Get Your Motor Running

It was a beautiful day, the end of what happily and quite by accident ended up being a five-day weekend for me. More or less, that is; I “worked” Thursday night (band rehearsal) and Sunday morning (as a worship leader), but the joy therein made it difficult to see that time as work.

I took Thursday off – my birthday holiday, which I couldn’t take on my actual birthday. That’s one of the nicer perks of our workplace -we get to take our birthday as a paid holiday. It’s a gift, one that is much appreciated! I spent Thursday catching up on work at home. Friday, we did our first intense wedding planning. Saturday was for family – my extended family gathered for my kids’ stepbrother’s graduation from Fork Union Military Academy. It was surprisingly moving, a beautiful day and a wonderful celebration. During the ceremony the Richmond Army Band played a medley of the theme songs from the different branches of the United States military, with the request that any active or veteran service members stand when their theme was played. During the Army song, Max – my future son-in-law – stood. He is an active-duty member of the Army, and was at graduation in uniform.

Max and Sarah

 My heart leapt as I glanced over at him, and I felt a unique pride and patriotism.

The medley went on, and when they reached the Air Force Song, my OTHER future son-in-law stood up. Travis is currently a dental student at VCU, but he joined the Air Force earlier this year and will go on active duty after he finishes his education.

Travis – no uniform, but a classy bow tie

My heart clenched again, and I could hardly hold it together. My eyes filled with tears, my heart filled to bursting with pride and gratitude and love, and an appreciation for the discipline and commitment of the military culture that was fresh and new. I know very little of the US Armed Forces system and structure, but the two men that will be grafted into my family through marriage to my two oldest daughters have both seen fit to serve. They are good, strong, honorable men of integrity and I am grateful beyond words for their families and the forces that have formed them. They love my daughters, they love their country and I love them both.

(Excuse me while I grab a Kleenex…)

(And while I’m dealing with nasal emissions, I had a spontaneous nosebleed at 10:29AM yesterday. Church starts at 10:30 at Westchester; I walked up to the piano with blood dripping out of my nose onto my hands. Fortunately, nobody seemed to notice. That was awkward…and this has happened about six times in the last two weeks. In the middle of a piano lesson; in the middle of a chat with my mother-in-law; it’s NEVER a good time to have blood drip out of your nose…)

(That’s kind of gross, I know. Sorry. TMI.)

Anyway…Saturday was a wonderful, patriotic day, and Sunday was church and yard work and steaks and chicken on the grill and walking around the yard dreaming about the wedding reception and The Monuments Men, which I give a 3/5 because George Clooney and men in uniform, which seems to be the theme this weekend.

And then, today; my husband, who has worked pretty much non-stop for about four months straight, declared that was was TAKING THE DAY OFF NO REALLY. He spent about four hours in the garage last night, ran a few errands, announced that all was done, got up at 6:30AM and left the house, called me at 7:30AM to wake me up and about 8:30AM, the DAY OFF began.

With our buddy Dale leading the way, we took the longest bike trip we’d had in several years. We started locally, with a hearty breakfast; then we headed south, down through Chester and Hopewell, through Surry County, running parallel with the James River all along, though we couldn’t see it. Signs

flashed by directing us towards plantations and fields of corn sprouted up all around us, little 10″ stalks straining toward the blue sky. My bones felt the memory of North Carolina tobacco and cotton fields, of childhood vacations in the early summer heat and the dense humidity as it started to rise up, heavy in the pollen and the lush, green leaves of summer.

We rode on, stopping for water at a convenience store, eyeing the other riders out for the day. There’s this thing that Harley rider do as they pass one another; it’s a slight lifting of the hand as you go by, some sort of subtle, cooler-than-cool acknowledgement of existence. Or maybe it’s an assent to the fact that you’re riding the best bike ever. I don’t know what it is, but in my jeans and boots and black t-shirt and round black helmet, I felt beyond cool lifting my finger in that slight, subtle Harley wave.

