A World Communion Prayer

Jesus prayed that we might be one.
One in spirit
One in mission
In union and communion with each other and with You.
Today, God, we confess fumblings and failures in accomplishing unity, as we set aside yet another day to remind ourselves of the task.
On this World Communion Sunday, give us eyes to recognize your reflection in the eyes of Christians everywhere.
Give us a mind to accept and celebrate our differences.
Give us a heart big enough to love your children everywhere.
We thank you for setting a table with space enough for us all. (Africana Worship Book, Year B, (Discipleship Resources, 2007)

This year world communion coincides with the Jewish day of atonement, Yom Kippur. With our Jewish sisters and brothers we all stand in need of forgiveness and reconciliation with you Lord and with our neighbors. We give thanks that our sins have been forgiven by the sacrificial love of Christ, but please don’t let us grow complacent by taking your grace for granted. The good news of the Gospel must be shared to keep it alive and growing.

As we feel the unity of our spirits with Christians today from Myanmar to Minnesota, from Boston to Bolivia, let us renew our commitment to living lives worthy of Christ. Forgive us when we fail to love you with all our hearts and minds. Our broken world has never needed the Holy Spirit’s healing more. We pray for a new birth of human unity created in the image of Christ. Make us so at one with Christ and with you that we will be Christ for those who are sick, lonely, or grieving. For those who suffer hunger and thirst and those who are starving for the bread of the world offered to all who hear Christ’s voice and turn to him.

Make us instruments of your love, O God. May the way we live our lives each day be a witness to the unity of humankind we celebrate this day. May we grow in love and service to Christ who taught us to pray this prayer…… .

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“How Can We Love Our Enemies?” Matthew 5:38-48

“God makes the sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.” I heard Dr. Fred Craddock preach on this text once, and he observed most of us would not be so generous toward the evil and unrighteous. He said if he were in charge the rain would fall on the good farmer’s field and stop abruptly when it came to the property line of the evil farmer. He went on to say if God were really just that every golf ball hit by a Sunday golfer playing hooky from church would go straight up in the air and fall at the feet of the golfer.

This whole passage from the Sermon on the Mount is one of the most challenging in all of Scripture. And in particular Jesus telling us to love our enemies has to be high on the list of those things we wish Jesus hadn’t said. But those words are much needed in our bitterly divided nation and world today.

Before we dig into the practical problems of how in the world to live up to these teachings of Jesus I want to set the context by sharing a quote from Dallas Willard, a teacher of spiritual formation. Willard says, “The Gospel is less about how to get into the Kingdom of Heaven after you die and more about how to live in the Kingdom of Heaven before you die.” Let me repeat that: “The Gospel is less about how to get into the Kingdom of Heaven after you die and more about how to live in the Kingdom of Heaven before you die.” Those words are especially true of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus is describing to his followers what it looks like to live as faithful disciples and citizens of his kingdom here and now in a world that teaches the very opposite. In other words, too many Christians focus on what Jesus did for us on the cross but not enough on what he requires of us as his disciples. That is a little strange since it is Jesus’ high standard of ethical living that got him in trouble with the authorities who killed him.

And so Jesus begins by repeating what previous Scriptures have taught about living in the worldly kingdom. “You have heard it said…” Don’t get mad, get even! Revenge is a natural human reaction, and I’m guessing most of us have been there in one degree or another in recent days or weeks. “You have heard it said, an eye for and a tooth for a tooth.” Sounds fair, doesn’t it? Let the punishment fit the crime. In fact, at the time those words were written hundreds of years before Jesus they were designed to limit revenge; so victims would not demand two eyes for an eye, or a whole mouthful of teeth for a tooth. As someone has said, if we follow the eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth philosophy to its logical conclusion, we end up with a world full of blind, toothless people, and the cycle of violence and pain continues forever.

So Jesus reminds his disciples of the ancient law and continues, “But I say to you…” Look out whenever Jesus starts out with that phrase; brace yourself for a zinger. “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. If anyone strikes, you on the right cheek, turn the other as well.” O, Jesus, you’ve got to be kidding! We can’t do that! You can’t be serious. How can we possibly love those responsible for horrific acts of death and destruction? You don’t mean for us to love ISIS, or that creep who murdered and raped Reagan Tokes, or our political enemies do you? And you can fill out the rest of your list of those we find it hard if not impossible to love.

