Monday, November 27, 2006

Fulfillment

(wma audio link)

The Reign of God, when it comes upon the earth at last, will be like ten ladies in waiting, who, when they went to meet the King as he returned from a long journey, took with them lamps to light the way. But five of these ladies, who were waiting for the King, who believed the King would come, were fools. They took no oil with them to fill their lamps. The wise, however, knew they would need oil, and so they prepared.

Now the King was delayed, or so it seemed, and the ladies were forced to wait. All of them became tired. All of them feel asleep. But at midnight a cry rang out! “He is here! He has come! Quickly, out to meet him!”

All of the ladies as one arose. And it was then that the fools saw the end of their foolishness. So they turned to the others: “Give us some of your oil. Please share with us what you have, so that we may light our lamps too.” “Alas,” replied the children of Wisdom, “we have not enough. This oil cannot be shared that way. You must go and buy it for yourselves.”

So off ran the fools in a flurried rush, hastening, at midnight, to try and buy oil for their lamps But while they were out, the King returned and entered into his Fortress where a great Feast was to be had, forever. And the door was shut, and locked.

Then the foolish ladies came back…did they have oil? I don’t know but they came and cried, “Lord, Lord, open to us.” But the King from within his Kingdom answered them, “Truly, I do not know you.”

Then Jesus said, Watch, for you do not know the day or the hour.

He will come. If you don’t know that by now, then you either haven’t been listening for the last few weeks, or you simply don’t believe it. It’s all over the Scriptures. It’s the point of the Scriptures. The Bible has many truths. Morality, lessons, wisdom. But all of it is as dust and ashes without the fulfillment. We search the Scriptures because we believe that in them we can find life: and indeed, we can, but it is they that bear witness to Him, to the fact that he will come again.

That is what we remember today. This feast, to be had here, is the same feast that we will have with the King when he takes us into his Kingdom. It is the feast come early, the end of time breaking into the now, the perfection of what will be making us a part of itself even before it has come. Last Wednesday night I belabored that point a bit much with my words and a few technical difficulties. Today, I want it to be simple and plain. Today is the Feast of Thanksgiving. Today we take the Eucharist and look forward to fulfillment. Today is Christmas and Easter wrapped up into one, the day we still wait for and yet the day that is already here.

From here then, from today, we look forward and back to Christmas. It’s coming. And the blue of our Advent will lead us to the Christ child in the manger. We will remember that the day of Judgment will bring not only wrath upon evil, but also that same infant holy, that infant lowly, who was born in a cattle stall in order to sit on the throne prepared for him from the foundation of the world where he will be a generous, good and loving King.

Yet, our parable, the parable of the ten virgins, is clear that not all who look for the coming of the King will enter the Kingdom. Five were fools and five were wise. That’s half. Five had oil, and five did not. That’s half.

None of them were perfect. They each became drowsy and slept. They each failed to watch as they should have watched. They each needed to be wakened with a Word from outside themselves. And yet, once they were waked, five were fools, and five were wise. Five had oil, and five did not.

So where is the oil? What is the oil? That is the secret of this parable, and, to be brutally honest, the text itself never tells us. But Scripture does. In the old testament, in the covenant that the people Israel had with our God before Christ came, there was a command from the Lord to keep a lamp filled with oil perpetually burning every night in the holy place of his tabernacle, his tent, where the ark of the covenant, the next best thing to the incarnation, was set to rest. The lampstand in the holy place was there as a testimony of the very real presence of God, and priests were employed to keep an eye on it all the time, lest it go out, for this was a statute forever, according to that covenant. It was a literal manifestion of God to his people – one of several old testament sacraments, if you will. And you wouldn’t believe the kind of care and precision that went into this lampstand, from the special crafting of seven hollow shafts, beaten into acorns and blossoms, all from one piece of highly refined gold, to the highly arduous task to collecting the purest, uncrushed olive oil for fuel. It was brutal because it was holy, and it was holy because it was a sacrament of God. It was God himself manifesting himself to his people, a lamp for their feet to see his covenant of grace and light for their path, to see the reality of his eternal presence in that ark of the covenant at the center.

