3 A.M.

The Rev. Jimmy Abbott
The Tenth Sunday after Pentecost
August 13, 2017

Matthew 14:22-33

It’s been one of those days. One of those weeks. You wake up at 3 A.M., you’re tossing, you’re turning. 3 A.M., it’s the hour when all your worst anxieties, your worst fears come creeping in. 3 A.M., it’s when your mind starts racing, and you start making the worst case scenario into reality. 3 A.M. Please don’t tell me I’m the only one who wakes up then with their mind racing.

In “Something Wicked this Way Comes,” Ray Bradbury talks about 3 A.M. He says, “midnight’s not bad, you wake and go back to sleep, one or two’s not bad, you toss but sleep again. Five or six in the morning, there’s hope, for dawn’s just under the horizon.” He says that at 3 A.M. you summon all the fool things you’ve done in life. You’re too tired to get out of bed and put your worries to rest, but you’re too worried to go back to sleep. 3 A.M.

In the time of Jesus, 3 A.M. was the beginning of the fourth watch of the night. Or, as the gospel lesson from today is translated, “early in the morning.” And it’s at 3 A.M. that the disciples see Jesus walking on the water.

The disciples are rowing their boat, straining hard against the wind. They are far from land. Waves are battering the boat. They are tossing and turning, worried about their journey when they look up, and they see a ghost.

At 3 A.M. things look strange, worries become reality. They don’t see their Lord, they see a ghost. At 3 A.M. you have a hard time separating truth from fiction.

It’s 3 A.M. indeed. We are far from the land, the wind is against us, and the waves are battering the boat. Global powers are rattling the saber. Violent racism is very much alive. In our own lives, we are battered with worries about money, about our relationships, about our kids, about our parents. It’s 3 A.M., so we toss and we turn and we stew and we worry. We’re too tired to get up and do anything about it, and we’re too  worried to rest.

At 3 A.M., you say, “I wish I could go back to sleep.” And I bet those disciples, battered by the wind and waves said, “I wish we were closer to shore.” Like it says in Psalm 4, we cry out, “O, that we might see better times!” We wish the threat of war would abate. We wish that people wouldn’t hate each other for the color of their skin. We wish that we were close to shore – safe, sound asleep, with no worries to trouble our heads. As a Church, too, we wish that we were closer to the shore, that we would have smooth sailing. We wish that ministry just wasn’t so hard, we wish that more people would just come to us. We see plenty of ghosts – we see ghosts of how the church did in the past, we see ghosts of other churches closing down. It’s 3 A.M. and our restless minds have transformed worries into realities.

But then we see that it is no ghost walking on the water, it is Jesus. “Take heart, it is I, do not be afraid.” Take heart. Your mind is spinning out of control. Your worry and your anxiety, it all lives up here. Live, here. In your heart. Live with courage. When the waves are battering and the wind is blowing, live courageously because the one calling to you is none other than Jesus Christ. As they are straining against the wind and waves, the disciples heard the voice of Jesus, the voice of hope.

But, you know Peter, he’s got to open his big mouth. “Lord,” he says, “if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” Peter is still trying to figure out if this is a ghost or not. The Lord calls to him, and Peter takes that first, hesitant step out of the boat, onto the waves.

Pay attention to what happens next. Peter is doing fine until he notices the wind. Then he becomes afraid. And then he starts to sink. This is an interesting order of things. See, it would seem that he should start to sink and then become afraid. But it’s the other way around. Peter becomes afraid, and then he begins to sink. The fear is what is sinking him. Fear is what is sinking us. Fear is what is sinking the world.

And here is the key to whole story. See, I think what happens most of the time is that when we start sinking in fear, we do one of two things. First, is we just keep sinking. We keep tossing and turning, we let the fears fester and drag us down. And as we’re sinking below the waves, we start lashing out in fury. Fear is what makes us rattle the saber of war. Fear is what creates violent nationalism and racism. That’s why Jesus tells the disciples to not be afraid – because fear leads to sin.

When we’re sinking in fear, the other thing we try to do is to get back in the boat. When you’re afraid, seek safety. We try to jump back into the boat. Think of Peter, he was a fisherman, he was comfortable in boats. He could have tried to jump back in. He felt safe there. But if the wind and waves are really whipping, the boat is just an illusion of safety.