I am SO not a biker chick, but I like to pretend.
My husband IS a biker dude, and he is cool, and he is a great, trustworthy biker. There is such peace and comfort as I sit behind him; stopped for water, perched on a curb, he asked, “Are you stressed, back there? Are you anxious? Do you feel safe?” It was an easy answer for me; I am just anxious enough to be aware that there is a mild risk, an edge of danger as we speed down the highway, exposed. A wrong move or another careless driver would be catastrophic. But he is careful, and alert, and always ready. I trust him, and so, yes – I feel safe. I am safe.
We had a wonderful time – the ferry was fascinating and the river is wider than I ever imagined. We docked in Jamestown and headed northwest on Route 5. We crossed the Chickahominy River and I stretched my arms out wide, closed my eyes and counted to one hundred and believed – for a moment – that I was flying. 
The drive is brilliant, beautiful; flat and lush. Two lanes most of the way, with very little traffic and few lights or stop signs. It is, quite simple, a perfect cruise. The sun was hot and the miles stretch out before us and my mind thinks and stretches in the same way. With time and space and no edges, I feel like I can really think, and so I do, and within that space is a type of relaxation that comes no other way. I cannot do anything on the back of that bike but hold on, and the freedom that allows me is a beautiful gift.
It was a wonderful day, a beautiful time. Clinging to the back of the man I love with little conversation and God’s big vast, beautiful creation all around us, we had a very good day, indeed.
It’s such a great view from back here.

We waited about an hour for the ferry – it was busy. But we struck up
conversation with the couple behind us, also on two wheels, and
found some shade and enjoyed the wait, very much.

The water is wide.

There you go. Cooler than cool.

Place Of Freedom

I’m preparing for worship rehearsal tonight, learning a new song that I cannot get through without crying. 

My daughter suggested the song; she knows it well. She’s home for the summer, and she’s using her gifts and talents to lead in worship. Sarah has had this thing – some would call it an anointing, others a presence or a calling – since she was eleven years old. It is nothing anybody did or created; it’s simply how she was made.

To worship.

She’s sung with an intimate connection to music and to her Creator since she was a child. It’s obvious and evident and as much a part of who she is as her curly hair and her freckles. 

Woven throughout her ability to worship is the truth – some of it a hard truth – of her life experiences. I wrote about her diagnosis here, two years ago. 

And now she is writing. 

She served on the worship team last weekend and led us in a powerful experience, as we sang “There is power in the name of Jesus…” A few days later, she sent these words to me, the text of a message she’d been writing for a friend. 

They seemed to have been written for a larger audience. I asked her permission to share her words here, because I believe that they will inspire and encourage and even comfort those who read them.

So, here are the words of my daughter; my beautiful, radiant, broken, honest, vulnerable, kind, thoughtful, stubborn, focused, incredible first-born gift of God. 

So, as many of you know I just moved back to Powhatan, Virginia. I left this small town over two years ago to head further south to the beautiful and eclectic Savannah, Georgia; moving away from my family and friends and pursuing a new life… and I was doing it alone.

To say I wasn’t scared is an understatement. Thirteen months prior I had been diagnosed with what now seems to be a trendy mental disorder. I was 19 years old and experiencing extreme anxiety, depression and mania. My doctor was quick to assume it was Bipolar Disorder. I had high highs and low lows. There were days when I honestly thought I could be Beyonce (a confidence spurred by mania); I would stay up all night writing songs and poems and believed I was going to be a youtube star… Hell, I was gonna form a band and win a Grammy…. and I wasn’t afraid to tell you – even if I just met you at the Starbucks in the mall. I would call my friends and leave them voicemails explaining my ideas for the world’s next best business plan that would put me in Forbes Magazine as the youngest billionaire. I planned mission trips and church events that would equal conversion rates like you’d never seen – that we simply HAD TO DO. I would publicly berate people, and start fights with strangers and not care. There was no talking me down.

However, those moments didn’t last. I would cycle rapidly and before I knew it, I would be in a very dark place. I struggled deeply with thoughts of suicide and self hate. I would constantly beat myself up. There were days when I wouldn’t make it out of bed to take a shower, let alone make it to my classes at community college. I was so anxious about doing things wrong at my job that I just abandoned everything I was doing and walked off during one of my shifts. I bailed on important plans of some of my closest friends that I really cared about. I thought I was a failure and no one wanted to really be around me anyway. The normal social Sarah Brawley didn’t want to be around anyone.

Guilt and shame from the times when I had been manic would then began to creep up and plague my mind. How could anyone love me if i was this messed up? After I did that, said that? I felt irredeemable. I felt like a freak. I mean, wouldn’t everyone just see me as broken? As the crazy girl who had to stay in the psych ward? I had to take medicine now. What would my Christians friends think?

