Franciscan Moments

Our Weekly Devotional from

Saint Miriam!

Franciscan Moments @ Saint Miriam: March 6, 2017

 

Change is inevitable. It always amazes me, however, how much we rebel against it. How much we disdain it. How much we become anxious and almost petrified of change. Then, change comes, newness springs forth, and the world is anew again and we learn – but only briefly – that change is good.

Ponder these words of Walter Brueggmann:

the world waits for newness; 

settled wisdom knows nothing of newness;

settled wealth knows nothing of newness;

settled power knows nothing of newness.

This is where Lent lovingly guides and deeply disturbs us simultaneously. This is where we must go and sink and learn in order to become something new in Christ. We must let go of false, bad ways and learn to embrace new, life-giving ones. We must let go of things that rob of us our joy, and engage these that bring freshness to our being. We must discard bad habits, and delight in ones that will be worthy of what we are: a temple of the living Holy Spirit.

Because God is God, there are things that make God happy and there are those things that displease God greatly. God chose what is foolish to help us become wise in living better; in being better people: more compassionate, more caring, more loving, bearers of the Gospel of His only Child.  We know these things to be true, but to make them different requires change and we are afraid of change.

When we began our parish some almost nine years ago, no one could have told me how many times I would witness change. How many times I would need to say ‘goodbye’ to friends I took into my life and heart as family. No one could tell me how many times I would say goodbye through death, relocation, change in life circumstances, and yes, even through disagreement. No one could tell me how many times, in my role as pastor, I would need to even hold the door myself and wish them well for the good of the whole community. And no one could tell me how many times we would change. But, we have, and we have grown because sometimes to grow you must first prune. Sometimes that pruning is intentional, sometimes by mistake, but always at the hands of God to help us on our way, to bring growth through change.

We have been here together on our new campus and witnessed much growth and much change in our almost two years here, the end of this coming summer. In my blog this week, I will spend some time with you on more change that must occur to allow us to grow. Change will come in board direction, structure of operations, and staffing changes, too. I ask that you begin to approach these changes with one eye in to the past, and one toward tomorrow. The eye of your past should look back to our beginning with only two people in a rented chapel in a Jewish synagogue in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia, and then flash forward to today on 12+ acres in Montgomery County with a vibrant parish, school, a historic cemetery, too, and a community that knows Jesus and lives by a strong Covenant to love one another, even in our goodbyes. The eye to the future should relish the fact that with every change, growth, stability, and new folks in need of that love and seeking our type of welcome and compassion have been brought to our door; a door that would not have even existed if not for change.

“It is believed that St Francis refrained from eating out of reverence for the fasting of the Christ, who fasted forty days and forty nights without taking any material food; and thus, with just a half loaf of bread, he kept from himself the poison of vainglory. After St. Francis had sustained this marvelous abstinence, God granted many miracles through his merits; for which cause men began to build houses there, arid to inhabit them; and in a short time there was built a large and prosperous village…and to this day the men and women of the village have great reverence and devotion for the spot where St Francis made this Lent.”

Lent is a time for change. We must remember the adage, ‘feelings do not have intellect’, and when we become anxious in times of change, we must honor prayer, one another, our community, and the gift given to us by God above, the very Spirit of God, Who sat with Jesus in His 40 days of temptation, and never give into bias, hatred, innuendo, or gossip, but rather move ahead, as one people of faith, to see where God will bring us next!
 
 


Franciscan Moments @ Saint Miriam: February 27, 2017

 

Last evening in Hollywood, California, Mahershala Ali became the very first Muslim actor to win an Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.  Ali gave a humble speech, thanking those in his life who helped him achieve such a deserved feat. He said, 

“I want to thank my teachers, my professors,” the “Moonlight” actor began. “One thing they consistently told me […] was that it wasn’t about you. It’s not about you, it’s about these characters, you are a servant. You’re in service to these stories and these characters.” 

It’s not about you.  There is it! That is the secret to what makes a Christian a good Christian. It is why Catholics, who are to believe in the inherent dignity of all persons, should welcome and love them beyond what the world thinks wise. It is what makes a priest a good priest. It is what makes a person humble and worthy of making real change. It is about finding where true happiness lies. It is where forgiveness is hatched, and true love is born.

