The Bishop’s Blog

From Weeping To Wonder: Bishop’s Easter Sermon

The Russian Orthodox have a wonderful Easter tradition. After the church service (which is far longer than this one), they gather for dinner and every person who comes to the dinner has to tell a joke. That is because Easter is a great and joyful event. Jesus has triumphed over evil. Laughter is a sign of his victory and the Russian Orthodox believe laughter drives the devil out of the house. So let’s borrow from that tradition and begin this sermon with an Easter joke – one that is also a true story.

One Easter morning at another church the priest invited the children to gather around him and he asked this question: “What is Easter?” Hands shot up. The first child said, “Easter is when we get chocolate bunnies.” The priest said, “True, but that is not what Easter is really all about.” The next child said, “Easter is when the bunny leaves us eggs.” The priest acknowledged her but was getting frustrated. He called on another child who said, “Easter is when Jesus died on the cross for us.” “No,” said the priest, “But thank you, we are headed in the right direction.” Finally a child said, “Easter is when Jesus came out of the tomb!” The priest was so happy someone got it. But then she added, “And if he sees his shadow and goes back in the tomb, we get six more weeks of winter.”O

The devil has just left the church.

Let’s reflect on Easter. I’ll base these reflections on Scripture but let’s put them in the context of what Franciscan Richard Rohr calls the “first source of revelation” which is nature itself.

You all know I spend a lot of time on the Mass Pike – a lot of time. For my first four years as bishop, I spent most of that time doing one of four things: taking phone meetings, listening to NPR, listening to the music of Bruce Springsteen, or thinking about the next place I was going to and what I needed to do there. But then one day, a few months ago, I noticed the sky. This is easy to do on the Pike since there is nothing blocking it in front of you as you drive along.


Cloud formations are amazing! They are moving. They have layers upon layers, depth upon depth. And, they are of infinite variety, as the time of day or the weather changes. As I look at that sky, I am filled with a sense of wonder – wonder at God’s creation. Now don’t worry. I can still see the road while seeing the sky. And I still do one of the four things mentioned above. But more and more, I just want to check in on God’s sky, and wonder with it. What do you see in creation that captures your imagination? What leads your soul to awe and wonder?

Now, we go to the second source of revelation – Scripture. The readings for Holy Week take us on a journey from weeping….to wonder. Ponder that with me.

The weeping begins before we ever get to the cross. In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus himself weeps over Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. After the arrest of Jesus, Peter denies knowing Jesus three times; when the cock grows, he weeps. As Simon Cyrene carries the cross, behind Jesus, women follow him “wailing.” And in John’s Gospel, when Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb early Sunday morning, the body of Jesus is not there, and she weeps.

The Holy Week story begins in weeping but it does not end there. The discovery of the empty tomb by grieving women turns to wonder. It is a wonder that is both exciting and frightening. Mark’s Gospel is so clear about this. A young man in a white robe at the empty tomb tells the women that Jesus is not here. He has been raised. They are given instructions to, “go tell, he will see you in Galilee.” The women “fled, for terror and amazement had seized them. And they said nothing to nobody, because they were afraid.” Mark’s Gospel ends with that sense of wonder.

But the other gospels take the wonder further. Let’s look at John’s gospel. Mary Magdalene knows the tomb is empty but still she weeps because she fears the body has been stolen. A gardener asks her why she is crying. When she verbalizes her fear, the gardener says her name, “Mary!” She knows at that moment that the gardener is the risen Lord. Mary embraces him; but he won’t let her cling. Jesus has to move on – throughout all the world.

The late theologian, Marcus Borg, puts it so well:

“The tomb could not hold him. He is loose in the world. He is still here. He is still recruiting for the kingdom of God.”

I invite you to wonder about this during these holiest of days. The Risen Savior is on the loose and he knows all our names.

Now, I know this video message is getting long, and you have so much to do to prepare for these Holy Days. But let me bring out one more dimension of weeping and wondering. Don’t worry; I’m bringing this reflection home.

In John’s Gospel, the weeping and the wondering all happen in a garden. In the opening of John’s Gospel, he invites us to reflect on what happened “in the beginning,” in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve – you know the story. Why do they leave the garden? They are banished in shame and tears after the sin of eating the forbidden fruit.