But the Scripture isn’t done speaking about this lamp after Leviticus. Consider the book of Revelation, the Apocalypse of St. John. To read Revelation without the Old Testament is like eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches without peanut butter. And you’ll see this immediately, for when John is first carried in the spirit into the presence of God, in the first chapters of his writing, he sees, in that holy place in heaven…can you guess?...seven golden lamp. You see the old testament temple with its sevenfold lamp was a shadow of something bigger, something more real than even itself. And there, in the midst of these lamps in heaven, John saw the real ark of the covenant, the real dwelling of God with his people. There, at the center, he saw his Lord Jesus Christ. Crazy.

But, wait, there is more. Let’s not forget the prophet Zechariah’s vision where he learns the answer to our question about the oil. For he saw a lampstand in heaven all of gold, with a bowl on the top of it, and seven lamps on it, (sound familiar?). And there were two olive trees by it, one on the right and one on the left, representing the oil for the lamps. And he said to the angel who talked with him, "What are these, my lord?" Then the angel answered and said, "This is the word of the Lord: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit.

All right then…we’re getting somewhere now. The ladies arise, and they need their lamps, their light, the presence of God active in their life as they go to meet the coming King. Five had the Spirit, and five did not. They thought they did. They, in fact, had. But they did no longer. It had been choked out, rooted out, slept out…they had quenched the one thing needful.

What about you? Do you have the Spirit? – probably, or you wouldn’t still be here. Will you have the Spirit on the day that it matters? Ahh…now that’s a more frightening question. Answer “yes.” Go ahead. Because then I’m going to ask you, “why?” And “how do you know?”

Because if it is clear from the Scriptures that the lamps are the Life given by God and the oil is the Spirit who is also given by God, then I’m really curious to learn how you can be assured that you will continue to have these things? What can you do to make certain God keeps giving you things only he can give? Can you set your face towards discipleship, and make a resolution and a decision and tell yourself, “from now on I will live as if I am watching for Christ and I will never fail, and therefore, God, you will give me your spirit! I claim it. I call it down. I demand you hold your word to me based on what I have done!”

That kind of “word of power” is preached in countless “Christian” churches across America this very morning.

But I tell you a mystery and it is overwhelming. You can’t do anything to make certain that you will have oil in your lamp. You can’t do anything to guarantee your own salvation. Be afraid. That’s good. It’s called the fear of God and it is, according to Scripture, the foundation of all wisdom.

You can’t do anything to put oil in your lamp. You can’t do anything to make certain you are a wise lady. Feel the fear? Feel helpless and lost? That fear, that helplessness, that is not by might, nor by power but by the Spirit. And I tell you, for salvation on that day, to wake to oil in your lamp, you lie completely at the mercy of God. But, friends, it is for that very reason that you will have oil in your lamp. It is for that very reason that you will have the Spirit on that Day when the cry of the archangel wakes you. And you can know this to be absolutely true I, the prophet of God in this place, sent in his stead and by his command, I am telling you that that’s what’s going to happen because Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. You will have oil in your lamp. You can’t make it happen, but God’s Word promises that it will happen because your lamp is not you.

And here’s where we’ve got to rush back to Revelation. Listen:

As much as it is true that Israel, the lampstand of old and the Church, the lampstand of the new, are a light on a hill and a city for the nations and the brightly glowing community of proclamation of the presence of God in the now and forever and ever…as much as it is true that you and I are these people, and that it is truly our task and mission to vigorously make know this thing which has happened, this resurrection which will happen – nonetheless, and contrary to all reason and strength, in the face of all might and power – simply, purely by because of and in the Spirit – the reality is that there is no lamp apart from the Lord God Almighty Himself, for John tells us in chapter 21:23 We need no sun or moon, for the glory of God gives us light, and our lamp with that light is the Lamb of God.

The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world is your lamp. This bread, this cup, our Christ is your lamp. You are the stand. The Spirit is the oil, and those foolish ladies without the Spirit held false christs. But you do not hold a false Christ and this is not by the will of your flesh or the will of man but by the working of God through his wonderous Word. And that word spoken, that Christ crucified, that Resurrection proclaim, that that light we walk under, all kings of the earth will submit to its glory, for he brings a new heavens and a new earth where no unclean thing, no fool, no scoffer can enter, but only those who have the lamp, that lamp who is always full of the holy Spirit because he and the Spirit are one, Triune in Godhead and one in Trinity. And you will carry that lamp, that lamb, into that city because you are one with him, even as he is one.

