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Month: October 2014

Shield the Joyous

Shield the Joyous

Shield the Joyous
Sermon for Evensong, Oct. 25, 2014
St. Matthew’s Episcopal Parish, Pacific Palisades CA
George Martin

Following my homily we will hear the choir sing the prayer that begins,

“Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night..”

They are there in the hospitals, waiting in the emergency rooms, cruising our streets in the middle of night protecting us—they are those who work or watch this night.

And then also awake through the night, but for a different reason are those who weep. Sure as the sun rises some greet it with tears.

Then we pray:

“…and give your angels charge over those who sleep.”

It finds an echo in the antiphon that concludes Compline: Guide us waking, O Lord, and guard us sleeping; that awake 
we may watch with Christ, and asleep we may rest in peace.

Then comes a little verb—the word “tend”—to tend, to pay attention, to be focused, to want something to be right. “Inclined to action” is another dictionary definition.

“Tend the sick, Lord Christ….”

To pray for someone who is ill we do not need to know what it is that has caused their illness or even from a medical point of view what is the best strategy that will bring them healing. It is enough to see Christ there at the bedside. With tenderness.

And then almost like a litany we have a series of petitions for four conditions of human experience that cause us grief and bring us to our knees.

We pray,
“…give rest to the weary, bless the dying, sooth the suffering, pity the afflicted….”

And then comes the last petition. Maybe the most curious prayer to be found in our Book of Common Prayer. The prayer ends with this petition:

“…shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.”

Hmm. Shield the joyous. What does it mean?

I welcome your ideas when we gather for a social time following our evensong. But allow me a few thoughts from musings I found on the internet.

One pastor wondered if those who work and watch at night are charged with shielding the joyous. Some of them wear a shield as law enforcement officers. Some wait in emergency rooms or the quiet long hallways of the hospital upstairs. Maybe. I don’t know

We all know something about the joyous—especially at night. Someone just engaged or discovering love. Maybe a group of friends at a late night dinner. They may not have watched the evening news or are they ware of that last horrible thing that has happened. They may be able to travel home or wherever with a sense of joy—and may they travel safely. May their joy last through a night.

Maybe that’s it. Maybe there’s more.

Another wondered if joy wasn’t always a gift of God waiting to be discovered. Tasted. And held long enough to be a memory—perhaps the memory that would sustains us through some other long dark night of weeping.

To be joyful is to be vulnerable, needing protection lest we are shattered by someone else’s reality.

Do you know the noun agelast (ah-jel-last)? It is someone who never laughs. We have grumpy people we all know. Always ready to remind us how awful something is. Always doubting or criticizing or complaining. The glass is always half-empty.

I think there is a special place in sight of the gate of heaven for the grump people.  And there is smiling joyful angel who greets and pulls aside those who are the most grumpy. He cheerfully addresses each, saying: “On the other side of that gate is heaven. There is no complaining beyond those gates. There is nothing you have to try to fix or even finish inside. We want you with us but only when you’re ready to smile, relax, and enjoy…did you hear? When you have enjoyment, you have joy. That’s what’s ahead if you’ll come.”

And until they meet that angel we pray “Oh Lord, please Shield the joyous.”

Now joy can’t last forever on this side of things. But may it linger. We watch a brilliant sunset we savor its waning moments of light. And then the stars come out. Savor such moments.

Joy can’t last forever, but like that bouquet of flowers, we pull out those that have died, discovering the beauty of the few that remain in that vase.

Joy can’t last forever, but we flip through the family album smiling at the face that fell asleep in his first birthday cake, knowing he’s all grown up, he deals with much reality most of the time, but there was that precious moment of innocence coated in frosting. Yes, shield the joyous.

You have your memories of fleeting joy. We have our memories of fleeting joy in this community. Memories that can be fertile ground for other times of joy to come; other gifts of God’s joy to those who hunger and thirst for peace and happiness.

One more thing. Look for the word joy as it comes in our Eucharistic celebrations.

We say we lift our hearts to the Lord. And the Celebrant responds:

It is right to give him thanks and praise. 
It is right, and a good and joyful thing, always and everywhere to give thanks to you, Father Almighty, Creator of 
heaven and earth.

