Saturday, November 29, 2014

That the Mountains Might Quake

First Advent 2014

Is 64:1-8
1 O that you would tear open the heavens and come down,
so that the mountains would quake at your presence—
2 as when fire kindles brushwood
and the fire causes water to boil—
to make your name known to your adversaries,
so that the nations might tremble at your presence!
3 When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect,
you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.
4 From ages past no one has heard,
no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
who works for those who wait for him.
5 You meet those who gladly do right,
those who remember you in your ways.
But you were angry, and we sinned;
because you hid yourself we transgressed.
6 We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
7 There is no one who calls on your name,
or attempts to take hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us,
and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity.
8 Yet, O Lord, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
9 Do not be exceedingly angry, O Lord,
and do not remember iniquity forever.
Now consider, we are all your people.

            Anger, fear, prejudice, greed, desire, violence, consumerism, terror, suicide bombings, war, luxury, sex, overeating, gluttony—these are some of the images you might have seen if you turned on the television over this holiday weekend.  The protests and riots in Ferguson have dominated television and facebook this holiday weekend.  I’m thankful that Jana and I have decided not to subscribe to cable or satellite TV, because then we truly wouldn’t be able to get away from it.  But even in our visits with friends and discussions with students this past week, we haven’t been able to escape the anger that is seething in our culture, anger between blacks and whites, anger directed at our Hispanic brothers and sisters, or anger at Obama or others who want to extend the hand of welcome to those who are living as strangers among us.  There’s anger that falls along party lines.  Reading some of the posts from my friends over facebook over the past few weeks, I’d think that every Republican was a capitalist Satan worshipper and every Democrat a communist baby killer.  What should be a peaceful celebration of thankfulness and family joy looks like it has turned into a consumeristic quagmire of conflict and anger.  And, watch out, Advent is upon us and Christmas is coming.             
            Yes, today is first advent, and our Scripture reading for the day from Isaiah 64 has a lot to teach us about anger, God’s sovereignty, and how we as human beings may expect God’s guidance in our turbulent lives.  As I was preparing for the sermon today, I was truly struck by how much anger is in this prophetic text.  However, this prophetic text, coming from the end of Isaiah, is strikingly different from many of the other prophetic oracles that one might find, especially from those in the opening third of the book.  First of all, rather than the typical prophetic oracle, in which the prophet speaks in the first person singular as the voice of God, pronouncing judgment and destruction upon Judah, these verses are in first person plural and the prophet is voicing the concerns of his community directly to God.  God is addressed as a “you,” “O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence.”
Likewise the voice here is more like that of the Psalmist expressing communal lament, “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.”  What perfect images for Thanksgiving: Israel’s deeds are like the dirty dish-cloth after the thanksgiving cleanup; all the people fade like leaves blown from the autumn trees.  Yet it is God’s anger that can make the mountains shake.  As the prophet continues, God is praised as the one who can make the nations tremble, whose anger can start forest fires, and boil away the lakes.  With this juxtaposition between human iniquity and God’s anger, the prophet has a lot to say to us in our present circumstance.
            Righteous anger, righteous indignation, punishment and retribution belong properly to God.  Many of us are uncomfortable with the image of an angry God.  We like to imagine God in Christ as a loving and forgiving God.  That’s fine and there’s a place for that message.  But when it comes to social injustice, human exploitation, enslavement and repression, a proper trust in God’s anger is not only well placed, it is part of the prophetic expectation to forsake idolatry and worship God alone.  As the prophet says, “From ages past no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who works for those who wait for him.”  The prophets believed in a God who was actively involved in the affairs of human history, a God who brings about radical change and transformation, even when it is painful.  This is a God who calls out human idolatry and injustice, and brings about corrective action, even using Israel’s foes to bring punishment and retribution for the oppression of the poor, the fatherless, and the widows.  
