Sunday, October 29, 2017

Pie Jesu Domine

I am, once again, privileged to be among God's people at All Saints Church in Worcester. Because they celebrate their patronal feast day next weekend ("All Saints Day") they have a tradition of extending that time by including a celebration of All Souls Day the week prior - so the readings for today differ from what most parishes are using. They can be found here. 

First, and most importantly: yesterday late in the afternoon, William Ruben Reyes Rosendale was born, the first son to the Reverends Mary Rosendale and Jose Reyes. Our prayers are with this family, near and dear to our hearts.

Your program says that Jose is preaching today. That was the plan. But kids sometimes change the best laid plans, and today you and I are all surprised together that you get me!

But here goes…

We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. Always when we gather in this thin place where many have come before us, and many will come after us. But today we are more keenly aware, on this Feast of All Souls. We remember those whose names are printed in your program today. We remember Priscilla and Elisabeth who died just this past week. The grief of those who loved them is still fresh and maybe even raw. Hold them in your care. Give those who loved them a hug.

We will also name those who have died over the course of this past year: Sandra and Thomas and Marjory and George and Doris, Diana and Peter and John, Caollen and Charlie and Nadeen and Henry and Kevin, Richard and Janet. There may be others we will name as well. Our Jewish brothers and sisters, when they gather for prayer, pray the mourner’s kaddish to remember those who have died, which is something like what we do here today as we light those votive candles. Interestingly, the kaddish is focused on God: on praising God for having shared these people with us more than on grief or loss. We give thanks to the Creator for the privilege of knowing these people.

Many of you, including me, have added names that are found at the end of our program today. And I’m sure there are many, many more who for whatever reason didn’t get to respond and fill out the form to have their loved ones remembered today. Or just there are too many to number, and so we write down the names that mean the most. Literally all of the names we bring with us today could fill many books!

But they are not just names on a page. They each have their own unique stories. I added Richard, my father, who died at the age of 37 and I added my step-father, Martin, who died just fifteen months ago. I won’t tell you their stories here, but I bring them with me to the Table today as I know you bring those whom you love but see no longer. We hold them in our hearts as the choir leads us through Faure’s Requiem Mass. It is all beautiful but the Pie Jesu in particular, touches my soul:

Pie Jesu Domine. Dona eis requiem., sempieternaum requiem.
Merciful Lord Jesus, grant them rest, eternal rest.

Faure is so beautiful. If I’m lucky enough to have a choir like this one sing at my funeral I’d like to request the music we are hearing today sung. I actually put this request in to Graeme this week but I’m not sure he took me seriously, nor was prepared for my dying. But you are all now my witnesses! Not every choir in this diocese can pull this off, but we are very blessed, and we are all grateful. 

Thank you choir. But seriously, you all are going to owe me one, so I’m going public on the request: sing Faure for me when I’m gone!

There is also a poet/theologian from the swamps of Jersey that I’m a big fan of – his name is Bruce Springsteen. If you can get him to sing at my funeral that’d be cool, too. The Boss has a song on a less well-known album called Wrecking Ball which is called We Are Alive! It’s an All Souls hymn that we are not singing here today, and I am not going to sing it for you either, which is a blessing for you all. But the words of that poem begin like this:
There is a cross up yonder up on Calvary Hill / There is a slip of blood on a silver knife / There is a graveyard kid down below / Where at night did come to life / And above the stars, they crackle in fire / A dead man's moon throws seven rings. / Well, we put our ears to the cold grave stones / This is the song they'd sing / We are alive / Although our bodies lie alone here in the dark / Our spirits rise to carry the fire and light the spark / To stand shoulder to shoulder and heart to heart.
Those names, on the pages of our programs today and all the other names written on our hearts: they are alive! Their spirits rise to carry the fire and light the spark and we stand shoulder to shoulder, and heart to heart. We may not see them any longer but they are alive. And they cheer us on!

And that's what this day is about. As we heard from the prophet Isaiah, death is swallowed up. We live in that thin place where the table is set with a banquet - a fiesta and we are all in this together: saints triumphant and as the old language of the church put it, the saints militant.

Our work is to raise up saints like William Ruben Reyes Rosendale as we share the faith we have received with them, trusting that death is not an end but a transition to something greater. We feel sad when we lose those we love but we also live in hope.

