Recognition

This past Sunday a group from the church and I headed to Cambridge Common where Rev. Jed Mannis and the staff of Outdoor Church host weekly communion services for the homeless.

We’d made about 90 sandwiches for distribution among the burgeoning homeless population, a small effort amid a growing crisis. A higher-than-usual number of teens from the suburbs are on the streets at the moment. Many may head home come October, when the weather turns cooler, but for the time being they find themselves vulnerable to malnutrition and other physical and mental abuses.

Not one of these young homeless folks attended worship and only two older, chronically homeless, individuals joined in. One, an elderly man, read the scripture from Matthew about Jesus feeding the 5,000. I felt awkward given the topic.

Shortly after the service a couple of folks materialized from the shady spots on the Common and approached the mobile altar. It’s a trolley beneath which are kept bags of sandwiches, socks, and hygiene kits. A woman wearing a bright pink dress and a cast around her wrist politely asked for a few sandwiches for her friends who were tending to a man who couldn’t stand.

As she looked us suburban church folks over, she told K (one of our group) that she looked familiar. “You do too,” K responded. She asked for the homeless woman’s name. In an instant, recognition dawned on their faces and grace exploded onto the scene as they walked toward each other with open arms. They embraced. They had been childhood friends in the same neighborhood.

In that moment I realized how much more we’d brought than our seemingly insignificant offering of sandwiches. We placed ourselves in a position to see and recognize our homeless neighbors, folks who are so often overlooked and despised even by those who toss a coin at them.

I remembered an editor I’d worked with here in Boston who demonstrated how he stepped over the homeless. His overstuffed belly threw him off balance. I thought of Congress mired in rancorous debate about the debt ceiling, one sticking point being funding for programs that serve the most vulnerable in society.

But there we were on a sunny Sunday afternoon, meeting our homeless sisters and brothers face to face, sharing the Eucharist, and handing out sandwiches soft enough for loose teeth to sink into. More than this we offered recognition made all the more powerful by an embrace and the merging of stories across the divides of time and privilege.

Holy Week 2011: Moment by Moment

It seems that I often live a week, month, or even year ahead of the present moment. You may do this, too. I’m constantly conspiring, seeking ways to enrich the lives of the beautiful souls who entrust their spiritual care to me and also the countless others I feel compelled to reach with the Good News of Jesus. So it is that in the fifth week of Lent I find myself preparing for Holy Week with an eye set on Easter and the season beyond. The promise of summer rest is seductive.

With all that’s going on in the world and in our lives, it can be difficult to settle into the moment at hand. It’s hard to be at rest in the beauty of a second. Yet this very second, this moment, as fleeting as it is, is all any of us truly has. The past and the future are beyond our control.

I take a breath, inhaling the cool rainy air streaming through my study window. Cars are rushing on High Street. The air is punctuated by a Harley’s drone. A lone bird chirps in a budding tree, no longer drowned out. Such is this moment. And, of course, I’m writing to you.

How very important it is for each of us to learn to appreciate the moment at hand. I wonder how Jesus lived his moments? I wonder how Jesus looked upon the world and what he saw? I wonder what he heard and how he listened? I wonder how he perceived the beauty in the landscape and the goodness in everyone around him? Oh to see and listen and perceive as Jesus did in this moment.

As we enter Holy Week and remember our beautiful Savoir giving every last breath for us, perhaps we could strive to live more fully in each moment. Let us in each moment be mindful of Jesus and strive to see the world and all we encounter as Jesus would. I imagine soft eyes, a gentle word, a knowing gaze, and belly wrenching laughter.

What beauty! What promise! What peace, even in the face of a violent and unforgiving world that seeks to snuff out all goodness.
The only thing any of us truly has power over is the way we live a moment, the hope we see, the Godliness we perceive, the love we invest in it.

Holy Week offers us an opportunity to remember the love Jesus has for each of us and all creation. It is an opportunity to pause, to wait, to expect, and to remember a love so great it conquered death. In gratitude to our Savoir, let us live each moment this week in a way that echoes the life of our meek and lovely Jesus.

