“On What do We Build Our Lives?”

Rev. Chris Snow

North Hill Christian Church

February 5, 2023

Matthew 7:1-14, 24-29

At the moment, if someone were to come into our living room, one of the first things they would notice is the vast assortment of blocks taking up space around the room. Wooden blocks, and various sizes of interconnecting blocks. You see, Ruth has been at the developmental stage of figuring out how to build things. Often surprising us with some tall and skinny towers that shoot up in the middle of the room, and then subsequently crash down whether on purpose or by accident. 

But this ability to build didn’t come without challenges early on. Ruth had to figure out the best place to build, and how to lay the foundation that would support the whole structure. She had to learn that a wobbly surface was not a good place to start, nor on a pile of pillows or blankets. Rather the ideal spot was right on the wood floors, using the large rectangular blocks to form that early foundation. 

As I look back on Ruth’s learning process with her blocks, along side today’s text, I can’t help but be taken back to those classes on Christian Education. Learning theories on how people learn from simple concepts to, as they develop their faith, into more complex ideas of who we are in relation to God and others. But those early concepts are so very important. They lay the foundation for all that is to come…if we remember them and embody them. 

I have grown up going to church camps and vacation bible schools, to then becoming a leader in one way or another in these ministries in which we seek to teach the youth and children the basics of our faith in a short amount of time; I get tired of teaching the same scriptures year after year. Forgetting that the texts we often rely upon in those settings are the same texts that laid the foundation for our faith. As I am reminded of that, I have to recognize my frustrations with using the same texts year after year, has to do with me getting bored teaching it in the same way year after year. Wanting to move into some more complex concepts of understanding scripture. But first we have to lay the foundation, upon which those more complex building blocks can rest. 

This week we are at the end of the Sermon on the mount as Matthew has organized it. A collection of saying that are fairly straight forward and simple concepts. For the most part they are not confusing or requiring great amount of research to get the idea that Jesus is trying to get across. That is until the last section, which is an indication of what is yet to come. In verses 24-27 we have what could be understood as the first parable in Matthew’s gospel. The parable of the wise and foolish men who build their houses either on rock or sand. 

Within the context of the sermon on the mount I can’t help but see Jesus teaching those who he saw as the future teachers. I have given you the foundation in the simple statements that I have shared with you. Those things that shall become for you the foundation of what I am about to teach you in more complex terms, that you will also use as the foundations of what you will teach the people. 

When we think about those things that serve as the base foundation of our faith what do we think of? The golden rule “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you, for this is the law and the prophets.” (7:12) Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. (Granted that one comes after the sermon on the mount.) 

We can even make things more simple than that. On our sign I have placed “God is Love.” A statement that I believe we can affirm is at the most basic level the foundation of our faith. But here is the rub…sometimes we forget that foundational piece of who we are called to be. 

On the side of the building of Webster Groves Christian Church, where I served as an intern during seminary, there was carved into the stone wall these words, “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials: liberty; in all things, charity.” It was a statement that I saw every time I walked into the that building, whether I was to go into the offices, or towards the sanctuary. In some ways it became a constant reminder of what we are meant to do as the body of Christ. But there was an issue…You only saw that statement if you knew which doors you were supposed to enter. There were no signs of where the main doors were, while there were roughly a dozen different exterior doors that you could enter, all around the building, and about half of those faced a section of the parking lot. 

But that carving was situated where the congregation understood the main doors to be located. And the only way a visitor would see it is if someone showed them the way. The only way it could  become a constant reminder is if we continued to follow that path. If we were intentional about how we came to church. If we were intentional about how we developed in our faith. 

As we grow and develop our faith we have options. We have options of what we lay at the foundation. We have options of what stones or blocks we lay down and tend to as we seek to build up the structure that embodies our faith. But sometimes as we lean a bit less into the emphasis of God’s love, that stone can become a bit loose, much like those ideal blocks in the game of Jenga. When looking for that loose block to remove, sometimes we pull out that which is the foundation of our faith, leading to a cascading of falling blocks. 

Sometimes, as the storms of life are raging around us, we need to go back and tend to those foundational blocks. Those stones that we have affirmed are the foundation of our faith and who we understand God to be. Sometimes, we need to return to those stories, narratives, and affirmations to remember who it is that has called us and how we have chosen to respond. Sometimes it requires us returning to those simple statements of our faith, to re-secure those foundation stones in place, so that the rest of our faith may once me become solid.  

“Children of God” 

Rev. Chris Snow

North Hill Christian Church

January 22, 2023

Matthew 5:1-20

Today we enter into Matthew’s discourse which is appropriately titled, the Sermon on the Mount. Just with those words, if you have seen images referencing the sermon on the mount, or even of Jesus teaching, we find ourselves approaching this text with what is likely a similar set of images. Jesus sitting up on a rock above a large crowd. We might even begin to make assumptions of who all is included in that crowd. Perhaps it is all the disciples, all those who have begun to follow Jesus around the countryside and all of those who have heard about this man and wanted to come and check things out. We get this image of a large crowd, almost like the revivals that took place in the American West that brought forth movements like the Stone-Campbell movement. 

These images begin to shape how we approach the meat of our text for today. But if we look a bit closer a shift in our perspective can be suggested. You see, as we read the Beatitudes, it becomes somewhat second nature to see the qualifiers describing us in the present tense. “Oh, those words are talking about us.” 

The first shift in perspective is that, first of all according to Matthew, only four disciples have had their call narratives at this point, even though there is only one more call narrative after this section before the twelve are referenced. But as the fifth chapter of Matthew opens we hear, “When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he sat down, his disciples came to him, and he began to speak and taught them…” One reading of this text suggests that it is the followers of Jesus, those that we are familiar with but also others who have already dedicated themselves to the good news of Jesus. We might best describe this as the church members. Those who have heard and come to believe. Those gathered at his feet on the mountain side are not the multitude that we imagine, but rather the congregation that has formed thus far. 

The second shift happens as we focus upon the pronouns used in the Beatitudes. 

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. 

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are those  who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. 

Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.” 

