Why Being Right Isn't Always Right
December 20 Sermon on Joseph
Joseph, like Mary and Zechariah, is told not to be afraid but for a different reason and outcome. He is not to be afraid to marry Mary. Joseph had the power to destroy the life of both Mary and Jesus (if Mary was stoned).
What happens is a fulfillment of God’s Word although it transgresses the Torah (God’s Word).
Now fortunately, none of us will ever be entrusted with an assignment quite as radical as Joseph’s and Mary’s. And yet, God may still be calling you to play a part in someone’s deliverance. Only Jesus can save. But God wants us to work alongside him so that the good news of salvation can be heard and received by others. Perhaps there is someone you know this holiday season whose life is shrouded in darkness. Perhaps there is someone who has never experienced Jesus’ amazing grace. Are you willing to do whatever God asks of you so that they may be delivered?
Perhaps you have heard the saying, “You are the only bible some people will ever read.” The meaning behind that saying, of course, is that when we live according to the Word of God, we reveal –we might even say personify – God’s Word for those who have not yet read the bible. Now, I don’t know how long that saying has been around; but I imagine that no one is a better illustration of it than Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus.
Over the past three weeks we have been looking at stories surrounding the birth of Jesus from the gospel of Luke. Within this sermon series, we’ve been challenged to imagine ourselves within the Christmas story. From our cast of bible characters, we’ve been given examples of what it means to have faith and hope in the fulfillment of God’s promises. Last week, we learned from the example of Mary that our willingness to submit to God’s purposes allows God’s grace to enter the lives of others through us.
But this morning, we find ourselves in the gospel of Matthew. Matthew’s account of the birth of Jesus is far more concise. It has no journey to Bethlehem, no manger with hay, no shepherds on a hillside or angels singing in the night. And yet, there is something Matthew has that Luke lacks – a strong, male lead. While Luke puts his focus on Mary, Matthew makes Joseph the recipient of the angelic visitation and announcement.
Our stereotypical children’s Christmas pageant draws heavily from Luke’s story. And so, Methodist author and speaker Leonard Sweet asks, “Is there any worse role in a Christmas pageant than that of Joseph? Mary coos and beams and acknowledges all the visitors, shepherds adore, angels sing… and even those children cast as sheep and cows get to make animal noises. But Joseph only gets to stand there”… In the eyes of church and society alike, “he is seen as little more than that guy leading the donkey on Christmas cards or the rather ineffectual fellow who couldn’t even find a fit place for his wife to give birth.”
But, as I say, Matthew presents Joseph in a different light. And the story of the angel’s appearance to Joseph introduces the key theme of this gospel: the theme of righteousness. Our narrator’s introduction of Joseph presents a man who seeks to live faithfully in accordance with Torah, God’s Word to the Israelites consisting of the Old Testament laws God gave them during their sojourn in the wilderness. As Christians, when we read those laws, they may seem laborious and legalistic. But we need to realize that would not have been the experience of our religious ancestors. Those laws, generally speaking, existed for two purposes: (1) they revealed the Israelites as God’s distinctive, chosen people AND (2) they were instructions for how to be in right relationship with God and with one another. Those Old Testament laws shaped the identity and the behavior of the Israelites and righteousness was the result of living according to those laws.
Now, as I’ve said, our gospel narrator presents Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, as a faithful adherent to those laws. He is a righteous man; living in right relationship with God and with his fellow Israelites. Joseph is an archetype of righteousness.
And, if you’ll indulge me in these final days leading up to Christmas to skip over Christmas and jump ahead in Matthew’s story, I promise this natal account will become more meaningful to us as we see why Joseph could well have been the inspiration for that saying, “You are the only bible some people will ever read.”
