Sunday, April 27, 2014

Home to Emmaus

Luke 24:13-35
This has long been one of my favorite pieces of Luke's Gospel.  Perhaps that is because I can just picture Cleopas and the other disciple walking with their heads down, trying to make sense of all that had been theirs to see and hear, especially in those last several days.  We know nothing more of them, of course.  They are not part of the inner circle of Jesus' disciples -- at least we have not heard them named before now.   And yet they have been close enough to these astonishing events that they know it all --- right down to the witness of the women at the tomb early that morning.  Even so, they have decided not to stay behind closed doors with the others.  Apparently they have seen enough and they have decided it's time to go home.

I get that.  Indeed, as I was thinking through this story again in these last days I was taken back to a journey I took a long time ago.  One that held some things in common with the walk these disciples found themselves on.

I was twenty-two years old --- a senior in college.  It was early May and I was wrapping up my time in that place which had been gift and delight to me for four years.  The call came that our beloved cousin, Susan,  had died after a courageous battle with cancer. She was just shy of thirty years old.  And so early in the morning in the middle of the week my sister and I drove from Iowa to Wisconsin for her funeral.  We turned around and drove back that night so as to only miss one day of class. 

Only my heart wasn't there on that college campus which had been my home for four years. And so on Friday afternoon, we packed up our things again and we drove home to Illinois for the week-end.  Home where we had grown up.  Home where my folks still lived.  Home to the safest place in all the world.  For you see, there was simply nowhere else I wanted to be, no place else I needed to be then..

Looking back I know that was because with that death, the world no longer looked the same to me.  Oh, I had experienced loss before, but none like this.  None that so clearly and painfully brought home the truth that sometimes terrible things happen to those who seem to deserve them least.  That not all deaths are good ones. And that sometimes, some regrets never really go away.  For time, at least here among us, can run out.  Which it had for me. For it is so that, in my busyness that year, through the worst of her illness, I never went to see her.

So yes, I have a window into the walk that Cleopas and his traveling companion shared that first Easter day. Their world had also been turned upside down.  And not only once of course for nothing was ever to be the same again when they left their lives behind to follow Jesus in the first place. And now it's turned over again. Having followed him all the way to Jerusalem, they've seen it all come to a horrific end. Indeed, we can be certain that their walk home was marked by grief and confusion. And yes, I do expect that they, like the other disciples, were now also living with a sense of regret for all they did not do that they could have, should have done.  As they make their way towards home they are left only with their memory and every trudging step this must have caused them pain.  Even though they, too, had heard the outrageous rumor that Jesus was not dead after all, they were still going home. Back to the familiar, the safe, the comfortable. Back to people who knew and loved them before their worlds had turned upside down. 

Only while perhaps all they wanted to do was go home, home is clearly not where they were meant to be.  Indeed, even as this part of the story begins, it is evident that while they may have left Jerusalem behind, what they had seen and heard there wasn't leaving them.  Even while they are making their way towards home, they are pursued by their still raw memories and pretty soon it is clear that they are also pursued by Jesus himself. Even though they don't know it yet.
Of course, before the night was done, they would know exactly who it was who walked them home.  And before that night was past, they will have retraced their steps all the way back to Jerusalem.  Only this time they run --- eager as they are to share what they have seen and heard!

A long time ago I took the sort of journey those disciples did as they walked to Emmaus.  I know what it is to only want to be home. To gather with others who knew the loss I had known and to find the start of healing among them in that safe and familiar place.  I expect that as they made their way, Cleopas and his companion expected the same.  Only it was not to be.  Indeed, their healing and hope was theirs to be found in the very place they had just left behind. Among others who had walked the same path, who had followed the same hope, who shared the same regrets, and who had staked their lives and their hearts on the life of Jesus. Their home was no longer in Emmaus.  Their home was wherever it was they would meet Jesus next.  And that could be anywhere.

Now I have to say that more than thirty years ago, we did not meet Jesus on the highway as we drove home late on a Friday night in May.  Not the way these disciples did. And yet, I expect we did meet him in the companionship and tears and laughter we shared with one another as the miles passed. And yes, I expect we did encounter Jesus as together we recalled a life marked by both joy and struggle --- a life which had been shaped and grounded in faith. And, to be sure, I expect we did meet Jesus as we were gathered in and cared for and fed before we were sent on our way again back to the lives we were meant to live from there on out.  I knew those were true even then.

