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Friday, January 31, 2020

Anyone

     In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.  
-Romans 8:26-27 (NIV)



Demi Lovato performed her song "Anyone" at the Grammys on Sunday. Lovato has been forthcoming about her struggles with addiction and depression, and the lyrics of the song speak to the isolation she’s clearly felt: 
I feel stupid when I sing
Nobody's listening to me
Nobody's listening
I talk to shooting stars
But they always get it wrong
I feel stupid when I pray
So, why am I praying anyway?
If nobody's listening     
Anyone, please send me anyone
Lord, is there anyone?
I need someone…
     Lovato isn’t the only one who’s felt alone. But the nature of feeling alone is that you do feel like you’re the only one. You need someone. Anyone. But there’s nobody.
     We can feel alone in the middle of crowds. We can feel alone while wrapped up in frenetic activity. Lovato proves that we can feel alone when millions hang on every word we sing or speak or write. We can feel alone in comfortable homes, with families who love us. 
     Lovato’s song resonates, I think, because human beings need to know that someone is listening to them.
     Without that, we feel isolated.
     Even when we pray.
     See, here’s what we might not understand sometimes: If you don’t feel like the people around you hear you, then you’re not going to feel like God does either. Sure, I could tell you that God’s listening, even when no one else is. I’d be right if I told you that. But it’s awfully hard to believe that God hears from heaven when the people you share a life, an office, a school, a church, a home, even a bed with don’t seem to. It’s hard to imagine the Creator of the universe wants to listen to you if you don’t think the people closest to you do.
     For that reason, those of us who claim that God hears us, whoever we are, should be the world’s best listeners. We need to do a better job of hearing those around us, and of showing them that we’re willing to go below the surface pleasantries that some feel like they never get beyond.
     The climate in which we live discourages us from listening. We’re told that needing to be heard is weakness, that those like Lovato who plead for someone, anyone, to listen to them are “snowflakes” who aren’t tough enough for the real world. But all of us need someone to really hear us, even those of us who are ashamed of it.
     We’re also conditioned to ignore those who disagree with us. The default in our world is to shut out contrary voices from our dinner tables, friendship circles, churches, social media, and political discourse. We too often develop opinions on privilege, racism, poverty, immigration, health care, or a host of other issues without ever listening to someone whose experience of those things has been different from our own. Instead of listening, we create echo chambers for ourselves that reflect our own voices back to us. 
     But James reminds us that believers in Jesus “should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” Our society teaches us pretty much the opposite: Use the time someone else is talking to formulate your rebuttal. Get angry when they don’t agree with you. Cut them out of your discourse. But James goes on to connect the inability to hear each other with the inability to hear God. Those habits by which we build our echo chambers also make God’s voice sound suspiciously like our own.
     Jesus never shut out others’ voices. Part of his incarnation is that he hears us. Bartimaeus, the Canaanite woman — their cries for help embarrassed Jesus’ followers, but not Jesus. He heard them. Jesus listens, without anger, without judgment, and without fail. When we needed someone, anyone, to listen, God sent him. 
     May his followers listen, too. May we listen to people who are different from us, people we don’t understand, even people whose lifestyles and choices we can’t condone. After all, when we’re honest we have to admit that people following Jesus can’t condone all of our choices, either! Right? And aren’t we glad that Jesus hears us even then?    
     I need to say something else, though. If you’re feeling that no one’s listening, I do need to tell you that God is. If you can identify with Lovato’s lament that she feels stupid when she prays, if you wonder with her just why in the world you should pray anyway, then you need to know that God is listening. Whether it feels that way to you or not, God is listening.
     This is one of the places where our postmodern belief that feelings equal truth fails us. Feelings affect what we perceive to be true, that’s correct. But feeling that the ice on a frozen pond will hold your weight doesn’t necessarily mean that it will. Feeling that your new crush is the one you’ll be with forever doesn’t preclude the possibility that one day he or she may not feel the same way. And feeling that God isn’t listening doesn’t mean that it’s true. We can’t always be led by our feelings. There have to be some things that we know are true, no matter what our feelings tell us.
     So if you feel stupid when you pray, then pray anyway. 
     Paul tells us in Romans that God is at work when we pray. No, we don’t know what to pray for. We don’t know what to say. We aren’t sure it does any good, sometimes. But when a believer prays, God’s Spirit acts. God himself, in his Spirit, takes our confused ramblings and incoherent groaning and creates from them beautiful prayers from our hearts to God’s. God listens to our prayers because he wants to. He works at listening to our prayers. Whether it feels that way to you or not, trust that he hears.
     And be the Anyone he sends to hear someone else.  

