Sunday, May 29, 2005

Pentecost 2 - Children's Sermon

Maggie and her friend Emily were playing at the beach. They didn’t swim because the water was too cold, so they just played with the sand, building castles.

Maggie and Emily worked hard all afternoon, and built a small sand city in their little corner of the beach. They were almost finished when they heard a big yell, then three boys, David, Andrew, and Ben jumped in the middle of their sand city and kicked stomped all over their carefully created city.

As David and Andrew ran away giggling to each other, Ben turned and splashed sand in Maggie’s eyes.

Emily jumped up and ran after the boys who destroyed their sand creation. She was very angry but didn’t know what she was going to do when she caught up to them.

But the boys, instead of running away from Emily, ran at her, grabbed her by the wrists and dragged her into the cold water and dunked her. She wasn’t wearing her bathing suit, only a pair of shorts and a t-shirt.

Then the boys walked away, congratulating each other on a job well done.

That night, as Maggie and her dad were getting ready for bed and to say their prayers, Maggie asked,

“Dad, why do boys have to be so mean?”

“Why do you ask?”

“Some boys at the beach kicked over our sand castles, threw sand at me, and then threw Emily in the water with all her clothes on. She was shivering all the way home.”

“My goodness, what did you do?” asked her dad, angry that someone did this to his little girl.

“Nothing. But I wanted to punch them until their noses bled.”

“Would that have solved the problem?” her dad asked.

“No, but it would have felt really REALLY good!” replied Maggie.

“Then how would you have been different from the other boys?” asked Dad.

“Then what should I have done?” asked Maggie, a little angry. It seems that the right thing to do is never the thing you really WANT to do.

“Well,” replied her dad, “One thing you could do now is pray for the boys. Do you remember on Sunday when we heard about the person who built a house on sand? I think what Jesus meant by that is that when we live like those who hurt us, then we are not living the way God wants us to live. It’s like building a house on sand. But when we build a house on a rock then it is not easily destroyed.”

“But rocks are hard,” said Maggie.

“They certainly are,” said dad. “Jesus knows how hard it is to build on rocks. But the easy way is not always God’s way. The boys chose the easy way. They liked to feel big and tough by picking on someone smaller. Jesus wants to show the world how big and tough God is by showing how loving God is. He wants us do the same thing.”

“But won’t that get me beaten up again?”

“It did get Jesus crucified, didn’t it?” replied her dad. “But Jesus does want us to think differently about how we deal with others, even with bullies.”

“I don’t know if I can do that,” said Maggie.

“To be honest, I’m not sure I can either,” replied her dad, “But Jesus promised that we would have help. We call that help ‘the Holy Spirit.’”

Then they said a prayer like this as we do now: Dear God, we pray for those who hurt us. Help us to live as lovingly as Jesus did. Amen.”

Friday, May 27, 2005

Pentecost 2 - Year A

If you’ve hung around our house for any length of time you’ll know, that in our house, Rebekah owns the tools. If the gate to the backyard gets unhinged, Rebekah digs out her tool box and re-hinges it. If the weather stripping needs replacing, Rebekah gets down on her hands and knees makes sure no outside air gets in. If the kids’ playhouse does not come pre-assembled, Rebekah is outside with her drill and hammer, boring holes and hammering the walls of the house together.

We decided a long time ago that, after a few mishaps, I was not allowed near the tools.

(But in my defense, it’s my testosterone she summons when we hear a strange noise in the backyard at night or when a telemarketer calls)

So, I take it at my wife’s good word that Jesus makes some pretty strange claims about building houses.

Rebekah tells me that it is actually very easy to build a house on sand. You just drive some stakes into the ground, pile extra sand around the edges of the walls, throw a piece of plywood over the structure, and -voila! – you’ve got yourself small hut.

But, of course, Jesus was right. A beach hut wouldn’t stand up to the weather. Especially our southern Alberta wind.

But Rebekah also tells me that building a house on a rock wouldn’t be her first choice either.

“Do you know how hard it is to pound rocks?” she asks emphatically.

That was probably what Jesus’ listeners thought when they heard this story. “A bizarre little tale,” they probably mumbled to each other. “But they probably thought the comparison was very appropriate.

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock…” Jesus says. What words was Jesus talking about?

