Monday, May 7, 2018

Sermon: "Coming Down from the Ascension High, or, Practicing Recovery, Recovering Practice"

"Coming Down from the (Ascension) High, or Practicing Recovery, Recovery Practice"
Preached at South Wedge Mission
Rochester, New York
6 May 2018
Observance of the Feast of the Ascension

Day Texts: Luke 24.44-53, Acts 1.1-11, Ephesians 1.15-23

Acts 1.1-11
1 In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning 2 until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. 3 After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. 4 While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. "This," he said, "is what you have heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now." 6 So when they had come together, they asked him, "Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?" 7 He replied, "It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." 9 When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. 11 They said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven."


Grace, mercy and peace are yours from he Triune God.  Amen.  

When things change suddenly,
what do you cling to?

I think that’s a possible question Luke is trying to answer 
when he rewrites the end of his Gospel
in the opening chapter of the sequel, Acts of the Apostles.  

In the original, Jesus straps on his jetpack
and flies home,
while the disciples strap on their sandals
and go on their way rejoicing
to start the church 
and continue their life together.
They’re ready to take on the world,
and do this thing for themselves. 
By St. Paul’s account of the church in Ephesus,
looks like they succeeded mightily.  

But in Acts, the account’s a bit more raw.
The disciples clearly aren’t ready for Jesus to go.
They’re still waiting for him to overthrow the government.
Bring the kingdom.  Finish the work.  
They seem content - and needful - 
for Jesus to keep on leading,
and to just keep following in his footsteps.  
And when he finally - and suddenly - ascends,
they’re left dumbstruck - shell-shocked? - 
staring at the clouds 
until an angel snaps them out of it
and sends them on their way.

It’s that second account I really relate to.
Because much as I’d like to say differently, 
I don’t react to being left behind quite so readily.
Often, my reaction to the fear - or reality -
of abandonment is to cling more tightly
to something, anything, 
that will help me feel secure and safe.

And if the history of the church has shown us anything,
its one of our communal specialties too.
One joke in seminary asks, “how do you move the furniture in church?”
The answer: one inch every Sunday until no one notices its different.

And its not just the church - even the most progressive societies
remain pretty conservative when it comes to massive change.
It’s hard to let go of things like privilege and supremacy,
let alone tax codes, immigration laws,
city and family traditions, 
and other central figures and ideas that bind us together.

Often, our identities, individually and communally,
come from what we cling to, what we center on.
Our common loves - and our common fears -
often form the basis of our life together.

Which is why I’m thankful Luke writes again to his patron Theophilus
to set the record straight.
Almost as if those who had been a part of the actual journey
from ragtag disciples to multinational super church
needed reassurance.
Or convincing that the whole thing wasn't ret-conned after the fact.

Was it really that easy?

Because in my own experience, 
people rarely give up attachments, 
or weather crisis, or abandonment, that easily.
It’s particularly on my mind 
because on Friday, "May the Fourth," 
I celebrated my five-year anniversary
of a committed journey to recovery 
from a whole inner life built on attachment
that was causing suffering to me and to others.
I’m not naming it simply an addiction (though it included that) 
or giving a specific focus (since it had and has many!)
because, deep down, it was a spiritual malady
that happened to manifest in some pretty selfish, self-seeking
and self-destructive habits.  
It’s only after five years, many failures,
and many miles behind and more ahead,
that I’m able to even begin to be taste freedom.

And there’s very few attachments that I've managed to release
that don’t have claw marks all over them.

I’m really grateful to our Monday night Refuge Recovery group
and to our Buddhist Brothers and Sisters,
who rightly look beyond specific addictions to substances or practices
and name attachment, clinging,
as the root of all suffering.
They talk about how we have a natural instinct 
to seek pleasure and to avoid pain, 
and I actually think Christianity reflects that too -
our hearts are made for heaven, for infinite glory and divine pleasure,
and its part of being made in the image of God 
to seek to enjoy God in all things.

