Thursday, April 17, 2014

Noah take seven

6 At the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark that he had made 7 and sent out the raven; and it went to and fro until the waters were dried up from the earth. 8 Then he sent out the dove from him, to see if the waters had subsided from the face of the ground; 9 but the dove found no place to set its foot, and it returned to him to the ark, for the waters were still on the face of the whole earth. So he put out his hand and took it and brought it into the ark with him. 10 He waited another seven days, and again he sent out the dove from the ark; 11 and the dove came back to him in the evening, and there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf; so Noah knew that the waters had subsided from the earth. 12 Then he waited another seven days, and sent out the dove; and it did not return to him any more.

20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21 And when the Lord smelled the pleasing odor, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of humankind, for the inclination of the human heart is evil from youth; nor will I ever again destroy every living creature as I have done."

So, when all is said and done, what is the bottom line or take away message of Noah's Ark?  I am not sure I can answer that question in short, succinct way. I think there are a few important ideas that are roaming around my mind as we close off this series of blog posts.

1).  Noah's persistence and patience ~ When I think about what Noah went through: the people who thought he was crazy or the people who wanted to come into the ark and he would not allow, it causes me to think about my own relationships.  I think about people who say hurtful things or people who I have said hurtful things to.  Human relationships are messy.  Sometimes what creates the mess is that we need to do something that we feel compelled to do and others don't understand...or vice versa.  Our relationships at once are the most incredible blessing, but sometimes the ties that bind rub us the wrong way.  Noah was given a task to do, he did so with a great deal of prayer, persistence and patience.  Even when the dove came back empty footed, Noah kept on keeping on.  I guess he had no other choice.  But still, how many of us lose heart after a few days (or minutes) when God does not respond to our prayerful requests on our time table?  Yet, this message of God's time and our time is an important one, especially in Genesis.  God promises Abram and Sarai (their original names) a child...then it takes a loooooooong time for Isaac to be born.  Joseph dreams a dream and it takes a looooooooong time for those dreams to come true.  For so many people in Genesis, things don't happen at the pace of twitter...they happen at a snail's pace.  Noah kicks off this important theme and one I think we need to hear, especially in the forty days of Lent.

2).  God is willing to change God's mind.  We get to the end of Noah's ark and God essentially says, "Perhaps that was not the best decision I made."  We don't like to think of God changing God's mind.  We like God to be confident and certain all the time.  But if relationships matter to God and humans are as fickle as we know we can be...then over the course of time it means our choices will influence God and even change what God might do or where God might nudge us to go.  I think this is vital today.  The Noah narrative points to an important tenant of Process Theology, which essentially says our temporal or human actions can impact God.  While the church has not always talked about this, we know this to be true about relationships in general.  If my wife says something that tickles my funny bone, I laugh.  If she says something that hurts, I cry.  Why would we think our relationship with God is less dynamic and changing than our human relationships?  The ending of Noah gives some support to this understanding.

Finally, one of the members at the church sent me a top eleven lessons for Noah's Ark and it is a fitting end to these posts:

ONE: Don't miss the boat.
TWO: Remember that we are all in the same boat!
THREE: Plan ahead. It wasn't raining when Noah built the Ark .
FOUR: Stay fit. When you're 60 years old, someone may ask you to do something really big.
FIVE: Don't listen to critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done.
SIX: Build your future on high ground.
SEVEN: For safety's sake, travel in pairs.
EIGHT: Speed isn't always an advantage. The snails were on board with the cheetahs.
NINE: When you're stressed, float awhile.
TEN: Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals.
ELEVEN: No matter the storm, when you are with God, there's always a rainbow waiting 

I pray these forty days of Lent have filled you with the presence of God.  As we gather around the Last Supper table, the cross and eventually enter the garden of the empty tomb, may we know that God is always with matter where we are or who we are.

