Advent 2016 - The One We Are Looking For message by Lead Pastor Terry Brisbane. For more information, visit cornerstone-sf.org
Christmas is a time when there’s an unusual amount of hugging that goes on. I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed that. I think, for the most part, people are feeling pretty good, glad tidings, good news, jolly, everything is pretty. People are hugging and blessing more than normal, at least that’s the case for myself. Last week, I was with my youngest son. We left early in the morning. I was going to have a meeting at a coffee house in the mission that I go to a lot. I was going to meet a couple of men, I call them brothers, I was meeting. I was going to check-in. We were checking in together on something. Jake, my youngest son, the third of our four children, said, “Hey, can I catch a ride with you?” He went there with me. We were both talking about life as we were driving to the coffee house. We get there and were both happy being together. We walked in and I always get happier whenever I’m around coffee in some way, shape or form. I noticed that. I walk into the coffee house and I can smell it. It’s early, but there are a lot seats open.
I see stuff on the wall when I’m walking in, and then I walk towards the counter. I’m just giving you a picture of this. I walk to the counter. We order. Then I walk past the espresso machines that are there, moving towards the seating where we’re heading. Jake’s with me. As we’re walking towards the back of the house, I see Aaron whose is Caleb’s roommate. Aaron serves in our lighting ministry. I’ve seen Aaron a couple of times before. He also lives in the neighborhood. He’s a roommate of my oldest son. He also works for a company here in the city. I’m not allowed to say the name of it. It rhymes with Snapple, that’s all I’m going to say. The thing about it is, he was there, it was early, and he was working. The guy that I was going to meet was in the back, but Aaron was there working feverishly. He had his head down. I couldn’t see him, but I could recognize him. I’m used to him. As we’re walking by, I said, “Jake, there’s Aaron.” Jake goes, “Oh, great.”
We both very happily walk over to the table. Jake starts talking to him. I didn’t even stop to talk to Aaron. I just said, “Aaron.” I just went from behind and hugged him, “Great to see you, Aaron.” I just hugged him. Then I do my little bang on the back, and I walked off very happy, “Way to go, Aaron. Great checking in.” So I walked off. He kind of shook when I hit him on the back, but he had just been immersed in my hug. Jake was there, and they were still talking when I left. A few minutes pass, and Jake meanders over, he walks over to me and he says, “Hey dad, I just want to tell you something.” I said, “What?” He said, “That wasn’t Aaron.” “That wasn’t Aaron?” He said, “Yeah, the guy afterward said ‘Who are you guys?'” I mean, I literally smothered him. I went behind him. I was like, “Yeah, Aaron. Yeah.” He didn’t know what hit him. He got Christmas hugs and blessings. He was almost traumatized. I think he was traumatized.
Imagine that happening to you. These guys out of nowhere start calling you Aaron, then just start hugging and banging you. I said, “Who is he?” He said, “I don’t know. I don’t know the guy.” I said, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” So the moral of that story is, make sure you know who you’re hugging, all right? Make sure it’s the one you’re looking for. We had a great time. We laughed. I was thinking about it all week. I was just laughing and I was saying, “Man, I can’t believe I did that.” I felt sorry for that guy. I tried to go up to him, and I felt embarrassed. I said, “Sorry about that, man. Sorry about that. It’s all good. It’s all good. We’re buddies. We’re buddies.” All right, now I’m going to talk about this passage. There’s a connection here. Somewhere in there, we’ll find it. We’re going to go back into the account of the birth of Jesus. We want to talk about when He was named. When He was given His name formally.
In Jewish culture and tradition, there was a way to do this. As we read what we’re about to read, I realize not everybody has a familiarity with some of the things that are going to be presented in this little piece. It can almost seem unrelated to what we experience. If you do not have a grasp of the older testament, some of the things that often are stated in the New Testament don’t always make sense. One of the reasons I encourage new believers, especially our younger leaders or anyone who’s serious about following Jesus, is they think of the Bible as a whole, not just as a New Testament. But as an older testament that points to Jesus, and the New Testament that builds off of that. In a sense, they both point toward the cross, interconnected or intertwined. They may be different in the way God deals with the human race. To have a full appreciation for the New Testament, the life of Christ, and the things that were taught in the scriptures for the early church, it is enormously valuable to have an ongoing growing understanding of the older testament. It illuminates a lot of things and brings color and depth to them.
