Imagine True Religion: a book review

Most of us don’t like religion. Instead of having religious vocations like monks and nuns, we are the nones-and-dones. The ranks of exvangelicals swell as people leave churches marked too often by unhealthy power structures, patriarchy, prejudice, and a near lack of inclusion. But even among those of us still in the Evangelical Christian sub-culture, there is little enthusiasm about religion, as such. Evangelicals decry “Religion” as a human attempt to please God which had very-little-to-do with the Jesus revealed in the Bible. Religion, we say, is spelled D-O; Christianity was spelled D-O-N-E. Religion is a set of rules. We have a relationship. But for all our religious handwringing and bad spoken word poetry about how we aren’t in any way whatsoever religious, we had just as many rites, rituals, and dogma as everyone else.

978-1-63146-666-3Greg Paul doesn’t buy this evangelical antireligious rhetoric.  In his introduction to Resurrecting Religion, he recounts listening to a speaker at a large missional Christian conference rage against religion and thinking, “What is it we’re doing here? Isn’t all this, umm, religion? Wouldn’t anybody else say this is religious activity? Simply saying that we’re not religious doesn’t make it so. Are we fooling ourselves?” (xiii).  Rather than rail against religion, Greg Paul sees bad religion as our real problem: combative, legalistic, hierarchical, soul-numbing and functionally irrelevant, bad religion.

In the book, Greg probes how true religion calls us to care for the widows and orphans and keep ourselves from corruption(James 1:27). In retooling religion, he makes use of the book of James to show us how true religion compels us to care for those on the margins (not the center and the status quo). As a pastor, and therefore career ‘religious guy,’ he has plentiful examples of how he has tried to live this out within the context of the urban church he pastors in Toronto, Sanctuary.

I first became aware of Greg Paul’s work through his book God in the Alley (Shaw, 2004). That book described Paul’s seeing Christ’s presence among Toronto’s inner-city homeless population. Simply Open (Thomas Nelson, 2015) and Close Enough to Hear God Breathe (Thomas Nelson 2011) were about the cultivating our awareness of God in pray and in all of life. These all point to a contemplative awareness. In this sense, Greg Paul is kind of what I would call an evangelical mystic. The religious spirituality he describes in Resurrecting Religion is a spirituality of the Beatitudes—one that makes space for the oppressed and the vulnerable in the life the faith community, a spirituality of listening and a spirituality of submission to God in the face of life’s trials.

Greg Paul calls us not to throw off our religious chains, but toward a new reformation where our ideas of religion are overhauled and renewed as we seek to care for the vulnerable, show equal regard for all people regardless of their socioeconomic status, and follow Jesus. Because the epistle of James is G. Paul’s guide, he doesn’t focus on liturgy and ritual like other pro-religion books might (such as James K.A. Smith’s Desiring the Kingdom). His focus, and in large part people’s problem with religion, is how we are to relate to one another. His closing chapter, “a twenty-first-century reformation” sets the trajectory he thinks our religiosity ought to take:

  •  Following Jesus away from the place of power, privilege, and security to the margins and the vulnerable.
  • An integrative approach to the gospel that holds up both a comprehensive theology of the Kingdom of God and pursues a vibrant, living relationship with Jesus.
  • The pursuit of justice and speaking up on behalf of the oppressed.
  • Directing our energies and resources outward not on our own church building and culture.
  • Commitment to community and to the values of the Kingdom of Heaven beyond our own economic interests, political affiliations.

Greg argues for a recovery of a religious, prophetic witness:

We would not keep silent when people who are poor are blamed for their poverty; when another young black man is unjustly shot and killed by police; when another First Nations woman goes missing and no investigation is begun; when supports for people who are addicted, mentally ill, or homeless are slashed again,; when unjust laws that target the poor are passed .We would claim those people as our brothers and sisters and raise our voices in support. We would abandon political-party allegiances and vote according to the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Those of us who are politicians or police officers or social workers or employees of banks and large corporations or military personnel or church workers would stand and speak loudly, if necessary as ones crying in the wilderness, about the injustice that infects the cultures within which we work and spreads to the world around us. (200).

