O Root of Jesse

Today’s readings

In these late days of Advent, we pray the “O Antiphons.”  These antiphons are the various titles of Jesus as found in Scripture.  Today’s antiphon is “O Root of Jesse” and it is found as the antiphon for the Canticle of Mary in Vespers: “O Flower of Jesse’s stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; kings stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you.  Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.”

Zechariah in today’s Gospel certainly knew what it was like to stand silent in the presence of the Root of Jesse.  Having been promised a son by an angel of the Lord – what one might consider a very trustworthy source – his disbelief moved him to silence in God’s presence.  Here is a man who, one would think, should know better – after all, he was a priest. But maybe his years of childlessness have led him to accept a life that was not God’s will for him.  Perhaps we could not blame him if the angel’s message was a bit unbelievable; we who have the benefit of so much science would probably be a little harder on the angel than Zechariah was.

When you’re accustomed to living without hope, any sign of hope can be met with an awful lot of skepticism.  Would Elizabeth and Zechariah ever give birth to a child?  How would that even be possible at this late stage of their lives?  Would God save the world from the darkness of sin and death?  Why would he even want to?  Can God be born here among us, giving us rootedness and a solid foundation for our lives?  Why would he even care?

But, friends, better to be silent than to voice our lack of faith and hope.  Then, in the stillness of our hearts and souls, maybe God can speak to our weary hearts and give rootedness to our scattered lives, bring hope to a world grown dark in sin and crime and war and too much death.  Today’s Gospel has God bringing hope to a elderly, childless couple.  God forbid that we would doubt that he could bring hope to us too.

So where have you given up hope in your life?  What is going on that is so burdensome that you have stopped even praying about it?  Is there an dark area of your life that you don’t think God can change?  Maybe bring that to mind today and stand silent in the presence of God.  Let him take the burden of hopelessness from you and bring to birth the Root of Jesse.

We pray today: Come, Lord Jesus, come Root of Jesse, give rootedness to our lives that are sometimes adrift in despair or apathy, give hope to a world grown cold in darkness and disappointment, give life to a people burdened by sin and death.  Come, let us stand silent as we await the dawning of your hope in our lives, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.  Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly and do not delay!

O Wisdom

Today’s readings

That was quite a list of names, wasn’t it?  It always strikes me that this list of characters, which is basically the human family tree of our Lord, is so much like any of our families’ history.  Forty-two generations of the pilgrim people Israel led by people of greatness, and, well, people of something else.  Some of them were heroic like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Judah and to some extent David and Solomon.  But some of them were pretty wicked, especially Manasseh, whose wickedness in shedding innocent blood incurred God’s wrath such that he allowed the Babylonian captivity that took place during Jeconiah’s reign.  So we have forty-two generations of saints and sinners, great men and flawed men, all leading up to the Incarnation of Christ, who was the only remedy to the cycle of sin that spiraled all through the story.

Today we begin the more intense period of Advent that extends from December 17th through the morning of Christmas Eve. During this time, the Liturgy leads us to yearn all the more longingly for the presence of Christ.  Just as forty-two generations of a mix of wisdom and foolishness could only be remedied by the presence of Christ, so the foolishness of our time calls for that same remedy.

And we don’t have to do all that much imagining to see the foolishness of our own time, do we?  All we need to do is turn on the news and see the sad folly of those we have elected.  Or we can log into social media and see the antics of people famous for being famous, or read hateful rants by internet trolls.  We can also bring to mind our own foolishness, the sin in our lives.  We too need the coming of Christ to put an end to our foolishness.

During these last days of Advent, we pray the “O Antiphons,” from which we derive the verses in the Advent Hymn, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”  The verses are also used during Evening Prayer.  Today’s is “O Wisdom,” and the verse from Evening Prayer is “O Wisdom, O holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care: Come and show your people the way to salvation.”  We trust the governance of God, the Creator of creation, to satisfy our longing for wisdom with the presence of the Incarnate Christ.

Come, Lord Jesus and bring us peace.  Come, Lord Jesus and put an end to the world’s foolishness.  Come, Lord Jesus and bring us your Wisdom.  Come quickly and do not delay.

