Live an Easter Life

Preached on 23 April 2017 at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Snohomish, Washington
Second Sunday of Easter, Year A

Christ is risen.  What now?  What’s next?
Whatever disciplines we observed for Lent are done.
We’ve colored and hunted eggs.  We’ve eaten our fill of chocolate and had our celebrations – brunch or dinner or whatever you do.
But what’s next?  We are an Easter people.  How do we live an Easter life?  How do we respond to the Resurrection?  Today’s lessons show us a number of responses.

In our first reading, from Acts, we hear Peter addressing the crowd – all those gathered in Jerusalem for the Jewish festival of Pentecost.  This is right after the Holy Spirit blows through like a great wind and alights on the disciples like tongues of flame.  Then they begin speaking in other languages so that each person hears the Good News in their own language.

And now Peter explains it to them.  He recounts and interprets the significant events in their history and Scriptures through the lens of the resurrection of Jesus.  He tells them about Jesus and connects Jesus to their history.  Then he sums up, saying
This Jesus, God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses.”

All of us are witnesses.  That’s us, too.
Now witnesses are more than observers.  Witnesses tell what they observed.  They tell what they saw, what they experienced.
So, one response is to be a witness of the resurrection.  To tell what you’ve experienced.

In the Gospel, we find the disciples – except for Thomas – hiding in a locked room.  It’s in the evening on the first day of the week – the day of the resurrection – and a lot has happened already.

At dawn, Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb, but it is open.  Thinking Jesus’ body has been moved, she goes to tell the others.  Only two respond, however.  Peter and “the other disciple” go with Mary back to the tomb.  Sure enough, Jesus is gone.  So, what do they do?  They go home and lock the door.  Huh?

Their response is fear and hiding.

Mary stays, though.  She still doesn’t know what happened and wants to do something about Jesus’ missing body.  She sees the angels and speaks with them.  Then she sees Jesus and speaks with him.  He instructs her to go tell the others.  And so, she goes back and tells them. “I have seen the Lord.”

Still they stay in that locked room.  Except for Thomas.  I wonder where he goes?  Did he go out to get food for dinner?  Did he go looking for Jesus?  We don’t know.  We do know that when Jesus arrives, Thomas isn’t there.

Now, this is John’s version of the coming of the Holy Spirit and the Great Commission.  They were quick; did you catch them?  The whole thing is three sentences long.

Jesus breathes into them and says “Receive the Holy Spirit.”  And he commissions them, “As the Father sent me so I send you.  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

There you have it:  Receive the Holy Spirit.  Go. Forgive sins, or retain them.

Jesus leaves and Thomas comes back.  What do they say?  “We have seen the Lord.”  Thomas is disappointed; he missed Jesus, the one he was looking for.  He’s really no different from the others.

Mary doesn’t understand the empty tomb until she sees Jesus and speaks with him.  The disciples don’t believe Mary’s proclamation until they see Jesus, see his wounds, touch him, speak with him.  Thomas doesn’t believe the disciples until he sees Jesus for himself.
But in each case, once they encounter the risen Christ, they proclaim it; they witness to it.  In Thomas’ case, “My Lord and my God!”

There is a theme throughout the gospel of John, Come and see; Go and tell.  One of the first words Jesus speaks is, “Come and see,” and we hear it over and over again.  Then one person tells the next.

In the last two verses today, we hear John tell us his purpose:  “These are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that in believing, you may have life in his name.”

Come and see.  Believe, Trust in Jesus.  Live fully. Witness – share the Good News, telling others what you’ve experienced.  That’s why John wrote his gospel.

We are an Easter people.  Christ is risen.  How do we respond.  In today’s lessons, we heard a number of responses:

  • Reviewing your history, your life, through the lens of the resurrection; looking for encounters with God in Christ in the joys and trials of your life.
  • With fear? Hiding?  What were the disciples afraid of?  Who were they hiding from?  The Jews?  Jesus?  Are we afraid to meet the Risen One?
  • Or are we like Thomas, who just wants to see Jesus?
  • Jesus sends us, his disciples, to forgive sins. Maybe that’s our response to the resurrection, to be forgiving.
  • Or do we respond as witnesses, proclaiming, “I have seen the Lord.”

