152nd Annual Synod of the Diocese of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands
held in the St. James Parish Church, Montego Bay
April 11, 2023
Theme: A Renewed Church for a Time of Critical Social Change
Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, so that we may no longer suffer disgrace.” 18 I told them that the hand of my God had been gracious upon me and also the words that the king had spoken to me. Then they said, “Let us start building!” So they committed themselves to the common good.
In 2015, I invited a group of clergy to reflect on the renewal of the life of the Diocese. In stating the problem confronting us at the time, I reframed an observation made by a pastoral writer on the state of mainline churches like our own in this way:
“Many factors make it challenging for mainline churches to survive, from awkward locations to high-maintenance facilities, the seeming lack of energy and enthusiasm present in many of our congregations, and the diminishing public perception of mainline churches with the rise of newer churches, which are not only growing in numbers but seem to be more closely connected to the general population on the ground”.
I indicated then that, if as a Diocese we would seek to respond in ways that are relevant and engaging of the context in which we find ourselves, then we must be prepared to embark on a process of renewal, thereby re-igniting the energizing spiritual force in our life as a community of faith. A fundamental affirmation was that renewal of the church requires a re-awakening of our call to mission and ministry which resides in our baptismal covenant.
Today, I return to this focus for our Diocese because I believe we need to give urgent attention to the renewal of ourselves if we are to be an effective force in ministering in the changing environment in which our nation now finds itself, a nation facing serious social changes and challenges.
Elton Trueblood, a writer in the field of Christian Spirituality, in his publication, The New Man for Our Time, offers a comment which seems to be on point in terms of where we find ourselves today and the challenge which lies before us as a Diocese. He writes and I quote:
Because we cannot reasonably expect to erect a constantly expanding structure of social activism upon a constantly diminishing foundation of faith, attention to the cultivation of the inner life is our first order of business, even in a period of rapid social change. He writes, and I quote: “The Church, if it is to affect the world, must become a centre from which new spiritual power emanates. While the Church must be secular in the sense that it operates in the world, if it is only secular it will not have the desired effect upon the secular order which it is called upon to penetrate. With no diminution of concern for people, we can and must give new attention to the production of a trustworthy religious experience.” End of quote [From The New Man for Our Time by Elton Trueblood]
Moments of renewal have always been a part of the life of the faith community. The historical narrative of God’s relationship with the Hebrews, their deliverance from slavery in Egypt, and their movement towards nation-building and the settlement of the Promised Land, rested on adherence to a covenant relationship that was initiated by God, and by which God promised that they would be His people to bring all nations to Him, and for their part, they were to be faithful, to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with their God. It did not take very long before Moses found it necessary to remind them of these commitments as part of his last duties before he faced death as recorded in Deuteronomy 30:15-20. There at the River Jordan, a point of major transition in their movement to the Promised Land, Moses found it necessary to remind them from whence they have come, and their obligations under the covenant.
At every step of the life of the covenant community of faith there seems to be a call to renewal as faith can become routinised, lacking in zeal and passion, and lose its holistic and life-giving potential. There is a recurring challenge within the prophetic tradition of the need to examine the extent to which the routine and aesthetics of worship become the pre-occupation and concern of the faithful, rather than worship that is inseparably bound up with participation in God’s passion for compassion, justice, and care for the hungry, the poor, naked, and all who are marginalised.
The call for renewal in the life of the Hebrew faith community was never just a liturgical moment, but something that took place at critical points in the life of the nation. One such moment is captured in the Book of Nehemiah from which our Old Testament Reading is taken. Nehemiah was a passionate patriotic citizen. He was in exile in the service of a foreign authority where he was enslaved, but faring better than his peers. He maintained a devout interest in learning about the life of his homeland and its symbols of identity, namely, the city Jerusalem and the Temple. He never ceased to inquire regarding their state and wellbeing.
Having learnt of the devastating state of these two national and religious symbols, he decided to use his privileged position to see for himself the situation and to work for the restoration of these physical structures, but even more importantly, for the people whose welfare and wellbeing the institutions served. Having seen the state of distress, to which some living in the situation were apparently oblivious as they were doing well for themselves, he called together the leaders to focus on addressing the situation.