Adam and Eve Banished from Paradise, c.1427 (fresco) (detail) Brancacci Chapel, Santa Maria del Carmine, Florence, Italy

Another garden – Gethsemane – is where Jesus prays on the last night of his life, as the disciples sleep, according to Mathew, Mark and Luke. Why does Jesus leave that Garden? He was “seized” and bound by the Temple police as the disciples deserted him in their fear.

Now to the last garden – the garden that contained the tomb which could not hold Jesus. If the Garden of Eden was the beginning of Creation, this garden is the beginning of the New Creation. If the Garden of Gethsemane was a place where the disciples slept and deserted Jesus, the Garden of the New Creation finds Mary awake – she recognizes the presence of the Risen Christ in the gardener. Jesus does not leave this Garden “seized” and in the hands of the violent – but free to appear anywhere and anytime bringing God’s imagination. Mary does not desert Jesus – she wants to cling to him. She leaves the garden not in shame and fear but with wonder and a mission.

May we leave this Easter with wonder and a mission. May we leave ready to go to those who weep – the poor, the oppressed, the marginalized, the refugees, the addicted, and the people in our everyday lives who are weighed down in burdens – ready to wonder what God’s New Creation might look like for them and for us. May we go forth committed to the New Creation in which our endangered earth demands respect and care. May we go forth waking ourselves up to the wonder of cloud formations and to all the grace that comes into our lives everyday if we but look.

I can’t end this sermon without quoting St. Paul about the difference the Resurrection of Jesus makes in our lives. I know this sermon is getting long but I promise you I’m bringing it home.

All preachers have a “go to” line. After all these years, you know mine is “Jesus’ mission of mercy, compassion and hope.” St. Paul had a “go to” phrase. It was …”but now.” As in Ephesians – “For once you were in darkness, BUT NOW in the Lord you ARE light.” Later in Ephesians: “Before you were far from God, BUT NOW you have been brought near by Christ.” Paul writes “but now” 27 times in his epistles.

The Risen Jesus changes things. He transforms weeping to wonder. You have met Jesus. What is your “but now?” How is your life different in Christ?

Let me offer you some possibilities:

  • I was anxiety ridden. BUT NOW I keep hearing Jesus with his “go to” line: Be Not Afraid. I am with you.
  • I was addicted to (fill in the blank). BUT NOW I have been set free.
  • I used to think of people in stereotypes. BUT NOW I recognize the dignity of every human being.
  • I used to keep whatever I earned. BUT NOW I live generously.
  • I used to complain a lot. BUT NOW I am grateful.
  • I used to be cynical BUT NOW I live in hope.

Easter tells us that Jesus’ mission of mercy, compassion and hope is unkillable. Commit to the Jesus Movement that is out to change the weeping of this world into the wonderful dream God has for it.



Holy Week: Changing Humanity’s Mind About God

Throughout Holy Week, I invite you to see the awesome strength of love unfold in the life of Jesus – a love that is stronger than the violence and the powers of this world, a love that is stronger than death, a love that includes and does not exclude, a love that reconciles and heals, a love that changes the lives of you and me.  Notice too, during this week, how Jesus’ sacrifice is not intended to change God’s mind about humanity. It is about changing humanity’s mind about God.

Palm Sunday — On this day, as Jesus enters Jerusalem humbly on a donkey, Pontius Pilate enters in grand style with his horses and heavily armed troops. Pilate is there to “keep the peace” at a time when the city is overflowing with those who are gathering for the Passover. He will keep that peace by crucifying anyone who might oppose the Roman Empire. Two parades – one offers a new way of living and creating a world of mercy, compassion and hope, and another parade celebrating power for some and oppression for most.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday — During these days Jesus teaches in the Temple. Perhaps the whole key to the drama of Holy Week and why Jesus becomes so dangerous to the Roman authorities and the Temple leadership lies in the “riot in the Temple.” Many theologians have written insightfully about this event. One book I recommend highly is Rabbi Jesus by Bruce Chilton. The money changers had replaced the area of the Temple where the Gentiles could worship. That is why Jesus screams, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations, but you have made it a den of robbers!” On an even deeper level, Jesus was challenging the whole “sacrificial system” of the Temple which was intended to appease a God who did not need appeasing. It avoided the divine calls of their own prophets down through the centuries who proclaimed, “Is this not the fast I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?”

