Skip to content

Sermon: The Joy of Being Chosen. May 9, 2021

Here’s the sermon I preached for the Sixth Sunday of Easter at Grace Lutheran Church, May 9, 2021. The preachings texts were John 15:9-17 and Acts 10:44-48. You can view both the service and the bulletin. Image used with permission. Be well, friends. You are loved.

Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

  1. To be a homeowner is to bear witness to the second law of thermodynamics. Or perhaps, to own a home is to study modern Irish poetry. Either way, the lesson is the same. Physics reminds us of the entropy we know in our bones: Disorder always increases. Or, as William Butler Yeats put it, ‘Things fall apart.” We need neither physics nor poetry, however, to know that this is true. We need only look around ourselves, at the places we live, whether we own them or not. Perhaps it’s because we’re spent more time at home, but this pandemic year has been hard on our house. We have, in recent months, replaced an air conditioner unit that reached the end of its utility; replaced a bathroom sink, wall, and pipes that had rusted through; and, most recently, had our roof torn off and replaced. Don’t get me wrong: Not only do we love our home, having made many wonderful memories there over the past six years; we are also aware of how blessed we are to own a home and to be able to afford these repairs. No complaints here, just the simple observation that no matter how much we love the places we live, disorder always increases. Things fall apart. We abide the places we abide. We put up with the places we live. What else can we do? Where else can we go?
  2. Today, we find ourselves once more in the Upper Room with Jesus, a room that was probably in need of repair, on the Thursday night before his death. Here, in the midst of this world’s entropic decline, Jesus casts a vision of a new world, a new place in which we can abide. This new place, this Kingdom, is a place and a people of friendship and joy. It is not a Kingdom of which we are worthy in and or ourselves; neither would we, in our sin and shortsightedness, choose it for ourselves. Although things fall apart, we tend to prefer things as they are. Nevertheless, we hear again today that we are chosen for this Kingdom of love and that it is love itself that creates the Kingdom. A love that is greater than all others. A love that gives itself away on the cross. For you. And for me. Jesus enters into decline and decay, all the way down to death; this is the depth and breadth of the love of God, this God who desires to abide with us.
  3. “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Jesus has spoken these words before. They were at the core of his self-identification as the Good Shepherd. They land with greater impact here, perhaps, because now we see that his death is immanent, just around the corner. Jesus was never speaking theoretically. His words always pointed to his own death. But now, here, under the shadow of the cross, we see and hear the lengths to which Jesus is willing to go to build a new abiding place, a resurrected world of grace. In this moment, for our sake, Jesus shows that God will no longer abide sin and death.
  4. I was recently reading an old sermon by Bishop Timothy Smith, and was reminded of the story of Sullivan Ballou, a story with which I first became familiar through Ken Burns’s documentary, The Civil War. Major Ballou had enlisted in the Union Army shortly after the war began, and found himself moved from his native Rhode Island to the outskirts of Washington, D.C. On July 14, 1861, he wrote to his wife, Sarah: “Lest I should not be able to write you again, I feel impelled to write a few lines that may fall under your eyes when I shall be no more. Sarah, my love for you is deathless. God willing, we might still have lived and loved together and seen our sons grown up to honorable manhood around us. If I do not return, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battlefield, it will whisper your name.” Sullivan Ballou was killed a week later in the First Battle of Bull Run.
  5. Words have more power when they are spoken shortly before death. Had Major Ballou survived the war, his letter to his dear Sarah would likely be of little interest. The fact that he gave his life in devotion to cause and country gives these “few lines” weight and power. Jesus’ words in John 15 are all the more powerful, too, for being spoken so soon before the death he knew was coming. We use words like love and friendship lightly, but upon the lips of the soon-to-be crucified Christ, we hear them in a new way. This is what friendship is; this is what love looks like. And this, finally, is what creates a new home in which we can abide, a world whose falling-apartness has been put back together through the death and resurrection of Jesus, given as gift for you. Jesus lays down his life and takes it up again, undoing this world’s sin and violence to create something new. He goes to the cross not whispering our names, perhaps, but holding each one of us in love. He does this for us, for you.
  6. We are called now by this Christ, commanded even, to live with such love and friendship as lodestars for our lives. Following the risen Christ into the world, we discover the surprising ways in which the Holy Spirit is putting things back together by putting people back together. This begins within each one of us, as we are moved from death to life, sins forgiven, in the waters of Baptism. But it occurs between us, too, as the Holy Spirit transgresses boundaries that once seemed solid. Look no further than Acts 10, of which we hear only a thin slice this morning. Luke writes of the baptism of Cornelius and his household, and nothing could be more surprising. Here, God not only declares that the gift of the gospel is for Gentiles, too, but that it is for those who were most to be feared and avoided. Cornelius was not simply a Gentile; he was a Roman centurion. He was devout, but he was nevertheless an agent of Roman oppression. But there, in Caesarea by the sea, a city that served as a symbol of Roman power and might, right in the enemy’s backyard, the Holy Spirit falls upon Cornelius and his household. They are claimed for the Kingdom, given a new place to abide. How, Peter asks, can they withhold the waters of baptism now? How can they not follow where the Spirit leads?
  7. Where is the Holy Spirit leading us in these days? What longstanding boundaries need to be crossed? Who has been left out that should not have been excluded? Who is Christ choosing? As the people of God, we continue to affirm that the lives of People of Color have value, not because they matter more than other lives, but because we have for too long believed the lie that they matter less. We, in these days, speak out against hate directed at Asian Americans not because they’re the only people who shouldn’t suffer hatred, but because such hate is so pointed right now. We work to more fully include and affirm our LGBTQ siblings in Christ because God has already welcomed them. We do this, all of this, as those who abide in God’s love, in Christ’s loving gift of himself. We hear the Spirit’s voice moving us toward one another, branches connected to the same vine. We did not choose Jesus, and we might not have chosen one another. But he chooses us, for himself and for one another, that together we might experience the joy God has always intended for us and for all who would call upon God’s name.
  8. It is a strange new world into which the risen Christ calls us, a Kingdom in which the King gives his life for the sake of his subjects; a Kingdom in which the subjects are not subjects, but friends with their Lord. We are so used to things falling apart, to disorder and death, that it can be hard to find our footing here. But the risen Christ calls us here, commanding us to bear fruit. The other morning, I came downstairs and discovered one of the boys reading the Bible, a children’s Bible used for Sunday school here at Grace. After reading several stories with a similar theme, he exclaimed, “Dad, this whole book is about grapes!” I can see how he reached that conclusion, for seen in the light of God’s Word, we are laborers in the vineyard whose thirst has been quenched by the wine that is the lifeblood of Christ; we are connected to the vine, and we are sent to bear fruit. It kind of is all about grapes! As you go, know that Christ goes with you, and that you abide in his love wherever you happen to find yourself. The world may fall apart around us, but we are home, now and forever, abiding in his love, bearing fruit to his glory. Amen.

Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

And now may the peace that passes all human understanding keep you hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, this day and forever. Amen.

Sermon: Crossing the Valley. April 25, 2021

Here’s the sermon I preached at Grace Lutheran Church, River Forest, IL, for the Fourth Sunday of Easter. The preaching texts were Psalm 23 and John 10:11-18. You can view both the service and the bulletin. The image is my with my sheep. Be well, friends. You are loved.

Sisters and brothers in Christ, grace be unto you and peace this day in the name of God the Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

  1. As you may know, I’m one of the assistant coaches for Torsten’s t-ball team, the Vipers. While I watch a lot of baseball, I didn’t play much when I was a kid. I don’t really have a lot to offer in terms of technique or strategy, so those things fall to the other coaches. I’ve decided that my job is to be as encouraging as possible, taking the time to know each boy by name; taking care to point out what they’ve done well. Amazingly, my young charges have conferred upon me a mantle of authority. They seem to think that I know what I’m doing. But baseball is a complicated game, and explaining things only gets you so far. Much better to show them. This is how you field a ground ball. This is how you throw to first. This is how you stop rolling around in the outfield grass or drawing pictures in the dirt with a stick when you’re supposed to be paying attention. At a practice early in the season, one young boy, having found himself as a baserunner standing on third, looked up at me and said, “Coach? I have no idea what I’m supposed to be doing.” My first thought was that this was a pretty deep existential confession for a six-year-old. My second, and much more correct, thought was that he simply didn’t know where to go next. So, I told him, and then I showed him. This is the direction you run to make it safely home.
  2. I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing. How do I make it safely home? These are the concerns at the heart of our readings today. Psalm 23 is among the most well-known and well-loved passages of scripture, filled with images of peace and calm, of abundance and hope. But in the center of the psalm is a chasm, a valley of death dotted with enemies and evil. Surely, we can relate, we who live in this world where pandemics rage and evil thrives, in this city where a seven-year-old girl – a girl no older than the kids I coach – is shot and killed in a McDonald’s drive-thru. What are we supposed to do in the face of such suffering, evil, and death? How will we make it safely home?
  3. Near the end of his public ministry, not long before his crucifixion, Jesus draws upon this psalm to give voice to his own identity and mission. “I am the good shepherd,” Jesus says. Starting with this I AM, Jesus evokes memories of the burning bush., of Moses’s encounter with the God who says, “I am who I am.” Jesus wants us to know that he is who he is, that he is God. And if God, then good. “I am the Good Shepherd,” he proclaims, drawing us into the 23rd psalm that we may discover his presence and discern his voice in our lives. Jesus takes for his own the active, relational, personal language of the psalm, that we might come to know him as the One who keeps us from want and leads us, who restores our souls and feeds us. He does so as the One who enters the valley with us. God does not promise here that, because we have a Good Shepherd, we will never know evil or have enemies; God does not promise a shortcut around the valley of death. Instead, the Good Shepherd promises to journey with us.
  4. As a suburban kid who lives several steps removed from an agrarian, pastoral life, I’m hardly an expert in these matters. But my understanding is that sheep are not stupid animals. Quite the contrary. You can’t push and prod them, expecting them to go where you want them to go. You can do so with cows, but sheep will just run around to get back behind you. Sheep, you see, do not want to be pushed. They want to be led. They don’t need to be told where to go; they need to be shown where to go. Sheep are smart enough to go somewhere only when someone they trust has gone there first. Sheep need a shepherd and, if they’re going to have a chance, they need a good one. One who will lead them. One who will point them home.
