The Right Time

Dear Friends,
For my latest blog post, I share a letter I sent to Senator Bernie Sanders today.

Dear Senator Sanders,
I have been supporting you all throughout the campaign thus far. I have even supported you with my dollars. I feel you are the best candidate for our country, and I stand with you and your positions on most of the issues.  Being a pastor, I am acutely aware of a concept of time that is reflected in both the Old and New Testaments. It is time as “Kairos.”  Kairos means the “right time;” the “appropriate time;” the “fullness of time.” It takes insight and discernment to determine “the right time” and also takes the humility to act even when you cannot achieve all that was aimed for. It is my opinion that it is the Kairos time, “the right time,” for you to suspend your campaign. The “right time” demands that all energy must be now focused on seeing that Donald Trump is not elected President of the United States for the sake of the future of America and even the world. I know you disagree with Hillary Clinton on many issues. So do I and many others. But you also know from decades of experience that politics, at its best, is arriving at a place of compromise where neither party gets all it wants, but yet moves the country forward nevertheless. Senator, you have energized the Democratic Party and much of the Independent electorate. You have raised awareness on issues that are crucial to the future of the United States. Your efforts are not lost, and what you have done will continue to shape the balance of the campaign and the minds of voters. The “right time” has come to suspend your campaign and to encourage your supporters to do everything that can be done to see that Mrs Clinton is the next President of the United States and that Donald Trump be relegated a footnote in American political history.
Respectfully,
Joseph Holub
Buena Vista, Colorado

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Stardust

stardust

“When I look at the heavens, the work of your fingers , the moon and the stars… what are human beings that you are mindful of them?  –Psalm 8:3-4

“God is love”  -1 John 4:16

In the fiery nuclear fusion furnaces of the first stars of 13 billion years ago, the necessary elements and atoms that made the ongoing evolving universe possible were formed.   In the interior of the stars hydrogen and helium, at incomprehensible temperatures of 10-15 million degrees centigrade,  were converted into carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, iron, sulfur and almost all the elements of the periodic table – most everything that everything is made of, including you and me.  As those first stars aged, iron was produced and the stars cooled, became heavy and collapsed in on themselves.  The stars imploded with enough energy to immediately fuse some of the atoms into higher elements like nickel, krypton, gold, uranium and others. This quick and violent implosion released enormous amounts of energy that exploded in supernovas.   The exploded remains, stardust, traveled throughout the universe only to someday, by the force of gravity, re-clump together with other stardust and give birth to new stars, planets, solar systems and all contained within them.  This is the life of the universe that repeats and continues on – all because of stardust.

In the course of hundreds of millions and billions of years, the stardust of the universe came together in such a way that various kinds of galaxies were formed including elliptical, spiral and irregular galaxies – at least 100 billon  galaxies each containing a 100 billion stars or more – all made of stardust.

In the outer reaches of one of these spiral galaxies, one yellow dwarf star out of 100 billion stars formed about 4.5 billion years ago.  This star seemed inconsequential next to the other 100 billion stars of this galaxy.  Stardust not only formed this yellow dwarf star, but also began to form planets that revolved around the coalescing young star.  On one of these forming planets, the stardust came together and evolved in such a way that simple organisms developed that had the self-sustaining attributes of responsiveness, growth metabolism, energy transformation and reproduction – all made of stardust.

After a few billion years the organisms evolved and diversified, interacting with the environment, until conscious and self-conscious stardust eventually emerged.  The self-conscious stardust came to be called human beings, and they attained awareness of this miraculous process of stardust evolving into a conflagration of life.

But many of these self-conscious stardust beings could not accept the truth that they were made of common stardust.  Many among them could not face the truth that all beings on their stardust planet no matter race, nationality, religion,  gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or otherwise were all made of exactly the same stuff – stardust.   Such an acknowledgement could have lead to a sense of sacredness, respect and unity for all things living and innate.  But because these stardust beings  could not celebrate the diversity revealed in the miracle of the stardust, they gathered in groups and tribes for security where their fear of other stardust beings, who were different from them in some way, was shared and cultivated. The tribal and parochial view of these stardust beings lead to greater fear and, far too often, countless expressions of violence, hostility and exploitation against other stardust beings and against the stardust planet itself.

