Sermon: Feb 26, 2017 – “The Revelation Process”

“The Revelation Process”

Text: I John 3: 1-2

See what love the Father has given us that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.

If you travel to the desert southwest part of this country you will begin to see some unique rock formations and geologic wonders that are fairly common in that particular region. There are a large number of National Parks that celebrate some of these formations, many of them in Utah and Arizona and some in Colorado. You probably could identify many of them on your own, but to refresh your memory, let me mention just a few places; we have Zion, Arches, Bryce, Canyonlands, Grand Canyon and Cedar Breaks National Parks and there are a host of National Monuments, state parks and regional attractions as well.

These are a few images from Bryce Canyon National Park and some of the formations in Bryce are, in my opinion, some of the most interesting in all the region. If you read about the geology of the region, you will discover that hundreds of millions of years ago the area was all under water. This accounts for the vast amounts of sandstone you find in the area. But before the water, there were forests and animals and other forms of life all forming organic material that mixed with the mud and formed some layers of sedimentary rock. This rock is much harder than the predominant sandstone that you find almost everywhere.

Once the water receded and the land dried out some of the land tilted up to form the mountains and hills and valleys we see today. Among all those major land upheavals came some of the sedimentary rock that is much harder than the sandstone around it. Over the years as some natural erosion has taken place, the sandstone is washed away rather easily, while the sedimentary rock which is much harder, is also more resistant to erosion. The mixture of the sandstone and the sedimentary rock accounts for some of the odd rock formations you will see in a place like Bryce Canyon National Park.

I have gone into some detail about this process because I believe that it is a great example of what happens to us as human beings and it is a great example of what the text I read a few minutes ago is talking about.

Let’s talk about the text first. In this text the author tells us that we are already children of God, but what we will become has not yet been revealed. I think the choice of the word revealed is very interesting. It has interesting implications in the English language, but those same implications were also present in the original Greek. The Greek word for revealed is “Apokalupto” and most definitions define this word to mean uncover or to make visible, that sort of thing; about what you would expect. But what I think is really interesting is that apokalupto has a root that is used in many different ways. For example the Greek word used to describe the process of peeling an orange or cracking open a nut have the same root, as does the term used to describe the events in the book of Revelation, which is the apocalypse.

If we begin to think about the use of this word as it applies to our human experience, we may discover that not all of these things are entirely pleasant. As a matter of fact, some of these experiences sound a little frightening. Think about the peeling of an orange for example; I’m not sure how that translates into a human experience, but it doesn’t seem very pleasant. What about cracking a nut open? Same idea. One other definition of apokalupto that I read was to be without covering – which in a human experience can be a little intimidating to say the least!

One of the things which I take away from this text and the example of the rock formations in Bryce Canyon is that the revealing which the text says is on its way, is already in process and it is a process. In other words, I don’t think it happens all at once. One day you wake up and what you are to become is suddenly revealed. I don’t think it works that way, I think that what we become as children of God is revealed to us slowly over the decades as we are formed into who we are called to be. This process is not much different than the erosion that takes place in Bryce Canyon.

Let me explain. If you remember part of the secret to the beautiful rock formations in Bryce Canyon is the fact that not everything erodes at the same pace. The sedimentary rock erodes much slower than the sand stone. If you remember what Jesus said about the man who built his house on the rock rather than the sand, you might get a glimpse of where I’m headed. But it’s not that simple. Sometimes the erosion is difficult, sometimes it is painful and sometimes it is downright confusing.

Just a couple of years ago I was in High School. OK, so more than a couple. But when I was in high school one of the activities of choice for me was to be involved in athletics. I generally played a sport almost every season, but the sport of track I think was my favorite. Within the many opportunities in Track and Field as it is called, my favorite was the low hurdles. Seems I was built to excel at the low hurdles. Turns out being close to the ground helps you in that regard; in case you missed it that was a euphemism for being short. You don’t find many tall guys that ran the low hurdles. Of course all that changed when the topic of the high hurdles came up, but that is another story.