And how often do we cling to the illusion of safety? How often do we settle for safety instead of salvation? Because there is a difference. We settle for safety when we hide behind our weapons, our money, our status. But all that worldly power is an illusion. Boats can sink, weapons are unpredictable, money is fiction, status is fake. No really, think about it. Weapons are no guarantee of anything, and swords always have two edges. Money, money is an illusion. Remember the stock market crash of 2007? Money actually, simply disappeared. And status, status has no meaning. God didn’t make some to be great and some to be not so great. When we’re sinking in fear, the boats we try to climb back into are bound to sink.

When you’re out on the water, when you’re afraid, when it seems as if the whole world is sinking the only thing to do is to cry out, “Lord, save me!”

“Lord, save me!” Jesus reaches out his hand to catch Peter, to pull him up, to save him. “Lord, save me.” Because what we need today is not safety, but salvation. Salvation from the threat of war, salvation from racism, salvation from the fears that have sent us spiraling downward. Salvation from ourselves.

“Lord, save me.” That might be one of the shortest prayer in the holy scriptures. But also one of the most heartfelt. And perhaps that’s the lesson we need to remember at 3 A.M. Pray. Pray. Rather than letting your mind run a hundred miles an hour, listen to Jesus. “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” Don’t pray that you were closer to shore, don’t pray that the wind would stop blowing or that the waves would stop crashing.

We will always have worries – because no arsenal of weapons, no stack of money, no status will ever be enough to protect us. So quit trying to be safe, and ask Jesus for salvation instead. And the Church, the Church will always be far from the shore because that’s precisely where we meet Jesus. Out there, away from land, in the midst of the storm. Don’t pray for things to be easier. Pray that God gives us the courage to live these days in holiness.

Next time you wake up at 3 A.M., maybe it’ll be tonight, take heart. Do not allow your fears to drown you. When you are feeling the waves tug you toward hatred, toward terror, toward pride of race and nation, call out to Jesus. And Jesus will save you. Take heart, it is not a ghost, it is Jesus. Do not be afraid.

