Daily Devotional: What Have I Ever Lost by Dying?

letter writingSo today I begin fresh content on my blog.

My daily readings I post have always been written for me, then cleaned up for others.   I write what I am getting spiritually out my meditations so that it might help others grow.

I am doing that now, but I know that what I’m about to share is not for everyone.

For right now I am in the pit of grief.  At times I see light over the horizon.  But at times it is only darkness and shadows.   For those who don’t know, on October 23, 2015, I walked in to find my beloved wife of 12 years not breathing.  Despite all I or the paramedics did, she has not breathed since.

This has been heart-wrenching and traumatic.  So now my spiritual journal is a journey through grief.

I invite you to join me in it, but I understand that it is not for all of you.  When you have been touched by grief, you can find solace in other’s journeys.  But at those points in my life in which such agony had not touched my soul, I pulled back from the site of it.

I am calling this series of posts, however long they run – and they will run until I feel I am done – “What Have I ever lost from dying?”

This  one of my favorite poems of Rumi, written after the unexpected rumi quote 2death of his soul-mate and dear friend (if not lover) Shams.   It is one that may not be helpful for anyone, but since I encountered it shortly before Kat’s death it created a frame for Kat’s death that is helpful to me.  I like to imagine Kat “soaring past the angels” now when I can as Rumi describes the one who dies. I have let these words give me courage as I face into the many daily deaths of life in grief, life lived in the midst of the emptiness her passing leaves me. Yet its question “What have I ever lost from dying?” is what I feel I confront in my grief. Unlike Rumi in this poem, I find I have lost much in this death of grief, when my dear love has gone.   But I do find I am learning, gaining, becoming new through this journey. So I can understand its hope that in my dying God may open up to new life.   I pray that my sharing my journey with some of you will help you find new life along your pilgrimage of grief, trauma, loss, and new beginning.

Here is Rumi’s beautiful words:

galaxies“I spent millions of years in the world of inorganic things as a star, as a rock…

Then I died and became a plant–

Forgetting my former existence because of its otherness

Then I died and became an animal–

Forgetting my life as a plant except for inclinations in the season of spring and sweet herbs–

like the inclination of babes toward their mother’s breast

mother with baby in lead sunsetThen I died and became a human

My intelligence ripened, awakening from greed and self-seeking to become wise and knowing

I behold a hundred thousand intelligences most marvelous and remember my former states and inclinations

AngelAnd when I die again I will soar past the angels to places I cannot imagine

Now, what have I ever lost by dying?”

May you find new life in all of your dyings.

Your progressive redneck preacher,

Micah

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Daily Devotional: Giving up Making Others Get It

phoenix1 Corinthians 2:1-13 tells us that when Paul preached he tried to present the message God gave him in simple, straightforward terms without a lot of show or philosophical shine because he knew that many would not get it.   He knew this because it was not one’s scholarly ways, academic standing, or powerful place in the world that allowed one to have an awakening from God. Only the Spirit of God moving with you can bring spiritual awakening, and this is something no person can manufacture.

This text makes me think this morning about times I’ve had what I feel were awakenings in my soul, that caused me to see the world with new eyes. I can think of when I first began to grasp the concept of grace, that God loves me for whom I am and nothing I can do can add or take away from God’s loving acceptance of me. I think about when I was awakened to the experience of LGBT people in our communities, seeing them as beloved children of God just as they are, and realizing my old way of treating them with judgment or prejudice which I had been taught in the Adventist and evangelical churches of my childhood was not how Christ was calling me to act. I can think of when conversations with some people who’d experienced systemic racism awakened me to the way in which our society has stacked the deck against people of color and the way racism unconsciously expresses itself in so many daily interactions

templeofGod_000Each of these experiences opened me up to life in ways that have helped me exercise more compassion, understanding, and care in ways that I feel help my relationship with God and help me be a person following Christ’s foot-steps in work of love, justice, and compassion.

Each time I can also think of times I tried to show what I’d discovered to others, and how it would end in hurt feelings and argument, as we each tried to convince the other which way was right.