If you want to be fast in the low hurdles you want to spend as little time as possible in the air. You can’t run or accelerate at all when you are in the air. So the time spent getting over the hurdle needs to be kept to a minimum. My legs were just the right length to accomplish this. The more I practiced, the better I got. Back in that time, track and field events were measured in yards, not meters, like they are today and my event was the 180 yard low hurdles. By my junior year in high school I had equaled the school record in the 180-yard low hurdles and I was certain I could break the record in my senior year.

One thing you may not know about the hurdles. There are a specific number of steps you can take in between hurdles; if you take one less or one more you get out of rhythm with which leg you lead with as you step over each hurdle. My magic number was nine. This allowed me to always lead with my right leg and trail with my left leg. It couldn’t be eight and it couldn’t be ten, it had to be nine. When I was a junior I could sprint at top speed and nine steps always came out just right. By the time I was a senior, I had grown just a tiny bit. All of the sudden the rhythm was wrong. When I was at top speed I would cover the distance in between hurdles in about 8 steps. This meant that I had to try to learn how to alternate lead legs; first the right leg goes first, then the left leg and so on. It never worked and I never broke the record. This was one of my first memories of having something in my life erode away.

It doesn’t seem like a big deal now. But it sort of was at that time. My point is that kind of thing happens to us all the time. Sometimes it just happens, but sometimes it is a matter of choice. I have a friend who made the decision to leave the United Methodist Church because he didn’t think the church was on the right side of some issues. That part of his life was allowed to erode away because another part of his life was stronger.

If you think about it in almost every conflict or disagreement there is a process of erosion taking place. Whatever side of an issue you are on, you allow the other side to erode away, because you feel stronger about the side you are on. This happened during the Civil War among family members and during the Civil Rights marches in the 1960’s. It happened when women sought the vote or wished to be ordained as clergy. What you believe to be true or noble or on the right side of history determines what you allow to erode away in your life and what remains to be revealed as the person you truly are.

What the text says is that because we are children of God, what will be revealed, that is what we will allow to be eroded away, will eventually transform us into the likeness of Jesus. For me, this really adds a lot of credence to the familiar saying “what would Jesus do?” When we ask the question, we are essentially asking what would Jesus determine to be the stronger side of an issue. What would Jesus allow to erode from his character and what would Jesus maintain as part of his character? When faced with a question or an issue, what would Jesus determine to be sedimentary rock and what would he consider to be sandstone?

The interesting thing is that not all of us answer these questions in exactly the same way. A little over 100 years ago, some said that Jesus would allow us to own slaves, others said that Jesus would say that owning another human being was an abomination. There has been some erosion that has taken place on that topic. At times it has been painful and not that pleasant. Erosion is a fact of life and it reveals who we are to become. What parts of your life are solid rock and what parts may need to be eroded away?

It’s different for each of us but it is also a necessary part of our Christian journey; and that is food for thought. Amen.

Sermon: February 19, 2017 – “Be Opened”

“Be Opened”

Text: Mark 7: 31-37

31 Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32 They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33 He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. 34 Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35 And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36 Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37 They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”

 

If we look at this text critically I think we find some clues within the story that encourage us to look at this story more as metaphor than an actual event. This is important for us to recognize, as the metaphor of any story can be much richer, much more diverse and longer lasting than any singular event. I recognize that some Christians consider the idea of metaphor an attack of the scriptures, but I don’t look at it that way. I actually believe the metaphorical is richer and offers more abundance than does a literal interpretation. There is also a very real possibility that the metaphorical story grew out of an actual event and has been modified here and there through the oral tradition before it was actually written down.

One clue to the metaphorical is something I was not aware of before I began to study this text in more detail. The opening sentence, it turns out, doesn’t make a lot of sense. I’m not a New Testament scholar by any means, and my New Testament geography is probably in the lower percentile. So I was interested to learn that the outline of the route that Jesus reportedly had taken to get to this area doesn’t make sense. If we were to translate the opening sentence for our local region it would read something like this: “Then he returned from the region of the San Juans, and went by way of Boise, towards the Pacific, and ended in the region of the LC Valley.”

