Preached on April 29, 2018, New Member Sunday
at First Church in Sterling, MA
by Rev. Robin Bartlett
Sermons are better heard.
“Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. 21The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.”
Our worship of God is limited only by our inability to embrace the people we are least inclined to love.
This is a poem called Accident, Mass. Ave. by Jill McDonough. I have edited out the swear words because I never swear.
I stopped at a red light on Mass. Ave.
in Boston, a couple blocks away
from the bridge, and a woman in a beat-up
old Buick backed into me. Like, cranked her wheel,
rammed right into my side. I drove a Chevy
pickup truck. It being Boston, I got out
of the car yelling, swearing at this woman,
a little woman, whose first language was not English.
But she lived and drove in Boston, too, so she knew,
we both knew, that the thing to do
is get out of the car, slam the door
as hard as you (bleeping) can and yell things like What the (bleep)
were you thinking? You (bleepin’) blind? What (the bleep)
is going on? Jesus Christ! So we swore
at each other with perfect posture, unnaturally angled
chins. I threw my arms around, sudden
jerking motions with my whole arms, the backs
of my hands toward where she had hit my truck.
But she hadn’t hit my truck. She hit
the tire; no damage done. Her car
was fine, too. We saw this while
we were yelling, and then we were stuck.
The next line in our little drama should have been
Look at this (bleepin’) dent! I’m not paying for this!
I’m calling the cops, lady. Maybe we’d throw in a
You’re in big trouble, sister, or I just hope for your sake
there’s nothing wrong with my (bleepin’) suspension, that
sort of thing. But there was no (bleepin’) dent. There
was nothing else for us to do. So I
stopped yelling, and she looked at the tire she’d
backed into, her little eyebrows pursed
and worried. She was clearly in the wrong, I was enormous,
and I’d been acting as if I’d like to hit her. So I said
Well, there’s nothing wrong with my car, nothing wrong
with your car … are you OK? She nodded, and started
to cry, so I put my arms around her and I held her, middle
of the street, Mass. Ave., Boston, a couple blocks from the bridge.
I hugged her, and I said We were scared, weren’t we?
and she nodded and we laughed.
This is revolutionary love. The fear overcome by wonder (“are you OK?”), the embrace, the recognition of each other’s wound, the desire to tend it, the hilarity that followed (if the love revolution is joyless drudgery, I want no part of it).
If we are going to learn how to love as God loves, we need to be bold enough to flip the script we were given, especially when we’re scared.
Our scripture, as usual, beckons us to be fearless. “There is no fear in love,” it says. To love as God loves, we must cultivate what Sister Simone Campbell calls a “holy curiosity” for the people we most fear.
When John the evangelist, who writes our letter from 1st John, urges us to love, he means the kind of love that flips the fear script. The kind that calls us to use our bodies not to harm, but to embrace. The kind of love that demands that we see every human we encounter as God with skin on.
“Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God,” his letter to the early Christian community says. Love one another. Every single other. Each is an opportunity know God better than we could ever know God on our own.
Remember from last week that John’s letter was written around 990-110 AD, and aims to explain to the early Christian community in Ephesus why it is significant that Jesus came in the actual flesh. That Jesus came as God with skin on to SHOW US that Love is not something we feel, but something we do with our bodies. God put skin in the game because we just weren’t getting it.
We thought following God meant following the rules. We thought following God meant surrounding ourselves with people just like us so we could keep each other honest and pure.
And then God blew our minds by sending us Jesus. Jesus, who broke all the rules, and surrounded himself with all the wrong people. Jesus, who moved into the neighborhood and used his BODY to embrace the people we most fear. Jesus, who went to the borders and welcomed the alien; the refugee; the stranger; the outcast. Jesus, who embraced the poor. Jesus, who healed the sick, who touched the untouchables, who set the captives free. Jesus who showed us with his flesh how to treat each stranger as a piece of ourselves we do not yet know. The word made flesh.
