“Leaving the Nets Behind” Matthew 4:12-23


            Here’s something that I just can’t quite imagine getting along without.  I make my trade with this piece of equipment, my laptop.   I use it for everything.    It helps me plan budgets, keeps my calendar, and is the place where I “tap out loud” my ideas and thoughts as I write sermons.  It allows me to communicate with friends, family and colleagues.  It is even a source of recreational activity.    My life is so bound to this machine that I just can’t imagine leaving it behind and walking away from it.

            I had a friend and parishioner in a previous parish who was a master carpenter.  He helped us remodel our kitchen, and told us about his own experience. He had all of his tools set up in the garage of this house and would leave them there overnight and come back the next day to resume work.  One night, the wife of the household he was working on came home and due to complications from her pregnancy had a fainting spell just as she was pulling into the driveway.  She passed out and proceeded to pull not only into the driveway, but into the garage and then through the door plowing over and smashing all of his tools.  

               Now, the tools were replaced by insurance of course, but they were not the same tools. 

              “These were the tools that I had used for years.   Some had belonged to my dad. They were the tools that felt good in my hands.  I knew just how they would respond, where the cut would be, how much the plane would take off.   The new tools are nice, but they just aren’t quite the same.”   He was doing the same kind of work, the same quality of work, but something was different.  He would mourn the loss of those tools for years to come, tell me that story over and over.  He still couldn’t quite believe they were gone.

            As I look at the Gospel lesson for today, it is the matter of those nets that jumps out at me. “And immediately they left their nets and followed him.”  It says of Simon and Andrew.  James and John leave not just the nets, but the boat and their father as well.  And while that might be difficult enough, it seems all the more difficult to me when we consider what Jesus invites them to do as they follow him.

            “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” 

            So basically what Jesus tells these folks is that they are going to be doing something that feels similar, — you’ll be fishing — but something for which your old tools are no longer going to work.  From now on, you’re fishing for people.  Following Jesus means it is time for them to re-tool.  And so, they walk away from the familiar and the comfortable to take up a life that will feel very different.

            I tell you those two little stories up front because I want you to recognize that re-tooling is hard. It’s hard to leave behind something that you’ve been connected to your whole life, what you know best and that with which you are most familiar.

            It’s hard to learn the feel and characteristics of a new tool.   The feel of the old one is always so much more comfortable!

            But for the sake of the task at hand, — the need for repentance because the Kingdom of God has come near, you will need to leave the nets and learn how to do things differently.

            Now, as I say that, it’s really important that we all understand two things about this re-tooling process that Jesus invites folks into, otherwise we’re going to get sucked into what usually happens whenever we talk about change of any kind.  The first thing we need to understand is that Jesus calls for re-tooling because the situation in the world has changed.   “Repent….the kingdom of God has come near.”  Or “is at hand.”

            Matthew points out that the situation in this world has changed, and a number of Jesus’ teachings and saying make that clear.   The waiting for the light to shine is over.  The Kingdom is near.   Get ready, put your hand to the plow, don’t look back because the Kingdom is coming!  Is already here!

            We need to hear that promise and understand it, because it helps us get past the first obstacle we often face in re-tooling.  “But we like our nets!  They feel good in our hands!”

            I imagine that my friend picked up the pieces of his father’s broken plane after the car had smashed it through the concrete wall.  I can even imagine him trying to put it to the board again, hoping it would do what it always had, seeing if it would still work, or could be tweaked to make work again.   It might even have felt as good as it always did to his hand, but when he pushed it along the surface of the board, instead of smooth round curls, what he got were splinters and chunks.   It was no longer aligned for the work that needed to be done.

            Furthermore, (truth be told) the materials of this world were changing as well.   There were things at the local lumber yard that his father would never have had to deal with.  There are composites, laminates, synthetic wood, chip board, Oriented Strand Board, particle board.  None of the trim in my new kitchen was actually wood at all, and running a plane over it would ruin it both the tool and the material!  The practices that once worked and were cherished by past carpenters would not have the same effect or results on this new generation of materials.   As much as we’d like to dip into nostalgia, or to say, “the old ways are the best ways”, we know that simply isn’t true.  The trim on my house is made now of a material that will never rot or decay!

       This is the surprising thing about this story, that they were actually willing to put down their nets and consider retooling.  If they did that, could we?

