoever said that Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit, wasn’t scary?
            Scary isn’t usually a word that we associate with Pentecost, is it? Honestly, it has become one of my favorite feast days in the whole church year. It’s a celebration like Christmas, but gifts are not required. We have a cake, and in some churches the congregation will sing “Happy Birthday” to the church, but I don’t have to buy anyone presents. We get to wear red, and I love wearing red. And I don’t have to buy anyone presents! Pentecost is fabulous! But last night in my bathtub, that wind was not fabulous, it was frightening. I couldn’t tell what was happening outside of my house, all I could hear was the wind, and it was scary.
            It must have been frightening for the disciples, heck it must have been terrifying. When Jesus ascended, he told them that they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit. So they knew that was what they were waiting for, but what would the coming of the Spirit be like? Let’s face it, Jesus told the disciples many times that he would be crucified and resurrected, and they could not grasp that until it happened. I suspect that it was the same with the coming of the Spirit. They were waiting, but for what? Then when it came?! This loud, rushing wind; these tongues of flame dancing above their heads; their sudden ability to speak languages they could never speak before; Pentecost is scary, people!
            When I say that Pentecost is scary, I don’t mean that it is scary in a horror movie kind of way. It is scary because it can’t be controlled, because the Holy Spirit blows where it will, because it calls and compels us to do and speak and act in ways we could not fathom before. The truth is, if we don’t find Pentecost a little scary, a bit unnerving, then we have lost what it means for the Holy Spirit to come into our midst. If we are not shaken up by the coming of the Holy Spirit, then we are probably guilty of domesticating that Spirit, of trying to tame it and lasso it to do our bidding.
            I suspect that we do that often, don’t we? I know I do. I pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to be with us and work through us just about every week. But I’ve realized that often what I’m really praying for is not that Holy Spirit will work through me or guide me, but that the Holy Spirit will just come along on the path I’ve chosen. Instead of praying, “Come Holy Spirit, come,” I think what I’m actually praying is, “Follow, Holy Spirit, follow.”
            But maybe the Holy Spirit coming is more like what it was when I was lying in my bathtub last night. It’s unnerving. It’s loud. You don’t know what’s happening, and you’re afraid to get up and look. Yet even when I was lying there, praying, I had a deep sense of trust that it would be okay, that I would be okay. I know that if a tornado had actually hit, my house and my person might not have been okay. But I still trusted. Me, the one who struggles to trust, who struggles to let go of my need to control, trusted that somehow all would be well.  A mess true, but still I trusted it would be well. Eventually.  I think that’s the key. Trust. The Holy Spirit is not a tame little breeze that we can manipulate to do our will. The Holy Spirit is God rushing into our midst. The Holy Spirit is God pulling us, pushing us, calling us, compelling us to go a new way, do a new thing, live a new life, answer a new call. The Holy Spirit is God’s great whoosh of strength and courage and love. Thanks be to God for God’s almighty whoosh of the Holy Spirit, and may we go in trust where it calls.  Let all of God’s children say, “Alleluia!” Amen.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Be My Witnesses -- Ascension Sunday

Acts 1:1-11
May 17, 2015

            One of the many questions I had about church as a child concerned the weekly offering. Why did we have to give money to the church? My parents would try to explain to me that we gave the money to help Jesus. That actually confused me more, because the understanding that I had of Jesus was that he lived in heaven and watched over us from there. So the only thing I could figure was that after everyone left the church and it was dark and quiet, Jesus came down from heaven, gathered up all the money from the offering plates and took it back up with him to heaven. The picture I had of Jesus was of a kindly looking man with a beard and blue eyes sitting with his arms outstretched in welcome. So that’s what he looked like when I saw him coming down from heaven – Jesus with arms outstretched. On his return trip to the sky his arms were full of the money that was obviously needed in heaven.
            First, this is a vivid example of why you don’t use abstract concepts to explain things to children who think in concrete terms. Second, without even realizing it, I had formed my own mental picture of Jesus ascending into heaven. Mine was of Jesus doing this on a weekly basis with his arms full of money, but still, it was ascension. This past Thursday was actually Ascension Day. We don’t put much emphasis on this day in our tradition and in this country, but I know that Christians in other places and other traditions do. In some countries I believe Ascension Day is a religious holiday. People get out of work and schools are closed. This is the day that Jesus ascended into heaven, let us rejoice and be glad in it.  
