Lenten Sermon Series: A Word for “You” (RCL Gospel)

If you watch Jeopardy very often, you’ve likely seen a category title or two that uses quotation marks to indicate that a letter or word must appear in every answer to the questions in that category … or rather, every question to the answers in that category. A category titled MAY”B” has answers that begin with the letter B; a category titled “PART”Y has answers that include P-A-R-T, such as particle and impartial.

The Revised Common Lectionary’s Gospel readings for Lent — with one exception — include a direct “you” in the texts, which invites the opportunity to place ourselves as readers & hearers on the receiving end of these scriptural directives. Of course, we often insert ourselves into Scripture; making use of the “you” in Lent’s lectionary is a familiar tool for reflection. As always with Scripture, don’t recommend reading/hearing ourselves in these readings without first doing our homework on the biblical context of each “you.” Moving too quickly to make a passage relevant to our own context runs the risk of misunderstanding the passage’s own context and meaning.

Sunday, February 18: Mark 1:9-15

You are my beloved.” Yes, you. And me. And all persons. Even the wild beasts and the angels (reading to verse 13). What peace might we begin to realize & embody — not only when we accept God’s claim & love for ourselves but also when we trust God’s love & affirmation for all people and all creation?

Sunday, February 25: Mark 8:31-38

You are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” It’s not hard to see how often and how easily we focus on (panic over) this world and the stuff of our daily living. But in the theological complication called incarnation, that human stuff is divine stuff too, isn’t it? How do we discern? How do we focus?

Sunday, March 4: John 2:13-22

You stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” (“Den of robbers/thieves” is the language of Matthew 21:13.) Recognizing the “you” in John 2:16 requires a trip down memory lane to reacquaint ourselves with imperative sentences, but to the point: How do our faith communities develop God-focused and community-transparent financial habits? And what does it look like to engage the Church (its building, its community, its global network) not as a commodity?

Sunday, March 11: John 3:14-21

Here’s the one Gospel passage that needs a bit of “you” added to it — I suggest in place of “those.” With this shift, John 3:21 for example reads (loosely): “You who do good are not afraid of Truth, because everything you do has been for the glory of God.” Are you (am I) seeking the glory of God in word and deed?

Sunday, March 18: John 12:20-33

“This voice has come for your sake, not for mine.” Jesus tried to give the disciples signs and symbols in advance of his death, so that they would have something to hold onto in the awful aftermath of catastrophe: hints of death, metaphors of life, reminders for hope. And still today we are given signs to understand God’s work: thunder and angels and stories for our sake, for our faith.

Sunday, March 25: Mark 11:1-11

“What are you doing?” I’d hazard the suggestion that this question is at the heart of discipleship. It’s the juncture at which persuasion becomes incarnation, conviction becomes commitment, belief becomes action. Why have you untied a colt. Why have you loved a neighbor? Why have you walked with someone through death?

I’ve omitted Ash Wednesday (February 14) and Easter Sunday (April 1) from this sermon series outline, as the themes for those two days are prescribed and can stand alone … yet can also fit into almost any sermon series.

Looking for other sermon series ideas for Lent? Check out my suggested #solidarity sermon series for the Narrative Lectionary or my idea for a series on Lamenting Injustice using the Revised Common Lectionary’s Old Testament texts. And because Lent and the lectionaries repeat faithfully in church life, you can skim back to my 2015 blogpost that offered eight quick Lenten sermon series ideas. You can also find Ash Wednesday liturgies on my blog, which you are welcome to use (with citation) in your worship setting.

Lenten Sermon Series: #solidarity (Narrative)

Sermon series ideas for the upcoming Lenten season continue with a reflection on the Narrative Lectionary’s challenge to our understanding of & willingness to be in solidarity with one another — through life and death, through questions and heartaches. (If you’re a Revised Common Lectionary preacher, check out this sermon series suggestion on the RCL’s Old Testament readings for Lent.)

Sunday, February 18: John 11:1-44

Perhaps we believe that Jesus had a perfectly good reason for not visiting his friend Lazarus while he was sick and dying. Perhaps we have good reasons for not being present in those awful, rending moments after a death has occurred. But when we cannot (or choose not to) show up for one another, we must also bear to face the question, “Why didn’t you come?”

