Epiphany: It’s Not Over

15-01-04-6-wisemen-2OLD TESTAMENT:  Isaiah 60: 1-6

Read the passage from Isaiah

Having just previously declared that God is coming as Redeemer, the writer of this part of Isaiah calls Israel to “Arise, Shine”.  Essentially, it is a proclamation that God, the Eternal Light, has come.  God’s Presence is already here and the transformation of the world has begun.

Now keep in mind that this was probably written at the end of the Babylonian exile.  The once-thriving Jerusalem now sits empty, ravaged and desolate.  The people lived in darkness and exile.  The temple is gone, destroyed in the attack.  And the dynasty of David, the veritable hope for the future, seemed to be at its floundering end.  It would have been easy to miss seeing any good that might come of the situation, easy to miss any hint of things getting better.  So this is the crescendo of the preparation for God’s arrival.  Come on people, the prophet screams, Wake up!  Don’t you see it?  Things are happening!  The days of waiting are over.  Your children are being gathered even as we speak to return home.  It is time now, time for Israel to become who God intended—a light to the nations.

Now, of course, it’s easy for us to sort of tack this passage on to our story of the Wise Men from the Gospel of Luke, but this really did not have anything to do with the exile.  The Presence of God was palpable, moving into the desolation and beginning to re-create Jerusalem.  It was time now to shape their life together as a people and as a community.

But for us, there is also that undercurrent of eschatological reflection.  Our hereafter, our “heaven” as we know it, is not something out there or up there or just up ahead.  It is not some “other” of “future” place to which we aspire to go.  It is here.  We just have to look around and see it.  There are streams of souls in procession.  We just have to find our place.  And yet, even Israel didn’t understand the message any more than we do.  God is not promising to make our lives easier, or to fill us with wealth and power, or to put us on top.  God is promising to remake us, transform us into something completely different.  God is promising not a return to normalcy but a new normal.  In fact, if you read it, it’s a new normal for everyone—for all those camel drivers regardless of where they come from—Midian, Ephah, Sheba.  In today’s terms, it’s all the camel drivers from somewhere in the Sudan, possibly modern-day Iraq, and probably Ethiopia, descending into the Holy Places not to go to war or to take people into exile but to come together, bringing their resources, and praising God as one.

This week we read three Scriptures that make up our Epiphany text.  They are the same ones that we read every Epiphany.  Perhaps we miss Epiphany.  It sort of gets overshadowed by all the chaotic over-seasoning that came in the weeks before and the mad sprint toward Lent that is only weeks away.  So we put on the green “ordinary” stoles and try to get our heads back above the ensuing waves.  And yet, this is the place where it all comes together—the past promises that were made even as far back as the exile, that birth of the holy child that we just celebrated, and the rest—all of us that came after.  The past now makes sense and the future becomes real.  God’s Presence is always and forever in-breaking into this world.  So, “Arise, Shine! For your light has come!”  God is transforming all of us even as we speak.


  1. What is your response to this passage?
  2. Why is it so hard for all of us to gain a sense of God’s Presence in the darkness?
  3. What signs of the sacred and transformation do you see now?
  4. What stands in the way of your seeing that transformation?
  5. Do we lose something of the story if we read this solely as a prophetic recount of Christ rather than in the context in which it was written?



NEW TESTAMENT:  Ephesians 3: 1-12

Read the passage from Ephesians

Paul and his disciples never used the word “Epiphany”.  In fact, the day never really was mentioned until around the 4th century.  And yet, whoever wrote this (probably not Paul), came really close to the whole notion that we celebrate:  Something new has happened in Jesus.  This was no ordinary baby.  This was no ordinary mother.  These were not ordinary shepherds and not your average run-of-the-mill Wise Men.  They were all part of a new order, a new normal.

The writer acknowledges that this mystery of God’s Presence, the notion of the holy and the sacred actually being a part of us, was not made known to everyone.  But now is the time.  The Gentiles have been brought into the story, made characters in the ongoing story of God’s Incarnation.  The point of the writing is to further explain what the readers of the letter have already gotten.  They have already been gifted with this manifestation of Christ.  They just had to open their eyes to know it.  But this is not the “accepted” news and so the text implies that Paul’s relating of this mystery is the reason for his imprisonment (and, perhaps, you could surmise, the reason that one of Paul’s disciples may be writing this letter.)

