Monday, December 30, 2013

My New Years Resolution—Goodbye Internet

I’ve decided to embark on an experiment. For the month of January I will go with limited internet (making exceptions for work related use as well as email).
A simple task really, before the ‘90’s it was just the way we lived, but I have found myself filling free time with hyper-link rabbit holes and somewhat obsessive (and probably distracting to those around me) peeking at my Smart Phone. In fact, I sometimes feel like, in an effort to multi-task, I’m training my attention span to be shorter than it need be.
Having read a few articles (ironically on the internet) about people doing this very same thing, it sounds like I’ll end up with quite a bit of extra free time and maybe I'll become more productive as a writer.
Then, reflecting on my experience of January, I’m going to continue with this experiment, at minimum making changes to my internet use, becoming a much more active user of the internet instead of a passive one, at maximum going the whole of 2014 off-line.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve Sermon

Christmas Eve 2013

            There was once a small boy who got a telescope for Christmas—and he would watch the skies, and he saw a star.
            This star was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen, shining and good.
            And after a few nights of observation it became clear that the star was showing symptoms of turning into a meteor.
            He tracked its descent and miraculously it landed in his back yard one night, though no one else seemed to notice.
            He woke up his groggy parents—he was more excited that Christmas morning!
            And, after some prompting and poking, they joined him on the patio and saw the star—the meteorite there embedded in their yard.
            All that night they looked at it, and wondered at what it meant. It had the appearance of a diamond and a warm inner-light that was both eerie and inviting.
            In the morning they called a local astronomer and once he examined it he affirmed, “This is the find of a lifetime, we need to tell people about it!”

            To recap, the boy realized the star was there,
showed his parents,
they contemplated its meaning,
and they went and told people about the meteorite.

            Similarly, there are four simple things I want to tell you tonight.
God is with us!
Come and See!
Treasure it!
Go and tell!


God is with us!
                        During my last open heart surgery, when I was 18, I was reading a book of short stories by the French Philosopher Voltaire. Thanks to the rough recovery from surgery I don’t remember anything about those short stories, other than the title of one of them, “The World as It Is.”
            That title captivated my imagination throughout recovery.
It grounded me in my situation,
forced me to be mindful of what I was experiencing,
it didn’t allow me to escape from my situation, but to be in it—to face full on “The World as It Is.”

            Similarly, for the season of Advent, I preached using ideas from an organization called the Advent Conspiracy, which focuses on preparing for Christmas as we experience it, with consumerism and worry about gifts and how to spend time with relatives and the “perfect Christmas,” and the hyper-extended season known as “the Holidays” and all of those things that cause us to dread Christmas.
Christmas as it is, warts and all.

            And it’s worth dwelling on the ups and downs of our lives, not escaping from them to some sort of dream world
—because that’s the world Jesus comes to, the world he is God with us in,
this world as it is, is the world he comes to.

            A world with an uncertain family and a long Christmas Journey, a world with frightened shepherds and tentative fiancées, Emperors and Governors, censuses and taxes.
            The same world as our own, with family troubles and joys. Unmet expectations and unrewarded sacrifices, as well as moments of grace and surprise.
            With births and deaths, taxes and tithes, loneliness and familiarity.
            This world we live in is the world that Jesus comes to, not as an escape for us, but to be in among us, with us and for us.
            In the world as it is, here we find God, because “God is with us!”

Come and See!
            Do I have news for you! God is here.
Come and see!
            Come and See in a trough, well-swaddled and far from home.
            See him there, the one we call Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
            See him there, this little one, so new and fresh, so gentle and fragile.
            See him there, our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.

            Come and See the infinite and the finite, the common and the uncommon, Humanity and Divinity, God for us in the common things of life.

            Come and See him in shared words of consolation among faithful people.
            And see him in Water and Spirit making children of God
            See him in God’s Word for us.
            Him in our giving thanks and in our shared meal—his very body.
            In our being salt and light to a bland and drear world.
Come and see.

Treasure it.
            Yes, treasure this gift given to us.
            Take it with you everywhere you go—the message that God is with us,
this babe in the manger.
            Make it your incessant prayer, hold it close to your heart like a talisman.

