Sermon: Sunday, November 27, 2016: First Sunday of Advent

Texts: Isaiah 2:1-5  +  Psalm 122  +  Romans 13:11-14  +  Matthew 24:36-44

You know the feeling, when you’re suddenly woken up in the middle of the night by an unexpected sound. The moment when half of your mind still sees the figures from the dream you were dreaming and the other half has flipped the switch on all your alarms. Your heart is beating, the adrenaline is rushing, your breath is held as you strain to listen for any further sound that might clarify what’s going on. Is that a creaking floorboard in the living room? Was it a dish slipping into a new position in the sink?

“Wake up!” you whisper, if there’s anyone to whisper to. “I heard something.”

I’ve lived through that moment dozens of times. I’m sure you have as well. I’m fortunate in that I can report that the sound has always turned out to be a dish, or a car door out on the street, or a cat knocking something off of the counter. Or maybe it was just the dream itself, interjecting a sound so real my sleeping mind could not tell the difference between the fiction in my head and the facts of the real world waiting on the other side of waking.

What a frightening comparison Jesus makes between the coming of the Son of Man and the violation of our homes by a thief as we sleep. No wonder we so often skim right past this image on our way to the concluding command: “Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.” (Mt. 24:44) Like a major chord at the end of a melody in a minor key, we instinctively move to resolve the tension presented by this disturbing image.

So here I tread lightly, because I know that sometimes the sound that wakes us from sleep is real, the shattering of glass, the door forced open. Sometimes our homes are invaded and the things most precious to us are taken away and never recovered. That is not God, and it is not part of some divine plan that we suffer theft or violence to our homes or our bodies. When God gives the law to Moses humanity is commanded to neither covet nor steal, and not to kill. When these things happen they are a sign of the sinful brokenness of human community. Still, it is precisely because of the emotional power of this image, of a thief coming into our homes as we sleep, that Jesus uses it to shock us into reconsidering what we imagine God’s advent in the world will be like.

If the fullness of Christ’s reign were coming on my terms, I could pretty quickly sketch out some major changes to the world as it is. Recounts and election results would barely scratch the surface. I would take an eraser to the map of the world and be done with nations once and for all. I would see social goods like housing, education, and healthcare treated as human rights instead of commodities to be bartered in exchange for labor. I could go on, and you’ve heard me preach long enough that you could probably go on for me. Then you would have lists of your own, agendas you would set for God’s advent in the world.

The point is that God is not coming on my terms, or yours, and God’s arrival will not feel like the vindication of my personal or our collective grievances. Rather than coming to enforce my vision for the world as it ought to be, Jesus hints that if I knew the hour of his coming, I would stay up late and bar the doors against his entry — because the changes that are coming will feel to us like loss, not gain.


So, let’s try a different exercise. Rather than making a list of all the projects you’ve been waiting for God to come home and get started on, let’s try this instead: let’s take an inventory of your life, a variation on the kind you might turn in to your insurance company so that they would know how much to reimburse you in case of a theft. Let your mind’s eye wander through your home, noticing the items you cherish. Not just the obvious ones, but the hidden ones. Is there anything there you’re attached to in unhealthy ways? Things that own you as much, if not more, than you own them? Bottles, pictures, pills? What hangs in your closet, what’s parked in your garage? Where were they made and by whom? What do you find in your cupboards or your refrigerator? How did those items get there? How far back can you trace their history from production to point-of-sale? How many hands, and whose, touched them on their way to your home? What do you know about those people’s lives?

Turn your gaze toward your calendar, the one on your phone, or in your day planner. The one you keep in your head. Who and what gets your time? Who and what doesn’t? What actually fills the spaces between the appointments marked in pen and pencil and pixels? Do the ways you spend your days match the story you tell about your life? Is there a relationship you imagine you still have time to mend? Is there a dream, a calling, you’d like to think you still have time to pursue?

Quickly scan the last dozen conversations you’ve had with family, friends or acquaintances. To what topics do you keep coming back? What complaints do you keep rehearsing? Who are you arguing with in your head, where no one can hear what you really want to say?