Monday of the Third Week of Advent

Today’s readings

The whole progression of Advent is one that has always captured my imagination.  I see Advent as a kind of dawning of a new day.  Just as the day doesn’t come all at once, so Advent progresses and we see the coming of Jesus ever more gradually as we participate in each day’s Liturgy of the Word.  At the same time though, night doesn’t last forever, and the day arrives more quickly than we might be ready for.  I think that’s kind of where we are at this sort of late-middle point of Advent.

Today we see some glimmers of light.  The prophet Balaam speaks of a star advancing from Jacob and a spear from Israel.  This wasn’t terribly good news for Balaam’s people, but it sure is for us.  The hope of all the earth was in the somewhat distant future for the people of Israel, and even though in the Gospel that hope was standing right in front of them, the Truth of it all had not yet dawned on the chief priests and elders.

Tomorrow we begin a special part of Advent, marked by reflection on the “O Antiphons” which we famously sing in the hymn “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” and which we pray during Evening Prayer each day.  The Liturgy is pretty strict during these days and calls for us to focus on the coming of Christ and his manifestation among us in so many wonderful ways.

So the question is, have we been progressing faithfully this Advent?  Has the light been made ever brighter in our hearts?  Are we progressing toward the dawning of the day, or will it happen all at once and find us unprepared?  This is the time to light the lamp if we’ve been keeping it dim.  This is the time to wake from our sleep.  Our salvation is near at hand.

The Third Sunday of Advent (Gaudete Sunday)

Today’s readings

Today’s readings and liturgy call us to rejoice.  That’s the reason for the rose-colored vestments and the more joyful tone of today’s readings.  This is called Gaudete Sunday: gaudete being Latin for “rejoice,” the first word of today’s introit or proper entrance antiphon which says: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice.  Indeed the Lord is near.” 

Today we rejoice because our Lord is near.  We light that third, rose-colored candle on our Advent wreath and we see there’s just one candle left until the feast of the reason for our rejoicing.  We rejoice, too, that we can come to him for help and sustenance and companionship on the journey to healing. We look forward to celebrating the Incarnation, perhaps the greatest and best of the mysteries of faith.  That God himself, who is higher than the heavens and greater than all the stars of the universe, would humble himself to be born among us, robing himself with our frail flesh, in order to save us from our sins, heal our brokenness, and make his home among us for all eternity – that is a mystery so great it cannot fail to cause us to rejoice!  Indeed that very presence of God gives hope even in our most difficult moments – THE LORD IS NEAR!

During my trip to Israel this past fall, I got a sense of what Isaiah is talking about in today’s first reading.  When we were there, it was unseasonably hot.  I remember that we went up to the top of Masada, in the desert, and it was oppressive.  I was even worried for some of the less able pilgrims that were with us.  By contrast, we also visited Carmel, and even up at the top of the mountain, it was refreshing (actually it was raining a bit, so very refreshing!).  Also, at the top of Masada, all you could see was brown, parched desert.  At the top of Carmel, you could see all around Israel, with bodies of water, and villages.  

They were different experiences, and it sheds light on what Isaiah is saying.  If the desert were to bloom with abundant flowers, and be given the splendor of Carmel, that would indeed be reason to rejoice.  But what would cause such a miraculous turn of events?

Many times when I have had occasion to anoint a person having surgery, or battling an illness, I have read the first part of the Gospel reading we heard today.  Jesus tells the disciples of John the Baptist to tell him what they have seen and heard: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.  Again, any one of these would be reason enough to rejoice.  But again, what would cause such a miraculous outpouring of events?

Well, we all know what caused all these miraculous events to burst forth upon the earth: the glorious coming of our Savior, Christ the Lord.  Our God who, as the Psalmist says, keeps faith forever, has turned to us in our need and become one of us, giving us a completely new life, where sin and death and disease, and even the scorching heat of desert have no power over us.  Our God remembers his promises: he “gives food to the hungry.  The LORD sets captives free.  The LORD gives sight to the blind; the LORD raises up those who were bowed down.  The LORD loves the just; the LORD protects strangers.”  Because our God is not a god who sets events in motion and then steps back to see them all flounder in desperation, but instead, he is a God that cares for every one of us as if we were the only one on earth.  Our God would have come to save us even if we were the only one who needed saving.  Our God, THE LORD IS NEAR!  Indeed we ought to rejoice!

