Sunday, September 13, 2020

Bearing Witness To The Resurrection

John 17: 6-11
Roger Lynn
September 13, 2020
(CLICK HERE for the audio of this sermon)
(CLICK HERE for the video of this sermon)
(CLICK HERE for the video of the entire service)
We are Easter people. Celebrating the resurrection is at the very heart of Christian faith and practice. And figuring out what that means is an ongoing challenge. Too often we make the mistake of treating Christ’s resurrection as a one-time event which occurred on a certain day at a certain time in a certain place. To do so is to miss much of the power which is inherent in our faith. It is interesting to note that in all four of the Gospels which we find in our Bible, there is not one single mention of anyone being present at the actual moment of resurrection. There is no description of what happened or when it took place. Instead we find stories of Jesus dead and buried, and we find stories of people who encountered the risen and living Christ. For the writers of the Gospels, resurrection is an experience rather than an event. It is an experiential reality rather than a provable fact. It transcends time rather than being limited by time. It is about transformation rather than resuscitation.

What we find revealed in Christ’s resurrection is life as God intends it to be lived – an extraordinary, transcendent life given by God as a free and gracious gift. It is life which takes us beyond our ordinary experience in ways which make it qualitatively different from human existence as we experience it apart from God. Thus understood, such resurrection living need not be thought of only (or even primarily) in terms of what happens after we die. When we open ourselves to the active and ongoing presence of God in our lives, we find ourselves thrust into resurrection living beginning right here and right now. And such living is most certainly worth celebrating and sharing. Indeed, how can we keep from doing so?

Christian faith is not about sitting on the sidelines. It is not about participating when it is convenient. It is a full-time, all-the-time, 110% way of life that transforms both us and the world completely. It cannot be left to a chosen few. Bearing witness to the resurrection is the responsibility of everyone who is touched by the resurrection. And that means all of us. Please note that we are not called to convince anyone of anything. We are not called to force anyone to accept our beliefs or our way of life. We are only called to bear witness to what we ourselves have experienced – the living presence of the resurrected Christ bringing meaning and purpose and direction to our lives. And we do this not so much with our words as with our living. One of the very practical ways in which other people come to experience Christ’s presence in the world is in and through us. When our lives reflect our faith, people notice.

In the prayer which appears in the 17th chapter of John’s Gospel, we find Jesus asking God to bring certain qualities into the lives of the disciples. 2,000 years later such qualities of living are still worth praying for and striving for. In many ways these qualitites are the evidence of God’s active presence in our lives – the way in which we “bear witness” to the resurrection. The over-arching theme which defines this section of Jesus’ prayer is one of relationship – Christ’s relationship to God, God’s relationship to Christ, God’s relationship to us, our relationship to God, our relationship to each other. Literally everything else about the life of faith emerges out of this all-encompassing, inter-connected web of relationship. We sing a song sometimes – “They will know we are Christians by our love.” The core of Christianity is not the particular things we believe – it is the ways in which we love. Within the context of this theme of relationship, Jesus prays, “that they may be one, as we are one.” (John 17:11) Such unity does not mean complete agreement on everything, or lack of any conflict, or the absence of all tension. It does mean the presence of care and respect and a sense of connection which transcends our differences. The world in which we now find ourselves living often seems to be defined by radical self-interest, divisive polarization, and a profound sense of isolation and separation. Within that context, I can think of no more powerful sign of God’s presence than unity which is born not of conformity, but of love. And then, at the end of Jesus’ prayer, he asks that the disciples might experience joy. This is not naive, ignorant, close your eyes to what’s happening around you kind of euphoria. This joy rises out of the deep and abiding presence of God rather than the transient, external circumstances of life. It is a by-product of resurrection living.

We are Easter people. Celebrating the resurrection is at the very heart of Christian faith and practice. And figuring out what that means is an ongoing challenge. It is a task which can occupy us for a lifetime. But we can begin by remembering that resurrection is not a “once upon a time” story, but a “right here, right now, in the midst of us” experience. When we start living in that reality, the rest will follow. May we continue to be Christ’s disciples who bear witness to the resurrection we experience.