When I picked up this book I expected it to be a sort of apologia for religion for our spiritual-but-not-religious age. Instead, this book is more of a manifesto for Christians to pursue True Religion in the way of Jesus. There are lots of stories from Greg’s ministry and the community of Sanctuary. I give this four stars and recommend it for pastors and ordinary readers who are tired of the same old bad religion and long for something more life-giving. -★★★★

Notice of material connection: I received a copy of this book from NavPress and the TyndaleBlogNetwork in exchange for my honest review.

A Socratic Interfaith Dialogue: a book review.

It had been a while since I picked up a book by Peter Kreeft. I do have an electronic version of his Handbook of Christian Apologetics (IVP, 1994), which I still refer to from time to time and a dozen years ago I read his How to Win A Culture War (IVP, 2002), but I don’t remember it well enough to tell you if anyone followed his advice (or if we won). Beyond that, I’ve read a couple of his 80’s era apologetic Socratic-style dialogues (Between Heaven and Hell, and Socrates Meets Jesus) and listened to a Barnes & Noble audio book on the history of moral thought and ethics (What Would Socrates Do? 2004). Kreeft is professor of philosophy at Boston College, and a Catholic, Christian apologist.

4510In Between One Faith and Another (IVP, 2017), Kreeft invites us to consider the similarities and differences between the world’s great religious traditions. He presents a fictitious dialogue between two students in a college comparative religious course and their professor.  There is the atheist/agnostic student, Thomas Keptic, and Bea Leaver, an open-hearted religious believer, and Professor Fesser, their objective and even-handed professor.

Beyond their religious affiliation (or the lack thereof), the three interlocutors also represent three approaches to interfaith dialogue. Thomas Keptic, the skeptic, is the exclusivist. He is suspicious of all religions and has some hard-nosed evidentialist assumptions. However, he also loves logic and clings to ‘the law of non-contradiction.’ Any difference between faith means, for Thomas, that both (or either) faiths cannot be true. Bea Leaver on the other hand, is an inclusivist. She will admit with Thomas, that there are differences between the world’s faiths, though she disagrees that these differences are necessarily contradictory. She believes the different religions are all paths up the same mountain and tends to emphasize what different faiths have in common. Professor Fesser is a pluralist, describing each faith tradition in an evenhanded, objective way. He acknowledge’s differences and similarities in the religious traditions, but neither attempts to synthesize or exclude the various faiths.

Their discussion ranges from definitions about religion to explorations of each of the various religious traditions in turn: primitive religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Zen, Confucianism, Taoism, Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. The final chapter, on comparative religion, discusses how to handle religious contradictions and draws together some of the various threads of the conversation they’ve been having.  Because the discussion is premised on the inclusivist/exclusivist/pluralist approaches and pits believer versus skeptic (in respectful dialogue), each chapter explores what we can say and know about the nature of religious truth. The contours of each religious tradition are mentioned and discussed, but Kreeft is more interested in the larger truth question behind religious approaches. If you are looking for an overview of various faiths, this book would need to be supplemented with other resources which presents the World Religions in a more substantive way.

These conversations do not quite read as riveting fiction. This is an academic dialogue about two students and a professor, written by a philosophy professor for the purpose of posing particular questions about religious faith. To that end, it succeeds rather well and has enough good humor to be an enjoyable read. And Kreeft doesn’t have his narrative culminate in some contrived conversion of the pluralist or the atheist, as though this were God Is Not Dead 3. The positions held by Thomas, Bea and Professor Fesser are designed to help readers explore the questions that arise when we put various religious traditions in conversation.  While there is movement in each character, as they think through their positions, none of the characters capitulates to another’s view.

Kreeft is a Christian philosopher and an exclusivist. However, as a believer in Christ (who never spoke of comparative religion) and in the Socratic method, he advocates honest use of reason, intellectual humility and ‘maximally charitable interpretations’ (6). As such, he sees the exclusivism of Thomas, Bea’s open-hearted love of wisdom and Professor Fesser’s objectivity in himself (5).

Personally, Kreeft’s book helped me both appreciate other religious perspectives and articulate some of the differences between them and my own Christian faith. I give this book four stars and recommend it those interested in interfaith dialogue, comparative religion and the nature of religious truth. ★★★★

Notice of material connection: I received a copy of this book from InterVarsity Press in exchange for my honest review

Where’s Mikey? a kids book review.