Maundy Thursday  Could it be at the Last Supper, as Jesus gave away his Body and his Blood, he was bringing about a great escape? Oh yes, Jesus really died the next day, but before Pilate and his executioners killed him, he had already given himself away. Jesus had given himself to us – Body and Blood. His mission would continue to live even as he died because he made us the Body of Christ; we are the ones who continue to do what he did. Pilate could not kill the mission of Jesus.

Good Friday — Theologies of the Cross have many dimensions. One dimension I heard in a sermon by The Rev. John Osgood several years ago. He said “the reason we spend hours and hours praying before the Cross, is to instill in us that when we see the Cross we see suffering. That means when we see suffering, we will see the Cross.” In other words, in the suffering of this world, we will see Christ present. We will see Christ; the one who did not run from the cross but embraced it so there will be no place that is ever God-forsaken.

Easter — Easter is the life changing reality that with God nothing is impossible. As our Presiding Bishop has said “The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is about the eternity of hope.” It is the eternal “Yes!” of God to all that is and will be. Love is stronger than death. This truth – this gift of life that never ends – allows us to live and love in freedom. We open ourselves to new possibilities, to new hope, to new ways of living. And, isn’t that Resurrection – a new way of living?

We can share the resurrection when we ask the hurting people of this world the same question the risen One asked Mary Magdalene: “why are you weeping?”

  • Resurrection begins when we ask immigrants and refugees, “Why are you weeping?”
  • Resurrection begins when we ask the families who have lost loved ones to gun violence, “Why are you weeping?”
  • Resurrection begins when we ask our earth dying of global warming, “Why are you weeping?”
  • Resurrection begins when we ask people of color, “Why are you weeping?”
  • Resurrection begins when we ask transgender persons, “Why are you weeping?”


The Great 50 Days

Remember Easter is not a day but a whole season. It seems to me that we give an ample effort to the holy season of Lent and to the great feast of Christ’s passage from death to new life.  We don’t tend to plan the Easter season with equal energy or passion.  What might mark these days with great joy in your congregation? How might your prayer deepen with gratitude for the mystery of Easter? We can start with Easter 2.

Momentum Sunday

Easter 2 is for the survivors – the remnant who never miss a Eucharist no matter how “high” or “low” the celebration.  What if we kept the momentum of the resurrection in our life together and made Easter 2 a joyful, engaging event?  It’s good liturgy and it’s good for the mission of Christ’s Church, so I encourage you to transform “Low Sunday” into “Momentum Sunday.” Bring the choir back. Keep the liturgy highly spirited. Consider having an adult education class on Sunday morning about the basics of prayer and the varieties of prayer for those who might have come to church on Easter for the first time in a long time.

  • “How to Pray” or “Prayer 101”
  • “The Five Bible Stories Everyone Should Know”
  • “Why the Church Makes a Difference in the World.”

Have ministry tables in the church hall to provide information about the many things your church does. Don’t slow down when the Resurrection invites us all to New Life in Christ. Expect them to return.

My prayers are with all our congregations, with all our ministers – lay and ordained – as we prepare to enact the most sacred mysteries of our faith. Be as certain as I am that we who have died with Christ will be raised with him in glory. This is our faith. This is our most precious truth.


Sad News from Kumasi, Ghana

March 27, 2017


My friends,
It is with great sadness that I inform you of the sudden death of Maggie Addai, Superintendent of the Mampong Babies’ Home, Kumasi, Ghana. Maggie collapsed at the dinner celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Babies’ Home. This terrible shock leaves family, friends and co-workers lost in grief and longing for God’s peace. I know you will pray for them. I know the bond we have with the Church in Ghana is strong. I know you will continue to support the babies who will never know Maggie’s love and care.


 In Proverbs we hear about the “virtuous woman.” Maggie’s spiritual and professional leadership of the Babies’ Home is echoed in this biblical description.


She opens her hand to the poor,
and reaches out her hands to the needy.