Did you catch it? Eight of the nine lines of blessings are pointing at others. Then comes the last directed message to those who had gathered and a direct statement was made to them, indicating the persecution that the early disciples would experience in the pursuit of the kingdom of heaven. 

The final perspective shift that needs to be addressed is how the beatitudes counter the ideals of both the time and even today. We may look at these and see qualities that are so very nice but ignore the reality that they are counter to what our society says that we are to do in order to be successful in one way or another. In order to be true Americans. In order to be worthy of admiration. However with this countercultural narrative being present, we find a sense of comfort in words of blessing while also ignoring the opposite that is left unspoken. Words of cursed, or woes as the Gospel of Luke puts it. 

Starting with “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Blessing for those who put their full trust on God to provide. Not trying to take control and act as if they are fully independent of any outside help. We live in a world that champions those who are fiercely independent, whether it is in the workplace or in their lives in general. So much so that our culture makes us feel shame if we have to ask others for help in our struggles. And yet blessed are those who fully rely upon the Holy within their lives. 

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” We like to think that we don’t have an issue with those who mourn, except…if they mourn longer than we expect them to. I can’t count the number of times someone has mentioned to me that they continue to mourn and grieve the loss of a loved one, almost as if they were somewhat ashamed. And, I would find it important to note that it is more than ok to continue to mourn and grieve. 

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” No one who looks at people in power would say that they are meek. Instead they see their initiative and take the bull by the horns attitude to point to how they succeeded. But here we flip the power dynamics upside down that in the kingdom of heaven it is those who are meek (mild, submissive to God) who gain the authority and power over the earth. 

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, of they will be filled.” Those whose entire being is centered around righteousness. Seeking after that which is right in the eyes of God. To the point that righteousness is that which sustains one’s inner being. Often times I recognize this in protesters and activists that recognize there is an injustice in the world, often times systemic injustices that are baked into the foundation of our societies. In many ways their struggles for justice push back against societal norms because it address it would require a deep shift or change how we are community with one another. \

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.” This is one of those qualities that I feel is helpful to have a general definition for; “compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.” One area of focus that we easily look to is within the judicial system, but I would also point to those moments in which we have the power to show compassion in a context where to not show kindness would further their experience of harm. How many times have we seen something online or in life of someone asking for help, and in that moment we dismiss them because “surely they are taking advantage.” But to show a small amount of compassion could greatly benefit their life, while not causing any harm to us. 

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Initially as I hear that phrase my mind goes to that idyllic view of a perfectly innocent child. That image of one who is absolutely pure, without sin and blemish. However a better interpretation of one who is pure in heart is that they have a singular devotion to God. One who’s loyalties are not divided but solely given to God. One image that comes to mind when I consider this blessing is that image out of the musical Godspell which references Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” This is another one of those that we would like to claim fits in nicely with our society until we really consider what it means to be a peacemaker in the eyes of God vs in the eyes of country. This statement was one that pushed back hard against the “Pax Romana” the peace of Rome that was instituted through military might and force. But to be a peacemaker within this context, is to be one who pursues peace through means more in line with mediation than through the use of force. With that in mind we can easily assume that if a president did not respond to acts of aggression through the use of force there would be an outcry among the people. That to seek out peace through conversations and diplomacy would give the appearance of weakness. I have recently come across a number of clips from shows like the West Wing in which the president has to choose how to respond to an attack and the societal expectation is there. It is our expectation that one would respond with brute force to any sort of attack. To be a peacemaker is one that requires that we push back against the social expectation of responding in kind when harm has been done, especially on a large scale, to instead pursue peaceful solutions that build up community and relationships than further divide. 

As we consider the beatitudes, it is important to recognize that as much as we might like the metaphorical finger isn’t always pointing at us as the ones who will receive the blessing. But rather at those who are living out these deep commitments to the Kingdom of God here in our world, even if they are counter to what our society expects. Even if they push back against those comfortable norms that would be uncomfortable if we had to change. Within this context to be called children of God, is to pursue the kingdom of God above and beyond what our society says is the right way to live. 

“Stepping Off on the Right Foot”

Rev. Chris Snow

North Hill Christian Church

January 15, 2023

Matthew 4:1-17

This week as part of my usual study practices I was faced with the reality of how my approach to scripture has been changed because of Covid. You see I typically listen to a podcast conversation based on the text for the week, but this week they had to re-use one from 2019 on the correct text due to technical issues. But as it played I hoped for something a little different. Maybe more time spent on the fasting int he wilderness. That space in which, for some of us, we have felt like we have been living for the past three years. A wilderness journey that leaves more questions than answers. When will things get back to normal, if they ever will? 

Add to this wandering, that the whole world is engaged with, as we continue to evaluate what is important in our lives. What working conditions we will accept for ourselves, and our family and friends. On top of all this we as North Hill are in the midst of a discernment journey as we seek to ask questions about where we hear God is leading us. 

Because of all this figurative wandering in the wilderness that we have found ourselves in there is a song out of our praise book that continues to speak to me. “A Wilderness Wandering People.” I invite you to hear these lyrics for the first or millionth time: 

We are a wilderness wandering people on a journey of the soul. 

Mae we find our destination in our longing to be whole.

Our Holy God is calling to us. 

With Jesus by our side, may compassion be our compass; 

may the spirit be our guide. 

May we cherish all our children;

let us heal our family’s pain. 

Help us cure our city’s madness;

let love and justice reign. 

Reconciled with one another in prayer and praise and song,

we’re the body of Chirst together, and we know that we belong. 

(Words and Music Jim Strathdee, 1996 Desert Flower Music)

As we recognize our own wandering through the wilderness, in some ways I think we can relate a little better to Jesus’ time of fasting and residing in the wild places. Residing, not in comfort but in those places where we are stretched and pressed. Some times moments in which we seek answers intentionally, or other times like COVID where we are seemingly thrown out into the wilderness to fend for ourselves, but still discover something meaningful within our lives. 

