Saturday, May 5, 2018

What Does the Fox Say?

It's been a couple weeks since we've seen them. They were so cute and adorable, 5 little foxes running and playing in our backyard, with their beautiful mom keeping a watchful eye. It was inevitable that they would leave, of course. That's the way things go--they are wild animals, after all. Their presence in our backyard, taking up residence under our shed for two weeks, taught me a couple of lessons, though, so I share those with you now.

It was late on a Tuesday that we first heard the sound--I thought it was some dog gone hoarse, barking when we let our dog out at night. It was a very eerie sound. After we heard it for 3 or 4 nights, Brock finally saw the fox one morning as he was tracking down the dog on her trek through the backyard. Not long after that, cute little fox babies started showing up, popping out of the hole their mom had dug under our shed.

Two or three times a day they would come out and play, depending on what else was going on in the area of our backyard, their mother keeping a watchful eye, running off if any threat arrived, as the kits scampered back under the shed. She'd run far enough to be out of danger, but close enough to see when the coast was clear and then return.

I understood her concern. I wished there was a way to let her know that I wasn't really a threat to her, that I thought she was wonderful and beautiful, and that I would do anything I could to help her. I also wanted to let her know that I understood being concerned about the kids playing in that yard: I only have 2, and I get worried they're going to get hurt or fall down the hill and land in the creek/drainage ditch...stuff like that, you know. I can't imagine how it was to try to keep track of 5!

In my musings about the momma fox, it began to dawn on me that the fox was teaching me some things about God...or God was teaching me through the fox, is probably more like it. That fox was beautiful; I was thrilled just to see her roaming around the backyard, watching her kits, barking (or whatever it is) at my dog. She was this delightful, amazing gift. I felt silly about it, but I wished there was some way I could make her understand how wonderful I thought she was and how much I would love to make sure she was protected and provided for, if there were any way that I could. This all seemed slightly unreasonable, though--I mean, she was a wild fox, and she showed up in my yard, dug out a spot under our shed for her babies, and made our home her home, for a while.

I began to wonder, is this how God feels when looking at me? Does God find delight in seeing me be me, doing the things God made me to be able to do? Does God think I'm beautiful and lovely? Does God desire the best for me, long to see me safe and flourishing? Does God wish I would understand all of that? Maybe so. Maybe this is the beginning of understanding it better than I already thought I did.

As for the foxes, I'll be looking for a flash of orange in the woods all summer...maybe I'll catch of a glimpse of them in the wild, doing what God made them to do...

Oh, and if you're wondering what the fox says, watch a women's tennis match--that loud scream/grunt so many tennis players make these days is the closest we've come to finding a similar sound...

Thursday, January 4, 2018

But It's Not Fair!

In the "better late than never" category, here is my sermon from my Longest Night of the Year Service on December 21. If you've read much of this blog, you know that I post this sermon every year. Now that I'm in campus ministry, I did not have a Christmas Eve service because I had no students to have a service for! This was certainly a change for me, and I am grateful that the pastor of the church I now attend allowed me to lead a Longest Night Service in his church.

Without further ado, here are some thoughts for these long winter nights...

“But It’s Not Fair!”
Luke 1:5-25, 67-79
Longest Night Sermon 2017

As a parent of a 6-year-old, I am learning a lot about what is not fair in life. Maybe you are familiar with this…maybe not. Here are some examples: It’s time for bed…but that’s not fair! It’s time to put your video game away…but that’s not fair! No, you can’t eat dinner in front of the TV tonight…but that’s not fair! (The list goes on, as you can well imagine.)

Sometimes, I think that of all the people in the Christmas story, Zechariah had the most reason to judge the unfairness of his situation. I can’t blame him for being scared out of his mind when an angel showed up, and for asking what the angel thought were too many questions--for wanting a little more information. Who wouldn’t?!

In those 9 months that Zechariah couldn’t speak, I wonder how many times he thought to himself, “But it’s not fair!” Did he see Elizabeth struggle with her pregnancy and want to comfort and reassure her, but couldn’t because he couldn’t speak? Did he see his neighbors with questioning looks and want to say something to them…but he couldn’t speak? Did he hear the news about Elizabeth’s relative Mary and want to say something about it…but he couldn’t speak? It hardly seems fair for an old man who had been faithful all his life to go through what Zechariah went through…just because he wanted to know more. As an inquisitive person, myself, I am totally sympathetic to Zechariah’s interest in asking for more information from the angel.