            Does this mean that we can’t be angry?  No, psychologists tell us that, when properly engaged, anger is actually healthy and normal.  Anger is a proper emotional response when something is perceived as wrong or when some need is not being adequately met.    Anger can activate us and those around us to get primal needs met.  I am not a parent.  So it is amazing to me to see how calmly and sweetly many mothers come to the angry screams of their infants with warm milk, instantly calming the child.  In family, community, and friendship, the expression of anger can actually have a restorative role in redressing wrongs and meeting needs.  Learning to get in touch with our own anger and learning how to express it properly are important steps for folks who are engaging in nonviolent conflict resolution.
            But what the prophet is voicing is that our festering, seething anger can become a form of idolatry.   In such a case, our role is to repent from such idolatry and place such anger in Yahweh’s hands.   I suspect that there is a great deal of festering, seething anger in our society today.   I also suspect that there are malevolent forces at work that, perhaps even consciously, are using media and other methods of communication to keep that anger and fear alive like a festering sore.  Our limbic system has developed over the generations to help us react to extraordinary situations of fight of flight.  Yet it is these same impulse systems that make us into great consumers.  I find it a fascinating and rich irony to see that the protestors in the Michael Brown case have now turned to the malls to confront folks there on “Black Friday” with a “Brown Friday.”  That seething anger, stirred up by images on TV that steam over and over again, burning cars, angry shouting, marching and protesting, all of that seething anger ironically makes us into great consumers and help to drive our idolatrous economy.  The outburst and brawls over the Thanksgiving doorbusters have become commonplace. 
Flight or fight, even in our every day, makes us into cooperative consumers.  On Monday nights, after driving through rush hour traffic to get to my Charlotte class--now that’s fight or flight—how often do I find myself in the drive through at Chick-fil-a, ready to order my milkshake Monday meal?  When our lizard brains control us, malevolent forces can easily take advantage of us, set up idols for us to worship.  In such cases our racial identity, our adherence to a political party, even our identification with our favorite athletic team, cease to become healthy markers of diversity.  Instead, we become enslaved to them, sometimes unconsciously, with an impulse to dismiss, fear, or even hate those who are not like us.   This is not healthy.  Not only that, when these idols control us, we become susceptible to forces that diminish our self-worth and that of others, so that we become slaves to racism, consumerism, and unknowing ideologues for demonic powers whose sole purpose is to exploit, dominate, and destroy.
Seeing such forces at work, the prophet calls out, “O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence!”  Can this become our advent prayer?  This is the time of year when Christians remind themselves of Israel’s yearning for a coming king, a coming Messiah.  With all the pastoral images of a sweet infant Jesus born in a manger, perhaps we’ve lost sight of Israel’s yearning for a powerful king, one whose coming would shake the foundations of the mountains.  If we can also say this prayer, together with the prophet, perhaps—in spite of all the anger and turmoil, stress and fear—we might be able to return to a God who is our father and potter, in whose hands we are clay to be molded and transformed into new creations.  Perhaps when we recognize God’s power and come to rely upon God’s anger to intervene against our own injustices, we might also pray, together with the prophet,  “Do not be exceedingly angry, O Lord, and do not remember iniquity forever.  Now consider, we are all your people!”
Let us pray,
“Lord, we are all your people…”