It is with this perspective that I now approach today’s text. Jesus has gone out into the wilderness, led by the spirit where he resides and fasts for a long period of time. I say a long period of time because when we see language of 40 days or 40 years it is indicating a long period of time measured in days or years respectively. We don’t get much detail from the gospels of the purpose of that wilderness journey, only that after the period of time had past, he is tempted.  

I wonder what Jesus focused on during that time in the wilderness. As he was away from any distractions and able to center himself on what he found meaningful and important. 

One of those things that has come out of our society’s journey through COVID is that a number of people have come to recognize the importance to taking care of themselves, especially when it comes to having worked in toxic work environments. This journey through the wilderness that is COVID has caused some disruptions because the people discovered that which gave their lives more enjoyment and meaning. For a number of clergy that has meant making an even more intentional decision to engage in self care and setting boundaries around that part of our lives. 

So, as I hear Jesus encountering the tempter after a period of time in which he has been able to truly examine his life and what he finds to be foundational of who he is, I can’t help but hear his responses differently than before COVID. 

The first temptation is that of turning a stone into bread. I can’t help to but to think now that, surely that option had crossed Jesus’ mind as he fasted in the wilderness on his own. Thinking how easy it would be to create bread out of the elements around him, or to call down manna from heaven. But, no he resisted doing that to instead engage in a fast. So, to simply turn back to the tempter and quote scripture would have been simple. “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Pointing to that which has continued to sustain him through this prolonged fast in the wilderness. 

The second temptation is to test the Lord God, to protect him if he were to jump off the pinnacle of the temple, as the tempter quotes scripture at Jesus. “He will command his angels concerning you, and On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.” Once more I can’t help but imagine Jesus’ thought process. What is the point of that action. To simply jump, as the Spirit has sustained him during his fasting. He had already received from the divine that which has given him life and sustained him in the wilderness. Jesus responds to the tempter once more with scripture, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” 

Finally we come to the last temptation, which I imagine standing on Pride Rock with Mufasa and Simba looking out at the lands, looking out at all the kingdoms of the world and the tempter saying, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Once more Jesus rebukes him quoting scripture, “Worship the Lord your God and serve only him.” 

But if we left it there we might be missing out on something. You see the Gospel of Matthew comes to a close shortly after hearing Jesus saying these words in Matthew 28:18-20, “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey every thing that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” 

I wonder at what point Jesus came to the realization that he had this authority over the world? Did it come about during his ministry. Perhaps in his death. Or maybe, just maybe, as he sat in the wilderness considering what was truly important. Considering what he is meant to do. Listening for the voice of God of how he was to speak to the people. Perhaps in this he recognized the true authority that rest upon his shoulders. And with that in mind prepared to step back into the world with a ministry proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Change your direction for the kingdom of God, for which we have waited has come close and you are invited.

Perhaps wilderness wanderings can bring forth meaning in our lives. Whether it is in recognizing that which is truly life giving, or recognizing the work of the divine in our midst gently guiding us along a path. Either way as we continue to make our way out of the wilderness caused by COVID let us be mindful of what we have learned about ourselves in this wilderness journey. Let us be mindful of the new direction’s the spirit is leading us as a congregation. Let us be mindful of those things that we have given more importance to through this journey. 

“Why Baptism?”

Rev. Chris Snow

North Hill Christian Church

January 8, 2023

Matthew 3:1-17

One of the defining characteristics of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is our approach to baptism. For one we believe in believer’s baptism. Where one is able to choose for themselves that they want to be baptized. Second, we also affirm the baptisms performed in other denominations and congregations, whether they were baptized as infants or at the age in which they chose to be baptized. But with all that said, there remains the question of “Why baptism?” Why did John practice a baptism of repentance? Why did he call out the Pharisees and Sadducees? Why did Jesus come to John to be baptized? Why do we continue the practice of baptism today? 

In our text today the Gospel of Matthew opens Jesus’ adult life with one who is crying out in the wilderness, “Prepare the way of the Lord; make his path’s straight.” This prophetic cry that comes out of Isaiah while also calling the original hearer’s to also imagine Elijah. The one who was to foretell the coming messiah. We have John crying out in the wilderness. Preaching and teaching, not in the town squares or synagogues but out away from “civilization.” Preaching of the need for repentance. 

The Dictionary of Theological terms defines repentance as such: “Repentance: the act of expressing contrition and penitence for sin. It’s linguistic roots point to its theological meaning of a change of mind and life direction as a beginning step of expressing Christian faith. (Acts 26:20)”  

In the context in which we find ourselves with John, baptism is being utilized as a ritual of purification. A ritual that takes intentionality, and commitment. A ritual that is more than simply being dunked under the water, to make everything good. Instead ones approach to the baptism, and consequently ones behavior afterwards is important. 

This is evident as John calls out the Pharisees and Sadducees. Calling them “You brood of vipers!” In the words that follow I hear John calling them out for their lack of commitment. Calling them out for simply coming to be baptized to cover all their bases. Making a show out of being baptized, rather than actually making any meaningful change. 

In a number of ways this highlights one of the criticisms of the church with regards to baptisms. Where too often it has become the practice of doing baptisms without much thoughtful preparation ahead of time, or one of my critiques is to rush children through a pastor’s class well before they are able to comprehend what baptism means to them. 

These criticisms raise the same question that I hear John the Baptist alluding to as he speaks to the Pharisees and Sadducees. For what reason are you coming to be baptized? Are you coming simply for the ritual, to cover yourself, or to make a meaningful change and commitment in your life? 

Now, as we know from hearing the text today, the narrative does not end there. But instead continues as Jesus comes to be baptized, which raises a whole other set of theological questions. If Jesus is indeed fully righteous and without sin, then why should he need to be baptized? 

There are two sets of interconnected answers that I have come across as I have been searching for commentaries on those questions. The first highlights an essential characteristic of Jesus and his ministry: being humble. Matthew’s account is the only one that includes the dialogue between John and Jesus, in which John acknowledges that he should be baptized by Jesus not the other way around. But Jesus insists that it is proper to do it “in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Setting the tone for the whole of Jesus’ ministry. Setting a tone that is not about holding titles and positions of power over others but rather humbling one’s self for the betterment of all. 

