Celebrations


In this part of the world, the church has a terrible habit of encouraging our folks to take the summer off from church. It’s true. We may mot say it overtly, but think of all the messages we send. Often churches change summer worship hours (until last summer ours was one of them), programming is cut back or all together eliminated, choirs take the summer of off, coffee hours are cut back or eliminated, no meetings, no bible studies, no activity.  Then we have have services after Labour Day with catchy names like, “Gathering Sunday,” “Home Coming Sunday,” “Start Up Sunday,” and the non-apologetic “Welcome Back Sunday!”   It’s as if we put a sign on the door in the last Sunday in June that read’s “Be Back in 9 Weeks!”

The Feast of St Aidan is on August 31st. Each year we commemorate the patron of our church on the Sunday nearest to that day. It’s been a little lackluster in the past because… well it falls in the summer. Sadly St Aidan did not have the good sense to die after Labour Day weekend to make it more convenient on us postmodern Christians. But this year was different. This year we made a conscious effort to go ahead and plan a Patronal Festival. We planned a baptism for you Heathcliff Sheen, we planned a pot luck lunch after church, we ordered the biggest bouncy castle I have ever seen, we put on games for the kids, we had t Aidan himself come by for a visit. Morning church was terrific. People came. The church was ‘open for business’ and it was a ‘Blockbuster Sunday.’ We were celebrating the Celtic Bishop whose pilgrim ministry  has oozed down through the centuries to shape the practice of how our community in the Northwest corner of London does church. Surely a Festival Sunday would require more than a couple of hours on a Sunday Morning. There had to be more. So we planned an evening concert in the back yard. We booked a great Bluegrass band called Kevin’s Bacon Train, who covered everything from Pink Floyd, to Guns and Roses, to The Tragically Hip, to the Bangles. Iain Stevenson a Youth from our parish rocked our yard with great music including Ed Sherran. Anima blessed us with Latin music.  We toasted St Aidan, we danced, we sang, we ate, we celebrated as a parish should. And people came!

Seeing our seniors, our children, our millennials, our gen Xers, our baby-boomers and our seniors dancing together in the back yard with so much joy in the hearts as the sun set on a beautiful summer day in late August was a real gift to this priest. I looked out at everyone Sunday night and quietly prayed – “Thank you God!”

Carrol Belanger is a Warden at St Aidan’s. She is in her first year gaining experience as she goes. She took the lead on this event and planned a wonderful day. Thank you Carrol for your work! You made a great day for so many people on Sunday. You had a great support from Morgan Sherlock and together you recruited a great troop of volunteers. Thank you to all who helped and all who attended. It was the first of many at St Aidan’s.

You can see the Preaching, Baptism of Heathcliff, and some of the after fun on this video

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now REMAINS the Time 


Over dinner tonight I learned that the General Synod had done a recount on last night’s vote… The motion to amend the marriage canon has PASSED! I cannot imagine what the folks in the room must have gone through these last couple of days. I am relieved that the church has taken the decision it has. It’s what I had hoped for and if you read my last post, you will have discerned that I bitterly disappointed when we thought the motion had failed. 

We now have a lot of work to do. That the motion has passed is good news and communicates an important message to LGBTQ2S Anglicans and it communicates a clear message to the wider society. But for those who last night were celebrating, today brings pain and sadness. It is critical that we be patient with those who find this decision difficult. That said, we do not need to bend over backwards for those who have been most visceral in expressing hateful ideas. 

Now remains time! Now remains the time to tell those marginalized that we regret the fact that it has taken so long to get to this point. Now remains the time to call out hateful and bullying behavior wherever it is found in the church and declare it to be unacceptable. Now remains the time to offer support to our Council of General Synod, and our Primate Fred Hiltz. Now remains the time to call on our Bishops who bravely declared last night and this morning there willingness to provide guidelines for same sex marriage to carry through with that commitment. It should not take another three years for this to happen. Now remains the time to love. “Let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. (1 John 4:7).” 