Pretty quickly we realize that we are holding on to all sorts of things that simply have to go if there is ever going to be room for something new to be born, in us and in the world. For some of us it is habits of consumption that feed an economy that is killing the planet. For others it is habits of addiction that are slowly killing our bodies and our relationships. For yet others it is habits of speech or habits of silence that keep us from acting on our deepest desires or most strongly held beliefs. For each and every one of us there are false stories about who we are and where we come from that hold us back from being fully, truly human — stories of White supremacy or internalized racism, gendered stories of dominance and deference, class stories of wealth and worth, sexual stories of normalcy and deviance, national stories of sovereignty and exceptionalism.

As the itemized list grows longer and more abstract, as our analysis gets broader and less precise, we realize that we don’t entirely understand how we got here, how we became who we have become, what’s ours and what is not. So we keep our heads down and preoccupy ourselves with “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage,” (Mt. 24:38) laboring in our respective fields, working side-by-side, if not arm-in-arm, hoping we can get to the finish line without too much more being taken away from us.

Wake up!

You know what time it is. The very fact that you can make the list, that your soul intuits the things you suspect the Lord would take if Jesus broke into your life to make space for a new creation to begin again in you right now is all the evidence you need. This is why Paul can direct the church in Rome to “live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy.” (Rom. 13:13) You may not know the hour of Lord’s coming in judgment and glory, but you know at least some of what would need to change if that hour was now. So live as though it is, and help move our broken present into God’s promised future.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Our Lutheran heritage has, at times, become so preoccupied with the heresy of “works righteousness” that we’ve stripped discipleship of any mandate to amend our lives. Let me say that in a slightly different way. In an effort to prove that we understand that it is God’s work in Christ Jesus that saves us, not we who save ourselves through our actions or beliefs, we have settled for doing very little at all and then called that a virtue. We each struggle with this in ways that are products of our history and particular to our nature. Some of us show incredible discipline in our personal lives and relationships, but struggle to connect our faith with the plight of the world in powerful ways. Others make heroic sacrifices for the sake of societal and systemic change, but are ruled by unchecked emotions, compulsions, and reactions.

As we begin a new year in the life of the church, and particularly as we move from the gospel of Luke to the gospel of Matthew, we will notice a renewed emphasis on the positive function of the law and calls to “righteousness,” which for Matthew signal a continuity between the newly emerging church and the Jewish tradition out of which it is being born. This means our faith comes to expression in actions, not just beliefs, opinions, and convictions. We beat our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks. We study non-violence. We speak peace to our relatives and friends and we actively seek the good of our neighbors. We live honorably, avoiding the forms of excess that mock the poor and disrespect the gift of the bodies God has given us.

It is not easy, waking up, being woken up, staying awake. Even in moments like these most recent days, when the news rings out stories more alarming than any clock, still we long to get back to “normal.” To go back to bed. To hide in our dreams. But the time for that is behind us. Now is the moment for a new commitment, a new accountability, an active, costly discipleship that will take things from us we do not want to give up.

But in their place, friends. In their place, salvation. For our bodies and our lives. For our families and our friendships. For our neighborhoods, and the nations, and the planet. Salvation is coming, and is nearer to us now than it has ever been.

Get ready.


Sermon: Sunday, August 9, 2015: Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost

Texts: 1 Kings 19:4-8  +  Ps. 34  +  Ephesians 4:25–5:2  +  John 6:35,41-51

parker-crowdI was on retreat this past week at Techny Towers, up in Northbrook, at an event held by The Center for Courage and Renewal titled “Habits of the Heart for Healthy Congregations: Risking the Call to Belong.”  I’ve been to Courage and Renewal retreats before, which are based on the work of Parker Palmer, who also happened to be there with us for part of the event.  On Tuesday night I got to be part of a panel discussion on “the changing shape of belonging” during which I was asked to share to what, or whom, I am committed. Here’s what I said:

