Friday, December 24, 2010

Sermon for Christmas Eve 10:30 p.m. Luke 2:1-20 “Poor Waif”

The picture is greyed with age now. It is a family Christmas dinner. An elderly man, looking remarkably like the actor Lionel Barrymore. A tiny woman, birdlike, quite old, her mouth pursed. A man wearing a white shirt , no tie, seated at the table with a plate full of food in front of him. He looks disoriented, shocked. A hefty woman with an apron, looking a bit harried, with a baby held against her shoulder. The baby is a sprite, with enormous dark eyes. And now the old woman’s voice, saying: “The poor waif. Oh, the poor waif!”

That was Great Aunt Anna. She always did tend towards the dramatic. Her husband, Great Uncle Joe, sat beside her. They had been married for decades and had no children of their own. They were characters, as folks used to describe the odder members of the family. In his later years, Great Uncle Joe would retire to bed wearing a rubber chin strap to prevent a double chin. Unfortunately, he was a little late for that. He also tended to orate like Foghorn Leghorn, and was just as incomprehensible.

I can imagine the thoughts going through the hefty woman’s head…”If Anna’s so concerned, why doesn’t she get up and offer to help, instead of leaving it all to me while I’m toting a baby around here?” And the man in the white shirt, so disoriented, wondering how life suddenly had become so complicated, wanting nothing more than the usual Christmas, with the usual family arguments, and the usual menu.

But it wasn’t an ordinary Christmas.

There was a new member in the family, that baby. They hadn’t known that this baby would arrive until a few days before, when the adoption agency said to come and get their baby. After seven years of trying to adopt, they had all but given up hope. And then the phone call came, turning their world upside down. They weren’t ready. They had no crib, no changing table, no supplies. But they went and got the baby from the agency, a tiny thing, barely 7 pounds, not a good weight for a four-month old. But apparently the child had not thrived in the orphanage. The social worker said, “she’ll fatten up once she’s with a good Mommy and Daddy.”

So they took the baby home. At first they thought they’d name her Dorothy, after the woman’s cousin. But then they remembered the season, and they named her Mary. They used a wooden soda pop crate lined with blankets as a crib. The woman had run around the neighborhood stores getting diapers, shirts, the usual accoutrements of baby care, and folks had said, “who’s baby is that?” and she smiled and said, “Mine!”

And to properly welcome the baby into the family, this baby who arrived so unexpectedly on December 22nd, she invited the whole extended family for Christmas dinner. This was nothing new. As the best cook in the family, she usually fed them all. This time, though, she was doing it with a slightly cranky baby on her hip.

And as usual, Great Uncle Joe and Aunt Anna came just a little bit late, already a bit tipsy from the sherry, requiring attention because they were always requiring attention. And the man’s brother, always the family historian, had brought his camera…and took that picture that has now faded. And he heard Great Aunt Anna say, once, twice, three times, “Oh, the poor waif! The poor waif!”

And then he got tired of hearing it, hearing these words about this beautiful, scrawny baby on his sister-in-law’s hip. He knew the back story – that a friend in the system had pulled strings so that this baby, already scheduled to go to another home, would go to this family. He knew that the barely perceptible tremor in Great Aunt Anna’s voice came from her own regret that she had never had a child of her own. He knew that his brother, already struggling with the demon of alcoholism, was terrified that he would not be able to keep sober with this added responsibility. He knew the history of this child, a sad history of love and loss.

And so when Great Aunt Anna said “Oh, the poor waif!” that third time, he put down the camera and stood up and said, “Enough! This is Ann and Joe’s baby. She is not a waif!”

Two thousand years before, another child arrived suddenly, on a cold night. The family was unprepared. They were traveling, a hard thing in the best of times, now even harder because of the woman’s pregnancy. The town where they were to go was packed with people, noisy, probably a bit smelly from camels and donkeys and other pack animals. People were taking the edge off with some wine. The only available room for the expectant couple was not a room at all, but a stable a bit away from the furthest inn in town.

They had gotten that space only because the innkeeper’s wife saw them at the door as her husband was telling them to get lost, that there was no room. She poked her husband and said, “You great lummox, can you not see she is great with child? Give her a place to rest her poor weary body.”