As I mentioned, I was not aware of this strange route outlined in the opening sentence of this story, but it communicates, at least for me, what happens during the years from an actual event to the time the story is finally composed. Another inconsistency that is hard to explain for me, is the idea that in the beginning the man apparently had been deaf most of his life. I say that because often people who have been born deaf, or lost their hearing early in life, have trouble speaking. They have never heard language, and do not know how to form words and speak the way that we speak. With advanced teaching methods, sign language and other tools, the deaf can learn, but I don’t think any of that was available in the first century of the Common Era. So my assumption is the man in the story has been deaf either his entire life, or the vast majority of his life. It is unlikely then that even though his ears were opened at that time, that he would somehow magically learn the language he could not hear all those years and begin speaking “plainly” as the text indicates.

The last point I wanted to call your attention to is in the text, Jesus takes the man away from the crowds and heals him privately. In this setting, without anyone watching, the text tells us that Jesus looked to heaven and sighed. I find that little detail to be quite interesting. When do we sigh? For me, a sigh usually indicates some level of frustration or resistance. Like you sigh before you begin your tax preparation, or you sigh when you need to tell your toddler for the umpteenth time to wipe their shoes on the mat outside, and not inside on the new carpet. You sigh when you are late for a meeting and you’re stuck in traffic. A sigh for me is an interesting observation about this particular scene as it unfolds; why would Jesus sigh?

We will never know why Jesus sighed, if he did, or why this detail was included in the text. But because it is there, we can assume it was written into the story for a reason, but we can only speculate as to what that reason may have been on the part of the story teller. My impression of the sigh, is an indication of Jesus communicating a feeling of repetition; like a non-verbal statement of “here we go again.”

I only say that because that is what fits with my overall interpretation of this particular story when we begin to look at the metaphorical layers present in what actually takes place. I think this story is about our almost universal human condition of not being able to hear, and then once we do, how easily we forget what we have learned. Allow me to elaborate just a bit.

There are a number of points that make sense to me that we find in this story that relate to our universal experience of spirituality or our experience of the Divine. The first point is that enlightenment or true “hearing” as an example, seldom comes to us in a crowd. I think it is much more likely that true insight, or true enlightenment, or true “hearing” to continue the metaphor, comes to us in those private moments of prayer or meditation rather than when we are part of a crowd. In other words, Jesus took the man away from the crowd and worked with him in private, and I think there is a lesson there for us as well. We will be more effective when we approach Jesus, or we approach our own spirituality, in private, rather than part of a group. This is not to say that all group experiences are invalid, but the personal time can be more intense and perhaps more productive.

I also think it is important for us to consider what Jesus says to the man and what a broad metaphorical interpretation is open for us when we consider the words; “be opened”. Of course in the story, we are to assume that Jesus was speaking only to the man’s ears and commanding them to be opened. But what are the metaphorical implications of having our ears opened for the first time? Not only our ears, but our minds, our attitudes, our assumptions, our prejudices, our very disposition are all impacted by the words “be opened”. We can be opened to new thoughts, new understandings, new ways of being and new outlooks on life. To receive the words “be opened” from Jesus, for me, means a whole lot more than simple physical hearing.

Another thought for me that is present in this text, is the idea that the man begins to speak plainly after the healing. Now I have already addressed the unlikely idea that we should view this situation in a literal sense. So we can explore what it might mean for someone to have a personal encounter with the Divine, and after the encounter, what they may have to say begins to make more sense than it did previously. In other words, they begin to speak plainly. What they say has substance and meaning, it is profound or stimulating or makes you think. When we are transformed by an up close and personal experience with God, often our speech is different from that time forward. We speak with greater clarity and with greater substance. We begin to speak plainly.

The last point I have time to make is this idea that Jesus asks the man and those with him not to say anything to anyone. This is a theme that is repeated throughout the New Testament. Often when Jesus did something for someone, particularly a physical healing, he instructs that person not to say anything to anyone. Of course, as is the case with this text, they usually go out and tell everyone they know. There are a lot of theories about this.

The observation I want to make is how quickly after a close encounter with Jesus the people involved forget what he told them. I don’t think the metaphor is actually about telling or not telling others about the healing. I think the metaphor is about how quickly we lose our way; how quickly we forget the instructions of Jesus.

