More on Body/Self/Spirit/Kingdom as a Worship Structure

I surprised most of those gathered yesterday with a new structure for our worship service.  We began briefly attending to the Body, then shifted the focus to our Self.  (I could call it “soul,” but that could make us think more of the eternal destiny of our soul, which is not where I wanted to go.  Rather, I wanted this part of the service to be where we place our most personal and individual concerns before God. )

From the Gloria, through Scriptures, Anthem, and Sermon, the focus was on Spirit.  This term is the vaguest or most easily misunderstood.  “Spirit” as I use it is not some ghost-like ethereal substance in us.  If we look just to each individual, the Spirit most strongly connects to our minds.  But Spirit is inherently social.  Think “school spirit” or “team spirit.”  Spirit is the meaning and purpose that a group of people embody as a whole, and if the meaning and purpose is a good one and is well understood, that group will be powerfully motivated.  Donald Trump was able to generate a certain spirit among his supporters, which is why they seem impervious to unseemly news about him.  (And a reminder: just because you have “spirit” does not mean you are doing something right.  Hitler generated one of the most powerful juggernauts of spirit in the 20th century, which led theologians to see the “demonic” side of spirit.  And it’s why the Bible calls for a careful “discernment of spirits.”)  So in the Spirit section we try to achieve a unity of purpose and mind by attending to Scripture and reflecting on it in our day.  It is no accident that my sermon yesterday made the point that this act of Spirit involves a dangerous laying hold of God, as we should do it with fear and trembling.

Having sought to raise ourselves up into the Spirit, the fourth part of worship enacted and embodied the Kingdom of God within our little community.  I was so glad the we could start this new structure on a Communion Sunday, which is the perfect expression of becoming a distinct form of divine community.  On subsequent weeks, the main expression will be a Prayer of Intercession, which is also fitting: we enact God’s Kingdom by praying for each other and the world.  And then we go forth and leave church to continuing enacting that Kingdom in a hundred little ways.

Here, in brief, is why I felt the need to try this experimental structure–which is only for the month of August and involves very few changes to our order of worship.  (I moved the Passing of the Peace, and added a body-centered meditation.)

  1. Our current practice of worship completely ignores the body, but our bodies are an integral part of who we are and of how we connect with God and each other.
  2. Protestant worship, as my recent research has shown me, took over a very penitential structure of worship.  (See John Witte, Protestant Worship).  In the Medieval church, communion was rarely received, in part because you had to say a full confession before you could receive it.  The assumption was that you had to be absolved of sin before you could receive communion.  Communion, in other words, was not the primary expression of being a community; it was a bonus reserved for the purified.  Protestants continued this understanding of communion by beginning worship with a Prayer of Confession and Assurance of Pardon.  That can be fine–and I like doing this during Lent–but it assumes that the main point of worship is always dealing with personal sin.  There’s much more to it than that: we grow in our commitment to goodness and holiness, we strengthen our bonds of community by uniting together with Christ, we lose ourselves in mystical union with God, we confess before God our powerlessness and suffering at the hands of the world, and so on.  We need to explore many more possibilities than guilt and forgiveness.  (And so I have generalized the Prayer of Confession to mean confessing many things: our sin, but also our faith, our needs, our sorrow and suffering, our unity with each other, and so on.)
  3. The worship service at the Church of Christ, not unusual among Congregational Churches, has two prayers, each with a moment of silence built in.  I puzzled at the redundancy of this.  So in the Body/Self/Spirit/Kingdom structure, the first prayer (“Confession”) is about our individual needs and prayers.  The second (“Intercession”) is us praying a community for each other and for the world.

There you have it.  This is a great place to comment on whether the four-fold structure made any difference for you in worship, and whether you like it or not.  Thanks!

5th in Easter-Life for Others: By God’s Eternal Life

Acts 17:22-31 ; John 14:1-14

“Life for others” is my theme for these seven Sundays in Easter. The first way to understand “life for others” is as a description of the shape and purpose of our lives as a Christian community. The rest of the world may live by other shapes and purposes: perhaps “life for me,” or perhaps “life for some,” or life for those I like or that are like me. But that is not the shape of our lives as a church. We welcome all here, regardless of who they are or what they’ve done or whether they are like or unlike us. We seek the good of all others beyond those gathered here; we do this by praying for others, including our enemies, by our mission work by which we help the poor, the hungry, and those are neglected or ostracized in our community, regardless of whether they share our faith; and we provide at least some support for the worldwide efforts of our denomination and other organizations (like Church World Service and Blankets Plus) who seek to help people from all walks of life across this country and around the globe. We could do a better job, but all this kind of thing is what life for others looks like. Life for others is also expressed in the kind of community we believe in and try to carry out as a congregation. We try to create and nourish a community of mutual care and love, in which we do not put ourselves first but live for the good of each other. I’ll talk more about that in two weeks.

