Saturday, December 29, 2007

A, Christmas 1 - Matthew 2:13-23 "Christ out of the box"

In 2004, two tectonic plates deep below the Indian Ocean floor gave a massive jolt as they pushed against each other with gigantic force. Up above, on Indian Ocean beaches, people were going about their business as per usual, the day after Christmas. In the hours that followed many of these people were swept away by the Boxing Day tsunami; the consequences of the deep ocean earthquake just off Indonesia. Those left behind had nothing to celebrate having lost parents, children, other relatives, and their earthly possessions.

Nature unleashed its power, and there was absolutely nothing anyone could do to stop it. Not only were the survivors in South-East Asia, Sri Lanka, and India deeply shaken, but all people on earth were called to attention as the death toll soared into the tens and hundreds of thousands.

On the three year anniversary of the disaster, documentaries were aired in remembrance of the tragedy. Home video footage was shown of the events as the earthquake and tsunami unfolded. To see the unedited recordings pieced together in chronological order — of the tide being artificially sucked out; then the tsunami waves wreaking havoc on the villages, sweeping away tourists and locals; followed by the colossal aftermath of death and destruction — narrated by those who survived the flooding waves, gave one a sense of the overwhelming horror of those hours on Sunday morning, the twenty-sixth of December, 2004.

Scenes of destruction in the wake of the tsunami filled the television screen. One displaced local man sits next to his bicycle, surrounded by utter chaos, and uncontrollably sobs having lost his wife and children. He hopelessly cries, “I don’t have anybody left. Why have I been left? Why has God abandoned me?” Then pictures of the clean up are splashed across the screen, of which one is of a naked infant child, its little body stiff with death, being picked out of a destroyed house.

One can’t but help think of the implications of such a disaster if it happened here, or if it was yours and my child or family, the day after Christmas.

When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.” (Matthew 2:16-18)

O thou holiest, O thou happiest — Grace-bestowing Christmastide! Christ in a manger —Saves from all danger: O rejoice, ye Christians far and wide! (LHS 630)

If Christ in a manger saves from all danger, why then did Herod’s men so easily march through Bethlehem and slaughter so many baby boys? Imagine the waves of chaos rippling throughout the district in the wake of such an event? Think of their grief, their confusion, and their anger, that Christmas. Just like the suffering survivors after the tsunami, so too the families of the murdered Bethlehem boys! All was not calm, all was not bright, Christ the Saviour was born, and as a consequence, the little Boys of Bethlehem are dead! Why?

Imagine if death, chaos, and destruction erupted amongst us! What would your Christmas be like; what would you make of the situation before God Almighty — before the holy Christ child? Put yourselves in the place of the survivors, and your dead children and families in the places of their dead children and families.

O thou holiest, O thou happiest — Peace-proclaiming Christmastide! Christ’s light is beaming — Mankind redeeming: O rejoice, ye Christians far and wide! (LHS 630)

It makes us sit up and put Christmas under the microscope, it leads us to examine ourselves in the face of Christmas, Christ the King, and the tyranny of our sinful nature and the death we all deserve. Our twenty-first century ideals of Christmas, peace, and good will, need to be constantly reviewed!

Christ the Saviour has come, but what has he brought with him? The Son of God has been born to Mary and laid in a manger at Bethlehem, and yet because of him he is taken by his family and they flee to Egypt, while the locals receive anything but Christmas peace and good will from the hands of Herod. And all because Christ the Saviour is born!

He was born into the evil and sin of humanity’s flesh, to suffer in the flesh, and to save us from the futility and hopelessness of our human flesh, having not succumbed to the evil and sin of humanity’s flesh.

So as we grumble about the cost of living, the high price of fuel, the cheapness of our broken Christmas presents. Or as we erupt through the doors of department stores in a wave of Boxing Day bargain hunters grabbing bargains amongst the chaos of greed. Or as we begin to worry that the Christmas cheer, has caused our waistlines to overflow, and our cholesterol to dangerously surge, then the true reality of Christ’s coming and what he reveals as important uncovers all these other things to be completely irrelevant to the ‘life and death’ necessities of life.

In comparison to where Christ calls us, our twenty-first century greed and ideals look rather silly, stupid, and foolish — don’t they?