And as we come to the end of that prayer the celebrant prays for

“the last day” when God will “bring us with all your saints 
into the joy of your eternal kingdom.”

Grumps in this world you will not have the last word. The last word is the joy of heaven. So it is that we pray for now “Shield the joyous. And all for your Love’s sake.

God’s name in this prayer is love. And wearing God’s amour—the God who shields us— our joy is protected in God’s love. Let it be, let it be so. Amen.






Tough Lessons – Oct. 12, 2014

Tough Lessons – Oct. 12, 2014

Tough Lessons

The Rev. Dr. George H. Martin
Sermon for Oct. 12, 2014
St. Matthew’s Episcopal Parish
The Rev. Dr. George H. Martin

 One Sunday morning a man came down to the kitchen in his pjs and said to his wife. “I’m not going to church today.”
“Yes, you are,” she said.
“Well,” he replied, “give me one good reason why I have to go.”
His wife said, “Last time I looked you were still their pastor.”

So here we are on the Sunday we launch our stewardship drive. I’m happy to be in church, but I have to tell you I’ve been unhappy all week knowing it was my turn to preach. Ordinarily I would have looked ahead and handed these lessons off to someone else.

Why? You ask. Well in particular I think we have some lessons, that on the surface, don’t make God look to good.

We’ve been following the story of the Exodus as Moses led the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. And yes there was some grumbling and loss of faith when they were thirsty; and yes they thought about going back to Egypt before God provided daily bread with manna from heaven. Those stories turned out right. But today God has had it with his people.

Moses had been gone, up that fiery shaking mountain for 40 days. Feeling lost without Moses, Aaron, Moses’ brother, asked all the people to make an offering. He asked for their gold ear rings. And that’s where the Golden Calf came from. And when God saw it what does he say? I almost hate to repeat what’s there in the passage.

God said to Moses, “He had to go back down to “Your People.” Note not “My people.” But “Your people.” “They are a stiff-necked people” Then God said, “Now let me alone, so that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them…” God wants to sulk and hold on to his anger?

Fortunately the story from Exodus and we heard doesn’t end with an image, an angry God. It doesn’t change the fact that the theology of an angry God, false in many respects, has been around for a long time in different places.

And it doesn’t get any better with today’s gospel. In fact it gets worse. The parable begins with a good picture: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son.” Nice beginning. Not exactly a vegetarian menu, more like a Texas barbecue. Then look what happens with the invitations: the people invited snub their noses at the King. But it gets worse. There’s violence in this story. The slaves of the King are mistreated and even killed by those invited. It’s an insurrection. A rebellion against the king. This story has gone way off track.

And then the part that I really don’t like — why I was open to someone else preaching — it is the rage of the King who destroyed the murderers and burned their city.

I’ll probably get in trouble for this, but at least for this first part of the parable, I cannot believe it really was something that Jesus taught. Part me says there has to be a link to Jesus here, but how? There are scholars who tell us that Matthew’s gospel was written after the year 70 according to our calendar. That means the Matthew community knew about the destruction of the temple and entire city of Jerusalem, as well as the massive crucifixion of many of its citizens. Living in the Roman Empire those early Jesus is Messiah people knew full well just how vicious and violent kings and emperors could be. This parable may be hidden code language for what a king (think emperor) is like that world, as those early Jesus messiah people remembered the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman army that belonged to Emperor Vespasian? Maybe.

We know aspects of that world. Our news is filled daily with wartime atrocities and fears of it all getting worse. The natural tendency seems to be to use violence to fight violence. But those early Jesus people didn’t take up arms. Except they looked to one who was a failure, whose arms had been stretched on a cross. A cross to any sensible Roman citizen was failure.

Failure? We measure our place in the world by the word “success.” There isn’t time to unpack the idol, or the golden calf of success. Allow me though to confess that success is something we clergy struggle with and that’s because many times in this world the measures used to judge us are the ABCs: attendance, buildings, and cash. We should add the letter “D” because that gets us to discipleship, and that might lead us into the second part of this parable, and maybe even an even deeper muddle.

[Note credit for this example comes from the Fail: Finding Hope and Grace in the Midst of Ministry Failure by J. R Briggs, 2014.]