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Day of the Lord: Reflections on the Fall of the Berlin Wall

The Day of the Lord
Texts: 1 Thess 4:13-16; Amos 5:18-24
            Autumn is my favorite time of year.  I love the cool, crisp air, the beauty of the changing colors, and the smell of burning leaves.  And while it is always a busy time of year for me as a professor, the shortening days, the seeming stillness in the air, gives me pause to reflect, to think about the echoes of falls past.  When I take time to meditate and breathe, I find myself in awe and wonder at the passing of time itself.  When I have a few moments to relax, sometimes I might put on my earphones and listen to a symphony like Brahm’s first, or any number of Bach’s works, or to a fine jazz musician.   I find myself wondering at their artistic reflections on time, while I listen to the beats and rhythms, both slow and fast, and watch the shadows grow long as autumn afternoon transitions into eve.
          Both of the biblical texts we read today are in their own way reflections on time and the human inability to comprehend it.  In the Amos passage, the prophet is warning the people of Israel who are looking forward to the “day of the Lord,” envisioning that day as a day of triumph and vindication, likely over their Assyrian enemies.  Instead the prophet turns their expectation on its head.  The Day of the Lord will not be a day of vindication, but a day of judgment for Israel’s neglect of the poor and the widows and others in their society, while prioritizing expensive shows of flashy worship.       In the 1 Thess text, Paul is correcting the Thessalonians misunderstanding about grief and loss.  In Paul’s early congregations, people were expecting Christ to return at any moment.  Apparently they hadn’t given any thought to what would happen to those who pass away before Christ’s return.  They were now concerned about those who passed away, that they had somehow missed their opportunity for seeing the eschaton, that they would be lost forever to the sands of time.  This was clearly compounding their grief for their lost loved ones.  Paul does not tell them not to grieve.  Instead, he comforts them by assuring them in a grief abiding in hope.  “Soon,” he tells the Thessalonians, “Christ would return and on that day, the dead in Christ would rise first and those of us who remain would rise up into the heavens to meet them.”  For Paul and the Thessalonians, the Day of the Lord meant resurrection and reunion, reunion with lost loved ones, union with the returning savior—and the entire transformation of all creation.
          You see, both Amos and Paul are correcting our misperceptions of time.  Because of our human limitations, we have only an inkling of the true nature of time.  Only in the past century, since Einstein, have we become aware that time itself is not a constant, but is relative.  For those who travel at high speed, time passes--imperceptibly to all but the most accurate of clocks—a little more slowly in relation to those who are not travelling so quickly.  Psychologists also tell us that the human perception of time shifts as we age, as time seems to pass more quickly for those of us who are older, than it does for the youth.  Can you remember the times when you as children waited in the wee hours of Christmas morning for time to pass before opening presents?  Or can you remember how long time seemed to drag on before the dismissal bell at school?   I can see it in the faces of my students when I teach.  Fifty minutes seems for them an eternity—and for this aging scholar that time is only the passing of an instant.  Of course, one constant that never changes is the allotment of time for a preacher’s sermon.  It doesn’t matter how old the congregation member it is, the preacher always preaches too long, am I right?
          But the Day of the Lord that both these texts refer to, that is another matter altogether.  While in the human experience of time, the days may seem to blend together, and one day may seem to be very much like another, there are certain days in which everything, all of history, seems to shift.  Many of us can remember that fateful fall morning in September when two airliners crashed in the World Trade Center.  
For me and my experience, this day today, Nov. 9, also is an important day in history.  On Nov. 9, 25 years ago, the Berlin wall opened, allowing East Germans to travel freely into West Berlin.  With the opening of the Berlin wall, the entire communist block of Eastern Europe unraveled, as nation after nation transformed into capitalistic economies with parliamentary style democracies.  It was a transformational day for millions of people in Eastern Europe and as a young college student studying German at the time, I was glued to the television set, watching as the wall came down.  I couldn’t wait to get to Berlin and was thrilled the following summer to be present for the day of economic unification, when all the shops in East Berlin transformed overnight, reopening the next day with Western goods in the aisles for the first time and accepting only West German money.  I can remember strolling through the aisles of the largest East Berlin department store on Alexanderplatz, eavesdropping on a young couple looking at the jeans and other western apparel.  I can remember the young woman saying to her husband, “but I don’t like the jeans; this just is not my style,” and her husband saying in an authoritative voice, “but you have to buy it, dear, that is the now expectation for everyone to wear.”  Apparently they hadn’t quite learned that capitalistic consumer mentality of demanding choice.   I remember another patron in the store paying for his items and when he received East German coins back as change, he threw them back at the poor cashier.  On the day of economic reunification, the banks and shops had only been able to change out the bills, but the Eastern German coinage would remain in circulation for several months, because it took time for new coins to be minted. 