How about:

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” “Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” “Be holy, as your heavenly Father is holy.” “Forgive others when they sin against you.” “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” “You cannot serve God and money.” “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God.” “Enter though the narrow gate.”

In other words, Jesus is saying, build your house on a rock. It’s not easy, but who ever said the road to salvation would be paved?

Jesus tells the story of the wise and foolish builders as a climax to his Sermon on the Mount – often called the Magna Carta of Christianity.

In contrast, he says that some folks who can name the name but who just went after the fun stuff, the stuff that didn’t cost them anything, won’t be recognized when they enter the gates of the Kingdom. It’s those who walk the road with Jesus, the road of self-giving love, the road of reconciliation, the road that leads to the cross, that bear the marks of the crucified saviour that enter the gates of the kingdom.

But Jesus wasn’t giving us a method of earning our way into the kingdom. Jesus didn’t give us a checklist of items to fulfill or hoops to jump through in order to get our ticket punched at the doorway to heaven. But Jesus showed us how God wants God’s people to live in the world.

Ken Haugk, founder of Stephen Ministries, tells a story about Bruce Bickel, former director of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in Chicago. Bickel had been a navy pilot in Vietnam. He and several other soldiers had taken under their wing an orphanage about eight miles from their base.

One day, during an enemy mortar and rocket attack, the orphanage was destroyed. Bickel drove down to help children wounded in the attack. He brought a severely injured 8-year-old to an army hospital. One doctor explained the need for blood, and that the best chance for a match would come if Bickel could persuade some of the unharmed children to donate blood for their friend. Bickel explained the need, and one 10-year-old boy volunteered.

While the blood was being drawn, Bickel held the hand of the boy who was donating his blood. He began to sniffle and whispered a question to Bickel,

“What was that?” Bickel asked, bending his head nearer to the boy.

“How long will it take me to die?” the boy repeated. The boy thought he had volunteered ALL his blood.

That boy knew how hard it was to build his house on a rock.

15 years ago, two teenage boys got drunk and took a car out for a joyride along the rural roads down the Nova Scotia/New Brunswick border. A young man was walking home from work at the side of the road. The driver of the car thought it would be funny to scare the guy because he knew him from school. But instead of scaring him, he killed him, as well as his friend in the passenger seat after the car left the road and hit a tree.

Charges were laid. The boy was convicted and sentenced. The parents of the boy in the passenger seat moved from Nova Scotia; their pain was too great and their anger too raw. The mother of the boy who was hit while walking home, however, decided that she wasn’t going to live with bitterness and anger.

She wrote letters to the boy who killed her only son. He was too ashamed to write letters back.

As time went on she decided to visit him. Her friends weren’t sure that this was the right thing to do. They were afraid that, when she saw the boy - now a man - face to face, she would lose it.

She brought her pastor along for support. As they waited in the visitation room no one spoke. The prison chaplain waited with them and a guard was waiting just outside the door. The grieving mom chewed her fingernails and her pastor lightly tapped the table.

Finally, the door opened and the man came in. The mom got up from her chair, looked him in the eye, and embraced the man who killed her son, while tears streamed down both their faces.

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry,” was all he could say.

“When you get out, you’ll come live with me,” said the woman.

“Why?” he asked.

“Because we already lost two lives, we aren’t going to lose one more.”

This woman knows how hard it is to build a house on a rock, because she’s still building it.

Neither the boy in Vietnam nor the woman in Nova Scotia gave any thought to how they might measure up to God, but they knew, somehow, a little of how God wants us to live. Maybe they knew, like Jesus listeners, that we - that you - are the light of the world, blessed in our grief, blessed in our poverty. While that may sounds strange to our ears, I think the Vietnamese boy and the grieving mom show us what Jesus meant by that: it is out of our pain and poverty that we can reach out to the world.

It’s those who walk the road with Jesus, the road where love for our neighbour are signposts along the way, the road where painful but life-giving reconciliation point us to God, the road fraught with thickets and brambles, scratching and piercing our skin, making us look something like the crucified saviour who speaks these tender words in our ears, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of my kingdom.”

