Archive for May, 2008

Maybe it’s not as hard as we think, all things given

Sunday, May 25th, 2008

Today’s Gospel reading in the lectionary is perfect for Commencement Weekend. It’s all about money and our priorities. We get to caution Kathryn and Catherine about not selling out, not getting caught up in the materialism game, not worrying about the things other people worry about. What are we going to wear? What are we going to eat? How are those loans going to get paid off? What about health insurance?

Of course, those other people may well be us. And here’s the rub, or better said perhaps, one of the rubs of this passage. It’s not just about Kathryn and Catherine. They actually may know better than most of us here about how there are more things in life than our bank accounts, our pension funds, or what the neighbors or in-laws think about our car or house. They have not yet had to confront issues like raising a family, getting the pipes replaced in the basement, or cashing in your 401k because your job can be done a lot cheaper in Malaysia.

In this passage Jesus seems so unaware of things like health insurance or plumbers, but those are very real issues in our lives. So what do we do with these words of Jesus? Do we, at best, relegate them to some kind of ideal that is beyond the reach of anybody but Jesus. Or, at worst, do we dismiss them as words of a dreamer who never had to deal with sick children or a landlord who wants the rent by Friday, or else?
Or maybe what most of us do is find some middle ground where we realize Jesus is on to something here and we will try to do the best with it we can.

And to make matters worse, the Sermon on the Mount, from where this passage is taken, offers us other seemingly over idealistic ways of living. Love your enemies. Turn the other cheek. Forgive rather than seek revenge. Seek the blessings of meekness and a pure heart. Give up on retaliation. Pay attention to the log in your eye rather than the splinter in someone else’s.

It’s all that stuff and more, and then there is the money thing. As my kids used to say, “Is Jesus on crack, or what?”

I don’t believe that Jesus would have said stuff like this if he didn’t think it was possible for us to live this way. So maybe we are being invited by the Sermon on the Mount to start looking at what Jesus says here in a different way.

What if we, instead of looking at all these things going on in the Sermon on the Mount as Jesus piling up one impossible thing after another, began to see them as a whole, as all connected to one another? For example, maybe it’s easier to love our enemy if we aren’t so worried about what we are going to eat or wear. Or maybe Jesus is saying it’s easier to not worry about what we are going to eat or wear when our minds are focused on issues like forgiveness and reconciliation.

When we treat others the way we want to be treated, maybe the helps us deal with issues like lust and greed. Or we understand mercy a little better. Or maybe when we understand mercy a little better we will better be able to treat others the way we want to be treated. And do people make peace because they are meek, or does being meek make someone more peaceful?

As crazy as it sounds, the Sermon on the Mount might seem less idealistic and more relevant to every day life if we swallowed the whole thing instead of trying to figure out how we bite off a piece of it here and there.

Taking the Sermon on the Mount as one piece, swallowing the whole thing, means for Jesus, I think, changing our orientation. It’s hard to imagine how we live so unconcerned about what we are going to wear and what we are going to eat, or how we are going to live in forgiveness and reconciliation when our focus is on the people around us. But when our focus is on God, maybe we discover there are all kinds of possibilities we never considered before, and those possibilities begin to pile up on each other.

And in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus puts a great emphasis on our relationship with God. When you give alms don’t do it to be noticed by others, but by God. When you pray, don’t be concerned about what others hear, but what God hears. When our attention is turned to God, maybe we won’t get so angry about what others have done to us. When we hunger and thirst for righteousness, maybe that will get us praying more, and when we are praying more maybe our hunger and thirst for righteousness increases.

Jesus says we can trust God, he really believed that. Maybe that’s why he was able to forgive his enemies, rather than come down off that cross and destroy them. And maybe it works the other way around. Because he was able to forgive those who hurt him, maybe he was more able to trust in God and stay on that cross.

When you look at Jesus’ life and ministry, the way he lived and what he taught, you realize he wasn’t suggesting a few changes around the edges of our lives. He was looking for a complete make over, not a cosmetic one.

Have you seen those home make over shows on TV? I love HGTV. But I was reading an article about the dark side of some of those kinds of shows, especially the knock offs. There was this story about a local TV station in Los Angeles that would do a surprise make over of somebody’s kitchen or bedroom or some other room in the house. The couple would go out of town for a weekend and be surprised when they got back by the living room their kids or neighbors had redone.