Today’s Gospel parable has a second part. Does it help? The wedding feast invitations went out again, and this time both the good and the bad were inside. That’s a good picture isn’t it? We’re all inside. Well, except for the one guy who wasn’t wearing a wedding robe? He was tossed out into the outer darkness, where there would be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Opps. It got worse. Can we find something redemptive here?


For the moment, though, lets go back to Moses. And we see another side to God. Moses will be the one who helps us commission our stewardship callers. You are not being sent out as representatives of an angry God, or a stern God. But of a God who remembers.


Each of you are sent out with a message of promise and hope rooted in a faith grounded in God’s love. Remember how special this story is when Moses talked to God: “Remember,” Moses said, “Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, how you swore to them by your own self saying to them, “I will multiply your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land that I promised I would give to your descendants and they shall inherit it for ever.”


Moses implored God for the sake of the future story that was to be told. And that is a story of covenant and how a people live lives that keep the faith that was given to them. They wear the faith. And God walks with them.


And walks with them in a special way. The lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.


Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, (of failure)
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.





No we don’t talk about an Angry God at St. Matthew’s. We know there is a world measuring everything by success, maybe even power and fame. But here failure is a possibility, because there is a walk called discipleship. No one has to wear the robe of discipleship. That’s the meaning I think of that man in the parable who was given the robe to wear, but took it off. If you come here and want to know this Jesus Messiah, there are certain expectations.


I believe the second part of that parable may really be Jesus, because he was so insistent that the disciples live a Kingdom life in which they shared as a family of equals. And it was a welcome to any and all who were hurting, lost, lame, blind, and even those who were failures. I still don’t like the aspects of an angry God in this parable, but I discern that this is to be a community which feeds and nourishes “all sorts and conditions of people” and which involves certain expectations.


I wish we read the epistle. There we would have heard;

“Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.… Keep on doing the things that you’ve learned and received and heard and seen… And the God of peace will be with you.” From Phillipians.


We practice forgiveness. We emphasize mutual upbuilding of one another and serving one another in Christ. And we will talk about making meaningful sacrifices of ourselves, our time, our talents, and our treasure. Yes it involves making and keep pledges. Yes it means we spend less on ourselves, and make sure that our gifts keep this ministry going. It means coming to worship on a regular basis. Growing in our faith. It’s that “D-word”—Discipleship.


Now I’d ask that all of those on the team for this year’s Stewardship Program come forward for a blessing.

Bob Palmer and The Good Shepherd – Oct. 11, 2014

Bob Palmer and The Good Shepherd – Oct. 11, 2014

Bob Palmer and The Good Shepherd

A Sermon for the Memorial Service, Oct. 11, 2014
At St. Matthew’s Episcopal Parish
Pacific Palisades, CA

The Rev. Dr. George H. Martin

 Sheep and Shepherds and our thanks for the life of one of the sheep who by his own admission got lost in life, before he found his life. It was a life he been given, like one risen from the dead, and he had it for 43 years. And then for many of you he was a Shepherd.

And yes he spent time in this space—this church, but many of you know of where spent more time and gave so freely of himself. Many of you are here today, in tribute to Bob Palmer, for the life he helped you find. So it’s good that we who are sheep recognize one who would never have claimed to be a shepherd, but who we know was such.

Many of you have years of Bob stories to tell. Mine is about a year old as I’m what is called an Interim Rector. I’m from Minnesota and yes I’m going back there in a month or so, just in time for winter. Bob thought I was crazy when I told him that. Many of you may think the same. I get that.

I too was blessed, as so many of us here were, to know this singular soul who’d seen the darkness, knew what it meant to be lost, and yet had found a unique community that deep down is grounded in spiritual principles of mutual acceptance and forgiveness. He also found a way to be reconciled to some special people in his life just before he died.

I feel a special connection with all of you because I treasure that there was an Episcopal priest who played a key role in the early days of AA. His name was Dr. Samuel Moor Shoemaker who served Calvary Episcopal Church in New York City in the 1930s and 40s. There was a small group of committed men in that church called “The Oxford Group.”