I think Paul is suggesting giving up trying to convince others because ultimately an awakening can only happen by the Spirit.   We can only share our story, speak our truth, and seek to live it out.   We cannot make another see the world with new eyes. Only God can. We must trust if we share our story, speak our truth, and live it that God will open hearts and minds when they are ready. Though speaking our truth and being ready to answer honest questions about it can be transforming, trying to convince another of what they are not open to now will only bring heartache and alienation. We have to learn to trust the Spirit to awaken when others are ready

I think it is also an encouragement. I don’t know about you, but I often have times I get really frustrated with myself. I look and see so much about myself I wish were different. I have character flaws I’ve been trying to improve for years that linger despite my best efforts. In such times, we can shake our heads, throw up our hands, and say “what’s the point?”

We are reminded our own awakenings are what begin to transform us, and they happen not by our own action but by the move of the Spirit within us. And though we have practices in our lives like meditation, mindfulness, prayer, devotional practices, that can help us become open to Spirit and ways we can follow up on our experiences of awakening, ultimately the awakening itself comes when it comes.   We must be patient with ourselves, continuing to seek healing, growth, recovery, and liberation in our own lives.

This is why the image for the spiritual life is often a tree of life. Planted in the ground, it grows when it is in good soil, when it drinks deep the waters.   That growth is natural, inevitable, when planted by the riverside and no amount of berating or correcting it will speed it up.

So with us.  Our growth will come naturally, as we continue to open ourselves up to Spirit.  We need to not judge ourselves or berate ourselves at its speed of progress, but instead continue to place ourselves in situations in which we can open for more fully to Spirit.

Daily Devotional: Living Authentically, Living Holy, Living Whole

candle under bushelLuke 8:16-25

This reading includes three different stories.

The first is Jesus’ warning about not hiding a light under a bushel. As I first began to read this parable of Jesus, I jump immediately to the version of it I am used to hearing. That one, found in the Gospel of Matthew in the Sermon on the Mount, says that we must remember we are light and our lights are supposed to shine.   Matthew remembers Jesus’ words as a call to live out fully and visibly the difference Jesus calls us to be. Dare to be different, dare to demonstrate through your actions in visible ways the difference Christ has made in your unseen heart.

I am a bit surprised to see that Luke interprets this story differently. Luke remembers Jesus moving from this example into an explanation that what is done in secret will be displayed visibly for all. This is a call to integrity, to having your unseen life match your public life.

I think about how we can try to present as if we are “better” in the eyes of the world and the community at large than we are. We can try to appear more together, more skilled, more virtuous, more forthright, than others.   I also think of stories like Caitlyn Jenner’s recent coming out as a transgender person. This fact of Jenner’s experience was something kept secret while she was known to the world as “Bruce”, yet it eventually had to come out as a part of her journey to wholeness.   At times we can think that hiding our past, our gifts, our weaknesses, or (as in this case) our true gender identity or sexuality can cause us to look better and get by. Ultimately such secrets can eat us up from the inside out.

I have been learning the last few years while serving more as a chaplain than a pastor, that there is a power in vulnerability about one’s own weaknesses, fears, insecurities.   When we are willing to be open about those parts of who we are and allow others to do the same, there is a way in which our willingness to be vulnerable can build a bridge across which true connection can happen.   Yet to do this we first must be willing to be vulnerable to ourselves and before God.  In truth, a part of why hiding parts of ourselves to others is so attractive is that often we don’t want to face ourselves in all of our complicated, messy journey.

Here is where the other two stories of this reading – of Jesus identifying our new family, and of the storm – tie together for me today.

We fear facing ourselves in all of the messiness and complexity that we are because we fear rejection and loss, and because we fear our lives from abandoning the comfortable patterns we are used to. We fear true honesty with ourselves and others, let alone God, will cause our lives to tail spin out of control.

In truth, at times people do face rejection for their honesty. I know many LGBT folks I’ve ministered to as a pastor and a chaplain who could tell how initially important family members and friends were confused, upset, or even rejecting.   I know of folks who, when they face the reality of addiction and begin to make amends, experience others as not open to this new stage of sobriety in their lives.

jesus and new familyYet living a lie can rob life from our days, stealing our authenticity.   It can cause us to deep down have a despair in knowing the relationships around us are ones that are founded not on others truly accepting us as we are, in all our messy glory, but based on facades. And opening up allows us to connect with those that will accept us in ways that go so much deeper.