But suffering occurs when enjoyment and appreciation 
become attachment and clinging.
When we try to keep good things from ending
and try to prevent bad things from happening;
both practices, ironically, prolong suffering for all involved.
Pleasure can only do so much;
pain cannot be avoided.  
Which is not to say we just zen-out and don’t feel anything;
rather, the work and the discipline is to learn the right measure of enjoyment,
a "non-attached appreciation" in place of repetitive craving, 
and learn to learn from the difficult things we cannot avoid.

And, many in various recovery pilgrimages will attest,
we cannot escape these attachments on our own - 
we need the aide of a “power greater than ourselves.”
Hence, I like to think, Luke’s angel,
appearing ex machina 
to snap the disciples back from their heavenly navel-gazing.  

I haven't met any metaphysical beings,
at least that I'm aware of.
But for me, and especially for non-theists,
the relationships with friends and communities 
can help do that for us.
To help us see when we are stuck.
Attached.  Suffering.  Hurting ourselves and others.
To call us back.  And support us on the way.  

Its in this regard I am absolutely convinced
we need this church, this community
this life together, in order to stay free.
I would not be here today - might not even be alive -
if it were not for many communtities, 
and especially my Christian communities,
that have sustained me in my fears and failures.

I think its one of the crazy reasons
God decided we needed a church,
why Jesus inexplicably leaves,
and leaves the fate of the universe
in the hand of a bunch of addicts, liars,
thieves, traitors, cheaters, back-stabbers,
and generally, utter failures
It's a much more believable story,
a more desirable kingdom, I think.

And perhaps, most importantly,
one of the things I’ve learned and valued 
in both recovery and in church life
is the power of promises and of practices.  
Of having something to replace those attachments with.

See what the angel does?
He doesn’t let them stay stuck in the past,
but reminds them of the promise Jesus made:
“this Jesus will return just as he left.”

The angel nudges them back to the promises Jesus made,
and then sends them on their way to continue practicing.  

As if to say,
"Um, So what exactly are you waiting for?  
He's gone.  Go!  Get busy being the church.
There's work to do!
The Spirit is coming!"

We need promises to reorient us in times of clinging,
and practices, in community, to help make them believable. 
Otherwise, the things we’re holding on to
can become attachments at best,
at worst, idols.
It’s just what humans do with good things,
and with bad things.

I love that the first the disciples do
is not become super-apostles,
but simply go and worship in the temple daily
and gather in community.
Even in Paul’s letter, which is written to a church ostensibly
several decades removed from the Ascension,
he hasn’t gotten into deeper stuff yet.
He’s still commending them for just
loving God in faith
and loving each other well.

After that simple step-work,
gathering together, practicing,
remembering and hoping in what is to come,
and living in that direction,
comes revelation and truth,
radical and sustaining hope,
and an experience of the power of God. (see Ephesians 1.15-23)
in the same way, the disciples need to settle
back into ordinary life
before the day of Pentecost.

Practices help us when our clinging become crazy,
our fear and failures overwhelm,
when we get stuck or when we want to run.
St Ignatius of Loyola famously said
that in times of desolation, we should keep doing
what we would have done in times of consolaition.

When we face that clinging sensation,
when things change, or we are afraid,
and it seems like our foundations have been taken out from us,
I think God has given us resources.

Again, I cannot emphasize enough,
It’s why we need the church - 
why I believe the church saves lives in spite of itself -
because when Jesus’ physical body is absent,
it’s where, as Rilke teaches,
we "love God into being"
for one another and for the world.

We won’t always get an angel,
but we can be that messenger for one another,
and we can also help when we ask for help,
and reach out,
and also, like Paul, when we give thanks!

And what’s more, we can love each other to the point
where the Spirit does fall upon us,
and animates us with power;
where we do come to know God as the sole Lord and Authority
and so defy powers and principalites;
where we speak in tongues;
where we hope in the midst of despair;
where we do run down the hill singing,
where the kingdom starts to become real,
not just for us,
but also for others,
and we can offer them the same promises and practices,
that have become part of our own life - 
because we know that even when we feel alone
we are never alone,
and never on our own.

