Thursday, October 11, 2018

It Is Better!

"It would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea."
A millstone looks like this.
It was a tool used to grind grain, nuts, or corn.
An animal would pull the millstone as it ground what was needed.
You can see from this picture that it was a good size.
So if you were to tie this around someone's neck and throw them into the sea there would be no way to escape.
And we know that this was actually a use of capital punishment.
I can only imagine that this was a horrific way to die.

What are we to do with verses like this in the Bible?
This is a pretty harsh way for Jesus to talk.
It doesn't seem to fit into the Jesus we know.
The Jesus who loves us and forgives us.

If you are somebody who believes in taking the Bible literally then you would have to believe that Jesus is describing a use of capital punishment.
But nobody that I know of is actually suggesting that stopping little ones from having faith deserves this kind of death.
What Jesus is doing is using Hyperbole to make a point.
If you remember last week's Gospel Jesus had placed a small child among the disciples and told them that to live in the kingdom is to welcome a little child.
This week our Gospel is still in that moment.
Jesus is still sitting there with a little child among them.
And one of his disciples says this non sequitur about other people casting out demons.
As a way of saying that the disciples are better than other people.
Again, they don't get what Jesus is trying to say.
Jesus realizes that he has to get them to listen.
So he uses hyperbole to show them how serious this issue is.
They shouldn't stop a "little one" from having faith.

I have been thinking all week about this.
And I don't know if Jesus words here are too harsh.
Because when I think about Priests sexually molesting kids I get really angry.
And I would say it would have been better for them to have a millstone placed around their necks and thrown into the sea then what they did!
Or for that matter any person who commits crimes of sexual aggression.
I have no patience for it.
We can see how much it ruins lives, how much it takes away someone's spirit and life.
So Jesus is on to something.
It is better to have no life than to have a life that ruins and does damage to other lives.

But something else about Jesus saying kept coming up for me.
I have met so many people that are weighed down by so many things.
I have met people that seem like they have a millstone around their neck.
Sometimes people do say, "That is like a millstone around your neck."
And I can see in people's story that they have these things that they are struggling with that are so heavy.

This week I was about to leave my office.
And this women called from Riverbend wanting some help with gas.
She was on the phone crying.
I have become a little too accustomed to people crying and telling me their stories.
I told her I was about to leave but if she came right now I could get her some gas.
It took her longer than I thought to get here, and then she had trouble following me to the gas station.
So I was a little annoyed, because I was late for my next appointment.
I paid for her gas and was about to get in my car.
She came and shook my hand and told me that she would do something to help the church to pay us back.
I told her, "That she didn't have to do that, because this is a free gift."
For the first time I stopped being in a hurry and looked at her.
She started crying.
I could see the millstone, the heaviness of her life in that moment.
And that a free gift was overwhelming.

What if Jesus frees us from the millstone?
We all have the burdens of life upon us.
We all are weighed down by so much.
By death of those we love.
By trying to keep up with the world around us.
By the shame of our sin.
By just trying to live.

Jesus says, "It would be better..."
Isn't it better to live with Jesus than without.
Isn't it better to live with grace.
Isn't it better to live with the free gift.

Jesus words seem harsh, because we read them as punitive.
But I think they more likely explain our lives.
To live in a world as the disciples see it is so burdensome.
Because that world is filled with competition.
Who is the best?
Who has done the best?
Instead Jesus invites us into a better world.
It is a world without competing with each other, or with the world around us.
It is a world where we are who we are.
We are flawed and imperfect.
We are the woman at the gas station so weighed down by life that at the first sign of compassion or freedom we cry.

That is all Jesus is expressing to his disciples.
They have been freed with good news!
And it is better to live with the freedom of that good news then to put stumbling blocks in our lives or in the lives of others.
We often suffer unnecessarily.
Because we can't seem to live knowing that we are loved beyond the universe.
We don't know that sins are forgiven, that this isn't about being perfect, or having it all together.
Jesus is there telling us that we don't have to carry the millstone.

