Sermon for June 17, 2018 the fourth of Pentecost

Sermon for June 17, 2018      4th after Pentecost       “Little Things Mean A Lot”

I tell you the kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, it is tiny and apparently insignificant but when planted grows to be a bush large enough for birds to nest.

Parables being parables have many meanings. The truth remains consistent but time and context add insight and new understanding. Jesus told the parable to help the people understand that the Kingdom of heaven is not what they expect. The kingdom is found in small, seemingly insignificant moments and things, yes like a mustard seed. It brings to focus the teachings of Jesus: the first shall be last, the least shall be the greatest, two mites are more than that given from excess, a seed must die to live, I must die so that all might live and have eternal life. This teaching was new, difficult and hard to imagine then and it is no easier now.

Perhaps you have heard the story of the Princess and the pea, or the grain of sand in the oyster. Perhaps you have been walking and had an annoying rock in your shoe or sandal? When you finally stop to shake it out, you are amazed that the annoying bit was not much bigger than a grain of sand, where you thought a small boulder would fall out. Little things matter. But let’s not just assume that they are there to annoy. Little things matter to make life richer , more meaningful and beautiful. Have you smiled at someone, have you bought a coffee for someone or someone did the same for you, did you get a call or email, did someone pick up the change you dropped and returned it. Has someone done some small thing that meant the world to you? Have you done the same?

Kathy reminded me of a story titled ‘Two Coffees’ where a young man in line buys the coffee for the man behind him in line. It seemed like no big deal but the older man was deeply appreciative. Some months later, they happened to be in the same place at the same time. The older man stopped the younger and recounted the story. He said he was going to see his wife in the hospital where she was being treated for cancer and the outlook was grim. He was feeling depressed and angry. You bought a coffee and in that instant my spirits were lifted and hope shined through. Thank you he said. The younger man was moved to tears that a random meeting and a $2 coffee would mean so much.

Jesus reminds us in this parable that we are the small thing for another.

The story does not end there. For Jesus is telling the parable as biography. I am the mustard seed and to grow into something grander I must die so that I can be more. A hard lesson for the first followers and for us in the 21st century. Jesus says repeatedly that I will die and rise again on the third day, the temple will be destroyed and I will rebuild it in three days. Jesus is the mustard seed that dies so that all might have life and life in abundance.

We are living in an age of staggering ‘me first’ and ultra-protectionism and if I have learned anything from history, those two false beliefs held together as a truth are dangerous and destructive. Through the ages, people have believed that Jews were evil, blacks were an abomination to God, that women were not persons under the law, that those who are LGBTQ are to be outcast and that Muslims are terrorists. These are false truths proclaimed as true so that some can be perceived as better. The first and best teaching of Jesus is: Love God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind, love yourself and love others. Jesus died so that we might come to a better understanding of this truth.

The message of Jesus might seem like a small thing in the world as it is now. I believe that God will not let the seed of love die in the ground in the 21st century. I believe that God has planted that small seed in all of us who believe Jesus is Saviour and it will, through our small actions cause the calloused hearts and closed minds to be opened.

I would like to share one of my favorite poems with you again. Dawna Markova is the author.

“I will not die an unlived life, I will not not live in fear of falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise. I choose to risk my significance, to live so that which came to me as seed goes to the next as blossom. And that which came to me as blossom, goes on as fruit”


Sermon for May 20, 2018

Sermon for May 20, 2018       Pentecost                    “Stir me from being Settled”

Pentecost is like the third or fourth cousin compared to Christmas and Easter. There is no media blitz encouraging us to spend on this toy or that bit of jewelry. There are no hints of chocolate bunnies or cream eggs. To the rest of the world Pentecost and for that matter even in the church, it is all but forgotten.

That Pentecost does not have the consumerism frenzy of Christmas, is for the church and us, great news. It means Pentecost can be focused on us, you and me, the community of disciples known as the church. It is the story of how, through the power of the Holy Spirit, the church is gifted with an identity and an authority centered in the proclamation of the Gospel.

We know that the 21st century church is far different from the church started by Jesus and the disciples. It is different from the church of the first two millennium. It is even very different from the church of our childhood when church buildings were filled to overflowing with people and the church was the centre of the community and family life. Pentecost is not intended to be a benchmark of what the church should look like but a teaching moment to communicate how important the church is and inseparable it is from Jesus. On Pentecost, we are reminded of who we are as a church, what we proclaim and the source of that proclamation. It is a message passed on from church to church through each successive generation.

