Sunday, January 29, 2017

Year A 4th Sunday of Epiphany 2017 "The World Turned Upside Down"

Year A 4th Sunday of Epiphany 29 January 2016
“The World Turned Upside Down”
St. David’s Episcopal, Aylett, VA

“The World Turned Upside Down” That was the name of the song played when the British were forced to surrender to the Colonies, as they thought of them, in 1781. It all took place not far from where we are at the tiny hamlet of Yorktown. The British, the greatest Empire in the history of the world, could not conceive of having to surrender to the upstarts from a backwater region, rich in resources obviously, but dumb hicks nonetheless. And yet here there were, and they chose a British march when General Washington of the Continental Army would not allow them the customary honors of war.  “The World Turned Upside Down.” Interestingly enough, the song’s words were about the joy of Christmas, and why we should celebrate instead of being somber. And today, in our Gospel reading Jesus’ words scream that the REAL world, God’s world, is entirely reversed from what we normally think, and what we normally expect. From God’s point of view, this world is turned upside down.

It is this upside down world that is the nature of Christianity. It is the nature of the faith before Christ even came. In today’s reading from Micah, the prophet’s cry was the same. The world thinks that bigger is better. The world thinks that more is best. The world thinks that a rich gift will impress anyone, even God. But Micah reminds us that thousands of rams sacrificed does not touch the heart of God, but honest living does.

He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
It echoes the Psalms from today, Psalm 15:2. Who may reside with the Lord? “Whoever leads a blameless life and does what is right.”

We were told, and yet we so easily forget. We live in a world that says that he who dies with the most toys wins. The world says that there are Winners. And if you have Winners, the world says that there are Losers, and God does not like Losers. Well thanks be to that same God invoked, who came in the flesh to tell us that we had it upside down. Jesus and his message goes directly against what the world says, what the world is still saying. Some of the people who claim to be the followers of Jesus say that Jesus was for the Winners, and that he wants us to be Winners. These ideas are what is called Prosperity Theology. It teaches that God wants you to be rich and successful! That sounds great till you actually read what Jesus said.

You see in the Kingdom of God there are no Winners, there are no Losers. There are God’s Children. In the parable of the Good Samaritan Jesus taught us that Everyone is our Neighbor & that Everyone Belongs.

It was the same in Paul’s day, as it is in ours. When something good happens, or when people have a nice house and a nice lifestyle, the words that come rolling off our tongues is, “You have been blessed.” It was the same with Paul. Somewhere along the way we have been deceived, that the blessings of God are things. In fact most of us know, things cannot make us happy. Helen Keller, wise beyond belief because all she had was her mind, not seeing, not hearing, and yet she still knew the truth. “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched - they must be felt with the heart.” Jesus, Micah and Paul would all agree. (In fact, Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:18 says as much. “The eternal is those things that cannot be seen.”)

Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe.

Foolishness here, is not true foolishness, but what seems Foolish to the World. The World is convinced that they have it all figured out, and yet, at the end of the day what brings us comfort?
For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God's foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God's weakness is stronger than human strength.

Think about it. We still claim to follow a leader and teacher who was hung with the worst of criminals. In fact, one of the earliest images portraying Jesus was a piece of graffiti with Jesus with a donkey’s head. It makes fun of a man named Alexamenos, and Jesus. The inscription says, “Alexamenos worships his God.” It is basically saying that Jesus and any who would follow him are asses. It was found in Rome on Palatine Hill, and is the earliest known depiction of Jesus. []
The world sees us and this man’s teaching as nice, not revolutionary. The see it as a cup of warm milk, not a miracle. They see it as an opiate for the masses, not the linchpin of human history. Paul continues:

Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, in order that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Let us boast in the Lord. No one would look to the resumes of any of the disciples as a world-altering marketing team. Yet, they were. They shared a good news that still has the power to change the world, to change you, to change me.