Lent: Blessed be the ties that bind

It’s March. It’s late summer in the southern hemisphere. I can still see my childhood home baking in the noon-day sun. A turtle dove coos halfheartedly high in a tree somewhere while Bowser our Boxer-Ridgeback offers a less-than-enthusiastic woof in return. The red earth is hard and the short grass tan. It’s not as hot as it’s been, but make no mistake: it is hot. The evenings begin to carry a coolness on the breeze; the promise of Autumn crispness invigorates the early mornings. It’s the best time to be out on a run.
This March scene may elude the imagination of a New Englander, for whom a less than warm day proclaims the promise of spring. Winter’s chill lingers even as the snow recedes and rivers rise. Sustaining warm days are months away, but cardinals and sparrows and the cheeky jesters of the bird kingdom, the mockingbirds, rejoice in the blessings of a new day.
These images of south and north seem a world apart, and in some respects they truly are. Yet even now there is a season that profoundly binds them together. It’s called Lent. Lent is the 40-day stretch from Ash Wednesday to the glorious miracle of Easter. Lent is a time for introspection and repentance, a time to fast and a time to prepare. The word at its Latin origin means spring, and belies the northern-centered nature of early Christianity and, mournfully, the pervading self-centered views of many Christians in the northern hemisphere.
It is indeed a great gift to experience Lent in the north, where the promise of resurrection can be seen in the crocus, lily and daffodil. The whole earth comes to life under one’s feet. Creeks, rivers, and ponds swell, cleansing and replenishing, sustaining and energizing. Sunny days warm the air and make spirits bright. The earth softens and the ground thaws and soon farmers will till the soil.
But what about Lent at a time of autumn?
I cast my memory back to shortening days and longer nights, the foreboding of very cold dark hours. Searing summer heat gives way to replenishing coolness and the promise of comfortable days. Late-afternoon thundershowers, diminishing in frequency, turn tan to green and soften the earth just enough for winter blooms to start their journey toward bright sunlight. It’s a time of harvest and thanksgiving for the bounty of the earth. Animal life increases its activity, and the world is abuzz with the hum of insects spreading pollen in expectation that the pending winter will give way to spring.
Christianity, a dizzying array of traditions and churches, spans the globe. Yet it’s easy to become focused on just one place and way. Let us be mindful this Lent that the world is wide and that our brothers and sisters in the faith span the globe. Let us consider the beauty and meaning of Lent as spring, but also Lent as autumn. We should celebrate the mystery of God’s love, revealed in the life of God’s own Son, Jesus the Christ, given for the whole world, equally. In the words of the hymn: “Blessed be the ties that bind our hearts in Christian Love; the fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above.”

Let Freedom Ring

As Egyptians continue to take to the streets demanding their president’s resignation, I can’t help but think of Dr. King’s statement, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but bends toward justice.” How phenomenal it is to witness citizens of another Arab League state demanding freedom.

It’s tragic that Mr. Mubarak does not get it and I wonder if he ever will. How can he not understand that dissolving his cabinet and single-handedly appointing new leadership is the very abuse of power that his citizens are protesting?

Perhaps more remarkable is the report on Al Jazeera this morning that soldiers deployed on the streets are not interfering with the protests but have, in fact, intervened to prevent police from firing on protesters. The Guardian quotes an Associated Press Report of an Army captain joining the protesters. (See the Guardian’s running blog.) Sadly, reports of violent clashes and police firing on crowds persist. The prospect of a bloodbath looms large. Reports of deaths range widely from 32 to over 70 and will only rise.

Following on the coat tails of the revolution in Tunisia, despots everywhere should be quaking in their boots. News spreads fast in the Internet age. It’s little surprise that Egypt blocked its cell network and Internet access and that China is reportedly blocking references to Egypt on social networking sites.

The US administration is now confronted with its most significant foreign policy dilemma in years. How do you remain a close ally of a country whose dictatorial leaders is poised to quell a popular democratic uprising? Egypt’s military receives more than $1 billion a year in aid from the US. How will the United States be able to continue to fund a military that turns on its own people? I concur wholeheartedly with the Washington Post editorial calling on the administration to “prepare for the peaceful implementation of the opposition platform…. And it should be telling the Egyptian army, with no qualification, that the violent suppression of the uprising will rupture its relationship with the United States.”

