Friday, November 27, 2015

What Preaching Is


One of the things I love about my current job is training younger preachers. By the grace of God I've probably preached around 500 times over the past 15 years and hopefully I've learned some things along the way but I've still got plenty more to learn. And however many times you've done it, every sermon starts as a blank page...

I've particularly been helped by Marcus Honeysett, Dick Lucas and Tim Keller's approaches to preaching - to hol out Christ to people where they are. Andy Stanley's 'Communicating for a change' was a gamechanger in terms of getting away from complexity to simpler sermons and better connection with people.

For all the skill and good grammar, I wonder whether preaching is more a matter of conviction than it is technicality.  There is craft to learn in good communication, in filtering how much to say, how to articulate it clearly, convincingly. And the preparation process varies. This is an art more than a science.

I'm persuaded by Keller that more time with people than time in the study is a good idea (though Keller would probably presuppose a rigorous theological education)...  we must have Christ in view and people in view, because in the end it comes down to something like...
Sermon preparation is Exegeting Christ from the text and Repenting to Christ.
As I sit in front of a Bible text and a blank page the goal is to exegete Christ from the text. The Bible is, one way or another, in some way or another, from one angle or another, about Christ. Seeing how takes good grammar, good understanding of context, of Biblical and Systematic Theology and the illumining of the Spirit.

If I'm not drawing that HIM from the text I've missed the point... and better get repenting to him, crying out for him to make himself known through the ink on the page and the light of his Spirit in my heart. When I see him, the posture of preparation is one of kneeling. Let me repent again to him.

Pixar and others tell us that stories are about the "once upon a time... and every day... but then one day..." moments. And so it is with the gospel. I live my life blissfully/sinfully unaware of Christ in some way in at least some part of my life, but then I encounter him in the text, and everything begins to change. I'm called to fresh repentance - however long I've been walking with Jesus or not.

And then, what is preaching?
Preaching is doing [all of the above] in front of people.
One human being in front of other human beings. All of us somewhere in the middle of life, and - whilst I want to initiate a conversation, entice them to see that what we're going to look at matters - my goal must be to exegete Christ from the text in front of people, with people, for people, and then to lead the way in publicly repenting (repeating and restating the repenting I've done in my study) so that together we might all go to Christ.

When that's my goal - we'll get to Christ. When that's my goal - I stand inches ahead of people having already faced what the Spirit says through this text in the preceding days rather than over and apart from people. I come as a broken person, convicted, humbled, needing Christ for myself.

Encountering Christ does wonders for my posture and tone, my compassion and tenderness, not to mention my desire to be clear and persuasive. Encountering Christ doesn't wonders for me, turns my life inside out, upward and outward.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Life You Never Expected


Andrew and Rachel Wilson share their story in the middle of raising children with special needs.

Our own parenting journey hasn't been without its challenges over the past six years - some of which I've shared, some I've not. None of our situations are as severe as the Wilson's. In the pain and the frustration and the disappointment we've found grace we never knew we needed or could receive.

There's something amazingly reassurring and compassionate and real in the tone of Andrew and Rachel's voices and I commend this podcast to you. It's cliche to say light shines out of broken pots, but that's what I hear in their voices. I respect and have learned much from Andrew-the-theologian, Andrew-the-apologist, Andrew-the-thinker, but I'd take Andrew-the-parent any day. I'm glad Andrew is doing a PhD, that will serve people well, but so too does this story, forged in the pain of life.

The Wilson's are living 'the life [they] never expected' which is, of course, true for many of us. Their interview relates to their book on the same subject. Like Emma Scrivener's A New Name (on anorexia), whether you share their experiences or not, you'll find in their journey, light in the darkness, company in the loneliness, honesty among the well-meaning platitudes that are the best many people can offer.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

An extraordinary gift for ordinary people


[8] And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. [9] And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. [10] And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. [11] For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. [12] And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:8-12 ESV)

I'm preaching in a couple of weeks time... here's a few scribbles, your interactions welcome.

Glen Scrivener notes (in a sermon on this passage which I think is excellent) that the film Prometheus is a photo-negative of the Christmas story. I'm no great fan of the Alien films (unlike my wife who loves them) but I found Ridley Scott's 2012 film to be an intriguing exploration of what it means to interact with our makers and to explore more of the human condition.

