Sunday, 15 July 2012

The Old Testament

It was the then  Bishop of Gloucester who came up with the words.

And they were the inspiration for our celebration of the Bible at the start of the year of the Bible.

"Translation it is that openeth the window, to let in the light,
that breaketh the shell, that we may eat the kernel,
 that putteth aside the curtain, that we may look into the most Holy place,;
that removeth the cover of the well, that we may come by the water."

Miles Smith in the Preface to the Authorised Version 1611 

Taking that last analogy we have been taking the lid off the Old Testament and reading it through the eyes of Jesus.

My inspiration for the enterprise was taken from one of my favourite stories, the story of Jesus on the Road to Emmaus.

13 Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15While they were talking and discussing,   Jesus himself came near and went with them,16but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 

How good it is to talk and discuss when things go wrong.  And for these two the bottom had fallen out of their world.

17And he said to them, ‘What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?’ They stood still, looking sad. 18Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, ‘Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?’ 19He asked them, ‘What things?’

Their reply is a wonderful summary of all that Jesus did.  They had recognized something in him.  What was it?  That he was a prophet.  They knew their Hebrew Scriptures, or at least they thought they did.  And they recognized in Jesus one Moses had anticipated, one who stood in the line of prophets from the earliest of days right through to John the Baptist.

They replied, ‘The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. 22Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive.24Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.’ 25

Classic, isn’t it that the men should not believe the women!

Then he said to them, ‘Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?

Jesus was Prophet but more than a prophet.  Messiah, but not the kind of Messiah these two mistakenly were still looking for.  His was a path that would take him through suffering to glory.

Then it is that Jesus does something so very special.

27Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

Wouldn’t it have been wonderful to have had a microphone hidden in the clothing of one of those travelers and to have recorded what Jesus would have said.

Jesus takes them on a whistlestop tour of the Hebrew Scriptures interpreting to them the things about himself in all those Scriptures.

It’s seven miles we are told.   What’s that, a couple of hours.  Not long.

The point I take from this is that the Old Testament needs interpreting.  And it needs interpreting by Jesus.

Microphones weren’t invented in those days.

But the hunch I have been working on is that Jesus’s way of reading the Scriptures really shaped the way those two read the Scriptures afterwards.  When they get back to Jersualem, having met with the risen Christ, they share the joy of resurrection with the other disciples, only to discover that Jesus has appeared to them as well.

Then it is that Jesus appears to them again, with those wonderful words, Peace be with you.

And what does he do?  Has something to eat – broiled fish, and bread.

And then he gets down to it.

‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.’ 45Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 

He does precisely the same thing.

Not just the two, but the others found the way they read the Scriptures we think of as the Old Testament was shaped by Jesus.

The way they preached the message of Jesus in those sermons that are recorded in Acts is shaped by the way the risen Jesus helped them to see how the Scriptures should be read.

The way they came to write down the story of Jesus was shaped by that very approach he had opened up for them to the Scriptures.

That means that if we carefully read the Gospels, and listen out for the way the Gospel writers see Jesus drawing on the Hebrew Scriptures we shall have a strategy for reading these sometimes very difficult books of our Bible.

And we should be able to see a wonderful over-arching story.

Those books of the law do give us an understanding of God’s ways for the world.

Larger than life stories of the beginning give us insights into the world of every generation – that is the world of God’s creation, and we’re to look after that world just as a gardener looks after the garden.

But there’s something that gets into each of us, individually, as a family, as a community, as nations of the world – that draws us away from God, into disobedience of God … and yet God is always there giving people, families, nations the opportunity to make a fresh beginning.

Those true to life stories of Abraham and Sarah, of Isaac and Rebekkah, of Jacob and Rachel of Joseph and ultimately of Moses and Aaron are stories of great faith – but also show the way maps out a way of life for all to follow and the way God’s blessing reaches out through his people to give blessing to all the nations of the world.

What’s at the heart of God’s way for the world?  The ten commandments are reduced by that teacher of the law that put Jesus on the spot, and by Jesus himself in true rabbinic fassion to two – Love God, Love your neighbour.

And in his parting words to the disciples Jesus reduces the two to one … a new commandment I give to you that you love one another as I have loved you for by this shall everyone know you are my disciples.

Love is the measure of the law.

There’s a general principle that emerges in Deuteronomy – obey God,. Things will go well, disobey God and things fall apart.

When things did fall apart when Jerusalem was destroyed and the people taken into exile the Babylonians went off with the  Gold, the bronze, the silver, while the Jewish people took off the law codes, the state archives.