Blessings and peace to you ~

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Noah's Ark take six

 But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and all the domestic animals that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided;  the fountains of the deep and the windows of the heavens were closed, the rain from the heavens was restrained,  and the waters gradually receded from the earth. At the end of one hundred fifty days the waters had abated;  and in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. The waters continued to abate until the tenth month; in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains appeared.  Genesis 8:1-5

God remembered Noah and all the animals.  Such a sentence seems to suggest, on some level, God forgot.  That in the midst of the storm waters churning, lightening crashing, and chaos chaos-ing (not sure that is really a word), perhaps God got so caught up in it all that the ark became like an ant in the midst it all.  God lost the ark, it became a proverbial tree in the midst of the forest.

Have you ever considered that God could forget?  That just does not seem very God like. We usually talk about God being omnipotent (which means all powerful) and omniscient (which means all knowing).  Our theology (the ways we talk about God) can place intellectual distance between us and God in such ways that Scripture does not always support.  Take for example, God being all powerful. As people who follow Christ, we say that God does not always act in that way.  God is born as a tiny, vulnerable baby.  Christ is willing to teach in parables (confusing stories) rather than philosophical platitudes.  And next week, we say that Christ dies on a cross, a form of capital punishment the Romans used to keep the "peace".  All of the sudden, God's power and human's understanding of power are very different.

Perhaps the same is true of God's all knowing.  Maybe it is not a knowing for all times and places.  Maybe God does not exactly know what is going to happen to me next Tuesday at 3:15 pm.   Maybe God's knowledge is about being able to see just a little further down the road of my life than I can in the daily fog of my live.  Maybe God can see just far enough to notice the curve or that the bridge is out in my current path to nudge me to go a different way.  Of course in my stubbornness I can decide not to listen.  I keep on going on my own wisdom rather than follow God's wisdom.  

Remember is also about reconnecting.  Every Sunday we remember.  I mean that both intellectually we recall in our minds a Biblical story people have sometimes heard before.  But we also, in re-connect and re-attach ourselves to each other as a community of faith.  Re-membering is not just an intellectual exercise, but one that connects us physically and spiritually to our brothers and sisters in Christ.  The most basic understanding of religion is to re-attach, as in re-attaching a limb (re - again and ligio means limb).  We are the body of Christ and every Sunday we re-connect with each other and God.

So maybe God's remembering of Noah and the animals was about a reconnecting or a reestablishing of God's relationship with God's creation.  That is what God does as God sends the spirit to surf over the waves of the flood.  God re-creates.  God re-connects.  God re-imagines what life could be like.  And that is an act that happens not only to Noah thousands of years ago...but also happens with the rising of the sun today, tomorrow and for a thousand tomorrows to come.  This is the day God has made.  This is the day when morning has broken, God's re-creation of a new day.  This is the day when we can be open to the traces of God's grace.

May it be so for you and for me.

Blessings ~

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Noah's Ark take five

17 The flood continued forty days on the earth; and the waters increased, and bore up the ark, and it rose high above the earth. 18 The waters swelled and increased greatly on the earth; and the ark floated on the face of the waters. 19 The waters swelled so mightily on the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered; 20 the waters swelled above the mountains, covering them fifteen cubits deep. 21 And all flesh died that moved on the earth, birds, domestic animals, wild animals, all swarming creatures that swarm on the earth, and all human beings; 22 everything on dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life died. 23 He blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground, human beings and animals and creeping things and birds of the air; they were blotted out from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those that were with him in the ark. 24 And the waters swelled on the earth for one hundred fifty days.  Genesis 7:17-24

What do you do when the waters/chaos/storms of life swirl around you?  What is your ark, your happy place, your way of trying to stay afloat?  Who do you turn to?