And here, I want to underscore a feature of Nehemiah’s life and response, to which the privileged citizens of Jamaica within the church and the nation need to awaken. And I do so by drawing on a contemporary formulation. In a book entitled Beyond the Offering Plate: A Holistic Approach to Stewardship, edited by Adam J. Copeland, he engages the subject of stewardship beyond the traditional three “Ts” – time, talent, and treasure. And so he speaks, for example, of “stewardship of the privileged positions of status and power which we occupy in society for the benefit of the less fortunate, through advocacy on their behalf and engagement in activities that seek to empower them and promote the common good”. Here, I believe, is a stark contrast to the sense of entitlement which many in privileged position in our society emanate today.
Acting out of the perception of his call to stewardship, Nehemiah took on the responsibility for leading the reconstruction of Jerusalem and its wall having been destroyed by invading forces that had taken its people as slaves into exile and stolen its economic resources. He was, undoubtedly, a man of prayer and action. For him, there was a clear connection between the condition of the physical environment and the state of wellbeing of the people. He posited the notion that the failure of the people to keep covenant with God was the reason for their exilic experience. Therefore, the physical condition of Jerusalem was inseparable from the spiritual, social, emotional, and psychological condition of the community, and he offers the perspective that the physical reconstruction of the city and the spiritual renewal and reconstitution of the covenant community must go hand in hand.
So, he brings before the people the magnitude of the work to be undertaken on the physical structure in strong, convincing, and motivating language, and obviously captures their imagination in terms of the possibility. But more than that, he gets them to acknowledge a moral and communal dimension or imperative that must inform the task, so they enlist themselves saying, “Let us start building!” The text says they committed themselves to the common good. In the process, he brings together the religious leader Ezra, the scribe, as well as the priests, and opens to them a vision of possibilities which seemed beyond their grasp before, even as he himself made personal sacrifices for the cause.
But, Nehemiah faces tremendous opposition from external forces and internal elements driven by the selfish pursuit of wealth without any sense of social responsibility and the pursuit of the common good. So, while the work of rebuilding was in progress, the disarray in the social organization and relationships within the society came to the fore in dramatic ways. So, here is a people on the path to resettlement in their land and the rebuilding of its institutions and national symbols to give them, once more, a sense of identity, and which demands the united effort of all, but some are preoccupied with a personal agenda which is inimical to the national good.
The text gives us a vivid picture of the sacrifice which the ordinary citizens were making to ensure that the construction of the wall progresses in a very hostile environment. Some are working on the walls, while others stand guard with their weapons, and even as Nehemiah himself makes personal sacrifices so that his upkeep and that of his assistants are not a burden on the people, while there are those few who were hell-bent on exploiting their fellow citizens and their situation for personal profit. The rich and those making their wealth could have argued that their prosperity would trickle down to the poor who were complaining, but that was not the reality facing the people, even as it is true today where that philosophy is enunciated. Just listen to the kind of oppressive behaviour that was being manifested, and I read from a section of the text:
5 Now there was a great outcry of the people and of their wives against their Jewish kin. 2 For there were those who said, “With our sons and our daughters, we are many; we must get grain, so that we may eat and stay alive.” 3 There were also those who said, “We are having to pledge our fields, our vineyards, and our houses in order to get grain during the famine.” 4 And there were those who said, “We are having to borrow money on our fields and vineyards to pay the king’s tax. 5 Now our flesh is the same as that of our kindred; our children are the same as their children; and yet we are forcing our sons and daughters to be slaves, and some of our daughters have been ravished; we are powerless, and our fields and vineyards now belong to others.”
This outcry from the poor and marginalized resonates with the Call to Anglicans across the Communion coming out of the last Lambeth Conference dealing with Human Dignity, and which gives expression to the affirmation of the dignity and worth of each human being which we Anglicans are challenged to uphold and defend in the following terms:
… life is sacred and all persons are worthy of respect and worthy of conditions that make for life in all its fullness. From such holy standards, there can be no faithful dissent. We are fellow-workers with God (1 Cor. 3:9) called to protect the gift of human life and the dignity of all human beings.
A commitment to human dignity means the church stands in solidarity with the poor and the marginalized and stands in witness against injustice to the poor.
