Sunday, January 29, 2017

"What Does God Require?" A Sermon from Littlefield Presbyterian Presbyterian Church.

"What Does God Require?"

Micah 6:1-8; Matthew 5:1-12

            The prophet Micah lived and prophesied during a time of political turmoil and transition, during the second half of the 8th century BCE, in Judah.  Earlier in the book, Micah describes a kind of religiosity in which people, especially religious leaders, are making a public show of how pious they are, with loud lip service to God.[1]   It seems that the conventional religion of the time kept religious leaders self-satisfied and the powerful in power.  So for a messenger of God to speak prophetic words and proclaim judgment was a subversive act.
            In the reading we heard this morning, we’re told that “the Lord has a controversy with his people.”  We don’t get a list of the transgressions in these verses, but in chapter 3, Micah says to the corrupt rulers, “Should you not know justice?-- you who hate the good and love the evil, who tear the skin off my people, and the flesh off their ones…. Hear this, you rulers of the house of Jacob and chiefs of the house of Israel, who abhor justice and pervert all equity, who build Zion with blood and Jerusalem with wrong! Its rulers give judgment for a bribe, its priests teach for a price, its prophets give oracles for money.  Yet they lean upon the LORD and say, ‘Surely the LORD is with us! No harm shall come upon us.’[2]
            So, in the passage we heard today, God and the people are involved in a dispute.  God is upset with the people and argues with them through the prophetic voice of Micah.  So, God summons “earthly” observers such as the mountains, hills, and earth’s foundations to listen to this dispute.
            In verses 3-5, God reminds the people of all the wonderful gifts God has provided and God’s actions for the sake of Israel.  It is a brief salvation history with God playing the role of liberator, savior, and provider.
            Basically, God says, “What have I done wrong? I am constantly saving you so that you will always remember my righteous deeds.”  
            Finally, in verses 6-8, the language of dispute is dropped, and we read a series of rhetorical question about what kinds of gifts God desires from us.  “With what shall we come before the Lord?”  Tell us, O God, what kinds of offerings you want from us.           
            God makes it clear what is good:  “Do justice.  Love mercy. Walk humbly with God.”
            This is pretty straightforward.  What’s harder, though, is to live into these requirements as God’s people.  What actions do these requirements call forth from us, as we look into our neighborhoods, into our cities, our nation, and the world?
            We look around us today, and we see people who are hurting.  Some people are resentful because they feel like immigrants or people of color are “jumping the line” to get the opportunities they feel are their right.  Someone with a high school diploma or a GED used to be able to get a good job and live a comfortable life, but those opportunities for have been disappearing in this time of globalization and automation.  For some people, if something’s wrong in your life, it’s handy to have a scapegoat you can blame it on.  Somebody who’s different from you-- someone who’s “other.”
            A lot of people are anxious and afraid.  People are afraid of what will happen if they or a loved one gets sick.  Those who are food insecure are afraid they won’t be able to put food on the table for their loved ones.  Some people are so afraid of terrorist attacks they’re willing to cut off access for refugees from Syria an elsewhere and for Muslim immigrants.  The list could go on and on….
            So what are we called to do, as people of faith?
            Last Tuesday evening Emily N. and I attended the January meeting of the Presbytery of Detroit.  The January meeting is when the Moderator and Vice-Moderator are installed for the new year, and we come together to celebrate the Lord’s Supper as a presbytery.  An important part of the meeting was a presentation by the Rev. Kevin Johnson and the Rev. Bryan Smith on the theme for the coming year, which is one of the Great Ends of the Church in our Presbyterian Book of Order: “The promotion of social righteousness.” 
            The Great Ends of the Church were adopted in 1910 by one the Presbyterian Church(USA)’s predecessor denominations, just two years after the Federal Council of Churches in the United States (the predecessor of the National Council of Churches, adopted the Social Creed of the Churches, in 1908.  This was in an era when the main character of Charles Sheldon’s best-selling novel, In His Steps challenged his congregation to ask themselves before every decision, “What would Jesus do?”  
            The Presbyterian Church has long been a Christian community that values both personal and public/social morality.  The Great Ends of the Church is a summary of what the church is called to be and why we exist: “the proclamation of the gospel for the salvation of humankind; the shelter, nurture, and spiritual fellowship of the children of God; the maintenance of divine worship; the preservation of the truth; the promotion of social righteousness; and the exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the world.”

