I need to start with some language commentary. You may have noticed that in our announcements about this sermon it was titled “Hebrew Scriptures”, with “Old Testament” following in parentheses. Our bulletin announcement, further, referred to the “First Testament”. What is this all about? Do these labels matter? Of course they do.
I don’t use the term “Old Testament”. I am not comfortable with its implications and connotations. The term “testament” comes from the Latin testamentum, which, in Latin, comes from the Hebrew word for “covenant”. The Church has traditionally held that God made the first covenant with Israel through Moses, and fulfilled (or some would say ) replaced that covenant in Jesus. This can easily lead to a way of thinking about Hebrew Scriptures as outdated, “Old”, less relevant because they have been superceded by the “New” covenant. I simply choose not to use language that might imply this. For me, “Hebrew Scriptures”, or even “First Covenant” are more helpful in conveying respect not only for this collection of texts, but also for the living religion of Judaism, for which these books are not old, but remain sacred in revealing the truth of humankind’s relationship with God.
So back to the topic at hand!
The word Bible comes from the Greek ta biblia, which means “the books”. It’s a plural noun. The Bible, both Hebrew Scriptures and the Christian scriptures of the New Testament, are more like a library than a book. And they’re an incredibly diverse library. The books of the Hebrew Scriptures also include an incredibly wide range of kinds of writing: they include narrative, poetry, prayer, law codes, mythological tales, prophecy, short stories, and more.
The books of the Hebrew Bible were recorded – a number of them taking written form after existing for generations in oral tradition – over the course of more than a thousand years. (The books of the New Testament, by contrast, were composed within a span of less than a hundred years!)
What is included in the Hebrew Scriptures, and how it is organized, is an awfully complicated matter. Understanding the fine print on the differences that exist between religious traditions isn’t important, but knowing THAT the differences exist IS important . Here’s an example. Along with other Protestant denominations, our Bibles in the Anglican tradition follow the Jewish practice of including only those books written in Hebrew (although a couple of them include brief passages in Aramaic). Roman Catholic Bibles also include, in their Old Testament, six more books that were written in Greek. We call these “the Apocrypha”.
Another example: You may hear that we have 40 books in Hebrew Scriptures but that there are 24 in a Hebrew Bible: the material is the same, but we divide into separate books a number of writings that Jewish Bibles treat as one as.
This minutia is interesting for academics, but really doesn’t matter in a faith context. What matters is that the writings of the Hebrew Scriptures express the many ways in which the people of Israel sought to capture and articulate what they understood about the God – the God with whom they were (and continue to be) in relationship. They did so through symbols and stories, through myths and memories whose purpose was to instruct and inspire and unify the Community of Israel. Over the course of more than a thousand year of history that included much more struggle and hardship than it did peace and prosperity, Israel sought to maintain faith and sustain hope; they failed at living into their covenants with God as least as often as they succeeded. The writings of Hebrew Scriptures are the written expression of that dramatic and complex story.
And it is terribly important to remember that Jesus was born into that story and lived, fully committed to the wisdom and the faith of the Hebrew Scriptures.
So - are you ready for a whirlwind tour? Probably the best way to survey the contents of the Hebrew Scriptures is look at the books’ contents as they reflect the story of the nation of Israel.
The first written materials in the Hebrew Bible probably didn’t take written form before Israel was united as a monarchy under King David around 1000 BCE. At that time the priests and scribes began recording ancestral stories that had been passed along orally within the community for about two centuries. The final form of the first biblical books didn’t exist until centuries later, but the first building blocks were taking shape under David.
The first five books of Hebrew Scriptures are a set, identified as the Five Books of Moses or, for Jews, the Torah (which means “Teaching” or “Instruction”).
The first book, Genesis, explains beginnings, including the creation of the world (through two very different stories) and the primordial myths of the Flood and the Tower of Babel. The bulk of the book provides the narrative of God’s original outreach and covenant with the ancestors of the Jewish people. In the stories of Genesis, Abraham and Sarah and their offspring had quite a series of adventures, knew some moments of great faith and made at least as many bad decisions, but nonetheless survived their trials and tribulations with God’s help.