This is an example of that. We’re talking about intertwining this passage of our traditions that were embedded in the Abrahamic covenant. The covenant that God made with Abraham when Abraham followed Him by faith, believed God and moved out when he had no real reason to do it beyond just that word. Abraham becomes the father of the faithful. Then Moses, who was the ultimate deliverer of Israel. Or at least the one who delivered Israel out of their Egyptian bondage. The Law of Moses is a lot of the groundwork for the New Testament. The reason is going to come up because some of these traditions and customs are embedded into the older testament. Let’s look at verse 21. “Eight days later when the baby was circumcised, He was named Jesus.” We’re talking about Jesus and His birth. The One was a name given Him by the angel even before He was conceived. Jesus was named before He was conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary. His name is significant. It wasn’t just any name. Jesus is not just any name.
It has meaning now, obviously, that is different than it would have been if He had never come into this world. The name Jesus itself is the Anglicized version of a Greek word that is a transliteration of a Jewish word, Yeshua. Yeshua means God saves, God is our savior. When you think of it that way, you realize there were also other people who were named that. No one had ever been born or ever will be born that fulfills that name more than Jesus. This is what the Bible teaches us. He is the embodiment of that name, God saves. When we’re here at Christmastime, one of the things we’re celebrating is the birth of a savior. Both in terms of where we’re going ultimately beyond this life, and also in terms of what God wants to do in and around our lives. Verse 22 shifts from the naming of Jesus at the time of His circumcision to what is known as the “Presentation of Jesus” or the “Dedication of Jesus” in the temple in church. We would call this a Dedication Ceremony.
The Dedication Ceremony also involves another component. In the older testament and in Jewish culture it would have been understood based on the Leviticus teaching after a woman had a child, she would wait about 40 days before she would come into the temple or engage in religious activity. It was a purification ritual. So, there are two things going on. Mary is coming to the temple to complete the purification time. Purification has come to a close. They are coming to dedicate Jesus unto the Lord, as would be the custom of their people based on the scriptures. It says in verse 22, “Then it was time for their purification offering.” When that time came, they would bring an offering. It was said here that it was required by the Law of Moses with the birth of a child. His parents took Him Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord. We would say they took him to church to dedicate Him. The Law of the Lord says, verse 23, “That if a woman’s first child is a boy, he must be dedicated to the Lord.” Since the days of the Exodus, when Israel was delivered out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and when He saved Israel’s firstborn males with what was known as The Passover, death passed over because of the blood that was on the doorpost, which on the wood, can we see the blood of a lamb? Can we see the foreshadowing of Jesus there? Is that amazing or what?
It was understood since that time, that firstborn males were to be holy, set apart to the Lord. It was also understood as part of that ceremony that they were to redeem their son. That is, they were dedicated to the Lord and then they were to redeem him by buying back, by giving an offering. If you were wealthy, you would bring a lamb if you could afford it. If you were poor, you could use something else. If you were less able, you could use a pigeon or a turtle dove. It was to offer thanksgiving to the Lord for His mercy and for bringing you through the pain of childbearing. In that sense, there was accommodation based on what you could afford. It was one of the two offerings that you were meant to bring when you came to the service. The other offering was what was known as a “sin offering,” which according to Leviticus was to be made for the wealthy and the poor at the same level because at the foot of good, we’re all on equal footing when it comes to mercy. In verse 24 it says, “They offer the sacrifice required in the Law of the Lord,” again the clause, “a pair of turtle doves or two young pigeons.”
What is implicit here is that Mary and Joseph were poor, at least not wealthy enough to afford the lamb. They didn’t have a lot of money. The king was not born into wealth, but they had a lot of love for God, and they were attentive to details. They were devout. They were simple. They were righteous. This is what we’re being told is happening. They were in the temple and at that time we’re told there’s a secondary story that’s going on. There’s an intersection that’s about to take place. You have Mary and Joseph who have their own thing with God going on, which is mysterious, remarkable, and hard to believe. Joseph is functioning as a caretaker and stepfather behind the scenes, designed to accommodate and support something that he himself would never believe possible. God’s working through a young woman named Mary. She herself has only just said, “I am open to you, God.” There’s this incredible thing going on, but now they’re following through to dedicate Jesus and present Him to the temple.
