Sunday, October 21, 2012

Grace in Ourselves, by Pastor Greg

If you know me very well, you know that I am a sucker for a good night sky ... a starry, starry night. There’s little I love more than laying on my back and watching the dark and silent sky ... and watching and waiting for those magical streaks of light ... tiny bits of space debris entering earth’s atmosphere and creating little blazing streaks against the speckled blackness of the night sky. Once I begin my vigil, it’s hard for me to give it up and go to bed until I’ve seen at least one meteor ... at least one “falling star”. It affirms something within me that needs affirming ... it jangles a note within that tells me that I am not alone in the midst of the enormity of space and time. I’ve noted the kinship I feel with the psalmist who said: “The heavens are telling the glory of God ...” The streaking lights in the heavens somehow let me know of God’s presence amidst the seeming emptiness of outer space ... and the vast stretches of inner space, as well. It’s only a hint, but it’s enough of a hint for me ... enough of a hint of God’s presence ... God’s love ... God’s grace.
We’re talking about grace these first weeks of fall and here’s the working definition we’ve been using: God’s “grace” is the living goodness of God’s being and God’s power and God’s love that is offered to the world and its people without cost, without condition, without limit.
Frederick Buechner is a Christian writer and preacher who has meant a great deal to my faith and ministry over the years. He was a distant neighbor of mine in Vermont, though I’ve only met him once (in Berkeley, of all places). I like how Buechner describes grace. He says: “Grace is something you can never get but can only be given. There's no way to earn it or deserve it or bring it about any more than you can deserve the taste of raspberries and cream or earn good looks or bring about your own birth. A good sleep is grace and so are good dreams. Most tears are grace. The smell of rain is grace. Somebody loving you is grace. Loving somebody is grace.
Buechner goes on to say: "A crucial eccentricity of the Christian faith is the assertion that people are saved by grace. There's nothing you have to do. There's nothing you have to do. There's nothing you have to do. The grace of God means something like: 'Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are, because the party wouldn't have been complete without you. Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid. I am with you. Nothing can ever separate us. It's for you I created the universe. I love you.'
"There's only one catch” Buechner finally says. “Like any other gift, the gift of grace can only be yours if you'll reach out and take it. Maybe being able to reach out and take it is a gift too.”
These first weeks of October are a time of considering our stewardship as Christians ... our loving and responsible care and use of all that has been given to us ... all that has been entrusted to us by the loving Creator of all that is and the giver of all good gifts. We have been guided this year by these intriguing words written by the author of First Peter who said to his readers that they were to serve as “good stewards of the manifold grace of God”. Stewards of God’s grace. Stewards of Grace.
That’s us. That’s who we are. That’s what we do. It’s in our spiritual DNA ... it’s in the bloodstream of our faith. We are not only called to be “Stewards of Grace” ... we ARE Stewards of Grace. As children of God and followers of Jesus, it’s simply who we are. In other words, we are inheritors and vessels of God’s being and God’s power and God’s love. We contain these things ... these gifts ... this essential goodness. We may only be “earthen vessels” ... as St. Paul noted ... just “clay pots” with a few cracks ... but we are still being filled up constantly with God’s grace—if we aren’t too full of ourselves or too full of the debris of life and the world. If we are at all open to God’s goodness and grace, God will fill us to overflowing ... and that overflowing is for the world that God so loves.