If the Jesus you look for is just to sugar coat and justify your reality — so that he might perform like a feel good sidewalk entertainer, allowed to come out of a gift-wrapped box once a year to appease your emotions — then perhaps you need to have another look at why he was born into this world, to see what his mission was and is and continues to be. A sobering look at the reality of death, and the warning signs in creation, is definitely in order.

How is it that on Boxing Day, the very day after we celebrate the birth of Christ, many of us seek to shove him back into a box where he’s out of sight until next Christmas? The true gift of Christ unwrapped in your heart, and the work he does there, works when we allow him to remain unboxed within ourselves!

You, like us all, are being called to repentance, hope, and peace in the suffering of the cross. And if at any moment you are allowed to experience even a little of the suffering we all truly deserve, where would you allow it to deliver you? To the suffering Son of God at the cross, who forgives and bears and shares your suffering? Or maybe to the blame game — holding God responsible for the suffering of your sinful nature? I guarantee you won’t seek a cotton candy type of Christ fulfilling happy human ideals with Christmas wrappings! You know the feel good saviour that disintegrates the moment it’s exposed to the watery chaos of sin suffering and death?

Now let’s return to the fellow in the midst of the tsunami destruction who hopelessly cries, “I don’t have anybody left. Why have I been left? Why has God abandoned me?” What he says strikes me as unusual. I’m surprised he doesn’t cry out something like, “What has happened to my children, my family; why have they been taken from me? God what have you done to me? What have I done to deserve this?” But no, instead this grief struck man sees God in death; not in life. For him, living is the abandonment of God, not death!

Whether he seeks the one true God or another god in his family or elsewhere is not known; but there are two things on which we can reflect. What is my G/god — in what or whom do I put my trust in good times and in bad? And secondly, in the face of death, and sin and suffering, how does this G/god perform, for you, in you?

O thou holiest, O thou happiest — Life-imparting Christmastide! Angels from glory —Chant the great story: O rejoice, ye Christians far and wide! (LHS 630)


Sunday, December 23, 2007

A, Birth of our Lord, Christmas Day - Luke 2:8-20 "Shepherds of Good News"

The Christmas story of the angels and the shepherds and the visit at Bethlehem is one which most people seem to know quite well. If you are ninety years old, you’ve probably heard it nearly just as many times, and even a child of ten would have heard it a few times by now too!

So we have arrived at this text again, and it fills us with all the warm images of Christmas: The shepherds lovingly caring for their sheep, on the lookout for people and animals that might threaten the flock. Then the arrival of the angel with the great news of Christ’s birth — and the great company choir of heavenly angels singing Glory to God in the highest. And not to mention the nativity scene — God watching above, with angels surrounding Mary and Joseph at the manger — cattle lowing while shepherds and sheep watch on with great delight, mystery, wonder and awe.

However, as good and wholesome as these images are, this text holds so much more. And we do well to examine it; to see how the depths of Old Testament ritualistic Judaism impacted all Jewish people back then, including the shepherds. And how the Law and Christ’s birth have and are benefiting everyone ever since.

We can do this by looking at the shepherds throughout the narrative, investigating and digesting the transition of their state of being. Observing the shepherds is the key for our deeper understanding, but as we know, the message and worship of the angels, the Christ child, and the object of the shepherds’ worship are the active agents of the narrative.

The shepherds are in the field watching over their sheep at night. It was night in the usual sense, but often in the bible night has deeper implications. Luke is most likely just talking about it being night in the usual sense; however, the shepherds were aware of a greater darkness. We know this because of their reaction to the glory shining all around them when the angel of the Lord appeared.

The shepherds were terrified; literally in the Greek it says they feared with great fear. When we think of the fearlessness of David the shepherd boy also outside Bethlehem some hundreds of years earlier, fighting Goliath and rescuing his lambs from the mouths of lions, the fear of these shepherds in contrast, stands out as quite unusual.

Having seen God’s glory and the angel’s appearance the shepherds were terrified with an unsurpassable fear of imminent death. But why? These fellows would have lived with the constant threat of death every night they stood to defend their sheep!

Recorded just before the birth of Jesus in Luke’s gospel is Zechariah’s Song, and he concludes his praise towards God by stating …the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.” (Luke 1:78-79)

Bound by their continual shepherding duties, the shepherds were unclean before God. They lived in darkness and the shadow of death so when the light of glory shone on them they feared with great fear. This is because their work meant they had no opportunity to take a Sabbath and make sacrifices to God in the temple at Jerusalem.