Friday, January 24, 2020

Clean Out Service

     Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.  
-1 Timothy 5:1-2 (NIV)


A couple of days this week, I’ve seen some trucks from a clean-out service at the house across the street from the church. The guy who lived there died a couple of months ago, and I guess his children are getting ready to sell the house. 
     First, though, someone has to clear everything out. Hence the trucks, and crews carrying out a lifetime’s worth of stuff.
     He lived there already when I started at the church and moved into the neighborhood almost 26 years ago. He must have been there over 50 years. He and his wife raised a son and a daughter there. A few truckloads of stuff later, and you’d never know he lived in the house at all. Someone else will move in, eventually, and then in a few more years no one who knew him will be in the neighborhood anymore. Seems sad, though I guess it’s only inevitable, the natural consequence of advancing years. James said it well: “You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” Few of our houses will be remembered as our houses for very long after we’ve stopped occupying them.
     Sometimes, though, our culture’s fixation on young and new unduly influences us to hurry the previous occupants out the door.
      That’s what seems to be happening in a church in Minnesota.
     The church, though it’s been shrinking in size and increasing in age for some time now, has a loyal core group of members who have been keeping things going in the absence of a pastor. Recently, though, a new pastor has come in with a turnaround plan. Actually, it seems more like euthanasia. Someone — the pastor, the denomination, or both — decided the most efficient thing to do would be to close the church, make some renovations to the building, and then reopen as a brand new church. Drastic, sure, but OK.
     Here’s the problem, though: The existing members — almost all of them in their 60s or older — would be moved to another church. Then, when their church reopened (as a “new” church), they would be encouraged to “talk to the pastor” about coming back, provided they were on the same page with the new church’s leaders about vision, direction, and so forth. It was suggested that they should wait 15-18 months after the church reopens to connect with the pastor about returning.
     So, to sum up: The decision has been made — independent of the core group of members who have kept a small, struggling church alive and witnessing to the gospel in their community — to shut their church down and reopen it later in the year as a new church. And, a year and a half or so after they reopen, that core group can interview with the pastor and apply for readmission.
     Maybe the pastor himself can explain it: “It’s a new thing with a new mission for a new target and a new culture.” No, guess not. But at least he said “new” a lot.
     Maybe a denominational official can make this all sound better: “We are asking them to let this happen. For this to be truly new, we can’t have the core group of 30 people. The members of the church have other options.” No, that doesn’t help either. But, again, at least he referenced how “new” it was all going to be.
     Look, I get that leading churches can involve difficult choices. I get that sometimes folks can get too wound up in the way things have always been done in a church to allow for needed changes. I get, too, that there are reasons to be concerned about young adults leaving churches. That’s a trend that’s easily observable across all denominations, fellowships, tribes, and flavors. It’s such a worry, in fact, that I could go to Amazon right now and browse title after title of books about bringing young adults back into the church. 
     Do you know what I see a lot less of? Concern about how churches can minister to the older people in their pews. Most churches, I think, are growing older, and I frankly don’t hear much about how we can best minister to folks with increasing health problems, or who are burying their spouses, or who are trying to figure out who they are after they’ve retired, or who don’t have the energy or the mobility they once did.  
      All I hear is how to be the kind of church that young people will want to attend.
     Are we expending so much of our energy and resources chasing our world’s infatuation with “young” and “new” that we don’t have anything left over for our older members who have kept us alive for decades?
     I’m not even sure that chasing young and new is getting us where we want to be anyway. My son, a college student, attends a chapel service every week with a couple hundred students who just get together and sing hymns. On purpose. They could sing Chris Tomlin or Hillsong or whoever if they wanted to. They choose hymns, instead. “Don’t let anyone tell you that people my age don’t like to sing hymns,” he says. 
     But it doesn’t have to be one or the other, does it? There’s room in our churches, isn’t there, for trying to connect with younger people while at the same time making time and room to love and serve those who are older? If we reach one generation at the expense of another — whichever way our preference goes — haven’t we already failed? Are we really supposed to believe that the church should be generationally exclusive? That the gospel doesn’t have something to say to people in their youth as well as those in the twilight of their lives?
     Has our world’s single-minded pursuit of youth and novelty so damaged us that we can’t even imagine a community in which four or five generations can serve the Lord, and each other, and their community together? 
     I mean, of course we all prefer and gravitate to people most like us — including in age. But should we be content with that? I think not.
     Listen: if nothing about your church has changed in twenty years, something’s off. Churches always have to change, like everything else in this impermanent, changing world. The world to come is the permanent one.
     But change doesn’t have to — and shouldn’t — mean leaving behind brothers and sisters, or mothers and fathers as Paul might say. It’s still their house, too. Let’s be in no hurry to move their stuff out. 
     It’s no great trick to create something new after you’ve gotten rid of the old.
     Creating something beautiful, full of love, and fit for the kingdom out of treasures new and old? That’s God’s work. And that’s what I want to be a part of.