For, me, this is commensurate with the human experience. We find enlightenment in private meditation and then a few hours later we forget our enlightenment and fall quickly back into our old habits, our old ways of thinking and our old attitudes of privilege or non-compassion. This part of the story underscores for me how important it is that we spend time daily if not more often in prayer and meditation. We need to visit the divine often because we forget so quickly. I believe the story carries an important message that we fail to follow instruction regularly and we will probably fail again. True change is slow and methodical and hard work. Even though in our private devotions one day we may see a glimpse of what it means to “be opened”, it takes a lifetime of work and practice to actually live into that high calling.

Food for thought. Amen.

 

 

Sermon Feb 12, 2017 – “Love as a Glacier”

“Love as a Glacier”

Text: I Corinthians 13: 4-7

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

There was a time when if you wanted to get a good look at a glacier you wouldn’t have needed to travel very far. Glacier National Park is about a days’ drive from here, but there are far fewer glaciers there than there once was and the ones that are remaining have receded to the point where viewing them has become difficult. So, the next best option, I believe, would probably be Alaska for viewing glaciers. There are two areas specifically in what is called the inside passage of Alaska, one is called Tracy Arm and there is another area called Glacier Bay National Park. Both of these areas offer great viewing of glaciers, but only from the water, so you have to be on board a ship or a vessel of some sort. Most ships won’t take you extremely close because of the risk of calving, but you can get a pretty good look with a pair of binoculars and there is lots of floating ice to look at as well.

Everything you see glacier wise this morning has come from one of these two areas in Alaska. If you have ever visited a glacier or have witnessed the floating glacial ice, one of the very first things you probably noticed is how blue the ice is. Now this will vary somewhat from glacier to glacier and also vary on time of day and the particular season, but in general, it is safe to say that glacier ice glows blue.

The story behind the blue ice I think is quite interesting. It also applies to the text which I read just a minute ago, so if you can bear with me for a few minutes, I hope to tie all of this together.

If you ask a scientist why glaciers are blue, they will tell you that glaciers are so dense that they only reflect the blue spectrum of light and everything else gets absorbed. The extreme density is caused from the millions of years of pressure from the accumulating snow, year after year, that eventually turns into ice. This pressure compacts the snow and it becomes very dense. Well, for us non-science type folk, that doesn’t really help us understand what is really happening or why glacial ice glows blue. So, I’m going to take a crack at breaking this down for us so we can actually begin to understand what is taking place.

A good place to begin this understanding is with a basic understanding of light. I think most of us know that light that comes to us as white, is really a mixture of many different colors. This is called the spectrum, and it is visible when light is broken up and travels through something which divides the light into each particular color. The rainbow which we see is the most common form of the spectrum; the suspended water molecules in the air, usually from a recent rain or fog, break the light of the sun into the individual colors of the spectrum as the light travels through them.

Within the color spectrum of light, we also know that each color has a specific wave length or angle that it strikes any particular object. The spectrum generally runs from the reds and oranges at one end, to the blues and purples at the other end. The wave lengths of the reds and oranges are longer, that is a greater angle, and the purples and blues have a shorter wave length and so less of an angle.

To understand why the density of glacial ice makes a difference, it is necessary to understand that the light from the sun strikes the ice at different angles within the light spectrum. If we were to enlarge a piece of glacial ice we could think of one layer of ice as a ping-pong table. The next layer of ice is a second ping-pong table, but they don’t line up exactly, one is slightly offset from the other. Now if you were to throw a ping-pong ball onto the lower table at an angle, it would bounce up and hit the table above it, and essentially be trapped in-between the two tables. If, however, you were to drop a ping-pong ball straight down onto the lower table, it would bounce straight back up and miss the upper table.

This is a very over-simplified explanation of that happens to light when it strikes a glacier or glacial ice floating in the ocean. The light which strikes the ice at an angle, that is the reds and orange light in the spectrum, gets trapped in-between the dense layers of ice. The light which strikes the ice more directly, that is the purples and blue light of the spectrum, bounces back out and does not get trapped, so we only see reflected blue light from glacial ice. And that is why they appear to be so blue.

I recognize that I’m taking some time with this explanation, but I think it is important for you to understand, because if my analogy is going to make any sense at all, this background information becomes important to that understanding.