This is not a denial of death. We know enough about death. But it is a fierce claim of resistance, that death does not get the last word. Not ever.

Grant eternal rest to them, and let light perpetual shine upon them. And give us the faith to run the race that is set before us with perseverance, with courage, and with hope. And with love - always love. 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

A Sermon for the 20th Sunday after Pentecost

Today I am with the good people at All Saints Church in Worcester. The readings for today can be found here. The sermon is something of a recap of the second book of the Bible, Exodus, from which those of us who use the Revised Common Lectionary have been reading since the end of August.

Since the end of August, we have been reading from the Book of Exodus as our Old Testament reading each week. Have you noticed this? Sometimes we kind of don’t fully wake up until we get to the epistle reading and the gospel; you know – the "really important stuff" in the New Testament! But on August 27 we read from Chapter 1 of Exodus, and we’ve been plugging away ever since, over these past nine weeks. Last week Jose preached a fine sermon on the golden calf and the meaning of idolatry in our lives today.

Today we come to the end of our readings from Exodus; next week it’s on to old Deuteronomy. So it seemed to me that a quick review is in order. Ready? A new Pharaoh arose who didn’t know Joseph and the Hebrews who had come to Egypt during a famine. And he began persecuting them. It’s what oppressors do. They worship the economy and they forget that the measure of a nation’s real wealth is in its workers, not GDP. You all remember what that rabbi from Galilee said about how you cannot worship both God and mammon, right? Well, in this case the Hebrews are being used as a permanent underclass to make bricks that make Pharaoh richer. The whole Passover liturgy of plagues and the flight from Egypt is about remembering that. They leave and end up with the Red Sea in front of them and Pharaoh’s army behind them and in that moment, they are between a rock and a hard place and obviously scared to death.

You don’t need to be a history professor to know what happens to escaped slaves if they get caught. And you don’t need a PhD in psychology to know what happens to people’s brains when they are experiencing anxiety. We become like reptiles. In that moment of desperation and fear, the finger-pointing begins. It has to be someone’s fault. “Why did you bring us out here to die?” they say to Moses. Weren’t there enough graves in Egypt? We told you this would happen, why didn’t you leave us alone to serve the Egyptians? Slavery is, like, way better than being dead!

Maybe, maybe not. Amazingly, though, Moses doesn’t get defensive or go on the attack in response. Instead he basically tells them that they have nothing to fear but fear itself. You can look it up in Exodus 14, where he says: “Do not be afraid; stand firm, and see the deliverance that the Lord will accomplish for you today.” The Lord is going to work this out.

Now we have the distinct advantage of 20/20 hindsight and of knowing that it all did work out, because we’ve been telling this story for thousands of years now. But pause for just a moment to consider what happens when you are in a situation like that in the present tense and you don’t know for sure. When you are between a rock and a hard place at home, or at work, or at church with what may feel like the world’s most powerful army behind you and the sea in front of you. Oh, and you can’t swim. And the Word of the Lord, thanks be to God, is: “don’t be afraid. Stand firm….”

Do you believe this? As it turns out this is good advice because it moves us out of our reptilian shame-and-blame brains and into something more closely resembling human thought. In Exodus, the Hebrews cross the Red Sea (or the Sea of Reeds) and right after this great miracle, they sing a little ditty you may remember. We sing it every year at the Easter Vigil, about how “horse and rider have been cast into the sea.” They bring out their tambourines and they do a little liturgical dance. Essentially it goes like this: God is good. All the time. All the time. God is good. Praise the Lord!

And then they look up. And now the waters of the Red Sea are behind them, and the Sinai Desert is in front of them. We know as readers that they are about to spend the next four decades wandering around in that wilderness. They don’t know that yet, but it probably does dawn on them finally that the move from slavery to freedom has only just begun and that it will be a long and arduous journey. Because the journey from slavery to freedom is always a long and winding and arduous one. Try to imagine yourself in their shoes: it’s not that hard if you’ve ever felt scared, hot, tired, hungry, thirsty and cranky. So the complaining and shaming and blaming and bickering all start up again. It seems to be a theme in Exodus. Oh the cucumbers and melons back in Egypt! Those were the days!