Finally a word about our Primate. The Most Rev’d Fred Hiltz has managed these past days with a great deal of poise and grace. He had to carry a heavy burden at this synod, and carries one yet moving forward. I watched a good portion of this synod on live stream. His leadership has been impressive to me. I am grateful that we have a leader who demanded a high standard, and modelled what it looks like to actively listen to ‘the other.’ Thank you Primate. 

Our delegates from Huron have been put through the wringer as have all the delegates. Pray for them. They are coming home emotionally spent and exhausted. Thank you to our Bishops +Linda and +Bob for your leadership. Now remains the time for us to work with these leaders to make full access for all members to all sacraments a reality. Now remains the time to say THANK YOU! 

Now is the Time


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The Anglican Church of Canada is hosting its General Synod – a meeting that happens once every three years – at Richmond Hill. I have been following the synod by live feed. Yesterday they were invited to consider a motion that would change the Marriage Canon in the Anglican Church to include the Marriage of Same Sex Couples.  Our Primate,  The Most Rev’d Fred Hiltz worked hard to assure safety and dignity for all who were present. Sadly, his best efforts were ignored by many speakers who rattled their gums at microphones about ‘peoples sinful choices’ and ‘how hard it is for me to vote against the motion,’ and how people who are gay should be ‘dealt with.’ My heart was breaking as I heard Anglican delegates to our national church’s governance meeting speaking about LGBTQ2S members of our church as less than human, quoting bits of scripture as if had the verse scrawled out by God’s hand onto the beautifully gold embossed bibles!

In our governance model, a change of the canons requires a 2/3 majority in all three houses: Bishops, Clergy, Lay and it requires that majority in two readings, in other words, it would be three years later before it could receive it’s final vote of approval. Last night our church voted overwhelmingly in favour of allowing Same Sex Marriages. Trouble is, it failed to achieve the 2/3 majority in one house — THE CLERGY! It failed by 1 vote. What have we done? What have we communicated to our LGBTQ2S members and to the world around us.

The theme of this Synod is “You are My Witnesses.” Well what have we borne witness to?

We have witnessed that Robert’s Rules of Order have been maintained, but the rule of human kindness has been shattered and the theology of Christian hospitality was invited to leave the room. We have witnessed the church forget the heart of it’s ministry – the baptismal covenant. Where was the commitment to the baptismal call to “respect the dignity of every human being?” We have witnessed a reliving of the Parabale of the Good Samaritan. In the wake of Sunday’s Gospel about the Good Samaritan, I could not help but yell in an aghast astonishment that once again the priest as crossed the road – this time to ignore the Queer in the ditch! We have witnessed a church that says they honour the sanctity of same sex relationships while they refuse to act to show what respect and honour look like, We cannot continue to say that we uphold the sanctity of Same Sex relationships while we continue to refuse those living in committed relationships the sacrament of marriage. We are talking out of both sides of our mouth.

Matters of human dignity and respect should not be decided by pushing the button of a clicker as if we are showing our approval of one candidate over the next. When the vulnerable suffer, we as a church are called to side with the vulnerable. That’s what the Gospel teaches us. God has a bias – and it’s not for the powerful, it’s not for the shareholders and sacred cows of the church. God chooses the side of those who have been marginalized. We need to be God’s Witnesses. Today people in my parish are making that very clear to me. The people of God are responded to this lack of compassion and telling those of us who are leaders that the church got this wrong. Now that gives me hope. It gives me hope because real change and real discipleship has always grown best when the people of God take seriously the call to bear witness.

So a memo to my Church: 
The People of God have heard. They are heeding g the call to love and to bear witness. The people of God are witnessing that there can be a new way, an inclusive way, a loving way. You have not listened.You are ignoring those who are bearing witness to the Gospel.