            The scripture lessons today and through the season of Epiphany challenge us to live our faith in ways that promote social righteousness and exhibit the kingdom of heaven on earth.  (Tune in next week for Isaiah 58 and more from the Sermon on the Mount.)
            In the past, Presbyterians have promoted social righteousness through involvement in the underground railroad and working for the abolition of slavery and for women’s suffrage.  Presbyterians have fought for basic rights for workers, to eradicate poverty, and for civil rights.   They did so because they believed that those who follow Jesus should act to advance the coming of the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.   Their belief was grounded in our scriptures.
            Luke tells us that after Jesus was baptized and was tested for forty days in the wilderness, Jesus went to his hometown synagogue in Nazareth and read from the prophet Isaiah:  “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor.”  Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”  People were amazed at Jesus’ teaching until he said something that made them feel uncomfortable.  Then they tried to throw him over the cliff.[3]
            Near the end of Matthew’s gospel, we hear Jesus teaching that the nations will be judged by how we treat those who are marginalized.  I’m going to pause here to say that again:  The nations will be judged by how we treat those who are marginalized. 
            “The king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me….’”[4]
            Could it be any more clear that doing justice and acting mercifully are an essential part of our faith and how we show our love for God and neighbor?  So what does this requirement look like for us, in our time?
            For each new time and context, we who follow Jesus must prayerfully discern how we are called to live.  When we study the scriptures and pray, we are challenged to see the face of Christ in those who are “the least,” those in need of mercy and hospitality, those we might be tempted to fear because they are “strangers” to us. 
            One of the things that’s weighing on my heart especially this weekend is the indefinite hold on admitting refugees who have fled Syria and elsewhere, people who have been in a vetting process that lasts 2 or 3 or more years.  I think about several of my friends who have family in Iran and how it could be a very long time until they can see one another face-to-face. 
            In Deuteronomy 10:19 in the Hebrew scriptures, we are taught that we are to love those who are foreigners, “for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.”   In Leviticus 19:33, we hear: “When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.”
            So what do we do with these teachings?  How are we called to live?  Is it right or moral or Christian to choose personal comfort and safety and look the other way to avoid seeing those who are hurting or oppressed or in danger or hungry or locked out?  I think we need to be praying about this.  We need to be studying the scriptures and history and remembering how our nation decided to operate out of fear and turned away ships carrying Jewish refugees fleeing the Holocaust, many of whom perished in concentration camps.  We need to be and listening to “the voices of those long silenced” and having holy conversations with one another about who we’re called to be and why we’re here.
            We need to remember that the Gospel is a word of protest.  The Beatitudes are blessings, but they are also a call to action that point us to who Jesus is.  If we listen, we may hear the truth about ourselves.  We will hear what the Kingdom of Heaven is about. 
            This can be scary for some of us.  For some, it may seem inconvenient to hear new truths that call us to change.   But we can live into new adventures in faith with hope when we trust in God’s Holy Spirit to lead us further into God’s way of love. 
            I love the way our Brief Statement of Faith puts it:  “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 and culture, to hear the voices of peoples long silenced, and to work with others for justice, freedom and peace.”

            I invite you all-- us all-- to spend some time re-reading these sacred and transformative texts in the coming week.  I pray that we might all find both challenge and blessing in Jesus’ words from the Sermon on the Mount: 
            “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
            Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 
            Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
            Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.  
            Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
            Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
            Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.[5]
 May we be found faithful as we live into this blessed way of love and justice and mercy!  Amen!


Rev. Fran Hayes, Pastor
Littlefield Presbyterian Church
Dearborn, Michigan
January 29, 2017

[1] Micah 3.
[2] Micah 3
[3] Isaiah 61; Luke 4:16-30.
[4] Matthew 2532-40
[5] Matthew 5:1-12



Sunday, January 15, 2017

"Come and See". A sermon from Littlefield Presbyterian Church on January 15, 2017.

"Come and See"