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Staying Connected

1 John 4: 7-21 & John 15: 1-12
Roger Lynn
September 6, 2020
(CLICK HERE for the audio for this sermon)
(CLICK HERE for the video for this sermon)
(CLICK HERE to view the whole service)

I confess that I was tempted to stand up, read a few select verses from the First John text, and sit down. It just seems like there’s not a lot of commentary required. “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. . . Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. . . God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. . . Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars. . . The commandment we have from Christ is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.” Maybe throw in a few verses from the Gospel of John, just for good measure. “As God has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept God’s commandments and abide in God’s love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

It is an approach to life and faith which is deeply rooted in the understanding that God is all about love. Everything else flows from that truth. We find meaning and purpose and direction for our living when we stay connected to the source of Love. In both John’s Gospel and the letter of First John, the word “abide” represents an important theme. It has to do with how God relates to us and how we relate to God. The concept shows up in the very first chapter of John’s Gospel when we hear, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” There is a translation that puts it this way, “...and pitched a tent among us.” John wants to make it abundantly clear that the God who we see revealed in the life of Jesus desires to be in close, intimate relationship with us. Abide is a relational word. It is a community word. It describes a central characteristic of God.

But this business of abiding is a two-way street. It may be God’s desire to abide with us, but unless we cooperate and seek to abide with God the outcome is greatly diminished. And it is this concept which give both of today’s texts their power. When we stay plugged in to God’s love it shows in how we relate with the rest of the world. It serves as both a promise and a warning. Because we have God in our lives, it is possible to be loving human beings for each other. And when we notice that our responses to each other are less than loving, it is a clear indication that we are out of touch with God. The writer of 1 John puts is so clearly – “Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars.”

It is, in fact, how we recognize God’s love among us. It is how we respond to God’s love within us. God’s love remains ethereal and intangible unless and until it finds expression in our love for each other. If our lives do not show evidence of love, then we have largely missed the point.

It is important to remember that the love we are talking about here is not some mushy, sappy feeling. It isn’t all hearts and candy and Hallmark cards. The love of God which we are called to demonstrate in our lives is a concrete, active verb. It is about working for the well-being of others. It is about not being afraid to get our hands dirty. It is a fairly simple concept. “Love one another.” It is immensely difficult to accomplish in a consistent and ongoing sort of way. Which is why we cannot begin with the loving. We must begin instead with the abiding. It is only when we allow ourselves to fully embrace the God of love who fully embraces us that we will find ourselves inspired and empowered to love each other in response.

And now, having talked longer than was probably necessary to say, “Love one another,” I’m going to be quiet. But the sermon isn’t over yet. I invite you to spend the next few moments filling in the details. Picture in your mind someone whom you have difficulty loving. Reflect on what it would look like for you to love that person. Be as specific as possible. Then reflect on how staying connected to the God of love might begin to transform that love into reality.

May the God of love continue to abide with us, and may we learn to abide with God, so that we might begin to truly love one another. Amen.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Great Commandments For Great Living

Mark 12: 28-31
Roger Lynn
August 30, 2020
(CLICK HERE for the audio for this sermon)
(CLICK HERE for the video for this sermon)
(CLICK HERE to view the entire service)

The contrast is night and day. It is stark and it is clear. Life as it was intended or life as it is often experienced. That is the picture which Jesus presents to his disciples. That is the choice. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. Or love yourself more than anyone else, and walk all over your neighbor whenever it suits your needs.

Within the context of Mark’s Gospel, this contrast is presented as Jesus draws near the final showdown with the forces which oppose his vision of life. It is time to choose. In the book of Deuteronomy, as the people of Israel were preparing to enter into the Promised Land, Moses urges them to hold fast to God and follow God’s leading. He says to them, “...I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live...” (Deuteronomy 30:19) Jesus presents his followers with the same choice as they prepare to enter into the new land which is opening up before them. The realm of God is here, now, in the midst of you. That is what he had been telling them. And now we see what is at stake in choosing to enter that realm. Will you choose God and justice, or will you choose selfishness and greed?

