Monday, June 30, 2014

"Welcome" - a sermon for Pride Sunday

Preached by the Rev. Mike Angell at Christ Church Cathedral on Sunday, June 29, 2014



If you sort of cringe when you hear welcome, from me, I understand. I only arrived to St. Louis in January. This is my first Sunday sermon at the Cathedral. Who am I to welcome you? I learned to be careful with the word “welcome” at my previous church in Washington, DC. On one of my first Sundays as a priest there, I said “Welcome to St John’s” to a distinguished looking lady, who turned and said to me, “thank you, but I’ve been worshipping here for 50 years, my husband was the former rector.” I learned to be careful with the word “welcome.”

The word “welcome” at church can also be cringe-worthy because doesn’t mean much. Welcome has become a cliché in many churches and not much more. Churches love to say they are welcoming. Every church likes to say “we are a welcoming community.” But by and large churches are terrible at welcome. Historically the Church has been really good at making people feel unwelcome. We’re good at labeling insiders and outsiders.

So if my saying “welcome” at church makes you uneasy, know that I am with you. And at the same time, I think Jesus really valued welcome. In this passage we have from Matthew’s gospel he uses the word a lot. What does he mean? Spoiler alert: I don’t think he is talking about ushers.

But before we explore that word “welcome,” there’s this other word Jesus repeats: “Reward.” I have to admit I’m interested when Jesus uses that word: reward. Apparently if we welcome, we get prizes. Jesus sounds a bit like Oprah here, “you get a car, and you get a car, and you get a car.” I asked the Dean if we could put a certificate for a car under everyone’s seat this morning. He seemed to think it was beyond the budget. Sorry about that.

So what is the reward we get for welcome? You’ll have to wait until the end of the sermon for that. To get to the reward, we have to talk about what welcome means.

What is this “welcome “that Jesus talks about?

Welcome really is one of the central themes of Jesus’ ministry, and I can’t spend all of the time that I want on welcome, because, frankly, I want to get out to the Pride Parade on time.

So here, in two points, are my thoughts on welcome.

Point one: Deep welcome transforms us. When we say “welcome” there is a power relationship at play. Think about it, the word “welcome” as we use it implies insiders and outsiders. “Welcome to my house.” “Welcome to our church.” Do you hear the dynamic? That power differential is what trips up churches. Churches are often “in crowds.” Historically the church has been a guardian of who is in and who is out. When we “welcome” without examining this history, this power dynamic, we can do violence. “Welcome” in the church has often meant, “you are welcome if you learn to act like us.” You are welcome if you talk like us, think like us, believe like us. You’re welcome if you stand up and sit down and sing and speak when we do. This has nothing to do with the kind of welcome Jesus is talking about.

The word we translate as “welcome” in Matthew is literally “to receive.” For Jesus,”to welcome” is not to try to make someone like you, it is to receive from them. Welcome is not about teaching the outsider when to stand and when to sit. To welcome like Jesus the “welcomer,” becomes the student of the welcomed. To welcome like Jesus is to invite the outsider into your life so deeply, to welcome them so profoundly, that we allow them to transform who we are.

To welcome, following Jesus, is to invert the power relationship. To make the insider the student of the outsider, to allow those who are welcomed to transform us.

We know this kind of welcome, but it is a rare gift. This kind of transformative welcome, welcoming someone into your life in a way that transforms you, this is a rare welcome, but we all know it. It happens to us on an individual level, a familial level, a church or community level, and on a society wide level. We know the welcome Jesus is talking about.

On the Individual level: We’re celebrating Alicia and Betsy today, a couple who have chosen to deeply welcome one another, to allow someone else into their individual life. Today we celebrate one of the church’s sacraments of welcome, of two people receiving one another, welcoming one another deeply. Alicia and Betsy are the sign and symbol of that beautiful gift, and that hard work of welcoming the other today. My husband Eli can tell you, it’s not easy to welcome someone into your life. Whether you are married or you have deep transformative friendships, you know that inviting someone into your life deeply causes you to learn, to grow, to change. This really isn’t easy, but it helps us to grow up. This is the individual way we practice the kind of welcome Jesus invites us to.