That is the church’s primary purpose, at the end of the day;
not, as Hauerwas says, to be a social relief agency ****actual quote 
or to be a salve for loneliness
but to point the way to Jesus
and to be His body in the hear and now - 
a body that, centered in God’s promises,
wil love in wisdom,
preach in power,
and welcome others.

Which promises do you desire?
Arouse your imagination,
move you to want to practice,
to stop looking up to heaven,
and to get more deeply involved 
in living fully, here on earth,
with the living body of God
present to us in the bodies and souls
of our fellow human beings?  

Ask for them - then get back 
to the regular practices,
that not only help us release our attachments and our clinging
but also help us open our hands
to receive the height and depth and width
of the love of God
and the reign of Christ.


Thursday, May 3, 2018

Sermon: "Transformed by the Queering of our Minds(ets), or, On Questions, Practices, and Otherness"

"Transformed by the Queering of Our Minds(ets), or, On Questions, Practices and Otherness"
Preached at South Wedge Mission
Rochester, New York
29 April 2018
Fifth Sunday of Easter

Day Texts:  Acts 8.26-40, 1 John 4.7-21

Acts 8:26-40
26 Then an angel of the Lord said to Philip, "Get up and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza." (This is a wilderness road.) 27 So he got up and went. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28 and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, "Go over to this chariot and join it." 30 So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, "Do you understand what you are reading?" 31 He replied, "How can I, unless someone guides me?" And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him. 32 Now the passage of the scripture that he was reading was this: "Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter, and like a lamb silent before its shearer, so he does not open his mouth. 33 In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth." 34 The eunuch asked Philip, "About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?" 35 Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus. 36 As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, "Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?" 37 38 He commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, Philip and the eunuch, went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he was passing through the region, he proclaimed the good news to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.


The following prayer-version of South Wedge Mission Values - Living the Questions, Practice-Based Faith, Radical Hospitality, was read together before the sermon:

Knowing there is always more to discover in our stories, we seek to live the questions,
embracing and learning from each person’s struggles and their gifts.
Seeking to live deeper into our life together as God’s people, 
we practice in order to discover what we believe,
engaging the nourishing soil of prayer, scripture, the sacraments, 
and other gifts of the communion of saints in all times and places.
Remembering that every human being remains a precious child of God,
we commit to radical hospitality, actively loving persons 
of all sexualities, genders, classes, ages, races, ethnicities,
abilities, and traditions, as God already does.


Grace mercy and peace are yours from the Triune God,

“Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy or boast…”

It was another rainy afternoon 
towards the end of my freshman year of college.
The dorm was usually empty around this time,
and I was enjoying the solitude 
and the simplicity of raindrops.

And I hear a familiar voice,
reading these familiar words,
from an unfamiliar place,
across the hall in my atheist friend’s dorm room.

“It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking,
it keeps no record of wrongs…”

I peaked into the room,
and saw Calvin, sitting at Vanessa’s desk,
with a Bible open in front of him.

A word about Calvin (name changed for this sermon):
he is a beautiful man with bleached blond hair,
a model’s physique and a brilliant wit.
And he had a reputation
as an upper classman who hung around the dorms
looking for freshman hookups.  
He had no problem finding willing partners,
and proudly wore his promiscuity on his sleeve.

And he is gay.  “Queer” in his words.
At least as the word was used in 2001.  

Calvin was the epitome of everything 
the Campus Christianity wanted to save people from becoming.  
As many of you know, for me,
it was a picture of Jesus highly dissonant 
with the God of grace and peace and love 
I had grown up with as a Lutheran.

A lot of my own struggle - 
my reason for being alone in the rain that afternoon
after a third consecutive sleepless night 
of journaling and reading and struggling -
was a result of that dissonance.  
Feeling like I was made to choose
between accepting God and thus rejecting people like Calvin,
or accepting people like Calvin, and thus having to reject God.