I am not sure I have definite answers to those questions.  I'd like to be the kind of person who says that, "Prayer" is my ark.  Or to quote the great hymn, "No storm can shake my in most calm while to that rock I am clinging."  But the truth is, I am just as sea sick from the storms of life as the next person.  As I type this, breaking news of another shooting at Ft. Hood is being reported; my family is still trying to settle into the house we moved into last weekend; my kids are trying to adjust to a new school/make new friends; I am learning to adjust to life in Florida; and the church I serve is living through a difficult time.  Chaos might just be the new normal.

When God set out to create all that is seen and unseen, Genesis 1 starts off by telling us that in the beginning it was just God and chaos.  Chaos was the raw material as God sang and life actually came out of the chaos.  Since when should life be void of chaos since it seems, in some way, to be woven into our DNA?  I think our theology has failed us here.  Too often we think of faith as an insurance policy.  That somehow when the rain clouds appear and the storms rage, we should be able to call on God to stop it all.  What if, chaos was never fully conquered or squelched in the beginning?  What if, life is a dance between chaos and creation?  Or, a dance between the rain/storms as the sunshine?  

Now, to be sure, I do not like the fact that all of Noah...parish to share this truth in the Noah story.  These verses are part of the reason why I don't think we should decorate baby's room with this theme.  But sometimes chaos claims life.  The shooting at Ft. Hood claimed too many lives today.  Violence from war claims too many lives.  School shooting; struggling in mind/body/spirit claims too many lives; trying to make ends meet/job loss claims too many lives; words spoken hastily claims too many lives.  All of this is true from my experience.  And maybe we want to blame God for all this.  But the truth is, as humans, we are accountable and responsible for the chaos too.  We create, alongside our still creating God, sometimes the works of our hands and words of our lips are beautiful...sometimes what we create is brokenness.  Sometimes it is somewhere in-between.

So, what do you cling to in the midst of the chaos?  Where is your happy place?  I invite you to ponder prayerfully that today...and may God grant all of us a safe, sacred ark to weather the storms we face today.  And may we find more than a trace of grace in that.

Blessings ~ 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Noah's Ark Take Four

6 Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters came on the earth. 7 And Noah with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives went into the ark to escape the waters of the flood. 8 Of clean animals, and of animals that are not clean, and of birds, and of everything that creeps on the ground, 9 two and two, male and female, went into the ark with Noah, as God had commanded Noah. 10 And after seven days the waters of the flood came on the earth.

11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. 12 The rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights. 13 On the very same day Noah with his sons, Shem and Ham and Japheth, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons entered the ark, 14 they and every wild animal of every kind, and all domestic animals of every kind, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, and every bird of every kind—every bird, every winged creature. 15 They went into the ark with Noah, two and two of all flesh in which there was the breath of life. 16 And those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him; and the Lord shut him in.  Genesis 7:6-16

I am not sure how old you are...but I am guessing it is well below the 600 birthday candles Noah blew out on his cake the year he built the ark.  So, there are two ideas that are awoken in response to this part of the narrative.

First, what exactly is truth in the Bible?  In other words, does the Bible literally mean that Noah was 600 years old or is that a metaphor?  What is at stake often is that some folks see the Bible as a chain link, that every verse and word has to be equally the God's written/given truth, otherwise the whole thing is a sham.  And you know the cliche, that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.  And so if Noah was not 600 years old, some might argue, does that also negate everything else written in the Bible?  In some ways this could be like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.  At the other extreme, people have come to see scripture as being such a work of fiction that they discount any truth it might have.  Some folks cling just as tightly to the scientific method as some do to Biblical literalness.  Those are the two extremes...I prefer somewhere in the messy middle between the two.  I think this story has truth even if every detail is not literally true.

For example, I think that many of our elders in our midst have the most knowledge, because of life experiences, that they would be the first to see wickedness and brokenness and want to make a change.  The truth of Noah's narrative may not be found necessarily in debating his age, but rather having a debate about the ways we treat our octogenarians in our world today!  How many of us would commit an 80 year old to the nursing home if he said he wanted to build a boat?  Or at least schedule a doctor's appointment!  Yet, there is a wisdom that comes with age that we need to be better about listening to in our world today.

