Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Following Jesus

Once upon a time, there was a church that thought they wanted to follow Jesus.  I'm not sure what it was, maybe it was the new pastor, and the fact that, after a few years of decline, people were beginning to visit the church.  Some of them even joined!  For the first time in a long time, they were hopeful about their future.

That new pastor even encouraged them to have dreams, to think about who they wanted to be and what they wanted to do.  She asked them what they thought God wanted them to do.  Groups of people from the church began to meet and consider what the gifts and needs of their community and their congregation might be.  They studied and they prayed.  And when they looked out of their back yard they saw something -- they saw a piece of property that they had had for a long time.  Many years before, they had been growing and they thought that their church would be larger.  They bought that empty land then but they had not kept growing and the land became a playground and a ball field.  They even considered selling it once or twice.

But after studying this time, when they looked out of the window of their fellowship hall, they had different dreams.  They had learned that there was a need for senior housing in their area, and so they had a dream about creating housing for senior in that back yard.  They even went a little farther, and considered that in the middle of the senior tower -- they should create -- a day care for children -- so that the old and the young could learn from and bless each other.

The members of the groups were excited about their ideas.  They knew that they were challenging goals, and that they probably would not be able to do everything at once.  But they called a meeting of the congregation one evening, where they shared their dreams with others.

After they got done sharing, one of the older members of the congregation stood up.  He opened his Bible and began to read from Luke, chapter 14:

"For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it?  Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.'"

That was it.  That was all he said.  Then he sat down.

But it was enough.  The disciples who had come to the meeting dreaming of following Jesus did not have a reply for the gentleman who spoke.  They did not know what to say.  They left their dreams behind when they left the meeting that night.

I wonder about the large crowds who were traveling with Jesus, and what happened when he told them this parable, and the other one, about the king going out to make war against another king.  I wonder what those large crowds following Jesus thought when he told them that they needed to hate their lives and carry the cross if they wanted to be his disciples.  I wonder if the large crowds got smaller after that.

Why were they following him in the first place?

He was eating and drinking with those who were left out; he was giving sight to the blind and restoring lepers to community and making the lame leap for joy.  He was multiplying loaves and casting out demons.  He was giving life, but there was a cost, and it was everything.  They should know that.

I wonder still about the dreams of that little congregation.  Maybe it wasn't what God wanted us to do, after all.  Maybe it was all right to give up when we heard those words about counting the cost.  But is that why Jesus spoke those words to the crowds?  Did he want them to turn away?  Did he want them to give up, knowing it was too hard?

Follow me, he still says, knowing that it is too hard, knowing that we will fail.

What does he want us to do?

Maybe he wants us to ask the question.


Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Hospitality to Strangers

My memories of Hebrews 13:2 go back to my childhood, and a book that I received from my godparents.  It was called, "Angel Unaware", by Dale Evans Rogers (remember Roy Rogers?) and was about their young daughter who died while she was yet a  child.  I remember the positive message that caring for a sick child turned out to be a blessing and a transformation rather than a hardship.

I suppose that this verse is one of the best known passages of scripture.  It's right up there with, "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever."  Or "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen".  And who wouldn't want to entertain an angel (even though you didn't know it until afterwards)?

But since I am now a student of Biblical languages (especially Greek), and since I have been thinking more deeply (especially lately) about the word "stranger", I can't stop thinking about this passage of scripture.

I start with that really disarmingly short first verse.  "Let mutual love continue."  You know what "mutual love" is in Greek?  Philadelphia.  The city of brotherly love.  So love your brothers and sisters.  That's the first thing.  And that makes sense, right?  Not controversial at all.  Not that I'm saying that it's always EASY, but it makes sense to love "one another."

But the next part -- about showing hospitality to strangers -- well, that's another thing, if you really think about it.  Without any disrespect to Dale Evans Rogers, the word "hospitality to strangers" in Greek is really one word "philoxenia" -- which means "love of the stranger."  To be hospitable is to love the stranger.   And the word entertain?  is the word "xenos" in Greek, which means both to be a host AND to be strange.  To be a good host is -- in a way -- to be strange.  Or maybe -- just maybe -- the best host knows what it means to be a stranger.

