O Come O Come Emmanuel

A week or so ago, I was chatting with someone with whom I reflect on ministry from time to time. We were discussing the challenges that we’re likely to face this Christmas. After a pause he asked me “OK so if you strip everything back, what really needs to be done at Christmas?

I thought about it for a moment or two and said “Announce the Incarnation!” “Well”, he said, “What you need to do is to think about how you and your congregations can do that to the best of your abilities.

So I thought, how do we usually do that? We prepare to do it throughout Advent as we remember successively week by week The Patriarchs (and Matriarchs), The Prophets, John the Baptist and The Virgin Mary as we light our Advent Candles. We hold Advent study groups so that we can think more deeply about some particular aspect of our faith. We have a collection for the Food Bank.

As we get to the end of Advent, we decorate our Church buildings with flowers, greenery, Christmas tree etc. and then set up our cribs. We sing advent hymns and Christmas Carols and we have Carol Services and join in services held jointly with the other denominations. Then on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day we have joyous celebrations of the Incarnation itself and usually welcome a fair number of visitors to our services.

We do all these things and we celebrate in our homes with food and other good things.

The question is, “how many of those things can we do this year?” The answer my sisters and brothers is “most of them”. The principle exception is the singing, but as those of you have been able to celebrate the Eucharist with us over the past four months know, we’ve replaced hymns by humns and our organists have been wonderful in keeping the familiar tunes flowing whilst we humn along. We’ll of course also not be able to meet up with so many people but we can phone them.

This year as any other year, we can share the Good News of Christ coming into our world as a tiny defenceless baby to be Emmanuel – God with us.

This year we face many challenges but it is worth reflecting, as the Christmas story unfolds, on the enormous challenges that Mary and Joseph and their baby faced that first Christmas. And as we do so, let us offer up our prayers for all new parents and their babies, may God be with them all, every step of the way.

Incarnational Blessings

Sermon for Christ the King 2020

Matthew 25.31-46

Greeting to you on this The Feast of Christ the King (one of my favourite Sundays in the year) and incidentally the final Sunday in the annual church calendar – of course, we begin a new church year with Advent next week.

I’d like to begin my sermon this week by telling you a short story that you may have heard before.

An old woman was walking on the beach one morning after a storm. In the distance, she could see someone moving about a bit like a dancer. As she came closer, she saw that it was a young man picking up starfish and gently throwing them into the sea.

Young man, why are you throwing starfish into the sea?

The sun is up, and the tide is going out and if I do not throw them in they will die,” he said.

But young man, do you not realise that there are many miles of beach and thousands of starfish? You cannot possibly make a difference.

The young man listened politely, then picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea. “It made a difference for that one.

A short, but very poignant story and I will come back to it later.

One of the greatest temptations when exploring passages of scripture such as we have heard in our gospel this morning can be to either read it and be quick to pat ourselves on the back, or read it and be ashamed for all that we haven’t done.

I am hoping this morning to help us get to a softer place somewhere in the middle – maybe a little uncomfortable, but also a little comforted.

I think it’s really important to look at the passage we’ve heard today as a part of the whole of Matthew’s gospel. There are ‘bookend’ verses that I think we need to hold in our minds as we read much, if not all, of Matthew.

The first occurs near the beginning – Matthew 1:21-23.

“She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: ‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,’ which means ‘God is with us.’”

And at the other end – Matthew 28:18-20

“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’”

Those two verses frame everything else in Matthew. We are reminded of who Jesus is (Emmanuel, God with us) and what our call is (to make disciples).

Earlier this week I was contacted at school by a local resident asking if I knew of any families who would struggle to buy presents this Christmas – the resident’s intention to provide presents for parents and carers to give to their children. Several such families immediately sprang to mind but of course, it would not have been appropriate to tell the generous benefactor who they were, so I suggested that they might make their donations and allow us at the school to contact parents in a sensitive and confidential way, distributing gifts on the donors behalf.

I was really sad to hear in their response, the ‘charitable’ donor insist that they wanted to check which families donations were going to because and I quote – “there are some people in this village who are just cheating the system and are out for all they can get”.

Regretfully I had to decline our offer of assistance in this case.