Let’s look at the big picture of how our understanding of God’s will changes and grows. God doesn’t change, but our ability to grasp the enormity of God’s grace and love increases as we grow in faith both as individuals and as a faith community. We’ve already seen how that process unfolds from the days of Moses to Jesus, but let’s look at some other examples of how God surprises us throughout the Scriptures. I found this wonderful summary of that process in a Facebook post from Bixby Knolls Christian Church:

“In Deuteronomy 23 we read that the people of Moab are bad and not allowed to dwell among God’s people. But later in the Old Testament we meet Ruth the Moabitess (who becomes the grandmother of David and one of the women listed in Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus).
Jeremiah 25 tells us that people from Uz are evil, but then comes story of Job, a man from Uz who is the “most blameless man on earth.”
No foreigners or eunuchs allowed, again from Deuteronomy, and then comes the story in Acts 8 of an African eunuch welcomed into the church.
God’s people hate Samaritans, but Jesus tells one of his most famous stories where a Samaritan is the hero and the model for what it means to be a good neighbor.
The story may begin with prejudice, discrimination, and animosity, but the Spirit moves God’s people toward openness, welcome, inclusion, acceptance and affirmation.”

And our Judeo-Christian Scriptures aren’t when it comes to non-violent responses to those who hurt us. The Dali Lama, a leader of another of the world’s great religions, wrote these words shortly after 9/11, certainly one of the most trying times in our lifetime for those who take Jesus seriously. The Dali Lama was commenting on how America should respond to 9/11 and wrote, “It may seem presumptuous on my part, but I personally believe we need to think seriously whether a violent action is the right thing to do and in the greater interest of the nation and people in the long run. I believe violence will only increase the cycle of violence.”

The tragic fact that we are still involved in the longest war in U.S. history in Afghanistan 16 years after 9/11 underscores the truth that violence increases the cycle of violence. We’re not going to solve that eternal question today, especially on the international level, but let’s take a look at what Jesus is asking of us in our personal lives and relationships when it comes to living peaceful Christ-like lives.

It is hard to find silver linings in some clouds, but even in tragedy there are often some benefits. We see it in extended families that rally around each other when there is a death of illness. We saw it the sense of unity in the U.S. after 9/11. Patriotism was higher than at any time since WWII. That kind of unity as a family or church or a nation is wonderful, but Jesus asks us to take that sense of community one giant step further–to include even our enemies in the circle of God’s family.

The sense of unity and patriotism after 9/11 didn’t last long, and part of the division in our nation is because we differ over how to respond to evil. Some insist on an eye for an eye response and others advocate a gentler approach. Those differences have hardened into partisan political lines that make it more important than ever to love those we differ with politically. One way to do that is to pray for those we disagree with by name, and the stronger our disagreements, the more important those prayers become. Whoever you see as on the wrong side of the political fence or some other contentious issue, pray for them, and I find it helpful to do so by using first names. That makes the prayers more personal and meaningful, and I find it hard to be angry when praying for someone.

Fear of others is the biggest barrier to love. In today’s political climate immigrants of all kinds fear for their future. We can’t solve the immigration policy debate here today, but each of us can engage in simple acts of kindness, go out of our way to smile and be kind to others who are different from us. Let them experience the radical hospitality of Christ so they know they are welcome in this country.

As individuals we can also listen to those we have political disagreements with. Just this week I heard from a friend who is cancelling his newspaper subscription because his local paper took an editorial position he disagrees with. I also heard that political divisions are showing up in personal ads on dating sites where profiles include such phrases as “no Trump haters need respond,” or “No Trump supporters welcome.” People unfriend people on social media and refuse to watch news channels they disagree with. The battle lines are drawn, and important functions of government like feeding starving children, rebuilding crumbling dams and bridges, and fixing the water supply in places like Flint – things we all agree need to be done are the causalities of partisan gridlock. It seems so obvious but still needs to be said, the first step to loving our enemies is communication and sharing our common human needs. Until that happens the bigger issues that divide us can never be addressed.

