Rev. Dr. John Judson
February 26, 2017
Mark 2:1-9, Leviticus 4:27-31
My wife Cindy will tell you that there are times in my life when I just lose it … and some of those actually happen when I am not in a car. One of my more recent episodes was during the presidential debates when each candidate was asked a simple question, a question that could have been answered yes or no, or with a one sentence response. Yet neither of them answered the question. Instead they chose to talk about something completely different. Maybe it was an attack on their opponent. Maybe it was a favorite topic of theirs. It didn’t matter what it was, the response had nothing to do with the question as if they neither heard, nor cared about what was asked; what was desired. It was in those moments when I would stand up and start yelling at the television (as if they could hear me in the debate hall), “Just answer the question!!!” And I have to say that in some ways I probably would have been yelling at Jesus as well if I had been present in that room where this morning’s story had taken place. Let me explain.
Jesus is busy teaching and healing. His reputation has preceded him and so the crowds are growing. In this case the house in which he was holding his town hall was a bit small and access was limited. Outside there were men who had brought their friend to Jesus in order to be healed. They were so desperate to have their friend healed that they were willing to do some damage to the house in order to get their friend in front of Jesus. We know that they believed that Jesus could heal him because Mark tells us that Jesus saw their faith. And let me be clear at this point, the faith Jesus saw was not in him as messiah, or Son of God, it was faith that he could heal their friend. So there before Jesus is this paralyzed man. A man who could not support himself or his family. A man who was desperate to be made whole. A man who was willing to have his friends lower him through a roof. And he wanted, they wanted, one thing…to be healed. So what does Jesus do? He forgives him. This is when I want to start yelling. “Jesus! Can’t you just give them want they want!”
As we read this story it is in some ways unclear as to why Jesus does this. A cursory look might make us assume that Jesus does this in order to tick off the religious lawyers who were present. Evidently they had some sort of long running disagreement about forgiveness. The religious lawyers believed that forgiveness could only the obtained through the processes we read about in Leviticus. You bring an animal, or some cereal, or whatever the Torah requires, to the Temple, give it to the priests and Levites, they do their thing and then one is forgiven. Not that they believed that there was magic in the offering, but it was the process that mattered and only after the process would God forgive. No single individual, Jesus or otherwise, had the right to circumvent the process and do what God can do. Jesus, on the other hand, believed that he had been given the ability to forgive. So here on the campaign trail we had Jesus taking what was a simple request, and turning it into a moment in which he could make his point about his identity. So again, “Jesus, Can’t you just give them what they want!!!” What I would offer was that Jesus planned all along to heal the man, but first things first.
In order to understand this, we need to return to our story from two weeks ago…which I realize in church time is a very long time ago…in which Jesus told the story of the rich man going to hell and the poor man going to heaven. That story turned the world of his listeners upside down because everyone knew that to be rich meant you were living a holy life and to be poor meant that you were a sinner. Fast forward to our story and apply that understanding. To all who were in that house, the paralyzed man was not simply the recipient of bad luck, of an accident. They would have believed that he was cursed by God. That his condition had been caused by sin. Chances are that the man felt the same way. He would have been wondering what he had done wrong that would have left him in this condition. And even though sin had nothing to do with his paralysis, deep inside he would never have been free of his doubt…and neither would have been the community. If Jesus had simply healed him, both the man and the community would have always seen him as a lucky sinner, and nothing more. So when Jesus forgives the man, he resets the entire scene. This man is forgiven, made whole. He is no longer viewed as a sinner, as cursed by God, but he is viewed as one who has been brought from curse to blessing, from exile to the community of God’s people. First things first. Then and only then does Jesus physically heal him. And again, please remember, that Jesus does not connect sin with healing. One is spiritual. The other is physical.
First things first. One of the great truths of our faith is that God desires that each of us be whole and complete; that we be fully connected to God and neighbor. What happens when we sin is that the connection between ourselves and God, between ourselves and others is broken. The gift we are given however, is that we are offered forgiveness. We are offered grace and mercy. In and through Jesus Christ we are given the opportunity to reset the entire scene of our lives. This is the reason that each Sunday we have a prayer of confession and an assurance of pardon. The first is the opportunity to confess, to lay before God those things that break our relationships, the second is to be reminded that we are forgiven, so that we can move toward wholeness. First things first. Yet, many of us, never fully accept the forgiveness that is offered. We hold on to ancient sins, to wrongs that we have done, to rights we should have done, to things that we have said and cannot take back, to moments of reconciliation that we let slip away…and the list is virtually endless. What happens when we do this is that we remain less than whole. We become spiritually paralyzed such that we cannot live into the fullness of the life that we are offered. We cannot fully receive the love that is poured out for us.