The second set of answers is with regards to this being a definite moment of Jesus’ life. That moment where we can point to his shifting of direction. As mentioned earlier repentance as a theological term is a change in one’s direction. Before this moment, we don’t have much insight into what Jesus was doing with his life, aside from John who mentions the wedding at Cana. This is a definitive moment of Jesus’ life according to the Gospels. That moment where Jesus’ life “gains” more direction. That moment in which in my belief, Jesus makes that conscious choice that he will take on this ministry that will define his life, and take him to the cross. 

That moment where the heroes of our stories, fictional and non-fictional alike make that definitive step forward to pursue the cause no matter what the cost. Much like that moment in the Fellowship of the Ring, where Frodo steps forward and says he will take the ring to Mordor. 

It is with this intentional decision do hear the affirmation, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” Jesus has made his first set of intentional steps along a path that will declare a ministry of healing, teaching, and feeding. A ministry that will lead to creating a new covenant based on forgiveness. A ministry that will lead to the cross and the empty tomb. 

With all of this laid out there still remains of the question of why do we come to be baptized? It is because it is in that moment where we as believers make that conscious choice for the path in which we choose to follow in our lives. That moment for Walter Scott, one of our denominational founders, was one of 5 exercises of salvation. 1) confession of faith. 2) Repentance of sins. 3) Baptism. 4) God’s forgiveness. 5) The granting of gifts of the Holy Spirit and eternal life. For Scott baptism is that stepping off point in our faith lives as we place our lives in God’s hands to guide us and equip us. 

Alexander Campbell, another one of our denomination founders says this of baptism: “Baptism is sort of embodiment of the gospel, and a solemn expression of it all in a single act. In baptism we are passive in every thing but in giving our consent. We are buried and we are raised by another. Hence in no view of baptism can it be called a good work.”

For both of these founders, the act of baptism is much more than a simple ritual, but rather that conscious decision made with much thought and deliberation. I know for me, I hear much more about informed consent than I did in my youth, and along with many other things I feel that Alexander Campbell has a good point in connecting consent with baptism. It is that moment in which we choose, after considering all the implications of the journey we are about to begin with baptism. Giving consent to God to guide our lives. Giving of ourselves to pursue the kingdom of God here on earth. Giving our informed consent to be a follower of Jesus even when it may not be convenient or popular. 

So, why be baptized? Because in that journey to the water in which we seek God’s forgiveness as we give up of ourselves to be born anew in the life that God would have for us. That we are born anew in the whole body of Christ. In baptism we make that informed decision to pursue God’s will for us in our lives, knowing that we are likely to stumble and fall along the way, but we will continue to follow as God guides us. 

“Searching for a King”

Rev. Chris Snow

North Hill Christian Church

January 1, 2023

Matthew 2:1-12

Earlier this week I came across a thought exercise that has stuck with me, and also speaks to the motivations between the magi and Herod in today’s text. This thought exercise is based off of that question posed to my generation in our teen years, “What would Jesus do?” But not necessarily in the manner we have used that old abbreviation WWJD, to encourage our youth to do the right thing in the eyes of the church. Rather this exercise calls the individual to call out the bad actors of the church. Would Jesus shame another because of the clothes they were wearing? Would Jesus judge those who were perceived to be a disruption to normal church operation? Would Jesus expel, those who wanted to know God, because of who they are? 

The list goes on and on, but highlights those qualifiers to entrance, that church institutions place upon those who come inside our walls. Many of which are based on the desire to dictate right belief as we see it, and to control who has power to dictate that belief. 

This thought exercise comes up today because we have two separate entities responding to the news that the King of the Jews has been born. On the one hand we have King Herod and the other we have the magi (astrologers, magicians, court officials). Each responding to the news of the brith of this special child in very different ways. The magi seek to pay homage to the child and bring forth gifts fit for a king. But Herod, on the other hand, seeking out the child to stop any threat to his power and reign. As I look at these two sets of characters I can’t help but imagine all the groups that they are representing with their motivations. But a key question is, why do we come searching for the king of kings? 

Our various libraries are filled with stories of people with all kinds of motives when it comes to seeking out one who is destined to be powerful. In the Star Wars Saga there are those on both the light and dark side seeking to control and direct the chosen one. In the Arthurian legends you have a child being influenced from various sides that would dictate what kind of king he would be. In the Chronicles of Narnia there are multiple instances in which the Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve are sought to be persuaded by different factions. It is inherent within literature when there is a chosen one figure, there will be those who will seek to use or influence them in one way or another.

We have all these stories that have this overly special character or characters who are destined to change the world in which they reside. For the most part we are keenly aware of the motives of those that are seen as on the side of Evil. King Herod, who sought to wipe out all the boys under the age of two in an effort to rid the threat of Jesus growing up and threatening his authority. The Sith in leading Anikan Skywalker down the path of the dark side. The white which who sought to use Edmund in Narnia. 

But except for maybe in the case of the Star Wars saga the motives of those on the “good side” are not questioned. Or rather on the side that we more closely identify with. The side in which we can imagine ourselves as a part. 

If we had our choice, we would say that we could more easily imagine ourselves in the shoes of the magi than those of Herod. But do our actions within the world reflect our searching for a king that will transform the world. Do we reflect one that disrupts the status quo and seeks to call up those living in their high tower ignoring the most vulnerable of their people?

Or do we get caught up, like the Jedi council with Anikan Skywalker, seeking to hold onto their sense of power and authority, loose sight of the light we are to follow. Much like Herod and the Pharisees who pushed back hard against Jesus in an effort to maintain the status quo and the authority and power it gave to them. 

Each year we come searching for the newborn king assuming we more closely align with the shepherds or magi, seeking to celebrate that the messiah has been born. But have we ever considered our motives the rest of the year, wondering if they have become more aligned with the Pharisees in keeping control and power without regard to who it may harm? Imagining if we were alive for Jesus’ birth and ministry how would we respond?