      

Friday, January 17, 2020

Sufficient

     You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.  
-Matthew 5:38-42 (NIV)


I noticed this week that a large, private Christian university had launched a “think tank” to, in their words, “equip courageous champions to proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ, to advance his kingdom and American freedom.” (I don’t really want to name the university or link to them, but if you’re interested you should be able to find them easily enough.)
     I guess I’m generally pretty suspicious of “think tanks”; I tend to think that they mainly serve as convenient tanks for charitable money, with vague enough missions that they don’t much have to account for it. I’m definitely for proclaiming the truth of Jesus Christ, though, and for advancing his kingdom. I’m certainly appreciative of American freedom as well, though I get a little jittery when those things are clumped too closely together. I think too much can get compromised, and usually the compromise doesn’t come in the “American freedom” part of mission statements like this one. 
     To be specific, I think when we link the truth of Jesus, the advance of his kingdom, and a (any) specific view of America, we can too painlessly and easily equate the America of our mind’s eye with the work of Jesus in the world. When that happens, the truth of Jesus tends to become whatever American ideology might be driving us. The advance of the Kingdom gets confused with the advance of a conservative or liberal or more inclusive or more exclusive or more religious or less religious America. We tend to get less involved with, I don’t know, living the way Jesus taught us as we get more concerned with Presidents and congresspeople and Supreme Court Justices and political power. 
     But the truth of Jesus and the advance of his kingdom doesn’t necessarily have much to do with American freedom, however we conceive of it. 
     You know that’s true. There are people right now in some of the most oppressive, repressive, dictatorial regimes in the world who are living by the truth of Jesus and working for the advance of his kingdom. They would love to live with the most eroded version of American freedom that you and I can imagine in our worst nightmares, but they are experiencing the blessings of God in Christ — and blessing their world — right where they are.
     A quick question: in which democracy did Jesus live? The early church?
     In fact, concern with American freedom — however you conceive of it — sometimes makes it difficult to live out the truth of Jesus in our lives. If you doubt that, then take a look at this line from the mission statement of the “think tank” I referenced earlier:   
Bemoaning the rise of leftism is no longer enough, and turning the other cheek in our personal relationships with our neighbors as Jesus taught while abdicating our responsibilities on the cultural battlefield is no longer sufficient. There is too much at stake in the battle for the soul of our nation. Bold, unapologetic action and initiative is needed…
     So, correct me if I’m wrong, but this group of thinkers from a Christian university is so committed to “the truth of Jesus” and “the advance of his kingdom” that they explicitly believe that they shouldn’t follow one of Jesus’ direct commands. According to them, what Jesus taught is no longer sufficient. We have “responsibilities on the cultural battlefield” — fighting “the rise of leftism,” apparently — that outweigh our responsibility to follow the teachings of Jesus.
     Well, I’m not part of a think tank — I can barely think — but could I just ask a crazy question? Who says we have responsibilities in any culture war at all? Has the American church been drafted, and I didn’t get the letter? Can I just sit this one out? Can I be a conscientious objector in these vague “culture wars”?    
     The problem with this think tank is that they’re conflating being a Christian with “defending American ideals and Judeo-Christian values.” Leaving aside the fact that they’re defending a very specific subset of those ideals and values they say they champion, I don’t see Jesus telling the Zealots to rise up against the Romans — in fact, if anything he seems to say the opposite. That thing about turning the other cheek: that wasn’t only about personal relationships. Jesus followed that up by telling folks who found themselves coerced to “go one mile” to “go with them two” — probably alluding to the practice of Roman soldiers forcing local residents to work for them, carry their burdens, use their animals, and so forth. 
     Point is, Jesus had the chance to tell his followers to defend Israelite ideals and values. He told them that their responsibilities on the cultural battlefield of Roman-occupied Palestine consisted of not resisting an evil person, giving to the one who asked something of them, loving their enemies as well as their neighbor, and praying for those who persecuted them.   
     What Jesus taught is sufficient. 
     It’s sufficient to prioritize being reconciled to those who have something against us. That matters even more than the personal observation of our own religion.
     It’s sufficient to settle disputes with others quickly, instead of letting them develop into long, ugly court cases.
     It’s sufficient to guard our hearts against adultery by showing discipline about where we look, and how, and at whom.
     It’s sufficient to be people who can be trusted, known for meaning it when we say yes or no, whether to our spouses, in personal relationships, or in public settings.
     It’s sufficient to let God’s love for all people — the evil and the good, the righteous and the unrighteous — be the model for our love for those around us, whether they’re people who are like us and who we understand, or people so different that understanding seems impossible. It’s sufficient to show the love of God to every person, not just by what we say, but by what we do. 
     It’s sufficient to give to Caesar what belongs to him, but never anything that rightfully belongs to God.
     What Jesus taught is always sufficient, and may his church always be known less for our political opinions and more for the way we radically follow the One who gave himself for all people. That’s how we advance his kingdom. 
     The only culture war he ever fought, he fought from a cross. 

