Sunday, May 29, 2016

Go! Come! Do This!—A Sermon on Verbs and Faith

I preached this sermon to the good people of Lutheran Church of the Incarnation in Davis

I bring you greetings this morning from the Belfry, as our frenzied students prepare for their last week of classes and the onslaught of finals. Keep them in your prayers! The LEVNeers have several weeks before they move on, so keep us in your prayers as we keep up the good work!

As you may have heard, I was recently ordained—just two weeks ago, in fact—down south at my home parish of Bethlehem Lutheran in Encinitas. It’s so exciting to get to be with y'all this morning in an official capacity! Thanks for your support of the Belfry that helped in small and large ways to make calling me to serve there possible. Since Pastor Jocelynn has been on sabbatical since February (she returns August 1), I’ve been at the helm. The new responsibilities therein have included being the preacher each week! I have always loved preaching—inasmuch as I have always loved talking, and I have always loved the good news of Jesus the Christ—but this is my first full-time gig, and I am learning very rapidly just how much there is to say!

I often say that I self-identify as a word nerd. One of the best parts about that identity is that the words themselves rhyme. So good. In high school, I copy-edited the yearbook. In college, I worked in the Writing Center, helping students improve their papers and presentations. I pay an inordinate amount of attention to grammar in everything I hear and read. I was recently bothered by Presidential candidates—from different parties—who misidentified a group of nouns as adjectives and a group of adjectives as verbs, respectively. Words matter to me.

My seminary preaching professor, Tom Rogers, gave us approximately one million exercises to try with the words in our lectionary texts each week. During his class, we were expected to do all of them on our assigned weeks. Now, in our professional lives, we probably do a fraction—our favorites, the quickest ones. I’m grateful, in this new weekly role, for the word toolbox he provided me.

One of the things I do each week is excavate all the texts on the grammatical level. I mark up all the verbs, all the adjectives, and divide the nouns into categories of places and people. It helps me frame what’s going on in the story, or who’s doing and saying what to whom, and what’s being asked of us in the process. Looking at all the component parts of the text is different than the big picture. This week, the most grammatically, theologically, and ecclesially interesting text is the psalm. Let me explain.

By the way, I love that here at LCI you read the psalm on Sunday morning. Not every parish does, and that's a bummer. The fact that the lectionary compilers included an accompanying psalm for every day of the year—not just Sundays!—should tell us a little something about their value. Some of the more underrated words in our scripture, but the sources of so many of our great hymns and songs. This week’s psalm, number 96, is so excellent. It’s packed full of goodness. And it’s packed full of verbs! In the 13 verses we read this morning, there are 12 *different* verbs directed at the hearer.

Sing to the lord! Bless God’s name! Tell of salvation, declare God’s glory, praise, revere, ascribe, worship, tremble, say, rejoice, and exult! We’ll do a handful of those together this morning, fortunately, but a few of them have to happen outside these walls. We have instructions to follow; we have work to do; we have words to say.

On Wednesday, ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton hosted a the third in a series of live webcasts from Chicago, with Mikka McCracken from ELCA World Hunger moderating, and guests Matthew Stuhlmueller and Rubén Durand, ordained pastors doing work in Chicago and around the country. (Did any of you watch? Stay tuned for the next one in October!)

The four of them talked about a number of things, particularly about how we as the ELCA can get outside of our Northern European ethnic bubble and out into the multicultural world we live in, inviting everyone in our communities to the table and to share stories. This is something we say that we are deeply committed to, but as the second-LEAST-diverse denomination in the United States, we have, um, room for improvement.

One of the most concrete suggestions they made was the vulnerable task of evangelism. Eek! We all take a step back when we hear that word. But what they suggested was not so scary. As the people of God, we are called to be in relationship with one another and with everyone else. In fact, there isn’t even supposed to be an “everyone else” with us. We’re supposed to love our neighbors, and that begins with knowing our neighbors. That begins with friendly conversations—not just transactions—with the staff at restaurants and in retail stores; that begins with notes of appreciation to our children’s teachers; that begins with civility between parents at the soccer tournament; that begins with kindness to our coworkers, especially those who work “below” us; that begins with slightly deeper small talk at coffee hour this morning.

