Saturday, February 24, 2018

Pauli Murray - One Who Followed Jesus

One Who Followed Jesus: The Reverend Dr. Anna Pauline (Pauli) Murray
Freedom is a dream
Haunting as amber wine
Or worlds remembered out of time.
Not Eden's gate, but freedom
Lures us down a trail of skulls
Where men forever crush the dreamers--
Never the dream.

I was an Israelite walking a sea bottom
I was a Negro slave following the North Star,
I was an immigrant huddled in a ship's belly,
I was a Mormon searching for a temple,
I was a refugee clogging roads to nowhere--
Always the dream was the same--
Always the dream was freedom.
            -The Reverend Dr. Anna Pauline (Pauli) Murray
As we ponder this episode in Mark 8:31-38 as Jesus announces that when he reaches Jerusalem, the seat of all religious, political and economic power in Ancient Israel, a militarized colony of the Roman Empire, we ought to wonder. He speaks of the “cross.” This word was, at the time, a vile obscenity representing the most brutal tactic the Empire used to keep people in line – an early tool of “law and order” tactics to squash all dreams of freedom. Jesus says he will suffer, be rejected by the authorities, be killed, and “after three days rise again.” Peter speaks for all the disciples, the crowd, and I suspect some of us, in expressing disbelief and horror that any of this could be true, giving Jesus a strong rebuke.

Jesus then details the essence of what it means to follow “in the Way”: deny your “self,” pick up your cross and follow him. Really? Who would follow someone carrying a Roman Cross to his death? A paid professional torturer like a Roman Centurion? Those caught up in the crowd on their way to work who can’t help getting swept up in it all? Those citizens of all eras who relish seeing someone else suffer brutality? Or, finally, those who also dare to challenge the status quo of systems of domination and are also in line to possibly meet the same fate as Jesus. True discipleship carries steep costs. Simply ask the likes of Dietrich Bonhoffer, Martin Luther King Jr., Archbishop Oscar Romero, the slain Maryknoll sisters, Dorothy Day, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwirner, Helen Prejean, and others who threw themselves into the dirty messes of this world at great risk to themselves. Ask Jonathan Daniels, an Episcopal Seminarian and civil rights worker who was murdered by a shotgun-wielding Deputy Sheriff in Hayneville, AL, while shielding and saving the life of fellow activist, Ruby Sales.

Or, ask The Reverend Dr. Anna Pauline (Pauli) Murray. Pauli Murray was born in Baltimore in 1910, and baptized at St. James Episcopal Church, Lafayette Square (the First African-American Episcopal Church south of the Mason-Dixon Line) by the Rev. George Bragg. She attended Hunter College in New York, working many menial jobs to pay for her education, having many adventures along the way, including being arrested and jailed in Virginia for moving up 2 seats in a segregated bus, and hitchhiking across the country on freight trains. Pauli graduated from Hunter College, and in 1938 was denied admission into the University of North Carolina law school because of her race. She later entered Howard University Law School and graduated as Valedictorian in 1944. During her years there she joined with George Houser, James Farmer and Bayard Rustin to form the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). She also participated in sit-ins at local restaurants, and honed her skills in the non-violent tactics of Gandhi. Murray sought admission to Harvard University for an advanced law degree but was denied admission because she was a woman. She then studied at the University of California, Berkeley, where she received her Masters of Law degree. Murray was a contemporary and friend of Eleanor Roosevelt, and with Betty Friedan she was a co-founder of NOW, the National Organization for Women. She was the author of the 1950 book "States' Laws on Race and Color," which catalogued state statutes discriminating against African Americans, Native Americans, Asians and other groups. Thurgood Marshall said this book was “the bible” for the modern civil rights movement. Pauli Murray contributed to the NAACP's litigation strategy in Brown v. Board of Education and in 1961 she was appointed to the President's Commission on the Status of Women. While serving on the commission and studying at Yale Law School (where she was the first African American to earn a J.S.D.) Murray authored a series of papers outlining a legal strategy for challenging sex discrimination by states. These arguments were first published in an article co-authored with Mary Eastwood after the passage of Title VII entitled "Jane Crow and the Law." She testified on discrimination against women before the 91st Congress of the United States. In 1977, 3 days after the Episcopal Church accepted women into the priesthood, she was ordained by Bishop Creighton in Washington, DC—the first African-Amerian woman priest. She served as pastor to two churches: the Church of Atonement in Washington D.C. and the Church of the Holy Nativity in Baltimore, Maryland, before retiring at the age of 72. Through much of her life she struggled with her sexual and gender identity. It is possible had she lived in more recent times she would have been active in LGBTQ rights as well.