The problem for one of these couples, though, was that it cost them twice as much to repair the damage that had been done to their bedroom than the cost of what was in reality a cosmetic make over. It looked good on TV, especially when they first walked into the room and everybody was crying and hugging but the next day they began to notice the damage done by quick paint job, cheap lumber, and duct tape. And they weren’t the only ones that happened to.

Jesus isn’t looking for cosmetic repairs in our lives. He’s looking for the foundation work to get done, with new walls and wiring and lighting, so we really can be the light of the world, and the house that stands firm when the floods come. (Sermon on the Mount stuff).

And all these things he talks about in the Sermon on the Mount, that seem so hard to grab hold of, are what makes for a real make over. They are the walls and ceilings, and plumbing. They are the floors, the studs, the wiring, and the paint, that all are needed to make the others work. A great chandelier doesn’t have much to offer without wiring. But if there is nothing for the wiring to turn on, that’s not any better. These things all work together, just like these things Jesus is saying in the Sermon on the Mount work together.

This is hard stuff in the Sermon on the Mount. Don’t worry about what we are going to eat or what we are going to wear? Don’t worry about retirement or paying for the kids tuition? Don’t worry when the plant closes down or the unemployment insurance runs out? Jesus suggests there is always going to be stuff to worry about, there are always going to be hard things. But is loving your enemy any harder than looking for a new job? And isn’t loving your enemy an easier and better way to live while looking for that new job?

Jesus said the key to all of this is seeking first the Kingdom of God. Sure there are bills to pay, and people who have treated us unfairly. But are those the things that we want to set the agenda for our lives? Or do we want the things of God to set the agenda for our lives?

We can live in all kinds of ways. And none of it is easy. But Jesus suggests that all these things in the Sermon on the Mount, as hard as they seem, may not seem quite so hard when we consider some of the other hard alternatives we so often choose. Revenge, materialism, concern about what other people are thinking, getting our own way, going it alone without God or anyone else. This is what I call the ‘grr’ life style. And it has it’s own way of making life hard. And these things have their own ways of reinforcing each other as the things in the Sermon on the Mount do.

Commencement speakers always leave the graduates a challenge, so I guess I need to do that this morning. But not just for Catherine and Kathryn, but all of us. Let’s take all of this stuff in the Sermon on the Mount and swallow it hook, line, and sinker. We’ve swallowed plenty of other stuff in our 22 years of living, or our forty 44 years of living, or our 88 years of living. Why do we make what Jesus says sound so crazy, when we are crazy enough to believe the alternative makes more sense?

Everybody Is A Prophet. And That’s A Good Thing.

Sunday, May 18th, 2008

“In the last days,” God says, “I will pour out my Spirit on every kind of people: Your sons will prophesy and also your daughters. Your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. When the time comes, I’ll pour out my Spirit on those who serve me, men and women both, and they’ll prophesy.”

Prophets. Most of us are not exactly sure what they are, other than maybe the self styled prophets we see standing on street corners calling us to get right with God before the doom and gloom comes. But whatever a prophet really is, we can’t imagine it has anything to do with us.

That’s what Peter thought before the day of Pentecost. But on that day he realized that everyone can be a prophet. Your sons and daughters, your old men and women, everybody gets the Spirit poured out on them and they prophesy. That’s what he said that morning in Jerusalem.

Now remember a prophet isn’t simply some kind of fortune teller, or predictor of the future. A prophet, in the most essential sense of the word, is someone who proclaims God’s word. And with the coming of the Spirit that is all of us. We all have a word from God.

This is a passage where Peter presents his Baptist credentials. But instead of saying every believer a priest, he says every believer a prophet. There is not a one of us who can’t proclaim God’s word.

This is not only Baptist, but it’s very United States, in it’s initial reading, anyway. It speaks to that individualism that is so crucial to the make up of the psyche of this nation. But, the ability to proclaim God’s word, once the Spirit is poured out on us, is not simply about individuals here and there making these pronouncements.

That’s because when the Spirit was poured out on Pentecost it was poured out on not simply individuals, but on the community. The ability for each of us, men or women, young or old, to proclaim God’s word is in the context of the Church. We proclaim God’s word with each other, because even though each of us has the ability to proclaim that word, none of us have the whole thing. And that’s when the problems come, when these prophets standing on the street corner or in front of the TV camera are convinced God has given a special word to them and to them alone.