Some of you are listening. Here is what we are witnessing today. In the wake of Monday’s terrible decision, some Bishops are taking a stand. There is nothing in the marriage canon that states that we cannot marry same sex couples. At the time of writing I can share that six diocese that represent about 80% of Anglicans in Canada have made clear that they will approve guidelines for marriage of Same Sex Couples in our churches.  Our own bishops have committed to making Marriage available to Same Sex Couples. In their witness they wrote:

The chancellor of General Synod has indicated that the current marriage canon ‘does not contain either a definition of marriage or a specific prohibition against solemnizing same-sex marriage’.   We are also aware that a diocesan bishop may exercise episcopal authority in authorizing liturgies to respond to pastoral needs within their dioceses, in the absence of any actions by the General Synod. We intend to authorize such liturgies once guidelines are in place.  

Thank you +Bob and +Linda for responding quickly and declaring that we will move ahead with Same Sex marriages in the Diocese of Huron. [You can read their letter in full by clicking here]

Now is the time to bear witness! Now is the time! Now is the time for each Diocese to move forward with Marriage for Same Sex Couples. Now is the time! Now is the time for Bishops, Priest, Deacons, and Lay leaders alike to stand up and be heard.  Now is the time! Now is the time to apologize to members of the LGBTQ2S communities! Now is the Time! Now is the time to repent and return to the Lord. Now is the Time! Now is the time confess to God that we have not done enough to be faithful to our Gay and Lesbian siblings! Now! Now! Now is the Time!

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Harvey Milk declared that “Hope will never be silent.” As the blessing for Advent in the BAS reminds us we strive to be “Be steadfast in faith, joyful in hope, and untiring in love all the days of your life.” It stings today. But let us take the intensity if that feeling as a sure sign of the Holy Spirit that it is time for our church to move forward. It is time to extend the sacraments to all people. It’s time!

 

 

You are my witnesses, says the Lord,
    my servant, whom I chose

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The Conditions are Not Right – So Do it Anyway.


Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

I love this collect. This short prayer speaks to the importance of scripture. Rich, living, intended to be heard, read, marked, learned and inwardly digested, scripture is foundational to our walk as Christians. Yet, we are reluctant to admit that we know little about scripture. We are reluctant to carve out the time needed to hear, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest scripture. There always seems to be something else that takes priority over taking time for learning. Are you waiting for the best possible time to get down to further study or learning? Do you find yourself thinking about how you can deepen your faith, get more involved in book studies, Bible studies, courses of study, some continuing education opportunity? Are you one of the people who can never find the time for it?

C. S. Lewis mused that if we are waiting for the best time to get down to learning, it will never come. 

“If we let ourselves, we shall always be waiting for some distraction or other to end before we can really get down to our work. The only people who achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavorable. Favorable conditions never come.”

Take the leap friends. Don’t let the distractions of life hold you back. Life is a gift. One of the sweetest parts of life is that we are always learning. We have every opportunity to lean into questions. I love the questions. The people who frighten me are the ones who have all of the answers (For Reference – see Donald Trump, Westboro Baptists, and Extremist Group).

I can share a personal story – and offer it as an opportunity for those nearby.

As a priest I am often seeking to find opportunities for learning. I seek them for  myself and for the people of the communities in which I have served. Last year I was encouraged to become a mentor for the Education for Ministry (EfM) program. Am I ever glad I said yes! Of all of the Adult Christian Education I have been part of over the last 20+ years, this course of study has taught me so much. Learning alongside 8 others At St Aidan’s has been a real gift to me. “EfM is a four-year study and group reflection process for the formation of Christian ministry through the development  of knowledge, attitude, skill, and identity as Christians.” Over four years students study, Old Testament, New testament, Church History, and Ethics.

The first group really drew close to one another and learned and taught one another a lot. Each week provided opportunity to engage with the Old Testament. reflect theologically, and share in one another’s stories. It was a very rich and productive group, where folks could explore their faith. It was a very safe and secure place, without judgemnet. It was a group happy to live in the questions. The group had a healthy ‘hermeneutic of suspicion.’ We laughed, we cried, we prayed, we ate, we reflected, … in other words, we read the Old Testament! I can best sum up our experience with this prayer written by one of our group members, Vicki Andersen. It was a litany that we shared together on our last evening together;

We have shared happiness and laughter
Creator God, we give thanks for time that is done and for the time that is yet to be. We have shared with one another
We give thanks for time that is done and for the time that is yet to be.
We have given one another our vulnerabilities in trust and love
We give thanks for time that is done and for the time that is yet to be.
We have broken bread and sung your praises
We give thanks for time that is done and for the time that is yet to be.
We have read and talked and struggled and seen new things in your word
We give thanks for time that is done and for the time that is yet to be.