And so it is a great honor to welcome 38 more opportunities to know God in the flesh. Katy, Walt, Larry, Liza, Cate, Matt, Madelyn, Vinnie, Rachael, Matt, Piper, Kit in utero, Betsey, Kathy, Susan, Alan, Pat, Sarah, Cecilia, Liam, Amanda, Dan, Andy, Nathaniel, David, Susan, Peter, Shana, Delaney, Lilian, Adeline, Nancy, Claudia, Bob, Dave, Betty, Ron, and Shawn:
WE ARE SO HUMBLED YOU HAVE CHOSEN TO CALL US HOME. Getting to know you will be our most important spiritual practice as a congregation. You contain a piece of God we do not yet know, and so we want to know you.
We bless you. Joining a church is a profoundly risky thing to do. You are flipping the fear script, and we honor your bravery.
First of all, it’s counter-cultural these days to join a church. You are joining a church in the middle of the great American mass exodus from organized religion. Every statistic says you shouldn’t be here today, especially if you are under, well, 60. So congratulations for being a rebel, and joining up with an organized religion NOT BEFORE it was cool, but AFTER it was cool. There must be extra hipster points for that. If you want, I will give you things to say when your friends and family question your life choices. Like, “yes, it’s a church, but it’s not that kind of church.”
Second, joining a church is an emotionally and spiritually risky thing to do. It is terrifying to trust a flawed human institution with your tender hearts. Many of you are joining us after being irreparably harmed by other religious institutions, or because you feel lost at sea and need an anchor, or because you are deep in mourning.
You are heroic just for dipping a toe in the water, much less diving right in. You are taking a huge leap of faith, into a future yet unwritten.
I am blessed to have gotten to know each and every one of you in different ways. And I know this: you are all here for profound reasons that some of you have trouble even putting into words. The tears you so often shed tell more of the story than words ever could.
I suspect you are all here for the same reason the rest of us are: because of our heart’s deepest longing to be known, and to be loved exactly as we are. A longing to belong. Thank you, new members, for trusting us with such a tender job. Congregation, let’s do our best to not screw it up.
I want to say two things to all of you about what a church is. But I’m going to start by telling you what a church is not.
Our newest members often tell me that they came to church for the first time because of our outreach and educational programs for children and adults. We’re so glad we have so many entrance points for engagement. But a church is not the programs.
Some of you walked in for the first time because of the beauty of the historic New England church on the green. This building is no doubt beautiful. But if it burned down tomorrow, we would still be Church. A church is not the building.
A lot of our newest members tell me they came to this church after reading or watching my sermons on line, and they continue to come every week “for me.” Thank you. I am clearly charming and hilarious and very humble. Megan is even more so. But the church is definitely not the pastors.
Some of you come because you love the worship service. We sing your favorite hymns, we are liberal enough in our theology to embrace you and your doubts, but we still wear robes and have a little bit of tasteful stained glass, and we don’t have screens and rock bands. But the church is not its “style,” or even its beliefs.
The church is the people. These people. All of these people, the people we serve in the community, and most especially the people who have yet to come through these doors. I want to invite you today to get to know and love these people, and let them get to know and love you. “Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.” God has given us one another as a gift. Don’t squander that gift.
If you came for me, for the music, for pub theology, for the coffee, that’s great…but make the reason you stay the people.
Also, a word of caution: these people may disappoint you sometimes because they are people. I will certainly disappoint you, especially if you have me up on a higher pedestal than the rest. Stick around when that happens to see how God redeems the mess. Here we believe in LOVE, even when we fail to act like it. If love hasn’t won yet, it’s not the end.
Another word of caution: lots of people join churches that they perceive to be full of like-minded people, so they can be around people who agree with them. That is so comforting and safe. We are not a group of like minded people. Even better than that: we are a group of like-hearted people. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. John Wesley reminds us that we need not think alike to love alike. We share the same heart, which is so much better and more edifying than sharing the same mind. Make no mistake about it: this kind of loving, ideologically and theologically diverse community is what will save the world.
Perhaps most importantly of all, the church is the mission. You’ve joined these people on a mission to love the hell out of this world. Show up for it. Who was it that said that 90% of life was just showing up? Show up as often as you can, with your full self, blessed and broken. You will be better equipped to lead the love revolution with food for the spirit, with hands to hold, and with a whole lot of practice.