There have become those times where we like to imagine Jesus as a kind teacher, not creating any drama or waves about him. But there are those times that we loose sight of the nature of his ministry. Jesus was very much a rebel, who disrupted the status quo, and we as followers of that way are called to continue that disruption. Anytime we fall into complacency and what is comfortable for us, shifting from disciple to Pharisee, there comes the need for disruption. 

One of the big questions that has arisen over the course of 2022, was what does the future of the church look like post-pandemic? A moment in time that has thoroughly disrupted how we understand what ministry looks like. A moment that has us evaluating those things we have taken for granted. But at the same time has us considering how Jesus’ ministry may be breaking through the strict formats and structures of churches to do something new. 

Over the course of the past 2000+ years the “church” has taken on many forms. Constantly transformed. Never quite staying the same as new issues or life altering events take place. And at time issues arise when tradition becomes more important than serving God’s children.

If we take a hard look at ourselves and this congregation we can recognize those ways in which we may fall short of fully living out the ministry that we find in the Gospels. We may find those things in which we have become too comfortable. Those ways in which we declare what is the right way, without considering how it hinders or harms another’s faith journey. 

So, I pose the question again, “Why do we come searching for the king of kings?” Why do we come searching for the messiah, and do we come searching along side the magi, or with Herod? 

“Love in Presence”

Rev. Chris Snow

North Hill Christian Church

December 18, 2022

Matthew 1:18-25

There are those times that we find ourselves taking someone’s presence for granted. Probably not intentionally, but because we have become so accustomed to their presence that we forget to appreciate them until something goes wrong. Or with regards to Joseph his presence fades into the background of the narrative and only comes up in readings including birth narratives of Jesus and his early life. Then he fades away, leaving us with questions, of what ever happened to Joseph. In the same vein how often do we really consider one of Matthew’s themes that emphasizes that God is with us? 

The Gospel of Matthew opens up with a genealogy that traces Jesus ancestry from Joseph all the way back to Abraham. Highlighting some notable figures and events along the way. A genealogy that has me remembering all those people who were righteous before the Lord. All those who went where God led them. All those who embraced God’s steadfast love. While they were not all perfect I find myself in this time considering those who did their best, in part because one of the descriptors of Joseph in this Gospel, depending on which translation you are using, it calls him a honorable or righteous man.

A man even when he thought he had been betrayed by Mary when she was found to be pregnant, had planned to do the compassionate thing in dissolving their union quietly without public disgrace. The next descriptor comes as, we assume, Mary’s assertions to the divine nature of the child that she is carrying is stated by the angel. A descriptor that names Jospeh’s lineage in calling him a Son of David. A messianic line. A line from which the savior of the people would come. The messianic promise has not been forgotten by the Lord. and now is the time. 

That promise that has long been declared to the people. The promise that had become so engrained into their scriptures and prayers. A promise that had been there so long, is it possible that the details that pertained to Jospeh had faded into the background after so much time?

A promise that declares that God is with us, in Emmanuel. But wait there is a disconnect. The child wasn’t named Emmanuel, rather the Gospel writer is doing something interesting pulling that language from Isaiah. First, as Matthew likes to do, the gospel writer points back to the prophets or in the case of fleeing to Egypt makes allusions to Jesus’ likeness to Moses. But also by pulling the text from Isaiah with regards to Jesus’ birth where it utilizes the name Emmanuel a book end has been set. A book end that is mirrored at the end of the Gospel as Jesus prepares to ascend he tells his disciples that he will be with them always until the end of the age. A presence that comes forth in the birth narrative, continues to be affirmed throughout Jesus’ life, and is not cut off at the ascension. 

But what is the big deal about this language of, “God is with us?” Up until this point in the faith narratives that we have in the Old Testament, God has been intangible, distant, up there, inaccessible by the majority. Language that highlights a distinct separation between God and the people. In many ways this is mirrored by the many mythologies of the day by many other cultures. In Norse mythology you have the Asgardians living in another realm. In Roman mythologies you have Mt. Olympus as the home the Gods. And while the Gods may visit from time to time there is always this sense of separation. Until Jesus. 

Until one who is fully divine becomes fully human and lives his life here upon this earth with the people. No jumping back and forth to escape the worst that humanity has to offer. A presence that bridged the gap between ourselves and the divine. No longer that immense separation between the people and God. 

But what is the motivation in this presence. God’s steadfast love that continues to proclaim compassion and mercy. A sentiment that is inherent within one of the most quoted texts of the Gospels, John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” A text that uses illustrations of light and darkness.The light being the good news, inherent in Jesus’ life and ministry. A light that isn’t forced upon the people but rather serves as an open invitation. 

I find myself imagining a campfire that it set up in a wide open space with benches and chairs set up. A roaring light that lets everyone see each other. Providing warmth and comfort from the bitter cold of the night. A presence that we could end up taking for granted, since it is always there. A presence that we may even try to claim for ourselves and erect walls and fences so that we may choose who is welcome. 

And yet as we pay attention to the life and ministry of Jesus, that begins for Matthew with a righteous man staying by his betrothed when she is found to be pregnant. A ministry that continuously declares that what one must do is to love God with all that we are and to love our neighbor as ourselves. A ministry that continues to open doors and break down walls so that the outcast and ignored may find warmth in the light. A ministry that declares that the way of salvation is building up community in support of one another in love. A ministry based on God’s loving presence become flesh, where we are able to declare that God is with us. 

“Joy in Gentleness”

Rev. Chris Snow

North Hill Christian Church

December 11, 2022

Isaiah 42:1-9

There are some years that I simply have a hard time getting into the joyous nature of the Advent season. I tend to get stuck in the experience of waiting for things to turn around and not realizing the joys that are already around. This week has me missing those moments of joy. Hearing more about the Department of Homeland Security warning of domestic terror threats to LGBTQ, Jewish, and migrant communities, here within our own country. Continued reports out of Iran and Ukraine. And receiving news this week of friends and colleagues loosing their 6yr old daughter to a chronic medical condition, seemed to suck the joy from me. 

There is this sense of despair that seems to be seeping into my bones. Making me pay extra attention to some details of today’s text. Starting with the first section. “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry out or lift up his voice or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.” 