We have been provoked, we have been suspicious, we have known belief; we have known disbelief
We give thanks for time that is done and for the time that is yet to be.
We have ,mourned together the end of life; we have celebrated together the beginning of life
We give thanks for time that is done and for the time that is yet to be.
We have been restored when we have been broken
We give thanks for time that is done and for the time that is yet to be.

Creator God, for this band of pilgrims, for these our companions, we give thanks and praise to you in whose name we have gathered week after week. Amen.

 This group is not a closed group. So for those of you nearby looking for a place to learn, read, mark, and digest scripture, our group begins in September. We would love to have you join us. You may feel called to do more study. You may think this is an unfavourable time. But as C.S. Lewis reminds us, unfavourable times are the ideal times, as a favourable time will never present itself. 

If you want to know more about this program, please be in touch. You can email me at canonkevingeorge@gmail.com. Registration for the fall will be open until mid July. 

Here are some photos of this past year’s EfM group times together….

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Celebrating my Inheritance


Today mark’s another of those firsts that you never really look forward to. In this case, it the first Mothers Day since Mom died. While over done in a Hallmark sense, the day itself if a reminder to take time to offer thanks for our mothers. While a great idea for sure, we must acknowledge the suffering of many who grew up without a mother, had a toxic relationship with a mother, and acknowledge those mothers who have lost children, and those who are not, or cannot be mothers. For those folks, Mothers day is a whole lot less Hallmark and a whole lot more hallow or even hostile. I pray in thanksgiving today for those whose have, or who remember, great relations with mothers. More-so, I pray for those for whom this day is difficult.

I was fortunate to have a great mother and to have enjoyed a great relationship with her. In Letters to a Young Poet Rainer Maria Rilke wrote:

“Believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.”

The first time I read those words, I thought of Mom. I realize that Rilke is writing about something larger than human relations and I appreciate the power of a God who loves me no matter the distance I place between us. Mom came to mid when I read this because I always felt that my mother stored up tremendous love for all seven of her children. Her love for us was so strong that it would never be broken. At times when I felt unloved by others, my mother reminded me of her love. She often used acts of love and tenderness. She did not over use the word love, but she exhausted every opportunity to show her children, and her grandchildren, and her great-grandchildren how much they were loved.

Mom died in February. Since then I have been working through my feelings and emotions. I began today by reading previous posts about mom. I read some her notes. I looked at some photos. I read some scripture. I reflected on my inheritance — it’s an abundant inheritance indeed. It is a love that is a blessing so large that I will never be able to step outside of the love she had for me. I have no problem with seeing God as Mother. For me, Rilke was suggesting God as a parent who willed to us an inheritance of love that could not ever be spent, an inheritance that would never betray us. I felt that love from my mother. the metaphor makes all of the sense in the world. Today I give thanks for having been born to great parents. In particular, I offer thanks for having a mother, for her skill at being a mom, for the love that she gave to us in life and willed to us in her death, and for the many lessons of faith that mom taught me. I am rich beyond measure. I will love her always.

Mom once told me that her favourite hymn was For the Beauty of the Earth. That makes all the sense in the world when you read the first verse –

For the beauty of the earth,   
For the beauty of the skies,
For the Love which from our birth   
Over and around us lies:
Christ, our God, to Thee we raise
This our Sacrifice of Praise. 