Jesus starts his Sermon on the Mount with a listing of things that are Blessed. Now we use that word, in the English all the time, and I did a deep dive on it to make sure I knew what I meant.  It comes from the Greek makarios. Makarios means to be Happy, to be Blessed (made holy or sanctified) or even to Be Envied. And in light of that, Jesus words do not make any sense. Listen:

Matthew 5:1-12
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

Now who of you are “Happy” when you are poor in spirit, mourning, meek, hungry for righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, a peacemaker, or persecuted? Most of those things make it hard to be “Happy.” It was the same then. Now I have seen all kinds of explaining around this passage. I have heard it as a list of things we should be, the Be-Attitudes. I have heard it said that this is what God wants from us. I do not and cannot believe that. God does not want us to mourn. While he may want us to be peacemakers, that work is hard and often unrewarding. So how can we read and see these words. They must be pretty important. They start the longest straight teaching of Jesus to the masses given to us in the Gospels.

I will admit that I looked at this very differently after reading Dallas Willard’s great book, The Divine Conspiracy. In it, this passage is not a checklist of things we must do to be blessed. It is an observation of those who were around him and people he had seen. Jesus often taught with what was at hand, and on this day, on this hillside, people were at hand. And picture it, Jesus is walking through the crowd and declaring that the way the world sees thing are not the way God sees things.

You are able to be happy, even if you are poor in spirit, for yours is the Kingdom of heaven.
You are able to be happy, even if you are mourning, for you will be comforted.
You are able to be happy, even if you are meek, because you will get everything and more.

And how will these miracles happen? It can happen because God’s ways are not the world’s ways. God’s way is the way of Grace. God’s way is the way of unconditional, never-ending love. When we have nothing left, God has everything and more. And because Jesus declares that the world is Upside Down from the way we imagine or expect it, he seems Foolish to the Greeks and is a stumbling block to the Jews. Wherever we are, whatever we have done, we can be Blessed. That is the Good News, the Gospel. That is Grace. That is the Reality of the Real World.

We are called to live and act in ways that are Upside Down to this world. We are instructed to:
  • Love our enemies
  • Pray for those that persecute us
  • Turn the other cheek
  • Speak truth to power
  • Live in such a way to show we are Christ’s own
  • Love with all we’ve got
  • To not be afraid, for perfect love drives out all fear

Some of you may be upset that this sermon has turned to politics. I am so sorry you are upset. My role as a priest is to proclaim Christ and his Gospel. If the Gospel message has become political, I must admit an unapologetic Jesus bias. The Gospel has not changed. Maybe the politics have changed and are contrary to the Gospel.

Jesus said:
  • I was a stranger and you welcomed me
  • When you have done it unto the Least of These you have done it to me
  • Fear not
He said these things then, and he says it now. In our Baptismal Covenant we promised some dangerous things, dangerous to this Upside Down world: (Turn to page 304 and read with me)

Celebrant: Will you continue in the apostles' teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of the bread, and in the prayers?
People: I will, with God's help.Celebrant: Will you persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?
People: I will, with God’s help.
Celebrant: Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ?
People: I will, with God’s help.
Celebrant: Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?
People: I will, with God's help.
Celebrant: Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?
People: I will, with God's help.

The Gospel is first and foremost Good News. It is a source of strength when we are weak. It is a source of healing when we are hurt. It is a source of discomfort when we let ourselves get too comfortable. God loves you. God loves them, whoever “them” is. God loves Obama. God loves Trump. That thinking is Upside Down to this world. If you are angry with me, let us sit down and lovingly talk it through like we talked about last week.

In closing today, I want to finish with one of my favorite translations of this passage, from Eugene Peterson’s The Message. In it, it makes sense to those who have never heard it before, and it makes us who know it too well listen again for the first time.

The Message of Matthew 5:1-12
1-2 When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:
3 “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
4 “You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
5 “You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
6 “You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.
7 “You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.
8 “You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
9 “You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.
10 “You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.
11-12 “Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.

I picture Jesus walking through the crowd. Pointing at people, touching shoulders, blessing people as he walked by. And he declared them blessed in God’s Kingdom, no matter how they were seen, or what they had done. You are blessed, too, wherever you are, whoever you are, because God loves you just the way you are. And that news is Upside Down to this world we are living in. Be blessed, and thanks be to God. Amen.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

...And the Pursuit of Happiness.