So Jesus reminds us that even if we lose some in our circle of connection – family and friends – God provides a wider network of community. Those who follow the path Jesus is laying out find themselves being re-integrated into a community of belonging based on this deeper honesty and truthfulness.

When I talk to LGBT people who come out, this is the truth they share. There are some who reject them, but they find others with whom their already existing connection becomes truer and stronger. They also find new friendships and new “family of choice” emerging out of those who find this from-the-heart honesty and vulnerability life-giving and meaningful.

new familySimilarly in the lives of people living out the honesty sobriety requires there is a new camaraderie that bursts forth among other former addicts who find such honesty is the key to saving their own lives from disaster.

At the heart of such acceptance is a sense that they matter, just as they are. Even though not all coming out or seeking sobriety in such a way would put this feeling in religious terms I believe it has at its heart God whispering to us in our souls the Good News that we are perfectly imperfect, accepted by God in all our messiness and confusion as beloved, beautiful, and worthy. We are children of God in whom God is well-pleased whatever our difference, our vulnerability, our failings, our brokenness, our past, our hidden secrets. They are not secret to God. And opening up about them to others allows us to be true to God about them, inviting deeper vulnerability to God.

This is why we need not fear the storms in our lives such honesty may unleash.   The Living Christ walks with us, riding alongside us on the boat of our souls. When those waves whip up, as they inevitably will whenever we try to change the patterns of our lives to the better, the living Christ can speak the words of peace which may or may not end the storm but will allow us, if we embrace them, to get through the storm to the other side more whole than before.

May you experience that living presence more fully from the depth of your soul, as you and I both walk together into a life of more authenticity and peace. Amen.

A Week in the Word: From Shame to Service (A New Life in Christ, Week 5)

This week we continue our series exploring the new life made possible by Christ’s resurrection.   This series is one I originally preached at Diversity in Faith, a Progressive Christian Alliance church in Fayetteville, NC from Easter to Pentecost.  I hope this final message challenges and inspires you.

And I ain’t just whistling Dixie,

your progressive redneck preacher,

Micah

micah clergy shot

From Shame To Service

griefIn the midst of our fallings and failings, we can be so overcome by shame we don’t know how to move forward. We can feel trapped, stuck, and powerless. Like a shadow falling overhead before a storm, all light and hope can begin to be eclipsed by our heartache, guilt, and shame.

Just such a moment happened to a young business named Bill Wilson. A real go getter, an up and coming star in the business world, Bill had a dirty little secret: to get through his day he had to turn again and again to the bottle. It began to wreck his home life and his marriage. Then the hold the bottle had on him cost him his job. Broken, not knowing where to turn, head hung in shame Bill admitted himself into a sanitorium, hoping beyond all hope for change. Yet what broke him beyond even his addiction was the life-wrenching shame. He was a drunk. He was a failure. He saw no hope, no goodness in his life.

Just such a moment came in the life of a young preacher named Troy. A married father of 2, this rising star in the preaching world had hidden for years his dark secret: he was gay, and no amount of prayer or sacrifice could take away his attraction to men. Like all well-kept secrets, this came out and he lost it all. His wife left him, taking the kids away. He was kicked out of the church, defrocked.

Jobless, with his marriage shattered and children cut off from him, Troy began a nose-dive of doubt, loneliness, shame, and self-hatred. One day, as life hit rock bottom, Troy took a knife, slit his wrists in the tub, and waited to die.

Though I can’t relate with these two men’s exact journey I know what it is to wake up, feeling you are powerless to move forward. Feeling that you have failed too much to move forward, and having the shame of all the ways I feel I am wrong fall over me like a dark winter chill.

Have any of you had such moments in your life you would be willing to share about?

Tonight we will be joining one final disciple in their encounter with the risen Jesus and the new life he makes possible. This disciple, Simon, has hit rock bottom, not knowing where to turn.

This is in John 21. Lets turn there together. We will start in verse 1 and go on to verse 19.

Later, Jesus himself appeared again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberius. This is how it happened: 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus[a] ), Nathanael from Cana in

Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, and two other disciples were together. 3 Simon Peter told them, “I’m going fishing.”

They said, “We’ll go with you.” They set out in a boat, but throughout the night they

caught nothing. 4 Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples didn’t

realize it was Jesus.