But the writer does not seem to be discouraged.  The Spirit has now made known what in former times was concealed, namely that the Gentiles are now fellow heirs, fellow members of the same body, and fellow participants in the promises. This idea of grace extended to all, even those seemingly unexpected recipients, is not really a new thing to Paul or to this writer. The assertion is that the mystery has been hidden with God, who is the creator of all things, suggesting that this mystery has always been God’s plan. This mystery in Christ — Lord over all peoples, both Jew and Gentiles — was the eternal plan of God, but only in the last days has God made it evident and begun its fulfillment.

The greatest celebration of the Incarnation is this celebration of the diversity and wisdom of the church brought together in unity, just as those Wise Men from the East (and Gentiles to boot), experienced the Presence of God.  The greatest celebration of the Church is the coming together of all of this wisdom so that all in their own understanding might experience the Presence of God.  The mystery is that this Holy Child, this Sacred Son of God, this Christ, this Messiah, is really intended to be Savior to us All.


  1. What meaning does this passage hold for you?
  2. How would this message be received by our society today?
  3. What does this new order mean for you?
  4. If diversity is the “new order” and the “mystery for the church, what does that mean in our modern culture?
  5. Do we really understand the concept of Jesus as “Savior to us All”?



GOSPEL:  Matthew 2: 1-12

Read the passage from The Gospel According to Matthew

Our Gospel text this week begins by setting us “in the time of King Herod”.  And in it, we find that the last question of Advent comes not at Christmas but afterward and is asked not by an individual but by a group.  They believe that the star (or, for some, an unusual conjunction of heavenly bodies that produces an especially bright light) marks the birth of a special child destined to be a king.  They ask, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews?

And so Herod hears that a king had been born in Bethlehem.  Well, the formula is simple—a king is born, but a king is already here; and in Herod’s mind and the minds of all those who follow him, there is room for only one king.  The passage says that King Herod was frightened and all Jerusalem with him.  They probably were pretty fearful.  After all, there was a distinct possibility that their world was about to change.  It seemed that the birth of this humble child might have the ability to shake the very foundations of the earth and announce the fall of the mighty.  Things would never be the same again.

So Herod relies on these wisest ones in his court.  The writer of Matthew’s Gospel says that they’re from the East.  Some traditions hold that these wise men were Magi, a Priestly caste of Persian origin that followed Zoroastrianism and practiced the interpretation of dreams and portents and astrology.  Other traditions depict them with different ethnicities as the birth of this Messiah begins to move into the whole world.  But somewhere along the way, they had heard of the birth of this king and came to the obvious place where he might be—in the royal household.  So, sensing a rival, Herod sends these “wise ones” to find the new king so that he could “pay homage” to him.  We of course know that this was deceitful.  His intent was not to pay homage at all, but to destroy Jesus and stop what was about to happen to his empire.  It was the only way that he could preserve what he had.

According to the passage, the wise men know that Christ was born; they needed God’s guidance, though, to find where Christ was.  When they get to the place where the star has stopped, the passage tells us that they were “overwhelmed with joy”.  They knelt down and paid the new king homage and offered him gifts fit for a king.  Even though later interpreters have often tried to place specific meanings on these gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, it is possible that the writer of the Gospel According to Matthew probably simply thought that these gifts, exotic and expensive as they were, were gifts that would be worthy of a great and mighty king.  They were gifts of joy, gifts of gratitude, gifts of celebration.

And then the passage tells us that, heeding a warning in a dream, these wise and learned (and probably powerful) members of the court of Herod, left Bethlehem and returned to their own country, a long and difficult journey through the Middle Eastern desert.  Rather than returning to their comfortable lives and their secure and powerful places in the court of Herod, they left and went a different way.  They knew they had to go back to life.  But it didn’t have to be the same.

So they slip away.  Herod is furious.  He has been duped.  So he issues an order that all the children two years old and younger in and around Bethlehem should be killed.  The truth is that Jesus comes into the world as it actually is, not as we wish it to be.  Evil and greed are real and the ways of the world can and do crush life.

It is not really any different for us.  After all, what has changed?  Has Christmas produced for us some sort of “new normal”?  There are too many places in the world where wars still rage.  There are children that went to bed hungry last night and people in our own city that slept outside wrapped in anything that they could find hoping to stay warm.  And, in the midst of it all, Congress is still arguing over the federal budget and Obamacare and whatever else that they can argue about and make themselves known to their constituents.  What has changed?  Well, not much.  Truth be told, everything seems to have pretty much returned to normal.