I hesitated to say this next thing, because it might be misunderstood.
And it is politically a fire ball right now.
But One of my friends on Facebook wrote this about Judge Kavanaugh.
"Some further reflection on the painful train-wreck of this week:
As I watched the SCOTUS hearings, watched Brett Kavanaugh clamor and claw his way through his testimony to prove his cleanliness, I thought: Wow.
Now there is some poverty.
That man is full of shame. He doesn’t trust his own worthiness.
He must work towards being (seen) as good and a god, rather than trusting his humanness, his inherent goodness and withness.
And, I felt sorry for him and, gasp -- some twinge of compassion -- because I can hustle for my belonging with the best of them. Because what would happen if he admitted his own fallibility and culpability and need?
Would he not discover grace?
Would there not be the opportunity to participate in God’s energy and momentum of redemption?
(I'm gonna sit in this for myself. As the mother of a white boy who will become a white man, as a white woman, and as a human being. Where am I missing the opportunities for grace and redemption and healing and new life for me, my neighbor and the world? And, don't think for a second that I don't think he should accountable for his actions or that I think he should be allowed to sit on the SCOTUS. I just think Love is up to something...and he is missing it. Where are we missing it?)"
My friend said what I was thinking.
In trying to defend ourselves, and trying to keep up appearances we are losing the free gift that Jesus has given us, not being perfect, and being broken people.
We miss out on the kingdom of God, and we keep the millstone around our necks.
I hope for all of you this week to experience the beauty of being broken.
And that you may experience the free gift of God's grace in your lives.
I hope that you can experience the free gift so that Jesus can take away the millstone from your neck, because it is better to live in God's grace.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Who Do You Say That I Am!

One of the things that kept me from wanting to be a pastor was Jesus.
Not the Jesus I knew growing up as a kid.
Not the Jesus my grandparents and  parents taught me about.
Not the Jesus I heard about at Sunday school or in worship.
But the Jesus who I heard about from other Christians.
The Jesus of exclusion.
The Jesus who disliked certain people because of who they were, or the bad choices they had made.
The Jesus who said that it was his way or the highway.
The Jesus of oppression.
The Jesus who said that if you prayed with Muslims you somehow sold out to your belief in Jesus as savior.

You see the Jesus I heard about in Church.
The Jesus my parents taught me about was one of grace and inclusion.
The Jesus I learned about in Sunday school was the Jesus who loved me, and all the children.
The Jesus I learned about forgave sins, and set us free to live and abundant life.
The Jesus I knew loved the world, and allowed us to live within it without being afraid that we would end up in hell if we made bad choices.
The Jesus my grandparents told me about loved gay people, prisoners, people of other faiths, people experiencing poverty, women who had abortions.
The Jesus I learned about loved us so much he was willing to die on the cross in the most humiliating way possible.

The one I learned about is the Jesus I wanted to serve.
But that other Jesus was so strong in our culture, in our world, I didn't know if I would be forced to serve that Jesus.
And this is why the question that Jesus asks of us today is so important, "Who do you say that I am?"
That is the question.
What Jesus do we serve?

We can see that for people of faith who claim to follow Jesus this has always been the question.
For Jesus' first disciples this was the question.
There were lots of competing narratives out there.
Lots of things that Jesus could have been.
He could have been simply a prophet.
Someone who came to point out all the ways we have failed God.
Failed to live up to the standards that God had put before us.
He could have been just like John the Baptist.
Telling us to repent.
Telling us that our personal choices were not good enough.
Telling us we needed to do better.
He could have been like Elijah.
Sent to do miracles and prove that our God is better than other gods.
He could have been what Peter and the disciples think he might have been.
Sent to conquer the evil Roman empire.
Sent to restore Jerusalem to her rightful former glory.
Ruling with Justice.
Maybe these are things that we wish Jesus was for us.
That Jesus could come and get rid of all the bad things in the world.
That Jesus would come and tell us that we are great everyone else is awful.

I wish I could tell you this morning that my answer to Jesus' question is the one that you should believe to.
But faith is not that simple.
You can't have my faith, and I can't have yours.
We all have to struggle with this question in our own way.
We all have to come to understand who Jesus is for us.
And the truth is that Jesus is big enough to be it all.
Jesus can be for us who we need Jesus to be.

This is what surprised me about this sermon.
I thought I was going to get up here and tell you all that you should believe that Jesus is this and that.
But the more I talked to people this week.
The more I thought about it.
The more I realized that I can't harmonize Jesus for you.
Because Jesus is all those things.
Jesus is a prophet, he is a miracle worker, he does call us to repentance, he does ask for justice.
Jesus is our friend, our brother, our savior, our Lord, our Rabbi, Our Messiah.
And at different times in our lives we need Jesus to be different things for us.
Even the Biblical witness does not say that Jesus is only one thing.
There is not easy answer to the question.
Who do you say that I am?