Christ is risen!  We are an Easter people.

Let’s live an Easter Life!

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Easter Earthquake

Preached on 16 April 2017 at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Snohomish, Washington
Easter Day, Year A

Alleluia! Christ is risen! The Lord is risen, indeed!
I wonder what it was like, though, that first Easter morning.  Each gospel writer tells the story a little differently.  In Matthew’s gospel, there are guards at the tomb and they have sealed the stone in place, across the tomb.  The Romans had been warned that Jesus had said that if they killed him, he would be raise up, so they were worried that the disciples might come and steal his body, they tried to guard against that.

Then, early, early, in the morning, two of the Mary’s arrive: Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary,” possibly Jesus’ mother.  In the other gospels, they bring materials to prepare his body for burial, but in Matthew’s gospel, Joseph and Nicodemus do that when they put him in the tomb.  I wonder what they expect to see?

Then there’s the earthquake as an angel arrives.  The angel rolls away the stone not to release Jesus from his tomb, but so that the women can see that the tomb is empty!  They leave “with fear and great joy” to tell the others the message the angel gives them.  Jesus has been raised; he’ll meet you in Galilee.  Fear and great joy.  Have you ever felt that?  Looking at something that is amazing and beautiful, but fills you with fear and awe at its power?  What does this mean?  The Resurrection upends their world; if death isn’t death, then what?  What else might God do?

The earthquake is unique to Matthew’s gospel.  You may remember from last Sunday’s reading of the Passion from Matthew’s gospel, that the earth quaked at the moment of Jesus’ death, too.

Earthquakes in scripture are often used as a way of saying that God is present and is intervening.  Heaven and earth connect.

Now, we’re familiar with earthquakes around here.    The thing about earthquakes is afterwards.  Afterwards, you may be able to straighten the pictures and put things back on the shelves.  You may even repair buildings and bridges, or even tear them down and rebuild them.  But the thing is, the very ground beneath us has shifted and we can never put that back any more than we can put the top back on Mt. St. Helens.  It is forever changed.

Easter is an earthquake.  The cosmic order is upended by God.  Once Jesus is raised and they find the empty tomb, how they perceive the world, how they perceive life and death itself, is changed forever.  There’s no going back.

The Resurrection is not the end of the story, it’s the beginning of a new story.  It’s the beginning of the story we’re in.  We are an Easter people.  The life, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus is our foundational story.  It tells us who we are.  The Resurrection shapes us and how we see the world, how we see life.  It shapes how we understand God.

For the first witnesses and the early Christians the resurrection shakes the foundations of their world.  Does it still?  Or is this story now part of the air we breathe, we don’t know another way?  Do we take it for granted?  And I don’t ask that meaning that it’s a bad thing.  But it is worth thinking about.

How does it affect how you see the world – especially in times of trouble or upheaval in the world around us?

The whole life and teaching, passion and resurrection of Jesus can still shake our world.  Jesus doesn’t overthrow the Romans as they had hoped, but the Romans can’t overpower him.  Evil never gets the last word.

Matthew’s story is filled with “seeing” the women come to see the tomb; they see the angel and the angel invites them to come and see where Jesus lay, but isn’t there.  Finally, they see Jesus on their way to “Go and tell” his disciples.
It is the beginning of new life, seeing the Lord, seeking Christ, expecting to see Christ.

As I struggle to find words to describe this new life we have through the mystery of the Resurrection, I find that one of the collects from last night says it best.

“O God of unchangeable power and eternal light:  Look favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry out in tranquility the plan of salvation;  Let the whole world see and know  that things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Book of Common Prayer)

May the Earthquake of Easter, the power of the Resurrection, that shifts the very ground beneath us, give us new eyes to see.  Eyes to see that which is being raise up, that which is being made new; eyes to see all things brought to their perfection.
But most of all, may it give us eyes to seek and see Jesus.
For indeed, he is risen!  Alleluia!