One of our members here likes to tell the story about the battered and leaky bucket that was carried by a young girl who trekked each day all the way down to the village water pump to gather the family water. At one time the bucket had been new and strong and carried its contents proudly and securely. But now the bucket was old, cracked and worn and leaked profusely. And it broke the bucket’s heart that each day’s trek to the water pump ended with only half of the precious liquid within ... much had dribbled out. One day the bucket cried out to the God of all beings and things in its weariness and frustration, and God said to the bucket, “Do you not notice the beautiful flowers that grow and bring color and joy to the girl that carries you and brings delight to her neighbors because of the water that trickles from you as she carries you home.”
Sometimes simply “showing up” and being open to grace may be all that is asked of some of us, cracked pots and leaky buckets that we may be. God supplies the treasure ... we merely need to be open to its coming, its indwelling in order to be stewards of that treasure.
Two weeks ago we spoke of some of the ways God’s goodness and grace are at work through us in the world both far and near: Hands on mission projects of a variety of kinds ... walking and working for a variety of needs ... supporting missionaries with prayer and money ... extending ourselves to our homeless neighbors and some many others in need. God’s grace is given legs and wings through our “ditty bags” and our “dirty hands” and our “dollars and dimes”.
You may have noticed that this year’s “stewardship campaign” has come around a month early this year. It’s because during the weeks we’d normally hold the campaign, we’re going to be welcoming homeless families to our church who will make our sanctuary their home for the next two weeks. It’s one of the ways we dribble the grace that has been poured into us onto the dry ground that is all around us.
Last week we talked about Grace in the Church ... there’s another cracked and leaky bucket if ever there was one. Sometimes it’s only the flaws of the foibled church that we can sense and see. And we’ll admit it’s true in many ways. However hallowed an identity the church may have—or think it has, it’s also a terribly “human” institution with all of the warts and scabs and scars that are a part of any other human gathering. And yet God still works wonders in and through the local church as some of our humble ministries will attest. And God’s grace is at work among us, seeking to bind us together in love, seeking to mend broken souls and torn relationships, seeking to fill the empty wells of being with blessings and peace, seeking to empower us as a people and a community.
I’m thinking of particular occasions of grace in our church during the past summer and this fall ... occasions where we have paused in our busy-ness, and taken the time and the care to minister to the children among us ... particularly during Vacation Bible School and Logos. If you played a hands-on part in either of these wonderful ministries, you’ll know the grace that oozed and dribbled and showered down in abundance during these times working with our marvelous kids.
This fall I am privileged to lead our Logos kids—our “Magic Penny” kids—in the part of the Logos day called “Worship Skills”. We learn about worship and practice readings and songs in preparation for Sunday mornings. And I must say: singing with these precious and beautiful parts of God’s creation is like bathing in grace. These young “earthen vessels” carry far more of God’s gentle and loving grace within than they may ever know.  I may come to Worship Skills with bruises and burdens, but by the end of our time, as the kids sit in a closing circle with Sandy and offer up their joys and concerns in prayer, I feel like grace has taken a cleansing journey through me, the bruises partly mended and the burdens partly lifted.
You see, God’s grace is not only at work in the world and in the church. God’s grace is also at work in us ... in me ... and in you. God’s grace is not just “for the world” and “for the church”, it is also for you and me. The psalmist reminds us that we are the sheep of God’s hand, the sheep of God’s care, the sheep of God’s tender keeping. God’s care and keeping offers to us release from our fears, healing for our hurts, and resurrection and rebirth from even our greatest failings. Our “Song of Grace” that we have been singing during these weeks of stewardship expresses God’s tender care of us each:
Grace like a stream, flows gently on.
Wash over me until my fear is gone.
Gentle healing grace, show to me your face.
Wash over me until my fear is gone.