It is that imagery of a bruised reed or dimly burning wick that I find myself identifying with. That which requires extra care and attention to allow it to flourish. That which cannot be spurred along by brute force but rather with a gentle hand. 

We are so used to getting our way in moments of contention by using intimidation and power. Whether it be raising our voice or an intimidating posture, or even threats. Because of this we are used to those in power using that same tactic, and it was no different in the days of Isaiah. Yet, we have this servant song, that is used in Luke 4, where Jesus declares that this text has been fulfilled in his reading. The text becoming fulfilled, not in some mighty Rambo like figure that is going to whip everyone into shape. But rather in a gentle teacher figure. Who call people along side. Listened to the cries of the hurting. Healed the sick. Showed great tenderness to those who were suffering. 

This text in its original context in Isaiah comes forth as the people are in exile. Experiencing a great disruption. A disruption that has thrown their lives into chaos. A disruption in which one could probably identify with that reed or candle. Knowing that if too much more weight is added, or force applied, one would collapse. In the midst of this experience we hear this language of God’s servant coming forth to bring justice to the nations, but not with a loud voice or great force. Instead I hear of a servant who is coming who brings forth God’s justice with deep compassion and gentleness. 

While the disruption that COVID has brought to our lives is not the same as a nation in exile, it is still a disruption that has brought forth trauma into our lives, churches, and society. A disruption that has brought forth chaos that we are still unsure of how to overcome. There continues to be this sense of loss of community as we continue to struggle with how we reconnect with all those that we have become separated from. 

With this desire for reconnecting and reconciling broken communities, I hear verse six and seven a bit differently that I may have before. “I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.” 

A text written in time of exile where the most influential, or problematic in the eyes of the conquering nation may have been fully separated from the community and sent to prison. A strategic and political move to limit the problems that they could cause if they were free. But this text promises one who will bring forth their freedom. Their release. Their rejoining of the community. Not as a pardon from criminal justice, but reconciling a separated people.  

Within the Gospels Jesus fulfills that role much more so, than simply going into the prisons and releasing the captives. A better description would be Jesus goes forth into the communities and countrysides, releasing individuals from those prisons and chains that have separated them from their immediate communities.

This week seemed to keep sucking the joy out of me until a conversation arose about building up community relationships, for adults with disabilities that are otherwise at a loss for being connected with those safe communal relationships. Reminding me that there is still joy in the world, especially in those places where community is built up and made available to all. 

Even as I continue to grieve loss in the world and brokenness that seems to invade our lives. The simple possibility of being able to help build up community for those that have been long separated has brought me great joy and excitement. A joy that has arisen out of compassion for others and wanting all to be affirmed in community with one another. A joy that comes forth in those gentle moments of conversation and dreaming of possibilities that God brings forth into our lives. 

While there is still brokenness and grief in our world, sometimes it takes a gentle hand, to bring forth joy for someone, for whom this season may not be joyous. Sometimes it takes, movements of reconnecting the outcast and lost to a community that loves them for who they are. Sometimes it takes realizing that God continues to move in wondrous ways opening our eyes to new possibilities of being gentle servants to others within this world. Bringing forth joy, not with loud proclamations or forced smiles, but with a gentle welcome, and freedom from seclusion. 

“A Peaceful Presence”

Rev. Chris Snow 

North Hill Christian Church

December 4, 2022

Esther 4:1-17

One of the traditional themes of Advent is peace. If you go into the stores that sell Christmas Decorations, or really any Christmasy stuff, you will likely come across at least one piece that says PEACE. We love the imagery that peace elicits. Imagery of humanity living harmoniously together. Of all creation finding its true balance. Imagery of God’s holy mountain where all the animals, carnivores, herbivores and omnivores can all live together without fear of being attacked or eaten by another. We adore this imagery, but we don’t often consider how we get from a world full of violence and contention, to a place where we can once more live our lives, leaving doors unlocked and without fear. 

When we use imagery of peace, especially during this season, we often also use imagery of Jesus as the prince of peace. Imagery that comes from Isaiah 9:6 in declaring the coming king “For a child has been born for us, a song given to us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders and is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” These are the ideal qualities in the perfect king. Those things that set one apart from all the other kings and rulers. 

We like the imagery of the divine simply bringing forth peace into the world. And as we all know it is hard to advocate and seek out peace in our world. It is hard to constantly do that which pursues peace, because our instincts at times are to do the opposite. To wish harm upon another. To not care if others are hurt. To dismiss the injustices of the world, as to not disrupt the little peace we have in our homes. And yet in many ways that is what our text out of Esther calls to be mindful of this morning. 

But before I get into how we might hear the text speaking to us this morning there are some important issues of context around this text that we need to be aware of. 

First of all, the text of Esther is foundational to the Jewish festival of Purim. A festival which celebrates the saving of the Jewish people from Haman, as told in the book of Esther. It is a text of an endangered people surviving even though people sought to wipe them out entirely. 

The text takes place within the Persian empire, while the Israelite people had been scattered due to the Babylonian exile. Both Mordecai and Esther were Jews, although Esther does not disclose her heritage to those in power until after this section of the text takes place. Mordecai and Esther are cousins but the relationship is more like a father and daughter due to their circumstances. 

The manner in which Esther becomes queen is one of replacing the previous queen because she did not come when called, and the king sought a queen that would be pleasing to himself but also obedient. To say there were power dynamics at play that would be unacceptable today is an understatement. 

With that said, we find ourselves in the middle of a narrative in which we find Mordecai, along with Jews who are scattered throughout the Persian empire wearing sackcloth as they lament a decree that has gone out from the palace, by Haman (one who has gained favor with the king), on a given date the people are free to kill the Jews and take their possessions for their own. A decree that has gone to every province in the kingdom. And so a back and forth takes place between Mordecai and Esther through her servants about what is happening in the kingdom. 

A conversation that calls Esther to recognize that while she is in a place of privilege she should not assume that she would be entirely safe from this decree to eradicate all the Jews in the land. That while she has privilege and a sense of safety, what is she going to do with that power that she holds in her hands. Will she stand up and do something for her people or will she sit back and watch from the safety of her place in the palace? Will she risk angering the king for the sake of her kin? 