These final days of Advent call us to prepare more intensely for the Lord’s birth.  They call us to clamor for his Incarnation, waiting with hope and expectation in a world that can sometimes be dark and scary.  These days call us to be people of hope, courageously rejoicing that the Lord is near!  Come, Lord Jesus!  Come quickly and do not delay!

In our silent time after the homily today, I invite you to pray with me.  I want you to picture Jesus coming to you, approaching you, and extending his hand to you.  He wants to give you a message of hope and encouragement.  He wants to tell you that you are important to him, that he came to save you.  What is he saying to you as he approaches? What is hopeless in you right now that he offers to sustain you through?  What is he saying to you on this day of rejoicing?

Saint John of the Cross

Today’s readings

Today at Mass we hear from three prophets.  

A prophet, of course, is a person who helps us to see God.  And during Advent these prophets help us to see God coming to be born in us.  And we have to admit: lots of times we don’t see God.  We’re either too busy to notice God, or too wrapped up in ourselves to care about God, or just completely disinterested in the whole notion of God.  Sometimes we just don’t want to see God because we would rather be doing what we want to do and not what’s best for ourselves or others.  So it is good we have Advent and the prophets to help us see what we need to see.

We hear about three prophets today.  The first is the prophet Elijah, and we heard of him in today’s first reading.  His words were strong ones that zealously shepherded the Israelites through temptation and evil.  His prophecy was confirmed by mighty deeds, right up until the time he was take up in a whirlwind.  He was believed to be returning one day, and even up to the present day at major Jewish feasts, families will leave an empty place setting at the table for Elijah.  Jesus tells us that the return of Elijah was in the person of Saint John the Baptist, and he is the second prophet we hear about today, in the Gospel reading.

The third prophet we hear from today is Saint John of the Cross, whose feast we celebrate today.  Saint John of the Cross was a Carmelite friar who was called by God and by his friend, Saint Teresa of Avila, to reform the Carmelite Order.  The Carmelites had relaxed some of their rules over time, and had basically turned away from the life that had been envisioned when the Order started.  Saint John of the Cross and Saint Teresa of Avila founded a reformed Carmelite Order, and Saint John suffered for it terribly.  In those days, religious affairs were all tied up in the government of the nation, and so there was a lot of politics.  People didn’t agree with Saint John, so he was taken prisoner for over nine months.  Even when he was released, his fellow friars who didn’t agree with him went around to all the monasteries making trouble for him.  He was oppressed for his preaching of reform almost until the day he died.

Each of these prophets had been given a message by God.  Elijah and Saint John the Baptist called the people of Israel to turn back to God.  Saint John of the Cross called his fellow Carmelites to turn back to the ideals on which their Order was founded.  All of them suffered for their witness to the truth.  Prophets don’t usually have an easy life.  But if we will get past the politics and get over ourselves, we might hear from them a call that leads us back to God who will make us happier than we’ve ever been.

During Advent, we remember that Christ is always near to us, and we remember that we must always turn back to him and let him be born in our hearts once again, stronger than ever.  And so during Advent, we hear from the great prophets like Elijah, John the Baptist, and John of the Cross who are calling us to turn back to God and to prepare a way for Christ in our lives, in our hearts, and in our world.

Our Lady of Guadalupe

It’s so important to our spiritual lives that we be willing to be interrupted by the holy.  If we just keep doing what we’re doing, and never take notice of what God is doing, we miss out on some pretty wonderful experiences.  The apparitions of our Blessed Mother are holy interruptions, experiences that call our attention to what God is doing.

Appropriately enough, I think, we celebrate a second of Mary’s feasts in the space of just three days.  During Advent, we naturally turn our hearts in gratitude to Mary for her fiat that made possible our world’s salvation.  On Monday, we celebrated the Immaculate Conception of Mary; today we celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe.  We celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe in part because she is the patroness of all the Americas, and so once again, a special patron for us.