The genre gives a great canvas to explore grand themes. In this case, the intrepid and courageous crew head off to find our makers, and find only that they hate us... a theme reflecting in the other parental relationships in the film. An exploration of the story of progress that seeks to throw of those who went before and assert ourselves in this world.

Quite a contrast to the events of the Christmas story.

Angels, regularly on stage in the early chapters of Luke, do what Luke repeatedly records them doing: shining with good news. They are evangelists from the courts of heaven. Far from reporting heaven's hatred for it's offspring (Acts 17), they record that God is not far from us - indeed he is to be found in the nearby town.

There is here an extraordinary gift for ordinary people. 

The audience here are very ordinary. 
A group of labourers on a night shift. Not the courageous. Not the great and the good. Some of us think very highly of ourselves, especially in our youth, but we are for the most part: ordinary. Life is mundane. Life is ordinary. And the subject of the angel's good news is "for all the peoples". His claims will carry a exclusivity but it is utterly inclusive.

The good news delivered is of a gift. 
"Unto you is born." My two year old can't quite sing happy birthday to you properly yet, so he sings "Happy to you", which is the sentiment of the angels. Good news to you. A gift to you. A Saviour. Managers and Leaders are brought in to turn company's and football teams around. The language of salvation is used in those situations - but where managers make demands, Saviour's save. All is gift here. Exclusively inclusive because it doesn't depend on us but upon the giver and the gift.

Who is this gift to the ordinary? An extrordinary one. 
Firstly, the Christ. Great David's Greater Son, God's anointed one - the Spirit anointed one as Luke-Acts will make abundantly clear. The one abundantly overflowing with the loving Spirit of the Father steps into the world.
Secondly, the Lord. God come close is God made small. God in a manger.

Christmas doesn't tell the tale of a God who hates us, who keeps distant, despising and demanding of us. Nor of a God for the intrepid, courageous, bold and able. Rather, an extrordinary gift, God himself for the ordinary. The story Luke tells - which you could read for yourself - is the story of the self-giving God. God in a manger who grew up to be God on a Roman Cross... for our salvation is one that is very great - rescue not from relegation or disappointment but from death and corruption. Gift, to us and for us.

Steve Jobs is portrayed by Aaron Sorkin as describing the problem of his (our) human condition as being "poorly made." Sin, in a phrase, acknowledged and yet with the blame deftly shifted. If we are poorly made we can blame our maker for our failings. Luke would tell us, we are God's offspring - fearfully and wonderfully made and yet thoroughly and deeply corrupted. Yet all is not lost. And that's the point at Christmas. Far more can be mended than we know (Spufford). The sad things can come untrue (Tolkien). We can be saved from the darkness within ourselves and the divine judgement under which we stand. How? Because heaven sends the Spirit-anointed Son into this world. God's gift: Himself.

Image - Creative Commons - FutUndBeldl

Saturday, November 21, 2015

At the Table with Sibbes


One of my heroes of faith is Richard Sibbes. Mark Dever summarises that for Sibbes the Supper was not a means of conversion - that only by the gospel word - but rather strengthened, confirmed and assured of faith already present.

Sibbes speaks of The Lord's Supper, in Bowel's Opened: The Saint's Comfort:
God gave his Son to death, to shed his blood for my sins. What would become of the hunger-bitten, thirsty soul, that is stung by Satan and his temptations, were it not for the blood of Christ to quench our thirst, and the body of Christ given by the Father to death for sin? Were it not that the soul could think upon this, where were the comfort of the soul? All this is represented to us here in the sacrament.
 We feed on the body and blood of Christ spiritually, and are refreshed by it as our bodies are refreshed with the bread and wine. God does not feed us with empty symbols and representations, but with things themselves, that the soul which comes in faith to partake of Christ crucified, and be knit to him, who is in heaven. There is as sure a union and communion between Christ and the Christian as there is between the food and the body when it is digested.
Let us come to this blessed sacrament, this sweet food of our souls with hungry appetites and thankful hearts, that God has given us the best comfort of his word. He will feed us so sweetly that nothing is good enough for our food but himself, with his gracious word and truth. Let us be very thankful and stir up our appetite for him.