        Or maybe it is not so surprising when we realize that Jesus is also offering a gracious and great thing as the Kingdom comes near, something that was not immediately available otherwise in that culture.  While we marvel at the disciples willingness to drop their nets and follow, there is also an element promise here.   In a world where one usually just ended up doing whatever his parents did, Jesus offers suddenly the opportunity of choice and the possibility of something different.   “Follow me, and I will make you…”     

         Jesus engages here in the creative and redemptive activity of God.   In a world where you were often consigned to a lot in life and a position in society, Jesus suddenly offers choice to be someone, something else.   You aren’t obsolete, or stuck where you are. Your best days are not behind you. The tools will need to be changed, and “I will make you….”  That is what Jesus promises.

          As it turns out, when you become aware of it, Jesus is doing that consistently in the Gospels.

I will make you fishers of people.

I will make you my disciples.

I will make you salt and light and leaven, a city set upon a hill.

I will make you into God’s people.

I will make you Apostles and teachers, workers with me in this Kingdom of God that is here.

            To the woman by the well, and the Geresene Demoniac, to Mary and Martha, to the rich young man and to Lazarus, to everyone to whom he declare forgiveness and healing, time and again what Jesus does is introduce a new world, a new situation, and an offer, “I will make you….something else.  Forgiven, loved, accepted, empowered, healed…

            I want you to hear clearly in this Gospel, that movement that comes about, from what was to what could be.  

           “In the land of Zebulan and Naphtali – ”  among the tribes of old who looked and waited and hoped for a light to shine, that light is now shining!   Those who resided in that land steeped with tradition and heritage and time honored ways of doing things, of the mending of nets and casting them for fish, are being invited into this great re-tooling for the coming age.

              “I will make you…”  Jesus says.  That is a promise.  Hold to it, look for it.   That task of following does make something of you.  Something that is different, and yet familiar, you are re-tooled for this coming Kingdom.

            I like to see this offer of Jesus to us as a continuation of what Jesus has been doing since he first issued that call to those standing at the shore of Galilee.  What will it be, the old and familiar and what you know how to do, even as the world changes around you?  Or will you dare to step out, drop the familiar from your hand and learn a new set of skills for the sake of this coming Kingdom?              Jesus promises that he will make something of us.  We will dare to let him?

You Don’t Get to Decide. Isaiah 49

Isaiah 49 gives us a glimpse into a conversation between the chosen servant, and God.   It begins with the chose servant (or the Prophet voicing that servant) calling attention to himself.   “Listen to me…” he proclaims.  This servant begins to tell the islands and nations, in other words, everyone, who he is and what God has promised him.   The servant has a clear understanding of who he is.  “Before I was born, the Lord called me.  From birth he made mention of my name.”  The servant goes on to tell of what God has promised to him.  This servant has a sharp mouth, he speaks clearly and to the point.  He knows that God has protected him.  God has even made this servant into his special weapon, an arrow hidden away for just the right moment, meant to fulfill a specific purpose.

It’s all marvelous news, Look at how special he is!  This is the witness of a person who is self assured and who has a faith that we might all envy!

So I suppose it catches us a little off guard when the servant starts to voice his own disappointment.  For all of the “specialness” that he knows about, he still grumbles and mumbles.  “I have labored to no purpose, I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing.” 

How could this servant, who knows he is special, chosen by God, speak so despairingly? 

I think we know, perhaps better than we realize.  Discouragement comes all too easily into our lives, even when we know deep down how special we are! It takes only a little discouragement to make us forget all the gifts and promises that we’ve been given.

It happens to the athlete, and as the Olympics approach we’ll have ample opportunity to see it.  They are giving maximum effort, feeling the fruits of their training, their skills.   The moment comes for the big play, the big ski run, the race.  You’ve done this a hundred times before.  It’s just like in practice.  No pressure.   But……

No matter how many times you’ve done this before, made that goal, slid down that slope, circled that rink, nailed that jump, this time, when it really counted, you miss —-it is devastating!   

You forget all about your talent, all about your giftedness, and instead focus on your failure in that particular moment.  You might even say, “I have labored in vain.”

It happens in the world of business.  We are doing our job to the best of our abilities, but we are also at the mercy of global trends, the decisions made by others, the movement of the times.   Suddenly what we were meant to do, is no longer valued, or needed, or perceived as important anymore.   You begin to doubt yourself, your choices, and your actions. 

