Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Sermon for the Repose of the Soul of Geoff Davis

Sermon for the Repose of the Soul of Geoffrey Davis

March 4, 2020
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church

Wisdom 3:1-5,9
Psalm 23
Romans 8:14-19,34-35,37-39
John 14:1-6
Jesus said, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going." Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?"

Today we gather to celebrate the life of Geoff Davis.  Geoff has been a part of this congregation longer than I can remember.  I have been here for over 30 years and it seems hard to remember a time when Geoff was not present.  On February 4th we were saddened to hear that Geoff had been found deceased near the AT&T building across the street.  One of the places where he would spend his days.  Geoff had been ill for a while with what appeared to be flue like symptoms.  Lynell, and others, tried to get him to agree to transport to the emergency room but Geoff refused.  The paramedics told us that as long as he could say no to the transport there was nothing that they could do.  So we tried to get Geoff to eat.  Chris and others would insist that he try to eat something.  Other members of the congregation brought him cold and flu medications.  We all did what we could.

Today is not a day to second guess what we could have done differently to help Geoff.  Geoff was very private and did not trust people who he didn’t know.  We know that Geoff had a hard time on the street and felt safe hanging out around the church. 

Today we are here to remember his presence in our lives and in the life of this church.  Today we are here to thank God that Geoff is in that place where pain and grief or no more, neither sorrow but life everlasting.

St. Paul’s is one of those places where we try to welcome those that society sees as outcasts.  On Ash Wednesday Lynell commented that our sign should say “St. Paul – the other”  People that many just use labels to identify.  The homeless, the gays, the other.  Geoff was not a homeless person to this congregation he was Geoff – a beloved child of God.  He was always welcome here.  He always felt safe here.  And now we can give thanks that he is safe in the bosom of God. 

Our gospel lesson today is part of what we call Jesus’ farewell discourse.  Jesus is talking to his disciples and telling them that he will soon depart from them.  He is trying to comfort them.  Jesus tells them that they too will eventually go where he is going.  That they will be reunited with the creator who made them.  Jesus assures them that there are many rooms in God’s house.  Enough rooms that they will not have to worry.  Jesus promises that we will know the way to God’s mansion.  The promise is that we will return the creative force of Love that created this planet and desires that we work to create the many dwelling places on this side of the veil as there are on the other side.

I know our rational brains sometimes have trouble believing that God really loves all of us.  It is so upside down for the societal norms.  Norms that say that people like Geoff are not loved.  Norms that put down anyone that does not look like a cis-gendered white male in a suit and tie who has clawed their way up the corporate ladder.  No offence to anyone who identifies that way – I admit is describes me.

If we read a little further in the Gospel we would hear Thomas asking who would we know the  way.  Perhaps that is what I love about Thomas response.  He says what I am sure the rest of the Disciples where thinking.  “We don’t know the way!”  How are we supposed to find this place where Jesus tells them there are many dwellings?  Jesus tells them that they do know.  It is that place where the Love of God is present.  That the Love that became incarnate in the flesh of Jesus has shown them the way.  It is a place that we are invited to create here too.  Not waiting until we reach some heavenly place in the clouds but create a society her and now where no one is unhomed.

I give thanks that Geoff has found that way to the place where there is not a housing shortage.  I know that Geoff is a beloved child of God.  I frequently saw that love reflected in him.  Let me tell a few stories of that showed Geoff’s uncanny ability to call me back to the Love that is our God.

As I said it is hard to remember a time when Geoff was not hanging out around the church.  Frequently sleeping in the 15th street porch.  But even if he was not on the grounds he had an uncanny ability to know when I was going to show up – even if it was simply to drop off communion bread for the next day.  By some miraculous sixth sense Geoff knew when I was coming down to the church – I swear he had a tracking device implanted on my person.  And I know I am not the only person at St. Paul’s who found that to be true.