            Bring it with you, because you’ll need it. You’ll need this moment of celebration, this clear moment of surety, in times of trial and times of doubt.
            Bring it with you, as well, because it grows and changes. It, like a child, will surprise you and grow, mature and greet you in new and wonderful ways.
            Like Mary treasure all these things in your heart.
Keep the good news close and make it your own,
allow it to transform you and protect you and surprise you.

Go and tell.
            God is with us, you’ve seen it and will continue to see it, you cherish and nurture this truth as it does the same to you. How can you not share it?
            Share this good news of God come near,
God here in the World as It Is,
seen in the manger and at the altar and throughout our lives—with us everywhere we go.
            Go and tell.
            Tell it everywhere you go,
tell of the shepherds and angels and mangers and the salvation that we have, because God is with us.

            Like that junior astronomer who saw the star, showed his parents, contemplated its meaning, and told the world, let the Christ child do the same to us this night.
            Brothers and sisters.
God is with us!
Come and See!
Treasure it!
Go and tell!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

My Advent Sermon Series

Advent 1: Worship Fully

Advent 2: Spend Less

Advent 3: Give More

Advent 4: Love All

Advent 4: LOVE ALL

             Quite a ride huh? This 4 week journey of Advent toward Christmas.
            This van ride, this road trip, in which we took out our GPS to track and figure out where we are at and where we’re going… that is that we’re lodged in a secular Christmas season that starts around Halloween, but we’re going toward a Christmas in which we Worship Fully Jesus, God come fully to us.
            Then we lightened our load, tossing out the excessive consumption we as a society are consumed by—we spent less, and in doing so we recognized that our worth has nothing to do with the worth of the gifts we give, but instead our worth comes from the Love of God found in Christ Jesus.
          Then, last week we looked around and saw our fellow passengers, and we didn’t just look at them, but gave more … gave them our time, we began to wrestle with our connections with our friends and family and how we can nourish those relationships and cultivate interdependence.

           And now, here we are, two days from Christmas Eve, it’s just over that mountain. It’s just through that bank of fog.
          You can almost see it.
          You can almost hear it.
          In fact, you can hear it.
          Yes, you can hear Mary’s song, the Magnificat—you can hear her interpret for us what that manger means, what Emmanuel, God with us, is all about.
          In her self-proclaimed lowliness she encourages us to look around and see our neighbors with new eyes.
          She encourages us to actively be concerned for, and on the look out for, those who are so often invisible.
          She encourages us to recognize how this “God with us” changes how we are with one another.
          She encourages us to celebrate the topsy-turvy tumult of Christmas.
          She encourages us to love all.
          Let us pray.

          We drive toward that music, over that hill and through that fog, doing just fine, we’ll all get there in time.
          Then comes a banging against our back window.
          Holy cow, there’s an ill-clothed very pregnant woman banging on our window!
          “Why didn’t you stop for us?” is the first thing out of her mouth.
          “We didn’t see you,” we reply.
          “What do you mean you didn’t see us? I waved and both of us shouted at you when you drove by us, we even flashed you with our high beams.”
          We mumble something about “the fog,” squish her into our Advent Van with us, and drive back a quarter mile to an Oldsmobile Station Wagon—with the wood paneling and everything—broken down there—there’s a man with his head deep down into the engine.
          “Didn’t think you’d stop,” he said, “people rarely do… it’s like they don’t see us… too focused on Christmas I suppose.”
          Two of us get out and hold engine pieces in place while he does something that gets the car running again, while the rest share a thermos of hot chocolate with the woman.
          They thank us, tell us they’re the guest of honor at Christmas and it’s good they’ll be able to make it to the manger, and then drive off toward Christmas…
but we all sit in our little van with the heat going for a while. We drove by Mary and Joseph… what does that mean?
          It means, as we go along on our travels there will be fellow travelers broken down on the road, people put in lowly places and in need of a helping hand.
          It means we have to look for them, because there is a lot of fog in life, and we sometimes are so concerned with the songs of the season that we don’t engage our eyes as well as our ears. There is, in fact, a danger that we’ll miss seeing God with us, God among us, among us all.
          I think of a situation a fellow Pastor just dealt with—there was a man living in their recycling bin who wasn’t welcome at the local shelters for a variety of reasons. The church opened their doors to him and he attended their bible studies and the coffee hour after worship, when he can’t make it to worship itself… and they finally found him a shelter that will take him in…
and when he left one of the children innocently asked, “Was that Jesus.”
          Truly out of the mouth of babes.