My guess is that some of this sounds familiar. Struggle bus, right? It freaking sucks. Maybe you think you’ve failed because things haven’t gone according to plan. I did. I hated myself from – well, you name it. Feeling like a loser for still living at home while all my friends went away to school; the idea of not being enough…

I was a slave to that thought. I wanted to please others. I compared myself to others constantly and was so insecure about my appearance. Fat one day, then too skinny. I would binge on food and then on new clothes. I felt ugly on the inside and outside. I felt unlovable. Like I had let everyone down- that I was an awful sister, daughter, girlfriend, youth and worship leader…

It was a never ending circle of negativity. And you know what? Life kept happening as I was going through all of this, and it just added fuel to the fire. I was hurt by my parents’ divorce and my grandfather almost dying. Many of my feelings began to overwhelm me, keeping me from sleeping even more. Thus began a six-month pattern of self hate, manic thoughts, and zero sleep. That pattern led me to make choices that deeply hurt people and myself damaging and almost destroying certain relationships in my life.

I couldn’t SEE what I was doing. I knew I needed help but I didn’t know how to ask for it. But there were others in my life that could see what was happening and what I needed.

It was people here at PCC. They didn’t reject me then and still haven’t. They prayed for me. Talked to me. Loved me and supported me when I needed professional health care.

And now, I cannot begin to describe how I feel in having the opportunity to lead them in worship. It is such an amazing story of grace and honor; to look out and sing the words, “There is power in the name of Jesus,  to break every chain!”

This is just my story, but all of us have chains. These chains in our life can be self-inflicted or completely out of our control – and sometimes, BOTH! There are many of you who are desperate for freedom and to be released from this bondage.

I believe with all my heart 
there is healing for you. 

I have been healed. The thoughts that once bound me don’t anymore! Not to say that they do not come, because freaking A they do! The devil tries his hardest! It is a war! But I am no longer a slave to those thoughts. I have a joy and peace that I NEVER thought I would have or could have. I thought I was destined to feel defeated and unworthy for the rest of my life.

But there is power is Jesus’ name. Through the power of prayer I know I was healed. Through biblical counseling; by encouragement from my brothers and sisters who spoke truth into my life and who listened to me. Through equipping doctors to prescribe me medicine. For nurses to help guide me when it was time for me to wean myself off.

When we think about it, none of our stories are the same. But there is absolute freedom for all of us. I’ve made a promise to stop making those comparisons to other peoples’ lives; I’m choosing freedom. John 10:10 says we are to have ABUNDANT life here on earth! He has promised that to you!

I love you so much.

Thank God For Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day, this year.

Flowers.

Lunch – a fancy lunch, with fish in some special sauce, asparagus, kale salad. All homemade.

Plants.

Cards.

A gift card for a steakhouse.

Chocolates.

A new hairbrush.

A candle.

A GNOME.

Good conversation.

A miniature clothesline of photographs; me and my mom, my grandmother, Tony’s mom. Years and years of maternal love.

/ /

They said, Remember that one year that we didn’t do anything for Mother’s Day and we totally screwed up? And we went over to Brian and Susan’s because we didn’t plan anything for you? Remember how we blew that one?

I don’t remember.

/ /

“I love you bunches. You are the best person ever. Don’t know what I would do without you!”

“Enjoy your new hair brush. I got one similar to the old one so you can transition easily.”

/ /

There was a text message from a young man who sat on my porch as a boy, telling a difficult story about a challenging home life. Every year, he texts me a simple three word statement on Mother’s Day. It means more than he probably realizes.

It was different this year; not everyone was home. My own mother is tending to her sister’s needs, living out her calling. And it is different as adulthood tugs these children of mine into new positions, circling around me now. Where they once crawled on my lap, hugged on my legs and rode my hips, now they jockey for position to set the table, to wrap an arm around me; to clean the house and prepare the food. Flowers are set just right and the corner of the house becomes an artful display of greenery and memories.

It seems appropriate that they pulled out the scrapbooks tonight, pouring over pictures taken 15 years ago and marveling at the truth of their history.

“David was so tiny!”

“Look – I was always wearing a hat. I don’t even like hats!”

“What was this outfit?”

Looking back, they see their own growth, and it is amazing. They are still so close to that childhood; the bones are still fresh and strong, the memories sit close to their skin.