But this is what came to me later. As I looked back I could see that, in fact, my heart was burning within me even then as I received gifts I would turn to again and again and again. For in the years since I have realized that I have met Jesus over and over again when the next time and the time after that came and I remembered how important it is to go when called: for time can, indeed, run out in this life. Oh, I have met Jesus over and over again when I have walked into pain instead of coming up with a convenient excuse to avoid it altogether: as I'm afraid I did so long ago.  As Jesus did.

And surely I have met him, also, whenever I have experienced the forgiveness of others when I have failed to do and be all that I should.  Indeed, this was so even the day of Susan's funeral so long ago.  This is how I remember it. We pulled up to the church and found our way in.  Her now too thin body lay there in the casket in the narthex --- her head wrapped in a scarf.  I was simply overcome.  And as my tears of grief and fear and yes, regret fell, my cousin, her brother, Marty came up beside me and speaking gently he said, 'She loved you, you know.'  It was a moment of pure grace which I will never forget. Yes, Jesus was there in that and every time like it since.

And yes, I have met Jesus, too, whenever we gather at the table as Cleopas and his traveling companion did so long ago.  I meet Jesus again whenever I speak words recalling all the "choirs of angels" who join us when we break the bread and pour the wine.  For I know that Susan and so very many like her are among them. And I meet Jesus again when I hear and repeat the promise that the promises of forgiveness and life are 'for you and for you and for you.' And as they are repeated back to me as well.  As it was so long ago when I stood weeping at her casket.  Oh yes, as Jesus was known then in the breaking of the bread, he still is.  Every single time.
  1. Like Cleopas and the other disciple, have you ever walked a road to Emmaus? What do you recall about the journey?
  2. Did you meet Jesus on the way?  How was this so?
  3. As you look back, can you recognize now how your heart was 'burning within you?'  What do you know now that you did not quite know then?  How has it changed your life, your living?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Bright Red Cellophane and the Easter Promise

Matthew 28:1-10

I must have been about seven years old.

We had gone to visit our Grandpa for Easter that year.

I was standing in the kitchen. Although there were people all around me, the room went silent in my mind as I looked up.  On the top shelf of the small closet which stood open before me, half tucked behind winter scarves and gloves was a roll of red cellophane.  You know the sort --- the kind that is used to wrap Easter baskets.  The sort that only the Easter Bunny should have had.  It was out of place in that spot on the closet shelf and I knew it and in that moment any number of dearly held childhood beliefs came crashing down around me, including but not necessarily limited to the Tooth Fairy and Santa Clause.  I was young, it's true, but I made the connections pretty quickly.  If one thing was not true, then it seemed obvious that the rest would not be either.  Oh I know I would have come to this eventually.  How is it possible that a small being with wings would know when to slide a quarter under a six year old's pillow?  How is it possible that a rabbit --- who by the way has no opposable thumbs for such as this --- should be able to deliver countless treat-filled-baskets the whole world over --- or for that matter, have the means for keeping track of when Easter would fall?  How is it possible that reindeer fly and that toys be delivered down chimneys --- even where chimneys have no outlet into living rooms  --- by a kindly large man in a red suit --- and all over the world and all in one night?  At seven, in an accidental moment, I knew it wasn't true.  But I harbored my newly founded unbelief in the silence of my own heart, admitting to no one my heartbreak.  I had younger sisters, after all, who still believed.

Later, when pressed, and still to this day, my now 83-year-old mother will say that yes, she does believe in Santa Clause.  Only not in the conventional sense, I suppose. Rather she believes in the power of that goodness and generosity that lives in all of us and somehow, sometimes, becomes even
more so late in December.  And maybe that's what we get in this life now.  Maybe that is what is for us now.  And maybe that is enough.

(Now allow me to interrupt myself to say that if I preach this on Sunday I will do so with a great deal of care.  It goes without saying that one's childhood beliefs should never be shattered before their time.  And there will be children listening, too, who have not yet spied their own red cellophane on their grandpa's closet shelf!)

Because, you see, I wonder, if we do not find ourselves in the same place when it comes to the angel's message now?  I wonder if I have not stood at too many gravesides, shed too many tears, witnessed too many immovable, impassable stones that close in on the tombs which have become our dwelling places.  Indeed just like that roll of red cellophane which caught my eye and broke my heart so many years ago, all the evidence points to the opposite of what prompts our Easter Alleluias now! 