I would show up and next thing I know there would be Geoff.  For many years he never called my by name – that was a more recent thing.  I would come to the church and would hear “Hey man”.  I knew it was Geoff without looking.  I would respond with “Hi Geoff.  How are you today?”  He would respond sometimes with “OK” or he would ask to use the bathroom or to get a sack lunch.

Geoff also seemed to know when I was going to be here for a longer period of time – such as when I would be down here to work on an upcoming sermon.  Then I would invite him in to get out of the weather and to be in a pace of sanctuary for as long as I was going to be in the building.

When I was in seminary I was enrolled in a hybrid distance learning program which meant that for the fall and spring semesters my learning was on-line.  I did all of my class time and all of my writing and exams in the office up in the balcony.  I was here every evening after my day job from about 4 until 7 or 8 in the evening.  Geoff was always here when I arrived and would usually stay downstairs while I worked upstairs. Sometimes he would leave before I did other times he would leave when I did.

Most days I stopped for a snack to have while I was studying and I would bring something for Geoff too.  As you might guess around midterms and finals I was here for longer periods – until 8 or 9 or later.  One evening Geoff met me at the door as usual when I arrived.  He came in and had a snack and after awhile I heard the door open and close.  A little while latter I hear Geoff’s knock – I recognized Geoff’s knock over other people - so I went down to let him in.  He followed me up the stairs and handed me a 7-11 subway sandwich that he had purchased for me.  He held is out and said “hey man- you must be hungry”.  Then he left again.

On Sermon Saturdays Geoff would sometimes come up and sit in the office while I wrote.  I think he liked that I listen to organ music while I write.  One day he came up when I was not listening to music and asked, “Hey man – are you going to play some tunes?”  So, I restated the internet and streamed organ music for Geoff.

Geoff came to trust me.  He started calling me by my name – instead of “Hay man” it became “Hay Rik” He would shadow me around the church and help the best he could.  After midweek services he would frequently help close up the church.   Geoff attended just about every service here at St. Paul’s and almost every concert too. 

Many people at St. Paul’s tried over the years to find ways to get Geoff on some sort of benefits but those efforts where stonewalled by Geoff.  He was not letting any of us in that close. Geoff did allow us to start storing clothes for him in a tote in the parish hall.  Our parishioners Doug and Mark would take the dirty clothes home and wash them so Geoff always had a clean set to change into.  Goeff would also allow Doug, a nurse, to look at his bad legs and his wounds and clean and dress any injuries or ulcerations. 

I saw God’s love shine in Goeff when he trusted me enough to reach out and hug me during the peace or sometimes just when he walked in the door.  I sometimes think he was sent by the holy spirit to remind me of God’s love when I needed to see and experience it from what many would call an unlikely source. 

I will always have a special place in my heart for Geoff.  Last Holy Saturday – the day before Easter, I was literally hit by a pick-up truck crossing J street.  As would be expected a small crowd gathered around me as I sat in the intersection bloody from landing on my head.  As I looked around Geoff urgently came up to me and reached down to help me stand up.  The concern in his face was palpable.  In Geoff’s face I saw the love that created me.  In Geoff’s face I saw the promise that we are all beloved children of God.

When we did ashes to go last Wednesday I heard from people that work in this neighborhood stories about Geoff.  Stories.  I heard how he interacted with folks who work at the AGs office and the folks that worked in the security office for the convention center and memorial auditorium.  It was heartwarming to hear stories about their interactions with Geoff.  I know that the safe space for unhomed youth group that meets on Tuesdays in our parish hall had a soft spot for Geoff and fed him – even though he was obviously outside of the age range that they normally serve.

We are peculiar people in the church.  Today’s service is an Easter liturgy.  We are here to remember Geoff and to give thanks that he is finally housed.  He is finally in a place where he doesn’t have to worry about being beaten up or robbed.  He is finally in a place where I will not need to buy him another sleeping bag or pair of shoes. Geoff, the beloved child of God has followed Jesus to that place with many dwelling places – a place where there is no housing shortage.  A place were there is no shortage of available bathrooms.  Geoff has been welcomed into the creators loving embrace.  Geoff now knows for certain that he is loved.