John 1:29-43

In the gospel story we just heard, it’s the day after John has baptized Jesus.  He sees Jesus coming toward him, and he declares, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”  Twice in this passage John the Baptist says, “I myself did not know him.”   
Does this make you wonder?  What does this mean?  As Jill Duffield asks in The Presbyterian Outlook, “Weren’t they cousins?  John knew Jesus, right?  Is this a case of not noticing that which is closest to us?”[1]
Jill goes on to tell a story about a woman who volunteered at an art museum as a docent.  There was a statue in the collection that this docent had walked by and even told others about countless times. 
On one particular tour, the docent was leading a group of blind guests.  A young girl was among those invited to touch the statue that she couldn’t see.  The docent remembers, “She ran her hands down the body of this female figure, and her first remark was:  ‘Oh, she’s pregnant.’”
The docent recalls, “And I had never thought about that.  But in fact, the figure does look like a pregnant woman.  Here was a kid really showing me something that I had been looking at for thirty-five years and had never noticed.’”[2]
The way Luke tells it in his gospel, John recognized something about Jesus while he was still in his mother Elizabeth’s womb.  After the angel Gabriel came to Mary to tell her she would give birth to the Son of the Most High, she went to visit her elderly  cousin Elizabeth, who was pregnant with John.  When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, “the child leaped in her womb.”[3]
So… had John the Baptist looked at Jesus for 30 years and never noticed who he really was?
Does that make you wonder what else we might miss?  
I don’t think we should be too hard on John the Baptist for not knowing Jesus.  The people of Jesus’ home town, his home congregation, didn’t get it either.  They went pretty quickly from “Isn’t this the son of Joseph the carpenter?”-- to wanting to throw him off the cliff when he told them something they didn’t want to hear.[4]  As Jesus said then, prophets aren’t accepted in their home towns.

Over the centuries, others have been given new ways of seeing.   Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of them.
In the mid-1950’s, he wrapped up his course work for his Ph.D. and took his first call to a church.  He had recently declined a nomination to serve as the president of the Montgomery, Alabama chapter of the NAACP, because he felt he needed to spend more time at his church work. 
            Not long after he got to Montgomery, there was a meeting held in the African-American community to decide who was going to lead the bus boycott after Rosa Parks refused to go to the back of the bus.  All the other pastors and influential leaders in the community were smart enough to know that this looked like a risky business.  So they decided to ask the new pastor in town to lead the boycott. They came to Rev. King and told him that they needed him to serve as president of the Montgomery Improvement Association, the group that would lead the bus boycott. 
            Rev. Martin Luther King had every reason in the world to say, "This is not the right time for me. I have a young family.  I have a dissertation to finish writing.  I have a congregation that doesn’t know me or trust me yet.   If I start out at the head of this enterprise, what will that do to my relationship to my congregation?  It just isn’t a good time.  This isn’t the time for me to do something like this.”   But, as we know, this very human being was moved from “not my time”--to yes.
            More than 60 years have passed since the Montgomery bus boycott.   More than 50 years have passed since the March on Washington when Dr. King gave his “I have a dream” speech, and since he wrote his last book before he was assassinated:  Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?[5]
            Have we made progress since that time?  Undoubtedly.  But we need to be honest with ourselves about where we the people of the United States are   and about our history.
            Later in the Gospel of John, we hear Jesus saying, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.[6]
            I believe the gospel has the power to set us free-- as individuals, as a community, as a society-- if we have ears to hear the good news… if we have faith to trust in God’s power to transform us and bind us together in Beloved Community… if we trust in the gospel’s truth to make us free.
            I appreciate the way Jim Wallis talks about the power of the truth in his latest book:[7]
           “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.  I truly believe that would be the best thing for all of us.
            “To become more free because of the truth.  To become more honest because of the truth.  To become more responsible because of the truth.  To become better neighbors because of the truth.   To become more productive and contributing citizens because of the truth.  To become better Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, people of other faiths, or people of conscience with no religion—all better because of the truth.  To become a better and freer country for all of us because of the truth.  To become better and freer human beings because of the truth.[8]
            I agree with Jim Wallis when he says, “We can no longer be afraid of the truth about race in this country—past, present, and future—because our fears will keep us captive to all kinds of untruths.
            Wallis says when he crossed the famous Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, on the fiftieth anniversary of the historic march that helped bring voting rights to all our fellow citizens, he realized that we can find answers in crossing another bridge—“the bridge to a new America that will soon be a majority of minorities.”[5]
            He’s talking about a new America that is coming into being due to demographic changes.  By the year 2040 or 2045, the majority of U.S. citizens will be descended from African, Asian, and Latin American ancestors, according to the US Census Bureau projections.   “We will have become a majority of minorities—with no one race being in the majority. The United States will be no longer a predominantly white nation--  but a multiracial nation, which will make the assumptions of white privilege increasingly less assumed.  That multiracial reality is already the case in many major cities around the country….” and for several whole states.[9]
            Truth be told, many white Americans—especially older white Americans—find that kind of demographic shift troubling.  Some commentators have been pointing to this uneasiness about shifting demographics as something that’s fueling the fears and suspicion of immigrants and people who are different that we hear voiced by some people. 
            Change is coming.  So it seems to me that we can choose how we will face the changes.   We could approach them fearfully…grudgingly… and imagine all the worst possible scenarios about how terrible things will be.  Or we could trust in God to be with us as we cross over a bridge to becoming a more diverse and inclusive nation.  We could pray for God to use us as people of faith, to model what it means to live as Beloved Community and to be part of a transformation of our country that is more and more fully a nation of abundance, where there is truly liberty and justice for all. 
            Some of the stories we hear during Advent season each year remind us that sometimes people have a failure of imagination, like Zechariah, when the angel Gabriel told him Elizabeth was going to have a baby:   “How can this be?”[10]
            In our time and place, God calls us to be the people who come are so transformed in the grace and abundance and freedom of Jesus Christ that we embody it as we live together in Beloved Community with all of God’s children.  
            Come and see.  Follow me, Jesus calls to us.   
In his last speech, Dr. King said, “I’ve been to the mountaintop…. I’ve looked over and I’ve seen the promised land…  Mine eyes have seen the promised land….Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”
Martin Luther King’s prophetic witness helped some of us--black and white Americans-- to have visions and dream dreams.  What he saw helped some people to see themselves and other people  differently-- as beloved children of God, created in the very image of God, who need to be set free from hatred and fear and oppression.
            We’re not in the promised land yet.  But God’s love can give us new vision.  Can we see it?  Is anything impossible for God? 
In 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 and culture…to hear the voices of people long silenced…and to work with others for justice, freedom and peace.”