5 Jesus called to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?”

They answered him, “No.”

6 He said, “Cast your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.”

So they did, and there were so many fish that they couldn’t haul in the net. 7 Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard it was the Lord, he wrapped his coat around himself (for he was naked) and jumped into the water. 8 The other disciples followed in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they weren’t far from shore, only about one hundred yards.

9 When they landed, they saw a fire there, with fish on it, and some bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you’ve just caught.” 11 Simon Peter got up and pulled the net to shore. It was full of large fish, one hundred fifty-three of them. Yet the net hadn’t torn, even with so many fish. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples could bring themselves to ask him, “Who are you?”

They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the bread, and gave it to them. He did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.

15 When they finished eating, Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

Simon replied, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.”

Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 Jesus asked a second time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Simon replied, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.”

Jesus said to him, “Take care of my sheep.” 17 He asked a third time, “Simon son of

John, do you love me?”

Peter was sad that Jesus asked him a third time, “Do you love me?” He replied, “Lord, you know everything; you know I love you.”

Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 I assure you that when you were younger you tied your own belt and walked around wherever you wanted. When you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and another will tie your belt and lead you where you don’t want to go.” 19 He said this to show the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God.

After saying this, Jesus said to Peter, “Follow me.”

Let’s pray.

Living Jesus, who promises us that you will never leave us and forsake us, whom we know is so present that if we turn over a rock we can find you there, and if we split a log, there you are, open our eyes. Help us to see your presence. Help us to hear your voice. Amen.

Does anything stand out to you about either how Peter experiences new life, or how the risen Christ responds to Peter’s moment of crash and burn?

There are a few things I want to focus in on: First, that Peter was immobilized by shame and guilt. Second, that Jesus confronts directly Peter’s failure and feelings. Finally, Jesus invites Peter to replace his shame with a life for others.

jesus resurrection appearance 2First, we see that Peter was immobilized by shame and guilt. We can see this because Peter has returned to fishing. If you go back and read Matthew 4, you will find out that when Peter was called by Jesus he was a fisherman. That is the old life, the old job Peter left when he answered Jesus’ call to fish for people.

What is amazing about this is that Peter knew Jesus was risen. John tells us that Jesus already had showed up to all the disciples, proved that he was risen, and commissioned them to go out and do the work Jesus did.

Peter’s response? He hung his head low. He sighed. He said “well, good for you Jesus. Glad you’re back. I bet the rest of you folks can do that just fine. Me? Let me do what I know how. Let me go fishing.”

At first glance, this may seem strange. But if you can think about what it is like for you when you are filled with shame, wracked by guilt, and failure you can see why he did this. When we are wracked with guilt and shame, we become stuck in the past. We are unable to image a better future or, if we can, cannot imagine ourselves in it. We begin to see ourselves as unable to do good, unable to make a difference. What we have done, and what it makes us look at ourselves as gets us stuck. When we are stuck and cannot go forward, we turn back. We go back to what had been comfortable before our failure.

Peter was wracked with guilt, shame, and failure. Peter had left fishing, his comfort zone and all he knew before Jesus, to embark on an adventure of following Jesus. To Peter’s perspective, that mission had failed when Jesus died. But it was more than the mission that failed. Peter had failed.

Peter had promised Jesus he would not leave his side, hat he would fight and die before letting the authorities. When Peter raised his sword to try and defend Jesus, he failed to chop off the head of the man coming for Jesus and only lopped of his ear – which Jesus promptly healed as if nothing had happened. When it was clear no amount of fighting could keep Jesus free, Peter ran for his life and hid. It wasn’t Peter, who the other disciples had treated like a spokesman and leader, who had the courage to stand by Jesus’ side, it was the women followers. Peter had shook in fear, hiding and afraid.

Then, just like Jesus had predicted, when Peter was approached he denied Jesus, saying he never knew the man – not just once but three times.

Peter was broken. He knew he was no hero. He knew he didn’t have the strength to lead like people expected him to do. He knew when the going got tough, he ran like hell.