          You see, those fateful days in 1989 and 1990, changed the world in dramatic ways.  There is slim chance that I and my wife, who was born and grew up in Czechoslovakia, would never have met, if it had not been for the actions of the one boarder guard at the Berlin wall who in a somewhat impulsive moment of disobeying the orders of his superiors, decided to open the border crossing to the swelling crowds of protestors who had gathered before his gate to West Berlin.
          Later, in 1992, after finishing college, I went back to East Berlin to live and work among the pastors who had been instrumental in the 10 year ecumenical process of Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation to bring about change and renewal in their congregations and communities.  You see, this is where I received my real theological training, working with pastors for whom the Amos text we read today meant so much, “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an everlasting stream.”  We all live for those transformational days like Nov. 9th when all of history changes.  But such transformational moments are often the product of years of and years of quiet, unseen patient work. 
          The results of such transformational days reflect the character of the slow and steady work in preparing for them.  Sometimes they are positive, like in 1989 when the Berlin wall fell.  However, many years earlier, in 1938, Nov. 9 represented something darker and far more sinister for Germany,  the Kristallnacht, the day the Nazis had been preparing for year, the day that marks the formal beginning of the Holocaust.   Individually, we too can all remember important days, when we are baptized, married, when children were born, or when loved ones passed away.  But these momentous shifts in time only occur only after periods of preparation.
          Like Paul’s congregants or Amos’ audience in Israel, we long for these transformational days, without really knowing exactly what they might bring.  What both Paul and Amos agree upon is that such transformative days in history belong to God and not us. We as humans are too frail to comprehend the changes such days might bring; and often are quite incapable of coping with their aftermath.  Indeed, much of our corporate culture is centered around such “days of the Lord.”  Corporations large and small are looking for the next ipad, iphone, or Google, the next “revolutionary” product that will transform stale businesses into competitive, thriving enterprises.  Many of them have entire divisions dedicated to research and development, hoping to come up with the “next big thing.”  Nonprofits, even small ones like the educational institution in which I serve, have administrators who are looking for breakaway strategies, and transformational donors, people who can come in and make such a substantial gift to the institution that it will stand out from among its peers.  Yes, church, I submit to you today, that many of us are looking for that “Day of the Lord.”  But let us take Amos’ caution and Paul’s word of comfort to heart.  Amos says, “Let Justice Flow down like waters, and righteousness like an everflowing stream.”  Our task is to fill the waters, the everflowing stream of time, with moments of purpose in service to God’s justice, this justice that is written in our hearts and that we know is part of the very structure of the universe.  Shortly before the verses we read today, Paul tells the Thessalonians to live quietly, mind their own affairs, and to work with their hands—and they will see soon, very soon, the Lord coming together with those loved ones who have passed away.  We are reminded that what we do in the day-to-day matters, whether it is giving time to listen to someone who is distraught, or taking time to mentor a disadvantaged child.  You see folks, we can’t say when the Day of the Lord is coming. We don’t know when that transformational day might take place; but we can live meaningful lives by minding God’s justice in our day-to-day.  While it is true that the Berlin Wall fell on Nov. 9th, that transformational day was prepared for by pastors throughout East Germany for almost a decade, as they formed small groups dedicated to issues of justice, peace, and ecological vitality.  Sometimes those groups were small, as small as this little congregation gathered here, because all of this had to be done under the watchful eye of the East German authorities.  But they did it nonetheless, patiently meeting week in and week out, providing in their congregations spaces for open conversation and discussion about God’s justice and how this justice looked so different from their experience behind the iron curtain.  Gradually this movement began to grow, from a handful of pastors and dedicated congregation members, to thousands who would meet in the churches for prayers for peace and justice, light candles and silently, peacefully, march out into the streets of Leipzig, Berlin, and throughout East Germany to protest injustice and pray for peace and justice.  You see, real change, God’s authentic change, comes from the margins through daily, quiet, and patient dedication to gentle acts of kindness and fearless dedication to justice and righteousness, all grounded in God’s worship—subsumed  in God’s time. 