Since we are life for others, we make room for others to be different, which also means we are a free-thinking church. As I speak to you, I know that we as a group of assembled individuals are all over the map, intellectually. Some of us profess old-time religion, some of us identify with newer, liberal, or modern Christian ideas; some of us do not think much of classical Christian beliefs, and doctrines like the divinity of Christ and the Trinity do not mean much to us; some of us don’t have much confidence in any religious beliefs. Well, we mean what we say: “Wherever you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here”—it’s true. But I do see us as on a journey together, although we come from very different starting points. I only ask that you think of us as being on a journey together. And as your pastor, I’m not going to pretend that our journey is just going wherever we happen to wander. This church comes out of a strongly (but not dogmatically) Christian tradition, and that is obvious by the forms of our worship life: we read only from the Christian Bible, we follow a Christian liturgy and practice Christian sacraments (as we saw last week). In short, we profess the Lordship of Jesus Christ. We will ask new members to profess this with us, three weeks from now. To be sure, we don’t claim a single interpretation of what that means, and we certainly don’t impose one on people.

But my role here is obviously not neutral. I am not here just to facilitate conversation between you all, although sometimes I will do that and, as a former college professor, I am good at it. I welcome discussion and dialogue, and change my mind often in response to your insights and questions. But make no mistake, when it comes to theology, to our ability to articulate what we are all about as a church, to explain it in a coherent and responsible way—a way that understands the many challenges to Christian belief and creatively reinterprets that faith to meet valid challenges—when it comes to theology, I proudly assert my role as your leader (not your dictator, of course). That’s why I asked that my title be, “Pastor and Theologian in Residence.” When it comes to actually living like a Christian, living a life for others, I gratefully defer to the many saints of this church, because they do it better than me. But when it comes to explaining why we believe in life for others, rather than life for some other purpose or direction, I happily and confidently take the lead.

When I look out not only here but across the Christian world, I see a whole lot of beautiful life for others being lived and I celebrate and praise God for it. But intellectually, I see enormous division and incompatible opinions, often not very clearly articulated; Christians with very different views are often not aware of how much in conflict they are with each other. I observe Christians to be often incapable of even understanding each other, incapable of having effective discussions with each other. In short, on the intellectual front, I see sheep without a shepherd.

And I believe I can be a good shepherd, on that front at least. I do not stand alone, certainly. The intellectual challenge Christians face is enormous, larger than it has ever been, as I need to keep reading and learning from others just to be effective in our little corner of those challenges. But I believe I have a pretty good grasp on responding to those challenges. I hope when I preach and teach that lights go off in your head (not warning lights), and that you see a way of thinking through your faith that is helpful and encouraging. I have tremendous confidence in the Christian faith. I think that our Christian faith, rightly understood, has the best intellectual game going today. I am not ashamed of the gospel, as Paul says, and I want you likewise to be free of shame and intellectual doubt. I do not believe the Bible is infallible. In some ways, I think we need to strongly reinterpret the Christian faith as it has been handed down to us. But when it comes to the essence of that faith, for instance, what I’ll talk about today—the divinity of Christ and the Trinity—I think Christians can claim that they have the most rational way of seeing what life is all about. But I hold to this in a very non dogmatic way. We need to be above all self-critical about our Christian faith, which often gets things terribly wrong. Even when we are right, I think there are many possible ways to be right as a Christian. There can be no one and only way to explain what it means to be a Christian; it won’t fit in any one box. And we need to appreciate that there are good reasons why others have rejected Christianity as it’s been understood and practiced. And we need to appreciate, I think, that there is great truth and insight and validity to other faiths and to non-religious understandings of reality. That’s a lot to take in, but I’ve been at it for years and it hasn’t at all weakened my Christian faith, although my faith has been altered. What a shame that some of our Christian cousins find it necessary to think that everyone else is wrong, and that Christians alone have the truth. Now, did you notice in the John reading, what blockheads Thomas and Phillip were? And they were Jesus own disciples. Why do some followers today think they are so much smarter?