Sunday, February 25: John 13:1-17

In the footwashing, Jesus provides an unnecessary service for his friends. They’re capable of washing their own feet (I’m pretty sure), but Jesus demonstrates his care … and simultaneously turns upside down the social norms of worth and servitude. To stand by one another in solidarity is not only an act of kinship but also an act of humility.

Sunday, March 4: John 18:12-27

One disciple went inside with Jesus to the courtyard of the high priest, because that disciple “was known to the high priest.” Another disciple, Peter, notoriously stayed outside where he refused to be known as one of Jesus’ disciples. Solidarity includes a willingness to be known by the company we keep.

Sunday, March 11: John 18:28-40

As Pilate abdicates his authority for judgment — first to those who bring Jesus to him and then to the crowds — we see the difference between solidarity and crowd-think. Solidarity is a choice of heart & mind & action, while crowd-think (or “following the crowd”) is the abandonment of choice in favor of accepting others’ direction without critique.

Sunday, March 18: John 19:1-16a

As Jesus refuses to persuade Pilate of his innocence (although he’s not really innocent, is he?), I find myself wondering whether it would’ve even made a difference if Jesus responded to Pilate’s questions. The systems of political power were already set against him: one man, one prisoner, one ethnic minority, one soldier, one woman, one loudmouth is always expendable for the normalcy and preservation of the powers that be. Solidarity may strengthen us & keep us company, but it does not save us from the crush of powers.

Sunday, March 25: John 12:12-27 & 19:16b-22

“Unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” Our lives are not our own — this is foundational to discipleship and to solidarity. We belong to God. We belong to one another. We live our lives for the sake of Another, for the sake of each other. To do otherwise is to choose death.

As with the sermon series idea for the RCL’s Old Testament passages, this sermon series suggestion for the Narrative Lectionary does not specifically include Ash Wednesday (February 14) or Easter Sunday (April 1). The themes for those two holy-days are prescribed and can stand alone … yet are also so basic to Christian faith that they can fit into most any sermon series.

More ideas to come as the week continues!

Lenten Sermon Series: Lamenting Injustice (RCL OT)

With the arrival of Epiphany Sunday — Theophany, Three Kings Day, Orthodox Christmas — the liturgical season of wondering and wandering begins. We follow stars, we listen for wisdom, we watch for prophets, we get lost about as fast as we lose our New Year’s resolutions, we wonder over God’s call on our lives, we marvel at Jesus’ baptism and (just before Ash Wednesday) we awe at his transfiguration.

For many pastors, the arrival of Epiphany Sunday also marks the wondering and wandering of rushed Lenten planning as we suddenly notice on our calendars that Ash Wednesday is only one month away. For such as these, I offer brainstorms for Lenten sermon series, which also suggest worship themes for the upcoming season. Ash Wednesday and Easter are not included in these sermon series, as their themes are prescribed and can stand alone … yet are also so foundational that they can fit into most any sermon series.

First is a suggested sermon series centered on the Old Testament readings of the Revised Common Lectionary — an intentional & confessional Lenten call to examine the injustices within our world and within our hearts.

First Sunday in Lent (Feb 18): Broken Promises

Consider the decades & centuries of broken promises between colonizing governments and indigenous nations/First Peoples, and/or the broken promises between today’s governments and immigrant & refugee populations. In contrast, consider the promises of God (Genesis 9:8-17), made not only to people but also to creatures and the earth herself. Pray & preach this Sunday for the ways in which we have broken promises to one another and the ways in which our governments broken promises to communities.

Second Sunday in Lent (Feb 25): Sinful Tongues

God gives new names to Abram and Sarai (Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16), but too often we reject or ignore people’s names and thereby their personhood. We call each other names to categorize & dehumanize. We don’t bother to learn people’s names; some of us say Tchaikovsky with ease but believe we don’t need to correctly pronounce actress Uzo Aduba’s name. Some of us feign burden when asked to use a trans person’s new name or to use plural pronouns (they/them) for a genderqueer person. Pray & preach this Sunday about the ways we speak of & to one another, recalling that God knows our names & claims us as beloved.

