Monday, January 13, 2020

Baptism of our Lord

January 12, 2020
Baptism of our Lord

Isaiah 42:1-9
Psalm 29
Acts 10:34-43
Matthew 3:13-17

Please pray with me,
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O God, our rock, our strength and our redeemer.  Amen. 

As we gather today, we remember Jesus’ baptism.  We began worship not with confession and forgiveness which we do almost 99.9% of the time we gather in worship, but rather with the Thanksgiving for Baptism.

It’s true, maybe you saw it in my eyes, I LOVE beginning with the Thanksgiving for Baptism, especially the sprinkling of the water part.  Billy says I really get into it.  He’s right. 

In preparation for today I got to thinking about my own baptism.  And you know what?  I don’t remember it.  I’ve seen pictures such as this one.  

I’ve heard stories, but I have no memory of it actually happening.  And yet I know, that on March 31, 1974 my mom and dad brought me to the font at Faith Lutheran Church in East Hartford and I was welcomed into the Lord’s family. 

This past year I visited Faith Lutheran while my mom was at her bell choir rehearsal, they may still have the same font, just with a new bowl.

Even though I cannot remember it, but for pictures and stories, I know it happened.  I know I’m baptized and it’s because of God’s gift of love in my life that it has happened.  It was nothing that I personally did or can do, it is entirely a gift of God’s grace.  Even though it was my baptism, it was not about me.  It was a gift to me and through that gift I have been named, claimed and called to be sent. 

I am God’s beloved child.
I am claimed by God with the mark of the cross on my forehead.
And I am sent into the world to proclaim this great love to all people. 

Today we hear about Jesus’ baptism.  Jesus heads out into the wilderness, to for a baptism of repentance.  It is done, as Jesus says to fulfill all righteousness.  As Jesus comes up out of the water, the Spirit of God comes down…and we/they hear a voice from heaven saying, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”  After this act of baptism, we hear that Jesus is named, claimed, and sent.  This baptism isn’t based on anything that Jesus had done up to that point or anything he hadn’t done.  This act was a gift of God. 

As we hear about this act we know that Jesus is God’s beloved child.
Jesus is claimed by God.
Jesus is sent into the world to proclaim this great love to all people. 

Kathleen Norris writes about Jesus baptism in this way, “that the incarnation (God becoming human) is not only about Jesus but about us: ….it demonstrates to us not only what God is like but also who God wishes us to be.”  (Kathleen Norris, The Word, Christian Century)

Let me say that again, “The incarnation is not only about Jesus but about us: … it demonstrates to us not only what God is like but also who God wishes us to be.” 

So, our baptism isn’t about us.
And Jesus’ baptism isn’t about him.

Both of these amazing acts of God’s love are not about the individual being baptized, but about a God of love and how God shows and shares that love in the world around us. 

Both baptisms are all about God and God’s gift to us as individuals and as a community of faith, as the Body of Christ. 

And so today is a day that invites us to remember the gift of baptism and how it has changed us and how it changes us for life in the world around us. 

What do you remember about your baptism? 
Do you have pictures that you’ve seen? 
What stories have you heard or do you tell about that day? 
I’m sure this has the potential to be a walk down memory lane with your families later and I encourage you to do so.  Bring out the photo albums, or look through memories on social media, and talk about that day with your kids, grandkids, parents or grandparents. 

As we remember our baptisms, we remember them right now, together as a community of faith, as the Body of Christ, proclaiming together that we are daughters and sons, children of God. 
We, as the body of Christ, are named.  We are claimed. 

And we are sent. 
We are sent to live among God’s faithful people,
We are sent to hear the word of God and share in the Lord’s supper,
We are sent to proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed,
We are sent to serve all people, following the example of Jesus,
And we are sent to strive for justice and peace in all the earth! 

Yup, we are sent, to do all of the above…and then some. 

We don’t just hang out here after worship until worship rolls around next week, although there is often wonderful times of conversation and visitation after worship.  We leave here. 

Because, again, it’s not about us! 

I know, you are awesome. 
You are created in God’s image. 
You are loved more than you could possibly know. 
But the truth is, it’s not about you.   (womp womp)

It’s all about this great gift from God. 
It’s all about God’s love for you!
It’s all about God knowing you and who God created you be and who God continues to call you to be. 