“At the risk of being trite, when it comes to belonging to a community of faith my first commitment is to Jesus. I offer this in, I hope, as non-chauvinist a way as possible. I don’t mean to suggest that Jesus is the only name by which we encounter the divine, but it is the name I have been given to rely on for health and healing. I also don’t mean to say that I am committed to Jesus because of the cultural inheritance he represents or because I get something out of the relationship — though both are true as well. What I do mean is that as I have lived in community with Jesus, I have grown in my capacity to see the people Jesus saw, like the widow with her mite; to touch the people that Jesus touched, like the leper living at the edge of community longing to go home; to love the people that Jesus loved, like the young man of privilege who wanted to be part of God’s movement without giving up what he already had.  In other words, I am committed to Jesus because I belong in his company, along with people who are very much like me, and people who are very much unlike me.”

When I got done talking I felt pretty good about myself.  I’d managed to say what I wanted to say, and to do it while sitting directly next to someone I kind of idolize.  I’d given my testimony about who Jesus is to me, and why I am committed to living my life in his company.  I claimed my place at Jesus’ side as one who belongs to him.

But Jesus does not belong to me.

At least, that’s what I hear loud and clear in this story from the gospel of John.  After feeding the five thousand and calming the storm, Jesus begins to teach the crowds that follow him with words that challenge them.  Words that challenge them — not because they don’t understand, but because they think they understand too well.  After referencing the story of the Exodus and God’s provision of manna in the wilderness, Jesus says, “I am the bread of life.”  And because he says this, the Jews begin to complain about him.

Now, can we just stop for a minute and get real about who the Jews in this story were?  They were his people, his countrymen.  They were his neighbors.  They even say, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?”  As the crowd struggles to makes sense of and accept what Jesus is saying, the stumbling block isn’t their Jewishness (as two thousand years of Christian anti-Judaism have too often implied), but the fact that they thought they already knew everything they needed to know about him!  The stumbling block isn’t their religious background or their ethnic background, it’s their shared background. Who is this guy, that he compares himself to the bread that gave life to our ancestors in the wilderness?  We’ve known this guy since we were kids, since he was a kid.  He belongs to us!

It’s easy to feel that way about Jesus, especially if you love him.  The crowds must have loved him, he’d just met their most basic need in the most extraordinary way, taking what little they had and transforming it into enough to send them to sleep stuffed with leftovers to spare.  I love him, because he sees me giving my all, as little as that may be; because he touched me even when I was aching at the margins of society; because he loves me, even when I am more attached to my comfort and my wealth than I am to his revolution.  You love him in ways you already know how to share, and ways that are still searching for words.  You love him because he is your inheritance, because he is your hope, because he is your teacher, because he is your struggle, because he is your shepherd, because he is your savior, because he is your Lord, because he is your God.

Because you belong to him, though he does not belong to you.

Interfaith Worker Justice's Founding Director, Kim Bobo

Interfaith Worker Justice’s Founding Director, Kim Bobo

I was down at the seminary last night for the opening convocation of this year’s LVC orientation.  All of the new volunteers, who will be placed in settings across the country, are gathered this week in Chicago for training and community building. All of the speakers were fantastic but one snippet from Kim Bobo, the founding director of Interfaith Worker Justice, stuck out at me. Speaking to a crowd made up mostly of recent college graduates she said,

“I would far rather work with someone who will do something than someone who knows something. The problem with college is that it spends four years training you that the most important thing is knowing the right answer. Then you get sent out into the world and you feel like the most important contribution you can make to an organization is to have the answers. I’m running the copier, making coffee, and taking out the trash, and my interns want to do something that ‘matters.’”

For too long, too much of Christianity has been about trying to prove we know something. Over the course of two thousand years we have divided the body of Christ again and again with dispute after violent dispute over what “matters,” our ideas about what we must believe about God in order to belong to God.  It’s not hard to see where it comes from, we get it in this morning’s passage as well,

“No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life.” (John 6:44-47)

Ironically, whenever we get too self-satisfied with our answers about what it means to belong to God, we take our role in the story being played out between Jesus and the Jews, those who thought they knew him best, his friends and neighbors. In our insistence on right beliefs we hear echoes of their insistence that they also knew how God would save them, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate manna in the wilderness…” (6:30-31) Time and time again we confuse our belonging to God with God belonging to us.

