Archives for June 2017

Stones, Wheat, and Weeds, Seventh Sunday after Pentecost – July 23, 2017

[RCL:] Genesis 28:10-19a; Psalm 139: 1-11, 22-23; Romans 8:12-25; Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

Today’s readings offer us a wonderful opportunity to focus on stories. The stories we tell both illuminate and teach the virtues that our communities respect. Stories transmit culture, values, and ethics. Stories often include images and actions that raise questions and confirm values. In our church communities, we tell concrete stories that illustrate our beliefs, rather than using abstract language to try to explain our theology. The book of Genesis contains the foundational stories of our faith, while the gospels contain both the story that Jesus lived and the stories that Jesus told his community of followers.

What does the story of Jacob’s dream tell us about our faith? What does the parable of the weeds of the field tell us about what we value as a community? How do these two stories work together to paint a rich and nuanced picture of the ideals explicit and implicit in our stories?

Both stories contain angels! We might define angels as spiritual beings who possess powers and intelligence superior to humans. Angels are intermediaries between heaven and earth, between God and God’s people. They are God’s messengers.

There is quite a lot going on in today’s passage from Genesis, a rich source for questions. Jacob, the son of Isaac and grandson of Abraham, has fled from his home, where he has just tricked his brother Esau out of his birthright, deceiving his father in the process. Journeying to the home of his mother’s people, Jacob stops for the night and puts a stone under his head for a pillow. Why a stone for a pillow? The answer to that question is revealed later in the passage after Jacob wakes from his dream. Jacob takes the stone from under his head, sets it up as a pillar, and anoints it as a sacred place, which he calls Bethel, or “house of God.” Thus the stone signifies a sacred space, and sleeping on it induces Jacob’s dream, his message from God.

The first thing that Jacob sees in his dream is a ladder from earth to heaven, with the angels of God ascending and descending on it. The sacred nature of the site is confirmed, as it is the earthly place of connection to heaven. And what are those angels doing, going up and down? Certainly, they indicate our connection with God, a connection that seems to go two ways. In the Greek and early rabbinic traditions, ladders are associated with judgment. We might explain it this way: God makes ladders. Some folks are raised up; some are brought down. In the words of Psalm 75, verse 7: “It is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another.” Having recently used trickery and deceit to steal his brother’s birthright, and fleeing from his brother’s anger, Jacob might well wonder about God’s judgment upon him. But God appears to him and repeats the covenant that God made with Abraham: the promises of land, descendants, and blessing. God confirms the blessing that Isaac had previously given to Jacob. He is to be the new patriarch of God’s people.

Further, and even more awesome, God assures Jacob that God is with him wherever he goes. At a vulnerable moment, fleeing from home, sleeping rough on the road to a foreign land, Jacob receives knowledge of God’s divine presence and help. Jacob, a man on the run, is transformed by God’s grace into a man who is blessed to be the new leader of God’s people.

What has the story of Jacob’s dream taught us about what we value?

  • We value sacred spaces,
  • We value our connection with God, and
  • We acknowledge that fortune moves up and down, but God is always with us.

Implicit in the story of Jacob is the ever-present possibility of redemption. We are reminded that God’s grace, like God’s covenant with Abraham and his descendants, is unconditional.

What about the parable of weeds among the wheat? Jesus is quite specific about explaining what is happening in the story, but what are the implicit values transmitted to those who have ears to listen?

Jesus lived in an agrarian society, so it isn’t surprising that he used farming metaphors as concrete images to explain the mysterious nature of the kingdom of God. The kingdom of heaven is like someone who has sowed good seed, yet an enemy has come and sowed weeds among the wheat. The kingdom of heaven is messy and complicated and will encounter opposition. In fact, evil exists in the world, and may not be easily rooted out. As the householder wisely advises his slaves, it is not a good idea to pull out the weeds, for their roots are entangled with the wheat and pulling them out will damage the crop. Jesus explains that at the end of the age, the angelic reapers will collect the weeds and throw them into the fire, while the wheat will be gathered into God’s kingdom.

We wonder, along with the slaves in the story, where these weeds came from. Why does God allow evil to grow in God’s kingdom? What can we do about it?