At a point in time and space, a singular stardust being was born among them.  He came from a specific religious  tribe and nation.  But he did not live as most of the stardust beings of his tribe.  He lived with a universal consciousness and vision that could see all were made of the same stardust, even those not of his tribe and nation and those within his tribe and nation that had been rejected and marginalized.

Many of the stardust beings that encountered him rejected and feared him, so much so their fear turned to violence against him which resulted in his death.  What they did not realize was that death could not silence the truth by which he lived – the truth of the stardust that all are offspring and stardust beings of the universe.

But others did not reject him.  Rather they experienced the awesome power that was within him – the power of the stardust.  He showed them they were all on an extraordinary evolutionary journey that had begun billions of years before – a journey that had uniquely exploded in his life and could now be expressed in theirs.  He showed them that stardust beings could finally express themselves in something called Love that could bind all stardust beings and the planet together as one.   When they stood next to this stardust being and listened to his words and embraced his deeds, they knew they were incomplete and their journey must continue until they too emerged and evolved into more complete and beautiful stardust beings – evolve into more than they were.  When they looked into his eyes, many were swept up into a power greater than themselves – the power of stardust.

In the fiery nuclear fusion furnaces of the first stars of 13 billion years ago, the necessary elements and atoms that make the ongoing evolving universe possible were formed.  Stars grew old and finally exploded in supernovas that provided the necessary elements that constitute everything in the universe – including you and me.  This is the ongoing creative evolutionary process of the universe – all because of stardust.

Is there a Ground of Being or God that embraces, permeates and courses through the creative evolutionary process of the universe?    If there is, that Ground of Being can only be deeply known by us stardust beings in the astounding experience called Love – the profound love of The Stardust Being – the greatest incarnation of stardust.  He leads the stardust beings on a continued evolutionary journey anchored in love.

Joseph Holub
April 5, 2016

 

The Kingdom of God

In the Gospel of Mark,  Jesus begins his ministry by announcing that “the Kingdom of God has come near.”  That passage can also be translated “the Kingdom of God has arrived.”  According to Mark,  this was Jesus’ core gospel message.  He preached about and embodied the Kingdom of God in his life.  The phrase “Kingdom of God” is not a reference to heaven, but to  what the world could be like if God was truly in charge – here and now.    I wrote a poem about this that could probably be set to music, so if there are any composers out there who would like to try, let me know.  I thought describing partially  “The Kingdom of God” in poem was particularly relevant in this election year when candidates are sharing their vision of what our country could be.  You be the judge!  I encourage you to compare and contrast Jesus’ message of the Kingdom of God with the political messages you are hearing.

The Kingdom of God
by Joseph Holub

R:  Said Jesus, “the kingdom of God is at hand,” and not in a far away never-land.
It comes through love, and compassion too, as the work of justice becomes our world-view.

  1. One day the disciples asked for a prayer, so Jesus taught them to be kingdom aware.
    “Thy kingdom come… on earth,” he prayed, shifting the focus from a realm far away.
    It comes through grace and forgiveness as much… as seventy times seven… love compounded as such.
    The kingdom of God is not a mythical place, but a reality present in our time and space.
    R:
  2. They looked for kingdom signs in the sky and cast their gaze for things up on high.
    The Pharisees asked about the kingdom’s debut. He astonished them with “the kingdom is among you.”
    Disciples on a mountain thought the kingdom had arrived, but he led them down to a world deprived;
    where he touched the lepers and gave sight to the blind, and dined with sinners – an inclusive state of mind.
    R:
  3. The kingdom is like a great banquet and feast, where the honored guests are the last and the least;
    Like the Samaritan who risked to reach out to the soul that the priest and Levite failed to console.
    The Kingdom of God is like scattered seed that grows and blooms bearing the fruit of love’s deed.
    So if you wonder if the kingdom will come, keep the way of Jesus until God’s love has won.
    R:

Text Copyright  ©2016 Joseph A. Holub

Biblical References:  Matthew 18:21-22, 22:1-14;  Mark 1:14-15, 40-45, 2:15-17, 4:1-20, 8:22-26, 9:2-8,14-29;  Luke 10:25-37, 11:1-4, 17:20-21

Unfaithful to Jesus

Unfaithful to Jesus?  It’s Time to be Faithful and Committed!