I wonder at the difference in our perspectives. They see themselves, growing taller and stronger, their faces filling out and their aptitude and skills developing with rapid capacity.

I see them; but I feel me. I see the change in them; I feel the plates shifting in me.

I celebrate Mother’s Day, not because my kids cook lunch and give me flowers. I celebrate with deeply rooted passion and an exquisite joy, because in His unparallelled wisdom God saw fit to give me the very thing necessary to mold me; to break me, to reduce me to a position of humility that my stubborn heart would not embrace in any other fashion. Motherhood does that, you know. Taken at face value, it robs you of any easy selfishness. It changes your focus.

It changed me.

My kids’ presence in my life and the sheer will and determination it took to get them to adulthood, alive and intact (with one yet to go…) altered my life irrevocably. I spent my days floating on the winds of spontaneity and whatever sounded good at the time – until I had kids.

They forced my hand. They settled me down.

And now they go off into the world and live their lives (with that one yet to go…) and they leave me here, changed. For the better.

I thank God for Mother’s Day and this reminder that I am changed, I am better; I am refined, and it was all beyond my doing.

I love my kids for who they are; I love my kids for how God allowed them to make me who I am.

I am one grateful woman.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Honey And Molasses And The Things Jesus Said

My kids were raised going to church; it was, for them, a normal part of our lives. We never fought about it. I didn’t force them to go to every church event. But Sunday mornings, it was simply what we did. Sometimes we were late getting out the door, but everybody was expected to go, and – mostly – they did.

I admit to being fairly awful at doing “family devotionals” or any sort of structured Biblical teaching at home. I leaned hard on the church, on small groups, on their youth pastor and other adults (who worked hard to show them how to be thoughtful followers of Christ). I counted on the authentic, genuine people in our faith community to demonstrate what it means to be transparent and vulnerable and imperfect – and to be okay with that. At home, I tried to deal with the reality of daily living from a Jesus perspective. Seemed to me it was important to be somewhat pragmatic and rational about my kids’ faith, their relationship with God and their understanding of who Jesus was and is. We talked, a lot, about things that mattered. But, truth be told, we probably didn’t talk enough.

I did the best I could. Now three of those kids are living relatively independent lives, with number four close on their heels, headed out the door to college. I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of their faith journey after they left home: Rebellion? Apathy? Deeper growth?

All three of them chose to walk on. They found new faith communities and different expressions of worship and discipleship, but they continue to value spiritual health and a very real pursuit of truth.

I am pleased with their choices.

One of my daughters, in particular, has found herself at home in a more charismatic style of worship and interpretation. I see it in her choices, her values, her very life – and I hear it in the words she uses, the way she shares her thoughts and ideas, the way she speaks of the Holy and Sacred. Her manner and her words demonstrate a deep familiarity with God and His closeness, His impending action in her word, for her good, in her community.

It’s a little different for me, honestly. But it’s beautiful, mostly so because it’s obviously so deeply rooted in who she is and how she sees herself and her Creator in this season of life. I watch from afar, sometimes; she is in places I have not been, experiencing the ebb and flow of spiritual tides that do not at present wash over me. But it is beautiful, graceful and grace-filled, and authentic.

Sometimes I am around people whose faith in Jesus seems more like a bonding agent for something akin to the cool kids’ table in the lunch room. Right language and proper attitudes and an appropriate level of holiness guarantee identification and inclusion. But sometimes, in spite of all the right words and postures and catch phrases, there’s something a bit sour in the room.

I’m around this girl, whose matter-of-fact tether to her Savior pretty much drips off of her skin like molasses, and I hear and see and sense something different – but it intrigues. It draws me closer, it pulls me toward a great Mystery that is at once unknown to me and yet completely familiar.

I’m around a group of others saying and doing all the right things and I feel uncomfortable and awkward, questioning my standing and wondering if there is enough air for the spirit to live and move and breath and have its being.

Not much of a point, other than to be pleased with the direction of life my daughter has chosen, because doesn’t this story make her out to be a heroine of sorts? What a good girl! What a fine Christian woman! 

You should be so proud!

No.

What I really think of is this story.

…Levi invited his many friends and associates, including many tax collectors, to his home for a large feast in Jesus’ honor. Everyone sat at a table together. The Pharisees and their associates, the religious scholars, got the attention of some of Jesus’ disciples. 


