Sunday, November 27, 2016

"Hopeful Waiting." A Sermon from Littlefield Presbyterian Church on the First Sunday of Advent.

 "Hopeful Waiting"

Isaiah 2:1-5; Matthew 24:36-44

         One of the many places I'd like to visit someday is Ireland.  In the early centuries of this millennium, the southwestern coastline of Ireland was the end of the known world--   which someone suggested may be why it's dotted with prehistoric stone circles and the ruins of  ancient monastaries. 
            One of these monasteries was built on an impossibly steep rock island eight miles off the coast.  For 700 years, the monks there practiced a strict, ascetic way of life.  They survived the weather and raids by the Vikings.  They hauled stones to build 2700 steps up the mountain's dizzying height-- to the prayer huts on top the mountain.  They'd climb up to the mountaintop to pray...   and to watch for Christ to return in power and glory.
            In the eleventh century, a more relaxed form of monastic rule came into fashion on the mainland.  When the European orders of Benedictines and Augustinians arrived in Ireland, the local tradition of small, independent monasteries began to die out.  In the thirteenth century, the last of the monks got into their boats and rowed away from their rocky outpost.
            We don’t know for sure why they left, but it's possible that they just got tired of waiting.  As Barbara Brown Taylor suggests when she tells about this monastery, seven hundred years is a long time to watch the horizon for the second coming.   It's a long time to keep your fasts and say your prayers at prescribed times throughout the day and night.  It's a long time to live in strictly disciplined community with one another-- especially when word reaches you that the monks on the mainland have made some changes.  They're eating better and sleeping later than you are.  They've decided they can be in the world a little more without being of it--   especially since it looks like they're in for a longer wait than anyone had expected.[1]
            More than 700 years later,  we can empathize.  Few of us spend our days watching the horizon expectantly for Christ's second coming, although over the centuries there have been folk who compute dates for the coming of the Lord, convincing their little band of followers to stand on a hillside somewhere, ready to be Raptured up!

            The earliest Christians thought the Second Coming would be immediate...  and they lived accordingly.  For many centuries, Advent was observed as a season of preparation and waiting.  The faithful waited for the feast of the Nativity, a time to celebrate the mystery of the Incarnation.   They waited for the Second Coming of the Christ.  

            More than 2,000 years have passed since God came to dwell among us in Jesus of Nazareth,  and Jesus hasn't come back.  So it's easier for Christians to live as if the present world is all that we can expect. 
            After all, we hate to wait. Waiting is hard.  We live in an age of microwave dinners.,,salad in a bag… fast food restaurants.  
            Waiting is hard.  From the time the days start getting shorter and shorter in the fall--  I can't wait until they start getting longer again.  Waiting is hard for us.  But it’s an important part of our spiritual journey. 
            We only lit one candle today in the Advent wreath.  That’s because we still have some waiting to do.  There are two more blue candles and a rose one yet to go-- and it still won't be Christmas until Christmas Eve and we light the Christ candle.  We have some waiting to we prepare our hearts for Christ’s coming.
            Waiting has always been hard.  If you read the Bible, you will discover that the Bible is full of stories about what faithful people did while they waited.  It’s full of promises not yet fulfilled. 
            Centuries before the birth of Jesus, the Old Testament prophets were writing and talking about waiting for one who would be like a light for the darkness.   Those who heard the prophets were weary with impatience.  They wanted the Messiah now.  They yearned for God to be on their timetable.  For years...  for centuries...  through the events of history,   God's answer was,  "WAIT."  

            We’re still waiting.  On this First Sunday of Advent, the first Sunday of our new year, the first words from Scripture the church hears are from the prophet Isaiah:   “In days to come the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established as the highest of the mountains and shall be raised above the hills.  All the nations—all the nations—shall stream to it.  Many peoples shall come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD…that God may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” 
            Now, these words may be familiar to some of us, and we may read through them too quickly to hear something new.  So I want us to slow down, to wait for a few moments and ponder their meaning.
            This week I heard something new in this passage.  “The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.”  It doesn’t say Isaiah heard a word from the Lord.  Isaiah saw the word. 
            This vision Isaiah received and prophesied says, “In days to come…”  It doesn’t give us a timetable for when this word will be fulfilled. 