In Israel’s memory, as parents told their children and then those children grew up and told their children and grandchildren what happened that day, the message of this text is really quite profound and quite clear: God was with us. We simply would not and could not have made it without God. We made it because God had a plan for us. We made it because we cried out and God heard and God saw and God sent Moses to Pharaoh. We made it because God keeps God’s promises. Not always on the timeline we want, but always over the long haul. Sandwiched in between that message of good news, however (and even layered into it like a club sandwich) is real honesty about the realities of what fear can do to us, about leadership and courage and hope and tribulation and the fear of scarcity and God’s providential care in hard times. It’s good news because we are kind of living through some of this right now in this nation and in this congregation and a lot of us feel jammed between a rock and a hard place, and maybe even paralyzed by fear. But we really are not alone. And if we open our eyes we’ll find some gifts along the way, like daily bread and water from the flinty rock. The people survived that arduous journey from slavery to freedom, and you will survive, all saints, because God really can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine. And because God really is good even in the times when we doubt it. God is good, all the time.
So this Exodus narrative that has unfolded in nine parts since August 27 is about God, the great Liberator who has taken the side of this band of slaves in search of a better life. God is working God’s purposes out; make no mistake about that. But it is also worth noting that the narrator is pretty realistic that the journey from slavery to freedom is a dangerous and circuitous one that will take decades, not minutes, because the journey is not magic. It’s about building community. And that’s always hard.

When they cross the Red Sea, the text says that Moses stretched his hand out over the sea, and the Lord drove the sea back. Moses has no super-hero powers. He is merely God’s agent. Whatever he is able to do is because of God working through him. But Moses does have to trust that when he stretches his hand out, he won’t end up looking like a fool. Think about it: what if nothing happens? Before he can stretch out his arm, before he can tell everyone else to “just chill”—he has to believe that himself. He has to be able to imagine freedom. He has to trust the Lord God with his whole heart. So he stretches his arm out, hoping that that whole thing at the burning bush wasn’t just a dream. This is what leadership requires, and not just from the ones who wear collars.

I love Jewish interpretation of Scripture because there is a built-in resistance to settling the story into one simple meaning. Midrash is about reading the story in ways that generate new stories and new questions. So somebody says, “there we were and the waters parted…” And the rabbis say, “that reminds me of a story…”

One of my favorite midrash on the Passover narrative is that while the Israelites were doing all that singing and dancing and playing of tambourines, God was weeping. When the angel asks God why, God says: “because the Egyptians are my children too.” God is Liberator—make no mistake about that. God takes on injustice – make no mistake about that. God sides with the powerless- make no mistake about that. But there are nevertheless real costs to freedom, as every soldier knows. People die when injustice is confronted. So God cannot join the singing and dancing in the midst of all that carnage. For Israel this is a great day, a day of celebration: God rescued them from slavery and they are on the road to freedom. And to be clear: Pharaoh’s government was oppressive and the Egyptians really did have this coming. Or at least Pharaoh did, even if those soldiers are only pawns in his game. But God still loves all the little children of the world; they are all precious in God’s sight. So God weeps, or so say at least some of the rabbis.

The other midrash I love about this event at the Red Sea says that the waters didn’t immediately part when Moses lifted up his staff, but only after the first Israelite steps out and puts her foot into the water. I like that because it adds another dimension to this story: insisting that Moses’ trust in God isn’t enough. The people’s faith is also needed. Courageous leaders need courageous followers. What Moses’ act of leadership does is to inspire the trust of others and together they take a leap of faith and put their trust in God and only then does the miracle happen. The leader can inspire hope, but true freedom is a community event and not hero worship.

Whatever you make of these two midrashim, the larger point is a truth reiterated again and again in both Testaments: fear paralyzes us, fear leads to blame, fear leads to death. The way forward in such moments of danger is to remember to breathe until perfect love casts out fear. We will never move from slavery to freedom if we let our fears truncate and distort our faith. And so we breathe in and we breathe out and we remind each other not to be afraid and we ask questions and we let God be God and we begin to move out of our reptilian brains and take that first step towards new life.

Now I’ve just used most of my sermon time to review the plot of Exodus and I have only a very little time left to focus on the text we heard today, before we turn the page next week to Deuteronomy. But I can talk fast from here. Today we have this little tete-a-tete between Moses and God. Moses feels he’s been bearing the brunt of things and he reminds God, “these are your people too and besides, you got me into this line of work!” God reminds Moses he is always with him and will give him rest, but Moses pushes back: “God, if you aren’t going with us, then let’s talk about that right now. Don’t carry us up from here only to abandon us down the road. That’s not fair.”