But, then, think about that first Christmas.  This passage moves the story beyond the quiet safety of the manger.  We realize that the manger is actually placed in the midst of real life, with sometimes dark and foreboding forces and those who sometimes get it wrong.   The primary characters are, of course, God and these visitors, these foreign Gentiles who did not even worship in the ways of the Jewish faith.  They were powerful, intelligent, wealthy, and were accustomed to using their intellect and their logic to understand things.  You know, they were a lot like us.  But they found that the presence of the Divine in one’s life is not understood in the way that we understand a math equation.  It is understood by becoming it.

Maybe that’s the point about Christmas that we’ve missed.  Maybe it’s not just about the nativity scene.  Maybe it’s more about what comes after.  We often profess that Jesus came to change the world.  But that really didn’t happen.  Darkness still surrounded us.  Does that mean that this whole Holy Birth was a failure, just some sort of pretty, romantic story in the midst of our sometimes chaotic life?  Maybe Jesus didn’t intend to change the world at all; maybe Jesus, Emmanuel, God with Us, came into this world to change us.  Maybe, then, there IS a new normal.  It has to do with what we do after.  It has to do with how we choose to go back to our lives.  Do we just pick up where we left off?  Or do we, like those wise men choose to go home by another way?

Many of us bemoan what seems to be a take-over of our Christmas by the culture and the society.  We hear time and time again a calling to “put Christ back in Christmas”.  Well, I don’t think that’s the problem.  God in Christ has never left.  We are not called to put Christ back in Christmas; we are called to put ourselves there.  The story tells us that.  The young Mary didn’t just come on the scene for a starlit evening.  She was there, there at the cross.  Her whole life became immersed in this child that she brought into the world.  The shepherds stopped what they were doing, leaving their sheep on a hillside outside of Bethlehem with no protection from bandits or wild animals and thereby risking everything they knew, everything that would preserve their life the way it was.  And those so-called Wisemen?  They never went back.  They chose to go home by another way.

And what about us?  We are called to place ourselves in the story.  We all have to go back.  We all have to return to our lives.  But that manger so long ago is not that far removed from us.  In fact, it’s really sort of in the middle of our lives.  God did not just visit our little earth so long ago and then return to wherever God lives.  God came as Emmanuel, God with Us, and that has never changed.  The birth of Jesus means that God was born in a specific person in a specific place.  The Christmas story affirms to us that God is here, that the Messiah for whom we had waited has come, that we are in God’s hands.  But the Epiphany story moves it beyond the manger.  And all of a sudden we are part of the story.  We are part of the Incarnation of God, the manifestation of God’s Presence here on our little earth.  The God in whose hands we rest danced into our very lives and is now all over our hands.  It is our move.  God was not just born into the child Jesus; God is born into us, into humanity.  And the world really hasn’t changed.  But we have.  And we are called to change the world.


  1. What meaning does this hold for you?
  2. What “other way” are we called to travel?
  3. What do you think of the notion that Jesus came to change not the world itself but us?
  4. What new light (pun intended) does Epiphany shed on the meaning of Christmas for you?


Some Quotes for Further Reflection:

The desire to find God and to see God and to love God is the one thing that matters(Thomas Merton)

Get this first epiphany right–God perfectly hidden and perfectly revealed in the actual, and all the rest of the year will not surprise or disappoint you…If God can be manifest in a baby in a poor stable for the unwanted, then we better be ready for God just about anywhere and in anybody. The letting-go of any attempt to compartmentalize God will always feel dangerous and maybe even like dying…And it is both the ground and the goal of all mystical experience. Now God is in all things. We can no longer separate, exclude or avoid anybody or anything, especially under the guise of religion. We all, like the Magi, must now kneel and kiss the ground, throwing our own kingships to the wind…Afterwards, we are out of control, going back home by a different route, yet realigned correctly with what-is. Reality is still the best ally of God, and God always comes disguised as our life.  (Excerpts from “Epiphany:  You Can’t Go Home Again”, by Richard Rohr)

When the star in the sky is gone, When the Kings and Princes are home,

When the shepherds are back with their flocks, he Work of Christmas begins:

               To find the lost,

               To heal the broken,

               To feed the hungry,

               To release the prisoner,

               To teach the nations,

               To bring Christ to all,

                        To make music in the heart.  (Dr. Howard Thurman, ‘The Work of Christmas”)





It is not over, this birthing.  There are always newer skies into which God can throw stars.  When we begin to think that we can predict the Advent of God, that we can box the Christ in a stable in Bethlehem, that’s just the time that God will be born in a place we can’t imagine and won’t believe.  Those who wait for God watch with their hearts and not their eyes, listening, always listening for angel words. 