As Mary and Joseph are doing that, there’s another man that we’re told about. His name is Simeon. Simeon is going to intersect with them in the temple. He is a man who the Bible tells us has been praying. He’s a man who loves God. He’s been seeking God for a number of years. He has been given an impression that he will not die until he has had a chance to see the one he’s been looking for, the Messiah. We’re told about it here in verses 25 and 26. “At the time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon, and he was righteous and devout. He was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die until he has seen the Lord’s Messiah. That day, the Spirit led him to the temple,” the Bible says things like this so matter of factly that it can either catch us off guard, “What does that mean?” Or we can just walk past it real fast without much notice. What is being implied here is that he had this impression and a deep spiritual conviction.It was accurate. The Lord would keep him alive until he had a chance to see the Messiah with his own eyes.
“That day the Spirit led him,” which also carries this idea of prompting. What are we going to do with that? In my mind, embrace it with humility, knowing that God can lead us and at times reveal things to us in the ordinariness of our lives. There are going to be moments if we walk with Jesus where God will set up divine appointments. We’ll come out of that conversation knowing that we just touched something sacred and holy we didn’t plan on. Those are times where the Lord will put something into our heart, a word, a thought, a desire to talk with someone that is more than just our idea. There are times where if the Lord is being welcomed into our lives, we will experience things that sometimes we will shake our head and say, “What did God just do?” Some of us need to be careful about over-spiritualizing things. But some of us can because we live in such a safe, sane, rational culture that’s prosperous relative to the rest of the world, at least the majority of it. A lot of times, our first inclination is to suspect things.
Therefore, we begin to live our lives with a certain kind of reluctance to think that God might prompt things in our own hearts, or put a thought in our mind that we’re to respond to. I think for a majority of us, we need to be far more open to the prompting of the Lord. I’m not talking about crazy things. I am talking about saying, “Lord, I know you speak. I know there are times where your spirit wants to move me to pray for someone, have a conversation with someone, to take something in your word that is speaking, and claim it as my own. Lord, there are times when you make a promise that is for me to hold on to, just like Simeon had been given a promise.” People could judge that promise. He didn’t tell everybody about it, but it was a unique promise. God gave it to him, and he held it. Eventually, that promise was fulfilled. There are times where God will give you and me words in our lives. He wants us to hold onto those promises. He wants those words to have preeminence in our life. There are times where His spirit wants to lead us into places because I believe in the Spirit of God’s reality. I believe God moves. God still speaks. God leads.
Again, we’re not talking about stuff that’s crazy or way out there. What we are talking about are things that we would not normally open ourselves up to. Sometimes God will prompt us to want to respond in a way of giving, or blessing in some way that is so out of the norm for us, but we are trying to respond to a prompting we feel in the spirit. We’re to communicate a word that we would have not communicated, but we feel that the Lord is trying to get us to move somewhere. The value of having an ongoing growing relationship with the Lord is that it leaves room not just for something that happened a long time ago that I can learn about, but it allows for things to happen in our lives today. Things that God wants to do in us, through us, and around us. That’s a big part of this. It says here, “So Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required,” the Law of Moses. Simeon was there and he finds his way to them. You can see the picture in the temple, in the Lord’s house. He’s coming and he makes his way. He says, “Can I hold your baby?” I don’t know how he said it. I don’t know what he looked like. We don’t know how old he is. People like to think he was older. But we do know he took the child in his arms.
In my mind’s eye, I imagine him just lifting that child up and beginning to praise God. “I thank you, God. I praise you, God. This promise, this child, this is the fulfillment of what you say.” I see that right there. “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace. As you have promised, I have seen your salvation. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. I’m holding your salvation in my hands. He is light. I tell you, He is a light to reveal God to the nations. He is the glory of your people of Israel.” It says they were amazed at what was being said about Him. I want to interact with that. Before we head out of this service and into the rest of our week, I would like us to create some room to think and open up our hearts. Some of us are note-takers. I try to keep them simple just because they give us access points and you can build around them. The first thing I want to suggest around this passage for where we’re heading in this coming week or two goes all the way back to that opening story. Those who look for Jesus will find Him.
