Tag Archives: Lent

Shovel in the ground, close-up.

Projects. . .

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

My parents, especially my Dad, loves gardening. When I was 9 years old my family moved to a home with a big backyard in Colorado Springs, CO. The first project that my family and I did together at our new house that year was to completely remodel and reorganize the backyard into a serious flower and vegetable garden. We built huge raised bed gardens, pulled out overgrown shrubs, planted trees, hauled rocks and pavers, and put in new grass. It was a lot of work, but well worth it. Every year since then my Dad plants flowers and vegetables in ever square inch of the garden.

This past weekend, my family and I put together some raised bed gardens at our house. It has been something we’ve looked forward to for many years. Previously, we’ve always lived in an apartment where couldn’t have a garden. It was so much fun to put everything together. I hope Nozomi and Ronin had as much fun gardening as I did when I was a kid.  During our project, we were constantly thinking about what we should do to have the healthiest and most productive plants. Which materials should we use? Where should we put the raised beds in order to get the most life-giving sunshine? Which soil ingredients do we need to use to have the most nutritious soil? How is gardening in Northern Minnesota different than Colorado? Lots to think about and lots to do, as well as lots of happy memories and eager expectation about future harvests.

Throughout the project, as a pastor, I realized I am constantly asking these same types of questions about church. Like my garden, I want Our Savior’s to be as healthy and productive as possible. Like a garden, the question is how best to engage with resources we have. I know the church’s best resource is the people. The best resource is you. You are uniquely talented and skilled, and your talents and participation are greatly needed and always greatly appreciated.

One of the most important and impactful things you can do to nurture the congregation into continued health and productivity is to talk about the fulfilling and meaningful ministries that take place here with your friends, family, and neighbors. Then to invite them to come and see for themselves the magnificent things God is doing here.  To help you gain confidence and comfortability in speaking about what God is doing, here are some sentence prompts which I encourage you to complete. Also, I would love to hear about what you write and how other people have responded to you.

When I talk to other people about Our Saviors, I say ___________________________

One thing that is different now than when I was a kid is ________________________

I hope the church will start _______________________________________________

I’m Lutheran because

___________________________________________________

My favorite part of Sunday worship is ______________________________________

I go to church on a week day to ___________________________________________

As always, it is a joy, honor and privilege to worship with you and to serve as your pastor.

I am always available to you and open to hear your questions, comments and suggestions.

Faithfully yours~  Pastor Erik

 

 

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Reflections of Lent on the Sense of “Hearing”

Pastor Erik’s Lent Reflection 2018

We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life.  (1 John 1:1)

            Just a few weeks ago we celebrated the birth of Jesus at Christmas. Christmas is always a special time of year not just because of all the fun activities, but because we learn and remember that Jesus Christ arrived to us as a person- as human flesh. Jesus is both -100% God and 100% human being.  During Jesus’ earthly ministry there were many people who encountered him physically. The saw him, heard him, touched him and were touched by him. Today, we can also encounter Jesus physically. For example, many of you have already felt and smelled the oily ash that was drawn on your forehead in the shape of the cross on Ash Wednesday. In a few weeks we will smell the wonderful Easter lilies, we will taste the Seder meal, and we will feel the weight of the cross as we place it on our backs and carry it during Holy Week.

This year, during Lent, I want to encourage you to think more deeply about how you encounter Jesus in a physical way.  I am writing a Biblical reflection each week that focuses on the 5 senses. This week focuses on the sense of “hearing.”

John 5:25-29

‘Very truly, I tell you, the hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself; and he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not be astonished at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and will come out—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.

John 10:4

When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.

Romans 10:14, 17

But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? 17 So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.