When we are blindsided it usually comes from our assumptions. I assumed Hillary Clinton was going to win. So did she. So did most everyone. The morose among us and the exuberant are in response to this surprise. In the events that have followed, I have been picking my brain about the underlying fissure in our society. What was it that made some flock to Trump, while those in my face-to-face circles (urban, educated, middle-class) were unanimous in support of Clinton. I do know many in my virtual circles who did and do support Trump. If people in my face-to-face circles supported Trump, they did not tell me. But the emotional exuberance from many have been a surprise. And I have been listening closely, and so much of it has come down to economic and societal concerns/fears.

And so I have been thinking on what is the cause of these concerns. Many are easy to name. Downsizing or eliminating of industry, feelings of fear and distress since terrorism hit our shores, increased size of immigrant communities over many areas that have not been normal immigration points, and social distress over enlargement of rights and liberties that have come through the US over the last 15 years have all contributed to the overall unease. People have pointed to race, and I believe that is a huge part of this, but not a focus consciously of many of those holding these fears. So what was it?

In my mind, I hear a drastic distinction between the protesters since the inauguration and those celebrating our new President. As I started, our assumptions are where we are most easily blindsided, and for me it comes down to the "unalienable Rights" that we have held since the beginning of our original protest against a despot, King George III. The line comes in the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, and we have, I believe drastically different understandings of what this means and was meant to mean.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. 
Now Life has a pretty consistent understanding across the board, I believe. Liberty is much the same. We want what we want. (While we might not want others to have what they want, but we know Liberty when we see it.) But here is the rub. We do not see the Right as Happiness, but rather the "pursuit of Happiness." And that is where I think that the chasm happening in our society is breaking out. We disagree on what creates our Happiness and how we can get there.

For me, my Happiness is my ability to give and receive Love and Care. I agree with Helen Keller.
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched - they must be felt with the heart.”
I do this through my vocation (Episcopal priest) and through my relationships. For me, that is what I want protected and what I want to be unimpeded.  But when I hear people arguing how good things will be now and how they have hope I hear very different things.

People were angry over their health insurance costs increasing, sometimes drastically. Many think a businessman will change the ability to make a better income, or an income in deeply impoverished areas. Many wanted anyone named a politician out. Many were angry, and rode on the wave of anger that Trump swelled. Through all of this, I heard a lot of fear. And that is where my disconnect happens. I hear them saying, and I could be wrong, that their understanding of "the pursuit of Happiness" is one of an absence of fear, whether physical, emotional or financial security. The courting of his voters of Donald Trump seems to be appealing to their need to have their fear alleviated. As I see it, their understanding of the "pursuit of Happiness" is freedom from concern.

I am not one that motivates well with fear. Fear is not what drives me. "Perfect love drives out all fear," says Scripture and I hold to that. In fact, I sit now in one of the worst financial situations I have ever been in personally, but I am well off with where I am with my family and friends, and people have shown me love and care in my hardship in ways that are deeply moving and appreciated. My family is as emotionally healthy as could be. When I hear this country being described as filled with "carnage" I cannot connect with that, and in my life, cannot see it. Are there bad situations? Of course. They can be addressed and receive appropriate responses.

So what do you see as our Pursuit of Happiness? What motivates you? What do you hold most dear? What do you see as this common Right that holds us together? How do you define it? How do you work to make it real for you and for all those in your life? Please let me know.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Year A 3rd Sunday of Epiphany 2017 "That We May Be One"

Year A 3rd Sunday after Epiphany 22 January 2017
“That We May Be One”
St. David’s Episcopal Church, Aylett, VA

The Collect
Give us grace, O Lord, to answer readily the call of our Savior Jesus Christ and proclaim to all people the Good News of his salvation, that we and the whole world may perceive the glory of his marvelous works; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

There is conflict in our land. There is conflict in our churches. It has happened before and it will happen again. Talking about conflict is not fun, and some people tune out any dissension. Some people have already tuned me out, and I urge you not to do so. If we shut down when there is conflict, we become subject to bullies and villains. The old phrase is all the more true, “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” [attributed to Edmund Burke, and there is quite a dialogue online about this often used quote and its history]

Do not worry, today I am not going to talk about sides, about what has been happening this week in the news or in the church. But I am going to talk about conflict, how easy it is to devolve, and how we can find a way home.

