Sunday, July 30, 2006

living in this (hot) place and time

We're sweltering this weekend in Michigan. I picked a hot weekend to paint our bathroom. But even hotter still is the Middle East, both in the Hezbollah/Israeli conflict and in the Iraqi war.

Scripture characterizes humankind and the times of the Gentiles as being warlike (the dream of the four beasts in Daniel 7). A succession of empires denoting kingdoms in history is finally crushed and replaced by the rock cut out of a mountain, not by human hands, then becoming a mountain that fills the entire earth (Daniel 2). This is nothing less than the kingdom of God destined to reign over all the earth forever. Of course the Daniel 7 picture is one of a son of man reigning over the earth, given that authority by the Ancient of Days.

How do we look at our world today, and the heat of the Middle East in light of this truth? Do we distrust human governmental power, the power of earthly empires? In our time we speak of the United States as the world power. While other nations seem to be emerging on the horizon as important powers, particularly China.

I say we in Jesus as those belonging to the final, forever kingdom, should look at all such worldly power with profound suspicion. Can empires do good? Of course. We see that in Cyrus and the Persian empire, used by God to bring his people Israel back to the land. Even true of the Roman empire whose roads and freedom paved the way for the spread of the gospel and Christianity through the known world of that time. America too has contributed plenty of good in a number of ways (along with Britain preceding it). Missionaries sent from these latter two, evangelizing and translating Scripture has been a blessing to the world.

But the United States and Britain have their sins and excesses. And for all the good they've done, they cannot be made to be an exception to the rule of the worldly empires that are all to ultimately come down, in judgment by the King of kings and Lord of lords. The standard of the kingdom of God is high. That is the standard by which all nations are judged throughout history, to the end (see the OT prophets and their judgments pronounced from God on nations of their time).

Let us, like a Joseph, a Daniel, or an Esther be good participants, as best as we can, doing God's will in the midst of life lived in this kind of world. Let us do so, knowing we have only one King who we bow to in worship, with full allegiance. Amen.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

being there

In our weekly "chapel" on Wednesday, we had an emergent-like voice and young man (young to me, anyhow) in Roy Clark. The guy was funny, but above all, passionate, about living out his faith and doing so to meet the needs of boys in the west Michigan (largely Grand Rapids) community, a majority in the inner city having no father.

And Roy's main point was, week after week after week after week, yes- after week.... being there! Meeting with them. And simply listening. Not saying a word. Just listening.

These are boys caught in a web of systemic evil or vicimization and poor choices. A good number mixing it up in gangs. Some, I believe in prison, or on tether. Many on waiting lists for many months. One for five years. No one to meet with him. No one has the time.

So Roy figured he could take on 12-24 a month. And recruit men to meet with hundreds and hundreds more (into the thousands- I should have taken notes I guess).

Roy was meeting with a rough gang guy, week after week after week... Then one day the guy said something that Roy thought was dumb and offensive. Namely that he didn't need Roy to mentor him, but maybe just meet with him as a friend. And that Roy in his life was no better off than him! Roy, in looking back on it, in pride, missed a week!

The phone rang. A mother's voice. The boy's mother! And emotional, persistent. And being used by God to bring Roy to his senses. Yes, Roy agreed he would be seeing her son the next week, and the week after that....

So the next week they meet again. Roy admits why he did what he did (as he had to his mother). And then the boy asks Roy about his wife and adopted children. He wanted to know how the adoptions took place. That in itself is another story, and a good, God story: of God's goodness, mercy, faithfulness and love. Roy saw that this big boy was being moved emotionally as Roy told him that story. Roy was able to begin to really share about his faith in Jesus, and of God's goodness and work in the life of his family.

Being there. At least half the battle. Are we stepping into God-possibilities? Often the greatest blessing comes when we go when we really would rather not.

And knowing where to be, at what time, is also important. Too many have left their families behind. Are we being there for them, as well?

Lord, Help us to be there, and in being there, so find you there with us. In your work and transforming love. Amen.