It is my conviction that a great deal of American Christianity today has been and is unfaithful to Jesus’ life and teachings  especially, but not limited to, evangelical conservative Christianity.  There are also mainline expressions I would describe likewise.   As a Lutheran pastor of almost 40 years I have experienced it in my home denomination even though the ELCA is generally considered a more progressive expression of Christianity.

In the first chapter of John, known as the Prologue of John it reads, “And  the word became flesh and dwelt among us…  full of grace and truth.”[i]   Of course this is a direct reference to Jesus.   A part of what this profound passage of scripture means is that Jesus is the norm of the Christian’s life experience.  Jesus is the guiding principle or core inner creative energy for the one who claims to be his follower and names him as Lord.  Jesus is the one who informs and leads the follower on a path of continually evolving personal transformation that includes shaping one’s core values and principles, the very foundation of a Christian’s life and being.

Jesus never taught a strict system of rewards and punishments that largely characterized the religion of his day.  If anything, he turned the whole thing upside-down and inside-out lifting up the morally lowly and sinners and admonishing the strictly and morally religious.   A great deal of today’s American Christian religious expression is condescending, judgmental, exclusionary and cheers at hateful political rhetoric that sows seeds of fear and violence.

Most of Jesus’ teachings on nonviolence and peace, simplicity, downward mobility, forgiveness and love for the enemy, radical inclusivity,  reverence for the earth, the dangers of greed, affirmation of the oppressed, poor and lowly go largely unnoticed or acknowledged even by those who in some way, shape or form name themselves after him.

Instead of taking Jesus seriously in his teachings about the way of nonviolence and at least wrestling with his words,[ii] people are not ashamed to put a gun in his hand and make him a card carrying member of the NRA and not even be willing to have a conversation about reasonable gun laws.

Instead of embracing his teachings on the justice-based economic values of the Kingdom of God which turn many of our conventional economic values on their head, [iii] people are brazen enough to have Jesus parrot their own distorted and selfish views like: “people make their own beds” or “people get what they deserve” or “the poor are just lazy, hence undeserving” or whatever.

Instead of affirming Jesus’ teachings on the dangers of greed and narcissism and the core value of self-giving, people are shameless enough to create and espouse an entire self-justifying religion called  “the prosperity gospel” that sees endless riches and lavish self-indulgence as a gift from God of which they are deserving.

Instead of following Jesus’ lead in the area of the inclusivity and the intrinsic value of every person that characterized his life as he embraced the many and various people who were largely dehumanized and marginalized in the first century: women, children, Samaritans, gentiles, tax collectors, prostitutes, lepers, a huge catch-all group of social rejects referred to as “sinners” and others deemed “ritually unclean,” many Christians espouse hateful, condescending  views and lobby for prejudicial polices of discrimination against our LGBT neighbors, Latinos, African Americans, immigrants, Muslims, Palestinians, the poor, women and others.  There are currently several states where legislation has passed or is pending that discriminates against our LGBT neighbors based on “religious freedom,” not to mention the hateful  rhetoric cheered by Christians uttered by several of our presidential candidates toward Muslims and immigrants.

Instead of trusting, even a smidgen, Jesus’ most radical teachings on love toward the adversary and enemy, it seems as if many Christians are totally comfortable with the idea expressed by one of the presidential candidates when he said about ISIS,    “we will utterly destroy ISIS. We will carpet bomb them into oblivion. I don’t know if sand can glow in the dark, but we’re going to find out.” [iv]  For starters, the staggering human cost resulting from such a policy would kill and murder thousands of innocents.

Even though environmental concerns were not an issue in the time of Jesus, he showed a genuine reverence for God’s creation especially evident in his use of nature-based metaphors in his teachings[v] seen especially in the parables and in the Sermon on the Mount.  There are many self-proclaiming Christians today  who are climate-change-deniers and are comfortable with environmental exploitation and irresponsibility rather than environmental  conservation and responsibility.

