Sunday, October 25, 2015

Taste and See: A Journey with Jesus

St. Paul’s Church in Bergen, Jersey City NJ
October 25, 2015

Year B, Proper 25: The Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost
Job 42:1-6, 10-17
Psalm 34:1-8, 19-22
Hebrews 7:23-28
Mark 10:46-52

Taste and See: A Journey with Jesus
            Today, in a little while, during communion, we’re going to sing my favorite hymn, “Taste and See.”
            Not coincidentally, the words of the hymn are based on today’s psalm, Psalm 34:
            Taste and see that the Lord is good; happy are they who trust in him.
            Taste and see that the Lord is good; happy are they who trust in him.
            We are on a journey with Jesus.
            For the past few Sundays we’ve been making our way through the Gospel of Mark. We’ve been hearing the story of Jesus and his disciples journeying from their home in Galilee to the capital city of Jerusalem.
            Along the way, Jesus has been predicting what will happen to him in Jerusalem, preparing his disciples, his friends, for his arrest, his death, and his rising again on the third day.
            For the most part, the disciples are so self-absorbed, so wrapped up in their own stuff that they don’t seem to get it – or don’t want to get it.
            The disciples are so self-absorbed, so wrapped up in their own stuff, that they try to stand in Jesus’ way – try to tempt Jesus to abandon his mission, to avoid his fate.
            The disciples are so self-absorbed, so wrapped up in their own stuff, that they  prefer to argue about who among them is the greatest and even, as we heard last week, who will get the best seats in the next life.
            And now we’re approaching the end of the journey from Galilee to Jerusalem, we’re approaching the end of the journey that began with Jesus restoring sight to a blind man.
            We’re approaching the end of the journey and now once again Jesus encounters a blind man.
            Poor Bartimaeus. A nobody.
            He’s so poor, so unimportant, he doesn’t even seem to have his own name. Bartimaeus simply means “Son of Bartimaeus.”
            Imagine him there, poor blind Bartimaeus, day after day on the side of the road with his hands outstretched, maybe holding a small bowl, hoping somebody, anybody, will notice him and share a small coin with him.
            But, we don’t have to stretch our imagination too far, do we?
            We see people like that all the time, on Bergen Avenue, at Journal Square, huddled in doorways or crouched on the steps.
            Bartimaeus’ eyes don’t work but his ears do. And, actually, you know maybe this poor blind man sees more than others with perfect sight.
            He’s heard of Jesus of Nazareth and his miraculous healings.
            He knows the Son of David is on his way to his capital city.
            And so when Jesus draws near he seizes the moment and shouts, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
            The crowd tries to shut him up, but Bartimaeus cries out even louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
            And, when he gets his moment with Jesus he knows what he wants.
            “My teacher, let me see again.”
             Once his sight is restored, Bartimaeus becomes a disciple. He follows Jesus on the way, on the way to Jerusalem, on the way to the cross and the empty tomb.
            And, I’m pretty sure that unlike the other disciples, Bartimaeus won’t be self-absorbed, won’t be wrapped up in his own stuff. He has tasted and seen that the Lord is good. Happy are they who trust in him.
            For the past month or so, I’ve definitely been more like the disciples, self-absorbed and wrapped up in my own stuff, rather than Bartimaeus who is able to taste and see that the Lord is good.
            I haven’t been jockeying for position like they were but I’ve been kind of in the dumps since my ill-fated and brief return to classroom teaching.
            I’m comfortable that I made the right decision. It’s just that it’s been hard to move forward because I keep running into people who don’t know, so they ask me how the teaching is going, what’s it like to be back at Prep, …
            Over and over, I’ve had to re-tell the story, each time reopening the wound.