And then I see something like what I have seen even in these last days.

I see the woman not much younger than I who has been looking for a place to do community service and no one would have her.  Like so many who wind up in my office for this reason, her life has been in a downward spiral for some time now.  I listened gently to her story.  I pulled some other staff in and we brainstormed some ways she could get those hours done.  It's Holy Week and these are busy days, of course, and there is much to be done and another set of willing hands is always welcome.  When she left, her eyes shone with tears and she threw her arms around me and hugged me.  For maybe, just maybe the crushing weight of her broken life would not have the last word.

Or I see another standing at the foot of the stairs at the elevator door on Palm Sunday.  She has been seriously ill and for a number of reasons she has been away from a community of faith for some time.  She had her oxygen tank in tow and she looked up with the biggest smile on her face.  Oh, maybe, just maybe life holds something more than the next doctor's appointment and the mounting pile of bills on the kitchen counter.

Or I see our parish nurse leaning over my desk, speaking to a young mom whose newborn just came home from the hospital, arranging for a meal to be taken to them. Their little one came way too early, you see, and his very life has been precariously fragile, but now he's home. And I know that this young family has been on this journey from darkness to light, from despair to hope and that they have seen the evidence in their arms of the power of life even now. But what struck me then, especially, was the wonder of seeing a congregation care for a family which has not yet 'joined' us in the formal sense.  What stays with me now and fills me with hope is this certain evidence that we are learning that the gifts we have been given are not just for ourselves alone.  Rather, the promise of the Easter Alleluia! is for all the world to hear and to receive!  Oh yes, maybe, just maybe our life together holds something more than just what has been.  Maybe, just maybe, we are awakening to the certain truth that this gift of Easter Life is ours to share with all the world!

Early on Easter Morning I will travel as I always do to a cemetery.  I have done it in snow and cold and rain.  I have done it with a handful and I have done it with a crowd.  And once more this year
with a group of hardy faithful we will speak the Easter Promise the angel passed on to the women outside the tomb early on that first Easter Day.  We will speak the names of those we love who are buried in that place:  parents and children, brothers and sisters, neighbors and friends.  And with each precious name we will shout the truth "Alleluia! Christ is Risen! He is Risen, Indeed!  Alleluia!"  And while we have no expectation that we will feel the earth quaking beneath us or that we would witness the graves opening around us, (can you even imagine!) even so, something still quakes within us as we turn to one another with hearts softened and hope reborn knowing that maybe, just maybe, this death, this despair, this darkness is not all there is.  And while we wait, still, for the day when death will be no more because of the promise of the first Easter.  While we wait, still, for that wondrous day when the stone will be rolled away in our cemeteries and in our lives, we are encouraged as we see that death does not have the last word even now!  Not in ourselves and not in one another! And no amount of misplaced red cellophane on a closet shelf can take that away!

  • How have you seen the promise of and hope of 'maybe, just maybe' breaking into your world of late?
  • How have you experienced shattered hope and trust put back together again?
  • Somehow, I find it almost easier to preach 'Good Friday' than it is to preach Easter Joy.  Evidence of death can seem more pervasive than evidence of life. Do you find this is so?  How is it that we nurture eyes of faith that we might still see God at work in the world?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Holy Grail

I Corinthians 11:23-26

They say they found the Holy Grail a few weeks ago.  And it was hiding in plain sight.

Now I don’t know a lot about the search for the Holy Grail.  I know that it has motivated searchers for centuries by now --- rooted in the time of the Legend of King Arthur and coming alive now in many or our memories on the big screen in the danger laced quests of Indiana Jones.  

This is how the news story began:

Two historians claim the search for the Holy Grail is over.

The famous cup used by Jesus during the Last Supper was identified in a book written by Margarita Torres Jose and Manuel Ortega del Rio titled "Kings of the Grail" and published last week, as the jewel encrusted goblet on display at the San Isidro Basilica in the Northwest Spanish city of Leon.