She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household,
and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Proverbs 31: 20, 26-27

Mission to Ghana in 2016: Sue Schneider, Annie Ryder, Dindy Dalton Anderson, Bishop Sarfo, Collen Fisher, Maggie and Susan Franz.

Maggie is a saint in our time – a tireless, faith-filled servant of the Word of God. Those of you who knew her, because of your mission visits or generous fund-raising, know that she was special – that Maggie was responding to a call from God. The Rev. Annie Ryder, her mission companion and dear friend for many years, recognized that Maggie was blessed by God for this work. “I have never known anyone who was as faithful in prayer, as certain of God’s will in her life, and as generous with her time as was Maggie.  She gave all the credit for her amazing works to the Glory of God.”

Maggie with John Miller and Annie during her visit to the US in 2015.

Deacon Jane Griesbach and the Rev. Betsy Fowle on mission at the Babies’ Home.

The Rev. Betsy Fisher, Maggie and me at a welcome party hosted by Christ Trinity Church, Sheffield.

We will never forget Maggie’s work for God’s children, the depth of her faith, nor the way we felt in her presence. Today, we join the people of Kumasi as we say, “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all (Proverbs 31:29).”


Set Free By Jesus

Woman at the Well, African Mafa

The following sermon was given on the 3rd Sunday of Lent at St. John’s, Wiiliamstown.

John’s gospel is filled with powerful one-liners.

  • “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”
  • “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.”
  • “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”

The key line in today’s gospel is, “It was about noon.” There are a couple of reasons why. Let’s explore them.

In the summer of 2015, I had the great blessing to be among a group of bishops who brought college students to North Carolina to study the Civil Rights Movement and to visit places where liberating history was made – places like Greensboro and Selma. Bishop Michael Curry, now our Presiding Bishop, was the bishop of North Carolina at that time and he was our gracious host. The schedule was very full and one day I did not have time for my early morning run. The only free time was lunch – at noon. So, I ran in the 90 degree heat. At the end of my run I was drenched and breathing in gasps. Michael Curry saw me, gave me a quizzical look and said, “Brother, do you know you are in North Carolina…at noon…in July?”

Why was the Samaritan woman, carrying a large bucket, coming to draw water from a well at noon time in the Middle East? In the culture of that time, women would have the responsibility of getting water for the family, but they would have done it early in the morning to avoid the midday heat. This woman goes at noon to avoid the other women. She has been married five times and is now living with someone not her husband. Now we don’t know if her husbands died or abandoned her. We do know that in those times a woman was sure to live in poverty unless she was in relationship with a man. The Samaritan woman does not want to be with others because she is ashamed and/or marginalized. Hence, she goes at a time when no one will be at the well. But at the end of her encounter with Jesus, her life will be transformed. This woman who was avoiding others will go to the city and tell everyone she meets about Jesus. She will go from isolation to community. She will go from silence to proclamation. The Bible does not tell us her name, but the Eastern Orthodox gave her one. They revere her as an Apostle and call her Photini which means “Enlighted One.” The Eastern Orthodox point out that up until this moment in John’s Gospel, all the apostles were bringing in one person each to see Jesus. Andrew went and got Peter. Philip went and got Nathaniel. But Photini, she got a whole city to follow Jesus.

How did that happen? What changed her?

Clearly it was the encounter with Jesus but the very fact that it happened at all tells us something about Jesus. Jesus seeks out those who are feeling lost. Let me give you an example from Mark’s Gospel. Now in preaching you are not supposed to draw examples from different gospels than the one you are preaching on, so don’t tell the bishop. In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus is constantly traveling. At least 17 different cities are mentioned by name. This one day he goes “to the other side of the sea” to the country of the Gerasenes. A man possessed by an unclean spirit, living among the tombs, comes running out. He shouts out at Jesus. In a highly dramatic scene Jesus throws the unclean spirit out of him and heals him. Jesus sends him out of the tombs and tells him “Go home to your friends.” He restores the outcast to his community. Then Jesus gets back into the boat and goes back across the sea.