            So, as I thought about and prayed about today’s sermon, I thought, I’m on a journey with Jesus - we’re on a journey with Jesus - and it’s time for me to get over myself and to be less like the self-absorbed disciples, worried about how things look and what people will think, and be more like Bartimaeus, who, even in his blindness and poverty, is able to taste and see that the Lord is good.
            Taste and see that the Lord is good.
            Last Saturday, most of the vestry along with some members of the Finance Committee, sacrificed most of their Saturday to have a little retreat out in Chatham where we reflected on stewardship, focused on the many gifts that God has already given us here at St. Paul’s and the gifts that are yet to be discovered.
            Taste and see that the Lord is good.
            Last Sunday, we had at least three parishioners taking on new ministries. Cirila did a great job reading the lessons and leading the prayers. Koren offered a beautiful solo for the offertory. And, Chanel bore the Blood of Christ with great reverence and dignity. Plus, Chris, our new acolyte, was put to work for the fourth or fifth Sunday in a row.
            Taste and see that the Lord is good.
            Last weekend, Trish directed Nica, Dennis, Gail, and others in a performance of “The Devil and Tom Walker” and other works right here in Carr Hall. It was moving to see people work so hard, to be so committed to their craft, and to offer so much pleasure and enrichment to others.
            Taste and see that the Lord is good.
            Last Sunday, Susan Den Herder stood up at the 10:00 service and spoke bravely and openly about her own financial challenges but also her firm commitment to support the ministry of the church - our church - that she loves so much. And, pledge cards poured in – new parishioners pledging for the first time – many people sacrificing to increase their pledge – and not a single reduction.
            Taste and see that the Lord is good.
            Last Tuesday evening, I was standing outside when three twenty-somethings came along and asked me if I “manage” this church. Well, …
            It turns out that they are NYU film students and they want to shoot their movie right here in our driveway and on the grounds. They were dazzled by the historic beauty of this place – a beauty that I know but often take for granted or even forget when I get wrapped up in my own stuff.
            That same night I met with a community activist who wants to you use our space to offer a meal to homeless people on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. We had never met in person (she reached out through Facebook, of course) so I was a little startled – and really happy - when she said that we were her first choice because, and I quote, “this is a real community church. Everybody in the neighborhood knows it.”
            Taste and see that the Lord is good.
            That was all in one week. And, there’s more I could tell you. The crying woman I met outside a couple of weeks ago who returned to talk about family problems.
            Taste and see.
            The neighborhood people who one after the other are volunteering to be our chef at Stone Soup.
            Taste and see.
            The fact that last week, thanks to our faithful band of worship leaders, we had five weekday services, one a day, Monday through Friday.
            Taste and see.
            The man who rang the rectory doorbell yesterday and told me that 40 years ago he stole from our poor box and he’s carried that guilt all these years and now he wanted to make amends so he handed me a $50 bill for the church.
            Taste and see. Taste and see that the Lord is good.
            And, now here we are.
            We are on a journey with Jesus.
            And we have a choice to make.
            Are we like the disciples, so self-absorbed and wrapped up in our own stuff, that we can’t taste and see that Jesus is right here?
            Or, are we like blind Bartimaeus, who hears Jesus, who, despite his troubles, somehow sees Jesus, cries out to him to be healed, and follows him on the way?
            Taste and see that the Lord is good.
            Happy are they who trust in him.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