So I am your guide on this “life for others” journey, and we aren’t tourists, we are pilgrims. So I’ve got a strong sense of where that journey will hopefully lead, even though I don’t expect we’ll all get there in seven weeks or seventy years, including me: but I hope that we’ll all come to see more and more that the God of Jesus Christ is our ultimate ground, and way, and hope for the “life for others” that we believe in as the shape of a good life. “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” Jesus said; I hope we all come to see and understand that better and better. Today I want to talk about, by reference to our scripture readings, why God is the ultimate ground of our life for others, the God of Jesus Christ. And so confessing and worshipping this God of Jesus Christ is essential to our life for others. A few of us might think that it would be better if we were just out there right now, helping others.

Well, we can’t be life for others if we are just holed up in here, worshipping (although we do pray for others). But without worship we will not have the feeling of gratitude to spur us to help others; and we won’t have the confidence that comes when we realize that life for others is grounded the divine will for the universe. On our readings for today, we have two versions of how to connect the God we worship to our life for others.

In the gospel of John, we get a command from God. “Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do, and, in fact, will do greater works that these.” Two weeks ago we talked about how Jesus is the very embodiment of life for others, and that means all others, regardless of their worthiness. Jesus commanded and inspired his disciples to live for others as well. But before they encountered him raised from the dead, alive by the power of the Holy Spirit, they were not yet 100% on board. Phillips says, “Show us the father and we will be satisfied.” O gee, that’s all. We just want to see God. Has Phillip forgotten that the Bible repeatedly, including in John chapter 6, has God say: “No one shall see me and live.” So Jesus could have chastised Phillip for even desiring to see God. But instead he says, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father…. Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?”

In these innocent little sentences are found all the riches and perplexities of the Christian faith. It is one thing to believe that Jesus was a wise teacher. But here he is saying that what we encounter in him is not just a human teacher but the personification of God, insofar as we can see God. Notice that he doesn’t say, “I am the Father.” That would violate the whole Trinitarian view of God, and it would sound too Darth Vader. I am in the Father, and the Father is in me. Jesus shows us God in a way that is personally recognizable, without exhausting all the mystery and beyond-ness of God.

Trying to explain the Trinity caused no end of trouble for the early church; and things are hardly better today. But Jesus so simply and perfectly encapsulated the mystery of the Trinity with his one word, “in.” Jesus and the Father are not identical, but they are in one another. And the mystery of our union with God is likewise contained in that “in.” “Believe in God, believe also in me,” Jesus said. “Amen amen I say to you,” so says the Greek; or in our version, “Very truly I say to you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do.” Faith in or belief in does not mean assenting to certain claims about who Jesus is, or who God is. “To believe in” means our lives are in Jesus and Jesus is in us, as Jesus also is in the Father and the Father is in him. Our life is in God, through Christ. That is why we can most truly live life for others—because we are in God and God is in us.

And God is most perfectly life for others. We all tend to picture God as some remote but beneficent dictator, ruling from on high. But the more the church thought about this passage in John and about the Trinity, the more we realized that God’s eternal being, even apart from creation, is life for others. The inner life of God is not solitary, but is like the relation of a parent and child. There is an eternal begetting in God, an eternal expression of an other in God. So we don’t just say God is “loving,” we say, “God is love.” Within God’s own being, that is, there is eternal love between the Father and Son, or, since we are expressing a great mystery high above us, we might say a love between God the invisible origin and God completed expression. Or, in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. So when I say that, most fundamentally, God is life for others, I mean that as a definition of God’s own life and being. There is a one another in God. (Sometimes I’m so glad I don’t have to take questions while I preach.)