The shepherds would have also come in contact with many ritually unclean situations involving death and unclean animals. To make a sacrifice at the temple altar before God would have also meant a time of ritual cleansing. Time shepherds just didn’t have, who instead were obligated to remain with their sheep out in the fields surrounding Bethlehem.

But it’s not death the shepherds receive. Rather it’s a three fold message of good news. First the angel comforts and announces, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” (Luke 2:10) Then secondly the herald of good news locates and declares, “Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 10:11) And thirdly the messenger of God reveals and directs by saying, “This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2: 12)

Rather than receiving the wrath of God when his glory illuminated them, these shepherds living in darkness and the shadow of death, now were being guided by God’s messenger into the path of peace, just as Zechariah had earlier prophesied in his song of praise.

But before they were led by God’s Word to Bethlehem, a defining moment for creation occurs when the heavenly choir of hosts sing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favour rests.” (Luke 2:14)

This may not appear to be very extraordinary for us today; we sing this piece of scripture, or a paraphrase of it, most Sundays in the church. But the shepherd’s were privileged earthly witnesses, and for a very important reason: This was the choir of heaven which always sings in the presence of our glorified God, and now God was born to Mary and this heavenly hymn was heard on earth for the first time. Therefore, what we sing in church is a proclamation with the angels and archangels to the reality of God on earth and in heaven. But the reality of his presence is hidden from our sight and only seen by faith as we gather to hear and worship him.

The angels and the choir dissipate and re-enter heaven, fear with great fear is replaced by joy with great joy and expectation as the shepherds act on the Word of God that has filled their ears. They didn’t just go but we’re told they went with haste and found Mary, Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. The Greek word for haste used here is spĕudō (pron: spew-dow) from where we get the well known name of swimmers, Speedo, and literally means: they went with speed; they put the foot down and wasted no time.

After witnessing Christ the Lord in the manger, the Shepherds made known what had been told them about this child and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. All who heard this were amazed to the same degree that the shepherds were gripped with great fear. They were surprised with great surprise because these sheep-herders who witnessed these events were in no way worthy viewers due to their lack of ritual cleanliness. Nevertheless, those who heard were encouraged by their proclamation and marvelled with them at what they had seen; even if they were stunned that the news came from smelly shepherds.

Alternatively, Mary pondered all this in her heart. She wasn’t bewildered at all by these events which occurred before the lowly shepherds. She meditated on the incomparable reality of the situation over which she, Joseph, and the shepherds had no control, because of prior revelation to her.

Mary had already testified to this revelation in her glorification of God, known as the Magnificat, or Mary’s Song, saying, “His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers.” (Luke 1:50-55)

So the shepherds return home having had the Christ child revealed to them by God’s Word spoken through the herald angel while being surrounded by God’s glory. They return home having acted on the Word they heard and seeing the Word Made Flesh in the manger, then proclaiming how they came about knowing the Christ child was born. And now they sing with joy as they return to their flocks because of the three-fold message of Good News that gave them a light within the darkness they dwelt.

Finally the Good News for us this Christmas is revealed through the irony of this perfect holy child lying in a dirty manger, in a filthy animal enclosure, out back of a sleazy Bethlehem inn, with a bunch of ritually unclean shepherds who probably smelt more like sheep than humans looking down into the manger. As these shepherds lent over baby Jesus, the reality is this: It is Christ who is the true shepherd, and like the dirty shepherds who looked on this holy child, he would grow into a man and be cast outside Jerusalem bearing all the dirtiness of humanity, cursed on a cross, even though he was God’s one and only Son.

But as he hung on the cross looking down at the children he has redeemed from our mangers of darkness and death — he sees the Bethlehem shepherds, you, and me, all those who trust him despite our deadly reality, now walking without fear and glorifying God with all the company of heaven as he the risen shepherd and Christ child guides our feet into the path of peace. Amen.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A, Advent 3 - Matthew 11:2-11 "The Coming One"

Picture John the Baptist sitting in prison. He’s probably not the kind of man who likes being locked up. After all, he lived in the wild yonder eating locusts and wild honey. He was completely free to roam the countryside in his camel hair clothes and leather belt.