I could go on with examples, but I hope you are getting my point that there is a history within American Christianity of blatant unfaithfulness to the life and teachings of our own Jesus.  Rather than engaging Jesus in a way that puts the Christian on an evolutionary developmental spiritual path of being transformed continually by the love and grace that is clearly seen in the Jesus of the gospels, it seems that Jesus has been virtually removed as the authoritative and transformative “Word made flesh” from much of American Christianity.   There seemingly has been a mass Christian surrender  to hated, violence, prejudice, greed, fear, exclusivity, narcissism and environmental irresponsibility.

Jesus ministry was about human transformation by the power of love.  “God is love.”[vi]  Jesus awakened his disciples to the God Presence of love that lived within them that can only be expressed in the countless expressions of authentic love that were revealed in his life.

The time has arrived for the many expressions that exist within American Christianity  to take the real Jesus seriously.  We must repent of our unfaithfulness, grotesque hypocrisy and self-created false and blasphemous images of Jesus and begin to follow the authentic Jesus clearly and unequivocally revealed in the gospels, “the Word made flesh.” The time has come to be faithful and committed.

 

[i] John 1:14

[ii], Matthew 5:9, 5:38-48; Luke 6:27-36

[iii] Matthew 20:1-16; Luke 1:52-54

[iv] Ted Cruz, speech given in Iowa December 5, 2015

[v] Matthew 6:28-29

[vi] 1 John 4:16

An Inauspicious Ending?

Easter Reflection by Joseph Holub

Mark 16:1-8    When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, ‘Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?’ When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, ‘Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.’ So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. 

I dare say you may have never heard Mark’s version of the resurrection read on Easter Day. You have likely heard John’s version with Mary Magdalene encountering Jesus near the tomb that will be read in most churches today; or perhaps Matthew’s version of the two Mary’s bumping into Jesus while running to tell the disciples the tomb was empty; or Luke’s version  where two disciples encounter Jesus on the road to Emmaus.  Mark concludes his gospel: “…so they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them, and said nothing to anyone.”  It seems like an inauspicious and abrupt ending.  Actually, your Bible has 12 more verses after these that are footnoted, but they were added much later on by a later editor who was not comfortable with Mark’s original ending.  No, Mark’s original version ended in this way.  That’s the way Mark intended it!

But of the four gospels, I most identify with Mark’s ending.  I am of the opinion that the stories of the resurrection are best understood in a more-than-literal way – a metaphorical way.  The gospel stories weren’t written down in the form we have them until decades after Jesus, some 30-40 years after Jesus.  For decades they existed only in the oral story-telling tradition of the early Jesus communities, and the stories were passed down from one generation to the next.  What we have is the end result of decades of oral story-telling.  The resurrection stories are extraordinarily diverse, which strongly suggests each story was crafted by the Jesus community from which it came and shaped by the meaning they experienced in Jesus.  The stories are not literal historical accounts, but testimonies to the spiritual and theological meaning of Jesus for their lives.  I think the most relevant question to ask is not, “Is this how things actually happened?”  I think a better question is, “What do the stories mean in telling them the way they did?”

So, as inauspicious as it appears and abrupt as it certainly is, let’s take Mark’s ending for what it is.  Let’s look at it with wide-eyed expectation to uncover the message Mark is proclaiming, not only for his faith community in the 8th decade of the first century, but for us in the second decade of the 21st century.

One thing Mark has in common with the other gospels is the role of women in the resurrection.  In many of the gospel stories, women were behind the scenes – always there, always faithful – but always behind the scenes.   Mark draws them out of anonymity and identifies three women by name who ventured to the tomb, and I might add at great risk. (Mary Magdalene; Mary, Mother of James; and Salome)

Jesus was crucified as an enemy of the state, and it was a dangerous thing to be associated with him, as the imperial powers were attempting to stamp out the movement that had formed around him.  For a moment, these women stepped away from their fear to risk visiting the grave of Jesus. Their risk is made even more dramatic by the realization that, according to Mark,  the men were nowhere to be found – laying low – hiding out – paralyzed by their fear.

When I think of these brave women who ventured to the tomb, I think of other women who have stepped away from letting fear rule and placed themselves at great risk. I think of the Mothers of the Disappeared in Latin America who, in country after country, were the ones who – when things were at their worst, when the violence of military-rule was most grotesque – came out time and time again and stood alone before the military and the world, testifying for their loved ones, and for the truth.