We’re living in an extraordinary moment. First Tunisia, now Egypt. Free people everywhere should rise in solidarity with the people of Egypt and call on our governments to support democracy in Egypt. I am invigorated by the courage of the Egyptian protesters who have risen in the face of a brutal opponent. Indeed, I pray that their cause will meet success and that they too will live in a free and democratic society where the voice of the populace matters. The arc of the moral universe is, indeed, long, but bends toward justice. I might add that the arc of human desire is long, but bends toward freedom. Let freedom ring.

From Institutions to Movement

No topic captivates me more these days than church revitalization. Ahead of my congregation’s annual meeting at which we’ll set the agenda for 2011, I’ve thought much about ideas shared by Brian McLaren during the annual Woodbury Workshop at Andover Newton Theological School last year.

In his keynote address, McLaren made an excellent point about the future of the church, distinguished between the church as institution and movement. An institution, he said, exists to preserve past gains. A movement brings new gains to institutions.

At the risk of oversimplifying 2,000 years of history, what we today think of as the church morphed from diverse grassroots movements following the way of Jesus the Christ into the galaxy of institutions with their intricate structures we know today. In many churches what should be the primary goal of spreading the Good News has given way to a need to self preservation and upholding the accompanying power structures.

In this scenario the future of many churches seems awfully bleak. It’s little wonder that many mainline churches have lost hundreds or thousands of members over the past several decades while the Pentecostal and Evangelical movements are growing at such a rapid pace. Many of us have become mired in upholding archaic infrastructure that can so often enervate and distract gifted and earnest Christians.

Our challenge is to once again capture the essence of the Jesus movement. We need to transform from institutions focused on self preservation into a movement that embraces the purpose, freedom, and beauty that Christ Jesus offers.

In Movements that Change the World, Steve Addison provides five characteristics of movements: white hot faith, commitment to a cause, contagious relationships, rapid mobilization, and adaptive methods. Each of these requires active participation and a humble willingness on the part of each participant in a church to work for the glory of God. It requires a willingness to set aside willful pride and to embrace the joys and costs of discipleship.

One of my mentors distinguishes between “churchains” and Christians, and I suspect that by regaining the language and momentum of movement, revitalization and growth will naturally follow.

Talkin’ about a revolution

It didn’t take long after Saturday’s shooting in Arizona for speculation about the motive to surface. Since a Democrat was the target, so the thought went, the assassin surely was a Tea Party Republican or at least fell under Sarah Palin’s (or should that have been Christine O’Donnell’s) spell. Many of my progressive FBFs (Facebook friends) were quick off the mark to place the blame with the “other side,” citing the vicious attacks of the most recent campaign season. I thought at the time that some might be a little red-faced when the shooter’s state of mind and motivation became known.

In spite of my caution around pointing the finger at a particular party or group, I can’t help but feel that the tone set by the nation’s political leaders must have an impact on ordinary citizens. The whole idea behind attack ads is to penetrate deeply into the psyches of voters and elicit knee-jerk emotional responses against an opponent. If you’re not intentionally on your guard against such negativity and vitriol, it can easily stick. And let’s face it: it’s not just one party or group that is to blame for these ads and the airing of rancorous sentiment. Supporters of candidates for both parties stoop to such tactics.

We may never know the extent, if any, to which attack ads or the invective of politicians and their supporters added to the murderer’s motives, yet it seems reasonable to call a time out and question how much longer we will tolerate aggressive ad hominem attacks in public discourse. In a society that ascribes, at least in name, to Judeo-Christian values what has become of the commandment to not bear false witness (the 9th)? What has become of Jesus’ invitation to love your neighbor as you love yourself? Why is it that good people of faith feel that in the political realm Christian ethics are no longer applicable? Is this the intention behind the separation of church and state? I think not. Is this an outcome of the separation of church and state? Again, I think not for to agree would be hubris and comes too close to making the church an idol.

Basic principles of kindness, truthfulness, and respect – the values we should want to pass on to future generations – need to be modeled by public servants. The time has come for concerned citizens to stand up for what is right and be counted among the growing numbers of people who are dissatisfied with the extent of invective in politics. In such a rising the means and the ends are dearly intertwined. Kindness, truthfulness, and respect need at every point to be modeled. It’s time for a revolution in the way we live into our ethics. The time for action has come. No less than the very best we have to offer has to be given. We have a tremendous opportunity in this moment of questioning to begin to make meaningful change – change we really can depend on.