We can’t invite our friends and colleagues and neighbors—let alone strangers—to join our communities if we have not truly joined our communities. If we are not truly connected to one another, we are not truly connected to God.

One of the most-asked questions during the webcast—and throughout our lives as Christians—is: how do we do that? What do we do? But this is where we are in luck, because of our psalm full of verbs! We can do so many things! We can sing to the Lord; we can bless God’s name; we can tell of our salvation; we can praise and worship and revere our God—these are all important in the work of the Gospel. As we live out our lives, everything we do can be done in the name of Christ. Our main man Martin Luther reportedly said once that a Christian shoemaker does not do his Christian duty by putting little crosses on every pair of shoes, but by making good quality shoes and operating an ethical business.

Evangelism can be beautiful in this way—if we are engaging our fellow humans in ways that are kind and just, we are doing what God has asked of us. Taking the next step—inviting someone to join in our worshipping community—is where we get all squirmy. It doesn’t have to so uncomfortable, though. I am certain that there are activities that this congregation does that are not worship services on Sunday morning. Things like service trips, and movie nights, and BBQs, and climate summits. Those things might intimidate a neighbor a little bit less, no? It’s funny, because all of those things are on the list of verbs our psalmist gave us. Aren’t those situations of joy, and of fellowship, and of work, and of celebration of creation?

Our work is not as hard as it sounds, anymore, is it? We know that all our neighbors are beloved, yes? Inasmuch as we are beloved children of God, so are all those who share in our community here in Davis and across the globe. The sort of odd story presented to us from the Gospel According to Luke this morning has something to say about that universality of God’s love.

In our story, a Roman centurion—a soldier of the occupying force in town—has a slave who is ill. We are told that he values this slave very highly, and many might romanticize that situation, forgetting that slavery is a human rights violation, not a business partnership. We should doubt that the values the slave highly for any reason other than the monetary value of that slave’s work. There is little benevolence to be found in this setup.

This Roman soldier is well-known in Capernaum—the story tells us that he built the temple for the Jews. He’s familiar, then, with this holy man, Jesus of Nazareth, that they talk about. He has heard the stories they’ve told about his power to heal. He has heard about a paralyzed man walking, and a blind man seeing, and a leprous man cleansed, and a hemorrhaging woman healed, and a possessed man exorcised. He has heard his Jewish subjects speak differently about this man than they do about the other so-called healers who travel through town. He has heard them say that this man is different. This man, Jesus, speaks to Samaritan women. And eats dinner with tax collectors. He touches the untouchable.

In a lot of our Bibles this story is called “The Faith of the Centurion.” I think that’s an error. This story speaks not necessarily to the faith of the Roman soldier, but of the faith of the Jewish people in his midst. It speaks to the truth of who Jesus is, and to the power of the God who sent him. That this man, Jesus, and therefore his Lord, YHWH, the creator of the universe is so enamored of humanity that he loves not only the Jews but the Gentiles! And if he heals the Jews, then, might he, in his depth of compassion and power heal the slave of the occupying Romans?!

This is what amazes Jesus. This recognition of the power of God to cross borders and boundaries and leap right past oppressive systems into the humanity of each and every person.

This all-encompassing power to heal and to restore and to make new is exactly what we are called to proclaim. When we sing to the Lord, when we bless God’s holy name, when we tell of the salvation that is ours, we are doing it because there should be no one among us who does not know! There should be no one among us who is not healed! There should be no one among us who is outside this love, my friends. No one.

As you leave this place today, carry this with you. Carry with you the deep knowledge of the love of God, and do not just keep it to yourself! Give each of those verbs a try!

Monday, May 16, 2016


On Saturday, May 14, I was ordained into the ministry of Word and Sacrament in the ELCA!

The service was held in my home congregation—Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Encinitas, CA—and the Rev. Laura Ziehl, Bishop Mark Holmerud, and the Rev. Amanda Nelson presided. 

As I begin this new iteration of ministry, gratitude is all that comes to mind. These words of thanks were printed in my ordination bulletin:

The depth of my gratitude for those who made this day possible could never be expressed wholly in words, but I never shy away from an opportunity to say something.

I am grateful to my parents, Karin and Gary, for approximately one million things, but especially for their love, support, listening ears, crying eyes, welcoming arms, and open hearts. I am grateful to the Alexes for their love and joyous laughter and willingness to take probably two red-eyes to be here. I am grateful for all the Turpins and Kloehns (and everyone in between), my original cloud of witnesses and communion of saints.