The Apostle Paul said “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

We are here to mourn that Geoff is no longer in our lives.  We are also here to give thanks that nothing that happened to Geoff on this side of the veil, nothing that Geoff ever did has separated him from the love that is our God.  We are here to give thanks that Geoff truly is in that place where pain and sorrow are no more, neither sighing.  Geoff is in that mansion that was made for us from the time of creation.  Geoff is now residing in the love that is God.


Sunday, January 12, 2020

Baptism Calls us to Ministry

Sermon for the First Sunday after EpiphanySt. Paul’s Sacramento The Baptism of our Lord

January 12, 2020

Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”

Today we are celebrating the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist.  We have jumped forward from Jesus as a baby and a small child to Jesus as an adult – scholars say he was likely in his late 20’s.  In our Gospel narrative, during the Christmas season, Jesus birth was announced to the Shepherds, the wise men and women from “the east”, likely Persia, have presented kingly gifts. After that Joseph, Mary and Jesus flee from the wrath of King Herod to Egypt where they live in exile until the death of King Herod.  And now we are at the River Jordon.  This is a turning point in our Gospel.  Jesus will leave the River Jordon and start his earthly ministry.  A ministry that will ultimately get the attention of the ruling elite.  A ministry that is about brining God’s Love to the Loveless.  But I don’t want to get ahead of myself.  We have several months to recall Jesus work in the world before we get to Lent and Easter.

John is a little surprised that Jesus has come to him.  He recognizes that Jesus is the one foretold by the prophets that has come to transform our world into God’s world.  Jesus as God incarnate certainly does not need to be baptized.  John has been preaching about forgiveness of sins and the coming of the one who is greater than he is.  Jesus comes to recognize John and to have John do what he was called to do.  To Baptize.  Jesus said it was “proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.”  Jesus is letting the story of the Prophets, the story of John’s calling to play out.  Jesus, who we say was without sin, is baptized by John, a baptism of repentance.  

This baptism is different than all the others that John has performed at the River Jordon.  As Jesus comes out of the River a strange thing happens.  The heavens open and the Spirit of God – looking like a dove – descends on Jesus.  And then the voice of heavens confirms that Jesus is different.  That Jesus is the one foretold.  “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”  God the father is well pleased with Jesus, who up to this point has not done much – well at least that was recorded in the Gospel. God is pleased.  Jesus has lived with the people and learned what humanity was like.  The good and the bad.  Jesus has seen and experienced it and God is pleased.  Jesus will go from here to do things that are miraculous.  It is important, however, to notice that it did not take a miracle for God to be please.  God is pleased because Jesus showed up.  God is pleased because Jesus is following what the prophets said. 

This is not all for Jesus sake.  He did not need baptism to forgive sins. He did not need the dove.  He did not the voice from heaven.  These things where all done for us.  To show us that Jesus is different.  To show us that God was indeed speaking through the prophets. 

Today is also a day that we can, and should, remember our own baptisms.  Because through our baptisms we have been called to continue the work that Jesus started.  Through our baptisms we are called to ministry.  Through our baptisms we are called into forgiveness so that we can be God’s change agents in our world.

David Lose, a preacher I follow said, “Baptism is about forgiveness. But forgiveness is not a mechanism but rather is a gift. We aren’t forgiven in Baptism in order that God can call us God’s children, but rather we are forgiven because we already are God’s children. So, yes, baptism is about forgiveness. But it’s also about so much more! It’s about love, identify, affirmation, commitment, promise, and still more. In fact, I’d argue that Baptism is first about all these other things and then, as by-product and gift, about forgiveness. That is, in Baptism God proclaims God’s great love for us; calls, names, and claims us as God’s beloved children; gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit;…and then, because of God’s love for us, God also promises to forgive, renew, and restore us at all times.