Within the gospel of Matthew, we find a block of Jesus’ teaching that we commonly refer to as the Sermon on the Mount. It encompasses chapters 5, 6, and 7. One might say Jesus was a long-winded preacher... but I doubt anyone ever fell asleep during his sermons. Now, within that “sermon,” Jesus communicates the true meaning of righteousness in accordance with God’s Word. He makes a distinction between – what we might refer to as – the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. Now I’m only going to draw our attention to a couple passages in that sermon… lest I be a long winded preacher. It opens with beatitudes, pronouncements about those who are blessed. Among those who are blessed Jesus mentions those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Jesus promises; that is a yearning that will be filled. He proclaims, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”[i] Halfway through chapter five, Jesus affirms the value of the law and tells his congregation that “unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”[ii] Well, that sounds discouraging, doesn’t it? I mean, if the educated, religious professionals can’t pull it off, what chance does the everyday Joe – or maybe I should say, Joseph – stand? But, as Jesus goes on to point out in the next chapter, those religious professionals have become caught up in outward appearances. They are more concerned with the praise of others than they are with pleasing their Father in heaven. When they engage in the spiritual practices of prayer, fasting and charitable giving, they do so in very showy, public ways. But, Jesus redefines the meaning (and the practice) of righteousness. He does so by making use of a repeating pattern. Zeroing in on a variety of theological topics, Jesus challenges his audience: “You have heard that it was said” – and then he summarizes what the traditional teaching has been. But Jesus doesn’t stop there. He continues, “But I say to you” and what Jesus offers goes far deeper than what is fair, what is expected, what others will notice and praise. Jesus makes clear that righteousness is not a prescribed set of behaviors. Righteousness is a matter of the heart. Righteousness, my friends, isn’t about being right; it’s about doing right. Righteousness isn’t about demanding or exercising ones rights. Righteousness takes the spotlight off of us (what we know and what we’re entitled to) and makes the “other” the priority. Righteousness means showing the same kind of grace and mercy that God shows us. Jesus reminds his congregation that “your father in heaven… makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good.”[iii] Religion is no tit for tat; no quid pro quo. Religion, as it’s intended, seeks to emulate the undeserved, unmerited grace and mercy of God.
And with that being said, we can now return to Joseph and the angel’s announcement of Jesus’ birth. Even before the angel arrives, notice that Joseph hasn’t planned to respond to what he can only assume is Mary’s adultery by carrying out the letter of the law. As I mentioned last week, the punishment for adultery allowable in the law, the Torah, was stoning to death. Joseph had every right to have Mary publically humiliated and stoned to death… and by the way, if he had, he would have also put to death the child within her womb. Joseph, my friends, is no minor character here. His decision of how he will treat Mary will determine the fate of Mary and her unborn child, God’s Son, our Savior. After all, 1st century Palestine was a man’s world and, no matter how bold, beautiful or creative Mary was, without the support of her fiancé Joseph, she wouldn’t have stood a chance. Indeed the salvation of humanity, one might say, rested in the hands of Joseph whose religious and legal right, and even obligation, it was to maintain the righteousness of his family. And, Mary’s pregnancy outside of wedlock meant things were hardly off to a very good start.
But then an angel comes to Joseph in a dream. Now, dreams back in those days were taken a lot more seriously than they are today. Yet even so, it would have still been a lot for Joseph to swallow. But Joseph believes the angel; he does what the angel tells him to do and even goes so far as to refrain from exercising his conjugal rights until after Jesus’ birth. Joseph is, apparently, unconcerned with outward appearances. He takes the angel at his word and takes this pregnant virgin to be his wife. In first century Palestine, engagement was serious business, my friends, and I think we can safely assume their betrothal was cut somewhat short by this unexpected news. And though those ancient peasants might not have been educated, I imagine they could all count to nine… if you know what I mean. But again, Joseph (like Mary) seems unconcerned with the praise or judgment of others. To say Joseph was a remarkable man is an understatement. To say he was a righteous man is to hit the nail more accurately on the head.
You know, our culture today encourages us to demand our rights… even if it is to the detriment of someone else. Furthermore, culture teaches us that being right makes someone superior and entitles them to certain privileges and, should their “rightness” ever be challenged or questioned, they ought to plant their flag and stand their ground no matter the consequences. Now, if you think I exaggerate, pay closer attention to our current presidential campaign. Such an ideology spawns a myriad of war-like offenses we endure across our TV and computer screens day after day. Kathryn Schultz, author of the book, “Being Wrong,” writes, “how do we really feel when people admit their mistakes? When the person in question is a friend or family member, we all too often choose to rub his or her face in the mistake – while simultaneously exulting in our own rightness. Witness, for instance, the difficulty with which even the well-mannered among us stifle the urge to say, ‘I told you so.’[iv] The brilliance of this phrase (or its odiousness, depending on whether you are the one saying it or hearing it) derives from its admirably compact way of pointing out that 1) I was right; 2) you were wrong; and 3) I was right that you were wrong.” Schultz further writes that, in this post-modern age, when public figures admit to being wrong, they are often more criticized than they were holding fast to their ignorance.