And as he sat in gaol, he hears of this man whom he baptised in the Jordan. On whom the Holy Spirit descended, and of whom the Father proclaimed, “This is my Son, whom I love; with whom I am well pleased.” (Matt 3:17) It almost seems John is second guessing his witness and the actions of God in Jesus’ baptism, as he sends his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” (Matt 11:3)

Literally, John gets his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the ‘Coming One’?” Another term for the Messiah or Anointed One. It seems that Jesus’ ministry is not happening in the way John expected, and coupled with his imprisonment which separated him from witnessing Jesus ministry, perhaps doubt began to overtake him in the solitude of prison.

Jesus sends John’s men back with a list of his happenings and a stern warning for the imprisoned Baptiser. First Jesus commands them to report the blind receiving sight, lame walking, lepers cured, the deaf hearing, dead people being raised, and the Good News being preached to the poor. A firm caution to John who may be having doubts then follows …blessed is the one who is not offended by me. (Matthew 11:6)

Is John stumbling due to his imprisonment at the hand of Herod? Is John falling away on account of Jesus; because of his seemingly powerless coming without any such baptisms of the Holy Spirit or fire, as he had earlier prophesied while baptising in the Jordan?

What we do know, is when John’s disciples left to report what they heard and saw, Jesus spoke of John to the crowd saying, What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.’” (Matthew 11:9-10)

In fact John was the last of a long line of prophets. Like Moses, Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and others, he was the last, concluding the work of all the prophet. John the Baptist was the final seer; he was the last fore light before the dawn of a new era in God’s Almighty plan of salvation for humanity.

Prophets foresaw what was to happen, and they were given powers of discernment amongst those whom they were called to serve. But often they received little reward for doing so. In fact, many of the prophets were persecuted for proclaiming the truth that God allowed them to see and proclaim. But rarely did they ever see the reality of their prophecies.

James encourages us to endure and stand firm like the prophets as we too wait for Jesus’ coming. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. As an example of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. (James 5:8-11a)

And so Jesus also calls John to stand firm in he who is the Coming One and endure his hardship in prison as he goes on to testify to the crowd, Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. He who has ears to hear, let him hear. (Matthew 11:11-15)

Why is this so? How is it that John is the greatest, but yet the least in the kingdom of heaven are greater? What is this Jesus saying in this riddle?

John is privileged to be the final prophet; he is the one who actually sees the Messiah about whom all the prophets had proclaimed. However, like all who went before him he died without seeing Christ’s act salvation. In fact, John’s death was quite anticlimactic, having had his head chopped off by the whim of Herod to save face in front of his household. His body was quietly buried by his disciples, before they went and told Jesus, just prior to Jesus feeding the five thousand and walking on water.

Alternatively, unlike John and the many prophets before him, those who are the least are greater, because of Jesus’ baptism into his three year ministry by John at the Jordan and his baptism of fire on Good Friday.

We are greater because we live post-resurrection in hope of our resurrection, because Christ has baptised us into his baptism, his death, and his resurrection with the Holy Spirit and with the fire of his hellish death at the cross.

Because of Jesus, you who are the weakest and the poor (and that’s all of us because of sin) have heard the Word made Flesh and are receive the benefits of his life and death, standing firm in perseverance as did the prophets of yesteryear.

We are blessed because we hear and believe the works of Christ, we are freed from death and will be raised to life, the Word is loosing our ears from deafness. We are being eternally cured not just from leprosy and ill health, but from sin. Not only are we being healed from lameness, but we can boldly stand firm despite persecution.

And because we live baptised post crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, and Pentecost we are better seers than any of the prophets as a result of faith. The Coming One has come and done what he was sent to do. We have the witness of this in the word and because of our baptism into Christ’s baptism, death, and resurrection we too are witnesses, by the power of the Holy Spirit who gives us faith. Because of faith we who are weaker and poorer than John and the prophets are great in the Kingdom of Heaven.

This is why the Prophet Isaiah said, …the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Way of Holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it. It shall belong to those who walk on the way; even if they are fools, they shall not go astray. No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there. And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. (Isaiah 35:5-6, 8-10)

Jesus is the Coming One. He is the Way of Holiness. His forgiveness is won at the cross for you. It’s lived through hearing the Word, through Baptism, and through the body and blood given and shed for you. In these things you are made holy through Jesus’ way, with the Holy Spirit and with fire. Amen.

Blessed is the person who does not fall away on account of Jesus, who is coming again to judge the living and the dead. Amen.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

A, Advent 1 - Matthew 24:36-44 "How is one ready?"

