The first mountain: Remember who you are

The first mountain: Remember who you are

While the Gospel of Mark is about the desert, Matthew is the Gospel of mountains.[1] There are five mountains in the Gospel. And during five Sundays in Lent, we will visit each of the mountains Jesus visits on his journey to the cross:

The Mount of Temptation, The Mount of the Beatitudes/Sermon on the Mount, the Mount of the Feeding, the Mount of Transfiguration, and the Mount of Olives. And from each visit to a mountain, and based on the Gospel reading for the day, we will conclude with a guiding principle—a tip for the journey ahead.

On the mountain (photo by M. Malina on Hurricane Ridge looking at Mount Olympus, WA, 12 August 2022)

The first mountain we visit in Lent is the Mount of Temptation. And the biggest temptations Jesus faced were to believe lies about who he was. 

The Gospel reading for today[1] describes Jesus’ forty days in his wilderness journey. And in the desert Jesus encountered the father of all lies, the devil, who tempted him. The devil tempted Jesus not to believe in what God told him at his baptism, which happened right before he went off into the desert. At Jesus’ baptism, God said: “This is my Son, the beloved, with whom I am well-pleased.”[2]

In three different ways, Jesus was tempted by the devil to believe lies that undermined the truth of his identity—who he was. What are these lies? First, Jesus is tempted to prove his identity only if he changes a stone to bread. In other words, he is defined by what he does. The first lie.

Second, Jesus must verify what was said about him in the scriptures; he is defined by what others say about him. The second lie.

And third, the devil takes him to the highest mountain—the mount of temptation—to show him all the kingdoms of the world to tempt Jesus into believing he is who he is only by having it all! The third lie.[3]

Three lies. And three holy responses:

The truth Jesus needed to affirm in his life to thwart the devil’s temptations was that: First, Jesus belonged to God already, before doing anything. God’s love for Jesus happened before his ministry and purpose on earth was achieved. Second, God’s love for Jesus needed no verification by others; it requires no test. And third, God’s pleasure and favour did not depend on how much power or riches he had.

These temptations are also aimed at each one of us. In our day and age, we are tempted by these lies: First, we are what we do; we have value only by our achievements, success, and accomplishments. Our value stems from our action, a belief which results in always running from pillar-to-post, over-working, active all the time. Lie number one. 

Second, we succumb to believing we are what others say about us. In the early part of our lives, it’s important to listen to and imitate even those whom we admire and love. It’s how we start developing our personalities. But eventually, we must also strike our own course and be who we are without always responding in order to please others. We make decisions according to our own conscience and not according to what others would have us do. In the end we are not what others say about us. Lie number two. 

Finally, we are told the lie that are what we have. And it’s not just how much stuff we have, or what neighbourhood we live in as a sign of who we are. It’s also how much we know. Knowledge. Information. I can only be me if I have all the right ideas, or enough information. Lie number three.

Each of these lies if we pursue them without reflection and self-awareness can take us far off course; they can distract us and negatively affect our relationships to the point of not knowing who we are, with disastrous results.

And so, on this First Sunday in Lent, the first ‘tip’ for the journey is: Remember who you are.

The story is told of how little, first-born Joshua reacted to having a new baby sister. 

“Be careful,” was Mom’s advice to Joshua, “she’s just a few days old and we can’t be rough with her.” She repeated this instruction often those first days.

Late one night Mom and Dad heard footsteps down the hallway and into the nursery. Dad was on duty, so he quickly got out of bed and followed Joshua into his sister’s room. When he poked his head to see what Joshua was up to, Dad was a little startled:

Joshua was practically inside the crib with little baby sister, his body hanging over the railing and his legs dangling over the top.

“Joshua! What are you doing?!” whispered Dad as loudly as a whisper can be. “Don’t wake up your sister!”

“Shhhh!” Joshua replied, “I am listening to what my baby sister remembers about God.”

This story about children is about remembering. Remembering God. Remembering that we come from God. Maybe we need to be like children our whole life long when it comes to having confidence in our identity and remembering to whom we belong.

Remember who you are. In Christ.

You are not what you do. You are not what others say about you. You are not what you have. If you’re not these three things, who are you? 