Pauli Murray celebrated the Eucharist in the Chapel of the Holy Cross, Chapel Hill, NC, on February 13, 1977. It was in this chapel that her grandmother had been baptized as “one of five slave children belonging to Miss Mary Ruffin Smith.’ She read the gospel from an ornate lectern engraved with the name of that slave-owning woman who had left part of her wealth to the Diocese of North Carolina. Pauli Murray now stood as a symbol of healing and reconciliation at the altar of the very church in which her grandmother would be sent to the balcony which was reserved for slaves. Here is, in part, what she preached that day:

“As followers of Christ, we are called upon to take risks, to work for the liberation of the body, mind and spirit, to exorcise the unclean spirits that vex us and prevent us from being our true selves, created in the image of God and inheritors of the kingdom of heaven...Each of us therefore, is called upon to proclaim the Good news of God in Christ's redeeming love....My entire life's quest has been for spiritual integration, and this quest has led me ultimately to Christ, the Spirit of Love and reconciliation, the healer of deep psychic wounds, drawing us all closer to that goal of perfection that links us to God and to eternity....We enter into community with others based upon our new self-understanding and we struggle to transform ourselves, our church, and our society in order to actualize a vision...true community is a struggle...we may not live to see its 'victories...but struggle on we must.”

About that day she wrote: “All the strands of my life had come together. Descendant of slave and slave owner, I had already been called poet, lawyer, teacher and friend. Now I was empowered to minister the sacrament of One in whom there is no north or south, no black or white, no male or female – only the spirit of love and reconciliation drawing us all toward the goal of human wholeness.”  (from Mystics, Visionaries and Prophets, Fortress Press, p.398)

Pauli Murray, a woman who understood with every fiber of her being what it means to pick up her cross and follow Jesus. Note carefully that Jesus does not insist that we pick up his cross. Pauli Murray and others throughout the Christian era have set off on their own unique path and understanding of what it means to follow Jesus. We are invited to join them in finding our won way. The world will be better for it if we do.

Here are some final thoughts from Murray dated “Cambridge 1969”:
I sing of a new American
Separate from all others,
Yet enlarged and diminished by all others.
I am the child of kings and serfs, freemen and slaves,
Having neither superiors nor inferiors,
Progeny of all colors, all cultures, all systems, all beliefs.
I have been enslaved, yet my spirit is unbound.
I have been cast aside, but I sparkle in the darkness.
I have been slain but live on in the river of history.
I seek no conquest, no wealth, no power, no revenge:
I seek only discovery
Of the illimitable heights and depths of my own being.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Some Idle Thoughts On the First Sunday in Lent

Fact: It is Lent. Four days of Lent have passed. Sundays are not in Lent: Lent consists of forty weekdays. We are one-tenth of the way through Lent.

Question: Are we one-tenth of the way into Lent?

Opinion: Mark 1:9-15 gets the story of Christ in the wilderness just right: Two sentences. No indication of how many temptations there were. Jesus was in the wilderness forty days with Satan, wild beasts and angels. No recorded conversations. Just the bare facts.

Fact: The Spirit “drove” Jesus into the wilderness. He did not choose to go there.

Question: If this is how God’s Spirit treats God’s Beloved with whom God is well pleased, what is in store for those with whom God is displeased?

Opinion: Some people have suggested that Lent is a time for us to “go to” the wilderness ourselves, or that through fasting we might “create our own wilderness.” I think not on both counts.

Fact: The Bible calls those who follow Jesus “people of the way.” (Acts 9:2)

Opinion: I understand this to mean we are to follow him in his way to God the Father.

Fact: Jesus says, “I am the way …” (John 14:6)

Opinion: We limit this claim of his by thinking of one way among a thousand. Whoever follows the longing of the human heart, whoever is seeking to be with God, is on the way; are people of The Way. It matters little what label we give to that way.

Fact: Holding on to a sign post does not mean “being on the way” to anywhere, even if that sign has the right name on it. What matters is walking in the way.

