Monday, June 28, 2010

The Fifth Sunday After Pentecost, Year C June 27,2010
Do You Want To Be My Disciple The Reverend Dr. Howard J. Hess

I. Introduction: Do you want to be my disciple? Listen, because I will tell you how to do that. And in today’s Gospel Jesus does just that. He made far-reaching demands upon those who expressed an interest in following him. These demands might sound harsh to our ears: those who follow me will have no homes, will not be allowed to go home and bury their dead, and will not be able to say good-bye to their families before they leave. Some time ago, I had thought that Jesus needed a PR person, someone who could help him sort out how to interest new disciples and clinch the deal before they changed their minds. Throughout his ministry, Jesus was never interested in marketing. Instead, he approached discipleship with a clear message about how his disciples’ lives will be changed. Because of the cost of discipleship, many of his prospects never followed through.

Was Jesus being foolhardy or did Jesus understand something about Christian discipleship that has become blurry for many of us? I think the shortcoming, if we want to think about it that way, is with our understanding of his message, not with the message itself. The church has often become a social institution with many different branches, all of which require administrative resources, buildings that need to be maintained, and salaries that need to be paid. Some believe that the church in the west has become in fact so concerned with its survival that at times the message of Christ has been diluted so that it will appeal to a larger number of potential supporters. The tougher parts of Jesus' requirements of us, his followers, can be de-emphasized in order not to make us too uncomfortable. It's so much easier to “market” a loving, forgiving, smiling Jesus than a Jesus who expects us to change our priorities and to be faithful. But in today’s Gospel, Jesus is not into marketing, he's into truth telling.
II. Luke tells us that Jesus had “set his face to go to Jerusalem.” By this Luke meant that Jesus was moving toward his passion with all the anguish and suffering that this would entail. Furthermore, he had just been rejected by a village of upstart Samaritans. We would not call this a good day. It's most likely a day that Jesus could have used some extra support. In spite of this context, Jesus alienated would-be supporters by emphasizing the commitment required of anyone who would follow him. Why do you think he would make such a set of demanding statements? I believe that the explanation comes in the final sentence of today's Lukan passage: “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” I don't know a lot about plowing, and in fact have never plowed even one row, but I am told that if one looks behind as he or she is breaking the ground, the furrows will be crooked and unusable.

Jesus has given us this metaphor for our spiritual lives. Unless we can focus our whole attention on looking forward to our lives as disciples of Christ, our discipleship will be deeply compromised. When we look behind us, we hang onto the past rather than giving our full commitment to our present and future relationship with Christ. All of us have desires, fears, anger, or insecurities that can prevent us from making full faith commitments. The truth of Christianity is that being Jesus’ disciple demands that we open ourselves to the experience of continuing conversion in whatever form it enters into our lives and changes us. And it demands that we be willing to become new creatures, leaving the old behind and assuming the mind of Christ.

II. Let me give you an example. One of the things that calls me to look behind myself is my father’s very strong message to me to be successful and thereby in his eyes, insure my security. On Friday I began my day with a devotional from “Song of The Seed” by Macrina Wiederkehr. Each reading includes a passage from Scripture. Friday's was the story about Jesus' conversation with the rich young man in Matthew 19. Do you remember? Jesus told him to give all his wealth away and then he could follow Jesus. The young man went away crestfallen. I realized as I prayed how directly that passage relates to me. Jesus knew that this young man had such an attachment to his wealth and to the security it afforded him, that there was insufficient room in his heart to make the complete commitment that would have been required to follow Christ. Jesus had asked him to give away his excess baggage, so that he could be freed up to become a new person in Christ.