So beloved, take risks. Fear not. Wonder more. Recognize and tend the wound in others and in yourselves. Remember that we can do hard things together. Trust in the character and generosity of people, because often they rise to the occasion. Use this church as a training ground for God’s reign of Love on earth, and then go out and enact it in the world.
Love the way God loves you: which always means putting some serious skin in the game.
Welcome. We knew you as Beloved before you even arrived.
a sermon preached by Rev. Robin Bartlett
on Good Shepherd Sunday
April 22, 2018
at First Church in Sterling
sermons are meant to be seen/heard.
Please won’t you pray with me.
We know love by this: that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. (1 John 3: 16)
Valarie Kaur says that revolutionary love is defined by “seeing no stranger.” Jesus taught us to love in just that way. He defined love for us by boundary crossing—eating with the leper and the tax collector, giving the shunned and marginalized woman at the well something to drink, touching the untouchable, healing the sick, healing separation across religious difference, healing our separation from God. And finally by laying down his life: going to the cross to die, and forgiving the enemies who killed him with his last breaths.
So here’s how we can practice revolutionary love as Jesus taught us:
See no stranger, and lay down your life for one another. Every single other.
Easier said then done, right? We teach our kids “stranger danger”! And of course we want to safeguard our community from people who might wish us and our children harm. So we do CORI checks, and we make plans for vigilant door locking and disruptive persons policies. We are terrified to lay down our lives….even sometimes for the people we love, much less for people we don’t know.
Love as Jesus taught is simply not safe or easy. And, man, that stinks because we so desperately want to be safe and easy. Sometimes, revolutionary Love is uncomfortable at best, and dangerous at worst.
But Love also makes us brave.
On Wednesday, we gathered at Eat Pray Learn with 70 other people from inside and outside the church, led by our own beloved and brilliant Peder Pedersen on the moral crisis of climate-change.
There was one man at the gathering from outside the church community who kind of caught your pastors off guard, because he was proudly and vocally against the premise of the presentation. He may have come just to be a gadfly. As a result, it was one of the more contentious discussions we have had at Eat Pray Learn in polite New England. I mean, we had less contentious discussions on Islam and race and being gay and Christian! Seriously!
So Megan and I were kind of anxious.
Valarie Kaur said at the Revolutionary love conference we went to two weeks ago that you and I need to learn how to orient ourselves to the stranger as “a piece of me I do not yet know.”
That’s exactly how a group of our folks oriented themselves to this man who was disagreeing with the content of the presentation. In essence, a group of our church members walked right up to him at the end and said, “Hi! You must be a piece of me I do not yet know!”
And then they invited the man to church. When he looked surprised and skeptical and said he was “agnostic”, they said, “GREAT!”
Charlie Gray told him a story that he has told us before:
“This congregation has conservatives and liberals in it, believers and non-believers, people who believe climate change is real and those who don’t, and it’s great! We love each other! Last year, when I was still deciding whether to become a member of this church even though I’m an atheist, I realized that the church had changed me. And then I hugged a Republican, and I liked it!”
The man visiting us just looked confused. But we all beamed with pride, and nodded at each other vigorously. (We are kind of weird, let’s be honest.)
But, we know love by this.
I have a confession to make before you and God. I have been a bad liberal, and I humbly repent.
I watched the Roseanne Show on Friday. For those of you who don’t know, there was a lot of left-y backlash and calls for boycotts—particularly by my clergy colleagues—of the new Roseanne show because Roseanne Barr supports Trump. Also people just plain hate Roseanne universally, across the political spectrum. She’s a divisive character, to be sure.
All that backlash made me want to watch it!
I found the show purely heartwarming. Partly because I absolutely ADORED the original Roseanne. But also because it reminds me of us, the people who give me hope when hope is hard to find. The people who I now call home. The people here in Sterling who in so many ways remind me of my childhood home in New Hampshire. The people here in this congregation who remind me of my home in God.
On the show re-boot, Roseanne and her sister are fighting each other. Roseanne voted for Trump because of the economy and because he “tells it like it is.” Her sister Jackie voted for Jill Stein and feels bad about it, so she walks around wearing a pink hat and a “nasty woman” t-shirt.