Scholars tell us that the weeds in the parable are likely darnel, a weedy grass that looks like wheat until it matures. While the plants in the field are young, the good wheat and the invasive weeds are indistinguishable and intertwined. Then the heads of the wheat droop over, while the heads of the weeds stand up straight. The image is of humility and pride. Is it up to the humble, true followers of Jesus to identify and destroy their proud, hypocritical neighbors? Is the destiny of wheat and weed fixed, or is there a possibility of redemption? There is a difference between weeds and people. We might argue that weeds are weeds forever, while people, if not torn out by the roots, might be redeemed by God’s grace. We cannot be certain who is good and who is evil.

In the parable, the householder says, “In gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest.” He counsels patience and faith in God’s justice. It is important not to damage the roots of the wheat. A good steward must do what is best for all, even if the weeds will survive in the short term.

What does this narrative tell us about the values and culture of the storytellers?

  • We acknowledge the presence of evil in the world,
  • While evil may be redeemed, that redemption may not happen in this world,
  • It is not our job to judge, and
  • We believe in God’s judgment at the last day.

Does Jesus’ parable encourage passivity? Are the children of God to wait for those end-of-time reapers, for God to take care of the weeds? Or is Jesus offering guidance on how to live in a complicated world? While we wait for God to judge at the last day, how are we to live? Knowing that evil seed grows, that evil roots are allowed to flourish, how are we to live?

These two stories come together in our hearts and our communities in the season of Pentecost, when we commemorate the beginnings of the Church. From Genesis grows our awareness of the sanctity of consecrated sacred space and the certainty of our eternal relationship with God. Through the parable of the weeds among the wheat, Jesus reminds us that we live in a hostile world, that good and bad are intermingled, that we must live cooperatively for the good of all, and that we ought to leave judgment to God. We are to live in awe, as Jacob did on that morning in Bethel, in the presence of a just God who meets us where we are, who is with us and will keep us, wherever we go.

Let us close with a collect from the Book of Common Prayer, a prayer that might have been written by the householder in today’s parable:

O God, you have bound us together in a common life. Help us, in the midst of our struggles for justice and truth, to confront one another without hatred or bitterness, and to work together with mutual forbearance and respect; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Susan Butterworth is a Master of Divinity candidate at Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her area of special competency is Anglican, Global, Ecumenical and Interfaith Studies. She is currently an intern with the Lutheran Episcopal Ministry at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she leads weekly Taizé prayer. She is writing a book on the anti-apartheid work of the Anglican Dean of Johannesburg Cathedral, Gonville ffrench-Beytagh.

Download the sermon for the 7th Sunday after Pentecost (A).

The Good Sower, Sixth Sunday after Pentecost – July 16, 2017

[RCL:] Genesis 25:19-34; Psalm 119:105-112; Romans 8:1-11; Matthew 13:1-9,18-23

Jesus has such a heart for his church.  In this parable and its explanation, he’s not only addressing his first disciples but, as with all scripture, he’s addressing us too.  This parable could be a way to get us to do a little soil sampling of our hearts, a little analysis to see what kind of ground we are for seed-reception. This parable could be an invitation to ask ourselves, how can we make the soil of our hearts more fertile, more ready to receive the seed that is the word of the kingdom? How can we be the good soil so we can produce grain a hundredfold, and be part of a great agricultural ripple effect that makes more and more seed, that can be sown near and far and take root in places we may never dream of?  How can we clear our little patch of ground of stones and be strengthened to endure even persecution for the sake of the gospel?  How can we root out the thorns of worldly busyness, worry, self-interest, pettiness, and greed, so the word of the kingdom can abide with us, settle deep in us, make a home in us, and bear fruit? These are good questions, and if being good soil is the goal, there is help for us.

Gardeners and farmers tell us that soil that is good for planting has particular characteristics: good soil has a lot of humus—decayed material like grass roots and leaves—that encourages good nutrients, good drainage and good aeration. Good soil has room for water and air to move through it and get to seeds and plant roots. And although it seems like it’s just an inert substance, good soil is full of life.  For instance, earthworms burrow through soil, carrying away dead matter and taking needed material from the surface of the soil down deep where it can decompose and make more rich humus.  In some places, good soil for planting exists because fire has burned off saplings, preventing forests from growing.