As I reflected on the conversation I had had, what occurred to me was that in some way, as a society, we have come to a place where it is the ‘norm’ for those in need to have to prove that they are deserving of help. Whether it’s filling in a particular form or going through the indignity of baring all your financial comings and goings, spending habits and addictions.

I don’t doubt our desire to serve is genuine and have some sympathy with the view that we need to make sure the limited resources we have get to the right people. But, somewhere along the way, we decided that in order to be worthy of our love and help, those in need have to look a certain way, act a certain way, live a certain way, or even speak a certain language.

How can that person be poor?” we ask, “He has an iPhone.”

Or “If things are really tight at her house, maybe she should sell that Radley handbag she carries.

Maybe you’ve heard “All (fill in the blank here) are just free-loaders”. All refugees – All BAME people – All teenage mums – All whatever…

I can’t ever remember reading anything in the Bible that God calls us to serve others, as long as they look poor. Or act poor. Or publically display their infirmity or disability.

Our call is to serve others, end of story. No stipulations. No catches. So for us to dare to ask Christ “when was it that we saw you…” means that we just aren’t paying attention. Plain and simple. Because if we believe that Jesus Christ, God incarnate, really is God with us, then that means God is in every face of every human being, no matter what their ‘label’ is. We may be too busy looking for a King to serve, that we miss the realisation that our King is in the face of the pauper.

At the beginning of this sermon I shared a story about starfish and the reason for that is because when Christ calls us to serve the world, it can seem overwhelming. The need is so great. We may look around and not even know how or where to get started. But we shouldn’t forget that while yes of course, the world needs saving, we are not the ones to do it. We are not the saviours of the world (We already have one of those in Jesus Christ), but we can make a difference to one or two in the world.

To be part of a community, to be seen as human, is the first step in assuring that we are all afforded human dignity. The human and the divine in me desires to see the human and the divine in you. And the human and divine in me desires to be seen as well. We have all been in a place where we’ve been the ones providing care and we’ve also been the ones in need of care.

Christ the King calls us to care for what He calls “the least of these.” We are called to care for those who live on the margins of society, who are forgotten, who have lost all hope. And we are called to do it because if we are all made in the image of the divine, then we are caring for God when we care for each other.

We need to see our fellow human beings not as problems to be solved, but as opportunities to serve the divine.

Imagine what the world might look like if we started to ignore the labels and instead paid attention to the people.

Look past the labels. Look past left, right, black, white, native, refugee married, single, gay, straight, educated, undereducated, whatever…and instead look into the eyes of a fellow human to see the divine. And my friends, allow yourself to be vulnerable enough for others to see the divine in you.

Of course, this isn’t easy work, but if we’re serious about making disciples, which is what Christ calls us to do, then it starts by seeing everyone as an equal. Our gospel reading this morning evens the playing field. We are all sheep. We are all goats. We all need to be cared for. We have all done the caring. We are all hungry, thirsty, a stranger, naked, sick, and a prisoner. And all of us need a saviour. We cannot save ourselves.

In this Eucharist, at this altar, we meet that saviour – Christ the King.

But the thing is he looks nothing like a king. He looks nothing like royalty. Instead, he looks like the man sat on the street in Inverness with the cardboard sign asking for money. He looks like the woman in the Council Service Point for the third time this week trying to get her benefits sorted out. He looks like the refugee illegally working, sending 90% of his money back home so his family can have a better life.

Christ looks like those across the world who are falsely accused sitting behind bars waiting for justice. Christ looks like those that have been shamed. Christ looks like those who have been told time and time again “you don’t matter.” All it takes is one person to say “You matter to me. You matter to God, and you matter to me.” In this Eucharist, we are reminded that we all matter. Our status here on earth is not important, in God’s kingdom, we matter. In God’s kingdom, we are all royalty.

May God Bless you and all those you love this coming week.

Fr Simon

Sermon for Pentecost 24 (Sunday 15th November 2020)

Zeph 1:7, 12-18; Ps 90:1-12; 1 Thess 5:1-11; Matthew 25:14-30

The US Congress is scheduled to certify the electoral result on 6th January. So is that the day of judgement then! In writing to his community in Thessalonica, Paul’s preparing them for the Day of Judgement.

Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. When they say, ‘There is peace and security,’ then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labour pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape!

1 Thessalonians 5:1-3

No one knows exactly when it’ll be, but it should be quite soon. That bit about the pregnant woman does rather resonate with us this week. On Tuesday Anna and I became grandparents for the first time when Alanna was born to Tracey and Andrew and coincidently on the same day my niece Hannah produced Henry, her third boy. Both were a little ahead of their predicted time.

But where were we, oh yes we were talking about the Day of Judgement. Unlike the US election, the timescale is rather uncertain, “we know not the hour nor the day”. Paul finishes his letter the same way he started it with – faith, love, and hope.

Put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation”.

1 Thessalonians 5:8

At the beginning of the letter he talks about:

your work of faith and labour of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ”.

1 Thessalonians 1:3

Faith, love, and hope he sees as the marks of the community of faith, whilst preparing for God’s Judgement.

The parable of the talents is among the most abused texts in the New Testament. Contrary to what you might hear if you tuned in to the God channel on the TV, this parable isn’t a justification of economic success. It isn’t part of a prosperity gospel that says you’ll become wealthy and successful if you’re a good Christian and poor or unsuccessful if you’re a lousy one.

Yes there are tele-evangelists who’ll tell you that, and also add that by sending them money you’ll be doing God’s will and get a first class ticket to heaven. Now who thought that the paid-for indulgences to offset future sins, popular in the middle ages, were a thing of the past. No, this passage challenges believers to emulate Jesus by using all that God’s given them, for the sake of His Kingdom, not to line the pockets of preachers.

The main point of the story is faithfulness towards the absent master who’ll one day return, but the servants know neither the hour nor the day. On his return, the master will want an account of how his business has been conducted in his absence. Remember that this is a story that Jesus told. The master’s apparent willingness to earn money at the expense of others challenges any interpretation that equates him, in an allegorical sense, with Jesus, who never acts for personal gain, but a wealthy man acting like this does give the story topicality. You know the “I don’t pay taxes because I’m really smart” type of person!

The first two servants do their master’s business in exemplary fashion, taking what’s been entrusted to them and putting it to good work. When the master returns, these two are found to have been faithful, and they’re rewarded. Their efforts have increased the master’s wealth and built up his kingdom. The third servant however is afraid to make use of what he’s been given. To protect himself, he’s hidden it away. Although this may seem odd, in Jesus time burying treasure was the safe option for things of value, so long as you remembered where you’d buried.

The master’s furious. He’s entrusted part of his business to this servant to put it to good use. But he’s played safe, afraid to take any risks, even though being courageous and prepared to take risks is an inherent part of his master’s business. Instead, he looks to his own interests, neglecting his master’s. In the end it costs him a heavy price. “thrown into outer darkness, where there’s weeping and gnashing of teeth.

The target of this story is the pharisees who’ve been entrusted with the Torah and the oral law handed down from God via Moses on Mount Sinai through their predecessors. They’ve preserved it by hiding it away where ordinary people can’t get access to it. They haven’t lived up to their responsibilities. You see they liked their religion just as it was, with them in control and they didn’t want any change and they didn’t want to take any risks. They’re the faithless servants, who’s prized possession, the law, will be taken from them and they’ll find themselves far away from God and the Kingdom of Heaven in outer darkness, etc.

Jesus tells this story to his disciples to prepare them for the days ahead when he’ll no longer be with them in person and their faith will be severely tested. The parable is to help them to see how to be faithful whilst they wait for the return of their Lord. So what does faithfulness look like in a time of waiting? In Matthew’s Gospel faithfulness is like Jesus announcing the arrival of God’s kingdom by feeding the hungry, curing the sick, blessing the meek, and serving the least. All this involves risk, but it’s these things that bring rewards in God’s Kingdom.

Everyone who wants to follow Jesus is to preach the Good News of the kingdom by doing the work that the master’s set them to do. This work includes visiting the sick and imprisoned, clothing the naked, welcoming the stranger, and feeding the hungry. Those who are found faithful will hear their Master say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.