          Yes, preparing for Christmas, going along this long Advent road, means being unsettled by those broken down along the way, unsettled because the song Mary sings is an unsettling one,
one that topples the ruthless and enthrones the lowly, feeds the hungry and sends off the rich unfed.
One that insists we care for, and be with, human beings broken down along the way, because that’s the very act of God we’re preparing to celebrate.

          And today you have in your hands two small ways to help those broken down on the highway of life.
          The first is an insert you’ve likely seen for the last month to help fund the ELCA’s response to Typhoon Haiyan—
if there has ever been an example of a people made low and in deepest hunger the survivors of that horrible Typhoon are an example.
          I probably don’t need to remind you all, but just in case you’ve not heard, the ELCA’s response to disasters is phenomenal—we had boots on the ground in the Philippines before the US military did.
For that matter,
as those in New Orleans and the people on the Jersey Shore can attest,
we stay committed to healing that which has been broken long after everyone else has left.
          Secondly, there is the ELCA Good Gifts Catalog—a program that went out to people all around the world in need and asked the simple question, “what do you need?”
“What do you need to fight malaria?
what do you need to fight hunger?
what do you need to create or sustain your new church, and your seminary?”
and then set up this program in which we can give those very things as gifts.
          I’m sure there are other ways we can help those who are the least among us,
those stuck on the road leading toward Christmas—
in fact I’m sure there are more concrete, down to earth, and personal ways to do this that you all know of, and I hope and pray you will do so.
With that we’ve reached the end of this Advent road—all that remains is to rejoice that God has come near in the person of Jesus Christ. A+A

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Diversifying the Lutheran Prayer Book

So, as you all know by now I compiled a prayer book and self-published it through Amazon’s Createspace program. I did it that way in order to create a version of it that was pretty by the time of Dr. Wengert’s retirement shindig.

Well, a kind soul reminded me that by selling the thing, especially in the bare bones form it was in, I was breaking copy right… not really something one wants to do… obviously.

Since then I added a bibliography and the NRSV’s required permission to what’s out there, as well as shifted the pricing in such a way that I’m getting no royalties, all as a show of good faith.

And now I’m sending out letters to various publishers to ask permission to use the material contained in the book (yes, what I’m doing is sort of like building a plane in mid-flight). The interesting thing is they all want to know what percentage of their content is in the book… So I dutifully counted everything out and even made little charts… you might remember I like charts.

Well, I started to dissect this information and was confronted with the paupacy of my work… specifically, I saw my work as modern parallel of Doberstein’s “A Lutheran Prayer Book” that updated the language, made it gender inclusive, and increased the diversity of voices within it.

Here are the results:

9% of the authors in the prayer book are women:

15% are non-white:

 17% are non-Lutheran:

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sermon, Advent 3: GIVE MORE

         For the last two Sundays I’ve been taking you all on a metaphorical van ride toward Christmas. We’ve assessed where we are and where we’re going, and we’ve made sure we didn’t overstuff the van with… well stuff…
         Now it’s worth looking and seeing who our fellow travelers are.
         Look to the person next to you.
         Interesting… they’re people you know—people you care for and who care for you—friends from close by or maybe far away, or maybe they’re family—people who have shaped your lives, people you’ve traveled with for a long time, or maybe a new acquaintances.
         You’ve already spent two Sundays with these fellow travelers—you’ve already honored them with your presence—honored them by giving some of your time to them, by being with them here in this place.
         And, on this journey toward Christmas, that’s what I want to talk to you about—last week I talked about spending less, this week I would like us to consider giving more… more of our time—being fully present with those who are on this journey with us.

         This time of year is filled with tons of obligationsobligations which tax our time and obligations toward our friends and family.
         From Thanksgiving to New Years we have opportunities and obligations to congregate with our loved ones more often than we do the rest of the year.
         And that can be wonderful thing, or a missed opportunity.  It can be filled with superficial small talk while looking at the clock, or can be a time dedicated to a deepening of connections and exploration of our inter-dependence with these people.