This blows my mind.  This blows my mind as an American and a Christian and a pastor.  Partly because when I hear the word "stranger" -- this is a word that I don't associate with angels so much as I do with fear.  Especially these days, but not only these days.  These days we are afraid of the strangers at the border, people whose lives and poverty we cannot seem to imagine.  But most of us -- were at one time strangers and sojourners in this land as well.  We were immigrants from somewhere, poor or hopeful or fleeing oppression.  Most of our families have a story about when they were strangers, when they didn't know the language, when they prayed that someone would be kind, speak slowly, help them count their change in the grocery store, help them find their way in a strange city or a strange neighborhood.

But perhaps the best host knows what it means to be a stranger, and perhaps this applies to the church as well.  We have become too at home here in this world.  We have forgotten what it means to be a stranger, and this affects our ability to truly share the good news.

I remember that long ago, I lived as a missionary in Japan.  I was there to share the gospel, to invite people to the great feast, which is Jesus and his love.  But most of the time, I was a stranger.  I couldn't read the labels on food in the grocery store.  I didn't know how to cook most of the food I found there, at least at first.  I only knew a few other people, who came to Japan with me.  I understood the rhythm of the liturgy, but not the words.   And it seemed to me (although I didn't realize this for a long time) that this was a part of the point.  To be a stranger.  Not to know everything.  Just to know Christ, and him crucified.

We used to get off the trains in our neighborhood, and walk through the streets, smelling the good smells coming from people's houses.  We would joke about knocking on stranger's doors and invite ourselves in for dinner, but we had learned enough Japanese culture to understand that we should never do that.  But we knew that we were vulnerable, and needed help to navigate the world.

Perhaps the best host knows what it means to be a stranger.  I can't help thinking about Jesus, who was guest at so many parties, and how many people thought they knew him, but they didn't.  He was the best host who, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and shared it with his disciples.

The truth is, the world is a strange place, and the Kingdom of God is stranger still.  Love your enemies.  Forgive people, and keep forgiving them.  Be generous.  Give everything away, and you will be rich.  You are deeply flawed, and you are deeply loved.  You are not what you do.  You are not what you buy.   Love the stranger.

There is no "strategy" to mission.  It's just love.  Love one another.  Love the stranger.  Love yourself, in all of your strangeness.  Love Jesus.  After all, the best host knows what it means to be a stranger.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Bilingual

The other day a woman I am acquainted with startled me by saying that she has experienced people telling her to "go back where she came from."  I knew that she was born in the United States, so I could not imagine the scenario where someone would say something like that to her.

"When does this happen?" I asked.

"When I am talking to my 92 year old father," she said.

So people assume that, because she is speaking in another language, a language that they perhaps do not understand, that she is somehow less-than.  That she does not belong.

Things like this happen.  A woman from my congregation took her daughter to get her driver's license.  She has an hispanic last name, and the woman at the office asked if she or her daughter had a green card.  She is from CHICAGO.  But for some reason or another, because of the arrangement of certain letters in her name, it is assumed that she is less-than.  That she does not belong.

Like my new acquaintance, the one who speaks to her father in Spanish, and to me in English.  The fact is (and perhaps this is what really makes people uncomfortable) she is not less-than.  She is more-than.  She is bilingual.

I remember going to Disneyland when I was sixteen.  It was a long time ago, and we went on a tour with a number of other first-time visitors to Disneyland.  The tour guide was telling us all about the history of Disneyland, and then, she turned to some other guests sitting next to us, and she started talking to them in French.  I was fascinated.  I couldn't imagine being able to just switch languages like that.  I couldn't imagine being bilingual.

This is the immigrant experience.  It was the experience of my grandparents, on both sides.  My grandma Judy came from Sweden as a young woman, worked as a domestic in Connecticut, and kept her foot in both countries for awhile, traveling back and forth from Sweden to American until she met my grandfather.  She tried to teach us Swedish words.  I only remember a few of them now.

What is it that makes us want to believe that someone else does not belong?  That they are somehow "less-than"?  To know more than one language, more than one culture, more than one reality, is rich and necessary in our world.

I think that to be a follower of Jesus is, in a way, to be an immigrant.  When we take the values of the Kingdom of God seriously, we will realize that there is another language in the world.  It is the language of the Kingdom of God, and sometimes it doesn't make sense.  The kingdom of God speaks of valuing those who seem to be less-than:  the widow, and the orphan and the stranger.  The kingdom of God tells us to pay attention to the small and the vulnerable rather than the powerful and the successful.  The kingdom of God speaks of love that asks nothing in return.

