Proper 9C: Go, Now…

Open doorFIRST LESSON:  2 Kings 5: 1-14

To read the Old Testament lesson

The Books of 1 and 2 Kings originally constitute a single book.  In the Jewish tradition, the work is part of what would be called the “Former Prophets”, which also includes Joshua, Judges, and Samuel, and depicts a prophetic interpretation of Israel’s history from the conquest of Canaan through the end of the monarchies.

Naaman is the chief military commander of the Aramean (or Syrian) army, which during this time was always involved in a contentious and battle-laden relationship with Israel in an effort to gain power over the other army.  Naaman is very accomplished, respected, and, it could be assumed, very wealthy.  He had everything.  But he also suffers from leprosy, which carries a social stigma of being “unclean” and which, in this time, would eventually result in death.  But one of Naaman’s servants, a young Israeli girl who was taken from Israel during one of the battles, suggests that he might be healed by this great prophet in Israel.  So Naaman procures a letter of introduction and request to take to the King of Israel.  (This, in itself, says how important Naaman is if the Syrian king is willing to “risk face” with his rival in an effort to save Naaman.)

So Naaman gathers gold, silver, and trinkets and sets off to Israel.  He stops in front of Elisha’s house for the great healing.  Rather than Elisha, one of Elisha’s messengers comes and tells him to immerse himself in the Jordan River seven times.  Naaman is insulted.  After all, he is important.  Elisha doesn’t even show up and then he sends word for Naaman to jump in the river.  What’s so special about THIS river?  Good grief, if he was going to just jump in the river, he could have done that at home!  He was convinced that he deserved something more.  I mean, really, don’t you have some sort of quick fix to my problem? You are supposed to be this great prophet, after all.  But, encouraged by his servants, his does it and he is healed.  I mean, after all, what does he have to lose?

The point could be made here that the “anonymous people”, rather than the “movers and shakers of the world” are the ones that actually make this story happen.  Once again, God works through the unlikely ones (and even the unnamed ones).  Naaman’s wealth and power turned out to be useless to him.  But he gained real freedom through the unexpected.  When Naaman finally let go of who he envisioned himself to be, what he thought he deserved, and the power that he envisioned himself to have, he was healed.

Following this part of the passage, Naaman realizes that God has healed him and he proclaims his faith in the God of Israel as the one true God.  Essentially, Naaman finally realizes that it’s not about Naaman; it’s about God.  In fact, it was apparent that he was looking for God in all the wrong places.  This is particularly interesting because, when you think about it, Naaman, too, is an outsider.  He now realizes his connection to this God that for the most part was unknown to him before and, just as important, found a God who is open to being God to even the outsiders.

When I became a seminary administrator, a colleague at another school gave me this advice: “People always act from self-interest. When you approach them with a plan, they’ll invariably ask themselves, ‘What’s in it for me?’ Figure out the answer to that before you propose anything, and approach issues accordingly.” Pared to its core, it seemed that my job was to outfox selfish louts bent on advancing their own agendas.  I discovered that my colleague was only partly right. If people acted only from simple self-interest all the time, things would be easy. But it’s more complicated than that. We’re all impelled by a bewildering array of interests, contradictions and passions (self-interest being the friskiest, but not always the strongest), most of which we do not know and never name…

I could have opened my Bible to learn this lesson. Take the story of Naaman in 2 Kings. A proud man muddles toward health, toward a restorative knowledge of God and himself. But he makes progress only by ragged fits and starts. He has a clear self-interest — a cure for the disease that threatens his career, his place in human company, his very life. The people who care about him appeal successfully to that self-interest, but the pull of other passions almost derails him. Naaman craves respect almost more than he wants health. He is so sure he knows what he needs, he almost refuses what God wants to give.

Almost. But not quite. When he doesn’t get the attention he thinks is his due, God waits, letting him vent and strut. No lightning bolt consumes him in mid-rant, no disapproving angel descends. God waits until Naaman acquits himself of the odd human propensity to work against one’s own good. And when, after stalking off, he relents, we see in him what God has seen all along — a man of faith.

And so it was all along. We’d be wrong to regard his healing and conversion as something completely new, a miracle. What God waits for in Naaman is the fitful progress of a transformation under way in Naaman even before he sets foot on the soil of Samaria or in the puny Jordan — a slender opening, first apparent when the great warrior takes advice from women and (how could it have been otherwise?) subdues his disgust at needing help from an enemy’s god.

