Specials

Bishop John

2018 Antiochian Clergy Symposium

The 20th Biennial Clergy Symposium for the Antiochian Archdiocese was convened by His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph July 16-20, 2018 at the beautiful Antiochian Village in Bolivar, PA. The theme was The Holy Priesthood - Our Life and Calling. Plenary talks were given by each of the bishops on the following topics:

Metropolitan Joseph - The priest as administrator: Let all things be done decently and in order. St. Paul to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 14:40) and The priest as a husband and a father to his family.
Bishop Basil - The High Calling of the Priesthood.
Bishop Anthony (for Bishop Alexander) - The Integrity of the Priesthood.
Bishop Thomas - What It Means to Call the Priest Father.
Bishop Anthony - Priesthood and the The Meaning of the Apostolic Succession.
Bishop Nicholas - The Priest as the Servant of Christ and His Church.
Bishop John - The Priest As Minister of the Sacraments, the Holy Mysteries.

July 2018

Bishop John

The Priest As Minister of the Sacraments, the Holy Mysteries.
We apologize for the poor quality of the video recording. Our cameras were not set up in time following the Matins service. We do thank Dn. Christian for recording with his phone as well as Bishop John for recording the talk on his computer after he got home.

July 25, 2018 Length: 48:41

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Transcript

The Right Reverend Bishop John: Priest as Minister of the Sacrament

I’m not a theologian, not a professor, not even a good student, but I speak to you today out of my obedience to our Metropolitan and the joy that I have experienced as a minister of the sacraments. It is our ministry of the sacraments that defines our community and gives Christian identity to ourselves and God’s people.

In the Dictionary of Greek Orthodoxy, Fr. Nicon Patrinacos writes that the term mysterion is a composite from the verb myo, which means to close one’s eyes for the purpose of protecting them. In the holy mysteries, we are closing our eyes from an extraordinary vision of the living, eternal God. Mysterion denotes the will and action of God which is beyond the understanding of man, beyond what we are allowed to see. The mysteries, in other words, are God’s actions in our lives, which we are protected from seeing. Were we to see them, we could be blinded by God’s glory, like our eyes would be blinded by the sun. Seeing God would surely leave us without defense and would expose the chasm between our sinful state and the glory of God. It is God’s mercy toward us that God chooses not to manifest himself any more tangibly than when his Word became flesh and walked among us. And now as he hides in the elements of the sacraments, this restraint on God’s part is a mercy towards us.

How would we respond were we to see the fire of the Godhead at the water of the baptismal font? Would we plunge the baby into those waters? If, as we were walking down the church aisle on our wedding day we could see the sleepless nights waiting for a teen to come home with the car and the feeling of knots in our stomachs when we get calls from the police, how would we respond? Would we run for the hills? If at liturgy we saw the coals from the fire on tongs being placed in our hands and mouths in the Eucharist, would we be passive and receive Christ? What about if we saw the angels and demons or the raw pain of our parishioners when they come for confession or counsel? Would we be so non-chalant? How would we respond?

God has chosen to hide himself from our eyes, for our safety and good. Yet as God acts in the daily lives of our parishioners, we clergy are in a unique position as ministers of the sacrament to witness regularly, up close, and intimately God’s action in our lives and in the lives of our parishioners. We see the epiphanies as people recognize God’s action. We witness repentance as Christians surrender to God’s will. We see healing of dis-ease, as disease evaporates, as God’s peace and comfort are allowed into one’s heart. How glorious a life! More fun than yachting, golfing, or even making money, for sure. Ministering the sacraments is the great joy of our vacation.

So who are we, the ministers of the sacraments, in relationship to the people that we serve? Archbishop Anthony (Bloom) laments the limits of English and some other modern languages as we make distinctions between clergy and laity. Laity denotes membership in the world, while experts or clergy are called out and separated. There’s an old Serbian expression: “Here come three men and a priest,” as if the priest is no longer a man. In our Church we are all baptized into the royal priesthood or ministry of Christ. Every Christian is called to work in Christ’s own priesthood, of bringing God to man and mankind to God.

Some of us are called to various kinds of servant leadership, such as church educators, choir members or leaders, chanters, ushers, and such. Others are ordered or ordained to serve at the altar as liturgical deacons or servants, others as presbyters or bishops. No office negates our earlier responsibilities; it adds onto them. As Sayidna Joseph reminds us, a bishop is still a deacon or a servant. I add that a presbyter is still a Christian, that is, God’s laos or laity.