But I don’t think our addiction to being right has served us very well. Such pride and arrogance is divisive and antagonistic. It breaks down relationships. It sets us at odds with one another. It threatens any peace on earth and destroys good will. But Jesus – and the example of Joseph – offers an alternative. We can choose righteousness instead. We can choose to reflect God’s mercy and grace. And we can trust that our pursuit of righteousness allows God to use us to accomplish his saving purposes. Being right isn’t always right. But when we respond righteously toward God and others, we make an opening for God’s salvation. And we experience the peace of the Christ Child.
Throughout this sermon series, there’s been a card in the program each week with a suggestion of a way to put the week’s topic into practice. I’d invite you to take this week’s card out of your program. It says “Peace Challenge” and I hope, especially, that you’ll respond to this week’s challenge because it could be an incredible Christmas gift to someone in your life. There’s a devotional and more reflection about peace and righteousness on the Trinity Voice’s blog page. The challenge asks: Do you have an unresolved disagreement with someone? You feel confident you were in the right… and perhaps you were. But how’s that working for you? We don’t experience much peace in the midst of a stalemate. This week, if you have any unresolved disagreements, reach out to the other person with a note or an email. Ignore the issue of right or wrong and simply let them know that you would like to clear the air and be reconciled. Let them know that you value your relationship more than the issue over which you disagree.
Let there be righteousness and peace on earth.
[i] Matt. 5:6, NRSV
[ii] Matt. 5:20, NRSV.
[iii] Matt. 5:45, NRSV.
[iv] From the website Freakonomics. “Do We Really Want to Hear Someone Say I Was Wrong?”
DEc 13 Mary "Let It Be"
When I was a child, schools had playground equipment that I’m sure is no longer around due to safety issues. But I’ll try my best to describe one to you. There was a tall pole fixed to the ground. Coming out from the pole were handles that could rotate around the pole as you moved them. Picture this in your mind as a suspended carousel, OK? Now, once you got four or five kids holding on and running around that pole, you picked up momentum and your feet could actually come off the ground if you gathered up enough speed.
Now, keep that picture in your mind as I describe my unfortunate encounter with this particular piece of playground equipment. I vaguely recall that my class had gotten to recess earlier than the upper grades. (Mind you, it was a small country school covering several grades.) In some moment of stupidity, I asked one of the bigger kids to lift me up so I could swing from this suspended carousel. Note: I needed no momentum for my feet to come off the ground. That’s how they started out. Very soon, however, a lot of big kids began to take hold and run around that pole and before I knew it, I was swinging through the air fast and furious and my little arms were getting very tired. Now here’s the part where I was really foolish. When I could take no more swinging, I simply let go. But, before I let go, this was the sequence of thoughts running through my head. I thought to myself: “I wish they’d stop so I could get off. But, they won’t stop. They’re big kids and I’m little. They’re older and I’m younger. They’ll never stop for me.” And so, convinced of my vulnerability, I just let go and today I have the scar from the six stitches to show for it.
Vulnerability is a risky thing. It can go either way. If you’ve ever rescued an abused or neglected dog you know what I mean by this. By suffering abuse or neglect, the dog has learned that being vulnerable to human beings results in pain. So, they become skittish and sometimes fearfully aggressive. And yet, if they are unable to be vulnerable to the human who is seeking to rescue them, they will likely die soon. Only if they can take the risk and be vulnerable one more time will they discover that vulnerability can also result in food, clean water, medicine to get rid of the bugs on the skin, in the ears, and in the belly, shelter that is safe and warm and dry, and the affection that is yearned for. Vulnerability is a risky thing.