I have heard the stats that only two in ten millennials attend church regularly. Why? I blame Martin Handford, creator of the Where’s Waldo series (Where’s Wally in the UK). Because of him, a generation of kids, in the late 80’s and 90’s, stopped looking for Jesus and instead asked ‘Where’s Waldo?’ It was more detrimental to childhood faith development than Bill Nye the Science Guy explaining away theism.

978-1-4964-2243-9Thankfully, we now have Bible Sleuth: New Testament. Mike, an adventure-loving little boy, sporting an orange and red painter’s cap, a red and white striped t-shirt and yellow overall shorts (an outfit which was last seen in 1991 worn by R&B sensations TLC) explores the New Testament. Unlike Waldo, who trekked across the globe, urban centers, and visited other cultures, Mike restricts his exploration to Bible Stories alone. So when you hunt for Mike and other figures in each scene, you are sure to only learn the Bible and not any new, subversive ideas. Doesn’t that sound much safer?

I’m kidding. There are tons of kids’ search books of a wide variety, and Bible Sleuth stands in a long tradition of Christian children’s books making use of the same idea. Bible Sleuth illustrator, José Pérez Montero has previously illustrated Seek & Find Bible Stories (Zonderkids, 2008, with author Carl Anker Mortensen) and I have reviewed similar kids books here before (see here or here).

Here is the thing though, when it comes to kids book reviews, my critical faculties pretty much go out the window and I end up saying things like, “My kids like it, so I like it.” And this is true again. My oldest, who is nearing ten, my seven-year-old, my six-year-old all enjoy it. My two-year-old likes the pictures though hasn’t demonstrated the patience required to find everything (though he is really great at Where’s Elmo).  All of us get annoyed that invariably one of the people we are looking for in the picture is barely cresting out from the center crease. But such is life.

But one of the things I always try to pay attention to in Children’s Bible books, “How white is everybody?” I remember a friend observing that Jesus’ family once hid in Egpyt, so you know he must have had some color. And yet Little Mike and his pasty legs blend in pretty well to these pages, because of how white all the middle Eastern Palestinians seem to be. At least Jesus has brown hair and not blonde locks, that is until he is surrounded by a crowd of ONLY white people in John’s Revelation 19 vision (and the final scene in the book). Hair color throughout ranges from red, to brown and blonde.[The Tyndale site identifies the author of this book, as Scandinavia Publishing House, which may explain some this].

My kids like it and that means something, but on cultural accuracy and sensitivity, I find this book wanting. I give it a middle of the road review. -3 stars.

Notice of material connection:  I received this book from Tyndale in exchange for my honest review

Religious Worship As Political Act: a book review

It is an election year and so the circus begins again. Republicans and Democrats have begun Caucusing. If you examine where the candidates of both parties stand on various issues, you will see evidence of a great divide in the American political consciousness. Democrats and Republicans share increasingly little common ground. However both parties employ a common a strategic use of religious language in support of their divergent political aims.

Sacramental PoliticsBrian Kaylor (Ph.D, University of Missouri) is the Communications and Engagement leader at Churchnet. He is also a journalist who has taught political communication at James Madison University. Sacramental Politics  examines the way religion is co-opted in the political sphere and suggestively explores the political nature of Christian praxis.

Kaylor calls the use of religion in politics,’transubstantiated rhetoric,’ and pulls up plenty examples from the past decades.  The first part of his book, Kaylor considers ‘the obvious examples of worship as political action’: when politicians pray, speak at or attend religious gatherings or church services, or when clergy speaks up on political issues, parties or candidates. In the second half of the book, he turns his focus towards the non-partisan, but altogether political/religious acts: communion, baptism, confirmation, confession, etc.

This is a well-researched book. Kaylor presents many examples from past and current politicians, all documented with copious footnotes. He shows how politicians use religion to justify their ends (i.e. praying campaign slogans) and to project certainty (52). While the Right is the more overtly religious, the political left also makes use of religious rhetoric.