Monday, July 24, 2006

review of You Converted Me: The Confessions of St. Augustine

You Converted Me: The Confessions of St. Augustine with Introduction and notes by Tony Jones and with a contemporary translation by Robert J. Edmonson, CJ. This is a faithful translation of what may be considered the greatest Christian classic by the greatest and most influential theologian of the western Church, Augustine. Actually it is the first eight books, the most famous part of it, that is translated. This is a book meant to get people to read this classic. The books following book eight, are more philosophically oriented in such a way as to lose many readers, though worthy in themselves of consideration and study as has been done for centuries. Tony Jones provides a helpful introduction and helpful notes along the way, in the text.

Classics are considered classics for a reason. Surely in my society we are weak in reading them. This is true in my case. I have had a copy of this classic for some years now, but hadn't even read through the first eight books in their entirety (as far as I remember, anyhow; some of my reading during that time was not well absorbed). Rather it had been a selective reading of it for me. So I am grateful for this edition, which, by the way, I did read all the way through. And I see it as a good way of getting young and old alike to read it.

The Confessions of Augustine are both in regard to his God, and in regard to himself and his struggle towards conversion. And his mother, Monica is a chief player in this story.

And that is what this book essentially is: a story. Told by Augustine in speech, largely to God. But also thinking his way through it. In these ways reminding one of a psalm and perhaps something of a letter of Paul, melded together.

And you get to meet, through his writing, a man, bearing his soul. As well as sharing the gift God had given him for us.

Many lines stand out in this reading. I'm not one to underline in books (I've ruined some, doing so, lines everywhere!), but I would recommend an exception here. Maybe take a pencil and do so lightly. And not too often. But there are gems to be found. Here is one in which he is describing the near end of his long struggle towards conversion:
"I still didn't quite make it, or touch it, or lay hold of it, hesitating to die to death and to live to life." (p 224)
The greatest aspect of this book is to hear the story of God's work in Augustine's life, bringing him to his true self in God through Christ (Luke 15:17). And to know that this is from one of the great lights of the Church. A light that has helped others in God from his time right up to the present.

So I highly recommend purchasing this volume. It is all you need in reading and rereading Augustine's struggle and account of his conversion. If you're of a scholarly bend, this is still a great place to start. You could borrow a copy that includes books nine through thirteen, from the library. And eventually choose to purchase such. Most of us will not care to spend alot of time in those books, some of which are hard to understand and follow.

Paraclete Press graciously gave this book to the first fifty who responded to the offer on Scot McKnight's blog, Jesus Creed. And asked us to review it on Amazon or a blog we might have. I would highly recommend that you check out their website. They publish good books written by Christians from all the Christian traditions. This is ecumenical in a good sense. In the sharing of our common faith in Jesus Christ, bringing in the rich diversity among us in our various thought and practice.

Lord, Let many read and appreciate anew the gift of your servant, Augustine. Let us so follow, in seeing our lives totally and increasingly changed from glory to glory into your likeness. Hold us to that; that we might hold to it. By your grace. Amen.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

stepping back

I've never kept at journaling consistently over the years. Though I do look back on some that I did. And it is interesting. I see where some of my struggles I had then (for me, mostly struggles of the mind, and anxiety) are still present but much smaller now. Sometimes hardly, if at all, in the picture.

I think it is good to step back, so to speak, and try to look at the big picture of one's own life. What has been going on, over a period of time- say weeks, months, even years. And from that, trying to decipher what the Lord is doing in one's life, what progress has been made, what changes- in character, thought, priorities, activities- would seem to be a good natural step one should take, or already may be taking.

Included in this inventory, of course will be the input we receive from others. Patterns we see in our lives. Maybe in matters that keep coming up until we finally learn the lesson God has for us. Areas in which we recognize good growth and thus can thank God for. Maybe areas of substantial or significant growth that hopefully, in the Lord, we can "cement", so to speak, or better, become more and more settled in.

In the life in Jesus, as we see God at work in all things working together for good (Romans 8), we will, on the one hand begin to see some of the dreams and visions God has given us in earlier years begin to come true. But on the other hand, marvel at God's work in it all. And how it is all truly something beyond ourselves!

I think we need to do this individually. But also in our communities of faith. We need to step back and ask ourselves, together, "What can we see God doing in our midst and through our gatherings and activities?" What kind of vision has God been giving us? What have we learned the "hard way", in our learning how not to do things?