Third Sunday in Lent (Mar 4): Chasing Capitalism

Pastors often wait until stewardship season to preach about money, but Exodus 20:1-17 invites a frank examination of our idolization of money & labor at the expense of worship & compassion. What influences our desire for personal gain? How do our choices about income & employment reflect the Ten Commandments … or the values of capitalism? How do we recognize when our pursuit of (or anxiety over) money & labor overtakes our passion for the worship of God? Pray & preach this Sunday against our idolization of money & work as measures of worth — not only of ourselves but of people around the world and in our own towns.

Fourth Sunday in Lent (Mar 11): Healthcare Crisis

In Numbers 21:4-9 and throughout the Bible, God is understood as both the cause of illness and the cause of healing. Today with modern medicine, we outline the causes of illness and health differently, and healing is not only a matter of faith but also a matter of access: especially financial and geographic access. Health insurance and health care are expensive. Medical facilities are limited in some regions, highly concentrated in others. Race & gender & class impact our well-being and treatment too. Pray & preach this Sunday about the disparities in our healthcare systems.

Fifth Sunday in Lent (Mar 18): Biased Hearts

“Sin” by Anneke Kaai

Can we say honestly that God’s law is inscribed on our hearts so long as bias has its home there? Bigotry and racism are learned not only at a young age but all throughout our lives, carved into our hearts daily by the words & gestures & people & social systems all around us … and inscribed as our hearts’ laws when we do not challenge them, practice living contrary to them, and welcome accountability for change. Preach & pray this Sunday for the conversion of our individual & collective biased hearts and actions, that God’s law might become foremost within us (Jeremiah 31:31-34).

Sixth Sunday in Lent – Palm/Passion Sunday (Mar 25): Turning Our Cheeks

I used to imagine “turning the cheek” as a choice of non-resistance. Perhaps it can be, but I also know that turning the cheek is an unavoidable movement caused by the impact of a smack or hit. Sometimes we turn our cheeks and our backs not because we are so righteous but because we are so injured & shamed — whether by acts of random violence or domestic violence or hurtful words or moral injury. Pray & teach this Palm/Passion Sunday with an awareness of the violence experienced not only by Jesus but by your congregants & your community, believing that goodness comes not from suffering but from solidarity (Isaiah 50:4-9a).

Blessings to those preparing to preach this Lent — and more sermon series ideas to come!

Hopeless

I have some not-so-polite things to pray today, God,
starting with:

You suck.

.

Also:

You’re falling down on the job.

.

Where is your balm to the brokenhearted
when pain is looped publicly on video
for voyeurism and ratings?

.

Is there no more freedom
your Spirit can breathe upon those
most strangled, most strained, most encumbered
by centuries of hatred?

.

Where is your fulfillment of justice
in heaven or on earth?
Have the stars taken all your attention
in resolving their quarrels with far-flung moons?

.

Did you stop helping
after you fulfilled your promise to Jacob?
Were you too tired after the journey across the wilderness?
Was it just too much when they killed Christ?

.

Have you kept faith forever
to yourself while we cast around
looking for hope worth holding onto?

.

The prisoners are on strike,
the hungry are desperate,
the ignorant feel righteous,
the bowed down are drowning,
the strangers are turned away,
but sure: let’s carry on with loud praises to
the God who teases us across generations.

.

on Psalm 146
cross-posted at RevGalBlogPals

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HOPELESS: a sermon on today’s Revised Common Lectionary texts

Tell me who you think will solve this. Tell me who you think can fix our collective state of being, the status quo of our living that includes as a foundational truth the devaluing and criminalizing of Black and brown bodies to the point of death.

Who do you think can fix this?

Who do you hold responsible for fixing this?

I talk with friends, I follow conversations on Facebook and Twitter, and I read books & blogs on racism, and it’s clear that there are many fixes. There are many good and necessary efforts toward uprooting racism, and truthfully we need every tool at our disposal to uproot racism. People I know and read have a variety of opinions about where to start or which efforts to prioritize:

  • The police system needs to be overhauled: not because every police officer is problematic, but because the historic foundations of policing are inherently racist and so the system of law enforcement needs revision if it’s going to be proactively anti-racist.
  • The justice system needs to be exorcised of its demons and redeemed of its biases against Black and brown persons: from public defenders’ offices to the selection of juries to mandatory sentencing laws to the privatization of jails & prisons.
  • It’s also essential for white folks to account for our participation in and our unwillingness to stand against racism. More than that, white folks need to talk to white folks about racism, we need to hold each other accountable for our prejudices, we need to teach each other that the white experience is not the only experience. In particular we Christians who are white need to speak up to other white Christians and testify that Christ’s commandment to love one another is at risk if we do any less than work wholeheartedly against personal & systemic racism.

