Advent I, Candle of Hope

advent-waiting-img_1492How long, O Lord, how long? Are we there yet? We know the journey to Bethlehem is long, but we need your presence in our broken world right now. We can’t wait any longer. Yes, we know your time is not ours. “1000 years in your sight are like yesterday when it’s gone.” We know, but we still wait like anxious children, full of hope and anticipation.

Advent rituals help us wait and prepare our hearts. So today even as the days grow shorter and shorter, we light the candle of hope to help us find our way to you.

Let us pray:
Gracious God, you know we aren’t very good at waiting. OK, we aren’t good at it at all. We live in a world of instant gratification. We spend money we don’t have in pursuit of stuff that promises satisfaction. We wait exasperated in long Black Friday lines. Forgive our foolish impatience, Lord. Remind us again that the one we are waiting for will come at just the right time because you always deliver on your promises in your time not ours. Our time is one of much anxiety and fear, but because we also live in your time, we live in hope as we wait. In the name of the Christ, hear us we pray. Amen

Memories and Life Lessons from November 22, 1963

When I asked my grandchildren this week if they knew what important event in American history happened on November 22 they of course didn’t know. They weren’t born until 40 years after JFK was gunned down on that dark day 53 years ago. And what’s more the parents of my grandchildren weren’t alive in 1963 either. What a difference a generation or two makes.

It was a watershed moment in American history for those of us who were alive and old enough to understand or sense that something big had happened. Memories of where we were when we first heard about the assassination are indelible. I was a senior in high school sitting in 7th period Algebra class next to a window that overlooked the faculty parking lot of our school. I happened to be looking out the window (apologies to Mr. Gross our teacher) when I saw Mr. Ratliff our principal pull into the parking lot at well over the speed limit and run from his car into the office. I knew that something major was wrong. I had never seen Mr. Ratliff run anywhere before. In just a few seconds the PA system in our class room crackled to life. Mr. Ratliff told us he had just heard on the radio that President Kennedy and Governor John Connally had been shot in Dallas.

Mr. Ratliff turned the radio on over the PA and for the rest of that school day all we did was listen to the news as it emerged from Dallas. When the bell rang to change classes we moved in solemn silence to our next classroom and continued quietly listening to the unbelievable news that the president was dead. I don’t remember any teachers or students saying anything. When the final bell of the day rang we again moved quietly to our lockers and left the building to go home and continue watching non-stop coverage on TV as Vice-President Johnson took the oath of office on Air Force One and into the night until we witnessed the President’s blood stained widow and his brothers escort the casket off of the Presidential jet in Washington D.C.

I just finished my previous blog post yesterday when I saw a picture on Facebook of the iconic screen shot of CBS television breaking into a soap opera so Walter Cronkite could tell the nation what was unfolding in the nation’s turbulent political atmosphere which was a soap opera in its own right. These were the days of Civil Rights movement and the Cold War. The McCarthy crusade on “un-American activities” was still a recent memory and the Cuban missile crisis had us all on the brink of nuclear destruction only a year before. Kennedy had won a highly contested bitter election three years earlier with charges of voter fraud and a torrent of religious prejudice because he was a Roman Catholic. He was in Dallas that day running for reelection.

What I didn’t know in 1963 as a naïve teenager in a rural Ohio community was that there were plenty of signs of danger in Dallas. Hatred of Kennedy was not hidden, and JFK’s closest advisers urged him not to make that campaign trip because they feared for his safety. That hatred and its tragic outcome are eerily reminiscent of today’s political atmosphere and how much we need to learn from the lessons of history.

We learned too late that November that it was not safe for the President to ride around in an open convertible. Denial of obvious dangers because of the animosity toward Kennedy was a factor in his death just as denial of the dangers of violence against the President contributed to the assassination of James Garfield just months after he took office in 1981. Even though Lincoln’s assassination was only 15 years earlier people we reluctant to believe that it could happen again. Lincoln’s death was written off as a casualty of the Civil War, and that conflict was over, right? So Garfield had no real protection in the D.C. train station where he was shot.

