Be Faithful, Keep Planting, Pentecost 4 (B) – June 17, 2018

Proper 6


[RCL]: Ezekiel 17:22-24; Psalm 92:1-4,11-14; 2 Corinthians 5:6-10,[11-13],14-17; Mark 4:26-34

The lessons we read today seem to be mainly about planting. Most of us probably do not live on farms, but we might have some knowledge about the growth of plants.

We know that planting requires someone to sow the seeds. The seeds need to have soil, and the soil needs to be tilled and cultivated to allow the seeds to have space to germinate. There needs to be sufficient water and nutrients in the soil to nurture the seed. Therefore, people must apply water and fertilizer regularly in order for the seed to sprout into a small plant, gradually grow branches and leaves, and then bear fruit.

This seed-sowing and plant-growing seem to be simple and straightforward. Nevertheless, we know Jesus uses simple images for his message, but the message is never simple and straightforward.

Usually, when we plant the seeds, they are buried in the soil. They dwell in the darkness. While in the darkness, they may absorb nutrients from the fertilizers in the soil and go through transformation. How long will this transformation take place? We can guess, but do not know the exact timing. What exactly occurs in the darkness? We do not know. Will anything grow from the seed? We do not know that, either. As a matter of fact, the sower may put in the best fertilizer, water as often as he or she should, and tend to the seed passionately, but sometimes nothing grows from it. However, we have faith that something will grow from seeds and plant them anyway.

That is what our first parable in today’s Gospel is about: God’s grace and our faith. The parable talks about the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is not far away, or in the future, after we leave the world, but rather like growing seeds. We need to be faithful planting the seeds of love and have faith in those God-given seeds. God created the seed, God will graciously take care of it. We just keep planting, keep proclaiming the good news of God’s love.

Actually, planting is a wonderful metaphor for our spiritual journey and spiritual growth.

When we first come to know God, it probably is because someone has planted the seed in us. We go to church to worship and listen to the messages, and to study the Bible and other teachings. We may join some fellowship, enjoy hospitality, hear and see the testimony of other Christians, and slowly understand the Word and the Way. After planting, the nurturing takes place. Eventually, some may be moved to accept God, whereas some may not. How long will this transformation take place? We do not know. There may be charismatic preachers or well-known theologians who inspire people and plant the seed, but most likely it is a friend’s testimony that does so. The companionship of a regular parishioner can nurture us along our spiritual journey.

In our Episcopal tradition, the decision to accept our Lord Jesus leads to Holy Baptism. The transformation has begun. During Baptism, the celebrant blesses the water and says, “We thank you, Father, for the water of Baptism. In it we are buried with Christ in his death. By it we share in his resurrection. Through it we are reborn by the Holy Spirit” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 306). It tells the candidates to bury their past lives after baptism.

This is like the metaphor of planting. Someone plants the seeds, but if the seed is not buried and never releases its old form, it is difficult to sprout into new shoots and have new life. Therefore, following our Lord Christ, we need to die from our old lives before we can be born again.

When the seed is buried in the soil, it dwells in the darkness. While in the darkness, it absorbs the nutrients from the fertilizers in the soil and goes through transformation. Our life journey can be the same. Sometimes it is when we feel buried in dark moments, surrounded by stinky manure, that we are actually receiving God’s gracious blessings in our life. However, we may become afraid and reject the presence of God. Then we get choked by the darkness and the smelly environment and no spiritual growth occurs. By accepting the grace of God, we go through transformation and have new life. Eventually, the plant inside the seed will break through the soil and sprout into a small plant, grows leaves, flowers, then fruits. Endure the dark moments; a new life will come out of it.

In our other lessons, we also read about planting. In Ezekiel, a twig is planted and bears fruits. We might have thought that a young twig would not have a chance to survive since it has no root, but because of God’s grace and love, it grows into a noble cedar tree and offers shelters to God’s other creations. Let us also look at the second parable in the Gospel. It talks about the smallest of all seeds growing to be the largest shrubs. These are about something small that turns out to be big and great—but this greatness is not about the product itself, but about its effect of offering protection and a resting place to others. In God’s kingdom, anything is possible. The kingdom of God is not for material gain, but God’s love for us, and our love for God and each other.