So Peter, even after seeing Jesus risen, is so full of shame he can’t bring himself to move forward into the bright future his new life in Christ makes possible. He slinked away in the shadows, into that comfort zone that was the last place he remembered feeling safe before his failure – just as many of you have when you were immobilized by failure and shame.

templeofGod_000This immobilization shows what shame and guilt are. Peter is struggling with both. Guilt is simply feeling bad that you have done something wrong. It hurts awful, but actually can be a positive thing. When I stub my toe I learn not to kick against a brick wall. When I feel guilt I learn which actions are wrong, and that pain helps me change by giving up bad action.

Shame on the other hand is immobilizing. While guilt is about what you have done, when you & I feel shame that feeling is about who you are. You no longer feel the remorse that you hurt a friend, you begin to say “I’m a horrible person who can’t keep a friendship. I don’t deserve support”. When you feel the guilt of having lied or cheated, you commit to be truthful and honest, not being pushed into closets again. But when this becomes shame you begin to say “I am lying good-for-nothing. No-one would like me if they knew me, and I can never do the right thing”. Guilt can bring remorse, and with remorse you can change your life for the better. Shame causes people to shut down and regress.

It is not Peter’s guilt that keeps him from moving forward – if anything his guilt makes him wish he could. It is his heart-wrenching shame. His hatred of who he is for denying Jesus.

It is shame that drives Peter back to fishing, making him unable to say “I will change, and become a person of courage, no longer hiding in fear by the fireside”, and keeps him from going sent as Jesus said he should. That same shame was what immobilized Bill Wilson when he knew he must deal with his alcoholism, and that was almost fatal to Troy Perry when he decided he was too filthy as a gay man to be worth living.

How does Jesus respond?

Jesus responds by directly confronting Peter’s failure head on. He does it by doing two things.

First Jesus brings Peter into a situation mirroring moments of Peter’s life with Jesus – where Peter gets a miraculous catch of feet as he did at his call to follow Jesus; and where Jesus makes a meal for the disciples like Jesus did on the night Judas betrayed Jesus & Peter abandoned him. And then Jesus asks Peter three times in that moment, does he love Jesus? These three questions are a chance for Peter to experience saying “Yes” to Jesus as many times as Peter had said no to him, when Jesus denied him at

Jesus’ trial. The risen Jesus confronts Peter’s failure head-on.

So often when we experience shame in our lives, instead of confronting it head-on, we try to hide from it. We may run from it by jumping into new work at our job, in a hobby, or even in the church. We may run from it by jumping into a new relationship, or into bed with someone. We might run from it by diving into a bottle or lighting a joint. Pushing down the shame, hiding from the shame only makes it worse, more immobilizing.

In our relationships with others – whether in our families, or in the church – we do the same thing. We see others slinking away from feeling shame about actions. We say nothing – why bring up the past? Instead of speaking directly to what is happening, we let it go. And people who are hurting slip through the cracks.

Yet Jesus directly confronts what is happening, and to borrow a phrase from Rev. Terry McGuire, Jesus initiates grace. He directly speaks to what has happened, but in a way that affirms to Peter that there is a future for him, that Jesus has place for him in his life, and that Peter can choose a path where the past doesn’t define him. Jesus directly invites Peter to embrace their relationship again.

bill wIn a real this is very similar to what Bill Wilson and Troy Perry experience. While in the hospital Bill Wilson cries out to God saying “God, if there is a God, show yourself!” and Bill Wilson has an experience of seeing blinding light and hearing the words “You are free now”. That moment is a turning point for Bill Wilson where he is able to let go of the past because he knows his relationship with his Higher Power, with life, and the future isn’t defined by his failings. He is not defined by them either. Likewise, when Troy Perry reaches near death, he has the experience of hearing what he feels is the voice of God telling him that God loves him, just as he is, and that God wants him to share with others who, like him, have heard God detested them that God loves them too. For both of them this experience gives them the sense that life is worth living, that they are not disposable, and that there is a future for them. They experience the risen Jesus confronting their shame and guilt initiating grace.

This allows them to learn the lesson of guilt and change the direction of their lives.  You may not have had a visionary experience. In fact I hope you haven’t – a visionary experience is something God usually gives us only after God has tried to quietly speak, guide, influence us and we were too distracted by life’s busyness, too caught up in our own pain and angst, to listen. I challenge you to not wait for that, but instead take time to confront your feelings of guilt and of shame.