Second, they were shut up in the ark for seven days before the first rain drop fell from the ground.  That is a great image and so true about waiting in the life of faith.  How many of us have taken a leap of faith and feel like Wiley E. Coyote hanging in mid-air waiting for the bottom to drop out or for us to plummet to the ground with a "THUD"?  So often we set up a mathematical equation for faith.  If I am faithful plus church attendance should equal God responding on my time table...rather than God's time table.  There are numerous people who like to poke fun the second something does not work out... especially in the media.  If the government program doesn't work...the opposing political party leaps like a hungry lion at that first sign of failure.  How many people stood laughing outside the ark?  How often do we snicker behind the back of someone who tells us they've seen an angel or vision or out of body experience?  Honestly, if it is not part of our experience or comfort, we call into question and poke as many holes as possible...I think to make ourselves feel better.

Which gets back around to truth.  We all think we see so clearly and know so much.  We think we've got it all figured out and everyone else is sheep lead astray.  We keep clinging to an ego that destroys relationships.  Yet, often the truth that sets us free is not of our own creation.  The truth that sets us free can come from that annoying co-worker or person whose politics are different that our own.  But do we hear?   

How do you see the Bible as truth?  
When have you felt God's nudge, but felt like the risk was too much?  Or if you took that first step and fell flat on your red, embarrassed face, only to think, "Well I will never do that again!"  

As we keep trudging through Noah's Ark and the movie opens very soon...I hope you will consider both of these questions this week...and you might feel a trace of God's grace in your prayerful pondering.

Blessings ~ 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Noah's Ark take three

Then the Lord said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you alone are righteous before me in this generation. Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals, the male and its mate; and a pair of the animals that are not clean, the male and its mate; and seven pairs of the birds of the air also, male and female, to keep their kind alive on the face of all the earth. For in seven days I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights; and every living thing that I have made I will blot out from the face of the ground.” And Noah did all that the Lord had commanded him.  Genesis 7:1-4

Whoa...wait, what is this about seven pairs of animals??  That is not the song I learned in Sunday School where, "The animals they came on...they came on by two-ies, two-ies.  The animals they came on...they came on by two-ies, two-ies...elephants and kangaroo-ies, raooies. Children of the Lord."

Sorry about carried away there.

But clearly there is a disconnect between our collective memories where the animals come on the ark two by two and this passage.  Most of us grew up thinking that Noah took just two elephants, mosquitoes, mice, moose, etc.  No more, no less.  Actually later on in verses 9 and 15 we have God saying for the animals to come on two by two, male and female.  But we have forgotten that God said to take seven pairs of each animal.

In some ways this is just practical.  The likelihood that every single animal would survive the boat ride is low. All living beings share in common our mortality.  This body that carries us, and all living creatures, around is susceptible to illness.  And when you are in the cramped confines of a boat, all breathing the same air, one sneeze and that is all she wrote.  

Having just stepped off my first cruise I am acutely aware of this.  One of the "souvenirs" I brought home was a head cold.  Try as I may to bathe in hand sanitizer and not touch my hands to my face every minute of the cruise, I still got sick.  I can only imagine what kinds of illness went around the ark for those forty days.

I said in my last post that the church is like Noah's Ark and sure it is not all roses/rainbows on the inside all the time, but it does beat getting stuck out in the rain.  But life on the inside does expose us to all our humanness, all our blessedness and brokenness.  Unfortunately sometimes we've been lead to believe that the church is some kind of Utopia.  The church should never fight.  The church should never disagree.  Every day we should just sit around singing "Kumbaya while drinking a Coke-a-Cola.

