A Song for the Spirit

Come, O come, Creator Spirit,
You who hovered as a dove,
Brooding over the formless deep,
Warming unborn Earth with love;
Move once more in power o’er us,
Speed the Word upon your wing;
Let us hear that Word addressing
Us, to make a brand new thing.

Come, O come, inspiring Spirit,
You who set the bush ablaze,
Burning fierce, yet unconsuming,
Drawing the lost shepherd’s gaze;
From the fire a voice proclaiming:
“I have heard My people’s cry;
I AM with you in your speaking,
I, the words, you will supply.”

Come, O come, You fiery Spirit,
You who set the Mount alight;
From its height, Your Voice commanding
Ransomed folk of Your delight;
Speak again, and let us tremble
At the sound of love divine;
Standing small with awe before You,
To Your Word, our hearts incline.

Come, O come, life-breathing Spirit,
You who hosts from bones can raise;
Speak Your Word of life among us,
Form a people for Your praise!
Let us look at all around us
Hopeful of your quick’ning pow’r;
Mighty wind, come rushing through us,
And in love, this world devour!

Come, O come, conceiving Spirit
You who fell in Galilee,
Virgin’s womb with God-head swelling,
Worker of the mystery!
Fall on us, Your pow’r come o’er us,
Plant in us the life of God;
Christ in us, the hope of glory:
Let us bear His love abroad.

Come, O come, empow’ring Spirit,
You who named Jesus the Son;
You who Christ, our King, anointed
To declare the battle won;
Send on us the self-same Spirit,
Spirit of adoption cry:
“Abba! Father!” in our praying,
Tell us our identity.

Come, O come, victorious Spirit,
You who raised Christ from the dead;
Give us life, both now and ever
Till we at the last are wed;
Fill us, guide us, change us, lead us,
Fruit of hallowed beauty grow:
Love, joy, peace and patient kindness,
Bounty, truth, meek self-control.

Come, O come, explosive Spirit,
You who filled the Upper Room;
Blowing as a storm from heaven
Swirling with a flaming plume;
Fall on us, O tongues of fire,
We await Your Pow’r on high;
Give us words of newfound boldness,
Speak from this new Sinai!

Come, O come, revealing Spirit,
You who points us to the Son;
Draw us deeper in communion
With the God-head, now begun;
Pierce the clouds that hide Your presence,
Hidden sin, give grace to show;
Strike this heart of hardened granite,
Let the living waters flow!

Come, O come, mysterious Spirit,
You who blow where’er You will;
Be pleased to dwell within Your Church,
Conveying Christ to sinners still;
Birth us in baptismal waters,
Meet us in the bread and wine,
Call us in the Word proclaimed
To the fellowship divine!

Tune: Blaenwern

Christ is Lord, Get With The Programme!

In light of Christ’s resurrection and ascension, these seven words are the essence of the gospel, the foundation of all faithful Christian kerygma. In this strange in-between time, after Ascension and before Pentecost, we know that Christ is Lord, for He has been raised from the dead and is seated at God’s right hand as the One in whom God’s omnipotence is wholly invested; however, we await the promised Holy Spirit to clothe us with power from on high so that we might proclaim this reality and call those who don’t yet know or haven’t yet heard to get with the programme.

That such a bold, brash and abrasive message should be considered Good News may come as a surprise to many. After all, to put it like that doesn’t make it obvious why it’s Good News for us, does it? It’s not an attractive sales pitch. No, the fact is we’d expect (and much prefer) someone to tell us the twelve reasons Jesus can make my life better. And yet, the Ascension doesn’t allow us to make such a fundamentally self-centred presentation of the gospel. Of course the gospel is Good News for us, but it is Good News precisely because it reveals a salvation that is fundamentally Godward, realised in God ultimately getting what God wants.

Look at the proclamation of the apostles after Pentecost. Their concern isn’t with apologetics; but with clearly setting before people the nature of reality as it has been disclosed at Easter: “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” (Acts 2:36) The basis of our talk about Christ isn’t, therefore, concerned primarily with His usefulness for us; but rather, it is a simple statement of fact: like it or not, Jesus Christ is Lord, and whether we acknowledge it or not, we now live in light of that divinely constituted reality.