Simeon was waiting with an active eye. Just because something’s in front of us doesn’t mean we’ll see it. Just because something is passing by doesn’t mean we notice it. There are times where you can just sit somewhere and people watch. “It could be strange, Pastor, if you were saying that-” yeah, I know, but you’re just hanging out watching people go by, watching life pass by. You might notice things that you didn’t notice before. Sometimes you find yourself somewhere, it could be in the middle of a department store, all of a sudden, “Wow, stuff’s happening.”
You start looking at something different. It’s interesting. Sometimes interactions with family, that you’ve done all the time and the same way every time, seem like you almost pause and pull outside of it for a moment and think “Let me take in what’s really happening here.” That’s a different way of seeing something. How many of you have ever seen the Dancing Bear Awareness Test? I know if you YouTube it, it’ll come up. “What is that? Sounds strange.” I’ll tell you what it is. I went and watched it again because I was thinking, “Oh yeah, I saw what you’re looking for.” There’s this man that says, “There are eight guys. This is an awareness test. There are eight guys. They have a basketball. Four of them are in white and then four of them are in black. They’re lined up. Then the basketball says, “Can you count the number of passes that are being made by the team in white?”
I’m zeroing in on the white team. Then they start moving. You’re trying to follow all the men in white. I’ve got my eyes peeled on one, two, three. I started to count the number of passes with the white team. I don’t care about the black team. They only asked me about the white team. So he comes in, “How many passes were made by the team in white?” I think I know that number. Then they say, “The number is 13.” I go, “Yes, 13. I got it. Easy.” “Did you notice the dancing moonwalking bear that passed by while that was happening?” I was thought, “What bear? I didn’t see any bear.” The one in black. Then it rewinds. It shows you again. “Look for the dancing bear.” All of a sudden, I’m looking and in black, while I was counting the passes on the white team, one, two, three, all of a sudden they’re right. In the middle of the passing, and all these guys moving around, there’s this bear dressed in black. It looks like one of the black-clothed players who’s been passing, and he’s dancing. He gets to the middle and the bear starts to moonwalk out of the picture.
I’m thinking, “How did I miss it? I know. They tricked me. They made him look like one of the players dressed in black.” But, you miss what you’re not looking for. I missed it because I wasn’t aware. I was so focused on counting the passes on the team that was dressed in white that I missed the moonwalking bear passing through the screen. What we’re not looking for, we miss. We miss it. Sometimes, just because we’re not looking. I think a lot of us miss things, moments, little blessings, and subtle details because we’re not looking for them. This is especially true when we’re preoccupied with stuff on our minds, issues, or agendas. We’re busy, like in that wonderful story in Luke 10 when Jesus is interacting with Martha and Mary. He says to Martha, who’s so busy. She’s the Christmas mom. She’s going to make the best meal experience Jesus ever had in the whole world because she loves Him and is His friend. She translates love as service. Somewhere along the way, Jesus says, “Martha, Martha you’re so busy. Mary, your sister at this moment is making time to listen to me. You’re very busy because you love me, but I need you to slow down a little bit and do what is the better thing at this moment.”
I think there are times when the Lord wants us to listen and learn. The Lord is not against service or activity on His behalf, certainly not. He just doesn’t want us to miss things in the end that are more important and meaningful things. I have to ask the question, does that resonate with any of us? Because it has huge relational implications. Sometimes, in our quest to provide for the people we love, we can override the most important contributions that God really wants us to make. “I’m going to get this for them so we can have this kind of a house.” But we can miss stuff in our drivenness. What about the spirit? What about character? What about tender love and attentiveness? What about presence? Where does that show up? We’re never going to get that perfect. Sometimes in our quest to serve, we can swerve off track and forget to connect to the “why.” This can happen for those of us who are in ministry all the time. It’s going to happen to me this week. We serve in the name of the Lord, but forget the “why.” Every time I try to gather with the teams, I try to remind them and myself why are we doing this. Why do we have church? Why are we trying to be a presence in some type of grace witness for Jesus?