“I have spent my strength for nothing!”  You find yourself saying.

It happens to us all.  Life deals us defeats and setbacks, discouragements and failures of every kind. 

We live in a world where sin is real and where brokenness seems too often the norm.   It is a world that seems to do all that it can to shatter and to batter our fragile lives and egos, and you don’t have to be a sports star or a failed businessman to know its sting.

It happens in so many places — in the relationship, in the family, at school or in public life.  Something happens.  Something that makes you doubt your abilities, your goodness, and your very choseness. 

God feels distant.

We are tempted in that moment of discouragement and doubt to despair.  “I have labored in vain!”

We recognize this conversation that the servant has with God.  It is a real one, probably one that we have had!   The conversation should be familiar, for you see, you are the servant of God. 

In the waters of baptism you were made God’s chosen one.   You were called by name, and given the same promises spoken of here in Isaiah. 

You are the special arrow, hidden away for just the right moment. 

You are the one through whom people will witness God in action.

In baptism, the promise was given to you. 

You are special. 

You are somebody in the eyes of God. 

Weekly you and I are reminded of that if you attend worship.  As you come for worship, the signs and symbols and actions are designed to help you remember your baptism, to hear once again what God thinks of us.  Weekly in the invitation to his table, Jesus welcomes you, and wants to strengthen you and remind you of how special you are and how you are equipped with a task and a purpose that you alone can fulfill.

But weekly you and I also get the hammering of this world.

That is why it is so important that we press on in this Isaiah passage beyond the point of disappointment to see what God does about it.  Now, you or I would have been tempted to listen to the disappointment of others battered down by this world and would have been content just to sympathize with them. 

“Yes, you’re right, it’s awful, I’m so sorry that things haven’t worked out for you, poor thing, come to poppa!”   We might welcome commiseration and a sympathetic ear.  And it looks like that is where Isaiah is going.   “Surely my cause is with God, my reward will be waiting for me some day.  Woe is me for now, but some day it will be better.”

But that is not what the servant gets in Isaiah!  

The servant does not get an “Oh, come here, it’s all right.” from God.   Instead, what the servant gets is the equivalent of a swift kick in the rear.

“It is too light a thing …” God says…”just to gather the tribes of Jacob.  I shall give you as a light to the Nations….salvation to the ends of the earth!”

Now, why would God do that?   Up the ante for the poor servant who already feels dejected and beaten?  God does that to his servant because God hasn’t given up on the world yet, and will have no part of wallowing in self pity!

It’s time to remember who and whose you are!  

You are my servant, God says.    

You don’t get to call the shots, I do!

 Because you are my servant, you get to do what you are told you are capable of doing!   And you are capable of bringing salvation to the nations.  You are able to be a light to the world.  Kings and Princes will acknowledge you!  Not because of what you do, but because of what I do through you.

You don’t get to decide when things are in vain!

You don’t get to decide if your work has been meaningless!

Because you are the servant in whom God delights, and you know that, then what needs to happen is for you to begin to do what a servant is empowered to do!   Stop setting too small a goal for yourself!   Stop acting as if God has given up on you, and given up on this world!   Begin to live into what you have been promised by God to be true, that you are special and that you are indeed something that has been sharpened and hidden away for just this time and just this place!

I know, this sounds like a pastor just trying to pump up the troops again, but believe me, I’m not doing it just because I think it’s a good idea.  No, the truth is this is what the scripture reminds us of this day.  God has big plans for this world, and for you, and the gracious invitation is that God wants you to be his servant and to be a part of bringing about this promised Kingdom.

If you’re Israel, it’s time be the servant you were called to be back when God gave the promise to Abraham.  Be a blessing, be a light to the nations!  Aspiring to be anything else is too small!

If you are John, it’s time to be the servant who points the way to repentance and who points out the Lamb of God, who is destined to take away the sin of the world.  You don’t get to push your own agenda anymore.  You don’t get to just keep on baptizing, doing things the way they have been done.  No, here comes a change in shift, and the task appointed you is to make sure everyone knows that!

If you are Jesus, it’s time to become that Lamb who is identified, that Rabbi who is sought out.  It’s time to gather the disciples and begin the work.  You don’t get to just hang around the carpenter shop anymore.  It’s time to proclaim that the Kingdom of God has come near!