And there are people who might hear that kind of language and say, "Go back to where you came from."

The woman I know who was told, "Go back to where you came from" -- she said that her family is from Patagonia.  She showed me pictures.  It's a beautiful place, where she's from. But she is called to be here now.  She promised to teach me a little Spanish.

The Kingdom of God is a beautiful place.  And more and more I hope to learn the language of that place too.   Every once in awhile I hear a new phrase:  "a bruised reed he will not break and a dimly burning wick he will not quench" -- so different than the language of the other world I live in, where the poor are crushed and turned away.

Someday this world will fall away, and all that will be left is the language of the love of God, and we will see the beauty in those we thought were less-than, and we will be astonished.  In the meantime, we are called to teach each other a few words of the New Language, to be bilingual.



Monday, July 8, 2019

Mine, Yours, Ours

This summer we have a tree in our sanctuary, and every week we are hanging a different fruit from the tree.  Every week we are exploring a different fruit of the Spirit:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Preaching in series is something relatively new to me; I'm preaching some old scripture verses in a new context, and preaching some Bible stories I've never preached on before as well.

Last week our theme was joy.  The fruit of the Spirit is Joy.  And the text that I chose (usually read during Epiphany in my tradition) was from Nehemiah 8.  And of course the verse itself is so well-known, although most people don't know the story surrounding the verses.  "The Joy of the Lord is your strength."

I've seen it on plaques.
I've heard it in songs.

But not really thought much about it.

One of the things i do these days (that I never have done before) is find images for the sermon.  We have projection in my congregation, and I look for pictures and sometimes for words that I can put up on the screen.  And I was looking for this verse, "The Joy of the Lord is your strength", and what was interesting to me is that, for the most part, I found this verse on line:  "The Joy of the Lord is my strength."

It made me think.  Those pesky pronouns.  I thought, of COURSE when Ezra is speaking to the people, he is going to say, The Joy of the Lord is YOUR strength."  But what does he mean?  Does he mean that the joy of the Lord is your strength as an individual believer?  Or does he mean that the joy of the Lord is your strength as a part of a community of believers?

Does it even matter?

Those pesky pronouns.  I was recently reminded in a Bible study that faith is an individual matter.  No one can believe for someone else.  We each stand before God on our own.  No one else's good word can get us in.  (Okay, except Jesus'.  That one doesn't really work.)

It's true; no one else can believe for us.  Except that I catch myself thinking about the times when I went to worship, with all of my doubts, and said the creed along with all of the other believers.  Somehow their faith made me stronger.  Maybe we can believe for one another sometimes.

And maybe the joy of the Lord is not my possession or yours, but it is the gift of the Spirit to the community of faith.  it is the Spirit that doesn't just live in our hearts, but it is the Spirit that also lives in our community, where we share joy and sorrow, fruit both bitter and sweet, and good.

On Sunday morning, I took out a small bottle of bubbles to show joy.  But I wasn't very good at blowing bubbles, and the six year old girl sitting next to me said, 'You're doing it too fast!"  Then she showed me how to blow a bubble properly.

And the joy of the Lord was our strength.

The Fruit of the Spirit is Joy


“The Power of Joy”
Nehemiah 8:1-10

             The fruit of the Spirit is Joy.  

            And the joy of the Lord is our strength.

            Do you recognize that verse?  I have seen it on placques, heard it in songs, know it by heart.  “The Joy of the Lord is our strength.”  
            Just one verse – but have you ever thought about it?  How is joy a strength?  Is joy strong?  Is joy powerful?

            Sometimes we think just the opposite – that joy is a child’s virtue.  I know when I close my eyes and think about joy
             – I think about children – the children at the pre-school, who, when I come over to visit – just to check in – are so happy to see me – are so excited to show me their new shoes, or tell me about their baby brother, or their trip to the Coca Cola Factory in Atlanta!  Joy!  
            They are joyful. But then -- they don’t have to deal so much with life – at least – most of them don’t.