          I know we all long for the day of the Lord.  I am here to proclaim to you that God’s time is our time—and the full dimension of that time are so much beyond our imagination.  But if, on an autumn day, you are able to stop and listen for just a moment, perhaps you can hear the heartbeat of God’s Justice, the rhythm of God’s righteous deep in our bones.  The day of the Lord is coming. The early Christians opened and ended their worship with the words, “Maranatha,” which means, “Come, Lord, Come.”  May the Peace of Christ be with all of you on this, the Day of the Lord.       

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Hostesses with the Mostest: Mother's Day Sermon, 2014

Mother’s Day Sermon 2014
“The Hostesses with the Mostest: Images of Maternal Hospitality 
Acts 2:41-47
41 So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added. 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. 44 All who believed were together and had all things in common; 45 they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.
            Blessings upon all of you and Happy Mother’s day! 
            When I looked up the lectionary text for this Sunday, I was quite surprised and pleased to see that it was the text on which I wrote my dissertation.  This text only comes around in the lectionary every three years, so imagine my delight at seeing it for today.  When Sherri Barnes, our director of church relations, found out I was preaching on this text, she already began praying for you.  I don’t know why.  My dissertation was rather short, only 230 or so pages and my defense didn’t last but 2 hours.  So I’m sure we can get out of here by 2PM.
            All joking aside, this text paints a portrait of the early Christian community in Jerusalem within only months of Jesus’ ascension.  It’s a lovely picture, just like the pictures of smiling graduates we posted on Facebook yesterday.  Everything is perfect, abounding promise.  The church at this point is experiencing great joy, growing by leaps and bounds, sharing all their possessions, sharing meals together, worshipping with great joy and warmth, and caring, growing by teaching, studying, and listening to the Apostles, and even speaking bold truths to the community around it.  It is a picture not only of what the church was, but of what it could be, maybe even what it should be.  It is about the kinds of distinctive friendship we practice in Christian community, sharing our possessions across class and status lines, speaking bold, difficult and life-transformative truths to a broken world around us, and, yes, sharing acts of radical hospitality. 
            Since it is mother’s day, I thought I’d focus a little on this distinctive friendship practice, the practice of hospitality, that which so many of our mothers know so much about, especially if they practice the more traditional roles of nurturing and preparing meals.  And, since it is mother’s day, I thought I’d take this opportunity to reflect on my own mother, as many of us are today.  My mom passed away about a year and half ago.  And in her waning years, my mother struggled some with a light dementia, as so many of us do as we age.  But one gift of hospitality my mother left for us was a spiritual journal in which she reflected about her life.  It was something you can sometimes find in a Christian bookstore, a hardbound volume that asks someone to reflect on their upbringing, their life, their experiences, something that a mother would want her children to keep and reflect on after she passed away. 

