A Woman and a Well

People make attachments, it’s in our nature. Some things that I’m attached to:

  • The couch in the tv room.
  • The right side of our bed.
  • A morning cup of coffee.
  • An old pair of slippers.
  • The tv in our tv room.
These things don’t define me, they don’t determine who I am or establish my value. But I love them. I’m attached.
The question is: Are there attachments in my spiritual life? Are there ideas and beliefs with which I have made secure connections? The answer: Of Course!
  • A New Testament that I’ve used for 42 years.
  • Some traditions that I hold sacred.
  • Close friends with whom I share spiritual affinities.
  • Worship that feels secure, comforting, and expected.
  • Certain verses of scripture that reinforce my beliefs.

There are many, many more.

AN EXAMPLE

Jesus once spoke to a woman with attachments. He asked her to give him some water from a well. She reacted with surprise, if not shock because men didn’t speak to women in public unless they knew them. She had no idea who he was.

Jacobs well

Their conversation moved into the spiritual. When the woman grew uncomfortable, she claimed that the well belonged to the Patriarch Jacob, who was Abraham’s grandson. And in her day, the land they were standing on was Samaritan, not Jewish. To her, the well was a physical manifestation of a sacred heritage.

Consequently, she didn’t need to listen to Jesus. Her faith and religion were well established by Jacob’s well. She was attached to the well, not for its water, but for its spiritual value.

However, he was the Messiah, and when she realized that he was, she went back to her village and told everyone that she had found the Lord’s anointed. She led them to Jesus, and they asked him to stay, and he did, for two days, and many of them believed.

Does it seem silly that she was so spiritually attached to a well? Or is it only a matter of time, place, and culture? Are we connected to anything that defines our faith and spirituality?

  • Sitting in the same seat every week.
  • An unchanging order of worship.
  • Needing to hear specific phrases and words in sermons.
  • How we look, what we wear to church.
  • An inflexible expectation regarding our traditions.
  • Unwillingness to distinguish tradition from the truth.

IN CLOSING

The woman didn’t wake up that day, knowing she would encounter the Messiah. She went to the well to get some water, but what she really needed couldn’t be carried in a bucket. He gave her living water, springing up from within, a wellspring of the Holy Spirit that would never run dry.

 

A Cave In Canaan

Cemeteries have existed for as long as man has been on the earth. Every culture has its customs and burial traditions. Some are rooted in religious beliefs while others are based on mysticism, folklore, and superstition.

cemetary

Regardless of the cultures and customs, we have always required a place for the dead to rest. Cremation is a type of burial, whether the ashes are kept intact or scattered to the winds, its an ancient and modern approach to how we manage our dead.

A BURIAL STORY

Abraham lost his wife. Her name was Sarah and when she died he realized that he had no place to bury her. He had moved his family to Canaan and had yet to face the prospect of death in his family.

So, Abraham met with the Hittites who were the owners of where he had pitched his tents. He asked to purchase a piece of land that had a cave, the cave of Machpelah. He paid them 400 shekels of silver and then laid his Sarah to rest in what became the family tomb.

Eventually, Abraham was buried there as were Isaac and his wife Rebeckah, and Jacob and his wife Leah. Rachel was not buried in the tomb. She had died in childbirth while in the vicinity of Bethlehem and buried there.

THE TOMB

The Tomb of the Patriarchs became sacred to the Jewish people, it was the final resting place for their greatest forefathers, especially Abraham.

The Jewish Mystics believed that the cave was also a portal to the garden of Eden–where Adam and Eve were buried. So, the cave of Machpelah symbolized the creation of man and then the line of the heritage through the patriarchs.

cave-of-the-patriarchs

Jacob’s wife Leah was buried in the cave, she had given birth to a boy named Judah.

From the tribe of Judah came a shepherd boy who would be anointed the King of Israel, his name was David. From David came the lion of the tribe of Judah, the one we call Jesus, the King of Kings.

From Adam to Abraham. From Abraham to Isaac, Jacob, Judah, David and the Christ, the Son of David, the Son of God. From Jesus to you and to me and to all who believe.

IN CLOSING

Cemeteries and burial places can be fascinating places. For those who believe, a cave in ancient Canaan became a tomb representing the beginning of time and the fulfillment of the ages, the Messiah’s arrival.