There have been dozens of conspiracy theories about if and why Lee Harvey Oswald killed JFK and why he was gunned down on live television just two days after Kennedy died. We may never know all of the answers to those questions, but this we do know and it’s a lesson we need to learn and relearn in every generation. Words and images have power. They can be used to heal or harm. Actions have their conception in thoughts and feelings expressed in language. Hateful words, chants, and slogans when taken to their logical conclusion give birth to acts of violence. In our social media age where many people’s primary source of “information” comes from posts and tweets the power of images and words is magnified 100’s of times more than they were in 1963. As hard as it is for my grandchildren to believe, there were only three major networks that provided us with our news 50 years ago.

Today rumors and propaganda go viral in a matter of minutes, and, as I said in an earlier post this week, the word “viral” is loaded with ironic significance. A virus in our bodies is harmful or even deadly, and a virus in my hard drive can be fatal to my computer. Both kinds of viruses can be contagious and have devastating consequences, e.g. Zika and HIV. Posts on social media can also have disastrous effects when they go viral. They are immediately out of the control of the author because even if one offers a correction or an apology or deletes the item it is already at large in cyber space and cannot be stopped from spreading across the country and around the world in a matter minutes.

The only vaccine for cyber viruses is to use extreme caution in fact-checking and verifying information before sending in out. None of us is immune from getting caught up in the emotion of a heated campaign or argument and saying things we regret. In an old fashioned face-to-face argument we have non-verbal or verbal feedback from other participants in the interchange that are not available to us if we go on an on-line rant. Face-to-face I know who is involved in the discussion and can reach out to those people to apologize or continue the discussion in a more rational moment. But if I post or share something hurtful on Facebook I have no idea who will see it or how many times it will get reposted. WordPress stats tells me that my blog posts get read at times as far away as South Africa and China, and while that is very exciting it is also a daunting reminder of the power and responsibility we all have to use our words with great care.

So now 53 years after those shots heard around the world from Daley Plaza in Dallas we can still learn critically important lessons. Modern communication techniques are a huge blessing that no one in my Algebra class that day in 1963 could even begin to imagine. They empower us with access to information at our fingertips that could only be found in encyclopedias and libraries back then. That information was obviously out of date before it could be printed and distributed. Today’s apps can translate languages to build bridges of communication across culture, enhance education, transform global commerce, and help us find where we are and how to get where we’re going, even in unfamiliar territory. I was in Boston earlier this year and might still be lost there today if it were not for the amazing ability of my phone to tell me how to get anywhere I wanted to go in that challenging maze of streets. It even told me which bus or subway to take and when it would arrive at my stop.

In 1963 no one but the creator of Dick Tracy could even dream of what we take for granted today. We all carry with us in our phones more computer power than Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Mike Collins took with them to the alien surface of the moon in 1969. In many ways the world we live in today is as strange and confusing to us as the lunar surface was to those Astronauts. And yet some things about our human condition remain constant through the ages and we forget them at our peril. Ever since his thoughts and feelings of jealousy drove Cain to kill his brother Abel way back in the second generation of humankind we have known that what we think and say affects what we do and how we treat each other.

In today’s multicultural, diverse global village our devices that we rely on today for most of our knowledge and information should all come with a big warning: “Use With Extreme Caution.” And for us Christians there should be a footnote citing Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount: “You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insul a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:21-24, NRSV)

Patience and Perspective: Why Thanksgiving and Advent Matter More than Ever

“For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.” Psalm 90:4

The joke says “Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes wisdom comes alone.” There’s some truth in that, but as one who is learning the hard way, I can attest that age does come with some perspective and experience. I am going to resist the temptation to do a general rant about the rush to Santa Claus that turns the time between Halloween and December 25 into a blur. But I do regret the de-emphasis of Thanksgiving and Advent. We need more than ever times of gratitude and patience in this anxious age of instant gratification that doesn’t satisfy. Gratitude and patience are what Thanksgiving and Advent are all about, or should be.

I heard from several disenchanted voters and analysts of all persuasions that the recent election was all about a desire for change because of voter frustration with the current political situation. While I understand that sentiment and agree that much of what goes on in government is corrupt and broken, I was struck by a phrase I heard several times from Millennials and Gen Xers who said “nothing has changed in 50 years.”