  5. We live in the valley of the shadow of death; try as we might, there is no use denying it. We have to go there, but who would want to? As it turns out, Jesus would. Jesus knows that we must face death. He is well aware of the fact that, in fear of our own mortality, we have created systems and reinforced structures that impose death upon others. These wolves stalk us, some quickly through violence, others slowly through deprivation and alienation. But the wolves come. The valley’s shadow lengthens. There is no way around it. What does the Shepherd do? He enters in.
  6. Now we come to the heart of it. The difference between Jesus the Good Shepherd and a hired hand is that Jesus is willing to lay down his life for his sheep. Five times in today’s passage Jesus makes the point: He has come to lay down his life. If there is no way around the valley of the shadow of death, then we must go through it. But we do not go alone. The One who knows our name, the great I Am, the very Word of God, has come to lead the way. He does not stand behind us to push or prod; neither does he wait on the other side for us to make it through on our own, as if we could. No. Jesus – knowing that we will die, knowing that we are dead already under the weight of sin – Jesus leads the way. In order that no beloved sheep may be lost; to keep the flock ever expanding beyond the barriers we impose; Jesus dies for us. He lays down his life and he takes it up again. Robert Farrar Capon writes, “He proclaims, in other words, that his death is the operative device by which the reconciling judgment of God works – that the crucifixion is God’s last word on the subject of sin, the final sentence that will make the world one flock under one gracious shepherd.” We may not know what we’re doing or where we’re going, but our Shepherd does. He comes to die that we may live. We may not know how to make it safely home, but Jesus does. He has gone on ahead of us through this valley, making safe our way across by the power of his cross. Now he journeys with us, calling us each by name with the unmistakable voice of the One who loves us enough to lay down his life for us.
  7. As Jesus laid down his life for us, we, too, are called to lay down our lives for one another. John calls us to this work in his first epistle, asking, “How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or a sister in need and yet refuses to help?” How indeed? But how do we do this work? We are not the Shepherd. We are little sheep, little children, with little power of our own. What can we do? A few days ago, the final episode of Marvel’s superhero series The Falcon and the Winter Solider was released. The show tackles head on the long history of racial injustice in America and the plight of refugees suffering in a world that cares too little. Sam Wilson, one of the two titular heroes, differs from many of the superheroes who populate this fictional universe. He’s an ordinary guy; he has no special powers conveyed by gamma rays or experiments gone wrong. But he takes up the fight for justice and equity anyway. No spoilers, but in a climatic scene Sam stares down the powers that be and says, “The only power I have is that I believe we can do better.” We are not the Shepherd; we are just sheep. But we are sheep who know Jesus’ voice, the flock who follows where he leads. And friends, we can do so much better for our sisters and brothers in need. We begin by following the Shepherd, who leads us always out of death to life, from want to abundance, from separation into the single flock with room enough for all people. Joined together, the Shepherd calls us to the good work of caring for our fellow sheep.
  8. We, of course, will continue to go astray. That’s what sheep do. But the Shepherd’s voice calls out as he leads the way. His twin sheepdogs, goodness and mercy, come close behind, restoring us always to abundance and grace. Marked with the indelible waters of baptism, we belong to Christ, and he will not lose us. We have a home with him forever, and Christ makes his home with us now, in this world, setting for us a feast in the face of our troubles. The table of God’s grace overflows with good things, both to meet our physical needs and to set us free from the powers of sin, evil, and death itself. What are we to do? How will we make it home? Follow me, the Shepherd speaks. Follow me, out of death and into the verdant pastures and still waters of life abundant. Amen.

Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

And now may the peace that passes all human understanding keep you hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, this day and forever. Amen.

400 Days – All These Things

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Romans 8:37

400 Days.

What began with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic became a daily reflection during times of racial upheaval, political unrest (and insurrection), and, more recently, a disturbing increase in gun violence.

There have also been many days where I’ve simply tried to find the grace in the everyday and the ordinary.

I have greatly appreciated the opportunity to reflect on what God is up to during these days, and I’m glad to know that for a few people, at least, these blogs have been helpful points of connection.

400 is a lot of days. Paul’s powerful words to the church at Rome ring true for us today. In sickness, suffering, and separation, God has been and continues to be with us. Christ who was crucified is alive. The Spirit moves! In all these things we are more than conquerors. We have not conquered by might, but by love. May love continue to move us forward in the goodness of God’s love.

400 days. That’s about 377 more than I imagined. I wasn’t planning on making such an announcement when I woke this morning, but it seems like the right time. I need to stop doing this on a daily basis. I hope to build some sort of schedule or routine into my week to keep me blogging on a regular basis, but I really can’t do this daily anymore. We are, God willing, close to reemerging into a new normal where we see one another more often. I’m not sure this is needed anymore. And honestly, I need to take a break. The rest of this month is very full as I finish off the first year of my doctoral program. Ministry is delightfully busy during these days. My family needs to see a bit more of me. So, there you go.

God is good. God is with us. In all these things.

Be well, friends. You are loved.

God, in the triumph of your Son you have defeated death itself. Give us faith and good courage to trust in the power of life in the midst of all things. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Image: Torsten in a hammock.

Sermon: Something Fishy. April 18, 2021

Today’s Dispatch is the sermon I preached this morning at Grace Lutheran Church, River Forest, IL, for the Third Sunday of Easter. The preaching texts were Luke 24:36b-48 and 1 John 3:1-7. You can view the service here and the bulletin here. The image is Christ Appearing to His Disciples After the Resurrection, William Blake, c. 1795 (public domain). Be well, friends. You are loved.

Sisters and brothers in Christ, grace be unto you and peace this day in the name of God the Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