May this be so among us. Amen.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Children's Sermon: Easter 7 - Year A

Today I’d like to tell you a story about a boy named Thomas. One night Thomas heard his parents yelling at each other. Thomas didn’t like it when his parents raised their voices to each other, so when they did Thomas often would hide in his closest and bring his Ralph, his favorite stuffed bear, with him. He would hug Ralph and even would sing to him when he got really scared.

After about 10 minutes, Thomas heard the yelling stop, the footsteps coming toward his bedroom.

“Thomas, are you in here?” he heard his mom ask as if nothing was wrong. But Thomas didn’t respond to her because he was too upset. He just sat in the back of his closet and hugged Ralph

“I’m sure I heard him come in here” Thomas heard his dad say. But Richard’s voice was too shaky to answer.

“Thomas…Thomas” he heard his mom and dad call out. And from the crack in the door he could see his dad on his hands and knees looking under the bed.

Then suddenly, the door to the closet creaked open, and Thomas’s mom peered in and saw Thomas hugging Ralph. Thomas could see that his mom had been crying.

“There you are Thomas,” his mom said. “Why didn’t you answer when we called?”

Thomas didn’t say anything. He couldn’t find the words. His mom and dad looked at each other then back at Thomas. They were very concerned.

“Thomas, did you hear us arguing?” dad asked.

Thomas nodded.

“Did it scare you?” mom added.

Thomas nodded again.

“I’m sorry, buddy, we didn’t mean to scare you.” Dad said. “It’s, just that your mom and I disagree sometimes.”

Thomas still didn’t say anything. He stared at the floor still hugging Ralph.

“Thomas, I know that it can be scary when your dad and I argue, but I want to you know that it has nothing to do with you,” mom said. “we aren’t angry with you, we just get angry. Do you understand?”

Thomas looked up from the floor and his eyes met his mom’s and he tried to give her a small smile.

“Thomas, why do you think we argue?” dad asked.

Thomas struggled to find the right words. After a moment he finally said.

“Because you don’t like each other.” Thomas said.

“O my goodness, Thomas.” Mom said as she hugged Thomas. “That’s not it at all. We can disagree but it doesn’t mean that we don’t like each other. It just means that we don’t always disagree.”

“But you’re so loud.” Thomas said.

“I know, Thomas. Your mom and I won’t argue like that again. We sometimes get carried away. It is wrong. And we’re sorry.”

“It’s kinda like what your Sunday school teacher was talking about when he said that Jesus wanted his followers to be his friends. They could disagree, but that didn’t mean that they didn’t love one another. Your dad and I are together because we love each other and we love you very much. Even though we may disagree, we still love each other.”

Thomas had to think about that for awhile. Even though he was still upset over the noise that his mom and dad made, he was glad they stopped shouting at each other.

That night when they prayed a prayer like this, as we do today: “Dear God, help us to love one another, even when we disagree. Amen.”

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Ascension Day

In my last night in Halifax before moving to Lethbridge, I slept on the floor of my bedroom in a borrowed sleeping bag. Everything else was on its way to Alberta. My wife Rebekah and our daughter Sophie were staying with friends and I had to mind the dog.

I really didn’t like staying in the house alone, even though I had the dog for company. The house was so empty. This was the house where Rebekah and I began our marriage. Where we welcomed our first daughter into the world. Where the memories of a thousand meals, conversations, fights, celebrations, and all the other stuff of life lay embedded in the wood work. The barren walls told stories of our lives; absent was the stuff, but alive were the ghosts, the dusty old memories that had been packed away.

Barbara Brown Taylor says,

“One thing is for sure: there is no sense of absence where there has been no sense of presence. What makes absence hurt, what makes it ache, is the memory of what used to be there but is no longer. Absence is the arm flung across the bed in the middle of the night, the empty space where a beloved sleeper once lay. Absence is the child’s room now empty and hung with silence and dust. Absence is the overgrown lot where the old house once stood, the house in which people laughed and thought their happiness would last forever.” (BBT Looking Up Towards Heaven)

I often hear people say things like, “Grandma is close to the Lord.” Or “God told me to water my plants,” and, to be honest, I don’t really know what they’re talking about. I don’t know if I’ve ever had the experience of “closeness” to God or of hearing God speak to me. But the mystery of that is: I miss God’s closeness and God’s voice. It is said that, “You cannot miss what you’ve never known.” And I wonder if my experience of God’s “absence” is a yearning for something I once had but was lost, or stolen, or simply forgotten. I don’t know.

