This Lent, remember and go deeper.

Photo by Morgan Winston

In 1891 the famous preacher, Bishop Phillips Brooks, preached an Ash Wednesday sermon at All Saints in Worcester. His sermon was entitled, “The History of Sin.” I read the sermon and it is very good. It is what the title indicates and also about God’s forgiveness. But this year I’m choosing to preach on “A Very Partial History of Grace” in Lent 2022. Here’s why.

Lent is about “our mortal nature.” “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.” And it is about sin and repentance. Psalm 51 tells us: “I have been wicked from my birth, a sinner from my mother’s womb.”

Doesn’t it feel like we have been living through Lent for the last two years? We have remembered we are dust as 900,000 people died of COVID-19 in our country and we lived in fear of the disease. And we have been very aware that sin is all around us as well as within us. The sin of the unimaginable insurrection at our Capitol. The sin of racism which has been with us for hundreds of years. The sin of failure to address climate change. The sin of the invasion of Ukraine.

Maybe a way to address the lived Lent of this time is with an old/new approach. The Book of Common Prayer tells us that for the first Christians “Lent provided a time in which converts to the faith were prepared for Holy Baptism.” Tom Synan, Rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst, writes this:

“For these converts, I can’t imagine Lent was a sad time. Lent was an exciting and important time. Why? Because they were on their way to becoming Christians. They completely understood that transformation was theirs to have and by the end of the season they would be a new creation. Through the water of baptism their old selves would die and they would be raised to a new life of grace.”

The Rev. Thomas P. Synan

Perhaps, we could respond to the Lenten life of these two years by committing ourselves to a renewal of our baptism, to recommitting ourselves with the enthusiasm of those early Christians to following Jesus in his mission of mercy, compassion and hope that is out to change the world. Even in these challenging and difficult times. As my new favorite author, Greg Boyle S.J. writes: “St. Paul tells us to ‘put on Christ.’ Putting on Christ is the easy part. Never taking Him off is the hard part.”

In this “Very Partial History of Grace,” let’s look at two ways to do that.

The first is to remember. “Remember you are dust and to dust you will return,” states the Prayer Book. Jesus also asks us to remember. When the apostles were confused about things Jesus did, he would tell them, “You will understand if you remember about the loaves.” That is a reference to the Feeding of the 5000. 5000 people in a deserted place. At the end of the day they are hungry and the apostles want to send them away because all they have are five loaves and two fish. Jesus takes what they have, thanks God for it, blesses and breaks it, and gives it away. God multiplies the Grace and all 5000 are fed and there is food left over.

Jesus did that again and again. Remember the wedding feast at Cana. They run out of wine to the embarrassment of the bride and groom. Mary asks Jesus to do something about this. He orders the six stone water jars, each holding 20-30 gallons to be filled with water. Jesus blesses it and the water becomes wine. Six stone water jars holding 20-30 gallons each. Jesus gave them 120-180 gallons of wine. In September our youngest daughter is getting married. It is a big wedding. We have a large family and Grace and her fiancé have many friends. But Betsy and I are not ordering 180 gallons of wine!

Jesus, like his Father, creates more than we need. We don’t have just enough grace to get through the day – even in these troubled days. We have more than enough grace. And, at the end of our lives, we will have more life. Not because we earned it, but because we can’t use up all the life God has prepared for us.

Another “remember” from Jesus. Praying over bread Jesus says, “This is my Body. Given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me.” Given FOR YOU. Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk and author, had an experience of FOR YOU when he was out shopping in downtown Louisville Kentucky on March 18, 1958. He wrote:

“In Louisville, at the corner of 4th and Walnut, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all these people, that they were mine and I theirs. It was as if I suddenly saw the beauty of their hearts, the core of their reality as loved by God. And if only everyone could realize this! But it can’t be explained. There is no way to tell people that they are all walking around, shining like the sun.”

Thomas Merton

Or as Phillips Brooks writes, “the more you become radiated with the divinity of Christ, the more you are truly human.” This Lent, starting with ashes on our forehead, may we know we are radiant with Christ.

The second invitation for Lent this year is to go deeper – go deeper into the faith we already have. Here is an example from history, an example from the life of another Episcopalian, George Washington.

