Sunday, August 19, 2018

Treasure Hunting: Our Hearts and Worry

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

“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.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.Grace and peace to you from God, our abundant Creator, and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. Matt. 6:19-34 (NRSV)

Money. That is central to what we are talking about for the next three weeks. Money. Does this subject make you as uncomfortable as it makes me?

Our focus during this time will center around this overall theme of “treasure in heaven.” And, then, each week, we will look at a different text from each of the three synoptic gospels: Matthew, Mark and Luke. We’ll be looking at three different contexts, three different emphases, and then, in particular, three different challenges. Three different things that challenge us in our relationship with God and with money and, especially that challenge our generosity. These three things are worry, grief, and fear.

Does anyone here have a dollar bill on them? Or it can be a bill of any denomination? (In today’s cashless world, these is getting harder and harder to find, isn’t it?) When you look at the bill, what do you see? Amount of bill, former leader, words “In God We Trust.” 

In God We Trust. (Just a little bit of trivia here, but did you know that the requirement to use these words on every denomination of American currency was passed in 1956, not really that long ago.) Isn’t it a little ironic that, on the very thing that causes so much tension and conflict in our lives, in our relationships, in our work, and, yes, right here in our church--on the actual money we use day in and day out are these words: In God we trust. Because it is money and the power of money that is one of the things that we struggle with the most in our relationship with God. 

We worry about money constantly, don’t we? What worries you most about your money? We worry about how much we have. Or don’t have. We worry about the power it has in our lives. We worry about how much time we spend earning it. As we get older, we even worry about what we will do with it after we die. Money or our worry over money is one of the highest causes of anxiety and conflict in our relationships.

We worry constantly about money. It’s why Jesus talk about money ALL THE TIME. 

I really dislike preaching about money. Maybe it would be different if I had it all figured out. But, I don’t. And I worry about it. I come from a long line of worry-ers, in fact. And I have graciously passed my practice of worrying onto my son. It is just easy to worry over it, isn’t. This constant question of how much I should save. Or how much, especially for us in the church, I should give away.

And, then, as though the answer was easy, Jesus simply says, “Don’t worry!” Yeah, right!

And, yet, it really comes down to whether or not we believe the words we find on our own currency--the words, ”In God We Trust.”  Because to trust in God is to believe that there is enough in our world. That God cares abundantly for our world and has provided enough for each one of us. The word we often uses to talk about this is “providence,” God’s providence. To believe in God’s providence is to believe, no matter what, God will care for and protect us. That God will provide for us what we need. (Notice, I said need. Not want.) It’s what we pray for each time we say the Lord’s Prayer. “Give us this day our daily bread.” Notice that the focus in this prayer given to us by Jesus is on today. Not tomorrow, but today. Give us this day our daily bread.

Haven’t you experienced this? Haven’t you experienced God’s providence in your own life? I know I have. In my late 20’s, after my husband and I separated, I had physical custody of my son. It was expensive to pay for rent and utilities for us and for food and clothing for us all by myself. There were many times that my paycheck ran out days before my next payday and I had no idea where our next meal might come from. Where my next tank of gas might come from. Or how I might keep the lights on over our heads. And, yet, there was never a time that we didn’t have enough to survive. That somehow, something or someone would show up in our lives at just the right time with just what we needed. Coincidence? Maybe. But it happened so much then and throughout my life that it is way beyond coincidence. That I can attribute it only to God and God’s providence. That it is a God-thing.

God cares abundantly for our world. God has provided enough for everyone. What then, we might ask, about those who don’t have enough in their lives? About the poor? Or the disadvantaged? After all, we see them all the time here at Grace & Glory. Our food pantry clients. Others who come to us asking for money or for a tank of gas. If God provides enough for everyone, then, why are their people like this in our world.