The disciples knew what they lost. They watched it leave. They must have been deeply conflicted. One the one hand, they must have been astounded by the power of God to raise Jesus into heaven. On the other hand, they were probably sad to see him go. Maybe, every so often, they would return to the hillside where Jesus was lifted up into heaven and think wistfully to themselves, “This is the last place we saw him; this is the place we lost him.” Maybe they would tell and re-tell the old stories, reviving their numb spirits, if only for a minute. Then, they feel the ache return. Jesus is gone.

But then they remember what Jesus told them: "…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses."

“Us? Your witnesses? We can’t get it together enough to organize a two car parade, without you, Jesus, how are we going to be your witnesses without you to guide us?” they might have blurted out in protest.

Jesus was telling them that is was time to take off the training wheels. They were on their own. But they thought something bigger was happening.

“Is this the time you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” they asked, hopefully.

“Umm. No. You don’t understand. You will be doing my work from now on.”

You can probably see why the disciples were a little panicky at the thought of doing Jesus’ work. They had seen him raise the dead. They watched with eyes and mouths open as he healed blind folks. They probably had no idea how they were going to pull off those sorts of miracles. They weren’t about to venture out into the big bad world without some back up. This “Holy Spirit” thing was good, but they wanted something more concrete. They didn’t want to be left to their own devices.

Annie Dillard writes:

”A blur of romance clings to our notion of these people in the Bible as though of course God should come to these simple folks, these Sunday School watercolor figures, who are so purely themselves while we now are complex and full at heart. We are busy. So, I see now, were they. Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? There is no one but us. There is no one to send nor a pure heart on the face of the earth but only us, a generation comforting ourselves with the notion that we have come at an awkward time. But there is no one but us. There never has been. There are generations which remembered, and generations which forgot; there has never been a generation of whole men and women who lived well for even one day."

“There is none but us,” she says. It’s frighteningly true. "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses," Jesus promises. You, with all your holy imperfections and sacred impurities, will tell the world about Jesus. Together, you will serve a broken and hurting people. Sometimes you will get it right and sometimes you will mess up completely. That’s because the Holy Spirit does not remove our human blots, but uses them and re-uses them, re-filling the treasure that keeps falling out of the cracks in these clay pots.

I’m thinking of the woman whose husband had been diagnosed with a difficult illness. Taking care of him has become a full time job. Her back is always sore. She misses her friends. One day she resents her husband’s illness so much that she decides she’s walking out the door. She’s simply exhausted.

But she stops at the doorstep, sighs, wipes a tear from her eye, turns around, and puts in another load of laundry. Her life continues.

After her husband’s funeral, she looks back and wonders where she found the energy and strength to carry on all those long days and months caring for a sick husband. Then she remembers, O yeah, the Holy Spirit was working yet another silent miracle, turning the simplest of chores into a means of grace.

Or I’m thinking of two church members, one a liberal and one a conservative. They sit down for coffee to talk about the hardest issue facing the church: same sex blessings. They share openly and honestly. They pray. Then they shake hands and agree that no matter the outcome, whatever the church decides over this issue, they will still be brothers in Christ, because baptism trumps politics.

Or I’m thinking of the teenage mom who stumbles unexpectedly into the church one day. She hasn’t been to church for years. She has little money. No clothes for the baby. Some women of the church conspire together and throw the young mom a baby shower. Nothing big or extravagant. Just enough to get her started. The women do this because she is one of their own, no matter where she came from.

To the casual observer, these may not sounds like good examples of “the Spirit’s power.” Upon closer inspection; this is the greatest power there is, because illness, conflict, unwanted pregnancy, the list can go on and on - these are the tools that the Spirit works with. This is where life is lived, with silent miracles working all around us. Amen.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Children's Message: Easter 6 - Year A

Cindy and her friend Alice were playing in Alice’s room when Alice’s mom popped her head in the door.

“C’mon you two, you’re supposed to be packing.”

But Cindy and Alice didn’t want to pack. Packing meant leaving and saying good-bye. Alice’s mom took a job in Edmonton and they were moving that Saturday.