Will Willimon, in his refreshingly blunt but deliberate manner, summarises the content of our announcement thus: “God has won a great victory. The bloody, crucified Lamb rules. Join up, or else stay stupidly out of step.” The premise of our preaching isn’t that Easter is good for us, though it is. Instead, the premise of our preaching is that Easter is a fact and therefore we need to sit up and pay attention. The God-man we thought we’d killed off on Good Friday is alive. The Word we thought we’d silenced at the Cross won’t be shut up. The poor, itinerant Jewish Rabbi from the backwaters of Galilee whom we crucified is Lord.

And yet, that is exactly why this message is Good News. Christ, the crucified God—He is Lord. He is Lord, who assumes human flesh on our behalf. He is Lord, who came down from heaven for us and for our salvation. He is Lord, who bore the judgement of God in our stead and rose that we might participate in His risen life. This Christ is Lord. That’s why it’s Good News. So, what are you waiting for? Get with the programme!

A Hymn For Easter Day

Alleluia! Christ is risen!
All you hosts of saints, reply:
He is risen! Alleluia!
Living now, no more to die.
Death is swallowed up in vict’ry,
Beaten is the final en’my:
Jesus Christ shall rule on high!

Alleluia! Christ is risen!
This our hope against the foe;
Christ is Victor! Love has conquered!
Let the earth His kingdom show.
O Death, we see your empty hand,
On this ground we shall take our stand:
Christ is Lord! And let all know!

Tune: W Zlobie Lezy

One Thing

One thing I ask, and this I seek with all my heart:
That I may dwell within Your house, O Lord,
That I may stay within its walls forever,
And there Your praise shall be my only word;
For I have seen Your beauty and Your majesty
Revealed to all in breath-taking display:
How Your dear Son, in fullness of humanity,
Humbled Himself, to die for me that day.

One thing I need, on Him henceforth to stay my eyes,
And on His cross, to ever fix my gaze;
To hang on Him, who hanged for me so freely,
O, I could stare in wonder all my days!
Behold, I’ve seen the glory of the Lord, and live:
Those five rich wounds, which speak of liberty!
No eye has seen, no mind has known the sorrow,
Or beauty like a thief upon a tree.

One thing I know, and it is all I need to know:
The power and wisdom of my God to save;
And this by what to human eyes is foolishness:
The sinless God, His life for sinners gave.
I can but guess what love it was possessed Him
To trade His throne in glory for a cross;
But this I trust, and of it I’m persuaded:
To know such Love, I gladly count all loss.

One thing I lack, and daily shall I seek it:
The love that empties all it has to give;
I want to know and share in Jesus’ sufferings,
And so somehow, begin His life to live;
Give me that love, so inexpressibly divine;
Give me that love, so my self-love may cease;
Give me that love, He showed for me on Calvary:
I gave Him death, He gives me life and peace.

Tune: Londonderry Air

There Must Be More

Preached at Holy Trinity, Claygate
15th March 2015: LttF Mission Week
John 10:1-10

All this week, we’ve been thinking about what it means to live life to the full. And you might be sitting there thinking to yourselves, “I know about life to the full, I live in Claygate! I have a large comfortable house with five bedrooms, three bathrooms and two kitchens (just to keep up with Ed Miliband). I have two German cars on the driveway, and a triple garage to keep them in.” And yet, at some point or other, I bet we can probably all remember saying, “There must be more to life than this.” Instinctively, I think we know that there’s more to life than most of us have yet experienced, even in Claygate. And there is. We just don’t know where to find it. That is, until we meet Jesus.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10)

Starbucks say their mission is “to inspire and nurture the human spirit one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.” Now that’s a pretty remarkable claim for a cup of ground coffee beans and hot water in a green paper cup. But Jesus’s claim goes far beyond that. Jesus’s says His mission is no less than to give us life in all its glorious fullness. A prominent Christian in the second century explained it saying that in Jesus, God became what we are in order to make us what He is. In other words, the whole point of Jesus’s coming among us—His life, His teachings, His death and His resurrection—was to give us life, His life, life to the full.