And here was Calvin, the so-called abomination, 
reading the words of St. Paul; 

“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

Calvin hadn’t seen me yet as I poked my head in the room.
“Didn’t realize you were a Bible reader,” I offered,
trying hard not to seem like I was initiating
what would surely be a noq-consenual proselytization.
“I’m not,” he replied (he was also a vocal atheist). 
“But I’m reading this at the Pride Service in the Chapel today.”

“Sounds beautiful,” I replied.  “Thanks for that.”

What I thought was a crisis of faith
became that day for me
a crisis of doubt.
My paradigm shifted from the endless torment
of trying to prove that non-Christians could also be beloved of God
to a gradual loosening, a remembering - 
an experience - that yes, of course,
non-Christians are beloved of God.
Not whether gay people could be Christians,
but, as many more encounters would teach me,
many gay people are Christians, 
and this is a reality we not have to accept,
but can be deeply and endlessly blessed by.

In last week’s Gospel, Jesus reminded his disciples,
“I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. 
I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice.” (John 10.16)

And the experience of this promise, 
That’s really one of the central conflicts for the Early Church,
also embodied in today’s reading from Acts.  
The Jewish disciples of Jesus have experienced
a world-changing, life-altering miracle.
Yet, as they proclaim this Good News,
and follow Jesus’ instructions to make disciples of all nations,
again and again,
they find their own certainties about faith and doubt 
thrown into crisis
by their encounters with the Other,
especially in non-Jewish and Gentiles converts.  

The Ethiopian Eunuch - let’s call them “Eunie” -
is, as Episcopal theologian Broderick Greer notes,
the embodiment of the challenge to Insider certainty:
“a sexually Other
devout person
from Africa.”
As my friend and colleague Scott Austin 
preached this morning at Artisan,
sadly, not much has changed to this day.

Nor should we equate being a eunuch explicitly with being “queer.”
The state of one’s genitalia does not always determine 
one’s sexuality or gender identity, 
and certainly, does not diminish one’s humanity,
although Eunie does seem to be a favorite patron
of drag queens, transgender theologians,
and others that the church and world define as “deviant.”
And that last bit’s what’s important here.
Despite being a powerful member of the court
of Queen Candace of Ethiopia,
who drove their chariot all the way to Palestine
to worship in the temple,
someone with the wealth to have his own scroll
of the Prophet Isaiah to study in the middle of the desert -
and the will to do so! - 
Eunie would not have been allowed to worship
alongside genital-ed Jews in the Temple.  
Per Torah, in the book of Deuteronomy,
eunuchs were not permitted to participate in worship.
Like we said, some things still haven’t changed.

The Apostle Philip doesn’t know who it is 
that the angel of God 
is driving him out onto a treacherous,
bandit-inhabited wilderness road to meet.
I wonder if its because the angel knew
it would take more than an invitation
to get Phil to brave the danger for a queer outsider.   
That he has to be prodded a second time by the Spirit
to approach the one he finds there
might also be indicative of how challenging this is for Philip.
A Gentile, or, if not an outright foreigner,
a non-Palestinian Jewish wannabe,
a dark-skinned African, and a eunuch.

We might even interpret Philip’s question 
as one of unintended condescension:
“do you understand what you are reading?”
Because, you know, “you people,” who aren’t even allowed
in the Temple, who aren’t “real Jews,”
from, you know, “down South,” 
can’t possible get all the complexities of ancient near eastern prophecy.

If I’m honest, for much of my life,
I’ve struggled what is coming be known 
especially in educational circles, as a “fixed mindset.”
Generally speaking, people with “fixed mindsets”
believe that their basic abilities, intelligence
and talents are fixed at birth.  
They say things internally like, 
“I’m either good or I’m not;
my potential is predetermined; 
failure is the limit of my abilities.”
(If it sounds like I’m quoting of the internet,
it’s because I am - but there’s a wealth of stuff on this topic!).