He came to offer salvation to the world.

It was just a cave, a burial tomb, but for every believer, it represents our spiritual roots and the beginning of our blessings in Jesus Christ.

I Never Knew Buzz

Action figure toys have come a long way since I was a child. Back then, the closest thing to an AFT was a G. I. Joe doll. Did we call them “dolls” back then? Probably not since boys didn’t play with dolls.

Joe was released from the Hasbro Company on February 2, 1964, I was eight years old and that makes Joe 56 years old. He wasn’t a small, green army man, but a full 12″ tall. The commercials tagged him as, “A life like action soldier.” He was  tough, well trained, and a hero. Boys could imagine being like him.

I remember wanting one, but not asking, because I knew my older brothers would tease me about playing with dolls.

G.I. Joe Action Figure
Always wanted one, never got one. 

SUNDAY MORNING

Yesterday morning, at church, a little boy had an action figure toy with him. It was a Buzz Lightyear toy. Buzz is super-cool. If you aren’t aware, Buzz is a central figure in the “Toy Story” movie franchise consisting of four movies. They are so great.

Buzz Lightyear
Action figures have come a long way since I was a child.

He held Buzz up to me and I played with him for a moment, making him fly in the air with his jet pack and making the kind of noises that a young child can imagine. It was fun. I handed him back with a smile because just for a moment I was transported to when I was his age.

I guess there is a little boy or girl in each of us.

CHILDHOOD TOYS

My Favorites were:

  • A Tonka Truck
  • Lincoln Logs
  • Johny Seven Army gun
  • My big-boy bike

I’m older now and I don’t play with Action Figure Toys, not even life like action soldiers. But I have other, more sophisticated, things that I enjoy, not toys exactly, but kind of.

OTHER GIFTS

As a believer I have received gifts from God, from his Son and his Spirit. These aren’t Buzz or Joe toys, in fact, they aren’t physical or anything that could be held.

My Favorite Christian Gifts

  • forgiveness
  • grace
  • mercy
  • love
  • peace
  • joy
  • salvation
  • and many others

IN CLOSING

I never had a G. I. Joe or a Buzz Light Year. But I have the most precious gift of all,  the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Toys come and go, but receiving every spiritual blessing in Christ has proven to be the best of all!

 

 

 

 

It’s a Love Story

A MODERN MIRACLE

It’s a miracle that anyone can keep a class of kindergarteners engaged for 45 minutes.

Our Children’s Sunday School program has a teacher and an assistant in each class, but one of the classes was without an assistant and since I was friends with the teacher, I stepped in to help.

The kids knew who I was and said, “Hi Mr. Rick.” They were happy to see me and the teacher allowed for the moment and then deftly reacquired their attention.

We have some very cute and adorable kids in our church! 

I pulled up a chair and sandwiched myself between two kids. I am 6′ x 1″ tall and sitting with them made me look like the world’s largest 5 year old.

Preschool
Some very cute kids. But not the class I sat in. Close, really very close, but no. 

THE LESSON

It was an excellent class. She taught about Israel’s battle with the Amalekites and how Moses kept his arms lifted with the staff. If his arms lowered then Israel faltered, so, Aaron and Hur supported him to keep his arms up until Israel won.

“Hands were lifted up to the throne of the Lord.” 

Exodus 17:16

THE DISTRACTION

They impressed me with their answers to the teacher’s questions. They made me laugh. They made me proud. However, they were at times distracted by the presence of the world’s largest five year old. So, they would talk and ask me things.

Here is a sample…

  • “Why do you wear glasses?”
  • “Have you ever had acne?”
  • “I pray at bedtime for breakfast so I don’t have too in the morning.”
  • “Do you like my wheelchair picture?”
  • “What number comes after 19?”
  • “Can I have some more water please?”
  • “Do you have kids?”
  • “Do you have a brown crayon?”
  • “Are you coming back next time?”

The teacher knew how to manage them. She affected their behavior with affirmation and encouragement and was loving, gentle, and kind.

After the class, I had to quickly transition to 2nd service where I preached to hundreds of people, some of whom were parents of the kids in class. I can do that fine.

Teaching a class of five year old kids, not so much!