One day three members of this group convinced a judge to parole a man named Ebby Thacher into their care. Ebby had already been in jail many times for his alcoholism. As he sobered up he called his old friend, Bill W. and told him about Sam Shoemaker the priest. Bill and Sam became friends, and Bill W. reported years later that the 12 steps were inspired by what he learned from Sam Shoemaker.

There’s a marvelous poem summing up Sam Shoemaker’s life that captures the spirit of the shepherd that doesn’t want to lose any of the sheep, and who is the one ready to lay down his life for the sheep. Shoemaker felt his role as a Pastor It’s called I stand by the door. Let me read the first part:

I stand by the door.
I neither go too far in, nor stay too far out.
The door is the most important door in the world-
It is the door through which men walk when they find God.
There’s no use my going way inside, and staying there,
When so many are still outside and they, as much as I,
Crave to know where the door is.
And all that so many ever find
Is only a wall where a door ought to be.
They creep along the wall like blind men,
With outstretched, groping hands.
Feeling for a door, knowing there must be a door,
Yet they never find it…
So I stand by the door.

And we’re here to honor Bob for the way he stood at the door for many of you, and many who couldn’t be here.

We’re not here to honor someone who was perfect. None of us are. And fortunately God is looking for perfect people. Just those who can fall on their knees and say a prayer. Just those who will let someone open the door for them. Those who stop thinking the world revolves around them, and who give up wanting more and more, and then begin to wonder how they can give love away. Sometimes it takes us a long time to learn this lesson. But that’s OK as long as someone is there at that door when we’re ready to find it.

It was my privilege to be with Bob on a number of occasions during his last days. There was the time I was getting his room number at UCLA, and there were two of Bob’s AA buddies wanting his room number as well. We were like three wise men, or wise guys I guess, riding up the same elevator. The nurse was so glad to see us. “See if you can get Bob to talk and connect she said, He needs you.” And thus began a time of stories.

At one moment Bob asked, “Hey. Am I suppose to entertain you guys?” and Larry said, yes. And Bob launched into a vaudeville joke I can’t tell here.

Then as we walked with Bob in the last days he was so peaceful and breathed so easily. About four days before he passed away I came into his room at his home. He’d been sleeping. I said “Hi Bob.” He opened his eyes. Gritted his teeth and said, “You’re not here to convert me, are you?”

As I left I asked, “May I anoint you, give you god’s blessing, and a prayer.” And beatific smile came on his face, and he said, “I’d like that.”

But it wasn’t the last word he spoke. On Sunday, two days before he died, I brought communion to his bedside. Traci and Jim where there along with Cody. Dylan was caught in traffic. I told them that I had four consecrated wafers, and that I could tell that Bob couldn’t swallow and wasn’t even awake. I said, “I’ll just place the bread on his lips, and then I’ll consume it.”

So I gave the three of them communion bread and then, and then, I placed the bread on Bob’s lips. I said, “The body of Christ, Bob. The bread of heaven.” I lifted the bread from his lips and we all heard him say, “Amen.”

His family heard him say “Amen” from time to time as the day drew on into the night. So be it. That’s what amen means. The word he took with him when Jesus opened the door to life everlasting.

He’d been a shepherd to many of you. Professionally, of course he had quite a life and many of us look forward to seeing those stories in a book someday. He was blessed with his wife Nancy who is still mentioned with great love and affection by so many in this faith community. And there were his two children. Tracy who is here today, and really is here in the life of this church. Chris was her brother who sadly died about two years ago shortly after receiving a heart transplant. That happened two months before Nancy died. It was a double grief that haunted Bob these last two years as it would any of us.

Speaking of his son Chris, I happened to talk to his priest from the Episcopal Church Chris attended in Germany. Alan, my friend, was the priest there at that time. What a small world it is at times. Some of you knew that Chris was a wood-worker.

My friend told me about his family heirloom—a table that Chris restored. It had been covered in layers of paint over the years, and when Chris was done there was this gorgeous wood underneath waiting to see the light of day. The table sits in a rectory in Atlanta.

Bob Palmer did the same as his son—only with people. It didn’t matter what you’d become or how far you had to go, he saw beneath all those layers a life, a good person meant to know the light of day.