It’s a constant challenge on many fronts. 
I have a lot of natural talent at things 
like music, academics, sports, etc.
So I pick things up quickly.
But when I hit the challenging part,
the part where you need to embrace failure,
adapt and expand your paradigm,
experiment and try new things -
glazing a window, trying new food,
using a word count in sermons ;) -
I have often given up, 
simply settling for the explanation,
“I’m just not good at that;
I’ll stick to the familiar and the routine;
being challenged sucks.”

Fixed mindsets often give way to either/or binary thinking;
at least for me, it was largely fear-driven.
Fear of mistakes; fear of failure;
fear of being rejected or excluded 
as a result of inability, or wrong belief,
or wrong choices, or just being wrong.

That’s often the result of fear, of failure or otherwise:
closing up.  Hiding in pre determinism,
shutting down investigations into the unknown,
the cessation of movement,
and the ultimate enemy of our age,
despair.  We stop seeking,
stop questioning,
stop admitting that we do not know yet,
and simply stop,
and end up missing out on so much more,
fulfilling our own fatalistic prophecy of the future.  

In many ways, even post-resurrection,
Jesus first disciples struggled to shake this fixed mindset.
Peter needed Paul to call him out
about his favoritism towards Jews
and his demands that Gentile Christians 
become circumcised first.
Likewise, in just a few chapters,
Peter needs a crazy vision 
and an encounter with a devout Roman centurion,
to stop making rules about food and cleanliness
as a barrier to embracing new believers.

And once again, it goes without saying:
still, not much has changed.  

But it’s Euny’s response I’m more interested in today.
They reply, I imagine, with a modicum of courtly dignity
and an education that allows them to read Isaiah without assistance,
“how can I, unless someone guides me?”

Because it is Eunie who shows the alternative:
what educators call a “Growth Mindset.”
A Growth Mindset believes learning and intelligence
can grow with time and experience.
Folks with a growth mindset say things like,
“failure is an opportunity to grow;
I can learn to do anything I want;
challenges help me to grow;
feedback is constructive;
I like to try new things.”

What strikes me is the willingness of Eunie
to live the questions, one of our SWM values.
Eunie is willing to do something that is increasingly difficult
especially for us in our information-laden era.
Eunie admits,” I don’t know.”
Three of the hardest words for any of us.
“I don’t know.  But I want to.  Can you teach me?”
I don’t detect any snark in this reply.
I imagine Eunie not even raising their eyes from the text,
so engrossed are they 
by the prophecy of someone 
who will share in the exclusion and the suffering
and the dishonor that, despite their status in Ethiopia,
they are undoubtedly subject to in Jerusalem.
But despite this, 
Eunie invites Philip to sit with them in their chariot
and they engage the questions together.

See, in this story, it is the non-Christian,
the consummate Other, Eunie,
who shows the way forward.
Even though it appears that Philip is the one doing the teaching,
it is also Philip who needs to be dragged out of a fixed mindset
(Jerusalem) into the adventure of the uncertainty of the wilderness road
and to encounter the grace of God 
that often only appears in the surprise of discovering 
that Jesus really meant it when he said,
“I have other sheep out there.”

Eunie doesn’t need an angel or a Spirit to bring them to Jerusalem;
are not deterred by the prejudice and exclusion at the Temple;
not afraid to stop in the middle of a perilous wilderness 
to live the questions on their heart.
When Philip approaches,
Eunie is not afraid to admit, “I don’t know; teach me.”
Philip’s expert theological exegesis 
would not have happened without the open mind
and curious spirit 
of an Outsider unafraid to transcend limits
and seek after truth.

I relate to Philip a lot.
Partly because I often need to be dragged into new situations.
Partly because I am all too ready to share my knowledge,
but struggle to ask the Socratic question 
which gives birth to further conversation.

I see a lot of our world in Philip too.
Nowadays, I wouldn’t hesitate the ways people avoid the questions of faith
as a kind of fixed mindset of its own.
“I’m just not religious, you know?”
“Some people are spiritual, but I’ll never be.”
“I like the idea of the story, but there’s no way it can be true.”
“The future is bleak, the material is all there is, injustice rules,
and there’s nothing we puny humans can do about it.”