The simple answer? Sin. Because sin tells us that there isn’t enough in our world. That there isn’t enough for everyone. Sin leads us to worry, to live in anxiety. Sin leads us to a mindset of scarcity. That we need to hold onto our stuff. Sin leads to hoarding. Sin separates us from right relationship with God.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth…” Jesus says in our text today. “...[B]ut store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.”

Jesus tells us to “strive toward the kingdom.” To trust in God’s providence and to strive for the kingdom. To trust that God will care for us. That God has created enough for us and for everyone else. To stop worrying. And to move from a place of scarcity to a place of abundance. From an orientation of hoarding to an orientation of sharing.  To think, “If I have too much, it means that someone else probably doesn’t have enough.”  

At the beginning of our service today, you made a list of things that belong to you. Pick one now. Think about how you might use that one thing right now to help other people or to worship God. 

When we change our heart. Or our minds. When we change our orientation from one of scarcity to one of abundance and of trust in God’s providence, this creates a whole new appreciation of how we hold things in common with each other. It is a system of economics that we may not understand or that might not seem at all reasonable according to the ways of our world, but it is one that, as Walter Brueggemann writes, will eventually “blow our socks off.”  

Because God is abundant. God is gracious. And God loves us and proves that love for us on the cross. That, my friends, is our treasure. That is what are to seek and what we are to strive for--a deeper faith in a God who has given us everything. Everything. Including God’s very own life. For us and for all people.

Strive first for the kingdom of God and God’s righteousness. And all these things will be given to you as well. Amen.

Preached August 19, 2018, at Grace & Glory Lutheran Church, Goshen, KY
13th Sunday after Pentecost
Readings: Matthew 6:19-34 (Psalm 51:6-9)

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Ruth--A Story for Our Time: New Life

Grace and peace to you from God, our faithful Creator, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Before I move into today’s Gospel lesson, I thought it might be helpful for us to have a little review. We’ve been in the book of Ruth for four weeks. Today, will be our last in the series that we’ve called, “Ruth--A Story for Our Time.”

So, do any of you remember back to that first week of this series? What was happening in the story? It was a chaotic time--when the judges ruled. A time when “each person did what they thought was right.” (Judges 21.25) There was a famine. Naomi and her husband, Elimelech, moved from Bethlehem to Moab because of famine. They were strangers in a new land, trying to adapt, trying to fit in. While there they had two sons, Mahlon and Chilion. 

What happened while they were in Moab? Elimelech died unexpectedly. Then, after Mahlon and Chilion were married, they, too, died unexpectedly. With no children, no heirs, to pass on their line. This left Naomi and Ruth and Orpah all by themselves. Widows. Childless. Vulnerable. Naomi decided to move back to her ancestral home. Ruth, even though she was a Moabite and would be a foreigner in Israel, chose to move with Naomi. 

Do you recall the last words of Naomi in the first chapter? “Don’t call me Naomi, but call me Mara, for the Almighty has made me very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has returned me empty.” Even with Ruth, this brave and courageous daughter-in-law standing at her side, Naomi still called herself bitter. And empty.

Over the next couple of chapters, we saw Ruth at work, didn’t we? Needing to find a way to ensure, not only her security, but also that of her mother-in-law. So, she began to glean in the fields of a man named...Do any of you remember his name?...of a man named Boaz. Who, as it turned out, was kin--family--to Naomi. He was a relative of Naomi’s deceased husband, Elimelech. We saw the generosity of Boaz to Ruth--a woman who was not only a widow and childless, which would have put her on the fringes of the community there. But, also an immigrant, which would have made her triply vulnerable. 

And, then, last week, Ruth, knowing she needed to ensure greater security for herself and for Naomi...engaging in a scandalous act. A seduction really. Something that would have been completely inappropriate for any woman of her time, much less for an immigrant woman. A counter-cultural act. Proposing marriage to Boaz. Challenging him to fulfill his obligation to her and to Naomi to be their kinsman-redeemer. Their go-el. This tradition--in fact, this command from God--that required the next closest male kin to marry the widow, to ensure her safety and security and her future.