This past Friday as I was driving down to the pottery studio I caught a small piece of a section of a radio broadcast on NPR called On Point. While it was focusing on our political landscape there was one part that stuck out to me and I will try to paraphrase as best as I can. The only way we can create true systemic change in our world, is get out of our self focused mindset to instead consider the experience of others in our communities. 

This language is definitely seeking to speak to those who have privilege and power, as to call us to be mindful of those without. Calling us to consider the experiences of others that are not our own. Considering how individuals are harmed by broken systems. Whether those are our healthcare system, or the justice systems. Considering how our voices and presence in the world could create change that is life-giving in a world full of brokenness. 

As I imagine Esther standing before the king, I envision someone who has accepted the possible consequences and stands there at peace with their decision. Much like those who stand before the city council to denounce oppression within our community. Much like those who stand in front of protesters at pride events, creating a wall blocking signs and seeking to drown out hateful rhetoric, knowing full well that they are putting themselves at risk. I imagine that lone individual standing before a line of tanks at Tianammen Square. Or students peacefully protesting while being pepper sprayed as they sit on the sidewalk. Yet they stand with determination, a peaceful presence, seeking to stand against injustice within our world. A presence that seems to defy logic, and yet calls out the broken systems that had led to that point. 

A presence in which we see in a man who squared off with the Pharisees and Sadducees, not in a physical fight, but rather a debate on the scriptures. A presence that we find within the movement of the early disciples seeking to create a faithful communities, who cared and tended to one another. A presence that led Peter to defend his actions of preaching and baptizing Gentiles, before the other apostles. A presence that has been present within the ministry of Jesus Christ, but only if we are willing to listen and follow through. A presence that calls us out our our self serving mindset to instead be aware and consider the experiences, needs, and condition of others within our world. To consider how our actions may lead to life affirming movements in the face of great opposition. 

“Waiting with Hope”

Rev. Chris Snow

North Hill Christian Church

November 27, 2022

Habakkuk 1:1-7, 2:1-4, 3:17-19

This Sunday marks the beginning of a new season for many Christian communities around the world. (Granted not all Christian communities celebrate Christmas on December 25th but rather celebrate closer to or on the day of Epiphany.) We find ourselves entering into a season of waiting. Waiting for the birth of our savior. Waiting (as I do not choose Christmas Carols for worship until Christmas Eve) to be able to sing those joy-filled songs celebrating the birth of our savior into the world once more. As we make our way through this season I tend to lean upon the traditional themes for the four Sundays in this season; Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. And as one can probably guess this week’s theme is hope, but how can we find hope within our texts for today. 

Looking back over the years of picking scriptures and leading our congregation through this season, I can’t remember a set of texts that speaks to our current experience with such clarity. As the Tuesday Bible study gathered this past week around these texts, we couldn’t help but acknowledge how the opening section of Habakkuk resonates and speaks to how we see the world today. 

“O Lord, how long shall I cry for help,

and you will not listen?

Or cry to you ‘Violence!’

and you will not save?

Why do you make me see wrongdoing 

and look at trouble?

Destruction and violence are before me;

strife and contention arise.

So the law becomes slack,

and justice never prevails. 

The wicked surround the righteous;

therefore judgment comes forth perverted.” (Habakkuk 1:2-4 NRSVUE)

Even though this poetic prophet wrote this thousands of years ago, aside from a few historical context clues here and there, we can almost feel that the prophet wrote this text for our world today. No matter how we identify politically we recognize that there continues to be great violence in our world that tears gashes through communities all over our country. There is wrong doing that continues to take place out in the open, seemingly without correction. We can recognize that strife and contention continue to arise, creating division and a mentality of us verses them. We look for justice within systems that we recognize are unbalanced and at times favor some over others. All of this causes us to ask, “Where is the hope in all this?” 

Where is the hope in a country where greed and lust for power seem to be all consuming without regard for who is harmed? Eliciting imagery in Habakkuk 2:5 “Moreover, wealth is treacherous; the arrogant do not endure. They open their throats wide as Sheol (place of the dead); like Death they never have enough. They gather all nations for themselves and collect all peoples as their own.” 

Where is the hope when our own health care system, (health care institutions and insurance companies) becomes a barrier for those seeking healthcare because of cost, and the time it takes to get resolution or answers?

Where is the hope when we continue to see prices for even the most basic of essentials continue to rise, and food banks are having an increasingly difficult time serving the most vulnerable of our community? 

Where is the hope as we continue to hear of individuals going into public places, like the Q nightclub in Colorado Springs, and a Walmart in Chesapeake, Virginia, and shooting those present?

Where is the hope when out of fear of causing an argument, that we are afraid of sharing in conversation with one another those issues for which we are passionate about?

Where is the Hope? Hope is present in the vision of what is yet to come. A vision for which we are awaiting but also are active in pursuing. The prophet opens the second chapter, after lamenting the ills and brokenness of the world in the first chapter with this imagery, “I will stand at my watchpost and station myself on the rampart…” He continues to use language that even though there is brokenness and injustice all around he will remain steadfast in his faith. Ultimately ending the book with, “God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer and makes me tread upon the heights.” 

Even as we find ourselves on uneven footing, unsure of what is ahead of us. Unsure of how to handle the brokenness of the world. In the midst of all this, which causes us to ask, “Where is the hope?” We are reminded God is with us. The holy has a vision for the world, which Jesus proclaimed. There is indeed a source of hope in this broken world and we can see glimpses as we wait upon the watchpost and rampart recognizing those places in which God’s justice is revealed. As we continue to advocate for change and lend our hands to the work of bringing forth the light of hope into the world. 

I have seen glimpses of hope, through the ills of our healthcare system, through groups that are working with bike shops to train them on how to repair wheelchairs, when the other option is to send the chairs out for repairs that can take a lengthy amount of time at a staggering expense to the user. 

There is hope as we continue to see those who are able, collecting food and supplies for those who are in need. As members of the community recognizes the greater need, that goes beyond their own doors, and seeks to make a difference in some one else’s life, seeking to lessen their burden. 