Listen: “Take. Eat. This is me.” It’s literal Jesus making you literal Jesus, and Jesus always is filled with the Spirit. This meal always fills with the Spirit.

So watch. You do not know the day or the hour. But you know the lamp. And when you wake at the end of time, he will be burning by your side, a light for your feet, a light for your path, taking you straight into the Kingdom, into the feast, into this feast fulfilled, forever.

Should I talk about the grass? The Word of the Lord: Rev. 22:5: The night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. Amen. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

End of Days 2 - 1 Thess. 4

(wma audio download link)

[As always, beware the typos!]

Reformation. All Hallows. And now… the end times.

The end times. It’s a popular topic in today’s Christianity. It’s a popular topic outside of today’s Christianity. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran, as a Muslim, is waiting for the long awaited “righteous man” to come and bring peace to the earth. He said so to the UN assembly several weeks ago. Sounds interesting, doesn’t it? You might almost think he was waiting for Jesus. But he’s not. He’s waiting for a “prophesied” warrior who, according to, I believe, Sunni tradition, bring peace to earth by conquering all non-Muslim nations and forcing them to either submit the Koran and the teachings of Mohammed or die.

Of course, that kind of radical end times stuff is usually off our American radar. But Tim LaHaye and Hal Jenkins aren’t. Do you know those names? Tim LaHaye and Hal Jenkins are the coauthors of the infamous “Left Behind” series. Twelve plus fictional books, millions of dollars in royalties, several movies, all about how “the end” will take place, and all, as they claim, according to biblical prophesy.

It’s really one big propaganda movement pushing a system of biblical interpretation, created in about the 1840’s and called, are you ready?... “premillenial dispensationalism.” Pre-mil-len-ial dis-pen-sa-tionalism. Don’t worry about remembering that. All you need to know is that they think they can read the Scriptures in such a way as to figure out when Jesus will come back, and, go figure, they say it’ll be in the next few years. Now, ignoring the fact that there were sectarians and schismatic heretics making the same claims in the 3rd century, the 8th century, the 12th century, the 15th century and the 19th century, they know that this time they’re right.

Yeah. Well…I’m not sure. And I know without a shadow of a doubt that their premillenial dispensational system is seriously flawed, because, any system which sees the cross of Jesus as a mistake in God’s plan, just can’t be right.

But not everyone who believe LeHaye and Jenkins knows that or thinks that. Usually, they’re just hyped about how they’re living in the end times. I had a conversation the other day with a neighbor of mine. She said, “Oh, you’re a Pastor. I don’t go to church myself, but I’m a Christian and I read my Bible. And I believe we’re living in the end times.” “Probably,” I said. “Ever since Jesus left we’ve been living in the end times.” “Oh no,” she corrected me. “I mean we’re really living in the end times.” “Maybe,” I said.

After all, it’s really kind of hard to know. What does the Bible say about the “signs of the times?” Let’s see. There will be wars. Check. Rumors of wars. Check. Earthquakes. Check. False teachers. Check. Godlessness. Check. Yup. We’ve definitely got all those things, so, for all we know, the end might be tomorrow, or even this afternoon. But here’s the nugget most people prefer to ignore. Wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes, false teachers, godlessness…all these things existed in the 1st century too. And they haven’t really ever gone away. They just keep on happening. That’s why Jesus said, in these same texts of Scripture, ‘These are the beginnings of birth pains.” But “no one knows the day or the hour when the Son of Man will return.” “He will come like a thief in the night.” “As the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” People will be working in the fields, and bam, boom, bang. It’ll be over. The elect will be caught up to meet Christ in the air. The dead will rise to find themselves clothed with new flesh. And then, the great Judgment will take place, when the books will be opened, and all that you have ever done. All of it, every thought, word and action will be laid bare and judged.

Like a thief in the night. It’s frightening stuff. Really. Jesus said, “Watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” “Watch.” “I am coming soon.” “I am coming soon.”