What to do? This morning I want to offer you a spiritual practice that I hope will help you find forgiveness; that will help you reset the scene of your life. If you are willing here is what I would like you to do. First close your eyes and cup your hands together as if someone is going to place something in them. Then imagine in your cupped hands the thing for which you have trouble finding forgiveness. Feel the weight of it. Feel it dragging your hands downward. Now, as you feel the weight of it, sense a light beginning to surround you. A light that brings a warmth of love washing over you. Hear the words of Jesus, “You are forgiven. I will take your weight. You are forgiven I will take your weight. You are forgiven, I will take your weight.” Then feel the weight lifting. Feel your hands light as if nothing is in them. Spread them apart because nothing is there. It is gone. Forgiveness has come and you are free. Take a very deep breath, then slowly exhale. Feel your forgiveness.
You and I are given the gift of forgiveness. We are given this gift so that we might find life in all of its amazing fullness and wonder. So the challenge that I want to offer is this, to ask, “How am I allowing the forgiveness God offers to reset the scene of my life?”
Rev. Dr. John Judson
February 19, 2017
Isaiah 42:1-9; Matthew 16:13-28
I was trying to figure out how to help him. His reading was coming along but there were moments when he was clearly stuck and I wanted to figure out a way to help him move forward. Some of you may, or may not know, that one of the things you let me do each week is to go out to Alcott Elementary School and spend an hour or so working with First Graders on their reading. Several weeks ago as I was working with one boy I could see that he was “getting it.” But he needed a bit more help decoding some words which contained two vowels in the middle. My first thought was, “when two vowels go a’ walking…the first one does the talking.” Ah, I thought to myself, here is a rule I can teach him that will set him up for success. Yet as he and I continued, I began to realize that this was not a hard and fast rule. In fact, there are lots of exceptions. So I demurred, teaching him that rule, for fear that I would send him down the wrong path without his teacher having the ability to set him straight and keep him from getting in trouble with his reading…. which is in some ways, where Peter finds himself in this morning’s story.
I realize that may sound a bit strange but bear with me. Peter, somewhere in his life, was taught a set of rules…not of pronunciation or phonics, but of messiahship. He had learned what to look for in the messiah, the one who was to come and save God’s people. This person was supposed to be charismatic, drawing people to himself. He was supposed to be someone imbued with power; power which was capable of fulfilling the prophecies of Isaiah and others. He was supposed to be someone who had wisdom which would help people align themselves with God’s law; with the Torah. He was supposed to be someone who would claim the Kingship of Israel and lead the people to victory over their oppressors. And in Jesus he saw all of these things. He saw charisma, crowds, power and wisdom. All that was missing was for Jesus to bring all of this to completion. Little wonder then that when Jesus asked the question, “Who do you say that I am?”, Peter, sitting in the front row of the class, says, “Call on me! Call on me! You are the messiah.” Peter knew the rules. He knew that Jesus was the messiah. The only problem was that Jesus, while being the messiah, was the exception to the rules.
Jesus makes clear almost immediately how much of an exception he was. As Matthew retells it, “From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” Peter then goes ballistic. This was not part of the messianic rule set. This was not the way things were supposed to work. Jesus had it wrong. Peter had it right. Messiah’s were not supposed to suffer and die. Messiahs were supposed to be winners and not losers. Messiahs were supposed to overwhelm their enemies not be arrested by them. As Peter tries to explain these rules to Jesus, Jesus turns on him in one of the most famous lines in scripture, “Get behind me Satan…you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” Peter knew the rules. What he failed to realize was the Jesus was not going to follow those rules. He was the exception. And not only was Jesus the exception, but Peter and his followers were to be exceptions as well.