Why are we trying to sing a song in His name? What is it we’re trying to do? We sometimes have to ask ourselves why. Sometimes in our desire to achieve, I’m talking about relationships or seeing others achieve, we can fail to see the critical subtleties that are yearning to be noticed. They can have a great education, and they can be missing Jesus. Here’s the problem, they can play on the best traveling soccer team and miss Jesus. Jesus said, “Lay up for yourselves, not treasures on this earth where moth and rust corrupt and thieves can break in and steal, but lay for yourself treasures in Heaven where it cannot be taken from you.” If you have to put the accent, what does it profit a man or a woman if they gain the whole world but they lose their soul? I’d tell you Jesus said, “Be rich towards God.” Where’s the accent supposed to go? It’s not that the other things are not good or important. It’s that there is a most important. Seek first the kingdom of God, the loving realm of Jesus in our lives, and all these other things shall be added unto you.” They’ll slot into place.
Living with the sermon is an art. It’s a discipline. It’s a product of intention. We don’t get it right. What is true of human relationships is really true with God, our relationship with the Lord. Simeon saw Jesus because he was looking for Him. Really looking for Him. He was more than open. He was actively open. That’s different. We usually notice what we are looking for actively, not passively. Some people say, “Oh, I’m open to God.” There’s a difference between saying “I’m open to God,” and “Oh yeah, I’m open.” That’s different than saying, “I’m seeking God and I’m opening my heart up to looking for Him.” That is a very different position. He wants to visit me, He’s welcome. I’m sure God appreciates the graciousness of your willingness to make space if He is inclined to operate on your schedule to meet you where you want in the way that He wants. Sometimes God does that anyway. I’m not trying to sound sarcastic, I hope I didn’t come off that way.
What I am trying to say is that if you seek me, you will find me. If you truly ask, it will be given. If you knock, the door will be opened. That’s degrees of pursuit. It’s possible to celebrate Christmas and miss the Christ of Christmas. We can move through the Christmas season and miss Jesus moving in us. I don’t want to do that. What does it look like to be actively open? I think it means slowing down a little bit. I think it means getting to the temple, the Lord’s house like Simeon did, where God is worshiped, and what you’re doing right now. His words are proclaimed. His songs are sung, and joy we hope in our hearts. It means being sensitive to the spirit’s directives and impressions. I’m talking about positioning and preparing. We’re talking about waiting, listening, watching, and looking. We’re talking about a way that we’re going to think about this week. Here is the second piece. We’re to personally and joyfully embrace Jesus. Simeon took Jesus in his arms and blessed God.
Let me share a Christian paradox. If we are to be held in His arms then there is a sense that we must hold Him in our arms. I want Him to hold me in His. There’s a sense that I have to hold Him in mine. It’s as if we’re invited to embrace Him humbly in His humility. Someone said, “To love God our Father is to embrace His only begotten Son and to embrace His only begotten Son is to embrace the Christ child.” It brings us down. What does it mean to embrace, to touch, to put our arms around another person, like what I did with that guy I thought was Aaron. I just hugged him. I embraced him. I welcomed him in. When we embrace someone we’re saying, “You’re welcome to me. I’m not afraid of you.” Jesus wants us to embrace Him. It’s an opportunity to embrace Him. How can we do this? One of the underestimated blessing opportunities of Christmas is singing, even if you don’t sing great. Sing. What are you talking about? Is there ever a time in the year where songs are not being sung about Jesus left and right? By all kinds of people, some of whom have no idea who He is really. You can be walking through a store and a song is speaking about Jesus “Born to us this day. O’ Little Town of Bethlehem. The King. Hark the Herald Angels. Glory to the newborn king.” It’s Everywhere. Sing.
Get a song in our hearts. When the time comes to sing the carols and the hymns, sing them. Welcome in the song of the season. Let us this next week be open to singing songs. When we get to that candlelight service, sing. Sing. Be a part of that. Lord, open my heart. Let me just sing. It’s a time for singing. It’s a time for celebrating. It’s a time for serving. It’s a time for giving. It’s a time for forgiving. If we’ve got things in our hearts that we’re not letting go of and they’re not letting go of us, say “Lord, you’ve come to me as a gift I could never deserve. Help me to let go of stuff I don’t need to hold onto. Let your peace come to me. Don’t let this garbage dominate my life. Set me free. Prince of Peace, come. Help me, Lord, not to get stuck in this place but to get free in the way that you want me to be free. Oh, Redeemer, redeem me. Oh, Christ who is born, come to me again today, this day. Be fresh in my life this week. I invite you. I want to sing your songs. I want to be a giving person. I want to serve. I want to be a peacemaker, not an agitator. I don’t need to fight. I want to walk in your ways.”