How did I come to understand that this applied to me? My parents were children of the Depression. They both knew what it meant to be really hungry. They saved every bit of food that was left after a meal and used things as many times as they could. My father drilled into my head that I had to succeed. He had had one year of law school and had to drop out because his family could no longer afford the tuition. He always regretted that he had not become a lawyer. But for me, his son, it had to be different. I had to work as hard as I could and succeed at all costs. Family therapists might say that I was designated to carry his unfulfilled dream unto the next generation. The power of that dream was strong and has exerted itself in both expected and unexpected ways. I've felt that pressure in graduate school, in teaching, in grant writing, and in tenure reviews. The most surprising place I encountered my father’s voice was as I went through the formation process for ordination. The advice repeatedly given to me was to become a weekend priest, so that I could hold on to my university tenure and security. I recall one meeting in which someone told me it would be foolish to become a full-time priest. As Peg knows, I struggled with those voices and the disappointment I believed my father, who was no longer living, would have felt at my decision to give up my security.
It was my intention that upon entering the priesthood, that I would lay that dream and burden of success and security to rest. But it requires great spiritual discipline to do so. There are still times when I feel the pull to succeed for the sake of success – for example, to help lead a church I'm serving in to grow numerically and financially. Now these are not bad things, any more than the rich young man's wealth was a bad thing. But Jesus could see that wealth was a stumbling block for the rich young ruler. My desires for success in the world's eyes were part of my parents' legacy. But whenever I place a desire for success ahead of truthfully preaching and living the gospel, then I can no longer function as an effective disciple, let alone a good priest. Based on my own experience, I know that even when with God’s help, we overcome the stumbling blocks on our path to disciplineship, the very same temptations will confront us again.

III. I have come to understand that each of us has certain issues, desires, or concerns in our lives that hold power for us. It could be a preoccupation with family concerns, fear about stepping out in new ways, a need for control, an addiction, or a need to please others. It could be a need to be appreciated. It could be a need to be right. It could be an old hurt that we cannot let go of or even a disappointment about how our lives have turned out. This is my question for each of us this morning: what might be holding us back from moving whole-heartedly into Christian discipleship? There is a core truth about Christian faith in today's lectionary readings: Christianity is not a casual religion. One can be a part of a church and participate in religious activities, but that is not synonymous with living a vibrant Christian life.

IV. Authentic Christian faith experiences come out of listening to the voice of Christ and committing ourselves to new life in him. Anything short of that leaves us in the crowd, listening to Jesus, but not walking beside him. This week we experienced one of the powerful miracles that occur when we keep our eyes on Christ, moving forward with him. I share this with permission. One of our parishioners, Emily Coco, has felt called by God to go to Madagascar and reached out to family and friends to independently raise the necessary funds. The magnitude of the challenge was huge and it appeared that Emily would not be able to raise enough to go. She was discouraged, but had not given up. We were scheduled to meet this week to consider her going at a later time. The night before we met, a family who had heard about Emily’s faithfulness to her call made an anonymous gift of $1,500 to help cover her airfare. Emily and I were amazed at the generosity of this gift and at God's timing. Including the money from a piggy bank that someone had donated, with this gift God provided the cost of the roundtrip ticket to Madagascar with $4 to spare.

We are called to follow Jesus Christ. It is our human nature to hesitate and to look back. Christ calls us instead to a relationship of commitment and dependence upon him. It is not a relationship that makes sense to many in the world around us, but our eyes are not to be upon others. I invite us all into an examination of conscience, a time-honored Christian practice, to consider whether we are giving our complete selves to Christ or whether we are holding back and turning away from him. The miracles, the joys, and the peace that are associated with whole-hearted discipleship are well worth all that we are asked to leave behind. Thanks be to God. Amen

Monday, June 21, 2010

"Happy Father's Day", Sermon of Rev. Mary Lee Bergeron, 6/20/10

God of hope before us, God of healing within us, God of mercy above us, Come be with us. Amen
Ps.42, 1 kings 19:1-15a, Galatians 3:23-39 and Luke 8:26-39

Happy Father’s Day. Our three sons always enjoyed preparing gifts for their Dad on Father’s Day. Often when they were young the gifts were home made – the kind one treasures – pictures drawn by them of their Dad at playing ball with them or helping them in some way or sometimes they wrote stories and poems.

Fathers are important to their own children and to those other children who need their attention; such as Boy Scouts or church youth groups or helping young people go on mission trips. I like a prayer I saw recently concerning Father’s Day. God bless all the fathers in the world. Guide them to be good role models and loving to all their children. Help them to be a father like You are. Give them grace and patience to handle situations in a loving way.

My father was an important example for me. He was a Baptist minister. I learned a lot of pastoral care skills from him just by tagging along with him as he visited the church members and people in the community. Another gift from him was learning to love all denominations and all faiths and really to be open to all people regardless of their circumstances.