This replayed in many places: El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Argentina, as well as Northern Ireland. When things got  rough, when things were at their worst, when everyone else had fled or was in hiding,  it was women who stood up first, made themselves vulnerable to the risk of torture and death, following the example of Jesus staging non-violent protest in the face of oppression.

The culture of biblical times was strongly male-dominated and patriarchal, but yet even so, Mark and the other gospels elevate these women, mentioning them specifically by name – and in so doing stand these women tall alongside the other male disciples as equal servants and witnesses to the good news of the Kingdom of God.  Mark’s gospel portrays Jesus’ vocation as the bringer of the Kingdom of God; the Kingdom of God that erases conventional political, economic, social and religious boundaries that suppress and oppress entire classes of people; the Kingdom of God that restores dignity to any and all who are oppressed and subjugated; the Kingdom of God that presses for their liberation. Mark and his community experienced something extraordinary in Jesus that elevated women in a culture that subjugated them.

But yet, even so, a tragic legacy of church history ever since has been the attitude to subjugate women and suppress the role of women in the life of the church.  It took until 1970 for our Lutheran denomination to ordain women and many Christian expressions still do not.

The naming and elevation of these women was a courageous thing, especially when surrounded by a legion of cultural, religious and social prejudices to do otherwise.  It certainly raises a pertinent question for  contemporary stewards of the Kingdom of God about those in our time, especially our LGTB colleagues, who are subjugated and suppressed from playing a full role in the life of many denominations and society?  It’s a question that explodes from the heart of Mark’s resurrection story, for Mark wants us to know that resurrection means liberation for the oppressed.  As stewards of the Kingdom of God, we are called to be resurrection advocates of liberation for all the subjugated and oppressed and to empower the last and least of this world to stand tall alongside the powerful and mighty.

But let’s move on to Mark’s abrupt and inauspicious ending.  The young man in the white robe, symbolizing the divine presence, said to the women.  “He is not here, but tell the others he will meet you in Galilee.”    Mark says they then fled in terror and amazement.

Well yes, I’m not surprised!  If I visited my mother’s grave at Scandinavian Cemetery in Rockford, Illinois, and all I found was hole in the ground and some character standing there telling me that I am to meet her in Chicago, I just might flee in terror and amazement myself!  But that’s not the point.  It’s not a question of historicity or historical accuracy, it’s a question of meaning!

Again the question is:  What is the message and the meaning Mark is proclaiming here?  I take Mark’s abrupt ending as an invitation; and on the bottom of that invitation is an R.S.V.P.  It’s an invitation for us to complete the story. Will we?  Mark’s story ends abruptly because he wants us to know the story is not over – the ending is yet to be written; the story continues.  It’s an invitation for us to complete it.  For the early followers of Jesus, resurrection had little to do with afterlife and more to do with living in this life; living a transformed life in the present moment.  It seems as if we have turned that completely around.  We think of it as having mostly to do with afterlife and scarcely anything to do with living in this life.

What’s unique to Mark is that Mark offers no “proofs” of the resurrection for his community of faith; that is no stories of Jesus-sightings or Jesus-encounters.  For Mark, that’s not the point or place to look.  The young man in Mark’s story says, if you want to see the risen Jesus then look in Galilee.   Does he mean we need to log on to Travelocity.com and get our flights booked to Galilee as soon as possible?  I don’t think so.  Metaphorically and symbolically Galilee, for me, represents history yet to be written.  Galilee is to move beyond where I am; move beyond my fear; as a follower of Jesus to put his teachings of the Kingdom of God to work in my life.

For me, and it may be different for you, resurrection is not something I believe in first and then go into the world equipped with the message God’s grace, compassion and justice.

It doesn’t work in that sequence for me.  For me, it is taking the grace, compassion and justice of the Kingdom of God out into the world first, and somewhere along the way, surprise, Jesus comes alive – Jesus occupies the present moment in time with me – resurrection becomes real.  That’s the sequence for me.

It’s like love. I cannot really know the truth and fulfillment of love, until I give myself away in love – then it becomes real.

So, where is Galilee?  Jesus did tell us, of course!

Where is Galilee?