We all get to be prophets with each other, proclaiming God’s word and discovering what we learn in doing so. Just think about this church. Think about the things we are learning from each other all the time. In sharing time, in Bible Study, in Community Time and at Community Meetings, in conversations with each other, God’s word is proclaimed by all kinds of us.

We would not be a Welcoming and Affirming congregation without the word of God we heard from each other. Remember those conversations we had in that whole process and what we learned from each other about how God works in this world. That was prophets at work.

The kids have taught us about hunger through the Heifer Project or the CROP Walk. We have talked to each other about peace, about what it means for each of us to follow Jesus. We are helping each other with global warming issues. We are learning many different ways of understanding the Bible and how it is revelation for us. That’s all the word of God being proclaimed.

And it helps answer an important question that can’t be easily dismissed. “Why do I need to go to church anyway?” I look a lot at what goes on in the Church and I realize why that question is so commonly asked. The church can be so irrelevant, so exclusive, so stuck in the past, so caught up in insignificant issues. The church has a history of being judgmental and hypocritical. The church can be nationalistic, militaristic, sexist, patriarchal, homophobic, racist and classist.

Here’s why we need the church, though, in spite of all of its failings. It is where we get to be prophets, proclaim together God’s word. And once we begin to realize that we all have a voice, we all have a word from God–women and men, poor and rich, gay and straight, young and old, black and white, clergy and lay–and that all of us are prophets. Maybe we can learn enough from each other to help the church be better than it is.

When you realize women have a word from God, that gay people have a word from God, that young people have a word from God, that disabled people have a word from God, poor people have a word from God, abused people have a word from God, undocumented immigrants have a word from God as much as anybody else does, the Church can no longer be what it has tried to be. The church can no longer be a place where the prophets are few and imagine they have some kind of control over God’s word and God’s Spirit. That’s because the Spirit is given to all of us, not just a few. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your men and women.

Peter didn’t know what he was saying that morning, but on the day of its birth he put the Church on a course of inclusion, though it hasn’t been an easy journey. If we are all prophets, then we have to include everyone because they have something to say we need to hear, and together we have something we need to say not only to each other but to this whole world. That’s why we have to include everybody, we need all the voices, all the words from God they bring.

Remember what Jesus said to his disciples right before he ascended into heaven. He said when the Holy Spirit comes to you, you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

Lots of people have problems with the church, including many of us. But even some of the most skeptical people out there like what Jesus was about. You read the gospels and you realize he was on to something. Love God with all your heart and soul and mind, and your neighbor as yourself. Invite the outsider in. Make peace. Love your enemies. Trust God not your money. Cross boundaries. Pray. Let God love you. Give up on violence.

The problem is that Jesus put all his eggs in the basket we call the church. It’s the church the Jesus expects will bear witness to him, but it hasn’t really worked out yet.

Sure it is nice to see a person here and there get it right about Jesus, or even a congregation get it right about Jesus, at least some of the time. But Jesus wants the church to get it right about Jesus all the time. We are his witnesses, the ones on whom the Spirit has been poured out, the ones who have a word from God, every last one of us.

So a reason why we need to go to church is that the church needs us to go to church. The church doesn’t need us to become what it wants us to become. The church needs to become what we need it to become and what this world needs it to become. We’ve got the Spirit. We are the prophets. We are the ones with a word from God that others want and need to hear. We can help each other, we can help the church be the witness to Jesus.

Pentecost is a birthday celebration. It’s a time to think about what the church can be and what we can bring to it, what word from God that we have.

There are all kinds of forces out there that want to keep us quiet, take our voices from us. They don’t want to hear from the prophets. They want to keep us scattered and divided just like it was in the story of the Tower of Babel, believing that we will never understand each other, believing that we don’t have anything to say. Divide and conquer.

But we’ve got a word from God that is meant to bring us together. We are prophets. With that word we can undo Babel and together be the witnesses of Jesus, just like he said we could when the Spirit came.

So, who are the prophets among us? Your sons and your daughters. Your young men who dream dreams, and your old men who see visions, people who because of Jesus Christ can have dreams of a better world, visions of what can be. Women and men, young and old. All of us. And it all started that Pentecost morning so long ago.