I can’t begin to address the solution to what’s ailing our democratic system, but since I’ve voted in the last 13 Presidential elections beginning in 1968 I do feel somewhat qualified to address what’s changed in the last 50 years. In the 90th Congress, elected in 1966, there were only 11 women in the House of Representatives and 1 in the Senate. In this year’s election those numbers are 83 in the House and 21 in the Senate. I have not found exact data on racial minorities for 90th Congress, but one source said there were fewer than 10 until 1969. By contrast the new Congress in 2017 will have the greatest racial diversity in the history of the republic – 102 members of color in the House and 10 in the Senate. Those numbers equal an 867% increase for women and 1120% for racial minorities in the last 50 years.

Does that mean we have achieved equality in D.C. or in our nation? Of course not; we all know we are a very long way from achieving the high ideals of “liberty and justice for all” that we all profess to believe in, but where we are today on the long journey to equality for all is a far cry from saying nothing’s changed in 50 years.
There are many examples of progress toward social justice if we take time to look for them, and gratitude requires an intentional commitment to focus our attention on what there is to be thankful for, especially in this 24/7 news cycle and social media world where we are bombarded with mostly bad news constantly and can overreact to something and make it viral before bothering to check it’s veracity. Isn’t it interesting that the word “viral” comes from a term that used to mean something contagious that makes us sick?

We can all do something about the virus of untrue and biased information besides just complaining. There have been times in the last 2 weeks that I have simply had to turn off the TV and all my devices (de-vices?) to keep from being overwhelmed and depressed about the “news” coming at me from all directions. A fast from consuming the viral spread of anger, hate and fear is good preventative health from time to time. Perhaps more importantly, we can all stop and verify information before we spread it around by reposting or retweeting. Social media makes it far too easy to just hit a button and spread a virus before we have time to evaluate the information and its source. In the heat of political conflict it is not always easy to remember that, but if we would all pause and reflect on what the consequences might be and how images and words might affect others who become our unintended audience when we hit that button we can all help in a small way to heal the growing divisions in our nation and world. If we aren’t part of the solution we are part of the problem, and if we aren’t helping create positive change in our nation we shouldn’t expect our elected leaders to do it for us.

Mr. Rogers’ has been quoted a lot lately about “looking for the helpers” in a bad situation. Please, in this week of overeating and overshopping and overfootballing, let’s all take time to look for the positive signs of change in our world and be thankful. To do that requires backing up to get a better perspective on the big picture instead of focusing entirely on our problems. Yes, health care costs and jobs and our own civil liberties are important, and we must keep working as fast and justly as possible to change those situations. But to do so requires patience and perseverance and an appreciation of how far we’ve already come. The big picture gives us a better perspective on progress while at the same time reminding us that there are millions of other people in the world who are homeless and refugees and orphans, addicted and incarcerated that we must not ever forget. From Cain’s question “Am I my brother’s keeper?” in Genesis 4 to the lawyer’s question “Who is my neighbor?” to Jesus in the Good Samaritan story (Luke 10), God’s answer is “What you do to the least of these you do to me.” (Matt. 25)

As we have seen this week in the Trump vs. Hamilton tweet storm, artists and artistic works have great power to give us a glimpse of the bigger picture. Good drama and fiction can transport us out of our own swamp of alligators for a time and move us emotionally in ways that pure “facts” or logical arguments never will. It is no coincidence that the musical “Hamilton” celebrating diversity has taken Broadway by storm in this season of division and bigotry. And it is likewise no coincidence that the movie “Loving” began showing in theaters 4 days before the 2016 election. I haven’t seen it yet, but “Loving” is based on a landmark Supreme Court case, yes 50 years ago, in 1967. It’s the story of Mildred and Richard Loving who were sentenced to prison for violating a Virginia law against interracial marriage. In a unanimous decision (imagine that?) the US Supreme Court ruled that “the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual, and cannot be infringed by the State.”