Grace has established a pulse in him — irregular, perhaps, but not arrested by his unchecked rage. When he finally gives up, lets go, obeys his servants and washes in the water, there isn’t a lot more healing for the river to do. All that remains is for Naaman to meet, knee-deep, the One who engineers his victories and presides over his life. Awash in the revelation, Naaman, “a great man” from the start, becomes Yahweh’s man for good…

God outwaits us while in weakness healing begins. God outwaits us while we locate the fissures of mercy in the heaped debris of fear and anger — and learn to breathe the Spirit’s air. We change and grow, believe and love by grace, the best we can. We are going to the river, whatever the reason or unreason that moves us; we are going to wade right in. Knee-deep in unaccountable love, we’ll meet the One who gives us all our ragged victories and presides over our life. (Excerpt from “Muddling Through (II Kings)”, by J. Mary Luti, The Christian Century, September 23, 1998, available at


1)    What is your response to this passage?

2)    Do we often expect more “pomp and circumstance” from God’s works than we get? Do we expect God to come in some “show of power”?

3)    Why is it so much easier for us to recognize God’s work in our lives in hindsight?

4)    What stands in the way of our awareness when God is at work in our lives?

5)    Do you think we are guilty of looking for God in all the wrong places?

6)    What “magic pill” do we expect?



NEW TESTAMENT:  Galatians 6: (1-6), 7-16

To read the Epistle passage

The community to which Paul addressed our epistle passage was not really that different from us.  There were divisions and factions and religious groups that were sure they were right and were sure that others needed to believe and live the same way they did.  And, like our society, they tended to be a little loud, making sure that their voices were heard above all others.  But Paul was not as concerned about who was right and who was wrong.  Paul’s concern was more about the actual relationships between the people to whom he was writing.

Today’s reading comes from the last chapter of Paul’s letter to the Church at Galatia.  He draws together all of the major themes that he addressed throughout this letter and with these final words, epitomizes the Christian life as bearing one another’s burdens—doing good to all people—and he highlights how the faithful become part of a new creation, which is greater than any laws or rules or understandings.  He even claims that freedom in Christ brings responsibility for the welfare of others.  No longer can one who confesses belief in Christ simply follow the rules; claiming belief in Christ means that one has become devoted to the benefit of others and to the unity of this new Creation.

We face the same problems that the Galatian community did nearly 2,000 years ago.  How can we create this new Creation, this perfect union, so to speak, and still maintain our own identity and our own beliefs as followers of Christ?  The truth is, it is always tempting (as it was for those believers in Galatia) for each of us to make our own experience of God’s truth the experience of God’s truth.  That is the dark side of our humanness, that “fleshy” part, as Paul called it.  But. A.J. Conyers warns that “All religion, and every practice of religion, and in fact all of human life is in danger of being marshaled into the service of the human ego.”

And yet, the true gospel produces a church and a people in which miraculous unity exists with remarkable diversity.  We have been sent out into the whole world, not just to those who look like us, dress like us, think like us, speak like us, spend like us, and vote like us.  Why do you think that is?  I think it may be not just so that we can be a part of recreating those to whom we bring the mission but also so that we can be a part of recreating ourselves.  It is a redefining of what true community is.

Aristotle first defined the word “community” as a group established by persons having shared values.  For Paul, those “shared values” meant working for the good of all in the community.  In the mission field, that would mean that we work for the good of all in the world.  It would also mean that we recognize the value and the need to bring all the voices to the table, to provide a place where all voices can be heard—not just the loudest, not just the majority, and not just those who are in power or those who believe exactly the way we do.  That is the way to reap the plentiful harvest that God has provided.  Because if we neglect to include even one of those voices, our community, this plentiful harvest, this new Creation, is incomplete.

Each and every week, our congregation stands and faces the altar and professes belief in the “holy catholic church” as part of our creed. Notice that it’s a “little c”.  Catholic (with a little c) means universal.  It means a whole.  It means everyone.  It means being part of a world that strives to live in unity.  It means recognizing that sometimes we’ll have to live with a little bit of tension as we try to work differences through.  I am clear, though, that even in the midst of those tensions, God is there, walking us through it.  God doesn’t cram anything down our throats and I don’t think we’re supposed to do that to other people either.  William Sloan Coffin claimed that “diversity may be both the hardest thing to live with and the most dangerous thing to be without.”  I think he was right.  Because you see, that diversity is part of this new Creation.  It is part of what is calling us to grow and change and become more like Christ with each step we take.