TO CLOSE

The Goldfish Crackers they had for a snack: less than $1.00

The paper copies of the lesson: less than $1.00

The green construction paper they used to make a prayer book: less than $1.00

The crayons they used to decorate their prayer book: maybe $5.00

A teacher affirming them and filling their hearts with God’s love: Absolutely Priceless 

 

 

 

 

The Final Voice: The Shepherds

NOTE: This narrative is based in scripture and imagined by fiction. It’s the Christmas story as told by those who were closest to it. Please read accordingly.

The Last Voice of Christmas

Part Twelve

A shepherd knows some things: peace of mind, serenity of soul and moments of divine presence. He knows about new life coming into the world. He is acquainted with extreme heat, bitter cold, and the pain of loneliness. He suffers through sleepless nights.

He fends off predators, both animal and human. He mends injuries, treats illness, and grieves over death. He worries about leaving his flock so he can search for a lost lamb.

He is the pastor of his sheep, and the Lord is his shepherd.

ONE NIGHT: It was a silent night, a holy night, when the stars were brighter and the air was crisp and cold. A few of us huddled around a small fire when suddenly an angel appeared in light so brilliant that it hurt our eyes.

He came to give good news of great joy, that a savior had been born, that Emanuel had come to help the people. He said that the infant king was only a short distance away and that God has chosen us to see him. Then, we fell to our knees as the night sky exploded in splendor with the angelic host praising God’s name.

cole-angel-shepherds

SEARCHED: We left our flocks to go and find him, and we did, and not in a Jerusalem palace but a Bethlehem stable. We were confused by his birthplace, that the newly arrived Messiah would be so low born. The stable smelled worse than we did, which is saying a lot since shepherds reek of sheep smell.

We were surprised that his mother was so young, barely of age to marry, and even then was only betrothed to a young man from Nazareth. But Mary and Jospeh shared their story, telling us how Gabriel approached them and all that he said. It was thrilling.

We left the stable praising God for all we had seen and heard. As we joined our flocks we remembered the prophecies, that the Messiah would not appear kingly, or be recognized as special. He came to give good news to the poor, to bind the brokenhearted, and to set the captives free. He came to forgive the sins. He would need to come from among us.

His ministry, purpose and compassion will be extraordinary, but he won’t be. He won’t be adorned in royal robes or ride in golden carriages, instead he will walk the dusty roads of Palestine. He began in a stable, and speaking symbolically, he will never leave it.

nativity-baby-jesus-christmas-2008-christmas-2806967-1000-5581

GRACE: It was a night of nights and beyond special, it was incredible. We had been granted the amazing gift of amazing grace.

It was a silent night, a holy night. A night for God to come near.

May the nations rejoice at his birth, for it was most merry.

Merry Christmas and thank you for sharing this journey with me.

 

 

 

 

 

A Mother’s Voice

NOTE: This narrative is based in scripture and imagined by fiction. It’s the Christmas story told by those closest to the event, read accordingly. Thanks.

 

The Voices of Christmas

Part Eleven

On the western side of our village is a rocky ledge with a view of orchards and fields in a small valley below. There are olives, figs and pomegranates and acres of wheat reaching up to the summer sun. Every time I go there it fills me with hope knowing that everything has a moment, or a season, of beauty and great worth. Maybe that’s why I go so often, in the hope that I too will realize a moment of beauty and worth.

The daydreams of an ordinary girl living an ordinary life

It’s silly for I am neither beautiful nor have any particular worth. I am an unknown person living in a village where nothing special ever happens. Nazareth is not the place to live if you are hoping for something extraordinary. Well, except for this:

As of today I am eight months pregnant. 

THE DIFFERENCE: It isn’t extraordinary to be pregnant since young wives have babies often enough. But my baby is different. You won’t believe it but I have never been with a man. My purity is my vow to God, it’s how I serve him, and how I honor my family. I am betrothed, but we haven’t been together, I promise before God. But I am with child.

DO YOU BELIEVE? That’s extraordinary isn’t it? A Jewish girl who is pregnant by the power of the Spirit will deliver a son to reign on David’s throne! I have treasured these things and pondered them. But many don’t believe, choosing instead to accuse, scoff and ridicule. Rabbis, Synagogue Rulers, village elders and many others refuse to believe. I’ve explained over and over about Gabriel, but it doesn’t matter, they can’t see it.