Archbishop Anthony (Bloom)‘s concern is that to classify the clergy outside or outside of the people or laity makes it seem that being a person or Christian is not as good; to be equal to the clergy, the laity would need to be clergy. Such a distinction leads to all kinds of modern ills, including tension and distrust between clergy and laity.

We would do well to help people understand how sacred and wonderful are the humanity and royal priesthood that we share. God embraced this humanity in his Incarnation. He has reclaimed fallen man, first created in the image and likeness of God. Now men and women, through God’s action and sacraments, can put God on and share in him, share in his ministry, and share in his life. We can abide in God and encounter him, as he abides in us and we do his will.

Being God’s people is good, but in English the term “laity” most often denotes being uneducated or untrained, the opposite to the expert of any field. As a layman, I know little about cars and am at the mercy of the expert auto repair technician, who can replace my car’s computer. While I still have little strength in arguing with a mechanic, my God became an infant, vulnerable to his world and those who reject him, and elevated once again the state of being a person. Whether my mechanic admits it or not, I have value, and that value comes from God who embraces me. I also sometimes know when I’m being taken by a car dealership for a ride.

To build up the Church, I believe we need to elevate the minds and hearts of God’s people. We need to help people fulfill their priesthood to pray for the world and to reveal God to their family and cohorts. By elevating them, we can recruit them to serve God within their order, to sanctify themselves, home, work, and play place and time. We ministers of the sacraments need to live among God’s people as examples of Christian life. We need to care for them, serve them, love them, forgive them, and challenge them—perhaps even in that order.

Clergy are sent by the Metropolitan and bishops to be Christian examples among their people. By leading in the sacraments, we touch the lives and hearts of the people. We introduce them to God, to the God they were grafted to in baptism. We show them the gifts and fruits of the Spirit of God who dwells in them. Sacraments are opportunities to touch lives and to teach. As such, they must not be overlooked. Every service that we celebrate is an opportunity to build up God’s people. By building up the laity, we elevate the clergy and we elevate God’s ministry.

When I was sent to New Kensington, church attendance was very poor, and people had found other things to do on Sunday mornings. It was a parish of many older people, and the whole community was as if retired. Almost all of the younger people were moving away for jobs. Funerals were the only access I had to the greater community. Therefore, I preached not only at funerals, but at every gathering around the person, from the hospital or home to the trisagion service to the grave. It was at these times that I was introduced to the families I was sent to live among. By showing them God’s love for them and showing the joys of being in the Church, many came home to worship, and the church tripled in attendance. Paradoxically, this church grew by having lots of funerals.

Baptisms and marriages also gave me opportunities to introduce the Church to many who had been absent for a while. I met with the families and godparents to read through and explain the theology expressed in baptism and wedding services. I used the sacramental worship of the Church to build up their understanding of who and what we are as Christians. One family at a time, we added to our regular attendees. We introduced people to the Church, and many responded positively.

Brothers, I contend that the reason our people need food festivals and have endless discussions about how to fix the church building is because that is what they’re comfortable talking about. Our lay leaders, like us, are created in the image and likeness of God. God gives and serves. Like God and like us, the people we serve need to give and serve. If we want their service to be ministry, we need to teach them about sacramental life—how to do ministry—and thus to lead them in worship and service.

We need to raise their comfort levels by encouraging them to speak about the Church. We need to engage them in worship and send them out to minister. In short, we need to give them the language and understanding necessary to understand and do ministry.

Sacraments offer the opportunity to reveal God and transform our communities. Of course, the sacraments are not limited to seven. Our working definition of “sacrament” is God’s action in the lives of our faithful. God is ministering in times of sickness, death, house blessings, council, hospitality, church camping, Parish Life Conference, and perhaps sometimes in food fairs and bowling leagues. This is real koinonia, or fellowship, being the Church that is revealed through the sacraments, being the Church that reveals God’s presence, will, and love.

The sacramental life of the priest is one of prayer. Prayer is constant communion or communication with God and his people. It is by definition extremely intimate and personal. When God acts in our lives, we are the most open and vulnerable. We need to show utmost respect for the sacred opportunities we share when we pray with others personally and corporately as Church. We are to remove our sandals because we are in the sacred space of God’s presence. We need to approach our parishioners with awe, respect, and humility. How else will they learn the awe of God? When we attend seminary or are ordained to any of the Church orders, we are perceived by the people to offer them opportunities to connect with the living God who is accessible through the prayers of our holy fathers en masse. They sense that God dwells in his priests.