I have always been intrigued to learn the derivations of words. The etymology of a word can give insight into its use and function and deeper meaning, often hidden in a world so busy as ours in this modern ‘always-on’ century. One such word for me was ‘minister’. I learned the meaning in seminary and it stuck with me all these years. It is what I have become by first learning to let go of myself! The word minister comes from around the year 1300 and means ‘to render service or aid’, but derives directly from the Latin word, ministrare meaning ‘less’.  You see, you cannot serve, attend, render aid, or assist; you cannot minister unless you are willingly able to be less than the one you serve. I could think of no better way to begin to prepare us for a deeper and more meaningful Season of Lent.

The disciples watched with supreme indignation, and were completely astonished, perhaps even embarrassed, when the Lord became a servant and took a towel, a simple basin, and some water and began to wash dirty feet. Their indignation soon turned into anxiety when they heard Him say, “Do you know what I have done?” The disciples, who should have by now learned so much from Him replied, “Yes, you washed some feet.”  The Lord turned and said to them in reply, “More than that; for if I your Lord and Teacher have washed feet, I have now set an example that you should do as I have done.”

To be clear, it was based on that introduction, that later the Lord gave us the Great Commandment, to love one another! You cannot truly love unless you get out of your own way, let go of your own fears, your own hatred, your own vengeance, your own pride, your own hypocrisy, your own arrogance, your own mean-spiritedness, your own self-serving attitude, your own inhospitality, your own lack of welcome, your own unwillingness to forgive, your own malice, your own…way.

St. Francis once said, “While you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your heart.”

How will you let go of your hypocritical, divisive, hateful side – one given to you by the world – in order to find peace and a life of joy-filled service to others, given to you by the very grace of God at your own Baptism, and perfect it even more fully during this Lent?
 
 


Franciscan Moments @ Saint Miriam: February 20, 2017

 

Ease is harder on progress and enlightenment than hardship. Yes, you read that correctly. Ease makes us soft and unlikely to make much progress toward spiritual growth, the desire to help others, and deepen our love of God and our desire to make our way toward our true life where we behold Him face to face. 

It is a primary reason to attend Mass, go to church, and be one with the community. For it is only there that we remind ourselves of the story – The True Story – the life-giving, life-changing, world-altering story of the One who saves us all by taking on our wretchedness and bringing us to the grace of new life in God. Undeserved. Unmerited. Unrelenting.  It is within the community of faith – our parish – where we personally, collaboratively, socially, and ecclesiastically engage the story because the world is too harsh, too busy, too cynical, too anxious, too preoccupied by self- interest, and too much in denial to do the same.

The cloudy darkness and opaque thickness of pain ultimately brings healing by making us more receptive to others, bringing knowledge of true-self, renewing a depth to our faith, and granting us the gift of true empathy and compassion in order to love all, even those, and that, which we despise so deeply.

But, remember that the remarkable revelation of our Christian faith is that God, too, was in torment. God, too, hurt with a depth that even God could hardly bear it. Like two parents loving a delinquent teenager where that love must at times simply learn to be a form of toleration, until a breakthrough occurs and change happens. So, in His own pain, God saved us – you and me, undeserving, terrible human beings, you and me – and so many others like us – to bring us to eternal life. 

So, then, it is true. Love always wins. Love triumphs through alienation, and pain, rejection, and silence to bring us to newness! That is the Story we celebrate. Remember that in the end, it is only death that brings new life

How will you tell the story with your own life and actions? Will you live into it this coming Lent in a different way than years past? Will you allow yourself the time away from the world in which we live to focus on the life yet to come?
 
 


Franciscan Moments @ Saint Miriam: February 13, 2017

 
John Calvin once wrote that “We must remember that Satan has his miraclestoo.” A powerful sentiment living in our times. The world does not always belong to the good, the caring, the righteous, or the upright. Perhaps it is why we have always been admonished to live in the world, but to never become one with it.
 
We, as Christians, seek safety in God’s power and strength; in times of hardship or ill-ease, we pray, beg, and reach out to God, but the Gospels make it difficult to look upon the One we worship as it seems that so often God goes to extreme lengths for us to experience how Jesus was “perfected through suffering.” Hebrews tell us directly in Chapter 2:
 
“And it was right and proper that God, who made everything for his own glory, should allow Jesus to suffer, for in doing this he was bringing vast multitudes of God’s people to heaven; for his suffering made Jesus a perfect Leader, one fit to bring them into their salvation.”
 