We also practice this welcome on the level of family. Eli and I just got back Friday from welcoming our new niece Claire into the world. My sister and her husband had a healthy baby girl on Monday. She is adorable, and she will change the very fabric of our family. Whoever she grows up to be, her personality, her passion, will cause all of us to learn. If she likes ballet, you can bet our family will start to like ballet. If she likes monster trucks, that would change our family too. Claire will transform us, and she has already transformed us. We all have to play new roles. Eli and I were transformed into uncles. My parents became grand-parents. Being open, vulnerable to this kind of change, that is the way we welcome as families, one of the ways we learn to welcome in the way Jesus invites us to welcome.

This Church also knows about what it means to practice this welcome as a community. I remember studying Christ Church Cathedral in seminary. When Dean Michael Allen proclaimed “This Church has AIDS” he, and you, took a bold step for the Episcopal Church. He said, along with St. Paul, if “one part of the body suffers, we all suffer.” The words and actions of this Cathedral showed deep welcome, transformative welcome. Christ Church Cathedral didn’t just tolerate the presence of people living with HIV. This community was transformed by the presence of those who were suffering. Welcoming people with HIV/AIDS changed who Christ Church was, for the better. This church became an example of compassion and of activism for the wider church and the wider world. That is what it means to practice Jesus’ welcome as a community.

We are also working to practice this kind of welcome as a Society: Did you hear about the mayor of St. Louis welcoming same sex couples to his office to marry them. Defying the State of Missouri he said, enough is enough. This welcome transforms our society. Those of us in same-sex marriages are often accused of wanting to change the definition of marriage. I’m here to confirm those fears. I think two people who are of the same gender marrying one another does redefine marriage for heterosexuals. It does challenge traditional marriage. Because when two people who are equal in terms of the power relationship of gender, when two people who are of the same gender marry each other, they are on equal footing. Two people of the same gender are equal partners. This messes with the inherited “power imbalance” our society has given opposite sex couples. Same-sex marriage causes us to reject the idea that one partner should have power over another. Welcoming same sex couples into marriage redefines marriage, transforms marriage, transforms us as a society.

That is what welcome does, at least in the teaching of Jesus. Welcome, real welcome, transforms us. Jesus doesn’t leave it there, which brings me to my second point about welcome: We meet God, by welcoming the other. “If you welcome in my name, you welcome me, and you welcome the one who sent me.”

In Jesus’ teaching, God is a god of welcome. Let me repeat that. The God of Jesus is a god of welcome. The God of Jesus is not a god of insiders and outsiders. God is the god of everyone. No exceptions. As South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu says, “All, All! All! Black, white…rich, poor, clever, not so clever, beautiful, not so beautiful…All is radical…gay, lesbian, so-called-straight, All!” God doesn’t pay attention to our categories of discrimination, the God of Jesus is a God who welcomes all.

And God has a passionate desire that we know that kind of welcome, the love of God at is available to ALL of us. God wants us to know love, and we learn that love by welcoming those our world considers outsiders. That is what it means to know God, to know and love the welcoming God. “Whoever welcomes you, welcomes me.” God wants to be known, and we know God better when we tear down the walls that divide us.

This is the reward Jesus is talking about. We learn to know this embarrassingly welcoming God when we go learn from those who our society considers outsiders. We know God when we cross the boundaries of race, religion, culture and class, gender and sexual orientation. When we welcome one another deeply, when we look for Christ in others and let those who we think of as “other” become our teacher, we will learn to know God better.

This is the reward, relationships that will transform us to be more like the God who is truly catholic, in the original sense of that word. God is universal. God welcomes us all, and invites us to welcome those different from us. This is the reward, and trust me, from what I know, it is way better than one of Oprah’s cars. When we learn to welcome one another, we taste a fraction of the love God has for us. When we overcome our prejudices and welcome the other as our teacher, we can glimpse the kingdom of the God who welcomes us all.

So, welcome.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

"Law and Grace. Grace and Law." - A sermon for Pentecost Sunday.

Preached by the Very Rev. Mike Kinman at Christ Church Cathedral at 10 am on Sunday, June 8, 2014

And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each.…All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "What does this mean?"
Law and grace. Grace and law.

Our life together in the Spirit of Christ is the place where these two things meet

…and do battle.

…and kiss

…and collide

Law and grace. Grace and law.