Advent Devotion: Poverty of Spirit

The theme of last Wednesday evening’s Commune service was poverty of spirit. I focused the group’s attention on the Beatitude: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 5:4) It was an exploration of the posture that allows openness to God, whose presence can seem elusive, unnecessary or, when felt, may be surprising and unsettling. One of the questions for me this Advent has been how can we as believers open ourselves to receive God if we already have everything we need? How can we receive God’s love if our hearts are puffed up with our self importance? How can we truly know God when our stuff gets in the way? The words of the martyr Archbishop Oscar Romero, discovered in a book of Advent devotions, are enlightening:

No one can celebrate a genuine Christmas without being truly poor. The self-sufficient, the proud, those who, because they have everything, look down on others, those who have no need even of God – for them there will be no Christmas. Only the poor, the hungry, those who need someone to come on their behalf, will have that someone. That someone is God. Emmanuel. God-with-us. Without poverty of spirit there can be no abundance of God.

We need to become poor in spirit. Perhaps the most effective way to do so is to live in solidarity with the poor of this world, those who do not have the material resources most of us do. Let us never forget that our savior was born in a stable, became a refugee (remember the flight to Egypt), and lived his life in such a way that material possessions did not get in the way of his ministry (the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head).

There’s a danger in our consumerist society to deceive ourselves into thinking that the Christian way does not require poverty. So let us seek this Christmas above all an orientation within ourselves that enables us to receive God’s overflowing love for us. God steals into the world to be with us and within in us, so let us prepare to open our lives in meaningful ways to receive the blessings of God’s love. Let us strive to become truly poor in spirit.

Reflection on Permission and Forgiveness

It was at a recent ordination that I again heard the words, “it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission.” I don’t know what’s more troubling, that the phrase is frequently heard in the context of ministry (in this case an ordination sermon) or the chuckles that tittered through the congregation, most notably the clergy perched in the two front rows. There seems to be a frustration among clergy stifled by their congregations that to get anything done in the church constructive engagement with and leadership of the congregation needs to be avoided and a glib apology offered when the reaction comes as it inevitably will. It may well be easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission. It may be easier, but it’s not right.
The problem for me lies in the consequences of such an attitude on the interpersonal relationships and the covenant that form the basis of community life, especially in our Congregationalist tradition. By dismissing the “other” at the outset, a pastor who acts knowing that apology will be necessary is undermining the mutuality and reciprocity that should characterize interpersonal relationships in the church.
In terms of mutuality, it may be that some ministers feel their congregations are so stubbornly unwilling to follow their wise proposals and prayerful advice that they need to go behind their backs to get anything done. This could stem from (mis)perceptions on the part of congregations about the meaning of congregational autonomy and the authority implicit in ordained ministry. It signals a crisis of leadership or, more to the point, a pitiful lack thereof.
I’ll offer a working definition of leadership as the art of exercising influence to achieve specific goals and objectives. Many clergy, it seems, are ill equipped to offer effective leadership in congregations and our seminaries and judicatories aren’t doing much to help. This seems troubling in light of the numerous examples of effective leadership for good or ill in the scriptures, the tradition, and our churches and society today. Let’s also not forget the obvious roles ascribed in scriptures for the leaders of the priesthood of all believers.
Mutuality and reciprocity are undermined when the ordained leader of a congregation (or any lay leader or community member) resorts to clandestine actions that will require apology to impose their will on the congregation. This implies a basic disrespect for the other and does not reflect the attitude of respect based in genuine love that one might expect in a community following the way of Jesus Christ. It tears apart the fabric of the congregation and leaves the covenant in tatters.
The covenant acknowledges Christ alone as the Head of the Church and challenges the notion (prevalent in some traditions) of centralized authority that can impose doctrine or form of worship on the congregation. The covenantal tradition seeks to honor each and every member as created in the image and likeness of God through whom the Holy Spirit may work at any time. It’s the reason there’s space for both discernment and authentic democratic practices in our congregations.
Without encouraging discernment and communal conversations around important issues, a pastor who seeks merely to ask forgiveness ex post facto is doing more harm than good.
Of course there are times (possibly plenty of them) when discernment and community conversations around important issues do not lead in appropriate directions and the pastor’s prophetic voice needs to be heralded more acutely. Drawing on principles of mutuality and reciprocity, invoking the covenant and ensuring education around it, while standing her/his ground, the pastor can bless the community with insights and opportunities previously unimaginable to many congregants.
This may take more work and firm stands, but at least it’s out in the open. On the other hand, making decisions and then asking forgiveness will merely serve to affirm power imbalances that would seek to perpetuate attitudes that require pastors to seek permission. Rather than seeking permission, the pastor should seek the buy in of the congregation and respect the inherent value of the each individual and the gathered body.