Exodus, Genesis’ sequel, picks up with the people of Israel thrust into slavery in Egypt and it narrates the call of Moses and his actions (with siblings Aaron and Miriam and, of course God’s frequent intervention) in leading the community out of Egypt, through the wilderness, and to Mount Sinai where Moses received, from God, the Law, the full terms of the Covenant between God and the people.
The rest of the Five Books of Moses – Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy – lay out in great detail the regulations that govern the life and practices for God’s people (including instructions for religious and domestic obligations of the community), as well as the further travels and trials of the people before their entry into the Promised Land, and Moses’ farewell addresses before his death.
The second section of Hebrew Scriptures contains historical narrative. The set begins with the books of Joshua and Judges, which together cover the conquest and division of Canaan and the years during which Israel functioned as a Tribal Confederacy before the establishment of the Hebrew Monarchy. These books tell about generations of repeated bloody conflicts with neighboring groups, followed by deliverance through God’s intervention, usually through the raising up of heroic leaders such as Deborah and Samson.
After the tribal period, Israel eventually established a monarchy during which, while the nation was not without continuing challenges and ongoing threats from other nations, there was at least a period of relatively greater peace and prosperity. The books of 1 and 2 Samuel recount the (largely troubled) reign of King Saul (accompanied by the prophet Samuel) and the ascendancy and early triumphs of King David, followed by his downfall as a result of his own wrongdoing.
1 and 2 Kings continue the saga, covering the succession of Solomon, David’s son, to the throne, and the significant accomplishments of his reign., including, the construction of the First Temple in Jerusalem.
These historical books continue and elaborate on a theme that began in the stories of Israel’s wilderness wanderings both before and after establishment of the Law at Mount Sinai. The theme is that of a cycle that the storytellers report that Israel lived out over and over again: it consisted of unfaithfulness – either because of the people’s anxiety and doubt, or by the people falling away from the covenant with God through inattention or selfishness – followed by hardship, followed by deliverance by God, resulting in renewed faith and commitment, after a period of which they would again fall away into unfaithfulness.
The most significant hardships in Israel’s story began as Solomon’s reign ended and the united nation split into two. The truth of “United we stand, divided we fall” was borne out for the people of Israel over the course of the 350 or so years while they lived as two separate states, Israel in the North and Judah in the south, under a series of kings. During this time, recounted in 1 and 2 Kings, the people repeatedly continued to fall away from their faithfulness to the Law, including turning to worship of other gods, and their conflicts with surrounding nations were escalating.
As the leaders and people turned from the covenant, prophets arose, repeatedly calling the people to return, as we remember in our eucharistic prayers. Elijah and Elisha’s stories are told in great detail in 2 Kings. Despite the prophets’ entreaties, Israel was brutally conquered by the Assyrians in 722 BCE. (The descendants of the northern kingdom, you’ll remember, are the Samaritans who feature repeatedly in the New Testament.) Less than 150 years later, in 586, the Kingdom of Judah fell to the Babylonians with the conquest of Jerusalem.
When Jerusalem fell, the leadership and priestly classes of the Hebrew people were taken prisoner and forced into exile in Babylon, a time remembered painfully in Psalm 137:
By the rivers of Babylon we sat down and wept when we remembered Zion.
The period of monarchy from David through the divided kingdom and Exile is summarized and recounted, again, in the books of 1 and 2 Chronicles. These are the last of the biblical texts specifically devoted to the community’s history, though the brief books of Ezrah and Nehemiah, which follow Chronicles, provide some details of the eventual restoration of the Jewish people to Jerusalem the surrounding lands of Judah. After the restoration, after the Babylonian Exile, the people of Israel were never again self-governed (until modern times). Assyrian and Babylonian rule were followed by the Persians, and later, the Hellenists and the Roman Empire.
Having told the story of the political fortunes and misfortunes of the people of Israel in the historic books, the rest of the Hebrew Scriptures include a variety of writings. In the order in which they appear:
The final collection of books in the Hebrew Scriptures are the teachings of the prophets, interrupted by three other brief texts:
In this last section of Hebrew Scriptures we hear from the prophets, including the major prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, and “the twelve” minor prophets. They preached before and during the Exile, interpreting to the people of Israel, often in God’s name and in God’s voice, the meaning of the events happening to the community, and foretelling what was to come.