I watched Dad as he lived through a difficult time when my mother had cancer which finally caused her death and later I watched and loved him as he dealt with Alzheimer’s Disease. Yes, in the beginning of the disease he was frightened and knew something was wrong. As the disease progressed he started living in a care facility and he became very comfortable. He lived in an imaginary world in his mind. When I would visit he would tell me of a trip he had made to England and give in detail his visit with the Queen who he said was going to visit him that year.

Once he told me he had been in Rome. While there he had visited the Pope who had agreed to come to preach at First Baptist Church when he came to the United States. As he shared these stories his eyes would sparkle and the story would grow. Now of course he had not ever traveled to England or Rome except in his mind. I was glad he had those escapes from the present.

Our fathers with their strengths and their weaknesses are part of who we are and who we celebrate on this day. Their past and the experiences they shared or share with us guide us on our journeys.

We learn new ways to deal with life from those we love and from those we read and study about in our scripture. Today our lesson from 1st Kings gives us several ways to respond to fear. In this passage Elijah, the prophet, appears in Gilead clothed in a garment of hair, wearing a leather girdle and impressing all with his strength. However, he gets in trouble with Ahab the King of Israel and the husband of Jezebel, both who worship Baal as Lord of the Earth. Elijah does the unforgivable; he denounces Baal, condemns, mocks and later kills the prophets of Baal. In other words he silences them. This does not go over well with King Ahab or Jezebel. She sends a message to Elijah saying that he will be killed. He runs for his life into the wilderness.. Finally exhausted Elijah falls under a broom tree asking God just to let him die.

Yet, there he encounters an angel who touches and feeds him, gives him water and sends him on his way. After 40 days and nights of wandering lost in the wilderness Elijah comes to the mount of God and to a cave where he finds shelter.

In the cave Elijah hears the words of the Lord and shares his fears of the Israelite Jezebel who seeks to kill him. The Lord tells Elijah, “Go forth and stand up on the mount before the Lord so you can see the Lord pass by. Now Elijah has to look for and to seek God. He looks for God in the wind, in the earthquake and in fire…but God is not there.

: Have you ever, when confused and scared looked and searched for God and felt that you could not connect. Then you understand how frightened Elijah is. Elijah grows more fearful and is about ready to give up. But wait, something happens

. For Elijah what happens next is that all noise ceases even the voice of fear.. There is total silence. In the midst of that silence Elijah is able to hear a still small voice; God’s voice and to talk with God about his fears and confusion. God then sends Elijah back through the wilderness to his life with a job to do and Elijah goes.

Sitting here in the Church of the Ascension in 2010 this biblical story may seem very removed from your life. Yet think of the turmoil’s we encounter daily. We hear of international crises and our own recent calamity, the oil spill in the Gulf. That saddens us as we reflect on the pain of the people, the loss and injury to the sea animals and the damage to the beautiful marshes and shores.

Then we all have or know others we love who have personal crises. Most of us are extremely busy and get probably will get busier. we are in constant contact with others, through email, text messaging, blogs, cell phone and land phone calls, pagers., meetings and information from meetings, newspapers, computer, T.V. and radio. And yes, then there are those lists that we have of things to do.

So it is hard for us in our time to find a moment,a time or a space or place to be quiet; to talk with God and most also to in silence listen and be comforted and like Elijah, be led by God.

Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury in his book, Where God Happens, examines the ancient wisdom of the Desert Fathers and points out the relevance of their teaching for Christian spirituality today. In the early monastics search for the experience of God he finds new and deeper faith for our postmodern world. That means us.

There are many ways for us to find those times. We can go to the mountains, retreats, spend time in monasteries in prayer, attend meditation classes or the meditations here on Wednesdays. I find sitting, watching the birds to be a time of quietness and listening. A time of letting go of fears and troubles. I also find that reflecting and meditating in silence on dreams are ways to hear God’s guidance.

Our Gospel reading tells us of Jesus healing a man who has demons or perhaps in our day we would say a mental illness. He was afraid like Elijah and like Elijah he seeks help. Jesus heals him of all the voices inside – calms him for you see when these voices are silenced in him he finally hears Jesus - who gives him direction of how to live his life. Jesus says, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And the man goes his way, proclaiming how much Jesus has done for him.