From the church’s birth it has been this way. And so it remains today.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is Christianity’s holiest site. It is built over the spots where since the second century, tradition has held that Jesus was crucified and died, his body anointed and buried, and from where he rose again.

For nearly two thousand years, millions of pilgrims have visited the Church. It has been torn down and burned, only to be rebuilt and torn down and burned and rebuilt again. During the Crusades, it was a place thousands killed and died for.

Even in recent centuries, which Christian group controls this holy site has been a matter of intense conflict. For most of the past 200 years, three primary groups have shared custody of the Church – the Orthodox, represented by the Greeks, the Armenian Apostolics and the Roman Catholics, represented by Franciscan monks.

This shared custody is governed by a law … an intricate set of rules called the status quo that regulates everything that happens in the common areas including the chapels of Jesus’ tomb. The status quo is so exacting, you can’t move a candlestick a millimeter without getting consent from all the communities.

The diverse custodians of the church take this law incredibly seriously. Ten years ago, when the Orthodox were having one of their liturgies, the door to the Franciscan Chapel was left open when it was supposed to be closed. The Orthodox took this as a sign of disrespect, and a fistfight broke out. For leaving a door open.

That’s how tightly controlled life inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is. It is a place of law. And my first reaction to it was sadness. Sadness that these groups of deeply faithful people, each dedicating their life to Christ -- albeit in radically different ways -- can’t just get along.

And yet, there’s a flip side to it. And that is despite the occasional flareup, the law of the status quo has allowed these diverse followers of Jesus peacefully to share custody of this holiest and most contentious of spaces for nearly 200 years.

We long for a day when we don’t need law. We long for a day when we live together in such pure mutual love, loving one another as Christ loved us, that law becomes unnecessary. But until that day, law has its purpose. Until that day, law provides the scaffolding for love.

And here’s the thing. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is not just a place of law. It’s also a place of grace.

A week ago last Tuesday night, three of my fellow pilgrims and I entered the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at 9 pm and watched from the inside as the door was closed and locked behind us, sealing us and 8 others in until 5 the next morning.

As the sound of the door closing echoed throughout this now-empty space, a Franciscan monk gathered us around and said quietly:

There are three rules: No singing. No sleeping. No candles.

Then he lifted his head and said with a gentle smile:

“The church is yours.”

Think about that. In one of the most tightly controlled spaces in Christendom, where leaving a door open can trigger a fistfight, 15 total strangers were invited in and told words that the factions of the status quo could never say to one another:

“The church is yours.”

There was no vetting procedure to spend the night there. We didn’t even get Googled. How could they? They never even asked our names! We just showed up early that morning at the Franciscan sacristy and said, “we are four pilgrims from America, and we would like to spend the night in the Church.” And the brother looked at us and said, “OK. Come back before 9 tonight. I’ll remember you.”

I had a backpack on when I walked into that church. It had some water and a sweatshirt and various devotional items, but for all anyone knew it could have had explosives or cans of spray paint or even a fifth of scotch for a late night bender at the foot of the cross. They never checked. They never even asked.

In this place governed for centuries by intricate and severe laws that you break at the peril of international ecclesiastical incidents, we were the beneficiaries of deep and radical grace. And because of all of it … the law of the status quo and the grace of the invitation … that night, those of us who were there had an experience of Christ that at least in my life is unparalleled in its depth and power.

No singing. No sleeping. No candles.

The church is yours.

Law and grace. Grace and law.

As a Cathedral whose mission includes the charge “Embrace diversity joyfully,” we love the story of Pentecost. We love the diversity of people each hearing the Gospel in their own language. We love the Acts story because even though it is a story of cacophony … like when we read it in different languages this morning … the cacophony is short-lived, and having dipped our toes in its chaos, we quickly go back to just hearing our own language, comfortable in its familiarity.

But that’s not the story of Pentecost. Pentecost is not the story of God gathering a diversity of people and either molding them into one homogenous group or sending them off into their separate corners. It is God giving the amazing gift of the Spirit to each in our diversity, leaving that diversity intact. And even more than that, leaving us at close quarters with each other, not just dipping our toes in the chaos but challenged how to live together and share a common pilgrimage deep into the heart of Jesus.

It is an amazing and seemingly impossible task. And is there any wonder that faced with this, the reaction of the people was: “What does this mean?”