Opinion: All those who move forward are walking on and in the way. This means finding one’s way by leaving the way behind with every step forward. The raft is not the shore.

Fact: Jesus does not choose to go into the wilderness. He does not create the wilderness through fasting or anything else.  He is driven there by the Spirit.

Opinion: So being on the way means letting ourselves be driven by or led by the Spirit. That is, letting go of control, i.e. not taking control.

Fact: Jesus says the Spirit blows where it wills. No one knows from whence it comes or where it goes. You cannot fit the Spirit into a flow chart!

Opinion: “No One” means no one: not even Jesus. This is why Lent is not a time to go to or create a wilderness. Rather, it is a time to let the Spirit blow us where it wills us to go; where it wills us to be.

Fact: We need to create a little space in our lives to let the Spirit move us to a new place.

Opinion: The wilderness can be said to be nowhere.

Fact: Put a little space in the word “nowhere” and you get the words “now here.”

Opinion: So, the Wilderness, or Nowhere, is closer than we think! It is now here!

Fact: We have already created our own wilderness now here: Any place a child, a teenager, or even adult, can purchase or access a semi-automatic weapon and commit the murder of seventeen other people is already the wilderness.

Opinion: Exile is another word for wilderness.

Question: How much mass murder, guns, drugs, opioid overdoses, domestic violence, sexual harassment, millionaire sports-felons, starving masses of people, murderous dictatorships, racism, sexism, homophobia, neo-Nazi and white supremacist movements do there have to be before a society admits that it is already in exile?

Opinion: So, to get ourselves to the wilderness or exile we do not have to go very far. Now here is already a wilderness and exile of sin and alienation.

Question: So, Lent is not about how to get ourselves into the wilderness, but rather, How do we get out? How do we withdraw from the wilderness? How do we come home from exile? How do we turn away from sin and alienation?

Fact: Jesus withdraws from the organized religion of his day and even John’s revival meeting by going as far away from Jerusalem, the center of political and religious life, as you can get: Galilee.

Opinion: Jesus is returning to the forty-year wilderness and exile sojourns of his ancestors: that place where they learned radical dependence upon the God of the Exodus, and God alone.

Question: If he is in the tradition of withdrawal, from what do we need to withdraw?

Opinion: We need to withdraw from the wilderness of Sin and Alienation.

Fact: Sin is related to the word “asunder.” Sin tears asunder the wholeness in which all belongs together.

Fact: Alienation suggests uprootedness from one’s true self, from others, and from God. And all of this with just one word!

Opinion: Sin alienates. Without alienation there is no sin. An action is sinful to the degree to which it causes alienation. Drawing the consequences from this understanding leads us away from a preoccupation with private perfection toward social responsibility.

Fact: “Working out our salvation” means overcoming alienation in all forms. Not some, not many, but all forms.

Opinion: We cannot work this out ourselves. We need God AND we need each other.

Fact: Belonging is the basic fact of life. All other facts rest on belonging.

Opinion: The path from Sin to Salvation is the way from alienation to belonging.

Fact: Belonging is the basic gift of life and being human.

Opinion: This highlights our need to withdraw from nowhere and now here where we feel alienated and allow the Spirit to move us back to belonging.

Fact: On Ash Wednesday Jesus commends three spiritual disciplines in this order: Almsgiving, Prayer and Fasting. [Matthew 6:1-6,16-21]

Question: Why do modern day Christians tend to only focus on the third, fasting, in Lent? And not the other two? How might our journey out of the wilderness be facilitated by focusing on Almsgiving and Prayer?

Fact: We talk a lot about giving up certain foods, deserts, alcohol, TV, smoking, Facebook, Twitter, our addiction to “screens,” etc etc etc in Lent.

Question: Are we doing this to free ourselves for the Spirit to drive us somewhere new? Or, for reasons of personal perfection?

Fact: Almsgiving and Prayer can lead us out of our alienation from God and others, and therefore toward belonging and social responsibility.

Opinion: The way out of nowhere and now here is not through taking control of our lives, but by giving up all control and allowing ourselves to be led by the Spirit. By letting go of all those things that keep us bound up in sin and alienation.

Fact: Such letting go is what it means to repent, to return, to come home to God. For God is at home, it is we who have gone out for a walk! It is we who have lost our way.