The trouble is that none of us knows the hour or the day when the Master will call us to account and reckon up how we’ve done in carrying out his business. It’s so easy to put off for another day visiting the sick and imprisoned, clothing the naked, welcoming the stranger, and feeding the hungry, but none of us can be sure that we’ll have another day to do these things and we could be left clinging to an empty shell of religiosity, going through the motions, a bit like that third servant who wouldn’t take any risks. The consequence might be that on the Dat of Judgement there will be a wailing and gnashing of teeth and that doesn’t sound very pleasant does it?

Paul’s letter suggests that as much as faith, love, and hope are important characteristics of a Christian community, so is encouragement. This strengthening of the community in Christ through encouragement is, for Paul, evidence of holiness of life. Holiness isn’t an individual thing, but a daily practice of building up the people around us, no matter who they are or whether they’re like we think they should be.

Thomas Merton wrote:

It is both dangerous and easy to hate man as he is because he’s not what he ought to be. If we don’t first respect what he is we’ll never suffer him to become what he ought to be: in our impatience we do away with him altogether.

Thomas Merton

In times of anxiety and uncertainty as Christians we can’t go it alone, nor should we try. We’re all responsible for one another in encouraging and building up the faith, love, and hope of others. We need each others’ support in being Christian, all of us without exception.


We will remember them

They shall grow not old,
as we that are left grow old;
age shall not weary them,
nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.
We will remember them.

Dornoch War Memorial

The Suffering God

Not to the work of sordid selfish saving
Of our own souls to dwell with Him on high,
But to the soldier’s splendid selfless braving,
Eager to fight for Righteousness and die.

Peace does not mean the end of all our striving,
Joy does not mean the drying of our tears;
Peace is the power that comes to souls arriving
Up to the light where God Himself appears.

Joy is the wine that God is ever pouring
Into the hearts of those who strive with Him,
Light’ning their eyes to vision and adoring,
Strength’ning their arms to warfare glad and grim.

So would I live and not in idle resting,
Stupid as swine that wallow in the mire;
Fain would I fight, and be for ever breasting
Danger and death for ever under fire.

Bread of Thy Body give me for my fighting,
Give me to drink Thy Sacred Blood for wine,
While there are wrongs that need me for the righting,
While there is warfare splendid and divine.

Give me, for light, the sunshine of Thy sorrow,
Give me, for shelter, shadow of Thy Cross;
Give me to share the glory of Thy morrow,
Gone from my heart the bitterness of Loss.

Part of “The Suffering God” by Geoffrey Anketell Studdert Kennedy (otherwise known as Woodbine Willie)

We Rejoice that they have lived

The weather has definitely announced the start of Autumn in the last week or so, and we are now entering the last few weeks of the Church year, with the Season of Remembrance. There are three key days in this season, each one quite special but with a different focus.

On All Saints’ day this Sunday (1st November) we remember all those Christian people who have gone before us and shaped our understanding of what it means to live a Christian life and our approach to faith, worship and prayer. As part of that we should remember all those who have influenced our own journeys’ of faith, those who have guided and taught us, those who have nurtured us and those who have encouraged us when we were struggling with grief, doubt and disappointment. Our Services in St Finnbarr’s, St Andrew’s and St Columba’s will focus on the Saints this Sunday and we will have the opportunity to hum some well known tunes and we celebrate the Saints.

Grant us your light, O Lord,
so that the darkness of our hearts may wholly pass away,
and we may come at last to the light of Christ.
For Christ is the morning star,
who when the night of this world is passed,
brings to His saints the promised light of life,
and opens to them everlasting day. Amen.

On All Souls’ day, this Monday (2nd November) we remember those that we love but see no more, our parents and grand-parents, siblings and other family members, our friends and all those that we have held dear. As we remember, we give thanks for all that they have meant to us and for the specific ways that they have touched our lives and our lives have been formed and enriched by them. Traditionally a list of those that we love but see no more is read at a special Requiem on All Souls day and Simon and I will be reading lists of names at services in Tain and Brora on Monday. We have lists from previous years for all the Churches in the DLBTT group, but in you wish to add any additional names please let me know as soon as possible.