Jesus did it. He practiced what he preached. He walked the walk all the way to Golgotha. He loved his enemies and forgave those who nailed him to the cross. But how can we mere mortals love our enemies, even while we deplore their horrible deeds?

I certainly don’t have all the answers–not even all the questions; but it seems to me there are two things that are necessary for us to have any hope of following Jesus down this path of loving our enemies.
1) We need to understand who are enemies are and who they aren’t so we don’t over-react in fear against all Muslims or against everyone who looks different and is therefore suspicious. There was an incident in my hometown in northwest Ohio last year where some parents pulled their children out of a middle school social studies class because there was a unit on the history of Islam. That kind of fear of knowledge is tragic. There is no hope for peace without understanding. We need to learn all we can about Islam so we understand better the complicated political and religious realities we are caught up in. We don’t dare oversimplify or stereotype.
2) Perhaps most important, we need to practice forgiveness. Someone has written that forgiveness is the key to happiness. The pursuit of happiness is one of our most cherished American ideals, and forgiveness is what it takes to be free of the burdens of anger and hostility that make happiness impossible.

Logan Cole is a student at West Liberty High School who was shot at school a few weeks ago by a fellow student, Ely Serna. After Ely shot Logan, Ely handed the shot gun to Logan and asked him to shoot him as well. But Logan refused to shoot his attacker because he knew an eye for an eye doesn’t solve anything. And a few days later Logan forgave Ely from his hospital bed at Children’s Hospital with buck shot still lodged near his heart. Fortunately the shot gun damaged Logan’s body, but it didn’t damage his heart and ability to love his enemy.

What about Brian Golsby, the ex-convict who raped and killed Reagan Tokes, the OSU senior from Maumee a few weeks ago. Does Jesus want us to love killers and rapists? The Scripture is pretty clear the answer to that question is “yes.” We don’t have to like them or approve of what they do, but no matter how awful life circumstances has made someone like Brian Golsby and deformed his basic humanity– he is still a child of God and invited to accept God’s amazing grace.

Where does the ability to love someone who has done us great harm come from?

My favorite story about that kind of love comes from another period of unspeakable terror and suffering in human society, the Holocaust. After the war, a young Christian woman traveled around Europe proclaiming the good news of God’s grace and love for everyone who would repent and give their life to Christ. Corrie Ten Boom was a death camp survivor. Her entire family had died in the Nazi death gas chambers, and yet she was filled with God’s love and anxious to tell her story. Until one night when she was giving her testimony and looked out into the congregation where she saw a face that made her blood run cold. Sitting there staring at her from the pew was one of the former Nazi concentration camp guards who had helped to execute her family. She could barely finish her talk and hurried toward the side door of the church as soon as she was finished, hoping to avoid any further contact with this awful man.

But he was anxious to talk to her and met her at the door. He extended his hand as he told her that he had repented and become a Christian, but, he added, it was so good to hear someone like her proclaim the unbelievable good news that God’s love was available even to such a terrible sinner as he had been. His hand was there, waiting for Corrie to take it in Christian fellowship. But her hand was paralyzed, frozen at her side for what seemed like an eternity. The silence was awkward, and even though she knew she should shake his hand, she could not. Finally, she said a prayer. She said, “Lord, if you want me to forgive this man, you’re going to have to do it, because I can’t.”

And just then, Corrie said her hand moved of its own accord. She took the former Nazi’s hand and says she felt the most amazing surge of warmth and power pass between them that she had ever felt in her life.
How can we love our enemies? On our own, we can’t. But with God’s help as followers of Jesus Christ, relying on and empowered by God’s Holy Spirit, we can, we must, and we will because we are already part of God’s kingdom.
Thanks be to God who gives us the victory!

Rev. Steve Harsh, Preached at Epworth United Methodist Church, Columbus, Ohio, February 19, 2017

Freeway Theology

IMG_0048 (2) I saw this graffiti spray-painted on a freeway overpass several years ago, and my immediate thought was “I guess forever was longer than John expected!” After wondering how and why people hang over the side of an overpass and paint upside down, my next thought was “that’ll preach.” I’ve used it often in preaching class as an example of the kinds of ordinary observations in daily life that can have theological significance.