Holy Ground at the tomb: God’s gift of new life

Preached on 15 April 2017 at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Snohomish, Washington
Great Vigil of Easter, Year A

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
Lent is over.  We have journeyed through Holy Week through the Holy Ground of community, the Holy Ground of the cross, to the Holy Ground of the empty tomb.  It seems fitting, that tonight we started at the holy ground of the tombs of those we love who have gone before.  Whether they rest here in the memorial garden or in some similar place, we were with them in our hearts.  We started with those with whom we hope to one day be reunited, and we end at the empty tomb of Jesus.

We listened once again to the stories of our faith.  Stories that are all about God; but always about God in relationship with God’s people.  We have heard the lengths God will go to for God’s people.

We journeyed through Lent and especially Holy Week, thinking about God’s gifts to us through Jesus Christ.  God’s gift to us of each other, the nourishment of community in the sacraments of the bread and wine and of caring for one another, washing feet. 
God’s gift of unfailing presence and of unbounded love and mercy we find at the cross. 
God’s gift to us of new life in Christ, we find at the empty tomb.

The empty tomb is not the end of the story, though.  It’s the beginning.  It’s new life, new hope, new possibilities.  It’s the story about binding our own lives to the life of Christ as we did at our baptism. 

Georgia, tonight, you get a new birthday.  You still have your birthday in December.  But tonight, as you are baptized, it is your birthday into new life with Jesus.  You see all those people out there?  They’re your new sisters and brothers.  And they’re gonna promise to do everything they can to help you in your life with Christ – especially to figure out what that means.

But even more important than that promise.  Jesus promises to always be with you, no matter what, forever and for always, Jesus loves you.  And just so you remember that, I’m going to pour some water on your head and I’m going to draw a cross on your forehead with some oil that smells pretty and say, “You are sealed by the Holy Spirit in baptism and marked as Christ’s own forever.”  You may be able to wash the oil off, but Jesus will always be able to see it.  And I hope that it will help you always remember Jesus’ promises to you.

Are you ready? 

Holy Ground of the Cross: God’s gift of forgiveness

Preached on 14 April 2017 at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Snohomish, Washington
Good Friday

Today, we come to the Holy Ground of Golgotha, the Holy Ground of the Cross.  It feels very different from yesterday on the Holy Ground of community.  Today, we may feel almost alone.

Perhaps we have a tiny sense of what they felt: the confusion, the desolation; empty, drained.  What was it all for?
What kind of God is this?

The crucifixion was not God’s plan.  God does not require suffering, pain, and death to be able to forgive.  The stories of the Hebrew Scriptures do present a God who forgives.  Jesus expressly said “your sins are forgiven” to many people over the course of his ministry, pronouncing God’s forgiveness.  God didn’t need the cross.

It was inevitable, though. Jesus is crucified as a result of human sin.  His life, his proclamation, his ministry made confrontation with Power inevitable; made his violent death inevitable.  Yet he continued.  He didn’t change his message.  He didn’t stop what he was doing.  He didn’t try to avoid it.  He rode into Jerusalem knowing what it would mean for his life and for those who followed him.  He faced the evil in peace without violence.  In the end, it is we who need the cross, not God.

Without death; without the cross, there can be no empty tomb.  And oh how we need that empty tomb.

On the Holy Ground of the cross, we are defenseless,  all our protective layers and excuses are peeled away.  We can no longer hide from ourselves.  We can no longer pretend to hide from God.

When we come to the cross, at last we see just how far God’s forgiveness and love extend.  If God can forgive the crucifixion of God’s son, surely God can forgive me; surely God can forgive you.  No sin or accumulation of sins is more powerful than the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.   I’ll say that again.

No sin or accumulation of sins is more powerful than the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Crucifixion overcomes them all.  No exceptions. No “yeah, but…”

Whatever suffering we may experience in our lives; no matter how alone and desolate we may feel, at the Cross, we see that we are never alone.  Christ is with us.  Always.

On the Holy Ground of the cross, we witness the magnitude of Christ’s love and forgiveness for us. May we embrace them.

Holy Ground of Community: God’s gift to us of each other

Preached on 13 April 2017 at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Snohomish, Washington
Maundy Thursday

It’s Holy Week.  Today we begin the Triduum, three holy days; one liturgy extending over three days: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Great Vigil of Easter.