I am grateful to my partner in learning and in love, Jonathan, for his seemingly un-ending willingness to try new things—like date a pastor and read poetry—and for his encouragement in all that I do. I am grateful to my best friend, the Rev. Amanda Nelson, for her grace and wisdom throughout seminary and into our ordained lives (ack!)—and for every minute of silliness that has kept us together.

I am grateful for my sister (bloodlines notwithstanding) Kelsey Sprowell and for the Rev. Gretchen Rode and the Rev. Maria Anderson—the other Pastoritas—whose presence and absence is most certainly felt.

I am grateful for the love and support of my two bonus families—the Vance and Fields clans—and for the years of joys and challenges we’ve seen through together. That so many of you are here today renders me (nearly) speechless.

I am grateful for my colleagues and comrades of Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and the Sierra Pacific Synod, whose community and leadership sustained me throughout my seminary career and into this first call.

I am grateful to all the good folks at The Belfry—my dear students and LEVNeers, to say the least—who provide me the privilege of doing what I love every day.

I am grateful to the pastoral, professional, and professorial squad of California Lutheran University—including but not limited to the Revs. Scott and Melissa Maxwell-Doherty, President Chris Kimball, and the Religion Department—especially the Rev. Dr. Julia Fogg, for her mentorship, for introducing me to Türkiye, for laughing with me throughout Biblical Greek, and for continuing to model the particular strength that women bring to ministry.

I am grateful for Jonathan Garman and the whole BLCYM—those who led me in my youth and those who humored me as I led them in their youth. I’d drive a 15-passenger-van full of y’all every summer in a heartbeat.

I am grateful to the Rev. Laura Ziehl and to Mona Goetsch and to all the good folks here at Bethlehem who did a lot of work to make this evening go as swimmingly as (I imagine, as I type this weeks in advance) it did.

I am grateful for everyone who participated tonight—Global Music Ensemble, ushers, communion assistants, readers, reception-setter-uppers, and every other detailer whom I’ve forgotten—for being part of this monumental day in my life and ministry.

And I am grateful for you! Since you’re here and reading this, you’re part of how I got to this moment in this place. Your community, support, and prayer are integral to my life and work. I’m so glad you’re here to celebrate with me.

And for you, dear reader, I am grateful. Thanks for being the unknown people to whom I blog away the weeks. You're part of my work (and play) and I appreciate you. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Belong—A Sermon of Promises

Grace and peace from God our Creator, Hope in our Redeemer Jesus the Christ, and the promised gifts of the Holy Spirit are with you always.

The lectionary is weird. We’re in the seventh week of Easter, but the Gospel lesson today is from the night before Jesus died. At first glance, it’s backward and disorienting. But the people who put the readings together are professionals, so I’ve decided to trust them.

Scholars, like the people who assembled the lectionary, call these chapters of John’s Gospel the “Farewell Discourses.” Jesus is saying a lengthy goodbye to his friends and disciples. In it, he sums up a lot of the things he has said before; he reiterates the most important details; he makes new promises. This week’s text is a prayer he says in the Garden of Gethsemane—just after the Last Supper, just before he’s arrested. That’s quite a moment in the life of his community. He prays “on behalf of these”—the disciples—“but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one.” That's us! 

The fun thing about being Christians so many generations removed from Jesus is that there is no way that the Church looks like what Jesus thought his followers would look like. Millions of people, across the globe, organized together because of the love of God through Jesus. Except, more often than thought, we’re not very good at being “together.” We have this nasty habit of dividing ourselves on all sorts of lines—denominations, languages, races, classes, nations. 

Even when there were just the dozen or so disciples, it seems Jesus had a hunch that they’d struggle to stay together. I think the lectionary assemblers new that, just like Jesus' friends needed to be reminded of all the ways in which God would remain with them after Jesus' departure, we too need that reminder after we've celebrated Easter. We need to be reminded of the promises that were made, that are still being kept.

Karoline Lewis is a preacher I want to be like when I grow up. She wrote this about this week’s Gospel story: “...God counts on us to embody God’s promise in a world of broken ones. God needs us to give witness to the ultimate promise kept when our experience….knows only empty promises. God invites us to live in the promise that is truly ours forever—that is the resurrection difference.”