Yes, a great deal has changed in the last 50 years, and much of it for the better. But here’s where patience and Advent come into play, and the turmoil and anxiety about what a Trump presidency may do to impede the cause of justice and equality only underscores this point. We’re not sure who actually coined the phrase “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty” but it is certainly true. A major reason for the necessity of patience and vigilance in our democratic system is that what is seen as progress by some is always seen as a threat to others. The balance between individual liberty and universal justice is in constant tension, and that tension is usually part of the creative process. When the tension becomes bitter and partisan, when one or both sides want to be right more than they want justice for all, when the tension becomes more like a competitive tug-of-war instead of a cooperative teeter totter the tension can become destructive. We have had cycles of both productive and destructive tension throughout our history, and keeping the total picture in mind helps us to be patient with the process and not resort to oppressive or violent means to demand change to get our way.

The truth of the matter is that some people, not all, who voted for Trump and Pence under the banner of change do not want change at all. That minority of white voters really want to undo the changes we’ve made in the last 50 or 100 years that don’t benefit their privileged status. The reality is that in addition to seasons of gratitude and patience the USA desperately needs a season of reflection and repentance to remember all of our history. Only when we admit that this nation was built on a foundation of racism and genocide can we appreciate how far we’ve come and why we’ve got so far to go before “liberty and justice” for all is more than a pious platitude.

The struggle we are now in for the heart and soul of our democracy is so difficult because it is so old and so deeply ingrained in our history and DNA that we don’t recognize it. We learn at an early age about the early European immigrants coming to America in search of liberty and freedom, but most of our schools, families, churches and other civic organizations fail to teach white Americans the rest of our history. We don’t learn about the evils of slavery or we naively think it is a nasty little problem that was resolved by President Lincoln. We don’t learn about the founding fathers being slave holders. We don’t learn about the rape and pillage of Native American lands from people who were here for centuries before the first Europeans “discovered” America.

Why? Because our parents and their parent before them didn’t learn those lessons either because to learn the whole truth about who we really are is too painful. But ignorance is more painful in the long run. Without knowing our past we are condemned to repeat it generation after generation. Our lack of knowledge and the successful use of fearmongering racist tactics to win an election are an indictment of our education system, but even more they are an indictment of the church of Jesus Christ for being co-opted into a conspiracy of silence instead of proclaiming a John the Baptist Gospel of repentance for our sins. John and Jesus told it like it really is. Contrary to Jack Nicholson’s famous line in “A Few Good Men,” not only can we handle the truth only truth and the whole truth can set us free. As Frederick Buechner said so well in “Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy and Fairy Tale,” “The Gospel is bad news before it is good news.”

Ironically the bad news of the Gospel and of our current political state is something that we should be thankful for. I’m not one bit thankful for hatred and racism ever, but as one commentator pointed out nothing new happened on November 8. The anger and divisions have always been a part of our history, clear back at least to the Continental Congress. The silver lining in the Trump election is that the dark underbelly of hate and anger is out in the open where it can be dealt with.

The struggle for liberty and justice is never easy, but when we look at the big picture and understand why change is so hard and how long it has been going on, we can appreciate and be thankful for the progress we’ve made; and we can be confidently patient that from God’s perspective the outcome of the battle between justice and evil is not in doubt. The road to justice is not linear but full of curves and detours and switchbacks, but we have a roadmap from a God who is always on the side of the oppressed and downtrodden. Justice probably won’t happen in our time, but because we also live in God’s time where a thousand years are but as yesterday, we live in gratitude and hope even as we continue to wait and work for liberty and justice for all.

All In: Many Members, One Body, I Corinthians 12:12-27

[Note: This sermon was preached Nov. 13, 2016, the Sunday after the Presidential Election, at Northwest UMC, Columbus, Ohio]

There’s a 1969 British movie called “The Royal Hunt of the Sun” which sounds like it could be about the final days of autumn in Ohio. It’s not of course; it’s about the Spaniard Francisco Pizarro’s conquest of Latin America in the 1500’s. There’s one scene in the movie where Pizarro and his men come upon a huge chasm between two mountains. The only way to get across is on a very rickety swinging bridge built by the Inca natives.
Pizarro looks over his band of men and no one will meet his eye. Even the bravest of his soldiers are afraid they will be chosen to lead the way across the bridge. Pizarro surveys the crowd again and his eyes fall on a priest who is part of the expedition, and he says, “The Church goes first.”