Now for the sake of full disclosure, let me say that I have always been skeptical of such announcements and the science/history that lays behind them.  When the news story first caught my eye, the "Holy Grail" as pictured there had me shaking my head immediately.  I simply knew there was no way an ornate cup like that would have been used by Jesus as he spoke to his closest followers saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood."  If you read deeper into the story, however, you will discover that the theory is that the gold and jewels were added later and that they cover up a more plain cup made of onyx --- of the sort that possibly could have been used in the time of Jesus by Jesus.  Even so.  As I understand it, any "proof" of this connection is based on ancient testimony, much of which was not recorded until centuries after this Holy Meal was shared.  And to simply place it in the approximate time of Jesus, does not necessarily place it in his hands on that fateful night.  So yes, I am skeptical. And even if it was the one, I wonder, what would that finally mean?

And yet, there is something about ‘objects’ which tie us to one another don’t they?  I think, for instance of the time that I got in a bidding war on Ebay for a high school football program circa 1946 which had my dad’s name listed on the roster along with his relatively small height and weight. I wanted that program with all my heart.  For it tied me to him, somehow, even though I knew he never would have laid hands on this actual program, still it stirred up the stories his brother still told of his big brother's fierce presence on the field and has us wondering, even now, if his determination and strength were passed on to us.

Or I think of the plastic garbage bag of lace tablecloths I rescued from the garage sale pile at my mother’s house last summer.  It was those same lovely cloths which graced our festive family meals. At Thanksgiving and Easter and Thanksgiving and Birthdays, Mother would have us lay them on top of the solid colored cloth which covered our table set for six or eight or twelve or however many would be pulling up their chairs that day.  Its presence there reminded us that the one we were about to share was an especially special meal. Set apart from the hundreds of other family feasts we had shared at that same table.  It didn’t seem right to just sell those tablecloths for they tie me to memories of belonging and laughter and joy.  And so I set them aside.

Only here is the truth. Those tablecloths are still in the bag. They’re not really my style and even if they were, I don’t entertain that much --- especially at holiday times – for those are busy work times for me.  They sit in the bag where I plan, this week, to see if my sisters might like them. For they lose their meaning, their value, and certainly their purpose if they are not used, don’t you think?

Which perhaps is why the quest for the Holy Grail and the possibility that we have actually found it leaves me just a little cold. For what good is a tablecloth that sits in a plastic bag?  What good is an ornate cup which sits behind glass and which now has been put away out of sight until they can figure out what do with all the crowds which have come to see it now that its ‘true identity’ has been revealed?  For that matter, just like those special objects which evoke our deepest, fondest memories --- what good are they if those memories are not somehow passed along in a way that can shape us and change us and make us all the more who we were made to be?

Indeed, it seems to me that what makes the Holy Grail holy is not the cup itself, but what it actually held and could still hold.  What makes it Holy is that passed from one to another in the sharing of a meal, it bound Christ’s disciples to Jesus and to one another. That it held the promise and gift of forgiveness. What makes it Holy is that in the wine poured out it pointed to the very blood of Jesus and to the sure and certain truth that the betrayal, and abandonment, and mockery, and suffering and dying that Jesus would do would be done for you and me and all the world out of a Holy love. And that, finally, even all of that would not have the last word.  What makes the ‘Holy Grail’ Holy is that the gift it held so long ago is now and will always be ours to receive and to share and to be changed by even now.  And that means it that the Holiness that matters is not confined to one jewel encrusted goblet in a museum in Spain.  Oh no, what this means is that every chalice which graces every altar, around which God’s people gather, every time we do so, is especially Holy.  For God is still working in and though this very bread and wine, transforming lives.  And that is Holy.

For it is not the cup itself which gives this night meaning. It is not even the fact that a special meal was shared by an itinerant preacher and his followers so long ago. And no, it is not really about what was on the menu that night, but rather the meaning and the purpose which was attached to bread broken and wine poured.  Indeed, it was what came about later that night and in the days that followed which deepened the meaning of that the cup.  Oh yes, what makes it Holy was and is the certain truth that we gather still to repeat and share this story of this one meal and now to feed one another bits of bread and sips of wine.  What gives it meaning is that this sparse meal still feeds us in all the ways that matters.

Perhaps they did find the ‘Holy Grail’ a few weeks ago.  And if that is so, it surely holds some meaning for all of us who look back in these Holy Days to the gathering where it would first have been passed around.  Only its meaning doesn’t rest behind glass in a museum in Spain.  Its meaning lives with and for all of us and for all of the world whenever bread is broken and wine is poured and forgiveness is shared in Jesus' name.  In fact, it is so that for you and me, it seems to me, it was never really lost.  It’s been right out in plain sight for us to see and share all along.