Genesis 1

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

There is authority in Jesus’ voice- authority to lead, authority to create, and authority to judge. John 5 shows us that his judgment either results in life or condemnation. But how can his voice be heard even by dead people? The details are a mystery, but what we do know is that the Word of God constantly and consistently accomplishes what it says. The Word of God spoke and the earth was created and light began to shine. The Word of God calls out to Lazarus in his tomb even though he has been dead for four days. (John 11:43). When Jesus talks about judgment in John, he places more emphasis on life than on condemnation. His ministry is centered around calling and inviting people toward life, safety and community, and people respond to the Word of God just as sheep respond to the call of a trustworthy and familiar shepherd (10:4).

My advisor from seminary recently wrote in a blog, “Being roused from sleep is almost always a startling experience. A familiar sound — a regular alarm chime, the bark of the dog, a family member gently speaking your name — makes the experience easier on the body. By contrast, shattered glass or a scream in the night starts the adrenaline flowing. Discipleship involves learning to find familiarity in God’s words, so we respond rightly. Such familiarity creates a kind of harmonious resonance, the result of growing into greater intimacy with God. It does not mean a dismissive attitude toward the divine voice as something tame and predictable.”[1] For me, I find comfort in being able to recall from memory lines from my favorite hymns and personally meaningful Bible verses. When I am feeling overwhelmed, scared, nervous etc. I can rely on these familiar words from God to give me peace, perspective and help me through any obstacle. You can rely on the same God’s Word too.

When Paul draws a connection between hearing and believing, he teaches the congregation in Rome something very important about the Christian faith. He teaches them that it involves relationship and interaction with others. It is not about isolation. Faith means something other than following theological doctrines. Faith comes from listening to another’s report. Faith comes from listening to the Word of God being spoken by someone else and entering your ears and being heard. Faith comes when people hear God addressing them. Faith implies a communion shared with a communicative, expressive God. Christ still speaks today, through the scripture readings, sermons, hymns, and prayers. Guided by the Holy Spirit, these words and messages come from the mouths of all his followers, even you personally.

[1] http://www.workingpreacher.org/craft.aspx?m=4377&post=4251

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New Directory!

NEW CHURCH DIRECTORY

 We are excited to announce that we are updating our Church Directory. Lifetouch will provide the services to put together this important community resource. Our link to sign up for a session is https://booknow-lifetouch.appointment-plus.com/ycyx5sbc/ They offer photo packages if you would like to purchase pictures for your family. The dates for our photograph sessions are May 15th-19th. Tuesday – Friday  the sessions will be held from 2pm —9pm.  Saturday,  May 19th, the sessions will be between the hours of 10am-5pm.

We invite everyone in our church to participate, even if you are not planning to purchase a photo package, so all may be included in the directory.

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Lenten & Easter Worship Schedule

We hope you’ll join us for Soup Suppers and Lenten Worships!

  • Wednesday, February 10 – Ash Wednesday Service 6:15pm
  • Wednesday, February 17-Wednesday, March 16 – Soup Supper 5:45pm, Worship 6:15pm

Holy Week

  • Sunday, March 20 – Palm Sunday Worship 9:30am, followed by a Fruit and Muffin Buffet (proceeds benefit Youth and Family Ministry)
  • Thursday, March 24 – Maundy Thursday Worship 6:15pm
  • Friday – March 25 – Good Friday Service 11am
  • Sunday, March 27 – Easter Morning Worship 8 & 10am (Join us for a pancake breakfast between services from 9-10am. Proceeds benefit Youth and Family Ministry.)

Palm Sunday Sermon – Pr. Loren

lentMark 15:1-47

Passion of our Lord B

March 29, 2015

                                                                                    Holy Week begins as our worship began today: “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.” But it ends with the cross and the women, looking on from a distance. This is not what the disciples expected when Jesus entered Jerusalem on Sunday. They somehow expected to see their friend, Jesus, call upon God to make everything right; they expected that somehow he would turn their world around and ascend a royal and divine throne—and that it would all happen very soon. But they did not understand—they did not understand the kind of kingdom Jesus had been talking about. And as the women look out at the terrible scene on the hill called Golgatha, they do not know what to think. This was not what they thought would happen to Jesus.