            I doubt that Ascension Day will ever take on that kind of importance in our culture, but that doesn’t take away from the meaning of this moment in Jesus’ life on earth; his last moment on this earth. At the YMCA bible study this past week, we had a discussion about the literalness of this event. Was it like the prophet Elijah being carried up to heaven on a fiery chariot? Did Jesus just vanish, and the cloud was a cover? If it happened today, would Jesus have been picked up on radar or mistaken for a UFO – or should I say a UFJ? As with other supernatural happenings in Jesus’ life, I don’t worry too much about how this actually took place. Whether Jesus literally soared up into the clouds or was just no longer seen again, I think the ascension has a deeper significance than its logistics.
            In our Christian narrative, we seem to stop with the resurrection. Jesus was brutally crucified. He was willing to die for the truth he brought about God and God’s kingdom. But his resurrection changed everything. And it did. But in the ascension we find completion. It is the completion of Jesus’ life here on earth. But while Jesus’ tenure in the world has come full circle, the ascension is the beginning for the disciples. Several commentators refer to the ascension as the “passing of the baton.”  Jesus’ earthly life is finished, but the work isn’t. The gospel of good news about God’s love has to be told. Jesus brought the kingdom of God into our midst, but we have a responsibility to broaden its reign.
            Jesus’ words to the disciples are that they must “be my witnesses.”  The power and strength to do just that will come to them, as we will hear next week. But Jesus’ command is clear. “Be my witnesses.”  Just as in the stories of the resurrection, when Jesus is no longer in in their sight, angels are. Two men, dressed in white, appear to them. They ask one question, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
            The men’s question focuses on the disciples looking up. But implied in their question – at least as I see it – is a second one. Why aren’t you looking out? Why aren’t you looking out into the world God created? Why aren’t you looking out at the people who are living in darkness? Why aren’t you looking out at the ones who are living in poverty and sorrow and hopelessness? Why aren’t you looking out?
            It seems to me that one of the greatest challenges we face as Christians is to remember to look out. It’s much easier, and often much nicer, to look up. If we’re looking up toward the heavens, we’re looking only at God. If we’re looking up, we can focus solely on when Jesus will return the same way he left. If we’re looking up, we don’t have to see the broken world around us. If we’re only looking up, then it’s just about God and us, God and me. Jesus died for my sins. He rose again for my sins. Let’s look up, shall we?
            But in the ascension, Jesus tells the disciples – and us – to “be my witnesses.” The only way we can truly be his witnesses is to look out. But it can’t just stop with the looking, we have to go out. When the disciples receive the Holy Spirit at Pentecost that is exactly what they do. They go out. They heed Jesus’ words to be witnesses. They know that they are sent, and they take that sending seriously.
            If you take a look at the last page of our bulletin, that send word is pretty easy to spot. It’s the last section of our worship service. We gather. We hear the word. We respond. We are sent. When I teach the structure of worship to youth or to adults, I always explain that the Word – the reading of the Word, the hearing of the Word – is the central point and focus of our worship. Our gathering points us toward the Word. The Word calls for our response. The Word sends us out. Here’s the thing, by the time we actually get to the sending, I feel like we’re losing steam. Let me rephrase that. I feel like I am losing steam. It’s not that I don’t love all the moments that we have in worship, I do. Yet, I have to be honest and say that I breathe a sigh of relief that I’ve made it through another sermon. So much of my focus goes to the sermon that the sending can be an afterthought. However the sending is as important and crucial as all of the other pieces of our worship. If we don’t take the sending seriously, then I think we’re just spending the majority of our time looking up, forgetting that we are also supposed to be looking out. It seems to me that Christians often divide themselves into two theological camps. There are those who focus more exclusively on the looking up, the personal relationship with Jesus, the devotion and worship of God. And there are those who see only the social justice side. But to me it is a both/and. Our worship together is the most important thing we do together. It is the heartbeat of our life together. Worship provides the foundation and the framework for everything else we do. We need time to look up. But being sent is also the most important thing we do together. We are sent to be witnesses. We are sent to strengthen the weak, feed the hungry, and be advocates for the oppressed. We are sent because we are called to look up and to look out. The baton has been passed from Jesus to the disciples, from the disciples to the early church, from the early church to each generation of believers that follow. The baton has been passed to us.