True Greatness

St. Paul’s Church in Bergen, Jersey City NJ
October 18, 2015

Year B, Proper 24: The Twenty-First Sunday after Pentecost
Job 38:1-7, 34-41
Psalm 104:1-9, 25, 37b
Hebrews 5:1-10
Mark 10:35-45

True Greatness
            One of the fun parts of teaching at St. Peter’s Prep for a couple of weeks at the start of the school year was that I got to be around for the visit of Pope Francis to the United States.
            To say that much of the administration, faculty, and at least some of the students of this Jesuit school, were excited about the visit of the first Jesuit pope would be an understatement.
            People had their picture taken with a life-size Pope Francis cut-out that was set up in the school lobby.
            The school put up banners on the buildings welcoming the pope, knowing that he’d never see them.
            Students made a video that was shown to the whole school. There was an essay contest. The entire school watched the pope’s address to the United Nations. And members of the community traveled to Manhattan and Philadelphia just to get a glimpse of the pope.
            It was truly Pope-mania!
            It was interesting to be there and to some extent get caught up in the excitement but also be a little removed from it – able to study it and him, a little.
            And what strikes me about Pope Francis is that he has a remarkable ability to teach through example.           
            Right from the start of his pontificate, he’s rejected the trappings of his office. Right after his election, he insisted on riding back to the hotel on the bus with other cardinals, insisted on paying his own hotel bill, insisted on carrying his own bag, and insisted living not in a palace but in two rooms.
            He’s had a homeless shelter opened right there in the Vatican.
            He’s a master at the symbolic gesture. On Maundy Thursday instead of washing the feet of twelve priests as was the custom, he’s gone to prison, washing the feet of inmates, including women and Muslims.
            And, during his U.S. visit, he preached some of the best sermons I’ve ever seen by rejecting the usual limousine or a Suburban SUV and instead being driven around in a little, fuel-efficient, Fiat.
            He preached one of the best sermons I’ve ever seen when after he addressed Congress he declined to have lunch with congressmen and senators and instead dined with some of the many homeless people in our nation’s capital city.
            There’s a danger of idolizing the Pope – he’s the first to admit that he’s a sinner like all of us – but, really, what he does so effectively and brilliantly through his example is remind the Church, remind all of us, of one Jesus’ central teachings:
            True greatness comes from serving others.
            And, it’s a lesson that we need to learn over and over.
            And, actually, it was a lesson that Jesus’ first disciples seemed to have needed to learn over and over.             
            You may remember a couple of weeks ago we heard the story of Jesus predicting what was going to happen to happen to him – what’s called a Passion Prediction.
            Jesus and he friends are walking along the road when he tells the disciples that he will be arrested and killed and rise again on the third day.
            We’re told the disciples don’t understand what Jesus is talking about – that seems a little too convenient to me – and so they ignore the Lord and instead argue among themselves about which disciple is greatest.
            Later, when Jesus asks them what they were talking about on the way, they wisely remain silent.
            You’d think the disciples would have learned their lesson, but no.
            Today, we’re told that the sons of Zebedee, the brothers James and John, say to Jesus, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”
            They’re getting off to a pretty bad start but Jesus plays along and says, “What is it you want me to do for you?”
            And then these brother disciples, part of Jesus’ inner circle, ask a question that shows that they still don’t get it.
            “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.”
            Earlier the disciples had argued with each other who was the greatest here and now. This time, James and John set their sights higher angling for the top spots in the next life or when Jesus returns in glory.
            You’d think having traveled around with Jesus, having heard him teach, having heard him criticize the religious authorities for being concerned with prestige and image, you’d think that the disciples would have understood that this was not a good question.
            Yet, James and John, and all of the disciples lived in a society that was very concerned with status – with the pecking order, with one’s position in the community.
            So, since James and John now belonged to a new community - the Jesus community – naturally enough, they wanted to know where they stood and where they would stand.
            The other disciples are ticked off by James and John’s question – probably because they wanted the top spots themselves – so this provides Jesus with the opportunity, yet again, to teach about true greatness for those who follow Jesus.
            Jesus says, “...whoever wishes to become great among you must become your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all.”
            And then Jesus offers himself as an example of this servant greatness. He says,  “For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
            True greatness comes from serving others.
            It’s a lesson that the disciples don’t really begin to understand until Jesus’ Passion predictions come true.
            True greatness comes from serving others.
            It’s a lesson that the disciples don’t really begin to understand until Jesus, the Son of God, allows himself to be arrested, beaten and killed – allows this to happen so we can see what love and true greatness look like – allows this to happen to bring God and us back together again.
            True greatness comes from serving others.
            It’s a lesson that we seem to need to learn over and over again, too.
            It’s a lesson we seem to need to learn over and over again because the world offers a very different vision of greatness – a fake greatness that’s marked by piling up as much wealth, as much stuff, as possible – a fake greatness that looks at the poor and calls them losers rather than God’s beloved.
            Just like the first disciples we live in a society that’s very concerned with status, with the pecking order, with our position in the community.
            Fortunately, over and over, God sends us reminders that true greatness comes from serving others.
            There’s Pope Francis, shunning the trappings of his position, zipping around in his little car, breaking bread with the homeless.
            And, there are the truly great people here at St. Paul’s who preach some of the best sermons I ever get to see by always remembering to bring food for the poor, by sitting with people in coffee hour you might rather not sit with, by staying to clean the dishes, by calling those who are suffering, sometimes calling every day.
            You truly great people who preach some of the best sermons I ever get to see by working so hard not for yourselves but for your children and grandchildren, by denying yourselves pleasure and comfort so that you can give so much to your families, your communities, and yes, your church.
            And, most of all, there’s Jesus who stretched out his arms of love on the hard wood of the cross, showing us all that true greatness comes from serving others.
            It’s a lesson that James and John and the other first disciples needed to learn – a lesson that we need to learn – over and over again.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