In the first years of the United Church, our statement of belief was the Apostle’s creed and by times the Nicene Creed. In 1968 the United Church creed was introduced and then revised in 1980 and again in 1995. It currently states:

We are not alone, we live in God’s world. We believe in God: who has created and is creating, who has come in Jesus, the Word made flesh, to reconcile and make new, who works in us and others by the Spirit. We trust in God. We are called to be the Church: to celebrate God’s presence, to live with respect in Creation, to love and serve others, to seek justice and resist evil, to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen, our judge and our hope. In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us. We are not alone. Thanks be to God.

Kathy was chatting with one of her Buddhist friends this past week and in the conversation, Kathy indicated that she was leading worship this Sunday and that it was Pentecost. She asked: what’s that? Kathy replied it was the moment just before Jesus left the disciples when he gifted them with the Holy Spirit, the advocate, comforter, translator and enabler. And then the 12 became hundreds and the hundreds became thousands and then millions. She thought about that for a moment and said; so the Holy Spirit is sort of like the web, reaches out all over the world touching the lives of millions.

Then I said to Kathy, well it seems to me that would be the equivalent to a modern day message going viral. Maybe the first time a message went viral and it just took us 2000 years to realize that.

The Holy Spirit is that force that moves us into and out of our comfort zones, ever beckoning and nudging us forward, ever opening us as individuals and congregations to newness and oldness. And always requiring our attention and our voice. We might think we are settled and set in our ways. Then comes the Holy Spirit. Stirring us from placidness. Demanding that we not be silent. Propelling us into creative and dynamic ways of proclaiming the Good news in the 21st century. We can resist and insist our way is the best. The Holy Spirit is a persistent Spirit and once we get a glimpse, we will desire more. So I say, come Holy Spirit come.

Sermon for May 13, 2018

Sermon for May 13          Anniversary/Mother’s Day           “Roots and Wings”

“I say these things in the world so that they may have the fullness of my joy in their hearts” How glorious a thing it is to have Jesus praying for us. We do not often think of that in our gentle or frantic prayers.  But here in John’s Gospel we are reminded that Jesus is holding us in prayer. That has been so since the beginning.

I can imagine in my mind the setting some 159 years ago as the men sat around a dining room table the women in the kitchen (I am not being sexist here but let’s remember its 1859). Of course there were lots of ideas being discussed but I also imagine no decision was made until the women had their say as to how thing were to unfold. It was not true then nor is it true now that all the power and decision making happens by those sitting at the table.

We are rooted in the Methodist and Wesleyan tradition that holds biblical truth and a passion for Spirit as its gift for a prosperous church. There is also a gift of stubbornness. Not one, not two but three fires did not dampen the zeal for the Gospel and for the mission of Jesus in Fairville and Lancaster and now Saint John. Each time a new building was constructed, beginning in a barn, moving to a new church on Church Ave. to a rebuilt church on the same site (which many remember still) to our current site in 1960. The reach of the church’s mission in the community was essential and church events and hall become the focal point of the community.

And in all this we hear the prayer of Jesus…that they may have the fullness of my joy in their hearts.

In the lesson from Acts we see the disciples gathered to choose a replacement for Judas. They follow the direction and emulate Jesus. First those who are eligible gather there are about 120. These had to be witnesses of Jesus from Baptism to death. In the envelope of prayer two are chosen and after more prayer for guidance one is chosen. Matthias is the one chosen to be of the twelve. Justus and the other 118 are not left behind. They continue a vital and essential ministry. For those with longer memories than me of St. Mark’s you will know that the right leadership has emerged at the right time. That never meant that the ministry of everyone else was not vital. It is critically vital. We cannot all be the chair of the board or the organist, we cannot all be the lead for UCW or men’s club, we cannot all operate the sound system or read scripture in church. We all are vital to ministry and that has been so for 159 years and will be into the future.

In my few years in your midst, I am deeply grateful for the dedication to faith and prayer, for the depth of leadership and willingness to step forward in faith and lead. I am thankful for all the little, often hoped not noticed, bits and pieces that get done by all sorts of people.

And in all this we hear the prayer of Jesus…that they may have the fullness of my joy in their hearts.