In a Flash

The Rev. Jimmy Abbott
Feast of the Transfiguration
August 6, 2017
Luke 9:28-36

Three witnesses. Three witnesses to the day that changed the world. Three witnesses saw the light, a light that was beyond any light ever seen before on earth. After beholding the light of the moment, high up on that hill, one witness said, “it seemed a sheet of sun.” Another one of the witnesses of that moment said that, “everything flashed whiter than any white” they had ever seen. It was a moment, just one brief moment in time, when everything stopped. When the blinding, dazzling, white light inaugurated a new era in the life of the world. A light from the heavens. That third witness, overcome by what he had seen, could only manage to say, “My God.”
That light struck fear into the hearts of those three witnesses, obviously. They were terrified, for what they had seen no one on earth had ever seen before. And what they had seen was the flash of an atomic bomb.
There is some coincidence, or perhaps it’s providence, that the Church’s Feast of the Transfiguration which is today, August 6, is the same day as the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. We heard the story of the Transfiguration today from the Gospel of Luke, and every year on this day the Church is forced to call to mind the bombing of Hiroshima. The parallels are chilling. A dazzling light from the heavens. Witnesses who can hardly comprehend what they have seen. Terror, fear, confusion all around.
Kiyoshi Tanimoto was a Methodist pastor in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. From his vantage point on a hill outside the city, he was the one who said the blast seemed a sheet of the sun. As he made his way through the wreckage of the city later that day, everything about the city had changed. Because much of it was simply not there any more. Peter, James, and John climb this hill with Jesus, and Jesus’ appearance completely changes. In a flash, in a moment, it’s obvious that Jesus is no mere mortal. Everything has changed.
It was a seamstress who said of the bomb that everything flashed whiter than any white she had ever seen. She was terrified. Not all that different from how Luke paints the picture of Jesus’ transfiguration, “his clothes became dazzling white,” and the three disciples were terrified.
Of the bomber crew of the Enola Gay, the plane that delivered that frightful weapon, only three of the airmen knew what kind of bomb it was. The others were only told to wear dark goggles. And in the flash of that moment, there was silence on the plane’s intercom except for a sudden gasp as they all cried out, “my God.”
“My God,” the disciples must have thought, as they beheld Moses and Elijah with Jesus on that mountain in dazzling glory. Moses represents the Old Testament Law; Elijah stands for the Old Testament prophets. And here they are, the pillars of history conversing with the man who represents the future of God’s Kingdom. There was the age of Moses, there was the age of Elijah, and now is there is a new beginning again with Jesus. In a flash of white, in dazzling array, the world enters a new era. “My God,” the disciples must have thought. This Jesus, this God, has begun something new.
In a more sinister way, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima also inaugurated a new age. There had been the Bronze Age, the Iron Age, the Industrial Age. Then, in a single flash on the morning of August 6, 1945, the world entered a new age; the Atomic Age.
It wasn’t just a bomb that went off that morning, it was a new way of understanding humanity. Peter, James, and John came to understand God in a new way, with the bomb we came to understand ourselves in a new way. We had grasped the technological and mechanical ability to erase ourselves from history. I think that much of the latent fear, anxiety, and stress in our culture stems from this internalized realization that with a single flash, humanity could be gone. That sheet of sun, that whiter than any white ever seen before, changed the world. We live with the shadow of Hiroshima in our minds, knowing full well that the power released that day is but a fraction of the power we now hold in our hands. And like the disciples, we are terrified.
Our thoughts now turn to North Korea and to all the foreign powers who also harness this catastrophic threat of the atomic bomb. We fear others who could threaten the existence of life on earth. And that’s the other parallel between the Transfiguration of Jesus and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima – both call into question life and death. Notice what Moses, Elijah, and Jesus are talking about; they are talking about Jesus’ “departure.” That is, his crucifixion. His death. His resurrection. The flash of that moment forced Jesus, Moses, and Elijah to consider life and death.
In a flash, on August 6, 1945, 80,000 people vanished from the earth. Regardless of its role in ending World War II, this bombing should still give us pause. That we hold such tremendous and terrible power to kill.
In moments when the world changes – be it the Transfiguration or Hiroshima – we must consider our existence. Our life and death. That has happened to you, it’s happened to me. In a flash, your world changes and it calls everything into question. A child is born, a diagnosis is made, a check bounces. It’s never just about that moment, it’s about life and death. It’s about how a new era has begun in our lives.

Now, there is one curiosity about the atomic bomb that I have to mention. No one in Hiroshima remembers hearing a sound. No thunderous boom. No explosion. Just a sheet of the sun. Of course, there was a boom. People far away from Hiroshima heard it. But for those at hand it could have been that the light was so overwhelming it was as if their ears couldn’t hear.
Peter, James, and John, they hear something. In the midst of their fear and terror, they hear a mysterious voice from a cloud, and whether it sounded like a thunderclap or a whisper we don’t know. All we do know is what the voice says, “this is my Son, my Chosen. Listen to him.”
Listen to him. Listen to Jesus. When you are terrified because a cloud has come into your life, listen for the love of God. When you see a news story about intercontinental ballistic missiles and military exercises, listen to Jesus. Listen to the voice telling you that you are loved and that God loves the whole world, no matter what happens. When the talking heads are speculating wildly about geopolitics and sanctions, listen to Jesus. Listen to the voice telling you that with God, even death is nothing to be afraid of. This is God’s Son, the chosen, listen to him.
In this age of uncertainty, it is awfully easy to be trapped in fear. And remember, it’s not love and hate that are opposites. No, it’s love and fear that are opposites. Love draws us outward as fear drives us inward. Fear is contagious. Fear is addictive. We live and breathe fear. Fear is what runs political campaigns, fear is why we amass such terrible weapons, fear is what drives us to distrust each other. This is not so much the Atomic Age, as it is the Age of Fear. We may not recognize all the ways that fear shapes our lives, but then again, a fish doesn’t know it’s wet.
And so I must ask you – what do you fear? And when you are overcome with terror, who are you listening to? In the moments when your world has changed, do you respond in love or fear? Do you seek life or death? Listen to Jesus, and you will have nothing to fear. Listen to Jesus, and you will hear love.