It’s all about how this great gift of God calls us as individuals together to tell stories of God’s love as have experienced it in our own lives and how we know this love can transform the world through our words and actions. 

So, go from this place, (Well, not just yet, church isn’t over yet…)
But when you do, go…washed in these waters to proclaim the good news of God in Christ in all that you say, go serve all people, following the example of Jesus, and go…strive for justice and peace in all the earth! 

You got this! 

And now may the peace which surpasses all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus and let all God’s people say, amen. 

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Sugar Free January? Yup!

Happy New Year!  

Instead of kicking the year off with a New Year's Resolution that I will probably break by February, for the past several years I have been choosing one word to guide and shape my year.  Last year's word was growth (which I'll relfect upon in a later post).  
This year's word is: Intentional.  
I will be intentional in my focus in my faith life - through daily devotions and reflection time. 
I will be intentional about my relationships - marriage, family friends and my family of faith at Trinity.  
I will be intentional about my presence on social media - both the people and groups I follow as well as the posts and comments I share.
I will be intentional in working toward long term goals.  Some of these include finishing projects begun years ago while also giving time to learn new skills and spend more time writing (journaling/blogging).
I will be intentional about the care of my body.  I've been working with a coach for the past year and have seen growth in my fitness and running.  I would like to see that improve, so my diet (what I eat/how I fuel my body) will be an intentional focus this year.  
That last one being said, I'm part of a group that will be partaking in Sugar Free January.  
Yup, sugar free January.  
What that means for me is eliminating any added sugars from my diet for the next 30 days.  (I successfully made it through day one!)  
I will be avoiding baked goods, candy, hot chocolate, adding sugar to my coffee, and honey to my tea to name a few.  
I will be reading labels to see what products contain hidden sugars.  The one that almost stopped me in my tracks: bacon!  
Did you know that most bacon out there is processed with sugar?  I mean, I get it, when we make barbecue we often include sugar in the rub.  I guess I didn't put much thought into it after that.  Needless to say, there are a few brands that do not include sugar - it took an internet search (thanks, Billy) and a second grocery store to take care of it.  - Crisis averted! 
I'm sure there are challenges that will arise as the month progresses that will surprise me.  I do know that eating out and going to people's homes for meals will be the hardest.  But I will do my best to eat as sugar free as I can in those situations - no desserts, passing on processed salad dressing, and staying away from ketchups and barbecue sauces.  
Why share this publicly?  
A few reasons:  
One, to let family and friends know that I am making this change for this month.  I'm not doing it for attention or to draw others in (although Billy is along for the ride) but so people are aware of why I'm eating or not eating certain foods.  
Two, to let you all know that I am doing this with the guidance of a coach and a group of folks who are doing this as well.  
Three, to say that I am doing this because I know this is good for my body.  To be the best person, wife, friend, pastor and athlete I need to take care of this body I've been given.  Fueling it in a healthy way will help me care for my body and give it the good energy it needs.  
No doubt there will be some days when this challenge isn't perfect.  But overall, I'm committed to making a big change this month.  
Thankfully, 3 months ago I stopped putting sugar in my coffee.  That has become a daily practice that I don't even think about anymore.  (phew) Some other changes may prove to be more difficult, but I'm ready for them.  
Questions?  Let me know.  
Support?  Bring it on, I'll take it.  
Thanks for reading.
Blessings to you in the new year.  

Monday, December 30, 2019

1st Sunday of Christmas Sermon

December 29, 2019
First Sunday of Christmas
Isaiah 63:7-9
Psalm 148
Hebrews 2:10-18
Matthew 2:13-23

Please pray with me,
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O God, our rock, our strength and our redeemer.  Amen.  

Merry Christmas!  

I’m not gonna lie, this gospel text, in the midst of the Christmas season is a tough one.  It’s hard to hear about the slaughter of the innocents when we are basking in the light of the word made flesh, the prince of peace come among us on a silent and holy night.  

Yet here it is.  