(Ann Weems, Kneeling in Bethlehem (Philadelphia:  Westminster Press, 1980), 85.)


Proper 10C: WHO, then, IS my neighbor?

Good Samaritan Showing MercyFIRST LESSON:  Amos 7: 7-17

To read the passage from Amos

The Book of Amos is included among the twelve minor prophets, called “minor” not because they are less significant but because the writings are shorter than Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel.  In ancient Judaism, these shorter prophetic writings were part of one scroll in the Temple.

Supposedly, Amos was called from his life as a shepherd in Judah to speak the word of the Lord to the Northern Kingdom of Israel.  He was probably more likely a person of some standing who traded sheep and goats in the agricultural market. During this time, the Northern Kingdom was experiencing a time of great prosperity under King Jeroboam, and they assumed that their power and privilege was a blessing from God to them as the chosen people.  But in their prosperity, they had forgotten the poor and the suffering and neglected to share their fruits with those in need.  Their religious observance had become rule-driven and devoid of social justice.  This is what prompted Amos’ message.

This passage from Amos is actually a depiction of Amos’ third vision in the midst of a total of five visions.  The vision is of God, the Divine Builder, standing beside a wall with a plumb line.  A plumb line is part of an ancient bit of construction technology, not really necessary with today’s advanced building methods.  The plumb bob is a heavy piece of lead in the shape of an inverted raindrop.  The point of the plumb bob, in perfect line with the plumb line, marks a perfect vertical drop between where the line begins and the ground below.  Used by stonemasons and builders for centuries, it would provide a measure for a perfectly straight wall.  So if something is “out of plumb”, so to speak, it is crooked, imperfect, unsightly, and may even be potentially dangerous.  The point is, sloppiness can skew or distort the entire picture.

So, the vision is of the Lord standing by a perfectly-constructed wall with a divine plumb line that will measure how “plumb” the people are.  According to the prophet, what is out of “plumb”, what is not the way it should be, will fall away.  Amos spells out a dire vision for the future of Israel:  the queen would become a prostitute, the royal children dying by sword, and the people of Israel taken into exile by foreigners.

So Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, reports to King Jeroboam II that Amos is conspiring the king’s death and Israel’s fall.  In doing this, the center of Israel is misunderstood as Jeroboam, and the sanctuary as the king’s.  There is a failure to recognize here that everything is really God’s.  Israel has forgotten its builder.

Amaziah tells Amos to leave and return to Judah and not bother the “status quo” in Israel.  He assumes that Amos is a “professional prophet” that can return and get his bread in Judah.  But Amos was not part of the religious establishment.  His legitimacy as a prophet comes from the fact that he IS an outsider (a herdsman and a dresser of sycamore trees).  Amos’ power is to disturb the status quo with his prophecy.  And in 721 BCE, the Northern Kingdom would fall into the hands of Assyria.

Amos’ words do not deny God’s Presence but rather the people’s (us?) unwillingness to live lives that reflect that presence of justice and mercy.  But God does not close a Divine eye to injustice.  Because, you see, it just doesn’t fit with the vision that God holds for the world and for us.  Amos just had the courage to speak the truth.


1)      What is your response to this passage?

2)      What does that image of the “plumb line” mean for you?

3)      How would our own society or our own church or even our own lives fare with this “plumb line” standard of measurement?  How does this speak to our culture today?

4)      Why is it so hard for us to hear and heed prophetic warnings?

5)      What is the difference between a question of perfection and a question of justice?



NEW TESTAMENT:  Colossians 1: 1-14

To read the passage from Colossians

Colossians is one of those letters that is attributed to Paul but that there are some doubts as to whether or not Paul actually penned the epistle.  It is one of those that is considered a “disputed” letter of Paul.  The practice was not uncommon to attach a teacher or mentor’s name to a work out of respect or reverence.

It begins with the author giving thanks for the faith of the people at Colossae.  The letter is complimentary of them, for they have shown love to others and it goes on by urging them to see themselves as part of something bigger that is expanding as time goes on.  The mention of Epaphras might even indicate that this person is the author of the letter and that he is using it to connect himself to Paul, but that is just speculation by some commentators.