They pronounced bitter and searing condemnation of the people’s sins and abandonment of their responsibility to their covenant with God. They passionately declared God’s displeasure and God’s readiness to abandon the people to the suffering their transgressions deserved. The prophets did not leave condemnation and despair as the final word, however. They reiterated God’s love and reaffirmed God’s mercy, promising restoration for those who return to God’s covenant.
The words and stories and images of these scriptures sustained the people of Israel through generations of turbulent history. They rescued the people from despair by providing a vision of a higher calling. They offered insight, direction, and hope, often doing so in absolutely gorgeous language.
The Hebrew Scriptures are the foundation of our own faith. Let us cherish them and let us continue to “read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest” all they have to offer.
by the Rev. Dr. Molly Scherm
This morning’s “teaching sermon” explores what those of us in “the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement” believe and do in relation to the end of life and the rituals of burial.
I don’t know whether you’ve noticed it, but in this sermon series we’ve been making our way through the Book of Common Prayer: we looked at Baptism and Eucharist, the Church’s primary and central sacraments, and then at the sacramental rites – confirmation, marriage, ordination, confession and healing. In the Prayer Book, these additional services come in the order in which we’ve looked at them, grouped together as “Pastoral Offices”. (One exception is that ordination services come under “Episcopal Services”, since they require the ministry of a Bishop.)
The last of the pastoral offices, or ways in which the Church supports and ministers to its members through the transitions and challenges of life, are Ministration at the time of Death and the Burial Office.
Let’s start with acknowledging that death is a hard thing to think about and talk about, for a variety of reasons. We all to want to live as long as we can – our lives are, after all, a gift from God, to be cared for and preserved. It is painful to lose those we love, hard to face the ways in which aging involves the loss of capacity for all of us who manage to live into old age, and really hard to see the suffering that often accompanies serious illness - painful both for the sick person and for those who love them. Death is scary in that we just don’t really know what comes after. And some deaths are simply tragic, especially when death involves a young person who has not lived a full life, or if death is sudden and unexpected.
The reality of the many ways in which death is difficult exists in a tension with what our faith teaches us about it. As followers of Jesus, we believe that death is not the end of life, but is, rather, a transition to another part of life in which we return to God, entering into a larger life than we can know or imagine now. We believe that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ assures us of this.
Secular culture has popularized images of a heavenly afterlife to a ridiculous degree. The Book of Revelation speaks about pearly gates and streets paved with gold (Rev. 21:21), but the ways in which this symbolic and mystical image has been taken literally and expanded – we’ve all heard plenty of jokes about Saint Peter as gatekeeper with clipboard in hand - are not biblical and definitely not helpful.
What scripture does promise us is that God’s love surrounds us even as we pass away out of this life, and that beyond life in this realm we are set free into a closer life with our God, with Love itself.
Here’s some of what scripture offers:
Jesus assured Martha of Bethany, at the time of her brother’s death, that “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever who believes in me, though they die, yet shall they live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.” (John 11:25-6)
Similarly, he assured the disciples, as he was preparing them for his own death, that “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places… And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:2-3)
Comfort is also found in Paul’s writings: he assures the Romans that “neither death nor life… will be able to separate us from the love of God.” (Romans 8:38-39), and in his wonderful dicussion Love, written to the Corinthians, Paul promises that “now we see in a mirror dimly, but then [we will see] face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. (I Cor 13:12)
We believe these things, and yet, when death comes, we grieve. The Church, in its ministries, seeks to honor and balance both of these truths.
The Prayer Book actually offers a series of opportunities for prayer around the time of death. Ministration at the Time of Death (BCP 462-465), which is often referred to as Last Rites, is a brief service of prayers asking God to comfort the dying, to protect them from pain and evil, to pardon sin and grant them a “place of refreshment” and “give them joy and gladness”. It includes a brief litany to be prayed with loved ones who are present, as well as the Lord’s Prayer, and we anoint the person with the oil of chrism, the same scented oil that we use at baptism. The service includes what I think is one of the most beautiful prayers in our tradition, the prayer of commendation, which is also included in the burial service itself:
Into your hands, O merciful Savior, we commend your
servant. Acknowledge, we humbly beseech you, a sheep of your own fold, a lamb of your own flock, a sinner of your own redeeming. Receive them into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light. Amen. (BCP p. 465)
Ministration at the time of death is a very precious, intimate, and privileged moment in ministry. The liturgy is ordinarily led by an ordained person, but it can also be offered by a lay person if a priest or deacon is not available. It is a tremendously powerful way to offer the concern of our hearts to God at the time of death. I have read it by myself when learning of a death I want to respond to but have not been present for, and have also read it together with family members who live far from a loved one who has passed away.