We enter into the birth story with a character that is not excited or hopeful about the birth of a savior.  This Herod is not excited about this birth because it will change the status quo.  And for Herod, the status quo is good, because it benefits him, so he wants to maintain it. 

While we hear of his actions and cringe, yet at the same time, we are almost immune to the same rage and death around us today.  It’s far too easy to fall into the status quo, a place we feel comfortable because any change would mean discomfort for ourselves.  

And so, on the fifth day of Christmas we hear this text and struggle with how it fits into the Christmas season.  

Yet this text, with its discomfort has something to say to us today.    
First, in this season of Christmas, it is okay and holy, even, to pause and reflect upon the evil that exists in the world around us.  That even though God sent Jesus into the world, there are times and places when evil prevails, and it is not of God’s doing, it is of our own doing through our sinfulness and brokenness.  So we need to continually have our eyes opened to stop and see the evil around us and how with God present in the world though the birth of Jesus, we are called to respond to the evil around us.  

Secondly, that we are continually called to put our trust not in humanity, or human rulers, but in God.  How we respond to evil at work in our world and the sadness, anger and death it causes, is our call as Christians.  We are called to speak hear the voices of those weeping and mourning.  We are called to acknowledge their pain and suffering.  And we are called to respond in God’s love and grace working for justice and peace in all the world.  

Our call is to respond not out of fear, but out of love, care and compassion for all of God’s children.  Our call is to see the presence of Christ in our midst – in the birth of a baby, in the feeding of our neighbors, in sharing space at a table with strangers, in a simple act of kindness to someone we don’t know.  

Our call is to respond out of love.  

Friends, we are coming to the end of a year that has been incredibly divisive.   Our culture has seen a shift that makes it okay to put down others for different beliefs, to pick on those who are different than we are and to almost be proud about acting this way.  Friends, this MUST stop.   These actions are not living out of God’s love.  They are examples of living out of fear.  Fear of being wrong, fear of letting others truly be themselves and fear of being vulnerable.  

Not to say that we cannot be fearful, but when we act out of that fear we do so only to protect ourselves and the way things are, just like Herod.  (Oh, that’s a tough pill to swallow, right?)  That it is far too easy to live out of fear to protect what we know and how we fit into the world as we know it because we do not know how to act if the world is different.  We truly become comfortable in the systems in which we find ourselves that we work to maintain those systems, even if they are oppressive to others.  So, the truth is, we all fall victim to sin in the world and in our lives.  

We are not trusting fully that God is at work in the world.  

Yet in those moments, when we respond out of love…amazing things can happen.  

When we respond out of the abundance of God’s love and grace in the world, the world changes.  

The week before Christmas I was finishing up my homebound visits with a trip to Elizabethtown.  I was thankful that Loretta Schneck called and asked if she could join me.  We spend the day together with a good visit with Claude.  Then we were warmly welcomed into the apartment of June Brossman with smiles and tears of joy over our visit.  She gifted us with stories and a small parting gift at the end of our visit.  We chatted as we drove and as we shared lunch.  As we parted ways in the church parking lot my heart was full – overflowing even.  

The parking lot was already filling up for food pantry distribution and as I entered the narthex, I received word that there was already some issues with a patron or two arriving early.  

I took a deep breath and shared my joy filled day with the pantry volunteers.  I encouraged the volunteers to remember the amazing generosity that would happen through the food distribution and that many, many families would be grateful and fed for Christmas.  I encouraged and hoped that the volunteers would shake off the frustration from one incident to see the overall good that would happen as the afternoon progressed.  

I was able to do this because I was living out of the joy and love that I had experienced that day.  I was in a place of gratitude and joy and I couldn’t help but to share it.  

Friends, how have you experienced God’s love and grace this Christmas?  
How have you seen and felt God’s love and peace around you?  
How will you let that peace and love and grace guide to you live your life?  

We are called to live out of this love. 

When we do, it is a game changer, not just for us, but for everyone around us.  

(At this point in the sermon I shared with folks that if looking over the last week or so they were struggling to find a moment or experience that allowed them to feel God's love, peace and presence that they should check out the Angel Tree.  This tree holds tags that people take prior to Christmas that list gift wishes for families in need.  As the gifts are distributed the families are invited to write notes of thanks and the tree is transformed into a Thankful Tree.  Of the three tags I read this weekend, this one tugged at my heartstrings the most: "Dear Santa, I love you.")  If you are local to Trinity, come check out this tree.  :)

We are called to live out of this love...and when we do, it's a game changer.  