The two stopped talking to each other for a year after the election. They come back together in the first episode because of their shared love of Roseanne’s children and grandchildren, who have just come home to live with Roseanne and her husband Dan, trying to scrape together money to pay the bills. The grandchildren include a surly teenager, a gender-non-conforming 9 year old boy, and a black girl, all beloved.
The first episode features all of them around the table, the sisters finally reunited. Roseanne says grace, thanking God that her son DJ came home safe from the war in Syria, and that they are all together, and for God’s love. They all bow their heads more deeply in reverent agreement, tears in all of their eyes. And then Roseanne looks at her sister Jackie pointedly and thanks God for MAKING AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, amen, and the fight starts all over again.
It’s what Thanksgiving 2016 looked like at every dining room table in America!
Perhaps most poignant to me was the grandfather, Dan, obviously failing to understand his gender non-conforming grandson’s desire to wear sparkly dresses and make up, but giving him a knife for protection because he loves him so much he wants him to survive at his new rural school.
I laughed and wept, because I see US. I see us: our people who share a love of our collective children. Our people who don’t necessarily understand each other yet, but listen so that we might one day not just accept but AFFIRM one another. We who do the hard work of trying to see one another as a piece of ourselves.
I see us: our folks wearing pink hats and nasty woman t-shirts on our way to the women's march and high-fiving our Trump voters on the way out the door.
“Did you do some rabble-rousing, or what?“ one of our conservatives asked me when I came back “home” after that march was over, wearing a pink hat made for me by another one of our beloved congregants. He even looked somewhat proud, because he and I both know we are one. I know he is a piece of me. He knows I’m a piece of him. He thinks I’m misguided, but loves me anyway. I KNOW he is misguided, but I love him anyway. We share the same children, and we love the same community.
We know love by this.
John the Evangelist says in his first letter: we know love by this: that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for one another.
John asks: How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?
This epistle was written probably in Ephesus, around AD 95-110. The work was written to counter docetism, which is the belief that Jesus did not come “in the flesh”, but only as a spirit.
The letters detail how Christians are to discern true teachers: by their ethics, and their LOVE, not just by their beliefs. In other words, if the word doesn’t become flesh, its not God’s word. If a teacher doesn’t ENACT love, they are a false prophet. They are not the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd doesn’t just talk about Love, he lays down his life for his flock.
The story of God is the story of what we say becoming WHAT WE DO. The story of God is the story of God’s WORD wearing skin and moving into the neighborhood to teach us something about what revolutionary love LOOKS LIKE FEELS LIKE SOUNDS LIKE SMELLS LIKE TASTES LIKE. Love with skin on. The One who saw no stranger taught us with his real human body what it meant to recognize one another as a piece of ourselves.
We know love by this.
There are people here that preach this scripture every day with their LIVES so much better than I ever could with my words.
Today we celebrate our congregation’s caring ministries. Today we celebrate how God’s love abides in this church. Love with skin on.
Today we celebrate the good work of the called to care team: people who see their brothers and sisters’ need, who shut up and listen, who show up and hold a hand. Love with skin on.
Today we lift up the good work of the diaconate and the caregivers. We honor the simple act of looking into the eyes of hungry people coming to a table of hope and saying each person’s name: “Jon, this is the bread of life for YOU. This is the cup of salvation, poured out for YOU.” Love with skin on.
Today we lift up the good work of the diaconate who see brothers and sisters in need in our community and write checks for rent and food and gas and oil, and don’t ask questions. Love with skin on.
Today we celebrate our meal givers: people who see a brother and a sister in need and help them to taste and see that the Lord is good. Love with skin on.
Today we lift up the people of our church who hear about a hospital stay or a special birthday or a new baby or a death, and send a card so that we can feel how seen and known and loved we are. Love with skin on.
We know love by this.
Valarie Kaur taught us at the revolutionary love conference that the birthplace of empathy is wonder.
She acknowledged that we are programmed evolutionarily to fear one another and to keep ourselves safe. We can’t help it. We’re only human, and our brains our made this way.
When we see someone walking down the street that looks different or strange, we can’t stop ourselves from the immediate unease that comes when we encounter difference. We can’t rewire our brains to remove the fight or flight response.