The Eastertide is over; the Holy Spirit has come. During the Great Fifty Days of the Eastertide, the lections have been about love and the transformation of the followers of Jesus who once were doubtful, fearful, and nearly faithless. They had gone through dark times, but finally got over their fear and became leaders of the Church. They proclaimed the love of God to the ends of the earth.

The Most Reverend Michael Curry, the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, likes to talk about a movement. He says he heard someone talk about a revolutionary movement begun by Jesus of Nazareth nearly two thousand years ago. This movement was based on the unconditional love of God for the world. He urges people to “go into the world, let the world know that there is a God who loves us, a God who will not let us go, and that that love can set us free.” Bishop Curry says, “This is the Jesus Movement, and we are The Episcopal Church, the Episcopal branch of Jesus’ movement in this world.”

So, do not be afraid of dark moments. Keep the faith. Do not underestimate the small or weak, for God has a plan for God’s creation. Let us keep planting and loving God, carrying on the Jesus Movement.

Keep, O Lord, your household the Church in your steadfast faith and love, that through your grace we may proclaim your truth with boldness, and minister your justice with compassion; for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. 

The Rev. Dr. Ada Wong Nagata is Priest in Charge and Director of Ah Foo Jubilee Community Center at Church of Our Savior, Manhattan, a bilingual congregation with English and Cantonese worship in Chinatown, New York. She is a board member of Li Tim-Oi Center, an Asian Ministry Center of The Episcopal Church based in the Diocese of Los Angeles, and Honorary Canon of the Cathedral Center of St. Paul, Diocese of Los Angeles. Ada earned her Doctor of Ministry from Episcopal Divinity School in 2015. She served as Convener of the Chinese Convocation of Episcopal Asiamerican Ministries (EAM) from 2009 to 2016. Ada loves hiking and meditative walk.

Download the sermon for Pentecost 4 (B).

Kingdom of God – Proper 6 (B)

Today’s sermon comes from The Rev. Dr. J. Barrington Bates holds a Ph.D. in liturgical studies from Drew University and currently serves as rector of the Church of the Annunciation in Oradell, New Jersey.

Click here to read the sermon for Proper 6, Year B.

“In today’s gospel passage, Jesus speaks in parables. Again. He does that a lot. Jesus frequently uses this particular literary device to get his point across.”

 1 Samuel 15:34-16:13, Psalm 20, 2 Corinthians 5:6-17, Mark 4:26-34

Print the Sermon for Proper 6, Year B.

Size can be deceiving, 3 Pentecost, Proper 6 (B) – 2012

June 17, 2012

[1 Samuel 15:34-16:13 and Psalm 20 (Track 2: Ezekiel 17:22-24 and Psalm 92:1-4, 11-14);2 Corinthians 5:6-10, (11-13), 14-17; Mark 4:26-34]

Jared Fogel became a familiar figure on television by revealing his dramatic weight loss through selectively eating Subway sandwiches. The national fast-food chain, however, has a current advertizing campaign, boasting that “Bigger is better. Biggest is Best.” This reference to their fountain drinks might make one wonder whether Subway actually originated in Texas rather than New York City. “Bigger is better. Biggest is Best” does sound like something Texans would say.

Texans love to brag about the fact that their state has a county bigger than Rhode Island, that it takes 900 miles of driving to get from the Rio Grande to the Oklahoma line. Its state song originally contained the phrase “largest and grandest,” but the admission of Alaska to the Union caused a painful identity crisis and forced the legislature to change it to “boldest and grandest.” Still, the phrase “Everything is bigger in Texas” continues as a matter of pride in the state. Of course, it’s not just Texans who are subject to such views. Claims that the United States has the biggest economy and functions as the most powerful nation in the world is a reality for almost all Americans. We are big, and we are proud of it.

Respect for bigness in Texas or at Subway or by anyone certainly has its place. It obviously has its value. Bigness can be good. Bigness can often accomplish what smallness cannot. Bigness can bring a richness of resources, useful diversity, power for the good and economy of scale.

But bigness isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, for sure. There is also a bad side of bigness – one that rural folk like to tout. They worry about computerization of everything in life – about Big Brother watching. They worry about regimentation and loss of individuality, depersonalization in a mass society in which one can become lost in the crowd, and the pitfalls of cities – traffic jams, crime, pollution and the like.

