Readings Exodus 33:12-23: Moses pleads with God for God’s presence to go with the Israelites, which is what will distinguish them from other nations, and God promises to do so. Then Moses asks to see God’s glory and God agrees to pass by Moses, speaking God’s name, while hiding Moses in a cleft in the rock, and then to then allow Moses to see God’s back, but not God’s face. OR Isaiah 45:1-7: A prophecy about Cyrus and how God has prepared his way and given him power and position for the sake of God’s people, though he does not know God, and God has strengthened him so that the whole world will know that God is God. Psalm 99: A call to honour and worship God, because God is holy and mighty, and has answered Moses, Aaron and Samuel when they prayed, and has shown that God is forgiving and just. OR Psalm 96:1-9 (10-13): A call to sing to God and praise God’s name, because God is mighty, majestic and beautiful and God deserves to be worshipped, and God is coming to judge the earth justly with righteousness and truth. 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10: Paul expresses his joy and gratitude for the Thessalonian church, for their faith, hope and love, and for the way they have witnessed to Christ in their part of the world, spreading the word they received in the Holy Spirit’s power, in spite of their suffering. Matthew 22:15-22: The religious leaders try to trap Jesus by asking him whether it is lawful to pay taxes to Caesar. Jesus responds by asking for a coin, and asking whose inscription is on it. When they reply that it is Caesar’s, Jesus tells them to give Caesar what is Caesar’s and to give God what is God’s. (Summary of Bible readings by John van de Laar, Sacredise)
Readings Exodus: 32:1-14: While Moses is on the mountain with God, the people, struggling with how long he has been gone, ask Aaron to make them gods. He agrees, takes their gold jewellery and makes a golden calf which the people then worship, even though he tries to remind them that their celebration is “to the Lord”. Psalm 106: 1-6, 19-23: A psalm of confession, remembering how God’s people turned away, and traded God for an image of a calf, forgetting God’s saving acts for them. Also, a recognition that God seemed intent on destroying the people, but for Moses pleading on their behalf. Philippians 4:1-9: Paul encourages the Church to stand firm, to agree with one another, to live as those who await Christ’s appearance, and to meditate on those things that are good, true and beautiful. Matthew 22:1-14: Jesus tells a story about a king who prepares a wedding feast for his son, but the none of the originally invited guests want to go. So, he sends his soldiers to destroy those guests, and then he invites others from the streets to come in, but when someone is found without wedding clothes, that person is thrown out. Jesus finishes with the well-known saying that many are invited but few are chosen. (Summaries by John van de Laar, Sacredise)
Readings Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20: God speaks God’s commandments to the people of Israel who are terrified by the thunder, lightning, smoke and trumpet sounds. They ask Moses to speak to God on their behalf, because of their fear, but Moses reassures them that God is simply keeping the people in awe so they don’t sin. Psalm 19: A psalm celebrating creation which proclaims God’s glory, and God’s law which enlightens brings reward to those who keep it. Philippians 3:4b-14: Paul, who has good reason for confidence under the law because of his upbringing and observance, values only the righteousness which he has received through Christ, and through which he knows the power of Christ’s resurrection and participates in Christ’s sufferings. Matthew 21:33-46: Jesus tells a story about a farmer who cultivates a vineyard and then rents it to tenant farmers, who, instead of giving the farmer his share of the fruit when it’s due, kills his servants and then the farmer’s son. In this way, he explains, God’s reign is being given to those who will produce fruit. (Source: John van de Laar, Sacredise) Continue reading →
Call to worship Gathering God, joined as one family we come to worship you today, mindful of the breathing of the life that you have called into being across countries and climates; all creatures and all creeds.
Jesus, teacher friend, today you call us to your table and invite us to feed on you, so that we might then feed others. Let our hunger for justice and our desire for peace never be exhausted until all your children are safe and fed.