            It’s hard to wait.  It’s hard to stay hopeful when there’s so much in the world that’s so wrong.  Even the second-generation Christians--  the ones to whom the New Testament was originally written--  weren't immune to this loss of faith in the coming kingdom of God.  The passionate hope in the second coming of Christ dimmed as the days wore on.  The early Christians were having trouble hoping.  So it was important for the church to remind them of Jesus' warning:  "Be ready.”
            Strange as it may seem, that passage wasn't written about the future, as we understand it.  It had everything to do with the early Christian's experience of the present and how they lived it.  It was written to encourage them during hard times...  and to call their attention to the signs of the forthcoming kingdom.

We have prayed for peace,  and still we wait.  We have prayed for healing in the quiet corridors of the hospital.  We have prayed for the healing of the creation...  and the healing of the wounds of racism.   We pray,  and we wait.
            We've all known the sense of loss and disappointment when something we hoped for doesn't come.   A husband and wife try and try to conceive a child, in vain.  Plans for a long-awaited visit are changed.  Even Christmas day has its own measure of disappointment.  The packages are opened...  the gifts are admired.  But later the tree comes down...  the nativity scene is stored away for another year.  The long-awaited day passes with a sense that nothing really has happened.
            In a far more profound way, the church has always struggled with its pain over a future that fails to come. 
            "Come, Lord Jesus,"  the early Christians prayed...  but it was Roman soldiers who came.  "This world is passing away," they sang...  but the world remained.
            People can live on the edge just so long, before they get weary of watching and waiting for the light of a day that doesn't dawn.  If the church is standing at the threshold of God's future kingdom of justice, then the church can dare to touch the wounds of lepers   and pour out its resources freely for the poor.   If the new age of healing and mercy is just around the corner, then the church can cheerfully bear suffering and persecution...  and faithfully sing its alleluias.
            But if there is no God-shaped future at hand...  if nothing is about to happen--  then there's just a series of days...  a bottomles pit of human need.  
            All there is left for the church to be is another well-meaning institution.  All that's left for the church to do   is to get together for routine Sunday services...  collect the pledge cards...  and keep the doors open...have pot-luck suppers    and the roof repaired.   If  nothing is about to happen.
And yet-- as Christians, we're called into a life of hope and trust.  Each day brings an opportunity for us to experience the miracle of the dying and rising of Christ...   and a new opportunity to live out Christ's love in our lives.  
            The season of Advent is a time when we practice hopeful waiting.  If we are not powerful or rich, we look around us and see that things in the world are not as they should be.  Without God’s promises as the basis and ground of hope, the future could be just a repetition of the past. 
            But we have a choice.  In the midst of the waywardness and idolatry and brokenness around us, we can choose to live as nothing will change.  Or we can choose to stake our lives on God’s promises.                   
We are in the presence of a mystery.  God’s justice and peace will come to pass among the nations “in days to come.”

             Wait.  Be ready.  Trust that the future is based on the promises of God.  Hope in God’s hope for us--  the hope that the people will make peace, as swords become plowshares and spears become pruning hooks.  
            What Isaiah proclaims is not only a vision of global transformation, but an invitation to live toward that day:  “Come, let us walk in the light of the LORD!” 
            No matter how hard it is sometimes to trust that a new reality will come some day, there is hope and power in walking in God’s light now, one step at a time. 
            Prophets like Isaiah and his contemporary, Micah, paint a picture of an alternative reality and proclaim God’s truth that God requires justice and mercy… and invites us to walk humbly with God. 
During Advent, we practice hopeful waiting,  as we prepare our hearts to welcome the Christ child more fully into our lives.   We look forward to the time when “Christ will come again.”   But this waiting isn’t passive.  We live in this time between the two comings as followers of the One we know in part as the “Prince of Peace.” 
            God doesn’t call us to an illusory peace of families or congregations that are afraid to talk about difficult issues, but the peace that decides to do the hard work of including everyone and knowing each person as a beloved child of God.  
            God calls us to a peace that says we may disagree about some things, but we’re not going to let our differences keep us from loving one another and being the church together.”   God calls us to the ministry of reconciliation—with one another, with God, and with all of creation.
            I believe Isaiah and the other prophets wanted to energize the people with hope.  They tell us that we don’t have to accept things as they are.  They showed us how to speak truth to power.  I believe they still cast a vision of an alternative reality—of God’s kingdom—for us all these years later.  They challenge us to see what is beyond our seeing.
The prophets saw something beyond our everyday vision—they imagined a path of righteousness and justice, and abundant life. 
This Advent, we are waiting once again. We wait to hear the nativity story again, of a child born under the shadow of a mighty empire… a story of a child who would deliver us from death itself and show us the way to truth and life.  We wait for Jesus to be born again in our lives.
When we get tired, when we feel hopeless, when we are weary of resisting, when we are afraid to make waves, when we are told over and over again that this is just how things are going to be for a while and we should just accept it--  the prophet’s call is clear.  God has something better for us.  We are called to walk in the light of God, in the way of justice and mercy and freedom.  We are called to walk with God and be transformed, so that we can work with God to transform the world.
As we walk in God’s light, every word we say,  every thing we do, every prayer we pray is important.  In Advent, we are looking for the inbreaking of peace.  We look for the dawn of a new day. 
            So pray.  Pray for the coming of the Christ.  “Come, Lord Jesus!”  Pray for Christ’s rule in our lives...  and in the world.  Pray "thy Kingdom come, thy will be done"--  because that is the one prayer that we know will ultimately be answered.