Jesus’ disciples, his followers knew the rules for following the messiah. It meant victory. It meant positions of power. It meant wealth. It meant victory. Just as today when people back a candidate for office and expect something in return, a cabinet post, an ambassadorship, or perhaps simply access and influence, and the followers of Jesus expected the same. Their lands would be returned. The Romans would be gone. You get the picture. These were the rules. But Jesus tells them that those rules do not apply. That his followers were in fact supposed to be the exceptions. “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” Jesus’ followers were not going to be victorious, they were going to be executed. They were not going to be powerful, they were going to be powerless. They were to be the exceptions to the messianic discipleship rules.
What this means for us, my friends, is that we too are to be exceptions, which is where things get a bit dicey. I say things get a bit dicey because we are not living in the First Century. We are not living under Roman occupation. We are not a persecuted minority. We live in a country in which the vast majority of people profess to be Jesus’ followers. We live in a country in which many of the prevailing rules are in alignment with our faith. So what then does it look like for us to be the exception? What does it look like to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Jesus? What does it look like to be exceptional Jesus’ followers at home, at school, at work or at play? I wish I could give you some simple rule to follow but I can’t. What I can say though is that I know it when is see it. I see it in the signups for SOS down the hall. I see it every year in the mitten tree, on Church World Service blanket Sunday, when we turn in our One Great Hour of Sharing Banks. I see it in the ethical manner with which those you in the working world operate in ethically responsible ways, treating your employees and co-workers with respect. I see it in the way you give your time, talents and treasure not only to this church but to causes that change lives here and around the world. I see it in this church where we welcome all people as brothers and sisters. I see it in the many exception-al ways you choose to look to the needs of others, rather than to respond to the call of culture to always put your own needs and desires first.
My challenge for you then is, to ask yourselves, “How am I being an exception-al Christian, in the ways I choose to deny myself, take up my cross and follow Jesus.”
The Rev. Dr. John Judson
February 12, 2017
What was God thinking? What was God thinking when God sent Jonah on this absurd mission? The people of Nineveh were evil. They were some of the most brutal people to have ever marched across the middle east. They had devastated God’s people, killing hundreds of thousands. What was God thinking when God sent Jonah to preach repentance to them that they might turn to God and be saved? It made no sense. What was Jesus thinking? What was Jesus thinking when he told this story about a rich man going to hell and a poor man going to heaven. This made no sense. Everyone knew that to be rich meant that you were favored by God and to be poor meant that you were cursed by God. So it made no sense then at the end of the story when the wealthy man ended up in the pit and the poor man ended up in the bosom of Abraham. What were God and Jesus thinking?
My hope is that all of you here this morning could answer those questions. That you would know what they were thinking. You would know that God’s plan for creation is that everyone, and every nation be blessed. This was the task given to Abraham and his descendants. That all nations, not just one or two, but all nations would be blessed. So when Jonah is given the task of going to Nineveh he is carrying out the promise and task given to Abraham’s family; Jonah’s family. He is ensuring that all nations have the opportunity to be blessed. We would know as well that Jesus and later the entire New Testament focus on the obligation of God’s people to serve the poor, the hungry and those in need. We would remember that Jesus said, “When you do it to the least of these, you have done it to me.” Perhaps we would even remember the words of James, “Faith without works is dead.” Yet, what if…what if there is something else hiding behind these two stories? What if they are in fact about hell?
I know that the instant I say the word, hell, that in most of us, something happens. For some of us it will be that our minds are instantly filled with images. Images from novels, perhaps Dante’s Inferno, or from television or movies. If you watch shows like Supernatural or Grimm, you will have seen their images of hell. For others of us, perhaps what happens is that we have a visceral reaction; something deep in our gut, just kind of tightens. For those who grew up in more fundamentalist denominations or in denominations in which hell was a constant companion, the word created a sense of fear that always hovered in the air. It was a weekly dose of, as my Baptist friends call it, turn-or-burn sermons intended to make people toe the line or else. With all of that in mind, I want to offer us a very different image, or concept, of hell. So, take all of those images and emotions, and set them aside for a few minutes and consider another way of understanding hell. That hell is not about a final destination, but it is a reality that we create for ourselves when we separate ourselves from God and others. Let me say this again, that hell is not about a final destination, but that it is a reality we create for ourselves when we separate ourselves from God and others. To understand this, let’s turn to our stories.