A Native American author of the sixteenth century describes the story of our Lady of Guadalupe in today’s Office of Readings.  He tells us of a Native American named Juan Diego, who was on his way from his home to worship on the hill of Tepeyac.  There he heard someone calling to him from the top of the hill.  When he got to the top of the hill, he saw a woman whose clothing shone like the sun.  She told him that it was her desire that a church be erected on the hill so that all could worship her son Jesus.  She sent him to the local bishop to plead that cause.

The bishop didn’t believe Juan Diego’s story and sent him away.  He returned to the hilltop to find the radiant Lady once again, and she told him to tell the bishop that she, the ever virgin Holy Mary, Mother of God, sent him.  Again the bishop did not believe, telling him that unless he had a miraculous sign, he would not believe the story.

At that point Juan Diego’s uncle became quite ill.  Juan then set out for the local church to have a priest come to anoint his uncle.  He purposely took a route around the hill at Tepeyac to avoid seeing the Lady and being detained, since the need for a priest was urgent.  But of course, she met him at the side of the hill and spoke to him again.  She assured him that his uncle had already been cured and sent him up the hilltop to find flowers of various kinds.  He got to the top of the hill to find many Castilian roses growing there, which was odd for that time of the winter.  He cut them and carried them down the hill in his tilma, a kind of mantle that he wore for warmth.  She sent him to the bishop bearing the miraculous flowers as proof.

He went confidently to the bishop and informed him that the Lady had fulfilled his request for a sign.  He opened up his tilma, the flowers fell to the ground, but the great miracle was that the inside of the tilma revealed the image of our Blessed Mother, in the same manner as Juan had seen her on the hill.   The bishop built the church, and devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe, as she had referred to herself, has grown ever since.  You can still see the tilma, still bearing the image of Mary, at the shrine in Guadalupe today.  That’s another miracle, since it should have deteriorated all these centuries later.

During Advent we are blessed to have the saints interrupt us with the holy, pointing the way to Jesus.  None of them does this more faithfully than his very own mother, and so we are blessed to celebrate her feast today.  May Mary our mother and the mother of God, lead us one day to her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Pray for us, O holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.  Amen.

Advent Penance Service

Readings: Isaiah 30:19-26 | Psalm 27 | Matthew 3:1-12

How often do we all have sins that we would like to see go away and leave us alone already, but then go back and do the same things again?  We can’t just say, “oh, sorry” and then move on and never give our sins another thought.  But at the same time, we can’t dwell on them, either, or they’ll never leave us.  It’s a fine line we walk, for sure.  

Saint John the Baptist illustrates the issue.  At that time, it says that everyone was flocking to him: “Jerusalem, all Judea, and the whole region around the Jordan.”  They heard his call to repent and embrace the kingdom of heaven.  But apparently, also tagging along were a large number of Pharisees and Sadducees, and John saw that their repentance was not genuine.  He demands that they all produce good fruit as evidence of their repentance.

And well does he demand this, because repentance has to look like something.  It has to be metanoia: a complete change of mind and heart, really a turning around to head in a new direction.  It can’t be doing the same thing time after time and expecting something new to happen – that’s not how it works.  It’s important to see that this metanoia does NOT imply hanging on to our sins and feeling terrible about ourselves because of them.  Indeed, to really turn around, you have to let go of what’s binding you: surrender and renounce the sin and accept the grace of forgiveness.

That’s a very Advent-y disposition, really.  Advent is a time of expectation of something new, something uniquely wonderful, something world-shattering and life-changing.  In order to really enter into Advent, we have to be willing to be changed ourselves, to have our world shattered, so that we can make a place for the wonderful gift of Jesus to be born in our hearts.

God’s presence doesn’t require much: a stable and an empty manger will do.  But if we’ve used the manger to store up our past sins and our impure desires and our fear of real change, then Christ can’t enter in and give us grace and mercy.  We have to, have to, have to turn around, head in a different direction, renounce our past brokenness, and clear out the way for Jesus to be born in us and change our everything.