How shall come?
  • Firstly, let us think seriously of our life this week past. For Christ, the food of the soul, relishes well with the sour herbs of repentance. Let us stir our hearts to repent of our sins and sorrow at our corrupt nature and life, and feel our lack. Then Christ will be sweet to us. As the Passover lamb was eaten with sour herbs so Christ our Passover is eaten with repentance.
  • Secondly, come with purging. Many things clog the stomach. Do not come in worldly wicked and malicious affections but lay them aside.
  • Thirdly, consider the need of spiritual strength. We need his assistance. Let us often frequent this means of grace and come prepared to find Christ making good on his promise in his best time, so we can say with the truth of heart, experience and feeling with the church: My beloved is mine and I am his.” 
Image - Creative Commons - 10MFH

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Come to the Table


Part 1 – Liturgy 

Here is the traditional shape of a church service for most of church history, across the traditions... a pattern of Word and Sacraments... whereas today many evangelicals would emphasise either Word and Spirit or simply the Word.

1. The Liturgy of the Catechumens / Word 
  • Bible Reading
  • Preaching
  • Creeds
2. The Liturgy of the Sacraments / Eucharist
  • Confession
  • Eucharist
  • Sending out into God’s world
Only the baptised could participate fully in the second part of this service. Catechumen’s gain access after a period of Catechesis designed to educate desire for Christ, building up to Baptism and a first Eucharist.

DISCUSS...
  • What would the experience of this kind of service be like? What does this include that we miss - what are we missing out on? What's missing that's normal for us?
  • What does the two-stage service communicate about the value of Baptism and The Supper, and the church? 
  • Jonathan Edwards was fired (in part) for wanting to keep this ‘barrier’ at the Table... why would Baptism be the qualification for eating and drinking at the Table? What's helpful about that and what's difficult? What questions does this raise?
Part 2 – The Table 

The key texts for interpreting the table are that Jesus says "this is my body/blood given for you" and "do this in remembrance of me" "proclaiming his death". Understanding has varied in the history of the church... As a rough over simplified sketch...
  • 11th Century - The East and West split over Trinity & Politics, not so much over communion. Few today would understand which side of the argument they'd fall on. Does the Holy Spirit come from the Father, or from the Father and the Son? From this, 1000 years of schism in the church. There's a richness in much Eastern liturgy of the Supper that feels like reading Calvin most excellently in Alexander Schmemann.
  • 16th Century – Protests against Rome by Luther over many issues, including The Supper. 
  • Luther says the Bread and Wine remain but doesn't resolve how. 
  • Zwingli pulls away more strongly towards symbolism that emphasises a solemn remembrance. 
  • Calvin finds a middle pathway and sees the Holy Spirit as the one who makes Christ present at the table.  
  • Rome condemns the Reformers for their teaching in this area and the Protestant Oxford Martyrs are killed over this issue in a highly-charged political context.
DISCUSS... 
  • Taking up each of the five major positions - how do you view the table from this perspective? How important is this moment? What expectations would you have? What questions would you have? 
Part 3 - Calvin


Monday, November 16, 2015

You're invited - Jesus calls and Jesus cares (Luke 13:1-9)


You grind to a halt. Car after a car ahead of you. And you’re stuck. You were already running late. Then your phone battery dies too so you can’t call ahead. You will miss your appointment. 
  • What happens next? How do you feel? 
  • Do you respond it by pounding on the steering wheel?
  • Do you rage outwardly, against yourself, other drivers, the council for the roadworker… 
  • Do you rage inwardly – especially common when you have a passenger… 
  • How did this happen? Why didn’t you charge your phone? Why me? 
  • And when you finally arrive will you ‘fess up? Will you cover up? 
The way we react to what happens to us shows what’s in our hearts. 
Knock into me and coffee might spill from my cup. Why? On the one hand because you knocked me. But on the other hand because there was coffee in my cup. Circumstances reveal what’s in our hearts. Good days, bad days, all circumstances reveal what we’re like.
[Thanks to the brilliant people at CCEF & BCUK for these senarios and observations...]

As we share experiences as a community the temptation is to think that taking away the bad situation would solve things? Would it? Or, to think that if we could just control response that would help? Would it? It’s said that the heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart… and Jesus is into heart-change not just outward change.