So, in John’s version of things, God has been revealed as life for others by Jesus, who has shown us the Father. We see something rather different in Paul’s famous speech in Athens, as reported in Acts. Paul never mentions Jesus until the very end, and then only by allusion to the coming judgment by Jesus that has been guaranteed by his resurrection. He barely mentions Jesus at all, let alone the Trinity. Instead, Paul talks about how near to everyone God is. God is so near that the pagan Athenians already know God, in a way. Paul quotes their poets as saying, “In him [there’s that “in” again]; In him we live and move and have our being”—that last line is beautifully poetic, but the Greek just says, “In him we live and move and are,” we are in God. And the Athenians poets have also said, “For we too are God’s offspring.” Now, Paul is making much the same point that Christians otherwise make using the Trinity: God is in us and we are in God. Paul didn’t demand that his audience believes in Jesus and that Jesus is God and the whole Trinity thing. They already in fact know they are in God and God is in them.

And this God, Paul declares, is life for others. He puts it this way: “The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth…he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things.” Now, the Athenians have clearly lost the simplicity of the message about life for others amid a plethora of temples and multiple gods and idols. But in this respect we are not so different from they. Earlier, Acts describes them this way: “The Athenians…would spend their time in nothing but telling or hearing something new.” Sounds familiar? But despite their flaws, Paul manages to find an in with the Athenians (there’s that “in” again!). He finds an altar that says, “To an unknown God.” Among all their idols, they worshipped also an unknown God. Paul sees in that confession of what they did not know about God an opening to faith. And so we also may do well to speak openly about the God we do not know.   Because we might miss the God who is life for others, all others, if we know only the God who is life for us, on whom we expect to do this and that for us. You all are here to get something from God, right? Maybe that’s your idol, the god you have housed in a “shrine made of human hands,” “an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals.” Erect then also an altar to the God you do not yet know, for God is life for others, not just God for you, and God is calling you to be life for others, too.

And in fact, the Trinity that Jesus called forth, when he said that whoever has seen him has seen the Father, for he is in the father and the father is in him—this God of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit has already erected this altar to an unknown God for us. For the Father who is life for others in the Son, and who is also our life for others when we put our life in him, when we believe in him—this Father whom we have seen in the Son is also not the Son. We have seen the Father in person in the Son, but the Father also remains unseen in himself. We know God is life for others as our Triune God, but still in the heart of this triune God is a mystery we do not know. And that’s good. For it keeps the “other” in our life for others. We may think that we know all about being for others, but we have not finished discovering which others we are going to be for, or understanding just how other they are, how unlike us; and we do not yet fully know how to be for them. As we rededicate ourselves to living a life for others this Easter, let us pay our respects at the altar to an unknown other.

 

Epiphany: “Come See Your Union with God”

The main insight here–that Jesus shows us who we really are–owes a lot to Robert Scharlemann (The Reason of Following) and Karl Barth (“His story is our story.”)  But the insight fits particularly well at Epiphany, rather than Ordinary Time especially.  

Matthew 3:13-17

Today we celebrate Epiphany, which is the concluding side of the Christmas season. If Christmas basks in the shear event of God uniting with humanity in Jesus, Epiphany draws that out the meaning of that union: what does it mean for Jesus to show us God? And it can be a time for us to reckon with all those hopes and expectations we expressed in Advent, some of which might need to be revised and reshaped now that Christ is come. You realize now that you got the best present ever on Christmas morning, but as you consider this unexpected gift, you might need to go back to your wish list and figure out why you asked for those things that are not Jesus. And that may take some time.

But let’s focus today on that first question: what does it mean for Jesus to show us God? It means God has commenced a new unity with all of humanity. The message of Jesus’ birth is not just, “Lucky Jesus,” or “Lucky Joseph and Mary.” It’s “Lucky us! Lucky all of us.” It is Peace on Earth and Good will to all! God has taken up residence with us on our planet, and that is valid for all times, including our time, including even times before Jesus—something that is mind-boggling. But it actually happened and can best be seen—Epiphany means show forth—in Jesus’ time and person. So in Epiphany we turn back to the story of Jesus to begin to see—again, as if from scratch—what it looks like when God and humanity get together and do things right.

We look to Jesus to see our humanity united with God. And that is going to really twist our minds about who we are. What Epiphany means for us is that who we are, most essentially and truly, is not something happening now. It happened long ago. Our story is not properly ours. It doesn’t feature me and you as the key characters. Our story is God’s story, and it features Jesus as the protagonist.

This will seem strange to us. We are so used to tell-all autobiographies and biographies. We are used to thinking that everyone has a unique story, and everyone is the author of her own life. We live in a world of self-made individuals.