And each branch of the Christian family tree has their own particular way of doing this, none of us are exempt.  Lutherans are extraordinarily proud of our theology. We stand behind Martin Luther’s recovery of the apostle Paul’s assurance that we are “justified by faith apart from works of the law.” (Rom. 3:28) So, we get nervous whenever anyone talks about doing anything, because we worry that someone will get the wrong idea and understand us to be saying that we have to do something to merit God’s favor.  That our belonging depends on our doing instead of what God has already done. The problem is, there are things that need doing — not in order that you might finally one day be worthy of belonging to God, but because you already belong to God.

You already belong to God, and so does everyone else, despite all that the world does to deform our sense of self so that some of us are taught to believe that the world exists for our benefit and others are taught to believe that the world is permanently set against us.  Most of us, in fact, experience the world to be a place of both privilege and pain, which creates in us a sense of anxious confusion as we try to maximize our privilege and minimize our pain.

The world operates on the logic of what Martin Luther might have called “works righteousness,” except that instead of offering us the old trade — our righteous works for the promise of heaven — it has shrunk the horizon of belonging down to earth and demanded our righteous works — in the form of obedience to a political and economic pyramid scheme that benefits a few by oppressing a great many — in return for the promise of acceptability here and now.  It has lied to us and told us that the only way we can know if our lives have any worth or meaning is if they look like the lives led by happy, comfortable, well-fed, able-bodied, White, middle-class, heterosexual, Christian, married, home-owning families. Except, guess what, I’ve checked 9 out of 10 boxes on that list — and they have nothing to do with what gives my life meaning or purpose or value!  If anything, being able to check those boxes leaves me constantly aware of a nagging complicity with a system that was organized before I was born and without my consent to create separation and mistrust between me and and so many other groups of people who are like and unlike me. God’s own people, who are my sisters and brothers.

What gives my life purpose and value is that I belong to God, whose answer to my anxious confusion is not to maximize my privilege and minimize my pain as so much prosperity-promising religion suggests, but to do the exact opposite.  In Jesus, God has shown us a way of loving that gives up privilege and stands with those in pain. In Jesus I see a way of godly living that Paul commends in his letter to the Ephesians,

“So then, putting away all falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another … Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Eph. 4:25;5:1-2)

The world is filled with people giving it their all, aching at the margins, clinging to their privilege — people like you and me, and people so very different from us — and if we are going to be part of God’s healing and redemptive purpose we will have to give up so many illusions about God and about ourselves.  We will have to dismantle the machinery of capitalism, which treats people like objects and objects like people. We will have to deconstruct myths of White superiority, which pretend that White people’s successes and People of Color’s sufferings are both deserved and disconnected. We will have to disavow nationalism, which teaches us to accept the bondage and humiliation of other people as long as it happens away from our view. We will have to confess that our ideas about God are so much smaller than God’s own self, and be ready to release not only those elements of our Christian heritage that seem peripheral, but even those which may feel essential, in order to participate in the expansive welcome God has in store for all of us.

I don’t think that’s actually so different from what Jesus said to his friends, his neighbors, his people, the Jews — who are also our friends, and our neighbors, and our people as well, along with every other person on the face of the earth, Muslims and Bahá’í, Hindus and Jains, Buddhists and Atheists, Indigenous and Colonizers, Asian and Latino, Black and White, and all the rest of God’s richly diverse creation — I will be who I will be, I will become what I am becoming. I am not confined to your memory, I am laboring alongside and within you to give you a future with life. I will support you.  I will sustain you.  I will feed you.  I will be your bread, and you will be my people.  You belong to me.  All of you.