So good soil seems to be the result of letting some stuff go, die even, perhaps getting burned away and allowing room for life-promoting organisms to do their work.  The same may be said of our hearts.  To be receptive to the word of the kingdom, we may need to let some old, false ideas go, die even.  To let idols go or have them taken from us may feel as painful as having them burned away, but letting them become compost may be the first step in making healthier soil.  Letting in life-promoting, wholeness-producing understandings of Jesus and the true nature of God’s reign can turn worthless clay into soil good for planting.  We can be the good soil in which seeds take root and grow into healthy, seed-bearing grain. Who wouldn’t want to be part of making God’s bumper crop of growth and new life?

But perhaps Jesus has another good word for us in this parable: not just exhortation—come on, be good, soil!—but  explanation and reassurance that has to do with the sower rather than the soil.  Perhaps Jesus has an invitation for us to be sowers and not just soil.

For the early Church, for those in whom the word of the kingdom initially took root and brought healing, peace, and joy, there was still a conundrum:  why doesn’t everyone who hears the word believe?  Why is what is so plain to us so imperceptible to others?  Why, when we can say, “Jesus is Lord,” even at the risk of our lives, don’t others get it?  What’s wrong here?

We may wonder some of the same things.  Faith in Jesus is important to us.  We go to church.  We’re here listening to this sermon. Why isn’t everyone?  Why are we the minority in our community, showing up, giving, serving, while all around us there are people who choose sports or coffee or sleep over what makes sense to us?  Why are churches getting smaller or struggling?  Is there something wrong with the word?  Is the seed not what we thought it was? Are we wasting our time?  Is there something else we should let take root in our hearts? Keeping soil good for planting can be hard work sometimes, and we want to know, is it worth it?  Did the sower get it wrong?

To the first disciples, to the early Church, to us, Jesus says, there is nothing wrong with the seed.  The sower is dependable.  But here’s what happens when the seed falls on different kinds of ground.  Trust the sower.  Trust the seed.  Be good soil.

Be good soil, but take a clue from the sower too. The sower’s approach to sowing is carefree, to say the least. The sower flings seed willy-nilly as he goes, with seeming disregard for where the seed will end up.  Shouldn’t the precious seed be saved for careful deposit in some meticulously prepared narrow furrow where it has a better chance of germination and survival?  Not with this sower.  To this sower, it’s as if the seed is so precious, he can’t hold on to it—it has to be shared.  To hold onto the seed would be to squander it.  This sower’s method seems to be to fling the seed as he goes, letting it land where it will, and keep going. This sower covers a lot of ground, not sticking to one pathway or field or territory.  The point, for this sower, is to sow.  So he does.

What if Jesus’ word for us has as much to do with the sower as the soil?  The sower is often taken to be God or Jesus, and that’s a good analogy.  God in Jesus flung the seed of the word of the kingdom wherever he went, and it found good soil in some places where others thought nothing good or holy could grow.  God in Jesus never said a word about some people deserving to hear good news and others not, although he did suggest once that a fig tree that sounds a lot like a group of people might benefit from a heaping application of compost (Luke 13:6-9).  Jesus sowed the word of the kingdom, wherever he went.  He himself was even buried like a seed in the soil, and from that sowing, God brought forth an unimaginable harvest.

But in the explanation of the parable, Jesus doesn’t say, “I am the sower.”  He just says that the sower sows the word, wherever the sower is, wherever the sower goes, and sometimes the word gets snatched away by the devil, and sometimes people fall away because the following is costly and risky, and sometimes the cares of the world choke the word, and sometimes, sometimes, the word bears a ridiculously abundant harvest.

What if Jesus is not only saying to be good soil, to be open and receptive, to let dead and death-dealing ideas die, and to welcome all that is holy and life-giving to make room and a hospitable reception for the word?  What if Jesus is also saying, “Sow!”  Don’t worry about whether you think the soil you’re walking over is good or bad, receptive or not.  Don’t be saving up seed for the places you think will be the most fertile.  This seed is so precious, it has to be shared, and there’s plenty more seed where that came from.  Not every bit of fruitful sowing is going to happen in the tidy rows of our pews, although by God’s grace it can happen even there.