If you remember, I mentioned that light comes to us in the form of a spectrum. Usually, we cannot see the individual colors of the spectrum, but they are all there. The spectrum runs from the reds on one end, to the blues on the other end. I also happen to believe that we as human beings produce a similar spectrum.

If you think about it, we as humans are almost always conveying messages of some type all the time. Those messages can be thoughts, they can be comments, they can be physical body language, and they can be all different forms of energy that we emit constantly. My theory is that this energy which we emit all the time also is on a spectrum. Just as the light spectrum runs from red on one end to blue on the other, I think our energy spectrum runs from love on one end to fear on the other. Now some may want to substitute the word hate for fear, but I’m more comfortable using fear for a number of reasons.

So if you follow my theory and imagine for a moment that I am correct that we as humans are always transmitting energy in a spectrum that runs from love to fear; then it stands to reason that we as humans are always receiving energy from other humans on a spectrum that runs from love to fear. So as we receive this energy, my question becomes what do we reflect back to the rest of the world?

Now I want you to really think about this. There are photographs which exist, which I cannot take credit for, that have been taken inside of a glacial cave. This would be a situation where you are totally surrounded by glacial ice. The only light that is apparent is the blue end of the spectrum, because everything else is being absorbed, or trapped by the glacial ice. The only color is blue. Someone’s red jacket, for example, takes on a completely different look, because of the blue light.

In like manner, what would happen to our world if all of us were able to absorb all the energy of the energy we receive that is from the fear end of the energy spectrum? What would happen if the only energy we reflected back into the world was from the love end of the energy spectrum?

I have often said that there is evidence in our world that informs us about the personality of God. I think glaciers that glow blue is one example of that evidence. If we take another look at our scripture text that I read a few minutes ago, I would like to amend the text at the very end. Instead of the text ending in verse 7 with the statement that “love endures all things”, I would like for us to think about expanding our understanding of this text and adding a verse 7b, which would read after love endures all things, love absorbs all things. Love absorbs all the fear energy and allows us to reflect back into the world only the love energy.

If we could all accomplish that, then the peace which exceeds our ability to understand would certainly prevail on earth. I believe that is what Jesus did, he reflected only love back into the world. I believe that is what Gandhi and Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King did as well, they absorbed all the fear and reflected only love.

I think it is quite profound to realize that the light energy which strikes glacial ice that is in the red end of the spectrum becomes trapped in that ice and is essentially eliminated from our experience. It is gone; never to be seen or heard from again. I believe we have the same power as human beings to absorb the energy that comes to us from the fear end of the spectrum. Love allows us to absorb all things and to endure all things. Love never ends; but fear can.

Food for thought. Go in peace. Amen.

 

Sermon: Feb 5, 2017 – “Strangers in Abundance”

“Strangers in Abundance”

Text: Romans 12: 12-14

 12Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.

Quite often as part of my morning routine I try to find a few minutes to meditate. Some would call this time a prayer time, but for me prayer is different than meditation. When I try to meditate, I focus on breathing and make an attempt to not really think about anything. To clear and empty the mind is a formidable task and I am rarely completely successful in that endeavor.

That being said, I was up early one day this week and got comfortable to mediate for a few minutes. Often my mind wanders when I lose focus on my breathing, and it happened again; but only this time I let my mind go because I was intrigued with the thoughts and insights that I was beginning to think about.

Earlier I had been on line searching different Bible passages about strangers and who they are and how we are called to treat them. I was intrigued with my mind wanderings because I was in the midst of forming some new ideas about strangers and was discovering some new ways to begin to think about all the people who impact our lives in different ways that we never think about. As I thought about it in greater detail, I began to realize that a stranger seldom greets us with a sign around their neck declaring to the world they are a stranger. I also began to play around with the notion that to extend hospitality to a stranger, as the text I read a minute ago suggests we do, doesn’t necessarily mean that it always has to be in person or in our homes the way we normally think about hospitality. I think most of us define hospitality in our own minds as welcoming someone into our home, giving them a cool drink or a cup of hot coffee and perhaps something to eat. Great hospitality may even include offering to let them spend the night in the spare bedroom.