All of this takes some time, reflection, consideration. But life not lived thoughtfully is hardly life worth living. God wants us to stop and look, with an eye and ear to what he may be doing and undoing in our lives, individually and together. That having stepped back, we can better keep in step, especially in the hard times and places, in him. Amen.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

the most important thing; the one thing needed

For many of us, we could wish as we look back on decades, that we would have done some things differently. So as to achieve goals. Goal setting is not bad in and of itself. In fact it is good, as long as it and everything else is kept in perspective. To be sure, some sacrifice their souls or their families to achieve their goals. Their goal may be a good one, but it becomes their life, an idol in their lives.

When all is said and done, what is the most important thing; the one thing needed? It is to follow Jesus, individually and together with those of the Jesus community. This means becoming like the one we follow. And at the heart of this is the Jesus creed: loving God with all of our being and doing, and loving our neighbor as ourselves.

This involves character issues that we all need to keep working on. Issues of priorities in our lives. What we are doing and not doing. Ongoing confession of sins. Involvement with others in the Jesus community. And loving others in the world. All with the goal of following Jesus in our lives. Individually and together with other followers.

This means alot in everyday life. When someone gives us the shrift. Or labels us a certain way. Or belittles us in front of others. Or shows no respect for us as a person. What do we do? How do we respond? Do we react? Hopefully we can learn to stay our ground as a simple follower of Jesus. And find others as soul partners in this following.

I can be a big talker. For me following Jesus oftentimes means keeping my mouth shut. And working extra hard at listening. Letting someone else get the last word in a discussion or debate. And above all loving. Even the unlikeables and in the difficult places and times. Sometimes all we can do is pray. Of course prayer is always vital and so easily lagging behind in our practice, causing us to lag behind in our following Jesus.

Lord, Let us truly be your followers. Day in and day out. By your grace and by your Spirit. Together. As well as in those lonely, difficult places and times. Let us know you better, and true fellowship with you. And do so with others. To your glory. Amen.

Monday, July 17, 2006

repulsion replaced with love

While watching Munich with my little family last evening, I caught myself becoming caught up in the horrific wanton violence of the Israeli assassins, out to get those who had murdered (and planned the murder) of their eleven olympic athletes at Munich (1972). I was viewing this as events that really happened (and the film is based on an allegedly accurate account of the events then). In horror and disgust I said out loud, "You Jew!" Quickly I said to any hearers (my wife had fallen asleep, though Tiffany was awake), "I should never call anyone that." I used "Jew" in a derogatory manner, not refering to the ethnicity, but as a slur. I was surprised, because I don't believe I've ever done that before (in my fifty years). Such was the emotion and gut feeling this portrayal of violence brought up out of my heart (or, that my heart brought up from this portrayal- is more accurate).

I was reflecting some on that today, and on my earlier post refering to this film. I am not of the John Hagee evangelical crowd who believe we Christians need to stand by Israel in a unique way with political support since, after all, they are the apple of God's eye. I see true Israel today, as consisting of all Jews and Gentiles who place their faith in Jesus the Messiah, as Savior and Lord.

Paul, who I believe believed something similar (or not too far from) this theological understanding, was greatly stirred in his emotions and heart in love for his people, Israel, as we see in Romans 9 and 10 (by the way, Scot McKnight at Jesus Creed has an excellent blog through of Romans this summer, interacting with N.T. Wright's treatment of Romans as well as with the text himself. Can't wait to get to Romans 9-11, though it's just fine that we don't since it is so good along the way!). Paul was willing to be separated from Christ himself, if it would mean that his people, the people of Israel, would be saved. That was his heart's desire and prayer to God in regard to them.

Israel then was in just as much unbelief as they are now (excepting those who receive Jesus and believe in his name). If we're to be followers of Jesus, we should weep over Israel, rather than use the name "Jew" as a derogatory slur. We can't follow what Christianity in general has done through the centuries, and is fortunately repenting of now, and be truly following Jesus. Jews were derided and much worse, yes, by professed followers of Christ.

I believe (lean toward the teaching) that Romans 9-11 indicates that God is not finished with ethnic Israel (Israel according to the flesh). Indeed Scripture indicates that from every tribe and nation the Lamb will have a people, the people of God.