I once attended a lecture series featuring John Dominic Crossan, Biblical Scholar and member of the Jesus Seminar. He reminded us that throughout the Biblical record of both the Old and New Testaments we are presented with the truth that “the earth belongs to God.” In order to live in harmony with this foundational reality of the world, we are called to keep God at the center of all that is, including our lives. Jesus says as much in today’s reading. “The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:29) Crossan then went on to point out that the character of the God to whom the earth belongs is one of justice. And justice is here understood in terms of distribution rather than retribution. God’s original intent and ongoing desire is that the world and everything in it be treated fairly and compassionately. To keep God at the center of life and to follow where God leads us is to seek after justice in all things. Again, Jesus says as much. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:31) Loving God and seeking justice for those with whom we share life on this planet is at the heart of what it means to recognize that the realm of God is here, now, in the midst of us.

Unfortunately, that is not how it works out much of the time. In one way or another we often fall short of that goal. It seems to be a human tendency to put ourselves at the center, and whenever that happens we lose our balance and our bearings. In first century Israel, Jesus saw this playing out in a religious system which had become self-centered and abusive. The rich were getting richer and the poor were being exploited rather than protected. This system was originally intended to connect the people with God and God’s justice, but those responsible for maintaining the system had chosen to focus instead on their own power and prestige. As a result, the most vulnerable members of society were being abused and forgotten.

Today the setting is different. The specific issues have changed. Sorting out the details has become more complicated. But the basic reality and the choice remains the same. Will we choose to keep God at the center of life and seek the justice which God desires? Or will we choose instead to keep ourselves at the center of life and ignore the injustice which is so rampant in our world? All of this is more complicated than it has ever been before, because we are more aware of the interconnectedness of our world than we have ever been before. We know that it is important to ask questions like, “Who grew the coffee we are drinking, and are they being paid a fair wage for their efforts?” We know that it is important to ask whether shopping at a particular store supports exploitive labor practices. We know that it is important to examine the ways our patterns of consumption contribute to the degradation of our planet. We know that such questions are important and we know that the answers are not always easy to find or easy to understand. But seeking to follow the God of justice means continuing to ask the questions as we strive to take steps in that direction. The reward for such efforts is often difficult to detect. In the short run it frequently seems as if self-centered, exploitive living is rewarded. The rich do get richer and they appear to be quite happy with the situation. At the same time it often seems that efforts to make our lives and our world more just and compassionate cost a great deal while the results are barely noticeable. But appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, I remain convinced that striving to live my life in harmony and balance with the God of justice does make a positive difference – for me, for us and for the world. I do not have all the answers about what that looks like and how to go about it. And even when I do have some of the answers my life does not always reflect my understanding. But I will continue to seek ways to ever more fully live into a way of life in which I love God with all my heart and soul and mind and strength, and opening myself to God’s guidance towards a world where justice is a reality rather than just a dream. I invite you to join me in that adventure.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Grappling With God

Psalm 22: 1-15
Roger Lynn
August 23, 2020
(the audio for this sermon is unavailable)
(CLICK HERE for the video of this sermon)
(CLICK HERE to view the entire service)

Faith is about seeking always to be in relationship with God. Sometimes that is easy. Life is going well – good things are happening – evidence of God is everywhere. Of course we believe in God. Of course we know that we are loved by God. Of course we want to live our lives in harmony with God’s presence. How could anyone possibly have any doubts?

But life is not always sunshine and flowers. There are times when darkness threatens to overwhelm us and even our memory of the sun begins to fade. If this has not been a part of your life experience, the chances are good that it will be before all is said and done. Suffering is a part of the human condition. And when such moments find us, it can be difficult to find the God of our faith. Sometimes faith involves lots of searching and not much finding.

Psalm 22 does a powerful job of giving voice to such an experience. It can be difficult to hear because it does not offer any quick and easy answers. It takes us into the midst of the struggle and ask us to simply remain there for a while. We need not remain there forever. The psalmist eventually finds his way out of the darkness into God’s brilliant light. But it is helpful to remember that sometimes in the midst of the darkness it is all but impossible to see the light. That is why it is good to look at such experiences before we find ourselves in the midst of them.