The story of Jonah is one which is centered around a single word, and that word is down. When God makes contact with Jonah and asks him to help save the people of Nineveh, Jonah runs from God by going down. He goes down to the coast. He goes down into a ship’s hold. He is tossed overboard and goes down into the sea. Then he goes down into the belly of the bog fish. Then, even after he has saved thousands of lives, and helped to turn a nation from evil to good, he still goes down. He sits down and is angry. In other words, Jonah has created for himself his own personal hell. He is angry. He is bitter. And he is these things because he has gone down, trying to separate himself both from God, the source of his life, and from others, the people of Nineveh whom he hates. Jonah finds no joy, only pain and frustration, because he is no longer connected to God and to those whom God loves.
The same theme runs through the story that Jesus tells. Yet here it is not that the rich man creates a hell for himself, but for Lazarus. Each day the rich man walks by Lazarus as if Lazarus does not exist. He allows Lazarus to waste away and become so low that only the dogs lick his wounds. This is hell for Lazarus. And the rich man creates this hell because he is completely disconnected from both God and neighbor. We know that he is disconnected because the Torah makes it clear that the people of God have obligations to feed, clothe and care for the poor. By not doing so, it becomes apparent to Jesus’ listeners that this man has no connection to God in any way…and so the justice of God is that he will experience the hell that he had created for Lazarus.
These two stories then can be seen as cautionary tales; tales that warn us that if we disconnect from the love of God and form loving others, we may find ourselves in our own living hell. Yet they are also stories of hope. They are stories of hope because they show us that we can make a different choice, one of connection that offers us and others a bit of heaven on earth. This is the choice that was made by the people of Nineveh. They chose to reconnect with God and their lives were transformed. This was the choice of Lazarus at the gate. Though the story does not explicitly say so, the implication is that he is open to being connected to God and when he dies he finds this connection and thus experiences a new life; a bit of heaven. It is through those connections to God and neighbor, that little bits of heaven are formed here on earth.
She was one of the very first people I went to visit after I was ordained. My senior pastor asked that I go meet her along with the other people in the same nursing home. When I arrived I found her in bed, awake and welcoming. As I left the visit I was aware that I felt better than when I had arrived. Over time as I visited her I learned that she had been married, but had had no children, that she was constant in prayer, that she was beloved by the staff because she cared about them and their families and that she was always in bed because she had arthritis that crippled almost all of her body and left her in pain. One day I asked her how she did it. How was she able to be such a light to others when she was in constant pain? It was simple she told me. “I have a choice, “she said. “I can choose to be miserable. Or I can choose to be happy. I choose happy.” Her choice, even in the midst of her daily pain, was to remain connected in love to God and others. It never made her pain go away, but it created a bit of heaven on earth for herself and everyone who entered her room. She was and is my hero.
I understand that our lives are complicated. They are complicated by depression, and disease; by family and work dynamics; by politics and perceptions. There are forces around us that we cannot control. Yet these cautionary tales, are also hopeful tales. They remind us that a living hell is not inevitable. That we have the power to choose to be connected to, or disconnected from God and neighbor; that we have the power to create a bit of heaven for ourselves or others, in the here and now. My challenge to you then is this, to ask yourselves, “How am I connecting in love with God and neighbor, such that I am creating for myself and those around me, a bit of heaven on earth.”
Rev. Amy Morgan
February 5, 2017
Ezekiel 34:1-16, Luke 5:27-32
Do any of you have a favorite children’s book? One that you’ve read over and over again, to your children or grandchildren? Or maybe you have one that you read as a child so many times you’ve memorized it.
There was a time when the youth group read Moo, Baa, Lalala so many times to my son over the course of a weekend that I think we all have it permanently imprinted on our brains.
Some of these books have a message that, for whatever reason, spoke to us – as children or adults. Something that resonated with how we experience the world. And we needed to hear it again and again. Maybe it even took on different or deeper meaning at various points in our lives.
Well, preaching is kind of like that.
I’ve been preaching here at First Presbyterian for ten years now, and after looking back on all those sermons this week, I discovered that I’ve been basically preaching the same thing over and over. Month after month, year after year, sermon after sermon, I’ve been preaching about the sovereignty of God, the brokenness of humanity, and the gracious invitation to join in God’s work of reconciling the world through Jesus Christ. That’s it. Same sermon. Ten years.
