My name is Jeff and I'm a pastor of a small, local, Christian fellowship

It's a wonderful thing to love your work; to know that when you do it you are doing something that you were born to do. I am so fortunate to be both. I don't say I am the best at what I do. God knows that are so many others who do it better. But I do feel fairly lucky to be called by such a good God to do work I can only do with his help, to be loved by a beautiful woman, and to have a workshop where I can work my craft. These musings of mine are part of that work.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

On Acting Crazy in Gath

"That's life, that's what all the people say.
You're riding high in April,
Shot down in May.
But I know I'm gonna change that tune,
When I'm back on top, back on top in June."
   "That's Life" sung by Frank Sinatra

Psalm 34 in my NIV Bible includes an editorial commnet: "Of David. When he pretended to be insane before Abimelech, who drove him away and he left." Not really a catchy phrase to start a song but when I read it again today it sent me turning the pages of my Old Testament trying to refamiliarize myself with that odd little episode from King David's life. As most of us are aware, his life was replete with ups and downs. In fact, Sinatra might have been singing about David when he sang, "'re riding high in April, shot down in May..." He explodes onto the scene as a teenager and becomes a hero when he takes Goliath out with a stone. From then on there can be no going back to his life of obscurity as a shepherd boy. But popularity has its price and soon King Saul is peeved at how loudly the people are singing his praises instead of his own. In fact, a bounty is put on his head and Saul wants him brought in dead or alive (but preferably dead). So when we pick up his tale in 1 Samuel 21, David is a man on the run. After a quick stop in the priest town of Nob where he picks up food and weaponry (most notably the sword of the aforementioned Goliath), David leads his small band of devoted followers into Philistine territory to lay low for awhile.

As luck or fate would have it, they end up in Gath, the home-town of Goliath. Maybe it was by accident that they ended up there. After all, how was he to know when they picked this city to hole up in that it was, in fact, the giant's old stomping grounds? Or was he being cagey thinking the safest place to hide is in plain sight of your enemies? Whatever the case, soon after arriving his cover is blown and now he and his men are deep behind enemy lines and in the open. It's soon reported to King Achish that David the giant-killer has taken up residence in his town and he intends to meet the man who cut down their native hero in the prime of his life. As for David, the lives of his men are in his hands so he must act quickly and cunningly if he is to get them out of this jam. So, he decides to gamble with a ruse and acts like a man who's lost his marbles, beating his head against the gate, moaning and groaning and foaming at the mouth. When King Achish is escorted to where David is carrying on he can't believe that the lunatic before him is the famed hero of Israel. "Are you serious? Whoever this guy is, he's lost it. Am I so short of crazy people in this town that you had to find me one more?" (see 1 Samuel 21:14-15). "Street the guy and get him outta here," orders Achish and unknowingly helps David and his men make their getaway. It had been a close shave but his gamble had paid off. They had made it out of Gath alive.

Soon he and his rag tag band of fighters take up residence in the cave of Adullam, near his home town of Bethlehem, where they remain for some time. Now safely hid in the Judean wilderness he has a little time to reflect on the events of the past few years. It had not been too long ago that the wandering seer Samuel had unexpectedly showed up at his family's home and to his surprise had poured anointing oil upon his head. Soon after he had confronted Goliath in the field and with the death of the giant he was catapulted from obscurity to fame overnight. He was not just the talk of town; he became Israel's favorite son and Saul's foremost champion. But his meteoric rise to fame had its price and soon he is perceived as a rival to be eliminated. Time and time again, Saul's attempts on his life are foiled, one near escape after another which ultimately lead to his "Robin Hood"-like existence living in the Judean hills surrounded by his own circle of merry men.

"I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips..." the psalm begins. In comparison to David, I live a rather pedestrian life. Every night I come home to my wife and children. I sleep in a comfortable bed and my refrigerator is well stocked. And I certainly don't live in need of constant vigilance against enemies raiding my house. But I confess, I don't extol the Lord at all times and his praise is not always on my lips. Often Thursdays aren't good for me for my soul to "boast in the Lord" (v. 2). That's the day Linda and I usually sit down and sort through our bills. For me, it's a weekly reminder that our financial security hangs by a very frayed thread. It seems like our "Prayer and Praise" insert in our weekly bulletin contains far more prayer requests than answers. Our offerings are never adequate to pay me, our missionaries and our obligations. We pray for the sick and few are healed (or even get a little better!) Lives in our fellowship more often than not are waning with fear and unbelief than waxing with faith and devotion. No, truth be told, I don't "bless God every chance I get" (Msg).