And when we allow ourselves the opportunity to experience and share our diversity and perhaps even learn from it a little, we gain an experience of God that is unlike anything that we could have gained on our own.  And nothing creates unity quite like experiencing God together.  In his letter, Paul stops short of blatantly criticizing those with which he disagreed.  For him, unity was not about conformity but, rather, about relationships. William Sloane Coffin once said that “the greatest differences in the world are never between people who believe different things, but between people who believe the same things and differ in their interpretation.” That, too, is a lesson to us. After all, how can we declare ourselves “united in Christ” when we can’t get along even with those that are “like us”?

The truth is, this story of which we are a part is an “upside-down” story. It is not really ours to interpret. It is not really ours on which to pass judgment. It is ours to live.


1)    What meaning does this passage hold for you?

2)    What does “unity” mean to you?

3)    Why is it so hard for us to experience unity and concern for each other?

4)    What do you think of the notion of the greatest differences stemming from a difference in interpretation? How true do you think that is?



GOSPEL: Luke 10: 1-11, 16-20

To read the Gospel passage

Jesus has “set his face to go to Jerusalem,” and he told fellow-travelers that the journey requires their single-minded purpose. Jesus sends seventy ahead of him and prepares them for what lies ahead. The laborers are few and the risks are great. Jesus sends them in pairs with no provisions for the journey. No conversing with those they meet on the road. They will depend on the hospitality of strangers. He instructs them to move on if a town does not welcome them, with a sign of judgment against that place.

Jesus is preparing them for more than just a little inconvenience.  They would be entering a different culture, “hostile” territory, so to speak.  Their own personal comfort wasn’t even an issue.  They were told to “eat what is set before you”.  What does that mean?  Would they not even have a choice anymore?  Think about it—Jesus went to a lot of dinners but he was never the host.  He was always a guest.  Jesus was telling them how to be a guest, how to open themselves to hospitality being given to them.

It is very likely that Jesus instructed his disciples to emulate his own pattern of activity. That entailed travel. He would come to a town or settlement, then would need to find a place to sleep and be looked after. The pattern he sets out for the disciples insists that they travel as poor people, but, unlike the wandering Cynic teachers of his day, not even to carry a begging bag. Instead they were to come only with who they were and await local response. Larger Palestinian houses were such that you could freely enter the front half of the house from outside – it was public space. These disciples would then face the owners with the choice of being part of the kingdom movement by offering hospitality and enjoying its benefits through healing and teaching or of turning away these uninvited would-be guests.

The ancient world had strong customs about hospitality. The mission used these. The result was quite confronting: you either welcomed these people or you turned them away. It was accepted that enemies should not be offered hospitality, but were these enemies or friends? They claimed to be instruments of peace and wholeness, including healing. They claimed to be announcing the reign of God and by their actions, bringing its reality into life in the here and now. To receive them was to receive the one who sent them and to receive him was to receive God, to be open to the kingdom. To reject someone who is not an enemy, to refuse to offer hospitality, was shameful. It brought disgrace and promised misfortune. That is the expectation here, too. Reject these messengers and you reject Jesus; reject Jesus and you reject God; reject God and you invite judgment. Shaking dust off the feet is probably symbolic of such judgment.

When the disciples return, they are excited about their success.  Using apocalyptic imagery, Jesus shifts their focus to the heavenly book of life in which their names are written. This is symbolic way of saying: what matters most is the close relationship you have with God which is its own reward beyond all the successes – because with it you can also live through the failures which inevitably come. He also speaks of Satan falling from heaven, another apocalyptic image used to depict the dethroning of the serpent or the dragon or the powers that be, whatever they are, at the end of the time that we know. Hope comes to fulfillment now when people are liberated from the powers that oppress them.

The passage speaks both to hospitality but also to evangelism of the mission to which we are called.  Is “hospitality” making people feel comfortable or being open to what they bring to the table?  Are we offered hospitality when we are made to feel comfortable or does it mean something else?  And evangelism is not about “selling” Christianity, but sharing a vision of change that invites real participation.