As a person who thrives on order, I am sympathetic to some other ways that Zechariah may have felt things just weren’t fair. Here, he and Elizabeth had been faithful people all their lives long. He was even a priest, and yet they still had no children! Of course, they had no knowledge of biology and fertility issues…they just knew that the one blessing they most desired had not materialized, and it didn’t look in any way hopeful, before the angel showed up that day. Now, how is that fair?

I know a number of people asking that same question this time of year—a number of clergywomen whose deepest desire is to have babies of their own, yet they find themselves preaching about Elizabeth and Mary, year after year, with no miracle child to rejoice over, themselves. It is painful…and it seems totally unfair.

We gather here tonight with a lot of “but it’s not fairs” crying out from our souls. Though this is “the most wonderful time of the year,” it doesn’t seem fair that Christmas is coming and that person we have loved for so long isn’t here to share it this year. Though every TV commercial is about giving or getting the perfect gift, the bank account balks at spending money to give those gifts, and it doesn’t seem fair. Though we want to sing “Joy to the World” with joy, our minds and our hearts are heavy with the burdens of the every day, with the weight of caring for our bodies and souls and the bodies and souls of others. We see friends struggling or grieving, and their hurt doesn’t seem fair. We know of church members who face insurmountable odds, grief too painful even to mention, and we want to know from God why things are so unfair. Though we talk about the Light of the World, we feel like people walking in darkness. It’s just not fair. Maybe we’re all there with Zechariah, and that’s why we came here tonight. We want to know how God is really going to make things right, after all that has gone wrong. We see where there is darkness that longs for light. We wish we could avoid it ourselves, and protect others from it, too. But we know we can’t. We want to know why this world is still so broken, after all this time. And we want God to fix it—and to fix us—now!

Zechariah had 9 months to wait, to see what would happen, to meet this promised child, to be able to share his thoughts aloud again. Maybe in 9 months, I will understand more how it’s going to make me stronger, or my friends, or family members, or church members, that all these unfair things have happened. Maybe in 9 more months, my friends who want so badly to have children of their own will have different news or a different understanding of how God is calling them to be parents, even if not of their own children, or a peace that they desire so much right now because of this emptiness they feel without a baby to hold. Maybe in 9 more months, my friends who grieve this Christmas will have found more strength from the journey of grief, from getting themselves out of bed each day, even though knowing it would be another day without that loved one who has died.

After 9 months, Zechariah could talk again. I bet he had a lot to say! Because it just wasn’t fair, what happened to him! But that’s not what he talked about, as the scripture tells it. He didn’t rant and rave about what he’d been through, what God had put him through, how life seemed unfair. No. He prophesied. Instead of all the “it’s not fair” thoughts, Holy Spirit words tumbled out of his mouth, proclaiming praise to God, recounting a history full of God’s goodness and mercy, and seeing into a future no one would have guessed but everyone would dream of.

Zechariah’s story reminds us of something the Bible shows us time and time again: that even from those who despair and who face what may seem unjust, for those who are righteous, there is somewhere deep inside of them the knowledge that God is good and that there will be reason to praise God again, after the silence, after the darkness, after the waiting, after the pain. We see this in the psalms—that the psalmist is willing to cry out to God and say things about what he thinks aren’t fair—things we have been told you should never say to God! And most of the time, the psalmist says the hard things, shouts out his feelings and his discontent with his situation and even with God…but then almost always ends up by recounting how good God is. Zechariah’s story ends up this same way.

It’s dark tonight. We feel a bit broken. We may feel like people who have no ability to say what needs to be said, not because an angel came and visited us but because life isn’t fair and darkness gets in there, disorients us, pours fear and anxiety into the holes in our souls where Christ’s light should be shining through. Zechariah sat mute, perhaps in a personal darkness that seemed entirely unfair. Let his words remind us that the darkness does not win, that what we are waiting for gives us the hope to face new days and even dark nights: “Because of our God’s deep compassion, the dawn from heaven will break upon us, to give light to those who are sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide us on the path of peace.” (Luke 1:78-79 CEB)

The light will come again. Life may not seem fair yet, but we wait with hope for the day that the light dawns, that justice and peace reign, that all things are redeemed, and that God’s deep compassion pours over all creation again. We wait with hope. Even when it’s not fair. Because God is good. Because God is with us. Because Christ will come again. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Meeting Jesus

I wrote this a little while ago, and it's finally making it here...