Life for the psalmist is closing in. The enemy is at the gate. Everything has come undone. And in the midst of such physical and emotional turmoil, there is the added spiritual turmoil of feeling abandoned by God. It is worth noting that in his final moments of agony on the cross, Jesus chose this psalm to give voice to his anguish. One of the reasons, I believe, is because it does such a powerful job of expressing the fluid way in which the one who is suffering moves back and forth between clinging to some trace of faith that God might yet be found and despair that all is lost, including God. The reading today is only the first part of the psalm. Just 7 verses after the ending of our reading there is a shift. Things turn around. The psalmist gains a fresh new perspective and begins to recognize that God is, indeed, present and active, even in the midst of the current darkness. But I chose to end the reading at verse 15 – “you lay me in the dust of death” – because I believe it is helpful to be reminded that even when there is light at the end of the tunnel, sometimes our experience simply does not feel that way. Sometimes the darkness is so thick that despair is all that defines the experience. There are times when we can’t get to the end of the psalm until we just hang out for awhile in the middle. But in addition to great suffering, the psalmist also reminds us of the importance of tenacity. Even when there are no easy answers. Even when there seems to be only darkness and pain. Maybe even especially then. The psalmist continues to grapple with God. Right from the opening line we see it. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.” (Psalm 22:1) In the very act of proclaiming a sense of abandonment, there is also a sense of connection and relationship. “My God.” Even when it seems like only darkness and death right now, there is the attempt to recall those times which have gone before when God was surely present.

I do not believe this psalm represents an accurate view of who God really is. God does not cause us to suffer. God does not intentionally inflict pain just to make a point or teach us a lesson. God does not abandon us and forsake us. Standing above all of the promises in scripture is the promise that God loves us unconditionally and will be actively present with us always and forever. But the psalmist does present us with a powerfully accurate picture of what life feels like sometimes. As I wrote in a poem while a friend was dying of AIDS, “In the end it’s love that wins. In the end it’s God who triumphs. But in this wilderness before then, it’s hard to see that far.” (The Winds of Fearful Silence) And the lesson from the psalmist seems clear. Don’t give up. Not when life gets painful and confusing. Not when God can’t be found. Not when no good answers seem to be forthcoming. Not ever. Because finally the mystery of God cannot and will not be defined and understood in quick, easy, and simple terms. Sometimes it is only when we dare to grapple with God in the midst of our pain and confusion that we begin to come to terms with who God is in our lives. Yell, scream, cry out in pain, be angry, be outraged, but keep on grappling. The darkness will not last forever. In the end the God we discover is worth the struggle and has been waiting for us all along.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Core Values

Micah 6: 8 & Matthew 22: 37-40
Roger Lynn
August 16, 2020
(CLICK HERE for the audio of this sermon)
(CLICK HERE for the video of this sermon)
(CLICK HERE for the video of the entire service)

Faith can be a complex and complicate thing. Like any relationship, there are a variety of aspects to faith which must be considered and given the proper attention. But sometimes it is helpful to return to the basics – to remind ourselves of the core values which form the foundation upon which our faith is built. Engaging in such an exercise, at least once in a while, helps us to keep everything else in perspective, and it provides us with a renewed sense of spiritual energy to continue living out our faith from day to day.

The prophet Micah offered his core values when he wrote, “God has told you, O people, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8) At the heart of Micah’s faith is relationship – with God, with each other, and with the world.

Jesus had the opportunity to share his core values on the occasion when someone asked him about “the greatest commandment.” He responded, – “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22: 37-40) At the heart of Jesus’ faith is relationship – with God, with each other, and with ourselves.

Several years ago, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) formulated a statement which reflects their core values. In clear and concise language it states, “We believe that God is calling us to be a faithful, growing church that demonstrates true community, deep Christian spirituality and a passion for justice.” At the heart of faith for that denomination is relationship – with God, with each other and with the world.