So, Boaz agrees. Except there is one little complication. Boaz is not quite the next-of-kin. He is the next next-of-kin. So, under the law, he is required to take this situation to Naomi’s next-of-kin. This is where our story picks up this morning.

We read from Ruth, chapter 4, from the Common English Bible translation:

Meanwhile, Boaz went up to the gate and sat down there. Just then, the redeemer about whom Boaz had spoken was passing by. He said, “Sir, come over here and sit down.” So he turned aside and sat down. Then he took ten men from the town’s elders and said, “Sit down here.” And they sat down.

Boaz said to the redeemer, “Naomi, who has returned from the field of Moab, is selling the portion of the field that belonged to our brother Elimelech. I thought that I should let you know and say, ‘Buy it, in the presence of those sitting here and in the presence of the elders of my people.’ If you will redeem it, redeem it; but if you won’t redeem it, tell me so that I may know. There isn’t anyone to redeem it except you, and I’m next in line after you.”

He replied, “I will redeem it.”

Then Boaz said, “On the day when you buy the field from Naomi, you also buy Ruth the Moabite, the wife of the dead man, in order to preserve the dead man’s name for his inheritance.”

But the redeemer replied, “Then I can’t redeem it for myself, without risking damage to my own inheritance. Redeem it for yourself. You can have my right of redemption, because I’m unable to act as redeemer.”

In Israel, in former times, this was the practice regarding redemption and exchange to confirm any such matter: a man would take off his sandal and give it to the other person. This was the process of making a transaction binding in Israel. Then the redeemer said to Boaz, “Buy it for yourself,” and he took off his sandal.

Boaz announced to the elders and all the people, “Today you are witnesses that I’ve bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and Mahlon. And also Ruth the Moabite, the wife of Mahlon, I’ve bought to be my wife, to preserve the dead man’s name for his inheritance so that the name of the dead man might not be cut off from his brothers or from the gate of his hometown—today you are witnesses.”

Then all the people who were at the gate and the elders said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord grant that the woman who is coming into your household be like Rachel and like Leah, both of whom built up the house of Israel. May you be fertile in Ephrathah and may you preserve a name in Bethlehem. And may your household be like the household of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah—through the children that the Lord will give you from this young woman.”

So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife.

He was intimate with her, the Lord let her become pregnant, and she gave birth to a son. The women said to Naomi, “May the Lord be blessed, who today hasn’t left you without a redeemer. May his name be proclaimed in Israel. He will restore your life and sustain you in your old age. Your daughter-in-law who loves you has given birth to him. She’s better for you than seven sons.” Naomi took the child and held him to her breast, and she became his guardian. The neighborhood women gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” They called his name Obed. He became Jesse’s father and David’s grandfather.

These are the generations of Perez: Perez became the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, Salmon the father of Boaz, Boaz the father of Obed, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David.

It’s kind of funny, the beginning of today’s episode. Here we have two men, two relatives to Naomi. Boaz. And the other, unnamed. In fact, in the Hebrew, he’s called “so-and-so.” “Hey, so-and-so!” Boaz calls him at the beginning of our story. “Hey, so-and-so, I have something I need to talk to you about. But, I need to do it in front of ten elders--a quorum--because I need to ensure that it is a legal transaction.” 

And, so they engage in conversation. Negotiation, really. Just as we have seen so many of these conversations throughout these chapters of Ruth. Conversations in which things are worked out. Issues are resolved. Problems are solved. Conversations that happen like this not only in Ruth, but throughout all of Scripture. People talking to each other. Trying to work things out. And God, often hidden, but still present, at work.

Once this unnamed relative of Naomi's hears that there’s property available, he’s all ears. But, then, when he finds out there is a woman attached to the deal--an immigrant woman, in fact--he walks away. One has to wonder why? Maybe he already had too many wives? Or, more likely, it was because Ruth was a foreigner. An immigrant. After all, in all of the conversation she is called Ruth the Moabite. It’s almost her scarlet letter, isn’t it?