Which is why I think that what ought to surprise us […] is not that Jesus is baptized like we are, but rather that we get to be baptized – and therefore named as beloved child – just like Jesus is.[1]

We are children of God.  Whether you saw it or not that spirit of God came upon you at your baptism.  Whether you heard it or not the heavens opened up and God said that God was well pleased.  In our baptisms we are called out to continue Jesus ministry.

In our baptism we are called to see the world through the eyes of justice and love.  Through our baptisms we are called to be prophets that call out the iniquities in our world – iniquities that cause people to be seen as less than human.  We are called to welcome all of God’s beloved children into our world – and to change the world into one that brings God’s dream of love into our world. 

I know that this all sounds a bit too simplistic.  Just look at the world around us.  We have ever increasing homelessness in our communities.  We have greater income disparity in this nation than we have ever had.  We have increased international tensions that this past week looked like they could have led to all out war.  What can we do to change that. 

I sometimes despair about being an agent of God.  An agent that is supposed to change the world and usher is a world of peace and love.  It is all too much.  The endless hate that we read about in the news and in social media.  The increased ethnic tension in our world.  Climate change and environmental destruction.  But God continually reaches into my soul and pulls me through the despair into joy. Pulls be from inaction to action. 

I am not delusional that I will be able to make an immediate worldwide change by myself.  But I am able to make changes to my world.  I can be in relationship with those that society treats as outcasts.  I can open up the church during the week for prayer, fellowship, and sanctuary.  I can treat all people as God’s beloved children.  I can support, through my giving, both in money and in my time, organizations that are making a difference.  And I can pray. 

Pray that the holy spirit that moves in my life and calls me will be able to enter into the hearts of those who are perpetuating the policies that tear down.  Enter into their hearts so that we can transform the world into that world of Love that God dreams about.  That dream of God that our world will finally get it and turn around – repent – and welcome all of God’s children into relationship.This is not magical thinking.  Jesus’ baptism by John marked the beginning of Jesus earthly ministry that called society to change.  Our baptism also calls us into the same ministry. 

Several years ago I was at the River Jordon.  It is still a powerful place of ministry.  It is a thin spot where God’s presence is palpable.  It is palpable in the diversity of people who are drawn to that place.  There is an amazing cross section from all over the world that come to be baptized in the River Jordon, or to renew their baptisms.  It is a place where we can witness God calling the diversity that is creation into relationship.

Joy Moore, a professor at Luther Seminary said “Baptism signals a journey that begins at a fork in the road where one path is chosen and another is rejected. It is our surrender to God’s righteousness that is not merely individual moral conduct but a focus on relationships restored.

Treating one another rightly restores relationships. God’s intention remains to draw from every nation, tribe, and tongue a people who demonstrate the righteousness of God’s reign.”[2]

Today, a day set aside to remember Jesus’ baptism in the River Jordon, is also a day to remember our baptisms.  A day to remember that through our baptisms we are called to restore relationships. To restore our relationship with God.  To restore our relationships with all of God’s beloved children. 

We are called to change the world.  To show through our actions that we love God and love all of God’s creation.  It is not easy.  Some of God’s children make it difficult to love them.  It is hard to love those we see as creating a world that is the opposite of what God dreams we could create.  In those cases we need to call out the actions that separate our world from God – and to pray.  Pray for us and those who we see are making choices that do not bring about God’s dream.  Pray that their hearts will be changed.  Changed by the letting the holy spirit into their hearts.