It is the second part of the book that I think is the most interesting. Here Kaylor explores the political dimensions of religious ritual (focused particularly of Christian religious ritual). The power of ritual is not just about forming you into a good American, but the idea is that things like liturgy, Eucharist or Baptism and sacred song makes you into something else. Quoting William Cavanaugh, Kaylor writes, “The Liturgy does more than generate interior motivations to be better citizens. The liturgy generates a body, the Body of Christ–the Eucharist makes the church” (158).  He discusses how religious ritual transcends and calls into question, partisan allegiance. He also shows examples of how church worship and religious practice provided the wherewithal to take stands for civil rights (in the case of MLK or Clarence Jordan) or Nationalism (like the Mennonites).

Kaylor is descriptive of the way religion and politics meld in the American political landscape. He argues that religion inherently carries with it political implications:

[S]everal different types of political actions are possible within religious worship. It may be partisan or nationalistic, or it might serve to offer allegiance to an alternative rule; it may promote public policies or political messages, or it might serve to create a space for doing politics differently. Regardless of which political response is undertaken, religious worship carries  political messages, expectations, and deeds. (225).

The central argument of this book, pushes us toward a conscious awareness of the political implications of our own faith. Kaylor wants to move us beyond partisan religious rhetoric to see how our religious practice shapes us into an alternative polis. Kaylor wants us to see that our worship is poltical, and therefore political worship is a political act (193). This helps us imagine new possibilities.

Kaylor has plenty of examples from the Obama, George W. Bush, Clinton, and Reagan administrations. Carter gets few mentions, and George H.W. Bush is missing from his analysis, but the general principles still apply. The book was published in 2015 before the players in this election were sorted out. Thus he covers some of the major players of partisan politics for this cycle (i.e. folks like Rubio, Cruz, Huckabee) but doesn’t address other significant players like Donald Trump, or Bernie Sanders.  I  did notice a couple of textual errors(i.e., he mistakenly calls Wayne Grudem, ‘Wayne Gruden’ on page 60), nothing major. Kaylor’s analysis is comprehensive but not exhaustive and certainly more can be added to his argument as this election season shakes out.

This book has a very Mennonite-y feel (which I like).  Kaylor’s arguments reminded me of similar ones made by Hauerwas, and Yoder, though they aren’t cited in the text (he cites Cavanaugh which is enough).  I give this four stars.

note: I received this from SpeakEasy on Tap in exchange for my honest review.

God’s Gay Agenda?: a book review

The ‘gay agenda’ is a familar phrase to anyone who has imbibed their fair share of Christian radio. A 29 minute video produced in 1992 (entitled The Gay Agenda) fueled fear that homosexuals comprised an organized movement determined to undermine the values of society.  The original video used footage from gay pride parades as evidence of the subversive nature of homosexuality. It helped fuel homophobia among conservatives for decades. In God’s Gay Agenda, Sandra Turnbull argues for a different sort of gay agenda–God’s agenda for homosexuals.

Sandras Turnbull is a pastor with evangelical  and charismatic commitments. She speaks of the authority of the Bible and the reality of spiritual gifts and prophecy for today. She also happens to be gay.  She came out twenty-five years ago when she met her life partner through  YWAM in Amsterdam. Like all such stories of LGBT people from conservative religious backgrounds, she struggled with her sexual identity and tried to go straight. When she reconnected with the woman she fell in love with a couple years later, they both studied the Bible and came to the conclusion that homosexuality was not a sin but a God given identity.

In the pages of God’s Gay Agenda she shares some of her own journey,discusses relevant passages from the Bible  and argues for the full inclusion and acceptance of homosexuals in the church.  She has an extended discussion of eunuchs and describes herself as ‘natural-born eunuchs.’  While I did not find Turnbull’s exegesis compelling, this is an intelligent and passionate defense of homosexual inclusion. It is a worthwhile read. Too many pro-gay theologies undercut scriptural authority. Whether or not you buy Turnbull’s interpretation of particular passages, it is refreshing to see the care she takes in trying to understand these passages in their ancient context.

Whenever I review a book like this, I run the risk of alienating my readers. I have friends all across the theological spectrum and this is a divisive issue.  Conservative friends will not buy Turnbull’s thesis and may wonder why I would read this book. My more liberal friends will wonder why I do not endorse this book in every respect.  I think my conservative friends would benefit from reading this book if only to hear Turnbull’s story and know that there are gay Christians sincere in their efforts to live faithfully to the gospel.