Concerning Israel, we need to look at them as Jesus and Paul did. And see them contextually in our own time. We need to look with compassion, likewise, on the Arabs and Palestinians. Even on those, who in the name of Allah, would kill. This is so, if we're truly to be followers of Jesus.

Lord, Let us love as you love. Seeing past others' sin with forgiveness and prayers for them and for their salvation. Let us hate violence and evil. Yet love all with your love. In our neighborhood. To the ends of the earth. Amen.

man's inhumanity to man

Saw Steven Spielberg's latest: Munich. He says that the true story on which this film is based has been attacked, but never discredited. For several reasons I really cannot recommend this film.

However it does make a powerful statement. Though Spielberg says in a clip one can play before the film, that he had no intention of making any political statement, this film certainly does. Spielberg says that hopefully this movie will spur discussion on the political angle. A moral and spiritual statement is made as well, interwoven and really not divorced from the political side.

One of the memorable lines is when the Israeli bomb expert in backing away from participation in the revenge assassinations at least temporarily, says that for him as a Jew, it is all about being righteous. That without that he has nothing. And that he was fearful he was losing his soul. Yes.

This is exactly what we see depicted in this film. In the process of taking human life, the assassins were losing their souls, their very humanity. And with that is portrayed a kind of maddening along with a spiral wave of violence set in motion so as not to stop. An aftermath of division and desolation is left. And for what? Not the shalom of God, to be sure.

Father, Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Through Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the life. Amen.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

God's ongoing work

Today (actually Wednesday) was a good day experientially for me, as far as sensing God's work. Though it quite came with its challenges. I guess that is part of what keeps us out of ruts and into the freshness of the reality of what God is doing in the world and in our world.

One of the matters I'm working on, and on which God's working is evident, I believe, is in my tendency to overreact to difficulties, disappointments or trials. I have grown over the years in such matters, but still can overreact. My wife reminds me that this is not faith on my part. She is so right.

Something happened today at work which was not good in my eyes (nor in others' eyes, for that matter). More of a poor taste (though the taste of my coffee from the coin put in by the coffee joker was not affected), annoyance kind of event. Not a moral issue, and I wouldn't want to call it a sin issue either. My first reaction, though kept in control, did not attempt to cover my displeasure completely. In the process, all ended well. God's Spirit was at work, both in my life, and in the life of the other, and I think for that matter with others who were present. And it was great to pray over and meditate on Psalm 57, before, during and after that event.

God's work is ongoing in us who belong to the Jesus community. God is at work to renew our inward person daily (2 Corinthians). And his mercies and faithfulness are new each morning (Lamentations). Our goal must be to live before him, and to work out what he is working in. Together with others. This means we have to be willing both for our sake, and for their sake to really be involved in each others lives, particularly here those of the Jesus community.

Father, Thank you for your ongoing work in us in your Son and by your Spirit. Let us eagerly be a part of it. Both the exhilerating part, and the normal plodding along with the inevitable trials that come with life. Let us grow and see growth, having our being and doing, together, in your love. Amen.

Monday, July 10, 2006

being ourselves

God created each of us unique. And in Christ Jesus, God is recreating each of us unique. We are not the same. We will approach life differently according to the differences God has put in us. And according to the different life experiences we have as well, in which God works in them all, good and bad, for our good.

There is so much we can learn from each other. Especially during our formative years, in learning to follow Christ, or in learning to develop an interest according to our gifts- we may seek to copy another. In some ways that is good. Some things that work for them, as to how they do what needs to be done, may work for us. We will learn much from such mentors. But in the end, it will have to be ourselves, in us being ourselves in the Lord, by the Spirit, that will be blessed by God. Why? Because God made and is making us unique. Each of us. Together, in our separate part, contributing to the whole (as Paul repeatedly says in his letters).

What might this possibly mean? Well, for one thing we need to stop comparing ourselves with others. Paul says that those who do so, are not wise. I can always be learning something from those who are mentors, or like spiritual fathers or mothers to me in the Lord. But how I work that out will be according to my own unique gifting from God. I can thank God for the way they do something, without thinking that I need to do the same. While thanking God for what he gives me in what I am enabled to do.

In my gifting I long ago learned not to try to be someone else. That took time, however. But one learns, in whatever gift they are operating in, that they must be themselves in the Lord, to carry it out in serving others.