It is as if Nehemiah, in his own time, takes a firm stand in defense of the dignity of each citizen, and the respect and value to be accorded to them as persons made in the image of God, and which was fundamental to their Jewish faith. So the text relates the situation to us in this way. Here is Nehemiah’s response:
6 I was very angry when I heard their outcry and these complaints. 7 After thinking it over, I brought charges against the nobles and the officials; I said to them, “You are all taking interest from your own people.” And I called a great assembly to deal with them, 8 and said to them, “As far as we were able, we have bought back our Jewish kindred who had been sold to other nations; but now you are selling your own kin, who must then be bought back by us!” They were silent, and could not find a word to say. 9 So I said, “The thing that you are doing is not good. Should you not walk in the fear of our God, to prevent the taunts of the nations, our enemies?
I ask the question, where is there the voice that speaks in similar tones for our distressed citizens?
Nehemiah cites the example which he and his servants were setting, and then offers instruction regarding the steps by way of restorative justice which they must take in order to bring back a semblance of justice to the life of the community. Here, I believe, he gives expression to the kind of leadership which is expressed as legitimate authority, the ability to cite one’s example as a leader and model with a sense of integrity. Nehemiah said:
10 Moreover I and my brothers and my servants are lending them money and grain. Let us stop this taking of interest. 11 Restore to them, this very day, their fields, their vineyards, their olive orchards, and their houses, and the interest on money, grain, wine, and oil that you have been exacting from them.”
Then it is that we see emerge the kind of commitment to the common good and social justice which is demonstrated in restorative actions. The response from them:
12 Then they said, “We will restore everything and demand nothing more from them. We will do as you say.”
Nehemiah knew that verbal commitments, like political manifestos in our age, are not always honoured and so he made it clear that the commitment being made by the exploiters in the situation was not to be just some empty expression of a change of heart. And so he says:
And I called the priests, and made them take an oath to do as they had promised. 13 I also shook out the fold of my garment and said, “So may God shake out everyone from house and from property who does not perform this promise. Thus may they be shaken out and emptied.” And all the assembly said, “Amen,” and praised the Lord. And the people did as they had promised.
My sisters and brothers in Christ, how I pray that much of the “Amen” and “Praise the Lord” that goes up from this country could be a response to the exercise of social justice rather than an emotional response to personal religious experience.
We must ask ourselves, is Nehemiah’s pronouncement just words and a challenge for an ancient world long past, or should these words still reverberate across our world and nation today? With the walls of Jerusalem restored, there was a recognition that there needed to be an expression of renewal in the life of the people, and so the seemingly demoralized and inactive priesthood was restored to its place in the religious life of the community, and the people requested that Ezra, the priest, read the Law to them. As the Law was read and explained to the people, it was met with a mixture of joy and weeping. There followed several decisive actions on the part of the people.
What may Nehemiah’s project for the rebuilding of the Walls, the resettlement of Jerusalem by the once exiled and enslaved people, and the renewal of their covenant with God have to say to us in our context today?
As was true in the case of Nehemiah, most Jamaicans have family members in the diaspora who maintain a deep interest in the state of the nation, even as there are those whose plan for their future is to return home for their retirement. How do you describe Jamaica today when asked by a relative, “How are things in Jamaica today?”
You could, perhaps, point to the statements by officials of government in recent months regarding the recovery of the economy to pre-Covid-19 levels, or the statistics related to government’s revenue collections which have exceeded the projected level by several billion dollars for 2022.
And if you are skeptical about government-produced statistics and pronouncements, then you have the option of citing information from the Private Sector and reports which highlight the billion-dollar investments being made in real estate development, the return to pre-Covid-19 earnings by Companies, and the outstanding performance of banks and financial institutions as it relates to high levels of profitability.
But if, perchance, you are not trusting of your own government and your own Private Sector, then you can turn to what external agencies and voices have to say about the state of our nation. The IMF, in one of its Reviews on the economy’s performance in 2022, highlighted positive achievement.