Those are just a few tools and avenues in the work against racism. Where do you look for solutions?

Where and with whom do you place the responsibility for change?

Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals,
in whom there is no help.
When their breath departs, they return to the earth
and their plans perish. (Psalm 146:3-4)

In this particular season of American racism, this is what I hear when I read Psalm 146:

Do not put your trust in police systems,
in which there is no help.
Do not put your trust in justice systems,
in which there is no hope.
Do not put your trust in white folks,
in whom there is no hearing.
These are all mortal
and by their mortality, inherently sinful.
When their self-righteous breath departs,
they will return to dust.
Only when they return to dust will their plans perish.

It’s a dismal paraphrase of the psalm, perhaps, but then again several of our scripture readings this morning have a rather hopeless cloud hanging over them – did you notice?

Amos 6 is less than reassuring: “Alas to to you who relax on their couches, who drink a glass of wine, who pause to enjoy a bit of musical harmonization, not minding the suffering outside your doors. You’ll be the first to be punished for the injustices of the world when the LORD finally holds us accountable for failing to love one another.” How bad were their injustices and negligence? Amos wrote that the people’s living was so outrageously contrary to God that it was as if they were trying to plow the sea to reap a harvest. (Amos 6:12)

The thread of biblical misery continues in Luke 16: Jesus tells the parable of a rich man and a poor man who die. In the afterlife, the poor man is waited on by angels while the rich man is tormented by flames. For the first time in his life (and death), the rich man is in need and dependent on someone else for relief. And Abraham, who’s monitoring the whole situation, shrugs and says “Too bad for you.” When the rich man asks if the poor man can be sent with a warning message to the rich man’s brothers, Abraham shrugs again and says, “People don’t really like ghosts.”

Far from a parable of good news, Luke 16 discourages the notion that all will be better if we can just be patient for the sweet by-and-by. To the extent that we look at the pain & suffering, racism & hatred of the world around us and believe that heaven will be the great equalizer, that God’s grace will comfort all who have suffered and cover all who have sinned, Jesus disrupts us in the most strident terms, “Woe to you who have anything to do with the suffering of another. It would be better to throw yourself into the sea. Otherwise, plan to repent and confess at least seven times a day.” (Luke 17:1-4)

Who do we look to to fix this world of ours?

In what or in whom do we hope against the hopelessness of racism?

If we’re waiting for our sins to turn to dust along with our mortal selves, if we’re waiting for God’s grace to make us all one in the afterlife, Luke’s parable of the rich man and the poor man paints a picture of a judgment day that will feel worse before it feels better.

So then, hoping in heaven seems to be less than a guarantee.

Perhaps we hope just to live a little better day by day, to keep our priorities grounded in faith according to the wisdom of 1 Timothy 6: to fight the good fight of faith, to hold fast to God’s commandments, to avoid greed, to pursue righteousness. But faith did not save a Black man who was at the wrong end of a police officer’s gun in Charlotte or in Tulsa. Righteous living didn’t save a Black woman who was arrested in Texas for failing to use her turn signal.

God help us, where and in whom are we to place hope?

Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD:

the One who made heaven and earth,
the sea and all that is in them,
who keeps faith forever,
who executes justice for the oppressed,
who gives food to the hungry;
the One who sets the prisoner free
and opens the eyes of the blind,
the One who lifts up those who are
weighed down and weighted down,
and watches over the stranger;

the One and only LORD
who upholds the orphan and the widow
but ruins the ways of the wicked.
This is the LORD to whom we sing praises
for generations. (Psalm 146)

It is neither easy nor simplistic to say to one another, “Hope in the LORD,” at a time when hope feels so foolish.

But it is all and everything we have.

