Sermon for 1/31/16 Luke 4:21-30

You may be surprised to find out that I am a political junkie. I am passionate about politics and staying involved in politics. I enjoy watching the debates. I read up on each candidate’s political views. I write my representatives. For the first time since being ordained, I hope this year to go to “Lutheran Day on the Hill” organized by Lutheran Social Services. It’s a day for those who are concerned about the less of those around us to advocate on their behalf to those in service in Des Moines. And yes, I am just about out of my skin excited to go and caucus tomorrow. No, I will not tell you who you should or should not caucus for. But, I will encourage you to go and caucus. My biggest hope is that after tomorrow, my phone will ring a little less, my mailbox will be filled with less junk, and commercials will go back to normal commercials. However, I will also be the first to admit that I struggle to reconcile my love for politics with my love for Jesus.

More than once this election cycle I’ve heard more than one candidate touting themselves to be the “Christian” candidate. In fact, the rumor is that Mr. Trump even attended a Presbyterian church last week in Muscatine. But as I read and study and pray about all that Jesus stood for and I look at our candidates, I am torn. And I guess the biggest epiphany I’ve had lately is that we’re not electing a savior, we already have one of those. We’re electing a leader. We’re going to be electing someone who is just as flawed as you and I. They just happen to have one of the most stressful and important jobs in the world. This is why, no matter my political affiliation, and no matter the president’s political affiliation, I will always pray for him or her.

Politicians, as you may have noticed, work really hard to be liked. I mean, that’s how you get elected. It is, after all, called the “popular vote.” The key being, I suppose, is to be liked more than the other people. Or, as some people have said, being the lesser of 2 evils. I’m sure you’ve heard people say “if it comes down to candidate A versus candidate B, I’m going to vote for A. I don’t like either, but A is better than B.” And maybe that’s where politics and religion differ. Jesus didn’t care about being popular. It was the fact that he wasn’t trying to be popular that got him an execution on the cross.

This reading from Luke today is one of the first sermons that Jesus gives. Maybe it doesn’t sound like a “traditional” sermon, but it is. And it’s interesting because both the crowd seem to go from 0-60 very quickly. The crowd starts by being astounded and maybe a little proud of this hometown boy done good. “Is not this Joseph’s son?” (Luke 4:22b) And then they throw him out of town and prepare to hurl him off a cliff a few verses later. Jesus himself goes from reading from the scroll to preaching about social justice, preaching about caring for the outcast, and caring about the widows. This was less than popular in the crowd that surrounded him. What they wanted was for Jesus to cater to their desires and needs. They wanted Jesus to side with them. He was, after all, “one of them”; or so they thought. Politics at the time of Jesus were about as slippery as they are now. Those that were around Jesus when he gave this particular sermon wanted to hear about themselves. They wanted to hear about how God favored them. They wanted to hear about how God loved them and only them. That’s not what they heard.

Instead, they heard Jesus retell stories from the Hebrew scriptures (or Old Testament) about how God favors those that society has forgotten about. He told about a widow in Zarephath, lepers in Israel, especially Naaman the Syrian. What made the crowd mad was not that he was preaching, not that he was someone among them who had started to make a name for himself, but that he was telling stories of those whom God favored and it wasn’t them. There’s a popular preacher in this country whose name I won’t use, but it sounds a lot like “Bowl Mosteen.” His premise is to preach that God wants you to be happy. God wants you to be successful. God wants you to be rich (oh, and give some of those riches to the church while you’re at it). He’s a really popular preacher because he tells people what they want to hear. Jesus, on the other hand, told people the Gospel, and it made them angry.

The trouble with following Jesus, brothers and sisters, is that it should drive us to anger. Not the kind of anger where you want to throw things and punch people, but the kind of anger that doesn’t allow you to sit on the sidelines and just watch. It should anger you that women get paid less than men in this country. It should anger you that the government of a city knew its citizens were drinking lead tainted water and did nothing about it. It should anger you that thousands of Syrian refugees are dying trying to escape a war torn country. It should anger you that someone who works a minimum wage job for 40 hours a week still needs assistance because yearly they’ll make less than $16,000. And we as a society shame these people for being on welfare, using food stamps, and getting government assistance.