But “so-and-so’s” loss is Boaz’s gain! Because for him, the land isn’t as important as the woman. A woman whom he has seen and named as a woman of worth. So, Boaz and Ruth are married. And, then, our story reads, “God let her become pregnant.” They had a son. They’re firstborn son. Whom they named, Obed. 

If we go back throughout this story of Ruth and the conversations that happened, do you wonder what the characters were feeling as they were taking place? What was Naomi thinking as she told both Ruth and Orpah to stay in Moab? Was she anxious about how people in her homeland might respond to her daughters-in-law? Her foreign daughters-in-law?

Or what about Ruth when she made her marriage proposal to Boaz? One has to wonder--knowing how completely countercultural her proposal was--whether she felt anxious? What if he had said no? What if he had dismissed her because she was an immigrant? A foreigner?  

And, then, what of this conversation today, between Boaz and “so-and-so?” How anxious was Boaz feeling, going into this negotiation? Not knowing how it might end up. But hoping, against all hope, that he would walk away and be able to marry Ruth. 

How many conversations do you enter into that you are anxious about? A little nervous? Not knowing what will happen. Whether the conversation might go wrong and make things worse. Or if it might go well. Or somewhere in between. 

I have to confess to you that, this past Wednesday evening, as Pastor Lisa and I were preparing for our Sacred Conversation--our deliberative dialogue--around this very difficult topic of immigration, I was anxious. And nervous. Not knowing what would happen. Whether it would go well. Or not so well. Whether people would even show up. Even want to try to engage around a hot topic. Maybe, if you attended, you felt the same way. 

As the evening progressed, though--as we between to talk to each other, to listen and to be open to learning new things, I have to say that I began to feel hopeful. That, perhaps, we could do this. That, through our conversation, a new way might appear. That we might find begin to find agreement on things. And to honestly admit the places of tension, of disagreement, yet with some sense of resolve or hope that, even in these places, we might be able to come together. 

By the end of the evening, that hope had turned into something more like joy. As I listened to people laugh and joke with each other, knowing that they might be in different places politically, there was joy in the knowledge that were still sisters and brothers in Christ and that God had been at work in our conversation.  Bringing hope and joy out of anxiety. Bringing new, collaborative possibilities out of old, divisive ways. Bringing fullness out of emptiness. Bringing life out of death. 

Because isn’t that God’s way? Isn’t that God’s hesed? You know that word don’t you--a word meaning steadfast love and faithfulness? Even better, love-in-action. God’s love-in-action. A hesed that reached its fullest for us at the cross. God’s fullest love-in-action. Scandalous. Counter-cultural. Life-giving for us. And bring us fullness out of emptiness. 

And, that, my friends, is what this story of Ruth has been all about. God’s hesed. How God has worked behind the scenes and through the conversations in this story to bring, especially for Naomi, fullness out of her emptiness. Hope out of loss. Joy out of bitterness. New life out of death. A grandson, who will be in the ancestral line of the King of Kings--our Savior, Jesus Christ. 

This is a story for our time. It is a way of being together for our time. It is God’s way. A way of love-in-action. 

Thanks be to God! Amen.

Preached at Grace & Glory Lutheran Church and Shiloh United Methodist Church, Goshen, KY.
Pentecost 12
Readings: Ruth 4:1-22 (Luke 1:46-55)

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Ruth--A Story for Our Time: Daring to Act

Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, I need to seek some security for you, so that it may be well with you. Now here is our kinsman Boaz, with whose young women you have been working. See, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor. Now wash and anoint yourself, and put on your best clothes and go down to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. When he lies down, observe the place where he lies; then, go and uncover his feet and lie down; and he will tell you what to do.” She said to her, “All that you tell me I will do.”