“I’ve nothing to give her, wife. You know we’ve filled each bed three times over. Do you want her to sleep on our bed?”

“No, you stubborn fool. At least give her the stable, so she can get out of the wind. It’ll be warm there. Not too smelly – I know you had the boy clean out the stable earlier today.”

So the innkeeper sent them a few yards away to the stable. The innkeeper’s wife came over with some blankets to make the space a little more comfortable. Remarkably, the animals had nestled around the man and woman, sharing their warm sweet breath and body heat to bring the hut to a comfortable temperature. The woman was in labor now. She wasn’t crying, though, nor did she ask for a midwife to help her. The innkeeper’s wife stood at the door, watching her. Poor thing didn’t have a mother or auntie to help her with this, as she would have had she given birth in her home village. It didn’t seem right that she was doing this alone…but before she could bend down to help, with one great push the baby was out. Small, but breathing. It was a boy, a blessing, healthy, it seemed. But the innkeeper’s wife could think of nothing but her sadness, that this young woman had to give birth away from home, away from her family, in a hut with only the animals around her. The innkeeper’s wife cried out, “Oh, the poor waif! The poor waif!” Her voice, breaking that holy silence…until the man said, “No, he is no waif. He is special, beloved. He is the child of God.”

Of course, the innkeeper’s wife thought. All babies are children of God. This we all know. But the way he said it gave her pause. “THE child of God, not A child of God…odd.” And yet something about it made sense to her. There was a glow about them as the woman was nursing the little one. It was warm and snug in the hut. She turned to leave, and there were some shepherds standing outside the entry.

“Is he here?” they said.


“The child.” Now she was nervous. “What child?” “The one the angel told us about…the anointed one of God.”

The innkeeper’s wife was troubled. What mystery was this? The infant looked just like any other newborn. But these shepherds, they were certainly convinced that some divine messenger had visited them. “Why didn’t we find them a room within the inn?” she thought. She looked back over her shoulder at the shepherds kneeling now in front of the little family. “All children are children of God. But this one, this one is special somehow.” She trudged back to the inn, wondering what it all meant, knowing that it meant something had changed in her and in the world.

Not a waif. The Child of God.

All children are children of God. Some are poor waifs fresh from orphanages in America, some are newborns in huts in the Middle East. Some look like the babies in the baby food ads, shiny and pink and robust. Some are scrawny, malnourished. Some are different in ways that we cannot understand – they cannot sit still, or they cannot walk or talk, or their speech sounds odd. But they are all children of God.

Perhaps the greatest miracle of this night and the child whose birth we recall is that it reminds us that children of all estates and all conditions are children of God. All children are our reminder of the promise and the hope of the Christ Child. All should be cherished and beloved.

May we see in the eyes of the children we love the hope that comes to us with the birth of the Christ Child.

May we be so blessed to hear God’s creative spark in their voices.

May we be so blessed to see Christ’s hope in their smile.

May we be so blessed to know the Spirit’s sustaining grace in their questions and their challenges.

And may we give to them the understanding that they all are beloved by us and by their Maker, on this night and every night.

Merry Christmas!


Sermon for Christmas Eve 2010 4:00 pm Service Luke 2:1-20 “Jacob the Shepherd Boy”

On the hillside that night, the shepherds gathered their sheep into groups to keep warm in the cold night air. The little lambs were always in the middle of each cluster of sheep, since they felt the cold more than the big fluffy white sheep with the dark faces.

It was the job of the littlest shepherd, Jacob, to make sure the lambs were safe in the cold. It was a hard job, but Jacob was very proud of the work he did. He was especially proud that he was allowed to work alongside his father and his brothers, because most boys like Jacob were not allowed to do the hard work. You see, Jacob had been sick as a little baby and had lost his ability to hear. Jacob was deaf.

Now, you may not think that hearing is important for a shepherd, but trust me, it is. You have to hear what the other shepherds are calling to you, when a lamb wanders off, or when a sheep is giving birth to a new lamb but needs some help. You have to hear the difference between the “baah” of a healthy, happy sheep, and the “baaah” of one who has a sick tummy. You have to take orders from your dad when he wants you to move the sheep to another part of the hillside.