Where do you go from here? We are well rooted in our history and our faith. That has given us capacity to spread our wings and fly. It is my hope and prayer that we will hold to the Wesleyan passion for scripture and the Methodist zeal for Holy Spirit. I know the 21st century will hold its own challenges for be the keepers and speakers of the word of Jesus. I am not alone in believing there is a new reformation in progress. Our wings give us the gift of sight and direction and we will not be lost in the upheaval. This I know is true for St. Mark’s for we are well rooted and because of that have wings to fly.

Also in all this is the prayer of Jesus… that they may have the fullness of my joy in their hearts. And this more than anything, I believe.

Sermon for January 21, 2018

Sermon for January 21, 2018 3rd After Epiphany

This was Jonah’s second trip in so many days to Nineveh and Jonah was as convinced this time as last that these people did not or would not hear or heed the word of God. As Jonah mumbled along the roads and crescents, the strangest thing started to happen. The word proclaimed by Jonah became clear. Perhaps it was the perceived persistence of Jonah or that God does have the capacity to open ears and hearts to hear and receive we may never know. To Jonah’s surprise the people heard, they joined him in the streets, they changed their ways and Jonah, yes Jonah was changed as well.
It is always interesting to me how the same collection of words can be understood in so many ways. How the same literature can move some to tears and disgust others. Perhaps that is why communication is always our biggest challenge. In the Gospel, Mark accounts for us the call of the first disciples. Why is it that the call of Jesus was so motivating for Simon and Andrew that they left home and followed Jesus? Why is it that the call of Jesus did not resonate with Zebedee and the hired helpers and yet was so powerful to James and John?
I think the answer is quite simple. Then as now, we cannot all be and do the same thing. We cannot all be teachers or lawyers, nurses or doctors, mayors or police. We each hear the call to be something, someone different. Not everyone needed to be a disciple and Jesus knew that. So this ragtag group of folks were essential to the Good News being proclaimed, they were the ones who gathered folks from the towns and villages to hear Jesus. They, along with many others, looked after the needs of Jesus and sustained him along the way.
It is also, why Zebedee and so many others stayed behind. They heard the call differently and chose to live out that call right where they are.
As I step back and view the story of Jonah and the call of disciples, it becomes clear to me that we are strategically placed right where we are with the right skills, the right temperament, and the right attitude to accomplish the work of Jesus. Not any one is more important for it takes us all. That is both exciting and scary at the same time.
Jonah did not think Nineveh deserved to hear the word of God, God thought different. We may wonder why that person is here, God does not, for we are all essential for the work and witness in our day. Anne Lamont from Mindful Christianity says: “You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do”. With all ranting these days about who is allowed in and who is not, who is worthy and who is not; it behooves us to stop, step back, be silent…and wait on the word of God. Each person that comes before us carries a huge sign that says: I am God’s. It is not our task to argue with God but to be followers of God. To live out the ancient and new mission of feeding, housing, tending to, welcoming, visiting, and then we will be participants in and witness the acceptable year of God.