Now my mom wasn’t so talkative as the dementia set in.  But one way to get her talking and thinking about the past was to read this spiritual journal with her.  And I remember one section, a section in which she was had written about her father, a deeply Christian man.  You see my mother lost her own mother at a very young age and my grandfather was a widower, having to take care of four children during the depression.  But he was determined to raise them in a home that was actively evangelical.  Evangelicalism at that time, at least in the North, in Philadelphia where my mom grew up, meant also having what we call today a social conscience.  So my mom wrote in her diary about how, during the depression, my grandfather took the four children every Sunday to downtown Philadelphia to hand out sandwiches and coffee to the homeless.  And I can still remember, months before she passed, asking my mom about this and her telling me, reverting back into the accepted language of her youth, “Oh, those bums loved Dad, and he loved them right back.”  Hospitality, radical hospitality.  As I’ve told that story in different contexts, folks have shared with me how in the depression, their parents would take in the homeless men who were wandering from place to place, or share with them a meal.  One woman whose family lived on a farm during the depression told me how her mother always set an extra place at the table for hungry strangers.  That was part of the depression era mentality, I guess.  But whatever happened to that radical practice of hospitality.
            I suspect that many of us tend to find hospitality hard because it requires us to be vulnerable.  I know I’m in Andy Griffith country, so I can’t preach a sermon without some kind of reference to that show.  I’m sure you all remember the character of Aunt Bee, who by the way, isn’t herself a mother, but certainly seems to fill that role in Andy’s atypical family.  She’s always preparing or doing for others and yet so often you see in her face a certain vulnerability.  When we open ourselves to radical hospitality, when we share with the stranger, with the other, sometimes we have to be prepared to be hurt.  I recall one show where Aunt Bee picks up with an elderly widower who was a suitor from her past.  As the show progresses, Andy gradually comes to have suspicions that this gentleman caller isn’t exactly what he claims to be, and is instead after Aunt Bee’s money.  One show after another, the plot revolves around Aunt Bee’s good-natured hospitality being potentially taken advantage of by a stranger—and Andy has to find a solution without hurting Aunt Bee or shaming her dignity.
            You see, there’s a double sided risk to hospitality.  On the one hand, the host has to risk his or her own vulnerability with the possibility of being taken advantage of, all while trying to make sure that the guest’s vulnerabilities are protected and dignified.  And this is the character trait we honor during mothers day.  Those of you who are mothers know what it means to be exhausted beyond exhaustion in caring for the family around you—and yet you still give.  And all of us have been mothered from time to time and know what its like to have had our needs met while also retaining a sense of dignity and self-worth in the process. And that’s what mothers do best, they give us all the dignity and self-worth that they can possibly give.  They meet us in the depths of our vulnerability, without making us feel unworthy, even though we couldn’t possibly do anything to earn or merit their love.  That radical practice of hospitality is a virtue that we can all engage in, regardless of our gender or status in the family and community.
            Again and again we see examples of radical hospitality in Acts.  As the church grows, we learn of an incident in chapter six in which the Hellenists complained that their widows were being “passed over” in the daily distribution of meals.  We learn two things from this passage.  First, that the church continues in its ministry of hospitality.  Furthermore, this ministry of hospitality seems to be vital for the survival of various ethnic and class groups in the congregation.  People need these meals and the church is sharing them.  Secondly, it would appear the Hellenist’s widows are being “passed over” in this act of hospitality.  One recent feminist scholar who looked at this text has shown that the male scholars who have been interpreting it throughout the years have mistranslated the word “passed-over.”  The widows are not mad because they aren’t getting food distributed to them, they’re mad because their ability to engage in acts hospitality is being “passed-over” by the dominant ethnic faction in the church.  What this means is that women were playing a key role in the survival of the ancient church, they were providing the hospitality the not only functioned as a social glue—we all connect over meals—but also was keeping vulnerable members in the church alive.  The church could not have survived without this ministry and these mothers certainly must have had honored roles in this community. 
Think of the story of Dorcas, also known as Tabitha, in chapter nine.  Her ministry was making clothes. When Peter gets to Joppa, he is rushed first thing to Dorcas’ household where he finds a group of women who lived and worked with her holding up the garments she and the women of her household were making for the poor in their community.  This too is an act of hospitality.  Clothing protects the dignity of the vulnerable.  Yesterday, it was such a joy to watch the “mothers” of our faculty help those of us who are less inclined in straightening out ours and our students’ caps, and gowns, and hoods.  Yes, hospitality.  Later on in Acts, Paul has a vision of a Macedonian man calling him to come over to Europe and spread his ministry there.  But when he arrives in Philippi, who does he find but Lydia, a wealthy merchant from Thyatira?  Whose house do you think he stays in that night?  Time and again we find in Acts mothers and mother figures whose hospitality is vitally important to spreading the ministry of the church.   
            I could go on and on, but I guess what I want to call you to do, as we reflect on and honor our mothers, is to think about how and where you might be able to engage in a radical act of hospitality.  It doesn’t have to be big.  It is in small acts of kindness, the kinds of acts that our mothers do quietly, thanklessly, day in and day out that we find the best practice of hospitality.  These are the kinds of quiet, unrecognized acts that build community, one piece at a time.  Jean Vanier is quickly becoming one of my favorite writers.  He is the founder of the international L’Arche movement, a movement that creates intentional communities where people with mental disabilities live, work, and worship with those who are more abled.  I want to close this sermon with his words today, as I think it shows us that the practice of maternal hospitality is something we can all engage in. 
“A community is only being created when its members accept that they are not going to achieve great things, that they are not going to be heroes, but simply live each day with new hope, like children, in wonderment as the sun rises and in thanksgiving as it sets. Community is only being created when they have recognized that the greatness of a person is to accept insignificance, the human condition and the earth, and to thank God for having put in a finite body the seeds of eternity which are visible in small and daily gestures of love and forgiveness. The beauty of humanity is in this fidelity to the wonder of each day.” 

Are you ready to embrace community?  Are you ready to embrace acts of hospitality each day?  Are you ready to embrace the wonder of each day?