Life-giving Spirit, let the words that reach our open ears and your movement in our souls in this time together bless, comfort and disturb us. So that the work of your servants here may be directed along the right paths for the sake of the world, And all the people say: Amen. (Source: Rev. Jennie Gordon)
Readings Exodus 17:1-7: The Israelites complain that they have no water, and Moses takes their complaint to God. God instructs Moses to strike the rock at Horeb with his staff and water flows out for the people to drink. Psalm 78: 1-4, 12-16 A teaching psalm reminding God’s people of all that God has done, bringing God’s people out of Egypt, leading with a pillar of fire by night and cloud by day, and splitting open the rock to give them water to drink. Philippians 2: 1-13 The apostle encourages the Philippian Christians to be united and to be like Christ in their humility, service and self-sacrifice, quoting the ancient hymn of the Church. He reminds them that they are to live out their salvation, trusting God who gives them the will and the power to do it. Matthew 21: 23-32 The religious leaders question Jesus’ authority, but Jesus refuses to answer them because they can’t answer his question about John’s authority. Then he tells them a parable about two sons whose father asks them to work in the vineyard. One says no, but then does, and the other says yes, but doesn’t. Jesus explains that like this, religious people are missing out on the kingdom, while outcasts are finding their way in.
(Summary of Bible readings by John van de Laar, Sacredise)
We praise You, Lord God,
that Your Way is found
not by travelling an exclusive highway,
or in secrets preserved only for some,
but in the open field of love and grace,
where all who choose may come and play.
We praise You, Lord God,
that Your Truth is heard
not only in the words of scholars and authors,
or in brittle, inflexible ideas,
but in honest questions
and difficult conversations,
in the courageous attempts of simple people
to live lives of integrity.
We praise You, Lord God,
that Your Life is discovered
not just in the predictable places of beauty and wealth
or within the confines of clearly demarcated norms,
but in the unexpected generosity and pride
of those who have nothing,
in the creativity and risk
of trying new things,
and defending the vulnerable.
We open ourselves again to Your call,
determined to do what we promise,
to follow Your Way,
to embody Your Truth
to share Your Life.
And to do it all with thanksgiving and praise. Amen.
(Source, John van de Laar, Sacredise)
Call to worship
Here, in this place, we set apart time for worship,
and to encourage each other in Christ.
It is God who is at work in us,
enabling us both to will and to work for God’s good pleasure.
God, source of life, Jesus, firstborn of creation, Spirit, living breath in all that is:
we come to be thankful for life in all its fullness.
Let us worship God.
What patience to endure
the squabbles of your people;
what humility, to take
our doubts and disbelief.
What faithfulness you show,
through desert thirst and fear;
what miracles inspired by you,
the very, precious, gift of life.
What wisdom we hear from you,
if we will listen – we are here to listen.
(Source: Sarah Agnew, Pray the Story) Continue reading →
Here’s a link to the 2014 Social Justice Sunday resources.
“We do not think ourselves into new ways of living, we live ourselves into new ways of thinking.” Richard RohrExcellent resources on this website: Worship Materials: Justice and Peace (William L. Wallace)
“When it comes to climate action, it’s abundantly clear that we will not build the power necessary to win unless we embed justice – particularly racial but also gender and economic justice – at the centre of our low-carbon policies…We cannot play ‘my crisis is more urgent than yours’ – war trumps climate; climate trumps class; class trumps gender; gender trumps race. That trumping game, my friends, is how you end up with a Trump.
Either we fight for a future in which everyone belongs, starting with those being most battered by injustice and exclusion today, or we will keep losing.” (Naomi Klein)
The Prophetic Voice
God of Justice!
We call on you to guide
all those on this Land
to seek Justice.
Bless and renew our hearts and minds,
so that we may see with your insight,
mindful of the calling
to walk in your way of peace and reconciliation.
Seed in us the desire to be agitators
for holy change.
May the blessings we receive
inspire and nourish us
to bless those around us
with words of comfort
and actions of healing.
Inspire in our mouths
the words of your good news
for the sake of the world you love.
May we grow in the courage of Christ,
becoming and being prepared to take up the cross,
rather than buy in to the pressure
of dehumanizing and demeaning
that places avarice before generosity.
Gift us with the desire to share in joyful community.
Make us into catalysts for relationships.
Form us as people who become nourishment for the world.
May we deepen in our reading of your Scriptures,
that we might see your promises of mercy written in our souls.
May we work, throughout Australia,
and through our international partnerships,
to bring about a foretaste of the state of mercy and blessing
that characterizes Heaven.