God of our hearts, burdened with care.
Help us to feel your love in humble prayer.
Gentle whisp’ring grace, flow within this place.
Help us to feel your love in humble prayer.

Gentle your touch, upon my soul,
Mold all my being ‘til you’ve made me whole.
Gentle saving grace, show upon my face.
Mold all my being ‘til you’ve made me whole.

Dear friends, know and trust we are the sheep of God’s hand, the sheep of God’s care, the sheep of God’s tender keeping. We are the children of God’s good grace.
I said earlier that I love to star-gaze and love to search for meteors ... that somehow the immensity of space, when streaked with bits of light, strangely warms me and reminds me of God’s presence and care: God’s grace. This morning I was up very, very early—even earlier than usual as there was a special occurrence in the sky that I didn’t want to miss. Each year the earth, in its solar orbit, passes through the extreme end of the tail of Halley’s Comet which won’t re-appear in its full glory until 2061. I’ll be 103. Some of you will be even older. J The resulting meteor shower is called the “Orionid Shower” because the entry point for the meteors is in the place where the constellation Orion hangs in the sky.
I sat out in the back yard very early this morning under a beautifully starry night, a blanket over me and a cup of freshly brewed coffee in hand. A light breeze rustled the neighbor’s palm tree. And I watched as tiny streaks of light graced the dark sky. The Orionid meteors can occur anywhere in the sky, but if you trace the path of each meteor back, the paths all converge in one point near Orion’s belt—they all originate from the same place.
I think it’s a marvelous metaphor for the grace of God ... grace manifest in so many places, in so many ways. Grace expressed beyond us and within us, grace worked out through us and sometimes in spite of us, grace sparkling brightly in times and places where all light seems to have dimmed and perhaps disappeared altogether. But all grace, all good gifts, all healing mercies and emerging hope originate from one place, one source and that is the loving heart of the Creator of All. And it is the night sky that hints at that loving heart, and it is also the children of Logos, and it also is your silent and supportive prayer, and it is also your gifts of time and energy and self and substance, among so many other things, that give me and gives us all life-giving and life-saving hints of the wideness of God’s mercy and the Amazing Grace and Goodness of the one who loves and cares for us all ... and even loves and cares for you ... and for me.
We have been loved and served and saved for a purpose: that we might manifest and make tangible and real the grace of God; that we might make tangible and real the living goodness of God’s being and God’s power and God’s love that is offered to the world and its people without cost, without condition, without limit. We have been loved and served and saved that might be Stewards of God’s Good and Amazing Grace.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Grace in the Church, by Pastor Greg

Ann Lamott is a Bay Area native and a writer of both fiction as well as earthy essays on faith. She can be laugh out loud funny and she can move you to copious tears. She grew up in Marin County during a time when the phrase “only in Marin” came to be coined. It was the 60’s and early 70’s. It was a chaotic time to grow up when lives and values and families and children were sort of tossed in the air only to land God knows where. Lamott describes her coming to faith as less a leap than a series of staggers from what seemed like one safe place after another. As a child she possessed a belief in God that defied her arrogantly atheistic surroundings. Describing that child-like faith, she says: “I bowed my head and prayed, because I believed ... in someone listening, someone who heard. I do not understand how that came to be; I just know I always believed ....”