Through three presidential administrations, through economic recession and recovery, through tragedies on a global, national, and personal scale, through relationships and trust built up over years or in short, intense experiences, I have preached the same sermon to you all.
You might be tired of it by now.
But it’s the sermon that I need to hear. Again and again. And it takes on new and deeper meaning at various points in my life. So I’m going to preach this sermon once more, at least.
Listening to today’s scripture passages, we might be tempted to think this is “Law and Order: Ripped From the Headlines” kind of stuff. I’m sorry, but when I read about those terrible shepherds, growing fat by devouring the lost, weak sheep, I went straight to my daily newsfeed and found all kinds of sermon material there. Scores of public figures emerged for me when I read about those self-righteous scribes and Pharisees judging Jesus for including everybody and healing those most in need.
But before I could start railing against those shepherds and Pharisees in our society, I had to hear God’s word to me. You see, you may think that preachers are preaching to their congregations. But any preacher worth their salt will tell you they are preaching to themselves first. We are telling the story we need to hear over and over again. And we hope it does you some good, too.
So those shepherds, those scribes and Pharisees – who are they? Well, Ezekiel is addressing the leaders of Israel, which, being a theocratic society, necessarily meant the religious leaders of Israel. And you pair that with this little Jesus story where the religious leaders think Jesus shouldn’t be hanging out with the riff-raff, and there’s nowhere to point the finger except right here.
As a shepherd of God’s people, I’m supposed to make sure you are healthy and well-fed and safe. And I wish I could look back over the last ten years, or look out at you all right now, and say I’ve done a bang-up job. But I know that many of you are soul-sick; many of you are starving for meaning and purpose and love and hope; many of you are lost and fearful and under attack. I know this. I talk to you. I hear you. I know you.
This may sound like I’m just beating up on myself, because pastors are really good at that. But I am perfectly comfortable identifying with the neglectful shepherds in Ezekiel. I am happy to own up to what I’ve done and what I’ve left undone over the last ten years. Because God makes this awesome promise. God promises to come and care for the sheep – to seek them out and rescue them and feed them. And God promises to destroy the fat and the strong and to feed them with justice.
This is a hopeful promise for me. God will do what I cannot, and God will destroy what is self-serving and self-righteous about me and feed me with justice. That is good news. God is sovereign. We are broken. But we are graciously invited to join in God’s work of reconciling the world through Jesus Christ.
So I’ve claimed my place in this story, I’m a shepherd who needs God to step in and take over. But we’re Presbyterian, friends. And what that means is that every single person who has been claimed by God in baptism has also been called by God to be a shepherd to all the sheep of the world.
I may be a shepherd of this flock here at First Presbyterian Church of Birmingham, but you all – we all – are shepherds of our households, our neighborhoods, our workplaces, our communities, our cities, our state, our nation, and our world.
And if you think it’s tough being a pastor, being a shepherd to the faithful who come here week after week to hear the Word of God and pray and work and be in community – ooh – try being a shepherd beyond these walls. That’s your job. Mine, too. And that ain’t easy.
And I don’t know that we’ve done a great job. Do our families, our neighbors, our colleagues suffer from soul-sickness? Are they starved for good news?
In my experience, our children somehow think it is more important to us that they get a scholarship to a top-ranked school than whether or not they are committed to love and justice and peace. They’re no fools. We aren’t sending mixed messages when we pressure them to bring up their math grade but don’t apply the same force around sitting with kids who are outcast at lunch. Our messages to them are loud and clear. They know what we shepherds want from them. Does that make us bad shepherds? Does it make us good parents?
Our neighborhoods are filled with stray sheep, prey for the wolves of loneliness and fear. If I don’t know my neighbor, I don’t feel responsible for them. They can wander off, and I wouldn’t even notice. They can be devoured by depression, abuse, illness, or any number of invisible struggles, and all that matters to me is that their house sells for more money and improves my property value.