MOM
Vivian George

Gratitude & Grief in Korea 


Yesterday as we explored around Seoul we met some incredible people. In the morning quit unexpectedly I was approached by a man named MARTIN, who saw that I was a stranger and welcomed me to join him at his table because he spoke fluent English. Later in the morning we were greeted by a man named Fred, so we were searching for a restaurant. He walked around Insadong with us until we found something that will be good, and asked the owner to prepare something for us.Perhaps most exciting for us, was getting to me Sergeant Mondell  of Yungsan Garrison. Catherinanne had reached out to her via telephone before we left for Korea. She was incredible and taking the time needed, to tour us around the base, and make sure Catherinanne saw the place of her birth and baptism. How incredibly kind for someone who has never met him, to connect us with our weekly, introduce us to so many chaplains, and other personnel on the base. Incredible. 


Leviticus 19: 34 reads…

The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

Thank you Nichole for taking time with me, and especially with Catherinanne yesterday. It was deeply meaningful for us. The people under your care are lucky to have you serve your God and Nation. To the Sirs and Ma’ams to whom this soldier answers – you have a tremendous asset and a kind Christian. 
Grateful are we as well to Col. Wheatly for being so generous with his time yesterday and offering us such a warm welcome, and a ‘welcome back’ to Catherinanne. 
Today we will spend some time getting to know Soeul, but also praying as the funeral visitation for little Eva Louise began a few hours ago and later today, early tomorrow in America, her funeral will take place. We are separated by many thousand miles but our hearts are with our family. It was so hard to leave knowing what would unfold over these next few days. We were witness to Jeremy and Elisabeth-Anne’s incredible care that they gave their precious angel. Emily and Christina you have been wonderful Sisters to Eva! She was blessed to have them as parents and they were indeed blessed to have Eva as a daughter. We love you all, and look forward to being able to offer you love and support upon our return. 

Please keep our family in prayer – May Eva rest in peace and Rise in Glory. 

Here are her funeral details


Obituary for Eva Louise Ikerd
Eva Louise Ikerd died peacefully at home in the arms of her loving parents, April 26, 2016 at 4:05pm. Eva was born September 11, 2015 at 11:43 pm at St. John Hospital in Detroit to parents, Elizabeth¬Anne (nee Foltz) and Jeremy Ikerd. She weighed 1 lb 8 oz and was approximately 13.5 inches long. 
Eva was Baptized into the Hands of God the morning of September 12, 2015. She was a Beautiful Child of God that everyone was so thankful for. 
Eva Louise was diagnosed with Wiedemann¬Rautenstrauch syndrome on Monday, September 14, 2015 with help from the Geneticist at St. John Hospital. Also with help from the Children’s Hospital in Detroit, Mayo Clinic, and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Wiedemann-Rautenstrach syndrome is a very rare genetic disorder. 
Despite Eva’s disorder, she was full of spirit and had the biggest personality. Everybody who knew Eva commented on her huge personality. She was very sassy and loved spending time in her bouncy chair. She loved to cuddle and really enjoyed listening to her parents and siblings read to her and to the Beginners Bible on Youtube.
From her conception until her death her parents have commended her into the hands of her heavenly Father. They now grieve with a sure and certain hope of eternal life and the resurrection of the body that comes through the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 
Eva is survived by her parents, Jeremy and Elizabeth¬Anne, sisters, Emily and Christina and grandparents, Denise and Richard and Clarence Michael, Jr. and Cecilia. She is also survived by her aunts and uncles, Jennifer (Marco), Jamie (Christen), Catherinanne (Kevin), Christine¬Marie (Shawn), Carole¬Michelle (Dave), Michael¬John (Patty), Mary¬Therese (Marc), and Dorothy¬Jeanne (Pete) and cousins, Nicole, Sarah, Cheyenne, Brooklyn, Henrik, Sarah, Julia, Dafydd, Owen, Malina, Davita, Evan, Mikaela, Austin, Audrey, Abbey, Tristan, Matteo, and Isabella. Eva is preceded in death by her cousin, Hanna. 
A Funeral Service for Eva will be held at Faith Lutheran Church, 37635 Dequindre Road, Troy, Saturday, April 30 th at 11am. Friends may visit at the church, Friday, April 29 th , 4-9pm and Saturday beginning at 10am. 
Memorials appreciated to Caring Bridge through their website at http://www.caringbridge.org or to Crossroads Pregnancy Center, 3205 South Boulevard, Auburn Hills, MI 48326.