A crash course through broken relationships and addictions left Lamott in a place of nearly suicidal desperation. She describes a dark afternoon where she felt at the end of her rope. A vestige of the old belief still clung to her, but she says: “I felt that the odds of my living long enough to get into heaven were almost nil. They couldn’t possibly take you in the shape I was in. I could no longer imagine how God could love me.”
In a moment of desperation, she went to a nearby church and spoke to the new pastor who struck her as being tenderhearted. When she poured out to him that she didn’t think God could possibly love her, broken and stained and tortured and suicidal as she was, he said: “God has to love you. That’s God’s job.”
It would be wonderful to report that in that one conversation Lamott was “wash-clean” and set free. But the path to new life and health and “salvation” is often not so easy ... so quick ... so painless. She was bumping around the bottom and the top was still a long ways off.
It was the first of the glimmers of grace that began to penetrate her soul, her life, her brokenness. She says: “Slowly I came back to life. I’d been like one of those people Ezekiel comes upon in the valley of dry bones—people who had really given up, who were lifeless and without hope. But because of Ezekiel’s presence, breath comes upon them; spirit and kindness revive them.”
Breath and spirit and kindness were reviving Anne Lamott, and they were coming to her through the breath and spirit and kindness of a skinny, white, middle-aged mediator of God’s grace. But she still had a long, long way to go.
By tumbles and turns, she found herself in a church one day, so hung-over, she says that she could barely stand up for the songs. But she stayed until the end and says that the last song was so deep and raw and pure that she could not escape. She says it was as if the people were singing in between the notes, weeping and joyful  at the same time. She says: “I felt like their voice or something was rocking me in its bosom, holding me like a scared kid, and I opened up to the feeling—and it washed over me.”
She went into recovery, she was baptized at the little church, she had a baby who was also baptized, and she lost her best friend to cancer. And throughout it all there was the steady and faithful presence of the little church that had offered grace to her in their words and songs and silences and actions. She says that she and her baby son, Sam, have missed church maybe ten times in twelve years. She describes the church as a wonderful old worn pair of pants. And it was home. Home. The pastor, who is still there, who became the perfect fit for that “old worn pair of pants of a home” told a story from her childhood. “When she was about seven, her best friend got lost one day. The little girl ran up and down the streets of the big town where they lived, but she couldn’t find a single landmark. She was very frightened. Finally a policeman stopped to help her. He put her in the passenger seat of his car, and they frove around until she finally saw her church. She pointed it out to the policeman, and then she told him firmly, “You could let me out now. This is my church, and I can always find my way home from here.”