Following Ministration at the Time of Death in the Prayer Book are two additional short sets of prayers through which the Church can mark the processes of attending to death. “Prayers for a Vigil” (BCP 465-6) provides prayer for family and friends in the time between death and the funeral and, like Last Rites, expresses love and petition for God’s care for the one who has died. The Prayer Book also provides a brief liturgy for “Reception of the Body” (BCP 466-7), for use at the time the body is brought to the church.
In the Episcopal Church we now have a variety of funeral liturgies available. The Prayer Book offers two options for The Burial of the Dead – Rites I and II - and we also have an authorized alternative from the Enriching our Worship series; they all follow the same approximate format, but differ in the style of language. In a funeral service, hymns may or may not be sung, scripture is read, and prayers are offered both for the one who has died and for family and friends in their grief. The departed is often remembered with reminiscences by family members, and clergy may preach a homily. Holy Communion may be included. The service, if it is in in the church building, concludes with a Commendation of the individual to God’s care.
The final part of the service may follow directly after the first part of the burial rite, or it may be separated in time. During the Committal the body or ashes are placed in their permanent resting place – whether in the ground, at sea, in a columbarium, or otherwise – and again, prayers including the Lord’s Prayer are offered. It concludes with a dismissal based on the Easter affirmation:
Alleluia. Christ is risen.
Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia.
Funeral practices have changed in recent years, in large part because the pandemic has been a significant factor requiring families to adapt their expectations and their practices. For one thing, cremation has become much more accepted and commonplace, and it allows families to schedule services when it is convenient for those who need to travel. The limitations of safety protocols for indoor gatherings has resulted in many more families choosing graveside services, and those that Heather and I have presided over in the last couple of years have been lovely.
While restrictions on end-of-life rituals have made it difficult for some families to celebrate their loved ones as they might have wished, I think that the opening up of options has ultimately been a good thing. In comparison to other aspects of the Church’s life, our tradition allows broad leeway for personalizing the services that mark the end of a human life, and leeway is often called for as the individual needs, circumstances, and preferences of families can vary. As Heather and I work with families planning funerals, our focus is on helping the families move through and beyond their pain as they remember and celebrate the life of the one who has died.
I’m sure many of us have experienced the fact that the processes that follow death can be messy. While enduring a death can help us put things in perspective and bring out the best in us, deaths can also re-activate old family issues and conflicts. In our complex psyches, regrets, resentments and guilt can surface in unfortunate ways as we move through not only the religious rituals but also the other practical chores that accompany death, such as disposing of property. Whatever we can do to minimize the potential for additional hurt around times of death is something to strive for.
Which brings me to reflecting on implications for us here and now: (you know that Heather and I always try to offer things to think about and do as we leave our worship each week!) There ARE things we can do as we think about death.
It is not only a gift to those who love us but a personal responsibility for us to prepare for our own deaths, however little we may feel like doing so.
For one thing, it is really important to have a will that directs others in how we want our worldly assets used after our deaths. The process of making a will helps us to come to terms with our own mortality AND to think about what is important to us in the way we leave things behind. Making provision for distribution of our assets is not only an opportunity to provide for our families’ security, but also to be generous in charitable giving in the many places where there is need in the world.
Closely related to the importance of having a will is that of having advance health directives on record and having a health care proxy designated, a person who can make decisions for us if we are not able to express our wishes. Hopefully your health care provider has already had you complete these documents: if they haven’t, please take care of this soon.
I also urge each of us to do some funeral planning. It is not a morbid thing to do. It provides help to our family members who, after we pass away, will have plenty of things to take care of and decisions to make: providing them some guidance on how WE would like to be remembered in a funeral can make the process a little bit easier for them. Here at James and Andrew we have a form that reminds you of choices to be made for your funeral. You can take it home to think about, discuss it with your loved ones, and/or you can meet with one of us to talk about your wishes, and we can keep a copy of your completed form on file here for the day it is needed.