But Jacob could not hear, and so he had to find other ways to do his job. He wanted to do it well. He wanted to make his father and mother proud of him. Maybe he couldn’t hear, but he could still work.

It had been a long day, this day in December, and now the shepherds were resting around a small fire, their cloaks wrapped around them to keep away the chill wind. The sheep were resting, too, asleep on their feet, with the lambs tucked in, warmed by all that fluffy fleece. Jacob could not hear what the others were saying…he knew they were talking about where they would move the sheep the next day, because that’s what they always talked about at night. He was dozing off – the morning would come too soon- when a strange thing happened.

Suddenly there was someone standing in front of them…no, that wasn’t right…he was just hovering above them. How could that be? And this someone was shining white. Not grubby like Jacob and the other shepherds, not shivering in a cloak by the fire, but beautiful, like the sheep’s wool after it was washed after shearing. Glowing with light, but not a fire, a cool, white glow like the stars above. And now this someone was speaking to them, and the look on the faces of his father and brothers told Jacob that the someone was saying something very surprising…very special.

“What was going on?” Jacob wondered. But no sooner had he thought that, there were a whole bunch of these creatures, just like the first one, all glowy and white and beautiful. They, too, were hovering – how could that be? – and their mouths were moving…it seemed like they were singing, and although Jacob could not hear them, he felt the vibrations of their song pulsing through the air, through the ground. He felt it in his body, as he sometimes did when the village was singing at a wedding feast. It made him smile, but it also made him a little frightened. What was going on here, and who were these beautiful creatures, and what were they singing about?

And then, just as suddenly as they had appeared, they were gone. The sky was once again a dark velvet studded with stars, and the vibrations were gone…the singing was over, Jacob thought.

But then his father and brothers stood up and his brother Benjamin yanked at his sleeve to get him up as well, and they were herding the sheep down the hillside. What was happening? They never moved the sheep at night, too easy to lose one, too easy for a wolf to sneak up and steal a lamb.

But down they went to the village, at a very quick pace. The sheep were complaining about being awakened from the sleep – Jacob could feel their baahs even though he couldn’t hear them. Jacob understood their unhappiness – he was tired himself, and had been ready to sleep when the creatures appeared in the night. But down they all went, a raggedy bunch of dirty shepherds and their complaining sheep, and Jacob’s father and brothers seemed very excited about this unusual journey.

And then they were at the edge of the village. It was very quiet there, very quiet indeed. Everyone was asleep, it seemed. There was a small light, though, shining through the window of that hut over there. It was a hut where animals were kept, a goat or two, a cow, some chickens. Why would a candle be lit there in the middle of the night? The parade of shepherds, big and little, and sheep, big and little, edged closer, and through the door, Jacob could see not just the animals he expected to see, but a woman and man, and a baby. A little, little baby, and they had put him in the feed trough! Silly – that’s not where babies go! But the baby seemed quite content, all wrapped up and on clean fresh hay.

And his father and brothers, they were…kneeling now. As if this was something very special, as if this baby was very very special, and Jacob knelt down too. All he could do was to kneel, surrounded by his father and brothers and the warm sheep, and look, because it was as if the baby was glowing, just like the strange someones who had visited them on the hillside glowed. But this glow was even brighter and warmer. And Jacob understood, that this was a baby who would change their lives, and change the world. This baby was a King. And he said, softly, the first word he had ever said, “oh!”

And the baby looked him in the eye, and even though newborns aren’t supposed to be able to do that, he smiled at Jacob.

And Jacob realized he was hearing the sounds of the sheep around him, soft baahs and grunts, little bleats from the lambs.

It was a night of miracles, that night. And miracles sometimes happen to the most ordinary people at the most unexpected times in the humblest of places. This is the gift of the Child whose birth we remember on this night. May we always be awake to the possibility of miracles, because of this Child.



Merry Christmas!

May you feel the healing and encouraging presence of the Christ Child this night and forever.