And you know that is also the simple story about Jesus and his ministry with ship-wrecked people. We Christians often forget that we’re not better than anyone else. And sometimes, sometimes, we actually get it right. Being on our knees. Standing in a bread line with an open hand—hungry for God. We’re all sheep who need a shepherd. And we all standing in the need of prayer.

So Bob if you’re listening in, you certainly didn’t need to be converted. But after years of being a shepherd to so many, I’ll bet you and the Good Shepherd are sharing lots of stories. Yes, he there waiting to open the door for all of us too.



It’s Not Your Fault – Aug. 17, 2014 Sermon

It’s Not Your Fault – Aug. 17, 2014 Sermon

It’s Not Your Fault—Sermon for August 17, 2014

On the front page of the Wall Street Journal (Thursday) there’s a story about military aid coming to the Jurdish fighters in Iraq. A nearby story is about the conflict between Irasel and Hamas in Gaza. Page 3 has the story about the immigrant children coming to the US from Central America and there is story about Ferguson Missouri and its challenges with racial issues.

All the stories deal with conflict—two or sometimes more groups, neighbors in many cases, a shared history in others, and yet they want to kill each other. Again and again they choose violence to solve their problems. With regard to the immigrant children—so many have fled for their lives, or in the case of a high school brother and sister they came on their own after their mother and a younger sister were killed by a gang.

I know it’s not the happiest way to begin a sermon. It allows me though to get rather quickly to the issues clamoring for attention in the Old Testament story and in the Gospel.

And this is a good chance to tell you about one of the tracks coming up in our Fall program which I will help lead. Please note I said I’m going to help lead it. I’m looking for some help from some of you. It’s called “God in the News.” We’re going to have a discussion time about what’s been happening in our world and where we think God is in these various stories.

Maybe this sermon is an example. I’ll let you be the judge. Today I’ll focus on the Joseph story and the gospel. and I’ll conclude with one news story that’s gotten attention from all over the world—the story of the death of Robin Williams. A scene from one of his movies connects to these Bible stories.

First is the Joseph story. I must admit that I’m disappointed to discover that in this year’s cycle of readings there is just one story from the entire 14 chapters of Genesis devoted to Joseph. Over 1/4 of Genesis is about him, and we get one story. Thus I wrote a Spark Notes version of those 14 chapters for the bulletin. But maybe this one story gets to the heart of the matter anyway.

We heard of the brothers coming before Joseph in tehir search to purchase grain. They’d brought back the younger brother, Benjamin, but Joseph didn’t revealed himself. They only knew him as Pharoah’s right hand, and they had to be scared about what would happen next. If they even suspected for a second that it was Joseph I assure you they would have been afraid for their very lives. Joseph had every reason to hate his brothers for what they did to him. Many who have carried a grudge against someone for more that the 22 years can testify that it’s easier to carry the grudge than to let it go.

Then Joseph revealed himself to his brothers. He said, Do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves…for God sent me before you to preserve life.” The whole fourteen chapters of the Joseph story is actually lacking references to God, but Joseph invoked some profound theology with his statement seeing that all that God was about was this moment and the future of his people.

And at the end Joseph, Benjamin and all the brothers are weeping. Weeping not just out of relief, but because of the mercy they’ve received.

The gospel story has some particular challenges. Jesus seems to have left his hearing aids at home. This Canaanite woman was shouting after him and it says he didn’t answer her at all. The disciples intervened and wanted Jesus to send her away. Be mindful, please, that these are the same disciples of little faith. Jesus responded with a curious statement. “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” Had we read the previous 15 or so verses we would have heard of the way Jesus trashed parts of the Pharisees approach to righteous living.

This woman was determined to be heard. The disciples couldn’t stop her.

She came and knelt before him. i.e she worshipped him, and we know it’s worship, because she used the disciples name for Jesus. She called him Lord, Kurios. And she used the Jewish messianic terms to address him as well, calling him Son of David.

That Jesus responded at all is remarkable. Men in that world were never to speak to a woman in public, even it was a sister or aunt. We know from other stories that Jesus broke that norm, and to what cost we don’t know.