Question: Lent is already one-tenth gone. When are we going to let go and let the Spirit begin our journey out of exile, wilderness and alienation with Jesus? Amen.     

Saturday, February 10, 2018

The Nearness of the Holy

I used to sit on a hillside at the Music Inn in Lenox, MA, overlooking the Stockbridge Bowl at sunset as the colors in the sky reflect off the ripples in the water, a silent breeze whispers through the pine boughs above me, a stillness gives way into a vision that transfigures all that this world is created to be, to become as the God of Elijah, Moses, Elisha, Jesus and Paul speaks into existence, shimmering, peaceful, at rest. The nearness of the Holy. Surely, if the world can look like the lake below now looks we can do better and somehow be transfigured ourselves.

Or, we used to pack-up our instruments for the night, a light drizzle of rain suggesting it will be yet another night not to sleep under the stars in Acadia, but rather another night to drive to the top of Cadillac Mountain on Mount Desert Island so we can wait and watch, for it won’t be long, around 3:00AM, as the first sunrise in America begins to unfold first with purples, blues and greens far off at the edge of the ocean’s horizon, over hours and hours until some golds and reds soften into pinks and shades of brilliant white as the Sun begins to show itself, when all of a sudden a parade of cars circles its way up the mountain disgorging the day’s tourists, cameras whirring and clicking, for perhaps a few minutes, “Oooing and Ahhhhing,” then back in the cars, down the mountain to town for blueberry pancakes having missed nearly the entire show, the transfiguration of the entire eastern seaboard that had once again lasted three or four hours of silent waiting, watching and mysterious wonder at the unfolding nearness of the Holy.

There is a film, Excuse Me America, documenting a visit from the Brazilian Archbishop Dom Helder Camara as he meets with figures like Dorothy Day, Mother Theresa, examining and comparing poverty in America with that in Brazil, and finally with Caesar Chavez as the United Farm Workers are just organizing, and there is this room, a barn, filled with those who pick the fruits and vegetables we rely on for sustenance and good health, and Dom Helder addresses them, my future Bishop who ordained me a deacon George Nelson Hunt off on stage-left, and musicians come out on the stage leading the assembly in singing Amazing Grace, and the music is playing, the people are singing, the room is swaying, and the camera comes in close on Dom Helder’s face under the bright stage lights, eyes looking up, the brightness of the smile on his face, the tears running down his cheeks, tears of joy and hope and peace and justice, his face transfigured into the face of Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God, Bishop Dom Helder Camara who one said, “In the Father’s house we shall meet Buddhists and Jews, Muslims and Protestants—even a few Catholics too, I dare say … We should be more humble about people who, even if they have never heard of the name of Jesus Christ, may well be more Christian than we are.” The moment passes, we are back in the barn with the people, people now energized with hope and power to become the beloved people God has created them to be, and it’s time to return to the fields to seek a living wage having been touched, transfigured, by the nearness of the Holy.

Transfiguration, noun: A complete change of form or appearance into a more beautiful or spiritual state, often accompanied by light, by brightness, by radiance. Like Jesus atop snow-capped Mount Hermon, like Moses on Sinai with the cloud of the presence of the God of the Exodus, God the freedom fighter, God the giver of Torah lessons for living together in peace and justice for all people, Jesus whose clothes Peter, James and John see suddenly turn dazzling white – his inner being as Son of God shines outwardly [Mark 9:2-9], shines as a light in the darkness, the darkness of oppression, the darkness of military occupation, the darkness of being debt-ridden, over-taxed and brutalized by Caesar’s Empire of Endless Exhaustion, talking with Elijah AND Moses! The Law and the Prophets. Peter, forgetting Jesus’ announcement of his suffering and death to come wants to establish a cult of admiration, a shrine. But the cloud of God’s presence overshadows the whole scene and the voice from his baptism in the River Jordan returns once again: “This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him!” As the vision glorious vanishes, listen, to him. Do we listen? Do we now sense the nearness of the Holy?

Paul saw him and listened to him. “For it is God who said, ‘Let light shine out of the darkness,’ who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the Glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” Paul, who says the gods of this world blind us to keep us from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Jesus, “who is the image of God.” The gods of this world, says Paul,  conspire to blind us from seeing the light, from experiencing the nearness of the Holy.

Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Memorial, a place for remembering those who perished in the time of deep darkness, of genocide, there is a memorial for the 1.5 million Jewish children who perished from this world, each one of whom represents a poem never written, a painting never painted, a symphony never composed, a child who never grew up, we enter this memorial as if entering into the depths of the earth itself, and it is dark, and there is only one candle shining light in the darkness, but there are mirrors that reflect that one flame into 1.5 million living flames, while overhead a voice recites the name of each child, 1.5 million names, it takes over a year to recite these names, and when we emerge back into the daylight outside there is not a face in our Jewish-Christian group that is not streaming down the very same tears as Dom Helder in California, as Jesus at the tomb of his friend Lazarus, as 3 million parents in heaven above, or those who survived without their children, must be weeping to this day.

Just one candle, a flicker of a flame, light shining out of the darkness, like those righteous gentiles who helped some escape the deep darkness of those days, the Light of Christ, the Light of the God of the Exodus, sometimes the revolving beacon of a lighthouse searching the darkness, other times the gradual strengthening of rays at sunrise, sometimes a flickering candle, and still other times an overwhelming, brilliant, dazzling Light such as on that mountain top where Peter, James and John saw Moses and Elijah, Elijah who flew up in a chariot of fire with horses on fire as his devoted apprentice Elisha looked on in wonder and fear until “he could no longer see him,” and was then empowered with the spirit, the ruach, twice the spirit of Elijah, which is the wind, the breath, the ruach of God blowing across the darkness of the chaotic waters as God declares, “Let light shine out of the darkness,” to reveal the  closeness of the Holy.

This is the essence of Transfiguration. This is what we are called to be – light in the darkness. Gazing upon the transfigured image of Jesus on the mountain top reveals the nearness of the Holy, empowers us with the spirit, the breath, the ruach, of our creator, and to be light wherever darkness prevails, to glow with the very ruach of Christ like Dom Helder, Dorothy Day, Mother Theresa, Caesar Chavez, like the sunrise and sunset, like a candle in the whirlwind, like so many others who have become light in the darkness, beacons of God’s Hope and God’s Love, proclaiming that yes, there is and always will be light, that yes, you are God’s Beloved, that yes, you can see the nearness of the Holy, you can be the light that shines in the darkness, if only we will stop to see all the moments of transfiguration before us every day, the nearness of the Holy, and reflect the light for all to see, to give hope, and life, and the knowledge of the Belovedness of all people, all of us. Surely, we can do better and somehow be transfigured ourselves. Amen.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Simon's Mother-in-Law-Deacon?

Simon’s Mother-in-Law
In 258, Lawrence, Deacon of Rome, was brought before the court of the Emperor Valerian and ordered to present the treasures of the Church to the magistrate. Lawrence, was responsible for the care of those in need, most especially those who needed food, clothing, shelter – pretty much anything at all. As Deacon he was charged to connect them with the resources of the church so that none would be hungry, thirsty or naked. “Set in the context of Jewish understandings of the abundance that God created when making the world, the deacon was in charge of enacting God’s created intentions.” [Richard Swanson, Provoking the Gospel of Mark, p108] So it was that Lawrence went throughout the city gathering all those to whom he had ministered throughout the years and presented them to the court. When asked who all these indigent-looking people were, Lawrence is said to have replied, “These people are the treasures of the Church.” For this act of faith, Lawrence was martyred.

I bring this up in connection with a story often called, The Healing Of Simon’s Mother-in-Law, Mark 1:29-39, for reasons that shall become clear. Things move quickly in Mark’s first chapter. After returning from his 40 days in the wilderness pondering just what it means to be God’s Beloved Son, Jesus began to announce that the Kingdom of God was at hand. He goes down to the sea and calls four fishermen to “follow him.” Simon and his brother Andrew, and James and John Zebedee leave their nets and boats, workers and family, and follow him. Next stop, on the Sabbath he goes to teach in the synagogue in Capernaum – where today there is a sign at the gates to the excavated remains of that town that says, “Capernaum – the City of Jesus.” While teaching a man with an unclean spirit appears, Jesus carries on a conversation with the spirit, silences it and sends it away. Word of this began to spread throughout the region.