Now, truthfully, I don’t know how literally we should or should not take this Scripture.  (After all, you have to be careful with interpretation, remember?)  Perhaps Jesus is not saying that we should come virtually unprepared; maybe he’s just trying to remind people to leave themselves behind, to leave the trappings that get in the way of who they are and who they are called to become.  Maybe it is yet another reminder that it’s not about us; it’s about God.


1)    What meaning does this passage hold for you?

2)    How does this speak to our idea of hospitality?

3)    How does this speak to our idea of “spreading” the Christian mission?

4)    What does it mean to offer yourself completely to someone else’s hospitality—to truly eat what is put before you?



Some Quotes for Further Reflection:

We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.  (Joseph Campbell)


We are already one. But we imagine that we are not. And what we have to recover is our original unity. What we have to be is what we are. (Thomas Merton)


Hospitality invites to prayer before it checks credentials, welcomes to the table before administering the entrance exam. (Patrick Henry, from The Ironic Christian’s Companion)




As we gather at your table, as we listen to your word,

help us know, O God, your presence; let our hearts and minds be stirred. Nourish us with sacred story till we claim it as our own;

teach us through this holy banquet how to make Love’s victory known.


Gracious Spirit, help us summon other guests to share that feast

where triumphant Love will welcome those who had been last and least. There no more will envy blind us nor will pride our peace destroy,

as we join with saints and angels to repeat the sounding joy.



(Carl P. Daw, Jr., The Faith We Sing, #2268)


Proper 7C: Speaking Stillness

Spending time with godFIRST LESSON:  1 Kings 19: 1-15a

Read the Old Testament passage

This story continues beyond where our lectionary passage takes us.  In the 19th chapter of 1 Kings sets the stage for the downfall of Ahab’s ruling house and for the transfer of prophetic power from Elijah to Elisha.  Under David and Solomon, all of the tribes of Israel were organized into one united kingdom.  After Solomon’s death, though, the people of the ten northern tribes rebelled against the Davidic line and set up their own kingdom, which they called Israel.  Only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin remained loyal to the Davidic dynasty, who continued to rule over the Southern Kingdom, now called Judah.  The capital of Judah was Jerusalem.

So, the northern kingdom at this point was under the rule of King Ahab and his Baal-worshipping queen, Jezebel.  The story begins with Jezebel swearing revenge upon Elijah, who flees for his life, going first to the southern kingdom of Judah and then to the wilderness.  He finally ends up on Mt. Horeb.

Apparently, God was not pleased that Elijah had gone to Mt. Horeb.  There’s almost an implication that God is asking him why he is not back in Israel where he should be, doing the work that God has called him to do.  It seems that Elijah sees himself as “God’s last hope” for eliminating idolatry.  Seemingly, perhaps Elijah had gotten a little full of himself and we can’t help but see him as a little dejected and weary!  But keep in mind that in Scriptural history, nothing unimportant happens on the mountain.

Elijah restates his complaints to God.  He is told to stand on the mountain and wait for the Lord to pass by.  He was probably expecting something a little grander than what he got—after all, Moses had that dramatic interaction and got those tablets and all!  There is a strong wind—and no God.  There is an earthquake and fire—and still no God.  And then there in the silence, God is found.  Perhaps God is not really identified with these destructive forces after all.  Ironically, silence would be harder in which for us to find God.  Perhaps God was in all these things but perhaps the point is that God is also in the aftermath, helping us pick up the pieces and put it all back together.  That’s the “still small voice” in all of our lives.  When Elijah had completely run out of steam and had reached the bottom of the abyss, God was there.  Even when Elijah was feeling sorry for himself, experiencing the marks of his own failure, God was there.  The answer was something like, “Listen, Elijah, you need to get back to work.  There is more work to be done.”  And maybe in the silence, Elijah was able to quiet himself enough to hear God.