God is a fervent fire. Do not let false pride or humility steal from them the opportunities they seek to meet God. Be cautious, though, that your own social needs make you too familiar to be able to help the people meet God. We need to be accessible, but serious and pious enough to fulfill our priestly vocations and offices. We need to be ever-vigilant, because we never know when and where God will use us to minister. We have multiple relationships with our parishioners. We have special relationships when we baptize their children, counsel them in their marriages, go to school functions with them, attend birthday parties at their homes. In other words, we are pastors, family, friends, counselors, etc. We need to be cautious to not allow these multiple roles to compromise our priestly role as minister of sacrament. We need to be vigilant and deliberate.

I once stopped for pizza after a hospital visit in Pittsburgh. When I walked into the pizza shop, I was introduced to the owner’s father who was visiting from Syria. The old man began to cry, saying that God had visited him in his time of grief. The day before, his wife of 45 years was buried, and he was unable to get home for the funeral. I couldn’t speak words to this man because my Arabic was so poor, yet God spoke through my presence. This man was able to grieve, and his journey to some kind of balance had begun, because a priest came to his son’s pizza shop.

The Church is the community called out of the fallen world to follow the way Christ established for us. This way is expressed most perfectly in the gathering of the community for the Eucharist. Through this image, the way of life is expressed in every encounter of the clergy. The Eucharist communicates this most perfectly. The Eucharist is God’s people being the Church in the world. The clergy connect God’s people to God and to each other. We share the same Christ who is our source. The bishops, the Eucharist, and the faith are the visible expressions of God’s mysterial expression. I made that word, “mysterial,” up to show how we made the world sacramental. We express this in worship: the lives of the saints, the teachings of the faith, and the readings of the Scripture. By being in relationship with our people, symbiotically, we make each other Church. I like to say that without us the community is only a social club, and without the people, the clergy are unemployed. We need each other to be the Church, and we need each other to be Christian. One cannot be Christian alone. We need to work together to be one.

Although we live in a pluralistic society where people pick and choose what they want to believe, our Orthodox faith is discrete. It is a system of teaching and relationships that fit together and bring us into union with God. I believe that our people are capable of understanding more than we typically teach them. We can encourage them to discover our teachings in the Scriptures and Fathers by sending them directly to the sources. They are capable of understanding the difficult teachings of the Church and can see how God’s mercy and love transcend the limits of language and how we share in God’s love. We can call each other to purity, but first they need to experience God’s love for them. We can also call them to the fasting and charitable practices of the Church community that help us use our bodies and minds to encounter God.

We have from time to time been accused of clericalism. I don’t believe that clericalism is sustainable in the new world. Modern man is self-centered and insists on an individualistic freedom, but such a freedom is not free at all; it is only free from God. If we are to call people to Christ in this society quickly running toward its total hedonism or self-pleasure, we need to be joined to them in their lives, showing them that joining God is the only real love and joy. We need to be accessible and apart, transcending the lives of the culture and revealing God, who is in our midst. We need to be the bridges to God, through the one incarnate Word.

By being ministers of the sacraments, we have a front-row seat in the salvation history of each of our parishioners. We share in God’s love for us and his people, and we participate in his holy action in his world. We are in a constant state of communion with God and with each other. To be a priest who ministers the sacraments is the greatest of vocations and most blessed of any way of life. May God protect our ministries and bless his people.

***

Q1: Sayidna, once you came to our parish, and you explained about how God really covered our eyes, for the mercy of God, [how I have a good challenge, am inspired]. My question then is educational and sacramental, especially for our young people today, if they saw you. The young people, when we introduce them to sacraments and teach them about sacraments, I would say; what is the best way to educate the young people about sacraments today, especially when they hear: oh, this is fire, this is not water. The first reaction for them: he has something in his mind. So what is the best way for young people today about those sacraments?