Since we are living in the world after the resurrection, there is a whole new range of possibilities open to us. But I think I speak for a lot of us when I confess that the logistics of the resurrection are distracting, and I never really get past that. Karoline continues:

“Resurrection is often relegated to a belief of the church to which we simply comply and that which we by rote confess. We go through the motions each Easter, each time the creed is said, but how often do we stop and say that resurrection makes a difference for how I live my day today? What might it feel like to know that the promise of the resurrection is mine now?”

What might it feel like to be open to the newness of resurrection? What might it feel like to try being church a completely different way? How might it change what we do and what we believe?

Let’s step back a second. What does it even mean to believe? What are some synonyms you can think of? Audience participation! 

When you google the word believe, as you might do, casually and hypothetically, the primary definition is “feel sure of the truth of.” You know those words of the creed we say before the Eucharist? “I believe in God, the father almighty…”

What if we said “I feel sure of the truth of God the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth. I feel sure of the truth of Jesus Christ, his only son, our Lord...” and then “I feel sure of the truth of the Holy Spirit…”

I think that, like the resurrection, we get stuck on the word “believe” a lot, because we worry about whether our beliefs are “right” or not. And often, especially on a college campus, it can be challenging to respond when people push you on your beliefs, right? And when you’re still sort of working them out, that can be a big roadblock.

There’s an Episcopal author named Diana Butler Bass who has written several books about church. She wrote one called Christianity After Religion that looks at what we’re going to be in this age of “spiritual but not religious”-ness. It’s an interesting book, and it has one part that I’ve carried with me since I read it. She says that in the old way of being church, there were three B’s: Believe, behave, belong.

You went to a church because you believed the things they believed (or wanted to) and then learned from them how to behave according to those beliefs, and then once you’d gotten all of that squared away, you could “join” the church officially. You could really belong there. That probably sounds familiar, and maybe doesn’t sound entirely problematic to you.

But what if we flipped it? She asks. What if instead, we belong and then behave and then believe? What if we are invited and welcomed into a community, no questions asked? What if, then, we see how others act and we learn new ways to love ourselves and our neighbors? What if, then, we come to believe the truths they teach?

Here at the Belfry, I hope you feel like you are part of something. I hope you feel like you are invited and welcome to be all of who you are, whether you’re even sure who you are. I hope you feel like the other people here are learning alongside you, and that you--as individuals and as a community--are growing. I hope you feel like, as we talk and learn and read and sing and laugh, that these promises that God makes are promises to you.

And I promise you that, while you’re here and after you leave here—whether you graduate or study abroad or finish your service with LEVN—that you will always belong here.

If you discern that you’re Lutheran or that you aren’t; if you discern that you’re Episcopalian or that you aren’t; if you discern that you’re queer or that you aren’t; if you discern that you’re called to be a pastor or that you aren’t; if you discern that you’re going to graduate or that you aren’t.

Whoever you are, you belong here.

You don’t have to sit in this chapel every Wednesday to belong here. You don’t have to show up for Bible study every week, or for Tapping Into Theology every month, or for book club, or for Prov, or for anything. I like you, and so I hope you want to show up to all those things and create other spaces for other folks to feel like they belong here, too! That’s the behave part. That can come next.

You are part of the Belfry and you are part of God’s family at all times and in all places. I promise.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Breathe — An Audience-Participation-Required Sermon on Peace

Grace and peace from God our Creator, Hope in our Redeemer Jesus the Christ, and the promised gifts of the Holy Spirit are with you, always.

Let’s all take a few deep breaths. A few counts in through your nose and then out again. And again. It’s May, y’all. Can you believe it? Don’t let that heart rate jump back up! Another deep breath.

You probably have a lot to worry about. Whether it’s school—we’re nearing the end of the year! Or work—finding a job, keeping your job, doing your job well. Or money—earning money, saving money, spending money smartly. Or your relationships—good ones with friends or significant others, not-so-good ones with maybe soon-to-be not friends or significant others, roommates, classmates, coworkers. Or your future—what’s next for you? What does the summer hold? Or your family—if they’re nearby or far away, healthy or struggling, supportive of you or a little more challenging. I can understand why we need to sit here, tonight, and take deep breaths together.