God’s love gives us new life and new vision.  So come and see.  See the face of Christ in your neighbor.  Get a glimpse of who God has made us to be.  Come and see.

Rev. Fran Hayes, Pastor
Littlefield Presbyterian Church
Dearborn, Michigan
January 15, 2016

[3] Luke 1:41
[4] Luke 4

[5] Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?  First published in 1967. 
[6] John 8:32
[7] Jim Wallis, America’s Original Sin:  Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America.  (Brazos Press, 2016), Kindle Edition, Location 388.

[9] Jim Wallis, America’s Original Sin, p. 189.
[10] Luke 1:18

Sunday, January 8, 2017

"Jesus' Baptism and Ours". A Sermon from Littlefield Presbyterian Church on Baptism of the Lord Sunday.

"Jesus' Baptism and Ours"

 Matthew 3:13-17

We’ve celebrated Christmas and made our journey with the magi to Bethlehem to worship the baby Jesus. Today we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus.  We’ve jumped forward around 30 years in time in the gospel story, and we encounter John the Baptist again.  
            Imagine it.  John, out in the wilderness, preaching repentance and baptizing people in the river Jordan.  When Jesus shows up and asks John to baptize him, John doesn’t think Jesus needs to be ritually washed of sin.  And he doesn’t think he’s worthy of baptizing Jesus.
            But Jesus answers, "Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness." 
            Did you hear that?  Jesus is saying, “It is proper for us to fulfill all righteousness in this way.”  He needs John to say yes.
            Now, this is not the way John had envisioned things happening, in the in-breaking of the Kingdom of Heaven.  But Jesus was saying he needed John to say yes to God’s plan, “in order to fulfill all righteousness.”
            I think Matthew is giving us another clue about a major theme in his gospel:  that Jesus has a very different understanding of “righteousness” than the conventional religious leaders of his day.
            In the nativity story we heard a few weeks ago, Matthew tells us that Joseph, who was a righteous man, was planning to send Mary away quietly when he found out she was pregnant.  But an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and told him not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife, for the child she was carrying was conceived by the Holy Spirit.  All this, the angel said, was taking place to fulfill what God had spoken through the prophets.  
            Throughout his ministry, Jesus was frequently criticized by the scribes and Pharisees for his lack of "righteousness."  When he hung out with marginalized people, the good religious people were scandalized that Jesus was eating and drinking with sinners.  When he broke Sabbath laws, the religious authorities criticized him.  And yet later in Matthew we hear Jesus saying, "unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."[1]
            When John proclaimed that the Kingdom of Heaven was breaking into the world, he had it right.  In the Incarnation, God came into the world in the person of Jesus to live among us, full of grace and truth-- as one of us.
            When Jesus had been baptized and was coming up out of the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and resting on him.  And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” the Holy Spirit descended upon him, a voice from heaven says, “You are my Son, the Beloved.  With you I am well pleased.”
            Maybe you don’t remember, but at your baptism, that voice named and claimed you.   We need to remember our baptism.  So, turn to your neighbor, and remind them.    Tell them, “You are God’s child...  God’s beloved.   God loves you and claims you.  [We take a few moments for people turn to their neighbors, even move around the sanctuary, to remind each other that they’re beloved children of God.]