1. JESUS CALLS (1-5) 
The people tell Jesus about a tragic event. A political atrocity done by Pilate. v1. And Jesus will retell as second example about a tower that fell and killed people in v4. That’s just two examples. Paris, Beirut, Lebanon... examples never go away.

What would you say if asked about such events? Jesus’ responds with questions, answers and a challenge. The question? Twice.
v2: “do you think that these… were worse sinners…?” 
v4: “do you think they were more guilty…?” 

Jesus doesn’t explain why these events happened. Not because that doesn’t matter. But because he has something else to say here. Jesus looks at how we respond to seeing suffering in our community. In this section of his gospel Luke records Jesus inviting us to read the times. We check whether it’s going to rain before going out… so look at the world and see what is going to happen.

When someone suffers does that mean they’re worse than me? Do bad things happen to bad people? As a teenager I loved that kind of approach to life – I was a good kid, so that meant good would happen to me… right?

When Jesus is asked the question he answers, twice: Do bad things happen to bad people? v3: No. v5: NO. In the heat of suffering Jesus addresses our hearts with an unexpected. Twice he says:
v3: “unless you repent you too will all perish” 
v5: “unless you repent, you too will all perish” 

Faced with the heat of suffering in our community, Jesus turns to our hearts. He asks: when someone nearby is wronged, when someone is hurt, when someone is ill… What do I think? What do I feel? What do I do? Where am I with Jesus?

Jesus knows that we might judge others but he wants us to repent. REPENT is a big word. It can sound heavy-handed. It just means turning around. To repent is to turn. The question is to what or who? Here it’s about turning to Jesus. In the heat of the day Jesus is concerned for my heart. Seeing my heart is painful.

Naturally, I want to run and hide in the darkness, and cover up what I’m like so you won’t think less of me. But seeing is an opportunity. A moment of grace.

Will I turn from my anger, my desire to be in control, my judgement of others? But I can't change my heart... God can, and so Jesus speaks - by his word all things can be changed. He invites us to come to him. To come to his cross, where his arms are wide open to receive me. There my old heart can be put to death. There a new heart is offered.

Tragically, going to Jesus, isn’t always my first move. When there’s suffering in my community…
  •  When my son gets sick: I think it’d be better if he was well.
  •  When my friend is struggling at work: I think it’d be imagine it’d be better if his situation changed.
But Jesus is more concerned with dealing with my heart than with taking away the heat. I think health and wealth and choice and fulfilment would be good for me… Jesus says better to lose everything and come to him, than to have everything and continue to be unfruitful. I think of people I’ve walked with in faith. Friends with depression, terminal cancer, struggling in their workplace.., Or, caring for members of my family through serious and chronic illness in recent years...
  •  At times: numb and exhausted.
  •  At times: frustrated and struggling to see. 
  • At times: bewildered and confused..
  • But, looking at my life, and those I’ve walked with… good fruit from turning to Jesus.
  • The pain may not go away. 
  • The job may not get easier. 
  • The suffering may not ease. 
Turnig t ohim is like being in the hands of a metalworker, engraving a piece of steel. The scrapping of the metal grating in the ear, but in time a beautiful engraving begins to emerge. Without turning to Jesus it is all too easy to remain bitter and hard, and for that to increase.

For Jesus in this conversation – and for us – it’s not really about suffering, tragedy, pain and betrayal. The issue is human heart and sin. All situations - good or bad - give me the opportunity to turn again to Jesus. A friend challenged me about something he'd observed in my behaviour. A painful moment. My selfishness, my self-interest was exposed. Why wasn’t I being generous? Why wasn’t I giving myself to know them? How had I not seen that before? What hope is there for someone like me?

Get away from the dull glow of the city lights the sky darkens, and then the stars shine brighter.

Seeing my sin is a moment for seeing God’s grace all the more brightly. There is mercy in Christ I never knew I needed. One look at my sin, sent me to ten times at Jesus. It’s one of the beautiful things about the church community. Our rough edges rub up against one another, showing up the attitudes of our hearts. Helping us to grow both in the good days and the bad days....