In his poetic eulogy, The World of Silence, the French philosopher Max Picard says that silence is the central place of faith, where we give the Word back to the God from whom we first received it.  Surrendering the Word, we surrender the medium of our creation. We unsay ourselves, voluntarily returning to the source of our being, where we must trust God to say us once again…When we run out of words, then and perhaps only then can God be God.  When we have eaten our own words until we are sick of them, when nothing we can tell ourselves makes a dent in our hunger, when we are prepared to surrender the very Word that brought us into being in hopes of hearing it spoken again—then, at last, we are ready to worship God…[Perhaps] God is silent because we are not speaking God’s language.  But it takes God’s silence to teach us that. (Barbara Brown Taylor, When God is Silent, p. 33, 39, 67)


1)      What is your response to this passage?

2)      What is your response to the idea of God in the silence, or the notion of the “still small voice” in our lives?

3)      Why is it easier to sense God’s presence in more “grandiose” circumstances sometimes?

4)      What is your response to the notion of God speaking in our silences?  Why is that so hard for us?



NEW TESTAMENT:  Galatians 3: 23-29

Read the Epistle passage

Just to review, Paul is distressed that Galatian believers are being told that they must adopt circumcision as a sign of their observance of the law (in case we had not gotten that the last three weeks!).  He reminds them again that faith, which Paul contends came with the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, has now been revealed.  With this, believers are no longer strictly subject to the disciplines of the law just for the sake of the law.  Through faith, all are now heirs to the Kingdom of God.

Now I don’t think Paul was completely dismissing the law.  (In fact, there are several places in Paul’s letters where he insists on following the law completely, such as rules surrounding women’s attire (1 Corinthians 11)).  For him, faith was bringing the law into fruition, into its fullness.  The word that is translated as “disciplinarian” is the Greek paidagogos.  In wealthy Greek and Roman families, a paidagogos was a slave who was entrusted with the care and discipline of a child until the child reached adulthood.  From this standpoint, the law is transitory, existing alone for a time until faith is revealed in its fullness.

And for Paul, through faith, there are no longer divisions between persons based on anything.  No longer is the law allowed to separate someone from the community because they are the wrong ethnicity, the wrong social status, the wrong gender, etc….etc…etc…you get the picture.  This is not a dismissal of the law, but rather a reminder that it is not there to destroy our unity or our freedom in Christ. (hence, the “nothing can separate us from Christ…”)  For Paul, the law, the discipline, even our religion leads us to Christ.  Perhaps for us it is back to the question of what it means to be “religious” and what it means to be “spiritual”.  (Sorry, that question keeps coming up for me!)

Joan Chittister tells a Sufi story “of disciples who, when the death of there master was clearly imminent, became totally bereft.  ‘If you leave us, Master,’ they pleaded, ‘how will we know what to do?’ And the master replied, ‘I am nothing but a finger pointing at the moon.  Perhaps when I am gone you will see the moon.’ The meaning is clear:  It is God that religion must be about, not itself.  When religion makes itself God, it ceases to be religion.  But when religion becomes the bridge that leads to God, it stretches us to live to the limits of human possibility.” (Joan Chittister, in Called to Question:  A Spiritual Memoir, p. 14.)

So, all these rules and dogmas and liturgy and theology that make up our religion are not our faith journey, but they lead us through it.  They are, from that standpoint, a means of grace.  I guess if I were to put it simply in the context of my own Christian faith tradition, I would say that “religion without spirituality” is practicing the religion about Jesus.  It sounds good, but it doesn’t have any depth, no engagement.  And “spirituality without religion” has a good possibility of becoming the religion about myself.  I think they need to come together—both spiritual religion and religious spirituality.  Then one will have the opportunity to practice the religion of Jesus.  I think that is the way we get out of ourselves and become one with God in a real and authentic way.  (But that’s just my take.)  I think that we all have the responsibility to look at both our religion and our spirituality with a critical eye.  We need to see what works and what doesn’t.  What is it that brings us closer to God?  What is it that provides a vehicle for us to be an instrument to bring others closer to God and to experience God in their lives?  It is always a struggle; that, too, is a means of grace.


1)      What meaning does this passage hold for you?

2)      What message do you think this would hold for our contemporary society?  In other words, what does “unity” really mean?

3)      What does this say to our contemporary churches and the more than 6,000 groups that are competing with each other on the planet “in the name of Christ”?

4)      What, for you, is the relationship between being “religious” and being “spiritual”?