And there might be another negative about bigness that can harm us all. It can result in the sin of pride – of thinking that bigness, in and of itself, is so wonderful that it can accomplish anything; and that smallness is necessarily inferior. In this light, smallness seems ineffective, insignificant, powerless, second rate. All of us, including Texans and Subway, need to recognize this truth.

Maybe a way for us to think about the value of size is to imagine if this were the generation that God came in human form back to earth. Where would the modern day Christ be born? In America? In New York or Washington or New Orleans? That seems very unlikely. What about China or Russia or Japan? Surely not. Maybe a medium-sized country such as Mexico or Sweden? No. Not if the presence of God could reveal itself in the same way as in the first century. Probably Christ would come to some place like Bolivia or Rwanda or Thailand.

Look back to where Jesus was born and lived 2,000 years ago. Not in the powerful city of Rome or among the grandeur of Greece or in the Han Dynasty or any other major civilization of the time. Rather, as we know, he came to Galilee – in the province of Judea, a tiny, insignificant fourth-rate country. And yet – from that small place – came the greatness of God. That reality underscores the gospel view that the bigness of the world can easily become an illusion, and that God stands everyone on the side of the “little people” – the downtrodden, the sick, the poor, the lonely, the homeless, prisoners and captives, the victims of oppression.

Smallness is a focus of today’s gospel reading – the Parable of the Mustard Seed. From God’s perspective, things are often not what they appear to be at first. The tiny mustard seed may seem small and insignificant, but within it looms something very valuable, a usual part of creation. Doesn’t this parable help us realize that size can be deceiving? Doesn’t it help us understand that out of a small thing can come something grand and wonderful and powerful? In this parable, Jesus spoke to the truth that smallness has its strengths and advantages and possibilities.

Smallness is a norm to which Jesus returned again and again in his ministry. And we know, too, that smallness is the basis on which the church began. The church operates best when it carries into larger ministries the insights and techniques of smallness. We are at our best when we engage in individual ministries because we have but one ministry as an example – that of Jesus himself. He gathered around him a small band of followers, totaling at best two dozen people. He worked closest with a select band of 12 who gathered with him at the Last Supper and heard his message of servanthood. When the church was forming itself, it first felt empowered by the Holy Spirit to carry the good news of Christ out into the world. It found expression in a small group of 11 who became empowered by the risen Lord in an upper room of fear.

The people Jesus chose to carry on his work were, by the world’s standards, small men – fishermen, unlearned, probably illiterate. One was a despised tax collector. They were simple people, ordinary people. Some of his band of followers were the very rejects of society. By all outward appearances, they were small people. This, of course, is based on the judgment and standards of quantity and wealth and education and worldly power.

But by the standards of quality and stature in God’s eyes, they can be seen as the greatest of people. And we can learn that, in the midst of a worldly culture that idolizes bigness, for the Christian there is a norm that honors smallness – the kind of smallness with which Jesus worked. We can see that no matter how large a congregation may grow in numbers, its success as a part of the Body of Christ depends on its ability to maintain standards illustrated by Jesus. This means maintaining concern for individuals, providing opportunity for ministry for everyone, promoting the feeling of worth in everyone, making sure that all are interconnected, so that, for example, there is somebody to miss you when you are absent. Small-town people and those who live in tight neighborhoods in urban areas understand the value of natural and easy connectedness, of fellowship in the Christian sense. Others in different settings do well to work hard to make this kind of small community connectedness a reality in the midst of a mass culture. Congregations, small or large, can learn to live into the power of such a dynamic.

If, spiritually, we become “too big for our britches” – if bigness and its illusion of power becomes a problem for Christians, individually or as a faith community – the mustard seed image remains instructive. The small size of community does not devalue its potential. From the right kind of “small thinking” can flow the values and mission that Jesus gave to his first followers who have passed it on to us. This parable reminds us that it is not the size that is important but what comes from it. It is not the size of the seed that is important, but what counts – in God’s eyes – is the quality of God’s love that we can spread among each other and into the wider community.

— The Rev. Ken Kesselus, author of John E. Hines: Granite on Fire (Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest, 1995), is retired from full-time, active ministry and lives with his wife, Toni, in his native home, Bastrop, Texas.