Sermon: Sunday, August 10, 2014: Ninth Sunday after Pentecost

Texts:  Genesis 37:1-4,12-28  +  Psalm 105:1-6,16-22,45b  +  Romans 10:5-15  +  Matthew 14:22-33

JohnOliver_LWT_KeyArt_FinalBritish comedian John Oliver has a new show on HBO that airs on Sunday nights called “Last Week Tonight.” Following in the style of John Stewart or Steven Colbert, Oliver doesn’t claim to be a newscaster, but his comedic take on the events of the previous week often feels more honest than the 24 hour coverage that comes through channels like CNN or FOX or MSNBC, or even the three broadcast networks. He doesn’t claim to be objective, he just reviews and comments on national and global events that have taken place since the last broadcast. Perhaps that’s why I feel a certain affinity for his show, produced and presented on a weekly basis to help people reflect on the state of the world around them.

Sometime in the last few weeks he opened his show by saying, “Last week was [bloody] awful!” and went on to talk about the humanitarian crisis on our southern border, the rising death toll in Gaza, the scandal of our poorly maintained nuclear arsenal, and at some point I couldn’t even take it in anymore. Even with the aid of his humor, I was drowning in a sea of bad news.

This is the challenge of the moment we are living in. The news from the front lines is relentlessly bad. This week we’ve been horrified by an outbreak of Ebola that continues to cross national borders and has claimed the lives of almost a thousand people. This week we’ve been told that we are once again committing to open-ended military action in Iraq. This week has been bloody awful!

So perhaps we can relate to the disciples who, after being part of a miracle of abundance with the feeding of the five thousand, are startled to find themselves in the middle of a storm with Jesus nowhere in sight.

Reading through the gospel of Matthew, this transition feels incredibly abrupt. At the beginning of chapter 14 we get the news that King Herod has killed John the Baptist, in response to which Jesus goes looking for solitude so he can be alone. But the crowds continue to press in on him, and Jesus responds to their need even in the middle of his own grief, refusing to send them away when their hunger appears to outstrip their resources. Having witnessed God’s power to provide first-hand, the disciples and the crowds are sent away so that Jesus can get back to his prayer. That very night, however, the disciples get caught in a storm out on the sea, and they are afraid that they will drown. The pace of the story is relentless.

I guess that’s what I’m responding to the most right now, the relentlessness of it all.  One minute we’re celebrating the birth of a child, the next minute we’re saying goodbye to a dear friend. One day we’re overjoyed at a decision to be married, the next day we’re navigating the choppy waters of fear and prejudice. One month we’ve welcomed a dozen members into the church, the next month we’re looking at our finances and realizing our current ministry plan is unsustainable and that big changes will need to be made or we will sink. One year we’re celebrating a decline in the rate of HIV transmissions across sub-Saharan Africa, the next we’re bemoaning an outbreak of Ebola.  One generation we think we’ve tossed off the shackles of racism and gender oppression, the next generation we find ourselves with the highest incarceration rate of any nation on the globe and women’s reproductive health care under attack.

We are sinking! Lord, save us!

This morning we also enter into the final cycle of stories in our summer long study of the book of Genesis.  The stories of Joseph and his brothers and their sojourn to Egypt will shape our worship for three weeks, during which time we will hear how a dreamer saved his people from a pattern of envy and violence that had been passed from generation to generation.

In this morning’s introductory tale we find that Jacob, having finally been reconciled with his brother Esau, has settled in Canaan. After all the pain that came from his jealousy at his own father’s favoritism, we might hope that Jacob would turn out to be fairer in his affection for his children. But it isn’t so. Jacob, who has been given the name Israel, loves Joseph more than any of his other children. Joseph is the firstborn son of Rachel, the favorite of the four mothers of Israel’s children. So Israel’s three other wives and eleven other children are left feeling neglected and unloved, and from that division comes all kinds of evil.

But there’s more to the story found in the verses that were left out of our reading, but hinted at when Joseph approaches his brothers at Dothan and they respond to the sight of his arrival, “Here comes this dreamer. Come now, let us kill him…” (Gen. 37:9)  In the missing verses, Joseph shares two dreams with his brothers.

He said to them, “Listen to this dream that I dreamed. There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright; then your sheaves gathered around it, and bowed down to my sheaf.” His brothers said to him, “Are you indeed to reign over us? Are you indeed to have dominion over us?” So they hated him even more because of his dreams and his words.