There is hope when there are daring people, who rush forward into danger to protect the lives of others. Seeking to protect the lives of family and friends. 

There is hope when unexpected conversations are allowed to take place, that transcend our political differences, and bring forth healing in a fragmented space. 

There is hope when the church stands up, against hatred and injustice in the world, to declare through our actions that all are children of God and should be regarded as such. 

Even though our world seems to be continually falling apart all around us. Where violence, injustice, and destruction seem to be becoming the norm. Even in the midst of all this were we may ask, “Where is the hope?” Hope is glimpsed as we look forward toward the Kingdom of God. That light which seems to break through the darkness that seems to surround us to guide us in a still better way. Hope is affirmed as we take our watch on the ramparts, not to simply sit back and observe but to take our responsibility in the kingdom of God to heart. Affirming that even though the path before us may be rocky, we are willing to move forward for God is indeed with us guiding us with a light of hope. 

“Hammering the Sword”

Rev. Chris Snow 

North Hill Christian Church

November 20, 2022

Isaiah 36:1-3, 13-20, 37:1-7, 2: 1-4

The final imagery out of the second chapter of Isaiah elicits a very specific kind of imagery. Imagery that has been made tangible outside of the the United Nations with a sculpture of a man hammering a sword into a plow. A hopeful image that it is indeed possible to overcome our instinct to rely upon strength and threats of war to ensure justice and peace. But it takes hard word to do all of this. It takes hard work and trust to overcome the voices that say what we hope for is impossible. It takes remaining faithful to the one who has called us into the way of peace, to keep our eyes focused on the kingdom even when our most basic of instincts try to call us away. 

There is a specific show that comes to mind as I consider this text this week. It is Forged in Fire. It is a knife making contest, where the participants take metal, sometimes salvaged from all sorts of things, to create a knife. To do so it takes more than just hammering on on the metal until their desired shape comes forth. Instead they have to clean the metal. Removing impurities that could cause issues down the line. They have to heat the metal appropriately. Too cool and it can form cracks and stress points. Too hot and it could melt and become unusable. it takes great care and attention to achieve the desired result. 

The same can be said when we are seeking after God’s kingdom. Seeking after God’s justice and peace in the world. One of the biggest road blocks are those voices like King Sennacherib of Assyria, through is messenger the Rabshekeh. The messenger arrives before Jerusalem with a message calling the people to just give up. “No other nation’s God’s have protected them. You will be allowed to stay in your land…that is until I take you away to another land, but don’t worry it is like your own.” 

Language that sought to remove the fight from the people. Remove hope that they could ever prevail. Remove the fight from the people so that they may simply give up. And yet the following chapter we hear a message from God calling King Hezekiah to remain faithful. Don’t loose heart for the Lord God will make a way through this trouble. 

In order for King Hezekiah to remain faithful, it took great intentionality on his own part. Intentionality that was brought together along with the support of the priests and other leaders of the temple. Great intentionality to remain faithful for the vision of God’s reign being ever present in the land even when there are those loud voices standing before you saying that vision is impossible. 

Recently Jenn and I have found ourselves talking about the change within the media that we consume with regards to representation and confronting issues of injustice that we have inherently known about but have never had to face it head on…because those issues haven’t always impacted our own lives. Media that includes, young adult books, tv shows, movies, and even open discussion of these issues on some forms of social media. 

Shows including Dr. Who and the Umbrella Academy bringing the audience into moments of the civil rights movements. Whether it be watching on as Rosa Parks is depicted on that fateful bus. To characters that we have become attached to sitting down quietly and peacefully at a restaurant counter, as absolute hate and vitriol was heaped upon them because of the color of their skin. While we know these depictions of instances during the civil rights movement only show a snapshot, it brings us face to face with these issues that have been a part of our history, and issues of racism that continue to remain. Yet, as we see these depictions we see those intentionally doing what they can to fight for their rights to justice and equality in the world. Seeking after God’s justice for them in a world that refused and continues to limit how we understand individuals of color to be full human beings far too often. 

Or in shows like “A League of Their Own” where we are ever mindful of the discrimination that was levied not only on people of color but individuals of the LGBTQIA community. Discrimination that meant if you were found out, you had to move to another town, for your name was printed in the paper. Calling to mind the Stonewall riots as this same community was discriminated against by the official institutions in power but also the mob which took advantage of them because they made “safe” spaces for them that were far below subpar. Situations that led to the Stone Wall uprisings, where the community said enough was enough. But as we have heard on the news this morning, the struggle isn’t over. As yet another mass shooting at an LGBTQIA club has taken place in Colorado Springs. 

Then there is the movie “Crip Camp”. A movie that sums up so many reasons for me why I believe that camps are important not only for our youth but also all of us who are seeking a better world. Of how camp can be that intentional community that leads to further growth and development around a core idea or principle when one returns home. The film initially takes place at a camp for individuals with disabilities in 1971. A camp where the campers and staff present become bound together in community. Supporting and encouraging one another. A community that does not dissipate after camp was over but led to a movement of individuals with disabilities to demand that the government actually enforce section 504 of the rehabilitation act, which says, “no otherwise qualified handicapped individual in the United States shall solely on the basis of his handicap, be excluded from the participation, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”And later led to the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

All of these movements for justice faced deep opposition. Both through official government positions, and discrimination within society. Yet, they pursued justice that recognized their own humanity in a world that sought to define them as other. They remained faithful to the vision that they had before them. A vision for some that were influenced by their faith in the one that declared a kingdom based on God’s reign and justice. A kingdom that we are called to help bring to fruition in the world today. 

Even when there are those voices crying out for us to give up and be happy with the status quo. We are called to continue to move towards God’s kingdom. We are called to remember that it takes great intentionality to do what the world claims is impossible. It takes great faithfulness to keep our vision focused on the Kingdom that God would have for us. Where the brokenness of our world, that is founded upon seeing other human beings as less than human, unworthy, worthless, is all wiped away and we may affirm that all are children of God and deserve to be treated as such.