Blessings...sermons will be up on the blog a little later today and tonight.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas is ...

writing a whole bunch of sermons
wrapping a whole bunch of presents
visiting a whole bunch of people
hearing a whole bunch of stories of how it used to be (good)
hearing a whole bunch of stories of how it used to be (bad)
hearing a whole bunch of wishes of how it should be
thinking about how we set ourselves up with wishes that cannot come true

...until one of them does.

A beautiful boy who should have died this year is thriving, and has completed confirmation classes. He will be confirmed on January 2nd, with several other wonderful people.

Yes, that's Christmas. TBTG!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sermon for Sunday, December 19, 2010 Matt 1:18-25 “Rules of Engagement”

Joseph was a righteous man. He followed the law. He followed the rules. Of course he would. He was a builder, not merely a carpenter, but what the Greeks called a “tekton,” a designer and builder. Such a man would recognize the importance of rules. You cannot build a complicated piece of cabinetry just by eyeing the wood and the space and grabbing your hacksaw. No. You plan, design, use what you have been taught about proportion, about the bearing strength of different kinds of wood, about the different requirements for different kinds of furniture. You measure, and you measure again before you cut, because wood is costly.

A chair for a fat man must be much sturdier, for example, than a small stool for a young woman to use while milking the goats. A small pretty young woman…like Mary.

Joseph was glad for the rules. They ordered his work as they ordered his life. And in the manner approved in the law, he had become betrothed to Mary. She had not yet moved into his house…soon, he hoped, because he was longing for the pleasure of being closer to her…but they would follow the law and do things in the proper way.

Joseph was a “dikaios,” a righteous man, a model citizen, a man who followed the rules. It had served him well. He had a prosperous little business, as prosperous as one could be with the Romans taxing them more and more each year. Still, he was doing well enough to negotiate for a bride, a pretty young girl, modest and sweet, quiet. A girl who seemed to like following the rules, doing things the right way, the orderly and proper way. A girl who could give him sons and care for their home and cook a good meal and loaf of bread. And she could do those things, by God, because she knew the rules of cooking and making bread and keeping a house. There was a right way to do things, and he knew it, and she knew it, and that was why they were a good match.

Ah, life was good, despite the Romans, despite the requirements of the High Priest, despite the day to day challenges of living in the Galilee.

Joseph was a righteous man, and it seemed that living right was paying off for him. Good business, nice little house, a lovely young girl to whom he was betrothed.

And then it all changed.

The rules were broken. She had broken them.

She came to him, looking frightened, as well she might be given the news she had to give. She told him the impossible, the horrible, the ultimate rule-breaking.

She was pregnant.

He was normally a gentle man, but in that moment he was enraged. On fire. That she would betray him in this way? Someone else had had the pleasure of her body, when she was betrothed to him? Oh, the pain! The fury! He could hear nothing more that she said, after the first few words, those horrible words – “I am with child….”

Well, there were rules about that sort of thing. It was clear. The law said that he not only had the right, but the obligation, to divorce her. She was fallen, sinful. No good could come of such a marriage. She needed to be divorced, and quickly, and Joseph planned to go to the religious leader in their village and attend to it immediately…

…but there was no need to make her shame the subject of village gossip. No need to provide fodder for the old biddies who stood by the well after they had fetched their water. No, she was a tender girl, even if she had done something bad. No reason to add to the harm. No, just divorce her quietly and send her away – didn’t she have a cousin a few villages away? – and get on with life. Find another girl, though no girl as lovely and sweet as Mary lived in their village. Ah, appearances deceived. Joseph went to bed that night musing on that thought, with a bitter taste in his mouth.

It was a rough night, a restless one. Sleep did not come easily. She had looked so forlorn, standing there, small, no swelling evident yet in her belly, and she had told him, and then seemed to have more to say, but Joseph had turned his back on her in anger. What more had she wanted to tell him?

He finally dozed off into an uneven sleep, sinking down into the place where the mind is open to the thoughts from which we hide when we are awake.

And in that sleep, something strange happened. He heard a voice. Whose voice? Not his dead father or mother. Not his friend Eliezer. Not the rabbi’s. Sweeter somehow. Was it Mary’s voice? No, there was something different about it. Not a man’s voice. Not a woman’s. Something…else.