Our salvation, then, comes in a broken package, but we are not alone. Jesus’ life was cruciform long before the crucifixion and so shall ours be, too, as we become imitators of the One who saves us in this life to preserve it in the next. We will always have our trials and we will always have our ‘satans’, but we shall overcome because we believe in the One. St. Francis himself reminds us that ‘Men lose all the material things they leave behind them in this world, but they carry with them the reward of their charity and the alms they give. For these, they will receive from the Lord the reward and recompense they deserve.’ And so, we press on, and do our best, and treat others with mercy, love, forgiveness, and justice. We do not store here the things that fail us.

When Jesus says, “What you have done to the least of these, you have done it unto me,” He is not speaking sentimentally, nor even ideologically, but rather with a depth that only the truly perceptive can feel! You see, Jesus sees Himself in the hungry, the naked, the lost, and the imprisoned because of the desert experience, and, ironically, the devil was the one who made it so.  After the desert, it is through the eyes of the “least of these” that our Christ cannot help but to gaze forever after upon the world. It is why the beautifully moving, “Beggar Christ: When I was Hungry” bronze statue by Timothy Schmalz, based on the Gospel of Matthew 25,  welcomes everyone to our parish doors. A reminder to all who come to us of what we believe, and what we maintain in that deep belief.

So then maybe the good news, the message of salvation from Jesus, is not fantasy, but a reality yet to come if only we follow; truly follow. Perhaps they are truths revealing the paradoxically, upside-down truth that from suffering we are redeemed by the very hands of God…

Psalm 39:5, perhaps says it best, Lord, make me to know my end, and what is the measure of my days, that I may know how frail I am.”

How frail do you feel today? Where will you place your trust?
 
As for me and my family, we place our trust in the Lord…
 


Franciscan Moments @ Saint Miriam: February 6, 2017

 

The Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration promised fidelity to Christ through their adoration of the Blessed Sacrament by a ritual of lighting of a fire in a small humble dish made of pottery containing lard and a piece of tissue for a wick. It was all they had; all they could afford. They have adoring their Christ in perpetual adoration ever since. That was 1865. Mother Karen, who leads the Order now, stated that even today, after all these years of adoration, the hearts of these sisters still burn with zeal to fulfill that promise made so long ago. And they do.
 

The fire of God’s love and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is most evidenced by St. Francis’ own constant adoration when he prayed, “We adore You, Lord Jesus Christ, in all Your churches throughout the world, and we bless You, because by Your holy cross You have redeemed the world!”

St. Clare, too, followed closely this adoration and the desire with oneness with the Sacrament of the Eucharist. The Poor Ladies nurtured the commoners and nobility alike to discover the fullness of life by basking in the light of the Living God made present in Adoration!

Saint Miriam is making a strong push toward Adoration of late and a new brochure entitled, “Join us in Adoration of Our Lord at Saint Miriam!”, explaining the process, privileges, and expectations will soon be ready! We offer adoration every Thursday from 5:00pm – 6:00pm and twice annually we provide a 40-Hour Devotion as well as a Lenten Refection in Adoration. All of this is done to provide a means to honor Christ and to deepen our faith as we gaze, consider, contemplate, and imitate. We will look at these areas of adoration and prayer over the coming weeks together as we ponder the glorious God that is so close, and yet so often ignored.

When you depart from a time of prayer with the Lord in Adoration, and you go your own way, look for continuing ways to surrender to the flame of God’s love and serve Him in the world. See Christ in the beggar on the street near your work, play catch with your son, enjoy playtime tea with your daughter and dress the part, just sit with an old friend, care for a grieving mother, allow yourself to encounter the street person, or those at-risk. Each opportunity invites you to let go of your own control and be drawn into the fire of Divine love. Each encounter may change a life by your presence!

How will you allow yourself to love more deeply and encounter God in the world this week?
 
 


Franciscan Moments @ Saint Miriam: January 30, 2017

 

“You cannot be a Christian without living like a Christian,” he said. “You cannot be a Christian without practicing the Beatitudes. You cannot be a Christian without doing what Jesus teaches us in Matthew 25.” This is a reference to Christ’s injunction to help the needy by such works of mercy as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and welcoming the stranger. It’s hypocrisy to call yourself a Christian and chase away a refugee or someone seeking help, someone who is hungry or thirsty, toss out someone who is in need of my help,” he said. “If I say I am Christian, but do these things, I’m a hypocrite.”