A Reflection by Heather KirkConnell – Peace and Justice Intern

Sunday, May 11th, 2008

I don’t know how many of you remember my work last year and my address to you last May, but in writing this I looked at it again, and it was exciting to see how I’ve changed because of the job, yet my love for it and goals haven’t changed at all. I could have changed around a paragraph or two and given you the same talk because everything I had said is still applicable; I love working here and love what I do. Everything else is just “fluff.” Last May I believed that I was done being a Peace and Justice Intern. Although I loved the work, I figured I had different things to do during my time at Oberlin. I did some French tutoring and organ tuning, which, although I really, genuinely enjoy, isn’t anywhere near the same as working for peace and justice. But as I went along last semester, I began to fully comprehend what this job meant to me and how much I liked the work.

Around the middle of last semester, I jokingly mentioned to Mary and Steve about coming back to the job during an ECO meeting. It wasn’t really a joke though, we all knew that it would be great. Mary and I had a meeting in December, we talked about me doing a bit of interning over Winter Term, and we just got so excited! I had missed this stuff so much!

In January I began what we’ve termed the “Poverty Audit.” With the economy sinking and poverty in the county, country, and world rising, I felt that poverty was an issue I was called to understand better. I contacted as many local churches as I could, and compiled a list of poverty-related ministries at the churches. Even though not everyone replied, I still got an impressive list. When I shared my list at the April Oberlin Area Cooperating Ministries meeting, it jogged the memory of other congregations who realized that they were actually doing more than what they had originally thought. I truly hope this Poverty Audit continues because it is still incomplete. I hope it becomes as much a celebration of the many efforts of Oberlin citizens as it is a learning and planning tool in fighting poverty. 

I hope you all made it to the March Peace Potluck. We had Kathy Burns talk, Client Services Coordinator for Oberlin Community Services Center and a board member of the Hot Meals program. Right now we’re facing many changes in our approach to these services. The poverty rate in Lorain County is rising, but Hot Meals remains patronized by the same group as before. Learning and engaging in dialog is important right now; everyone has something to contribute and we need new ideas. I learned a lot from Kathy Burns and am so glad my job brings me into contact with efforts such as these.

I did a bit of Interfaith work this semester, too. I met some of the members of Tzedek, the Jewish social justice activism group, and I worked with a few people from the Newman Catholic group. We all participated in the CROP walk together. Service together is so enriching. I have strong ties with the Interfaith Youth Core in Chicago, a group that has been getting more and more publicity because of the success of its programs, more specifically the ‘Days of Interfaith Youth Service’ program. Although we didn’t do a “full” DIYS program, I’d like to think that this small community in Oberlin is building towards the goal of partnership and respect between the religious groups on campus and in the community. 

So here I am this year, once again thanking you for your support and encouragement. This job has had such an effect on my life in innumerable ways. I love it so much. Next semester, don’t be surprised if I jokingly call up Mary and Steve from Paris to tell them I’d like to be an Intern next spring!!!

A Reflection By Olivia Sharrow – Peace and Justice Intern

Sunday, May 11th, 2008

My name is Olivia. I am a student at the college and have now been working with Mary and Steve here at the church for a little more than three months now. There was a flurry of emails and interviewing before Christmas break and I started immediately when I came back in February.

Throughout the semester I have gone from Community Peace Builders meetings to The Oberlin Area Co-operating ministries, to church luncheons, peace potlucks and the high school for both counter military recruiting and to visit with Donna Shurr and the interact club. I’ve gone to several networking luncheons at the community service building and even made 17 phone calls one day to all the churches in town to collect information about the hot meals program.

In March, I attended a meeting of adults and students from Oberlin middle and high school to try and address some of the issues that face youth in town today. My latest project was the most recent peace potluck on Friday which got together three of the Immigrant Worker Project’s student interns to talk about the lives and especially the challenges that face the growing migrant worker population in the US, focusing on rural Ohio.

What most of these events showed me is really how each thing leads to another, and how connected we all are in our pursuit of peace, justice, and community; how hard we are working, for a fairly common goal. Each new group of people that I met with had at least one other person who I had seen at the last meeting and carried some theme of my interest just one step further.