While experts in the law put the law codes together into something very close to the five books of the Torah, the books of the Law that open our Bibles, there were prophetic historians who were piecing together the story of Joshua and the settlement in the land of promise, of Deborah, Gideon, Samson and the Judges, of Samuel, Saul and David and the people’s longing for a king like the nations.  Of the power and glory, blemished as it was, of Solomon and then in subsequent generations of the division of the kingdom into two – the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and the Southern Kingdom of Judah.

Samuel spoke God’s word of challenge at the very first, Nathan spoke God’s word of truth to David – you are the man – who has destroyed not just the marriage of another but his life as well!  What anguish.  And then came those prophets – Isaiah speaking truth to power in the 8th  Century BC with Amos, Hosea and Micah.  In the wake of the collapse of the northern kingdom Jeremiah speaking truth to power as the threat of the Babylonian power emerges together with Nahum, Habakkuk and Zephaniah.  And then those powerful words of Ezekiel with Haggai, Zecharian and Malachi as exile unfolds.  There’s hope in the words of Joel, and of Jonah and of Obadiah.

Prophets who hold the powers that be to account and seek Justice and righteousness.  They give shape to what it takes to be ‘King’ in God’s kingdom’ – the anointed one of God – the messiah

A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse,
   and a branch shall grow out of his roots. 
2 The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
   the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
   the spirit of counsel and might,
   the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. 
3 His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. 

He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
   or decide by what his ears hear; 
4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
   and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
   and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. 
5 Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist,
   and faithfulness the belt around his loins. 
Oh, if only it were so simple.

Obey God and all goes well.

A good general principle.  How it is worked out in the former prophets, how those writing prophets stand for what is good and right and all that is of God.  But the world is a more complex place than that.

In poetry and prayer, in praise and lament, in words of agony and in words of timeless wisdom, the third section  of the Hebrew Scriptures opens with Psalms, Job and Proverbs.  How Jesus treasured the insights of the psalms echoing that Psalm 22 on the cross in his agony – My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?  And yet reaching the glory o fPsalm 24 in resurrection – Who is the King of glory?  The Lord of hosts he is the King of Glory.

And how do you get from the agony of Psalm 22 to the glory of Psalm 24 – Jesus knew it so well.  I am the good shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep.  The Lord is my shepherd I’ll not want – yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for thou art with me, thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

How precious those words to Jesus!

How he valued sharing in the great festivals – it gave a rhythm to his year.  And that rhythm is echoed in our Christian year too.

The five little scrolls of the Megilloth

Song of Solomon at the festival of Passover
Ruth at the festival of Weeks or Pentecost
Lamentations on the Ninth of Av commemorating the destruction of Jerusalem
Ecclesiastes at the festival of booths
Esther   at the festival of Purim

One thing you cannot get away from in the Hebrew Scriptures or in the life and teaching of Jesus and that is that life can be a struggle.  An awful struggle.

Not least because all too often those of faith, find themselves up against the powers that be.

What courage and hope there is in the apocalyptic writing of Daniel!  How Jesus valued that sense of courage and hope in the face of devastation as he contemplated living out our faith in the face of the powers that be.

For Jesus law and prophets were so important – the reading of he law Ezra was so committed to was at the heart of what Jesus was about – what’s written in the law are all the words from Genesis 1 to Deuteronomy 34. Buyt much more important is to ask ‘how do you read the law’.  And that boils down to love for God and love for neighbour.  Ezra and Nehemiah, I and II Chronicles too are concerned to identify exactly who my neighbour is and limit it to my people.

But Jesus sees a much bigger picture.  The time is coming and now is when God is spirit and those who worship him will worship him in spirit and in truth not in a temple located in a far off city but in every place and in every heart.  How do you read the law – well think of a story – not just any story but the story of the  Good Samaritan and realize that all are our neighbours no matter who they are!

What does it all boil down to?

In the sermon on the mount … Jesus is quite sure …

‘In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.

Back to Jesus …

45Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46and he said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, 47and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.48You are witnesses of these things. 

We can be witnesses to these things as we read the Scriptures through the eyes of Jesus and as we do that the Hebrew Scrripures we think of as the Old Testament will come alive in new and wonderful ways.

To read the Scriptures we need to sense Jesus walking the road with us and as we do that we shall find our hearts burning within us as he opens the Scriptures to us.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

The Climax to the Old Testament - 2 Chronicles

It was to have taken us a year.

How appropriate that was the year of the Bible.

It’s actually taken us 19 months.

But at last we have arrived!

We have read through the whole of the Old Testament in the order of the Hebrew Scriptures … and it’s all online, just waiting to be re-ordered into a user friendly format.