No, they are not my words, but rather of the Holy Father, but could have just as easily been takin from my homily delivered this past Sunday at Saint Miriam. We stand with refugees and immigrants. It is that simple because we are Christians and Catholics and we believe in a living God named Jesus.

Yesterday, after my homily was posted, a parishioner removed his support of my salary fund. That’s right, he decided to immediately remove food from my table because of my words of support to the immigrant and condemnation of the executive order that may well have sent Syrian refugee families to their death. He emailed me and said that I had no right to speak the way I did and that he disagreed with letting immigrants take food from his table. So, he took from mine in protest. It is his right.

So, to him, and to anyone else who would like to condemn me, I ask you this question: what kind of priest would I have been if I stood in the pulpit of our parish and condemned other to die at the hands of their oppressors? What would you of thought of me if I stood up for the administration and waved a flag and cursed the refugee? Had I done so, I would barely be able to call myself a Christian, let alone a priest.

The greatest reformers brought change by following the gospels. They knew the words of God and followed them, despite even harm to self. In putting ourselves at the service of the neediest first, we follow the greatest of commandments and honor Christ in the world. I am willing to lose my pulpit, the church, and even my life, too, if needed, but I will not stop defending the rights of those in harm’s way. I will do what we always have done at Saint Miriam and fling open wide the doors to others in need and give sanctuary and refuge.

St. Francis believed that the power of the Holy Spirit is continuously at work in the world through the people of God who suffer persecution and oppression. The body of Christ – the Church – bears living witness to all people of the Resurrection when it lives its own Passion. The radical transformation of the world that is needed will come only through the efforts of people – like you and me – who lessen violence, reduce injustice, stand for the rights of the unfree, and advance peace and the eradication of hatred, in all its varied and human forms, to bring about brotherhood, fraternity, love, freedom, and peace.

I will stand for firmly justice. I am willing to lay down whatever cost. How will you help today?
 


Franciscan Moments @ Saint Miriam: January 23, 2017

 

I’m sick. I am not just a little sick, but a lot sick. In fact, yesterday, I was so sick that my family doctor paid me a house call. I am weak, lethargic, sore, have the chills, shaking, headaches, my breathing is labored and difficult, lungs are filled with phlegm, and I can’t eat well. Yes, whatever I got, I got it good and the number of meds I am on proves I need lots of support.

Ironically, last Friday I was at my normal CrossFit session in Manayunk. I could complete the workout of the day, throw hundreds of pounds around, lift myself literally hundreds of times up to a bar, and turn around and throw a twenty-pound ball against a target followed by a hundred more pushups. By early Saturday, I could barely get out of bed.

There is a lesson here. You see, last week I was strong and sure, but by Saturday I was weak and alone. Last week, I was determined and steadfast that I could lead, and do, and be whatever I wanted, but by Saturday I was broken, weakened, and unable to even lift my head from my pillow. Last week, it was my power, and my strength, and my will, but by Saturday it was all about God, and prayer, and begging for some support and relief. It was about my needed reliance on others for support. How quickly we, as powerful a creature as we are, can be let down by our own bodies, but never by God.

The Son of God entered our human condition to be one with us. He knew what misery resulted from our sin because He lived within our human nature to overcome it for us. But the human Christ did this knowing full well the power only came fully from His Father and His Father’s love and that was more powerful than any illness, any force, any evil. He placed Himself totally in His Father’s hands and He brought healing and peace to the world.

Today, in the midst of the turmoil around elections, and presidents, and power, and world might, I am weak and now remember where the true power of the world dwells.

I am safe, and I am well, no matter what happens with my illness.
 
 


Franciscan Moments @ Saint Miriam: January 16, 2017

 

Our nation is divided. It is that simple, and yet that complex. There is fear. Fear about the future. About healthcare. About human rights. About what will come. Change always brings anxiety. God always brings hope.

When I was just out of college less than a year, I took a job in Cleveland, Ohio. I lived in center city in a converted factory loft called The Hat Factory. I loved living in the city! Just next door to my building was a very popular bar that served primarily the local gay population. While local business men and women would often stop for ‘happy hour’ after work, it was primarily a gay bar in the later evening.