But Epiphany is getting at the truth about us that lies deeper than what I’ve done. And the idea that our story not be about “me” is really not that strange. In Deuteronomy the Israelites are instructed to present their offerings to the priest, as we did back in November, and to tell the story of God’s deliverance of the Israelites, as if it happened to me: “When the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, we cried to the Lord, the God of our ancestors; the Lord bought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and outstretched arm.” Or when we tell the story of who we are as Americans, we talk about our “founding fathers” and some mothers, as if they were our literal parents. So it’s not completely weird to tell a story about who you are without any reference to yourself as a character.

Epiphany is telling us that God’s story about humanity—and us—in Jesus is more important and more real than our personal “me” stories. Now don’t worry; God will give you your story too. God embraces and loves your story—where you grew up, the choices you made, your struggles, your joys. And I’m going to devote Lent to helping you bring God into your personal story and daily life. But your story is not going to save anybody, except maybe you. Only the story of Jesus becomes a story capable of saving all of humanity—so the Bible believes.

Because the story about Jesus is the story we look to as Christians for a definitive picture of who God is when humanity is properly united with God. (Now, “union with God” may sound very mystical. It can be. May you all be filled at some time or another with an overwhelming sense of being one with God. A great scholar of religion, Houston Smith, died just last Sunday. He believed mystical union with the absolute was at the core of all religions; and then he had Timothy Leary give him mushrooms to help him attain that union. But you don’t need drugs. Union with God mostly looks like everyday life, not trippy. Even Jesus didn’t hear God’s voice booming from the sky on most days. Mostly his life happened on a normal human stage, among the fear, sweat, and chuckles we are familiar with; but Jesus lived human life on the edge, breaking open people around him to life that was raw and direct and honest before God. That is union with God, Jesus style.)

Jesus is divine and human, which means, Jesus reveals to us God and humanity when they come together in truth. And so in the coming weeks we’ll see Jesus live out our life for us. Jesus is baptized, because he is doing human life right, or as he says, he is fulfilling “all righteousness.” And then he begins proclaiming the Gospel, the good news of the kingdom of God—because Jesus wasn’t just about Jesus; he is dedicated to the order or realm that he points to. And he really enacts this realm as a community that he gathers around himself. And so he begins to call his disciples. The story is not just about Jesus, it is about the fellowship that has Jesus as its focal point. And so we can more easily see ourselves in this story by identifying with the disciples, since they were not so perfect and so lordly.

And so starting in Epiphany we are looking again to the story of Jesus to get a sense of who we really are, as individuals and as a church. But that doesn’t mean we are just reading a story far removed from us. It’s not like seeing a play by Shakespeare to derive some incisive truth about what humanity is; at the end of Hamlet you say, “Ah the humanity!” Jesus isn’t just a beautiful story that we marvel at. His story impinges on our story. It makes a claim on us. It says, Here is your savior; now this is what life really looks like. You can’t help but hear the implicit rejoinder: and what are you going to do about it?   His story whispers to us, between the lines: “Your life apart from this story is at best just another story. Hopefully, your life apart from Jesus is a story of an ordinary human being that is doing some good, and not too much harm. At worst, your story may be a mess, a lie, and a travesty of humanity, set woefully at odds with God.

Now, you might hesitate before accepting the story of God in Jesus as your primary story. Jesus lived so long ago; and the world is so different today. So I hear people say, “We need to update the story of the Bible for today.” True enough. We don’t need the biblical story to explain for us how all the species of animals arose, or to tell us what maleness looks like and what femaleness looks like, as if those ideas of male and female should never change. And going even further, we need to challenge the biblical story on its own terms. (Matthew’s Gospel really stretches the details to make them fulfill Old Testament texts. At the end of chapter two, he has Jesus go to Nazareth because of a prophet who said, “He will be called a Nazorean.” But that clearly refers to the Nazorite vow, and is spelled differently from the two Nazareth. Just for instance.) But: if you want to see what salvation looks like, what things look like when God and humanity come together the way they are supposed to—even though it may have happened long ago and in a very different culture—then you do not want to try to just look around you. God and humanity are not perfectly in sync in Granby—as if you could just feast your eyes on it! I mean, it’s a nice town and all, with a lot going for it. But this town is messed up, like pretty much every town everywhere. And we are doing this town and ourselves a terrible disservice if we see the church’s job to just bless our town with assurances that this is God’s country, as they say. We do our town a disservice if we don’t confess to ourselves and offer to our neighbors another model, one different from what we see around us, for what it looks like when humanity lives rightly, and in union with God. And we need the story of Jesus to be that model. We have to interpret and reconstruct the model of Jesus, that picture of Godly humanity. Because scripture is not perfect; it’s human. But we, stuck in the midst of a flawed world and distorted culture, desperately need a word of God to come upon us from outside, and Scripture is the most readily available source for that outside word. Because if we just rely on good ol’ Granby wisdom, we are going to miss out on true God and humanity togetherness.