Rev. Fran Hayes, Pastor
Littlefield Presbyterian Church
Dearborn, Michigan
November 27, 2016

[1]I'm indebted to Barbara Brown Taylor for the monastery story and this line of thinking, which appear in Journal for Preachers, Advent 1996

Sunday, November 20, 2016

"What Kind of King?" A Sermon from Littlefield Presbyterian Church on Reign of Christ Sunday.

"What Kind of King?"

Jeremiah 23:1-8; Luke 23:33-43

Reign of Christ Sunday

            We have come to the last Sunday of the Church year:  Christ the King Sunday, which is also known the Reign of Christ Sunday.  The scriptures and the songs this Sunday give testimony to how Jesus is God’s way of ruling in this world and in the world to come. 
            In a presidential election year in the United States, politics take center stage during a long campaign and in the months that follow.  Much of the focus of the campaign has been on leadership, temperament, experience, and fitness to lead the country.  What kind of leader do people want?  In the days following the election, political pundits are speculating on what kind of president Donald Trump will be.  What kind of leaders will he choose for his cabinet and staffing the administration?  How will newly elected leaders at all levels of government conduct themselves?  The possible answers to these questions have energized or emboldened some and terrified others, and our nation remains deeply divided. 
            So I’m grateful that Christ the King Sunday comes when it does.  A short time after we elect a person to be the leader of the free world, the most powerful person on the planet, the feast of Christ the King reminds us that no matter who has been elected, God is still sovereign over all the universe, and that God in Christ is the true model for moral and just leadership.