Now I have been reading these stories about Jesus for a very long time. And I never noticed until this year that Jesus went all the way across the Sea of Galilee and back for one suffering person. He did not stay there and launch a preaching mission to the people of the Gerasenes. The suffering man didn’t just happen to be on Jesus’ travel route to somewhere else. Jesus intentionally made the trip for one person in pain.

Before he goes to the well in the city of Sychar, he is in Judea at a river where people are getting baptized. Jesus had to walk about 30 miles from that river where he had “abundant water” according to our text, to a desert town where water was scarce. The Bible is clear. When Jesus got to the well, “about noon,” he was “tired out by his journey.” But he did it for one person in need. You see Jesus takes his own story to heart about the Good Shepherd who leaves the 99 to pursue the one who is lost. And on those days when we feel lost, Jesus will find us. Just as Psalm 23 says “even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death”…”goodness and mercy shall pursue me, shall chase after me, shall hunt me down.”

At the well, Jesus meets a woman defined by labels. “Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.” She is defined by her history of the five husbands and her present situation. Jesus breaks through all that. He essentially tells her his place of worship is not better than her place of worship. And he gives her the gift of acceptance. Jesus knows her story and accepts her for who she is. And this is what causes her to believe in him as the savior. Because he just became her savior. With no spectacular miracles. No water changed into wine. No feeding 5000 people with a few fish and loaves. Just acceptance of her as a person – that’s what salvation looks like. Maybe it could look like that for you and me.

My friend Rob Hirschfeld, for many years the rector of Grace, Amherst and now the bishop of New Hampshire, has a new book out called, Beyond Fear and Shame: From Adam to Christ. I highly recommend it. Reflecting on the book recently Rob said: “I find that the growing edge of our evangelism is to help people with their sense of shame, which I think is an almost universal experience. It can be debilitating and can really shackle us. I don’t think that is what God wants for us.” And “I define shame as that experience of not only having done something wrong, or that is perceived as wrong, but actually being something wrong. It is an existential emotion. It really gets to the core of our being.” And “I think Jesus is on a mission to get us beyond fear and shame.”

The Samaritan woman (or Photini, the enlightened one) leaves her water jar and goes back to the city, restored to the community. One commentator says in leaving the water jar behind, she is leaving her life of abandonment, rejection, marginalization and shame. She is set free by Jesus.

Now I promised you a few minutes ago, at the start of this sermon, there were a couple of reasons why “at about noon” was the key line in this gospel passage.  Here is another. There is only one other place in John’s Gospel where something happens “at about noon.” John’s Gospel is 21 chapters long so you can read the whole gospel and find it. Or you can google it and you will find it in chapter 19 verse 14.At this point in the story Jesus has been arrested, interrogated by the High Priests and handed over to the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate. Pilate has Jesus flogged and mocked by the soldiers. “It was about noon” when Pilate condemns Jesus to death by crucifixion.

The Gospel writer John wants us to get the contrast. At about noon, condemnation of the Son of God by a human being. At the well, about noon, acceptance of a human being by God.

Not only is John, drawing the stark contrast, he is pointing us to the cross. As he does throughout his Gospel. So let’s reflect about what happens at the Cross. You might be thinking “if he does that, this sermon will end about noon.” No, I’m bringing it home. I promise.

You might have heard of the “Seven Last Words” that Jesus says from the Cross. They are scattered among the four gospels. John’s account has three of those “last words.” The very last one is “It is finished.” But before “it is finished” Jesus has two incredibly important things to tell us. He is pushing off death to get these messages to us.

He looks at his beloved disciple and at Mary, his mother. Jesus says to the disciple “Here is your mother.” And to his mother “woman, here is your son.” In doing that Jesus fulfills his promise that he will never leave us orphans. He has given us to each other to care for as family. We are brothers and sisters to each other. And to immigrants and to the 23 million refugees around the world. And to the poor who are already suffering from climate change. And to the factory workers who have lost their jobs to automation. And to women who are harassed and abused. And to Democrats and Republicans. Before Jesus says “it is finished”, he hands over his great mission of mercy, compassion and hope to us. He left us that mission as his last will and testament.

Before “it is finished” Jesus has one more “word.” It is “I thirst.” That seems ironic after the gospel passage we just heard “those who drink of the water that I give them will never be thirsty again.” As all things in John’s gospel, this is intentional. Remember Jesus has already given away his mission to us. And maybe the mission is the water.