The real good news today in 2010 is that when we seek and encounter God we will receive help and with help guidance for our present life. The call that Elijah received to go back into the wilderness and that the healed man received to go back to your home and share is also our call. When we encounter God in our wilderness experiences, sometimes in silence, we will
also receive blessings. Then we like Elijah and the man with mental illness are called to share our experience with others here at Ascension and in our communities.

May God’s healing power touch you today in this Holy Place and give you strength to Go forth and use the gifts given to you. Amen.

"A Teachable Moment", Fr. Howard J. Hess Sermon, June 13, 2010

Pentecost 3, Year C June 13, 2010
A Teachable Moment The Reverend Dr. Howard J. Hess

I. Introduction: A Teachable Moment. As many of you know, I spent the majority of my vocational life prior to ordination, as a university teacher. I have loved teaching – both then and now. One of the joys of teaching comes from becoming truly excited about the content one is teaching, mastering that content, and then helping students become excited about what they are learning. Occasionally there is a second, profoundly powerful aspect of teaching that emerges from discerning and entering into a “teachable moment.” A teachable moment occurs when the dynamics of our immediate life situation help make clear or magnify what one is trying to teach. Jesus was a master at using the “teachable moment;” Scripture, including this morning’s Gospel, gives us example after example of how Jesus worked to take his disciples and his followers – all of whom were his students – to a new level of spiritual comprehension. I believe that we may have a “teachable moment” right now at Church of the Ascension. But more about that later.

II. The Uninvited Guest. In this morning’s Gospel, Jesus had been invited into the home of Simon, a Pharisee, for dinner. The fact that Simon is given a name is significant, because it suggests that Jesus had a personal relationship with him. While they were eating, a woman of the city, described as “a sinner,” entered the room. She began to weep, using her tears to wash Jesus’ feet. She then dried his feet with her hair and anointed them with ointment. The woman’s unusual public expression of emotion appeared to be strongly related to her repentance for her unspecified “sins.” Jesus told her: ”Your sins are forgiven; your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Her public actions communicated her deep inner faith and sorrow for her sin and her gratitude for Christ’s forgiveness. The woman’s outward signs of her inner repentance were the central focus of that evening. Sharing with others our need for and acceptance of repentance can be important.
But Simon, the Pharisee, didn’t get it. He relied upon the Law to judge the woman and castigate Jesus. For Simon, judgment triumphed over grace, condemnation over love. Jesus did not shy away from this teachable moment. He told a parable to Simon about repentance and forgiveness. Scripture is silent about whether Simon understood and also repented.

III. I believe that we may have a teachable moment this morning at Church of the Ascension regarding the many ways in which the Holy Spirit affects our enthusiasm for ministry and our generosity in supporting that ministry. At our monthly Vestry meeting Tuesday night, we learned that our financial giving in 2010 continues to be generous and constant. By this time last year we had had to borrow $50,000 to meet our basic expenses. Thus far in 2010 we have not had to borrow any money. You have given faithfully in spite of many personal financial challenges. In the past three years, I have seen your enthusiasm about supporting the ministries of the Church of the Ascension grow steadily. The Vestry agrees that with your constant generous support we will be able to fund more on-going ministries, such as Vacation Bible School, through the regular budgetary process.

The Holy Spirit has given us excitement about beginning new ministries and rejuvenating ministries that already existed. To me, it makes eminently good sense that when we commit ourselves to seek the direction of the Holy Spirit for our parish and our own individual Christian ministries, the Holy Spirit will enliven us and generate excitement. And as we become excited in this way, we are going to experience calls to different ministries. As Jesus reminded us, even though we are one in the body of Christ, we have different gifts and talents. In our enthusiasm, we reach out to others to share in and help us with our ministries. In this teachable moment, we are learning that when the Holy Spirit is alive in a community of believers, members of the community will be called to a broader range of ministries and will request additional help. This is the way in which a community of believers and its members grow. However, I am sensing that some of us may feel uneasy or burdened by such requests, so I’d like to suggest another way to understand our experience in this moment.

First, we share an obligation to support the overall ministry of Ascension. We are doing this as evidenced by the gifts that are supporting the new roof currently being built. However, special requests for assistance with other ministries fall into a different category. Contributing to support new and recently expanded ministries is an opportunity, but it is not an obligation. I encourage us to understand our brothers’ and sisters’ requests for help not as a demand, but as an expression of their desire to share their call to ministry with us. You are not obligated to contribute. The Holy Spirit may inspire us to do so, but contributions should be expressions of generosity, not of obligation.