But I do think some of her Biblical explanations are overblown. Linking all the homosexual prohibitions to idolatrous practices (i.e. temple prostitutes) is not a new approach, but I don’t think it does justice to the evidence. Other times, Turnbull’s word studies turn up suggestive approaches, but they remain inconclusive. On the other hand, I think her discussion of the sin of Sodom not being about homosexuality, so much as inhospitality and rape is fundamentally correct.

I  give this a three-and-a-half star review. Books like this are important and I think Turnbull does an admirable job of articulating her views in an irenic manner.  With marriage equality as a hot political issue, this is not a discussion that is going away anytime soon and I think knowing how different Christians approach the Bible on this issue is important. Turnbull writes:

Wherever you are with the issue of homosexuality, I would like for us to begin by agreeing on one foundational truth about the Gospel.  Is it not true that anyone who comes to Christ Jesus and believes in their heart and confesses with their mouth that Jesus rose from the dead and is Lord a recipient of God’s grace?  After all, isn’t God’s love inclusive of all people and for the “whosoever?” (6)

Wherever we stand on the issue of homosexuality (sin, orientation, viable option), there are issues more fundamental to the gospel and Turnbull points the way to a more gracious discussion.

I recieved this book from the publisher via Speakeasy in exchange for my honest review.

Prototype: a book review

Jonathan Martin is a pastor of a church with a trendy name (Renovatus) which ministers to people on the margins in Charlotte, North Carolina. He has a great head of hair, tells poignant stories of his own spiritual journey and those of his faith community. He cries a lot for kind of a big guy, quotes all the right books and likes all the right music (i.e. Bob Dylan, U2, Bruce Springsteen, etc.). These are all the sort of things that should make me suspicious. But then I found myself really enjoying his new book Prototype: What Happens When You’re More Like Jesus Than You Think.

Prototype: What Happens When You Are More Like Jesus Than You Think by Jonathan Martin

The underlying premise of Prototype is that believing in Jesus means being like Jesus. Not a new concept right? But this isn’t just a WWJD-knock-off. Martin argues that Jesus, the prototype of the new humanity, came to show us how to be really human. That means getting in touch with our true selves and not operating out of our fractured identity. Jesus is our exemplar and following him means discovering what we were meant to be.

Prototype begins with two stories. The first story comes from Mark 5 where Jesus heals the Gerasene demoniac who said his name was Legion. Martin observes that this fractured man who had been bound in chains and lived naked among the tombs did not frighten the Gerasenes.  Nor were they afraid when their pigs rushed over a cliff. The frightening thing for them was seeing this man fully clothed and his  right mind (Mark 5:15). Martin observes:

In a world where self-destructive behavior has become commonplace, the most frightening scenario may not be a global apocalypse. Perhaps the most startling thing to see is someone whom we have come to expect to be as fragmented, fractured and self-destructive as we are, transformed into the epitome of sanity, peace, and purpose (5).

The second story which frames this book is a story about Martin himself. He talks about how as a fearful and anxious child (raised on Pentecostal apocalyptic literature and movies),  he experienced freedom from his anxiety during the countless hours he rode his blue-and-silver Schwinn bike around his cul-de-sac. While riding he made up stories, talked to himself and felt free. As an adult, Martin was praying with one of his friends who pictured  the boy Martin riding his bike, talking to himself, making up stories and alive with freedom and creativity. Martin had not told his friend about his childhood bike riding, but six months later when Martin was on a bike the image arrested him and he felt the intensity of God’s overwhelming love for him in the same way he experienced that freedom and life as a child.

In the pages that follow Martin unfolds our true identity in Christ–our belovedness. He talks about how God shows us who we are in the obscurity of the wilderness and  how God’s love can pour through our wounds and bring healing to others.  He talks about the nature of doubt and faith (using Thomas’s hopeful doubting from John 20). And he paints a picture of community in all its wonderful, aggravating glory. He weaves together Biblical reflections with personal anecdotes and stories of those in his church.

I loved this book. Martin comes from a Pentecostal heritage and his reflections are amenable for Charismatic Christians.  However this is a little more substantive than books you will find in the Charismatic section of your Family Christian Bookstore. Martin is a graduate from Duke Divinity and his book is peppered with references to Stanley Hauerwas, Herbert McCabe, Henri Nouwen, Frederick Buechner and Eugene Peterson. Yes, Martin reads my favorite authors [note: I haven’t actually read anything from Herbert McCabe: he is my favorite author I haven’t read].  But the theological depth he brings to his prose is unobtrusive because mostly Martin is just a  good storyteller. You find yourself drawn-in by his humour and grace.  So this is a great read which will challenge you and help you discover your identity and calling in Christ.  I was personally encouraged by Martin’s chapter on “Obscurity” which is where I feel like I’m living right now.