Jesus said, “If you do to it the least of these you do it to me.”  Galilee is the suffering of my neighbor.  Until I embrace the pathos of one of the least and last on this planet, I cannot know if Jesus is present and alive in that experience or not; not until I go there first and find out.  So, to go there is an act of trust.

Where is Galilee? 

Jesus said, “Love your enemies.” Until I love my enemy in some concrete and tangible way, I cannot know if Jesus is present and alive in that experience or not.  So, to go there is an act of faith.

Where is Galilee? 

Jesus said, “Turn the other cheek.”  Until I refrain from striking back in commensurate retaliation and put myself at risk for love’s sake, I cannot know if Jesus is present and alive in that experience or not.  So, to go there is an act of trust.

Where is Galilee?  

Jesus said, “Take up your cross and follow me; those who would protect their lives will lose them; and those who give their lives away  for my sake will save them.”  Until I take up my cross and follow in such self-emptying way, I cannot know if Jesus is present and alive in that experience or not.  So, to go there is an act of faith.

Is the resurrection real?  All I can say is go to Galilee and find out for yourself.   Mark’s abrupt ending is a call for us to complete the story; a call to move beyond fear and take a risk of love; an invitation into trust.

Tell them to meet me in Galilee …so they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone.”

Is it an inauspicious ending?  That’s up to you and me!

Outside the Box?

I follow the website “Collective-Evolution.” (http://collective-evolution.com) I appreciate much of what they have to offer and resonate to their mission statement which begins with the line, “We (CE) believe in creating change by thinking outside the box.”

Of course, “thinking outside the box” is a relative thing depending on whatever box it is to which one is referring. We all reside in some kind of box, but I agree that some boxes are small and exclusive and other boxes are bigger and more inclusive. Thinking outside the box may simply mean leaving a smaller box for a bigger box, and usually that is a good thing.  We grow by “thinking outside the box.”

Anyway, on C-E’s Facebook page this personalized mantra was posted,“I don’t have time to hate people who hate me. I’m too busy loving people who love me.” Now that idea certainly is “outside the box” for anyone who lives a life of criticizing and denigrating others they dislike or hate.  But I am not sure it is really “outside the box” for the average person. I consider myself to be an average person who mostly knows other average people. Most of the average people I know spend very little time and energy hating the people they hate. I know them to be good and decent people who invest a great deal of time and energy in loving the people who love them. So, I conclude that as great as the statement sounds (and is), it doesn’t seem to me to be all that much “outside the box.”

What I think most definitely would be “outside the box” is if the mantra was altered to state something like, “I don’t waste time hating people who hate me. My life is focused on loving people who hate me.”  If somebody were to say that and, even more radically, live like that we might think they were a lot more than merely “outside the box.” We might say they were outside of their mind, crazy, deranged, deeply disturbed, mentally unbalanced or some other such pathological thing. It is probably safe to say that most people do not intentionally focus their time and energy on loving the people who hate them.

But I remind you that those of us who call ourselves Christian and, at least verbally, pledge our allegiance to Jesus are connected to someone who not only said things almost like it, but lived it and died it.  He challenged his disciples with “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”   “Father, forgive them,” he cried from his cross. During this holy season of Lent, this is the thing we should be focusing a upon. We are called to not only be amazed at what he taught and how he lived and died, but as his current day disciples to adopt his life as our own and embody and live his love in the world.

Will we do it perfectly? Of course not!  We will miss the mark and seek forgiveness along the way.  We may repeatedly get distracted and confused and find ourselves lost and in need to be found.  We likely will find ourselves in exile, feeling disconnected from our Center and will need to come home to God’s love again and again. We will feel weary and heavy laden and will experience empowering rest in Jesus’ refreshing love. But it is all a part of the wondrous journey. We need not be overly discouraged or surprised by the ups and downs we experience along The Way of Jesus.

I like C-E’s mission statement, “We believe in creating change by thinking outside the box.” I think Jesus would like it too.  In reality, it is the way he lived and died. The difference is that he transcends all the boxes that minimize humanity, whether it be our own humanity or the humanity of others. The promise and power of the resurrection is that he continues to live his life through us.   So let us make Jesus’ “out of the box” mantra our mantra: “I don’t waste time hating people who hate me. My life is focused on loving people who hate me.” That kind of love truly has the power to heal the world and make us whole.