Disciple – Misfits
Caleb Campbell

Sermon Transcript


Desert Springs Bible Church

“Misfits” — sermon by Caleb Campbell, January 22, 2022


Hi, me again.  We’re going to be in the Gospel of Mark Chapter 2 and 3 today.  The objective of this study is to discern for each of us what it means to live as a follower of Jesus as a disciple of Jesus.

The reason we use the language of disciple is because it really does have a unique nuance.  It’s more than a student to a teacher, and it’s different than just a leader to a follower.  Because you can be a student and a follower and have no real relationship with the one that you’re learning for — the one that you’re following.

However, the idea of discipleship has within it this nuanced idea of having not only being a student of the teacher and being a follower to the leader, but also of being in relationship with the with the one you’re following — be near them, to be in relationship with them.  Jesus calls us to be his disciples, not just students, not just followers, but to be his disciples.  And so we’re trying to learn what that looks like for us.

If you have a Bible today, I’d encourage you to open to chapter two of the Gospel of Mark.  For those of you who are joining us online, if you have a print Bible I encourage you to get it out.  If you don’t have one, you can use a digital Bible.  Go to bible.com and you’ll be able to pull up and the Gospel of Mark in the New Testament.

Today also, if you’re joining us in person, I believe we’ve printed out the text.  Did we print out the text this week and you guys got that?  OK, awesome.  So the reason that we’re printing the text out for you Is so that you can write all over it and make notes as you notice things you like.  Scribble some notes.  Underline some things.

In this study we’re going to go through the entirety of the Gospel of Mark. We’re not going to necessarily go in sequential order, especially when we get up to the weeks leading up to Easter.   But we will go through the whole gospel of Mark, and so if you stay with this the whole time, you will be able to brag to all of your friends at the Bible Club that you’re a part of that you went and did the whole Gospel of Mark.   I seriously doubt any of you are in a Bible Club.  If you are, come and talk to me afterwards.

Something that we’ve been doing throughout throughout this study is that before we begin to read the text together, we’re going to connect ourselves to the ancient tradition of hearing the word first.  The majority of the Scripture was artistically designed not primarily to be read, but primarily to be read aloud and heard.

The majority of Christians throughout church history did not read the Bible — whether it was because they could not get a copy because it was so expensive or they couldn’t read, especially before the printing press came around.  Most Jesus followers throughout church history heard the Bible, so we’re just going to tether ourselves to that ancient tradition.

Here’s my encouragement to you.  Just maybe even close your eyes if you want to or just allow your mind’s eye to start seeing the scenes as we read the text together.  Allow it to kind of in live in your imagination.  This is what would have happened to the original hearers, right?  They would have heard it and used the TV in their mind, so to speak, to imagine these things happening. Here’s the other thing too:  Just be attentive to what the spirit of God is doing.  Maybe something is going on inside you.  Maybe a thought comes to mind, maybe a word, maybe a song, maybe a prayer.  I’m not going to ask you what it is.  We’re not going to get weird like that, but I’m just going to encourage you to just be attentive.  Maybe it’s nothing — maybe you’re just going to think about lunch.  That’s OK, too.  We’re going to see in the text a lot of eating, and so it would be normal for you to think about lunch.  This is the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 2, verse 13 until Chapter 3 verse I think 6.

“Jesus went out again beside the sea. The whole crowd was coming to Him and He was teaching them.  Then passing by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tollbooth, and He said to him, “Follow me.”

And Levi got up and he followed Him.  While Jesus was reclining at the table in Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with Him and his disciples, for there were many who were following Him.  When the scribes who were Pharisees saw that He was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples, ‘Why does He eat with tax collectors and sinners?’  When Jesus heard this, He told them, ‘It is not those who are well who need a doctor, but those who are sick.  I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners,’

Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting.  People came and asked Him, ‘Why do John’s disciples and the Pharisees’ disciples fast, but your disciples do not?’  Jesus said to them. ‘The wedding guests cannot fast while the groom is with them, can they?  As long as they have the groom with them they cannot fast.  But the time will come when the groom will be taken away from them and then they will fast on that day.  No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment.  Otherwise the new patch pulls away from the old cloth.  And no one puts new wine into old wineskins.  Otherwise the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost as well as the skins.

Now on the Sabbath Jesus was going through the grain fields and his disciples began to make their way, picking some heads of grain.  The Pharisees said to Him, look, ‘Why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?’

He said to them, ‘Have you never read what David and those who were with Him did when he was in need and hungry — How he entered the House of God in the time of Abiathar the high priest and ate the consecrated bread, which is not lawful for anyone to eat except for the priests.  And he also gave some to his companions. Then He told them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath.  So then ‘The Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.’

Jesus entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a shriveled hand.  In order to accuse Him they were watching Him closely to see whether He would heal him on the Sabbath.  He told the man with the shriveled hand ‘Stand before us.’  Then He said to them, ‘Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath or to do evil?  To save a life or to kill?’  But they were silent.  After looking around at them with anger, He was grieved at the hardness of their hearts and told the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’  So he stretched it out, and his hand was restored.  Immediately, the Pharisees went out and started plotting with the Herodians against Him — how they might kill Him.”