It’s an incredible assertion, and one which we all need to decide what we’re going to do with. And so, this morning, I just want to draw out three things from Jesus’s words about the life He offers:

  1. The life Jesus offers is the only life that can truly satisfy;
  2. The life Jesus offers is life in relationship with Him;
  3. The life Jesus offers is a life that looks like His own.
  1. The life Jesus offers is the only life that can truly satisfy

Jesus warns us in no uncertain terms: there are thieves out there. There are all kinds of things which seem to promise abundant life, but which ultimately leave us disappointed. Growing up, through school and even into university, I poured all my energies into achieving academic success. I sought to gain a sense of identity and self-worth through being top of the class. Generally speaking, I was pretty good at it. But that so-called ‘success’ left me feeling empty. Getting straight ‘A’s may sound great, but it didn’t truly satisfy. Instead, I measured my value by the last grade I received and I lived in the constant fear of failure.

There’s a wonderful scene in the film Cool Runnings, when Derice (the sprinter turned bobsled driver) is sitting in his hotel room asking his coach Irv Blitzer why he cheated when he was racing. He says: “It’s quite simple, really. I had to win. You see, Derice, I had made winning my whole life, and when you make winning your whole life, you have to keep on winning, no matter what. Understand?” “No,” says Derice, “I don’t understand. You won two gold medals. You had it all.” And very candidly, Irv replies, “Derice, a gold medal is a wonderful thing. But if you’re not enough without it, you’ll never be enough with it.”

If God made us for Himself, then nothing but God can satisfy us. Not good grades. Not money. Not power. Not sex. Not anything. Only Him. Those other things aren’t bad in themselves, but when we make them the thing in our lives, they simply can’t bear the weight we put on them. Instead of giving us life, they rob us of life. Many times, in fact, achieving those goals only will disappoint us more because we afterwards we realise that they could never actually give us what were after, and hoped they would. Eventually, they end up destroying us. We want life to the full; but we look for it in all the wrong places.

  1. The life Jesus offers is life in relationship with Him

The life we’re looking for is a life that comes from knowing Jesus. Later on in John’s Gospel Jesus says, “This is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3). Until we know Jesus, we might be breathing; but we don’t have the life God made us for. And if Jesus says that He came to give us life, then the implication is that without Him we’re dead. Think about it. Do you usually give someone something that they already have? No, of course you don’t. Jesus didn’t come to make good people slightly better; He came to make dead people alive. Jesus came to do for us what we could not do for ourselves. He came to give us the life we were made for, but have never yet lived.

Life to the full is not something we can get for ourselves. It’s a gift. If we could go out and get it for ourselves, we’d have no need of Jesus, or the life He offers. But we can’t. That’s the point. And so we must open ourselves to receive with empty hands the gift that Jesus gives us (just as we will around this table in a moment). And it stands to reason that if life to the full is something only Jesus can give, then life to the full means life lived with Jesus. It means entrusting ourselves to Him as the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for sheep like, and as our Gateway into God through whom we go in and out and find rich pasture. Such a life is marked by knowing God and having an intimate relationship with Him, enabled by what Jesus has done for us on the cross, and overflowing with a deep sense of gratitude.

  1. The life Jesus offers is a life that looks like His own

If you want to know what life to the full looks like, it looks like Jesus. Jesus’s offer to us is to make us as alive as He is, alive to God and brimming with all the life and energy of God. Jesus doesn’t just want to give us a pulse; He wants to synchronise our hearts with the rhythm of God’s own. At the beginning of John’s Gospel, we’re told that no one has ever seen God, but Jesus, who is close to the Father’s heart, has made Him known (John 1:18). It’s the image of a child held on the parent’s chest. Jesus, John says, listens in to what makes God tick like no one else. Their hearts beat in perfect unison.

And yet, John says, “To all who received Him, who believed in His name, He gave power to become children of God” (John 1:12). Through the gift of His Spirit, Jesus offers to give us the kind of life He has; to make us children in God’s family. Jesus didn’t come merely to shock us into life with the defibrillator, but to fit us with a kind of pacemaker through His Spirit. The gift of God in Jesus is the opportunity to recover our identity as the beloved children of a loving Heavenly Father, whose hearts, like Jesus’s own may beat in time with His—in harmony with His love, His mercy, His justice, His beauty and His truth.