And if you are a baptized member of a congregation?  Well, it’s time to start living as chosen ones and special arrows for just this time!

Now is not the time to wallow in disappointments, or wish things had been different, or hearken back to the glories of the past when the place was full and our influence in the world greater.  You don’t get to decide if these years have been in vain, or if you have no purpose anymore, or if your best years are behind you. 

God calls the shots in God’s church!

This is what you know for sure.  Because you are baptized, because you have been called to this table, because you have been given gifts and talents and resources, God’s got something in mind for you to do! 

Don’t sell it short.

Don’t despair in the midst of it.

God calls you “servant”, and now is the time to do what a servant is called and empowered to do, which may be much more than we think we may be capable of doing, but never more than God is capable of doing!

What and So What? Matthew 3:13-17

           One of my favorite professors at Seminary, David Tiede, used to tell us that anyone can do good biblical scholarship of they will apply just three words to a bible story.   Those three words are, “What?” and “So What?”

            “What?”  What is happening in this passage?  What’s the story being told?  What characters are involved and what do we know about these characters?   If you ask the right “What” questions you’ll soon have a clear picture of the events, the people, the circumstances and the outcome of the story.

            The second question drives us to application.  “So what?”   How do these events, this story affect me in my daily life?

            So, let’s try this together on this bible story, the story of Jesus’ baptism.

            “What?”    Well, Jesus is coming to John for baptism.  In our minds we might consider that to be a pretty normal and usual thing to do.  It’s the “churchy” thing to do, after all, to get baptized.  Isn’t everyone baptized?  The answer to that would be “No.”  Not back then at this particular time in history, and certainly not for folks like Jesus!   Jews of John’s day normally practiced baptism as a cleansing ritual to be applied only to Gentiles who wanted to convert to Judaism.  It was a common sense kind of thing.  If you had spent your life living as an unclean Gentile, eating pork, handling unclean things, of course you had to “wash up.”  You had to be made presentable to the community you wanted to join and by extension presentable to God.

            “What” John is doing out in the desert is very unusual.  He is baptizing Jews, for repentance. John is saying that even you covenant people of God need to get cleaned up to come into God’s presence, to be ready when Messiah comes.  He’s telling Jews to get cleaned up!    So “What” John is doing is really unusual, it’s one of the reasons why he is attracting those crowds, and those skeptics.

             What is going on here?  If John is baptizing for repentance, what is Jesus, the one who knows no sin, doing getting dunked?  John is perplexed, which is a pretty good indication that we ought to be perplexed as well!  And just when we are most frustrated with the “What’s going on” of this story, something really weird happens.   

             John does to Jesus what he has done 1000 times before to everyone else who has ever come to him to be baptized.  John takes him down in the river, says some words, dips Jesus over backwards, and when Jesus comes up out of the water “what” happens next is something that no one has ever seen happen before.   The heavens are opened.  The Spirit descends like a dove, and God speaks out loud, a voice booming, “This is my Son, the beloved One, with whom I am well pleased.”

            Jesus comes up out of the water and it is like God is the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Prize Patrol.   There is God with the balloons and the big seal of approval.  “You’re my boy, and I like you!”

           This is an “Epiphany” event, a special manifestation of God.  Here God is showing us his face, revealing his presence.   In the thing that “has to be done,” we find out that God shows up!  The reason Jesus comes to be baptized is to show us what really happens in the act of water and word coming together.

            Jesus comes to be baptized and in so doing takes the wrapping off of this act, and through Jesus’ eyes we get a glimpse of what happens now in the cosmic sphere.  Through the eyes of Jesus we see that God’s spirit descends every time the Water and the Word are combined, every time a baptism takes place. 

           This is what happened to you! God came down and gave you his seal of approval, his blessing, and all that he has to give, his very Spirit.  This is what difference this makes to us.  In the baptism of Jesus we glimpse what happens to us. You are the one upon whom the Spirit descends!

           I had a friend in college who was a magician on the side, and he had these trained doves that he would use in his tricks.  They were so tame and gentle that they would just come and land on you, on your shoulder and your head. It was a remarkable experience.  He’d do a trick and these things would really come out of nowhere, out of thin air, and land on you to tickle and prick with their tiny feet, and suddenly be there alive, and somewhat disturbing. 