The end times. Here we are, living in them. Will it be tomorrow? I don’t know. Will it be five hundred years from now? We don’t know. Will it happen? Absolutely. And so we wait. We are an advent people, a people waiting for the coming Lord. And while we wait, we pray kyrie eleison, Lord have mercy. We pray, Maranatha, Come, Lord, come.

We wait, we work. We serve our neighbors, we love our families, we hear the Word preached, we receive the Sacrament, and we wonder, “How long, O Lord? How long, until you come and avenge yourself upon the earth, bringing your righteousness with you?”

We don’t know when it will be. But neither do we want to forget, for the Scripture tells us plainly. Jesus tells us plainly, “Watch!” And so, while we don’t run around screaming like chicken little about every bit of breaking news in the middle east, it has become the custom of the Church in her liturgy to remind us, her people, of this marvelous, frightening, amazing reality.

Year after year, as Pentecost and Trinity seasons draw to a close, as Advent draws near, we enter the Last Days in word, in song, and in practice. We are admonished by tradition to watch, and we are reminded by the shifting of colors and the new tones of music that the End Times are indeed already here. We live in them every day. The hearts of many have grown cold. Men no longer put up with sound doctrine. False christs and prophets perform many wonders and lead astray those who would claim the name of Christian. And our Lord has warned us before hand that where the corpse lies, there vultures come to eat the flesh. When you see the abomination of desolation, when the lies of false teaching rear their head, do not look back, but flee for the hills. Flee to the Lord.

Beware! He says. Remain in me! He says. And so, having believed this, the Church sings from the past to us of this great tribulation. And the by words of our songs, those who have lived this end times life before us, encourage us onward.

“Wake, awake, for night is flying! Awake Jerusalem! Christ is surely coming. Bringing his reward. Alpha and Omega, first and last and Lord. Hear the certain promise from eternal home; “Surely I come quickly” Come Lord Jesus come! The clouds of Judgment gather, the hour is growing late. Be sober and be watchful, our judge is at the gate. Christians, this Lord Jesus shall return again in His Father glory with his angel train; for all wreaths of empire meet upon his brow and our hearts confess him king of glory now. Rejoice! Rejoice believers, and let your lights appear. The evening is advancing, and darker night is near. The Bridegroom is arising and soon is drawing nigh. Up! Pray and watch and wrestle; at midnight comes the cry!”

Crazy stuff. To keep this kind of season, this kind of festival, one almost really has to believe it’s true. To get excited about the second coming, to give up your Wednesday evenings and come to prayer at 7 oclock, from now through December. To take joy in the fear of it all, to relish the need you yourself have for mercy from the Lord in this great tribulation, to truly want this world to end so that the next one may begin, you almost have to sit yourself down and say to yourself out loud, “No. You’re not insane. You just really believe what you’ve said week after week in that creed for so long.” He will come again to judge the living and the dead. And this is the culmination, purpose, point, meaning and goal of all things! This is the only hope of the Christian life! Our King is coming to us, righteous and having salvation. What else is there but this? What do I want with work that is nothing but toil, and the pursuit of pleasure that is nothing but let down? What do I care for a life that lasts only a few days and is full of trouble, and a body that is like a flower that withers, and a world that chases me into a shadow from which I can’t return? What do I want with a place where death brings each one of us low, and not in some noble, peaceful way, but in torment, and drawn out pain? What do I want with that?

Like a river that wastes away and dries up, so a man lies down and rises not again…

EXCEPT FOR THOSE WHO ARE IN CHRIST! For those who are in Christ, though they dry up like a brook, there is a greater river, a better water, that will fill them to overflowing once again, will fill you to overflowing once again…And this will happen when he comes again.

Even the saints in heaven, who are pictured under the altar of God in Revelation chapter 6 cry out, “How long! How long, O Lord?” And so the Apostle John writes the last words of his Apocalypse, the last words you read in your Bible, “Amen! Come Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen!”