First Sunday of Advent Sermon

Here’s a copy of my most recent sermon. The texts were in keeping with the Revised Common Lectionary: Isaiah 2:1-5 and Matthew 24:36-44. I’ll get the audio up soon, too.

Please pray with me: Guide us, O God, by your Word and Spirit, that in your light we may see light, in your truth find wisdom, and in your will discover your peace, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

I.
It’s the first Sunday of Advent, the liturgical season of wonder and waiting, watching and preparing. In just a few short weeks we’ll gather here in the Sanctuary and sing old familiar carols, pass a candle’s flame from one to another, and retell the old, old story that has enchanted so many for thousands of years. Some of us may already have decorated Christmas trees and adorned the outsides of our houses with hundreds of little lights. Driving home after dinner with friends on Friday night I was amazed to see how many houses are already lit up.
It’s that time of year when many of us run around like frenetic, feeding hens, rushing from one venue to the next: from choir rehearsal, to Christmas party, to work, to pick up the kids, to the mall, to a coffee shop for an eggnog late, to a Hallmark store, to the Post Office, to the market, to the church … I think you get the picture. On an emotional level many of us become sentimental, remembering the joys of Advents past, joys experienced in the good years and, maybe especially, the not-so-good years. It’s that time of year when many of us turn inwardly and remember loved ones who are no longer with us or who live thousands of miles away. It’s a time when we look both forward to Christmas and back, back to Advents past, back to Christmases past, and back, way back to the events that started it all. It’s as if we live right between times.
Actually, it was Karl Barth, the distinguished 20th Century theologian, who coined the phrase. He said literally that we as Christians live “between the times.” We find our lives bracketed by events of a past time and the promise of wondrous events in the future.
II.
We find ourselves on the one hand looking back through the lenses of our lives, our cultures, our educations, our religious upbringings, the pillars on which our worldviews are constructed, to places and times of tremendous significance for us as people of faith, the Christian faithful. At this time of year especially we cast our mind’s eye back, way back through historical time and across geographical and cultural expanses to the Ancient Near East, to that part of the world today known as Israel and the Occupied Territories. And we remember the fulfillment of promises made by prophets like Isaiah of a Messiah to be born – a Messiah who was born to Mary in a stable in the town of Bethlehem.
And as our texts today reminds us, we also look forward, and not just until Christmas Eve and Christmas Day when all our hustle and bustle pays off (we hope!). Isaiah describes a time “in the days to come” when “the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains …. All the nations shall stream to it.” It will be a time when God will “judge between the nations (notice how it says God will judge between nations and not just judge nations), and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”
This is such a beautiful and comforting passage. It promises that, in the words of one commentator, “regardless of where power seems to lie in the present, the day is coming when God’s reign will be established for all humankind to see. God’s dwelling on Mount Zion will be central and elevated over all other claims to prominence or power.”(1) Isaiah promises a day when God will judge disputes between nations and arbitrate for many peoples; people who have been oppressed and marginalized will finally find justice. Instruments of war will be transformed into instruments for tilling the earth and cultivating food, food that will be distributed to those who are hungry. Isaiah foresees the advent of an era of peace with justice, the very peace with justice that God in Jesus heralded.
It’s the kind of peace with justice that so threatened the powers of this world that they sought to snuff it out by killing Jesus. Because of their attempt we enter through the doorway of Advent into the season of Christmas, knowing full well that Jesus’ birth takes on renewed significance in light of his death on the cross and, above all, his resurrection. Perhaps it is for this reason that the early church did not celebrate Jesus’ birth for a few hundred years even though it celebrated Easter all along. Saint Augustine acknowledged that, “The day of the Lord’s birth does not possess a sacramental character. It is only a recalling of the fact that he was born.”(2) Indeed, Jesus himself looked beyond his present and, in our Gospel reading from Matthew, spoke of the coming of the Son of Man.
III.