Later that same Sabbath day, he, along with James and John, enter Simon and Andrew’s house. Simon’s mother-in-law is in bed with a fever. Jesus takes her by the hand and lifts her up. Immediately the fever left her and, the text concludes, “she began to serve them.” At evening, after sundown, “the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak because they knew him.” After this frenzy of activity, he goes off alone to a deserted place to pray. Simon and his companions search and proclaim, “Everyone is searching for you!” To which he replies, “Let’s go to other towns so I may preach the message there also, for that is what I came out to do.” They leave Capernaum and he proclaims his message in synagogues and casts out demons wherever they go.

It’s easy to miss what is going on here because of at least two assumptions: 1) the name given to this episode focuses on the healing, and 2) the translators purposely show bias in translating a key Greek word, diakoneo. Diakoneo can mean to serve, but throughout the New Testament it primarily is used of the disciples and other men to mean “deacon,” an office in the early church and to this day; people like Lawrence, Deacon of Rome. When dikoneo is used for women, however, New Testament translators use the word “serve,” as in serving tables. Elisabeth Moltmann-Wendel, in her book The Women Around Jesus, suggests that some rethinking is in order here. Perhaps Simon’s mother-in-law did rise up and feed the people in and around her house, which would be acting in the tradition of Sarah and Abraham who entertained angels unaware!

But what if, asks Moltman-Wendel, if Simon’s mother-in-law “deaconed” to them and others. Perhaps, we might imagine, she got up and went around town and joined in gathering the “whole city” that ends up on her door-step at sun-down – sun-down because that is when Sabbath is over and the “work” of healing and casting out demons can really begin full bore. That is, in the Jewish tradition of sharing God’s abundance, she becomes the first “deacon” in the Jesus Movement, soon to be joined by the large group of women who have followed him from Galilee and have “deaconed” to him and were in fact the link who connected need after need after need with Jesus’ abilities! And these first deacons were those women who in the end were at the cross watching him be tortured to death.

A close reading of Mark reveals that the disciples were no good at this. They are depicted trying to keep people away from Jesus, and urging Jesus to send people away to fend for themselves! Later in chapter 10 they are still so clueless that we find the Zebedee brothers asking to sit at Jesus’ right hand and left in the kingdom. To which Jesus’ replies, “it is not for me to grant, but is for those for whom it has been prepared.” Now this is often thought to mean “only God knows”, or, God forbid, that such “honors” are a matter of “pre-destination.” Jesus, however, goes on to insist that “whoever desires to become great among you will be your diakonos (servant), … because the Son of Man came not to be served (to be deaconed to) , but to serve (deacon).” To be like Jesus is to be like a deacon among us.  Simon’s mother-in-law knows what it means to serve others – all others no matter who, what, or where. Jesus may as well be telling the Zebedees and the other 10, just look back at Simon’s mother-in-law and the sisters who have been with us all this way and figure it out yourselves.

Meanwhile, he wants to put his emphasis on Torah – which rather than law means “teaching” or “practice.” Torah derives from a word associated with a bow and arrow, which needs “practice” to be used well. An associated word, “sin,” means the arrow has missed its mark. More practice is necessary. After praying in a deserted place following the Healing and Exorcism Festival back in town, Jesus resets his sights on teaching – teaching the practices of the Kingdom of God, which are exemplified in acts of “deaconing,” beginning with Simon’s mother-in-law, and the women around Jesus, and eventually Lawrence of Rome.

We are here to continue to proclaim the message of God’s belovedness for all people, and to join Simon’s mother-in-law, the women around Jesus, and brave and courageous women all over the world in connecting people in need with Jesus and the resources that God intends for us to share with the world at-large. We are all called to acts of “deaconing,” not just those who hold that specific office in the Church, but all of us who claim to follow Jesus.

Note, Jesus subordinates his powers of healing and exorcism to the greater need of getting the Word out, proclaiming the Kingdom of God. He does so because his and our proclamation is the only context in which the power of healing gains its true meaning. Alongside our acts of deaconing, our voices joining his to proclaim God’s intentions is a necessary part of following him, and leads to the healing of the world, tikkun olam as Jesus and his associates would call it. As Saint Paul once wrote, the whole world stands on tip toes to see if we will in fact follow him and bring healing and God’s Shalom to all people – all people.  We are to gather all those in need, present them to the powers of empires and declare, “These are the treasures of the church and of the world.” Amen.