            There’s something else we need to remember:  at our baptism, God gave each of us the gift of the Spirit.   So, let’s turn to one another and remind one another:  You’ve got the Spirit, because God gave it to you when you were baptized. [Again, we take a few moments for people to remind one another.]

            Okay, so what does all this mean? 
            Without the rest of Jesus’ life, his baptism isn’t something we can comprehend.  We can only comprehend the purpose of Jesus’ baptism when we look at the days and years that followed that day in the Jordan.  It’s when we see Jesus taking his place with hurting people that his baptism starts to make sense.  Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan foreshadowed his baptism on the cross.  Baptism was Jesus’ commissioning for ministry.

            During the week before his death, Jesus was challenged by the leaders of the temple:  “By what authority do you do these things?”
            Jesus answers by referring to his baptism:  “Was the baptism of John from heaven-- or not?”    In other words, I was baptized.  That’s how all this started.”  It was in the waters of baptism that Jesus heard the Spirit calling him to speak the truth     and to live with grace.
            Baptisms, like all beginnings, find their meaning after the event.  Beginning is usually fairly easy.  Finishing is usually harder.
             Starry-eyed young couples who are in love come to the pastor, and very often, they’re focused on having the perfect wedding.  It’s part of the pastor’s job to remind them that the wedding is just the beginning.  It’s the living out of the promises they make that’s the hard part...  the part that will make all the difference ten or fifty years from that day.
            Baptism is the beginning of a journey.  We’re handed a map, but we have to take the trip.  It takes our whole life to finish our baptisms to fulfill what was started when we were baptized. 
            In baptism, God proclaims God's grace and love for us.  God claims us and marks us as God’s own.  We have a new identity as members of the body of Christ. 
            The good news of our baptism is that God adopts us as God's own.  God reaches for us and claims us as God's chosen ones.  We are baptized--  not because we have come to God but because God has first come to us.  So we are baptized and begin a lifelong pilgrimage with God...  a lifelong process of conversion and nurture which begins at the font and doesn't end until death--  until we are at last tucked safely into the everlasting arms of the God who first reached for us in baptism.
            God keeps on reaching out for us throughout our lives.  God isn't finished with any of us yet.  Every day we live out our baptism.  Every day we need to respond to God's gracious gifts in our lives, open ourselves again to God's work in our lives, and  say YES in all the big and little things we do and promises we keep throughout the day.
            A major part of God's daily saving work in our lives is God's gift of the Holy Spirit.  Just as God's creating Spirit hovered over the waters in the very beginning, the Holy Spirit works in us,  leads us day by day, and tugs at our lives until we are more and more fully turned toward God. 
            This continuing conversion experience is more strong and more evident on some days than on others. But the Spirit is busy in us every day, prompting us, calling forth the gifts with which God endowed us, and continually calling us into service.
            I believe the Spirit has been busy working in us and our leaders as we’ve worked the past few years articulate a new mission statement and core values for a new time at Littlefield and will continue to prompt us to work on ways to implement a new vision for the coming years.

            On this Baptism of the Lord Sunday, we are reminded of Jesus' baptism and our own.  We are reminded who we are and whose we are.
            At your baptism, the same Spirit came down upon you as came down upon Jesus at his baptism.   The same Father said to you,  "you are my beloved child."   The same Father has continued ever since to hold you and to work to empower you for God's work.  In our baptism, we
            We are God’s beloved children, and we are called to be part of a “beloved community” that will transform the world, as Christ’s light shines through us into the darkness and shadows of a hurting world.    
            At our BAPTISM, each of us is called to be a disciple, called  to discern what God desires for our lives and to do God's will.
            You and I are disciples of Jesus, called to minister in his name. We are all part of the priesthood of believers.  In fact, in the Presbyterian Church, we take this calling so seriously that we ordain our officers for service.  The questions we ask at a service of ordination and installation of elders and deacons--  the questions you'll hear in a few minutes--  are the same questions asked of a Minister of the Word and Sacrament, except one.                          

            How easy it is, in the midst of this life, to forget who you are...  and whose you are.  So the church is here to remind each of us--  that God has named us and claimed us, seeks us and loves us, and calls us to serve as partners in ministry to work together “to fulfill all righteousness.”  
            So let us go out and be the ministers God has called us to be.  Use the gifts God has given you as a sign of the outbreaking of the kingdom of God.  Take on new challenges in your ministry.  Rely on the Holy Spirit to lead and empower and uphold you.  As you go out into the world, be the minister God calls you to be. 

            May it be so.  Amen!

Rev. Fran Hayes, Pastor
Littlefield Presbyterian Church
Dearborn, Michigan
January 8, 2017

[1] Matthew 5:20