The latter part of the passage that we read begins to reveal a key theme in the entire letter.  Against the claims of intruders who confuse this newfound faith with new theories and demands, the writer prays that the Colossians might have wisdom and knowledge and strength to hold fast in their faith.  He wants them to not get stressed over the intrusion of these other views, but to have peace in their own convictions in God who makes a place of belonging for each of us.

Colossians is written to Gentile Christians and the author is claiming that there is a place for them among the holy and chosen ones of Israel.  They, too, will share in the inheritance of a relationship with God that faith brings.  Here, coming to faith means moving from a system of authority and power into the realm and kingdom of Christ, which is characterized by love.  Here, believers will find redemption and forgiveness of sins.

Some are saying that God’s love is not so free, but depends on religious rites and achievements which must be performed if we are to be sure of getting past the powers which hold sway in this universe. The result can be religious preoccupation with our own destiny. We can become busy trying to justify ourselves and lose our perspective of what faith really is. We can do that by performing religious rites or doing many other things “religiously”. We can even make ourselves busy with overwork (even with church work!) to achieve that sense of being valued and ultimately coming through and finding a place of worth. Colossians is proclaiming a generous love which says: stop all this and believe in grace! You don’t have to become religious in this way. On the contrary, you can be liberated from such religion to be free to respond to God and others and yourselves with joy!  For the writer of this letter, hope in the present is grounded in our hope for the future.

Essentially, the writer is calling the Colossian believers to look at themselves.  What is it that they are known for—being “religious” or being “faithful”, being “good” or being “loving”?  It’s an interesting question.  How is your church described by those on the streets outside?


1)      What meaning does this passage hold for you?

2)      What, then, does this passage claim that faith is and what does it claim faith is not?

3)      What does the notion of “inheritance” mean for you?

4)      Why is it so difficult for us to not fall into the presumption that we need to somehow “earn” our place with God by being religious or being good?

5)      For what do you think our church would be known?  How would others characterize us?



GOSPEL: Luke 10: 25-37

To read the passage from the Gospel According to Luke

This is, of course, a familiar text.  So familiar, in fact, that we may or may not hear it completely.  We know what happens:  a man gets beat up and left for dead; a priest sees him and passes by; a Levite sees him and passes by; a Samaritan sees him and helps him.  The Samaritan wins the contest.

We read that it begins with a test of Jesus, perhaps a way of trying to catch Jesus up in his own words.  Because this well-learned person, this lawyer, this expert in the Law of Moses, already knew the answer to the question before he asked, these words so much a part of the Jewish faith.  “So, then, Jesus, (he asks smugly) what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind.”  Indeed, you shall love God with everything that you are.  And, just as importantly, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

But just having the right answer does not necessarily mean that we know God.  And when the man is told by Jesus to “Go and do,” he responds with his own tripping question.  “And who is my neighbor?”  Because in the learned man’s mind and in the society in which he lived his righteous and good life, some were considered acceptable neighbors and others were not.  Some were considered clean and righteous and worthy of respect according to religious law and some were not.  So, he thought, it is important for Jesus to of course clarify the directive to love your neighbor.  Well, of course, the expected reply would be something like “your relatives and friends; those who live their lives the way you do in respectable and acceptable ways; those who think like you and believe like you—THOSE are your neighbors.

But Jesus, in true Jesus-fashion, turned the assumed law upside down.  Because it is not about laws; it is about love.  And so Jesus tells what is now for us a familiar story.

The road that goes down from Jerusalem to Jericho is 17 miles long, dropping about 3,000 feet.  It is hazardous and filled with thieves and robbers, who beat and strip this man and leave him for dead.  Now note that Jesus leaves the man undescribed.  Jewish listeners would probably have assumed that he was one of them.  But, in all honesty, he could be anyone—no ethnicity, no particular religion, no certain economic status.  All we know about him is that he is just our neighbor.  In essence, Jesus is saying “I do not know his name because it doesn’t matter.  He is anyone who lies in need at life’s roadside.”

The first person that happens by is a priest.  He saw the poor man, but he passed by on the other side.  Now, in defense of the priest, religious law dictated that he could only touch those who were clean unless he washed again before he went to the Temple (but of course, we could beg the question of “How hard would that really have been?”).  Then a Levite passes by, also on the other side of the road.  As one who assisted the priest, perhaps he saw the priest pass by and assumed that he needed to do the same. (But then, that too, is really just an excuse.  If the priest had jumped off the cliff, would the Levite have done that?)