Just as we seek mercy,
teach us to recognize the power imbalances
that prevent the full experience of abundant life.
May we learn to repent of those habits
that destroy your beautiful plan.
Rather, let us learn the creativity of your nature,
to better use our gifts for the sake of grace.
God of Justice,
be our Teacher and our Defender!
Correct us, so we can learn how to speak Truth.
And, when we do – protect us from the evils we confront,
For this is your will to be done
And we are honoured by your call.
So, we commit this day,
to be your holy and vocal people.
We commit to stand up for your beloved creation,
especially those who are marginalised
by the cultures of judgement and shame around us.
May we stand with them.
So be it.
(Source: Amelia Koh-Butler, Hyphenated Faith, 2017)
Let Justice Flow Down
For half the world’s population who have to live on less than $1 a day Let justice flow down like a river
For all those suffering from malnutrition and treatable diseases Let justice flow down like a river For all those who experience discrimination on the grounds of gender, age, role, religion, beliefs, disability or sexuality. Let justice flow down like a river For all those who sleep rough;
and those who have nowhere they can call home. Let justice flow down like a river For all those who have experienced physical, mental or emotional abuse, or domestic violence. Let justice flow down like a river For all those who are unemployed, or in employment that is dehumanising or degrading. Let justice flow down like a river For all those who are denied their basic human rights by military dictatorship or oppression. Let justice flow down like a river
Justice is the currency of love in society. Let us be instruments of justice in the world. (Source: Roger Courtney, Progressive Christianity)
Love Is Calling
“Love is calling for liberation.
Love is hoarse from calling,
her voice raw from the decades
she has spent chanting at protests
and speaking from pulpits
and singing the songs of freedom.
Love is weeping into a white candle
she cups in her hands at a vigil
for one more Black life lost,
ripped away, gunned down, forgotten.
She is holding the hands of a grieving mother
and praying aloud for peace.
This is where Love shows up,
where Love has always shown up.
She is tugging at our hands and sleeves,
begging us to lay down our egos
and take up our courage
and dedicate our lives to justice.”
(Source: Jess Reynolds, Love Like Thunder)
Rev Dr Nymabura Njoroge, from Kenya (who now works for the World Council of Churches) is a theologian, who knows from personal experience and from the experience of her people, the extent of suffering and injustice present in our global community.
She has seen her communities devastated by AIDS. She has experienced discrimination as a woman in the church. She has struggled with the poverty and violence decimating African communities.
In this context Nyambura speaks of “a spirituality of resistance and transformation.”
Resistance to all that would dehumanise us and divide us from God and from each other, transformation of our realities into a world where God’s desires for us are realised – peace with justice, love and compassion mark our lives together.
“A spirituality of resistance and transformation demands that we share the good news of the possibility of new life in the presence of death here and now. It is a spirituality that invokes a passion that believes positive change is possible. In Africa as we watch the escalating anarchy in many countries and in our streets, it is difficult to comprehend how we can end violent death and proclaim new life in Christ.
“We even wonder where God is when such chaos and destruction take place. We therefore need a zeal that believes… that we can sit down together and engage in dialogue over our difference. Passionate commitment is needed whereby we are not afraid to try new ways of relating to our neighbours and our enemies. Such zeal would be willing to listen to the word of God in the scriptures that require that we trust in God and act justly. “
Nyambura Njoroge and other women like her are seeking to nurture faith that engages the people of God in ways that will transform the whole of our realities: spiritually, politically, economically, and socially.
Readings Exodus 16:2-15
The Israelites complain that Moses has brought them out into the desert to die because they have no food. But God tells Moses to inform the people that God has heard their complaints and will send them food. Then, in the evening, quails fill the camp, and in the morning manna covers the ground. Psalm 105:1-6, 37-45
A celebration of God’s action on behalf of the Israelites, remembering God’s provision of manna and quail in the wilderness. Philippians 1:21-30
Paul reflects on how he is united with Christ whether he is alive or dead, but how he is convinced that he must remain in order to keep serving God’s people. Then he encourages them to continue to live in ways that reflect God’s reign, even when it results in suffering. Matthew 20:1-16
Jesus tells a story about an employer who hires workers throughout the day, but pays them all the same at the end. When those who started at the beginning of the day complain, he challenges them, asking whether they resent his generosity to others. This story leads Jesus into his famous words about the first being last and the last first.