You are a beloved child of God. You have worth and value before you do anything. You need not prove your worth by what you do or don’t do. Just as you are, you are loved. You, like everyone else, are a human being not a human doing. You can stop, rest. It’s ok. Leo Tolstoy gave some great advice for the action-oriented among us: “In the name of God, stop a moment, close your work, look around you.”[4]

Moreover, you are a beloved child of God, not the product of someone else’s wishes for you. You are beloved in your own right, on your own two feet, in your own good mind and heart. You are uniquely created, fashioned in God’s eye before you were born. You are like no other on this planet since the beginning of time and forever more. You make a unique contribution by who you are. Don’t take to heart what others say about you, good or bad. Because what they say is not the whole truth about you. Be yourself.

And finally, you are a beloved child of God, not because of the size of your financial portfolio and not because you have all the right ideas. But because your heart beats and you breathe the air that everyone else breathes on earth. You have value even without anything anyone may acquire in life.

On this first leg in our Lenten journey, remember who you are. Because when we know that we are unconditionally loved, we can love others in kind, without placing false expectations on them:

We make our love not dependent on what they do or don’t do for us. We make our love not conditional on what they have. And we love others not based on their reputation, pedigree or good word in the gossip circles.

Imagine a world where all of us remembered who we truly are in the unconditional love of God!

[1] Belden C. Lane, Desert Spirituality and Cultural Resistance; From Ancient Monks to Mountain Refugees (Canadian Mennonite University Press, 2011), p.22.

[2] First Sunday in Lent, Matthew 4:1-11, Year A (Revised Common Lectionary).

[3] Matthew 3:17

[4] Christopher L. Heuertz, The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth (Michigan: Zondervan, 2017), p.185-190.

[5] Cited in Daily Prayer for All Seasons (New York: Church Publishing, 2014), p.49.

Be Real

Read Matthew 6:1-6,16-21

Burning the palms for Ash Wednesday (photo by Martin Malina 20 February 2023)

A year ago, my niece introduced a new social media app called BeReal to our teenaged daughter. How it works: BeReal sends a notification to you only once a day with a three-minute deadline to photograph whatever you’re doing in that moment. And then you need to post it to your online community. The thing is, you don’t know when that notification will arrive. The initial appeal was to show to the world only an ordinary, real—not staged—part of yourself and your life.

But, after being on the market almost a couple of years now, BeReal has declined sharply. Usage is down a whopping 95% from its peak last summer. Other apps have tried a similar approach and have also failed.[1]

The appeal of BeReal was its authenticity. It tried to counter what other apps such as Facebook, Instagram and SnapChat tend to create in the social media world: users showing only the best version of themselves. What BeReal wanted to do was address an unfortunate consequence of social media usage in general, a condition known as FOMO: the fear of missing out, because viewers only see the best in other people’s lives. And because they aren’t experiencing the same, many believe their lives aren’t as satisfying or as good.

The source of the problem is that people want to showcase only snapshots of their lives of which they are proud: places they visit on vacation, highlights of their day, venues they attend with others at restaurants and sporting events, selfies with celebrities, sayings and rants they want to publicize to ‘get a response’. These are the parts of ourselves we wish to show to the world. We want others to see how impressive we can be. Basically, bragging, showing off. 

We say we like authentic people but want only to show ‘the best’ of ourselves to the world. That is the deeper issue here.

Faithfulness to the Lenten journey counteracts this tendency in us. And it has a staying power unlike BeReal. The church has observed Lent for almost two thousand years. It is a healthy spiritual observance to temper these natural human tendencies in us all. 

Not to feel bad about ourselves. Not to believe we are unworthy. I’m not advocating putting oneself down, nor am I promoting self-renunciation. What I’m driving at is genuine humility, self-discipline, and unbounded love.

Lent starts on Ash Wednesday. We wear ashes on our foreheads. The ashes represent our mortality, our humanness. Wearing ashes does not symbolize the impressive part of ourselves. Do we have the nerve to resist wiping off the ash from our foreheads the moment we leave the church building? And keep it on as we stop at the grocery store or grab a bite to eat at a local restaurant on our way home from church?

Authenticity is finding the balance between the joy we have in believing that there is a glorious destination for our faith, on the one hand. And on the other hand, engaging the reality of the cross in our lives.

There is no spiritual bypass to get to that joy, that hope, that destination we seek. There is only the way through the wilderness, as Jesus led the way for us. Staying true to the path in the wilderness requires from us an active engagement with the world as it is, not as we want it to be. As is.