            A seminary friend of mine posts a cartoon on a regular basis called, “Coffee with Jesus.” It features different people drinking coffee and chatting with Jesus. Sometimes the people espouse questionable views of what they think being Christian is all about. Sometimes the folks ask questions. The one I saw most recently was a young man asking Jesus a question. His question was, “Why do you let so many bad things happen in the world? Why do you let people starve and suffer and live in terrible conditions?” Jesus responded, “That’s funny. I was about to ask you the same question.”
            Jesus has passed the baton to us. We are called and we are sent to be witnesses. Why are we still looking up?
            Let all of God’s children say, “Alleluia!” Amen.

Sunday, May 3, 2015


Acts 8:26-40
May 3, 2015

            Vacation days go by much faster than normal days. Have you ever noticed that? For instance, on my trip to Nashville in March I thought I had plenty of time to get together with a variety of old friends. However, the last day arrived and I still hadn’t seen more than just a few people. So when one of my friends invited us out for dinner, she suggested that I invite a few others to join us. I sent out a last minute invitation to several people, but because it was last minute, everyone had other plans. One of my friends and former Varsity Choir comrade, Jeff, wrote a sweet note back, saying something like, “Don’t worry. The universe will make sure we get together really soon.”
            After dinner, Brent and I stopped at a coffee place to talk for a little while longer. We chose a booth, and when I first sat down, I sat on the side with my back facing the door. At one point I switched sides and faced the opposite direction. There was another couple sitting in a booth a few feet away from us. They stood up to leave. I could see the woman, but not the man. As he put his jacket on, he turned around toward me. I was in mid-sentence, and my jaw dropped. So did his. It was my friend, Jeff! We both started laughing, then we hugged and made introductions, then I hugged his wife, and he hugged Brent. Then we laughed some more at the unlikeliness of this chance meeting. Jeff said, “I told you, you put something out to the universe and the universe hears you.” The rest of the evening, we kept going over the way that unlikely encounter happened. Had I not switched to the other side of the booth, I wouldn’t have seen them when they got up. Had Jeff turned toward the door, instead of me, he wouldn’t have seen me. Had I not looked up right at that same moment … well, you get the idea. It was completely unlikely that any of this would have happened the way it did. But it did.
Unlikely is the word that comes to mind when I read this story about Philip and the Eunuch from Acts. It is a remarkable and seemingly unlikely story. Actually, Philip’s story alone is pretty remarkable.  Just a few chapters before this one he and twelve others, including Stephen, were commissioned to feed and care for the widows in the community.  They were the first deacons.  The apostles needed time to pray and spread the word so they laid hands on these twelve so that they would also be empowered by the Spirit to do their own unique work.  But the Spirit is never to be underestimated and it blows where it will.  It moved Stephen to speak to the powers and principalities even though it meant his martyrdom by stoning.  And Philip?  After Stephen was killed, Saul led a severe persecution against all the believers in Jerusalem.  So with the exception of the apostles, all the other believers were scattered.  Philip went into Samaria.  Even though he wasn’t commissioned to preach or to evangelize, that’s what he did.  He preached to the Samaritans.  And his preaching was amazing. The enmity between Israel and Samaria had not lessened since Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan, but that didn’t hinder the Holy Spirit working through Philip as he preached. His preaching expelled unclean spirits from those who were possessed.  Folks who were lame or paralyzed walked again.  Philip even converted a magician named Simon.  Simon was baptized, and although he once performed acts that amazed all those around him, now he was amazed by the miracles and signs that happened through Philip because of the Holy Spirit.
Regardless of what the original intentions were for Philip’s ministry, the Spirit blows where it will. It directed Philip in a completely different way than any of the apostles or Philip could have imagined, and the results were astounding!
If this were another kind of story in another kind of context, we might have heard that Philip was promoted to the next level of leadership. After all, his results in Samaria were incredible, why shouldn’t he move up the ladder of success? But that’s not the story we have before us. Philip is told by an angel of the Lord – which is another name for the Holy Spirit – to get up and go south.  Take the wilderness road that leads from Jerusalem to Gaza.  Wilderness road is exactly what the name implies: a wilderness. The idea that there would be anyone to preach to on this road was unlikely. And if no one was there to preach to, what use would God have for Philip on that road?
But if Philip questioned this, we don’t read about it. He just got up and went. 