         Remember for a moment the gospel reading for the day—that long list of names, that Genealogy of Jesus.
It’s main point is to remind us that Jesus is a child of the promise—the promise God made to Abraham, and that Jesus is also in the line of King David—that while his kingship is radically different that that of King David—as those of us who just finished up our 23 week journey through the Books of Samuel can attest—Jesus is in the line of David.
         That is the primary message of this genealogy—Jesus is the Davidic child of the promise—but there is another, subtler message going on.
         Jesus’ family tree is not only filled with in-laws, but outlaws as well. Interesting folk who shape his story and his heritage—
The rage of Jacob’s sons,
Rahab without whom Jericho would not have fallen,
Boaz and Ruth, who transformed widowhood into welcome,
the unnamed Bathsheba the wife of Uriah who was taken by David and forged a dynasty out of his defilement of her.
The tragedy of the deportation and the smallness of the return from Exile…
all there in these familial connections.
All these just under the surface
—all these people who shaped who Jesus was and is and will be.

         What I’m trying to point to, is that Jesus’ genealogy, and our own as well, is like a Mangrove Forest.
         Mangrove forests are forests in name only
… you see they are a grouping of what appear to be trees growing in marshy areas—hundreds of them sometimes, but the thing that you don’t notice unless you go under the surface, is that all those trees are in fact the arms, the branches, of one great tree.
         All these individual trees are connected to one another—they are interdependent to one another—they shape each other and form each other, receiving nourishment from the same roots.
         I know at least some of you have a passing familiarity with the website—well you are not alone, millions of people are on that website…
with good reason I think…
its not just that they want to find out about people in the past
—they are in fact, finding out something about themselves.
They are looking for their roots
—they are peering down into that brackish water to see how all these mangrove trees are connected
—how they are connected. How we are connected.
         As you know lately, I’ve been doing more funerals and memorials than is the norm, and as I visit with people, and listen to Eulogies, and all of that, I have to say, the things people remember about one another is the gift of time,
of being with one another,
not idle chit chat or small talk or gifts,
but the meaningful time they spent with each other that shaped each other’s lives.

         And in this season of Advent and this season of Christmas parties and Christmas cards and all kinds of extra time with others, it’s worth using that time well.
It’s worth giving of your time in such a way that you cultivate family trees and friend forests.
It’s worth learning the stories you never knew, and hearing with fresh ears the stories you hear every year.

         Yes, as we journey on this Advent road, we should get to know our fellow passengers.
         So today, as we reflect upon Giving more of ourselves, I would like to leave you with a few questions and some time to sit with those questions.

1.            Who would you like to spend time with?
2.            What would you like to learn about them?
3.            What would you like to do with them or for them?

Sunday, December 08, 2013


         Last week we began our Advent journey toward Christmas, along with thousands of other churches, by checking and making sure we knew where we were going—toward the celebration of God come in the flesh as Jesus Christ—toward worshiping fully.
         This week, as we go along on this holy road trip, it’s time to stop and make sure we’re not over-packed.
         Yes, over-packed.
         I think of my surprise when I picked my mom up when she came back to the United States from two weeks in Tanzania and Kenya—she had a small rolling bag and a backpack
—just to repeat for two week.
The bulkiest thing she carried was her camera. She definitely didn’t over-pack.
         But she did tell me about a fellow traveler she met while in Tanzania. This woman brought three giant trunks with her, which a guide had to lug around after her
—three trunks filled with clothing and make up.
Imagine that, gussying up to watch lions and track wildebeests!
         And, during Advent, this time leading up to Christmas, we as a society over-pack as well.
         We as a society could do with Spending Less.
Let us pray

         As we get going down this Advent Road toward Christmas, it’s worth noticing the tires on our car are looking a little low to the ground—and its not because we’ve got a flat. It’s because we’ve loaded the car up with too much stuff.
         One of the most treasured pieces of Christmas is the giving of presents. In doing this we remind ourselves of the precious gift God gave to the world, his son Jesus. We also remember the presents presented to Jesus by the three wise men, as well as St. Nicolas of Myra’s gift giving to children.
         But, somewhere along the way we seem to have went a little overboard… a lot overboard actually.
         Americans spend 450 billion dollars on Christmas. That’s 10 zeros, just to be clear.
         To put that number into perspective:
         NASA says with 450 billion dollars they could send a man to Mars.
         It’s the same amount of money as the US government spent on Medicare last year.
         It’s more than twice as much as American Individuals give to charity.
         It’s four times what it would cost to bring every American above the poverty line.