Lent invites us to engage the truth of our humanity. And this difficult journey—within ourselves and with others—calls us to be intentional, proactive and disciplined on this journey. No bypass. As Jesus went, so we must follow.

If you object, saying you don’t venture onto social media nor use it at all, I have observed a similar dynamic in the tradition of wearing your “Sunday best” to weekly worship. While there may be some benefit, spiritually, to ‘cleaning up’ once a week, this strategy fails as soon as we lay judgement on others who don’t dress up for church. Thankfully we’re past that time when it was a big deal.

Perhaps at the start of this journey, each of us can take stock in areas of our own lives where we tend to present only the best version of ourselves. And it’s hard, especially in the church, to show our real selves—to be real—which includes being open about our own vulnerabilities. But when we are, we receive a great gift from others – the grace, acceptance, and love of Christ. And it may even come as a surprise! And when we least expect it!

Lent invites us to spend the next forty days to explore this tension between the hope we have, and the real journey through the cross of Christ.

[1] @SashaKaletsky (twitter), February 8, 2023.

Little deaths

Stepping through? (photo by Martin Malina, Arnprior Grove 12 Feb 2023)

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil, for Thou art with me…”[1]

9As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”[2]

Today we stand on the mountaintop with Jesus and his disciples. We scan the horizon and see other mountains in the distance. There, on another mountain far away, lies our destination. And we realize that the journey to get there will be long and hard.

It begins the moment we step off this mountain. It begins as all holy journeys do, by a path of descent.

We begin Lent in a few days. Lent is the season of ‘descending’ because it is not easy going down the mountain. It’s harder on your body going down than it is going up. And Lent traditionally is the season of learning the faith. But the journey we take necessarily involves an unlearning of sorts, before the real learning takes place. It’s a bit of a paradox: That in order to find life, you first have to deconstruct something that has been entrenched, lose it. Jesus himself says, “Those who lose their life for my sake will find it.”[3]

Physical death is the ultimate low point in that paradox. But throughout our earthly lives, we experience ‘little deaths’ – losses, changes, ego-humbling events. Life is ‘done unto us’ through suffering that invites us to unlearn something we’ve held on to deeply for a long time. In those deaths, we are invited to respond and move towards new life. Because the low point is also the turning point, when the path begins to ascend.

But we’re not there yet! Today we stand on the mountaintop. Before Lent starts, before the journey through the valley of the shadow of death begins, the disciples experience glory on the mount of transfiguration. They see Jesus in a way no other human beings have. This is the stuff of legend. You’d think they should run down that mountain and shout what they have witnessed from the roof tops!

But Jesus calls them not to tell anyone just yet. He tells them not to respond impulsively, according to their human inclination. Jesus is asking them to hold themselves back, keep it to themselves, not to tell your friends, not to publicize the spectacle of glory they had just witnessed.

We’ve devised all sorts of interpretations around this strange instruction: The time was not right, Jesus still had to accomplish a few more things before letting the cat out of the bag, so to speak. For Lutherans, it’s the cross. Jesus had not yet made that final journey to death, and resurrection.

But have we given enough thought to what effect this instruction had on the disciples themselves in that moment. The disciples, like all human beings, are not robots. We can’t just blindly obey without feeling anything. Faith and discipleship are not a switch we turn off and on heartlessly, coldly. It would have been painful to obey this instruction to keep a lid on it. You experience something great and wonderful, and you want to tell everyone about it! Right away!

What would a child do in a playroom with all sorts of intriguing, colorful toys and things to do? And you tell them: You can play with all the toys in this room for however long you want to play with them. But, there is one thing you are not allowed to do: You cannot for any reason look behind that small cupboard door. Well, what do you think that child will do when the adult is not looking?

A child might be a slave to compulsion. But maturing people of faith who have gone through many a valley and who are practised at letting go will grow from that childish way. Maybe never fully, but that is the trajectory of growth. We will learn to manage those impulses, however imperfectly. And we will obey, not blindly and not just because “I was told”. We will obey because we trust the promise and the experience that something good and healthy comes out of not always caving into compulsion.

That is the journey of Lent, of learning. Of first doing without in order to receive the better. First comes the path of descent, the letting go. But truly let go. Then the wilderness of the in-between time, the valley. Then, finally, the blessing, the resurrection, the promise fulfilled.