Even though we all have to struggle to find the answer to that question.
What we can know is that Jesus died and was resurrected.
That regardless of what Jesus means to you at any minute you can know that Jesus loves you enough to die.
That Jesus gave us an example of how do we live, how do we see God is in the dying and rising.
I say this because Jesus strongly rebukes Peter.
Jesus is consistent throughout the Gospel in saying that he shows us the way through his death and resurrection.

I lived in Boston for a year with some friends from Camp Calumet.
One night we were on the roof hanging out, and one of my friends wanted to know why we should believe in God.
He was having a faith crisis.
He told me that he had been to worship recently with his family.
While he was at the communion rail kneeling when he realized that he didn't believe in this.
He looked around and just thought to himself, "This is silly."
We talked about for a while that night.
I don't think I convinced him of anything, and I am not sure I was trying to.
I was simply trying to be a friend and hear him out, and maybe share my own faith.
This weekend that friend came to run Reach the Beach with me.
He lives in California now.
We hadn't seen each other in 27 years or so.
He was telling me about the UU church that his family attends.
I am not sure what happened in the intervening years.
But he must have struggled with that question, "who do you say that I am?"
He must have come to some conclusions that made sense to him.
And that is the same journey we are all on together.
Learning what it means to die and be resurrected.
Learning what it means to follow Jesus.

I eventually made peace with going to seminary.
I eventually found a way to hold on to the Jesus my grandparents, parents, and Sunday school teachers taught me about.
My friend eventually found his own way to make peace with God.

What is your story?
Who do you say that Jesus is?
The answer to that question is everything in our life of faith.
I know as your pastor that I can't answer it for you.
But this morning I am hoping to get you to think about that question.
To ponder what does it mean for you to follow Jesus.

Because it is in the pondering.
It is in the searching.
It is in the dying and rising that we find out who Jesus is, and what it means to follow him.
May your journey be one of death and resurrection.
May Jesus be with you as you struggle to answer that essential question.
"Who do you say that I am?"     Amen

Thursday, August 30, 2018

We Do This

One thing that people share regardless of political affiliation, religion, or age is the belief that world is not as it should be, or could be.
We all have some sense that things are not going well.
There is too much violence, hatred, vitriol, and poverty.
I hear it a lot from people in my congregation regardless of who they are.
They will say, " I can't believe that this thing is happening, or that things is going on in the world."

I want to tell you this morning that this is nothing new.
My mother reminds me all the time that we have always had a world not as it should be.
We might have thought that things used to be better, but they were never as good as we remember.
Our Gospel for this morning takes place as the disciples are returning from being sent out by Jesus into the world.
Right after that we are told the story of how Herod had John the Baptist killed by cutting off his head.
That is the world that we are asked to go out into.
A world where people have their heads cut off, merely for speaking the truth.
All of this begs the question what are we to do about such a world?
There are so many problems that seem so overwhelming.
They seem to close in on us all the time.
Jesus saw this need all the time in his ministry, and now the disciples see it too.
What are we to do?

Twenty years ago this summer I had the greatest job (besides being a pastor).
I was the CIT trainer here at Camp Calumet.
A couple of summers after that I was here visiting Calumet and I saw one of my CITs who was working on puddle that summer.
I asked her, "What are you doing to make the world a better place?"
She didn't miss a beat and replied, "This."
At first I was taken a back, I didn't think that was good enough.
She should be doing more.
Feeding the hungry, protesting war, teaching underprivileged kids.
but then I realized that it was the perfect answer.
This is what we do.
In this world that is never what it should be we should be doing exactly what we are doing this morning.
Gathering together with Jesus, praying, singing, and hearing that God loves us.
Because tomorrow we all have to get back into the world.
We will have to confront again the imperfections of ourselves and the world around us.

This is what the disciples did after they got done being sent out by Jesus.
They gathered again with Jesus.
They told their stories of God's work among them in the world.
This is what we have.
If you think it this not enough, that there is something more sensational that we should be doing, you might be right.

I want to share with you some stories of what I think  it looks like to gather around Jesus in the midst of the world we face.