"I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears" (v. 4). I try and put myself in David's place and the fears he must have dealt with as the outlaw leader of a band of brigands. Obviously, the fear of King Saul was real enough but so also must have been anxiety over his family in Bethlehem or how to provide for his growing following that joined him at the cave or that one or more of his new recruits might, in fact, be assassins feigning friendship long enough to get close enough to put a knife in him. Compared to these, my own fears seem so shallow and trivial - fear that my ministry won't amount to much, fear that I won't get airfare together for my teaching gig in January in the Philippines, fear that our fellowship will always be scrambling to rob Peter to pay Paul. "This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles" (v. 6). Certainly David's life bears witness to this truth but by my reckoning it's been a long time since I've truly been in a "tight spot" (Msg).

I do recall a particularly tight place for Linda and I, though. It was the summer of 1988 and when we were attempting to plant a fellowship in southern Wisconsin. Christine was just a few months old and we had moved back from Illinois and were temporarily living in my in-laws' basement in Madison. I helped Linda's dad paint a barn and when we could we drove the 50 miles to Whitewater trying to make livable the broken down trailer we had bought and moved there. After two weeks of this, however, we decided that the best thing we could do was move into the trailer, ready or not, and for me to look for work around there. We had about a two and a half week window before the lot rent was due. I would go out each day and look for work and found jobs cutting grass or doing odds and ends for senior citizens. At the same time, we were waiting on my last pay check from the job I had left in Illinois as well as a large disbursement from a benefit package I had with them. "This poor man called..." and call we did, daily, upon the Lord. If the check did not come in a day or more, we figured we would have to vacate and move back to Madison. "...and the LORD heard him" and at seemingly the 11th hour (or, at least as I remember it) the check was in the mailbox just in time to pay our rent as well as put some food on the table. It certainly wasn't the ultimate fix. It was just God's provision for that month. As we would learn in time, there would be more "troubles" to come but more answers, too. And somehow or other, we didn't starve and for the next two years we made a serious go at our attempt to begin a Christian fellowship in that area.

It occurs to me as I think on David in that cave working out this irregular accrostic that we know as Psalm 34 that he wasn't an old man sitting in a rocking chair looking out on the hills recalling the good old days of his youth. He was a fugitive living in the shadows, hiding out and waiting for God to do something about mad King Saul. And while he waited for regime change there would be more difficult days ahead for him and his men, more tight places to wiggle out from. But for all that, who knows but years later when he was finally ensconced as king in Jerusalem, his every enemy defeated, perhaps he looked back on days like the day he played the fool in Gath, his life in the balance and smiled as he recalled how narrowly he beat fate, not for the first time, and how fully alive he must have felt knowing that his life was in the Lord's hands and how he had heard David's cry for help and rescued him (v. 17).

From time to time, Linda and I remind each other of those halcyon days when we were first married and moved to Illinois with first month's rent for an apartment in hand but no job awaiting for either of us. We were young enough and naive enough to believe that work would come one way or another. And it did eventually. Or we think on that move to Whitewater hoping and crossing our fingers that the proverbial check in the mail would arrive soon. It was something of a nail-biter but came it did. Neither place was ever as bad as holing up in a cave or living hand to mouth but both memories serve as a reminder to me that "a righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all..." (v. 19).

Friday, November 19, 2010

His Name is Earl

This is Earl wearing a funny hat
This past Monday morning I had a pleasant surprise. I got a visit from Earl, a man I haven't seen in many a year. The light was off in the entryway so when I heard the front door open and someone coming up the stairs I rolled my chair over to the door of my office to get a look-see. By his silhouette, I didn't recognize him for Earl has lost perhaps 70 pounds since I last saw him. But the moment he stepped into the light of my office, I knew him immediately. "Do you know who I am?..." he playfully asked as we eagerly embraced.