The Sacrifice of Pride

The Rev. Jimmy Abbott
Fourth Sunday after Pentecost
July 2, 2017

Genesis 22:1-18

The Sacrifice of Pride

It happens almost every Sunday. Like clockwork, the person reading the scripture lessons will come up to me before the service and ask me how to pronounce a word from the Old Testament. They’ll say, “how do I pronounce, ‘Maher-shalal-hash-baz?’’’ Or, who was, ‘Tilgathpilsener’” Of course, my answer every week is, “I don’t know. But neither does anybody else!” I imagine the lectors are praying, praying that the lessons for the week they are assigned are relatively harmless. I remember being in church once and the scripture lesson was a roster of the ancient Israelite priests who were present for the dedication of the old Jewish temple. I mean, the reading was impossible. And I kid you not, the congregation broke out into spontaneous applause when the reader had made it through unscathed.

But, I don’t think anybody was applauding after this morning’s Old Testament lesson, disturbing as it is. See, it’s not just the hard names from the Old Testament that send fear into the hearts of our readers. It’s some of these lessons. I mean, can you imagine walking up here in front of a bunch of strangers and reading aloud a story about a man who is ready to slaughter his own son?

This story is often called the sacrifice of Isaac. It is one of the most distressing stories in the entire bible. God commands Abraham to take his son Isaac, the son whom he loves, and to offer Isaac as a burnt sacrifice. So, being dutiful to God, Abraham sets off with Isaac. Abraham carries the knife and the torch. Isaac carries the wood. Then Abraham binds Isaac, and just as Abraham is about to use the knife on his son, God intervenes, and provides a ram for the burnt offering instead of Isaac. Whether Isaac is spared or not, this is still downright horrifying. Imagine the trauma that Isaac experiences. And we put people in jail nowadays for what Abraham did.

Before we get there, let’s rewind a little bit in Genesis. Remember that God promised to Abraham that Abraham would be the father of many nations. That Abraham’s descendants would be like the stars in the night sky. That was the covenant, the agreement, that God and Abraham made. But throughout Genesis, this covenant is threatened. First, it’s that Abraham and Sarah panic about having a child, so Abraham has a child instead with Hagar, Sarah’s servant. This is the child Ishmael. The covenant is threatened because it’s unclear if Ishmael can be the rightful descendant of Abraham. But God promises that the family will go through Sarah. Covenant threatened, crisis averted. The next threat is that Abraham and his wife Sarah are very old. Long past the child bearing years. But Sarah gives birth to Isaac though she’s ninety years old. Covenant threatened, crisis averted. Here again the covenant is threatened on Mount Moriah. Because if Isaac is dead, then surely the covenant is dead also. At the end of the story, God provides a ram for the sacrifice instead of the son. Covenant threatened, crisis averted.

And I know what you are probably thinking. “So that’s some great background on the Old Testament. But who cares about all that? God told Abraham to kill his own son.

We can throw all the theology we want at this story and still, we are horrified. The thought of a parent taking the life of their children is appalling. So we’ve got some cognitive dissonance to sort through. How does this story stack up with a loving, merciful God? How could God command such a thing to take place? How could anybody be so blind in their faith that they would go as far as Abraham did? Usually, we presume one of two things. Either Abraham is insane and should be locked away. Or, God is an absolute monster who commands child abuse. Then, we tell ourselves that we would never even dream of harming our children. We think that we modern people would never do anything so cruel. That was all Old Testament stuff, but we’re enlightened now.

First of all, we cannot lie to ourselves. Just like Abraham, we too burden our children and for our own dreams and desires. We do it all the time. I’m talking about when we force our sons to keep playing football, even though they hate it, because we dream of them playing in the NFL. When we bind our kids to sports, it can easily become about us instead of about them.

And I’m talking about the way we treat young girls; if the first thing we say to a young girl is a comment on their hair or their clothes, we are laying on them the burden like the burden Abraham laid on Isaac. The trauma we are causing young women by only referring to the way they look will haunt society for generations to come. These women carry an extra burden, because they have been taught for so long that their value comes from other people’s approval rather than from God’s love. I’m talking about how “running like a girl” is an insult. And when young boys think that losing to a girl is a sign of weakness, this cultivates a society of cruelty and competition. And God is always about cooperation.