The trouble with following Jesus is that you start looking at the world through crucifixion shaped glasses. And when you do that, you run the risk of being angry and frustrated, and yes, ashamed. When I look at the world the way I want to look at the world, I see the injustices only I want to see. I see the injustices for only the causes I’m passionate about. But, when you look at the world through crucifixion shaped glasses, you start to realize that you may be part of the problem. Men, when was the last time you spoke up on behalf of women? When was the last time any of us used our white privilege to proclaim justice for people of color? When was the last time any of us used our citizenship, something we just got for being born in the right place, to fight for those who want to enter this country legally to make a better lives for themselves? All of those things are things Jesus would have done.

When you come to church, it’s great if you leave feeling good. But, if you leave feeling motivated, charged up, and maybe even a little ticked off (especially at me) then that’s the Gospel working in you! Jesus didn’t come to be popular. Jesus isn’t trying to win an election. Jesus won’t be running any commercials or calling your house trying to convince you to vote for him. Jesus, instead, empowers us to look at the world as he would and then angers us into action. The cross wasn’t just for you, brothers and sisters. The cross was for everyone; even those who we call “the other.” So here’s a challenge for you. If you’re going to caucus tomorrow, look around at the other party. Then, think to yourself “Jesus died for them and their candidate.” If that ticks you off, then you’ll know you’re wearing your crucifix lenses. Our faith is nothing if it only makes us feel good. Our faith requires a response. Allow your faith to make you angry. And allow that anger to stir you into action.  

Sermon for 1/24/16 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a

As a point of reference, today’s sermon is based off of the 1 Corinthians reading we heard right before the Gospel. If you love someone, it doesn’t matter the relationship (it can be a spouse, a child, your best friend, whatever)…at some point in time you either think or say “I wish you could just see yourself through my eyes.” This is usually said at a time when our loved one may be going through a period of self doubt or maybe they just need a bit of encouragement. Often, the people outside of us are best at lifting up our gifts, our talents, and our beauty. There are so many things in society that work against us. It is said that we are exposed (in one way or another) to over 2000 advertisements a day. A day! Those advertisements tell us that we’re not rich enough, we’re not thin enough, we’re not skinny enough, we’re not good parents or partners, our house isn’t clean enough, and that apparently, we need more vacations.

So, when it comes time to share our time or our talent, we often all sing the same refrain “I don’t have anything I can do that’s special.” Or “I’m really not that special….perhaps you should ask so and so, they’re really good at whatever you’re asking me to do.” It is in those moments that I want to say “but if you saw you the way I see you, you might think differently.” Often I think that we fall into two camps or ways of thinking. Either we think 1) I don’t have any gifts or talents to share or 2) what I do isn’t a talent or gift. It’s just what I do. But, we have many members gathered here today. And just as we have many members, we have many gifts and talents.

Listen to the first 2 verses again: “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” Much like Acre is going to be baptized today, we were all baptized at some point in time (or will be). And we were baptized into one body: the body of Christ. So often we use our differences to divide rather than to make us stronger. Or we use our differences to chastise, to single out, and to shame. But, at the root of who we are, we are actually the same in many ways. Because God created all of us in God’s image. So, in one way or another, we all reflect God. And when we reflect God, we do it in many glorious and beautiful ways.

But again, it’s easy to either downplay our own skills and gifts or to be jealous of the gifts possessed by those around us. My sister and brother are both amazing human beings. I am so proud to be their sister. But, they both have gifts that I don’t. My sister is a runner. She completed a race a month last year and when she gets stressed out, you can usually find her on a long run. My brother is a master negotiator. I think this is why he’s in the car business. I always envied my sister’s love of running (because I obviously don’t have that) and my brother’s ability to get two sides to agree on anything (because I fall too easily into being a people pleaser). At the same time, I am sure I possess a gift or talent that they wish they had. My dearest friend Kristin is great with kids. My college roommate, Sarah, has a fantastic eye for detail and has strong administration skills. My friend Kristi has a love for animals and has opened her home to many foster dogs and cats. My seminary classmate, Ted, is really good at computers and what makes them run. These are all just things I lack.