Alice opened an empty box and started to put her dolls in it. She picked up a fluffy stuffed cat named Penelope, hugged it, and turned to Cindy.

“Here, Cindy,” she said, “You can have Penelope.”

“Why?” asked Cindy, receiving the gift.

“Because I know you like her. You always snuggle with her when we have sleepovers,” said Alice.

“Don’t you mean “had” sleepovers?” asked Cindy.

It took most of the day, but Alice’s room was all packed. Cindy’s mom called her home for dinner.

“Don’t forget Penelope,” said Alice.

“Thanks,” said Cindy.

That night as Cindy was getting ready for bed and to say her prayers, her mom and dad came in after turning the light off in her little sister’s room.

“Where did you get this cat?” asked her mom.

“Her name is Penelope. Alice gave her to me when we were packing up her room,” said Cindy.

“Boy, that was nice of her,” said her dad.

“Now when I snuggle with Penelope, I’ll remember Alice,” said Cindy.

“That is a special gift,” said her dad. “It must be hard to see Alice leave, isn’t it?”

Cindy nodded.

“Y’know, Jesus talked about Penelope,” said her mom.

“He did?” asked Cindy.

“When Jesus was going away he said that he would give his friend a Comforter who would stay with them always. That way, they would always remember him. That Comforter is the Holy Spirit.”

Cindy smiled.

“Alice,” she said hugging Penelope, “I’m glad you’ll always be with me.”

Then, together, they said prayer like this as we do now: Dear God, thank you for friends. Thank you that you will always be with us. Amen.

Easter 6 - Year A

In a farmhouse in Ontario, a candle burns at the centre of a makeshift altar draped with an embroidered tablecloth. Surrounding it are crystals, gems, leather pouches, a feather, a knife, tiny ivory skulls…The assembled women sit in companionable silence, trying to expand their awareness by working with occult spirit guides – angels and fairies – in the hopes of achieving [what they call] “synchronicity.” The healer explains that during her own dark night of the soul, she realized that the human world was torn and afflicted, the result of patriarchal authority which for centuries had drastically constricted the range of human experience. Now, she says, “We have to ground our energy in the earth, and restore primary nurturing communities.” And she too seeks. In Shiatsu and Reike. The human potential movement. Celtic spirituality. Goddess worship. Wicca. Path finders.


“What we really need is a spiritual version of acidophilus [a herbal purgative],” whispers Helen, a devotee of Salt Spring Island’s Ashtanga Yoga Meditation Centre, confiding why she’s enduring another round of yoga’s complex contortions. “There’s a lot that has to be scraped off our systems,” she explains. “We’re just trying to deluge our bodies and minds with more and more, and do we really need any of it?”

It turns out, Helen is a best-selling author and accomplished consultant, yet despite prosperity, influence, and all the conventional signs of success, she admits to being a very unhappy person, profoundly alienated from the world. So she seeks a different path. In Buddhism. Vedanta. New Age. Kabbalah. Angels.


It is a sweltering June evening at the Corel Centre, the venue for Billy Graham’s Ottawa Mission. Ben Heppner’s baritone voice rolls like a tide through the centre, “The mighty presence of God, worthy of praise, the Lord of Lords,” an a choir of three thousand singers sways in motion while middle-aged women and men, eating tuna sandwiches, popcorn, burgers, and drinking coffee, purposefully disavowing the mock seriousness of church. “Religion has been messed up for the last 2000 years,” offers Jim. “This is about a personal relationship with God. Billy is simple, practical, down-to-earth, no [nonsense].” Nonetheless, below the Centre’s rafters, draped with American and Canadian flags, is a cluster of vast video screens scanning, like a great eye in the sky gazing at the 27 000-strong audience.

As Billy Graham preaches – of the hell that people have made, of the end times drawing near, of the unmerited salvation offered by Christ – Jim intones “Amen” over and over, like most of the men around him. Before he leaves, Jim says, “I shopped around, I’m still shopping around – the men’s movement, tribal drumming, Promise Keepers. But Billy’s really got today’s pulse. I’m glowing again with new life, with all the [garbage] around.”