2. JESUS CARES (6-9) 
Jesus then tells a parable. What’s the story? In the Old Testament Israel were described as a vineyard, and Jesus picks up that picture. There’s the owner of the vineyard and he wants his trees to be fruitful. V6: He went to look for fruit on it. He says he’s been looking for years and he’s found no fruit. v6. So Jesus says: v7, cut it down. But, the man who looks after the vineyard for him says, v8: ‘…leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilise it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’ 

He calls for "one more year” to cultivate this tree. Luke carefully organises the eyewitness reports he’s collected. He puts things next to one another to highlight aspects of who Jesus is. This story is about the same thing as the conversation before. The owner is looking for fruitfulness, just as Jesus was looking for repentance. Time is given. “One more year.” There is a moment to respond.

This is a story of care and compassion shown by the man who we can understand as representing Jesus. It’s a picture not an allegory, so we’ll not over read the detail. We don’t want to pit the owner against the worker – for example as if somehow Jesus is more compassionate than his Father. Luke is clear that Jesus makes his Father known - there's no nasty Father hiding behind a loving Jesus, and knowing Jesus is to know his Father.

See Jesus. See him care for the unfruitful tree. Giving this moment now to turn to him. He doesn’t want the tree to perish, be cut down or removed.

Parables aren’t just neat illustrations though... Parables test our hearts. They offend. And we need to catch the sting of this one. There’s suspense: will there be fruit before the axe falls? There’s scandal: He says we’re unfruitful. Dead in the water. Will we agree and so receive his care?

Naturally, we want to think of ourselves as full of life. Jesus says we’re lifeless and helpless to change ourselves. "We might look colourful and bright like a Christmas tree, but we’re dying inside." [Glen Scrivener]

We might try to cover it up, but we know it. We’re offered skin creams to look younger. We might follow the Newspaper headlines and avoid bacon or coffee or cheese to live longer. But in the end: everyone dies.

But, Jesus isn’t really talking about death. He warns against “perishing” – twice in verses 1-5. Jesays says, if we fail to repent, we will perish. Jesus is not saying that people who don’t trust him will suffer atrocities… nor that towers will fall on people. Evil and suffering in this world don’t check your beliefs or behaviour. Jesus is talking about something worse than death.
  • Being cut down and removed. 
  • Perishing. 
  • The axe, ready. Judgement, coming. 
  • Oh to have a deeper horror at my sin, and dread of being away from Jesus. But when Jesus warns… 
  •  He doesn’t do it to chase us away. 
  •  He calls. He cares. 
  •  In speaking of judgement there is always an invitation. 
He says: YOU’RE INVITED.

Jesus works his vineyard. Tills the ground. Prepares the soil for the roots of grace to spread far and wide. He wants us to know him – to enjoy him like the summer harvest. Our experience of life exposes our hearts. Ordinary situations give us opportunities to turn to Jesus.And turning, we meet Jesus at his cross.
  • The one who was innocent, but had atrocities committed against him. 
  • The one who was innocent, but the tower fell on him. 
  • The one who was fruitful, but was cut down and removed from the vineyard. 
  • The one who freely offered his life in our place. 
In any community there is bad happening and good happening to people. I remember walking into a church meeting after five days in hospital with one of our children. Bruised, fragile, exhausted but glad to be there. A few people knew our situation though many didn’t. Sat around me many people in good days, bad days. In every seat human hearts responding well and responding badly to situations.

This morning and this week: Jesus has moments of grace for us. As you catch yourself, or others catch you, raging, frustrated, judging, despairing, covering up… Right there is the opportunity to turn again to Jesus. He’s calling. He cares. He won't turn you away if you turn to him, so will you turn to him? You’re invited. And he’s yours if you’ll have him.

An old puritan prayer puts it this way 
“Quarry me deep, dear Lord, and then fill me to overflowing with living water. 
As life reveals our hearts, and even in this moment, Jesus is calling and caring for us. Inviting us to turn to him and have HIM.

Image: (Creative Commons) Spill by Darrol.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Today I visited a Mosque: A faith community observed


This afternoon I volunteered as a parent on my son's trip to the local Mosque. My work flexes enough to make this possible and I was interested to encounter a different faith community in our city.

Six reflections.