As you reflect on your own skills, what pops into your mind first? I know it can be weird, because we try to be humble, especially in church. But if I were to ask you “what are you good at?” how would you answer? And would you be quick to then discount yourself? As I talk to many of you about volunteering or serving the church in some capacity, or as I thank you for volunteering or serving the church in the ways that you do, the same sentiment I hear over and over and over again is “it’s just what I do.” So as of today, I am demanding a stop to that. I don’t demand things very often, so you know I’m serious. All of you possess individual skills and gifts that make you unique and that make us as the body of Christ so special. If I have thanked you for something you have done it’s because I don’t have those skills and I am so grateful to know someone who does!

See, when we discount ourselves or when we think we have nothing to contribute, that’s just evil working its way into our lives. When God created you, God made you special. I love watching Veggie Tales with Ellen. Each episode ends with the line “God made you special and he loves you very much.” That’s some fantastic gospel right there! We have a lot of people, noise, things in our life that tell us we’re not good enough. We have forces in our lives that tell us thanks to age, gender, ability, even monetary status in life that we have nothing to contribute. There are churches in this country, even churches in this county that I wouldn’t be welcomed to preach at because I’m female. Something, by the way, I am choosing to do nothing about. I hear people say “I can’t do that, I’m way too old now”. Or, on the flip side, “so and so can’t do that, they’re just 6.” Brothers and sisters, when God commanded us to go and make disciples, there wasn’t a list of “must haves” for those disciples.

As you can see around the sanctuary, I have posted words all around. I sat down with the directory and thought of each and every one of you by name. And then, I made a list of some of the skills, talents, and gifts, that we, as the body of Christ, possess. So, as you look around, maybe you recognize yourself. Or, maybe you are like me and you are grateful to know someone who has a gift that you don’t. I wanted to put it in writing because I think it is so amazing the number of gifts that we have as the body. We’re not all the same, thanks be to God.

We have enough forces in this world telling us that we’re not good enough, that we’re not enough, that we’ll never be enough. And that noise only goes away one way: it needs to be drowned in the waters of baptism. When we are splashed with those waters, the old sinful self dies, we are risen to new life in Christ. We are washed clean and welcomed into a body of believers where we’re not all the same and all gifts are welcomed and appreciated. You have something to give, brothers and sisters, all of you. All of you are important parts of the body of Christ. I think that’s part of what makes death so difficult. When we lose parts of our body, we mourn that person and the gifts that he or she had and brought to our family. We are all, first and foremost, created in the image of God: beautifully and wonderfully made. God doesn’t love you despite our differences, God loves us because of our differences. How boring would this world be if we were all the same. Remember “this little light of mine?” Let it shine!

Sermon for 1/17/16 John 2:1-11

Every time I read this scripture, I think “I would have never gotten away with talking to my momma like that.” Just once I want to read like “the Parents translation of the Bible” and this scripture would read something like this instead: “When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Did anyone else hear him talk back to his momma? Son, I’m going to need you to come here so we can have a ‘come to Jesus discussion. Oh wait…..’”

I am going to ask you upfront to have a question floating around in your head to think about during the sermon. This does not give you permission to not pay attention! When was the last time you experienced grace? Think about that today.

Let’s have a bit of a history slash Bible lesson first. Weddings in the time of Jesus weren’t like they are now. Weddings now are usually a one day event, and even that, it’s not a whole day. Brides spend countless hours on Pinterest in the months leading up to the wedding and grooms spending countless hours doing whatever it is they do. There is fretting over finding a reception sight, a florist, a caterer, a dj, oh…and a pastor. The budget is usually a year’s salary (if you’ve seen “Say Yes to the Dress” on TLC you know how expensive wedding gowns can be). The guest list must be whittled down so that we can all fit into the aforementioned reception sight. Weddings in the time of Jesus were a celebration, of course. But, they were also a week long. The entire town was invited. And wine was served not for the purpose of getting drunk, but as a symbol of a great harvest, of God’s abundance and joy, and of course, hospitality.