As he walked that road, something unlikely happened. Another traveler came down that dusty, deserted stretch, and an unlikely traveler at that.  An Ethiopian eunuch, an official of the court of Queen Candace was in his chariot leaving Jerusalem for home.  The Spirit tells Philip to go over to the chariot.  Philip ran to it and when he did he heard the eunuch reading aloud from the prophet Isaiah.  Philip asked him if he understood what he was reading, and the eunuch invited him to join him and guide him in the interpretation. 
Philip began with that Isaiah passage and told him, to quote the old hymn, the story of Jesus.  When they came to some water, the eunuch was moved to ask for baptism.  More specifically he said, “What is to prevent me from being baptized?”  The chariot was ordered to stop.  They got out.  Philip baptized the eunuch.  When he and the eunuch came out of the water Philip was snatched up by the Spirit and taken away.  Apparently the eunuch was not surprised by the unlikeliness of Philip disappearing from the road, because he went on his way rejoicing.  Unlikely as it may haves been, Philip found himself in Azotus. From there he went through each town proclaiming the good news.
Pretty unlikely story, isn’t it?  Yet it is a powerful one as well. Philip hears the call to go to an unlikely place, meets an unlikely traveler, who responds in an unlikely and unexpected way. The whole thing is unlikely and unexpected. Philip being the one told to go was unexpected. And the eunuch?  Unlikely is an understatement. He was of a different race, a different culture.  Yet he had gone to Jerusalem to worship, so we can surmise that he was most likely a proselyte to Judaism, which also seems so unlikely. To answer his question about what would hinder him from being baptized, there were plenty of reasons to say “no,” rather than, “yes.”  He was a eunuch.  The Law stated that someone with his unique physical condition could not worship in the temple.  Even had he not been a eunuch, he was Ethiopian. He was an outsider. Some might consider that a perfectly good reason to say, “No.” However, what really strikes me as being unlikely is not the baptism of the eunuch, but finding the water in which to do the baptizing. It was, after all, a wilderness road. Not much chance of stumbling across an oasis, but unlikely or not, the water was there waiting for them.
Everything about this story, from beginning to end, resounds with the unlikely. None of it should have happened, yet it did. But why do I find the unlikeliness of this story surprising? It really shouldn’t be. The word unlikely should really be the subtitle of scripture. The Holy Bible: An Unlikely Story about Unlikely People Being Called in Unlikely Ways to Bring an Unlikely Message to Unlikely People from God.
Abraham and Sarah, an unlikely couple who were childless and older than dirt, were promised by God that their descendants would number more than the sand on the ground and the stars in the sky. Jacob, their grandson, was a scoundrel, a schemer, a cheater, a liar, completely unlikely. But his name became Israel, and he was the father of a nation, God’s chosen people who would bring God’s blessing to the world. Moses should not have lived to see his first birthday, but the unlikely circumstances of his rescue and the unlikely way he was called by God, began the exodus of God’s people out of Egypt.
Ruth, a Moabite who should have gone back to her own people, stayed with her mother-in-law, Naomi, and married Boaz in the most unlikely of ways. Their unlikely marriage resulted in a grandson named Jesse and in a great-grandson named David. David was an unlikely choice for King, but King he was.
But what was really unlikely was that the Word became flesh, the Divine became human, starting off in life the way we all do – tiny, helpless, and powerless. That tiny baby grew up to be an itinerant preacher, and called together a woeful band of followers who never seemed to get it right; even when their teacher told them exactly what was going to happen. He would die but death would not win; resurrection, the most unlikely thing of all.
And here we are. Perhaps your being here is not unlikely, but even after all these years, I never cease to be amazed at how unlikely it is that I should be here, especially in this pulpit. The expression says that, “God moves in mysterious ways.” I would change the word mysterious to unlikely. God calls unlikely people to do unlikely deeds in unlikely ways. That’s how God’s purposes seem to be worked out – in the unlikely.
Our faith seems to be based on all that is unlikely. It doesn’t follow logic. To some it even sounds a bit nuts. But it seems to me that it is the unlikeliness of it all that makes the good news the Good News, because unlikely in God’s eyes does not equate to unworthy. Unlikely is not the same as unable. God’s purposes for good and for love and for life are worked out through unlikely people in unlikely places and in unlikely ways. That includes all of us. Thanks be to God. Let all of God’s children say, “Alleluia!” Amen.