In the midst of a broken world, where we struggle with violence, anger and hatred, God still calls us to be at work in the world: 
With a heart filled with love…
With words that express welcome and love… 
And with actions that show God’s presence here and now.  

And now may the peace which passes all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus and let all God’s people say, amen.  

Monday, November 25, 2019

Christ the King

November 24, 2019
Christ the King

Jeremiah 23:1-6
Psalm 46
Colossians 1:11-20
Luke 23:33-43

Please pray with me,
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O God, our rock, our strength and our redeemer.  Amen. 

The alarm goes off.
You get out of bed.
As you are ready to take your first sip of hot coffee on a crisp fall morning you see your phone showing missed calls, multiple voicemails, urgent text messages and you take a deep breath and think, oh rats (although if you’re like me, you probably didn’t say rats)but you still think to yourself, “I have just woken up and the rest of the world is half a day (if not a whole day) ahead of me. Oh boy.”

Ever have one of those mornings?
One of those days? 

They happen, don’t they? 

It happened to me this week and when I arrived at pericope (our weekly clergy Bible study) I sat down and heard today’s gospel reading for the first time. 

Usually when attending I have already read through the text, looked into some commentaries and listened to a trusted podcast to prepare.  Yet with the pace of this week I had not yet done that.  And BAM! 
I’m hit with Jesus’ crucifixion. 

Maybe you thought that, too, as you listened to the reading today. 
We are getting ready for Advent…preparing for Christmas and Christ’s birth…why the crucifixion?  Did I fall asleep in November and wake up in April? 

It’s one of those passages that wakes us up, and reminds us that the Jesus – the messiah – is a king like no other.  Jesus – the messiah – rules through humble service, through teaching and healing, through turning the other check and by showing power by dying on a cross. 

This is one of those passages that wakes us up, and reminds us again and again, that the kingdom of God, the one in which Jesus reigns is NOT one that we expect to see in our world every day. 

We live in a world where power is treasured, and when you have power, the last thing you want to do is give it away or show weakness. 

In the world in which we live, it can be a struggle to recognize and follow a leader, a king, even, who leads and teaches as Jesus does. 

We gather together today and celebrate Christ the King Sunday.
“It is sometimes known as Reign of Christ Sunday and is a relatively recent holy day in the church calendar.  It was established by Pope Pius XI in 1925 in response to the increasing threat of the rise of fascism. 
Authoritarian leaders of fascist regimes were being lifted up as all powerful demigods, and the Roman Catholic Church created this holy day in an attempt to reclaim power for the church as opposed to the secular nation-state.” (

The reason we celebrate Christ as King is because throughout history, humankind has put more stakes in human rulers than Christ as our king. 

Let me say that again the reason we celebrate Christ as King is because throughout history, humankind, you and me included, has put more stakes in human rulers than Christ as our king. 

It’s nothing new.

Power, control and authority are lifted up in our world and it seems that when you have it, you grasp it and hold onto it, so no one else can have it.  In the case of worldly leaders this is often seen because they do not wish to show weakness or lack of knowledge or inexperience.  Yet, as Princess Leia so boldly said to the Governor Tarkin in Star Wars (A New Hope) “The more your tighten your grip, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.”  Knowing that when power is held and gripped, it is not always maintained or kept in control. 

So here we are on Christ the King, wrestling with the image of Jesus as King. 
A king who walks with the sick, the oppressed and the untouchable. 
A king who speaks of love and peace, grace and forgiveness. 
A king who enters the city riding on a donkey.
A king whose crown is one of thorns.
A king who shows power by dying on a cross.

In a day and age when we struggle to seek power, to claim power and to know in whom we can and should put our trust, we need this King of Kings.  We need Jesus, this savior whose kingdom is going to transform the world as we know it. 