And even in his dreaming, Joseph who loved the rules was struggling to use those rules to figure out where that voice was coming from, who or what that voice was coming from, whispering, “Joseph, Joseph.”

No words, please…he just wanted to sleep deep and dreamless, to sleep away the embarrassment and anger and pain of Mary’s betrayal.

But the voice would not let him rest in darkness: “Joseph, Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

What madness was this? A child in her belly from some Holy Spirit? This did not follow the rules. Spirits don’t make babies, men do. That is the way of things, the rules of the body. Spirit…and a spirit-child would come of this? Who would save people from their sins?” No, that didn’t work. People were forgiven when they carried out the rituals, bathed in the mikvah, made burnt offerings at the temple. A child saving people?


And then he remembered one of the old texts, the words of one of the ancient prophets, Isaiah. "Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel," which means, "God is with us."

What madness was this? Was God speaking to him? Was this child truly from God? What was it that Mary had tried to say to him when he turned from her? “This Child is not from my being with a man, I swear to you. There was an angel….”

Another angel.That voice he had heard – was it an angel? Scriptures did not tell him how angels were supposed to sound…they simply said angels were messengers from God, and you had best pay attention to them. It was strange. It broke the rules of his everyday life, but a higher rule now seemed to shape his thoughts. God had spoken. He was to listen.

Never mind what the gossips said. Never mind that he could not comprehend how this could be. It was of God – it MUST be of God – and he must obey. That rule was unbreakable – he must obey.

The next morning, he got up early, and went to Mary’s house. The tension there was terrible. Both Mary and her mother Anna had clearly been weeping all night. Joseph looked at them both, shaking a little at what he was about to say. It was breaking the rules, and yet it was not. It was confusing, and yet his path suddenly seemed very clear.

“Mary, will you come now and live with me as my wife? I understand. I believe. Come now. We will do this thing together.”

And so it began, with a breaking of the rules of nature and of the rules of the ancient traditions. A voice in the middle of the night, reordering two lives, and every life.

What would have happened if Joseph had simply said, “It was just an odd dream?”


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Snow Day

I worked from home today. We got three or four inches of snow, which is enough to put the Capitol of the Confederacy into a tailspin.

PH noted that there were power outages being reported even before the storm, telling his Pittsburgh and Chicago relatives "apparently the power lines panicked and threw themselves on the ground in fear at the thought of snow."

The snow has stopped and the roads don't look too bad, but the schools throughout the area have cancelled classes for tomorrow. Yes, those of you from more northen climes are allowed to snicker - I am.

The good news of this enforced stay-at-home time means I was reasonably productive. I finished the teen Confirmation retreat prep - I think I have enough material to train the kiddos and keep them occupied for 24 hours without too much stress, and they will even learn how to make Trappist communion bread in the process. I also finished the Adult Forum Bible study and the sermon, so I feel quite accomplished. Tomorrow will be spent wrapping presents that need to be mailed out and having lunch with PH before I depart for the church for the retreat. Pray for me - youth ministry is not my strength.

The parents-in-law will be coming down for a visit after we go up to the land of Three Rivers for the post-Christmas familial gathering. They are dear folks and it will be good to have them. They haven't seen the new place yet and it will be fun to share it with them. They'll also get to see the extravaganza of the Bishop's visit, complete with seven candidates for confirmation, one for reception, plus an infant baptism. This will be the first episcopal visit of our new assisting Bishop, so heaven only knows how it will all go. We shall see if he is like one of our other bishops who likes our fancy acolyte corps, or the other who doesn't. Sigh.

Dealing with some parishioners with challenging health issues and others with the holiday blues - we will have a "Blue Christmas" service (Winter Solstice - the evening of the 21st) as a way of acknowledging that not everyone can or should feel merry, and that the birth of the Child offers comfort and hope even on the darkest nights. I hope it is a comfort to them.

So the next couple of weeks is a busy time, as it is for all of us clergyfolk. I may take a little Sabbath rest not only in between Christmas and New Year's, but also after New Years - a mini-retreat for a day or two. I suspect I'll need a little silence by then.

And what are you doing to sustain yourself during this busy season?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sermon for Sunday, December 12, 2010 Advent III Canticle 15 “Sing Out!”