There is so much seed to be sown.  Fling it.  Toss it.  Share it.  Get out there. Sow.

Amy Richter serves as rector of St. Anne’s Church in Annapolis, Md., and teaches New Testament at the Ecumenical Institute of St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore. She is married to the Rev. Dr. Joseph Pagano, with whom she has co-authored two collections of sermons: A Man, a Woman, a Word of Love, and Love in Flesh and Bone–Exploring the Christmas Mystery. She is also the author of Enoch and the Gospel of Matthew, which examines intersections of 1 Enoch’s story of the fallen angels and the infancy narratives of Matthew.

Download the sermon for the 6th Sunday after Pentecost (A).

Taking on Jesus’ Yoke, Fifth Sunday after Pentecost (A) – July 9, 2017

[RCL:] Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67; Psalm 45:11-18; Romans 7:15-25a; Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30

There is some debate about whether or not people can change. The spiritual and psychological sages throughout the millennia basically agree that people can learn better ways to cope with who and how they are, but people don’t change all that much. Transformation can occur, though that’s for later in this sermon. But changing is hard, maybe even impossible, and changing another person, well, that’s just folly—pure folly. It has been said that having expectations for others and wanting them to be more like we would have them is just a down payment on future disappointment. This might sound down and dour, but good news is on the way.

All notions of progress have to do with growth and change, and personal progress is usually cloaked in the power of our own wills to change ourselves. If we all just had the right information, the right policy, the right data, then we would just be who we are meant to be. But as Derek Sivers says, “If all that we needed was more information, then we would all be millionaires with perfects abs.”

Perhaps you have some experience with trying to stop some behavior only to return again and again to what you don’t want to do, much like St. Paul in the epistle reading today. Maybe you have been trying to lose weight for years only to gain it all back. Maybe you have been trying to grow closer to God through feats of discipline in prayer and study, only to feel cold and distant from God. No. Instead, our happiness, our fulfillment, our satisfaction, and ultimately our growth in Christ has less to do with taking on more data, and more to do with unlearning a great deal.

In our gospel lesson today, Jesus is clearly frustrated. He indicates that those around him criticized John the Baptist as being possessed by a demon. Then they criticized Jesus for eating and drinking with the wrong people too often. Jesus then prays aloud to God, in thanks for having hidden the purposes of what God is up to in Jesus from the wise and wonderful of his age. He then says something that has become so famous that you could be forgiven for not truly listening to what he says: “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Aren’t you weary? Aren’t you carrying a heavy burden? Don’t you need a rest? We are all weary and heavy-laden. Each of us is dealing with something, or a whole litany of somethings, that if we all had to wear them outwardly, I daresay we’d have a much more compassionate world.

But Jesus is inviting us into something completely different. Jesus first names our spiritual state. This is an amazingly compassionate thing to do, to notice and name, to tell the truth of a situation. Sometimes it is enough simply to have someone notice our weariness and burdens. This noticing, without judgment or fixing, is a lesson in empathy for all of us. That might be the distinction between empathy and pity, by the way.

Then Jesus invites us to take his yoke upon ourselves. This is an interesting image that most of us modern types might not understand. A yoke is for a donkey or other beast of burden. It is a collar that harnesses the animal for whatever work that the master wants the animal to do, like pulling a cart or plowing a field. The yoke is a symbol of servitude and onerous labor. But the yoke that Jesus is offering is easy and light.

What does this mean, “my yoke is easy and my burden is light”? In our world and society, clever and never-ending marketing would have us believe that each and all of us are deficient in some way. Jesus and, by no extension at all, God, accepts us precisely where and what we are with no exceptions. The world has become exceedingly sophisticated in laying heavy burdens upon us. The largest companies in the world deploy deeply effective psychological understandings on us to encourage us to feel that we must scratch this or that itch immediately, or buy into some lifestyle in order to be the happiest or most authentic self we can. This has been captured most recently by the acronym “FOMO,” or “fear of missing out.”