When we came to Chetek in 1991, Earl was the pastor of Chetek United Methodist. With his long, bold, white hair tied in a pony tail and usually sporting an EMT jacket he made an instant impression on me (as in, "Who is this guy?") He was in town this Monday to conduct a funeral. We moved into the sanctuary so we could more comfortably visit. Sitting across from me he sized me up and said, "Well, I see you've lost the suit." Dressed in a long sleeve tee and jeans, his comment brought a smile to my face and a vivid memory to mind.

The only pastors I ever had as mentors in my Bible school years were good men who believed in dressing your best for your job. They all wore shirt and tie, dress pants and polished shoes for their daily attire (even at the Saturday morning prayer breakfast!) This must have been before "Casual Fridays" were invented. In any case, when I landed here I just assumed that this was the proper uniform for a minister to don. Not that I cared to dress this way but I certainly didn't want to create any waves unnecessarily by dressing down right off the bat of my time here. Until one morning in mid-November of that first fall in Chetek when Earl and I happened to pull up at the post office at the same time. He was wearing jeans and his EMT jacket and I was wearing a trench coat over what had quickly become my standard suit and tie. "Who do you think you are?" is what he said to me. I was a little taken back since all I had said to him was, "Good morning." "I see you dressed up like that a lot," he answered me, "as if you have somewhere to go and I was just wondering if you like dressing that way?" "Frankly," I told him, "no. As a matter of fact, I don't. But I just thought that this was what was expected of me." "Lose the suit. Wear blue jeans if you like 'em. Be yourself," he told me with a smile. "Don't try and be someone that you're not." I've gone casual ever since and I've always been grateful to him for that good advice.

He left Chetek after an 11-year run and took a church in Milwaukee that was right off Wisconsin Avenue and near the hotel my uncle used to own. I recall one summer day when we were down that popping in for a visit after he had relocated. He retired in 2004 and after two years, he told me, he was "bored stiff" so he went back to work. He got a job on a cleaning crew at a Ronald McDonald House with an injunction from his boss that he was not allowed to pray with anyone due to his long resume as a pastor. If his boss didn't want him to pray with anyone it would have been better for him not to say anything at all to Earl on the matter rather than giving him a cause to champion. Fortunately, she did say something because one day while he was cleaning he noticed a poor mother weeping uncontrollably. Her baby had just died. He sat down beside her and patter her hand until she settled a bit. She then asked him if he would pray for her (not knowing that he was a "former pastor") and, as he tells me the story, "I told her I would but not here." He escorted her down to the non-sectarian chapel and prayed for here there. It riled his boss up a bit but now four years later Earl the janitor is their unofficial chaplain.

He missed preaching and said as much to a friend who is a Methodist official and shortly afterward became pulpit supply to a small, dying Methodist fellowship "five miles west of East Troy" (he told me with a grin). There were eight people present on his first Sunday. They average 25 now and that growth has forced the powers that be in Methodism to refrain from closing the doors - at least for the time being. I think that gives Earl a small sense of satisfaction.

Prior to retirement he became very active in the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, an ecumenical council made up of 13 denominations who advocate for the poor and address other social justice issues. Under his leadership, they have made monies available for poor families seeking loans for home improvements. And during the last few years, he and his wife, Audrey, though senior citizens, have become surrogate parents for a young girl whose mother is an addict. Their relationship with the girl stems back to when her mother was attending their church and pregnant with her. She asked Earl after church one Sunday if he wanted to help save a child. When he asked her which child she simply patted her abdomen and said, "This one." For a long while, the mother was clean but now has been sucked back into that lifestyle. So, Brianna, who is eleven now, has a safe place to be and grow up.

In that half hour or that I caught up with Earl, he shared with me about his Muslim neighbors "in the hood", the two guys with whom he and Audrey co-own their duplex and several other bits of trivia from his life since leaving Chetek. If ever I needed proof that "the gifts and callings of God are without repentance" here it is. They can push the old horse out to pasture but they can't put him down.