  •  What do you make of the Holy Grail being found in a museum in Spain?  Does this possibility deepen your faith or not?  Why is that?
  • Can you think of other things --- tangible or not --- which people seek with a desperate single mindedness?  Can you see how they might 'tie us to one another' across time and space?
  • What makes this special meal Holy for you?  What is it that you hope to receive when you receive the bread and wine once more this week?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

"Humble and Mounted on a Donkey..."

Matthew 21:1-11

I find myself thinking about the donkey and her colt which
Jesus rode into Jerusalem so long ago.

Now let me say first that I never much thought about the donkeys before, but this time through they caught my attention and my imagination.  As I have sat with them this week, I have come to know some new things.  But first let me offer what I thought I knew, but apparently did not. (I do recognize that there are those among us who hold first hand experience of donkeys.  I do hope you will share what you know!)

First, many of us do tend to think of donkeys as stubborn--- thus the expression "stubborn as a mule."  And yes, as I understand it, they are known to be stubborn.  It turns out this is because donkeys have a strong instinct for self preservation. They will do all they can to keep themselves out of harm's way.  I would guess --- although I have to say I haven't actually done it -- but I would imagine this is why one rides a mule train and not horses down into the depths of the Grand Canyon.  For if they are known for keeping themselves safe, they will surely keep you safe as well.  And yet, while they are known to be stubborn, apparently once you earn their trust, they will mostly do whatever you ask.

And I have to say that when I have had cause to think about them, I haven't thought of donkeys as being all that smart.  I turns out they are.  Indeed, just check out this timeline of the 'history of the mule' here.  For that matter, for some of us of a certain generation, that erroneous understanding of a donkey's intelligence may be been forever debunked by our acquaintance with Donkey in the movie "Shrek." For he was certainly 'smart' in all the right ways.

As I think through what we know of donkeys from our faith journey, I am struck by the parallels:

For instance, King Solomon, many generations before Jesus, rode to his coronation on a mule or a donkey. (See 1 Kings 1:32-37)  This is certainly a reflection of royal humility.  In the same way, Jesus rides a donkey here.  Only before he's done, this King will wear a different kind of crown.

And there is this as well.  Some of our most beloved images of the Christmas Story include Mary, with Joseph walking beside her, riding a donkey into Bethlehem. After that journey, of course, Jesus would be born. Mary's suffering would lead to life. Today we see Jesus riding a donkey into Bethlehem --- towards his death and not his birth.  This suffering would lead to life for all the world.

Finally, here is what I have learned of donkeys in these last days. I do have to say that these small pieces of information lend new insight and have really made it all come alive for me:

Apparently there are more than 40 million donkeys alive in the world today.  Ninety-six percent of them live in underdeveloped countries.  They are owned and used by poor people.  They serve as pack animals.  Their energy and movement is harnessed for pumping water for the thirsty and milling grain for the hungry.  Knowing this, is it really any surprise that Jesus, who so identified with the poorest of the poor that he said, "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink" (Matthew 25:31-46) would ride into town on the service animal of the poor?

And there is this, too:

Sometimes donkeys are used to protect sheep and cattle and goats.  (Follow this link for an example.)  Evidently once a donkey has bonded with a herd, it will protect them against canine predators such as foxes and dogs and coyotes in the same way it would protect one if its own.  At night when it beds down with the animals if it hears a strange noise it will bray a warning to the herd and then will chase, often trampling, the predator.  And again I wonder: how fitting is it that the one who said, "I am the Good Shepherd" should ride a donkey into Jerusalem.

And this is the piece I expect I will never forget:

Donkeys are herd animals.  The strongest donkey will always be chosen to be leader of the pack.  In the wild, that lead donkey will stay to ward off an attack by a wolf or other predators in order to allow the rest of the herd to escape safely.  Once again: "I am the Good Shepherd.  The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep."  (See John 10.)  Of course Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey!

For we know that Jesus could have walked into the city that day.  Or for that matter, he had some connections with the wealthy (think Zacchaeus or Nicodemus.)  Certainly he could have borrowed a horse instead.  Rather, he sent his disciples to get a pair of donkeys:
The pack animal of the poor.
The protector of the vulnerable. 
The one willing to die so that others might live.
 As Jesus did. 
  • I found myself surprised at how well the 'donkey works' as Jesus' means of transport into  Jerusalem.  Indeed, I feel as though I have overlooked the obvious for all these years.  Still, I am delighted in the surprise.  What do you make of it?
  • The symbolism of the donkey is something I took for granted or overlooked in this passage.  Are there other symbols offered in this account which would help bring story to life as well?
  • What might Jesus ride into town today?  Would the donkey still work just as well or might he choose something else?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Let the Same Mind Be In You...