Betty knew about that. So did Jim. When Betty moved into a nursing home in her 80s, she saw the lifelessness of the place, especially around mealtimes, and made it her mission to inject life and joy into her conversations. Similarly, Jim was a retired vicar. He was very active in his day, but again moved into a nursing home and was increasingly frail. Yet when I visited, he insisted on being kept up to date with events in the church because while he couldn’t help physically or even attend as regularly as he wanted to, he knew he could pray. Both Betty and Jim knew God and they knew they had a God-given calling in Jesus to live like Jesus in the world. But do we?

Many  will, I’m sure, have been coming to church for years. But perhaps all this time you’ve never actually accepted that offer to know God for yourself, and to be drawn into the life of Jesus. Maybe you’re unsure whether you have or not. If that’s you, please can I encourage you to say ‘Yes’ to Jesus’s offer. Jesus came so that we might have life to the full. Do we have it? If we don’t it’s not because Jesus isn’t offering it. It’s because we haven’t yet opened our hands to receive it.

As long as we think we’re already alive, we’ll never commit to embarking on the arduous uncertainties involved in following Jesus. But, once we realise that there really isn’t any life worth the name apart from Jesus, we’ll grab hold of Him with both hands and not let Him go until He gives us that life through His Spirit and we make it fully our own. So let me ask you this very simple question: are you yet alive? Jesus came to give us life. Have you got it? Have you got Him? “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:12).

In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Jesus: The Life and Soul of the Party

Talk at Holy Trinity, Claygate
12th March 2015: LttF Mission Week
John 2:1-12

The American journalist Henry Louis Mencken once said of Puritans that they were people who were “desperately afraid that someone, somewhere, might be having a good time.” I think the same is often thought of Christians generally. But, if that’s the impression that some Christians have rather unfortunately given, then it certainly not something they’ve picked up from Jesus. In fact, it may come as rather a surprise that one of the most frequently made criticisms of Jesus by people in His own day wasn’t that His theology was suspect or that His biblical interpretation wasn’t good enough, but rather that He partied too much, and with all the wrong sort of people.

I imagine that a lot of you will have heard the story of the prodigal son. The son tells his father to drop dead and hand over his share of the inheritance. The father hands over the cash and the son jets off to a far country to blow it all on wine and loose women. When the money runs out and he’s reduced to living like a pig, the little wretch decides to go crawling back home to beg his Dad for a job. The father sees him coming and runs out to meet him saying, “Son, you wanted a party; I’ll show you a party.” He kills the fattened calf and organises the best party you’ve ever seen. That’s what God’s like, Jesus says. God knows how to throw a party!

Clearly, nobody could ever have said of Jesus showed too much restraint when it came to having a good time. That’s something we see from this story from John’s Gospel also. Where Jesus is, joy is.

There’s a wedding. Jesus and His friends are invited. Traditionally, Jewish wedding festivals would have lasted an entire week; far more than the meal and the disco that we’re used to. What’s more, the entire town would have turned out to be part of it. It was the groom’s job to organise refreshments; especially, ensuring that the throats of his guests were kept well-lubricated.   To run out of wine would be a disaster at any time, but to do so at your own wedding, that would have been a cause of immense shame. It would have left the newly wed couple’s reputation in tatters before their married life had even begun. That was, however, the rather dangerous and unfortunate predicament this particular groom found himself in.

What we see, though, is Jesus stepping up and meeting the groom in his hour of need. He tells the servants standing nearby to fill 6 huge stone jars (each holding between 20 and 30 gallons) with water. They must have thought this was strange, but they did it anyway. And when they offer a glass to the MC, he’s astonished. “Where did you find this?” he asks. “Don’t you know you’re supposed to bring out the vintage Dom Perignon first? You only bring out Lidl’s own brand of cava when everyone’s so smashed they can’t tell the difference!” The water is turned to wine, and not just any old wine either; but the best wine you’ve ever tasted—some 150 odd gallons of it! A good time is had by all, and where is Jesus? Slap bang in the middle of it, responsible for it.

This is what Jesus does. This is what Jesus is about. He meets us in our need and turns a bad situation into a cause for celebration. On the cross, Jesus takes upon Himself all the shame, the embarrassment, and the muck our lives, and bears it for Himself. In the story, neither the MC nor the groom, know where the extra wine comes from. Only the servants know that. But Jesus doesn’t take the credit. He lets the groom take the credit. And that’s what Jesus does for us too. He swaps His riches for our poverty, and His glory for our shame. This is the great exchange Jesus offers for us.