Sermon for Nov. 12, 2017 23rd of Pentecost

Sermon for November 12, 2017 23 After Pentecost “Old Story-New Story”
Weddings, ah weddings! They can be the best of times or the worst of times. I have conducted many that went off without a hitch and a few that well, were one occurrence after another. But in all cases the festivities after the wedding were of joy and hope. I know the anxiety for parents as they see their children wed. And the hope of couples as they take wedding vows. It is a time charged with emotion, not just the emotion when your team wins, but the emotion of a lifetime.
In Jesus’ day, weddings were grand and community events. Jesus performed his first miracle at the wedding of Cana. Wedding started at the bride’s house with celebrating and feasting without the groom. At some point in the evening, the groom would arrive and there would be a grand procession to his house for the ceremony and days of celebrating. The bridesmaids and groomsmen would light the way with lanterns and torches.
Our mission and hope is to live with expectation. At the heart of our faith is the certainty that human history has a purpose and a goal and that it is moving toward eventual fulfillment and completion. We do not articulate it very well and in fact sometimes we avoid this topic because of its abuse by evangelical eschatologist’s, who sell lots of books describing the end of history in graphic and violent terms and who focus on the end times to the neglect of this time, this world. The scholars offer a caution as we read this parable and it has to do with leaping ahead and our desire to determine who is in and who is out of the kingdom of God.
To give away the punch line, the parable is about today and paying attention.
We often hear that running out of oil and some of the bridesmaids being foolish is the only message in the story. Since the groomsmen were with the groom they did not worry about when the groom was arriving, they were there so late or early did not matter. The wisdom of the parable for today is about paying attention and being present. The bridesmaids who were not at the banquet feast did not focus on the task. One or two or even five less lamps would not have made a difference. Showing up makes the difference.
The early disciples and Christians had to get used to the idea that Jesus’ return may not be in their day. They had to figure out how to live out the mission of Jesus without him and in the new truth that he was retuning sometime, and well only Jesus knows that. It is our task as well. John Buchanan writes, “the end of time is not the point here. The point is living expectantly and hopefully. Christian hope rest on trust that the God who created the world will continue the process of creation until the project is complete, and will continue to redeem and save the world by coming into it with love and grace, in Jesus Christ”.
In our day we get tired of waiting easily. And there are days when it seems that all we do is wait. I heard the comment the other day that went something like this ‘I wish Christmas would hurry up and get over’. Really? It has not even started and some are wishing it were over, like wishing away two months of their life. Waiting for Jesus is not the idle, impatient waiting that befalls us when we survey the lines at the supermarket, pick the one we think is the fastest, only learn that it is the slowest. No it is expectant waiting, it is alive waiting, it is waiting in action.
As potent as the parable is, I have some issues. Are we alone responsible for our faith life? Will Jesus find me in the dark? Can I Share? What would happen if we share? I have a knowing that Jesus will find the faithful in daylight and in the dark. I am responsible for the living out of my faith and I have an obligation to share the teachings of Jesus in a way that is inviting for others. So they can live their lives in faith.
Or, is the oil a symbol or image of our faith life? That our faith life takes constant tending to lest it flicker and go out. The richness of parable is the scope of possibility for understanding Jesus teachings. Again Jesus reminds us that faith takes practice, it takes prayer and meditation, it takes action and it takes being open to the movement toward the completion of God’s realm on earth.

Sermon for November 5, 2017

Sermon for November 5, 2017 Remembrance Sunday “No Longer Unaware”
When Nicholas was in Middle school he came home all excited about a book the English teacher had suggested. It was the Hobbit and he was thrilled to tell me the adventures of these smallish people. I was excited too as I had had the stories and thoroughly enjoyed them. So when I told him I had the book, actually the 50th anniversary edition, he was perplexed and thrilled.
Perplexed because he thought they were new stories and thrilled because no one else had the 50th anniversary edition and that we could talk about the same books. If you know the stories great. It is about the Hobbits of the Shire. Their town is one of joy and energy and hope. It is the place where they are restored and renewed. And no Hobbit can imagine leaving. Until one day one of the Hobbits does leave and is thrust in worlds he never could imagine in his wildest dreams. No matter where the journey led, there was always the Shire that was the anchor, the place he could go back to, even in his mind, and find joy and peace and hope.
There was a time when home and community and church were the places that nourished me and brought hope and joy. But then, as I was encouraged to do, I left. At first I did not go far but then I ventured further and further. And each time I arrived hope there was hope and joy but it was different.
This St. Mark’s is a safe place and a place of hope and joy. And as I said a few weeks ago it is a place where we are filled to overflowing with hope and joy so that we might be able to be about the work Jesus has invited us into and give all the hope and joy away. But each time we leave we learn more about the need, the ways of the world, the demands placed on us as people of faith and the tugs to just abandon faith and join the ranks of the social or the blissfully unaware.
Each time we spend a week in the world, we discover that the language of our parents and grandparents is not working so good. Even the ways of being church that worked so well in the 60’s and 70’s do not resonate and are sort of like a clanging gong in the ears of many.
Jesus talks about the Pharisees. They were in the history of the Hebrew people the ‘freedom fighter separatists’ the ones who could see the need for change and did change the way the people viewed and knew God. But after a while they became mainstream and were just a bunch of older men retelling the stories of the good ole days. Jesus implores us to listen but also to move past what they do. Listen to the lessons they teach but please, please do not do what they do. Just sitting around telling by gone tales does nothing for the kingdom right now.
We leave here so that we might experience the world, to learn the language, to discover the need and bring that back so that what we offer is relevant and spoken in a way that makes sense. I have a sense that Jesus knew the challenge and the need to be great. So there is this caution: when you the church feel that you are right and great and above all…then you will be least and you will be inconsequential. The message and root place of hope, joy and peace do not change, they ground us and keep us focused on Jesus. What changes is our awareness of the world in which we live and the ever changing language we need to learn to share the message so that it can be heard in new and fresh ways for others and most importantly for ourselves.