And, you know, Jesus knew about a few of those things. No, he was not a UC Davis student or a LEVNeer, but he was a human person. He had parents and siblings and friends. He had politics to lament about and looming wars to furrow his brow. He had a community whose livelihood concerned him. And he lived his adult life with a bunch of dudes who never stopped asking nervous questions. One declarative sentence could hardly escape Jesus’ mouth before Peter’s hand shot into the air with whowhatwhenwherewhyhow tumbling out of his mouth. You can just see Jesus' nostrils flare, eyes close, deep breath in and out before he replies.

This week, the question-asker is Judas. No, not that Judas. There are two, apparently. Just before the text for this week’s lectionary, this other Judas asks “But Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us?” Jesus gives a classic response—not exactly answering the question, and pivoting back to his important talking points about the constancy of God. “Those who love me will keep my word,” he says, “and my father will love them.”

Easy! Love and be loved! Now, I don’t want to mislead you. I don’t want you to think that what I’m saying is that, if you are a Christian, you will never have to worry about anything ever again. If only! But what I can tell you, is that, as a beloved child of God, you do not ever have to worry about your beloved-ness. You are always beloved by God. About that, my dear ones, do not let your hearts be troubled.

A professor from PLTS wrote a book about the Gospel According to John, and he had this to say about today’s gospel lesson:

“The teaching of Jesus is certainly not a self-help program, a path to a tranquil inner life immune to the ills and cares of a troubled world….Jesus is surely a teacher of powerful truth and transformative knowledge, but his teaching and life focus relentlessly on God’s astonishing agape enacted on the cross.”

There are a few weeks each year where I prepare a sermon on a text that is speaking right at me. You who have known me for a little while have noticed that I spend a lot of time planning, anxiously anticipating, playing through worst-case scenarios in my mind. Today, I stand before you and repeat the words of Jesus I so often forget to hear—”do not let your heart be troubled” and “do not be afraid.” Every week, I proclaim “the peace of the Lord be with you, always” and you obediently reply “and also with you.” We say that because right here, in the 14th chapter of the Gospel According to John, Jesus says, “peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you.”

So let’s take him seriously today. We’re going to do something a little unusual. I have these papers for you, and we’re going to take five minutes, silently, and I want you to write down—not for the group, just for me to read—all the things that trouble your heart. All the things that you’re carrying around right now that make you afraid. You can write your name on it if you want me to know, but you can also stay anonymous. They can be small things, big things, personal things, global things, anything. I’m going trade you. I’m going to take these pieces of paper from you, on which you’ve written things I can pray about, things you want to just get out of your head. Things you want to hand over. And I’m going to give you a different piece of paper, in exchange. One that reminds you that the peace of the risen Christ is with you, always. So everybody get a paper and a pen, excellent. Five minutes starts now.
I bought this image from WordsxWatercolor; you can, too!

And now, here. As you go in peace, take this with you. Stick it to your bulletin board, put it by your desk, put it in your planner or binder or wherever you spend the most time forgetting that the peace of the risen Christ is always with you.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Get Up—A Sermon Decidedly Not About Sheep

 Acts 9:36-43
Revelation 7:9-17
John 10:22-30

Grace and peace from God our Creator, hope in our Redeemer Jesus the Christ, and the promised gifts of the Holy Spirit are with you, always.

We didn’t read the psalm assigned for today, Psalm 23, the Lord is My Shepherd, so you may not have been clued in that this set of texts qualifies as this year’s “Good Shepherd Sunday” lectionary. [You may have noticed that we sang Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us at the beginning, yeah?]

There are a handful of stories that Jesus tells about sheep, and so we have this week every year where we read one or two and then all preachers have to somehow figure out a way to tell people that they are or are not sheep, and that this is good news! Aside from the fact that I definitely befriended a sheep at the petting zoo on Picnic Day, I don’t really know a whole lot about them, and I don’t imagine that you do, either. [Unless, of course, sheep were under your care in FFA, Kenton.]

The interesting thing about this sheepy text is that it is paired with one of the most interesting and underrated stories in the whole New Testament. [Were you listening carefully during the reading from Acts?]