Whether you are happy or sad about the outcome of Tuesday’s vote, this historic campaign and election has revealed that the fracture in our national unity is much wider and deeper than most of us realized. That chasm of anger and mistrust seems to have widened even more in the days following the election, and it needs to be bridged for our democracy to survive. That healing process will require lots of people to be all in for that task. Guess what? The Church goes first!

Our text this morning was written by Paul to the church at Corinth, a deeply divided conglomeration of people who were a quarrelsome lot. In I and II Corinthians we have parts of at least 3 letters Paul wrote to the church at Corinth and a reference to an earlier one that was not preserved. A good portion of those letters, like the verses we just read, is devoted to trying to resolve conflicts among the believers and with the larger cosmopolitan community in which this church lived. Corinth, a city in Greece was located at the crossroads of almost all commerce between Rome and the provinces in the Eastern Mediterranean. People from all over the known world passed thru there and many stayed bringing with them their own culture and religion. Archeologists have found evidence of over 2 dozen temples in Corinth where many different gods were worshipped. And within the Christian fellowship there were strong feelings and theological divisions.

So Paul in this 12th chapter compares the human body to the church. He is trying to combat the jealousies and ego-driven points of view that were setting one part of the body of the church against another because each faction is more concerned with being right than with working together for the Kingdom of God.

In our own American history one of the most eloquent calls for unity among warring factions is found in Abraham Lincoln’s 2nd inaugural address just a few weeks before the end of a bloody civil war that killed 620000 soldiers and left much of the country in economic ruin. Lincoln knew this was not a time to dance on graves or boast of victory, so he closed that address by making this appeal to all Americans. “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

Lincoln’s words about binding up the nation’s wounds to create a just and lasting peace among ourselves could have been written for us today as we have just been through one of the most brutal and ugly election campaigns in American history. Political gridlock, racial and class tensions, fear of domestic and global violence divide us from one another and keep us from acting collectively to achieve the highest goals we profess to want for everyone. The challenge facing us is how to be all in for the good of our nation and the world when feelings are so raw and trust so fragile.

Paul tells the Corinthians that each part of the body needs to be content with its own role. Feet are made for walking, not trying to speak or think; you can’t hear with a kidney, and if the mouth goes on a hunger strike, the whole body is in serious trouble. To each body part Paul says, “It’s not all about you!”

Unity in the midst of diversity requires great commitment and a willingness to sacrifice personal interests for the greater good. There is no better example of that kind of sacrifice and service than the Veterans we honor this week. The success of any military unit depends on every member of any rank doing his or her job even under the most difficult circumstances. In another example from the early days of American history the signers of the Declaration of Independence demonstrate what it means to be all in for something we believe in. Listen to these final words of the Declaration:
“With a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

The seriousness of that pledge prompted Ben Franklin to say, “We must all hang together or we will surely hang separately.” For those men the choice to sign that document was literally a matter of life and death. They were committing treason against the British crown and the punishment for that was death. And for us the future of our democracy may depend on people of faith being willing to assume the task of binding up the nation’s wounds.
If you wonder what the source of such courage is, notice how that final sentence of the Declaration begins “With a Firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence.” Those brave men in Philadelphia did not all agree on theology, they were not all Christians, but they knew that faith alone can give us the courage and strength to be all in. What are we that devoted to? Are we more all in for our favorite sports team or our business than we are for the well-being of everyone in our nation? What kinds of sacrifices are we willing to make for God so the church can be the body of Christ and help heal the divisions in our nation?

We have a granddaughter who is a freshmen in college this year, and her first quarter has reminded me that sharing a room with someone for the first time have requires the art of compromise. According to you tube, one student left a note for his roomie that said, “Sorry, I drank your Red Bull. Please tell me what you want in the blank below.” The roommate wrote back, “A new roommate.” That’s a clever response but avoidance and separation are not usually the best way to deal with conflict. To heal the pain and divisions in our country will require honest communication between opposing factions and groups. That won’t happen unless we take time to get to know and understand people who disagree with us. We all tend to socialize and hang out and get our information from people we like and are comfortable with. Unless we intentionally find ways to change that pattern the gaps between us will just keep getting wider.