Lamott says: “And that is why I have stayed so close to mine – because no matter how bad I am feeling, how lost or lonely or frightened, when I see the faces of the people at my church, and hear their tawny voices, I can always find my way home.”

I don’t know if the Biblical writers of old struggled with addictions or hangovers or how to clean hair out of the hot tub, but I do know they knew what it felt like to be lost and lonely and frightened and in need of a home ... a home where grace was offered without cost or condition. Home, for the writers of our Bible, was the place where the dispenser of Grace could be found ... located ... leaned upon. Home was wherever God landed and dwelled among the people whom God loved and led through the wilderness and into the promised places.
In the desert, God was found in the “tent of meeting” ... it was a portable, traveling temple of a fashion ... wherever the tent was, God was. Once the people settled in the promised land, however, a Temple of hewn stone was built and this became God’s home ... it was here that God dwelled amidst the “holy of holies.” But it was never a comfortable home for God ... it led the worshippers of God to think that God was somehow captive to the home ... restricted to that home ... limited to that home. It took the destruction of the Temple and the scattering of the people and exiles of many years and many kinds to teach the people that God’s truest home was not in a building of stone or a building of any kind. God’s throne was the trusting and humble human heart, and God’s dwelling was any place and time where trusting and humble human hearts gathered and worshiped and broke bread and shared the cup and did the work of God’s own Spirit.
This is the glimpse of the “home” of God that we see in the readings this morning from the book of Acts and the Epistle to the Colossians. We think of the church as being born at Pentecost: the coming of the Spirit of God that touched and filled the followers of Jesus and gathered them into a community of worship and mission. But the church was also filled with the Grace of the One who had called them together and empowered them to be the church. These passages from Acts and Colossians give evidence of that grace ... God’s grace that is to flow into and out of every gathering of believers, into and out of every time of worship, every time of fellowship, every time of working out the continuing ministry of Jesus and God’s work of Shalom.
ACTS 2All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.
ACTS 4Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great gracewas upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.
For the writer of Acts, the church is a community of “one heart and soul” ... a community of “glad and generous hearts ... a community of “goodwill” ... and a community of “great grace” and growth in spirit and numbers. And the reading from the letter to the church in Colossae gives flesh and garments to these bones:
Colossians 3As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God ... through him.
For Anne Lamott, the church in which she found her life again fit profoundly the descriptions we have heard in Acts and Colossians. And if there is a single word that fit what flowed into and out of the New Testament Church and that “old worn pants of a church” in Marin City, the word is GRACE. Amazing grace. Grace that is unearned, unmerited, unconditional and unlimited. Grace upon grace and grace abounding.
Lamott tells a story that has always touched me and expresses well the grace that is rightly the possession and the gift of every church in every place and time.
One of our newer members, a man named Ken Nelson, is dying of AIDS, disintegrating before our very eyes.  He came in a year ago with a Jewish woman who comes every week to be with us, although she does not believe in Jesus.  Shortly after the man with AIDS started coming, his partner died of the disease.  A few weeks later Ken told us that right after Brandon died, Jesus had slid into the hole in his heart that Brandon’s loss had left, and had been there ever since.  Ken has a totally lopsided face, ravaged and emaciated, but when he smiles, he is radiant.  He looks like God’s crazy nephew Phil.  He says that he would gladly pay any price for what he has now, which is Jesus, and us.
There’s a woman in the choir named Ranola, who is large and beautiful and jovial and black and a devout a can be, who has been a little standoffish toward Ken.  She has always looked at him with confusion, when she looks at him at all.  Or she looks at him sideways, as if she wouldn’t have to quite see him if she didn’t look at him head on.  She was raised in the South by Baptists who taught her that his way of life—that he—was an abomination.  It is hard for her to break through this.  I think she and a few other women at church are, on the most visceral level, a little afraid of catching the disease.  But Kenny has come to church almost every week for the last year, and won almost everyone over.  He finally missed a few Sunday’s when he got too weak, and then a month ago he was back, weighing almost no pounds, his face even more lopsided, as if he’d had a stroke.  Still, during the prayers of the people, he talked joyously of his life and his decline of grace and redemption, of how safe and happy he feels these days. 
So on this particular Sunday, for the first hymn, the so-called Morning hymn, we sang “Jacob’s Ladder”, which goes, “every rung goes higher, higher,” while ironically Kenny couldn’t even stand up.  But he sang away sitting down, with the hymnal in his lap.  And then when it came time for the second hymn, the Fellowship Hymn, we were to sing “His Eye is on the Sparrow.”  The pianist was playing and the whole congregation had risen--only Ken remained seated, holding the hymnal in his lap—and we began to sing, “Why should I feel discouraged? Why do the shadows fall?”  And Ranola watched Ken rather skeptically for a moment, and then her face began to melt and contort like his, and he went to his side and bent down to lift him up—lifted up this white rag doll, this scarecrow.  She held him next to her, draped over and against her like a child while they sang.  And it pierced me.
God’s grace ... God’s grace ... through the earthen vessel that is the church and the individual members of the church ... God’s grace ... offered without cost ... without condition ... and without limit. God’s grace ... that can pierce us and make us whole and give us back the lives we thought we’d perhaps lost forever.
Let us be persons and a people of God’s grace ... for a church built on God’s grace, will always stand, will always serve, will always save, will always have the strength to sing: “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a soul like me. I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see.”