In the kingdom of God, 2 Pentecost, Proper 6 (B) – 2009

June 14, 2009

(RCL) 1 Samuel 15:34-16:13, Psalm 20, 2 Corinthians 5:6-17, Mark 4:26-34

In today’s gospel passage, Jesus speaks in parables. Again. He does that a lot. Jesus frequently uses this particular literary device to get his point across. And in this passage from Mark’s gospel, we hear that Jesus preached only in parables, “as they were able to hear.”

Parables are brief stories that illustrate a particular religious or moral construct, short tales that communicate universal truths. They are not like fables or legends, in that they are true. But they are also not like nonfiction narratives, in that they are not always strictly factual. Parables are a kind of extended metaphor, which is one way – and maybe the best way – of grasping the amazing wonder that is God within the limits of human language.

And today’s parable is about exactly that: the amazing wonder that is God. Jesus refers to it as the “kingdom of God,” whereas some in our day prefer less monarchal or male imagery. Some suggest that we should call this the “realm” or the “commonwealth” of God – and the Greek of the original text supports this interpretation.

From an etymological viewpoint, the term derives from the word for “base” or “foundation.” It refers not to territory, as in the Kingdom of Siam, but to dominion, as in a semi-autonomous state that is under the sovereignty of another entity. In a way, our own Anglican Communion is an example of such a kingdom, as each of nearly forty churches – including our own Episcopal Church – is semi-autonomous. Yet each is also part of the Anglican family, and all of us under the sovereignty of God in Christ.

The kind of kingdom Jesus describes is just like that: it is a kingdom in which the members have choice, the free will to make decisions about their lives, their involvement, their direction, and their future.

And the first choice we get to make is about which kingdom to call our own. You see, when Jesus talks about the kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven, he is talking about a kingdom inhabited by the righteous, and this kingdom is not the only kingdom.

Jesus thinks the most obvious other kingdom – Satan’s kingdom – is not worth a fig, but he does acknowledge that it exists. In Luke’s gospel, for instance, he asks, “If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand?” The kingdom of evil is real; it’s all around us all the time, and we are lured by it and sometimes swayed by it.

The hope, of course, is that God will draw all persons to himself, and that everyone will enter the kingdom of heaven. That is Jesus’ prayer, and that must be our fervent and unwavering prayer as Christian people: that everyone will choose the path of righteousness.

But the persistent reality of this incarnate world is that some people make other choices. The examples are legion. In our age, we can think of Timothy McVeigh, who chose to bomb a building in Okalahoma City rather than serve the poor in the name of Jesus. Or Adolph Hitler, who sought to exterminate a people and dominate the world rather than serve as the least of these who are members of Christ’s family.

There are many, many others, of course. And these are the extreme cases. Most of the world will not plot terrorist attacks, commit murder, or seek global domination. But we nevertheless have choices to make. We can choose the path of righteousness, or that other path. And we make that choice in big ways and in little ones, over and over and over again throughout our lives. Mostly, thanks be to God, we choose the path of righteousness, we choose to enter into the kingdom of God.

But sometimes, we make a different choice. We all do this, each and every one of us. From time to time, we all make the wrong choice. It is called sin.

We make a choice that puts our own selfish wishes over the real needs of the community that surrounds us. We make a choice that wreaks violence on someone else – be it physical, emotional, or spiritual pain. We make a choice that belittles other people according to category – be it race, or gender, or disability, or you name it.

In the kingdom of God, we would put aside our own egotistical need to have power over anyone else, and instead cultivate compassion, understanding, and cooperation.

In the kingdom of God, we would cease all violence, repenting of the evil that enslaves us, and instead promote true dialogue, empathy, and acceptance.

In the kingdom of God, we will bring an end to our own oppression of others, and instead foster open-mindedness, willingness to encounter what is new, and appreciation for difference.

This is a hopeful vision of paradise, and Jesus offers this to us every day – in his parables, in the sacraments, and in the spirit embodied in everyone we meet.

It seems so very clear. Kingdom of God: good. Kingdom of Satan: bad. Choose the good and reject the bad. So why is it that so often we do not make the right choice?

One reason – perhaps the biggest reason – is fear.