- · Jamaica’s International reserves remain at high levels and the financial system remains at healthy levels and is well capitalized
- · The monetary and financial policies have struck the right balance in responding to shocks, protecting the vulnerable, countering Inflationary pressure and further securing debt sustainability
The Financial Times has also offered its positive stance on the economy, and offered the following as clear positive indicators:
- The primary surplus is at above 6 8%
- The unemployment rate has fallen to a record low of 6.6% recorded last July
- Reduction in the Debt- to- GDP ratio from a peak of 147% in 2013 to approximately 86 % at the end of last year.
Now, perhaps after presenting this image of Jamaica to your relatives they may want to retire early and book their passage to come back home, to “the place of choice to live, work, raise families, and do business”. After all what more could one want because all that I have cited would be a correct representation of the data. But, does that tell the story of Jamaica today?
So I want to propose a way of reflecting on the state of life in Jamaica. In the Book of Psalms, chapter 55:10-12, the Psalmist offers a reflection on the state of the city Jerusalem which I believe offers us a perspective from which to reflect on the life of our nation and the church. He clearly speaks out of a sense of disquiet and distress at the state of affairs as he sees it, while calling upon God to intervene and do something about the situation, because the structure is in place and is being protected by those who patrol it, but the hearts and lives of its residents betray degradation on a course to the destruction of the society, notwithstanding the false sense of security which the physical structures seem to offer. Listen to the Psalmist.
Swallow them up, O Lord; confound their speech; for I have seen violence and strife in the city.
Day and night the watchmen make their rounds upon the walls, but trouble and misery are in the midst of her.
There is corruption at her heart; her streets are never free of oppression and deceit.
That’s the Psalmist, not me.
Yes, the walls represented by the economic and commercial measures may, indeed, indicate that the watchmen are making their rounds and offering assurances that the wall is intact, thereby offering a sense of security because these have become the true measures of performance and the gods of the public space. But the streets below tell another story of a moral, social, and religious crisis of corruption, injustice and deceit. What is the story emanating from the streets?
I want to share with you for a while something that is happening in the streets.
- We are losing a sense of the value and respect due to each human being and which is reflected in the ease with which human life is taken and reflected in the statistics for violence and murder; the widening social and economic inequalities; and the distinction in the value and treatment accorded different social classes and members of the society. But let us not be oblivious to the pervasive sense of self-hate which persists from our historical experience. Some of you may recall the observation of Senator and Psychiatrist, Dr. Saphire Longmore, in speaking to the subject of crime and violence last year that “an appreciation of our inherent sense of value and worth, unfortunately, is increasingly lacking in our Jamaican society”. Be aware then, that the person who has no appreciation of his own sense of value and worth will have no appreciation for that of his fellow citizens, with knife or gun in hand.
- Ours has become a culture of corruption, thievery, fraud, dishonesty, extortion and scamming that has gone amuck but we seem unable to bring the big players to account. Is there any Jamaican who does not know the rigours involved in opening a bank account or just receiving one hundred United States dollars through a Money Transfer agency, while big money moves around in the economy before our eyes while the authorities have no idea to whom it belongs? The people of this land are tired of the pervasiveness of corruption and the seeming inability of political leaders of both Political Parties to act decisively in addressing this situation and stop fiddling with and emasculating the Integrity Commission. It should come as no surprise that one of our political leaders recently declared that “If concerted effort is not made to tackle the scourge of money laundering in Jamaica, the country’s democratic process could be hijacked by dirty money”. We must, therefore, as Christians stop playing around with Party politics and demand of our politicians that the Integrity Commission be allowed to do its work and not be an instrument for the protection of vested interests and the status quo.
- Employment and Labour relations are being made a major driving force for the widening social and economic gap within the nation, with open-ended levels of salaries for those at the top, while wages of a significant section of the population are fixed at levels that are not livable, and poverty abounds. It is noteworthy that the salaries paid at the highest levels never raise any questions about their inflationary effects, but any increase in the Minimum Wage is deemed a cause of inflationary escalation in the economy.