And that is the wonder, one might even say the scandal, of the Christmas story. As 21st century Americans we take for granted the story of the birth of the baby Jesus. We run the danger of “incarnation” being nothing more than an impressive theological term. We hear the story every year; we’ve romanticized it, even normalized it. But the message that the God of the universe would send a Savior as a vulnerable human baby would have been absolutely absurd to the ears of an ancient person. You see, in the ancient Eastern world, other religions told stories of gods who created human creatures to be their slaves, like pawns in a cosmic game of chess. They believed humanity was at the mercy of the gods’ often unpredictable, capricious moods. And so, the God of the Israelites was peculiar in his approach to his people. He desired fellowship with them. He revealed a character that was kind, generous and gracious. He revealed it to Abraham and Sarah, an old, dried-up couple, with no children, no land and no hope. God gave them a son, land and descendents more numerous than the stars of the heavens. The God of the ancient Israelites was a God of abundant grace with a unique affection for his people.
And yet, nothing in the Old Testament could have possibly prepared God’s people for the radical news that Mary receives in this morning’s gospel story. The Holy Spirit will overshadow her and she will conceive within her virgin womb God’s Son. It was a risky venture on God’s part. Author Philip Britts writes:
Christ did not spring armed from the head of Zeus [like Athena did]. He came as a child. He was not even born in the protection of a royal court, with soldiers to guard against intruders and physicians to guard against sickness. Rather, he was born in a stable, at the mercy of Herod and the stark elements of cold and dirt.i
Friends, our God’s way is the way of vulnerability. The God we worship and serve, the God we know as the baby Jesus, was not some aloof, transcendent being enjoying isolated celestial bliss. The God we worship and serve entered into human history in the most intimate and vulnerable fashion: taking up residence in the womb of a young, insignificant, Jewish peasant girl.
It is also impossible for us to grasp from our 21st century vantage point just how vulnerable Mary would have been. She was young in a culture that had little use for youth. And she was a woman. She would have had no value or worth at all until she married and produced male heirs for her husband. In her culture, that was the very best she could ever hope for. So just imagine when she receives the news that she will bear a son; a child born out of wedlock, a fact that would have placed her in tremendous jeopardy because the punishment for such infidelity could be as drastic as stoning to death. And to this kind of astonishing and dangerous news Mary replies, “Here am I… Let it be with me according to your word.”
And so, the fact that Mary said “yes” to this angel, this messenger of God, is absolutely astonishing.
But, equally astonishing is the fact that this remarkably risky mission Mary embraces transforms her human condition. It redefines her status. She is no longer an insignificant, vulnerable peasant girl. No, now she is God’s “favored one” or “graced one” (they are the same word in Greek). This is Mary’s new identity: graced one. Mary affirms the title herself when she sings a hymn of praise we refer to as her Magnificat. God has graced her, his lowly servant. And now, throughout the generations, throughout all of history, she will be considered “blessed.” “Blessed?” Pregnant out of wedlock, she counts herself “blessed?” At risk of stoning, she considers herself “blessed?”
This brand of blessing, this definition of grace, carries with it enormous risk and danger. This brand of blessing, this definition of grace requires vulnerability. This brand of blessing, this definition of grace, necessitates submission to God’s purposes. The words of the angel and Mary’s hymn of praise share an understanding of grace we, no doubt, find peculiar. Mary considers herself graced because God has embodied his grace and placed it within her womb and, in doing so God has drawn her in to his mighty plan for salvation.
Think about it, friends; when we speak of God’s grace, we often speak of the personal reception of grace for personal benefit: the forgiveness of our individual sins for the purpose of receiving an individual, personalized relationship with Jesus that guarantees our spot in heaven when we die.
Now I do not in any way mean to demean this experience; but my intent is to expand our thinking of grace so that it more accurately reflects the grace revealed in this vitally important bible story for, we discover in Mary that receiving God’s grace means not only receiving it, but releasing it into the world, as well. One might say, metaphorically, God plants the seed of grace within us so that it might gestate and grow and be birthed into the world through us. Mary welcomed the embodiment of God’s grace within her womb with the very obvious understanding that her child would be birthed into a real, not imaginary, culture and context – she would give birth to a first-century, Palestinian Jewish child living under Roman domination; this child who would proclaim the saving grace of God to those around him.
Friends this story of the incarnation is a revolutionary call and invitation for all of us to embody God’s grace for the sake of others. Mary said “yes” to that, despite the huge risk; despite the potential danger.