But let's face it, that is not real life.  And it would only be playing/pretending to be the church if we never disagree with each other...if we never feel tension.  In fact, when people say that the church and Christian are "hypocrites" what they are actually saying is that we are "acting".  That is the most original/Greek meaning of being a was simply an actor.  Sometimes...truth be told...we do act in church.  We play the part with our nice clothes and say the nice words about love.  Sometimes...truth be told...we need to act as a way to practice actually living that way.

Might there be something more too?  Our choir director recently reminded me of one of my favorite books by Barbara Brown Taylor called "Leaving Church".  I stumbled across this wisdom, "Gradually I remembered what I had known all along, which is that church is not a stopping place but a starting place for discerning God's presence in this world.  By offering people a place where they may engage the steady practice of listening to divine words and celebrating divine sacraments, church can help people gain a feel for how God shows up...that way, when they leave church, they no more leave God than God leaves them.  They simply carry what they have learned into the wide, wide world, where there is a crying need fore people who will recognize the holiness in things and hold them up to God."

The church is not a place of fact it is a place where we share our best and our worse parts of ourselves with each other.  It is a place where sometimes we need to go along to get along.  It is an ark where we come together, mingle together, and find ourselves in the messy middle of life on this planet.  I am glad Noah brought several pairs of each animals...because that added to the diversity and crowded-ness and realness of life on the ark.  And when you get down to it...I would rather share this with others than try to swim against the current of life alone.

May the traces of God's grace be found in sharing your life with others...both with the joy and frustrations that sharing can bring.

Blessings ~

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Noah's Ark take two

Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw that the earth was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted its ways upon the earth. And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence because of them; now I am going to destroy them along with the earth. Make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above; and put the door of the ark in its side; make it with lower, second, and third decks. For my part, I am going to bring a flood of waters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die. But I will establish my covenant with you; and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. And of every living thing, of all flesh, you shall bring two of every kind into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground according to its kind, two of every kind shall come in to you, to keep them alive. Also take with you every kind of food that is eaten, and store it up; and it shall serve as food for you and for them.” Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.  Genesis 6:11-22

Most scholars believe that there are actually two versions of the Noah's Ark story spliced and sown together.  One called "J" and one called "E"...this is from two priestly classes in early Judaism, one that referred to God as "Yahweh" (which actually starts with a "J" for Jehovah) and the other referred to God as Elohim (hence the "E").  

This would explain why right before this God had already decided to wipe the slate clean and then immediately you get an echo or repeat of the exact same idea...just different words.  Only this time, God is specific that it is not just corruption or evil, it is because of violence.  

To be sure, we live in a violent world.  Violence in war; violence to take over lands and topple governments; violence done with words to each other; violence done to women, to other races, religions and sexual orientations.  Anger seethes and simmers in our world; unfortunately the fire is sometimes (too often) fanned by sermons in church.   

Sometimes, I think about building an ark just to disconnect and get off the grid and leave the media pundits behind.  Yet, the church is suppose to be an ark; a place NOT disconnected but a place where we can be honest about the brokenness in our lives and in the world.  Many of the churches I have served have steeped pitched roofs that have a high apex/point at the top.  In some ways it looks like the ark turned upside down.  One of my pastor's growing up used to say that the church is like Noah's ark, sure it smells sometimes inside, but it's better than being outside!  

Sometimes that is true...other times our churches do not always live up to our best ideals and preaching.  That is part of being human.  This narrative is about more than being human, it is about all creation.  It is not just humans that are is the earth.  Or as the Apostle Paul says, "We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time." (Romans 8:22)  Or we often miss in John 3:16 says that God's love is for the whole world!

To be sure, this is still a drastic step...and pretty early on in the book to take it.  Of course, we know eventually all will be well and rainbows with Lucky Charms at the end will greet us.  But what also stirs in me is that Noah was so willing to respond.  I don't know about you, but in my prayer life, I am much more likely to talk to God than listen.  I am much more like to debate, rather than simply be.  