Thirdly, we would do well to pause long enough to see salvation. When you look at the Nativity scenes, usually you’ll see a manger. Jesus is in a manger. In the wood, I always try to remind myself, every time I see the manger in wood, to remember that the cross is in the wood of that manger. The wood of that manger reminds me of the cross that Jesus would hang on because He loves us because God loves us. He came to give His life away that we might have life. He was born and the season’s purpose is to celebrate the one who was born to give His life away. Someone said, “To live a life that we could never live. To die for us a death that-” I forget how he said it, but the idea is that for us in our place, to die for us, to give His life away for us so that we don’t have to die ourselves. He dies the death for us if you will. What a blessing.
Finally, we’re to anticipate new beginnings and fresh opportunities. I have a motive. It’s to get everybody thinking towards a direction. It gets our hearts ready to celebrate not only the gift of Jesus’s coming that we are marking with millions of people all over the world turning their hearts in a tendered way to acknowledge the birth of Jesus. Also to use the momentum of this week that we are going to intentionally enter into. Then to use that as a catapult into the new year. The timing of when we celebrate Jesus’s birth to me is a great gift. I always love it because we get to celebrate the new thing that God has done, the change that is coming to this world, and all that it means. After we do that, if we choose to do it right, we’re making room. When we get to Christmas with Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, we may appoint “Lord, I prepared myself this week. I’ve made room for you. I’m honoring you. I’m creating space for you. I’m acknowledging who you are. I’m not just moving through this thing. I’m trying to create something to celebrate the Christ who has been born, and all that means for my life, for the life of the people that I love. Lord, help me to be a light even as you have been a light.”
I’m thinking that way. Then from that, out of that moment, we fly into one week before the new year. The new year feels like a new opportunity. That space in between Christmas and the new year is a great time to say “Lord, remind me of what’s most important. Get me moving in the right direction, thinking about the right things. Position me through this winter to get ready for the new things that you want to do in my life or the things that you want to create.” We’re going to spend a lot of time in the first couple of months of the year talking about the adversity, limitation, weakness, disappointment, and how there are opportunities that God can bring out of those places of brokenness and suffering. What is the opportunity? How are we to embrace in light of our savior this gift of the new year? What is the Spirit whispering to us? What promise am I to hold onto? How am I even taking time to make room for it?
What am I thinking? What is He wanting us to pursue, yield, wrestle with, or strengthen? What is He trying to say? Are there adjustments God’s trying to get us to make heading into this new year in light of the coming Christ and all that that means? What is it that the Lord’s trying to do? That’s what I want to get at. When we close the service, we’re going to have our time of giving, and then that song that we close with, it’s as if it’s a prayer for us. The way I would like us to think about that final song is as if we’re taking some of what we’ve talked about and letting it settle in into our spirit. Then we’re saying, “Lord, I ask that you would help us not to be like the man or the woman in the Book of James, who looks into the mirror, see something we want to adjust or correct, but then walks away and does nothing about it.”
I ask that in small but meaningful ways, it’s by carving out time early in the day. Have some devotional time, time to read a passage, pick up something, maybe a Daily Bread, and read it through. A devotional, a thought, story, 15 minutes of prayer, making room for you. It might be more, but at least it’s good to be doing this. To look at your birth story again and the gospels. To do something that the Lord would remind us to stay anchored in the meaning of what we’re moving into so we don’t get lost in all the voices and activity. The Christ of Christmas would have a place and room in our lives so that we get to that moment when we celebrate and we can do it. Out of that Lord, move us into this new year. As we end this service, let us just let your words settle into our hearts. Let us not just race away and forget about it. Throughout the week in different ways, choose to access you. When we hear those carols, not the ones about Rudolph, but the other ones Lord, help us to sing them and to make room for them. I ask that you bless our time of giving and let this song that we close with be our prayer into our spirits out of us into others, tender hearts, room for you, thoughts directed your way. Love of God ours. In Jesus’s name, we pray. Amen.