God our redeemer,
you know the secrets of our hearts.
You bear our pain and our anger.
You bear our tears and our loneliness.
You bear the questions that have no answers.
Comfort us and come close to us
whether or not we call you by name.
And in the darkest places give us hope and love. Amen.

On Remembrance Day (11th November) and/or Remembrance Sunday (this year on 8th November) we remember and give thanks for the lives of those who have died in the service of their country and all those who have served their county and suffered life-changing effects as a result. Usually, there are well attended Services at War Memorials up and down the country, but this year such gatherings will not be taking place in that form, but we can still mark this day. We will hold Acts of Remembrance in St Finnbarr’s, St Andrew’s and St Columba’s as part of our usual Sunday Services. Perhaps we should also light candles in our windows as we reflect on all that war means and why we need to work to reduce conflict so that war will not claim the lives of so many in future.

Almighty God,
from whom all thoughts of truth and peace proceed:
kindle, we pray, in the hearts of all, the true love of peace
and guide with your pure and peaceable wisdom
those who take counsel for the nations of the earth
that in tranquillity your kingdom may go forward,
till the earth is filled with the knowledge of your love;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord. Amen.


The Butterfly effect

The current Sunday evening drama on BBC1 called “Us” is about a couple who have arrived at that stage in life when their son is about to go to University and they are wondering about their future together. Douglas (the husband) has organised a ‘Grand Tour’ of Europe for the three of them … and then Connie (his wife) tells him that she wants to leave him. Douglas plans every aspect of what he does with meticulous precision and Connie leaving is definitely not part of his plan.

It set me reflecting on just how much control we have in our lives. Whatever the answer was at the beginning of the year, for most of us it has decreased in the last six months and for those who had the least control before the pandemic it has probably decreased the most.

Much of the time, what we see as our freedom to control what happens in our lives is illusory. We can, like Douglas, make plans but any plans that we make are only provisional, just ask anyone who’s tried to organise a holiday abroad this summer. Weather, illness, company failures, unemployment and so many other things can interrupt he ‘smooth running’ of our lives and throw our plans into disarray. “Us” was written and made before the pandemic, but given Douglas’s reaction to setbacks, I can only imagine how the present COVID-19 outbreak would have affected him, as his carefully laid plans crumbled before his eyes.

Not having complete control over our lives, doesn’t mean that there’s no point in having plans, just that we have to be prepared to accept that changes will likely be required. Everyone experiences twists and turns in their life, from everyday challenges to traumatic events with lasting impact, like the death of a loved one, a life-altering accident, or a serious illness. Each change affects people differently, bringing with it a unique mix of thoughts, emotions and uncertainty.

Adversities like these are sadly part of life and trying to live our lives in the illusion that we can control all aspects of our existence, only leads to pain and anxiety. However we shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking that what we do doesn’t have any effect on the lives of others. For instance my failure to take appropriate steps to limit the spread of COVID could quickly result in the spread of infection to people that I come into contact with and move from one end of the country to the other very fast. On the way, it could well have serious and lasting consequences for many people who I’ve never even met.

The smallest of actions can ultimately have huge consequences. This idea is sometimes known as the “butterfly effect”, after the American mathematician Edward Lorenz who suggested that the flap of a butterfly’s wings in the Amazon might ultimately cause a tornado in Texas. A bit far-fetched perhaps, but Lorenz’s illustration helped him explain why forecasting the future is so difficult.

In the Bible we meet many groups of people who face adversities of all kinds and who come through by placing their faith in a loving God. For instance, in trying to encourage the people of Israel in exile in Babylon, the prophet Isaiah writes:

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

We may not know what lies ahead but we can all be strengthened and supported by each other and by God.

Cycles of Life

photo by JRP

Le Quattro Volte” is an idiosyncratic film by Michelangelo Frammartino. It lasts for an hour and a half, following cycles of life in the hills of Calabria. In four chapters the film successively chronicles a year in the life of an old man, a young goat, a tree and a batch of charcoal. There’s no dialogue, you do hear murmurs of human speech, but they’re unintelligible and there are no subtitles. There’s also the barking of a dog, the bleating of goats and clanging of their bells and the wind sighing in the branches of the gigantic pine that’s felled for a village celebration.