This coming is known as the Parousia, the Second Coming, the Eschaton, and it commands the imaginations of so many Christians in our own age. On the Internet there are dooms day calculators. Watching world events such as the formation of the State of Israel, famines, epidemics, earthquakes, and wars some have offered precise dates … all of which have proven rather inaccurate. At present many Christians and folks from other traditions or no tradition are captivated by the year 2012 as the year the earth as we know it will come to an end, some believing that a millennium of peace will finally be ushered in. Of course, as the movie 2012 showed, this peace will follow a major unpleasant environmental apocalypse. As well meaning as these souls who seek to warn us of impending doom can be, they clearly have not taken full account of the Gospel text before us today. Jesus says: “But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” He points to the days of Noah, when people went about their business with not a care for the motivations behind their actions or the consequences of their actions, to indicate that only the prepared – Noah and his family – were ready. Of course, this cannot be the kind of end for which Advent is preparing us. Far from it! We acknowledge God’s own covenant with Noah in Genesis that never again will such violence be unleashed. Remember the significance of the rainbow? Through the prophets and, above all, Jesus and the Apostle Paul we have grown in our understanding of God’s grace and agape self-giving love.
In her wonderful book The Liturgical Year, Joan Chittister writes: “The next coming to which Advent calls our attention is a coming greater than the simple fact of human birth. This is the coming of the presence of God recognized among us now in the Scripture, in the Eucharist, in the community itself. This coming makes Jesus present in our own lives, eternally enlivening, eternally with us.”(3) Rather than being fixated on a definite future date, a specific date of a specific calamity or “rapture,” Chittister says that the next coming is the presence of God recognized among us now. Let me say that again: the next coming is the presence of God recognized among us now. What would it look like if we lived our lives as if this second coming were unfolding in the present moment? How might we act if this second coming were happening right now? What would it mean for the vocations we choose, the way we spend our spare time, the way we talk about others, the we treat others, the way we react to Boston drivers, the way we share our meals with others? Do we really need threats of hellfire and damnation, promises of an apocalypse to wake us from run of the mill lives? Or can we simply respond to the presence of God recognized among us now in Scripture, in the Eucharist, in the community itself?
IV.
We could go into much detail about what a specific, once-off event might look like. We could draw on John’s vivid description in Revelations and on the Left Behind series. We can study web page after web page, sermon after sermon, and disaster movie after disaster movie. Would it not be better for us to instead turn our imaginings to the very present reality of the blessings that flow from living as if God is among us now, as if this is the moment when our actions and attitudes matter? Isaiah describes how the mountain of the Lord’s house will be the highest mountain and that the nations and peoples of our earth will stream to it. What if through our actions and attitudes and love for one another and all humankind people came to see just how magnificent God is? What if we played our part in streaming toward that mountain? Isaiah speaks of a time of fairness, of peace with justice. What if we were to hold ourselves accountable rather than judge others? What if we were to keep awake, attending to our own spiritual growth, and working for peace with justice? What if we were to keep awake and notice the signs of our times, the signs of Christ among us, working in us and through us? Just imagine the blessings we will become and the blessings we will receive.
This Advent, let us keep awake and not just so that we may accomplish all the mundane holiday tasks that lie ahead of us. But let us keep awake and watchful for God in our midst, for God before us, God behind us, God around us, God above us, and God beneath us. Let us live as if it matters now how we tend our hearts and minds, how we treat others and ourselves and the earth. Let us live in such a way that we can see and rest in the presence of God recognized among us now.
Please pray with me: Holy One, may we this Advent come to know your presence among us now through scripture, the Eucharist, and in community. Help each of us to keep awake and watchful so that we may be witnesses to the rising mountain of your house and that our lives may be part of that steady stream flowing toward you. We pray all of this in the name of the one for whom we watch and wait and keep awake, Jesus the Christ, Amen.

References:
(1) Bruce C. Birch, Feasting on the Word, Year A, Volume 1, page 5
(2) Saint Augustine quoted by Joan Chittister in The Liturgical Year: the spiraling adventure of the spiritual life, Thomas Nelson: Nashville, 2009. Page 65
(3) Joan Chittister in The Liturgical Year: the spiraling adventure of the spiritual life, page 65