And yes, the good wine was served at the beginning of the week long celebration when people still had their wits about them. And then they brought out the wine that was of a lower quality (like box wine). But to run out of wine was not only bad hospitality but what was the message about God’s abundance then if the wine was a symbol of that and it ran out? So, Mary, being the worrying motherly type, turns to Jesus and says “they have no wine.” Now surely Jesus knew this. He was a guest at this wedding too. Was Mary stating the obvious to Jesus? Or, did she already know what Jesus was capable of? Was she sort of encouraging him as if to say “it’s okay…go ahead…I believe in you. And soon, all these people here will too.?” It’s interesting because in the Gospel of John, Jesus’ mother only appears in two places: here (at the beginning of his ministry) and then at the crucifixion (the end of his ministry).

Now Jesus could have turned to his mother and said “fine, I’ll give them a few bottles, but when those run out these people are on their own!” Instead, he turns 6 large jars full of water into wine. We are told that each jar holds 20-30 gallons of water. This means that Jesus created 120-180 gallons of wine. It was way more than what the hosts needed, it was more than what the guests would ever drink, it was more than anything anyone could have ever imagined. Instead of talking about grace in John’s gospel, Jesus shows us what that looks like. A few verses after today’s reading we hear that “from his fullness we all have received, grace upon grace” (1.16). It’s one thing for me to stand up here week after week and talk about grace, it’s clearly another for you to experience it.

When I first started dating Chris, he invited me to attend church with him (on Christmas eve of all days). I only went because I wanted to make a good impression. I was in a season of my life where I didn’t want much to do with God or the church. And it was on that Christmas Eve that I heard about a God who loves me, no matter what. I heard about a God who forgives me, even in those moments when I can’t forgive myself. I heard about grace. Tears streamed down my face and I was thankful that it was a candlelight service. Afterwards, Chris asked me what I thought. I told him I was angry because I had never heard about grace that way. He was shocked. That’s why I feel it’s part of my call to tell whomever will listen about grace. But, experiencing it is something totally different.

The guests at the wedding experienced it. They got more than they ever thought possible. They received more than they needed. We hear every single day how we are living in a time of scarcity. There’s not enough food. There’s not enough water. There’s not enough jobs. There’s not enough security. We have a whole slew of candidates running to be President that are banking on you being scared that there’s never going to be enough….unless, that is, they are the ones elected. There’s the temptation to hoard whatever we have just for us. We don’t want to share and we certainly don’t want to share with those whom we think don’t deserve it! And that’s what makes grace so offensive.

When we experience God’s grace, it’s often 1) more than we deserve 2) unmerited 3) by total surprise. So, when was it that you last experienced God’s grace? When did God’s grace sneak up on you and surprise you so much that you might have caught your breath? When did you receive barrels and barrels of grace? Would you know it if you experienced it? Livea is about to experience it in baptismal waters. She may not realize it, but those of us gathered here do. We serve an offensive God who doesn’t care about our labels and boundaries that we either put on other people or ourselves. Because despite what we may think about who does and doesn’t deserve grace (ourselves included) we end up receiving more than we ever need. And just when we think we’ve run out, God shows up with more grace.

Grace isn’t the ultimate sin eraser, brothers and sisters. It’s a wound healer. Grace is food for the journey. Grace is a smile when you badly need one. Grace is forgiveness that’s been a long time coming. Grace is bread and wine becoming a feast. Grace is the pleasure of rocking a baby to sleep or holding the hand of a loved one as they slip from this world to the next. Grace is an empty tomb. Grace is every molecule of your body, every breath in your lungs, every hair on your head, and every step in your lifetime. It is what keeps us alive, even long after death.

Sermon for 1/10/16 Luke 3:15-17, 21-22 Baptism of Jesus

I don’t remember my own baptism. Much like many of you, I was still a baby. I think it was September 1978. I was baptized at Saint Gregory’s Roman Catholic Church in Maryville, Missouri. My Godfather is my uncle, Vince. My Godmother is my aunt, Krisanne. I think we have pictures of the occasion somewhere (probably my baby book). But, I don’t know much more than what I’ve told you. I don’t even know if there was cake involved (and we all know how I feel about cake). And honestly, until seminary there weren’t many occasions that I needed, wanted, or actually remembered my baptism. There were a few well meaning friends in high school or college who were concerned for my soul (maybe rightfully so) that wanted me to get baptized. But, once I told them I was already baptized, they moved on to pestering someone else.