Now the world is not some separate creation or arena of evil. The world, as the church has usually described it, is that which does not proclaim Christ as Lord, so it does not live by the light burdens of Jesus and instead heaps up heavier and heavier burdens. Of course, the history of the Church is littered with teachers and rules that have given heavy burdens to certain people to designate them as less than loved by God, but they were wrong and actively working against the intentions of Jesus.

Jesus does not expect or desire for us to take on more and more in discipleship to him. His learning is an unlearning, his burdens are an unburdening. His work is a rest. What this looks like in a daily practice is a constant reminder that we are enough, we are sufficient. This is not some mere positive thinking, feel-good humanism. Our sufficiency with God is not about our own inherent goodness, though there may well be some inherent goodness in us, it is about God’s goodness and love and acceptance of us. So we remind ourselves every day of God’s goodness and love.

And then, if we are brave and want to be taught by Jesus, we can extend God’s radical love to those whom God presents us with each day. Since God’s love is unconditioned, since this loving yoke is easy, and the burden of acceptance is light, since it is unlearning to judge others, what would it be to live like this? What would it be like to love that person who annoys you? What would it be like to love that estranged relative or friend? What would it be like to love that politician who you not only disagree with but who actively enacts policies that hurt those you already love? Jesus is not asking you to be foolish and merely accept injustice, but he is inviting us to love. And while Jesus meets us all where we are and accepts us for who we are, he does not let us stay that way. To encounter Jesus is to be transformed. I cannot think of a single encounter Jesus has in Scripture where the other person did not leave changed or challenged. Jesus is not in the trans-fixing business, he is in the transforming business. This love can transform you and this world, but it is hard. To follow Jesus is work, it is still a yoke, no matter how easy.

I think this is where the marketers and the fear-of-missing-out folks get life wrong. To change, to be transformed, is not to start with deficiency or want, but with love and acceptance. Now, love and acceptance are simply bad for the economy, but in God’s economy, love and acceptance are the starting point. This is why Jesus describes discipleship to him as easy and light burdens: following him makes a beginning in not requiring a series of good behaviors in an attempt to earn love. Once we understand our status as beloved, we can make the radical turn to do the same: loving others without condition or remainder.

May the Holy Spirit empower each of us to go into the world and love as deeply as we are loved by God. Amen.

The Rev. Joshua Bowron is the rector of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Charlotte, N.C., a parish that is very curious about what God is doing in the beautiful world. Josh shares life with his wife Brittany and their three children. Josh holds a Masters of Divinity from the School of Theology at the University of the South and is a current student in the Masters of Sacred Theology track of the Advanced Degrees Program there.

Download the sermon for the 5th Sunday after Pentecost (A).

Whom Ought I Welcome?, Fourth Sunday after Pentecost (A) – July 2, 2017

[RCL:] Genesis 22:1-14; Psalm 13; Romans 6:12-23; Matthew 10:40-42

“Jesus said, ‘Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.’”

Just so we get this straight: whoever welcomes you welcomes Jesus, and whoever welcomes your friend or neighbor or family member or work colleague or elected official or mother-in-law or next door neighbor or chatty seat companion on an airplane or vendor at the state fair or grocery checker or barber or the UPS driver or the kid who hit your new car with a soccer ball…and so on and so forth…welcomes God? We could have fun with this! But would there ever be an end to such a list of those who are welcome? If there is an end to such a list of who is welcome, what does this mean? And if not, well- what does that mean?

Whoever welcomes you welcomes me. And whoever welcomes any one of us welcomes Jesus, welcomes God.

The message we hear in this morning’s gospel reading from Matthew was important enough to Jesus and to the early church that some variation on this theme shows up in each gospel, and often more than once. Also in Matthew’s gospel from chapter 18 “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me…” and from chapter 25 “The king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these, …you did it to me.’” Mark includes similar verses. In Luke’s gospel, Jesus declares that “Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.” The Jesus in John’s gospel, in true poetic style, declares in chapter 13 “Very truly, I tell you, whoever receives one whom I send receives me; and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.”