As I was leaving the food pantry yesterday with both kids, Jesus caught me, needing a ride to the doctor. He was a woman, probably in her 50s, with thick, curly hair, tan lines on her feet from other sandals, and a penchant for sharing more information than people wanted to hear. She wouldn't get into my car until I had cleared the entire floorboard in front of the front passenger seat. Her cell phone fell apart--the battery cover coming off and the battery falling out--as she got in the car. She claimed she was waiting for the public transit, but that driver was taking lunch, and the doctor had called and told her she needed to come in and see him. She said she didn't know why, but she hoped it was nothing bad. She rattled on about where she lived--in that yellow trailer on the corner in the mobile home park just down the street, but she really didn't like it there--that she had to go to Kingsport in the morning and wouldn't have time to eat breakfast before that long drive...she asked what I thought of "that clip," referring to the solar eclipse that had happened the day before. She talked about how long she had been going to church and how often she prayed. When I dropped her off, she offered me money for gas, but I declined, noting that we are supposed to help each other out. She hugged me and thanked me and told me she loved me. She said she was hesitant to pick up hitchhikers, too, but that she's a nice one, she's always nice to people and she loves everybody. Yeah, I'm pretty sure it was Jesus. I almost missed him. I'm sure glad I didn't, though.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Let's Go Now!