The privileged who can spend $9000 on one afternoon’s Happy Hour, seem not to be concerned about the many who go to the Pharmacy counter to ask for half of their prescription to be filled because they cannot afford the full amount; or those who cannot pay to have the preliminary medical tests for two hundred thousand dollars and more before they have the medical procedure done to save their life, and who are dying unnecessarily; neither are we seeing the many who walk through the supermarket and just put back the needed basic items once they see the jump in the price of goods since last week when they were in the supermarket. So, there is a word for Jamaica and especially those who invoke the name of the Lord:
“Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness
and his upper rooms by injustice,
who makes his neighbors work for nothing
and does not give them their wages,
14 who says, “I will build myself a spacious house
with large upper rooms,”
and who cuts out windows[a] for it,
paneling it with cedar
and painting it with vermilion”. (Jeremiah 22:13-14)
- There is another dimension to our labour relations culture in which major institutions, including sections of the government, are employing young people on contracts in order to avoid making the provision for worker benefits of health insurance, vacation, retirement benefits and job security, while at the same time denigrating the Trade Unions as, somehow, inimical to national development. This is an unjust practice to which the Court has spoken in recent months in relation to the Security Companies and we hope that similar legal challenges will be brought as it relates to other institutions.
- We are making much about the shortage of persons for the workforce, but let us also bring some moral and ethical questions to our analysis of the situation. Consider within the mix the possibility that there has emerged a generation of young people who are not accepting of the status quo. They are indicating that they are not going to be satisfied for the rest of their life with the low wages of the BPOs and the thriving Hospitality sector. It is interesting that CAPRI recently presented a seminar which focused, in part, on Jamaica’s strategy of investment in low-wage, labour-intensive jobs, highlighting the fact that these are growthless jobs in the sense that, while they contribute to what is counted as reducing the unemployment statistics for the country, they are not leading to a commensurate economic growth but stagnation or anemic economic growth.
- Human rights groups and advocates are being treated as pariahs who are somehow not in sync with those things that make for our development and national interests. I remind Anglicans that there is within the Scriptures and our Anglican tradition an appreciation of the prophetic tradition within which Jesus also falls, and which trumps the cause of the marginalized and the vulnerable, as demonstrated by Jeremiah and Nehemiah. But I would also caution Christians against playing God and taking on to ourselves the right to determine who is to be included in God’s love and grace and who is not as we respond to issues of human rights. Good Friday is a reminder to us that religious leaders thought they could do that but they ended up crucifying Jesus.
- As we look toward Constitutional Reform,
we need to pay attention as Christians to the process. There are already vociferous voices that would claim to speak for the Church and we must be vigilant. Jamaica is not a theocracy and the last census made it clear that the largest segment responding to the question of religious identification indicated that they had no affiliation to any church or religious institution, but we must bear it in mind that, like the rest of us, they are legitimate citizens of this country.
- There is a spirit of alienation pervading the society by which citizens of various social classes and backgrounds are not claiming the life of society as something in which they have a stake and a sense of ownership. And there is one disturbing trend in this regard, and that is the decreasing level of participation of citizens in the electoral process in a way that threatens our democratic system of governance. We need to be alert to the way in which political leaders and party extremists are aborting the democratic system of governance across the world. Look across the world and you will see what happens when extremists run things.
- In recent weeks, we have seen the nation and Parliament go into a state of panic and hysteria at the very mention of the matter of our history and the issue of race. The irony is that we have now entered into an era in which European nations and institutions, are beginning to acknowledge their role and gains from transatlantic slavery as “a crime against humanity”, and are committed “to expose racism, injustice and inequality, and to hold the powerful to account”, while we who have been victimized are afraid to talk about our history and mention the word racism. This nation needs to move beyond our false sense of resolution and healing of our people arising from our historical experience but which remains a part of the underbelly of this nation, sensitive, painful, uncomfortable, but which cannot be denied forever. Sisters and brothers, the descendants of slavery will never experience healing and wholeness of self until we face up to the truth of our historical experience.
As is true from the perspective of the Psalmist and the way we look at the state of the city (our nation) are not congruent. But what of the reality of the state of the Church? The Church cannot escape the application of such examination to itself.
The reality from which you and I come to this Synod and to which we shall return when we leave this Synod is one in which the wall is of major concern, but all is not well within the city.
- The historical emergence of Anglicanism in the context of colonialism and imperialism and its legacy in terms of societal perceptions and institutional structures is something that we have to face. There is a wall that stands there.
- There is a preoccupation with finances (Mission Share) and maintenance and sustainability issues related to our buildings and congregational life.