Being myself doesn't mean I'm an island to myself. And what others think doesn't matter. The point here is that each of us are unique as part of the whole. We have our part to contribute to the body of Jesus as one part of that entire body in our local community, and in the world.

So let us relax and lose our lives for Christ and the gospel- and in so doing we will find our true selves/life. And then work at growing and doing well in our God-given niche and corner, as we seek to follow Christ together. Amen.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

'Talking Right': Why the Left Is Losing, Linguistically

From NPR's "Fresh Air", this is an interesting interview with Geoff Nunberg. Regardless of your political persuasion, I think you will find this to have some ramifications related to my last post as to how we speak, as well as to the political context. And I think ramifications, not only pro but also con with reference to simple speaking/communication: catch words and slogans, etc.

how do we speak?

In speaking "truth" to others, in the grace of our Lord, how do we speak?

I remember graduating from seminary. In the course of our education we had to plow through some heavy reading. Using concepts certainly foreign, not only to most people, but to ourselves as well. Not to mention some of the classes we had. A good learning experience.

Inevitably, when you come out of such a setting, you speak in a language, unbeknownst to you, that others often can't comprehend, as in "talking over their heads".

I was reminded, while reading a new translation of Augustine's Confessions entitled, You Converted Me (with helpful notes and intro by Tony Jones) of Augustine's struggle to accept the plainness (compared to what he had read) and humility of Scripture. But how the beauty and depth of it gradually did take hold of him.

After seminary we were involved in a church in which I agreed to help with "children's church" for a time. I had to learn to cut out (or probably more like down, for me) abstract speaking into concrete words. It wasn't easy at the time. But it was a good exercise for me, as I learned to communicate on their conversational and cognitive level.

I think, in teaching and preaching, in sharing our faith, in speaking of it at home, etc., it needs to be in terms that are our heart language. How we think and talk about other things (such as the World Cup, house projects, etc.). And above all in a way that is reflective of Scripture itself. Note how simple, direct and yet profound are the words of Jesus, and the words of Scripture, in general. This kind of exercise to so speak and think is really helpful to me as well, as it forces me to get some of these lofty concepts down on a level I myself can relate to.

Of course there are things in Scripture, that as Peter wrote, are hard to understand. But even those passages are put in language that on the surface is accessible. It's the reality they refer to that is not as simple.

Lord, Let us follow you, in deed and words. Teach us to speak, by your Spirit, in ways that will connect with and bring your presence to others. As you have met and continue to meet with us. Amen.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

we believe in the Holy Spirit

It is good that in the twentieth century there has been an emphasis in theology on the Trinity: God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. That we are to understand God and his acts/words from that revelation of him. Likewise, I think it is good that for so many Christians during that century, beginning in the early part of it, there has come a renewal of the Holy Spirit. So that more and more Christians per capita see the Holy Spirit as an important part of their lives, not only part of their doctrine or theology.

In my faith journey of over 30 years I have been a part of a number of traditions. I would prefer that it had only been one, or at the most two, but that's the way it has fallen out. One of our encampments was in a "Third Wave" church. I had always believed in the "charismatic" gifts as being for today (I think, always). Now we were part of a church in which they were practiced. During our five years there, I had kind of a love/hate relationship to that practice of the charismatic phenomena side. On the one hand, through the counsel of a pastor, I was able to enter into something of that experience, which goes on even as we're now members of a church which may be open in theory to charismatic gifts, but not really in practice, it seems. On the other hand I was often frustrated by what I saw as an emphasis on those gifts in our smaller gatherings, so that other gifts, such as teaching, were considered less important. In fairness to them, I think a 1 Corinthians 14 model was more or less the goal.

There are many pitfalls in what I'm saying here. Some may be surprised to read that I absolutely do not claim any special baptism of the Spirit that others, such as those who are part of our church now, do not themselves have. I see the Spirit of God in the people of the church we attend now, if anything more clearly, many times, than I see the Spirit in my own life. Also I would want to distance myself from much of what is seen on "Christian" (sadly in quotes for certain reasons) television that is on the Pentecostal or charismatic side (not all, but many). Nor do I think that Christians who don't believe or practice "charismatic" gifts today, have less of the Spirit's dynamic at work in their lives. They may have more or less. But it is not dependent on that.