Earl's a lot thinner now
I marvel at the guy. He is a strange amalgamation of theologies, on the one hand able to tell you his faith-story of hearing the audible voice of God and his conversion at a Billy Graham crusade and on the other to affirm that Muslims and Hindus, though on different paths, will certainly find their way to heaven; practicing presence-based ministry like few others I know while attending a church whose pastor is gay ("I thought I was liberal" he chuckled, "but she's such a good preacher") But for all that, this man, title or not, is a pastor and his visit on Monday morning warmed my heart. Not only was it good to see him but it was good to be reminded that certain gifts that come from God are not determined or restricted by the vote of a certain group of individuals. I'd like to think that the good people of Refuge will embrace me as their pastor forever. But it may not be so. I may get old and slow down and they may then want some younger guy to fill the chair I now fill. To be fair, it may be the only way to get rid of me! But if it ever comes to that Earl's example reminds me that in these things God has the final word on the gifts he shares with us. After all, "Once a king or queen in Narnia, always a king or queen in Narnia." Refuge may come to a point where they feel they do not need my gift any longer but there will be others who will and may yet benefit from it albeit, perhaps, as one of those Wal-Mart greeter guys who welcome you as you enter their store.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Taste and see

"I sought the LORD, and he answered me;
 he delivered me from all my fears."

"Those who look to him are radiant;
 their faces are never covered with shame."

"This poor man called, and the LORD heard him;
 he saved him out of all his troubles."

"The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him,
 and he delivers them."

"Taste and see that the LORD is good; 
 blessed is the one who takes refuge in him." 
    Psalm 34:4-8, NIV

Before the gathering
This past Sunday, our fellowship celebrated Thanksgiving. While we used to hold our annual service of giving thanks on the night before the day itself, we've come to do it on the first Sunday of November because, well, in this family deer hunting trumps turkey dinner every time. But regardless of when we do it, I love this gathering that I prefer to call the Service of Thanks Bringing. The chairs in the sanctuary, instead of standing on the parade ground in perfect formation, are arranged in two concentric circles with a table set with communion elements standing in the center. When everyone arrives it'll be like Pangea splitting up and great continents of customary turf dividing or disappearing altogether. Now we have to look at each other for a change while we worship instead of at the backs of our heads. On the outside walls of the sanctuary, the tables for dinner are preset hinting of the feast to come. While we will have a song to settle us in, all the worship on this day will be brought by those who will testify of God's faithfulness. It's unknown and unscripted who will share or what they will say. Psalm 107:1-2 are our basic guidelines: "O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever. Let the redeemed of the LORD say so..." (KJV).

Father's house is packed
The house is packed. At least a third of our guests are related to Jon & Melissa who are celebrating the adoption of Erin and Cameron, Jon's step-children. But there are other visitors present. There are two guys who work the night shift at Wal-Mart and one of them has brought his toddler son. Both have been invited by a couple of their coworkers who are a part of Refuge. Two other guys are in attendance, one of which until recently was cooling his heels at the Barron County Justice Center where I serve as a volunteer chaplain. His friend has a tattoo on his neck which in order to read you would have to walk nearly all around him to do so. Another couple who used to live in our area but left when their construction business fell into legal trouble have moved back for a season and are in attendance this morning. A handful of YWAM-ers from the local campus join us as well, 20-somethings in search of a deeper walk with God among them which is a single mom accompanied by her three-year-old daughter. All have come into God's house either by happenstance or design on this day.

Jesse gathers the stones
After I state our few simple guidelines, thanks are invited to be brought and immediately Lenny stands to his feet to share. Lenny is my dad's age (75) and still gives ski lessons at nearby Christie Mountain. This past spring I had the joy to preside at the re-marriage of he and Paulette, formerly divorced from each other but now brought back together because of Jesus. And with that, the floodgate is opened and for the next 45 minutes thanks are brought and shared amid tears and laughter. Young and old, single and married, teens and senior-types, affluent and broke, a young single mom and a grandma of many, all give thanks to the Lord "because he's so good. His love never runs out" (Psalm 107:1, Msg). If there is a common thread it is the fact that though our lives are messy, God is good and he loves us. Jesse is a guy who came to us by way of his wife, Sheryl. To say that it's not been a good year for them is to keep mum on a lot of details. But he's had a change of heart in the last few months and he recently got a tattoo as a "memorial stone" of sorts. If a guy as shy as he has the wherewithal to stand up in he midst of so many strangers to thank God isn't proof of the change going on him, passing on the upcoming deer-rifle season in favor of more family time probably is. Again and again, I hear the same story: I screw up but he saves me. Another guy who is present has something less than a stellar, spiritual resume: he's been on and off the wagon for years and spent this past summer at the Justice Center for a DUI violation. He's present at my invitation. His theology is pretty screwy - part JW, part Christian, part AA - but he said something worth hearing when after giving his thanks said, "I've decided to let him love me." If ever there was an example of one's insight exceeding one's maturity, here it was.