GOSPEL: Luke 8: 26-39

Read the Gospel passage

The title for this passage could probably be “Jesus Defeats the Powers of the Abyss”, (or, alternatively, “When Pigs Fly”—just kidding! ) the powers of the unknown, the powers that we don’t understand, the powers that are beyond our control.  It follows the account of Jesus calming the storm and is followed by the story of Jesus raising a girl to life.  These are signs of revolution and change.  We probably don’t do well with the idea of exorcisms—it’s a little beyond our realm of understanding and doesn’t really fit with the subjects with which we’re comfortable.

But, whatever you make of demon-possession or the transfer to the swine, the central theme has more to do with the fact that Jesus came to bring liberation from whatever it is that imprisons people—externally or internally.  Jesus brings about a confrontation of those powers.  Jesus also brings a liberation for as well as a liberation from.  The man was made whole and realized who he was called to be in the world.

The word “legion” probably has a double-meaning.  It can mean many or multitudes.  But it also refers to the Roman soldiers that were occupying Israel.  These, too, were seen as a form of “demon possession”.  The presence of the herd of swine implies that the land was being used by non-Israelites (because remember, pigs were considered “unclean” by Jewish law so they wouldn’t have owned any.).  So, then, why are the people not welcoming the liberation by Jesus?  Could it be that they were afraid to “rock the boat” or thought that they might have a more stable life under the regime of the Roman patrol?  This was, after all, the side of the lake that included the Decapolis—the ten Greek cities that would become a part of the later missions of earlier Christians.  But Jesus at this point was just an interfering outsider.

The language that Jesus uses to “still” the demons is the same language that he used to calm the storm.  Both stories are “unbelievable” in our modern understanding.  And yet, why can’t we look at it as a choice to believe in the possibility of change—a choice of Jesus’ way over the ways that serve us in the world.

But the pigs.  What about the pigs?  OK…forget Wilbur, forget the three little pigs.  In this context, pigs did not matter.  They were not even part of the religious understanding.  They were unclean, untouchable.  So, for the pigs to run headlong into the abyss with the demons in tow is saying to us that the demons do not matter.  It is reminding us that Jesus can conquer all those things that do not matter.  The demons are not just driven away; they are destroyed.  They are put into something that did not matter. (Poor pigs, though!)

Most commentators would claim that this story probably “circulated” quite a bit before it was written down by the gospel writer known as Mark and then re-articulated by both the writers known as Matthew and Luke.  In fact, there are some key conflicting statements in the versions, including the location.  (In Matthew, it occurs in Gadara, rather than Gerasenes, near the high cliffs of the Golan Heights, for instance.)  The point is, it doesn’t have to be literal to carry Truth.  Perhaps the veiled message is just that—a veiled message that makes a statement about the world in which Jesus lived and a call to change and liberation.  And perhaps the witness that we are called to share is pretty unbelievable anyway.

To battle a demon is to embrace it, to face it with clarity of vision and humility of the heart. To run from a demon is as effective as running from a rabid dog, for surely this only beckons the chase. Whatever we resist — persists. These demons, these parts of us that haunt us, torture us and reduce us, are the agents of change…. Without our demons we would grow spiritually flabby. ( Stephanie Ericsson in Companion Through the Darkness)


1)      What meaning does this passage hold for you?

2)      What keeps us in this world from confronting our “demons”?

3)      What are the modern-day “demons” that are destroyed or resurrected by our faith?

4)      How could this story speak to our modern society?

5)      What does it mean to “embrace” our demons?  Why would we want to or need to?



Some Quotes for Further Reflection:

We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness.  God is the friend of silence.  See how nature—trees, flowers, grass—grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence…We need silence to be able to touch souls. (Mother Teresa)


Religion is about transcendence and spirituality is about finding meaning in the mundane.  (Joan Chittister, In Search of Belief, 8.)



Too many of us panic in the dark.  We don’t understand that it’s a holy dark and that the idea is to surrender to it and journey through to real light. (Sue Monk Kidd,)



O Holy Spirit, Root of life, Creator, cleanser of all things,

Anoint our wounds, awaken us with lustrous movement of your wings.

Eternal Vigor, saving One, you free us by your living Word,

Becoming flesh to wear our pain, and all creation is restored.

O Holy Wisdom, soaring power, encompass us with wings unfurled,

And carry us, encircling all, above, below, and through the world.  Amen.


(Jean Janzen, based on the writings of Hildegard of Bingen, 12th cent., in The Faith We Sing, #2121)