And we have been trying to answer that question ever since.

What does it mean for us to believe that God binds us together in all our diversity to find a way to live together in that place of holy chaos and cacophony?

What does it mean for us to believe that the gift of God’s Spirit is that none of us – rich or poor, black or white, young or old, gay or straight, insert your categories here – that none of us in our particularity has a corner on the market of the presence and wisdom of God but that we each are gifted with a piece not just for ourselves but for one another?

What does it mean and how do we do it? These are questions the church wrestled with from the day when tongues of fire descended to this very day in this very space. And like in that holiest of spaces at the foot of the cross and at the empty tomb, what we have come to realize is that until that day where we live the love of Christ so fully we don’t even have to ask the question, we do it through Law and Grace. Grace and law.

The Pentecost life. Our life together in the Spirit of Christ is the place where these two things meet

…and do battle.

…and kiss

…and collide

Law and grace. Grace and law.

Wherever God invites us into the Pentecost moment of embracing the diversity of God’s people, this is the tension we must hold. And if we are to be Pentecost people, we must lean into it and not shrink away from it.

Yes, law is important. Just like the Orthodox, the Armenians and the Romans we need agreed upon rules to govern and give structure to our common life. We need law as the scaffolding for love.

And yes, grace is important. That voice that invites the unknown stranger into this space so sacred to us and says: “the church is yours.” We need to allow for grace that gives us a glimpse of the love of Christ that will eventually render all our law unnecessary, even though we’re not there yet.

As the cacophony of children sounds out in our worship – beautiful to some and challenging to others – we must ask ourselves what is law and what is grace?

As new generations of Christ-seekers come through these doors, expressing faith in new ways and offering leadership into new lands – we must ask ourselves what is law and what is grace?

As violence in our streets, even a stabbing on our very own street, breeds fear of it spilling into this space. As we are all challenged by the diversity of race and class and hygiene and mental capacity of the people in this Cathedral Nave not only on Sundays but throughout the week –we must ask ourselves what is law and what is grace.

Where do we say, “These are the rules.” And where do we say “the church is yours.” Where do we achieve that balance so that this Church too can be a place where people have an experience of Christ that is unparalleled in its depth and power.

And just as important, who is the “we” who gets to decide? For that question is perhaps the most critical of all, because at its heart is the question of who owns this space? Who is this community really? Are we going to have insiders and outsiders? And if so, who is which?

These are the questions that confront us as the church birthed on this day of cacophony and fire. Where do we negotiate boundaries but where do we also let grace abound? How do we live together as a community that believes that a portion of the Spirit has been given to each but that no one person or group has cornered the market? And who is the “we” who decides?

Pentecost ain’t just holding hands and singing kum ba yah. Embracing diversity is hard, hard work. It leaves us with many more questions than answers and, like the status quo, often leads us into solutions that for now fall short of God’s dreams for us yet are also beautiful in their dedication to continuing the shared struggle. The struggle of law and grace. Grace and Law. Meeting. Battling. Kissing. Colliding.

From the church’s birth it has been this way. And so it remains today. Amen.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

"After what we have seen, how could we not" -- a sermon for the 7th sunday after Easter

Preached by the Rev. Canon John Kilgore at Christ Church Cathedral at 8 and 10 am on Sunday, June 1, 2014

So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.

‘The glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.’ That’s a line in this gospel that is easy to get over looked. The bit that so often gets focused on is ‘All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them so that they may be one, as we are one.’ But let’s try to open it up a bit….
Have you seen the recent movie The Son of God? Or as they say, seen the play? Read the Book?!! You have read the book. You know the Book! You actually know the story!

I just watched it a couple of days ago, by happenstance, as I was contemplating this sermon. And it seems apt to talk about it a bit, since today’s gospel is John 17 and the movie is essentially the gospel of John. It actually is quite good; richly filmed with wonderful period costumes and desert landscapes, occasional water scenes as well, it is essentially snippets of Jesus’ life — broad brushstrokes and with a several second scene you know, are reminded of, the story. It is not a true narrative but rather snippets in the life of Jesus, essentially in order and telling the story of the life of the Son of God. And it is a story we can’t go wrong reviewing too often. The movie is interesting because it is essentially the gospel of John, from which our gospel passage comes today, and is told by John, in the first person singular narrative.