(Summary of Bible readings by John van de Laar, Sacredise)
In 2008, the United Nations General Assembly designated 19 August as World Humanitarian Day to raise awareness about humanitarian assistance worldwide and to pay tribute to the people who risk their lives to provide it. World Humanitarian Day was commemorated for the first time on 19 August 2009. World Humanitarian Day falls on the day of the attack on the UN compound in Baghdad on 19 August 2003, which claimed the lives of 22 people including the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello. Since then, nearly 5,000 humanitarians have been killed, wounded or abducted, and the 2010-2019 decade experienced a 117 per cent increase in attacks compared to 2000-2009. World Humanitarian Day honours all humanitarians – many working in their own communities – who are going to extraordinary lengths in extraordinary times to help women, men and children whose lives are upended by crises and the global COVID-19 pandemic. The dedication, perseverance and self-sacrifice of these real-life heroes represent the best of humanity as they respond to the COVID-19 crisis and the massive increase in humanitarian needs it has triggered. First responders are often people in need themselves – refugees, members of civil-society organizations and local health workers. They bring food, shelter, health care, protection and hope to others amid conflict, displacement, disaster and disease. But humanitarian workers are being tested like never before, struggling with unprecedented movement restrictions and insufficient resources as needs are outpacing funds. And all too often, they risk their own lives to save the lives of others. In recent weeks alone, despicable attacks have killed aid workers in Niger and Cameroon, and since the onset of the pandemic, scores of health workers have come under attack across the world. According to Humanitarian Outcomes’ Aid Worker Security Database, major attacks against humanitarians last year surpassed all previous years on record. A total of 483 relief workers were attacked, 125 killed, 234 wounded and 124 kidnapped in 277 separate incidents. This is an 18 per cent increase in the number of victims compared to 2018. A surge in attacks against health workers was recorded in 2019, including strikes against medics in Syria and shootings of Ebola workers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Most of the attacks occurred in Syria, followed by South Sudan, DRC, Afghanistan and the Central African Republic. Mali and Yemen both saw a doubling of major attacks from the previous year. The UN condemns these attacks, and it calls for accountability for perpetrators and justice for survivors. Relief workers cannot be a target. Mark Lowcock, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, said: “To humanitarian workers everywhere doing important, courageous work on the front lines we say Thank You. You are saving lives every day, and as new challenges and crises are piling on to existing ones, your perseverance is an inspiration. Your protection is also paramount to making sure we can deliver to people most in need. The best way to pay tribute to humanitarian workers is by funding their work and ensuring their safety.” This year’s World Humanitarian Day comes as the world fights the COVID-19 pandemic. To pay tribute to the efforts of humanitarians, OCHA and its partners present the personal stories of some of the #RealLifeHeroes who are stepping up to meet the challenges, particularly local humanitarian workers. They include refugees who as health workers are playing essential roles in the pandemic response; Ebola health workers who are stepping in to fight COVID-19; and doctors and nurses who continue to provide critical health care to women and children. Read their inspiring stories here.
Quote: “Several times I have decided to leave El Salvador. I almost could, except for the children, the poor, the bruised victims of this insanity. Who would care for them? Whose hearts could be so staunch as to favor the reasonable thing in a sea of their tears and loneliness? Not mine, dear friend, not mine.” Jean Donovan (David Scott, “December’s Rose Blooms Despite the Cold,” Posted 2009) Jean Donovan (April 10, 1953 – December 2, 1980) was an American lay missionary who was raped and murdered with three nuns in El Salvador by a military death squad while volunteering to do charity work during that country’s civil war.
Quote: “When we struggle for human rights, for freedom, for dignity, when we feel that it is a ministry of the church to concern itself for those who are hungry, for those who have no schools, for those who are deprived, we are not departing from God’s promise.” Oscar Romero (The Violence of Love) Oscar Romero (August 15,1917 – March 24, 1980) was a priest of the Catholic Church in El Salvador and became the fourth Archbishop of San Salvador. He was assassinated while celebrating Mass at a small chapel located in a hospital. In 1997 Pope John Paul II bestowed upon him the title Servant of God.