Perhaps watching such a film doesn’t sound like a particularly entertaining way to spend 90 minutes, but when I saw it in 2011, I found it captivating. In the same way I found watching a small cluster of fly agarics (Amanita muscaria) last week. They emerged, looking for all the world like iconic toadstools in a Walt Disney cartoon, but by the following day they looked more like plates, then like shallow bowls, after which they fell over and started to disintegrate.

They say that the one certainty in life is change and, as in both the film and the toadstools, change often occurs in cycles. The cycles may be over years, months, weeks or days, but there’s an inevitability to them, whatever the cycle length. Most of us find change unsettling, even when it is part of what one might call gentle cycles, as illustrated in my examples.

However over the last seven months we have had a great deal of a much more disruptive change thrust upon us. One of the more difficult aspects of change is the grief that we feel for what has been taken away. We recognise grief when someone that we love dies or suffers from a life-changing accident or disease. We may also recognise grief when we lose something that has been a familiar part of our life, or that hold precious memories for us. But we may also grieve for our way of life, the things that we are used to doing, the people that we are used to meeting or gathering with.

Grieving isn’t a well defined process with clearly delineated stages as is often written about in self-help books. Grief is individual and if there are stages, one may bounce backwards and forwards dealing with denial, isolation, anger, bargaining, depression before accommodating and accepting a ‘new normal’.

Over the past few months, I have found the cycles of nature very helpful in adapting to the changes that have happened and that may be what appealed to me about “Le Quattro Volte”. I have also found the psalms to be of great comfort, because the psalmist frequently found change and the circumstances in which he found himself troubling and God was always there at his side to comfort him.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff—
they comfort me.


Rewilding the Church

I have been sent a book for review entitled “Rewilding the Church”. In it Steve Aisthorpe sees the Church as having slipped out of kilter with its head – Jesus. He uses the metaphor of the rewilding used to restore a balance between nature and its environment, to suggest the corrective that we need to get back on track. He writes: “The New Testament’s vision of Church is not a herd of people with common beliefs or shared behaviours. Rather, it is a community centred on Jesus [which] draws them together in a shared quest of Christward transformation.

The last six months have had a profound effect on all our lives. Gone are a lot of the certainties that we’ve come to rely on. One of those certainties was that there would be services of worship, according to a regular pattern, in eight locations around Sutherland and Tain.

For much of that time, there’ve been no services and, even though there has been a resumption in Dornoch and Tain and also three church buildings open for Individual Prayer, there are a number of places where we can’t yet meet and people who for many reasons can’t be present even though they would like to be.

We’ve all spent much of more time on our own with God these last few months and the gatherings online, the broadcast services and now the hygienic, distanced and masked services aren’t the same as the familiar experiences we were used to and it can all seem very strange indeed.

Increasingly in our society, there are people who used to go to church who now describe themselves as Christians who do not go to church. What does our experience of the last six months say about such a position? Have we not all been Christians who do not go to church? Overwhelmingly the people that I talk to in our congregations speak about missing the fellowship of worshipping and praying together. They’ve come to realise just how important community is in being followers of Jesus. We seem to be very keen to get back to meeting up for prayer and praise, rather than only engaging with God on our own. Far from being the end of the Church, lockdown seems to have made us all appreciate the time that we spend together as the Body of Christ, the Community of Faith.

The balance between being with God on our own and being together with God is described by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, always the one to express things neatly in just a few words: “Let him [or her] who cannot be alone beware of community … Let him [or her] who is not in community beware of being alone.

Steve Aisthorpe concludes that “Rewilding the Church is not about implementing our best ideas with unusual passion; it requires stopping or slowing down, a conscious setting aside of preconceptions and a determination to discern what God is doing and our role in that.” Now is probably an ideal time to do just that.


The Transfiguration of Our Lord

Almighty and everlasting God,

who revealed the glory of your beloved Son

when he was transfigured on the holy mountain:

mercifully grant us such a vision of his divine majesty,

that, being purified and strengthened by your grace,

we may be transformed into his likeness, from glory to glory;

through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, world without end.  Amen.