I do believe with all my heart that Christ calls us to support each another as we commit ourselves to go out into the community and the world carrying Christ with us. Each request -- whether to help prevent the suffering or death of abandoned animals in Knoxville, to feed the hungry and care for the homeless in our community, to educate our children about Christ, or to support the work of the Gospel in Bolivia and Madagascar -- is a reflection of our brothers’ and sisters’ passion for ministry. This passion for ministry is exactly what the church should nourish in all its various forms. During this teachable moment we are being reminded that God’s economy is based upon abundance, not scarcity; that God does not mean for us to feel burdened as we support one another, and that God does not want us to worry about whether the success of one ministry will result in the failure of another. God’s will for us and for those God sends to us is to prosper and move forward together, faithfully and optimistically, in the power of the Spirit. Amen.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Lord Saw Her... "I See You."

Second Sunday after the Pentecost Sermon – 8:00 and 10:30am Church of the Ascension
RCL Proper 5 Year C 6/6/2010
Fr. Rob Travis

It's easy to see this gospel reading today
as an account of a miracle,
the miraculous bringing back to life of a dead man.
But that misses some of the major point of the story
And you know, sometimes when we say
the word “miracle” these days,
we actually dismiss the importance of what's going on.

So let's look at the bigger scene that is occurring,
particularly before Jesus raises the man back to life.
First we see Jesus heading towards a town
accompanied by his disciples,
and a large crowd.
This distinction is important.
Jackie told me though,
that the real reason Jesus did not enter the town of Nain,
was not because of the woman and her son,
but because if he had,
he would have been found inane.

As they approach the town,
they are met by another group coming the other direction,
it's not just the widowed mother,
and her dead son,
there is also a large crowd from the town
accompanying them.

This image is important to me,
We have two large groups of people,
meeting one another on the same road,
opposing one another by what they stand for
as well as their very positions and headings.
Obviously the one party represents death and mourning,
And we who are followers of Jesus,
know that the party he lead, represents life, and rejoicing.
This is significant because this is the very situation
we find ourselves in these days.

Which group do we want to be a part of?
Well, I think the answer to that is obvious,
all of us would probably say we want to be
part of the group that represents life, and rejoicing.
But there are different groups within that large group as well.
There are Jesus' disciples,
and the large crowd around them.

The disciples have given up their own lives,
to follow and learn from the source of life,
the large crowd are more like groupies,
hanging around for the spectacle,
looking for excitement in what Jesus will do next.
Some of them could become disciples,
but many of them just want a thrill.

In picturing this scene,
drawing two simple lines to show
how the two groups are coming together,
I wondered, what will happen when they meet?
These two opposing groups.
It reminds me of atomic particles meeting in a supercollider,
what will result from their collision?

Well Jesus is the catalyst in that reaction,
we hear that he sees the woman,
and has compassion for her.

That reminds me of the movie Avatar.
How many of you have seen that movie?
I thought it was beautiful, and inspiring,
though some of the dialogue was really lame.
There was one line that kept being repeated,
that was very interesting however.
These people, native people to this other planet,
who have a special connection to the world around them,
greet one another with the phrase,
“I see you.”
It's not just like saying “hi, how are you?”
It's a much deeper connection.
One person looks deeply into the other person's eyes,
and says “I see you.”
As if to say, I see you for who you really are,
I see inside of you.
It is a beautiful sentiment, and expresses simply,
the powerful connection that these people have to all living
things on their planet.
In that movie, it is pretty clear,
the Navi, as they are called, are all about life,
and those from our world are more concerned with wealth,
to the point of being really about death and destruction.

That statement, “I see you.”
Says a lot.
And our gospel today says,
“the Lord saw her,”
It took me many times of reading
this passage to be drawn to that simple phrase,
but when I did, it fit together like a puzzle
that had been missing a piece.

“When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her...”
That's what our passage said,
and what it means is more profound than
he was sad for her that her son had died.
It means he knew what that meant for this widow.

For a widow in the ancient world,
depended on her children, particularly her sons
for her very livelihood.
Women without husbands, could not make a living,
and their sons were the only chance
they had for independence and life.
When this woman, a widow lost her only son,
that meant she had no hope left for her life.
She wasn't just weeping because she loved her son,
her tears also held all her hope for a future.