Because that’s the reality, this Jesus, this King, will reign in a way that we cannot comprehend in our world today, because he is flipping the world upside down.  Throughout the gospel of Luke we hear of Jesus’ kingdom as one that lifts up the lowly, puts the wealthy in their place and is one where Jesus continues to reach out to teach, touch and love the least of those in the communities through which he travels. 

Think of those who are cast aside in our world today.
Think of those who are not treated fairly, not welcomed in, not given the time of day, or respect or health care or a fair wage. 
These are the folks that Jesus is welcoming into the kingdom here and now. 

Yup.  Jesus is like, hey you, feeling lost, lonely, forgotten, come, sit with me. 
Hey you, have you been treated unfairly throughout history? 
Have you been hurt and neglected because of who you love or who God created and calls you to be? 
Have you been cast aside because people do not understand your mental illness? 
sit here,
with me
in the kingdom,
right now. 

Friends, that is what the reign of Christ looks like. 

Every so often we get glimpses of it. 

It creeps into our world, and reveals itself in a way that we do not expect it to and when it does it is holy and beautiful and sometimes causes us to say, NO WAY!  Because it is a place of love and welcome, grace and forgiveness that does not fit into the structure of the world as we know it. 

When I was serving a congregation in Indiana, I was not always able to make it home to New England for Thanksgiving.  One year I drove up to Chicago to spend a few days with my friend Casey from high school.  He and his partner hosted an orphan Thanksgiving. 
The turkey brined overnight on the porch, Casey, Ira and I stayed up late on Wednesday peeling apples, making pies, watching Food Network videos on how to properly truss a turkey, and fit as many chairs around their extended kitchen table as we could. 

As Thanksgiving afternoon approached, the apartment was filled with friends, food, laughter, some bubbly drinks and warmth. 

We sat around the table ready to eat, and I was the one asked to say the prayer.  I was ‘the’ pray-er.  I remember blessing our gathering, the people around the table which included people of the Jewish faith, people who did not believe in God, people in partnered relationships, people who had no family, and our hosts who opened their apartment to us all, no questions asked. 

I prayed for the food, the friends, the overflowing glasses (to which one person chimed in – she means the drinks! and I said, you bet I do!) we all chuckled and were thankful to be together, to be fed and to just be ourselves. 

That, to me, was one of those kingdom moments.  The motley crew gathered around that table…Jesus was there.  Joining us in the toast and the feast. 

And here’s the thing, it happened without all of us knowing it would.
It happened in spite of a wild mix of people each accepting invitations on their own.

The kingdom of God is meant to transform the world.
Jesus, our king, is transforming our world.

Through his life, death and resurrection, Jesus has made a place for you….at this table with a feast of bread and wine - the body and blood of Christ.  

Led by Jesus’ model of welcome, grace, peace and love, may we be so bold and empowered to seek spaces and places to model that welcome, grace, peace and love this day and all days.  

And now may the peace of Christ which surpasses all understanding keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus and let all God’s people say, amen. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Sunday's sermon (The one about faith)

October 6, 2019
17th Sunday after Pentecost
Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:1-4
Psalm 37:1-10
2 Timothy 1:1-14
Luke 17:5-10

Please pray with me,
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O God, our rock and our redeemer.  Amen.

Increase our faith! 
How often have we said something like that?

Increase our faith! 
That apparently the faith we have is not great enough. 
Like faith comes in different sizes.  Small, medium, large….super sized? 
Is it a muscle that we can increase? 
Have you ever met someone and thought…wow their faith is amazing…I wish I had faith like that. 

I’m reminded of a scene from The Empire Strikes Back.  (It was a bit long for worship, but you can watch it here.)
Luke is in the swamp with Yoda and his Jedi skills are being honed. 
He is lifting stones, backpacks, even the droid, R2D2….
Luke wants to get his ship out of the swamp…he tries to use the force to do so, but he lacks the force or the faith…he lifts is up a little, but can’t seem to get it out of the puddle.  He gets all pouty…and says,

Luke: I can’t. It’s too big.
Yoda: Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm. And well you should not. For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the Force around you; here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere, yes. Even between the land and the ship.

Yoda then demonstrates by focusing on the ship and using the force to move the craft out of the water and onto the land, next to Luke.
Amazed, Luke says:

Luke: I don’t, I don’t believe it.
Yoda: That is why you fail.