His Grace Bishop John: Father, my working definition of sacrament is God acting in our lives. So what a sacrament means is that God is working, God is acting. When the deacon comes to the bishop or the protos, he says either, “It is time for God to act”; another translation is “It is time for us to do God’s work.” God is working, and we are interacting with him, and so together God is manifesting, working, and doing. And that which God does belongs to him and brings us to be part of his kingdom and eternity and reality. When God makes us a Christian, we respond to what God is inviting us and calling us and acting. When God makes us husband and wife, he gives us a partner for eternity and for life. When he makes us a deacon or a presbyter, he sets us aside to lead by our service and manifest his action in his world.

So I would just try to teach plainly. Help people understand that truth is beyond words and that our minds can get bits of expressions that push us past the limitations of the analogies of the words or the images that we have, the whole apophatic tradition. I think children even can understand that sometimes it’s really hard to describe something, and what we want to describe is beyond the limits of the words that we’re using. We have the illustrations like in value-languages, our five different kinds of snow. We’re so limited. We’ve been to Baltimore; just have one kind of snow. So people can’t guess how quickly the snow accumulates if they don’t know which kind of snow is coming. Father?

Q2: Would you please speak more about the meaning of being similar but apart from the people? Because when we are with them, eating and celebrating birthdays and stuff, we feel more close to them, but how can we be apart at the same time?

His Grace Bishop John: Did everyone hear the question? How do we keep clear the many different relationships that we have with people so that we can be appropriate? And I think we all choose things, general kinds of relationships. We need peers, we need venters, and we need proteges. We need people that teach us, people that we can embrace and be comfortable with. We need all three kinds of relationships. We need to pass on our life experiences with others to keep a healthy balance in life. In the parish with the same people, we have lots of different roles that we play. My point is, as Sayidna Joseph reminded us, a presbyter is always a presbyter. He should always, in whatever he does, be authentic and be who he is, so we shouldn’t, when we’re being a friend, do anything that would compromise our primary reason for being in the community, which is to hear the confessions and to help people to Christ.

Peer relationships are very important for us to keep in balance, and friendships take a lot of work. Americans are notably lazy when it comes to friendships and relationships; they don’t spend the time or do the work. That leaves us isolated and lonely. So we need to be deliberate about having relationships, investing ourselves, finding people who can meet all three levels of our needs. It’s up to us to identify our real needs and to be creative about meeting those real needs and following through.

If you want to share with a friend who is a parishioner something, think about whether or not what you’re sharing will compromise your ability to hear his confession, to support his marriage, and be an icon of Christ. That might mean that you have to call a friend from seminary or from the House of Studies or from the diocese for some of these peer relationships. So that’s what I was talking about, Father. Father Jeremy?

Q3: Sayidna, I was intrigued about your experience in New Kensington, coming there. You mentioned attendance was low, but you used the opportunity of funerals and the preaching especially at funerals to inspire people to become more active. I wonder if you could speak more about the role of preaching in liturgy, in sacrament, and in the formation of community.

His Grace Bishop John: The Antiochians were blessed to be able to be the first to really use a lot of English in the worship. I think that is because when the first wave of immigration came, they weren’t nationalistic because they were under the Ottoman rule, and Arabic wasn’t really our language. That was imposed on us by the Ottomans. So we didn’t have the kind of loyalty that the Greeks or the Serbs or the Russians had to their language or their country. So it’s a little bit more tribal.

But translating into English isn’t really enough, because now we need to translate the English into an understanding of what’s really happening. What does it mean when we say in the liturgy, “A mercy of peace, a sacrifice of praise”? That’s our priesthood; that’s their priesthood. Let us pay attention, that we, all together, may offer the oblation in peace. A mercy means God’s priesthood, of our priesthood, bringing God to man; and a sacrifice of praise, our praising God. That’s what it means for each of us Christians to be priests. What does it mean to mystically represent the cherubim? It means to call to understanding, that we’re joining the angels at the throne of God and we’re already at Christ’s side, and he’s feeding us his life. I think we need to help people understand what they’re doing when they come to worship, and that becomes exciting.

One of our NAC meetings, a leader stood up and said, “I don’t get anything from church,” so it’s really difficult for him to attend the service because he didn’t get anything from the service. I said to him: Why? The service isn’t there for you to get; the service is there for you to give, to be the Church, to witness to the world, to manifest Christ’s presence, to be gathered as an expression of the heavenly kingdom. Once we’re able to help people experience that, then work could be done easier. I tell folks that we don’t baptize people to make them consumers. Our world, they’re all consumers. Are they consuming it like a hamburger, like they’re entitled to it, because they put fifty cents in the collection? That’s not what it is.