But there might be one more reason. Scripture has so many layers of meaning. There is only one other place in the whole Bible, where we hear “I thirst.” The whole Bible. The Bible contains 73 books, according to our tradition. We really need Google to find that other “I thirst.” It is in Psalm 69. It is cried out by a person who is suffering but who goes on to say “I will praise the name of God…you who seek God, let your hearts revive. For the Lord hears the needy.” You see, Jesus fulfills Scripture. He dies alone so none of us will ever die alone. We will have God with us. In death and in life. God will be true to the Covenant. God will never desert us no matter what. Jesus needed to tell us that before “it is finished.”

Jesus is finished. But his God and our God is not. The mission of mercy and compassion and hope has been handed on to us. And just as God raised Jesus from the dead, God will keep raising us up. After death and before. Just as Photino was raised up in the midst of her life. We have a hymn with these words: “Let the servant church arise. A caring church that longs to be a partner in Christ’s sacrifice, and clothed in Christ’s humanity. “May we go with God. It is finished. It is beginning. Amen.


When Pilate was governor and Herod was king…

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog called “Desiring a Christ-Centered Life, Not a Trump-Centered Life.” Apparently it struck a nerve, as I received more responses (mostly positive) than any other blog I have written. I wrote “In a troubled time, the Church is made to call people to be our best selves, to live from God-filled souls, to imagine God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This blog will attempt to explore further what that means.

One of the best theology teachers I ever had is Michael Himes. He taught me at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, NY, and now teaches at Boston College. Michael once said, “This is the most important line in the entire Bible.”

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness (Luke 3:1-2).

Why is this the most important verse in the Bible? Michael said it shows that our faith is based in reality. Our faith is not based on “Once upon a time…” This is not a fairy tale. It is not an abstraction. Luke goes out of his way to tell us in this time and in this place, “when Tiberius Caesar was in the 15th year of his reign, Pilate was governor, Herod was king… the word of God came to John in the wilderness.”

We, too, have an incarnational faith. We live our transcendent faith in this time and in this place. We listen for the Word of God that comes to us in the wilderness of confusion, in the midst of anxiety and fear.

I have said that our mission is the same as it was before Donald Trump was elected president. It is to follow Jesus in his mission of mercy, compassion and hope. Or, in the words of our Presiding Bishop,

“We are the Jesus Movement that is out to change the world from the nightmare it is for so many into the dream God has for it.”

That has not changed, but because this is not an abstract faith, context matters. What does it look like now to be the Jesus Movement when Donald Trump is President, Charlie Baker is governor and Warren and Markey are senators?

Here is what it has looked like so far. Interfaith gatherings abound. When the nation seems to be coming apart, people of faith are coming together.

When the ERA failed to be ratified, the struggle against gender bias in the workplace and in government continued on the grass-roots level. Now, women are claiming their power and equality in our city streets.

Even as we seem to have forgotten that we are a nation of immigrants, voices cry out for compassion, herald the blessing of diversity and name the Church as sacred space for those who live in fear.

The Environmental Protection Agency is in the hands of one who doubts that human activities impact climate change. The institution established to protect “this fragile earth, our island home,” has been compromised. Yet…

LGBTQ persons continue to experience discrimination in spite of momentous gains. Transgender youth and adults are facing the most invasive assault on their privacy and dignity. But…

In March, 2016, meeting at a time of great political uncertainty, the House of Bishops said “the church is made for times like these.” We need to build on this activity, but do so from a place of deep prayer. The “political” activity of John the Baptist and Jesus is well-documented. Mark 6:17-20 tells the story of John’s arrest after protesting Herod’s marriage. In Luke 13:31-32, Jesus speaks out against Herod – “that fox” who will not stop him from healing and casting out demons. Like John and Jesus, we must walk in the wilderness with God. We are still listening for the Word of God to come to us in this time and in this place.

Long after the reigns of Emperor Tiberius, and Pontius Pilate and Herod and Annas and Caiaphas, Jesus mission of mercy and compassion and hope continued throughout history – beyond good times and bad – and we know it will until God’s Dream for the world is fulfilled.