In 1777 in New Jersey, American soldiers encountered British troops. It was not a planned battle. The troops just happened to cross paths. A battle broke out and the American troops were forced to retreat quickly. As they did so, they left seven wounded soldiers on the battlefield. They assumed those soldiers would be taken prisoners. But to their horror, as the soldiers looked down from the high place they had fled to, the British soldiers massacred the wounded Americans. And they did so in the most brutal ways – smashing heads, stabbing them repeatedly with bayonets.

Word of the massacre spread quickly. The Americans wanted revenge. But immediately General Washington sent out orders to all American troops that all prisoners of war were to be treated humanely and with dignity. American soldiers were never to do what British soldiers had done on that terrible day in New Jersey.

Throughout the war the American soldiers obeyed that order from General Washington. There were numerous stories that resulted from the respectful treatment of prisoners. When the war ended, many freed British prisoners decided to stay in America, build homes and start families.

Maybe Washington himself wanted revenge, but he did not act on those feelings. He went deeper. He went into his soul and responded with dignity and honor. Washington gave those orders from a thoughtful, prayerful place of depth.

Let’s make this holy season of Lent a time to go deeper. Deeper into our God-given souls where grace is unlimited. Where we remember we are the beloved of God. And recommit ourselves to our baptism. Recommit ourselves to our new life in Christ. Recommit ourselves to the Jesus Movement that is out to change the world from the nightmare it is for so many into the dream God has for us.


Jesus knows all about this.

Photo Credit: Christopher Sikkema
Caption: The baptismal font at the Chapel of the Apostles, Sewanee

The following remarks were given by the Bishop at Winter Clergy Day.

It is always good to be with you. You inspire me. And it is my sincere hope we will be together in person for Holy Week’s Renewal of Vows and our clergy conference in May at the Bishop Harris Center. The Omicron numbers are going down dramatically and I am hopeful.

And I also know how unpredictable this virus can be. Back in July 2021 I wrote a column for our Abundant Times magazine which was published in the fall. Things were looking so good in July. I remember writing about resurrection and joyfully welcoming our people back to the church building. By the time it was published, Delta was on the rise and I sounded so tone deaf.

Two things can be true at the same time. We are suffering from the trauma of the last two years. There have been real losses in lives and in emotional, psychological distress. And we are so much better now than we were at this time last year.

There is a prayer we say at baptisms that seems perfect for this time of “both and”.

“Heavenly Father, we thank you that by water and the Holy Spirit you have bestowed upon these your servants the forgiveness of sin, and raised them to the new life of grace. Sustain them, O Lord, in your Holy Spirit. Give them an inquiring and discerning heart, the courage to will and to persevere, a spirit to know and love you, and the gift of joy and wonder in all your works. Amen.”

BCP p. 308

I think this prayer list holds the secret to our time. I’ll begin with the last one. “Give then the gift of joy and wonder in all your works.” Ever since most of our churches went back to in-person hybrid services, visitations have given me great joy. Yes, there are fewer people in church, but there is a depth and vitality to our worship – even while singing with masks on. It is so good to see each other and unite in common prayer. I’ve come to appreciate the little things like greeting people at the back of church. I was at Sts. James and Andrew in Greenfield this past Sunday.  I was grateful that people patiently waited in line to talk with me about faith and Springsteen and baseball. I will never take those conversations for granted ever again.

Where do you find joy now? I invite you to be intentional about finding joy and acknowledging it.

“Sustain them in your Holy Spirit.” In the past year I have read a number of books by the Jesuit priest, Greg Boyle. He has spent 40 years working with gangs in Los Angeles. I highly recommend Tattoos on the Heart, Barking at the Choir and The Whole Language. They are filled with powerful stories and great theology. A line that has become part of my prayer is this: “Christ protects me from nothing and sustains me in everything.”

Christ protects me from nothing. Stuff happens. Jesus himself was not protected from a brutal death. Many of us pray Compline on line. We pray in Psalm 91: “Because you have made the Lord your refuge…There shall no evil happen to you, neither shall any plague come near your dwelling.”

But the plague did come near our dwelling. We were not protected but we are sustained. We are invited to go deeper into our faith and be sustained by the Living God who is always near.