The Bible speaks about God bringing forth “wine to gladden the heart of man.” But Jesus shows us a God who gives us something even better than wine to gladden our hearts: His very own life and Spirit to fill us. What Jesus did to that very ordinary water, He wants to do to the whole creation (us included). If you want to know the essence of what Christianity is all about, it’s that God is throwing a huge party, which Jesus Christ is the life and soul of, and we are all invited. Following Jesus isn’t always easy; but the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus is greater than anything in the world. That’s why so many people are prisoners for their faith in places like North Korea, Sudan and Iran—because they know that where Jesus is, joy is.

Psalm 34:8 says: “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!” That’s Jesus’s invitation to us. That’s all we have to do. It isn’t difficult. It doesn’t take any effort on our part. It doesn’t require years of training as a sommelier. Anyone can do it. Just, taste what Jesus has to offer. It’s no good just looking. It’s no good just nosing. That’s fine, they have their place. By all means, examine the facts, test out the arguments, talk to the people who really know Jesus and ask them what difference He has made to their lives. But at some point, you’ve got to put the glass to your lips and taste it for yourself. That’s how you’ll know whether it’s good or not. I have, and I know it is. But don’t take my word for it. Taste it and see for yourself.

Some of you, perhaps, are just starting to explore the claims of Jesus, and want to know more. And so maybe you actually need to start looking at and nosing the glass that Jesus is holding out to you. For others, though, you might have been doing that for quite a while already, and it’s time you stopped smelling it and started tasting it. And if that’s you, can I encourage you to go on and take that next step? Tell Jesus that you want Him in your life; that there’s a lot you’re ashamed of, but you want Him to come and transform you the way transformed the water into wine.

Lord Jesus, we thank you that where you are, joy is. Thank you that at the cross, you took our poverty and our shame, and made it into riches and honour. Help us take hold of the new life you offer us and taste for ourselves the joy of your inexpressible love for us. Amen.

Caught Red-Handed

Preached at Holy Trinity, Claygate
11th March 2015: LttF Mission Week
John 8:1-11

I met Jesus once. Changed my life, it did. He saved me from certain death; gave me a second chance—a second chance I didn’t deserve, let me tell you. Can I tell you the story? Ok. Here’s what happened…

It was first thing in the morning. I’d already been up a while fixing my husband Eli his breakfast. I say, ‘husband’; sometimes I felt more like his slave than his wife. Anyway, as usual, this particular morning, he wolfs down his porridge, says a quick ‘goodbye’, and he’s out the door and on his way to work in the fields. “Won’t see him till late now, I bet,” I said to myself. Counting to ten (to make sure he’s out of earshot), I let out a little scream. “Is this really what my life has become?” I thought to myself. I tossed his dirty bowl in the sink, grabbed my coat; and then, looking left and right down the street and being content that nobody was around, I snuck out the door.

I scurried down the quiet back alleys. Finally, I got to Jacob’s house—it’s the big one on the corner, you’d know it if you saw it. I went around to the back door and tapped on it three times, very gently. Cautiously, the door opened just a crack, and Jacob poked his head out. He peered around. Then he pulled me inside, and we, uh… Well, you know—you’re adults; I’m sure you can imagine. We started making love. I know what you’re thinking: “How could you? He’s not your husband. Tut-tut.” Yeah, well I know you would never do anything like that; but I did. What’s more, I got caught too.

There we were under the covers, when, suddenly, there’s a crash at the door. Two men burst in. I try hiding, burying my face under the sheets. It’s no good. They pull the covers off, and I’m exposed. They start dragging me out of bed. They pick my clothes up off the floor and throw them at me, telling me to cover myself up—not so much concerned about protecting my modesty as shielding their pure, innocent and blameless eyes from filth like me. And when I’m sufficiently covered for their liking, they drag me into the street by my hair, half-naked, the clothes hanging off me. Then they haul me through the streets like a bin bag.