I’m talking about the problem we have, as a society, with student debt. We want our children to go off to college in order to be financially successful even if that means taking on hundreds of thousands of dollars in student debt. Debts that they will be paying for decades. Make no mistake. We are Abraham. This story from Genesis is horrifying to read because it cuts too close to home. The sacrifice of Isaac holds up a mirror to who we are and what we do to our children.

But God, God is always willing to avert the crisis. God provides a ram for us in the thicket. Instead of continuing to burden our children, I believe there is something inside of us that needs to die, that needs to be sacrificed. That is our pride and our ego. That’s the ram in the thicket that God has provided for us.

Rather than rolling our eyes at yet another millennial who is living in their parents’ basement, perhaps we should ask why it’s so hard to get a job with a living wage, pay off the student debt, and get a place to live. Rather than forcing our kids to spring baseball, fall baseball, and summer training camp because we have delusions of grandeur, perhaps we ought to have more time to connect with our families. Because that’s all they really need, our love and connection. Rather than expecting boys to be smart and girls to be pretty, perhaps we should try out the radical notion that men and women are both created in the image of God.

I believe that God is calling us to sacrifice our pride. This is the ram in the thicket. As in the time of Abraham, God has provided this ram so that we don’t have to traumatize our beloved children. And so that we don’t have to go through the trauma of binding our own sons and daughters. God has provided. In fact, that’s what Abraham calls the place. Abraham names it, “the Lord will provide.”

By all means, we ought to be horrified at how Abraham nearly sacrificed his own son. But before we fall into the tired old trope about the angry and vengeful God of the Old Testament, we need to take a hard look in the mirror, to examine the angry and vengeful gods of our society. The gods of pride, the gods of ego. And before we make ourselves into saints and everyone else into demons, we must hear again the words of Jesus: “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.”

The wood is laid, the fire is ready, the knife is held high. But the ram is in the thicket. When God calls out to us to drop the knife, will we listen?

Little Orange Flags

The Rev. Jimmy Abbott
26th Sunday after Pentecost
November 13, 2016

Isaiah 65:17-25

Little Orange Flag

Priests learn all sorts of things in seminary. We take classes on the bible, church history, theology, ethics. But there are all sorts of things that we don’t learn. And it turns out, the things we don’t learn are almost as important as the things we do learn. One of our favorite things to do is to come up with courses that we would have taken in seminary. “Architecture 101” or, “Introduction to Fundraising.” I would have loved to have taken “Basics of Institutional Plumbing” or “Who To Call When Everything Breaks.”

But I am learning on the job. I’ve learned that finances and fundraising are not so scary when you have capable people working with you. I’ve learned that when everything breaks, you call Church Insurance. I’ve learned that master plans don’t begin with pretty pictures, they begin with spreadsheets. And, I’ve learned, that building projects begin with little orange flags.

You may have seen them out there on our campus. Little orange and yellow flags marking utility lines. With all the construction going on in the area, these pop up here on our campus and around Spring all the time. And they don’t look like much, do they? Little orange and yellow flags just fluttering away. But, at least for us, they are signs of things to come. Signs that construction will begin. Signs that something is coming soon. Those little flags, they are not themselves what we are hoping for. But they point to our future reality. A new reality that God is creating here at Holy Comforter.

And that is always what God is doing. God is creating new realities. God always has a bigger, brighter, more beautiful vision in mind. Our passage from Isaiah begins with God speaking, “For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth. The former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating.” See, God’s mission is nothing less than the wholesale recreation of the world. God’s vision for this new world is laid out in Isaiah: “they shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.” “The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox.” “They shall not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain.” God’s vision for the world is the peaceable Kingdom; a kingdom of joy, and economic justice, and social harmony.

This vision, this dream that God has, seems so distant. The election results last Tuesday only brought this home for us. While some were joyful, others were hurt, others were angry. And it could have easily been the other way around. We are a society that is at odds with itself. A society that is far from the peaceable Kingdom. We are a country of wolves and lambs, of lions and oxen; it seems we are more likely to devour one another than to share a meal together in peace. We are a country that is broken down, divided, and analyzed by age, race, educational status, and voting precinct. That is not God’s vision of the peaceable Kingdom.