            The feast of Christ the King was a late addition to the church’s calendar.  It was inaugurated by Pope Pius XI in 1925, in the attempt to resist political demagogues and their messages.   While the church had always celebrated images of Christ as King, the church seemed to need a special day to remind them who was in charge. 
            On the first celebration of Christ the King, Mussolini had been head of Italy for three years and had established himself as dictator.  A rabble-rouser named Hitler had been out of jail for a year, and his Nazi party was growing in popularity.  And the world lay in a Great Depression.
            In such a time, Pope Pius asserted that Christ is “King of the Universe.”   The feast of Christ the King became the church’s great “nevertheless” to tyrants and dictators and their messages and to the growing modern notion that religion was now a “private affair.”  The pope thought the time was right to re-focus on the One who is ultimately the king in our lives, as people of faith.  No matter what—nevertheless-- Jesus Christ is Lord and he shall reign for ever and ever.   
            All of the Scripture readings today speak of a very different kind of king.  In the Hebrew Scripture lesson, the prophet Jeremiah speaks to the intense longing of the people of Israel for a different kind of king.  He  proclaims a word of hope that God will send the leader they need—a king who will deal wisely and execute justice and righteousness in the land, during whose reign the people will live in safety.[1]   
            The disciples who remembered the story of Jesus on the cross remembered a different kind of king, who had compassion for the suffering of the criminal on the cross beside him.  And so, when Luke wrote his Gospel, he pictured Jesus as a king who was very different from the kind of Messiah many people were hoping for, which was a powerful military ruler who would deliver them from their oppressors—the Roman Empire.
            The letter to the Colossians is written to encourage people in a world where the leaders have betrayed the people, a time of persecution for the church.  In the face of pain and suffering, people of faith could say that Jesus Christ is a very different kind of king—the one in whom we see God with our own human eyes…the one through whom we are able to see all things in a new light.
This letter to a persecuted and threatened little church summons the faithful to sing of Jesus, “He is the image of the invisible God…whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him….   In him all things hold together.”   This is language that can help us to imagine what it means to be “transferred into the kingdom of God’s beloved son.”   Christ is the “image of the invisible God”…the icon or window that becomes more and more transparent and helps us to see more and more of the ongoing appearing of God in the world.
            In each of the scripture passages the lectionary has given us today,
and each of the hymns—a claim is being made about power…and about ultimate rule, about who’s in charge.  We can find comfort and assurance, knowing that the kingdoms of this world may totter and sway, but the kingdom of God endures. 
            The passage we heard from Jeremiah begins with a woe oracle: “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!”[2]  Blame clearly rests here on the “shepherds,” a well-known metaphor for kings in both the ancient Near Eastern world and in the biblical texts.  Since the leaders had failed to take care of the people as shepherds are meant to take care of their flocks, God promises to attend to them for their “evil doings.”  The leaders wouldn’t have wanted to hear this word from God:  “You have not attended to them.  So I will attend to you.”[3]
            This was a common theme during this time.  The prophet Ezekiel used a similar image and spelled out in more detail the failure of the leaders.  Rather than feeding the sheep, they have fed themselves, gathering the fat and the wool for their own use, literally living off the “fat of the land.”
            They have not strengthened the weak, healed the sick, bound up the injured, bought back the strayed, or sought the lost.[4]  The list is significant because it tells us quite clearly what government is for in God's eyes, and it "promises" judgment to those leaders who fail.  Bad leaders, the prophets say, bring judgment not only on themselves, but wreak havoc on their entire nation, including those caught up in disaster through no particular fault of their own.[5]
            Who is the Christ?  What does Christ reveal to us about the character of God…and about the kingdom of heaven?
            This is a different kind of king we hear about in the gospel story.  The people had been hoping for a king like King David—for a powerful military and political leader who would help them overthrow the Roman oppressors.  But Jesus turned out to be a different kind of king.
            Jesus was proclaiming the kingdom of God—but what a paradoxical kingdom he revealed!  It reversed the ways of the world!  If you want to be part of God’s kingdom, you have to stop trying to be big and important and independent, and be like a little child.    The last are going to be first, and the first will be last. 
            Jesus preached good news to the poor and release to the captives.  He taught by word and deed and blessed little children.  He offered healing to those who were sick and encouragement to those who were brokenhearted.  He scandalized those who were in power in the religious establishment by eating with outcasts and forgiving sinners.
            What was happening to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords on that Good Friday?  Unjustly condemned for blasphemy and sedition, Jesus was crucified, suffering the depths of human pain and giving his life for the sins of the world.
            Jesus refused to come in power, but instead in vulnerability.  The king was hung on the throne of a wooden cross—reviled and forsaken and mocked.  He doesn’t vow revenge or retribution even on those who crucify him, but instead offers forgiveness.  He doesn’t save himself by coming down off his cross to prove his kingly status—but remains on that instrument of torture and humiliation, the representative of all who suffer unjustly.  He doesn’t promise a better tomorrow, in the sweet bye and bye, but offers us redemption today.
            When we find ourselves not complete and in charge—but shattered, hanging on the crosses of our own failures and brokenness, we can look to Jesus to save us…to make us whole.  When we are most vulnerable, we are more open to see God with us in our pain and need. 
            This King—the King of Love-- doesn’t control us by might or judge us, but meets us in our brokenness and offers us healing and new life and invites us to be partners in God’s redeeming work.
The scriptures teach us that the measure of faithful leadership and faithful living is how we treat those who are most vulnerable—widows… orphans… and foreigners… and the sick…the outcast… the possessed, the poor...the marginalized…the “other.”
            In his teaching and ministry, Jesus shows us that every act of love is an act of resistance to the forces of darkness, division, and hate.
            As Leonard Cohen wrote, “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”
            And so, let us look for the cracks-- as small as they might be--the cracks in systems of injustice…the cracks in the fears some people have of those who are different or of a life that’s different than the old life.
We are called to be the light of Christ in this broken world--  to let the light of Christ shine in and through us, to shed light on whatever justifies and validates hatred and violence and to expose it for what it is.  May we shine the light of love on those who have been excluded, marginalized, and silenced.  May Christ’s light shine through us as rays  of hope for our hurting world.
May it be so!  Amen.