Last week Betsy and I were in Virginia, serving as Faculty for the gathering of New Bishops and Spouses – 9 bishops who were elected in 2021 and their spouses. Betsy was the chaplain and one day she offered this KOAN. “What do I do when nothing I do will do?” Have you ever felt that way in this time? And yet we are sustained by Christ even when “nothing I do will do.”

Our Baptism prayer asks God to give us “the courage to will and persevere.” Very recently I read a NY Times article about acknowledging the trauma of this time. The writer says some deal with that by taking a well-deserved vacation or rest. They take a break. I hope all of you have done that. For some, they came back renewed and refreshed. But for others, after that time away, that time out, they still feel the heaviness of our times. The author prescribes “behavior modification.” When I read it, I was reminded of the wisdom of the 14th Century mystic – Meister Eckhardt. He was asked “what do you do when you are depressed or grieving?” He answered “do the next thing.” Whatever that is, however small, just do it. And then the next thing after that. His wisdom looks like “the courage to will and persevere.”

And finally, we prayed for “an inquiring heart.” In other words, be curious. Many are asking what the Church and the mission of Jesus will look like coming through this pandemic. I’m not sure. I do know that our society, despite the heroism and generous selflessness of so many, has become meaner and crueler. Gun violence is up dramatically. A recent report says that fatalities from car accidents are way up as people are driving more aggressively. Look at the behavior in airplanes and at school board meetings. Could it be that our faith communities can be places of kindness sending kind people out into the world? That is a simple thing we can do.

The prayer also asks to “know and love Jesus.” It used to be that church people longed for the glory days of the 1950’s (which were not glorious for many of God’s people) and now we long to bring back 2019. But Jesus says over and over that he is doing a new thing. He speaks of a New Creation. And “I will make all things new.” The Jesus we know is still acting, still bringing about a New Creation. Even now. A pandemic can’t stop Jesus.

So many of us are worried as fewer people are returning to follow Jesus. Jesus knows all about this. He has been there before. Our Epiphany Season lectionary tells us often about the great crowds following Jesus. Remember a couple of weeks ago? Jesus was preaching on a beach and the crowd was so enormous and pushing in on him that he had to ask Peter to take him in his boat so he could preach from off shore. And yet just a couple of years later, when Jesus went to the cross, there were only a handful of followers left. Jesus knows our fears in this time. And then came a movement born of Resurrection  – 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.

January 6th

Tear Gas outside United States Capitol, Date 6 January 2021, 04:20 Source: DSC09523-2 Author: Tyler Merbler

We all remember where we were January 6, 2021. I was working from home with a full schedule of Zoom meetings. When the attack on the Capitol Building began, I postponed all the afternoon meetings and sat with Betsy in front of the TV, shocked by what I was seeing. Little did I know that as bad as it looked, videos later released would show it was far worse despite the heroism of the Capitol Police. We all witnessed an insurrection inspired by a president who refused to accept the results of an election. January 6 is a date that will go down in our nation’s history along with the tragic dates of December 7, 1941 November 22, 1963, April 4,1968 and September 11, 2001.

January 6 is a day of domestic terrorism and on the church calendar it is the celebration of The Epiphany. January 6, 2021 was a day of destruction, death and an assault on democracy itself. January 6th in the church is a day of humility (the magi kneeling before the Christ child), joy, hope, and an expression of the Oneness of our God with all humanity and all creation.

The Gospel passage for Epiphany ends with the Magi giving their gifts and then, warned in a dream not to return to King Herod who wanted to know where the child was born, they “left for their own country by another road.” What is the “other road” we are invited to on January 6th? Some of it is expressed in the prayer the Church gives us for the Epiphany.  

“O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen”

The Book of Common Prayer, 214.

Perhaps another dimension of that “other road” is revealed to us in the passages that follows the Epiphany story. Joseph is warned in a dream that King Herod “is about to search for the child to destroy him.” Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus flee to Egypt. “When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or younger.” The violence we witnessed one year ago was no dream, but truly a living nightmare. How might what we witnessed move us to protect our children now? And what would that look like on January 6, 2022? It would look like a strong democracy where every vote counts. It would look like an unparalleled movement to stop the ravages of climate change by caring for God’s creation. It would look like an honest confrontation of the Unholy Trinity of poverty, gun violence and racism and a “room at the inn” for immigrants and refugees. Could it be that a nightmare could awaken us to God’s dream for our world?