Which is what brings us here tonight.  Please God don’t let us be that brood of vipers that wants to put on the act of repentance, but help us really repent.  Help us to turn around and head in the direction the star points out to us, which will lead us to your presence in our lives, every time.

Thanks be to God he never stops looking for that empty manger in our hearts.

The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today’s readings

Advent is a season of anticipation: God’s promises echo through the Old Testament, and in these Advent days, we see those promises coming to fruition in exciting and world-changing ways.  Today’s feast is a glorious glimpse of that reality.

We are honored today to celebrate the patronal feast day of our parish and of our nation, the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  This, of course, celebrates Mary’s conception, not that of Jesus, which we celebrate on the feast of the Annunciation.  Blessed Pope Pius IX instituted the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary on December 8, 1854, when he proclaimed as truth the dogma that our Lady was conceived free from the stain of original sin.

This feast celebrates the belief that God loved the world so much that he sent his only Son to be our Savior, and gave to him a human mother who was chosen before the world began to be holy and blameless in his sight.  This feast is a sign for us of the nearness of our salvation; that the plan God had for us before the world ever took shape was coming to fruition.

The readings chosen for this day paint the picture.  In the reading from Genesis, we have the story of the fall.  The man and the woman had eaten of the fruit of the tree that God had forbidden them to eat.  Because of this, they were ashamed and covered over their nakedness.  God noticed that, and asked about it.  Of course, he already knew what was going on: they had discovered the forbidden tree and eaten its fruit.  They had given in to temptation and had grasped at something that was not God, in an effort to become their own god.

Thus begins the pattern of sin and deliverance that cycles all through the scriptures.  God extends a way to salvation to his people, the people reject it and go their own way.  God forgives, and extends a new way to salvation.  Thank God he never gets tired of pursuing humankind and offering salvation, or we would be in dire straits.  It all comes to perfection in the event we celebrate today.  Salvation was always God’s plan for us and he won’t rest until that plan comes to perfection.  That is why St. Paul tells the Ephesians, and us, today: “He chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him.   In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ…”

And so, in these Advent days, we await the unfolding of the plan for salvation that began at the very dawn of the world in all its wonder.  God always intended to provide an incredible way for his people to return to them, and that was by taking flesh and walking among us as a man.  He began this by preparing for his birth through the Immaculate Virgin Mary – never stained by sin, because the one who conquered sin and death had already delivered her from sin.  He was then to be born into our midst and to take on our form.  With Mary’s fiat in today’s Gospel, God enters our world in the most intimate way possible, by becoming vulnerable, taking our flesh as one like us.  Mary’s lived faith – possible because of her Immaculate Conception – makes possible our own lives of faith and our journeys to God. 

Our celebration today is a foreshadowing of God’s plan for us.  Because Mary was conceived without sin, we can see that sin was never intended to rule us.  Because God selected Mary from the beginning, we can see that we were chosen before we were ever in our mother’s womb.  Because Mary received salvific grace from the moment of her conception, we can catch a glimpse of what is to come for all of us one day.  Mary’s deliverance from sin and death was made possible by the death and resurrection of her Son Jesus, who deeply desires that we all be delivered in that way too.

Pray for us, O holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.  Amen.

The Second Sunday of Advent

Today’s readings

Have you ever had the feeling that things were just not right? I don’t mean not right like you got the wrong order at Portillo’s, or your postal delivery person gave you the neighbor’s mail. I mean, really not right, in a fundamental sense, like the world was off its axis in some way. I think these days we’ve gotten a sense of that.  We have those who would govern us telling us how extremely they are in support of abortion, you know, the murder of innocent children, right up until the time of their birth.  And others who callously treat the poor with contempt, abandoning those in real need or fleeing for their safety.  We have politicians and others acting like children in public and expecting everyone to enjoy it.  Crimes of violence, in recent weeks, seem to be on the rise, again.  The bad news never seems to stop.

And perhaps even a bit closer to home, we could all probably think of times in our lives when things just haven’t been right: times of transition, times dealing with the illness of a loved one, or family difficulty, times when we have been looking for new work or trying to discern a path in life. These are unsettling times that we all have to experience every now and then.  And add to that our own sin, especially sin that bites at us time and time again, patterns of addiction, the sadness of past hurts, and so much more.