As they were dragging me along, I wondered, “How did they find me? How did they know? No one saw me go in, I could have sworn it.” Before you know it, I’m convinced it’s a conspiracy. “Where’s Jacob?” I asked. “Why haven’t they pulled him into the streets like a bin bag?” I may be no choirgirl, but I know what the law says. Moses commanded not only the woman caught in adultery, but also their partners to be put to death as well. So where’s Jacob? It’s his fault I’m here. He seduced me. It wasn’t my idea. How could I say ‘no’? I’m just a weak little woman. I couldn’t do anything different, could I? This is a man’s world. And in a man’s world, it’s always the woman’s fault.

As the list of excuses kept rolling through my mind, I overheard my captors saying they were taking me to see Jesus. Jesus—I’d heard of Jesus. Some of my friends said He was different from all the other preachers; He was a friend of the friendless—he’d eat and drink with all kinds of people: tax collectors and sinners. Even if that were true, which I doubted, I was convinced He certainly wouldn’t want anything to do with me. I’d been found in bed with another man. I knew the sentence was death. I was resigned to it. He couldn’t do anything about it. Though, in truth like I said, it wasn’t just that I didn’t think He could do anything about it; I thought He’d be just like the rest of them—all too keen to do away with another no-good ‘sinner’ like me.

After what seemed an eternity, we came to the Temple courts. Jesus was still teaching at the time, a big crowd of people gathered around Him. I was paraded in and made to stand right there before Him. “Teacher, we caught this woman in bed with a man who isn’t her husband. The law says we ought to kill such women; isn’t that right?” It was almost like they were setting a trap for Him. They knew the answer; why bother asking the question? The law’s the law. If the law said I had to die; then I had to die. Only if Jesus really were a friend of tax collectors and sinners (as some of my friends had said) could this make sense. But would Jesus befriend me at the risk of getting Himself up on charge by contradicting the law? I doubted it.

Jesus just sat there, writing in the ground with His finger. My accusers kept badgering Him saying, “Teacher, aren’t you going to give us an answer? What should we do to her?” they kept asking. He wasn’t taking the bait. Finally, after minutes of being pestered, Jesus stood up straight and said, “Let the first stone be thrown by the one among you who has not sinned.” Then He sat back down and started drawing in the dirt again. Well, you could have heard a pin drop. For a few moments, they stood there, dumbstruck, and then, one by one, led by the elders, they started dropping their stones and walking off slowly and sheepishly with their tails between their legs.

I’ve never seen anything like it! Normally, those Pharisees waltz through the streets like they own the place, but not today. One word from Jesus and those who came out to pass sentence on me, found themselves sentenced! The crowd dispersed, and I was left alone with Jesus. I felt naked, and not just because I was only half-dressed. I felt vulnerable. I felt defenceless. Jesus may not have been looking at me—His eyes still fixed on the ground; but still I felt His gaze penetrating me, searching me to the very depths of my soul. In that moment, all my excuses, all my half-hearted justifications, all my vain attempts to rationalise the way I’d been living, evaporated. I was guilty, and I knew it.

By rights, Jesus should have picked up a stone and hurled it at me, right there and then. How could I stand in front of someone who had never sinned? I couldn’t. I kept waiting, bracing myself for the thud of the cold, hard, abrasive stone against my flesh; but it never came. Instead Jesus looked up, and said to me, “Woman, where’s everyone gone? Hasn’t anyone condemned you?” “No,” I answered, “No one.” Then He said to me words which I’ll never forget: “Then neither do I condemn you. Get on your way, and from now on live a new life, free from these sins of the past.” And you know what, I will—not in my own power, but in the power of Jesus’s love for the unlovable like me, holding back the stones.

I stood before Jesus with nowhere to hide; but I didn’t need to. Not that I could, anyway. Jesus didn’t condemn me, though He could have. He forgave me, gave me a second chance. How can I ever repay Him for that? I can’t. But the least I can do is grab hold of the new lease of life He’s given me. And somehow, I can’t help shake the feeling that what He did for me that day came at great cost to Him. After all, people don’t like being reminded of hard truths about themselves. I wouldn’t be surprised if, one of these days, Jesus gets a stone or two thrown at Him–or worse. Jesus sees me just as I am and loves me all the same. He really is a friend of the friendless! I’ve been caught red-handed, the truth about me exposed; but somehow, before Jesus, that truth has set me free. I’m known! I’m loved! I’m free!