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Grace in the World, by Pastor Greg

Amazing grace how sweet the sound ...
Grace ... what is grace? It’s a word that gets bandied about a lot by people like us. And it’s a lively question for us this month as the word and the notionof grace are at the heart of our thinking about stewardship. Grace is at the heart what it means to offer our all in support of God’s good work in and around and beyond us.
So here’s a working definition of grace: God’s “grace” is the living goodness of God’s being and God’s power and God’s love that is offered to the world and its people without cost, without condition, without limit. (repeat)
Perhaps you can be thinking or searching for your own definition of grace in the days ahead.
For Paul writing in his epistles—his letters to the churches, grace was all about “salvation”—God’s gift of an unbreakable bond created between the heart of a human being and the heart of God and the eternity of God. But grace and salvation are not to be thought of as some kind of private transaction in which you escape with your hide and “devil may care” about the hides around you. That modern saint, Dorothy Day, was fond of saying: “None are saved until all are saved.” If Christians are only concerned for saving their own skin, their own souls, only concerned with locking up theirown “private path to heaven,” they’ve completely missed the wideness of God’s mercy, and the intended “all-ness” of God’s gift.
And let’s give up the thinking that would suggest that “grace and salvation” are strictly “spiritual” matters ... concerned only with the spirit and the soul—the ephemeral and the eternal, but not the material or the physical. Grace and salvation are also interested in other matters like health and poverty and opportunity and oppression— Grace and salvation are also interested in the neighbor in need. When hunger causes your ribs to show, when disease stalks you and takes your children, when war robs you of your neighbors and your livelihood, it’s hard to care too much about the “eternal security” of your soul. And it’s equally hard to imagine that anyone calling themselves “Christian” could ignore the “neighbor’s” plight while yet thinking of themselves as “saved” and beneficiaries of the “grace of God.”
If “grace” is particular, it is also “universal”. If it is a gift intended for “me”, it is also a gift intended for “us” and the two are inseparable. God’s gift of life and grace and salvation—in the broadest, deepest and richest sense of those terms, is intended for one and for all. To hoard them, protect them, or privatize them is to destroy them.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality. ... This is the way our universe is structured, this is its interrelated quality. We aren’t going to have peace on Earth until we recognize this basic fact of the interrelated structure of all reality.
One of the things we feel we know to say about grace is that it comes to us through God’s gift of Jesus: God in the flesh, God incarnate, God upon this earth as one of us, uniquely human, yet divine. For us, Jesus is the way to God’s grace. So let’s combine that thought with the familiar words of the 16thcentury Spanish mystic, St. Teresa of Avila:
Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks in
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Fellow “stewards of God’s grace”, we are partners in the “dispensing” and “enacting” of God’s grace. It is the living out of the interrelatedness and the mutuality of God’s grace for one and all, in tangible and compassionate action, that God’s grace becomes realized and made manifest.
Today is Worldwide Communion Sunday. This is a day when we symbolically break bread and share the cup with Christians the world over ... in every place and every condition. On this day of communion and grace, I would simply note three ways that we help dispense and enact God’s living and tangible grace in this world that God so loves.
ONE: Seafarer’s “ditty bags” ...
TWO: I’m thinking of the work that we support in Haiti ... and especially the work of our missionaries there, Nzunga Mabudiga and Kihomi Ngwemi, a husband and wife team who are natives to the Congo.
Nzunga and Kihomi serve as a vital link between International Ministries and the Haitian Baptist Convention. Nzunga teaches theology at the Christian University of Northern Haiti, trains assistant professors in teaching and writing books, administers a scholarship program, and visits and preaches in churches. He also administers the "Kids for Kids" goat project that provides needed school and personal supplies for children and university students.Kihomi works with families in the areas of counseling, family planning, and women's health issues. She also coordinates and advises the women's association of the Haitian Baptist Convention, representing women of all the Baptist denominations of Haiti at international conferences.
Nzunga and Kihomi are also deeply concerned about the merciful medical ministry of the hospital we support in Limbe: “The Hospital of the Good Samaritan.” Several years ago we, as a church, gave a significant gift toward the purchase a new generator that would help supply the hospital with a reliable source of electricity so they wouldn’t have to rely only on the unreliable local power “grid”—if it could even be called that. It was a huge boost to the hospital’s care they offer to their neighbors in need.
THREE: Heifer ... a gift that keeps on giving (as opposed to guilt ... Keillor)
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
At this time I invite us to begin to draw near to the table that is laden with rich hints of God’s goodness and grace: bread and the juice of grapes. The bread and the cup symbolize the world’s physical hunger and its satisfaction. We may not be able to “live by bread alone”, but without bread, we cannot live at all. The bread and the cup symbolize the sustenance and nutrition all beings need to live. And they also symbolize the deeper sustenance and nutrition without which we also have no real being: the sustenance of our souls, our hearts, our dreams, our spirits, our purpose, our living, our humanity. God is also concerned with these things and all things—with the “allness” of all people—and God promises to feed all who come together in love to this love feast with that which satisfies and fulfills our bodies and minds, hearts and spirits.
So let us come and join together with the children of God’s heart the world over in partaking of this food, this meal, this grace.

 Christ invites us all to this Holy Feast.
  As we gather this morning,
            we remember our sisters and brothers
            from above and below the equator,
            from the North and from Down Under,
            from every time zone around the globe.
  As today's sunlight inches across land and sea
  Christians gather to celebrate their place
in God's family.
  All are invited and all are welcome.
  Come, for the meal is ready!