Our Faith Community Nurse, Kathryn Aubry-McAvoy, has also introduced us to a form called Five Wishes. It can be used as an official document that outlines what we would like the last stage of our life to look like. Kathryn tells me that she has numerous copies. I have completed it, and I commend it to you.
Taking care of these acts of planning is, in its way, an act of faith. It says that while we value our lives, we know that they will end, and we want to do what we can, now, to help end our lives responsibly and with love.
Amen. May it be so.
In today’s story from Luke’s gospel, Jesus travels into new territory to free a man from terrible demonic possession.
Together these two narratives invite us to think about what enslaves us, and about how we can be liberators.
So let’s start with Juneteenth.
On January 1, 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Contrary to popular assumption, the document did not abolish slavery throughout the nation – that would not happen until the 13th Amendment was signed two years later, in 1865.
The Emancipation Proclamation changed the legal status of about three and a half million enslaved African Americans in the Confederate states: the Proclamation declared them to be free. (At the time of the Proclamation’s signing, another half a million persons remained enslaved in the northern states where slavery was legal.)
After the Proclamation was signed, actual freedom for those who were enslaved only occurred when either folks managed to escape north into free states OR where the Union Army was able to assert authority as the war continued on for more than another two years.
Freedom was not only delayed for persons living under slavery because southern landowners refused to recognize the authority of the Union government, but in some cases, because the information was not even available.
Mail service to many regions was extremely slow, and some historians have suggested that slaveholders may well have withheld information about their freedom from their enslaved agricultural workers, in order to continue to benefit from their labors.1
The final territory to receive news of the war’s end and the liberation of the enslaved took place when Union soldiers under Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas. Some newly-freed people left the plantations to seek opportunity elsewhere or to reunite with family, while others remained in place to explore what a new relationship of employer and employee might look like.
Regardless, the date of June 19 took on great significance for the communities of descendants of those who had lived under slavery, and its importance has now been recognized by Congress as an opportunity for all of us to pause and remember our complex history, but particularly, to celebrate that freedom was, eventually, proclaimed to all.
And on to this morning’s story from Luke. It’s a dramatic story that goes by a fancy name – “the Gerasene demoniac”.
The place the incident happened was not Jesus’ usual stomping grounds. It was Gentile territory that Jesus had not visited before, but unexpectedly decided to visit by journeying across the Sea of Galilee.
Once on land, Jesus was encountered – you could even say “accosted” – by a man possessed by unclean spirits, a “legion” of them. (A military legion customarily has 6000 soldiers.) According to Jewish custom that Jesus and his disciples followed, the young man was not only a danger to himself and others – he had often been chained up by local authorities - but was religiously unclean.
He was so much tormented by the spirits controlling him that he no longer lived among the in the local town but rather dwelt, naked, among the dead in the tombs. Tombs are another place considered ritually unclean.
The unclean spirits, recognizing Jesus’ authority, begged to be released into a herd of swine grazing nearby, rather than be sent back to “the abyss” (where they would be imprisoned and subject to God’s authority). Jesus allowed the transfer, and the swine immediately rushed into the lake and drowned.
The townspeople were not happy about this turn of events; Luke says “they were afraid.” Rather than rejoicing that the young man had been healed, they wanted Jesus gone and asked him to leave. In the context of this Juneteenth commemoration, I can help but see them as being like the plantation masters who undoubtedly did not want the convenience and familiarity of THEIR economic system overturned. We like things to be to our advantage, and the introduction of Jesus’ authority was not welcome in the country of the Gerasenes.
The young man, the formerly enslaved, asked to join Jesus’ circle and travel with them, but Jesus instructed to remain in his land, giving witness to God’s power.
So here’s what I make of this story.
Firstly, God shows up where God is needed. Even – and maybe most especially – among the tombs of our lives, where we are stuck and alone and helpless.
Additionally, God seeks freedom for us – the freedom to live abundantly and without restraint, among others.
And lastly, the way things can happen, can change, when God is at work, can be scary, because we don’t like change. We can even resist freedom and healing, if they upset our familiar patterns.
Adopting Heather’s familiar homiletic strategy of finishing with question to consider during the week, here are the questions I suggest that we think about this week.
What enslaves us, and where are we afraid of change? Many things in our lives can hold us back: health, financial circumstance, and various obligations can restrict our choices, but also, it is psychological and emotional shackles that often prevent our stretching ourselves to live fuller, braver, more generous lives.