So we’re soldiers. So what does it mean if you’re a soldier and you don’t show up for six years? Or you come and choose which army to fight in, for which battle that you like? Or you work for a company and expect a paycheck because you’re entitled, but not go to work? What does it mean? We’re not spectators. They want to get something. What the Church gives you, my friend, is the opportunity to give: an opportunity to participate in Christ’s ministry that you promised God that you would be in your baptism. Because we meant it, even if you didn’t know what you were saying. In baptism, when you spit at the devil, you might not believe in the devil, but the devil believes in you, you know? So let’s know that this is serious business. The sacraments are the most serious business. We’re participating in God and his work and his ministry and his life. Not just us: the people that we have. And it’s not nice to let them do that without knowing what they’re doing.

Q4: [… I’m going to ask what the words of the Sayidna and the government that I’ve seen of this place for the last three days wouldn’t want me to ask you this. It’s not important not to have a bishop who’s been married. It used to be an experience to have children… through the years… what is your experience of being married and being a bishop at the same time. Does it hamper you? Does it add things to you, which I believe it did? And I would like to hear more about it. Thank you.]

His Grace Bishop John: Advantages and disadvantages of being a married bishop, because I’m the only married bishop of Antioch, right? And Constantinople has only one married bishop.

C1: We have a patriarch.

C2: You’re on your way! [Laughter]

His Grace Bishop John: We have a patriarch, but we’ve had in the past other men who’ve been married.

I think I have lots of sermon illustrations. I practice getting woken up late at night. God gives us all different things in our lives that we are able to use for his glory. When my first son was born, he had a persistent fetal… his lungs didn’t want to make the change to get oxygen… The heart didn’t make the change to send the blood to the lungs for oxygen, so he didn’t breathe for five minutes. He was one of the first survivors of the heart-lung bypass surgery that is very popular and used now. That experience, of watching your breathe for five minutes… His belly only went up and down once a minute, because he wasn’t getting air from his lungs… To see a baby not breathe is something that was helpful to me in working with people all of my life. So all of the things that God gives us, as difficult as they are as we experience them, they offer us opportunities to join with our people to see how God works in us and to share God’s work with us to better encounter God. So I would think that having 30 years of being married was a great blessing for me. I don’t see any disadvantages.

Now, my children are all grown, and presently possibly none at home. You said that very nicely. It took a little time, but it’s all good. But part of that is because of the love and support and cooperation of our hierarchs and our presbyters, because in modern times it’s more unusual that the bishop has a family. So these things that the Church does forces us to rethink everything: what is holy, what is real, what is God’s action and life, who we are as human beings. [But maybe something else I could do, I do not know, owe it to the truth.] Fr. Joseph?

Q5: Sayidna, I’ve been a priest for a while, and I look back on my priesthood and my family life, and I know I made lots of mistakes on both sides. When I was younger, there was always everyone always saying, “You’ve got to balance your family, balance your family with the parish, with the parishioners”; how did you do that? And for younger priests, with families, from your experience, what advice do you give for them?

His Grace Bishop John: I think we need to be very deliberate. I read a book—it was from a Protestant, but some very good advice—about managing time, energy, and finances [which] are all finite. None of them are infinite. So we need to budget our energy, our time, and our money. We can only do that by being deliberate. If you have not endless time, then you need not only when you make an appointment to make a starting time; you need to make an ending time. “I can see you from 12:00 to 12:50.” At 12:50, if the work isn’t completed, then they can come back next week when you have another 50 minutes. So by being deliberate, we can make more things happen in a morning or an afternoon or an evening. That make sense?

Priests are busy, very busy, but we, as priests, have some flexibility. We have to bury people, but if the time we have to bury them is at nine o’clock instead of ten o’clock because of something else, then we can offer opportunities and schedule our times and our energies so that we take care of ourselves, our families, and our parish. When you take care of yourself, you teach your family that God is important to you, and they need also to take care of their relationship with God. When you take care of your family, you show the parish that family is important, and you model for them how you behave. So taking care of yourself, going to the gym, doing your prayers, doing your spiritual reading—are gifts to the parish! It keeps you balanced, it keeps you fed, it keeps you able to do things.