- Awkward locations defined by demographic shifts and old and historic buildings located away from developing residential centres, and high-maintenance cost of those facilities.
- The dominance of a maintenance and survival orientation for failing communities and congregations without as a Diocese seeing the potential for growth and church planting in emerging residential communities.
- There is an unreliable system of recording membership that does not reflect the state of our membership, a situation aggravated by Covid-19 but not precipitated by it
But what of the state of the city (our church)?
- Minimal teaching of the faith to the membership of various ages is taking place, with Sunday Schools non-functional or limping, and Confirmation Classes which constitute the one intentional teaching effort in many congregations, is as diverse in depth and length of preparation as possible.
- There is a seeming lack of energy and enthusiasm present in many of our congregations, and a seeming lack of ownership of the congregation’s ministry, mission and resources,
- There is a crisis in fulltime vocations, with pending retirements and a dearth of new vocations
- There is a worsening disconnect with regard to the youth population
- There is a lack of engagement of Aggrieved/Alienated/Indifferent Anglicans who stay home and withhold their presence and resources from the congregation. They are not necessarily going any place.
- We are also saddled by a theology of the church which has assumed that its life and witness will be sustained by membership that flows with the life cycle as members continue in fellowship from birth to death with a repeat of the life cycle in every age. It ain’t working.
- A disturbing reality highlighted by a detailed examination of the Census data 2011 is that we are not connecting with a lot of the people in the lower social echelons of our nation.
- Not unrelated to the Census revelation is the diminishing public perception of mainline churches like our own, along with the rise of newer churches, which are not only growing in numbers but seem to be more closely connected to the general population on the ground in terms of identification and physical location.
Like the Psalmist, and like Nehemiah, the church cannot ignore the integrity of the walls of its city and the walls of the temple, even as it calls for the nation to look at the state of life in the city (nation) by upholding the dignity of persons and the imperative for the pursuit of justice. This renewal requires a re-awakening of our call to mission and ministry which resides in our baptismal covenant.
St. Paul speaks to the issue of the imperative towards renewal at several points in his epistles. Among the most familiar of these passages are:
1. Romans 12:1-2 “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.
2. Ephesians 4:22-24 “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds.
The Greek origin of the word “mind” leads to an understanding of the “mind” as the highest faculty or power of the human soul. It is the faculty that knows God directly; it is the seat of our personhood, which experiences the Person of God in a communion of love. So, sisters and brothers, the renewing of the mind is not just something imposed by an external source. It can’t be imposed by the Bishop or a liturgical moment. It is something that must involve each person at his or her most personal and intimate level. There is a versicle which appears in the Suffrages for Morning and Evening Prayer which speaks to the issue of renewal and the source of any renewal which we may seek to pursue, locating it in the work of the Spirit. We prayed earlier in this Service:
V. Lord, renew your spirit within us;
R. That in us and through us your will may be done.
Biblical scholar Walter Brueggemann helps us put this call to renewal and reawakening into clearer perspective in relation to the renewal of our baptismal covenant. He speaks of this as responding to a wakeup call for the church that claims Jesus as Lord and Saviour, and taking our baptism covenant seriously. So Brueggemann, placing a challenge before the church, asserts that Christians are making of the gospel a private, subjective affair, while accommodating ourselves to the ways and mores of the culture and society around us, rather than seeking to challenge and transform the society through the living and proclamation of the gospel.
Brueggemann advances the notion that the members of the church need evangelizing and reincorporation into the vitality of faith. He says, and I love that term, lacking what he calls “vitality of faith” some of us Christians have grown “careless, weary, jaded, and cynical about the faith”. Forgetting our baptismal commitment leads the Church to lack in serious missional energy. There is a sense in which vitality of faith is an attempt to capture for us the life-giving Spirit and life-transforming power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ for the Church, and through faithful exercise of its mission to the world.
So today, sisters and brothers, this Synod and the Diocese as a whole are being challenged to renew our baptismal covenant so that, in words adapted from Brueggemann, we may be blessed with the energy for social action, for generosity in stewardship, for freedom for worship, for courage in care for outsiders, and passion for God’s promises, and without which, he warns and I underscore it, there will be in this Diocese, little of courage, generosity, freedom, or passion without a renewal in the lives of most of us. God bless you.