"All In"

St. Paul’s Church in Bergen, Jersey City NJ
October 11, 2015

Year B, Proper 23: The Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost
Job 23:1-9, 16-17
Psalm 22:1-15
Hebrews 4:12-16
Mark 10:17-31

“All In”
            The rich young man in today’s gospel story seems to be doing everything right.
            He tells Jesus that he’s been keeping God’s commandments since he was a youth.
            He hasn’t murdered or committed adultery. He hasn’t stolen or lied or defrauded. He has honored his parents.
            The rich young man seems to have done everything right.
            And, yet. And, yet.
            And, yet, he senses that’s he’s not quite there yet.
            He has a sense that there’s more – there’s something more – that he must do to inherit eternal life.
            So, we’re told, he ran up and knelt before Jesus and asked, “Good Teacher, what more must I do to inherit life?’
            We’re told that Jesus looked at him lovingly. Jesus knows that he has kept all of the commandments. And, yet…
            Jesus looks at him lovingly and says, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”
            Jesus knows all the good that this rich young man has done, and now asks him to go “all in” – to fully commit to God’s mission, to give it all away to build the kingdom of God.
            And… the rich young man just can’t do it.
            We’re told that he was “shocked” by Jesus’ words and went away grieving.
            I always wonder whatever happened to the rich young man after he couldn’t accept Jesus’ invitation to go “all in.” Did he just go back to living as he had been, doing all the right things but recognizing that he couldn’t fully commit. Or, did he give up completely and decide to live pretty much like everybody else?
            When he ran up to Jesus, the rich young man was at a tipping point. He was almost there…but, he chose to not go “all in.”
            Jesus invited the rich young man to go “all in” - and the rich young man…he just couldn’t do it.
            This is a powerful story. One that speaks to me and, I think, speaks especially powerfully – or should speak powerfully - to all of us here at St. Paul’s this year.
            Most of you have heard me go on and on about all of the good and exciting things happening here at St. Paul’s. We are doing a lot of things right.
            There’s the Craft Guild quietly knitting and crocheting over 50 little hats for a Rotary project that will distribute them to babies in need – and the Craft Guild has also making beautiful prayer shawls to be given to those who are sick and suffering.
            There’s the Stone Soup Community Supper, now regularly feeding over 40 people – neighbors, friends, strangers, parishioners - a delicious and healthy meal, bringing people together at the table, just like Jesus did – just like Jesus still does.
            There are our quiet weekday services, week in and week out reminding us of God’s presence in our lives not just on Sundays, offering prayers for the many people on our parish list, bathing this beautiful old room in prayers.
            There’s the group of parishioners who have stuck with our community organizing effort with thirty or so other congregations across the city, addressing public safety, education, recreation, and other issues that affect us, and our neighbors.
            It’s hard to remember now, but a couple of years ago there was no Minister of Music and no choir here at St. Paul’s but now you’re such a big part of church life.
            There are our longtime parishioners who have remained involved and committed and in some cases have taken on new ministries.
            There are our newer parishioners who have found a home here and have begun getting involved in parish life.
            From fewer than 50 a few years ago, we have grown into a church where now on an average Sunday more than 100 beautifully diverse people come to hear the Word of God, to pray, to exchange the Peace, to receive the Body and Blood of Christ, and to simply enjoy each other’s company.
            Just like the rich young man, we are doing so much right.           
            And, yet. And, yet.
            Like the rich young man, in today’s gospel lesson, there’s a sense that we’ve done many right things, but we’re not quite there yet.
            Like the rich young man, here at St. Paul’s, we’ve reached a tipping point.