This story turns our common assumptions upside down. We don’t say “yes” to God’s grace merely for our personal comfort. We are invited to say “yes” to God’s grace for the salvation of others. God’s grace is not a gift we store away for safe keeping. God invites each one of us to be vulnerable and open and that is not something our culture encourages. Our culture teaches us to be risk adverse and admonishes us to be hell-bent on keeping ourselves safe and secure from any known or even suspected danger. But if this story teaches us anything, it boldly proclaims that is not the way God’s grace enters the world.
Friends, I don’t imagine that the embodiment of God’s grace will come again to dwell with a woman’s womb. But God’s grace is still continually coming into the world… through us when we courageously submit to God’s purposes; when we embrace our vulnerability; when we say “Let it be with me according to your word.” Even today, God’s grace can find a home and come to life through us if we are willing to submit to God and his purposes.
You know folks, there is so much fear in our world right now but fear and grace cannot occupy the same space. Fear and grace don’t co-exist. And fear is a horrible way to attempt to live. Remember my opening story of the rescued dog. Fear leads to death, my friends. But openness, a willingness to embrace our vulnerability, a readiness to submit to God’s purposes brings new life. Grace is not a stagnant thing. Like a stream of living water, it flows among us. We can embody God’s grace and pass it on to others if only we can find the courage to say, “Let it be with me according to your word.”
i Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas. Plough Publishing; 2001. “Yielding to God” by Philip Britts, devotional for Dec. 9.
As many of you might imagine, most preachers do their sermon planning weeks (in some cases, months) in advance thereby never being sure of what may or may not occur in the intervening time between planning and preaching. This week, as I prepared this message on hope, I watched a news clip of the 14 people shot in San Bernardino. Reading the names, I heard the newsman say, “Michael Wetzel, father of six.” And then, for no more than a couple of seconds, a video flashed across the TV screen of Wetzel with his family standing at an Advent wreath; with candle lighter in hand, Wetzel said, “We light the candle of hope.” That image of Wetzel in church, alongside that Advent wreath, speaking those words, “We light the candle of hope,” is an image I can’t shake. And it is not just this week’s events that unsettle us. As some of you know, I was out of town on the Sunday prior to Thanksgiving and so, this Sunday marks – for me – my third Sunday in a row to step into the pulpit following an act of mass killing: France, Colorado, California. Yet even so, this morning we lit the candle of hope. This week I tried to follow news of the Climate Talks. Aside from debates over the cause of global warming; the fact remains: the planet is warming and it’s not very pretty. Yet even so, this morning we lit the candle of hope. There was rioting in Chicago over the past week: the latest location for yet another violent clash between law enforcement and persons of color as mistrust and resentment grow. Yet even so, this morning we lit the candle of hope.
We light that candle of hope as we journey back in time to first century Palestine where things were really nothing like the covers of our Christmas cards with clean, shiny, happy people; for history tells a different story. Hope, my friends, would have been a pretty hard sale in first century Palestine. Living under the thumb of Rome was no easy thing. I remember in seminary reading an historical account of one small village that lay, unfortunately, in the path of Roman troops. Winter was coming on and those hungry troops cleaned out the food supplies of that small village. Many villagers died of starvation that winter as others struggled to survive even eating weeds and grasses. Such an account might reveal why the miracle of Jesus feeding 5,000 is the only miracle to be narrated in all four of our gospels. What Rome wanted, Rome took. Maybe that’s why our gospels so frequently separate out only one group of people from the more generic heading of “sinners:” tax collectors. Hope was a pretty hard sale in first century Palestine.
This current sermon series is titled: A Cast of Characters: Finding Yourself in the Christmas Story. Zechariah and Elizabeth, Mary and Joseph may have lived more than 2,000 years ago but, as they say, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Their hopes and their fears were not so far removed from our own. While Israel so desperately waited for a prophet and a messiah, this elderly couple, Zechariah and Elizabeth had their own, more personal concerns. They were righteous and yet they’d spent their entire marriage childless. And so it was almost more than that priest, Zechariah, could comprehend on that day long ago when he entered the temple and came face to face with the angel Gabriel who announced the good news that they were going to have a baby. A personal blessing, to be sure, but this child’s life and his work would be a blessing to the nation. They were to name him John and, once grown, he would go out into the wilderness to baptize and preach and prepare God’s people for the coming of the Messiah.