Loving God, we ask a special blessing on those who answer the call to do your work in some of the most dangerous and violent situations. They risk their lives to give a voice to the vulnerable and to share compassionately in their suffering. Bless, protect, and strengthen all who serve in the struggle for human rights and let us be ever mindful to and stand in solidarity with their loving and steady examples. Amen. (Source: Catholic Health Association of the US)
Call to Payer Ecclesiastes 4:1 Again, I saw all the oppressions that are practiced under the sun. Look, the tears of the oppressed – with no one to comfort them! Reflection When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world. – Fred Rogers Every day humanitarian aid workers help millions of people around the world, regardless of who they are and where they are. World Humanitarian Day pays tribute to the men and women who risk their lives in service to others and raises awareness and support for those affected by crises around the world. Scripture tells us there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for a friend (John 15:13). Rejecting the myth of our disconnectedness, they offer their lives in service not for their friends but for strangers. Humanitarians make real God’s love for the world. Intercessions For the dawn of peace to dispel the night of war. We pray: Lord, hear the cry of the poor. May God protect and keep the tens of millions of refugees of conflict and those who are hostage to war in their countries. We pray: Lord, hear the cry of the poor. That decision makers consider it their top priority to enact policies that cherish and safeguard the dignity of all people. We pray: Lord, hear the cry of the poor. In gratitude for the helpers, may they be strengthened in their resolve, supported in their vocation and filled with the Spirit of God. We pray: Lord, hear the cry of the poor. For those who have died as victims of war, may they know God’s eternal peace. We pray: Lord, hear the cry of the poor. (Source: Catholic Health Association of the US)
World Humanitarian Day is an opportunity to celebrate the goodness of so many generous people. It reminds us also of the generosity of ordinary people and of the sacrifices they make to support others. It encourages us not to give up on the human race. We can also be encouraged by the diversity of the backgrounds and the motivation of people who put themselves out to help and support people who are in need. We are reminded of how much we have in common with colleagues with whose ideas we may disagree. We find ourselves humbled by their goodness. Many of us who attend rallies for refugees or concerts for sick children find ourselves surrounded by the banners of Christians from different churches, of Buddhists, Muslims, LGBT people, vegans, unionists, lawyers, humanists, and by so many people who march under no particular banner. We are united by a common dedication to humanity. We are constantly inspired to find that the diversity of our religious background and experience flows into a common passion to accompany people who are vulnerable and into gratitude for the community that we form. That is the highest tribute to the Christian tradition that we have inherited. Underlying World Humanitarian Day is the conviction that each human being is precious, not because of the groups they belong to, nor because of their race, gender, wealth, good deeds, intelligence and good fortune, but simply because they are human. Because we depend on one another for life and prosperity we recognise that we also have a responsibility for one another to look out for one another, and to ensure that all people are protected by the rule of law and have access to food, shelter, medical care, education and opportunity to contribute to society. (Source: Fr Andy Hamilton SJ)
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Land Sunday in Season of Creation – Rex AE Hunt liturgy
Readings Exodus 14:19-31
Moses stretches his hands over the sea and it opens a path for the Israelites to walk on dry ground. Then, as the sun rises and all the people have crossed, he stretches his hands over the sea again, and the waters return to their place, drowning the armies of Egypt.
(Alternate Hebrew Scripture is Genesis 50:15-21 – When Jacob dies, Joseph’s brothers, afraid that he might now exact retribution from them, tell him that Jacob asked him to forgive them. Joseph, weeping, assures them that he does not hold their actions against them, and that God brought good out of their sinful acts) Psalm 114: A celebration of the earth’s response to God’s mighty acts, and a call for the earth to tremble before God OR Exodus 15:1b-11, 20-21 – The song of victory and praise that Moses sang after the liberation of the Israelites OR Psalm 103:(1-7), 8-13: A song of thanksgiving and praise, inviting worshippers to remember God’s mighty deeds, God’s grace and forgiveness, and God’s love and compassion. Romans 14:1-12 Each believer works out how faith is to be lived for themselves and must decide between them and God how to practice their faith. Therefore, as people of faith we are not to judge one another, but to celebrate each one’s commitment to living out their faith before God. Matthew 18:21-35 Jesus tells a story about a man who is forgiven a huge debt, but then refuses a small debt which is owed to him. When the master, to whom he owed his debt, hears about it, he is angry that the man did not show others the same mercy he received, and he instructs that the man be imprisoned until he has paid back his debt in full.