And then he responded rather obliquely with a curious kind of riddle. It gets all too easily lost in translation. The ancient world was grounded in stories and rhetoric that included the clever use of riddles. Jesus essentially offered one when he almost teased this woman when he declared, “It’ is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.”

In asking her this riddle he was actually raising her status in a world that would always try to diminish her importance. She someow matered just because he talk with her. Jesus was playing a word game with her as if, as if she was equal to any of the men.

Implied in that statement about who throws food to dogs is what the Jews called the people of Tyre and Sidon, and what they in turn thought of the Jews. Oh, as you might suspect it’s the ancient version of Israel and the Palestinians. It’s the animosity between the Kurds, the Shites, and the Sunnis in Iraq. It’s a city in Missouri in racial turmoil.

And that world where Jesus was? Well to call someone a dog was highly derogatory. And would be to this very day in that part of the world.

Remember they had dogs in their world, but never, never as pets. To be sure the disciples must have thrown parts of the fish they caught and filleted to the nearby dogs, but they were never their pets.

And her response? You have to wonder if Jesus was expecting it. I’ll bet for sure the disciples who were watching never thought she’d get the last word or get to Jesus. But she did. “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”

And in that world the only ones who weren’t like dogs, were the Romans and the few elite who cooperated with them. It was a world of gender and ethnic oppression. In Roman eyes the Jews, the Gauls, the Greeks and you name it, were all considered barbarians. They were all dogs in Roman eyes. They might have said of all the nations they conquered, “Let them have the crumbs that fall from our table,” That’s all.

That’s not what this woman meant. She was speaking of a crumb of mercy and forgiveness. It was a crumb a dog would eat, maybe your pet does it: the crumb is devoured with gratitude. g. Something to continue life.

And she found it at that moment. Not a crumb of food, but of worth. Worth. Value. And life for her daughter. There are so many people like her in this world, some/many in every church I’ve served. Many of my ordained brothers and sisters as well. So many,   Wondering “Am I OK? Will I ever be accepted for who I am?”

It’s the question lurking in the shadows of the movie Good Will Hunting for which Robin Williams won his academy award.

Now Robin Williams was an Episcopalian. He said that belonging to this church was “Catholic-lite: the same religion, half the guilt.”

The Sharp Notes version of the movie Good Will Hunting is that Will Hunting, played by Matt Damon, is a 20-year-old South Boston laborer, an unrecognized math genius: as a way to avoid going to prison for an assault he agrees to see a therapist, Dr. Sean Maguire, played by Robin Williams.

Toward the end of the movie Dr. Maguire confronts Will about the reality of the child abuse he experienced. (Dr. Maguire had a similar story.) Slowly the camera lets us see Dr. Mcguire come closer and closer to Will repeating “It’s not your fault.” Will nods his head, Yes. Says “Yes,” but to end the conversation.

Dr. McGuire keeps repeating, “It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault.” The viewer can feel the tension rising. Will says more than once in some very strong words, “Don’t mess with me.” But the doctor says again, “It’s not your fault.” And then finally with tears flowing like a waterfall he throws his arms around his therapist, and they embrace each falling on the other’s neck, both of them wordlessly crying.

Oh. “Then Joseph fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, and Benjamin wept upon his neck.”

One of those God moments of forgiveness and mercy. The crumbs are enough. It was enough to say over and over, “It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault.”

We have a prayer in the prayer book by the way about the crumbs under the table, this table. And if you read the prayer right, it’s not that any of us are crumbs, but that we worship a God of mercy.

We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful
Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold
and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather
up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord
whose property is always to have mercy. Grant us therefore,
gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ,
and to drink his blood, that we may evermore dwell in him,
and he in us. Amen.

Whose property is always to have mercy. God, Jesus, the Holy spirit, saying over and over, “It’s not your fault.” We can pray can’t we that Robin Williams finds himself at the same table as that Cannanite woman who verbally sparred with Jesus? And across the table are the sons of Jacob who allowed their brother to die, even though that’s not what happened. And we can pray that along with all of them, we hear, or maybe even better yet, hear it now, but hear oursevles saying “Yes.” to the words “It’s not my fault.” Which is what leads us to find our place at the table of the Lord. Amen


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