     May we carry our own crosses and follow him by giving ourselves in love for others. That is sufficient.   

Friday, January 10, 2020

"Loving...Stubborn...Conservative"

     Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that…you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. 
-1 Timothy 3:14-15 (NIV)


Someone sent me a job posting for a minister a couple of weeks ago. No, I’m not looking, but this person thought I might get a kick out of this one. 
     It’s amazing sometimes to see what churches are looking for when they’re in a search. Some of the posts I’ve seen — well, I don’t think Jesus himself, Paul, and all of the twelve apostles together would be qualified to fill some of those positions.  
     This post wasn’t like that, though. This one wasn’t too unreasonable as to qualifications. They wanted him to be hard-working and “special.” The first ought to be expected. The second? Well, I imagine they have an idea of what “special” means, developed from years of positive and negative experiences with ministers. 
     What really caught my eye in this case, actually, was the way the church described themselves: “Loving but stubborn and conservative.”
     I like their honesty, I’ll give them that. 
     Most churches are. “Loving but stubborn and conservative,” I mean.
     Most churches, the vast majority, know that for Christians love is probably the most important value, and that if you miss on love not much else matters — sounding gong and clanging cymbal, and all that. Most churches consider themselves loving. And in most churches, if you ask the people who have been around a long time if they feel loved by their church, they’ll definitely say they do. Of course so. If not, why would they have been around so long?
     In a lot of churches, though —  maybe most? — the people who haven’t been around so long might not answer in the affirmative. Ditto for the folks who are maybe a little different, who don’t quite fit in with others at church so easily. Those who don’t show up for all the services don’t always feel too loved, and it’s easy for elders and ministers and others who lead the church to dismiss that as their fault. “If they’d show up more, they’d feel more loved.” That might be, but it might also make someone wonder why they ought to put themselves out there if they can’t quite reach the attendance threshold required for full inclusion.
     I think most churches know the value of love. I think most are trying to show love. It’s usually in the execution of it that something goes wrong, at least for some folks. Maybe it gets shoved into the background, behind all the worship services, ministry, and evangelism we’re trying to do. Let’s be sure that we don’t overlook love. Otherwise, our churches will be places filled with noise and activity, but nothing of real lasting value. It’s love, after all, that makes what we do profitable.
     In addition to being loving, most churches are stubborn. I’m not really talking about individuals here, though there are some stubborn individuals in most churches. What I’m saying is that churches are stubborn collectively. Churches are hard to move. Their rudders are more than a little sluggish. They aren’t capable of — nor interested in — quick course corrections. 