Rev. Fran Hayes Pastor
Littlefield Presbyterian Church
Dearborn, Michigan
Nov. 20, 2016

[1] Jeremiah 23:5-6
[2] Jeremiah 23:1
[3] Jeremiah 23:2
[4] Ezekiel 34:1-10

Sunday, November 13, 2016

"Not the End of the World". A sermon on the Sunday after the Election, Nov. 13, 2016, on Luke 21:5-24

"Not the End of the World"

Luke 21:5-24

During the long, long months of the political campaign, many of us looked forward to it finally being over.  We were weary of the rhetoric—some of which was hateful.  Some people on either side described in apocalyptic terms how catastrophic it would be if the wrong candidate won. 
            The passages we heard today from Luke and Isaiah were given to us by the lectionary.   “When you hear of wars and insurrections, don’t be terrified….Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom… there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven….they will arrest you and persecute you.  They will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name….”
            By the time Luke wrote his gospel around 85 CE, the Temple had already been destroyed, in 70 CE.  So for Luke’s readers, what Jesus says here is more a reflection on the Temple’s destruction than a prediction of it.  Luke uses the destruction of this magnificent temple to make a statement on the impermanence of human achievement and institutions.
            “Don’t be terrified,” Jesus says. 
After the election, a few of my Facebook friends posted sentiments like “It’ll be Ok.”  “Your side lost—better luck in 4 years.”  “Stop whining and move on.”
But this time, it feels different.  A lot of people are afraid, because of things that were said during the campaign, and because of the increased incidence of hateful harassment and intimidation since the election.
            The election results show how divided our country is, and also how frustrated people have been with politics as usual.   No matter which way the election turned out, half of the people in the country would have been unhappy. 
            Even if your candidate won—no political leader is a messiah who will save us, or solve all the problems of our society, regardless of what they may have promised.  Political solutions are only partial solutions, at best, and they involve compromise. 
In our time, we have such divisiveness between red and blue, rich and poor, rural and urban.  How do we unite and find common ground and work together for the common good?
Both Secretary Clinton and President Obama gave good speeches after the election and talked about how in our democracy we value “the peaceful transfer of power” and about the need for unity, and I commend them for that.  
But I think it’s clear that we won’t be able to just “move on” without some significant work that leads over time to healing and reconciliation in our society.  That can’t happen without dealing with injustices that have been uncovered. 
There’s a meme that’s being shared on Facebook that says:   “Things are not getting worse.  They are getting uncovered.”   This election cycle has uncovered the racism, sexism, and nativism that has always been present in our society but was partially hidden-- to persons of privilege-- in recent decades under the covers of political correctness and multiculturalism.  It’s painful for a lot of us to see these “isms” more fully exposed. 
            We’re in a time of crisis.  I’ve been reminded that the Chinese character that represents “crisis” has a dual meaning that includes both danger and opportunity.
So I wonder:  what if we understood what’s going on as not only challenges, but also as an opportunity?  An opportunity for our society to change for the better, to live more fully into a future in which there is true freedom and justice for all?
            Are we discerning a call for the church to be more fully the church?   Now, when I speak of the church, I’m not speaking of church as a place you go or something you attend or agree with.  I’m talking about a beloved community in which we find love and comfort and hope and challenge—and through which we are sent out to bring the love, and hope and truth of Christ to a broken and hurting world.

            So, what does it look like for us to be the church? 
            I’ve had conversations with some of you in the past few days, after the election.  Many of us have been working to understand and to process our emotions, including fear for loved ones and neighbors and for those who are most vulnerable.  Some of you have said you want to do something to make things better.  But what do we do? 