But what if we could extend hospitality simply by just recognizing that someone exists that we had not previously thought about or really acknowledged in our own consciousness?  Would it be possible to think about someone we don’t know at all and simply offer a prayer or some positive energy for that person? Then answering my own question, I thought; “Certainly we can do that!”

All of these thoughts rushed through my mind in a flash. I was still in my meditative mode, it was still early and my mind was beginning to explore new ways to think about the strangers in my midst. It was fairly quiet and I began to listen.

Listening to what was happening around me one of the first things I noticed was the rhythmic ticking of a clock on the wall near where I was seated. I listened to the clock, ticking off the seconds one by one. I thought about the clock, it is one that I had made as a gift for Heidi probably 15 years ago. It is a collection of different kinds of wood glued together in a pattern and the clock movement is battery operated and one I purchased in the wood store in Denver.

How many strangers were involved in that clock? Someone harvested the wood that I had used. Most of it probably came from a different country; who was involved in cutting down that tree? Where are they now? Could my thoughts and prayers and positive energy reach them? I believed that they could. I thought about the trip for that wood to the United States. Did it come over here by ship? Who was on that ship? Who loaded the stack of wood onto the ship? Who guided the ship through the ocean waters? All these are strangers who I had never thought about before. All these are human beings with trials and challenges just like the rest of us. Can I extend hospitality to them through our universal human connection? I thought perhaps I could.

I began to think about the battery operated clock movement I had purchased for this clock. Who assembled all those little pieces? Was it done by a machine or was it done by someone in a foreign land being paid 25 cents a day for their efforts? With each tick of the clock it seemed as though I thought of someone new, some other person that was in some way connected to this clock that I thought I had made.

My realization was that I hadn’t made the clock at all. I had lots of help and without that help there wasn’t any way I could have assembled the parts I had been given access to. That clock represented an abundance of strangers that I had not even thought about and yet, they were present, they were integral in the creation of this clock. I tried to extend some hospitality to those strangers, even after all this time, even not knowing who they were, even not knowing where they were. I believe in the connectivity of the human spirit and I believe my hospitality was received.

I listened some more. Way in the distance I heard the rat-a-tat-tat of a jake brake as what I assumed was an 18-wheeler making its way down the Lewiston grade. I thought about the driver of that truck. Was the driver a mother or perhaps a dad? How long had this driver been away from home? Were there kids at home? Did the kids have everything they needed? Was he or she alone or was there someone with them? What was the truck hauling and who had loaded it? Where was the truck from? Who were the people involved in manufacturing that truck? Who was the person that last changed the oil in that truck?

My mind was suddenly filled with the possibilities of an endless stream of strangers that I had never considered before. People without names or faces, but people I knew must exist because I could hear the results of their lives in my ears. It was an endless, steady stream.

I heard the crunch of the cold frozen snow under the tires of the person delivering the morning paper. I could hear the vehicle approach, pause for a minute, and then drive away. How many strangers flooded my mind! Who had taken the pictures in the paper that was being delivered? Were there people in those photographs? Do they need my hospitality at this moment?

I thought again about this text in Romans that suggests we offer hospitality to strangers. My meditation that morning had taken me in a direction I did not anticipate. There was a whole new way of looking at this word stranger and what it meant to offer hospitality to those we don’t know. Of course, if someone knocks on your door and needs help, that is one way to offer hospitality to strangers. But the world is bigger than that; we are more connected than that and we can do better than that.

Extending hospitality to strangers can involve letting your mind wander and imagining all the people who influence your life from a distance. Can you think of them? Who built the chair you are seated on? Who harvested the wood for these beams in our sanctuary? Where did the pipes for our organ come from and who created them? What country was this carpeting manufactured in? Who was involved in that process? We have strangers in abundance; I believe we can extend hospitality through our human connection. As it says in Hebrews, we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. I had always thought about that passage as people who have died; but I now see the cloud of witnesses in everything around us. Everything we see and touch, everything we hear or smell or taste has a human connection in some way. That human connection is an individual that you do not know, an individual that may live half way around the world, an individual without a name or a face. But you can still extend hospitality. You can still identify them in your mind. You can send your peaceful energy and it will be received.

How many strangers can you think of?

Food for thought.

Amen.