It begins with a disembodied voice, ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.’ Sound familiar? Opening lines of gospel of John. And goes on to explain/remind us what that means. It goes on to say ‘He was there in Paradise with Adam and Eve [rich visual pictures give quick brushstrokes of the scenes in the garden]…He was there with Noah at the great flood [picture the ark and deep waters]…He was there with Abraham when he was chosen [standing on the mountaintop]…He was there when Moses led our people out of Egypt [walls of water on both sides]…In the struggle for the promised land he was always by our side…He was the light shining in the darkness…And then, He came into the world.’

There is then a scene of Jesus’ birth and the visit of the wise men. Then you hear, ‘The Word was made flesh and made His dwelling among us.’

Then the scene cuts back to an aged man with gray hair, sitting in a cave on an island, whom we have seen just briefly a time or two giving the above narrative. He is pondering and stirring the fire and he says:

‘I am John. I was one of his followers. After what I saw, how could I not be?’

This movie is interesting to consider because of the perspective it gives. ‘I am John. I was one of his followers. After what I saw, how could I not be?’ That line spoke deeply to me. When I was in seminary, the course in New Testament began with a historical documentation of the existence of Jesus.
The historical fact of Jesus’ life. An examination of the non-biblical references to a Jew named Jesus who was clearly documented to have lived at the time of the new governor Pontius Pilate in Roman-occupied Palestine. The 1st century Jewish politician, soldier, and historian, Josephus, is referenced as an external authority who made specific references to John the Baptist, Jesus of Nazareth, and Jesus’ brother James. We Anglicans with our three legged stool, appreciate scripture, reason and tradition. So beginning with an authoritative historical documentation of Jesus’ life appeals to our way of cerebrally considering the story. It is not just ‘Bible stuff’. There are several non-religious writings that testify to the fact that this guy named Jesus lived. Jesus existed and was written about, not just in the Bible. The New Testament course starts out with the historical fact of Jesus as a foundation and then builds onto that with the biblical narratives we have. And documents their writings.

And in the biblical narratives about Him we have several different versions of the story. And that’s good. For not everybody sees everything alike. Different people tell the same story differently. We have, as you know, four gospels. What are called the three synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke have a great deal in common and essentially give the narrative of the life of Jesus, pretty much in chronological order. But they have their different ‘takes’ if you will. For example Matthew focuses on Jesus’ fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies and his lineage of the house of David. You will remember that the gospel of Matthew begins with the genealogy of Jesus. And Matthew has the most references to the fulfillment of prophecy of any of the four gospels. Clearly he had a historical Jewish point of view and was writing to that constituency making the case that Jesus was the expected Messiah. Mark, on the other hand, thought to be the earliest written of the gospels and possibly a source for some of the material in Matthew and Luke, seems to be writing to a circle of Gentile readers and is concerned with the action of Jesus’ works, depicting Jesus, as the Oxford bible says, as ‘being almost continually active.’ Mark uses ‘immediately’, ‘at once’, or ‘then’, very often and gives the most references to the reaction of the crowds around Jesus - they were stunned, there was fear and amazement. Luke, like Mark, was also writing to a Gentile audience rather than Jewish and also doesn’t make all the references to fulfillment of prophecy. He, rather, focuses on the salvation of all, Jesus’ inclusiveness, availability to the gentiles, women, Samaritans, and others. Luke has more of our beloved parables than the others and, of course, the flowery language that we know so well ‘In those days there went out a decree from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered…’ as the beginning of Jesus’ birth narrative. Luke was the most educated of the gospel writers, based on his educated Greek language use and his methodical nature. He talks about writing an ‘orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us…by eyewitnesses…I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you…’ Clearly a thoughtful and insightful gospel from a well-educated individual.

And then we have the Gospel according to John, origin of today’s gospel reading and the basis of the film I mentioned. This gospel focuses on the mystery of Jesus, his divine origin, and grandeur. John, like the others, recounts the events of Jesus’ life, the miracles performed, but gives his own interpretation to them more than the other gospel writers, and highlights the tension between Jesus and the Jewish authorities. It really is only in John that we see Jesus interrupted by others during his discourses and engaging in debate with them. Remember the challenge about paying taxes and rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. Typical John. And it is John that focuses on Jesus’ eternal origin and divine nature. And to illustrate he uses a number of symbolic terms to make Jesus real to us: bread, water, life, door, shepherd, as the Oxford Bible again points out.