He had another dream, and told it to his brothers, saying, “Look, I have had another dream: the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him, and said to him, “What kind of dream is this that you have had? Shall we indeed come, I and your mother and your brothers, and bow to the ground before you?” So his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.  (Gen. 37:5-11)

The irony, of course, is that these dreams do turn out to be true, but only because Israel’s other sons sell their brother into slavery.  As we will observe in the weeks to come, it is that act of jealousy and violence that sets Joseph on a course that will eventually create a path for his family to move from famine to abundance. At this first juncture of the story however, Joseph’s dreams only get him thrown into a pit where, like drowning Peter, he waits to be saved.

Paul, in his letter to the Romans, also calls to mind the image of the pit when he writes,

Moses writes concerning the righteousness that comes from the law, that “the person who does these things will live by them.” But the righteousness that comes from faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend from heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’(that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Rom. 10:5-9)

Paul is contrasting two ways of thinking about our relationship to God. The first he calls “the righteousness that comes from the law” and he says that those who try to structure their life with God in this way will live as though it is their own actions, their own choices, their own power can save them. For this type of person, God is understood primarily as a set of rules or laws that must be obeyed in order for a relationship to exist. But Paul doesn’t equate this kind of legalistic religion with faith. Instead he says, “the righteousness that comes from faith” understands that we can’t climb into heaven any more than we can climb out of hell.  That salvation is a work of God’s not a work of our own.

It’s not hard to understand why this perspective is so challenging that even Christians have trouble embracing it.  “The righteousness that comes faith” flies in the face of everything we’ve been taught about how the world works, and how to get ahead in it. From the moment we are able discern difference and can see that some people are living lives of plenty and others are living lives of lack, we wonder why the world is as it is. The world has so many answers to give us. It tells us that some people are more deserving, more intelligent, more industrious. It tells us that God has favorites, families or nations or religions that hold a special place in God’s own heart.  It tells us that “God helps those who help themselves.”

Then we find ourselves in a pit our own family threw us into. Then we find ourselves drowning in a storm. Then we find ourselves in the middle of a divorce, or grieving the loss of a family member, or laid off with no work in sight, or going into foreclosure, or having to sell the house, or struck with an illness we’ve never heard of, or receiving the news that treatment isn’t working. At a time like that, what does “the righteousness that comes from the law” have to offer us? Not much. At times like that our hand thrusts up through the waters that threaten to drown us, groping for whatever help may be found, and we cry out “Lord, save me!”

At a moment like that, a moment in the pit, Paul says, “the word is near you, on your lips and in your heart.”  What good is a word to a drowning person? What world is Paul living in where a word has the power to make a difference in the face of envy, violence, war, or death? What kind of delusion, what kind of fantasy, what kind of dream is he living?

He’s living a dream called the gospel, which is good news to all who are drowning in sorrow, which is freedom from all who are trapped in a pit.  He is choosing to use the force of his words and the witness of his life to testify to the subversive, world-making power of dreams to become reality.

How can you think that Gaza will never be free when you have seen apartheid fall in South Africa?

How can you think Ebola will choke the life out of Africa when you have seen the world come together to end polio, to fight AIDS?

How can you think a crumbling sanctuary or a shifting foundation will bring an end to our story, when you have seen God use our networks of relationships to feed hundreds of hearts and souls and bellies with leftovers to spare.

How did each of these triumphs of God begin? With a dream. With a vision that the world as it is could not resist the world as God intends it to be. With faith that the God who called us into ventures whose endings could not be imagined did not bring us this far to let us drown, or die, but that our God faces the chaos of our lives and all their storms and draws us close, catching us, saving us.

Like Joseph, we have inherited many things from the generations that went before us.  We have inherited a story, we have inherited a promise, we have inherited a church and a people to call our own. Most of all, however, we are inheritors of a dream. We have been blessed with eyes that can see something that is not yet here. At a time like this, when the world seems lost in the storm, God calls dreamers like you and me to announce that something new, something better than we’ve yet known, something that can’t be stopped by fear, or envy, or violence is coming.

But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Rom. 10:14-15)