There are stories from the bible we normally read during the season after Epiphany which concludes today. But this year, because we are in a different lectionary year, we did not hear the story of Jesus turning water into wine at Cana during a wedding.[4] So I’d like to briefly comment on this today before we launch down the mountain into Lent.

At the end of this story, the Gospel writer concludes that “in Cana of Galilee [Jesus] revealed his glory.” And I suspect most of us interpret ‘glory’ here to mean that something spectacular and miraculous happened. Yes, it did. I’m not denying the miracle of changing water into wine. But before we run away with some theology of glory removed from the reality of life, we need to recall the context of the telling of this story—the reason Jesus stepped in, in the first place.

“When the wine gave out” and “They had no wine”, the wedding party had a problem. They were left bereft, lacking something they had considered essential to their party. They faced the abyss of panic and desperation of loss. What will they do now that they had none? That’s when Jesus acts.

Before we can talk about the glory of God, we need to understand that the promise fulfilled, the blessing given, the grace of God comes only after the loss, the letting go, admitting the mistake, embracing the suffering of doing without. 

The limitation and ‘little death’ happen first. The Winter comes before the Spring. The dark night of the soul yields the beauty and grace of dawn. You can’t talk about God’s glory without also mentioning in the same breath what was lost. You can’t find unless you lose. God’s glory is revealed in human weakness[5], emphasis on ‘in’.

There is no bypass on this journey. We are not superman who can jump from one mountaintop to the next. You see what I’m getting at? The glory of God only makes sense in the light of the Cross of Christ. 

“Jesus is a person and, at the same time, a process. Jesus is the Son of God, but at the same time he is the way. Jesus is the goal, but he’s also the means, and the means is always the way of the cross …. The cross is the pattern of life and a path for our own liberation.”[6]

This is the journey of Lent ahead. We stand on precipice now, looking down into the valley, seeing the winding road we must travel to get to the next hilltop. The journey is long and arduous. But Christ goes with us. We won’t get lost because the One who goes with us knows the way. And he will help us.

[1] Psalm 23, KJV

[2] Gospel reading for the Transfiguration of our Lord, Year A, RCL; Matthew 17:9

[3] Matthew 10:39

[4] John 2:1-11

[5] 1 Corinthians 1:17-31

[6] Richard Rohr, “Following Jesus’ Way” The Way of Jesus (Daily Meditations,, 19 Feb 2023).

Stone-picking and Pineapple Love

A Labour of Love (photo of our pineapple plant by Martin Malina 8 Feb 2023)

6I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labor of each. 9For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field …”[1]

Tuesday is Valentine’s Day. So let me begin by talking about what Jessica loves. I believe she loves me, yes. But she also loves pineapples.

Yes, pineapples. Almost ten years ago, for a classroom experiment (but also because she loves pineapples), Jessica cut off the head of a pineapple—the part with the green stalk coming out from the top. For a week or so she left the top part sitting in a bowl of water until some tiny roots emerged. Then she planted it in a pot of earth. And left it.

At the start of the pandemic almost three years ago, she brought the plant home from the classroom. I was shocked to see that a woody stem had grown about two feet tall. But it needed to be supported by a stick to which it was tied. Otherwise, it would fall over. On top of the stem was a tuft of green leaves. And there were some leaves grouped together at the bottom near the earth. Kind of ugly.

Over the summer months we kept it inside, watered it and cared for it the best way we could. But nothing happened. It didn’t die. But it also did absolutely nothing. It didn’t grow more leaves or taller. 

So, without doing any research whatsoever I acted on my green thumb intuition. Big risk! I pruned it. I cut it off down to that bottom growth. And then continued watering it, keeping it by a sunny window and watching it grow over the past few years.

Then, I did the research, a little bit anyway. I learned that pineapples don’t actually grow on trees. They’re grown from the center of a leafy plant. The conditions for growing pineapples must be ‘just right’. Growing pineapples is a complex process and therefore most of it is done by hand. It is labour intensive, since there needs to be a high percentage of sunny days with temperatures between 18 and 35 degrees Celsius. If it’s too cool the taste will be sour. If it’s too hot, they’ll be extra sweet. They grow best in sandy, loamy soil. 