In First Corinthians One, verse ten and following, Paul speaks to a conflict in the Church at Corinth.
1 Corinthians 1:10ff.
Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters. What I mean is that each of you says, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.” Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one can say that you were baptized in my name. (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.)

Let’s pick this apart.
  • “I appeal to you… by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement” We, the Church, are the Called Out Ones. That is what the word for Church in the Greek, ekklesia, means. We have been called out of the society. We have been called out of the status quo. We have been called out of the Standard Operating Procedures. We are in Agreement that Christ is the head of the Body, his Church. He is our agreement. He is what brings us together. We believe in him and what he taught, or at minimum say that we do.

  • “I appeal to you… by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,  ...that there be no divisions among you” And here is the rub. When you have three people, you probably have 4 opinions. People are messy. People have conflict. People disagree. When things start breaking apart, though is when the discussion becomes division. In seminary I had a professor who often invoked this line, “Whenever there is change there is conflict, whenever there is conflict there is change.” When we can no longer turn to one another, and work out our differences, when we make sides that becomes our understanding and our identity first, then our problems and differences are the issue and not the matter at hand. And that is what Paul gets to next...

  • “I appeal to you… by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you be united in the same mind and same purpose” When we focus on the differences and not on the commonality that we share we begin missing the point. This is both true in our Church and in our country. When Washington left the Presidency, those left squabbled over the power. He urged them in his Farewell Address to not break into factions. [, paragraphs 17-18]
They did not listen. And that was the rise of the Two Party system here in America. They did not listen, and neither do we. This week the names I have been called by people I love hurt. I will admit it. We have forgotten to keep the main thing the main thing. And our political differences have moved into the Church. The people in our Church, here meaning the Episcopal Church, who have attacked the National Cathedral, which is an Episcopal Cathedral, for holding the Prayer service yesterday and for letting the choir sing at the inauguration have been disturbing. Not because of politics, but when politics begin to dictate to the Church and its members things have gotten out of whack. And here I am speaking to both sides. As Paul said, “I appeal to you… by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you be united in the same mind and same purpose.” Maybe we have lost sight of our purpose.
  • The meat of the argument was who was baptized by whom, and there was a “greater than” perspective, or a “holier than thou” point of view.
    • “I belong to Paul”
    • “I belong to Apollos”
    • “I belong to Cephas” a.k.a. Peter
I absolutely LOVE Paul here. This is how I know the truth and reality of the Scripture. This obviously happened, and this obviously was a real argument. It is so petty and so human it has to be real. No one would advertise this silliness! I think this was probably written in all CAPS when Paul wrote it, or its koine Greek equivalent. “Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” You see, Paul’s “fans” were going against somebody else’s “fans.” Ridiculous.

When I taught Middle School, I cannot tell you how many inane conversations I have heard, and have been asked to weigh in on. “Rev. Rock, if Luke Skywalker and Spiderman had a fight, who would win?” “Rev. Rock, if the Hulk and Superman hit a golfball, which one would go further?” My response, “Why do you care?” Paul is saying the same thing. What seems so important that people are about to come to blows is moot. We are called to be of one mind and of one purpose, EVERYTHING else is secondary.

  • Has Christ been divided?” We were not made to be in parts. We were not made to be in opposition. If you think about it, go through and look at all the prayers Jesus prayed. I have only found one that remains unanswered. In John’s account of the night before his crucifixion, at the last supper, he prayed to God speaking of his Church. In John 17:21, Jesus prays for us, “21 that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” You see, our divisions declare to the world that Jesus is not who he says he is, who we say he is, and who we say we are. God help us. God forgive us.