It is not all bad news.  There is good in this world.  Unfortunately, the bad news seems to get the headlines.  But I see the good all the time.  I see it in the relationship that are built in this place.  I see it in the people who come in here during the weak for a little sanctuary and to worship god.  I see it at St. Matthew’s where they are, once again, dismantling their worship space to welcome our brothers and sisters into a warm place of sanctuary for a week.  To provide a hot dinner and a safe place to sleep out of the winter weather.  I see it in the work of Sister Libby and the Mercy Pedalers who ride through town and offer God’s love to the homeless on our streets.

We are called in our baptisms into ministry.  It is not ordination as a deacon or priest that calls us into our primary ministry.  It is our baptism.  A baptism that calls us, as Joy Moore said, to choose that fork in the road.  To choose the path that brings God’s dream into our world.  To choose the path that creates relationship.  To choose the path that sees that Dove descending upon our souls and hear God say to us “You are my beloved child, the beloved, with whom I am well pleased.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Christmas in a Minor Key

Sermon for Christmas Day 2019
St. Paul’s Sacramento

[In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.]

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for see-- I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,

"Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favors!"

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us." So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Merry Christmas!

This morning we gather to remember the birth of Christ.  The celebration of the Love that came to us in human form on Christmas day.  A love that came to us not as an avenging angel but as a vulnerable little baby.  We are a peculiar people in the church.  We start our celebration of Christmas today and continue for the next twelve days.  Unlike the Christmas season at the local Costco where the season of Christmas began with the marketing of Christmas decorations and special gift packs of candy and other temptations before Halloween.  And now the Christmas decorations are replaced with valentine’s day themed items with the remaining Christmas items deeply discounted for quick sale. I am sure the neighbors wonder if the lights and tree are ever coming down by about January 2nd!

Today we gather to wonder, as the shepherd did, at the birth of God.  We gather to hear again the story and to sing the songs that celebrate the baby that did remarkable things – the baby that continues to call us into vulnerability – continues to call us to open our hearts with love to all of God’s beloved children.  To celebrate that the light that came at Christmas will dispel the darkness in our world.

Christmas is a season filled with traditions.  In my household those include the making of fudge, and cookies, the putting out of several manger scenes, and the decoration of our tree.  Christmas Eve I always listen to the broadcast from Kings College of the nine lessons and carols.  It is a time when many people visit with neighbors at parties.  It is a season where we are told that we are to be merry and to make merry.

In our house when we finished decorating the Christmas tree we sat down and admired the beauty.  Just then the Vince Guaraldi song “Christmas Time is Here” came on the stereo.[1]  You know the one – it starts out

Christmas time is here
Happiness and cheer
Fun for all that children call
Their favorite time of the year

Jon turned to me and said this song encapsulated how he felt about Christmas.  It is happiness in a minor key.  It is happiness tinged with remembrance – remembering both the joys of Christmas and the sadness of remembering those we see no longer.  This feeling of Joy expressed in a minor key was especially poignant as we had just completed decorating the tree.

Decorating the tree in our home is a practice of remembering.  We collect ornaments when we travel so we remember the joys of our various vacations throughout the years.  We remembered seeing Monet’s water gardens at Giverny as we hung ornaments of Monet and his wife on the tree. 

We also remember people.  We comment on the ornaments given to us by friends and neighbors over the years.  We also remember friends and family who, in the words of the bidding prayer from the service of lessons and carols that

“we remember all those who rejoice with us,
but upon another shore and in a greater light,
that multitude which no one can number,
whose hope was in the Word made flesh,
and with whom, in this Lord Jesus, we for evermore are one.”

In particular this year we remembered our mothers and their traditions as we hung ornaments and put out decorations that they gave us, and those we inherited from them.  We remembered my Godfather as we hung owl and crèche ornaments that were gifts over the years.  We remembered our good friend Gordon who died last year just before Christmas as we found and hung ornaments he had given us.