There are numerous other examples and variations throughout the New Testament record. The bottom line emphasis seems to be on inclusion, reciprocity, welcome and doing for others—all those things it takes to build up community, to include the stranger as neighbor. If we can believe the record of today’s lesson and so many other passages, Jesus and the early disciples and later apostles put a high value on welcoming and proclaiming the presence of God thereby.

Pause for a moment and think about what we’ve been hearing through all the election drama and to the present day about division, exclusion, keeping people separated, kicking people out.

There may be legitimate and compelling reasons to consider the economic impact or national safety issues in such things, but if an inhospitable, exclusive attitude goes along with these ideas, then they are antithetical to the teachings of Jesus who talked so very much about welcome, inclusion, hospitality.

Hospitality is a primary ethic of the cultures and peoples of the Middle East even now. Whether one is brought into a family home of Muslims, Christians or Jews, there is joy in welcoming, there is the belief that it is desired of God, the welcoming of strangers who are strangers no longer, but beloved friends, believing that in welcoming people into one’s home they are earning their crown in heaven, doing as God would have them do in welcoming the living God among us.

Such an understanding of hospitality, of the obligation of welcome, dates back to well before the time of Jesus. It was a matter of survival and community health which translated into the religious understanding of what God wants of us. Where and how do we experience such welcome today?

“Jesus said, ‘Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.’”

Is this what we hear? Or do we hear, instead, words of separation, words of breaking relationship, words of opposition and repudiation?

So many of the ugly attitudes playing out on the world stage and in the evening news have spilled over into our popular culture, showing up in a variety of television shows with comments about the increase in bullying not only among children in our schools, but flowing out into our neighborhoods, showing up in stepped-up immigration strictures and deportation raids, among other things.

Where is our witness to welcoming others, and thereby welcoming Jesus and the one who sent him?

This Sunday falls between two other occasions marked on the Church calendar: the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul last Thursday, and our celebration of American Independence on the Fourth of July on Tuesday.

It is important to note this for a number of reasons. First, think about Peter and Paul. They did not agree on many things, didn’t get along at all, and finally went their separate ways in the proclamation of the Gospel. Peter insisted that the early believers must follow Jewish ways, must be circumcised, must hold to the Law. Paul’s vision led him to distant lands proclaiming faith in a risen Christ and urging believers to conform their lives to that faith. What they had in common, though, was the conviction that God had visited humanity in Jesus, and that Jesus had brought something new and remarkable to humankind demonstrated in a way to live, a way to relate and a way to witness to God’s love. And they both understood that the welcome of God was an invitation to a place in God’s kingdom.

As we celebrate this Fourth of July, and as we sing God Bless America, and as we roast hot dogs and hamburgers and marvel at fireworks and the good ol’ red, white and blue, let us also ask ourselves what Jesus meant in telling us over and over again, “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me” (Matthew 10:40).

We may believe differently about the details of faith, as Peter and Paul certainly did and as Christians are wont to do. We may understand civic responsibility differently; Americans have always held a variety of opinions on things.

But for us as Christian Americans or American Christians, the question of the day growing out of this gospel text asks: What does it mean to welcome, and how do we do that? What does it look like in our churches, in our neighborhoods, in our national policies, in our very attitudes? For we are Christians first, as citizens of God’s kingdom, living that faith in an American context of privilege and challenge.

Jesus didn’t say that we have to agree on everything, but he pretty clearly told us to be welcoming. Like Peter and Paul, we won’t all agree on everything. And as Americans, we will stand proudly to celebrate on the Fourth. When we put all that together, one possible outcome is that we may have to agree to disagree on some aspects of American policy as we live our Christian faith in daily practice.

Christian people are called to be welcoming, for in welcoming others we welcome God. Can we at least agree on that?

As the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews reminds us, when we welcome strangers, we may be entertaining angels unaware. AMEN.

The Rev. Machrina Blasdell teaches religious studies courses online for Park University, with her greatest interest following the development and idiosyncrasies of religion in today’s world. She enjoys time with her family, a number of cats and many roses, and delights in working with dark chocolate.

Download the sermon for the 4th Sunday after Pentecost.