Jesus did that, of course, using mustard seeds, lost sheep and coins, yeast, candles, a valuable pearl, and even a hated Samaritan to weave parables that reveal truth about the nature of God that declarative sentences can’t illuminate in the same holistic way. Stories and images reach beyond the intellect and move us at a deeper emotional level.

John obviously fell out of love with whoever’s name was beneath that paint. It happens all the time in human relationships, but we cannot convert that unfortunate reality that sometimes leaves deep scars on the human psyche into what God’s relationship to us looks like. How unfortunate if we let false teachings about a wrathful, judgmental God scare us away from the only source of truly unconditional love there is.

We often hear Paul’s marvelous words about love read at weddings: 4 “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends.” (I Corinthians 13). I try to warn starry-eyed couples that those words do not describe human love, no matter how strong that love is. Paul is writing about God’s love revealed to us in Christ, and it is the backup we can always turn to when we want to remove the tattoo of our beloved from our arm or spray paint over his or her name on the overpass.

God’s love is forever. It’s not a 5 year or 50000 or mile guarantee. It’s not even “till death do us part,” as great as that deep love is. There is no fine print in God’s covenant with us. We can break the contract or think we have by our own sinfulness or stupidity, but God won’t ever stop loving us, period. Like the prodigal son’s father, God waits patiently for us to come home, no matter how badly we’ve messed up our lives or how long we’ve been gone.

That message is repeated in a multitude of ways in the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament. Two of my favorites are: “Come now, let us argue it out, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18). And “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:8-9)

That’s pretty straight forward and clear. Don’t let disappointments with human love confuse you about God’s love. With God, forever really means forever.

“How Can We Ever Do That?”

I have preached over 800 times in my ministerial career. Of all those sermons, none has stuck in my memory as much as the one I preached on September 23, 2001, 12 days after 9/11. As I was reflecting on that horrible event and the continuing scourge of violence in our world today I decided to revisit that sermon, and I found the words of Jesus that inspired that sermon as relevant and as troubling now as they were 13 years ago. So as I pray for peace for a world seemingly bent on destruction, I share these reflections again. The sermon was preached at Jerome United Methodist Church on the text from Matthew 5:38-48 on loving one’s enemies.

This week was harder for me than last week and not just because I was struggling with what to say here this morning. The suffering and agony of the whole terrorist ordeal became personalized and real for me this week. 3000 victims in the abstract last week were more than my mind could wrap itself around. But as individual stories emerged of real people with real names, victims and families and heroes and heroines, my already bruised and battered heart was broken over and over again.

But from the very first hours of the tragedy my greatest pain and fear was not for the damage and suffering that occurred on September 11, as unbelievably horrible as it was. My greatest pain and fear has been for the inevitable escalation and perpetuation of violence that I knew these horrible acts would generate in retaliation that will inflict more suffering on more innocent people.

A friend of mine told me just after the attacks that he had forgotten how easy it is to be a Christian in times of peace and prosperity. And he is very right. We turn to God and scripture for comfort and reassurance in times of distress, as well we must and should, but some of the most important words of scripture also challenge us and are hard to hear.

And that’s why I have been engaged in a lovers’ quarrel with Jesus for the last 12 days over what to say this morning. I have tried every trick I know to avoid the difficult words we just heard from the Sermon on the Mount–these words that are high on the list of those we wish Jesus hadn’t said, but they would not let me rest. They have forced themselves into my consciousness over and over again, pleading, demanding, and crying out to be proclaimed.

“You have heard it said…” O, have we ever – all the public opinion polls confirm in spades that those who want revenge are legion, and I include myself in those who are angry. Getting even is a natural human reaction, and we’ve all been there many times this month. “You have heard it said, an eye for and a tooth for a tooth.” Sounds like good advice. In fact, at the time those words were written, they were designed to limit revenge; so victims would not demand two eyes for an eye, or a whole mouthful of teeth for a tooth. But as someone has said, if we follow the eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth philosophy to its logical conclusion, we end up with a world full of blind, toothless people, and the cycle of violence and pain continues forever.