Pharisees (in low voices): What’s wrong with you? Why are you eating and drinking with tax collectors and other immoral people?  


Jesus: Healthy people don’t need a doctor, but sick people do. I haven’t come for the pure and upstanding; I’ve come to call notorious sinners to rethink their lives and turn to God. Luke 5.29-32

I just can’t help but think that Jesus shines brightest, that Jesus drips like honey off of chapped lips and torn skin, that Jesus fills and fulfills most powerfully, with resounding resonance; that He moves most gracefully among the ones rethinking their lives.

The notorious sinners.

The broken.

/ /

This theme, it keeps recurring. It is the heartbeat of my vocation, it is currently the focus of my creative work in the series we currently run on Sundays. It is true, of course; but there is something new and loud and clawing in me, declaring THIS IS IT. THIS IS THE TRUTH. 

TELL THE TRUTH.

The light, it shines in the darkness.

And the darkness doesn’t overcome it.

That is good, good news.

Whisper

Lost my voice Sunday, to some combination of a head cold and allergies. Couldn’t sing at all in church, which was frustrating.

Wasn’t much better Monday morning, so I worked from home and didn’t speak much. I had a few piano lessons to teach Monday evening, so I got cleaned up (meaning: I PUT ON CLOTHES) and went in to see my students. As they came in, I said, “I’ve been a little sick, just with my voice, so I’m not going to talk much. I’ll just whisper.”

Okay.

Pretty much every kid whispered back. Any dialogue we had was in whispered tones. For the entire lesson.

Why do we do this?

We willingly meet one another on a different level, when it’s obvious that the rules of engagement have changed.  It was bizarre, how every single kid leaned towards very soft speaking or whispering. Just because I was doing it.

The Pretender

I went to church faithfully with my parents as a child. However, there was a specific point in time where I made a deliberate, rational decision to “be a Christian”. To “get saved”. To “believe”.

In short, to follow Jesus. Early in my twenties, I was at a painful juncture in life. Things weren’t working as I expected, and I had a lot of questions. Most of my decisions had been based on my own unique, cobbled-together belief system; one put together with bits and pieces of my parents’ influence, Methodist church teaching, Rolling Stone magazine and a good bit of psychology. Add to that the circular creative conundrum always churning in my head, full of fictional characters from constant reading; all moving to the soundtrack of pop music and gospel songs and the mysterious, open-ended passion of Chopin and Beethoven. It was complicated.

I was complicated.

Most people are, I have come to realize. We are complicated and full of contradictions and broken. Every one of us, broken. One of my pastor’s on-repeat phrases is this truth: Two kinds of people in this world; broken people who know it, and broken people who don’t.

So I decided to glom on to the teachings of Jesus in a way that I knew had to be different than what I’d already experienced. There had to be more than just going to church and being a good person.

That was almost 25 years ago, and since that time I have walked in faith with Jesus. I’d like to paint you a beautiful picture of a happy, shiny, lovely life, filled with beautiful well-behaved children and a fairy-tale romance, topped off with the American dream of success and accomplishment.

Honestly, 25 years ago I believed that was the point. There is such teaching, you know; it comes from well-intentioned pulpits and Christian culture and organizational structure. Do this + say this + think this + be this = perfect Christian life/happiness. My kids’ dad grew up in such a structured faith environment, and when we got together over two decades ago, I welcomed that framework believing that the secret to getting life right was tethered to its frame.

And we did well; we had babies (“let the Lord be in charge of your womb!”), we were in church every time the doors were open (“do not forsake the assembly!”), we fretted over our “lost” family members (“salvation and baptism are necessary to gain entrance to the Kingdom!”). He got the required education from the appropriate institutions (Baptist undergrad, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary for his Masters of Divinity) and I stayed home to put on the cloak of submission and love my babies and work my Beth Moore teachings and do Becoming a Woman of Excellence and Becoming a Woman of Purpose and Becoming a Woman of Prayer.

We built a life. It looked good.

/ /

Say a prayer for the pretender
Who started out so young and strong
Only to surrender

/ /

I remember tasting the first sweet flavor of something different, something beyond all the “doing”. Henry Blackaby’s Experiencing God study was opened to us, and I worked that book and could not escape the notion that Jesus kept saying I came to do the will of my Father and that, truly, that’s what he did, and none of it seemed remotely centered on doing or saying the ‘right’ thing. And this nagging thought that we were adding so much more religion to what Jesus did and said just wouldn’t go away. I was hooked.