Have you ever prayed to God like that? The Psalms are a help in this deepening of prayer, but that’s another sermon for another day. For today notice this: God says, “you can’t see me face-to-face, but I will let you see my backside.” I wonder if that doesn’t mean something like this: we can make more sense of God’s presence in our lives looking backward than we can trying to figure out what lies ahead. We can see how God was at work in our lives, but looking ahead it’s much more challenging to predict how God will work. So all we can do is trust God to do God’s thing in the future like we know God did it in the past: the God who was with us will be with us.

In the meantime here is what I hope you will take away from this sermon today: we are on a journey to the Promised Land. But it’s not immediately in sight. While we are often scared along the way, and there will always be some complaining, there are also gifts given by a living God who is trustworthy. Look for those gifts and give thanks for them. God is with us. God is in charge, God is present, even if we only recognize that presence in hindsight. God really is good all the time; all the time, God is good. We pray that this is enough to go on as the journey continues. 

Friday, October 20, 2017

Celebrating New Ministries

As a member of the bishop's staff in the Diocese of Western Massachusetts, one of my responsibilities is to work with search committees in congregations to call new clergy to serve with them in building up God's Kingdom. It's not always easy work, but it is always meaningful. At the end of a process there is a liturgy to celebrate this new beginning, and it is my honor to read The Letter of Institution at these events.

The Book of Common Prayer was last revised in 1979 - nearly forty years ago. It was and remains a gift to the Church, and not just for Episcopalians. (I am often surprised how friends in other denominations use resources found here.) At the heart of the vision that led to that revision was a commitment to Holy Baptism and lay ministry, to what Verna Dozier once called the dream of God. In spite of continued clericalism in my denomination, this dream permeates the words that Episcopalians have been reading, marking, learning, and inwardly digesting for four decades now.

Even so, it doesn't all stand the test of time evenly, and I've come to realize that the Celebration of New Ministry Service found on pages 558-565 probably needs to be scrapped. It feels, as written, almost like another ordination and the focus is all on the clergy. Thankfully, we are beginning to rectify this with newer rites that have been approved for usage and those rites are being used. In the past few months I've been privileged to be at services that have offered renewal of Baptismal Vows and held up the shared ministries and vision of the congregation. One recent celebration included confirmation and another was intentional about celebrating the community beyond the parish. These newer approaches make it clear that in celebrating new ministries we are joining in with a community of faith that now has a new cleric - in almost all cases that community was there before the cleric arrived and will still be there, by God's grace, after the cleric leaves. Rather than lifting up the new cleric above the community of faith, we are finding ways to pray toward God's dream for the Church and the world. Thanks be to God!

One piece of the liturgy that has stood the test of time, however, is that Letter of Institution that I get to read. (BCP 557) Every time I read these words from the Bishop to the priest, I get chills:
Having committed yourself to this work, do not forget the trust of those who have chosen you. Care alike for young and old, strong and weak, rich and poor. By your words, and in your life, proclaim the Gospel. Love and serve Christ's people. Nourish them and strengthen them to glorify God in this life and in the life to come. 
For my money, that is about as a good a summary of parish ministry that I know of, and clergy forget this at their peril. Sadly, it happens. I've come to believe that congregations can forgive just about anything: boring preaching, poor administrative skills, even control issues. But you can't fake love. You either care for your people or you don't. And you don't get to just care for some of them.

Do not forget the trust of those who have chosen you. And yet it happens, for lots of reasons. Trust can be violated in perverse ways, but it can also just erode over time. Clergy tend to like some parishioners more than others; we can't help it, we are only human. But it's not about like; it's about love. If we hang around only the young and strong and rich, people notice. But the converse practice of just loving the old and weak and poor is only marginally better. Sometimes we think this makes us more like Jesus, but recall that while Jesus had high expectations for the young and strong and rich, he still loved them. (See Mark 10:21)

It is the great privilege and responsibility of clergy to nourish and strengthen all those among whom we are called to serve. We are not called to lord it over anyone. It's hard work. Some days, it's almost impossible work, but always we do it with God's help. Those not interested in doing so, however, would probably be better off in another line of work. For those who are so called, it is an amazing privilege and responsibility.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Living the Prayer of St. Francis

Preaching and Presiding today at Christ Church, Rochdale.