The canticle we recited in place of the psalm this morning is the Magnificat. It is Mary’s song of praise – she spoke it to her cousin Elizabeth on a visit to the older woman, also pregnant with an unexpected child, when Elizabeth – shocked by what she was realizing – cried out: ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 44For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leapt for joy. 45And blessed is she who believed that there would be* a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.’

Such a scandalous and astounding event in the lives of these two women! Elizabeth, too old to be pregnant, and yet she is. Mary, who did not have relations with any man, impossible to have become pregnant, and yet she is. Too hard for any human being to understand, certainly. And yet these two women understand it, accept it, rejoice in it. They sense their unique roles in God’s majestic drama, and settle into them as a dog circles itself into its warm blanket in front of the fire.

We wonder at that, because what they were asked to do by God, and in particular what Mary was asked to do, is so opposite from the expectations of how a modest village girl would live. Mary was a good girl, and like all good girls of her time, she expected that she would get married to a nice man and raise a family. She would have children, hopefully many of them, and she would sing the prayer at the Sabbath table. She would be supportive of her husband in his work. She would live out her life as her mother had lived hers, invisible, unknown, just a part of the fabric of village life, one little thread.

But what a golden thread, and how it shone out in contrast to the grays and browns around her!

Her destiny was quite different from the one she had thought. She was engaged to Joseph, yes, but something strange and marvelous had happened – she was pregnant…and not by Joseph. Pregnancy before formal vows was not uncommon in that time, because it was the betrothal that carried the legal and religious weight in that culture, and the actual marriage was simply a party completing the transaction. The pregnancy itself was not the problem.

This was a rather unusual pregnancy. Joseph was not the father. That would be cause for him to shame her, to dissolve the betrothal and send her away, and Joseph thought about that – we will hear more about Joseph’s story in next week’s gospel – but an angel told him what was really going on. It was something that he could not have imagined – that Mary was carrying God’s own Son.

For that matter, Mary had struggled to imagine it as well when the angel had come to tell her what God had in mind. Somehow, though, she found the path to acceptance of her role in God’s work. And so, when she sings this Magnificat, it is all the more remarkable how she revels in this role:

“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.

From now on all generations will call me blessed,

for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name.”

Just a humble village girl. Probably no schooling except in memorizing Scripture and how to bake a good loaf of bread. But she composed this golden song in response to her cousin’s recognition of what was going on, Mary’s destiny, Elizabeth’s destiny, intertwined in God’s plan. Mary knew her child was no ordinary child. Elizabeth recognized it, too.

And once she spoke those first words of this song, the words that followed were even more shattering to the way things are supposed to be:

“He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel, for he has remembered his promise of mercy.”

The Magnificat’s message… so subversive that for a period during the 1980s the government of Guatemala banned its public recitation. A teenaged girl, in a small village in the Middle East, predicting the toppling of the powerful, the redemption of those who are oppressed.

Mary knew what she was saying.

Mary knew.

God, with his powerful ability to remind us that the divine way is very different from the human way, took this woman with no power, no education, no status, no money. God gave her the gift of this responsibility, carrying God’s only son, and God gave her the words to sing out what this meant: the old rules are broken. The powerful are brought low. The weak and downtrodden are redeemed.

And she sang all this because of an angel’s whisper: “You have found favor with God. And you will conceive and bear a son… The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born* will be holy; he will be called Son of God.”

Is Mary the only one to whom the angels whisper God’s plan? Can it be possible that God sends these messengers to whisper to us as well? Without a doubt!

When we are given those angel’s whispers, telling us what God has in mind for us, can we listen with open hearts? Can we believe that we, even we in all our imperfections, can be the servants of God?

If a simple village girl who thought she would simply be another brown or gray thread in the tapestry of village life could be transformed into something golden, something powerful, something critically important to what God has in mind, can we not believe that we, too, have the possibility of being something more than we think we are?

God did not create us to have us sit around in a shadowy fog. God created us to do the divine will in surprising ways.

Listen for the angel. Listen for the whispers. Hear what God, full of love for us, has planned. Then sing out, rejoicing.