I also relate to Philip 
because it’s often only in the encounter of Another,
someone who has the courage to embrace 
the uncertainty and the possibility of life,
that has helped me grow beyond despair
and live into the hope of newness.
And look, I didn’t want to perseverate on our SWM values today.
We got a lot of that last week.

This is why we need to practice 
“Radical Hospitality” and “Living the Questions.”  
Because we never know what - or who -
our fearful fixed mindsets cause us to miss.
We cannot know the fresh joy and hope,
the full goodness and beloved-ness of this world,
the realization of God’s reconciliation and peace,
or the depth of God’s grace,
on our own.  Locked away and immobile.
We need that exchange that comes
in sharing gifts, and sharing questions, 
sharing struggles and sharing possibilities,
with unexpected guests and improbable Others.
If we truly believe all creation is good,
that God really is reconciling all things,
then we need to courageously step out of our fixed mindsets,
live the questions and the possibilities without fear,
and embrace God’s other sheep without prejudice.

What I l also love about living the questions,
what I find promising in today’s story,
is that often, living the questions does not take away practices,
but actually transforms and transfigures them.
Takes our spiritual life and our experience
and levels them up; makes them better.

It’s pretty clear that while Eunie doesn’t know Jesus yet,
they’re primed and ready.  Their search, their living the questions,
their deep hunger for more life,
make them ready to engage the practices of the Christian faith.
To be baptized at the first sight of water.
To read and wrestle with Scripture.
What we as Lutherans call “Word and Sacrament.”
The questioning leads Eunie
to embrace and engage traditional practices
with a fresh vigor and hope
unhindered by Temples and structures and authorities
that have previously excluded them.

And Philip is giving the gift of seeing how his practice
can lead him into growth and a fresh engagement with the questions.
Instant baptism, without approval by the Bishop
or requiring Eunie to become not-a-eunuch (or straight or gendered etc).
Eunie’s “queering” of Philip’s experience
leads Philip to a broader view of grace.
That crazy bit at the end, about Philip teleporting away
a la the prophet Ezekiel?
Philip’s whole journey to meet the eunuch
is rife with mystical, inexplicable, 
paradigm melting occurrences.
His experience is altered by God’s radical hospitality,
and I’m guessing his future preaching
will look a lot different, 
and look for people who are a lot different 
than before.

Having a mindfulness of the Gospel,
and living Christ’s invitation to the practices of Radical Hospitality
and Living the Questions,
they transfigure our practice;
give us the courage to admit what we don’t know
without abandoning the quest.

If you are in the midst of living the questions,
or you are locked into safe doubts and avoidances,
I pray that like Philip,
like me in my encounter with Calvin,
would find holy disruption.
Would find God inducing 
either a crisis of faith
in those false assurances that leave you fixed and in despair,
or a crisis of doubt,
increasing your hunger and desire to live the questions
and to embrace the possibilities that unexpectedly find you.

My whole life and ministry was changed that day
that God put the words of St. Paul
on the oft-kissed lips of Calvin.
I was freed from the fixed mindset of a fixed theology and practice
and given permission to go into the wilderness,
to explore that which others said was unsafe and unclean;
it’s a lesson I’m still trying to learn,
and I’ll say, it’s a grand journey trying.

I hope that Calvin’s quest was changed too,
when someone he may have thought was just another judgmental Christian
heard, was moved by, and shared his delight,
in Calvin’s own unspoken quest for the Love of the Creator.

I hope that the life of the South Wedge Mission,
continues to change, and to grow, 
and that we are transported to fantastic places
and frightening wildernesses,
and people and faces we may find are strange,
where we will learn to live the questions with all our hearts,
and embrace the practices in freedom and hope.

May your faith be troubled;
may your fear be also; 
for as St. John writes,
“God is love,
and perfect love casts out all fear.”