When we are afraid of something, we sometimes choose what is safe over what may seem challenging.

When we are afraid of what we know about some people, we sometimes choose to disparage them rather than take the opportunity to make new acquaintances.

When we are afraid of what we do not know, we sometimes choose to avoid the growth that comes only through learning something new, retreating instead into a cocoon of ignorance.

But according to Mark’s gospel, in the kingdom of God it is “as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how.”

We do not know how the miracle that is God’s love works, how it grows, or what makes it sprout. And so we might respond in fear of the unknown, avoiding confrontation with our shadow side, acquiescing to our darker thoughts, choosing what is safe over what is right.

Or we can respond in hopeful confidence, trusting that God is doing more than we can ask or imagine – even when we cannot see, or refuse to see, or do not comprehend.

A few years ago, an article in the New York Times quoted Harvard professor Kimberly M. Thompson as saying that the problem is that “we’re not taught how to cope with uncertainty. We tend to want answers to be in black and white without a whole lot of gray.”

Her research tells us that most of us respond to risk and fear through some sort of gut instinct, rather than any sort of analytical calculations.

But so often what we take as “gut instinct” is not the leading of God. We are called to study, to pray, and to consider how best to make the choice to live in the kingdom of God.

We’ve all heard the excuses: Sure, it’s wrong to lie, but I was under such pressure! It was a sin to treat her the way I did, but I was so very angry! I know I’m married, but this other person made me feel so good!

That list goes on and on, as well. Those examples – and every example – show us what temptation and sin are all about: refusing to stop and consider how best to make the choice for the kingdom of God.

And that is what we Christians are called to do: to consider the consequences of our actions, to turn away from evil, to choose to live in the kingdom of God.

As it says in Mark 4: “For the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs.”

What seems like a trivial matter, then, can become the pattern of a lifetime.

The smallest of seeds becomes the greatest of all shrubs.

The tiniest of babes can become the greatest of all saints.

And even the nastiest of all Christians can become the greatest of all examples of what it is to choose to live in the kingdom of God.

Because that choice comes not once in a lifetime, not ever so rarely, not only now and again. The choice to live in the kingdom of God comes to each of us every hour of every day.

So let us walk by faith, not by sight, with confidence. For the love of Christ urges us on. Everything old has passed away, and in Christ there is a new creation.

That new creation is us. And it is up to us to make the choice for the kingdom of God.

 

— The Rev. J. Barrington Bates holds a Ph.D. in liturgical studies from Drew University and currently serves as rector of the Church of the Annunciation in Oradell, New Jersey.

With what can we compare the kingdom of God?, 2 Pentecost, Proper 6 (B) – 2006

June 18, 2006

(RCL) 1 Sam 15:34-16:13 or Ezekiel 17:22-24; Psalm 20 or 92:1-4, 12-15; 2 Corinthians 5:6-10, (11-13), 14-17; Mark 4:26-34

“He did not speak to them except in parables” (Mark 4:34).

Back in 1990 when the now famous Hubble telescope was first launched, there was not much hope for its success. Apparently its reflecting mirror had been manufactured improperly, causing the telescope’s pictures to be out of focus. In fact, Hubble needed a giant – and expensive – pair of eyeglasses or refractions to correct its vision, because the curvature of its mirror was off by a mere one-fiftieth the width of a human hair. It seems that if the curve or parabola is not just right, a telescope is useless. It cannot focus light and reflect reality as it is – or in the case of Hubble, as it was billions of years ago. Small things can and do make a big difference.

Parables are the Hubble telescopes of faith and wisdom. In fact, the word “parable” itself is etymologically related to the word “parabola,” both meaning in some sense “comparison,” “reflection,” or even “relationship.” Both reflect light and truth. Both make it possible for us to see what would otherwise escape our attention. As spiritual telescopes, parables bring the gospel message into focus and challenge us to peer ever more deeply into the mysteries of life and faith, mysteries that we might never come to without the aid of the parable itself. This is why our Lord loved them so. And unlike the unfortunate manufacturers of the Hubble, Jesus always got his parables exactly right.