            And now, just like he did with the rich young man, Jesus invites us to fully commit.            
            Jesus asks us to go “all in.”
            And, what would “all in” look like for us here at St. Paul’s?
            I’m speaking to you now not only as your priest, but as a former parishioner of St. Paul’s, as your brother in Christ, as someone who I hope you know loves you and loves this place very much.
            Many of you know that years ago some generous parishioners who also loved this place gave us a lot of money that was invested wisely, money that we usually just call the “endowment.”
            In many ways, it was a wonderful gift that allowed St. Paul’s to survive when other churches around us have closed – it’s that gift that allows me and all of us to be here.
            But, in another way, the endowment has been kind of a curse for St. Paul’s.
            Over time one of the main goals of our church seemed to be to preserve the endowment, to not do anything that would reduce the amount of money we had invested.
            Over time, there developed a sense that we – the current parishioners of St. Paul’s – really didn’t need to be “all in” because those very generous, but now dead, people had left us all that money.
            So, no matter how little we did, no matter how little we pledged, how little we gave, no matter if we gave the same amount year after year even though costs continued to rise, no matter how “little in” we were, the church would remain open on Sundays and be available for our funeral when we died.
            So, parishioners in the choir weren’t required to rehearse much because we had paid, professional singers who did the musical heavy-lifting for us.
            So, we didn’t have to do much ministry ourselves because we paid people to do that for us.
            We didn’t have much interest in church growth because we were just fine and comfortable as we were.
            Yet, all along, Jesus was calling us to more.
            And, over the past few years, we’ve begun to say yes to that invitation. Just look around. God has miraculously brought us all together. There is so much good going on here.
            And, now at the tipping point, now at the start of our stewardship campaign, Jesus invites us to go all in.
            “All in” means that we allevery one of us – commit ourselves to at least one ministry – and commit ourselves to doing our very best at it.
            Ministry is to pray for everyone on the prayer list every day.
            Ministry is to be an usher, here bright and early on a Sunday morning, welcoming people to God’s house.
            Ministry is “everybody’s favorite” - helping to clean up after coffee hour or Stone Soup or other events.
            Ministry is bringing at least one item for the food pantry every week.
            Ministry is helping to weed the garden, reading the lessons, serving as an acolyte.
            Ministry is being ready to greet newcomers, especially at coffee hour.
            Ministry is singing in the choir, which includes coming to rehearsal even when you’re tired or don’t feel like it because there are no more paid singers and we need you to do the musical heavy lifting for us.
            Ministry is teaching Sunday school or working with our amazing youth.
            And, yes, ministry is for each and every one of us, young and old, longtime and brand-new parishioners, everyone who considers this place a spiritual home, to make and actually give a sacrificial financial pledge, a pledge that hurts a bit, a pledge that’s more than what we gave this year, a weekly pledge that’s more than what we might spend on coffee during the week, more than what we might pay for an extra value meal at McDonald’s.
            “All in.”
            My brothers and sisters, the days of depending on the generosity of dead people are coming to an end.
            Look around. God has miraculously brought us all together. There is so much good going on here.
            We have reached the tipping point – we either move forward or we slide back to the way things were.
            So, Jesus looks lovingly at us and asks, “Are you all in?”
            As you know, a few weeks ago, I made a big, tough decision and chose to go all in here at St. Paul’s  - and I’m happy and excited.
            So, how about you?
            I’m now going to ask you a question and the correct answer is “Yes” with enthusiasm.
            Are we all in? Are we all in? Are we all in?