I’m not saying that I took for granted the fact that I am baptized, but it wasn’t a routine to think of it daily. It’s not as if when you get pulled over the officer says “licence, registration, and proof of baptism, please.” And as I said, it really wasn’t until seminary that I really started to pay attention to the Holy Spirit and everything she was up to. Now, I don’t want to necessarily make any bold, large sweeping generalizations, but here I go anyway. I think we, as Lutherans, don’t always like to talk about the Holy Spirit or even acknowledge the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

I think this comes from a few places. First, I don’t know that we have always been taught about the Holy Spirit and its place in the trinity. Sometimes when we talk about the Holy Spirit, language is used (I call it “church talk”) can be confusing and has the tendency to make people feel even more like outsiders. Second, I think that when people do think about the Holy Spirit, there is a fear that just talking about the Holy Spirit will turn someone into an evangelist. I think we’ve all either seen a church service or know someone who attends a church service that we could describe as “being filled with the Holy Spirit.” Even over break my brother in law was talking about attending a church where they “raised their hands when the band started to play” and how uncomfortable he was. He’s a lifelong Lutheran, so I get it.

We sometimes think about the Holy Spirit as the hand waving, speaking in tongues, faith curing force that can cause us Lutherans to get uncomfortable in a heartbeat! So we do what we do best, we just avoid talking about it altogether. But, as God does, God doesn’t necessarily care whether we understand the Holy Spirit or not, God will make it stir in whatever way God wants. And whether we acknowledge it or not, the Holy Spirit is stirring in our lives. It starts at baptism and doesn’t let go. We hear in our reading today that after his baptism, Jesus was praying, and that the heavens were opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him. In other Gospels, the heavens are torn open. This doesn’t happen just with Jesus, it has happened and will happen with all of us. The opening up of the heavens and descending upon us is God’s way of infiltrating our lives. There will no longer be a distance between God and us.

When the heavens open, God enters our lives. When we witness a baptism, we see what may appear to be everyday normal things: water, a cute baby (or nervous adult), a font, cameras snapping pictures, and maybe a family member wiping away a few tears. But, God takes those ordinary, everyday things and makes them Holy. It doesn’t matter if the baptism is a full on dunking in a local river or a few precious drops at a hospital bedside, when God encounters us through water and the Holy Spirit, everyday things become holy things.

Those water droplets become a promise of God’s undying love and affection for us. They become a promise of God’s constant presence in our lives. And that water, what we may see as something so common, so every day, even so disposable, becomes a promise of eternal life. It’s amazing what God can do with two hydrogen and one oxygen molecules! We hear sponsors make promises to accompany the one being baptized. God takes those promises and uses sponsors to point out the presence of the Holy in our lives. And we, the people of God, are so fortunate to be able to witness this because it is one of the times within our worship that we can actually see something tangible (like water) come in contact we can’t see (the Holy Spirit) and we are able to experience God in all of God’s amazing fullness.

We shouldn’t avoid the Holy Spirit, brothers and sisters. In fact, it’s pretty impossible to do that. God has a way of sneaking into our lives whether we like it or not. Pardon the terminology, but God is like a Holy Spirit Ninja. When you least expect it, when you’re not looking for it, when you are completely and totally unprepared to experience it, that is when God sneaks up on us with the Holy Spirit. We serve a God who promises us that he will show up. Start expecting God to show up in your lives; that’s the Holy Spirit. Acknowledging the Holy Spirit doesn’t always look like hands raised, speaking in tongues, or dancing. Acknowledging the Holy Spirit may look like hands outstretched, accepting a humble piece of bread, and remembering that you are forgiven. Acknowledging the Holy Spirit may look like watching a child splash around joyfully in the water and remembering that we should all encounter water with such joy! Acknowledging the Holy Spirit looks like people surrounding a grave trusting that death is not the final answer for any of us.

My brothers and sisters, the Holy Spirit is indeed in this place. Watch for it, be prepared to experience it, and expect it to show up. The heavens have been opened, the Holy Spirit is here.