January 6, 2021 will be remembered as a day of domestic terrorism. January 6th – The Epiphany – will always be an invitation to “do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8).”


The Bishop’s Address to the 120th Diocesan Convention

Bishop Doug Fisher at Christ Church Cathedral, Springfield

Repairing, Rebuilding, Reimagining – our Convention theme as we are slowly coming out of the Pandemic. It is a 2021 theme. It was also a theme 2000 years ago at the start of the Jesus Movement.

Many of you know my favorite Bible story is the Feeding of the 5000. So if you have heard me preach about this before, bear with me. And listen for the new context.

5000 people follow Jesus to a deserted place. After hours of preaching and healing and forgiving, the apostles recognize the people are hungry. They tell Jesus to send them away so “they might go onto the surrounding country and villages and buy something for themselves to eat.” Jesus tells the apostles, “You give them something to eat.” The apostles say we do not have enough. Only 5 loaves and 2 fish. Jesus takes the loaves and fish. Thanks God for it. Breaks it and gives it away. God multiples the gift and all are filled with 12 baskets of broken pieces left over.

In 2021, in an “almost but not quite out of the pandemic church”, many are saying what the apostles said “we don’t have enough.” We don’t have enough people coming back. We hardly have a Sunday school left. We lack the volunteers for so much that we did before. Trust me. I get it.

Now skip ahead in the story of Jesus. It is after his death on the cross. There aren’t 5000 followers any more. There are only the 11 disciples and the faithful women. They are frightened and despairing. On Sunday morning, all Mary Magdalene wants is the body returned. They are a people who “had hoped”. Hope in the past tense. But this little group stays together. They stay together. Then God did a new thing and raised Jesus from the dead. Even that good news is met with terror and amazement. The early followers of Jesus needed to Repair, Rebuild, Reimagine.

Followers of Jesus have done this over and over again in 2000 years. The oh-so popular St. Francis heard Jesus calling him to rebuild a crumbling church building in San Damiano. He started a capital campaign and got the building restored. A good thing. Later he went deeper and realized Jesus was calling him to repair, rebuild and reimagine what the Church was all about.

And so here we are. In confusing and challenging times. Unsure exactly what the Jesus Movement will look like. But can we learn from the apostles’ mistake at the feeding of the 5000. Can we say “this is enough” and trust in God’s amazing grace? In our “terror and amazement” can we trust the Risen Christ to Repair, Rebuild and Reimagine his mission of mercy, compassion and hope?

Let’s explore what that might look like. And I’ll do it by using one of our many thriving ministries as a metaphor for this exploration.

The ministry I’m thinking of is our Chaplains to the Appalachian Trail. It is a simple concept. It is a big tent set up right by the Trail in Sheffield. In the tent is food, water, chairs and battery packs so hikers can power up their iPhones. The ministry is organized by our Episcopal/Lutheran Church in Sheffield – Christ Trinity and the UCC Church. Volunteers come from many churches. As we talk with the hikers and hear their experiences on the Trail, we ask a simple question: “Why are you walking the Trail?” Knowing that some hikers are walking for just a day, but many are walking the whole Trail – from Georgia to Maine. People come from around the world to hike the AT. You know to come all this way, they are searching for something. Often it is young people going on an adventure and trying to make decisions about their future. Sometimes there are older people who will tell us “I had cancer a few years ago and I recovered. I’m walking the AT because I can.” Or “in gratitude to God.”

Let’s unpack this and see what it teaches us about being followers of Jesus in our time.

“Why are you walking the Trail?” A big part of this ministry is listening. Do you know in the four gospels, Jesus asks 307 questions? And people ask Jesus questions 183 times. And Jesus only answers three of those 183 questions directly. Most often he answers the question with another question.