With all the cloud and wet weather around at the moment one might be reminded of the story when it had been pouring down rain for days and the river had broken its banks, seriously flooding the countryside. There was as old man in a house who was a faithful follower of God all his life! He was not afraid of the flood waters. He knew God would take care of him.

As the water came lapping up to his window sills, a man in a rowboat came paddling by. As he rowed by the house, he noticed the old man in the window, and sung out, "Would you like me to row you to dry land?" "No," the man confidently replied. "God will save me!" "Okay," responded the man in the row boat, and he went on looking for others he might be able to help.

The water continued to rise, and soon it was lapping at the second story window sills. By this time, dramatic rescue operations were in progress. The water was so deep that a large rescue boat was passing by. Seeing the old man now leaning from the second story window, they called to him: "You are in serious trouble - let us save you!" But the old man's faith in God had not diminished, and he called back, "No, God will save me!" "Well," they replied, "we don't have time to convince you -- others need to be saved, too." So they passed on by.

The water continued to rise. Soon, nearly the entire house was under water, with only the very top of the roof above the water. Perched on top of the house, the old man patiently sat when a helicopter came roaring by overhead. Through its loud speaker, the helicopter pilot boomed, "The water is still rising and your house is about to be swept away by the current. We'll throw out a rope and save you." Again, the old man shook his head replying, "No, God will save me!" The pilot said, "We can't be responsible for what happens to you if you don't let us save you!" But the old man was steadfast and would not allow them to save him.

As the water rose even more, the house was torn from its foundation and was swept away, breaking up in the raging torrent. The old man didn't have a chance and he drowned.

Now the old man finds himself standing before God. He is very dismayed, and says: "I've been a good person all my life. I've always trusted you, and indeed, you have saved me on many occasions. What have I done wrong? Why didn't you save me this time? I was ready and waiting for you the whole time!"

To this, God replied, "I don't really understand what the problem was. I sent two boats and a helicopter!"

You have probably heard this story or similar. The old man knew what was going on, yet he allowed himself to be swept away by the torrent. He thought he was ready to be delivered, but literally, he missed the boat, and everything else God sent to save him.

In the gospel Jesus reminds us of another flood where people were swept away unawares because they were not ready. But unlike the fellow in the story we’ve just heard, they were completely ignorant as to what was going on around them. They had turned their backs on God and were consumed by their own deeds and passions.

…concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

40Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (Matthew 24:36-44 ESV)

So the question is: How must one be ready?

Should we stop all normal earthly activity, sit on a hill and wait for God to come? No! Just recently we heard from 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12, If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.

There is nothing wrong with eating and drinking, marrying and being given in marriage, in themselves. However, when these things become gods, we turn these gifts, from God, into disorderly distractions, away from God.

So if we’re not meant to stop normal earthly activities, how are we meant to function if we are to be ready when Jesus commands? …stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. Every person needs sleep, it’s an orderly part of God’s created world! Even God rested on the seventh day!

God rested on the seventh day! Here is the clue to being ready! How must one be ready? We rest in God!

We do the every day deeds of regular life in God’s rest! Eat and drink, marry and be given in marriage, work in the day, sleep in the night, in God’s rest! Let all the benefits of God’s day of rest, God’s day of Sabbath, flow through the whole seven days of your life. In other words, when you leave this place, let Jesus come with you. Don’t hinder or stop the Holy Spirit’s work in making every day an advent of the Lord – a coming of your Saviour – the Rescuer of your life.

After all every day Jesus stands at the door of your heart and knocks. Hear what he says in Matthew and Revelation, Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7) Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (Revelation 3:19-22)

So open the door, sit down in the peace of God, repent and be forgiven, trust in the means God has sent to save you!

As the days of darkness and death descend on all of us, let us listen to the advice of Isaiah, O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord. (Isaiah 2:5 ESV) And again, St Paul in Romans 13, the night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armour of light. (Romans 13:12 ESV)

How must one be ready? Let us put on Christ, trust in him, and his way of saving us.

Are you ready for the coming of the Lord? He has already come to you through baptism, and he comes through his word, and he comes through bread and wine. He comes through these things forgiving you and rescuing you into his holy eternal rest and peace.

These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's creation. (Revelation 3:14)

Let us pray: Lord sanctify us in the truth, your word is truth. Amen.