And it is not the picture of Jesus that we like to imagine either. But look—look at this Jesus—look at this carpenter from Nazareth. Look at him. Look at his crown—a wreath of thorns—see where the thorns pierce through his flesh. See where the drops of blood run down his face. Look at his throne—a cross on which his body hangs—see where the splintered wood gouges his flesh. See how the nails impale his hands and his feet to the executioner’s crossbeams. And look at this body—see how it hangs there helpless. See how his body writhes in agony. Look at his face. See how it turns pale in the face of death. See how he gasps in pain to take another breath of air. And hear the haunting cry he makes from the cross: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” The disciples have all deserted him – only the women remain, and they watch from a distance.

On that Friday, Mary Magdalene, Salome, and the other Mary, and all the rest who had followed Jesus from Galilee went away confused and numb. Was Jesus not the one they thought he was? Could he not have come down from the cross? And why did he stay there and die? The names they had thought belonged to him—Son of God, Messiah, Christ, Savior, Lord—were none of them true? Was he just a man—a prophet, a teacher—another hero who got himself killed for speaking the truth the way he saw it?

Perhaps today we are sometimes as confused about this as the women were on that Friday. Sometimes for us, it doesn’t make sense either. Sometimes Easter just doesn’t seem to happen—at least for us. We are too familiar with death, and what we need is resurrection. Sometimes the whole thing is just plain too unbelievable. We want a God who has power and glory and gets things done. But what we get, is a God who becomes a human being and dies. And finally, if we want to understand this God at all, we have to understand why the cross is so important – why Jesus had to die.

The answer, I believe, lies in the contrast between the glory we might expect Jesus to command and the stark barrenness of the cross. Jesus chooses for himself the path of weakness, humility, and vulnerability, rather then power, honor and glory. By dying, and not saving himself, Jesus demonstrates that power and glory, whether divine or human, are not things to be grasped, but they are things for us to let go of. Jesus was in the form of God, but he did not count his equality with God a thing to be grasped. Instead, he emptied himself. He became human and became obediently human, even to the point of dying. And he did all of this trusting himself wholly and completely to God. That finally is the meaning of the cross—and Jesus becomes the Christ, our Lord and King through his death of the cross—in trusting God all the way to death. Jesus leads us on our way —he leads us into life; but the life he gives comes only through death. So often we want Easter without Good Friday—we want the resurrection without the crucifixion —we want life without death. But it cannot be, because finally the only way to true life is through the gates of death.

On Sunday, the women went to the place where Jesus had been buried—to the place of death. He was not there. He had gone before them, first into death, but then into life. And we have their witness, and faith gives us the power to follow where Jesus leads. And that turns us away from the glory and riches of our world—from all the glitter that attracts us—it turns us from these so that we can follow Jesus as his disciples— living as he calls us to live, and trusting that on the way, such living fills us with life that is abundant—now and forever. AMEN.

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Holy Week Worship Schedule

Holy Week

Palm Sunday Worship Sunday March 29 9:30 am

  • Special music from a joint OSLC and Holy Spirit choir, followed by a muffin and fruit buffet during fellowship

Maundy Thursday Worship, April 2 at 6:15 pm

  • Communion
  • Choir

Good Friday Service, April 3 at noon

  • Special music

Easter Morning Worship, Sunday April 5 at 9:30 am

  • 8-11:30 am Pancake Breakfast sponsored by Youth and Family Ministry

Lenten Message – Brenda, AiM

photo (2)2015 MID-WEEK LENTEN WORSHIP # 4

March 18, 2015 – Wednesday, 6:15 pm

Our Savior’s Lutheran    Church, Virginia, MN                

 

“TO SERVE ALL PEOPLE FOLLOWING THE EXAMPLE OF JESUS”