         We spend like crazy at Christmas—loading up this Advent Van to the point of absurdity.
         We spend like it’s our Job… and not just any job, but a deadly Seal Team Six kind of job. It’s like we’re training to become Shopping Assassins or Consumer Hit Men.
         … and if you think that’s an exaggeration it’s worth looking at our record.
         On this last Black Friday—9 days ago, the official start of Christmas Shopping season—there was one shopping related death and 15 injuries—including two fights that involved people using tasers on one another, as well as people shooting at each other over parking spaces.
         If you look at the last 8 Black Fridays there have been 7 deaths and 90 injuries.
         All that for good deals, and in order to get loved ones the perfect gift—all this, to chase after a perfect Christmas.
         But ultimately, this quest to buy more, is sinking the ship, squishing down our car to the point at which we’re endangering our Advent Journey. This chasing after Christmas through consumption is ultimately running the wrong way
—in fact running away from that star there ahead of us in the East.
         But it’s not enough to say “my goodness, buying things is bad.”
There is a deeper question—a deeper yearning—going on in a society that will kill for deals and wound for parking spots.
We’re trying to honor those we love, and we’re trying to make sure we’re worth something.
         And the good news today is that our worth doesn’t come from how much we spend.        

         Advent is, in some ways, a Winter version of Lent
—in fact in some countries, churches are decked out in Blue for both Seasons.
And just as Lent challenges us to give things up in order to focus on Easter, it is appropriate to be willing to do the same for Advent—to Spend Less at a time when our culture is telling us to
spend more!/spend more! /spend more!
         Spend less in order to lighten our load on this Advent Journey.
         Two quick examples to look at:
1.         Look at John the Baptist, this fuzzy wild man wearing simple and strangely austere clothing and eating food from the earth, not bought in the market.
         This John who humbles himself before Jesus for the sake of exulting him. He points to Jesus’ greatness by making himself less.
And yet, this man, who clearly humbles himself and lives without the trappings of wealth or things, is called the greatest by Jesus.
         Greatest, not because of the things he has, but because of the one to whom he points
—to make it plain, he is not great because of the presents he gives, but because of the present to the world Jesus Christ.

2.         Look at Mark’s Christmas story…
there isn’t’ one.
         No, there are a lot of things missing in Mark’s Gospel, including at times good grammar—because that’s not his focus, that’s not where he’s headed.
In his writing of his gospel he is headed to one thing and one thing only “The Good News of God, that Jesus the Son of God has come near.” Mark jettisons a lot, to focus on that one thing—the Son of God come near in the person of Jesus Christ.
         So too, it is worth re-focusing our Advent, from presents to the presence of Jesus that we are preparing to celebrate.
         It’s worth it, because that ultimate gift, that baby in the manger, that Savior for Us, is of ultimate worth.
         In summary, on this second stop of our Advent Journey we ought to assess what’s really important, because an excessive focus on gifts can make us lose sight of that fact that this amazing gift, Jesus Christ, has been given to us, and that we are of insurmountable worth to God and to one another,
not because of our possessions or our ability to get good deals or spend on friends and family,
but because we are Beloved Children of God. A+A

Thursday, December 05, 2013

A few Words from Matthew 11

Come to me, you who are weary,
Come to me, you who are heavy burdened,
Come to me, and receive rest.

Your burden is heavy—Here is a lighter load,
Your yoke is hard—Here is an easier one.

I am gentle —Find rest for your soul,
I am humble of heart—Rest in me.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Advent Week 1 Sermon:Knowing where we’re going/Worship fully

    Advent is a strange part of the church year. It’s a little like Lent—a time of preparation, reflection, maybe even repentance.
         But unlike Lent it has multiple endpoints.
Easter is the sole focus of Lent,
whereas Advent points us to Christ’s coming at Christmas AND also Christ’s coming again.
         While Lent is a one-way street,
Advent is a two way street, going both backward and forward.
         For the last two years, when I’ve talked about Advent I’ve focused on preparation and hope, and I’ve tried to locate us, and ground us, in a particular time—this in between time we live in.