But we can choose what our next thought is. We can practice asking ourselves, “I wonder if they have children. I wonder what they are having for dinner tonight. I wonder why he looks like a boy and he wants to wear a sparkly skirt. I wonder what his religion teaches him about love. I wonder what keeps her awake at night.”
Just by wondering about those we have not yet wondered about, we are able to see the wound that needs tending, Kaur says.
So my dear friends if you seek to follow the One who teaches us to see no stranger, wonder more.
Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God; and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him.
And this is his commandment, that we should believe in REVOLUTIONARY LOVE and love one another, just as he has commanded us.
Bless all of you who tend to the wound in yourselves and the wound in others, who love one another just as God has commanded us. Thank you for showing us the way to be brave; the way to wonder; the way to be God with skin on.
We know love by this.
A Sermon preached on Easter Sunday, April 1, 2018
by Rev. Robin Bartlett
at First Church in Sterling, MA
Sermons are better heard.
I know what some of you are thinking. “Oh boy. It’s Easter Sunday and this well-meaning and extremely charming preacher is about to tell me a complete fabrication of unlikely events; an ancient fairy tale. She can’t possibly believe something that defies science and logic. Besides, I only came this morning because my mom made me come and I wanted an excuse to wear this beautiful pastel dress before I binge on Cadbury mini eggs and wine. No matter what this obviously wicked smart and humble preacher has to say, I know this is true: the dead don’t rise.”
Well, you’re right. I’m here to disabuse you of that notion. The dead do indeed rise.
And you, too, will rise again.
What if I told you that the Easter story is as much about Mary Magdalene’s rising as it is about Jesus’? Mary, whose dream for the world just died inside of her when her savior was crucified; Mary, whose darkest night ended with her getting up again?
Jesus’ disciples had spent the night before in the upper room hiding and grieving; the dream they had inside of them crushed. They mourned with the keening wails of a mother crying for her dead son at the foot of the cross: the wailing of a mother who watched her son suffer, and knows she cannot live in this cruel world without her baby boy in it. “I died the day she died,” someone said to me once about losing her child. The disciples died that day with Jesus.
They were also scared. That week they saw how Jesus’ ministry attracted attention. They saw how the power of love threatened those who love power. Jesus gave poor people reason to believe they had as much worth as everyone else. People who know their value aren’t easily controlled. People who see themselves as worthy of love and justice are a threat to “politics as usual.” People like that can unite to overthrow the reign of kings and tyrannical rich autocrats and congress and religious leaders.
The message the disciples heard loud and clear from the empire on Friday was: the Love of God is not as powerful as you think it is. They saw their savior mocked and laughed at and spit on and tortured and killed by those who wished to quell the insurrection that gave the hopeless reason to hope. They watched him beg for God’s mercy, cry out in thirst, forgive them, and breathe his last gasping breath. They watched the oppressors hide his radiance in the cold dark tomb. And with that, the empire managed to crush the spirits of his followers. Their hope was locked in the tomb with him.
And so their mourning the night before wasn’t just mourning for a friend. It was the deep mourning that occurs when faith, hope and love dies. It was the mourning of people who believe they will no longer be saved; the mourning of people who believe that our brokenness will never heal. He was supposed to wipe away all tears from their faces and swallow up death forever. Instead, he, died and left them alone.
Yet, the women knew that they had no choice but to rise again that morning anyway. After all, someone had to make the casserole to bring to the wake! The men certainly weren’t going to!
In the words of Orion Mountain Dreamer’s poem,
“It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done to feed the children.”
Mary Magdalene got up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and did what needed to be done. She brought Mary the mother of James and Salome along with her to the tomb. Her heart was shattered, and yet she picked up the broken pieces and rose.
They didn’t go there to witness a miracle. Quite the opposite. They went to do the ordinary stuff we do when someone dies, even in the midst of impossible, breath-stealing grief. We gather the documents, we call the social security office, identify the body at the morgue, go to the funeral home to purchase a headstone, we figure out the tax information and the life insurance policy, pay bills. We rise and we do what needs to be done.