           That really is a good description of what God’s Spirit is like when it falls on you.  At once unsettling, and yet gentle, a bit prickly and at the same time disturbing, but not the kind of thing that you want to just brush off.

            That happened to me?  Happens to me still?  God’s Spirit comes and lands on me?  

             Is that perhaps why at times I feel the prickles, the somewhat disturbing presence that God is somehow present in this moment?    When I allow myself to take notice, do I still into my everyday life God coming?  Feel God’s presence?

             Did that really happen to me? Did God’s voice really call me his Son, his Daughter, the child with whom he is well pleased? Could that really be, given all the stuff I’ve done, the things I’ve said, the stuff I’ve left unaccomplished? Could God really be pleased with me, with all the times I’ve denied and forsaken, ignored and even stopped believing altogether?  Could God really still be calling me his own dear child?  Still be pleased with me?

             Yes!  That’s the “so what” that this story is all about.  Here Jesus pulls back the cosmic veil to show us what really happens when God comes to us in Water and Word.  God does indeed show up like the Prize Patrol, and hands to those of us baptized the balloons and the check that is written out with your name on it that says, “These gifts are yours, Everlasting life, the Forgiveness of Sins, and Salvation.”  

           These are the promises made to the one with whom I am well pleased, the one baptized and that, my child, is you!”

           “So what?” 

            So now get busy living as one who has been given these great and gracious gifts.  Feel them prickle and tickle you in the coming week.  Open your eyes to see what it is that God has blessed you with, what gifts you bring to this place and this time because you are God’s child and because you have been given life, forgiveness, and the promise of God’s continued presence.   Get busy living!

            You have an assignment this week, should you choose to accept it, and maybe even if you choose not to.  The assignment is this:  Carry these two questions into your daily life!


            Ask yourself, “What am I doing here?”   Ask that question when you pull up in the drive-in, when you stand in line at the pharmacy, when you get stuck in the meeting with unpleasant colleagues, when you have to hassle your way through another frustrating order….  What does God give me the unique abilities, talents, skills to do in this place, at this time? For this is where God has placed me! 

            And then go on to ask the “So What?” question. “What difference can and will I make here?   What meaning can I bring because I know that the Spirit is descended upon me, comes with me, calls, gathers, enlightens and sanctifies me to be child of God in this place?”  


           So What?

          Good questions to take with you into this week, into the story of your life, to see what that Spirit of God that descended on you in your baptism is still up to through you every day.

“The Power To Become Children” John 1:1, 10-18

             It’s fascinating what will reach out and grab you when you read a bible passage.  The technique of “dwelling in the word” encourages you to read the same passage over and over again throughout a year’s time, to see how your changing life circumstances might allow you “hear” that particular verse in different ways.

            I don’t know how many times I’ve read the prologue to the Gospel of John throughout the years in the season of Christmas, but it was this year that something new jumped out at me.  As I listened to it once again, this phrase popped out at me: 

            “…he gives power to become the children of God.”

            What does it mean to be given the power to become children, children of God?

            Maybe it jumped out at me because of my own impending life change of staring the prospect of being a grandfather in the face.   I’m thinking about children again.

            Maybe I heard it differently this year as I reflected on my own “Charlie Brown Christmas Blues”… ah to be a child again and to be able to get excited about this season!

            Or maybe what reached out and grabbed me this time around is the connection that I had never really made before between how John starts his Gospel with this statement, “he gives the power to become children of God” with the story that comes just a couple of chapters later in this same Gospel.  The story of Nicodemus is about a Pharisee who comes to Jesus by night.   In the conversation Jesus says to him, “you must be born anew.”    

Nicodemus asks, “Can one enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”

            What does it mean to be given the power to become children, children of God?

            I think the first thing that comes to mind is perhaps a return to all those abilities that I had as a child that my older, heavier body can no longer do. Make me a child so that I get back that light, lithe body that could climb and jump and run all day long without getting tired.  Let me get back on the Monkey Bars, swing to my heart’s content, and ride the merry go round until I’m green around the ears and dizzy with delight!    Let me be a child again, free of concern from skinned knees and the effect of bacon on my arteries!

            But that doesn’t seem to be what John is advocating or promising.  This being given the power to become children he says doesn’t have anything to do with the will of the flesh, and the hope to be younger, thinner, healthier and carefree about it would indeed be satisfying the desire to be something encased in flesh that is different or better.