Texts: 2 Timothy 2:1, 15, 22-25; Philippians 2:1-11; Mark 10:32-45

Good evening. We are now one week and a half away from Holy Week. These past 4 weeks we have been journeying along with Jesus toward the cross through the covenant of our baptisms. We have been exploring what it means to be “Living Our Baptism: [to] Walk Across the Water” as it were by stepping out of our comfort zones. We’ve been reminded “To Live Among God’s Faithful People”, “To hear the Word of God and Share in the Lord’s Supper”, and “To Proclaim the Good News of God in Christ Through Word and Deed”. Tonight we will focus on what it means “To Serve All People Following the Example of Jesus.”

As Children of God, baptized and set free from the powers of sin, we are called to live a new life. A life that is transformed by the love of God in Christ Jesus as well as a life that serves all people. Not just the ones we like…but all people.

This evening’s texts lay out a sort of “job description”, if you will, as to how we are called to live lives of love, faith, gentleness, kindness and service – not just in isolation (it would be easy to be kind if there weren’t any people around! Right?!) But this job description goes beyond individualism. It is just as important, maybe even more important, for the whole community gathered together and for the entire community outside of these walls. Herein lies the challenge to live a life of service following the example of Jesus.

Let’s take another look at what we heard this evening.

* Pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace, and a pure heart

* Have nothing to do with stupid and senseless controversies

* The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but be kindly to everyone, an apt teacher, patient, correcting opponents with gentleness

* Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit

*In humility regard others as better than yourselves

* Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.

And Jesus said,

* Do not lord it over others – it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all.

* For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Hmm…Kind of flies in the face of our culture where we are all bombarded with messages to think about ourselves – how we look, what we drive, where we go, who will see us and notice what we are wearing, how many toys and fun stuff we can accumulate because advertisers are paying big bucks to get you to work harder to make more money so you can buy their stuff… “Nice guys finish last” so get what you can now at any expense to anybody. Really? Is that what discipleship looks like?

Is that what life is meant to be about? Will “things” and “envious looks” bring about deep joy and a purpose in living a life that is meaningful? Does running on the hamster wheel until we are exhausted model the love of Christ? Or, might we broaden our vision and deepen our relationship with Jesus by learning from his example…building relationships with people, offering hope and healing, welcoming, encouraging and accepting others, feeding the hungry and helping those in need, listening to the lonely, rejoicing with those who rejoice and weeping alongside those who weep.

It is through the love, caring and serving of others that Christ’s love is made known to the world. Jesus calls us to serve one another – not grudgingly out of duty – but out of response to the love and mercy He has blessed us with. When caring service is done out of love and kindness, it is noticed. And it makes a difference in the lives of others.

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A couple of years ago, I got hooked on the TV program “The Voice”. I am always blown away by the incredible talent and the stories of the contestants. It’s also kind of fun to hear the friendly bantering between the coaches but you can tell that they still have respect for one another even when they are teasing each other. You can tell they have a passion for music . They do some great coaching. There is also a deep sense of competition between them! The coaches are famous, wealthy and known around the world. They have the world “by the tail” so to speak…but last night, they were the ones who were blown away and humbled by the solid performance of one young man named Sawyer.

Sawyer was partnered up with a young gal who was really nervous. She was equally as talented as many others there but she was just starting out with less experience singing in front of a large crowd. What caught the attention of all the four coaching stars, was Sawyer’s humility and stage presence. Even though his future could be made, detoured or changed by his performance, his care toward the one he was called to sing with was tangible. He refrained from grand standing to gain more attention to himself. His demeanor and humility gave courage to the one struggling with nervous anxiety.

They both sang their socks off and sounded amazing together! However, the judges also noted his deep humility…his willingness to be less (not in terms of his gifts but his public actions) for the sake of the other. He was working as a solid team member. His conduct throughout the hours of rehearsals and competition spoke volumes about his character, about his values, about what is important in his life. I like to think his actions will continue to have an affect not just on the coaches but also with everyone who was watching.