And then a Samaritan approached the wounded man.  Now you have to understand that the relationship between the Samaritans and the Jews was anything but friendly.  Both believed in God and both had a monotheistic understanding of the one true God, the YHWH of their shared belief.  But where the temple of YHWH for the Jews existed on Mount Zion in Jerusalem, the Samaritans instead worshipped God on Mount Gerazim near the ancient city of Shechem.  Though both were bound by the Law of Moses, each believed that their line of priests and their way of religious understanding was the right one.  What began as an argument in semantics some 1,000 years before the birth of Christ had escalated into a relationship based on hatred and violence and the perceived notion that the other was unacceptable.

But here is this Samaritan—an outsider, an undesirable—treating and bandaging the man’s wounds, risking defilement (probably even risking infection).  He then picked up the man and took him to a place of shelter, giving the innkeeper money out of his own pocket for the man’s lodging.  He did more than just supply band-aids, though.  He entered the man’s life and shared his own life with him.  Go and do likewise.

The point is that it is no longer enough just to be nice.  It means that it is not enough to give out the time and money and love that we can spare.  It means that this story is no longer about figuring out who your neighbor is.  It means, rather, that we are called to enter our neighbor’s life and allow them to enter ours.  It means that we realize that, as this passage says, love of God and love of neighbor are inseparable.  It means that we can become “fully human”, “fully made in the image of God” only by allowing ourselves to enter each others’ lives.

There is an African proverb that says, “I am human only because you are human.”  We need to see one another as neighbors in order to experience the community that God created for us.  We are all part of the neighborhood.    We are all called to be a part of each others’ lives.  Go and do likewise.

So, who, then, IS my neighbor?  Whose life am I called to enter and invite to enter mine?  Well, what this parable says is that the question is essentially moot.  Turn and look at the person next to you.  That is your neighbor.  Do you see the woman crossing the street looking for the food pantry?  She is your neighbor.  Do you see the person with whose lifestyle you do not understand, possibly do not condone?  Do you see the child in Africa, hungry with no safe water to drink and no real shelter?  That child is your neighbor.  Turn and look at the person on the other side of you.  Each and every one of God’s children is your neighbor.  Maya Angelou said that “I note the obvious differences between each sort and type.  But we are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.”  This parable defines everyone—friend, enemy, foreigner, threat—as “neighbor”.  And then tells us, that we shall love our neighbor as ourselves.

And by loving our neighbors with the same intensity and fervor that we love ourselves, there is no longer room for greed, self-promoting egoism, or violence.  There is no longer room for the prioritizing of our resources.  There is no longer room to value one life over another.  The road is no longer wide enough to simply pass by on the other side.  There is no person who is anything less than a neighbor.

Yes, sometimes, being a true neighbor is controversial and even dangerous business.  Sometimes being a neighbor means risking or even giving up part of yourself.  Henri Nouwen said, though, that “only when we have the courage to cross the road and look into one another’s eyes can we see that we are children of the same God and members of the same human family.”


1)      What meaning does this passage hold for you?

2)      What preconceived perceptions are usually attached to this story?

3)      With what character do you most identify in this story?

4)      So, who, then, is your neighbor?



Some Quotes for Further Reflection:

There can be little growth in holiness without growth in a sense of social justice. (Edward Hays)


To believe you can approach transcendence without drawing nearer in compassion to suffering humanity is to fool yourself.  There can be no genuine personal religious conversion without a change in social attitude. (William Sloane Coffin, Credo)


I note the obvious differences between each sort and type.  But we are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike. (Maya Angelou)




O God of every nation, of every race and land, redeem your whole creation with your almighty hand; where hate and fear divide us, and bitter threats are hurled, in love and mercy guide us, and heal our strife-torn world.


From search for wealth and power and scorn of truth and right, from trust in bombs that shower destruction through the night, from pride of race and station and blindness to your way, deliver every nation, eternal God, we pray.


Keep bright in us the vision of days when war shall cease, when hatred and division give way to love and peace, till dawns the morning glorious when truth and justice reign, and Christ shall rule victorious o’er all the world’s domain.



(William W. Reid, Jr., “O God of Every Nation”, 1958, UMH # 435)