And those conditions are not perfectly met in our home. It’s now been at least a decade since Jessica started her experiment. And, while there is sign of life and growth in this journey, we still haven’t harvested our first pineapple from this plant.

Saint Paul writes in today’s Epistle reading that “God gives the growth”, and uses an organic, natural analogy to make the point that spiritual maturity and growth in Christ take time. Just like it takes a long time to grow anything—a tree, a plant—so, too, growing in faith is a process. It requires the long view.

Even if all the rules are followed, growing ‘by the law’ does not guarantee fulfillment in faith. Loving something cannot be done ‘by the book’, because it will be by nature an imperfect effort. In fact, I don’t believe we will ever harvest a single pineapple from our plant. But we continue labouring anyway, and we stick to it because love comes from the heart. And, you never know …

Paul concludes his sermon by telling the church in Corinth that “you are God’s field.” In the bible, we are called many things: sheep, Christ’s body, children of God. But here we find an interesting analogy: God’s field. We are the ground in which God’s plants are watered and nourished, and out of which grow the fruit of God’s purpose.

We are the field. In my first parish which was in the middle of southern Ontario farmland near Stratford, Jessica and I once visited friends on their farm in the Springtime. On a relatively dry day, we spent an afternoon walking on the fields which would be planted soon with soybean seeds. 

We picked stones. The frost of the winter brought to the surface rocks and stones. Farmers will sometimes go through their fields in Spring and remove the stones which they then pile along fence lines and corners of their properties.

Stone-picking is an arduous and painstaking task. You basically wander across the expanse of the field picking up the rocks into pails which when filled you need to dump along the side of fence. And go back and fill another pail. Talk about commitment to your land! It’s a work of love.

This is God’s work. God wanders through the wasteland of our lives, painstakingly picking up the rocks, pulling them from our “hearts of stone”. We are the field. God is the stone-picker. God is faithful, combing through the nether regions of our lives, working the field, year after year. Year after year.

It’s a process. Growth takes time, maybe even a lifetime. But God’s love and faithfulness never fail. God never fails at doing His part: forgiving us when we make mistakes—when we judge others, when we fail in our relationships, when we can’t love for whatever reasons.

God continues His work, turning the soil of our lives, showing mercy, being faithful, envisioning, and growing us to, the life we can have and will one day have, bearing abundant fruit.

[1] 1 Corinthians 3:6-9

Practising mercy

audio for sermon ‘Practising mercy’ by Martin Malina
Candlemas (photo by Martin Malina 2 Feb 2023)

If you offer your food to the hungry
  and satisfy the needs of the afflicted …[1]

I stopped at the pronoun “your”. Your food. Not someone else’s. The food you had set aside for yourself. That is the food you give to the hungry. Feeding the hungry is about recognizing and acknowledging what we have first received.

I know a couple of households on our street—families with children. The moms got to know each other and have had a friendship defined by their helping each other out.

For example, just as breakfast plans were underway early in the morning one of these moms would run out of milk or eggs, essential items in anyone’s fridge. But they would simply run across the street to ‘borrow’ a couple of eggs or half a carton of milk. 

I wonder how much of that happens anymore. Not just to those two, but in general. Relying on a neighbour for help. Feeling confident in crossing the street, knocking on the door, and asking: “Can I borrow a couple eggs?” 

The pandemic certainly magnified this cultural trend underscoring a belief in self-reliance. Hoarding toilet paper. Doing it on my own time and whenever I want to do it. Using my own resources to make it through life. Survival of the fittest—the smartest, the opportunist, looking out for one’s own.

We’ve truly become a society in which relying on a neighbour’s help is not in vogue. It makes us vulnerable. It puts us in someone else’s debt, and we don’t like that. It shows weakness. Lack of personal organization. Not the qualities we seek in a me-first, success-oriented culture.

In the Psalm for today,[2] we read that the righteous are merciful and full of compassion. Merciful. What does it mean to be merciful?

One meaning of mercy is to “provide relief”[3].  When you provide relief for someone, you’re not necessarily solving the bigger problem for them. You are not counting the cost nor expecting to change the world. You are just in the moment with them. You are simply being merciful, cultivating compassion, relieving the suffering a bit.