Perhaps one of the un-named ways we are violent toward ourselves today is the frenzied pace we try to maintain.  You have more than likely seen that we work harder and more hours than any other generation previous.  We have constant contact to emails and texts and fall exhausted every night into bed; only to get up the next day and do it again.

This will be posted while I am on a boat, taking a cruise with my family.  While on the boat, I will not be able to check my emails or answer calls.  I am sure by Thursday I might actually stop twitching!  It is good every now and again to remind us that the earth does not revolve around us, that we are not as necessary as we think we are.  But that is scary to us.  Perhaps it can also be freeing to us as well.  

I pray you will have moments of shutting off your phone, not answering emails and text, just let the world go by for even just a few fleeting minutes.  And may there be traces of God's grace in that for you!

Blessings ~ 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Noah's Ark take one

When people began to multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that they were fair; and they took wives for themselves of all that they chose. Then the Lord said, “My spirit shall not abide in mortals forever, for they are flesh; their days shall be one hundred twenty years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went in to the daughters of humans, who bore children to them. These were the heroes that were of old, warriors of renown.

The Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out from the earth the human beings I have created—people together with animals and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the sight of the Lord.  Genesis 6:1-8

Geesh, talk about turning on a dime! One minute everything is sons with flowing locks of hair and people getting married, next minute humanity's age clock is turned back like daylight savings time, and the next minutes everything goes to hell in a hand basket.  Talk about a roller coaster of verses!  What in the world is going on?  And more over, is every single thought of our heart really evil...continually?  

I will own up to my own stuff...I don't always look at every person with "Bambi eyes" and an open heart.  I judge and whisper sarcastically under my breath.  I am sure God has occasionally shook God's head like I do when my children are less than their brilliant/loving/amazing selves.  That is to be expected.  But the judgement here is so swift it makes your head spin.

Was everyone really that corrupt?  Was Noah really the only one who found favor in God's sight?  Or perhaps the real question is not, "Is this true?"  But, "How is this true?"

Again, I am sure I do things that grieve's God's heart.  There are moments I feel disconnected and disoriented from the grace of God.  And to be sure, one of the most heartfelt words we can offer in prayer is "Sorry".  Yet we live in a world where there is the non-apology apology.  Some politician or athlete gets in trouble or in some scandal and the first attempt is to deflect and blame.  "I did not know!" or  "I am innocent".  As the media reports pile up, eventually the person comes on with some sort of statement like, "If I offended you, I am sorry."  What does that really mean?  Is the person sorry because:
a).  I got offended      OR
b).  the actual situation?

It is hard to tell.  Sorry is one of those words we utter quickly to try to make things better.  To be really be sorry will linger for days with a heavy heart.  The truth is when we are in broken relationships and situations words will not heal...only time and God's grace and different actions will.  Sorry helps...but it is only one small step.  

Which is why prayers of confession are often not understood, but certainly necessary.  We need to say we are sorry.  Not because of God's judgement, but because we need to own our own stuff.  AA says that until the person realizes she or he has a problem, true transformation is not possible.  Confession shines a light on all the ways our words and actions are out of tune and out of sync with God's realm.  Confession reminds us that NO ONE has all the answers.

One of the reasons why I love the United Church of Christ is that as a minister I am not expected to have all the answers.  I am expected to walk faithfully among the people, help those struggling and accept help when I struggle.  

I invite you today to ponder who you need to say "Sorry" to?  Who are the people you hurt?  Notice I did not ask, "who hurt you?"  That is a post for another time, another place.  This is about brokenness each of us causes.  And it is important part of reconciliation that I just posted about.  

I pray that you will do more than keep this to yourself.  That during Lent you will reach out with apologies and seek to rebuild relationships to people you care about in your neighborhood, at work, at church, in your family and community.  We often talk about the hymn, "They will know we are Christians by our love."  Perhaps one way of letting that hymn be sung in our lives is to admit we are sorry.

May there be traces of God's grace as we enter into the brokenness of our lives and seek reconciliation!

Blessings ~