Seven hundred and ninety one years ago this Tuesday, Francis of Assisi died. We will celebrate his Feast Day on Wednesday. For today I want to ask a question: what can a man from Umbria who lived eight centuries ago teach us today about following Jesus?

From 1998-2013, I served as the rector of the only parish in our diocese that bears the name of St. Francis of Assisi. When I went to Holden, I knew next to nothing about him. But during my tenure we became close friends. Many of you have, I’m sure, seen the familiar statue of St. Francis hanging around in gardens; in fact I think there is one around this building if I’m not mistaken. He is pleasant enough; often some birds are there chatting with him or some animal is sitting at his feet as Francis preaches the gospel at all times, sometimes even with words.

But to encounter him in the flesh we have to travel back to the latter days of the twelfth century, to the Umbrian town of Assisi, half-way between Rome and Florence. Assisi sits on a hill and it’s obvious that the roads were built long before the automobile. So you park at the bottom of the hill and you walk up and up to the narrow streets where you can almost imagine walking into good old Francis, no longer a statue but a real person in a real time and place.

In 1182, an infant boy was baptized in the cathedral font of Assisi. His mother was a religious person who decided to name her son after John the Baptist, the one who “prepared the way” for Jesus. And so he was christened “Giovanni” – the Italian version of John. Francesco, which means “little Frenchman,” was the nickname given to him by his father, who loved all things French.

In the latter part of the twelfth century, Assisi was moving from a feudal society to a mercantile society. That led to clashes between social classes: the old guard and the “nouveau riche” merchants like Giovanni’s father, who was a cloth trader who traveled regularly on business to France. Francesco may have even traveled with his dad on business trips in his teenage years. If he did and they got to Paris, then he would have seen a new cathedral under construction that would be named for the mother of our Lord, Notre Dame.

By all accounts, Francesco was a spoiled rich kid. It happens sometimes when parents are upwardly mobile and they indulge their children so that they will have all of the “opportunities” they didn’t have. His father expected him to follow in his path in the family business. Something happened, though—it’s not clear what—that led Francesco to a change in his worldview. Some say he came down with an illness that left him bedridden for a long period of time. In any case, he ended up in the military and decided to become a knight.

When someone says “semper fi” to you, you know that they are shaped by a whole set of values that make that person a marine. Knights in the Middle Ages were something like that, and the equivalent of “semper fi” was the notion of chivalry. Two “core values” for knights were a commitment to largesse, i.e. to give freely, and to be always courteous. Yes, sir. No thank you ma’am. I mention this because as profoundly as Francesco would be formed by the gospel, these military values also played a role in shaping who he was becoming and they stayed with him. Generosity and courtesy permeate the Rule of Francis. Obviously these are gospel values, but they were also reinforced by his training as a knight. I suspect that the same could be said for many of us: hopefully our core values are rooted in the gospel, but our families and our work also leave a mark.

And then Francesco had this powerful religious awakening in the church in San Damiano. While praying, he heard Christ calling to him “Francesco, rebuild my church.” Some might call this a “conversion experience,” which is fine. But I prefer to think of such experiences as “awakenings” because they remind us that it’s about what God is doing in our lives, not the other way around. That is to say, at that cathedral font, baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, he had already been “claimed and sealed and marked as Christ’s own forever.” It isn’t God’s fault he was asleep to that reality for so many years! In any event, he finally “woke up,” and when he did he began to literally rebuild that chapel in San Damiano, like a good junior warden.

So Francesco had “gotten religion.” A little too much from his father’s perspective. So his dad calls the bishop (who happens to be a personal friend) to talk some sense into the boy, who was beginning to take his faith just a little too seriously. Part of what was happening is that his commitment to largesse was making him very generous with his father’s hard-earned money.

If you ever go to Assisi and perhaps some of you have been, there is a fresco in the upper church that captures a heart-wrenching moment on the town green: Francesco, his father, the bishop, and a whole lot of nosy neighbors. I stood in front of it and tried to imagine the turmoil and the sense of shame and betrayal that both father and son must have felt that day in the public square as Francesco went, shall we say, “al fresco,” taking off his clothes and giving them to his father and saying, “now I don’t have anything that belongs to you. I’m as naked as the day I was born. You are no longer my father; my only father is the one I have in heaven.” The bishop is so embarrassed he takes off his chasuble and covers Frank up.