Let’s Go Now!
2016 Christmas Eve Sermon
Luke 2:8-20

At the church-related elementary school I attended, the kindergarteners always acted out the Christmas story while the older classes narrated, reciting from the King James Version of Luke 2. At the appropriate time, the angels stepped onto a riser about the same height as the kneeling rail, so I suppose they were to appear as, in some sense, suspended in the air. The spotlight shone on them as the good news was pronounced to some poor shepherds down on the floor. The heavenly host consisted of 3 5-year-olds in converted white bed sheets with nylon wings and gold and silver garland halos. The year I was in kindergarten, my twin sister and I took our places on the riser, and the video evidence will forever show that my sister did not assume the appropriate cherubic posture quickly enough to suit me, which resulted in a swift elbowing from me and an emphatic show of standing the proper way. I am certainly thankful YouTube did not exist then!!
I wonder, what was it like when that first angel appeared to those unsuspecting shepherds? Was there any sort of warning? Did the hair on the back of their necks stand up, like when lightning is about to strike nearby? Did a vortex appear in the clouds, like in a science fiction movie? I imagine that when the heavenly host appeared to the shepherds, there was more coordination than 5-year-olds elbowing each other, jostling for the appropriate position. Though we think of angels as sweet and beautiful, with really nice singing voices, there must be something more to them than that: something very frightening. Perhaps you have seen the movie Dogma, a late-90s spoof on Catholicism, where an angel appears in bedrooms in the middle of the night, with a great deal of commotion, loud noise, a deep booming voice, and some fire and smoke. (You haven’t seen it? Well, don’t go rent it this holiday season…unless you already know who Jay and Silent Bob are and you like their movies…) While much of that movie is very irreverent, perhaps they are on to something with how angels appear: there must be something terrifying about a member of the heavenly host showing up on earth! There’s probably good reason the shepherds quaked, as the song says. Here was heaven, coming to earth suddenly, unstoppably, forcefully, even, as a whole host of them show up and start singing—singing not of their work but of what God has done, off yonder in a manger somewhere, a baby born to save the whole world. It was good news, but it sure was a surprise!
We don’t know much about the shepherds. Maybe they were outlaws. Maybe they actually owned their own sheep and were just working-class guys. Undoubtedly, they were smelly and dirty, and very unusual guests in a home in Bethlehem in the middle of the night (or did they arrive after daybreak—how long did it take to walk there?). No matter how much they might not have fit in there, though, they went—because when the heavens are torn open and God’s glory is revealed, you go—“Let’s go now,” they said. “Let’s go now and see it!” And they headed out, maybe still a bit scared, also very excited…and not skeptical. They didn’t say, “Let’s go see if this is really true. We’ve never seen angels before, so we don’t know if they’re really trustworthy…” Nope. They got themselves up off the ground and headed out: “Let’s go now to Bethlehem and see about what God has revealed to us!” And off they went!
Few people that I know of have ever seen anything like a messenger from heaven breaking through the atmosphere and setting up a racket to get their attention and sing about what God is up to. We’re just not that attuned to heaven coming near to earth—it seems a bit out of place, most of the time. We’re asked to believe a lot of things at this time of year. It seems that just the time some kind of feel-good story makes the news, someone’s questioning or debunking it. How much can we really believe? In our ordinary lives, angels don’t just interrupt our work or our sleep; bushes don’t burn without being consumed; donkeys don’t talk; the sun doesn’t stop in the sky. Though we may look for God in many places, so often we are attuned to how very “normal” our lives are. What is supernatural seems unlikely, maybe even unwelcome. What is not “normal” must have a scientific explanation. Everything can be explained. Everything.
But Christmas is a special time of year. Maybe we expect a random miracle, this time of year—or a brief glimpse of heavenly light, a faint sound of angel’s wings fluttering by. For all our explaining and planning and doing what we normally do, we stop at Christmas and expect something big to happen—maybe just because we know the story and we believe it, despite the skeptics. Hearing the Christmas story year after year makes space in our lives for the wonderful, the strange, the mysterious, the unexpected—the surprise of the supernatural—even despite ourselves, sometimes. One wonders if the angel tried to appear to shepherds in another field, but they were asleep or too busy to pay attention…not so for us, in this moment. In this moment, no matter how much we may have ignored it the rest of the year, we hear the angels; we know that heaven has touched earth. We may have been busy the whole rest of this season. Maybe Advent has come and gone and we hardly paid attention. But we’re here tonight. We have gathered expecting something. Finally, we have stopped and come to the place where we know heaven and earth meet because God is here. Though we may not expect God to show up anywhere else, we know for sure that God will be here, in church, especially on Christmas Eve. And we hear the good news now, too. With the shepherds, we see the angels show up—it’s scary and amazing and exciting, all at once! The news is that the world has been changed, that heaven has come down to earth, not just as angels breaking through the skies, but as a baby, placed in a manger, in some tucked away corner of Bethlehem, to some quiet, unknown parents (and they’re not even married yet!).
“Let’s go now,” the shepherds said. “Let’s go now and see about what God has revealed to us.” And after they went (with haste!) and saw, they told everyone there what they had seen and heard, and they left, praising and glorifying God. Once they saw the Savior of the world, they weren’t done being excited! They kept on praising God for this good news, even as they went back to the place they had come from—back to their normal lives, with smelly, dirty sheep…maybe checking the heavens every now and then, just in case…just in case…

Let’s go now. You and I. Let’s gather before the manger and see the creator of the universe, come as a helpless baby. Let’s gather and see the one who is able to redeem us, to make us spotless before God. Let’s gather at his table, hear the words of life and grace and love and peace we need to hear—not from angels but from the very Savior himself. And then, let’s go. Let’s go out into the world, glorifying and praising God, along with the shepherds…along with the blind who see and the deaf who hear and the lame who leap…along with the oppressed who are freed and the hungry who are fed…let’s go now, and share the grace and love of God. Love has come. Christ is born. Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors! Merry Christmas!

Darkness Will Fade

Darkness Will Fade
2016 Longest Night of the Year Sermon
December 21, 2016

Isaiah 9:2-7
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light.
    On those living in a pitch-dark land, light has dawned.
You have made the nation great;
    you have increased its joy.
They rejoiced before you as with joy at the harvest,
    as those who divide plunder rejoice.
As on the day of Midian, you’ve shattered the yoke that burdened them,
    the staff on their shoulders,
    and the rod of their oppressor.
Because every boot of the thundering warriors,
    and every garment rolled in blood
    will be burned, fuel for the fire.
A child is born to us, a son is given to us,
    and authority will be on his shoulders.
    He will be named
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
There will be vast authority and endless peace
    for David’s throne and for his kingdom,
    establishing and sustaining it
    with justice and righteousness
    now and forever.
The zeal of the Lord of heavenly forces will do this.