God forbid we should talk about religion in our workplaces, but I’m going to bet we’ve all discussed politics in the last few years. Wouldn’t religion be the more agreeable of those two taboo topics these days? But the life of the shepherd is easier if we don’t have to share the thing that nourishes us. We save it for ourselves. If we tell others about it, it costs us something. There is a price we’re not willing to pay to stand up for our faith and its values in the “secular” world. Does that make us bad shepherds? Does it make us good citizens?
And I wish I could tell you which politician or policy at any level of government, from the city of Birmingham to the UN, was going to represent the values of the kingdom of heaven. I’ve got my hunches and opinions, of course. But even I am old enough to know that history has a way of playing out and judging our actions that not even the wisest of us can foresee. And I know that we would rather point to a politician or a political party and accuse them of being bad shepherds than shoulder that identity ourselves.
If our cities, our state, our nation, and our world do not experience the good news that God is sovereign, that humanity is broken, and that we are graciously invited to join in God’s work of reconciling the world in Jesus Christ – we are the bad shepherds. That is OUR work. Our work is to trust God to be God, and not claim that power for ourselves. Our work is to acknowledge the brokenness we see within ourselves and to see the suffering of others. Our work is to see where God is active in the world and jump in and get our hands dirty.
Instead, we look at one another, at one another in this very room, and say, “how can you call yourself a Christian and…” There’s no way Jesus should be hanging out with him. Or her. Or them. They are tax collectors. And sinners. Isn’t it good news that Jesus is eating with them? Isn’t it good news that Jesus is always eating with the people we judge to be unrighteous and unworthy?
We read this story in Luke and think that Jesus is saying that the tax collectors and sinners at the table are the ones who are sick and in need of physician, the sinners in need of repentance. But what if his comment is really an invitation to the scribes and the Pharisees to sit down and join the meal, to admit their own sin and seek out healing for their soul-sickness? What if the righteous ones are those who invited him to dinner and came out to eat with him?
We have failed as shepherds, all of us. The sheep have scattered. The wolves are gobbling them up. But we have an invitation. To sit down with Jesus and be fed with justice. To be healed of our soul-sickness by the Great Physician. To let God destroy our self-righteousness. To trust the Good Shepherd to take care of the sheep in ways that we have not. It’s good news. God is sovereign. Humanity is broken. We are graciously invited to join in God’s work of reconciling the world through Jesus Christ.
Our opinions will vary about what that looks like. Do you acknowledge God as Lord of your Sunday morning or Lord of your investment accounts? Do you see the brokenness of humanity in the global refugee crisis or in the hopelessness and despair that opens the door to radicalization of a religion? Do you see God’s work in the world, and commit to joining it, in small acts of kindness, in marches and rallies, or in waiting and hoping?
You may be surprised to hear this, but I say yes to all of it. That is why I am so privileged to serve as a pastor, a shepherd, at Everybody’s Church. There have been many times in the last ten years when I have not been certain if we could hold the tension, hold the space, that allows me to preach the same sermon and let it be heard in different ways. No time more so than now, I think.
So I’m asking you all, as a gift to me, if you have any honor or respect for the work I’ve done here over the last ten years, to hear this sermon one more time today. To hear it with your own ears, your own worldview, your own politics and opinions. To know that it is a message for you, and for the person next to you, and the person on the other side of the aisle. That it is a message for your family, and your neighborhood, and our cities, our state, our nation, and our world.
Turn to your neighbor, right now, and tell them, “God is sovereign.” Turn to another neighbor and tell them, “Humanity is broken.” Church, we are graciously invited to join in God’s work of reconciling the world in Jesus Christ. That means that, with the help of God, we can be better shepherds. We can look out for one another. We can feed one another. Turn back to your neighbor and tell them, “With God’s help, I will be your shepherd.”
Starting here and starting now, we can be better shepherds. To one another. And to our families. And our towns, and state and nation and world. In every action, every commitment, every vote, every conversation, we can be better shepherds.
We can start by coming together and eating at this table, where Jesus Christ is the host. Here, the hungry sheep will find good pasture, and the fat shepherds will be fed with justice. Here, the tax collectors and sinners find a welcome, and the scribes and Pharisees hear the invitation to sit down and repent.
Here, we will be told the same story Christians have been telling for thousands of years. May we find in it a new and deeper meaning today. May it draw us together as one flock under the care of the Good Shepherd. May it heal our brokenness. And may we be fed with justice. Amen.