  • “Was Paul crucified for you?”  Paul knew where he stood and who he was. Christ was the Savior and Redeemer. He was not.

  • “Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?As Paul declares in Ephesians (4:5),  “There is one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism.” This is what brings us together, what binds us and holds us, and I have to believe that that is greater than any of these earthly distractions that separate, divide, and seem unconquerable in these dark days. I refuse to see the darkness, and like I said on Christmas Eve, I see the light. We have been given the light. Even when we do not perceive it.

In our passages today we have that theme. That theme of light is one I need today, when all the world seems so much at odds with the idea of light.

From Isaiah 9 today:
The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness--
on them light has shined.

From Psalm 27:
The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom then shall I fear? *
the Lord is the strength of my life;
of whom then shall I be afraid?

From Matthew, in the calling stories of Peter & Andrew, as well as James & John, Isaiah is quoted to emphasize the fulfillment of the light being shared in Galilee, and from there to the entire world.
We have talked today about our situation, and why we need to work our way out of it. But how do we do it?

And when a preacher gets in trouble, often, is when we get into details. So here goes. Let’s start with what Jesus says about conflict. In Matthew 18:15-17, he is very clear that there are things to do when another member of his Church has sinned against you. So I do not get in the way, let me read it verbatim:

15 ‘If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. 16 But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax-collector. 18 Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19 Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.’

I have only had a few people ever truly practice this. It takes time. It takes trust. It takes maturity and vulnerability, things that are often lacking in the midst of conflict.
  1. Go and be direct with the brother or sister in conflict.

  1. If that does not work, take 2 or 3 with you so that you have witnesses. Now be careful when you go to this step, they might witness that you are being a jerk. But they might witness that you have been wronged.

  1. If it still is irreconcilable, take it to the community of the Church.

  1. Then if they still do not repair the mend in the relationship or situation, treat them as a Gentile or a tax collector.

Too often people see this as kicking them out. STOP. How did Jesus treat Gentiles and tax collectors? He loved them and invited them into relationship. They do not need removal, they need more grace, patience and love. Jesus’ mission and purpose was to seek and save the Lost. That includes you, me, and everybody.

  1. Then Jesus goes to pray, agreeing and binding it to God and God’s Will. We pray in Jesus name, and seek his working on us, in us, and through us.

When we gather in his name he is there. I believe that. It is what makes the Church the Church. We are not a club, we are not a ministry, and we are not social service. We are the Body of Christ, and we are the Bride of Christ. In that sacred mystery, as Paul calls it, we are united with the one in whose name we are called.

Brothers and sisters, in the days ahead, remember whose you are. Remember what you are called to do and who you are called to be. If you claim Christ, that is our highest priority and the reason we live, move and have our being.

We prayed this morning a moving prayer that aims toward reconciliation.
Give us grace, O Lord, to answer readily the call of our Savior Jesus Christ and proclaim to all people the Good News of his salvation, that we and the whole world may perceive the glory of his marvelous works...

As we lovingly engage conflict both inside and outside the Church, there are simple things we can do to start these long and hard conversations so that all may “perceive his Glory” both in us, and maybe through us.

  1. Show up
  2. Listen
  3. Be humble
  4. Be resolute
  5. Be gracious
  6. Be firm
  7. Be willing to admit when you are or have been wrong
  8. Be willing to take the hit
  9. Be secure enough to not hit back
  10. Work toward and believe in the redemption of the World, and all God’s Children in it

So easy to say, so hard to do. I find it fascinating that the only unanswered prayer of Jesus, was so simple, yet where we spend too much of our time. Remember Jesus’ prayer, “That they all might be one,” [John 17:21] is still waiting to be fulfilled. May he continue to work in us so that it may be so.

The Lord be with you. Let us pray.

Lord, you have called us and we are your own. Help us be your people, a people of light, salt in a tasteless world. Forgive us when we squabble, and help us to catch a vision of your hope and prayer, that we may all be one. Amen.