Two things have stuck out in my mind as sort of “bigger picture” learning experiences. First of all, the fact that it is a church that I work for, of all community organizations, continues to astonish me. I have always been extremely wary of organized religion, and its power to oppress and discriminate. Clearly this is not the case , but my few encounters with the church left me with an impression of intolerance and exclusion.

When I read the ad in the Oberlin classifieds, the fact that I would work for two pastors was the only thing that I felt might get in the way of my ability to really feel comfortable with what I was doing and supporting. That wall that I had put up between myself and the church first began to crack when I asked Mary and Steve during my interview in their living room in December which branch of Christianity Peace Church identified with.

They told me that it had been part of the regional Baptist chapter but had been asked to leave when they declared that they were open and welcoming to gay and lesbian members of the community. Then I came to a few gatherings here, met and talked to people, and was overwhelmed by the sense of warmth and acceptance that prevails. Later Equality Ohio showed the documentary “For The Bible Tells Me So” which explores the experiences of homosexuals coming out within their faith.

The fact that a church would show this only served to break down more of my prejudices against the power of religion in our society. So it’s not all bad. For me, the realization and understanding of the role that a church can play in a community, as a powerfully good force, is almost an entire turn around. I think in this country and probably every where in the world, the church is central to the people and it would be impossible to try to work with any group of people with out its help and still with a deep suspicion of such an important part of people’s lives.

For this reason, the warm welcome that I have received into this community, even as an outsider who doesn’t attend the services on Sunday, deserves thanks beyond what I am able to articulate. This has been an invaluable lesson for me, as someone who hopes to continue this type of work throughout my life and maybe some day on a much larger scale.

What’s more is that there must be places that foster this same sense of acceptance as appreciation as Peace Community all around the country and all around the world. Through interacting with people in town and especially from the gathering of both middle and high school students and adults in March. I’ve been able to see parallels between my own small town in central Vermont and Oberlin, OH. Especially among youth, there are the same issues, the same problems, and the same lack of understanding and trust

Surprisingly, it is this that gives me hope and faith that there is something that can be done, if these experiences are universal then there is a common ground for people to get together to try and solve them and that their solutions will be pertinent and applicable every where.

Again, I think no value can be attached to this lesson. So it is the end of my first year in Oberlin and my first semester with this work that I hope I will continue to do for the rest of my time here. I don’t think I could ask for a job that would exercise such specific and essential skills that I believe will continue to serve me, both the ability to meet and connect with people on their owns terms, organize a presentation, layout a flyer, manage my time, and essentially try to bring people together to understand that we are all looking for fundamentally the same thing.

You Will Be My Witnesses

Sunday, May 4th, 2008

I was a searching 20 year old when I first met Mary Hammond. She was teaching an Exco class on feminist theology And I was in the midst of a sophomore slump. My closest friend hadn’t returned to school that year, I was getting fed up with a boyfriend who kept stringing me along And of course I was inundated with coursework and practice hours. By this point in my college experience I had both chucked my Christian faith and returned to it, but I didn’t really have a place to hang my hat spiritually. I wanted to be a different kind of Christian, but I wasn’t exactly sure what that meant. I was looking for a way to be authentic to myself and the Spirit that that spoke within me.

And so I listened to this articulate, faith-filled woman talk about women’s experience and the Bible. The subject material engaged me like no other. For the first time, the Word had taken on flesh that looked like mine—female flesh. I had never had a woman pastor, and I had never heard anyone talk about faith through the lens of gender. As I began attending First Baptist Church, Mary’s ability to preach and lead visibly made a huge impact on me. Mary became a role model for me, speaking and living the Word.
I saw in her someone for whom the Bible story had become her own story. For me, Mary was a witness, speaking and living out the Good News of Jesus that she had experienced in her own life and seen with her own eyes.

That’s what today is all about: witness. Our story in Acts picks up at the end of Jesus’ resurrection appearances to the disciples. Jesus had been popping in and out of his disciples’ lives for 40 days, eating with them and explaining the scriptures to them. Gradually the reality that he wasn’t dead and gone was sinking in.

But the disciples were still trying to work out what it all meant. In our lesson today they ask Jesus, “Are you going to restore the kingdom now?” The disciples were thinking that Jesus’ resurrection would usher in God’s reign of justice on earth. “And they all lived happily ever after”—end of story. But God had a two part plan, and Jesus’ part was only half of it. The other half, was the disciples job. “You will be my witnesses,” Jesus said, “in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.”