Liam is the grandson of two of the most faithful members of Concordia Lutheran Church.
Bill and Gail Magan are the people in our congregation that make sure once a month our congregation serves at the soup kitchen, they have been doing it for over 25 years.
They are in worship every Sunday, even if they go somewhere esle.
Liam is a transgender man.
I will not tell you all of Liam's story, because he will be here on Tuesday morning to tell it to us over in the conference center.
But Liam came to our church to tell us his story.
Part of it is that Liam's parents were not supportive of him.
And part of that came from them telling him that God didn't want him to be a man.
Because of this Liam told us he had trouble going to Church.
Liam has a powerful story, and after he left I sent him a text.
"Thanks so much for being here on Sunday.
Your story is inspirational and important.
I don't know if this is helpful but I wanted you to know that God loves you for you."
Liam replied, "That actually means a lot to have you say that!
I was glad to share my story and it was one of the first times I've felt welcomed in a church in a long time."
What are we doing to make the world a better place?
This is what we are doing.
We are reminding people that regardless of who or what they are, God loves them.
This is what we do as Church.
This is what this is all about.
It is a powerful and transformative message.
It is not liberal or conservative it is Gospel.

A couple of times a month in front of the Federal Norris Cotton building in Manchester NH people of faith gather.
We gather there because that is where the office of ICE is.
We gather to support those people who are there to check in.
They might that very day be separated from their family.
They might be sent to Dover to live in a cell.
They might be sent on an airplane back to a country they haven't lived in for 20 years.
When we gather at the building we sing songs, pray, share stories.
And then we walk around the building seven times.
The walk is based upon the story in the Bible when the people of Israel walk around the walls of Jericho.
We have been told by more than one person that our being there for them is a great comfort.
We have been doing it for more than a year, in rain, snow, sun, heat, and cold.
We are not there to protest, we are there as a spiritual symbol to remind the people checking in that in God's eyes no person is illegal.
That God's love is for them in this difficult time.
This is what we do in these times.
We gather, we sing, we pray, we march.
And I will tell you that on more than one occasion I have thought this is silly.
This isn't doing anything.
But as people of faith this is what we have.
We have God's love and we have it to share with others.
It is not about conservative or liberal it is about God's love for all people.
It is for people that are hurting and need others to show up for them.

This is what we do in these times.
In all times this is what we do.
This is what we are doing this morning.
We are gathering together and singing songs about God's love, and reminding each other that we are not alone.
We are sharing our stories of what God has done for us, and for other people.
We are together around Jesus Christ.
It doesn't seem like much, it might not be enough to combat all the evil in the world.
It will not solve all the problems of the crowds that are coming at us with all their needs.
But this is what we have to offer.
This is different than anything else that the world can offer.
We are not giving some grand political solution, those are always dangerous.
We don't offer you utopia, or perfection.
We are giving the world only what we ourselves have been given.
God's love.
Unconditional not based on what country we are from, what language we speak, who we love, what our gender is, or who we vote for.
It often doesn't seem like much, but to people like Liam and the people who have to show up to ICE it changes everything.
So what are going to do to make the world a better place?
Hopefully you will do this.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

You Cannot Bear Them Now

"I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now."
This is how I feel at the end of every confirmation class.
As these fine young people sit here before me I think that there is much still to know about faith and God.
It can't be taught all in two years between 7th and 8th grade.
What these young people have received is the basics.
The baseline of faith.
They received what their parents promised they would at their baptisms.
We learned about the Apostles Creed, the Lord's prayer, the ten commandments, the Bible, and Reformation history.
Those things are the baseline of our faith.
They are the start of the conversation not the end.
But it is all we can bear when we are this age.
It is all that can be taught with the amount of time we have.

But here is always my hope.
That those things will be enough to make you want to know more.
They will be enough for you all to continue to ask questions, and to wonder about God and your faith.
They will be enough for you to at least lean back on at some other point in your life when you need God.
This is the thing about being young is that you don't even know all the ways that you will need God to be with you in this life.
You don't yet know all the things that you will need to face.
And some of those things will be really hard.
It will involve heartache and loss.
I hope in those times that your faith will be what carries you through.