  1. Trevor Lawrence made some people mad this week. Lawrence, for those of you who don’t follow sports, is the national championship-winning college quarterback who is a lock to be the number one pick in this year’s NFL draft. What did he do to make people upset? Get caught up in a scandal? No. He had the audacity to say that he doesn’t have a chip on his shoulder and that he knows “there’s more in life than playing football.” How dare he say such things! Fans, especially of the Jacksonville Jaguars who will likely draft him, were incensed. Where’s his commitment? His dedication? Lawrence clarified matters on Twitter, pointing out that he loves the game of football and has a strong work ethic. He stuck to his main point, however, saying, “I don’t need football to make me feel worthy as a person.” It’s sounds like this young man, a man of faith, has a sense of peace in his life, like he knows what truly matters. But when he spoke to this truth, America’s sports fans held it against him. Something more important than football, than winning? Understanding that one’s worth isn’t measured by what happens during sixty minutes under the lights? Ridiculous. We talk about peace, both within and around us, but do we really want it, for ourselves or others? Or do we prefer the unrest that feeds the myth that we must strive, achieve, conquer to make meaning in life?
  2. Luke brings us today once more to that first Easter. It is evening and the rumors have begun to spread. The women went to the tomb but found it empty. Peter ran to see for himself, but for the most part all this talk of resurrection seemed an idle tale. Two of Jesus’ friends, Cleopas and another, began their long walk home to Emmaus, gripped by despair. But then, in the breaking of the bread, Christ is revealed. He vanishes. Cleopas and the other disciple rush back to Jerusalem to tell the others. While they take the road, Jesus reappears suddenly in the midst of his friends, which is where the story picks up today. The first words out of his mouth? “Peace be with you.” The risen Christ comes to bring peace. Is peace a gift we’re ready to receive, or will we continue to push back against it?
  3. If you missed the news about a college quarterback’s comments this week, I don’t blame you in the least. The news cycle was filled with affronts to the peace which God intends. The week brought us deeper into the Derek Chauvin trial only to be interrupted with the killing of Daunte Wright. As we tried to internalize that horror, we watched (or chose not to watch) the bodycam footage of Adam Toledo, all of thirteen years old, being gunned down in an alley; we woke the next day to learn of a massacre at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis in which a shooter killed eight people before taking his own life. As I was brushing my teeth this morning, Erika, scrolling through the news, told me of a shooting overnight in Kenosha. These events are by no means identical, but they all witness to this world’s disdain for peace; to the brokenness that leads us to value violence; to the power that death still wields. I confess that the only peace I felt at moments this week was not a true peace, but the simple absence of feeling that comes from becoming numb to such events. Another day, another tragedy inflicted upon humans by humans. So much violence. Do we even want peace? But we cannot remain numb, not in the face of wanton, senseless death.
  4. Jesus, risen from the grave, steps into this news cycle just as he stepped into that upper room two thousand years ago. Jesus enters in; Jesus speaks peace. Jesus bestows the peace that can never be attained through striving for our own success or by holding others down. It is not a peace that can be won or secured; it can only be received as a gift from the One who lives on the other side of death. Jesus enters, showing us his wounded flesh. He is no ghost. Something fishy is afoot (afin?) for everyone knows that the dead stay dead. Yet here he stands. To prove the point and because a few days in the grave will make one hungry, Jesus asks for food. They give him fish and he eats it. A ghost couldn’t do that! Jesus wants his friends to know that he is truly raised from the dead; the point is not simply that there is life after death, but that life has triumphed over death. Death is undone. Jesus, who spoke peace and forgiveness throughout his ministry, was hung upon a crosspiece and left for dead. He cried out, forsaken not only by earthly friends but by heavenly Father, too, it seemed. Jesus endured the worst violence this world had to offer. Upon his return, does he speak violence, seek vengeance? No. He speaks peace. The peace that comes when death itself is undone and we are invited into the life that is truly life, that undoes our cycles of suffering.
  5. Dorothee Sölle was born in Germany in 1929 and grew up during Hitler’s Nazi regime. In her vocation as theologian, she grappled with the legacy of a Protestant liberalism that failed to stop that war; a church that, indeed, in many ways supported Hitler’s program, including the concentration camps, in order to keep its ow place in the world. Nancy Blakely writes that Sölle challenged “the human propensity for wanting to feel safe, to feel secure from any threat, by seeking that [security] from God.” Sölle writes in her essay, “Jesus’ Death,” that “because you are strong [in Christ], you can put the neurotic need for security behind you. You do not need to defend your life like a lunatic. For the love of the poor, Jesus says, you can give your life away and spread it around.” Sölle reminds us that when we seek to create peace through achievement or security, we perpetuate cycles of alienation and systemic violence. Only in trusting God to give us peace will we find it.
  6. “Peace be with you,” Jesus says. The peace that Jesus speaks, enacts, pours out, calls out both the lie that we must always be striving for individual meaning and worth and the lie that we must support systems of oppression that seek to establish our security. Security is at best the avoidance of harm; at worst, it is the securing of one’s own interests through the oppression of others. Either way, it ain’t peace. Peace is not the absence of suffering; it is the presence of the God we can trust even in the midst of our suffering, for we know in faith that we already live with Jesus on the other side of the grave. This is the peace that God insists on giving us for the sake of Jesus, a peace that invites us to trust the future to God. We do not know the future, what harm or hurt may befall us or those we love. But we do know that in the future, as John writes, we will be revealed to be like Christ for the sake of Christ. We will see Christ as he is. Trusting an unknown future to a faithful God, we rest in the promise that we are known now. Again, John: “We are God’s children now.” Now. Now has Christ died for us. Now does Jesus calls us to repentance, now does Jesus forgive us. Now are we called to proclaim his name as witnesses of these things. We do so by affirming the promise of the resurrection, which is that if life is important in the Kingdom that is to come, life is also important in this world. Now. Today. In our sin and ignorance, we chose death over life, violence over peace. Today, Christ shows himself to us and we are ignorant no more. A deeper yearning grows within us. We yearn for life, for peace. Jesus stands here today, meeting that yearning with more than we need.
  7. Christ is risen. God would not let Jesus stay dead and in him, the first fruits of the resurrection, we discover that this peaceful promise is for us, too. Just so are we sent to witness to Christ, the bringer of peace and life. Jesus’ resurrection compels us to care for the bodily, physical needs of others, whatever the physical bodies look like. You, friends, are witnesses of these things. Whatever you bring with you into worship today; whatever fear or anxiety, whatever insecurity or emptiness, whatever sin or shame, hear this from the mouth of our risen Lord, the very Word of God: Peace be with you. You, friends, live beyond the reach of death. Go, and witness to the power of life that flows from the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