To say that darkness has seeped in a bit this year would be an understatement. It seems the darkness has been busy extinguishing bits and pieces of light in my life for quite a while, and I hardly even noticed it until recently—kind of like when the light fixture in your den keeps having bulbs burn out and it’s not until you’re down to 2 and you can hardly see across the room that you realize just how dark it’s gotten in there. Sometimes, the invasion of darkness is quiet and slow and almost unrecognizable…
All of this makes me wonder if Isaiah’s “people who walked in darkness” even knew they were walking in darkness. It makes me think of my childish impressions of what people call “the dark ages”: Were there really no lights then? Did everyone just stumble around blindly, grasping for things? Did the sun not shine for a whole epoch of time?

That’s silly, but still I wonder: how do we know when we’re people who are walking in darkness? Maybe it’s not until we see the light that we realize how dark it’s gotten. Our bathroom light fixture has two bulbs in it; one had been out for quite some time—I had forgotten it was even there—and when the other one blew, we replaced both, and we were amazed at how bright it was! We could see ourselves in the mirror again!

Isaiah says,
“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light.
    On those living in a pitch-dark land, light has dawned.”

This time of year we don’t have to imagine what walking in darkness is like. As the literal darkness comes upon us, there are many who suffer mental and emotional distress just from the lack of daylight we experience. When we set our clocks back the first of last month, we may have been surprised by the darkness that seemed to come out of nowhere, but we’ve gotten used to it by now, most days.
But no, Isaiah’s people weren’t stuck without sunlight for years and years. They seemed without guidance, without one to lead them home, without the presence of the God they had had to leave behind in Jerusalem. They walked as though they couldn’t see where they were going because God seemed so far from them. They lived through war and political maneuvering that left them without much hope for the kind of life they felt promised by the scriptures they had always read, the God they had (almost) always worshiped.
If you haven’t stumbled around in the dark recently with the threat of stepping on Legos, I’d say you’re not missing much. Though many of us seem to have a knack for finding darkness on our own, its undeniable creep gets to us all, at times. Isaiah doesn’t promise that the darkness all goes away, but he does proclaim the arrival of a light that, at the very least, holds the darkness at bay. This light makes it possible to see where one is going, to have a sense of direction and purpose, to find hope even when much of life seems uncertain.
Isaiah speaks of one who is to come, who will be called Wonderful Counselor—that is, whose decisions will be wise; Mighty God—that is, a son of God; Eternal Father—that is, one who will care for the people of Israel; and Prince of Peace—that is, one who will no longer wage violence and war but a way of life that sustains the value of the people, rather than oppressing them. For Isaiah’s first listeners, this would have been a king—a real, true king, one of David’s line. This child who was born would be an earthly ruler anointed by God to shepherd the people Israel. So many years later, we hear these words differently…
In the midst of darkness, we await a Wonderful Counselor, whose wisdom will turn our hearts to the right and set us on paths that lead to life. We await a Mighty God, whose power will not be like the grasping, insecure power of rulers who seek to dominate and control others, but whose might will deliver us from the brokenness we continue to wage upon ourselves and each other. We await an Everlasting Father, who will care for us in ways an earthly father could never even imagine—one whose protection, nurture, support, and even discipline will be life-giving and life-changing. We await a Prince of Peace, whose peace will engender freedom and wholeness for all people. In the midst of darkness, we know with Isaiah the hope that darkness will fade, that one will again come into our lives who will brighten up all the darkest corners of us and turn the deepest midnight into light. Indeed, that one has come…and will come again!
If you find yourself in darkness this season…if the darkness has crept in, just a little bit, or overwhelmingly, take heart—have hope—a child is born to us, and he is everything we’ve been waiting for in the dark. And his light makes the darkness fade—sometimes slowly, as his love gently takes us back over from darkness; sometimes dramatically, as we see what has been hidden in plain view and turn back to his ways.

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness will not overcome it.” Thanks be to God. Amen.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Confessions of a PastorWifeMom

I haven't written a blog post for a long time. I confess I've been a bit preoccupied with a few things...

There was a moment of joy, the thrill of being out all by myself, sometime at the end of May or the beginning of June. I forget exactly when it was. The newborn was all set to be without me, for at least an hour. I left the house by myself, for the first time since said child had arrived on the scene on April 13th (the day the stomach virus that had made its way through the 4-year-old and the husband finally got to me). It was the last time I got my hair cut. That was just about 6 months ago.