So the story of Jesus is our real story, one that makes a claim on us and that we need to hear. So as we take another look at this story, we will rightly be thinking about—not who I am in all my complexities, or who you are, or even who this church is in the complexities of our neighborhood and world today—although we should never stop thinking about that. But we will rightly think about who we are essentially as a church.

And so, as we look afresh at the story of Jesus, this is also a time to think carefully, me and you, about our ministry together. You’ve known me for more than a year. We’ve hit our first bump in the road. That forum on the flag didn’t go so well. It got several of you worried about my leadership from the pulpit; some of you respectfully told me that I am being too political from the pulpit. I think I’ve been misunderstood on that score, but I will be very careful. I appreciate the honest concerns as well as the expressions of support. But I do not want to create a rift between supporters and detractors—“Are you with the pastor or against him?” I want to bring a word that brings us together, not by saying what everyone wants to hear, but by bringing us all to unity in Christ. My installation is coming: Sunday, February 5th. When I finally start my official, acknowledged and blessed ministry here, I want to bring us together in Christ, and grow from that very potent, fearsome unity.

So we need to work towards clarity, both you and I, on what we are going to do together. I came to this church with a strong vision, one received warmly by the search committee, who were looking for vision, not just maintenance. I’m still adjusting that vision to make it fit here. I’ve been helpfully reminded to keep it as plain as possible; I think I’ve just read way too many books in too small an area. So I need to keep working on having a conversation with you in this room, not with all the books I’ve read. That’s one of my weaknesses as a pastor. And I’m still adjusting my vision to where you are as a congregation. But I hope you will own up, like I do, both as individuals and as a congregation, to the fact that you are not at the end of your Christian journey. Because otherwise there is nowhere for us to go together.

So that vision that is going to be installed here is still coming into focus. I need to formulate and adjust it so that most of you can consider it and decide for yourselves how you want to respond. Where I see this church going won’t be exactly what some of you have in mind; but be assured, whether you take instantly to my vision or resist it, I will always be your pastor and companion in your own faith journey. And I won’t drag this church in a direction we are not ready to go.

Let me today just talk about something very basic to my vision for this church. I believe that when you come to church you should experience something really powerful. Not just a modest pick-me-up, a little boost or mild assurance. If that’s what you get, it doesn’t sound to me like the Creator and Deliverer and Lord of all; one God, almighty and glorious and awesome to behold. What you get in church should be earth-shaking, even if some days it doesn’t rock your world and pretty much looks like ordinary human life. But every Sunday God ought to be touching your deepest concerns. I know many of you have serious personal concerns; and I know many of you have grave fears for our world, for America and for the future. Good! Not that God encourages us to be full of fear, pessismism, and to be sure, paranoia about the forces of destruction all around us. God has got a message of comfort and confidence about this world, because God loves this world and has pledged himself to it by being humbly born in its midst. But the way to that comfort and confidence is found by bringing all your deepest fears and problems before God. God can’t unite with your problems and your fears and overcome them if you don’t bring them to God. God isn’t going to overcome our problems if we bring them before the New York Times editorial page instead. Or Sean Hannity. Or Facebook. Or by gossiping, whether in person or via your favorite feel-good web site. Bring your fears and your problems before God, because God, in uniting with Jesus, has in effect said, “We’re going to deal with this, you and me—all those who follow my son.” / I don’t know how exactly God is going to deal with our problems. Some things might be judged, some pardoned. Some things purged, others purified. Some things blessed, others cursed. But God-with-us is going to deal with them, so bring ‘em here, bring them into this story and let God deal with them. And it all begins when a voice from heaven and a dove from the sky descend on this Son of Man and tell us, as one, “We’re all here. Let’s go.”