It is not just Vince that wrote Christmas songs in a minor key.  Many of my favorite carols I realized are composed in a minor key.  “What Child is this?”, “I wonder as I wander”, the Coventry Carol, the carol of the bells, just to name a few.  The Joy of Christmas expressed in a minor key.  I know many people that feel that way about Christmas – the enforced joy is too much.  There are too many memories that make this time of year hard for some people.  The message of the angels is that it really is ok for Christmas to invoke sad memories along with the happy ones. 

There are also God’s beloved children who are unable to experience much of the joy of Christmas.  Our neighbors who are homeless do not have the luxury of putting up a tree or baking Christmas goodies.  Instead they have to cope with the cold and rain that frequently are part of this season.  For some they will be able to have a hot dinner tonight at our cathedral on 27th and Capital.  For some Sister Libby and her group Mercy Pedaler’s gave out Christmas gifts to those who have no home this week. 

There is joy in this time of year.  We read about, and see in the news, people who give generously so those with little can have a celebration.  There are food drives and toy drives that result in amazingly generous acts of kindness.  There is a concerted effort by many charities to find ways to lift up whose who have little.  It is a season when reconciliations can happen, and estrangements can be softened – if not eliminated. 

It is a time of year where we are encouraged to remember the love that came down on Christmas.  A love that we remember throughout the year calling us into ministries.  Ministries  to heal the sick, to cloth the naked, to visit those who are sick and in prison.  Ministry that calls us to welcome to our tables those who society treats as outcasts. 

The birth of Jesus was in a minor key.  There is so much about the birth that was not what we would call as joyous.  Mary was an unwed mother – which could have resulted in severe punishment.  Jesus was born while Mary and Joseph were traveling away from home to be counted in a census so the emperor could tax the conquered peoples.  They could not find an inn so had to take shelter in a cave to give birth to Jesus.  The Glory of Jesus birth was announced not to the kings and religious authorities but to the shepherds – to the outcasts.

The birth of Jesus also came with Joy.  The joy of the Glory of the Lord shining forth.  The Joy that the Love that cannot be killed came to us.  The joy that the light will overtake the darkness.

Christmas is a time to look around us and perhaps glimpse what the shepherds saw on that first Christmas – to see the glory of the Lord shining among us.  To experience the love that came to humanity as a small child.  It hear the message of God.  A message of joy and wonder.  To hear the call for us to continue showing God’s love in our hurting world.  A call to continue expressing the generosity and joy of Christmas throughout the year.

We are called to remember that they love that came down calls us continually into relationship – both with God and with each other.  Ruth Meyers – my Liturgics professor at our seminary in Berkeley in her Christmas message said,

“The love that Jesus embodies calls us into relationship, not only with the triune God but also with one another and with the world. Jesus built relationships throughout his earthly ministry, with the disciples he called, with the women and men who followed him, with those he taught and healed, with those he fed and those who fed him. When Jesus sent out his disciples, he charged them to enter a house and stay there, an opportunity to form deep relationship over meals and conversation. On the cross as he was dying, Jesus commended his mother and the disciple whom he loved to one another (John 19:26-27), knitting them together in a new relationship.

Jesus’ invitation to relationship calls us beyond ourselves, into relationships …, with friends and family, with colleagues, with members of our congregations, and much, much more. The love that Jesus offers us and the love that we have for one another sends us into the world, to feed the hungry and clothe the naked, to visit the sick and those in prison, to work for justice and peace, to care for creation.[2]

We are invited during Christmas to remember the baby Jesus – the love that was born to an unwed mother, in a cave with the animals.  A love that was announced to outcasts.  A love that calls us to continue to see the Glory of the Lord shining forth in the unexpected places.  We are called to follow Mary’s example and to ponder all of these things.  To see the glory of the lord shining forth in both major and minor keys.  To experience the love that came down on Christmas and continues to call us into that love. We are called to see all that is going on around us.  To see all these things and to, like Mary, treasure them and pondered them in our hearts.  To ponder and then to go out and be Christs hands, feet and heart in our world.  Today we welcome the birth of the light that will extinguish the darkness.