We all know we live in a deeply divided nation. In this atmosphere people don’t ask questions anymore. They make demands. What if the Church could model a different way of being? What if the Church could be curious? What if the Church was a place where we can ask the question “what are you searching for?” And then, like Jesus, invite ourselves into real spiritual depth. Michael Curry says evangelism happens when followers of Jesus go deeper into their own faith.

An example in our diocese is the Loving the Questions program. In most years 7-10 people join this in-depth spiritual search. In 2020 we had 28. Thank you to Jenny Greg and Craig Hammond and others who have made Loving the Questions such a gift to us. Here’s a big audacious idea: what would happen if we had versions of Loving the Questions in all our parishes?

And isn’t asking questions and listening a big part of our desire for racial justice? Racial injustice has been a tragic dimension of our country for 400 years. It is time, way beyond time, to question our history and white privilege and may that questioning produce action that we might become The Beloved Community Jesus intends us to be.

The Appalachian Trail ministry is a clear example of a phrase that is popular in church circles in recent years. “Finding God in the neighborhood.” Have you heard that phrase? We get discouraged about declining church attendance. And we do need to pay attention to that. But the Spirit is not confined to the Church. God is still out there being God. We ask “where are the young people?” I know where they are. They are on the Appalachian Trail. And they are in schools. So many of our churches have helped out at schools by addressing food insecurity needs there. St. Mark’s in Worcester has reached out to their challenged neighborhood by bringing in Marie’s Mission – a ministry of St. Michael’s on the Heights in Worcester -to give away diapers to families in need. And they are starting a tutoring program with students from Clark University as the tutors. Our Cathedral and several churches are engaged in tutoring. And of course, our Walking Together Ministry in Worcester is all about finding God in the neighborhood.

So many of you addressed the needs of your neighborhood by getting vaccines out there. We could add to the Matthew 25 passage that goes, when I was hungry you gave me food, when I was in prison you visited me. We could add “when I could not figure out how I could get an appointment for a vaccine on my computer, you navigated it for me.”

Another example of joining God’s work in the neighborhood is our every growing Veterans Ministry. We are up to 12 locations now.

And our outdoor church communities are an inspiration. There are plans to add others to those that already thrive in Pittsfield, Springfield and Northampton.

Joining God in the neighborhood looks like our Latino congregations in Springfield, Worcester and now Holyoke.

Of course, the AT Ministry reminds us of the beauty of God’s creation. I was so aware this summer, when I was in the midst of that beauty that hundreds of thousands of acres of God’s creation to our west were on fire. Last spring, the Bishops of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, with wisdom from Margaret Bullitt- Jonas, published a document concerning the crisis of climate change. I invite you to read it and commit to pray, learn, act and advocate.

The AT Ministry is a fine example of collaboration. Episcopalians, Lutherans and Congregationalists all working together. And then inviting in other churches. You have heard me say this before – whenever you think of starting a new ministry, ask the question “who can we work with?” There are so many examples in the pandemic of churches working with other churches and social service agencies. The willingness to collaborate has become the new normal in WMA. And we are doing that as a diocese with the diocese to our east. The Exploring Common Mission Task Force is doing holy work and you will hear a lot more about that later today.

Yes, these are difficult times. But look at what we have – what I have mentioned in this address and so much more that I don’t have time to include. Could it be that the work of Repairing, Rebuilding, Reimagining was happening even before the pandemic and we are called to thank God for it and let God multiply the Grace in ways we cannot see yet? In our terror and amazement can we look for more than getting the old body back and follow where the Risen Jesus leads?

Greg Boyle, a Jesuit priest who has worked for 40 years with gangs in Los Angeles says “St. Paul tells us to put on Christ. Putting on Christ is the easy part. Never taking him off – that’s the challenge.”

Can we keep Christ on? Even now? Especially now? Our world needs Jesus Mission of Mercy, Compassion and Hope more than ever. Our world needs prayer more than ever.

We will conclude by going back to the AT. In the southwest corner of Massachusetts. It is not at the beginning of the trail in Georgia or the end of the trail in Maine. It is on the way. As we are.

This poem/prayer by Lona Fowler is one I have turned to many times in my journey. It is my prayer for us now.

The Middle Time

Between the exhilaration of Beginning
and the satisfaction of Concluding
is the Middle Time
of enduring, changing, trying,
despairing, continuing, becoming.