Are you detecting a pattern here? I hope so, because it certainly jumps out at me. A number of years ago I attended a clergy lecture series that featured Dr. Rodney Romney. He spoke to us about what he perceives to be the core values for his faith. He organized his lectures around three basic approaches to faithful living – the way of the heart, the way of the head, and the way of the hand. Each “way” represents a particular focus, a particular emphasis for faith. The way of the heart might be described in terms of spirituality, or mysticism. The way of the head might be described in terms of the intellectual or the scholarly. The way of the hand might be described in terms of service, justice, or social action. Each has value, each has strengths, and each has roots in the scriptures. But finally, each by itself is inadequate for the task. All three are necessary to live a balanced, harmonious, meaningful life of faith. During his time with us, Dr. Romney shared his own core values. They form the basis for what he believes and how he seeks to live. “You are deeply loved and freely forgiven. You always have been. You always will be.” Faith only becomes possible when it is preceded by and builds upon God’s unconditional love for each one of us. “You are here to love, and to be a compassionate caretaker of yourself, each other, and the world.” In response to God’s love, so freely shared with us, genuine faith leads us to love others, including ourselves. It is literally what we were put on this planet to do. Denying and avoiding this means denying and avoiding our own essential nature. “You are one with everything. No one is special because everyone is special. No one is separate because everything is connected.” Such an understanding of the basic and fundamental interconnectedness of life and all of creation leads us to a life of service – reaching out to others and, indeed, to the very planet itself, seeking justice and harmony and peace. Not because we have to, but because finally we cannot do anything else. At the heart of faith for Rodney Romney is relationship – with God through the spirit, with each other, and with the world.

What are your core values? What are the understandings of God and the world and how it all fits together that form the foundation of your faith? How is that reflected in your faith? How is that reflected in your life? I invite you to find some time soon (later today, the next couple of days, sometime soon) to be in prayer and reflection, seeking to identify your own core values. I suspect that even if you only do this for a few minutes you will begin a process that will continue. The answers you come up with will likely require further refinement and reflection as time goes on. Begin now and let the process take you where it will.

May we remember to watch for God in our lives. May we remember to reflect God in our living. May we be people of faith who seek to live out our faith in ways which make a difference, for us, for each other, and for the world.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Faith: Bludgeon or Blessing?

Psalm 124 & James 5: 13-20
Roger Lynn
August 9, 2020
(CLICK HERE for the audio for this sermon)
(CLICK HERE for the video for this sermon)
(CLICK HERE to view the video for the whole service) 

Down through the years people have experienced faith to be a great source of comfort and strength and meaning in their lives. In times of great joy the experience is enhanced as they remember that God is the source of all true joy. In times of great sorrow the experience is softened as they remember that God is with them even in the darkness. All of life is enriched as they experience a deep, personal, even intimate connection with God, and through God with each other. Faith can be an amazing blessing.

Unfortunately, that is not always how faith is experienced. Sometimes it is more bludgeon than blessing. Instead of being a source of comfort, it becomes a source of pain. Instead of being a source of joy, it becomes a source of sorrow. Instead of being a source of healing and connection, it becomes a source of brokenness and division. There are people who want nothing to do with faith because of the negative impact it has had in their lives.

So what is the difference? Why is faith sometimes experienced as such a positive force and sometimes as such a negative force? There are, of course, a variety of possible reasons, but I think that some insight into at least one of those reasons can be found in both of our scriptures for today. Psalm 124 is a hymn of thanksgiving and praise. Something wonderful and powerful has occurred in the psalmist’s life and the life of the psalmist’s people, and this psalm represents an attempt to respond. God’s presence and activity and protection has been perceived in the midst of a potentially disastrous situation. “Our help comes in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 124:8) Faith is at work, providing perspective for how to understand life in positive and helpful ways. Trusting in God is a good thing, because if it had not been for God we would have been lost. This is faith received as a gift and blessing and responded to with gratitude.