And occasionally one or two people have actually had a peep.

And that in a very exciting sense is a point we have reached in our journey.

As we come to an end of the Hebrew Scriptures we are reaching that moment when the task of compiling all this wonderful array of writings of all sorts of shapes and sizes and writing styles into a manageable collection is well under way.

The final set of four books, Ezra, Nehemiah, I and II Chronicles coming as they do at the end of the third section of the Hebrew Scriptures, the Writings, centre around the importance of having a written record of the law and manageable records of the narrative of the people of Israel.

You learn a lot from endings about the people who were writing these books.  You learn a lot about the world Jesus came into.

And the ending of the Book of II  Chronicles comes as a bit of a shock to our system as Christian readers.  After all II Chronicles ends in a very different place from the ending we are accustomed to as English readers in the way our Old Testament is ordered in our Christian Bibles.

That different ending place has a significance for us as we look on to the story of Jesus.

Our Christian Old Testament finishes in the Prophets, specifically with the Prophet Malachi and with Malachi chapter 4.

The Christian Old Testament ends on a note of expectation as it looks to the coming day of the Lord when ‘the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings.”  When people will go out leaping like calves from the stall.  And the wicked will be overcome.

It’s a time to remember the teaching of the books of the Torah, the law.

And it’s a time finally to look to the coming of the prophet Elijah who will herald the coming of that great and awesome day of the Lord.  He will turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the hearts of children to their parents, so that I will  not come and strike the land with a curse.

That reading of the Old Testament finishes with an expectation of the coming of a great Prophet and is full of Messianic expectation.

Mark takes up that story.  Luke takes up that story … and it’s a powerful story.  And we tell our Christian story with an emphasis on the fulfilment of prophecy, with an emphasis on the identify of Jesus as the Messiah.  With the coming of the day of the Lord.

But interestingly, that’s not quite where the New Testament actually starts.

Our New Testament starts with Matthew’s gospel.

And somehow there’s the feel of a continuation not so much from the end point of Malachi, as from the end point of II Chronicles.

Just as the Chronicler uses genealogies to sum up and recapitulate the whole story of the Jewish people, so too Matthew opens with a genealogy that summarises that whole story … and leads us wonderfully to Jesus.

Jesus enters a Jewish world and is very much part of that Jewish world.  One of the worst things that has ever happened in the history of the church is the neglect of that truth.  As soon as followers of Jesus started to think of Christianity as another religion over against Judaism they began to see Jesus as someone distinct from ‘the Jews’.

It’s already beginning by the end of the 1st century, but it really only becomes tragically hard and fast with the seeds of anti-semitism in the wake of Constantine’s conversion and particularly with Augustine.

It is really on since the holocaust that Christian interpreters of the Bible have drawn out the Jewishness of Jesus, the Jewishness of Paul and the Jewishness of their whole world.

That’s something that becomes very apparent if we pay careful attention to the way the Jewish Hebrew Scritpures come to an end.

There is, first of all a wonderful symmetry in the start and finish of the final four books of the writings.  It is the very thing that prompted the oh-so logical Greek translators of the Hebrew Scriptures to rearrange the order.  In our English Bibles the end of II Chronicles leads  beautifully into the beginning of Esra.

In the way these four books are ordered in the Hebrew Scriptures they begin in Ezra in exactly the way they finish in II Chronicles 36.  It is as if there is a wonderful over-arching theme.  We finish II Chronicels as we began Ezra.  With the edict of The Persian Emperor Cyrus allowing the return of the exiles to their homeland and allowing the rebuilding of their temple.

II Chronicles starts with Solomon and tells the story of the divided Kingdoms without including any of the damaging bits about Solomon, with little reference to the turbulent times faced by the Northern Kingdom and with a critical account of the Davidic dynasty in the Southern Kingdom of Judah.

Then the Hebrew Scriptures reach their climax with the fall of Jerusalem and then Cyrus’s proclamation of liberty for the emiles.

22 In the first year of King Cyrus of Persia, in fulfilment of the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord stirred up the spirit of King Cyrus of Persia so that he sent a herald throughout all his kingdom and also declared in a written edict: 23‘Thus says King Cyrus of Persia: The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may the Lord his God be with him! Let him go up.’

Notice three things here for us as Christian readers.

First, the Emperor of the then world Power, Persia, lays claim to ‘all the kingdoms of the earth’.

The emperor is used by God to enable a house to be built for God – that’s to say, a temple.

And that temple will be in a specific location – Judah.

God will then be with his people.

And the people of God will go up to the temple in Jerusalem and so into the presence of God.