This year we left our Christmas Tree up until February 2nd. For a couple of reasons. For one, my brother, his wife and daughter visited us last week for dinner so we could finally celebrate Christmas together! But we also wanted to observe an old tradition in the church.

February 2nd is one of the most ancient Christian holy days — the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus — also called Candlemas.It commemorates the events in the Gospel of Luke when Joseph and Mary brought their newborn son to the Temple in Jerusalem. The purpose of the temple visit was Mary’s purification, a cleansing ritual forty days after the birth of a son. Upon arriving at the Temple, they encountered Simeon, an elderly blind prophet awaiting the Messiah. He took the child from them and proclaimed:

My eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
                                              a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.[4]

This event marks the final festival in the cycle of light. Weeks ago, Advent began with lighting candles in anticipation of Jesus’ birth. Christmas, then was accompanied by angelic beams on the family in a manger. Epiphany celebrated the star directing seekers to his birthplace. 

And, as the season following Epiphany unfolds, the light expands, inviting the first disciples to “come and see.”[5] The final movement in the arc of light is Candlemas, where the entire world is set ablaze with God’s manifestation of love. 

Christian feast days are, of course, theological. But they are laden with cultural meanings as well. In the Roman world, and in Europe where Christianity would flourish, early February was an important time in the cycle of seasons, as it is here in Canada. Candlemas falls halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox and is the time when many of Europe’s ancient tribal people believed the earth woke up to new life. It marked the season of lengthening days — and was associated with fertility, the lambing season, and the returning of light. 

The tradition of Candlemas came out of this intersection of the Jewish story of Mary’s purification and Jesus the Light with the primal seasonal celebrations of Mother Earth and brighter days ahead. Thus, on February 2nd, it became a practice that many Christians would bring candles to the church to be blessed — and then walk through towns or villages in candlelit processions.

The long weeks of winter candle festivals — from Advent to Christmas through Epiphany — end with us bearing light into the world. In a way, it all began so passively. Waiting for God to act, to birth peace and justice in the world. God did something for us, gave us a gift of life and light. 

And the cycle concludes with a remarkable challenge — words that millions of Christians today hear from the Gospel: You are the light of the world.[6]

Yes, God created the light. Jesus is light in the darkness. And yet we — fragile and flawed human beings — are the light of the world. Jesus says, “No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others.”[7] Just like your food, it’s your light.

We are the light. [8]

How do we be the light and show mercy? What is the quality of faith that starts this journey for us? One place is right here, at the Communion table.

We come to this point of the liturgy every Sunday with this posture and maybe these words in our hearts and minds: “Here is my offering. Take it. Use it. Transform it. Make it beautiful.”

And so, we gather together and bring the stuff of our lives. We bring to the table our gifts and place them in the offering plate. We also bring all those things that may remain unnamed: our fears, worries, mortality, even sickness. We bring our dreams and our wounds. We place all of that on the altar and ask Christ to take it. To change it and make it useable. To transform it into something that can reflect the life of Christ—his wholeness, his hope.

Then, once the prayers are said over the bread and wine, bread and wine that symbolize all our named and unnamed offerings, we receive it back again, transformed. We receive it as something that can infuse us with his very life. So, what’s broken in us can be restored. What’s not enough can become enough. Our wounds and fears can be transformed into gifts—gifts we can offer the world so those who are hungry can be fed. So those who are suffering can find relief.[9] Find mercy.

We are defined, then, not so much by what we do in our self-sufficiency culture. We are defined by what we first receive. 

I want to close with a prayer, which is a poem by Wendell Berry:

I know that I have life
only insofar as I have love.

I have no love
except it come from Thee.

Help me please to carry 
this candle against the wind.[10]

[1] Isaiah 58:10

[2] Psalm 112:4

[3] Kathie Goertz Thompson, “Faithful High Priest” in Eternity for Today (Winnipeg: ELCIC, 31 January 2023).

[4] Luke 2:30-32

[5] John 1:46

[6] Matthew 5:14

[7] Matthew 5:15-16

[8] Diana Butler Bass, “Candlelit Faith: An Ancient Tradition, Full of Meaning” in The Cottage (, 1 February 2023)

[9] Adam Bucko, Let Your Heartbreak Be Your Guide: Lessons in Engaged Contemplation (New York: Orbis Books, 2022), p.114-115.

[10] Cited in Diana Butler Bass, ibid.