Likewise, these women traveled to their friend’s tomb to anoint the body with spices, so it wouldn’t smell. “Who will roll away the stone?” They sighed, because no one wants that job, and still someone would have to do it.
But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away.
And they peered inside, expecting to see a dead body. After all, the dead don’t rise! The dead just lie there, rotting from the inside: until the finality of death begins to fill up our noses with decay.
What they saw instead was an empty tomb.
“He is raised, he is not here,” a young man dressed in white sitting on the right side said to them. The women were “alarmed,” the text says. The women were “terrified” and “amazed.” Of course they were. The dead don’t rise.
But he wasn’t there. The body was gone, and the man said that he had risen.
God’s ultimate April Fool’s joke: Ha! Why are you looking for the living God among the dead? I have risen!
That wasn’t the punchline the women were expecting.
The women didn’t know when they got up that morning that even though they tried to bury him, his Love was a seed. He taunted his oppressors as his last act of defiance, by rising victorious from the grave, planting his Love in the disciples and watching it grow.
You see, this isn’t just the story of God’s rising. It is the story of our rising.
I’m going to be honest: our text from Mark isn’t my favorite story about the resurrection. It is the most anti-climactic of all of the Gospel accounts. It’s the shortest. It doesn’t have as much of a plot. There are two women, not three. Yes, the stone is rolled away, Jesus is not there, and some sort of angel talks to them.
But Jesus doesn’t appear to them, dirt under his fingernails, gardening like he does in the Gospel of John. And in this account, both women leave almost as soon as they get there, too scared to even tell anyone. They don’t run to tell the others, breathless; the first preachers of the good news. The women simply bear witness, get scared, and in their terror, don’t know what to do next.
Our rising is like that too, sometimes. It is not always ecstatic, dramatic and triumphant. Our rising is often confusing, anti-climactic, terrifying, and hidden.
Our rising may just look like getting out of bed despite a broken heart and doing what needs to be done for the children. It may just look like one more day of not drinking, or one more hour digging our nails into our palm to keep from losing it. It may look like shopping for a pretty head scarf to cover our bald head even though we are weak and tired from chemo. It may look like going on that first awkward OK Cupid date after the divorce papers are filed. It may look like continuing to take the anti-depressants, hoping some day they’ll kick in. It may look like showing up in public every once in awhile even though we don’t want to; even though we are still mourning all that we have lost. It may simply be stopping to notice that a broken heart can go on beating.
In the apocryphal gnostic gospel of Mary Magdalene, thought to be written in the fifth century, it says this:
His students grieved and mourned greatly saying:
How are we to go into the rest of the world proclaiming the Good News about the Son of Humanity’s Realm? If they did not spare him, how will they ever leave us alone?
Mary arose, then, embracing them all and began to address them as her brothers and sisters saying:
Do not weep and grieve nor let your hearts remain in doubt, for his grace will be with all of you, sustaining and protecting you. Rather, let us give praise to his greatness which has prepared us so that we might become fully human.
Mary arose. And do not let your hearts remain in doubt:
We too will rise again. We are the resurrection.
So beloved, get up out of your graves.
Get up out of the tomb of despair, anger, self-doubt, self-hate, illness, fear, addiction, death, mourning, sin, separation, loneliness and isolation, broken relationships, and depression…
Roll away the stone and rise again!
We are becoming fully human by his greatness, so rise again.
God still has more to do with us, so rise again.
Our current predicaments don’t exempt us from our purpose, so rise again.
A broken heart still beats, so rise again.
We’re not alone, so rise again.
This country is a HOT MESS right now so please rise again!
The people united in God’s love can never be defeated, so rise again.
We can do hard things, so rise again!
Hell is here on this earth, and every last person deserves to be pulled out of it, so reach out your hand and rise again!
Heaven is here on this earth too, so don’t just sit there waiting for it to manifest itself, rise again!
The power of Love will overcome the love of power, so rise again!
Healed people heal people, so rise again!
When hopeless people start hoping, empire is destroyed, so rise again!
There is no time but now, no people but us, and no way of changing the world without turning toward each other, so rise again!
Happy Easter, and amen.
Rev. Robin Bartlett is the Senior Pastor at the First Church in Sterling, Massachusetts. www.fcsterling.org