The Church, who is our mother, the saints who have gone before, without whose testimony we would never have heard at all, those who love us as the body of Christ would not have us forget this profound and central reality. And so, as I have said, and as you will see, we have entered the Last Days of the Church year. In readiness for Advent which is coming, we have dressed our altar in the blue of preparation and watchfulness. And for two weeks, this week and next, the last two weeks before the end, we will fast from the Lord’s meal, in order to symbolize how we live without him, even now, waiting for his return. We will do this in order to focus on repentance, in order to pray, and in order to concentrate on preaching and song. But in two weeks, all of that will change. In two weeks the Day of Judgment will arrive. We will celebrate the final Sunday in the Church year, the Sunday of the Fulfillment, the Day of Christ the King. And then, as it will be when he truly does come with clouds descending, we will again feast on the Lamb who was slain. On that day, we will once more see our sanctuary dressed in white, even as we will all be clothed in white on that great Day to come.

That is something to look forward to. Something to anticipate. Something to hope for.

But for now, for today and for next week, we yet wait. We yet are dispersed in the tribulation where it is the Word which is preached and the consolation which is sung that are so often our food, sustaining and encouraging our faith, our community, our life.

All of this is in keeping with the teaching of the Apostles and the Church which they have founded on the proclamation of Christ, even as he sent them to do so. They did not want us to be uninformed either of the times we live in, or of what will come at the end. Since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring to life again all who have fallen asleep in him. For the Lord himself, Jesus, the Son of God and Son of Man, will descend from heaven with a loud cry of command, and with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord, and so we will always be with him forevermore.

And these words are given to us as encouragement, as promise, as hope. Let us not forget them. Let us sing of them. Let this word of Christ dwell in us richly through song and hymn even now. For the grass withers, and the flowers fade, but the Word of the Lord stand forever. In the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Feast of All Hallows


(wma audio link)


Well, I’m excited again this morning. If you were here last week, you probably knew this was coming. Or, at least, you should have known this was coming. And this week is a completely appropriate follow up to what we experienced last week, because what begins with the Reformation never stays with the Reformation. In fact, the Reformation all by itself is really kind of pointless. In order to reform something, then the focus must always be on that thing! In order to have the Reformation of the Church, we must first have that greater reality which is the Church. And so, where last week we celebrated that era of time when the Church was called back from the brink of the heresy to which she had wandered, today we celebrate the even more amazing reality that the Church, redeemed and covered by the blood of Christ, in the end, has no heresy, no spot of blemish, because, in the end, her righteousness is the righteousness of Christ himself.

And so, today we celebrate all the hallowed ones, all the saints, all the elect of God who have been called out of this great tribulation of a cursed world, where thorns and thistles, pain and death, sighs and tears have been our food. With the Apostle John we look through the eyes of faith and see a great multitude that no one can count or number, from all tribes and peoples and nations, all the Christians who have ever lived – we see them in heart and mind, and we rejoice, knowing that we are all brothers and sisters in the Lamb, in the Son of God who sits on the throne even now, who rules the earth with an iron rod, and yet who rules the Church with a Shepherd’s heart.

Today we celebrate that all who stand before his throne are dressed in white, dressed in cleanness and freedom, dressed in forgiveness and life, not because of themselves, but due to the one who sits on the throne, he who is their light.

Today we celebrate the victory of His resurrection from the dead, and so we see with faith the palm branches which are in our hands, ancient symbols of triumph, proof to the heart that we too reign in the Kingdom to come, through the gifts we have received in the body of our Christ. And we say, and we have sung, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God and the Lamb forever. Amen!”

Yes, yes, it is so! The blood of the Lamb has washed away the scarlet stains of our sin, of our wicked actions which, make no mistake, we each have committed, and even yet commit, and ever will harbor in our hearts, to the struggle and peril of our very faith. It is only by this Lamb’s blood, by the feast we eat in his name, that we have any hope of that white cleanness. It is only by the baptismal waters which still flow from his side, for you, as the poster in our narthex so wonderfully recalls. It is His reason, His rising, and His cross and crossing over from death to life which means that we, you and I, and all the hallows, all the sainted ones, will soon and very soon be before the throne of God, not to be judged, but to serve him day and night in his temple, as his people, with him as our God.

And he will shelter us. He will shelter you, with his very presence, even as now he already does. And yet, now, you still feel the pain. You still see the thorns and the ashes of death. But then, soon, quickly, the sheltering which now is yours by faith and hope will be yours by feeling and action, by practice and reality, by complete expression.