To the apostles in our gospel passage this day, faith is something that they want more of.  They feel that they do not have enough…that more is needed…

Would you really want to say to a mulberry tree be uprooted and planted in the sea…and have it do so?  If we had faith to uproot trees and move mountains, clean up days around the church would be much easier…not to mention moving from one house to another.  But that’s not what it’s all about. 

Perhaps this is similar to the person who states: "I can't do it," and a parent/mentor type insists: "Yes, you can." They try and discover that they can do it.
I see this often in my 5-year-old nephew. He’ll be half way across the monkey bars and he’ll say, “I can’t do it!”  And his dad replies…”But you are doing it!!”

How many of us have said, "I can't do door to door evangelism."
"I can't talk to him/her about the hurt they have caused me."
"I can't forgive him/her." It would seem to me that the issue in such statements is not that of "can't do," but one of fear -- which is the opposite of faith.

How do we, in our everyday actions do things that we do not think we are capable of doing? 

Or maybe a better question is how many of us are gifted in ways we cannot see, but are living faithful lives through small and simple actions?

We are invited to take part in simple actions so often that we may even overlook them.  I received this message from a Trinity member who took part in a simple action:

This person wrote, “I just dropped off a meal.  There had been a lot of visitors and people at that house today…I sensed their tiredness and stayed for just a short time…yet in that time, I deeply felt Trinity’s ministry of joyfully giving and thankfully receiving.  There was such a loving connection between us as member of our church family.  I saw and felt God today…right in the center of our gathering of 3.  Thank you for that opportunity to serve.”   

What simple action have you been invited to take part in? 
How might this action be God showing faith to you and to others? 

A brief prayer I read recently is related to this text:
"O God, I don't pray for enough faith to uproot mulberry trees. I can get enough dynamite and bulldozers to do that. What I need and ask for is enough faith to move me.” 

What I need and ask for is enough faith to move me. 

Because here’s the thing…
God has given us all the faith that we need. 
Sometimes we just forget how amazing that gift and blessing is. 
We are given the ability to do exactly what God calls us to do through simple acts of love and service. 

This faith is a gift.  And it’s not just free-floating faith…that is just out there…it is faith and trust in Jesus Christ. 

Faith isn’t something that is ours alone that we can change and grow and increase…it is through God’s promise in Jesus Christ that we receive the basic forgiveness we are called to share…

What if, instead of asking for more faith, the question or request from the disciples was this:

Lord, draw us deeply into your creation and resurrection…into that forgiveness and grace. 

Instead of us asking for our faith to be increased, what if we asked God to draw us more deeply into God’s creation and resurrection…into God’s forgiveness and grace. 

That’s really what it’s all about. 
Being drawn in to God’s promise, God’s love, God’s forgiveness and God’s grace. 

Knowing that God calls us to tasks that we may not be ready for…but we go anyway, trusting in the promise of the resurrection….and knowing the forgiveness and grace we have already received and will continue to receive. 

How are we drawn in week after week?  At the meal at this table. 

This is the table that speaks to us and says…
All are welcome.
No matter where you think you are in your faith journey, no matter what your sins…there is a place for you. 
No matter what your questions, problems, fears, doubts….there is a place for you. 

And it's all about drawing people in to this place.  
It’s drawing people in, to feel God’s love and grace.
It’s drawing people to this table…to receive the gift of God. 
It’s helping all humanity to see our imperfections, our faults and our struggles…and the reassurance that we are not alone.  That no matter who we are, God loves us.
And that no matter what we do, God loves us. 

That is what is at the root of faith…A loving, compassionate, forgiving and saving God.  Who wants the world to know that it is loved. 

So, we ask God together, draw us in…
Dear God,
Draw us into this place for forgiveness and fellowship, for honesty and love for one another. 
Draw us into this table…where bread and wine overflow for everyone, where sins are forgiven and grace is poured out….
And draw us more deeply into you…in our homes, in our schools, in our places of work…that you may guide our hearts and minds to share this redeeming love and grace with those whom we meet. 
And may the peace, which passes all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, and let all God’s people say, Amen.