Jesus Christ was the man of God’s Middle Time
between Creation and . . . Accomplishment.
Through him God said of Creation,
“Without mistake.”
And of Accomplishment,
“Without doubt.”

And we, in our Middle Times
of wondering, waiting, hurrying,
hesitating, regretting, revising;
We who have begun many things—
and seen but few completed;
We who are becoming more— and less;
through the evidence of God’s Middle Time
have a stabilizing hint
that we are not mistakes,
that we are irreplaceable,
that our Being is of interest
and our Doing is of purpose,
that our Being and our Doing
are surrounded by AMEN.

Jesus Christ is the Completer
of unfinished people
with unfinished work
in unfinished times.

May he keep us from sinking, ceasing,
wasting, solidifying—
that we may be for him
experimenters, enablers, encouragers,
and associates in Accomplishment.

Thus ends the prayer. But maybe we should end this address by saying “That we may be for him Repairers, Rebuilders, Reimaginers.

The Rt. Reverend Douglas J. Fisher
IX Bishop, Western Massachusetts

Following Jesus is Anything But Tranquil

Throughout this liturgical year the Sunday gospel has been from Mark. One of the passages we skipped is Mark 6:1-14. In this passage Jesus preaches in the synagogue of his hometown of Nazareth after teaching and performing miracles in many other places. Many are “astounded.” “Where is he getting all this wisdom? What deeds of power are being done by his hands!” Then we hear, “And they took offense at him.” Why would they take offense at that?

Photo of Mount Precipice, Nazareth, Israel by Connor Ellsworth @unsplash

Maybe we skip it as a Sunday Gospel because there is a very similar story in Luke that is on the liturgical calendar in another year. It is also the story of the first time Jesus taught in the Nazareth synagogue. Jesus stands up to read and chooses a passage from Isaiah. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor…recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free.”

Like the astonished people in Mark, “all spoke well of him and were amazed.” Jesus tells them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Their reaction was more than taking offense. They tried to throw him off a cliff.

This incongruent response makes we think of one of my favorite prayers. It appears several times in The Book of Common Prayer, including the Easter Vigil and at ordinations.

“O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: Look favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred mystery; by the effectual working out of your providence, carry out in tranquility the plan of salvation; let the whole world see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

The Book of Common Prayer 1979 p. 291

I still love that prayer, but when I put it next to the experience of Jesus in his hometown synagogue, there is a glaring contradiction. We ask God to help us, “carry out in tranquility the plan of salvation.” The response to Jesus was anything but tranquil. Indeed, when Jesus could have chosen “tranquility” he chose the cross.

Michael Curry reminds us who we are. “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.” And when we, as humble sinners, name the nightmares and work for change, it is not work carried out in tranquility. In my experience, when we address the public health crisis of gun violence, it is not met with tranquility. Nor are the other pressing issues of our day which include climate change, systematic racism, immigration, income inequality, and more.

The change Jesus brings about in the world upsets the status quo. It creates turbulence. That turbulence may never be violent for followers of Jesus. Using our voices for advocacy, “praying with our feet” in the streets, praying the truth of injustice in our worship – this is how “things (and people) cast down are raised up.”

The monk Thomas Merton writes, “The biggest human temptation is to settle for too little.” Jesus gave us a vision of the Kingdom of God: a world of mercy, compassion and hope. As followers of Jesus, we humbly engage this world. We use the power of love (not the love of power) to reshape the world to be all God intends it to be – even if this work cannot be done “in tranquility.”

But what if I’m misinterpreting this prayer? Maybe the tranquility is not an outward tranquility but an inner tranquility. I know many people who are working to move us from the nightmare to the dream who have an inner peace. It comes from knowing they are following the way of love, which includes love for those with different opinions, and who make different choices. Jesus says the kingdom is “within” us. And he loved those who “took offense” at him – even the ones who tried to throw him off a cliff.

God’s power is unchangeable, and through Christ, it courses through the Church. It has never been easy to follow Jesus. There are dangerous cliffs to avoid and systems to unsettle. May we remain steadfast in the tranquility that comes from God’s abiding presence. May we each, with the Church, do our part for the plan of salvation.