Sermon for 1-3-16 John 1:1-18

It seems appropriate as we celebrate the start of a new year that we hear the words “in the beginning.” Those words are so full of promise, hope, and life. “In the beginning” signals a new start or a fresh start. It’s a chance to leave the past behind, forget about our problems, shake off the dust, and declare something new. As we counted down to midnight, I asked my family their best and not so great moments of the past year. And we had a few moments to reflect and then we moved on. We watched the big ball drop, and just like that, “in the beginning” became a reality. 365 brand new days ahead of us full of whatever God has planned. It’s exciting and nerve wracking all at the same time, isn’t it?

I could make this an easy sermon and tell you that no matter how your 2015 was or no matter what you have planned for 2016, God loves you, will never abandon you, will always forgive you, and will be there for you no matter what. That seems like a good message as we head into a new year full of whatever. But, of course I can’t make it that simple.

Even though we turned the calendar over from one year to another, some of our problems still follow. With the switch of one year from another, we still have real issues of violence, terror, and fear that surround our everyday lives. There are still issues of hunger, poverty, racism, classism, and injustice.

At the same time, there is something wonderfully poetic about “in the beginning.” It’s like when the fresh snow has fallen and everything outside sparkles and is pure and clean. It’s that first big breath of air in the morning. We may still be surrounded by a lot of hurt and troubles, but for a brief moment, we get a glimpse of what the kingdom of God just might look like. With those three simple words “in the beginning” we are immediately transported either back to the beginning when God created everything into being by just speaking, or we are transported back to a simpler time in our own lives.

           “In the beginning” before we had troubles, before we had responsibilities, before we had money issues, health issues, personal issues, terrorism, or even people dying just due to the lack of clean water, we had the Word. Before everything else, we had God. And when we read “in the beginning” we should think of that like a foundation. God is the foundation of everything we do and everything we are. Like the hymn says “on Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.” So God is in the beginning, at the beginning, and the foundation of everything that is around us, including us.

           But how often do we want to replace that foundation? We so quickly want to replace God with other things in our lives that we think will bring us joy, that we think will bring us happiness, that we think will bring us life. But, all those things end up doing is cracking and crumbling. Anytime we try or attempt to put anything other than God as our foundation, as our beginning, we are bound to be standing on sinking sand. Everything else will fail us. And so often, especially at this time of year, we try to make resolutions that center around making ourselves better. Those look different for each of us, but at the center of the resolution is the goal to better ourselves.

           Here’s the thing, though, there’s no resolution or goal, that, if met, will make us any more worthy in the eyes of God. There is no resolution or goal, that, if met, will make God love us any more. There is no resolution or goal, that, if met, will “earn” us a place in heaven. That’s not how God works. We have already been called and claimed in the waters of baptism. God gives us a new chance every single moment of every single day. You don’t have to wait for a new year or even a new day to declare a new start. All you have to do is remind yourself of your baptism and it happens all over again.

           “In the beginning” is our version of “once upon a time” except this isn’t a fairy tale. This isn’t make believe: this is real life. We have a prince and king that has already saved us through the dying of Jesus on the cross. If the story ended there, our hope would be for nothing. The dying wasn’t the end of the story. Because Jesus died, we shall never know the pain and suffering of death with no hope. The grave opened three days later and was emptied. Now that’s an amazing ending to “in the beginning.” We are told in today’s reading that a “light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not over come it.” This means that nothing, absolutely nothing, will ever be stronger than God and the power God has through Jesus Christ.

           We all face darkness in one way or another. It doesn’t matter that the calendar has changed from 2015 to 2016, some of the same issues we had last year follow us. For some the darkness is very dark, and for others, it’s a mere shadow. No matter the darkness, it’s nothing compared to the light of Christ. When Christ’s light shines in us, through us, and around us, it’s as if we have a new beginning all the time. The brightness reveals a clarity that blinds everything else. God’s light is so bright that we can’t but follow it. When the light of Christ shines, everything else around us looks dull and boring. That light is the only thing that matters.

           And so, my brothers and sisters, take heart. If your resolution has already failed, it’s okay. If you haven’t made a resolution, that’s fine too. If you’re going to keep your resolution for your own sake, admitting that it will not define you no matter what, that’s fine too. In the beginning there is life. In the beginning there is water. In the beginning there is the old us, being washed away. In the beginning there is bread and wine, enough to feed everyone and fill baskets with leftovers. In the beginning there is an empty tomb that signals life abundant to all who believe.