            In the days following September 11, 2001, our Muslim neighbors had reason to fear for their safety.  So Littlefield and other churches and organizations in the community put up signs on their doors that proclaimed, “This is a hate-free zone.”  Because we let them know we were a safe place, some of our neighbors asked to come in and pray, and they’ve felt safe and welcome here ever since.
            We’re being the church when we hold our summer Peace Camp and when we host interfaith worship services to build bridges of understanding.
            When we’re being church, one of the things we can each do is to foster one or more authentic friendships with someone who is completely different, a friendship that goes beyond superficial pleasantries to honest conversations about what it’s like to live in our society as a Muslim or an African-American or a GLBT person.  Develop a friendship that’s deep and trusting enough that, during a tough time, after a crisis that affects your friend, you can ask,  “So how are you doing-- really?” 
            For me, personally, this means continuing to develop relationships with people who are different, and also being in conversation with old classmates, friends, and extended family who live in rural areas and have never had a relationship with a person of color or a Muslim.  It can be hard work.  I think of it as a spiritual discipline to be very respectful and patient with people whose political views are very different from mine.  Over the past couple of months, I’ve had some Facebook conversations with friends from my past that I think were significant, and hopefully transformative in some small way. 

Many commentators have been observing how the level of civil discourse has deteriorated in our society in recent years.  It can feel uncomfortable to talk about tough topics with people who disagree, but it’s something we can learn and practice.  I think the church, where we’re commanded to love one another unconditionally, should be a safe place to work on this.  Could we do this—with God’s help?
            I believe we don’t have to be afraid.  I believe the words of our Presbyterian Brief Statement of Faith:   “In a broken and fearful world, the Spirit gives us courage to pray without ceasing, to witness among all peoples to Christ as Lord and Savior, to unmask idolatries in Church ad culture, to hear the voices of peoples long silenced, and to work with others for justice, freedom and peace.[1] 

            So what are some practical ways we can choose faith over fear?   If we see the safety of a vulnerable person or group in jeopardy, how will we respond?  What are some hopes we have for the future of the church?  For the future of our nation?  This is something we need to be praying about… and talking about with one another. 
             Some of the writers I’ve been reading this week pointed out that they needed to write their weekly columns before the election results were known, but regardless of who won, the gospel is the same.   Our faith teaches us that God loves us with a love that is greater than our understanding.  We have God’s promise that God will be with us. 
            The most basic commandment is to love God completely and to love your neighbor as yourself.  The Bible exhorts us to “weep with those who weep.”  It doesn’t say we get to judge whether they should be weeping.  We don’t have to understand fully the depth of somebody’s fear or grief to empathize with them and show compassion and solidarity. 
            We are called to go out into the world, to proclaim the good news.  Our friends, our neighbors, and our nation need us to be authentic, grace-filled, hope-bearing, truthful people. 
            I believe part of being grace-filled people involves giving people who are having a hard time the space and time to feel whatever they’re feeling, whether it be anger or grief or whatever.   We need to encourage one another in hope and remember that even from prison, the apostle Paul was able to write, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”[2]

            When Representative John Lewis talks about his journey as a civil rights leader, we hear a hard truth:  that the work of justice is not a sprint.  It’s a marathon.  As the Rev. Dr. Blaire Monie writes, “justice will not be won by one election, nor will it be defeated by one election.  We need to double-down and stand on the side of those who are marginalized by a society of privilege.”[3]
            Blair reminded me of the wisdom of Reinhold Niebuhr, “Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime.  Therefore, we must be saved by hope.  Nothing that is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history.  Therefore, we must be saved by faith.  Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone.   Therefore, we are saved by love.  No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our standpoint.  Therefore, we must be saved by the final form of love, which is forgiveness.” 
            Through the prophet Isaiah we hear God saying, “I am about to create new heavens and a new earth.  The former things shall not be remembered or come to mind.  But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating…”[4]
            Imagine it:  God invites us to be co-creators with God and one another.  Imagine the possibilities, when we choose to respond in love and presence, to find and work for ways to lift up the brokenhearted, to do the work that will let the oppressed go free.[5]   Imagine a place where all are invited to live in fullness of life and joy, a place where all can flourish, where all can enjoy the work of their hands, where all can live together in peace and wholeness. 
            We can rejoice because we are active participants with God in this ongoing act of creation, as we work together to create a beloved community in which we are all invited to live together in the fullness and goodness of God.
            Thanks be to God!

Rev. Fran Hayes, Pastor
Littlefield Presbyterian Church
Dearborn, Michigan
Nov. 13, 2016

[1] “Brief Statement of Faith” of the Presbyterian Church (USA), 1991.
[2] Philippians 4:13
[3] The Rev. Dr. Blaire Monie, in a Facebook post on November 12, 2016.
[4] Isaiah 65:17-18
[5] Luke 4