            Joy seems to be a luxury sometimes – for us adults – 
            it’s a serious world after all. 
             There are many wrongs to right, so much pain to heal, so much tragedy ….  A little bit of joy might be okay, but in moderation….too much seems wrong, and frivolous and even – naive …. 
            You know what they say about Pollyannas, and their annoying cheerfulness – their unrealistic idea that you can always find something to be GLAD about….

            Pollyanna…. I even rented that old movie this week –(Pollyanna) in an effort to understand Joy,   
            I remembered that this movie was one of my dad’s favorites – my goofy dad, who liked to tell the same joke over and over, and who made up his own words to songs.  
            Pollyanna was one of his favorite movies.  
            And I remembered again about the girl who played the “Glad Game” – who tried to find something to be glad about everywhere.  Her father taught her the game.
            They were missionaries, and they were poor, and they had to rely on charity.  One thing Pollyanna wanted more than anything else was a doll, but they didn’t have money for it.  
            So they waited for the charity boxes from the missionaries.  There was no doll – but there were a pair of crutches.  What was there to be glad about?  Pollyanna’s father told her that she could be glad – that she didn’t need the crutches…. That was the glad game.  To find something to be joyful about – even In a pair of crutches. 

            And the fruit of the Spirit is joy.  
            And the joy of the Lord is our strength.  But joy doesn’t seem to be that powerful.  It doesn’t even seem realistic, sometimes.  In our world.   In our time. And it probably didn’t seem to be realistic to the people of Israel in Nehemiah’s time either. 

            Nehemiah – the book where those words “the joy of the Lord is your strength” comes from.   

            Here’s the scene. It’s about the year 538 BC.  
            The Israelites have been in exile in Babylon and they have finally been allowed to come home. They came back to a temple in ruins and a city whose walls had been destroyed.  And in those days it was important for a city to be fortified to have walls.  So the exiles had a lot of work to do.  
            Under the guidance of the governor Nehemiah and the priest Ezra, they rebuilt the temple and they rebuilt the walls of the city – not easy tasks.  There were a lot of setbacks and arguments and it was hard to unify the people.  
            They were probably tempted to give up.  A lot of times.
            But finally, in today’s reading, the walls are finished, and the people are gathered by what is called the “Water Gate.”  You might call it a sort of resurrection – the resurrection of the city of Jerusalem –
            
            And while they are there they asked the priest Ezra to read to them from the scrolls of the Torah – the first five books of the Bible.  And we don’t know exactly what he was reading from the Torah –
            Just that they hadn’t heard the Word of God for a long time –
            And that while he was reading, he was explaining so that they could understand, and that while he was reading, they fell on their faces and wept.
            And that is when Ezra told them to get up, and stop weeping -- for the Joy of the Lord is your strength.

             Why were they weeping?  They had reason to weep.  
            Some people speculate that they wept because they realized how they had failed their God, and strayed from him.  
            They heard the word of God, and the law of God, and they could not find anything to be glad about. Not just because of the way the world was – a dangerous place – but because of the way they were – turning their backs on God – forgetting his promises, and their responsibility to bless the world.  
            They wept because they realized all these things – and all of them were true –

            But the priest Ezra told them the truth – That Joy is more powerful than tears – and that the Joy of the Lord – is the most powerful of all.

            Get up and realize that despite everything – God is still with you.  Get up and rejoice in the voice of God.  Get up and feast – and share what you have with others who have less. Get up and realize that you are alive….

            It can be like this for many in our own day.  
            Sometimes it seems like our religious institutions are crumbling.  People are abandoning their practice of the faith, churches are closing, the situations in our society are leading to a lack of mercy and compassion for others.  
            When we see how far we are from the Word of God, we might want to weep.  The tasks we face as a church as a big as anything faced by the people of God in Nehemiah’s day.  
            But the joy of the Lord is our strength too.  And if we stand in that joy, the work we must do will be done.

            The joy of the Lord is resurrection Joy.  It is the fruit of the Spirit.  

            It is the city of Jerusalem come back to life. 
             It is the gift of the word of God, the God who is still speaking to you, the God who still has a mission for you.  It is the gift of life – and it is the gift of the community – standing TOGETHER as they listen to the word of God.

            The joy of the Lord is our strength – and it is resurrection joy – and it is a communal joy. –We can give it to one another.  Pollyanna gave it to her community – where she came to stay – and they gave it back to her when she lost joy and felt she couldn’t go on.  