This gives us a tremendous insight into what is central for Jewish people.  This is what their Jewishness is all about.

From this moment on Jewish people have had to live with an often hostile non-Jewish power.  And this gives Jewish people a way of coping with that situation.  You will see it on the wall of the Synagogue in Cheltenham.  You will hear it read at every Sabbath gathering of Jewish people throughout the land.

A plaque giving allegiance to the monarch – even though not Jewish, and a prayer of loyal allegiance to the monarch.

That finds its roots in the indebtedness at this moment to a non-Jewish ruler in Cyrus who was so generous to the Jewish people.  This is the climax of the Hebrew Scriptures, this is at the heart of Jewishness – and we must respect them for it.  And you see it in Jesus’ approach to the God-fearing Centurion, in Paul’s words in Romans 13 about obeying the Emperor and in Peter’s words in I Peter too.

Then there is the focus on the temple in Jerusalem, and on the land, on the promise of God’s presence and the final words – Let him go up.  The longing to return to Jerusalem.  The wonderful ‘next year in Jerusalem’.

These few words go a long, long way towards an understanding of the Jewish people in the state of Israel, their willingness to work with Western Powers that are non-Jewish, their focus on temple, on Jerusalem, on the land. And that wonderful sense that God is with us.

But these are the strands that are uppermost for us as Christians as we come to hear the Gospel of Jesus in a Jewish setting.

In Jesus’ day there is a world power.  The Roman Emperor.  And there is a half-Jewish, half-Idumean, would be King of the Jewis exercising massive power in Judea and Galilee – Herod the Great and the Herodian Dynasty.

Matthew opens as non-Jewish magi come seeking a king and they go to Herod the Great expecting him to be in a palace.  Luke opens in the temple, in Jerusalem and dates the beginning of the ministry of Jesus in the time of the Emperor Tiberias.  And Matthew, Mark and John make a great deal of the clash between Jesus and the Herodians.

And then at the climax to the sequence of temptations Jesus is taken to a high mountain top and offered by Satan the kingdoms of the world.  This is the satanic temptation Jesus resists to seize human power and be a world-emperor power.

It’s in John’s gospel right at the outset that the minisry begins in Jersualem and in the temple

Destroy this temple and in three days I will rebuild it.

He was speaking of his own body.

And by John 4 Jesus is suggesting God is neither located in Jerusalem nor in any other place but God is spirit and those who worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

Jesus’ ministry opens with each of these three strands right to the fore.

Jesus is all about the Kingdom coming – but not in thrall to a human power, not located in a particular location, and not in a temple made of stone.

But it is in his presence that all these things find their fulfilment.

This is thrilling and something wonderful to hold on to.

And there is one more thing.

Where do the Hebrew Scriptures finish?  It is with a wonderful promise that God will be with his people.

And where does our Christian new Testament begin.

We have an echo of The Chronicler as the Christian NT opens in Matthew 1 with a genealogy that serves exactly the purpose of the genealogies that I Chronicles opens with – it serves to sum up the story so far – from Abraham to David, from David to Exile from Exile to the coming of Jesus.

Then Matthew goes on to tell us who this Jesus is.

Who is Jesus?

21She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ 22All this took place to fulfil what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 
23 ‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
   and they shall name him Emmanuel’,
which means, ‘God is with us.’ 

God is with us.

The whole story of the Hebrew Scriptures is finding its fulfilment in Jesus –

Whoever is among you of all his people, may the Lord his God be with him

Jesus.  Emmanuel.  God with us.

Let him go up!

If the first book of our Christian New Testament starts where the Hebrew Scriprtures in II Chronicles left off, so too does its ending!

The promise is still there – Whoever is among you of all his people, may the Lord his God be with him.  But the challenge is no longer Let him go up to the temple in Jerusalem in Judah.

Now the challenge is to go into all the world and know that Jesus is with us always.

The Jesus who fulfils all the Scriptures, Law, Prophets and Writings says not just to his disciples but to us …

And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Who are we? 1 Chronicles

Endings are fascinating – they tell you a lot!

As the first part of the Hebrew Scriptures comes to an end the Book of Deuteronomy runs through the heart of the law once again – as the very title given to the book in Greek suggests it is as it were a second reading of the law.

Fascinating that as the third section of the Hebrew Scriptures comes to an end, the Writings, they reach their climax with one last re-telling of the history of the people Israel.

The Hebrew Scriptures finish with I and II Chronicles.

The history of the first generations of the people from the beginnings of humanity to Saul, the first of the Kings, are encapsulated in the first nine chapters of 1 Chronicles in a sequence of genealogies.