I am the Lord’s servant, may it be done unto me as he has said. 

A JOURNEY: Joseph and I leave next week for Bethlehem, the town of David, in compliance with the Census. It will be a difficult journey, and Joseph feels strongly that I should stay in Nazareth, but I believe the Lord wants me in Bethlehem, that there is a purpose for it. Is it the Micah prophecy? Could it be?

My uncle has offered the use of a donkey, so at least I won’t have to walk. Im sure everything will be fine. We will get there, register for the census, and then get back to Nazareth. The whole trip shouldn’t take a week.

But here is a thought I keep having. The Lord has chosen me to bring Emanuel into the world. God is coming and it’s happening through child birth, it’s happening through me.

TheNativity (600 x 300)

The Messiah will arrive as a new born infant, helpless and dependent. I will care for him, nurture him and provide all his needs. I will love and protect him. He will be my firstborn and I will be his mother. I will hold him to my breast and nurse the Son of God.

The Lord has entrusted the salvation of the world to a teenaged girl, to me.

It will be a day of glad tidings, news of great joy, a Merry-Christ birth

Blessed be the name of the Lord

A Carpenter’s Voice

NOTE: This narrative is based in scripture and imagined by fiction. It’s the Christmas story told by those closest to the event, read accordingly. Thanks.

The Voices of Christmas

Part Ten

I work for a stone mason but he doesn’t just quarry stone. He is a builder, he builds houses, store rooms, small buildings and occasionally, a synagogue. Some call him a carpenter, but there are few trees so there is little wood with which to build things.

Actually, I am an apprentice: a learner, a helper and sometimes a builder. But mostly I  do whatever he asks and provide whatever he needs, and stop my mouth before asking questions like,

“When do I get to hammer something?” 

I’m not criticizing, for he started as an apprentice as did the one he apprenticed for, and so on. It’s a time honored tradition for training tradesmen.

It’s also what father’s do for their sons. I apprentice for a highly skilled man named Yacob. He is my father. My name is Yosef and I have been learning for years. My hands are calloused, my skin is rough, and my muscles are strong for building with stone requires much effort.

Something else fathers do is find a suitable bride for their sons. Suitable means a girl of the highest standards, with an honorable reputation and a Godly character. This my father did for me and I am betrothed to Miriam. She was set apart for me and I for her. Like the apprenticeship, our way of marriage is a time honored tradition.

Today is the third day of our journey. It’s been slow for she is late in her time of pregnancy. I won’t explain how she is with child and yet, we have not come together in the fullness of marriage.

It’s okay, hardly anyone believes me either.

I could not have known that she would give birth to the Lord’s anointed. The words still catch in my throat for who am I to be father to Yeshua?  But it matters not, for I must honor God. Today we reach Bethlehem and tomorrow I will register for the Roman census, and then we will travel home to Nazareth.

I have been in constant prayer that God will provide us with good lodging. Miriam is fearless and her resolve is strong. She believes, as a servant of God, that whatever he wills is what will happen. But frankly, I’m worried.

Mary Joseph

Finally, I see Bethlehem in the near distance. We will find lodging with warm food and a good bed for Miriam. Her time of pregnancy is ending, and the baby is coming.

I inquire at a house known for assisting travelers but due to the census they are full. We find an inn but they are also full. Fearing the worst, I enter the only place left, but sadly get the same result. I turn to leave when he says, “Young man, I’m sorry we don’t have a room for you. But If you will accept it, you can stay in the stable. It’s partially covered and has fresh hay. There are some camels and donkeys but I will make a small fire which will keep them from you and keep you warm. We have plenty of blankets and of course, some good food and fresh water. What do you think”?

I went out to Miriam and explained as best as I could. My heart was burdened and heavy. I am responsible for her. I am a builder of buildings and yet, all I could offer was an animal’s stable. I felt ashamed.

But Miriam smiled and said, “Yosef, it’s all right, we will be warm and have food and we will be together and the Lord will be with us. Now, would you please help me down.”

Later that evening she went into labor, I had hoped it wouldn’t happen here in this place. But again, with her customary faith and courage she said,

“Yosef, our son will soon be born, please cut one of the blankets into strips so we have something to wrap him with. And then fold some blankets and place them in the manger so he will have a place to sleep.”