            The fruit of the Spirit is joy.   Resurrection joy.  
            We give it to one another. 
 
            Where have you seen joy this week?  Where do you find joy?

            I have a friend who has had cancer – who I have prayed for – and kept in touch with – and this week – I saw on video – I saw that she has been raising monarch butterflies – and releasing them.   

            Go out and look for joy this week!   And then come back to witness to the power and presence of God in the world.

            AMEN


            

The Fruit of the Spirit is Love


 Looking for Love in all the Wrong Places

Ruth 1:1-21

           
            The fruit of the Spirit is love.  

            I read an article the other day that might not seem to have anything to do with this verse – but it does.  Bear with me. 
            The article began with an odd experiment in what we notice.          People were asked to watch a basketball game.  
            Half of the players wore white shirts and half wore black shirts.  They were asked to pay attention to how often the ball was passed among the players wearing white shirts. 
             Shortly after the game began, a man in a gorilla suit came out and walked among the players.    
            And you know what? -- fully 50% of the observers did not notice the gorilla.  
            In fact, they would have sworn that there was NO gorilla.  They were looking for something else.
            
            In our modern world, we have been trained not to see something which was obvious to generations in the pass:  that a personal God is active and moving in the world.  
            We still believe it – or we say we do.  But our senses have been trained in other ways.
            So this summer, we are going to train our senses to see what we believe – that a personal God is active and moving in the world.
            Starting, today, with love.
            The first of the fruits of the Spirit.  
             It’s no accident, I think, that it’s first.  
            After all, Paul also writes that, “Faith, hope, and love abide, these three – but the greatest of these is love.”  Love is first.  
            And the other fruit is connected to love.   It is sort of a foundation fruit – and you will see that when you see love – you may see another one of the fruits as well.  

            How do we train our eyes to see love?  
            First of all, I think, by noticing the stories of love in the Bible – really looking at them – seeing the details, imagining the scenes. 
            Like this scene, in the first chapter of Ruth.   
            I think that if there is one thing that is famous in the book of Ruth – it is the verses spoken by Ruth – and we recognize them as words of love 
            – but most of us know them from popular weddings songs.   “Entreat me not to leave thee/for whither thou goest I will go…. Thy people shall be my people, thy God my God… and where thou diest I will die.”    
            We know that Ruth’s words are words of love –

            But they are spoken from a daughter in law to her mother in law – and they are spoken in bitter circumstances.  
            Naomi and her family had left Israel during a famine and moved to Moab – and their sons had married two Moabite women.   But both Naomi’s husband and her two sons have died.  
            She has lost everything. 
            She knows she needs to return home.  
            And her daughters in law – being foreigners – there is no reason to expect they would be welcome in Israel – and really – no reason for them to go to Israel.  
            There have no children with their husbands.  
            They have no ties any more to Naomi.  
            And yet – both of them – at first – tell her that they will go with her.   
            And I think it is an act of love on Naomi’s part – to tell them they don’t have to come – she doesn’t want to tie them down.  
            She doesn’t think there is anything for them in Israel.   
            Naomi isn’t going to get married and have more sons that will grow up and be husbands for them – and that’s what both of these women need – in that time and culture.  

            But for some reason – Ruth won’t leave.  
            She wants to go with her mother-in-law.  
            She is willing to go to a place where she might experience hostility – and do what she can to help Naomi.    
            Between a Moabite daughter-in-law and her Israelite mother-in-law.  
            Maybe it’s not where you would expect to see love.  But it’s there.

            The fruit of the Spirit is love.  

            And what does this tell us about love – the fruit of love?

            First of all – it tells us that the fruit of love comes in unexpected places and in unexpected people – even the “wrong” person.  
            The fruit of loves comes in a Moabite woman willing to go the distance for the mother-in-law that she loves – to go with her to a country that she did not know – and where a welcome was not certain  -- Look for the fruit of love – even in the unexpected and the wrong places.

            And the fruit of love comes to us in places the places of grief and death – also unexpected places. 
            Naomi is living in a strange land – she has lost her husband and both of her sons.  
            She expects that her daughters in law will leave her too.  
            Why would they stay? She has nothing to offer them.  
            And yet Ruth clings to her.  
            For us too – the place of grieving and death is also a place of love – maybe especially so. 