There is such humanity in this scene, long before Francis became a statue in the garden. Even if he is canonized, I think we make a mistake if we turn him into the hero of this moment and his father into the devil. I imagine his dad, especially within his context of a changing world where there were increasing opportunities for those willing to work hard as honestly wanting the very best for his son. The problem is that father and son don’t see eye-to-eye on what is best. Their core values clash and Francis has to live the life he believes God is calling him to, not his father’s dreams. Families are like this sometimes as we navigate our way from generation to generation.

I have sometimes wondered if this isn’t a kind of inverted story of the prodigal son: instead of the father running out to embrace the son, Francesco’s father seems almost to be recoiling in that fresco, as if he’s asking: “who is this kid and what has happened to him?” With all due respect to Francesco, as a parent I can’t help but feel some empathy for the father. That isn’t the same as saying his father was right: we raise our kids in order to let them become adults who will find their own path to God and their own way in the world. But moments like this one are so hard not just for father and son and for the bishop but for all the rest of us who are eavesdropping on a family matter being played out on the town square. It’s a sad and heart-wrenching moment, at least to me it is. Yet it is also a defining moment in Francesco’s spiritual journey.

So we get this very public rift in a small town. For Francis, at the heart of the gospel was a call to embrace poverty as a way to share in Christ’s suffering. His father simply couldn’t understand that after all the sacrifices he had made to make life better for his son. And so father and son go their separate ways.

I want to tell you about one more encounter in Francis’ life that you might not already know about. In 1219, he heads off to the Middle East during the time of the Crusades. War is always hell, but the Crusades were particularly brutal, as perhaps only religious conflicts are. Yet Francis goes down to Egypt to the sultan’s palace to meet with a caliph who is roughly the same age as he is—late thirties. The Muslim leader, most likely a Sufi mystic, is fond of religious poetry, intellectually curious, and on good terms with the merchants of Venice. The two men meet and Francis tries to convert him to Christianity. That doesn’t happen, but they depart in peace and on good terms.

In the heart of the Islamic world, in the middle of the Crusades, Francis bears witness to the love of God he knew in Jesus. But he also listens and he treats the other with dignity and respect. The word crusader literally means “he who bears the cross.” In the twelfth century and to this very day, however, that word sends chills down the spines of people who remember the atrocities done in the name of Christ and in the name of the cross, especially in the Muslim world. Our language can be so easily manipulated in times of war. Yet Francis bore witness in the midst of all of that to another way. He was a true crusader because for him the “way of the cross” meant the way of mutual respect and conversation and humility, and trying to be an instrument of peace in a warring world. It meant sowing seeds of love instead of hate, and living with hope for the dawn of a new day.

I suspect most of you didn’t come here today to hear stories about St. Francis. We don’t worship the saints, but we try to see their lives as a witness that inspires us to do what they did: to see Jesus more clearly, and follow him more nearly, and love him more dearly. Francis models that in a way that I think is still relevant for twenty-first century Christians and it’s about more than loving our pets. We honor St. Francis when we care for this planet, this fragile earth, our island home and love all creatures of our God and king. But we also honor Francis when we risk interfaith dialogue with Muslim neighbors, and when we choose not to wield power over others but to bear the cross as a sign of hope and of our own humility and vulnerability. We honor Francis we commit ourselves to be instruments of peace by sowing love, and pardon, and union, and faith, and hope, and light and joy wherever we may find ourselves.

In today’s epistle reading, from Paul to the early Christians in Philippi, we heard these words:

If there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.

That mind of Christ does not mean we will all agree or vote the same. The mind of Christ is to be cross-bearers and peace-makers whether we are traveling to distant lands or reaching across the dinner table. We are called to be of one mind, which does not make us the same but as a contemporary Irish theologian puts it, “one love, we’re not the same…but we get to carry each other.”

May we not just pray the Prayer of St. Francis, but try to live it, always with God’s help. In a world where there is so much hatred and injury and discord and doubt and despair and darkness and sadness we have our work cut out for us. But we keep sowing seeds.