Now, I was not one to ever go out late, and never have been one for the ‘bar scene’, but I often was alone in my new city and needed companionship. I loved to chat with others and so I would slip into this bar every now and again and talk to the patrons, and I made some really good friends. One was the ‘Bar-back’ who worked there almost every evening, his name was Joey.  Joey and I became really close and we laughed a lot and shared lots of stories. Many thought Joey and I would end up dating because we shared so much in life! One night, Joey closed the bar for the head bartender who needed to go to a late-night function. As he was taking the last bag of trash to the dumpster out behind the bar, he was jumped by unknown assailants and beaten as they were overhead by locals who called police calling out, “Kill all faggots! You faggot! Die!”  They beat Joey so badly that he died on the scene. Joey was only 29.

The most shocking thing of this story is that Joey worked at a ‘gay bar’, and he was best friends with someone who identified as gay, but Joey wasn’t gay himself. In fact, Joey was working this Bar-back job as a third job to save up enough money to buy an engagement ring for his girlfriend, Jenny, who was also a friend to me. Joey was not gay; Joey was killed because someone assumed he was gay and therefore not worthy of life.

The words “Fear not, I am with you,” never meant so much to me. Of course, back then, I was young and filled with enthusiasm, but then came fear. Growing up in Erie, a middle-class town in a middle-class area of Pennsylvania, I never experienced that much hostility when I came out as being gay. Oh sure, there were the few slights and the loss of a few friends who simply did not want to be near me any longer, but not this. Not death. Not such vile hatred. This was like a firebomb was thrown while I was there, but no damage was done to me; at least not that anyone could see. But, there was, deep damage done and that damage turned me into a priest and a Franciscan. How?  Because I learned that all life is precious. All people are precious. All the created of this earth deserve the respect of all other created and that separation is wrong and hatred is abhorrent to the God I serve. I decided to work for justice and to serve that God. I returned to seminary and formation and I have done so ever since.

Repeatedly, since that day I held Joey one last time in my arms, and told him how much his life meant to me, I have reflected on those words: Fear not, I am with you. Over and over again, I have called out to God to save; not me, but the world around me.

The three years I spent in Cleveland formed me in ways I could never have imagined. The greatest lesson was that God is with me wherever I am. God is incarnate in the person of Jesus – and in the many persons who walked with me in that journey, including Joey. So, I am not afraid of the change that will come. I am not afraid of any one person who occupies the highest office of our land. We are bigger that than one office, one person, one ideal, one President. We  are a people of God, and God comes to us – even in our darkest moments – and reminds us, “Fear not, I am with you.”

Where was God when Joey was murdered in hatred?  Standing with Joey, taking each blow, too. Falling with Joey when their bodies could take no more. Holding Joey tightly until his last breath came, and then, God took Joey by the hand and said, follow me, son, Fear not, I am with you.

 
 


Franciscan Moments @ Saint Miriam: January 9, 2017

 
Frank Loesser, back in 1944, could not have written a more apropos title for today than his infamous, “Baby, it’s Cold Outside”! Real cold!  I woke today to find that the we are below 8 degrees with a “real feel” temperature of 4 degrees! 
 
So, what happens when we get cold? The human body is a marvelous thing and has several defense mechanisms to try and boost our core temperature when it gets chilly. Our muscles shiver and teeth chatter. Our hairs rise and our flesh forms ‘goosebumps’, a kind of evolutionary echo from the times when our ancestors were covered in fur. The hypothalamus, the gland in the brain that acts as your body’s thermostat, stimulates these reactions to keep the body’s vital organs warm, at least until it can find warmth and shelter. The hypothalamus’s mission is to keep the core warm at all costs – yes, even sacrificing the extremities if need be. That’s why we feel pins and needles in our fingers and toes in extreme cold, especially if bare skin is open to the winter’s abrasive elements, which then can end in frostbite. Blood flow is reduced, and the lack of warm blood can lead to tissue freezing and rupturing. Our body’s main mission at this point is to keep us warm at all costs, and it will sacrifice whatever it needs to in order to accomplish this vital task by preserving the warm blood close to the center, even constricting blood supply in the outer regions such as the end of our own limbs. I wonder…when was the las time we put God so close to our center and would do anything to keep Him as the most vital mission of our lives?
 