     Speaking as a minister, I can tell you that a lot of us wouldn’t want to go to a church that characterized themselves as “stubborn.” That’s because most of us start off, at least, thinking our ideas are the best ones, our plans are the ones that will help the church grow, and that our vision should be the one to lead the church forward. 
     God save us from ministers with plans and vision.
     I’m kidding, but only a little.
     Whether or not a church being stubborn or not is a good thing or a bad thing depends, as it does with individuals, on what they’re stubborn about. There are words for people who think they’ve discovered something truly new about Christianity — heretic, apostate. I don’t mean, of course, that sometimes things can’t be forgotten and rediscovered. That rediscovery is a necessary part of the life of the church, and the Spirit uses it from time to time — probably constantly — to renew and revive the church. But there are things about which the church has to be stubborn or we lose our identity and our purpose. Paul refers to the church in First Timothy as “the pillar and foundation (or bulwark) of the truth.” He expected that we will stubbornly hold to a standard of conduct that will support and defend the truth of Jesus’ coming.
     Of course, that stubbornness won’t always stay in its lane, will it? Once you’ve started being stubborn about some things, it can be really easy and feel really good to be stubborn about everything. 
     Most churches are conservative. Not politically or theologically conservative, of course — there are churches all over the spectrum there. One definition of “conservative” is “holding to traditional attitudes and values and cautious about change or innovation,” and that describes the mindset of most churches. We do what we’ve always done for a reason, and if we’re going to change there ought to be a really good reason.  
     That sounds right, but there’s an assumption there: that things should never change unless there’s compelling evidence what we try will be better. That’s an impossible standard. It doesn’t allow much room for experimentation. It doesn’t leave space to try something new, just to see if it’s better or more effective or more helpful or even more biblical than the way things have always been. 
     When that conservatism and stubbornness is applied — as if often is — to the way a church understands Scripture, then it’s very easy for conservatism to take on the sheen of orthodoxy, of “sound doctrine.” We do things the way we’ve always done them because “the Bible clearly says….” We lose sight of the fact that our forebears may have built their biblical case to match the practices and values we have adopted, and not the other way around. We should ask ourselves sometimes if we do what we do because the Bible says we must, or if we read the Bible the way we read it because that’s how we find support for the things we’ve already decided to do. 
     And how might our stubbornness and conservativeness alienate the very people we should be loving?  
     Loving, stubborn, and conservative. All important, but in the right measure, in the correct circumstances, and with the right emphasis.

     That’s how we’ll do our job as the church.

Friday, January 3, 2020

In Remembrance

     Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters…Continue to remember…those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering….
     The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.
-Hebrews 13:1, 3, 11-14 (NIV)