Sermon for October 15, 2017 “Rejoice”

Sermon for October 15, 2017 19th after Pentecost “Rejoice”
My friends, how dear you are to me. How I rejoice when I am in your presence. How thankful I am when I recall the good work you do to promote the mission and work of Jesus. I am proud of you.
These word first penned by Paul about 2000 years ago to the community at Philippi. And to be honest I could say them no better to the people of St. Mark’s today. My friends, how dear you are to me, how I rejoice in being with you, how proud I am of you.
It takes more people than you can imagine to be about the work of Jesus as it is lived out here. Yes some do more and some do less and that is fine, it is not a contest. And I can assure you that if the small tasks are missed the whole get out of balance and it is noticed.
The letter from Paul is notable in that he names two women: Euodia and Syntyche who work tirelessly for the mission of Jesus. They do not always see eye to eye as to what is important but they do see that the work is vital and their work is vital. So Paul reminds them that all work is important and essential and that they can rejoice that they have different interests and skills.
I am thankful that there are many and differently skilled folks here. And that even from time to time we heed the call of Paul to set aside differences and work together in our common mission. But most of all rejoice. Rejoice in the work of the Gospel, rejoice in one another, rejoice in prayer and just rejoice.
For Paul there is more than just getting along and rejoicing. There is the essential need for people of faith to have a practice of prayer. ‘Don’t worry about anything, but in all your prayers ask God for what you need, always asking God with a thankful heart. And God’s peace, which is far beyond human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with Jesus’. This prayer life is not something new, not a new and vital teaching of Jesus. It is ancient and has roots in the beginning of the Hebrew tradition, from which Christianity was born. So Paul speaks as though prayer is a natural part of the lives of the first Christians. Paul goes on to explain what we have so interestingly forgotten a practiced prayer life. For the past 100 years or so, prayer has become more of a wish list, a honey-do list for God. It has become more about me and my situation and less about time with God and Jesus. But listen again to what Paul has to say about the outcome of prayer: and God’s peace, which is far beyond human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with Jesus.
It is in that relationship that we find the deepest and purest joy. And that I believe will be the first steps of the new reformation of Christianity. It is moving from a wish list mentality, beyond a ‘God bless America’ notion, beyond a God is for us and be dammed all others. A new reformation that begins with a practiced prayer that leads to joy with God and from that a joy of the gift of life blessed to us and the earth that sustains that living.
A Paul ends this portion of his letter he implores us to view the world from the inner sight of joy. Then you will see good, see possibility, see love, see humility and see God.
It starts with practiced prayer…let us pray…Amen