And now may the peace that passes all human understanding keep you hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, this day and forever. Amen.

What to Do?

“The commandment of the Lord is clear, enlightening the eyes.” Psalm 19:8b

Today was Opening Day! For t-ball, that is. Torsten’s team, the Vipers, won their game this morning 20-12. Torsten made a bunch of great plays, so that’s cool, but he certainly wasn’t the only one. All of the Vipers got off to a great start! And I like to think that I acquitted myself well in my debut outing as an assistant coach. What a joy to be out there with young people who are learning, working together, and having fun.

Baseball is a hard game to learn, and the first game of the t-ball season is always marked with lots of interesting moments. Last night at practice, the young boy who was standing on third as a baserunner looked up at me and said, “Coach? I have no idea what I’m supposed to do.” I responded, “Watch the hitter; if the ball is on the ground run toward home. If it’s in the air, wait to see if someone catches it.”

What I wanted to say was, “Yeah, I can relate!” Life can be overwhelming. We don’t always know what to do. Sometimes the thought of doing anything at all is simply too much.

I’ve thought about that a lot this week. There has been so much violence in our community and nation. So much pain. So much death. I’m not sure what I can do about it. It is paralyzing. I am numb, and I hate feeling numb.

Today’s Old Testament verse from the Daily Texts helps. The Lord’s commandment is clear. In what way? Well, in this season of Easter, I think it means that we are to open our eyes to the promise of new life, and to work for the sake of life in this world. Christ is risen! Alleluia! Alive, Christ cares about our lives, in the next world and in this world, too. If this is true, and it certainly is, it is our call to care for the people around us; to push back against the forces of despair and alienation that lead to suffering and death.

Coaching thirteen boys, ages five to seven, may not change the world. Then again, maybe it will. We have to start somewhere, and investing in our youth seems a good place. We all feel lost from time to time, uncertain of what to do or where to go. But the risen Christ stands among us, illuminating the path in front of us. A path that moves always to life.

Be well, friends. You are loved.

Image: Post-victory smiles! We’re smiling under those masks. Note for y’all who aren’t from around here: The entire league is sponsored by the White Sox, so every team wears a different Sox-themed jersey. But we’re not the White Sox; we’re the Vipers. And no, I’m not making a habit of wearing Sox gear.