So she went down to the threshing floor and did just as her mother-in-law had instructed her. When Boaz had eaten and drunk, and he was in a contented mood, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain. Then she came stealthily and uncovered his feet, and lay down. At midnight the man was startled, and turned over, and there, lying at his feet, was a woman! He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth, your servant; spread your cloak over your servant, for you are next-of-kin.” He said, “May you be blessed by the Lord, my daughter; this last instance of your loyalty is better than the first; you have not gone after young men, whether poor or rich. And now, my daughter, do not be afraid, I will do for you all that you ask, for all the assembly of my people know that you are a worthy woman. But now, though it is true that I am a near kinsman, there is another kinsman more closely related than I. Remain this night, and in the morning, if he will act as next-of-kin for you, good; let him do it. If he is not willing to act as next-of-kin for you, then, as the Lord lives, I will act as next-of-kin for you. Lie down until the morning.”

So she lay at his feet until morning, but got up before one person could recognize another; for he said, “It must not be known that the woman came to the threshing floor.” Then he said, “Bring the cloak you are wearing and hold it out.” So she held it, and he measured out six measures of barley, and put it on her back; then he went into the city. She came to her mother-in-law, who said, “How did things go with you, my daughter?” Then she told her all that the man had done for her, saying, “He gave me these six measures of barley, for he said, ‘Do not go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’” She replied, “Wait, my daughter, until you learn how the matter turns out, for the man will not rest, but will settle the matter today.” Ruth 3:1-18 (NRSV)

Grace and peace to you from God, our Creator, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Have you ever done something daring? 

Perhaps at the time, it didn’t seem so daring. But, as time passed and you began to reflect upon it, you realized that, at that time, it was a daring thing for you to do.

In 1992, I was the newly-elected president of my local union. We represented courtroom clerks throughout all of Los Angeles County. And my ascendance to the presidency wasn’t really something I planned to do. 

Before I was elected, my predecessor, the president of our local had become quite controversial. We hadn’t had a raise in over 2 years. And, in trying to publicly highlight our cause, he had done several things that had angered the presiding judge--a judge elected by all of the judges countywide to oversee the whole system. So, in response to the situation, I decided to write a letter to all of my colleagues throughout the main courthouse in downtown Los Angeles. Suddenly, one day our local president walked into my courtroom and invited me to step into an open position on our local’s executive board.

After giving it some thought, I agreed. Perhaps, I shouldn't have. Because soon, it became apparent that our local president was not only eccentric, but he was also embezzling funds from our treasury. Within 6 months, we had removed him from office. It was then that I found myself elected president, even though I never planned it that way. 

Now, none of this might seem very daring. And, it really didn’t to me at the time. But, over the next four years, as we continued to lack a wage increase, it was under my leadership that, in November 1997, 95% of the courtroom clerks walked off the job across the county, on strike for 10 days. I found out later that it was the first time in a quarter century that any labor group had ever walked out on a judicial system across the U.S. It was a daring act for us. But, it didn’t seem daring at the time. Because for us, it was a matter of survival. A matter of financial survival.

It is this type of daring act--a matter of survival--that is central to our story today. We’ve heard over the past two weeks of the vulnerability of Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi. Naomi, who had moved to another country--to Moab--with her husband because of a famine in Bethlehem. Then, the birth of two sons and the eventual death of all of the men in her life--her husband and her two sons. We heard of her vulnerability as a widow and a childless woman. And, of the vulnerability of her daughter-in-law, Ruth. Also, a widow and childless. We heard of the decision to return to Naomi’s homeland--to Bethlehem. And, of Ruth’s decision to accompany her--just one of many examples of Ruth’s hesed. Her love in action for Naomi. A decision that doubled Ruth’s vulnerability--now, not only a widow, but also an immigrant. 

Over the past 2 weeks, we have also seen a shift in our story--a shift from the sense of loss and emptiness experienced by Naomi and Ruth, to the beginning of hope. Hope that appeared in the person of Boaz. A landowner. A family member. Naomi’s kin.