If you are working so hard at the parish that you’re not sharpening the blade, then you’re not going to do much cutting. So we need to keep breathing, we need to keep praying, we need to take care of our families, we need to be deliberate about how we use our time and how we use our energy. It’s not fair that you give the parish all of your energy so that when you’re home you’re there physically but can’t play with the kids or can’t talk to your wife and spend time with your wife, because that’s not fair. And that will end up costing more. So we need to keep our priorities and be deliberate and be serious.

I think sometimes we go from one extreme to the other and we’re not going to be balanced. But just count up how many minutes you spend making hospital calls, how many minutes you spend praying, how many minutes you spend… And just by making that inventory… Take a look at your checkbook and see where your money is going, and then begin to see where you are, and then you are able to make some choices so that you can be more deliberate about how you use your time, your energy, and finances.

When my wife was sick, it was like God micromanaged my time. I never missed a time when she needed help getting to the bathroom, and I never missed the Liturgy or a service or a hospital visit. It was like God just helped me take care of everything. It was all his. One time, my son was really young, and I came downstairs, and he was going through my checkbook. I thought that was pretty curious, so I said to him, “Honey, what are you doing?” And he was embarrassed that I caught him, and he said, “Well, I was going to ask for something, but I wanted to make sure we had enough money.” Pretty sweet. I said to him, “Honey, between your mother and I we have four masters’ degrees, and we can’t figure out that checkbook.” Really, only God knows how we did it, because it never made any sense. I didn’t live any better when I was making $60,000 or when I was making $12,000. I didn’t live any different. Only God knows how that stuff worked. But I said to him, “This is your turn to be a kid and to play. We have been put in charge of the finances, and we’ll decide what we spend money on. And when you have kids, then you worry about the finances and what toys you buy and what toys you don’t buy.” So let’s be deliberate that parents are parents, kids are kids. These are the things that we do, and this is how we work.

I’m not saying that you treat your parishioners like little kids. Imagine if I was three or four years in a parish: I’m going to go to an eighty-year-old guy and say, “Son—”[Laughter]. Just be yourself, serve your people, and let God work through you.” When I went to New Kensington, I had no plans. I had no strategy. I had no mission statement or any of those kinds of things. I’m a priest, I was there to serve the parish. I weeded the parking lot, because the parking lot was full of weeds. I changed 40 light bulbs in the church. Three-quarters of the light bulbs in the church had burned out and nobody noticed. The walls were covered in soot. Nice marble, but nobody noticed that they were covered in soot. The parish had gone to sleep; they were retired. I weeded the parking lot, I changed the light bulbs, and we began to have a different image of what we were: we weren’t retired any more. We had kids who could go to the Bible Bowl and bring us praise. We were people who could win art contests. I started telling them, because at least on the Bowls they had an opportunity, how big and how wonderful they are and what great ministry they could lead. I made all my parishioners co-ministers. I told them… They had no idea. In such a get-up, they really imagined that everyone around them had better theology and better missions and better structures and better everything.

When converts came, they couldn’t understand what the converts wanted, because what the converts had was so much better. They didn’t rebuke people because they thought they were too good for them; they rebuked people because they didn’t think they were good enough. That’s how they saw themselves. They were so excited that the Roman Catholic priest would talk to them; he was so special, and they didn’t have anything. So you help them understand what their heritage is and what it means and what the liturgy is and this is the entrance to the kingdom of heaven.

We had a full gospel parish down the street, and they put on their church sign: “Bible-Based Church.” So I thought that was really cute, so I put on my sign: “Church-Based Bible.” This minister preached three sermons against me by name! I never met the guy! Three hours he talked about my arrogance and my idolatry. It was wonderful publicity! It opened up a discussion about what it means to be the Church that wrote the Bible that they’re interpreting.

I told him about my favorite Saturday Night Live show. On Saturday Night Live they had a skit about a handwriting expert who had a PhD and could tell better what somebody wrote than the person who wrote it. He knew more of what you meant than you did. “No, that’s not what you meant. I have a PhD.” We’re the Church that wrote the epistles—to our churches, to us! And somebody else knows better what the letter means? We have the live experience of the situation. That’s who we are! So I help people feel better about themselves, and that helped them a little. We changed our idea.

When Sayidna Philip sent me to New Kensington, 1979, he said, “They’re asleep; wake them up.” That was his idea: Wake them up. They’ve gone to sleep. So that’s a good idea. Thank you.


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