The Family Lee (Hannah & Liz are sitting behind their dad)
After the sharing, we turn to blessing Jon and Melissa's family. The Lees came to us one Sunday morning in March 2004. All eight of them walked in and took occupancy in the second row where they have pretty much parked themselves ever since. Jon had been raised in a Christian home and had drifted a long way since then; Melissa had never been a part of a church before. Their brood of six were a his-hers-and-ours assortment and since that time we have seen salvation visit their home. Melissa's two children from her second husband (Jon is her third) have rarely seen their dad in the span of their young lives and from the Montana prison where he is presently incarcerated he recently relinquished his parental rights. Their birth certificates will now state that Jon is the biological father. Talk about spiritual analogy! So, Troy, our elder, and Jon's parents, who are godly people both, and a few others and myself gather around the Lees and begin to pray God's blessing upon them. Something of significant spiritual import is happening the extent of which none of us can appreciate.

Erin & Cameron's adoption cake
 We then turn to the elements and I give some simple instructions and read from Titus 3:
The meal of blessing
    It wasn't so long ago that we ourselves were stupid and stubborn,  dupes of sin, ordered every which way by our glands, going around with a chip on our shoulder, hated and hating back. But when God, our kind and loving Savior God, stepped in, he saved us from all that. It was all his doing; we had nothing to do with it. He gave us a good bath,and we came out of it new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit. Our Savior Jesus poured out new life so generously. God's gift restored our relationship with him and given us back our lives. And there's more life to come - an eternity of life! You can count on this. (Msg)

"O taste and see...!"
Families and individuals are then encouraged to come to the table, pour themselves some of the juice and take a piece from one of the loaves and eat as a family or with friends. It is the meal of blessing before the meal. After it is complete, I give simple instructions to clear the sanctuary so that the crew designated to arrange the tables and food have room to operate. It's such a beautiful day no one minds stepping outside for a bit. Within 20 minutes we are all called back inside and once more I thank God for the blessing of each other and for good food. And then the feasting begins and continues for a good long while. As it is at all the dinners that Jesus hosts, there is plenty and to spare. The scene the ensues in the sanctuary is almost like something out of a Breugel painting - good food, laughter and sharing with all the marks of a love feast.

Subject material Breugel would get
Having been a part of the evangelical tradition for nearly thirty years now, I understand that in the lexicon of an "evangelistic meeting" you will find it includes a message about Jesus saving us from our sin and a call to respond to his invitation of forgiveness. That response usually entails a raising of a hand or coming forward to the front of the sanctuary to be prayed for. But in my mind, Sunday's gathering was one of the most evangelistic I had ever been a part of. It included a welcome from Jesus, plenty of testimony of how good he is and an object lesson of what happens when the Father adopts us into his family. If ever a seeker needed evidence that there was something more to this Jesus-thing other than talk, they saw and heard and tasted and smelled and felt the evidence that it is so. Maybe it was lost on a lot of those present but it wasn't lost on me.
Sort of like Refuge (Peasant Wedding by Pieter Breugel)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

I want to see, too.

"What do you want me to do for you?" Jesus in Jericho (as found in Matthew 20:32)

It's just a brief vignette in the life of Jesus of Nazareth. In between more teaching on the "upside-down"-ness of the kingdom of God and the Triumphal Entry is this brief little episode of healing, yet another in the storied life of the rabbi from Galilee. It is a story of desperateness and what despair can cause you to do. Two men from Jericho - one who may have been the Bartimaeus in Mark's gospel - both of whom are blind, hear that Jesus is passing by and though the moment be inopportune, these guys seize the day. The healer of great renown is pasing by and this is their moment. So with a 'now or never' kind of swagger, they raise a cry: "Master, have mercy on us! Mercy, Son of David!" (Matthew 20:30, Msg)

They must have been loud - loud enough to disrupt an otherwise uneventful walk out of Jericho as Jesus and his following began the trek to Jerusalem. Why else would they have been shushed by the rest of the lookers-on? But these guys won't be denied and cry out all the louder. In a day where there were no social safety nets like SSI or HUD or food stamps, after years of living in degradation and shame, what, after all, did they have to lose? Like it or not, they were going to make their need known and if the Son of David refused to stop and pay them a small kindness, then it wouldn't be because he had not heard their plea for help. Imagine their joy when Jesus stops what he's doing and calls to them, "What do you want me to do for you?"