“But I say to you…” Look out whenever Jesus starts out with that phrase and brace yourself for a zinger. “But I say to you, love your enemies. If anyone strikes, you on the north tower, turn the south tower as well.” O, Jesus, you’ve got to be kidding! We can’t do that! You can’t be serious. How can we possibly love those responsible for such horrific acts of death and destruction?

But Jesus isn’t alone on this one. I’m not sure to whom this letter was written, but a copy of it was circulating on the internet this week; and it contains a very similar thought from a leader of another of the world’s great religions, the Dalai Lama. He writes, “It may seem presumptuous on my part, but I personally believe we need to think seriously whether a violent action is the right thing to do and in the greater interest of the nation and people in the long run. I believe violence will only increase the cycle of violence. But how do we deal with hatred and anger, which are often the root causes of such senseless violence? This is a very difficult question, especially when it concerns a nation and we have certain fixed conceptions of how to deal with such attacks. I am sure that you will make the right decision. With my prayers and good wishes, the Dalai Lama.”

I couldn’t agree more with this analysis, and I have been pleased to hear more of these sentiments this week than I expected, but practically it’s not all that helpful. Of course violence begets more violence. Those who live by the sword die by the sword. We know that and want to believe peace is an achievable ideal. We’ve seen the failure of wars to end all wars and we want to be faithful Christians and follow the ways of the Prince of Peace. That’s all well and good in the abstract, but the question I want Jesus or the Dalai Lama or somebody smarter than I to answer is, HOW do we love our enemies? How do we love someone who can do to our nation what these terrorists have done?

Jesus says a bit earlier in the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.” By whom? Not by their enemies or by most of their peers. Peacemakers, cheek turners, are more often called “yellow” and “coward” or “chicken,” but seldom even “children of God.” We would much rather go with Moses on this one wouldn’t we, but are we followers of Moses or Jesus?

It is hard to find silver linings in some clouds, but even in tragedy there are some benefits. We see it in extended families that rally around each other when there is a death of illness. And in a similar fashion, the outpouring of patriotic spirit and resolve in the last two weeks has been amazing. One could certainly argue that this tragedy has created a sense of community that has been sorely lacking in our nation for many years. But Jesus asks us to take that sense of community one giant step further–to include even our enemies in the circle of God’s family.

I had a flashback to Jr. Hi youth fellowship this morning. One of those awkward moments when we were circling up to say the benediction at the end of a meeting, and I found myself next to a girl and was afraid I’d get her cooties if I had to hold her hand. And some wonderful adult counselor saw the problem and stepped in between us to close the circle. That’s just what Jesus does when he asks us to love our enemies. When we can’t bring ourselves to take that hand, Jesus steps in and completes the circle.

This doesn’t mean that justice and order are not necessary for us to be able to live peaceful, secure lives once more. It simply means that our attitudes and methods of seeking justice and peace need to be just and peaceful and loving; so that we do not fall into the trap of perpetuating the very kind of behavior we deplore. The Christian way to the goal of peace and security must be prayer and dialogue, not bombs and bullets. We follow the way of compassion and love and forgiveness. It is not an easy way, but it is necessary. And the best news is that success is guaranteed–guaranteed by the one who walked the talk of that love all the way to the cross to show us once and for all that love is stronger than death, that nothing in all creation, not terrorism or fear or death itself, can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Jesus did it. He practiced what he preached. But how can we love our enemies, even while we deplore their horrible deeds?

I certainly don’t have all the answers–not even all the questions; but it seems to me there are two or three things that are necessary for us to have any hope of following Jesus down this path of loving our enemies.

1) We need to understand who are enemies are and who they aren’t so we don’t over-react in fear against all Muslims or all Arabs, or against everyone who looks different and therefore suspicious.

2) We need to study and learn and discuss so we understand better the complicated political and religious realities we are caught up in. We don’t dare oversimplify or stereotype. Afghanistan is not our enemy – it is a nation in ruins from previous wars and conflicts. Neither Bin Laden and the terrorists nor the Taliban are representative of the Afghan people, and they cannot be equated.