First Thoughts on the Old Testament – Exodus
First Thoughts on the New Testament – Romans First Thoughts on the New Testament – Matthew
Nathan Nettleton (Laughing Bird) has paraphrases of the readings – definitely worth checking out.
Father’s Day is celebrated on the first Sunday of September in Australia. The secular practice of honouring fathers on a particular day began about a hundred years ago.
We give thanks to God for Dads who are being celebrated today. We also acknowledge this day can be a difficult for many due to a variety of reasons. May we be mindful and prayerful towards those experiencing sadness, grief and other emotions that this day can bring.
“Of all the rocks upon which we build our lives, we are reminded today that family is the most important. And we are called to recognize and honor how critical every father is to that foundation.” —Barack Obama, Father’s Day 2008, Apostolic Church of God, Chicago, IL
Christine Longhurst’s re-worship site has a great collection of resources including music.
Interesting resources here (African American lectionary site)
The Church of England has published a new prayer for children to pray in church, or on their own, on Fathers’ Day:
We thank you for the gift of good dads,
and everything that they do for us.
Help them to have
patience when we’re difficult,
wisdom when we can’t see the way,
strength when we need comforting,
and love at all times,
so that, though them,
we get a little glimpse of how you feel about us,
our heavenly Father. Amen.
The Church of England has also published this one:
you entrusted your Son Jesus,
the child of Mary,
to the care of Joseph, an earthly father.
Bless all fathers
as they care for their families.
Give them strength and wisdom,
tenderness and patience;
support them in the work they have to do,
protecting those who look to them,
as we look to you for love and salvation,
through Jesus Christ our rock and defender. Amen.
Opening Prayer Most Gracious Lord, Master, Messiah and Saviour,
we greet you with all humility.
You are the first and the last,
the divine light and the spirit of guidance, alpha and omega. Your light is in all things, Your love in all beings:
in a loving mother, a kind father,
in an innocent child, in a helpful friend,
and in an inspiring teacher.
Allow us to recognize you in all Your holy names and forms. May the message of God reach far and wide,
illuminating and making the whole of humanity
as one single family in the parenthood of God. Amen.
(Source: Church of Scotland Starters for Sunday)
Call to Worship and Opening Prayer for Father’s Day
Our relationships with our fathers are complicated. For some of us, our father’s love is like God’s love – too deep, too long, too wide, too strong to measure.
Some of our dads are here; some were never here. For some of us, God’s love fills in the empty spaces our fathers left behind.
All of us are shaped by the relationship or lack of relationship with our fathers. On this day when we remember what it means to have a father or be a father, we recognize the importance of fathers in our communities. We pledge as a congregation to love and nurture the fathers among us so that they will manifest the love of God in all that they do.
Loving God, you who are our father and our mother, we thank you that you have shown us how important it is to follow your example as we grow in faith. Teach us to be obedient to your will, respecting you as children ought. Thank you for your mercy despite our disobedience. Strengthen us to stand up against the challenges of this world, honoring your name and trusting your grace. In the Name of your Son, we pray. Amen.
(Source: Rev. Dr. LaGretta Bjorn, pastor, United Methodist Church)
God our Father, we pray for all fathers:
for new fathers, coming to terms with both the joys and demands of fatherhood;
for those who are uncertain or confused about their role as fathers;
for those whose work keeps them from spending time with their children;
for those who are afraid of the responsibilities of parenting;
for those who are unable to provide for their children through unemployment or sickness;
for those whose children have physical, mental or emotional disabilities;
for those who are violent or unloving towards their children;
for those whose own fathers abused them or failed to love them;
for those who are separated from their children by marriage breakdown, divorce or death;
for those who care for the children of others;
for those whose desire to be a father has not been fulfilled;
and for those whose children have rejected their love.
Bless all fathers, so that their love may be tender and strong,
and that they may lead their children to know and do what is good,
living not for themselves, but for God and for others.