(the profiles taken from Peter C. Emberley, Divine Hunger: Canadians on a Spiritual Walkabout)

Three Canadians. Three seekers. According to author Peter C. Emberley, Canada is a nation of seekers. It is said that human beings are worshipping creatures. We want to bow down to something. A quick glance at the religion sections at Chapters give show you just how hard we seek the divine.

The D’vinci Code; The Bible Code; The Celestine Prophecy; A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom; The Power of Miracles; The Purpose Driven Life; the list goes on and on and on and on…

Standing at the spirituality section at Chapters, and reading the accounts of seeking Canadians, I feel like Paul standing in front of the Areopagus, looking out at the vast panorama of religions and spiritualities, and feeling, suddenly, very small.

For Paul, it was one thing to preach in the villages. Sure, they had opposition. But Paul and his friends saw great crowds drop to their knees and receive the message that they preached: salvation in Jesus.

But Athens was different story. As Paul entered the city he probably asked himself if the gospel could hold its own in the sophisticated intellectual environment of the university town. He might have wondered how his message would be received in the city of Pericles and Plato. Athens: the hub of intellectual achievement and the height of philosophical and religious inquiry.

If Paul was nervous he didn’t show it. He stood up and boldly addressed this vast, religious marketplace.

“Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way.”

Was he making fun of them? Priming the pump? Or was he sincere?

“For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, “to an unknown god.”

I guess the Athenians were hedging their bets with this “to an unknown god” stuff. They wanted to make sure they acknowledged ALL the gods, lest they suffer the wrath of a snubbed deity.

Paul must have known what he was walking into. But whether it was holy arrogance or sacred inspiration, Paul spoke the unspeakable: that a grossly unnatural act took place; Jesus was raised from the dead. There was no precedent for this in their philosophy books. This couldn’t be explained by natural law. But Paul spoke, not with the eloquence of the philosopher or the arguments of the scholar, though he was both. He spoke the simple truth of God.

Of course, this message sounds unbearably exclusive. Many folks today want religion or “spirituality” on their own terms. I get why they do. Many people have had bad experiences with church. Some have been abused, spiritually, sexually, and other. Others feel that religious boundaries restrict true expressions of faith. Still others have, perhaps, seen too many cheesy TV evangelists milking old ladies’ money to pay for air conditioned dog houses.

But when does religion or “spirituality” or faith, become an accessory, not a rigorous engagement with the truth or an honest search for God?

What today’s text does not tell us is how the Athenians responded to Paul’s bold claims. “When they heard of the resurrection of the dead,” verse 32 says, “some scoffed; but others said, ‘We will hear you again about this.’ At that point Paul left them.

You might notice that there weren’t the mass conversions we’ve been hearing about for the last couple of weeks.


Some sneered. Others said they wanted to hear more about Jesus, but not now. Maybe later. No sense of urgency. Even Paul didn’t push the issue. He just gave his message, and left.

I wonder if that’s how we hear Paul’s message about. Sometimes we scoff. Sometimes we want to hear more but life gets in the way. And maybe Paul knew something most of us don’t; that sometimes the Spirit works instantly and other times the Spirit takes a lifetime. That faith is a process of fits and starts, peaks and valleys, and ups and downs. It grows and shrinks. Faith never stands still.

Paul knew all that. He trusted people’s journeys. But he never compromised the truths of the faith. He knew that Jesus really did die and he really did rise from the dead took Christianity out of the realm of philosophical speculation and placed it in flesh and blood human experience. He knew that the God who raised Jesus from the dead was the God of history.

That why Christianity can never be simply a set of good ideas; a philosophical backdrop to our lives. But more than that, Christianity can never be the end result of our seeking after God. Christianity is the end result of God searching after us. When we were baptized, we were named and claimed as God own children, chosen to be God’s people in the world and into eternity.

So today we celebrate the choice that God has made in Kyra Jocelin Hawkins; receiving her into God’s family, clothing her with the garments of salvation. May her life be lived seeking what it means to live as a child of God.

Maybe that’s what Paul was trying to tell the Athenians; that faith doesn’t come from a life time of philosophy, but from the God who relentlessly seeks after us. Maybe Paul would tell our world that he see just how religious we are; but Jesus was raised from the dead not to give us “religion” or “spirituality.” But to give us life, breath, freedom, and salvation.

May this be so among us.