UPDATE 

Technology can be such a blessing. We just took part in Eva Louise’s Funeral via Skype. Thank you to our niece Julie and her Mom Christine-Marie for making that possible. It was a great comfort to us both, especially to Catherinanne who so wishes she could be with her brother and sisters in support of Elizabeth-Anne and Jeremy, Emily and Christina. While it is already Sunday here, we have been blessed to go ‘back in time’ and pray with our family. 

Try to Love the Questions


“Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Some people are terrified of questions. I mean really scared to death. Having to know how everything is supposed to go and what will unfold in the future can consume a person – swallowed whole!

Along comes Rainer Maria Rilke with the sage advice to learn to love the questions. For me, living into the question is a much more interesting prospect than being confined by a fabricated answer. By fabricated I mean forced, guessed at, or simply assumed because someone said so! Loving the question is a not always easy. It requires faith that when the unknowing causes us to tremble and shake, the God of all consolation is holding us, protecting us and whispering in our ear; “You are not alone. We cannot always know how things will work out. I love you – there is no question!”

Does your heart yearn for an answer to a vexing question? Do you find yourself frustrated at the lack of answers? I know my answer to those questions is YES! I pray for patience to live into the question, for the obedience to rest in God’s care, for strength to gradually experience the answers — some distant day.

Many People Thinking of Questions
Many colorful people stand in a crowd thinking of questions

 

 

You belong and have a purpose!


Today’s message from Henri Nouwen’s Our Daily Bread reads:

Religious leaders, priests, ministers, rabbis, and imams can be admired and revered but also hated and despised. We expect that our religious leaders will bring us closer to God through their prayers, teaching, and guidance. Therefore, we watch their behavior carefully and listen critically to their words. But precisely because we expect them, often without fully realizing it, to be superhuman, we are easily disappointed or even feel betrayed when they prove to be just as human as we are. Thus, our unmitigated admiration quickly turns into unrestrained anger.Let’s try to love our religious leaders, forgive them their faults, and see them as brothers and sisters. Then we will enable them, in their brokenness, to lead us closer to the heart of God.

To my fellow religious leaders,

May God be with you today and always. May you know the presence of God in all that you do. May you have someone near you to support you when you have let someone down or even when you feel that you have let someone down. May you not only be aware, but also able to accept, that you cannot be all things to all people.  May you have the wisdom to know when you have made a mistake and the courage to acknowledge it and seek forgiveness. May you know that God’s willingness to forgive you and accept your failings is not contingent on the forgiveness or acceptance of other human beings. May your brokenness not crush you but bring you and your community closer to God. May you always know the God of mercy and kindness will be faithful to you in all things.  May you take comfort knowing that God will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the dimly burning flame. God will encourage the fainthearted, those tempted to despair. God will see full justice given to all who have been wronged. God won’t be satisfied until truth and righteousness prevail throughout the earth! May you know that no matter how dry the valley of bones may seem to be, God is always breathing new life into hopeless situations.  Remember that The Lord God proclaims to those dry bones: I am about to put breath in you, and you will live again. All is not lost.

Above all, my dear companions on the journey, may you always know that you are loved and that you are God’s beloved. God’s love for you is abundant and is not contingent on somebody else’s approval of you. You belong. You have a purpose!

Peace be with you all, today and always.

and on a different note…. but not entirely …
And here is my sermon from today….

Who Will Speak if We Don’t


It has been a couple of weeks — but it’s time to get back to some blogging.

Last Sunday, we were treated to the story of Jesus appearing to the disciples. He found them (most of them) locked in a room. When he found Thomas not to be there, he did it all again a week later. Jesus makes sure no one is left out.

In last weeks sermon I contended that he take the opportunity to invite the disciples into hos woundedness. He calls them to enter into the ministry that he began.  In so doing he offers them, and us the opportunity to be the voice of the weak, the lonely, the broken and the rejected…. well – there is more to it…. Including some questionable singing….

Here is the audio!

Your feedback – as always – is most welcomed

peace-jesus