6 months. In that time, I have contemplated scores of blog posts. I've even started writing several of them, typed with one hand on my cell phone, while the baby nursed (I found 3 nearly finished ones in the Memo app when I saved this one there...I mean, I'm writing this one on my phone while I wait for the pharmacy to get both the prescriptions the pediatrician's office sent in earlier, after both boys were diagnosed with walking pneumonia this morning.) I keep thinking there will be a time when I will get everything done. Won't the day come when I feel like I have accomplished all I wanted to, as a pastor, as a mother, as a wife...a responsible adult...but I confess it feels like I am always waiting for the time to show up when this will all happen. And I confess that waiting and trying to do it all leaves me frustrated, more often than not.

You know how many things I've started in my life and never finished? More books than I can probably count (books I started reading, not books I started writing, just to be clear!). Multitudinous art and crafty projects. Plans for what to do with old high school t-shirts. Scrapbooks from any time period--I've never finished a one. Add to that the number of times I haven't cleaned the house and you might wonder what I ever do with any of my time...

My family could answer that: I work. A lot.

But you know what I want to do with my time? I want to write (well, and read, too). I would love to find the time some of my colleagues find, to publish, either on the internet or in actual book form, nearly every thought it seems they have. In fact, I have a Bible study on the book of Joel that I think may just be worth publishing, now that I've reworked it and taught it several times. I even joined a professional organization almost expressly because it has an agreement with a publisher, and I thought that would be a way to get this Bible study at least considered for publishing. I still haven't figured out how to do that through this organization, but at least I've gained some colleagues and found some useful Facebook groups, anyway.

Sometimes I wonder if everyone has these dreams they fully expect never to realize. I assume they do...but then I know some people do get published, and some do find themselves in the ministry setting they've always longed for. Some people do feel like all of their gifts and talents are being used to the best of their ability. So, I don't know what I should do differently. I know I need a haircut. I know I don't regret that the time and energy I have left after I spend too much of it on the church/denomination and other organizations I serve goes to being a wife and a mother--and sometimes that's not nearly enough time or energy for either of those. I want to write...but I want to love my children and my husband more. I guess that's not too bad of a thing to confess, after all. And maybe it's just the season I'm in right now. And that's ok.

But I sure could use a haircut.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Words Fail...

It's Friday afternoon. The baby is still asleep in the car seat, where he has been since we returned from a trip to the eye doctor a while ago. Older brother and dad are gone on an outing for the day. There's nothing good on TV at 3:00 on a Friday afternoon. As I look around the room for what to do next--some work on my day off? What else is there to do? I guess I could fold some laundry--I see the blog post I had started to hand write last night. Last night. When what was on my mind was two police shootings of black men in two days. Last night. When the news of 200+ killed in Iraq by ISOL was still rolling around in the back of my mind, trying to make some sense, though it happened days ago. Last night. Before I got up and saw today's news.

Today. What do I write now? I have had blog posts in my head for months now, but never the time to type them up and publish them. And none of them is terribly important, now. Not now. Not with today's news. 11 police officers shot, 5 of them dead, in Dallas. A (black) man found hanged in a public park in Atlanta. 4 people shot, 1 dead, in Bristol, TN--much closer to home. All of that added to the week's other news is a lot of loss. A lot of brokenness. A lot of hurt. Not a lot of sense...

What do I write now? Our heat pump has been repaired. We might actually have functioning air-conditioning for the rest of the summer. The trip to the eye doctor's office was a bust because the contact manufacturer sent contacts with the wrong prescription. The baby is still asleep. He's been asleep for most of the afternoon, except to nurse for a few minutes. What does all this news mean to him, anyway?

 But what about the news? What is there to say? And what will I stand in the pulpit and say on Sunday? I wish I could say that I won't think about it because today is my day off. But what will I say? For now, I will listen. Words fail. I will have to preach on Sunday. It will have to be God's words. I cannot ignore the news any longer, though there's something "safe" in just preaching what I had already planned on. I have to say something, though. Something about this news, about this darkness that has been closing in all week...I will have to do something, too. For now, words fail.

Lord, have mercy on us all. Amen.