God has a greater vision for us. A more loving, beautiful vision. God intends to renew this world through the power of Jesus Christ. God has a vision wherein everything is new. Where death is no more. Where mourning and crying and pain are no more. Where the wolf and the lamb feed together, not off each other. And God is going to make that vision a reality. It will happen. Whether we are on board or not.

In the meantime, until that happens, the Church is that little orange flag in the ground. Fluttering away. We are not the peaceable Kingdom, but we point out that one day it will be upon us. We say to the whole world that something new is coming. Something more is coming. We are little signs of the recreation that God is going to accomplish.

And the work laid before us is so clear. As he always does, Jesus is calling us to be agents of reconciliation – to bind up the wounds that we have inflicted upon each other by virtue of our race, our orientation, our gender, our country or origin. I believe that Jesus is calling us to listen, truly listen, to those whose voices have been shouted down – the lonely, the oppressed, the forgotten, and the hopeless. To listen, before coming up with our response. That is the work of the Church, to start the process of reconciliation that God will one day complete in the peaceable Kingdom. God is bringing the wolf and the lamb to feed together, and the Church’s mission is to set the table.

It seems like foolishness to flutter in the wind like that. In the face of such anger, and animosity, and distrust, and discord, it would be easier to shrink farther back into our own little corners, to double down on our fear. But that is not the work of the Church. The work of the Church is to plant those little orange flags, to start our work on the peaceable Kingdom. So that when God does indeed return and set things right, the work will have already begun. Let me share with you my story.

Every week I spend an hour with my student over at Salyers Elementary School for mentoring. Truth be told, we spend most of our time playing Connect Four. And I’ll admit, I’ve gotten pretty good. This does not seem like much. In the face of the adversity that those students face. Many of these students do not look like me. Many of them are impoverished, and face real issues of hunger on a daily basis. They depend on school to provide them lunch and breakfast, otherwise they would go without. Some of these students don’t even have shoes that fit. Many do not have a consistent home but are shuffled around among family members and friends and foster homes. Some are homeless. In the face of such sadness, such injustice, such loneliness, what am I doing playing Connect Four? In my despair I think that I’m just a little flag, fluttering in a hurricane force wind that is trying to blow these students away.

But I go week by week, because I believe that even such small relationships point to the great future in which God will restore all things. Recreate all things. Of the future in which there is economic justice, and joy, and social harmony. Where kids don’t have to go hungry and where children are raised in safe environments. I believe in a future in which God puts things right. And it’s already happening.

When I see our mentors and students, when I see people from this church streaming to that school in order to help, to offer their lives, what I see is an image of the peaceable kingdom. The lion and the ox, the wolf and the lamb. I see a glimpse of the future that God has in mind.

This image of the future, it’s not just happening over there, it’s happening right here, too. Take your pledge cares for example. They don’t seem like much. In light of the work this church has before it, our pledges don’t seem to add up to much. We have buildings to build, we have ministries to run, we have refugees to provide for, foster kids to care for, blood to give, we have addicts to help, we have so many demands. There are hurting and hungry and lonely people right here in our neighborhoods that are crying out for help. They are crying out for the peaceable kingdom. And our pledge cards, they are little pieces of paper with numbers on them. Yet what those pledge cards point to is God’s renewal of this church. The renewal that God is working here, it’s not about church growth. It’s not about numbers. It’s not about putting more people in the pews. What is going on here is a sign to the world of the work that God is doing. Work of peace, community, economic justice, joy. It is a sign that God’s people are not afraid, but will boldly give of themselves to get the ball rolling on God’s grand vision of the future. Our money, yes our money, that we give to the church is a sign that this generous God is recreating the world.

If you ever have any doubt in what you are doing; if you ever wonder what the church is actually doing for the world; if you show up to meet your kids over at Salyers and it’s a tough day for them; if you wonder about why you are giving money to the church – think of those little orange flags. It might seem that we are just fluttering in the wind, but we are actually staking out the future, God’s future. God is renewing the world, and that God has already begun in this church.

“For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind,” says the Lord. Be glad and rejoice in what God is creating. Plant yourself as a little orange flag, fluttering in the wind. And in all that you do, and all that you give, start laying the groundwork for God’s beautiful vision for the future.