Sunday, October 04, 2015


St. Paul’s Church in Bergen, Jersey City NJ
October 4, 2015

Year B, Proper 22: The Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Job 1:1; 2:1-10
Psalm 26
Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12
Mark 10:2-16

            In today’s gospel lesson we get to hear Jesus’ challenging and demanding teaching on marriage.
            And, maybe surprisingly for an institution that for a while there had seemed like it might be on its way out, marriage has become a hot button subject in our country.
            People are still adjusting to the new reality decreed by the Supreme Court just a couple of months ago, making marriage between members of the same sex legal in all 50 states.
            Not everyone, including, I know, not everyone here at St. Paul’s, is pleased by this development. And, one clerk in Kentucky managed to get a ton of media attention for her refusal to issue marriage licenses – or allow others to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. She also landed some jail time and, apparently, a brief encounter with Pope Francis, delighting some and disappointing others.
            And, actually, I’ve been doing a lot of weddings lately including a beautiful wedding, despite the storm, yesterday right here at St. Paul’s.
            It was nice to see the church looking even more beautiful than usual, to see everybody all dressed up, so excited to witness Desiree and Emanuel make their vows to each other in the presence of God and the congregation.
            Desiree and Emanuel didn’t do this but lots of couples include the lighting of what’s called a “unity candle” as part of the marriage service.
            Have you seen this?
            Usually there’s one larger candle surrounded on either side by two smaller candles. The couple then draws light from the side candles to light the center candle, symbolizing that where there were once two, now there is one.
            I was reminded of the unity candle when I looked at today’s challenging and demanding gospel lesson.
            We’re told that the Pharisees want to test Jesus by asking him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”
            Now, this is an interesting and kind of surprising question for them to ask since, among first century Jews, the reality of divorce was taken for granted – was as much a fact of life - as it is today among us.
            The Pharisees would have known very well – and they would have known that Jesus knew very well – that the Book of Deuteronomy gives Jewish men permission to divorce their wives.
            The only debate among Jewish teachers in Jesus’ day was about the grounds of divorce. Under what circumstances – for what reasons – could a man divorce his wife?
            Some thought a man needed little excuse – it could be something as trivial as the wife preparing an unsatisfactory meal. While others thought that men required a more serious reason to break up a marriage.
            And, yes, in Jewish law it was only the man who could do the divorcing. But, actually, Roman law – and remember that Israel was under Roman control in the first century - allowed women to initiate divorce – a fact that we hear in Jesus’ private explanation to the disciples.
            So, the Pharisees knew, Jesus knew, everybody knew, that Moses, in the Book of Deuteronomy, allowed for divorce.
            So, it seems to me that the Pharisees must have heard that Jesus was going around teaching a harder, higher standard on the issue of divorce.
            And, sure enough, when the Pharisees ask him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” Jesus acknowledges the permission given in Deuteronomy – everybody knew that - but then dismisses this permission as something that was given because the people had hardness of heart.
            Instead, Jesus looks all the way back to the beginning, to Genesis, to the way things were always meant to be, before everything got messed up by us.
            In marriage, the two become one flesh.
            And Jesus quotes those famous words that we still say in the marriage service, that I said at yesterday’s wedding: “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
            Obviously this is a text that’s hard for a lot of us to hear – and it’s hard to preach about. Some of us are divorced or separated ourselves. Some of us have troubled marriages. All of us have been touched by divorce in our families and among our friends.
            And, I’m convinced that the God of love and mercy does not want people to stay in marriages that have become abusive or miserable – marriages that, for any number of reasons, should not have happened in the first place.
            And, I’m also convinced that, while God cares about marriage a lot, and while God cares a lot about our own marriages, God is most interested in unity.
            It’s no accident that Jesus looks back to the beginning of creation – back to the beginning – back to when there was no separation between God and us – back to when there were no divisions among us.
            Jesus looks back, reminds us of the time before things got broken and messed up.
            And, ever since, God has been hard at work putting the pieces back together again. Because of our hardened hearts, God gave us the law. Because of our refusal to obey, God gave the prophets.
            And, finally, in one grand effort at restoring unity, God gave us God’s Self, Jesus, who, as the author of the Letter to the Hebrews writes, “for a little while was made lower than the angels.”
            At its best, marriage can be a powerful symbol - a beautiful taste - of the unity between God and us, between Christ and the church.
            But, all of us, married, single, divorced, widowed, all of us are called to unite with one another and allow God to unite with us.
            All of us are called to let God work with us, in us, and through us, to put the pieces of the world back together again so that we may be one as Jesus and God the Father are one.
            And, as we were reminded once again last week with yet another mass shooting, this time at a community college in Oregon, we live in a world scarred by shocking violence, cruelty, and hardness of heart. We all know that have a long way to go before we achieve the unity that God wants, that God dreams, for us.
            Sometimes we get a taste of that unity in marriage.
            But, you know, we all get a taste of that unity here at St. Paul’s.
            You’ve heard me say this before: one of the things I love most about St. Paul’s is our amazing diversity and the fact that, for the most part, we all get along beautifully and lovingly.
            It’s like we each have our own little candle and we come together to light the giant and bright unity candle that is St. Paul’s.
            And, when we see the bright light of our unity candle we are privileged to get a glimpse of, to get a taste of, the unity that God so desires for us all, the unity that God desires for all creation.
            The unity that God has joined together and that no one may separate.
            God cares about marriage a lot, but God is most interested in unity.