Marriage may be the best of example where people promise to be all in, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. We say that in marriage two become one flesh, and that’s a great metaphor for describing the closeness and selflessness marriage represents, but the truth is that even in that most intimate covenant, we are still individuals with unique needs and wants. Someone once said that if two people become exactly alike, one of them is reduncnt. So even or especially in marriage, compromise is necessary for a just and lasting peace.
Marriage partners or business colleagues, athletic team members all contribute different talents and attributes to make a group work. The most brilliant play diagramed by a football coach will never succeed if the players are on the field arguing about who gets to run the ball. A 300 lb. lineman’s job is to block, not to dazzle the crowd with fancy footwork and long touchdown runs.

Diversity in groups enriches the experience and learning for everyone. Paul says a body can’t be all feet, or all eyes and function. A car can’t be all tires or engine or transmission; it takes the whole thing functioning as intended for it to work – and a church or any community of people is doomed to failure sooner rather than later if jealousy or grudges or personal differences make one or more parts of the body dysfunctional. President Harry Truman summed up the value of collaboration very well. He said “It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.”

The early church described in Acts 2 sets the bar very high for Jesus followers. Those early Christians were so all in they sold all of their personal property, pooled their resources and shared what they had collectively with those in need. If that model is too socialistic for you, we also know that Paul raised funds on his missionary journeys from churches he founded in places like Corinth and Ephesus to support the church in Jerusalem which was in dire needs of funds. From day one the Christian Church has been a connectional church, knowing that none of us can meet all the spiritual and material needs of the world, but by combining resources we can all be part of ministries around the world. Northwest church can’t start a university in Africa or respond to natural disasters all over the world, but the United Methodist church as a whole can.

So, what does that all mean for us here at Northwest? To take any journey, we have to begin know where we are now. To be all in as part of a faith community means we begin by acknowledging we are not all in for the things we value most – family, church, God. To be all in means admitting when we’re wrong and asking for help when we need it.

It also means we have to pray and examine our hearts to see how we ourselves may be a part of the problems in our nation. And then ask what we are willing to do in order to be more all in. Surrendering something of ourselves for the good of the community is never easy. Worldly values teach us to be strong, invincible, and self-sufficient. But there are no self-made men or women. None of us would have survived the first few weeks of life without people who were all in for us and sacrificed sleep and personal comforts and leisure to care for us.
Paul tells us what the purpose of the church is in v. 25 – it is simply to care for each other. In that same verse Paul talks about the ideal of there being no dissension among the faithful. I preached a few weeks ago at another church in Columbus, and one of the members there commented to me that their congregation is like a family, and then she added, “And we fight like a family too.” Being all in doesn’t mean we all have to agree. A healthy church or family or democracy needs diverse points of view and experiences and a willingness to listen and learn from each other.

Like the parts of the human body, we each need to be who God has made us and do our part as best we can instead of being jealous of others. I would love to be able to sing and play like Mary/Brandon/Joe and the band, but if my mic ever stays on during a hymn you’ll know music’s not my gift. When we get to heaven God is not going to ask us why we weren’t like Paul or Mother Theresa. God isn’t going to ask me why I didn’t preach from memory like Tom does. No, God is going to ask each of us if we were all in with whatever gifts and talents God gave us.
To be the body of Christ, especially in uncertain times is to be present for each other and embrace our common humanity. Where there are divisions and fractures in the fabric of human relationships bridges of compassion and understanding need to be built, lines of communication need to be restored or established. We’re all in because healing and reconciliation is what the body of Christ does. At this moment in time more than ever, the church goes first!

Times of uncertainty often remind me of an old Peter, Paul and Mary song, “Day is Done.” One verse of that song says:
“Tell me why you’re crying, my son
I know you’re frightened, like everyone
Is it the thunder in the distance you fear?
Will it help if I stay very near?
I am here
And if you take my hand my son
All will be well when the day is done.”

No earthly parent or President can guarantee that promise. But we know one who can and his name is Emanuel, God with Us. This week reach out to friends and strangers who need a hand, and together take God’s hand.
And all will be well when the day is done.