Philippians 2:5-11

If I'm honest, the poetry and cadence of these familiar words from Paul's letter to the Philippians almost always washes over me in such a way that I tend to lose track of its powerful and practical meaning for how I live in and interact with the world.  It is easy to get lost in the vivid description of how Jesus acted in our behalf.  Perhaps this is why it is just as easy to overlook those first words of this section which remind us that this is not only something to be observed, but that it is something which followers of Christ are to strive to live as we allow the "mind of Christ" to be in us.  Clearly, not only am I to recognize what Jesus did and how he did it.  I am also supposed to emulate it: in the same way emptying myself, taking the form of a slave, being humble in my humanity with other humans, and exercising obedience.  Perhaps I over look this, too, because, to be honest, this goes against much of what this world has taught me.

Oh yes, it is a daily, sometimes hourly struggle, this business of letting the mind of Christ be in me.  And it's challenging enough on the good days, let alone in those times when I find myself at odds with another.  Indeed, as I sort out just what this looks like, I wonder, in those times, if it would not be enough to simply be 'human' with each other.  To take the time to be fully present and to listen deeply.  To openly acknowledge our mistakes and shortcomings and to be open to allowing others to step in a fill that open space with acceptance or forgiveness. Isn't that what it is to embrace our humanness as Christ embraced his?  It's risky, of course it is.  That comes across without question in the picture painted before us now. But I can't help but believe that somehow the alternative would ultimately be even worse.

So let me offer one example now of how, this week, I have attempted in a very small way to "let the mind of Christ be in me." 

Here is how it was.  I came into work this past Thursday with a list of things to get done before the day was through. As is too often the case, my plan was quickly thrown off track by the unexpected for our custodian came in to report that our neighbors across the way had put up a sign in their parking lot threatening to tow any unauthorized vehicles.

Let me paint larger picture for you.  Three mainline churches are located on a couple of city blocks here in this community. We are literally right on top of each other. All of our buildings are old --- in fact, ours will hit the century mark in a couple of years.  So it goes without saying that all were built in a time when the faithful walked to church (or rode horses, some of them.)  Parking was simply not an issue then and most would have no reason to think it ever would be.  In the meantime, the town grew up around us, using up other available space.  Couple this with the fact that over time our worshiping populations have aged.  While we have done what we can here to make our building fully  accessible to those with mobility issues, if they can't park close enough to get in easily, that doesn't much matter.

Now here is where the current issue comes into focus. The parking lot directly behind our building belongs to our neighbors across the street.  Our neighbors across the alley do rent space from them for use during the week. We have sent the occasional gift to help with upkeep, as some of our folks do use their parking lot. However, we hold no formal, ongoing agreement. 

So on Thursday morning, a sign went up. And for the next hour it was all we could talk about. I knew, though, that it would get us nowhere if we were just rumbling among ourselves.  I didn't relish the need to do so, but before the morning was done, I picked up the phone and made the call. I called to acknowledge the clear message that had been sent. I tried to do so kindly and openly. And yes, it is very clear this will be an ongoing conversation until we sort it out. 

What is it to 'let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus' in a case like this?  Indeed, how much more important is it to do so when those of us who are at odds with one another all purport to be those who are especially called to do so? If the Catholics and the Lutherans and the Methodists on this corner in DeKalb, Illinois can't be even a little bit as fully 'human and humble and obedient' as Jesus was, then what hope do we have?

Here is what makes this especially hard though.  I am not proud to say this, but I have not yet actually met these neighbors face to face.  (Ironically, those same cars over whose parking places we are in disagreement over now have no doubt contributed to this!)  So how is it that I can begin to be 'human and humble and obedient' --- whatever that may mean --- if I have never even actually met the one I am called to serve? A phone call was a start. But clearly I do have a long ways to go.

  • What do you think Paul is urging his listeners to do when he says "Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus?"
  • Where in your world are you called to do this?  Who are you being called to be 'human and humble and obedient with' as Jesus was?
  • For me, a phone call was a first step.  What might your first step be?