Where is God calling us to serve in a similar manner? To lay aside our egos or personal agendas for the sake of the other team member, for the whole people both inside and outside of this building? And, like Sawyer, to humbly listen and graciously serve the other whether it is in a committee or council meeting, a school function, as captain of a team or first chair in music, or even in a grocery store or your neighborhood? How can we model Christ’s servant hood through our words and actions with care and kindness – not because we “have to” but because it is the nature of being a Child of God! It is our commission given in the waters of baptism and sealed by the promise of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus said, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them…But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

A poem entitled, “Lord, Help Us Walk Your Servant way” by Herman G. Stuempfle, Jr. seems to wrap up tonight’s theme very nicely and will serve as a prayer…

Lord, help us walk your servant way                                                               wherever love may lead                                                                                                and, bending low, forgetting self,                                                                                   each serve the other’s need.

You came to earth, O Christ, as Lord,                                                                      but pow’r you laid aside.                                                                                                                                                               You lived your years in servanthood,

in lowliness you died.

No golden scepter but a towel                                                                                   you place within the hands                                                                                              of those who seek to follow you                                                                                and live by your commands.

You bid us bend our human pride                                                                                 nor count ourselves above                                                                                            the lowest place, the meanest task                                                                                that waits the gift of love.

Lord, help us walk your servant way

wherever love may lead

and, bending low, forgetting self,

each serve the other’s need.

Amen.

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Living Our Baptism: Walk Across the Water

lentLent is a season when God calls us to reflect on the meaning of Christ’s death and resurrection. On Ash Wednesday the imposition of ashes – when you receive ashes in the sign of the cross on your forehead – sets the tone for Lent. Each moment you encounter your reflection, your ashes are a striking reminder that “you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19b). But the cross, a symbol of Jesus’ crucifixion, offers hope.

Similarly, in baptism, you received the sign of the cross on your forehead. Many of us begin our Christian life with baptism, called “to live among God’s faithful people, to hear the word of God and share in the Lord’s supper, to proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed, to serve all people, following the example of Jesus, and to strive for justice and peace in all the earth” (ELW 236).

We invite you to join us in worship this Lent as we explore the love and mercy found in the gift of baptism. The theme is entitled, “Living Our Baptism: Walk Across the Water.” Each week focuses on one of the five questions asked of those making public affirmation of baptism. Join us Wednesday evenings at 6:15 pm, or any of the other special services listed below:

  • Ash Wednesday Worship, February 18 at 6:15 pm
  • Lenten Worship each Wednesday 6:15-7 pm (Feb. 18-March 25)
  • Lenten Soup Supper each Wednesday 5-6 pm

Holy Week

  • Palm Sunday Worship Sunday March 29 9:30 am
    • Special music from a joint OSLC and Holy Spirit choir, followed by a muffin and fruit buffet during fellowship
  • Maundy Thursday Worship, April 2 at 6:15 pm
    • Communion
    • Choir
  • Good Friday Service, April 3 at noon
    • Special music
  • Easter Morning Worship, Sunday April 5 at 9:15 am
    • (contact the church office by Sunday, March 22 at 218.741.6207 to sponsor flowers)
    • 8-11:30 am Pancake Breakfast sponsored by Youth and Family Ministry

Portions of this post reprinted from LivingLutheran at ELCA.org.

Sunday Sermon – Pastor Loren

Mark 8:31-38lent

Lent 2B

March 1, 2015

So what does it mean to take up our cross and follow Jesus? We know that the cross is important. At baptism we are marked with the sign of the cross. The cross is at the center of our place of worship. We know that somehow through the cross Jesus claims us, and through the cross we are raised to new life. But the cross is about what Jesus does. He dies on the cross for us. And we are saved by grace through faith and this is not our own doing, it is the gift of God, not the result of works, so that no one can boast. So if the cross is all about what Jesus does for us, what does it mean for us, who are Jesus’ followers, to take up our cross and follow him?