Tamim Ansary, a writer and columnist in San Francisco, who is a native of Afghanistan, writes this interesting and chilling portrayal of his homeland:
“The Afghan people had nothing to do with this atrocity. They were the first victims of the perpetrators….Some say, why don’t the Afghans rise up and overthrow the Taliban? The answer is they’re starved, exhausted, hurt, incapacitated, suffering. A few years ago, the United Nations estimated that there are 500,000 disabled orphans in Afghanistan–a country with no economy, no food. There are millions of widows. And the Taliban has been burying these widows alive in mass graves. The soil is littered with land mines; the farms were all destroyed by the Soviets. These are a few of the reasons why the Afghan people have not overthrown the Taliban. We now come to the question of bombing Afghanistan back to the stone age. Trouble is, that’s been done. The Soviets took care of it already. New bombs would only stir the rubble of earlier bombs. Would they at least get the Taliban? Not likely. In today’s Afghanistan, only the Taliban eat, only they have the means to move around. They’d slip away and hide. Maybe the bombs would get some of those disabled orphans, they don’t move too fast; they don’t even have wheelchairs. Bombing Kabul would only make common cause with the Taliban –by raping once again the people they’ve already been raping all this time.”

3) Perhaps most important, we must practice forgiveness. Someone has written that forgiveness is the key to happiness. The pursuit of happiness is one of our most cherished American ideals, and forgiveness is what it takes to be free of the burdens of anger and hostility that make happiness very illusive.

One of the young widows of this tragedy was interviewed on ABC this week. Her husband was one of the passengers who apparently resisted the hijackers on the Pennsylvania flight and helped keep the tragedy from being even worse than it was. When Diane Sawyer asked this young widow with two small children and a third on the way if she wanted revenge, without batting an eye she said, “No, I don’t want any Arab women to have to go through what I’m going through.” And then to support her position she quoted the Sunday school song we sang this morning, “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight…” If she can forgive when her life has been altered forever, can we do any less?

I’ve always assumed that forgiveness was for those who have wronged me, but I realized in reflecting on this tragedy that forgiveness is a two-way street. Forgiveness needs to be given, but before it can be given it has to be received; and to receive it, we have to confess our own sin and examine our own contributions to misunderstanding, prejudice, and injustice. To assume we are good and they are bad is far too simple and counterproductive and leads us in the direction of a blind toothless world once more.

To understand why anyone has so much hatred toward our nation, we need to get to know these enemies–to understand what we may have done that we need to be forgiven for. And that dialogue can’t take place over the barrel of a gun or under the shadow of a cruise missile.

How can we love these enemies, or anyone who has done us great harm?

My favorite story about that kind of love comes from another period of unspeakable terror and suffering in human society, the Holocaust. After the war, a young Christian woman traveled around Europe proclaiming the good news of God’s grace and love for everyone who would repent and give their life to Christ. Corrie Ten Boom was a death camp survivor. Her entire family had died in the Nazi death gas chambers, and yet she was filled with God’s love and anxious to tell her story. Until one night when she was giving her testimony and looked out into the congregation where she saw a face that made her blood run cold. Sitting there staring at her from the pew was one of the former Nazi concentration camp guards who had helped to execute her family. She could barely finish her talk and hurried toward the side door of the church as soon as she was finished, hoping to avoid any further contact with this awful man.

But he was anxious to talk to her and met her at the door. He extended his hand as he told her that he had repented and become a Christian, but, he added, it was so good to hear someone like her proclaim the unbelievable good news that God’s love was available even to such a terrible sinner as he had been. His hand was there, waiting for Corrie to take it in Christian fellowship. But her hand was paralyzed, frozen at her side for what seemed like an eternity. The silence was awkward, and even though she knew she should shake his hand, she could not. Finally, she said a prayer. She said, “Lord, if you want me to forgive this man, you’re going to have to do it, because I can’t.”

And just then, Corrie said her hand moved of its own accord. She took the former Nazi’s hand and says she felt the most amazing surge of warmth and power pass between them that she had ever felt in her life.

How can we love our enemies? On our own, we can’t. But with God’s help as followers of Jesus Christ, relying on and empowered by God’s Holy Spirit, we can, we must, and we will.

Thanks be to God who gives us the victory!