It is a holy time and we are on holy ground.  Because this is a church and the bishop came and consecrated it oh so many years ago?  No.  It’s holy because we’re here; because you’re here and because God is here and makes it holy.  God makes you holy.  Set apart for God.  Set apart by God for God.  That’s what holiness means.  So, we are together on Holy Ground tonight and we will be tomorrow and the next night.

We come together to hear God’s Word and to share in God’s Sacraments.  This first of the three Holy Days is Maundy Thursday.  It comes from the Latin word for commandment.  On this day, we remember and respond to Jesus’ commandments to his disciples on the night he was betrayed.  But Jesus didn’t give orders, he gave us an example to follow.

Maundy Thursday focuses on the gift of community and fellowship, God’s gift to us of each other and how Jesus teaches us to care for and nurture this precious gift.  We hear it in the Gospel reading from John and also in the reading from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians.  Both are recalling that last night Jesus spent with his disciples; knowing what was about to happen and reminding them of what they had seen and learned while they were with him.

He gives them tangible ways to remember, so that in the days to come when it will seem that their world has come crashing down, they will be able to recall once again in the familiar, the things they do every day, what Jesus taught them, showed them, about the kingdom of God.

“Do this in remembrance of me,” he said.  Eat this bread, that you eat every day.  Drink this wine, that you drink every day.  And whenever you do, do it in remembrance of me.  Every meal will be a reminder of Jesus and what he taught them.  Then they do it; he gives them an example.

In this sacrament, God nourishes us with the very essence of Christ – not only our bodies and souls, but the Body; the Body of Christ, bringing us together nourishing us as one community for service.

Jesus gives us the stuff of ever day life so that even when we’re apart, we might eat this bread in remembrance of Christ; in remembrance that we are One not only with Christ but with each other.  In remembrance that we are on Holy Ground.

Jesus gives them the new commandment: “Love one another.  Just as I have loved you, you also should have love for one another.”  Just as I have loved you, he says.  His whole life with them has been an example of what he’s asking them to do as a way of life.  Of living on Holy Ground.

And finally, Jesus sets the example of washing the disciples’ feet.  Then he tells them, you also should wash one another’s feet.

In some Christian traditions, footwashing is the central sacrament – an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace.  Much as the bread and wine of communion are a foretaste of the heavenly banquet, washing one another’s feet is a foretaste of community and service on the Holy Ground of the world.

Washing feet is different now than what it was then.  We do it ourselves, in the privacy of our bathrooms.  It’s no longer a practice of hospitality or a sign of hierarchy where servants and slaves do the washing and lords and masters are washed.  That’s why it bothered Peter and the others so much.

For us, it is uncomfortable, too, just in a different way.  Some people think feet are funny-looking.  Some are ticklish.  Some are smelly.  Sometimes we adorn them with jewelry or polish.  Usually, we hide them inside shoes and socks.

Many people are much more comfortable serving others than being served.  To be served may mean allowing yourself to be somewhat vulnerable.  Practicing community means both – serving and being served, humility and vulnerability – it’s practicing loving one another, just as Jesus loved the disciples; just as Jesus loves us.

Washing one another’s feet is even more than that.  It is a sacramental act.  It is taking the stuff of everyday life and seeing the Holy in it.  It is a “Do this in remembrance of me” action.

When you put your shoes on every day, remember that you will be walking on Holy Ground that God goes with you.  And when you take them off, think about and pray for the Holy Ground you share with everyone here, and with the whole Body of Christ and all the ground in between its members.  It’s all Holy Ground.

We are gathered here, God’s gift to us of each other: Holy People on Holy Ground, nourished in community, breaking bread together.

I invite you, now, to follow Jesus’ example and command that we also should wash one another’s feet.

 

 

Revelations of the Cross

Preached on 9 April 2017 at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Snohomish, Washington
Palm Sunday, Year A

“They are so preoccupied with power and fearful of change that they miss the possibility of a world in which love and compassion could become a reality.”  [Instead, they turn to violence and murder, to mocking and deriding their so-called enemy.  They don’t want to change what they have always believed and done.]