God is ready to show up to help us make changes, if we choose to let her do so.
And where, as followers of Jesus, are we called to be the liberators? Where can we be the General Grangers, bringing the word that things don’t have to be the way they have been?
Where can we lend a hand to make space in lives that have been restricted, to provide new options where options have been few?
May God’s Spirit guide our thinking and our acting.
1 “What is the history of Juneteenth?”, brittanica.com
By Rev. Dr. Molly Scherm
One of the beauties of scripture is that its stories touch on the fundamental themes of our lives, inviting us to reflect on those themes, and as we return to the stories again and again, we are always bringing something new that speaks to and through the words of scripture.
Today we’ve heard a healing story from John’s gospel. Healing is a frequent motif in scripture, and healing was certainly a central part of Jesus’ ministry. The act of healing and the promise of healing are always going to be compelling for us because we are always aware of the need of healing in the world.
Most of the healing stories in the gospels, on their face, are about physical healing from bodily infirmities. The woundedness that feels most burdensome in the world today – to me at least – is more the psychological, emotional, and spiritual suffering, some of inherited and passed down throughout generations, that comes from the traumas of humans’ inhumanity to one another –
Perhaps what today’s gospel story offers us is the opportunity to think about what we know of healing.
It’s a story of Jesus healing of a disabled man at a sacred pool in Jerusalem. Beth-Zatha, at the Sheep Gate into the city, was known to have healing powers, and was a gathering place for those seeking to be made well. It was believed that angels would stir up the water of the pool, and that entry into the water after this agitation occurred would optimize the healing effects.
The man in today’s story - John doesn’t tell us exactly what was wrong with him – had been ill for 38 years. Because of his mobility issues, he told Jesus, when the waters were stirred up, he was never quite able to get to the pool before others got there ahead of him, absorbing the new infusion of healing power in the water before he could get there.
Jesus, knowing in the power of God, instructed the man to ”Stand up, take your mat and walk,” and he did so.
While the core truth, here, that God’s grace has the power to restore wellbeing is as important for us as it was for John’s hearers at the time his gospel was written, I find myself impatient with the simplicity of the gospels’ healing stories.
Healing never simple. For example, I wonder about what comes after the healing at Beth Zatha:
We need healing – restoration of wholeness and wellbeing - whenever we suffer injury, illness, trauma, or loss, and the suffering involved in any trauma is complicated, and healing is always a process. It always takes time; it always has many aspects.
Here is some of what we know about healing from the wise ones – both scientific and spiritual wise ones:
Am I safe?
There is a powerful truth in the images of the post-resurrection Jesus, who, even as he returns to comfort his disciples, still bears the wounds of crucifixion in his body.
So where do we find God, where do we find God’s love in the experience of healing, however complex, however drawn out?
So I don’t assume that man healed at the pool at Beth Zatha went home to live a simple happily-ever-after, but I do believe his life was opened by God’s healing Spirit, and that through that Spirit we can hope that he moved, with ups and downs, toward a life of generosity, compassion, and hope.
Much of my thinking about healing this week has been impacted by an online seminar (provided by the Diocese) that Di Kurkulonis and I took part in. The presenters were an elder from the Ute tribe in Whiterocks, Utah and the priest of his parish, together reflecting on how the traditions of native cultures might inform us about generous living.*
Elder Forrest and Father Michael set their remarks in the context of the trauma that has taken place for the Ute and other indigenous peoples of North America, as native communities were repeatedly forced off of the lands to which the people had been in relationship, as the dominant culture appropriated the land for ourselves and our own purposes. Despite these grievous injustices and the spiritual injury their community has suffered, the congregation Forrest and Michael described has done much healing.
In their presentation Forrest and Michael emphasized two practices that they recommend for promoting healing. Neither is surprising or new; both are worth mention.
The first is that of practicing gratitude. Paying attention to the small details of our lives and being thankful helps us to live in the present, and in appreciation that our lives are gifts from the Creator.
Forrest and Michael also spoke powerfully about the importance of direct experience of the natural world – the air, the water, the earth and our sibling plant and animal creatures through which we meet God. Let’s listen to this wisdom.
May the angels stir up the waters for us, and may we immerse ourselves and find the path of healing.
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