1. 42 six year olds.
Respect to the teachers, teaching assistants for all they ever do. And also to the Imam and his assistant for handling that many kids and patiently fielding their questions.

2. Community.
There's a strong sense of community at the Mosque. They consider it better to pray together than alone. While the physicality of praying together seems strange to those who've never seen it before there's something beautiful in the unity.

3. Faith and cultural differences.
Kids are curious about the rituals, beliefs and languages people have. They have questions. My son found talk of God without Jesus and the Holy Spirit to be strange which was encouraging, and an opportunity to help him understand more of our faith and that which was being presented to us in word and actions. One of the teachers seemed nervous around these questions but the men from the Mosque were more than happy to engage questions about Allah in a world of other gods and religions...

4. Washing.
Much was made in our visit of the ritual washings before prayer.

Knowing we've read The Jesus Storybook Bible with our son for years, not least the story of Namaan, the difference between an Islamic approach to Allah with it's outward cleaning, and the Christian belief in being counted righteous and being 'clean on the inside' was vivid. For me but also for my son.

That in Christ I come mucky and messed up to pray "in Jesus' name" when at my worst rather than having cleaned myself up is freshly beautiful to me this evening.



5. Simplicity.
To quote - we speak to Allah by praying, we hear him by reading the Quran. Oh, for Christians to get the simplicity of Prayer and The Book...

6. Faith observed.
We observed something of Islam in a Mosque visit - we talked a lot about their washing, their toothbrushes and habits of individual and corporate prayer. Is this a true picture or a school trip caricature? What would a visit to a church reveal? What would I choose to talk about and to display? If I believe in 'everyday church' that isn't really about ritual or piety, what does that look like? And in any case what kind of picture do the observations people get to make reveal. 

Curiously little was said of what Islam is in terms of belief. That may not have been the brief. We heard a little about Mohammed and him being an example - even to his toothbrushing habits, but not much more. I don't think a church visit is scheduled, Jesus gets Christmas... which might be helpful, though again only gives an incomplete picture.

I look forward to ongoing conversation with my kids about our faith and the faith of those around us.

Image - Creative Commons - Hector de Pareda

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

I believe in the prosperity gospel, don't you?


I don't. I mean not really. I know better but in practice... all too often I think I'm entitled to health and wealth and choice and fulfillment. And if I don't get that just watch me prickle.

When the heat of life (diagram thanks to Timothy Lane and Paul Tripp) burns down on me it's the illnes and the financial insecurity and the limitations and the boring jobs that draw from my heart frustration and annoyance and other unpleasantries.

As Lane and Tripp (and others) note - when a drink is spilled from a glass, there's water on the floor on the one hand because something knocked it, but on the other hand because it was in the glass in the first place. Nothing comes out in my words and actions that doesn't originate in my heart.

When ease drives my decisions, when safety sets the agenda, when satisfaction is required I might well be in the territory of good things but I'm off the grid when it comes to the promises of God in Christ.

He never said every little thing was going to be ok. He never said I would get to do the job I wanted. He never said I would be employed. He never said my kids would be strong and successful. That's not Christianity, it's the prosperity gospel (a classic case of a gospel that is no gospel at all).

And yet, deep in me - from the depths of my heart, and from the air that I've breathed these last 36.5 years  such entitlement feels utterly normal.

The ordinary and the everyday situations and knocks of life in my community expose the reality of my heart. And in that moment I can harden myself and justify myself and tell myself that my response is reasonable and acceptable... or I could repent to Christ. [Worth noting that the heat of happy days can illicit the darkness in my heart just as much as the bad days.]

Horrified and exposed and without defence I find a moment of grace.

Instead of fruitless unrepentance that's heading for being cut down and cast out, I might instead find the one who was cut own and cast out for me, for us! As Sibbes puts it, none of us who come to Christ with in need are ever turned away.

In the sound of the gospel, ringing in the ordinary moments of the day, I can mortify that stinking sewage and bile of sin that pours out of my heart by being led again and again to the cross of Christ. And there, find new life, new heart, new spiritual fruit... a different way to approach the situations of life.

And there I might find contentment in the company of his people. There I might find Christ and become just a little more like him who faced the harshed heat not so my life might be easy, but so that together, day by day, we might know him just a little more.