Turmoil, chaos, shouts of “Save us!”  Those in power publicly, violently make an example of some as a warning to the rest.  Each side proclaims victory.  And behind the scenes? – spying, betrayal, treachery.

No, I’m not talking about this week’s news.  I’m talking about today’s gospel.  It feels chaotic; we ride an emotional roller-coaster.  And if you’re hoping that I will create order out of chaos, make it all neat and tidy for you, with a nice clear message? Well, I’m afraid you’re going to be disappointed.

There is nothing neat and tidy about God or Jesus and his life and teaching and death.  There is nothing neat and tidy about this story – the central story of our faith (well, half of it – we get the rest next week).  Perhaps that’s the point – there’s nothing neat and tidy; it’s chaotic.  How do we go from shouts of “Hosanna, Save us, Son of David,” to cries of “Crucify him!” in one short week?  There is so much in these events that we can only touch on a couple of them.

What does this story reveal about the human condition?  What does it reveal about the character and nature of God?

Let’s start with Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.
First, note that while we’ve spent the last four weeks in the gospel of John, today, we’ve moved back into the gospel of Matthew.

Jesus enters the capital city mirroring the triumphal entry of a victorious army returning from battle or the arrival of a king.

The city is teeming with people from all over the Jewish world who have come to celebrate the most important festival of their faith, the Passover.  Many of the people may not be up on all the latest local news – like this rabbi or prophet or whatever from Nazareth who has been going around teaching and preaching in the synagogues, healing people, and casting out demons.  And talking about the kingdom of God.  Word gets around quickly, though, and they do know about the prophecies.

And here he comes into the city.  It’s an act of protest, resistance; a challenge to Power.  It’s claiming the power of a different kingdom.

Many people think that he could be the fulfillment of the prophecies; they are filled with expectations.  So, they line the streets, going before him and behind him, shouting, “Hosanna, Son of David!”  Save us.  That’s what Hosanna means, Save us.  Save us from Rome.  They have such high hopes.  Could this be the Son of David, the Messiah they have longed for?

But the people with power are worried and they begin to plot.  In fact the very next thing Jesus does is to go to the Temple where he drives out the people selling doves for sacrifices and Temple coins for offerings.

Then, over the next several days he teaches every day in the Temple.  The Scribes and Pharisees and elders come and engage with him, testing him, trying to trip him up.  He challenges them and calls out their hypocrisy.  Their plans to arrest Jesus take shape and Judas decides to betray him.

People with power don’t give it up willingly.  That’s part of the human condition.

Now, Jesus knows that what he is doing will lead to his death.  They won’t let this slide.  For that matter, his entire ministry has been leading to this.

He is arrested and tried, so to speak.  The religious authorities question him.  They turn him over to the political authorities and Pilate questions him.  He says nothing to try to save himself.

And the people? who just days before were shouting Hosannas?  Their hopes of a Messiah to save them have been dashed and they turn on him, riled up by their leaders.  Now they shout, “Crucify him!”

Another disappointment.  Another false messiah.  They’ve been down this road before.
Rome wins again.

The cross reveals to us a God who saves us by not saving himself; a God willing to suffer on our behalf.  It’s important, though, to remember that the Cross was the culmination of Christ’s life and his proclamation of the kingdom of God.  His death and life reveal a God who enters into the chaotic brokenness of the world and stays with us no matter what; suffering a horrible death like countless others have done and still do, at the hands of the Powers of the world.

It’s important that we remember that Jesus death is not unique or even uncommon.  We mustn’t romanticize it.  There is nothing beautiful about crucifixion or any other execution or killing.

You see, the cross also reveals the human condition.  To quote the commentary I paraphrased at the beginning of the sermon,

“Those who orchestrated Jesus death were so preoccupied with power and fearful of change that they missed the possibility of a world in which love and compassion could become a reality.  As a result, they and their followers crucified God’s Son, mocking and deriding him, lest they believe and be changed.”

The human condition – preoccupied with power and fearful of change.

As we journey toward Easter this Holy Week, I invite you to spend time with this story.  Read it – and the chapters between the triumphal entry and the crucifixion as well.  Meditate on it; pray it.  Ask questions of it:

What does this story reveal about the human condition?
What does it reveal about the character and nature of God?