One massive summary.

And then the remainder of I Chronicles tells briefly of Saul and at length of David.

The writer of I Chronicles is quiet open about using sources – the same kind of sources as are drawn on by the writers of I and II Samuel that are part of the former prophets in the second section of the Hebrew Scriptures the Prophets.

As the collection of books that make up the Hebrew Scriptures come to a climax it is as if a number of things need to be stressed and a number of questions are uppermost.

They are an entirely different set of questions from the ones asked by the writers of Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings.

Those prophetic writers were perplexed by the disaster that had befallen the people of Israel in the exile.  How could this have happened?  They tell the story of their nation in order to try to respond to that question.  They see just how far the people and particularly their rulers had departed from the word of God and the way God wanted them to follow – and in large measure that accounted for the collapse of the people.

IT was a stirring call to return to the ways of God, to shape the lives of individuals and of society by the values of God’s way of ruling.  These are very much prophetic books that challenge the people and their rulers.

I and II Chronicles come from that period when under Persian rule the people of Israel return to Jerusalem, set about rebuilding the city, the temple and the nation.

The question  now is quite different.  It’s not … what’s gone wrong?

It is rather a question of identify.  Who are we?  Where do we find our identify?

Hence the genealogies.

We are the people who belong to the extended families that made up the tribes of Israel and became the Kingdoms of Israel.  This is who we are.  Our identity as the people of God is secured by our belonging to this particular people.

Where do we find our identify?

We are the people who were shaped into a kingdom of God’s people supremely by David?

Where do we find our identify?  In the temple that is in the process of being rebuilt and taking shape again – and it is the temple that the whole story of David leads up to.

What is important about that identity is the allegiance we have to the ways of God – just as our ancestors did before us.

This is powerful stuff.

And it is good.

It is important in understanding the nature of the Jewishness of Jesus and of his times.

But something is very different here in I Chronicles from the story that unfolds in I and II Samuel.

What is it?

Read I and II Samuel and you are aware of all the tensions between the people and Samuel over the big question of whether or not you should have a king, of tensions between Saul and David.  David’s life is very blemished.  His adultery with Bathsheba – his complicity in the murder of her husband.

None of that is present in I Chronicles.

The focus is different.

It really is a temple focus – a large part of the story has to do with the way David brings the ark into Jerusalem, establishes a covenant once again with the people, then draws up plans for the temple – and whole chapters are devoted to lists of temple officials, priestly families and others.

AS the New Testament opens, Jesus is part of this story.

The first of the Gospel writers, Matthew, opens with a genealogy that could have been taken straight from I Chronicles.

It’s interesting how the genealogy does the same thing as it does in I Chronicles.  It is effectively a summary of the history that goes behind the start of Matthew’s gospel.

It is stylised and ordered – shaped into three lots of fourteen – from Abraham to David, from David to the exile, from the exile to the birth of Christ.

This is in itself a powerful commentary on the Old Testament story and gives us an insight into the key turning points that are so significant for this writer.

Abraham up to David.  David up to the exile.  The exile up to the coming of the Christ.

It is as if this writer owns the story told through the genealogies of I Chronicles.  But at the same time he stirs things.  Jesus is fully Jewish … but also Jesus now again shapes the story of Jewishness and gives it a new perspective.

Nowhere is that difference more apparent than when you put together I Chronicles 2:10-15 and 16.

You can see how this is genealogy but also a prompt that reminds you of the history. Of David the youngest of the sons.

Come over into Matthew and two things are added in.


Do you notice the tiny additions that are so telling.  And they anticipate the story that will go to the heart of the story of Jesus.

Mention of Rahab – who is a prostitute

And of Ruth – who is of course a Moabitess.

Two things happen there.

Jesus is fully part of this story.  But Jesus is going to move the story on.

Jesus is going to be the one who will mix with those who are rejected, who are not ‘so-called’ pure, who are marginalised and left out of the reckoning.  This is anticipating the stories of Jesus mixing with prostitutes and the marginalised.

This also anticipates Jesus breaking barriers down between Jew and Gentile.

Jesus ushers in something new again – no longer a focus on the location of the temple and its rebuilding – but on the presence of God in Christ and the presence of God in Christ in the people who hear his word and act on it.

The Kingdom of God is a fulfilment of all the prophets stood for – how important to take into account the challenges, the critique – and not simply the idealisation of things here.

This is exciting stuff.

One of the things that is so exciting is the affirmation of individuals.

9:28ff – the cooks

Chapter 25 – the temple musicians.

Wonderful gifts to affirm and share.

The gifts we each of us have are to be treasured and affirmed too.