But take heart because Jesus couldn't teach his disciples everything they needed in this three years they were with him.
The disciples didn't even understand all the things they were going to face after Jesus left this earth.
But Jesus assures them that they wouldn't be alone.
That the Holy Spirit would be there to keep them in relationship with him.
The Holy Spirit would continue to teach them the things that they would need to know.
And today I hope that we all feel good about this confirmation of these fine young people.
Because they might not know everything there is to know, but we release them to the Spirit of truth.
We give them over to God.
And we in faith believe that God will be there with them as they go forth from today.
God will be there teaching them about God's grace and love.
God will be there loving them.

Logan, Alex, Emma, Karl, Evan, and Leizel I hope you know that our congregation celebrates this day with you today.
We celebrate that you wanted to confirm your faith.
We celebrate that you have learned some of the basic things.
In faith we give you over to God.
We pray that you will be lead by the Spirit of God.

And we know that in this life you will need God every day.
I was thinking about this.
And in order to demonstrate what we are talking about I wanted to give each of you this sky diver.
On the parachute is written the Bible verse you picked to be your confirmation Bible verse.
Life feels this way lots of times.
Like you are falling through the sky.
Life is going fast, and things seem out of control.
But as people of faith we have a parachute.
We have God.
God helps us to slow down, and to make the landing less painful.

I also did this because this is how our classes would be.
If you ever were around during one of our confirmation classes you would notice that they were loud.
From the outside it would seem like chaos.
It wouldn't seem like confirmation class.
If you are older you might have had a confirmation class were you had to sit at a desk or table.
You had to read the lesson, and the pastor would give a lecture on what it meant.
You maybe had to memorize things.
Maybe you had to take notes, or do homework.
My classes are not like that.
And this class in particular liked to get into the spirit of things.
They were loud, and active.
We had lots of fun.
I really enjoyed these students.
But it seemed like chaos.
But underneath that chaos was something really wonderful.
My confirmation classes are not designed to pump kids full of information.
(Even though there is information shared.)
Because I know that they cannot bear everything now.
It is intended to do a couple of things.
One is to bond the class together.
This class really liked being together and coming to class.
Two, make sure the young people knew that God loves them without condition.
And three to have fun.
We sometimes forget to have fun while we believe in God's grace.

We should always remember that it is within chaos that God does God's best work.
To me that scene on Pentecost is a scene of chaos.
It is a scene were people are speaking many languages all at once, and yet they can still hear and understand each other.
It is God at work in the chaos to form the church.
It is God bringing people together to dream dreams, and see visions of a better day ahead.
When I look at these young people I see in them something wonderful.
The spirit of God.
Logan with all of his passion and energy, with the way he attacks life.
We could always count on Logan for laughs and to ask really interesting questions and to make sure the pastor didn't slip up in any way.
Leizel with her kindness to everyone, with the way that she would go about the task trying her best.
We could always count on Leizel to be kind and thoughtful.
Evan with his charisma, we could always count on Evan to lead us down the lane of crazy and fun.
We could count on Evan to be the life of the party.
Karl with his seriousness and smarts, we could always count on Karl to ask hard questions and go along with the group.
We could always count on Karl to be thoughtful.
Emma with her maturity, we could count on Emma to be the first to participate to be the grown up in the group.
We could count on her to be make sure things did not get too out of hand.
Alex with his constant love of service, we could count on him to help clean up, and to be the person who goes along to make things work.
We could count on him to be the one to give of himself for the betterment of the group.
These six kids give me such hope for the future.
They all have special gifts given by God.
And today we celebrate those gifts, and we look forward to the ways that the Spirit will move in their lives.
We give thanks that God will be there to shelter them, and slow down the hard landings.

"I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now, and this sermon has gone on long enough."
So let me end by thanking God for Emma, Alex, Logan, Karl, Liezel, and Evan!
And know that the Spirit of truth will continue to guide them in faith.
The Spirit will continue to teach them the things of faith they will need to know.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Easy to Love