            It was on the night in which he was betrayed that Jesus said these words to his disciples, “Love one another as I have loved you.”  
             And then he washed their feet – and then he died for them.  
            He was preparing them for his death when he said these words – when he gave them these words – words about his deep commitment to them – a love that would never let them go 
            – and their commitment to one another, a love that would also show itself to be fierce in the time of death.    
            Not then – but later, after he died and rose.  

            In times of death – love is the evidence of life.  
             Love that holds hands at a bedside, comes out for the funeral, brings casseroles, listens.  
            They are sometimes little things, but they are big things.  
            Where have you seen the fruit of love in this world, in your life, in this community?  
            Because we believe that a personal God is active and moving in this world.  But we need to retrain our senses to notice it.

            For many years I saw the fruit of love – but I didn’t that’s what it was for a long time.  
            I used to know a man who walked permanently bent over.  I didn’t know why and I didn’t really think about it much.  
            He walked permanently bent over, sometimes straightening up just a little, to say hello.

            Sometime after his wife died, I realized it.  
            Is wife had had polio as a young mother, and developed something called post-polio syndrome later on. 
            She spent most of their marriage in a wheelchair.  
            He gave up a job he loved as a professor to take a higher paying job, and they remodeled the kitchen so that the appliances worked for her.

            Even though she was in a wheelchair, they still enjoyed going to the theatre and to concerts together. 
            But in order to get her into and out of the car, and into places, he needed to carry  her.  
            From the car to the wheelchair, from the wheelchair to her seat.  And so all of those years – in this bent over man – I was seeing the fruit of love.  
            Only I hadn’t trained my eyes to notice.

            A personal God is active and moving in this world…

            The fruit of the Spirit is love.  Where have you seen it?   Where have you seen God?

            Go out and look for him this week…. 
            
            And then come back to witness to his power.
            Amen

Monday, June 17, 2019

Hand Motions

Yesterday was Holy Trinity Sunday at my congregation, the Sunday we make special recognition of the name of the one whom we invoke every single week:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

So, among the songs we sang about the Trinity, was this simple one:

Father, I adore You
Lay my life before You
How I love you.

I sing this song at the pre-school connected with the church sometimes.  It is simple enough to learn, even though the concept is too hard for pre-school children to grasp.  We learn the simple words, and we also learn some hand motions.

Come to think of it, every single song I sing with pre-school children has hand motions.  

Usually on Sunday morning we do not use hand motions.  We sing complicated songs with a lot of words, some of them hard:  words like "Trinity" or "Immortal" or "cherubim".  So on Sunday morning we were singing a song much simpler than our usual fare.

I decided to teach the congregation the hand motions too.

Why do I do hand motions with the children at the pre-school?  I can't say that I have thought about it very deeply.  It's just something you do.  Children need to learn not just with their eyes, and not just with their voices, but also with their hands and their feet.  Learning is active.  Learning is a whole-body experience.

I like to think that worship is a whole-body experience too, but when I think about it, I realize that a large part of it is learning to sit still and pay attention.  Sitting still does not seem very whole-body, although it is an important thing to learn to do.  It is also (and even more so) very important to learn to pay attention -- not just for an hour or two on Sunday -- but in every part of our life.

I learned well how to sit still in church.  And there were times when this skill was very helpful.  I was a good student.  I knew how to listen to the teacher.  There are times when sitting still is very important.

But I confess that sometimes I think I learned that lesson too well.  I was so good at sitting still, that I was afraid to get up.  If I sit still, I thought, I can't get into trouble.   Not getting into trouble became the point.

But sometimes faith calls us to get into trouble.  Sometimes faith even calls us to make a ruckus.  How do we learn that?  How do we learn that there is a time to sit still and listen, and there is a time to stand up and do something?  There is a time to walk right over to the wounded man by the side of the road in Jericho and help him.  There is a time to stand up and say something is wrong.  There is a time to use your hands and your feet and your whole body to worship God.  There is a time to stretch out your hand to help, to comfort, to heal, even to raise a fist.  There is a time to do the hand motions, to use your whole body to worship God, to follow Jesus.

Hand motions.

Jesus, we adore you.  Lay our lives before you.

Our whole lives:  hands, feet, voices, shoulders and knees, eyes and ears.  Our beating hearts.