In today’s episode of our story, we see those buds of hope blossom. Now, if you read between the lines of our story, you quickly see that this is a story of seduction. Of a daring act. An act by Ruth that, one might think is completely out of character for her. An act that is counter-cultural. One that most people would raise their eyebrows at. But it is a daring act by a woman who is desperate to secure her future and that of her mother-in-law.

It is the evening at the end of a successful harvest. You can imagine that there was food flowing. And, especially, that there was drink also flowing. Boaz is, our text says, in a “good” mood. Another translation says that he was contented. He curls up next to a grain pile and falls asleep. 

As this has been going on, Naomi has been instructing Ruth. Take a bath. Put on some perfume. Wear something nice. And, then, go down to the threshing floor. Don’t make yourself known to Boaz until he has finished eating and drinking and has lain down. Then, and only then, go to him, uncover his feet, and lie down. He will tell you what to do next.

So, Ruth does it. Everything that Naomi tells her to do. Except she doesn’t wait for Boaz to say anything. Instead, Ruth--kind, sweet, loyal Ruth--proposes marriage! This is what the phrase “spread out your robe over your servant” means. Ruth proposes marriage to Boaz, who we know is substantially older than she.

Now, we need to step back for a moment to understand what is going on here. There is a custom at work in this story that we need to be aware of. In her proposal to Boaz, Ruth calls for him to fulfill his duty as a go-el. Go-el is a Hebrew word that means kinsman-redeemer. Under Israel’s law, the closest male relative is obligated to redeem his kin who have fallen onto hard times. So, as she proposes marriage to Boaz, Ruth is saying, “Do your duty!” Do what you are obligated to do as my go-el, as my kinsman-redeemer. Save me!

Now, to our 21st century ears, this may be a little challenging. We think of women as independent today and having their own choices in terms of their future. This is not what ancient Israel was like, however. In this patristic society, women who were widowed or childless were vulnerable. This was why the law was implemented in the first place--to ensure that women who were vulnerable were protected. They relied upon their go-el, their kinsman-redeemer to do this.

It is, however, a daring act for Ruth to make the first move. To call on Boaz to offer her redemption. Yet, there was also redemption for Boaz here. It’s apparent from our story that Boaz is presumably an older man. Ruth could have chosen others--she’s still a young woman. Yet, she chooses him. So, for Ruth and for Boaz, there is mutual redemption.

This Wednesday evening, you have an opportunity to engage in a daring act, just like Ruth. We will gather with our siblings in Christ at Shiloh Methodist. We’ll begin at 6 p.m. with a potluck dinner. This will be followed at 6:30 p.m. by a conversation--a Sacred Conversation--around the topic of immigration. This is a controversial topic in our world today. It is a complex issue. It is a divisive issue--an issue that has separated and continues to divide us to the point where we no longer talk with each other about it, but we talk at each other about it. How do we change the conversation? How do we break through our division and begin to hear each other? 

We have the opportunity this Wednesday. An opportunity to listen to each other respectfully. To hear and to identify our common values and, then, to find a way forward. It is an opportunity that is counter-cultural. It pushes back against a culture that says “it’s my way, or the highway!” It pushes back against a culture that demands that my answer is the only right answer. To choose to be there--to participate in this Sacred Conversation--is a daring act. It takes courage to step out of the mold that our culture teaches us to follow--a mold that will only continue to divide us. Will you be courageous? Will you be bold and daring? Will you come and participate?

I hope you will come. In truth, I dare you to come. Because it is out of daring acts, that redemption comes.  And blessing. We see it already in our story today. And we will see it in full next week. And we know it as children of God--children of a God who sent a Kinsman-Redeemer to us to save us. To redeem us. And, who out of that redemption, gives us abundant blessing.

So, be bold. Be daring. And trust that God will be at work among us. And that God will give us the courage to dare to act. Amen.

Preached Sunday, August 5, 2018, at Grace & Glory Lutheran Church, Goshen, KY.
Pentecost 11
Readings: Ruth 3:1-18 (Matthew 7:7-8).