The Son of God is about to come into the world.

It will be a Merry birth of Christ!

 

 

 

A Kingmaker’s Voice

NOTE: This narrative is based in scripture and imagined by fiction. It’s the Christmas story told by those closest to the event, read accordingly. Thanks.

The Voices of Christmas

Part Nine

Some say we are the power. Or that we wield it but from behind the throne. Some suggest we have more power than the one on the throne. This may all be accurate. Our group has been influencing kings, shaping kingdoms, and guiding great events for centuries. We are the Magi, the Wise Men of the East.

wise men 4

THE DIVINE

Mistake us not for common parlor magicians. We are astronomers, scientists, philosophers and counselors to kings and those royal born. Our order isn’t interested in the petty pursuit of wealth or the unbridled acquisition of things. Although we’ve benefited from our labors our purpose isn’t to own the world but to capture knowledge, to gain faith, and a better understanding of the divine.

From a century long past a Hebrew man named Daniel left us knowledge of a king who would be born among his people. A king of kings to rule with the power and majesty of the one God. For hundreds of years our caste has waited for his birth, and while we waited, we taught each new generation of our brothers. Each year we search the skies for the sign of his birth. We exist to worship him and present him with the gifts that have been given to kings in kingdoms all over the East. Seeing this king is our greatest purpose and most glorious resolve.

Tonight it happened, after years, decades and centuries, we have seen his star.

   And now we must go. The gifts are well guarded, as are we, by our warriors sworn to protect us and our divine purpose. It is Jerusalem we seek and it will require many days.

wisemen 5

KING HEROD

We try to imagine how it happened, marveling that a king could be born in Palestine, a vassal state of the Roman empire. We know King Herod is not the rightful king of Judea, but a political pawn, a violent man, and will certainly interfere. We will be careful of him.

Was Daniel truly divine in his dreams and visions? Will there be a kingdom of righteousness with this infant king? For he has come to a world that is ripped and raped by a Roman dynasty intent on enslaving everyone in its path.

HIS KINGDOM

We can only imagine a king that could be known as the Prince of Peace, Everlasting Father and a Wonderful Counselor. How mighty would that king be? Imagine a kingdom built with divine love and ruled by compassion for those in need. A kingdom without wars and pillaging, or the unquenchable desire to destroy all who get in the way.

Could this really happen? Will the infant king be enough: strong enough, loving and good enough to build such a kingdom? We hope and pray that he is. So, we seek him.

For it’s almost as if God himself had come to help us. 

May the name of Daniel’s God be praised.

A Deceiver’s Voice

NOTE: This narrative is based in scripture and imagined by fiction. It’s the Christmas story told by those closest to the event, read accordingly. Thanks.

The Voices of Christmas

Part Eight

Hope springs eternal. Perhaps so, and I dread that it might, because hope fills me with fear and I hate being afraid. I much prefer to fill the hearts of others with it.

THE NEWS

Word of this virgin girl’s pregnancy reached my ears. At first I was doubtful and dismissive for Nazareth fails to square up with expectations. But then a nagging sense of something grew like a thorn in my eye and I renewed my interest with hurried passion. Against all knowledge I came to believe it was her, that she was the one.

Now I must act for the one within her must not come to be.

mother-mary-1024x682

NAZARETH

It was brilliant to hide her in that pitiful village, for it’s nothing but a stain on the road, a sorry pit for the pathetic and impoverished. It’s a place to go unnoticed. Their only distinction is being nothing special. So, I’ll hand it to him, I nearly missed it.

Note: If I can end the baby there then I can end it for all time everywhere.

 MY PLAN

  • Fill Joseph’s heart with jealousy, betrayal and bitterness.
  • Break up the betrothal and prevent the marriage.
  • Cast Mary in the light of adultery, fornication and defilement.
  • Create a physical trauma that will kill her unborn baby.
  • If she goes to Bethlehem then evil must befall her on the journey.
  • But, if she makes it, I’ll force her to give birth in filthy, unclean conditions.
  • Daniel’s Magi will find the baby and I’ll force them back to Herod.
  • I’ll give King Herod the idea of killing the baby, or all the babies.
  • But if they escape Judea, I’ll make sure they engage violent men.