What I do believe is that the Spirit plays a major role in all we do. And that we should be open to all the gifts. I take the gift of tongues in 1 Corinthians 14 as primarily referring to a prayer language from God, since it can only be used in a gathering on a limited basis and with an interpreter. I believe this is just another way of many, to pray in the Spirit (Ephesians 6:18). That any Christian can enter into it, in answer to prayer. Like all spiritual gifts it requires our volition and action along with the work of the Spirit. I see no Scriptural reason why the gifts of 1 Corinthians 12-14 are not for today.

In reality every child of God is charismatic. We all have the same dynamic of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives. Too often those on the "charismatic" side look down on their brothers and sisters who just don't get it (or have it), in their eyes. Instead, we need to encourage one another in the dynamic of the Spirit in all of our lives. And thank God for the gift that each of us brings in a gathering, and outside of it.

The work of the Holy Spirit is to be unifying among all those who call on the name of the Lord Jesus. Any time it is not, we need to step back and ask ourselves why.

I'll remain mostly underground. And in reality, being a part of a church that doesn't practice such gifts, means my own practice, even in private, usually is minimal. Though whenever the Spirit is stirring in my heart, as he so powerfully did at the service this past Sunday at Pike Mennonite Church in Ohio where Pastor Philip Clemens (an older man, I could sit at his feet always) so ably by the Spirit serves (not a "charismatic" service or church), this can stir up my practice along that line. I went into that service down, but by the ministry of congregational singing and the Word, etc., I was lifted up, into the strengthening grace of our Lord.

Holy Spirit, Come. Minister your grace and power to and through us all. Let your river flow out of us into each others' lives and into this desert world. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Jesus' view of freedom

Today in the USA we celebrate our freedom as a nation. A freedom which means an aspiration of opportunity for all- in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

In John 8 we read something of how Jesus viewed freedom. His fellow Israel longed to be delivered from under the boot of Rome. They saw themselves as in a kind of captivity, as many of them looked forward to a coming deliverer from God, who would fulfill God's promises to them so that they, from their beloved Jerusalem as capital, would be the governor of the world.

We find Jesus, in that passage, pointing to himself as that deliverer they were longing for. And that this deliverance was not only from the enemy without, but from the enemy within. Sin. Jesus made it clear to them that they were slaves- slaves to sin, regardless of whether they were under foreign rule or not. And really why they were under foreign rule and not under God's kingdom. This was a bitter pill for them to swallow. In fact many of them refused Jesus' words. Only a minority, and small at that, really openly embraced them at that time.

One of our biggest enemies of freedom, which is still a popular concept to the masses today, is that we view it in terms of our own imagination. And if our imaginations are not steeped in the Story of God found in Scripture, then we can miss the boat as to what freedom really is.

Therefore we have all the self-help books and new-old spiritualities as people seek to do something about the bondage they sense within. Here in the United States we give our attention to that, since we have relative freedom externally (except for those whose circumstances are difficult due to systemic evil).

What are the bondages people are wanting to be set free from? And what is their view of freedom? These are important questions. Jesus made it clear to his contemporaries that their concerns and belief about freedom were mistaken. That their real bondage and real freedom would only be found through him. Sin was their trouble, and is ours. Only knowing the truth through being set free by the Son would bring them, and us, to true freedom.

I am one who is often wrestling to get free of something. Those somethings are problems and part of the problem, often the biggest part, or the real problem can become my response to them. But one needs to slow down, and stop, and listen to what Jesus is saying here. "Look to me. I alone can set you free. And I will if you will listen and follow me."

We must do this as individuals, but we also must do this together, as those of the Jesus community. As we do so, we display what true freedom is really like, in the love and truth of the reality of the kingdom of God. And we seek to bring this kingdom to bear on all the tyrannies of this world. We begin with ourselves in our own little worlds. But we move out from there. To our loved ones. To our neighbors. To those who are troubled and hurting. To those in need. Ultimately to the ends of the earth. We bring this same message of freedom in Jesus. If we follow Jesus, then this is where this freedom will take us. A freedom that would embrace all, and help all to live in God's good kingdom, as no less than his very children, no longer slaves at all. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.