“Hope in the LORD” is the beginning of our efforts against racism. It is the foundation and motivation for living with love. “Hope in the LORD” compels us to look upward and outward when fear and stress would otherwise draw our shoulders and our spirits inward in self-protection.

“Hope in the LORD” is the rock we cling to at the end of each day, when racism remains even though we are tired. “Hope in the LORD” is the courage we have to sleep, believing that God has dreams still to give us that are more compelling than our nightmares.

“Hope in the LORD” is not a free pass from doing the work. It is not a dismissal of systems from being held accountable. It is the impatience that we will not wait for the princes of Psalm 146 or the rich man of Luke 16 to understand their dust & their sin before we demand the fullness of life. It is the conviction that our own dust & sin must not deplete another’s fullness of life, must not deplete our own full living in unlimited love.

“Hope in the LORD” is not easy but it is a yoke worth bearing — worth sharing and carrying together.

“Hope in the LORD” is a song worth singing through eternity.

Friends, let us hope when hope seems hopeless.

It is all we have.

Preaching Epiphany

So Christmastide has ended, the Star has been followed, and Lent is bearing down on us in one month.

The richness of the season of Epiphany (from the Twelfth Day of Christmas through Transfiguration Sunday) — also the first days of Ordinary Time in the new liturgical year — can be easily lost in the wake of Advent/Christmas hype and in the sobering preparations for Lent. But there is good news still needed from preachers during Epiphany and beautiful stories to unpack in the pulpit: magi & miracles, water & witness, sacred moments & transformative insights!

For last-minute planners and creatively-exhausted preachers, a few sermon series to suggest in encouragement of your preaching during the Epiphany season. The following outlines assume that Epiphany itself (January 6th) has already been celebrated, but for those who will celebrate Epiphany on January 10th, these series can be adapted & adjusted as needed.

Revelation in Community (on the Revised Common Lectionary’s New Testament readings), calling us to understand & celebrate God through community

star4January 10 (Acts 8:14-17): The gifts of others in multiplying & confirming God’s presence among us. “Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.”

January 17 (1 Corinthians 12:1-11): There is One Source from whom our diversities flow and One Spirit binding us together. “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”

January 24 (1 Corinthians 12:12-31a): In Christ, all belong to one body and one community, but more than that: all are necessary for the body and the community to reflect Christ. “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you.'”

January 31 (1 Corinthians 13:1-13): In the context of community, 1 Corinthians 13 becomes less a cliched reading for weddings and more an examination of how we behave together as part of Christ. “Love does not insist on its own way.”

Optional: Presentation of the Lord (Hebrews 2:14-18): A certain humility is necessary in & for community, remembering that Christ came not because we are perfect but because we are human. “He did not come to help angels but the descendants of Abraham.”

February 7 Transfiguration (2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2): Those who belong to Christ are audacious & courageous in seeing Christ in one another. “All of us with unveiled faces (unlike Moses) see the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror.”

A Child Shall Lead Them (on the Revised Common Lectionary’s Gospel readings), celebrating Jesus’ youthfulness & imaginationstar2

January 10 (Luke 3:15-17, 21-22): “You are my Son, the Beloved.” We forget sometimes that Jesus was someone’s — and Someone’s — son, a child who was loved and scolded and watched over and nurtured. Most often we think of Jesus as a teacher, as the Word Made Flesh, as our guide, as an authority … in short, as an adult. How might we follow the Child differently than we follow adults?

January 17 (John 2:1-11): Like most children — and many adults — Jesus needed the occasional reminder to take care of his responsibilities. Jesus’ retort to his mother Mary “What does it concern me?” sounds remarkably similar to an eyerolled “That’s not my problem,” when in fact there are very few problems that genuinely are not “ours” in this interconnected world. So with Jesus and with humility, we remember to pay attention to the wisdom of others.

January 24 (Luke 4:14-21): “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me … Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” The maturation of youth includes seasons of certainty and determination, characterized by the conviction that their lives must matter in the scheme of the world and by the boldness to make it so. Jesus lived with a similar decisiveness, unwilling to make compromises and unconvinced by the cynicism that some of us concede to in adulthood.