I think it’s important to understand what the cross meant for the people at Jesus’ time.   While we think about the cross as the sign of salvation and eternal hope in Christ, for the people who heard Jesus tell them to take of their cross and follow him, the image it suggested was political prisoners carrying their crosses to the place of their execution. The cross was the Roman instrument of torture and execution for those convicted of crimes against the Empire. Crosses lined the roads leading from Rome with the 6000 slaves who had joined Spartacus in his revolt a hundred years before Jesus was also hung on one outside Jerusalem. Jews who had rebelled a few years after Jesus’ birth were nailed to crosses that lined roads from Galilee to Jerusalem. The cross was not used to execute common criminals – those convicted of robbery or murder. The cross was reserved for crimes of tyranny against the empire. It was used as a demonstration of Roman power against any who would challenge the Empire and its way of ruling the world. So when Jesus talks about carrying a cross, he’s talking about doing something that could get you nailed to one of those Roman crosses – some kind of opposition to Rome’s way of ruling the world. In the gospel of John, chapter 7, Jesus goes to Galilee to avoid those who are seeking to kill him. When he explains why they seek to kill him he says, “[the world] hates me for exposing the wickedness of its ways.” (John 7:7 NEB)

The Way of Jesus, the Way of the Lord, the Way of God is a way opposed to the way of the world. In the book of Acts, the early followers of Jesus referred to the church as the Way. The first confession of the church was simply, “Jesus is Lord.” It seems that those who were brought into the early church radically changed something about how they lived their lives. They looked to Jesus as their Lord and they sought to live in the way that Jesus taught them to live. And something about that put them at risk of crucifixion.

The ways of the world encourage us to get what we can for ourselves, to get the best deal we can, and to use whatever power we have to make things work for our advantage. That’s what Rome did when it conquered and appropriated land for its own benefit. It didn’t matter that peasants were left landless or that condition of poverty multiplied in the lands Rome conquered. The occupying Roman legions ensured the Peace of Rome, and when people resisted or rebelled, crosses served as a reminder of Roman power. But the Christians refused to say, “Caesar is Lord.” Instead, they proclaimed, “Jesus is Lord,” and they gathered so that they could grow in living the Way that Jesus taught. And what Jesus taught went against the ways the world. Jesus’ way is not about getting what you can for yourself, with the best deal possible, and it is definitely not about using whatever power you have to make things work for your advantage. The way of Jesus is perhaps best described in Philippians, Chapter 2:

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourself. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,

who, though he was in the form of God,

did not regard equality with God

as something to be exploited,

but emptied himself,

taking the form of a slave,

being born in human likeness.

And being found in human form,

he humbled himself

and became obedient to the point of death—

even death on a cross.

We are saved by grace through faith – and it is a gift of God, but we are also created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life. I believe that when Jesus calls us to take up our cross, he is calling us to take hold of that new life for which he has claimed us through his death and resurrection. He invites us to die to the ways of this world and he draws us out of the death creating ways of this world to live as children of the light. The ways of the world teach us to look to our own interests, but the way of Jesus turns us to care for others. It is when we loose ourselves in following the way of Jesus that we become the children of God we were created to be. It is when we live out care and compassion for others that we truly reflect God’s image in our lives.

And while there may not be crosses of execution waiting for those who seek to follow Jesus, we should expect a certain amount of difficulty when we seek to go against the ways of the world. Following Jesus turns us away from our own interest so that we can see the needs of others and tend to them, and even change the way we live so that there is less suffering in the world. When we open our lives to see and respond to the hurts and hopes of the world, we take up our cross and loose our life for the sake of God’s way. And that is how God gives life, to us when we are caught in the ways of the world, and to the world by transforming us into channels of God’s love for the world. AMEN