Ever since the Holy Father, a Jesuit with the heart of our Seraphic Father, Pope Francis, took on the name of the Poverello, “Poor Little Man”, our Francis from Assisi, there has been a resurgence in all things Francis! But, do we actually know – deep within our heart – this requires more of us than just trite sayings to make us Franciscans? Do we recognize that we must inherit within our hearts the themes of compassion for the poor, the radical welcome of the outcast, the humility of self, and giving away willingly and joyfully of possessions –  those things that bind us to earth – in order to further God’s Kingdom, the preaching of peace and justice for all humanity, the care of all living creatures, the central theme of simplicity of lifestyle to allow more room for God? As in hypothermia with the human body, there can be only one mission.
 
Do we practice these themes, often lost on the world, to effectuate a change that can only come with sacrifice of self in joy for the betterment of those we are called to serve?
 


Franciscan Moments @ Saint Miriam: January 2, 2017

 

Yesterday in our parish, our wonderful Director of Music, Charles Masters, created a montage of music to remember from 2016 from iconic artists that we lost from this life to God Himself. (You can hear parts at our Facebook page). It was so moving that everyone that filled our Sanctuary on New Year’s Day, for the Solemnity of the Blessed Mother, were simply mesmerized; not a soul moved about, not a person stirred, except within their own heart. It was a wonderful tribute for a brand-new year and it reminded us that, just like music, not a single note – nor single loved soul – is ever lost, as we remember them within our souls.

Our tribute yesterday gave new meaning to the famous song, “Auld Lang Syne”, “for auld lang syne” essentially boils down to “for the sake of old times”. It’s a work that essentially calls for the preservation of our oldest, dearest friendships; perhaps observed in the reflective quality of a new year itself. A time when people come together to recall past joys and sorrows, specifically those spent in each other’s company. Yes, we remember because we are human. We love because God first loved us.

Song, music, and poetry are a moving part of our lives together, and, too were deeply a part of the nature of St. Francis. He loved them so deeply that in times of sorrow and sickness, as well as of joy and good health, Francis spontaneously gave voice in song to his feelings, his inspirations, and his prayers. The clearest expression of this aspect of the personality of the famous ‘Poor man of Assisi’ is, The Canticle of Brother Sun (originally named ‘Canticle of the Creatures’). Artist Mark Haas does an admirable rendition here. I thought of this hymn in the middle of the night last evening, and it reminded me of where we are today; at the start of a brand-new year! 
 
In “The Canticle of the Brother Sun,” St. Francis praises God for some of the wonders of the material world. Francis believed that everything in our natural world was a gift from God and, as such, deserved to be appreciated, praised, and valued. G. K. Chesterton, in his reflections on St. Francis once wrote of this music: “It is a supremely characteristic work and much of Saint Francis could be reconstructed from that work alone. “ And Friar Eloi Leclercq, O.F.M., wrote, “The manner in which Francis here looks at the created world is a key to his inner self, for the Canticle [of Brother Sun] undoubtedly has elements that reveal in a special way the personality of its author. “
 

This magnificent hymn expresses the mystical vision of the St. Francis and, since it springs from the depths of his soul, provides us with many insights into the depth of his life of faith in the Triune God, Who, so deeply enters creation itself; one inseparable from the other. In this vision, played out through the hymn, Francis does not lose himself in space, or in the vastness of the created world. Rather, he becomes so intimate and familiar with the wonders of creation that he embraces them as “Brother” and “Sister,” as members of one family! More than any other aspect of the Canticle, this unique feature has enhanced the spiritual tradition of our shared Christian spirituality. 

As one page of our calendar has now almost imperceptibly flipped into another and thereby caused the birth of a brand new year, tethered to our hopes and dreams of a fonder tomorrow; and as we remember, too, those lost to time, but never to God, it is a good time to also reflect on ourselves and how we view God in the world and within our very lives.

How close is God to you? How much do you rely on God and His divine providence? Do you offer God enough praise and honor, do you give enough to help those who dedicate their lives to God’s service and people? Or, will 2017 be the year you finally realize your life is empty without God in its midst…
 

And surely you’ll buy your pint cup!

and surely I’ll buy mine!

And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,

for auld lang syne.