January 31 (Luke 4:21-30): “Doubtless you will say, ‘Do here in your hometown the things that we heard you did at Capernaum.'” While recognizing the limits on his ministry in Nazareth, Jesus simultaneously tested those limits by naming them aloud in the synagogue, to which the people responded not by saying “Please try to do what you can among us” but by driving Jesus to a cliff. Are we (and how are we) naming and testing the limits of ministry & faith?

Optional: Presentation of the Lord (Luke 2:22-40): “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many, and to be a sign that will be opposed.” Childhood — like faith — is full of ups & downs, scrapes & bruises, doubts & thrills. Jesus does not guarantee us an easy life or journey of faith, though with Simeon we hope to glimpse the glory of God’s salvation.

February 7 Transfiguration (Luke 9:28-36, 37-43a): “You faithless generation, how much longer must I bear with you?” So often we cannot see what Jesus sees: healing, release, return. So often we cannot see who Jesus is: wholly God, holy Wild, simply Brilliant. On Transfiguration Sunday, we don holy imagination and childlike faith to believe what we have not yet had the courage to believe.

The Wisdom of Praise (on the Revised Common Lectionary’s Psalms), a challenge to sustain a spirit of delight in the glory of God from the first sighting of the star to the mountaintop transfiguration

star1January 10 (Psalm 29): Do not fear what is God’s, but give credit & praise because all is God’s. “The voice of the LORD strips the forest bare, and all in his temple say, ‘Glory!'”

January 17 (Psalm 36:5-10): We are known and held secure within God’s love. “With you is the fountain of life.”

January 24 (Psalm 19): The heavens understand what we cannot fully grasp, yet still we seek it: the knowledge & fear of the LORD. “More to be desired are they than gold and sweeter than honey.”

January 31 (Psalm 71:1-6): God is our confidence and our calling. “Be to me a rock of refuge…for on you I have leaned since birth.”

Optional: Presentation of the Lord (Psalm 84): The lost and the weary are found in God’s presence; those who trust in God find delight and renewal. “A day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.”

February 7 Transfiguration (Psalm 99): Rejoice and be in awe to confess the strength and magnitude of God. “Extol the LORD our God; worship at his footstool. Holy is he!”

Practicing Discipleship (on the Narrative Lectionary); the Narrative Lectionary has its own energy as the stories continue to follow Jesus’ ministry, yet a theme of discipleship lessons can be additionally traced during Epiphany

star3January 10 (Mark 2:1-22): LAW & LOVE. “Why does he eat with sinners? And why do his disciples not fast like the disciples of John and of the Pharisees?” In discipleship, we are challenged to hold together law & love, discipline & grace, tradition & creativity, and to keep our understandings of faith in constant conversation with the needs of the world.

January 17 (Mark 4:1-34): DISCERNMENT. “Let anyone with ears to hear, listen!” Through many parables, Jesus reminds us to live with discerning hearts: for there are seeds that we will have opportunities to plant and seeds that we will have opportunities to harvest; likewise there is wisdom that we may discover and wisdom that will never be revealed to us.

January 24 (Mark 5:21-43): FAITH. “Do not fear, only believe.” Two stories of healing go to unusual length to portray the humanity, the despair and the sorrow, of the woman with hemorrhages and the leader of the synagogue (the former unnamed, the latter named Jairus). Jesus’ words to Jairus in 36b suggest that the opposite of faith is not disbelief but fear.

January 31 (Mark 6:1-29): AUTHORITY. “He called the twelve and sent them out, giving them authority over unclean spirits.” The question of who has the authority to influence whom threads together the dramas of Mark 6 and is a relevant question for our own discipleship. A girl’s dance persuades Herod, the commissioning by Jesus empowers the twelve, and the disbelief of his hometown stymies Jesus’ ability to perform miracles.

February 7 Transfiguration (Mark 8:27-9:8): FOLLOWING. “What will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?” The fierceness of Jesus’ words in Mark 8 reminds us that following Christ is not a simple work, not a quick path to glory, not a set of easy answers. Even those who walked with Jesus and knew him best were continually surprised and made frequent missteps in their discipleship.

Blessings for the preaching and the living of these days. May the Epiphany season be full of rich insights and beautiful sightings of the Holy!