         But, this Advent we’re going to try something a little different.
We’re going to focus almost exclusively on preparing for Christmas.
         We, along with 1,000’s of churches this year, and 10s of thousands of churches in the last 7 years, will be following the format of a Christian group called the Advent Conspiracy, who asks the simple question, “Can Christmas still change the world?”

         We will head down the Advent Road, toward Christmas, and along the way, we’ll stop off at 4 different stations, on four different Sundays.
We’ll do this in order to make sure:
We know where we’re going,
We ensure that we’re not over-packed,
We take time to know our fellow passengers,
And finally,
We’ll stop to help some fellow travelers broken down on the road with us.
         Or to put it into the terms of the group Advent Conspiracy We’ll:
Worship Fully
Spend Less
Give More
Love All


         On this first stop—this Worship Fully, stop,
         We begin our journey toward Christmas, as one ought to, by assessing where we are and where we’re going.
         We’re in Advent, along the road, preparing for Christmas… yet there is a lot of baggage that has been hung on this holiday.
         Being that Christmas has a lot of cultural weight in our society, its gravitational pull naturally shapes the American calendar in such a way that we focus on Christmas earlier and earlier—mistletoe goes up by the time Halloween candy goes away.
         Maybe in a decade or two South Plainfield’s Labor Day parade will feature Saint Nick, a Menorah, and a Manger Scene.
         And with this expansion of Christmas, filling up large swaths of the cultural calendar, comes another type of weight
—if this one day becomes so important that it swallows whole months, imagine how perfect Christmas has to be—
otherwise you’ve failed! You’ve let months go to waste!
         Or at least that’s what it feels like
—and I know, talking to some of you and you know experiencing Christmas myself as well, there are lots of expectations you and your family have about Christmas
—a lot of perfect moments and perfect gifts that are causing you anxiety.
         Lots of obligations—dinners, Christmas Cards, time with relatives and getting everything done at work so you can have a day or two of Christmas Time.
         If former president Dwight Eisenhower were to diagnose this weighty
calendar distorting,
culture shocking,
emotional and relational sapping,
baggage of Christmas, he might even go so far as to call it a “Christmas-industrial-complex.

         And the most off-putting aspect of all of this is,
among all this hustle and bustle,
Christmas becomes less about celebrating God’s coming for us in the form of Jesus Christ and honoring this true center of Christmas with the joyful worship of God.
         And yes, as this point the sermon could very easily turn into a harangue about how we’re taking both the Christ and the Mass out of Christmas. That we’ve missed the reason for the season.
All of those clichés.
         But you know what? that would be heaping still one more thing onto your backs, I would be loading just a little more baggage into the Christmas-Industrial-Complex—
but that’s not where we’re headed on this Advent Road, that would be a stop sign and I’m trying to show you a road-map.
         We’re headed toward celebrating God with us, worshipping Jesus for his coming among us as the Christ Child, and among a plethora of obligations that fact should be freeing!

         Look at Christmas up there, on ahead of us.
         As Isaiah writes, “Come let us go to the house of the Lord.”
         Let us go toward that manger!
         Where we’re headed, is to the celebration of Swords being beaten into Plowshares—tanks into tractors.
At this time that can make people feel unpeaceful and anxious, know this:
          There is peace up ahead—because ahead of us is the Prince of Peace.

         In this season where evening comes early—it’s often dark by the time we get home from work—know that, as Paul writes, “The Night is Far Gone, the Day is near.”
         Look up ahead of us—there is Jesus Christ, the one who is Light and Life for us all.
         Do you remember last week, I told you about the description of Jesus in the book of Colossians?—well if you didn’t fully hear it last week, the Gospel of John gives a very similar description this week!
         The Word of God—the Logos in the Greek—the thing that Philosophers of the time thought of as the basic building block of life,
as well as the blueprint from which all things were made,
as well as the source of that life,
is attainable! Nah, is given to you!
         Is, in fact, in front of you!
         That light,
that little light,
that single Advent flame you see there,
is pointing to it,
is counting down as we get closer to it.
         It lights our way from here—like that star the wise men saw, it is a beacon pointing us forward toward the Christ child—
It reminds us that light shines in the darkness and the darkness will not overcome it.
         Reminds us where we’re headed on this Advent Journey and frees us to Worship Fully as we go. A+A