I was thinking a lot about love this week because of today's Gospel.
"Abide in my love" Jesus tells us.
I have preached on numerous occasions that love is difficult.
How love takes discipline and devotion.
That is true.
Love can be difficult at times.
It is most assuredly difficult to love those that can't or won't love us back.
It is difficult to love people who are unlovable.
This week I experienced something different.
On Tuesday I went to a prayer vigil for immigrants facing deportation.
At that vigil I heard the stories of people living life in fear.
I heard stories of immigrants that don't feel welcomed here, even if they are citizens.
What I felt while listening to those stories was love.
Love for those people who are having to go through very difficult times.
My heart was big and I felt that I wanted for all of them a better life.
This is what Aristotle and Aquinas called the love that wills another's good.
I wasn't mad, I just felt love.
Also on Tuesday I met with some of my colleagues from Concord for lunch and sharing.
We shared about things happening in our lives.
Some very difficult things.
And what I felt in that meeting more than anything was love.
Love for these people who I got to share intimate hurts with.
On Wednesday night I went and heard from Combatants for Peace.
People from Palestine and Israel who used to serve in the military who now advocate  for peace.
Again, I heard difficult stories of violence and injustice.
I heard stories of fear and prejudice.
But also of redemption and forgiveness.
And all I could feel in those moments was love for the people telling them and for the people of that region who are locked in a long struggle for peace.
As I went about my other tasks as pastor.
Bible Study, committee meetings, delivering health kits,  Cinco de Mayo lunch with one of our members.
I remember that our community is built on love.
I feel love when we are together doing the work of the church,  building relationships, giving for others, planning worship.
I was amazed how easy it was this week to experience love.

And that is what I want us to talk about today.
How easy it is to love.
It is true that love can be difficult, but this morning I want us to know it can also be easy.

It can be easy not because people are easy to love, not because the world is wonderful all the time.
It can be easy to love because we here this morning believe in Jesus Christ who came to show us God's love.
Christians are about love.
Jesus told us this morning, "Abide in my love".
Because of this love should be for us easy.
It should be second nature.
When we are confronted with people that are suffering or hurting we should think about Jesus Christ suffering for us and remember that Jesus suffers along with the world because of his love for the world.
When we are confronted with someone who is deemed unlovable.
We should remember that Jesus loves us.
Jesus loves us even though we don't deserve it, we haven't earned it.
Jesus just loves us.
There are times I feel or think I am unlovable, and yet Jesus loves me anyway.
Jesus tells us this morning, "You did not choose me but I chose you."
We are here this morning because Jesus chose to love us.

Love is a constant theme in John's Gospel.
It is a thread that runs through the whole thing.
From John 3:16 ("for God so loved the world) all the way until the end.
Everything Jesus does and says is to show us God's love.
In John's Gospel Jesus dies on the cross so that we might see his love for us.
And when we remember Jesus' love then love isn't so hard.
When we recall that Jesus loves the world.
Jesus loves his disciples.
Jesus loves the sinner.
Jesus loves us.
Then love is just what we are about.

So when we are out there in the world.
When we are hearing difficult stories about hatred, injustice, prejudice, and violence.
When we are confronted with people who seem unlovable.
When we are confronted with new information that doesn't seem to go along with what we thought.
When we are told stories of other people that are different from ours.
It is natural to feel love, to reach out with that love.
At the vigil after we heard a story from one of the immigrants we would pray this prayer, "Dear God of love help us to love."

I have been accused at times of preaching about politics.
I accept that some people see it that way.
I want you to hear me out this morning about this.
My defense of it is that for me it is not about politics.
It is about love.
I am not telling you this morning what you should think about any political issue.
I am telling you that regardless of the person you encounter in life you should love them, not because I said it, but because you know that Jesus loves you.
I know that everything is political, because certain people twist things to make it about who we vote for, or which side we are on.
But what I as your pastor am always trying to get you to see is that it is about love.
"Loving your neighbor"
Abiding in Jesus love.
To be present with people that are suffering, to pray with them, sing with them, hope with them, to love them.
That might be political but it is also what Jesus calls us to do.
Love is political, because someone will always say that you can't love that person.
They are not the right person.
Jesus encountered this all the time.
It wasn't right that he ate with gentiles, with prostitutes, with tax collectors, with the poor, with the rich.
I would hope that you expect nothing less of your pastor.
I would hope you would want a pastor who loves, and who is in the world trying to show that love to others.
If you don't want it from me, it means you don't want it from yourself either.
And if that is true then it is a problem, because we are not abiding in the love of Jesus.
That is what a church is a group of people abiding in the love of Jesus Christ.
And that love is to exist when we are together, and when we are out there in the world doing whatever it is that we are doing.

This week I hope you think about love.
I hope you see how easy it can be to love.
Because you know of Jesus' love for you.
You know that Jesus is your friend.
You know that Jesus choose you.
Abide in that truth.
Live in that truth.
And when you do it will be easy to love.