You shall hunger no more, neither thirst again. The sun shall not burn, nor shall the moon bring with it cold to freeze, for Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world will be your shepherd, and the peace he has declared to you in the now will be filled up in you then, as he guides you to springs of living water, which themselves will well up in you and over flow from you in joy and blessedness forever and ever. In green pastures, by still waters, with heart and soul restored, on the path of righteousness which is by faith, freed from the valley of the shadow of death, no longer forced to fear evil, protected by the rod and staff of the One almighty God, goodness and mercy will be yours, loving-kindness and steadfast love will be yours, peace and quietness will be yours, all the day of your life, because of Christ, because of his cross, because of his empty tomb.

And this is the case for all the saints, all who have prayed, hallowed be thy name O God, and have had that prayer answered by that same name being placed upon their foreheads and hearts, with water and word, bringing that holiness which is his out of heaven, down to them, to make them one, to make us one.

And so the tears which yet fall from our eyes will find that they have no place on a day like today. Even those things which daunt us the most, which confront us with the terrors of this life, jobs and their failings, the body and its rotting, desire and its endless disappointment, sin and its consequences – on a day like today, such pain of individuality is caught up and destroyed in the timeless, unstoppable, victorious reality of being the Church. For those who have gone before, though they died, yet they live.

And we who come after, though we suffer, we are not crushed, though we are perplexed, we are not left in despair, though we are persecuted, we are not forsaken, though we are struck down ,we are not destroyed, for we always must carry around in our bodies the death of Jesus, but this is because the life of Jesus if manifesting itself in us. Though we see all the more clearly how much death is a work, this is because life is at work in you, breaking the chains of your spirit, so that you may know with ever increasing certainty that though the body will indeed die, because Christ is raised, so indeed you will be also, to and by the glory of our Father because of his Son.

This is what means to be the Church, people who have had and have this grace done to them. This promise is worked on all the saints, all hallows and it hallows or ‘makes holy” them, one and all. This is the lavishness of the Father’s love: his kingdom has come among us to make us the children of God. Now the world cannot know this or see this because the world does not know or see Christ. But we are God’s children nonetheless, even now, and what that means for what we will be is only hinted at. But this we do know now: when Christ appears, the Lamb upon the throne, we will be like him in every human respect. It is this hope itself which is our hallowing, our connection, our faith, purifying us even as Christ himself is pure.

Then, blessed then are you, children of God. Blessed are you when you are poor in spirit, fraught with despair, for nonetheless the Kingdom of heaven is yours. Blessed are you when you mourn, for you shall be comforted. Blessed are you when your pride is crushed, for you will leave your pride behind when you go to the world to come. Blessed are you when all this causes you to hunger and thirst for that better world, that more perfect place, for this desire for eternity shall be satisfied when the Lord comes again to take you unto himself.

Blessed are you when this faith explodes from your heart in an abundance of mercy toward others, for this is the proof of the mercy shown to you in Christ. Blessed are you, for your heart is now purified by hope in Christ, and you shall indeed see God, not as your judge, but as your benefactor. And for this reason, remember, blessed are you also when you are persecuted for this hope, for this mercy, for this faith. Blessed are you when others revile you and degrade you and utter all kinds of evil against you, even falsely, but ever on account of this Truth that we have believed – then most of all – Rejoice! And be glad, for holy, hallowed, one with all hallows are you, the Church. Even as the prophets and evangelists who came before you have been hated, even as your Lord himself was hated and murdered, strung up on a tree to die, so too, the world will see that you are not its own, and it will scorn you with all its wicked might. Then, then, rejoice and be glad, for yours is not this world. Yours is the Kingdom of God.

You are God’s own. His name hallows you. And united to the blood of the saints and martyrs by the blood of Christ, made white by red, seeing red as we celebrate this cleansing, remembering in red the washing that leads to sparkling, perfect, spotlessness, to the robes that we will wear on that greatest celebration Day of them all, that Day which is coming so very soon, rejoice and be glad. Celebrate all hallows. Celebrate the Kingdom. For though the grass withers and the flowers fade, the Kingdom stands forever. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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