However, there is another way to read and use these very same words. If, instead of reading them through the lens of positive gratitude, we read them through the lens of negative warning, then Psalm 124 becomes a club with which to threaten someone else who is not “measuring up.” The logic runs something like this – if we have been rescued from dire circumstances because God is on our side, then because you were not rescued from dire circumstances it must mean that God is not on your side. We saw this played out in its ugliest, most destructive form in the days following September 11th, when a couple of television preachers who shall remain nameless declared that the terrorist attacks were actually God’s punishment for a whole litany of perceived sinfulness which is running rampant in our country. Their message ran along the lines of, “The fact that you were not spared this horrible disaster is a clear indication that God is not on your side.” This is faith used as a bludgeon which brings only pain and division.

The Letter of James presents similar opportunities for blessing or bludgeon. The central message of James, which can easily be found in the passage we read this morning, is that life and faith are intricately interwoven. It is impossible to be a person of faith and not have it show in the way life is lived. Or, to look at it from the other direction, the way we live our lives is a very good indicator of the kind of faith we really have. Faith has to do with all of life. If you are sick and suffering, faith comes into play. If you are filled with joy and happiness, faith comes into play. And not just for individuals. Faith draws us into community and binds us together with each other. When someone is sick, they are not abandoned and isolated. The whole church is there to support them and pray for them. When someone is estranged from God and from the community, the whole church seeks to heal the brokenness and restore the relationship. James offers a view of faith that is holistic and relational. It provides us with a framework for living life in ways which are positive and life-affirming, not just for ourselves, but for those around us as well. This is faith which holds the promise of genuine and powerful blessing.

But, as with the Psalm, these same words can be read and used very differently. When they are used with the attitude of “We have the faith and you don’t, and your only hope is if we pray for you”, then the good news of God’s love becomes corrupted by the negative and destructive message of human power and domination. A clergy colleague of mine who has asthma tells the story of the time he was working with a group of students who decided to pray for him until he was healed of his affliction. They trapped him in a room and weren’t going to let him leave until they had laid hands on him and prayed the condition out of him. Never mind that he hadn’t asked for such prayer. They knew what was best and they were going to do it. This is faith used as a bludgeon to beat others into submission.

The blatant excesses are easy to see and avoid. But they serve as illustrations of a broader trap which can at times be easy to fall into. The line between faith as blessing and faith as bludgeon can sometimes be subtle and easily crossed. We would be wise to heed the old saying, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Sometimes we think we are trying to be helpful, but what we end up doing is really just imposing our perspective on someone else in the process. Faith stands a chance of being a blessing when it is offered as a gift and allowed to be received freely. Faith as blessing tends to be when we take words of faith and apply them to ourselves. Faith quickly becomes a bludgeon when it is imposed as a mandate. Faith as bludgeon tends to be when we take words of faith and try to force them on someone else.

We cannot control what others do with faith. We can control how we receive it, and, just as importantly, how we share it. May we strive always to receive faith as a gift and a blessing. And may we strive always to offer it to others in that same spirit.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

God’s Party

Roger Lynn
August 2, 2020
(the audio & video are unavailable this week)

Sometimes we just need to celebrate. At least occasionally a party is an appropriate response to life. There are times when there is a good excuse – like birthdays, anniversaries, weddings. And there are times when there is no particular reason at all – it’s Tuesday, the sun is shining, we get to be together on the lawn of the church, just because. Sometimes such celebrations are big and elaborate, with lots of planning and lots of expense. And sometimes such celebrations are small and spontaneous and simple. But whatever the circumstances, it is important to remember to celebrate once in a while, even when (perhaps especially when) we don’t feel like it. Leslie Brandt gives expression to this reality in his meditation on Psalm 95.

Let us begin this day with singing
Whether we feel like it or not, 
let us make glad sounds
and force our tongues to articulate words
of thanksgiving and praise.

The facts are: God is with us;
this world and we who live in it are God’s;
God loves us;
God has adopted us as God’s children;
we belong to God.
This makes us valid, worthwhile.
We are truly significant in the eyes of our God, 
irrespective of our human feelings
or the comments of our critics about us.
This may not be the way we feel this morning
but this is the way it is.
We don’t need the plaudits of our peers,
for we have God’s stamp of approval.

So let us begin this day with singing
whether we feel like it or not.
Then we may end this day with praises,
because we know – and may even feel –
that we shall forever be
the objects of God’s concern
and the children of God’s love.