And then I read Philip Yancey’s The Jesus I Never Knew and I got another taste, and I thought there might be something beyond just trying to hold everything together and be good Christians.

If you know me at all, you know that I failed miserably at getting it right; all these things that make a good Christian have blown up all around me. My kids are gifts from God, wonderful people that I adore – but they are messy and broken and they make their share of mistakes. They are not perfect, but my love for them is fierce and fluid and happy to move right through their broken places to surround them with the best I can offer as their mama.

I am divorced. And remarried.

I quit trying to get my Methodist family members “saved” because it just seemed downright rude; I accepted the fact that their passion for God is as real and legitimate as any of the Baptist preachers who proclaimed their certain eternity in hell.

No disrespect to Cynthia Heald and her Become a Woman of… series; I have become a woman of reality, where some days I doubt and other days I am in flat out rebellion against the One who made me.

But the flame, the flicker, the calling that was there when I felt the whisper of God coaxing me toward a place that I knew, somehow – with a desperate certainty – was Truth; that flame still burns, and lately the oxygen that fuels that flame has been rushing in.

Just today, the breath of heaven whooshed in with a blatant figure-pointing exercise, from God himself to me. I’m reading Richard Rohr’s Breathing Under Water and this morning, these words:

You see, there is a love that sincerely seeks the spiritual good of others, and there is a love that is seeking superiority, admiration, and control for itself, even and most especially by doing “good” and heroic things…much love is actually not love at all, but its most clever and bogus disguise. Rohr, Breathing Underwater

He’s talking here about the myth of sacrifice; this idea that worms its way so easily into our understanding of what it means to ‘surrender’ or ‘take up your cross’ or ‘let go and let God’. This whole idea of salvation and following Jesus incorporating sacrificial living has gotten turned on its head by a system that encourages and applauds doing.

Go to church. Give your time. Give your money. Give your talent. Serve the poor.

Listen to Christian music. Use Christian words.

Give up cussing. Give up drinking. Give up dancing. Give up secular music.

All of these things – every one of them- can be (and has been, for me) beneficial. Meaningful. Helpful.

But when these things become the point, we miss the point.

Rohr calls it “false sacrifice”, because it allows us to avoid the real, deeper, messier work of renouncing our self – our egotistical, self-serving, pride-filled, all-sufficient self – while letting you appear generous. Dedicated.

Like a “good Christian.”

I see this, all around me. I recognize it. I lived it. 

I’m still tempted, and if I’m truth-telling here (and I am), I lean this way too often. Because it’s easier. 

Well, maybe not always easier, because it takes a lot of convoluted mind games to be so “sacrificial”. There’s comparisons to be made, and moments to “share” how sacrificial I am (without looking prideful) and constant gut checks and the unceasing tamping down of the still, small voice that whispers there might be a better way. So that’s not necessarily easier; but it is safer.

Because the starting point, the continuing point, the place where I have to reside is the sacrifice of my ego. It is in the admission that I am a wreck, that I am broken, that I am NOT worthy – and that everybody else is in the same boat. The sacrifice is of my ego. My pride. My desire to claim that, at this stage in my life, I’ve figured some things out. The truth is, in light of Creation and the Creator and the vast complexity of humanity, there’s no chance in hell that I’m going to figure anything out.

This may read like yesterday’s news to some, but it is the truth of the gospel that I began to understand a decade ago, when in the midst of total destruction and failure, I felt the gentle acceptance of God like never before. I changed lenses in my perception of what it means to believe.

I don’t have to figure it out. I’m called to love.

Angie’s message at church yesterday (you can see and hear it here) cracked open the door to freedom, to honesty and truth. She invited us to step on to a path of vulnerability, admitting to feelings of anger and doubt and frustration towards God. What “good” Christian could ever be mad at God? 

That’s the point.

We are not “good” Christians; we are messy, dirty broken people who need help. The Bible is littered through and through with this truth; religion, tempted by power and ego, tempts us to adopt a myth of sacrifice and ignore the real deal.

Work out our salvation with fear and trembling; it’s God who works in us.

Love Him, with all our heart and soul. Love others.

And when the morning light comes streaming in
Get up and do it again
Amen.