Some things of course parables cannot do. They do not tell us much about the weather or engineering, for instance. They do not deal with the nature of the material world the way science and the Hubble telescope do. They do not even attempt to explain some of the deepest mysteries of faith, such as the Trinity or the Incarnation. Nor are parables simple allegories in which we can mechanically correlate each character in the narrative to God or us or Christ himself, if we only know the right combination or key. Parables often raise more questions than they answer. But in helping us raise the right questions, they bring us closer to our true nature and to our relationship to God’s kingdom. They focus us on life’s essentials.

The language of parable is the language of faith – open to the kingdom of God at work in our everyday lives. In that sense, parables may seem on the surface to be ordinary and everyday. They are about everything from seeds and shrubs to lost coins and wasted money. Nothing very exotic. Nothing people today – two thousand years later – cannot identify with. Yet the words of the parable offer more than quaint images of the commonplace in life. They are about the things of this life considered as means of grace and growth. They are about the kingdom within.

The kingdom is the key. Jesus does not say for instance that we ourselves are like the mustard seed, which though small “grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs.” On the contrary, left to our own devices most of us would probably remain solitary and small-minded creatures of our own comfort and pleasure. We would not have the grace to live and grow into the life of the kingdom. It is rather the kingdom working within us that is the source of all we can become. And to that there is no spiritual limit. Yet the kingdom in all its abundance cannot be contained or manipulated by mortals like ourselves, no matter how much we may wish it were otherwise. The kingdom is at hand, Jesus tells us in the Gospels, but we cannot grab hold of it and own it as our own. It is not for sale at any price.

In our post-modern, matter-of-fact world of number-crunching and digitalization, stories and parables may seem anachronistic and frustratingly obscure. “Don’t tell us what something is like,” we might be tempted to say. “Tell us what it is. And be precise about it.”

But the kingdom of which our Lord speaks does not work that way. It never just “is.” It does not fit comfortably into our preconceived notions of life and order. It cannot be measured in megabytes. It cannot be spied through the lens of a telescope. It is always “like.” It is always found in relationship to the things and people of this life to which our Lord compares it. As the seeds in today’s Gospel account sprout and grow, though we may never know precisely how, so does the kingdom grow up within our hearts. The words of the parable, planted within us, have the power to alter irrevocably our spiritual existence.

So how can something so seemingly ephemeral have such power? After all, the parables themselves are often of little substance, sometimes hardly more than extended similes. How can they make any difference to us today? A renowned scientist once remarked that one flap of a seagull’s wings could change the course of the earth’s climate forever. Our Lord would have loved this image. He turns to parable and metaphor because no other language or speech can begin to describe the kingdom. Its growth and potential could give new meaning to the word “exponential.” Ten to the ten-millionth would not begin to encompass the kingdom of which he is speaking. And yet the meaning of the kingdom is found in the smallest of seed and grain.

And the meaning of the kingdom is found within each of us as well. Few of us are great and mighty by the world’s standards. Not many of us will run for office or be appointed to positions of prestige and power. Few of us will make it big on Wall Street or in Hollywood. Yet none of this matters in the life of the kingdom. The kingdom of God is of a different order entirely. The effect of the kingdom at work in our lives will never be measured in dollars or popularity. We will never know the good we have done with simple acts of kindness and love. With the simple flap of our spiritual wings, we may well change the divine dimension of our world forever. That is the parable of our lives. The kingdom is at work in the smallest cell of our body and every tiny breath of our spirit.

“With what can we compare the kingdom of God?” Jesus asks. Or what parable will we use for it? The famous eighteenth-century French philosopher and cynic, Voltaire, was no friend to religion as it was known in his day. Yet in one of the aphorisms for which he has become justly famous, he captured the meaning of parable in the lives of Christians of any age. “How infinitesimal is the importance of anything I can do,” he wrote with great wisdom. “But how infinitely important it is that I should do it.”

That is the parable of the kingdom and the lesson of the mustard seed. Our lives are more than the sum of days lived and dollars earned. Life has meaning beyond the walls of home or workplace. It has meaning beyond the walls of self-interest and ego. We live in relation to one another and to the world around us. And in that relationship we find the meaning of the kingdom and the worth and value of our lives. And that is infinitely important.

 

— The Rev. Dr. Frank Hegedus is priest-in-charge of Saint Alban’s Episcopal Church in El Cajon, California.