I must thwart the ancient one’s plan to redeem the world. If he comes here he will be crowned the King of Kings and will offer mercy and grace to mankind. So, he must not be born, he must die and not on a hill faraway on an old rugged cross, but from a miscarriage, or disease, or an infection. Maybe he could be crushed by an animal in the stable, hmmm, so many possibilities.

The forces of this broken world must be unleashed for his destruction. The child must never take his first breath. But if somehow he makes it to birth then I’ll intensify my efforts to destroy him.

Note: I must not fail at this.

AND ME?

You know me. I am the Great Deceiver, the Prince of Darkness, a liar and the father of lies. I am Satan and let no one doubt my intension or my resolve.

AND THE PROPHECIES?

There won’t be any fulfilled prophecies. There will be no good news, no miracles, signs or wonders. The brokenhearted will not be bound up. The sinners will go unforgiven. The prisoners will not be released. There will be no Prince of Peace or Wonderful Counselor. I will not allow this merry event to happen but instead will plunge this world into everlasting darkness.

I am the great serpent and I rule this world through hopelessness and despair.

This I vow: The Galilean girl and her baby will not emerge victorious.

 

The Neighbor

NOTE-this narrative is from scripture and imagined by fiction. It’s the Christmas story as told by those closest to the event. Please read accordingly. Thanks.

The Voices of Christmas

Part Seven

A CONVERSATION ON THE ROAD TO BETHLEHEM

On the Way to
Conversation On The Way to Register-Bethlehem

SIMEON: This census makes no sense. Augustus doesn’t care how many Jews live in Palestine. He’s just flexing his muscles to get more taxes. If they have our names and know where we live and how we make a living then they can broaden the tax base. The Emperor gets richer and we get poorer.

BENJAMIN: You seem awfully bitter Simeon. I know Rome is brutally uncaring about our condition and would slaughter us if it wasn’t for the income we provide.

But we shouldn’t waste our time complaining about Rome. We should talk about the coming Messiah, and how he will restore our land and redeem us back to Yahweh.

SIMEON: There you go again with that Messiah talk. Benjamin, search your heart, you know there’s no Messiah coming to deliver us, there isn’t an anointed one to restore us. We are on our own. I gave up on the Messiah dream a long time ago and so should you.

And this ridiculous census is just another example of how powerless we are. It’s stupid that we have to go to Bethlehem. Why can’t Rome count us in the towns and villages we live in? It’s just wrong that we travel at our expense to register for increased taxes.

BENJAMIN: I wish you wouldn’t talk like that, it’s discouraging and faithless. Have you given up on God? Is your heart of stone? If Abraham were here would you still speak these blasphemous words? I saw you last week in synagogue so I know you heard the rabbi read from Isaiah, did you pay attention?

“Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

And then…

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 

Simeon, the Lord’s anointed is coming, and not in the distant future but in a matter of weeks or maybe even days!

SIMEON: How can you talk like this? You are not a prophet or the son of a prophet. You can’t possibly know about the coming Messiah, as if there was anything to know.

BENJAMIN: I’ll tell you, for what I know is exciting and full of living hope. The virgin is with child and will soon deliver a son, and will name him Yeshua, our God saves! My friend, lift up your face to the Lord for he is coming to be with us!”

SIMEON: How do you know this? How can you be so certain?

BENJAMIN: I know because I know the girl, she and her family are our neighbors in Nazareth. Have you not heard about this in Tiberius? Is your city so full of Romans that the good news hasn’t reached your ears? Gabriel appeared to her and foretold these things. Her baby is of the Holy Spirit, he is the anointed of God, the Son of David. And it could happen even while we are in Bethlehem, for they are going there to register.

SIMEON: In Bethlehem? Now you are just talking nonsense.

BENJAMIN: No I’m not. Do you remember Micah, the Rabbi also read:

“But you, Bethlehem, though small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come one    who will rule over Israel, whose origins are from ancient times.” 

I have seen Mary, I have spoken with her and with Jospeh, and if you could talk to them you would believe as I do. My brother, the coming of the Lord is happening. He will soon arrive and his birth will be a most merry event for us all, and for all the world.

Be of good cheer, and restore your heart in the Lord, for soon, he is coming near.

Blessed be the name of the Lord!