Grace Upon Grace

Preached on 9 April, 2017 at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Snohomish, Washington
The fifth Sunday in Lent, Year A

Grant us grace to love what you command and
desire what you promise;
that among the swift and varied changes of the world,
our hearts may surely there be fixed
where true joys are to be found.

Grace upon grace; hope upon hope; promise upon promise.

It’s the fifth Sunday in Lent; we’re almost there.  Next Sunday, we begin Holy Week, when time feels like it is almost suspended as we walk with Christ:  From his triumphal entry into the Holy City of Jerusalem, to his last meal with his disciples, to praying in the garden, his betrayal and arrest, to his crucifixion and burial.
And then we wait; the waiting on Holy Saturday is almost unbearable until at last…. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

We began Lent with a reminder of our own mortality and an invitation to observe a holy Lent, along with suggestions of how we might do that: Praying, fasting, and self-denial; reading and meditating on God’s holy Word; self-examination, repentance, and amendment of life.

And as we have observed Lent in our daily lives, we have gathered here each Sunday to hear the Good News, the stories that give us hope; that tell us God’s promises; to see that grace upon grace God offers us.

Have you noticed how the stories have built upon each other week by week?
We started with Jesus in the desert, tested by Satan.
Then Nicodemus went to talk to Jesus in the night and Jesus told him about new birth in the Spirit; being born from above.
The third Sunday we heard Jesus in conversation with the Samaritan Woman at the well.  He told her that with the water he could give her, she would never thirst; living water that would well up within her to eternal life.
Last week, we saw the blind man see.  New sight to see who Jesus is; to see God at work in the world.  New life – abundant life, Jesus promises.

And finally, today, we come to the story of Lazarus.  But first, we start with the Valley of Dry Bones.  The prophet, Ezekiel, was deported to Babylon along with the people of Israel in 597 BCE.  They are exiled for years, decades.  They fear God has abandoned them; that they are cut off completely from God.  They have lost hope – so much so that they feel like dry bones.

So, God gives Ezekiel a vision, a message, for the people.  Through the Spirit of God, even long-dead dry bones can live again.  This is not just a story of resurrection.  It is a promise; a reason for hope.  It is an affirmation of life.  Life NOW is what God desires for God’s people.  Abundant life.

That’s what Jesus promises.

John writes his gospel for a purpose: so that you, his reader, will believe.  One of his methods is through “signs” (what are called miracles in other gospels).  He tells of seven of them, beginning with the sign of changing water to wine at the wedding in Cana.

Raising Lazarus from the dead is the final sign.  It’s at the very center of the gospel.  This story is a pivotal point in John’s gospel.  It’s the point at which the authorities decide that Jesus must die.  He shows he has power over life and death.  His power and influence with the people is growing and he’s gaining more followers every day.  In raising Lazarus, he is proclaiming to them, “You are totally unable to control me.”  So, they begin looking for an opportunity kill him and Lazarus.

So here we have a story about Jesus and what leads to his death.  But there’s more to the story than that.
The details in how he tells the story connect Lazarus’ death to Jesus’ death: the question, “where have you laid him?” rolling away the stone, the linen strips of cloth, and the cloth over his face.  These details serve to direct the reader to connect Jesus to Lazarus, and through Lazarus to us.

The promises of the stories we have been hearing all through Lent are for us.  The promise of new birth from above.  The promise of living water bubbling up within us to eternal life.  The promise of new sight, of Jesus knowing his sheep by name and his sheep knowing his voice.
The promise of abundant life.  Remember, Jesus told Martha, “I am the Resurrection and I am the Life.”  The promise of resurrection life is for life now.

I began the sermon with the collect for today.

Grant us grace to love what you command
and desire what you promise;
that among the swift and varied changes of the world,
our hearts may surely there be fixed
where true joys are to be found.

We’re certainly familiar with the swift and varied changes of the world.  They can be overwhelming at times.  May we also remember the promises of the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Promise upon promise; Hope upon hope;
Grace upon grace.

Grant us your grace, O Lord.