Take them to God. Look and listen for God’s response. I believe as you look and listen you will see Jesus reaffirming his relationship with you, letting you know that your failures do not define you, and carving out a bright future with you. As you experience this I think you will find that these broken places in your life that can create shame, when you open up them up to God can become the places where God’s presence shines through. As you let go of the shame, you will find God giving you the power to move forward, at times accepting what you felt was too broken to embrace and other times empowered to change course where mistakes have been made.

How can we as a church help people learn to reach out to God & others instead of letting shame consume them?

Finally after Jesus reassures him that their relationship continues, Jesus invites people to begin his journey forward by focusing on others. He invites them to get outside of themselves.

Jesus does this in a number of ways. First by inviting Peter to share his love for Jesus, Jesus calls Peter to focus on making amends in his relationship with Jesus. Making amends to others we have hurt can be a powerful way to mend our broken relationships and heal the pain of guilt. Shame however immobilizes us so all we do is beat up ourselves, as Peter has been doing to himself.

Next Jesus invites Peter to demonstrate a change by serving others – feed my sheep.

This call to make do something outside of yourself is part of what both Bill Wilson and Troy Perry are led to do in the face of their shame. Bill Wilson begins a process of making amends that later becomes a step in the Alcoholics Anonymous movement, because it helps him use his mistakes to learn how to become a healthier person instead of immobilizing him with shame. Then he finds when he helps others work through their problems with addiction, it helps him maintain his sobriety. For Bill this helps him move past shame to a new future, and gives birth the Alcoholics Anonymous movement.

troy perryTroy Perry’s experience where the living Jesus told him he was loved was linked with the call to tell others, particularly gay people who were grossly mistreated in his day, that they are loved. In helping others discover that they are loved, in helping work with them to find a place, Troy Perry begins to discover his own self-worth and replace his shame with being gay with a sense he is loved, loveable, and worth respect. His work to follow Jesus’ call births the gay-affirming Christian movement, and to his decision to choose service over shame our church ultimately owes its existence.

This movement the living Jesus invited Peter, Bill Wilson, and Troy Perry to – which we are invited to – is beautiful expressed by theologian Jurgen Moltmann, when he prays: “For a long time I looked for you within myself and crept into the shell of my soul, shielding myself with an armour of inapproachability. But you were outside – outside myself – and enticed me out of the narrowness of my heart into the broad place of love for life. So I came out of myself and found my soul in my senses, and my own self in others. The experience of God deepens the experiences of life. It does not reduce them. For it awakens the unconditional Yes to life.” (The Source of Life).

Jesus is standing in the midst of our shame, guilt, and brokenness. Jesus is calling us to open ourselves up, to share our unspeakable shame and pain with God, so that we can find those broken places becoming cracks through which God’s light can shine into our darkness. As we do so, we are challenged to reach out to God, to own our mistakes, and seek to turn our focus from how much we have failed to how we can be people healing the breaches for ourselves and others. We are invited out of ourselves, like Peter, into lives of service.

In closing, I want to ask you to listen to a song by Jewel entitled “Hands”. As you do so, I want you to talk to God about whatever shame or guilt is holding you back. Invite God into it. Open yourselves during this time of quiet prayer to God’s presence in the midst of it, and let God embrace you. Look for how you can move outside of yourself toward God and others, and maybe even let your experiences of seeming failure be transformed into a time of service.

After the end of the sermon, I want to invite you take part in a responsive reading as a prayer before communion.

 

Responsive Reading

Preacher: Jesus stands among us, in the midst of our heartache, shame and grief, calling out your name saying, “do you love me more than these?”

Congregation: “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.”

Preacher: Jesus calls out, “Feed my lambs.”

(pause)

Preacher: Jesus calls out, “do you love me?”

Congregation: “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.”

Preacher: Jesus calls to you, “Take care of my sheep.”

(pause)

Preacher: Jesus calls your name, asking, “do you love me?”

Congregation: “Lord, you know everything; you know I love you.”

Preacher: Jesus calls to you, saying “Feed my sheep. I assure you that when you were younger you tied your own belt and walked around wherever you wanted. But now, my love for others will lead you where you don’t want to go. But do not fear. I am with you always even to the end of the ages”