There have been several times over the past few years I've tried to put myself in their place and imagine how I would answer if the Lord of all the earth would ask me the very same thing. Would I revert to my native Lutheranism and go religious - you know, "Oh, Lord, I know you're busy and my needs really aren't worth quibbling over..." Or would I pontificate questions that come to me easily while I sit in my comfortable chair typing these words that you read now. Things like, "I want to be free from my debt I'm under" or "I want whatever it is I need to become a successful writer" or "I want the discipline I seem to lack so that I eat better"? I wonder how he would respond to these rather bland requests. Would he smile and pat me on the shoulder and simply say, 'God bless you"? Or what?

Their needs were far more visceral and immediate: "Lord, we want our sight. A blind person is a nothing and worse than a nothing to his family - he's a burden and life is nothing but trouble. You can't work or contribute meaningfully to society. We want to see and have a chance at life." There was no apologizing for asking a decidedly self-centered request. They ask as children would ask (with tears in their eyes, no doubt): "WE WNAT TO SEE!" "Deeply moved, Jesus touched their eyes. They had their sight back that very instant and joined the procession" (Msg).

On Monday morning, I began thinking of the Service of Healing and Wholeness which will be held tonight in our sanctuary. We have held a monthly gathering dedicated to healing for over five years now. They have usually been gatherings attended by only a few if you don't include the ministry team most of whom are present because they want to be and also because they know it is expected of them. And God has been present, people have been blesed and every once in a while, something a little out of the ordinary occurs. But for the most part they are fairly non-events as healings services in a Pentecostal tradition go. Last month, no one came (other than the ministry team). I place a small notice in our local paper. I announce it from the pulpit. So what does it mean when you host a Service of Healing and no one comes? Certaily, we are not in the Millenial yet. There are still sick among us - at Refuge and in our community - but for whatever reason sick people do not come to these gatherings as a rule. Maybe they prefer going to a doctor instead. Maybe there's just that much unbelief in our hearts. And when a few of my ministry team members hint that maybe we need to give "this thing" a rest, while I understand where they're coming from my discouragement increases nonetheless.

Over the last five years I have read perhaps two dozen books on healing from those who minister healing in many different traditions of the Church - Catholic (Francis MacNutt), Anglican (Roy Lawrence), "Third-Wavers" (John Wimber, Charles Kraft), Episcopal (Dennis Bennett), Presbyterian (Anges Sanford), and others - and every time I read my heart is stirred and my faith elevated. I've attended conferences on healing and gone through training for the same. And every time my heart says to all of it - "YES, YES, YES!" Which leads me back to these two guys sitting aside the road in Jericho. I feel in my spirit somewhat like them. I'm a begger wanting to see - to see the works of the kingdom manifested in my community. I know exactly how I would answer if the Lord were to ask me the same question this morning he asked them: "I WANT TO SEE! I DON'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT HEALING ANYMORE OR CITE EXAMPLES OF HOW THE POWER OF GOD FLOWED THROUGH OTHERS TO BRING HEALING. I WANT TO SEE THE POWER OF GOD MANIFESTED IN OUR MIDST. IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE ME - USE SOMEBODY ELSE. STILL, I'D LIKE TO DO THE STUFF. FOR PETE'S SAKE, I WANT TO SEE YOUR KINGDOM COME!!!"

I don't think I can quit "this thing." To quit praying for the sick is to succumb to the notion that the medical establishment has all the answers and the church should just stick to giving out messages of the peace and reward in the kingdom to come. So, I'm sitting beside the road this morning with my bowl out hoping that the Man from Nazareth will walk by me tonight and hear my plea and touch my eyes that I, too, may see the power of his Kingdom in action. If he comes, I'm not going to be shushed by anyone who tells me not to make a big deal about it. I'm going to raise a cheer and follow the procession wherever it goes.