Without her son,
she was at the mercy of
the society and their charity,
she was more vulnerable than anyone else,
except maybe an orphaned child.

So when the Lord saw her,
he had compassion for her.
He knew the gravity of her situation,
and grieved with her.

And what happens next begins the nuclear reaction.
He tells her not to weep,
not discounting her feelings, as would be the case,
if one of us were to tell another “don't cry.”
We often say that because we're uncomfortable with
the grief of another,
or because it is inconvenient to us that they cry.
He says “do not weep,”
as if he were saying, “watch what I'm about to do,
you don't want to miss this because of your tears.”

Then Jesus crosses the barrier between life and death,
by touching the bier on which the man lay.
That in itself was forbidden by the purity laws of the day.
Those who bore the bier
had some difficult tasks to do,
to cleanse themselves from coming in contact
with something holding a corpse.
But Jesus touches the bier,
and those carrying it stop in surprise.

Then the Lord goes one step further,
and brings the man back to life,
simply telling the young man to rise.
After the young man sat up,
Jesus gives him to his mother.
The focus is only on the dead man for a moment,
before coming right back to the mother.

The particles are swirling around the point of impact,
and they are about to explode outward.

The mother had her dead son returned to her,
by the source of life,
and what was a party about death,
became a party celebrating life.
The young man was restored,
but even more than that,
the woman was given back three things,
her only son, and with him her hope and her future life.

It all started with Jesus seeing the woman,
her whole situation, and having compassion on her.
And he decided this was a good moment,
to show that he had power over death,
to meet his enemy and defeat it,
as he would again in his own resurrection from the dead.
Life starts with love,
and defeats sorrow and hopelessness as well as death.

At first those around the woman
react with fear, but that quickly changes to praise,
and to those individuals going out and spreading
the news about Jesus far and wide,
like small particles exploding away
from the source of the atomic collision.

Today we find ourselves in the same situation,
whether we are in the large crowd of followers,
or truly Jesus' disciples,
we are all following the source of life,
and hoping to take part in that life.
We are confronted by another group coming our way,
a bigger group even than ours,
that is so focussed on worldly values of success,
and fortune, that they are blind to the
death and destruction they represent.

I see this most clearly in the oil catastrophe
that is unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico.
If you've seen some of the pictures,
you have some idea of the magnitude
of destruction
and death,
that our way of life is bringing to our world.
I hope it will be resolved,
but I am under no illusions that it will be easy,
or even possible,
unless big things change,
in the way we pursue our lives.

That dark, slimy slick of death,
is opposed to the life we experience
in community here at Ascension.
And one of the ways we can conquer that death
we see nearby,
besides struggling for change, and justice
and supporting those who are working
to alleviate the catastrophe,
one of the ways we can conquer that death,
is by being aware of the love, the compassion,
that is the foundation of our life with one another.

Our Stephen Ministry,
is just one example of the way we have compassion
for others in our Ascension community.
Just a couple of weeks ago,
you saw how we commissioned
a new class of Stephen Ministers,
and the whole area up here was full of people,
trained and ready to be compassionate
caregivers to their brothers and sisters.
Their role is really much like that of the Navi,
or of Jesus,
They meet one on one with people who are struggling
with any number of issues,
and they say, “I see you.”
They look deeply into the person,
and listen deeply to their hearts,
and have compassion for them.
That compassion becomes a source of hope,
and new life for the care receivers.
You have a role to play in that ministry too,
for up until now, many of the referrals
for Stephen Ministry,
the people who need the caring relationships we offer,
have come from clergy or Stephen Ministers or leaders.
Now that we have this large group,
we need your help in identifying care receivers
for our Stephen Ministers.
If you know of anyone that needs that kind of care,
talk to them about Stephen Ministry,
and let a Stephen Leader know about them,
by making a referral.
That way we can put our compassion to work right here.

I don't know if the director of Avatar,
can really help out with the cleanup of the Gulf.
But we can bring life to the world around us.
We see those around us,
and we have compassion for them.
It is up to us, to be the party of life,
and to be part of the chain reaction,
that will turn the despair into hope
and the mourning into joy,
and spread the Gospel of Christ
by our love for those around us.