These words were Jesus commission to his disciples. Witnessing was to be their job description until the time when he would return. The word ‘witness’ generally has two parts—witness as seeing and witness as saying. Witness as seeing is the first hand observation of an event. The disciples had indeed seen Jesus’ ministry, his death and resurrection appearances— In fact his was a requirement for joining the inner circle When the disciples met to replace Judas. Witnessing as saying was telling the story of what they had seen. In their early preaching, the disciples combined their eye witness accounts with scripture to show that Jesus was the Messiah had who been foretold.

But the disciples’ daily living was also an important part of their witness. The book of Acts tells how the disciples and other believer lived in community together How they shared their resources and tended to each other’s needs So that no one went hungry. They preached with boldness to the welcoming and hostile alike Enduring death threats, beatings and imprisonment. In all of this, prayer sustained their life together, enabling them to model the justice, forgiveness and courage of Jesus’ coming reign.

“You will be my witnesses.” Our modern lives are perhaps not as dangerous as those of the early Christians, but the mission to witness is still important. Mary has taken that job description seriously.
She has been a witness not only to me but to this congregation, to the town and to the college community. Whether it was serving on the school board, ministering to 12 Steppers, baking cookies with college students or preaching, teaching and organizing, Mary has lived the Good News in word and deed. Her witness has been as public as researching and writing books for thousands to read Or as personal as facing chemotherapy with faith and courage. You know Mary has a rich interior life— and she is willing to share her insights with others. One of the ways she has witnessed to me has been that she doesn’t have all the answers She has shown me spiritual struggle itself is holy. In all of these ways, Mary’s words and actions point to Jesus, The one who died to give her life The one who motivates her to share that life with others.

There’s been an incredible ripple affect. You have to start with Steve, of course: He has been a true partner, encourager, fellow witness and persistent advocate for justice. There’s at least a whole sermon inspired by him, but I’ll let some else preach that later. Then there’s the rest of the family: Sarah, Rachel and Grace growing up to be such awesome, caring human beings. The commitment to spreading Good News is evident in their lives, too: Counseling mothers-to-be with HIV Being a librarian for the under served Organizing support for an orphanage in South America Each in her own way embodying Jesus’ love for the lost and forgotten. Then consider the peace corp volunteers, teachers, the non-profit leaders, and the 15 seminarians. Consider all the people from all walks of life who have come through this church who are now living out Jesus’ call to witness to the Good News of liberation and justice. You will be my witnesses!

All this has been possible because you, the people of Peace Community Church, have been witnesses, too. You have been equal partners these ministries with Mary and Steve, Witnesses in the prayer vigils and protests, witnesses in visiting the imprisoned, in healing those estranged from church. Witnesses in sewing the quilts and organizing the rummage sales to support the ministries here. You have been witnesses that no one is a second class citizen in God’s eyes As your congregation took a stand against church policies that discriminated against GLTB. You will be my witnesses, Jesus says! This congregation is making that come true.

It’s a ripple affect, and that is how witnessing works. On the day of Pentecost, the Spirit that was poured out first on the disciples with all the flames and wind and speaking in tongues. But that wasn’t the end.
Peter explains that this is the beginning of a new era that the prophet Joel was talking about when the Spirit would be poured out on all people.“All of us are witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection,” Peter said.
Jesus’ commission wasn’t just for the chosen few It wasn’t just for the eye witnesses or for those who had their lives together No—Jesus’ commission to witness to the Good News of Jesus was given to all who would accept it.

You will be my witnesses. Jesus left that Ascension day almost 2000 years ago. He lifted up his hands and rose into the sky. It could have been a sad event, but here we are celebrating it. We celebrate because it begins a new era. Like Elisha, who got a double portion of the Spirit when Elijah was taken to heaven, we get a healthy dose of that same Holy Spirit. Each of us is a witness. Your witness won’t look exactly like Mary’s or like mine. Each is unique. But together they form a witness to Jesus that is greater than the sum of its parts. It’s why Jesus could say to his disciples in the Gospel of John, “You will do greater things than these.”

On this day we celebrate Mary’s ministry, let us renew our call to be witnesses of Jesus’ life, wholeness and justice.
Amen.