On the ministry side:  I liked what I learned about his church and their vision for ministry and will likely look for more from Martin and Renovatus.  His great hair still makes me suspicious. I give this book 4.5 stars!

Thank you to Tyndale Momentum for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for this honest review.

The Ascent of God

This coming Thursday is Ascension Day–the day in the church year when we celebrate Jesus’ post-resurrection-trip-to-heaven. While this is a significant event in Christ’s life and the life of the church, it doesn’t get much play in today’s churches. Growing up in church I remember 2D disciples and flannelgraph feet, but I don’t remember much else said about Jesus’ Ascension. If your church recites the Creeds  then it  is affirmed: “he ascended into heaven.” However it is little emphasized in worship, in readings, or preaching. Only Luke records the event (though he does it twice) and we may wonder what the big deal is.

In another age the Ascension was celebrated as the crowning  glory of  the Incarnation. Listen to St. Augustine:

The Ascension is the festival which confirms the grace of all other festivals put together–without which the profitableness of every other festival would have perished. For unless the Savior had ascended into heaven, His nativity would have come to nothing . . . and His passion would have borne no fruit for us . . . and His most holy resurrection would have been useless. -St. Augustine, quoted in Tim Perry & Aaron Perry, He Ascended into Heaven ( Brewster, MA: Paraclete Press, 2010) 3.

The following observations are my musings on the significance of the Ascension. I affirm the event as a historic reality. Jesus stood with his disciples somewhere near Bethany where they witnessed him taken to heaven. While the events of Jesus’ Ascension are only described by Luke in Luke 24 and Acts 1, there are a number of passages  assume its reality.

So why does it matter? Here are three observations:

  1. The Ascension means Jesus is absent.  In another sense, us post-Pentecost believers know Christ’s presence with us through the ministry of the Spirit. We cling to Jesus’ promise to be with us, even to the end of the age (Matt. 28:20). But let’s not gloss  over Jesus absence. One moment Jesus was with his disciples, the next moment he was taken up into heaven and they were told that in the same way he departed, he would one day return.  Because  of the Ascension we are people between times: Jesus is no longer with us bodily, Jesus will one day return. We pray and work toward the Kingdom of God but as post-Ascension people we live in the ‘already but not yet’ tension of the Kingdom of God. 
  2. The Ascension means that Christ’s Incarnate work is finished. We love Christmas with all its fanfare and we walk with Jesus on the road to Calvary through Lent and Holy Week. On Easter we proclaim Christ’s resurrection with shouts, songs and chocolate bunnies. As significant as Christ’s incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection are, they lose their meaning unless they are sealed by his Ascension.  If Jesus the incarnate one does not return to the Father, than we are left with a fractured deity. If the words of dereliction on the cross resulted in Christ’s eternal separation from God, then there is no hope for humanity.  The Ascension is Christ’s vindication and proof that God’s favor rests on Him. Philippians 2:5-11 describe how the Ascension is the telos of Christ’s Incarnation:

    In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

    Who, being in very nature God,

    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

    rather, he made himself nothing

    by taking the very nature of a servant,

    being made in human likeness.

    And being found in appearance as a man,

    he humbled himself

    by becoming obedient to death—

    even death on a cross!

    Therefore God exalted him to the highest place

    and gave him the name that is above every name,

    10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,

    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

    11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,

    to the glory of God the Father.

  3. The Ascension means that Jesus is sitting at the right hand of God.  Jesus is exalted and that means Jesus reigns! This is good news, especially in a world with marathon bombings, political and social unrest, bloodshed.  Things on earth are not all as they should be (or will be!), but we can be confident that the risen and ascended Christ, sits with God and intercedes on our behalf.

So Thursday night  celebrate the Ascendant one and give thanks that the Christ who is absent will one day return, that his salvific, incarnational work is completed, that he reigns in glory and holds you in his hands.