It is easy for us to get wrapped up in a Bible passage, in particular details, in the reading for the day. In the use of particular words or phrases. In the differences among the gospels. But it is really good to look at the big picture. To consider all the gospels. All the Bible. And the context. An example of this is a couple of weeks ago I had to preach on Jesus saying, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life…No one comes to the Father but through me.’ That passage had always been a stumbling block. And in that sermon at St. Paul’s within the Walls in Rome, I made reference to Dean Kinman’s ‘Gnaw on This’ notes that the beginning of John’s gospel reminding us that Jesus was before the present opens up the possibility of His expression to other people in other times and situations, Muslims, Jews, and others. If Jesus was present before, His work didn’t just start with his birth, and didn’t end with his Resurrection and Ascension. We are a part of the story. Not the whole story. It is so important to look at the whole story, to take more than just one passage into account.

Which takes me back to the beginning of this movie, ‘In the beginning He was there…with Adam and Eve, and Noah, and Abraham and Sara, and Moses, and David, and Rahab, and Esther, and Job…. In the beginning He was there. But not just in the beginning. He was there along the timeline. And is… Throughout all these stories. And now, and in the future.

One interesting thing about watching this movie and seeing the stories brought to life on the screen was — I knew all the lines! I don’t think I have ever seen a movie where I could finish the lines of most of the movie, where I knew what the next words were coming out of someone’s mouth! Now I know there are devotees of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and The Wizard of Oz out there that know every line, can sing all the songs, know the dance routines, etc. But this was different. I didn’t know what parts of the story they were going to include (obviously in a 2 hour movie you can’t tell the whole story) but the parts they related I was, oh so familiar, with. And I could usually finish the sentences. It is a familiar story with familiar lines, but told from a different perspective. A perspective bigger than a single gospel.

And John really sets the stage, tells the story when he says, ‘‘I am John. I was one of his followers. After what I saw, how could I not be?’ Jesus tells doubting Thomas, ‘Blessed are you for seeing and believing. Even more blessed are those who believe but do not see.’

There is another interesting, and really revealing line in the movie, just as Jesus is being crucified and Pilate’s wife is warning him, again, not to have been involved because of her dream and she says ‘You will live to regret this,’ Pilate responds, ‘He was hardly the first Jew to be killed.’ To which she replies, ‘He was different, He was chosen by the gods.’ And Pilate says, ‘He thought he was. He’ll be forgotten in a week…’ John didn’t think so. Peter didn’t think so. The other disciples didn’t think so. They gave their lives telling of Him. How very wrong Pontius Pilate was. For here we are two thousand years later still remembering Him! And so much more than just remembering. Doing what He told us to do.

The movie ends with John on the island of Patmos, living out his days in exile as the only disciple left. And Jesus appears to John talking about the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. Opening up the story with very wide bookends. Before time, during time, after time. The Book of Revelations. And Jesus says, ‘I am coming.’

But there is one other scene in the movie that is very important. Just after Jesus’ ascension, the disciples are gathered on the hillside and Jesus is suddenly vanished and Peter says to the other disciples, ‘My brothers, my sisters, we have work to do!’ And the narrative goes on to say that with Peter as their leader they spread the word of Jesus throughout the world, shining the light on all creation. And here we are, results of that.

And that is what we are called to be, to do, with our gospel lives. Yes, our gospel lives, as I like to call them. Our lives of work telling the story. But not just with words. You know that St. Francis said, preach the gospel always, sometime use words. Our gospel lives. Our Jesus lives. How we live and show the gospel to the world is paramount. Seeing this movie reminds me that that is what we are called to do. And it is helpful to have the whole story. For it is when we have the whole story, In the beginning, the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end, and Jesus in the midst of all of it, that it really makes sense. Jesus was in the beginning and with Adam and Eve and Abraham and Sara and Moses and John on Patmos, and with us, and with those who come after us. John really summarizes it best when he says, ‘I am John. I was one of his followers. After what I saw, how could I not be?’ And then Peter puts us to work — ‘my brothers, my sisters, we have work to do.’ After what John saw, what we have seen, how could we not.