Last Sunday, about the time we were sharing communion at our church, sisters and brothers in Christ in suburban Fort Worth were taking cover as a gunman opened fire during communion at West Freeway Church of Christ. Two, Richard White and Tony Wallace, were killed. The gunman, Keith Thomas Kinnunen, who had a history of mental illness, was killed as well.
     I’ve been thinking a lot about those murdered brothers of mine. I didn’t know them, but Churches of Christ are a relatively small network. I know the son of a member of the West Freeway church. I likely know other people who knew Mr. White and Mr. Wallace. Most Sundays, when I share in communion I think about my sisters and brothers at Northwest. Now and then, rarely, I guess, I think about the way communion brings me together with sisters and brothers in Christ all over the world, friends and family I miss, other Christians I’ll never meet, sometimes even those who  have gone on to be with the Lord. When I do, I’m usually thinking of how communion draws us together based on our faith in a suffering and resurrected Savior who makes us one body. 
     For the foreseeable future, though, I can’t imagine I’ll share in communion without thinking of Richard White and Tony Wallace. And even Keith Thomas Kinnunen. I think I’ll remember them, and remember those who had to watch them die while wondering if they were next, and members standing up to protect others instead of taking cover, and parents protecting children and spouses holding each other. It’s going to be hard not to juxtapose the quiet and peace of communion at Northwest with the chaos and fear — and also the courage and love — that marked communion at West Freeway last Sunday. That will likely mark it for a long time.
     Some might say that’s a distraction, that what I ought to be thinking about during communion is Christ dying for me on the cross. “Do this in remembrance of me,” and all that. I disagree. I don’t think it’s a distraction at all. How can we remember Christ’s suffering for us without considering the suffering of our sisters and brothers in Christ? That gunman walked into that church with a gun last Sunday at least partially because there were a group of people in there who wore the name of Jesus. We ought to remember that, and mourn with them — as well as hold up the One who suffered to save them from exactly the kind of evil that seemed to win the day. 
     The writer of Hebrews says we ought to remember those who are mistreated as though we ourselves are suffering. Suffering shouldn’t be as distant as we let it be sometimes. We need to resist the impulse to hold it at arm’s length, to thank God that this or that particular suffering is not my problem because it isn’t in my church or my backyard. He says that we need to see the suffering we bear as part of Jesus’ suffering, that sometimes we have to join him “outside the city gate” — where things that aren’t palatable to polite society might happen — and bear the disgrace he bore. This is, I think, one of those times. 
     Suffering can push us apart. But sharing in suffering can also bring us together. To take on someone else’s burden — even partially, for just a moment — is to do something that’s very like Jesus. To bear the sins of others on our shoulders, to sit with all the pain and sorrow and grief that brings, even for an instant, is to be very much like Jesus. That’s how he solved the problem of evil, after all. By bearing it. Not solving it, legislating it, denying it, or trivializing it. He just allowed it to be piled on him as he hung bleeding on the cross. 
     There are those, predictably, already trying to use the West Freeway tragedy for their own purposes. Some are using it as another case study for why we need stricter gun control laws. Others cite it as an example of how open carry laws work, that the armed good guys shot the armed bad guy before more people died. Don’t do that. What happened in that church a week ago isn’t about the Second Amendment, or liberals vs. conservatives. It’s about evil and about sin: the evil and sin of a man who senselessly and selfishly killed two people, and maybe also the evil and sin of a world in which he slipped through the cracks instead of getting the help he needed. But it’s also about hope: that people will still sacrifice their lives to save others, and that One already did sacrifice his life to bear our sins and save us all.    
     So, please, resist the impulse to make pronouncements about gun control vs. open carry (as though one cancels out the other). Instead, this Sunday as you remember the suffering of your Savior in communion, would you remember the suffering of your brothers and sisters at the West Freeway church? Would you pray for them?
     And, while we’re at it, maybe we could pray for all of our brothers and sisters all over the world who suffer violence, tyranny, and persecution on a daily basis.
     And maybe we can let our identification with suffering sisters and brothers teach us how to identify with Jews suffering persecution in New York. Maybe, if we can share more in the suffering of our extended family in Christ, we’ll more sensitive to and aware of the suffering of others in our world, other people who our Father loves and for whom Jesus died. 
     In prayer during a gathering on Monday, the day after the shootings, an elder at West Freeway spoke these words to God: “With all of our hearts, we ache. And with all of our hearts, we love. What we feel as loss, we know is your gain. Guide us in how we handle the losses … that your way be our way.”
     Amen. May his way — the long and sometimes hard way of sharing in the suffering of others, offering love in response to hate, and taking the burdens and sins of others on our own shoulders — be our way. And may we never forget that Jesus has walked that way for all of us.

     Do this in remembrance of him.

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