So in view of the craziness in our world, and the sadness that sometimes happens in our own life, it’s easy to get to feeling like things are just not right.

And God knows it isn’t right. He’s known that for a long time. The whole Old Testament is filled with God’s lament of how things went wrong, and his attempts to bring it back. The fourth Eucharistic Prayer sums it up by saying to God, “Again and again you offered a covenant to man, and through the prophets taught him to hope for salvation.” But, as we well know from our studies of the Scriptures and its proclamation in the Liturgy, again and again humankind turned away from the covenant and away from the God of our salvation. Ever since the fall, things just haven’t been right.

So what is it going to take for all of this to turn around? What is going to get things whipped back into shape? Albert Einstein once said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Nothing ever changes if nothing ever changes. Things don’t suddenly become right by continuing to do the wrong thing. I really think the only way things will ever change is by starting over. And that’s what I believe God is doing, in our time, throughout all time, and particularly in this Advent time.

Today’s first reading speaks of this new creation: a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse. It’s quite a visual, and when I think about it, I remember one of our staff telling me about her visit to the concentration camp at Auschwitz. She saw the horrible death chambers and holding cells. But she also noticed, that growing up through the cracks in the asphalt, were some beautiful little wild flowers. Her tour guide commented that that was nature’s way of healing what had gone on there. It was a new creation, breaking up through the horrible devastation of the murder and destruction that had reigned in that place.  It was a shoot that sprouted from a very unlikely stump.

The bud that blossoms from God’s new creation is something completely different than what we would expect, something incredibly wonderful, something that would never be possible in the old order: “The wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; the calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them.” None of those species would ever get along in the old creation; none of them would ever have been safe. But in the new creation, all of them will know the Lord, and that knowledge will have them not only get along, but even to flourish.

In today’s gospel reading, Saint John the Baptist proclaims the coming of Christ who will do things in a new way, too: “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” The all-consuming fire of the Holy Spirit will burn away all that is not right and heat up all that has been frozen in listless despair for far too long. That fire will force a division between what is old and just not right, and what is of the new creation: “He will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

All of these are nice words, and the idea of a new creation is one for which I think we all inwardly yearn. But what does it really mean? What does it look like? How will we know that we are moving toward new creation and new life?  Well, I think we’ll know because it will hurt a bit.  Change involves dying to something and rising to something else.  That’s why the Paschal Mystery – Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension – is so important to us.  

I remember going to the profession of final vows of one of my friends who became a Benedictine Monk.  During the ritual, he laid prostrate on the floor while we sang the Litany of the Saints.  I did that too, at my ordination.  But different from what I did: they covered him with a funeral pall.  It was a striking image: he was dying to his former life, the old world, the old order, and when it was over, he rose to new life: his life as a Benedictine, yes, but also his life of salvation and grace.

The death of that old nonsense always has to give way to the new life that God intends for us. We have to be a people marked by new attitudes, new grace, new love. We have to give up things that drag us down: unconfessed sin, habitual sin, impure relationships – all of it.  We have to surrender these to God so that we can become new people.  And then we have to strive for peace and justice – real peace and real justice available to everyone God has created. We have to be a community who worships God not just here in Church, but also out there in our daily lives: a community that insists on integrity, a community that genuinely cares for those who are sick, in need, or lost. We have to be a people who worship God first every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation, who confess our sins with hope of God’s mercy, who give priority to prayer in the midst of our crazy lives.

Most of all, we have to be a people who are open to being re-created. If we are not willing to put to death our old stinkin’ selves and embrace new attitudes and ways of living, if we are not in fact willing to take up our crosses and follow Christ, then we are proving Einstein right: we are doing the same old thing and hoping for a different result. It doesn’t work that way. We have to cooperate with God’s new creation, we have to be eager to let God do something new. We have to be willing to live out of boxes for a while, so that the transition can take place. We have to have unwavering hope that giving ourselves to God’s re-creation will be worth it, if not immediately, then certainly in the long run. We have to truly believe our Psalmist’s song: “Justice will flower in his days, and profound peace, till the moon be no more.”

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