That message was hard for Zechariah to believe. It is often hard for us to believe when we have long prayed and waited for the desire of our hearts. We can become cynical and run the danger that our prayers become merely a holy habit. When Zechariah voices his skepticism, the angel Gabriel renders him mute. It’s to be a sign from God, with the added bonus that Zechariah will be forced to keep his doubts to himself.
But sure enough, as our gospel narrative unfolds, we learn that Elizabeth – despite the biological impossibility – does, in fact, conceive. Day by day, the life within her grows and, we might assume, is accompanied by growth in faith on the part of Liz and Zech. Now, within the story, Elizabeth is a woman of few words… which, in light of her husband’s experience, may be a wise choice. The somewhat lengthy account of the announcement of John’s birth concludes with a simple summary noting the fulfillment of the angel’s message: “After those days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she remained in seclusion. Elizabeth said, ‘This is what the Lord has done for me when he looked upon me and took away the disgrace I have endured among my people.’”
But when Elizabeth says the Lord has “looked upon” her, she describes no mere passing glance for the word used for “look upon” is the very same word used to describe God looking upon the Israelites when they were slave labor way back in Egypt. It is the Greek word epeidon. In English it is a simple word – look – a kindergarten level word, for sure. But, more often than not in the Old Testament, it denotes more than an ocular action. It often means to look with concern. It is a passionate gaze and one which ultimately results in deliverance for God’s people. In the book of Exodus, the call of Moses at the burning bush is introduced by these words:
After a long time the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned under their slavery, and cried out. Out of the slavery their cry for help rose up to God. 24 God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 25 God looked upon the Israelites,
and God recognized them.
This form of looking is more than meets the eye; it is a look of concern and compassion. Though likely limited in their communication due to Zech’s muteness, nevertheless, Elizabeth appears to have comprehended the glorious good news that this child in her womb will pave the way for Israel’s Messiah. Such a simple statement (“he looked upon me”) proclaims the good news that God never forgets his people and that our God is one who sees and responds to our suffering.
In the fall of 1990, Bette Midler released a song that topped the charts that Christmas season. The title: From a Distance. The refrain: God is watching us, God is watching us, God is watching us from a distance. It was so popular, Midler re-released it on her 2006 Christmas CD. I can only assume listeners appreciated the message that God was watching us. But, my friends, the news is far better than that because our God does is not simply watching from a distance, like an objective observer taking notes. Our God draws near to us because he looks at us with concern and compassion. God looks at us and God acts for us and that’s why we could light a candle of hope this morning.
Friends, out in the world, what we label as “hope” doesn’t always mean much. We hope the Colts win. I hope it doesn’t rain. You hope that toy your child wants for Christmas goes on sale soon. I hope my husband doesn’t order anymore books on his Amazon Prime account… he’s kind of bookish, you know. Out in the world, hoping doesn’t always mean much. Out in the world, we’re prepared for our hopes to be dashed. But we, my friends, need to understand hope differently because our hope is in God; the God who looks upon us and acts in response to our need. In scripture, God’s word to us, hope is not expressed as desire (as something good that one would like to have happen). Rather, in scripture, hope is expressed as great expectation (something good that one knows is going to happen): faith in God’s loving kindness, faith that our God both looks and acts in response to our need. That very faith is what feeds our hope. Friends, hope is a part of this holy season. And if Christmas is more than a season of shopping and good cheer, if it is, fundamentally, a Christian celebration, then we must celebrate this season as people of hope who offer hope to a world in danger of succumbing to despair.
When the Israelites long ago groaned under their slave masters in Egypt, God looked upon them, and God acted to save them. When those first-century Jews of Palestine suffered the oppression of Rome, God looked upon them, and God acted by sending a Savior. And today, God is looking upon us – not from a distance – because that is not the way of our God. Our God is Emmanuel, the God who is with us, who came among us as a baby in a manger to save and deliver us. And when we welcome that baby, we welcome God’s hope to make a home within us.
The close of Friday evening’s news posed this question: “How do we keep from losing hope in times like these?” Friends, how do we keep from losing hope in times like these? By trusting in our God; that’s how. We celebrate hope; we boldly give voice to great expectations because we believe God is at work.
We believe; we hope; and we light a candle to defy the darkness and despair of the world.
Because our hope is in the Lord, that’s why this morning we lit a candle of hope.
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