          Maybe to hear that we “have the power to become children of God” means that we can return to a sense of innocence.

          Gee, I’d like to be a kid again and not worry about so much!   Make me a child so I don’t have to get up and drag my sorry butt off to work every day.  Give me the power to let go of my adult cares and my concerns about the future, the mortgage and career moves, health care, and how to provide for my family.   Maybe having the power to become a child means that I won’t have to worry about food and clothing like Jesus said, it will just come to me?

          No, that doesn’t seem quite right either, for John talks about this not being about being born of the will of man, and avoiding all of those things would certainly be about me exerting my will.  If I could get by without working, get something for nothing, just be taken care of, I surely would.

          No, there must be something else at work here in this promise, and a report I heard on the radio just yesterday triggered a glimmer of understanding.

          The report was about some research done into a drug normally used for mood stabilizing which seems to have another peculiar capability.  It causes the brain to return to a state of “plasticity.” That is the state we typically have when we are younger, making us capable being open to learning in that “sponge-like” way of soaking things in.

            It’s the state in which you can learn a new language just by listening and being around people who are speaking it.

            It’s the state where we learn all the fundamentals of life, and where our personalities are developed and launched.

           In this particular case, they assembled a group of individuals with no previous music knowledge or capability.  In the study these college aged males took the drug and then engaged in some on-line instruction meant train them to begin develop and retain relative pitch.   That is something that there are no known records of adult subjects being able to do.   The drug literally, “made them children” again for the purposes of learning a skill that they had never had the exposure or opportunity to learn before and should not have been able to develop at their age.

         At the end of the study, all of them had developed some sense of relative or perfect pitch.  They had a whole new skill set that they should not have been able to cultivate.

         That’s when the lights went on for me about this bible passage.

           What if this is what God made flesh to dwell among us has come to do?   What if the promise that is made here of being given “the power to become children of God” has to do with our learning or acquiring something that we had missed, and could never accomplish on our own?

           To be given the power to become children of God is to be given an opportunity not to go back nostalgically, or to be freed from all responsibility, but rather it is to pursue and  receive something that was supposed to be ours but that we had never before had the opportunity to receive.

            What does it mean that we are given the power to become children of God?

            It means that what was impossible before, is possible now.   In the living, breathing, Word made flesh to dwell among us, full of grace and truth we don’t just see God, but a new possibility has been opened up.

            To become “Children of God” means that we begin to take on God’s likeness, God’s abilities, and God’s intent.  No one has ever seen God.  But now, in the Incarnation, in Jesus the Word made flesh, the only Son who is “close to the Father’s heart” has made God known.

             If you want to know what God looks like, you look to Jesus.  Jesus has God’s characteristics written all over him.   And now if you want to know what God looks like, you look to those who believe in Jesus and who receive him.  That’s where the imprint of the Father is passed now.   As we look for traits that are ours in our own children, and grandchildren, that mark them as “one like us”, so God now opens the door for us to take on God’s own characteristics

             We are given the power to become children of God, and so we are.    With that power comes great responsibility, does it not?   And that would be overwhelming if it were not for the fact that most of the time children end up looking and acting like their parents and aren’t really aware of it.

             Others see it in us.

              That’s the good news that John points us toward.   Given the power to become children of God, we start to act in God-like ways as modeled by Jesus who came to walk in our midst.    We see what Jesus does, what Jesus makes as his priority for his teaching, his actions, his passions, and we model them, take them on, in the limited way we can in there here and now.   As children mimic what they see their parents doing, so we in our corner of the world repeat what Jesus did, in the little ways we can, and sometimes in quite spectacular ways.  We become children of God little by little as we start to become a reflection of the activity of God in this world.

           That’s what it means to be a child of God.  We slowly begin to understand what God would do, what God would have us do, and find ourselves doing it.   A “new plasticity” of our brains, which is really good news because sometimes we can be so stubborn, or think this world is so unpliable, stuck in its ways, that we despair of it.

           Nothing ever changes.

           But this Gospel reminds us that nothing ever changes until you do, and it is for this reason that God has come into the world in flesh and blood, to change us in the one way that we cannot change ourselves.

           God does that with God’s love.

           God does that with God’s creative Word.

           God does that so that we can be born anew, and become finally the children that we were meant to be.