The story goes that in Judea, there was a coastal town called Joppa, and in Joppa there was a disciple whose name was Tabitha. She was devoted to good works and to acts of charity. She became ill and died. Peter was nearby, in Lydda, so they sent for him right away. All the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing tunics and other clothing that Tabitha had made while she was with them.

This would be a lovely story of one of the first followers of Jesus, even if it ended here. Tabitha was devoted to good works and to acts of charity. Her fellow widows and dearest friends were devastated at her death. They celebrated her life among them by sharing with Peter the tangible proof of all that that she had given to them when she was alive. This is all that we know for certain about Tabitha. This is, to my knowledge, the only story about her. We know, from its few verses, that she was well-loved and a devoted disciple. Tabitha sounds to me like a classic church lady.

How many of you can think of someone from your home parish, or the parish you attend here in Davis, or the parish you work at, that you think resembles Tabitha? A sweet, kind woman who knits or sews or whatever the textile project of choice is in your congregation, and everyone loves her. And she’s like maybe 1000 years old. Okay, so picture her playing the role of Tabitha. When she dies, people will come to talk about the ways that she made their life better, and show off the quilt she made them when they went away to college. She’s a really nice lady.

But Tabitha’s story is not in our scripture because she was a really nice lady. Her story is in our scripture because Peter was called out to Joppa to resurrect her.

In this season of Easter, we have recently heard a pretty big resurrection story. And we often hear of another, the raising of Lazarus, which is important, too. But here, tucked away into the 9th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles is the quick, quiet story of that time Peter raised Tabitha from the dead.

Did you know this story before today? Did you know there was a woman so devoted to the Christian life that St. Peter himself drew upon the power of God to bring her back to life?

Maybe our dearest Catholic brothers and sisters in the room are more familiar with her, as she is sometimes referred to as Saint Tabitha; the very unthorough google search I did of her was inconclusive as to whether or not she is, in fact, a saint. My main man Martin Luther, though, would certainly call her one. One of the most memorable things Marty left to us was the notion that each one of us is simultaneously saint and sinner.

I think that’s so helpful for us, living in a world of black and white, good and bad, right and wrong, Republican and Democrat. It is possible—it is necessary!—that we understand ourselves to be more than just one thing.

We can be all the things that we feel we are, all the time. We can be happy about something while being sad about something else. We can be excited about the future and worried about it at the same time. We can be grateful for the relationships that we have, and long for the ones that we don’t. We can be pretty confident right now, and have some doubts tomorrow. We can be kind in one minute, and snap at someone the next. None of these things make us only a good or only a bad person.

Like Sirius Black once said to Harry Potter, “the world isn't split into good people and Death Eaters. We've all got both light and dark inside us.” He goes on to say that it only matters which we act on. That’s true, except we act on the light and the dark inside us, all the time. There’s no switch to flip. And that’s okay!

That’s sort of how grace works. We are beloved children of God, no matter what. Because we know that we are beloved, we are more able to act on the goodness we know to be somewhere in there. But we’re not completely sin-free, and we never will be. God knows that. God’s love is beyond that. Because Jesus lived, died, and lived again, we know that God has power over all the things that our world can throw at us.

There’s an awesomely bad hymn that I grew up singing called Every Morning is Easter Morning. Do you know it? I like it because it sounds like Jesus was resurrected to star in a Broadway musical. Hear me out:

Every morning is Easter morning, from now on!
Every day’s resurrection day—the past is over and gone!
Goodbye guilt, goodbye fear—good riddance!
Hello Lord, hello sun!
I am one of the Easter people; my new life has begun!

It helps if you pretend to tap dance while you sing it. Okay, so, this song is like as cheesy as it is possible to be, right? Welcome to church music in the 1970s, I guess. Cheesiness notwithstanding, the lyrics of this song are right on. Every new day,  you are alive. Every new day, you are free. Every new day, you are so beloved by God, that the Holy Spirit is at work in you—as she was in Peter and in Tabitha—to show the world that they, too, can be alive and well. As the Easter people, you are literally shining examples of the love of God through Jesus. The powers of this world—fear, oppression, death—do not have the final say. God has the power to breathe new life into all of us. 

Our world has a habit of knocking people down. But like Peter said to Tabitha, God says to you, so simply, “get up.”

Because Jesus is risen, and Tabitha is risen, you, too, are risen. Thanks be to God!