Sermon for September 24, 2017

Sermon for September 24, 2017 16 after Pentecost “Rejoice I Say, Rejoice”
I expect we have all heard stories where in the face of danger and imminent death, there was faith and even the capacity for joy. Whether urban legend or truth, there is the image of soldiers in war, raising in song Christmas Carols, the fighting stops, and mortal enemies join for a moment, peace, a meal and a shared faith. As Paul’s letter to the Philippians begins we are faced with a prison scene with Paul in the dim light and a borrowed stylus penning a letter to the faithful. He is well aware that death could be with the next knock on the door. Yet he writes that he wishes to die so he can be with his Saviour and he wishes to live so that he can continue the work of bringing to people the beautiful teachings of Jesus.
There is an expression that some are so heaven bent that they are no earthly good. Or we get caught up in the song from the musical Annie’ The Sun will come out tomorrow. And so we miss today, right here on earth. Our God is the God of today. We are called to look for the promised hope and joy right now, today. And it seems the first thing that pops into our mind is that I am so busy, it is going to be a terrible day, I am sick or grieving and so on, yet God has given us this moment, this day so that we can be surrounded by hope and joy and love. Or maybe we just break in song now and sing: This is the day that God has made, let us rejoice and be glad”.
This is not an extraordinary thing God is asking of us. Sherly Sandberg the CEO of Facebook, had the capacity, along with her two young children to have hope and even joy after the sudden death of her husband. Immaculee Ilibagiza was able to have joy and hope even in the midst of the Rwanda genocide. Many survivors of the Holocaust are alive because they had hope. Paul in prison, his life in jeopardy was able to pen words of hope and joy, and even to encourage others in far better places to have hope and joy. A criminal hanging on a cross beside Jesus was able to open to hope and joy. There are news reports coming from Mexico that workers are hand digging through collapsed buildings with hope of finding one more survivor. And you can add to this your collection of stories of hope, Paul in prison, awaiting death writes to his followers to have hope and rejoice.
As our days unfold how often are we slanted to despair or look at life through the lense of woe is me. How do we view our mission at St. Mark’s? I look at our life with hope and rejoicing. Today we celebrate baptism, we celebrate our staff all seven of us, we are blessed with those who have expertise about the building, we have many children and youth and young families and seniors. We are engaged in our community so much so that we are often overbooked for space. We have more abundance and hope than others can possibly imagine. So I say rejoice.
And if that does not seem to satisfy, then look to Jesus who was, is and always will be all about love. Who, whenever we think our lives are pathetic, gazes at us, holds our hand and whispers, shouts or is just silent, until we are able to hear the redeeming words of his love.
Paul was in prison and still had the where-with-all to spread the good news. Here we are free and yet we are strangely silent. This is not the time for silence, this is the time to share the good news of Jesus. It is the time to share that that good news is vibrant and alive here at St. Mark’s. It is the time to rejoice and let me assure you it is really hard to rejoice with your mouth sealed shut.

Sermon for September 10, 2017

Sermon for September 10, 2017 14th of Pentecost “.002”

Last week I mentioned that there are 28,400.002 seconds in a day. That calculation is based on the atomic length of a year that includes the hours, minutes and seconds that our 12 month calendar misses. And that got me to thinking about the significance of the wee tiny things. So what if we just said ‘whatever’ to those .002 seconds. Well with 7 billion people in the world and if we all did that we would say ‘whatever’ to 3883 hours. By itself .002 does not seem like much but when stacked up they add up.
Have you ever heard the expression penny wise pound foolish, have you had a close call and said whoa a spit second one way or another and I would have been a goner. Does .002 matter to Andre Grasse or Usaine Bolt or any of the other times sports where thousandths of a second matter. Our Gospel today says where two or three are gathered I am there. What if we said ‘whatever’ to those two or three? In another story two tiny copper coins are vital to life and the mission of the church and yet even then the leadership was quick to point out the deficiency and Jesus was quick to point out the extravagance. Last year not many people saw Michael on his hands and knees cleaning the corners, nooks and crannies of the church rooms, and yet we all noticed that even those forgotten bits were clean and shiny, just like the rest.
Growing up in Beaver Bank on a small hobby farm, there were always chores, lots of chores. I can remember dad saying: if you are going to do a job do it well. That usually pertained to chores, the mowing is not done until the trimming is done, you have to pull the small weeds too, the tiny potatoes and as important as the big ones and so on. One of the pre-eminent biblical scholars of our day is Dominic Crossan and he says that the bible is understood in its minutia and its context. The tiny bits matter to understanding the whole.
The Gospel lesson is about forgiveness and the righting of wrongs and a good and honourable process to ensure that there is justice. This text needs to be balanced with the text that challenges us to see the plank in our eye before we accuse our neighbour of a speck in theirs. I listened with interest, humour and a nodding in agreement head to CBC this past week when there was a sketch on the Canadian way of saying sorry. Part of it was funny and poked fun of the various ways that we constantly use the word sorry. Another was the restoration of hope and live when a mother was able to forgive the man who killed her son.
I have seen many times power and life giving energy of forgiveness and I have seen the anguish and the depletion of life when forgiveness is withheld and vengeance is sought. It is perhaps why Jesus spends considerable time on forgiveness and why the greatest command is to love God, yourself and others especially your enemies. So when the first part of the Gospel ends with: “if they do not listen to the church then treat them as tax collectors and pagans” it is not a curse upon them, it is a call to love them.
The little things matter, even the .002 thousandths of a second matter. It is what we do with the little things that define the big things. For as the Gospel lessons ends we hear: where two or more are gathered, there I am also.

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