This is the word of the Lord.

So I just want to notice a few things with you together as we go through the text.  Hopefully it will help us understand how we can live as disciples of Jesus even in this day.  In the text you noticed, I think there was a lot of food, wasn’t there? There’s a lot of eating, and so there are three moments where Jesus is criticized or confronted about his eating behavior.  And each of these scenes gets progressively more intense with the Pharisees, who are kind of like the religious elite.  And they are getting more intense, more intense, more intense in their aggression against Jesus.

So let’s see if we can notice some things, so let’s just pick it up right back in Chapter 2, verse 13.  The whole crowd was coming to Him and He was teaching them.  If you remember from the last couple weeks that the that that one of the things that Mark sets in the scene is that the Kingdom of Darkness has overcome the world and Jesus comes into the world as the of the representative of the Kingdom of God.  The Kingdom of God, he says, is the good news.

He came proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God, and He comes into the world which is full of oppression from the King of Darkness, and His light starts to drive out that darkness, driving out demons and sickness and death.  If you guys were with us the last couple of times, you’ll see that and that type of activity, Jesus bringing the goodness of His Kingdom into a world that has been so oppressed by darkness that other people started seeing it.  He went from just a handful of people following Him to massive crowds seeing Him, crying out.

OK, let’s keep going.  This is crazy:  Mark consistently and frequently says that Jesus was teaching, but Mark rarely, if ever, tells us what his lessons were about.  You don’t get the content of Jesus teachings in the Gospel of Mark.  Is that weird?  If it’s so important, what’s He teaching?  Isn’t it weird that we don’t see what it is?  I think that what Mark is trying to do here is saying if you want to know what He’s teaching, look at how He’s living.

Do you know how it is with kids?  I’m just going to ask you a hypothetical question:  If your children think that the words coming out of your mouth do not line up with the actions and lifestyle that you are living, do you think that they will tell you?  They will find a profound number of opportunities to tell you.  Because our actions oftentimes teach louder than our words.   What is Mark is saying here?  If you want to learn what Jesus is teaching, watch Him.

Guys with me so far?  OK, here we go.  This is one of my favorite texts.  OK, watch this.  Then passing by Levi ***

*** TV time out.  One of the things that we say here it at Desert Springs is that we are a bunch of misfits.  We’re a bunch of misfits bound together, not by our common affinities, but simply bound together by the love and grace of God made known to us through Jesus Christ.  The reason I say misfits is because in our pre-Jesus state we do not fit together.  We come from all sorts of different economic and ethnic backgrounds.  We come from different political persuasions.  We come from all different types of places and spaces.  And the thing that’s uniting us, the thing that’s drawing together is not our political affiliation.  It’s not our common economic status.   It’s not our common ethnic heritage.  The one thing that’s binding us together is Jesus.   ***

So Jesus when passing by saw Levi, sitting at the tollbooth.   At the time, the region that they’re in, Galilee, is under Roman occupation, so there’s an occupying force, namely Rome.  You know how they became the occupying force?  They killed the old occupying force, which killed the old occupying force, which killed the old occupying force — the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks.

So here you have a bunch of Jewish people who’ve been under oppressive regimes for years.  Do you think that the average Jewish person who’s living under Roman occupation is happy about the fact that they are being occupied?  No, they’re not happy, right?  Because the Roman soldiers can come in and do whatever they want.  In the in the tyranical setup that’s here, the Roman government would select tax collectors from the Jewish people   Levi is one of them.  He’s a Jewish man who’s collecting taxes from his from his own people group, right?  And then giving the money to whom?  Rome.  So if you work in the Galilean region, do you like Levi?

Here’s the gem:  If you were with us this last couple weeks, you saw that Jesus first says to the disciples, “Follow me.”  He says the same thing to some fishermen.  Now, if you’re a fisherman and you’re there and you’re taking your haul down the road past the tax booth, what do you think Levi is going to say to you?  “Pay up.” By the way, these tax collectors, they were they were allowed by the Roman government to extort their own people as much in taxes as they could get out of them.  They could give Rome what Romans do, then they could pocket the rest.  These were collaborators with an occupying force.  Nobody likes Levi, except for the other tax collectors and sinners.

Oh man, this is so great!  Imagine that you’re with Peter.  You’re a fisherperson, and Jesus comes to you and He says, “Follow me.” and you’re like “Cool, Jesus, I want to do that.”  And then in the early part of Chapter 2 in the Gospel of Mark, you see that he says, “Where are we going?”  Jesus says, “We’re going into the dark.  We’re going to where the demonic forces live.  We’re going to where sickness is.  We’re gonna do some healing and we’re gonna raise people from the dead.  We’re going to into the dark.”

And you’re think “That’s scary, but OK.  Who’s going with us, Jesus?’  Guess what?  Fishermen.  Tax collectors.  Note that in the Gospel of Mark, there are only two professions mentioned of people to whom Jesus says the words “Follow me.” Notice what Jesus says to Levi the same thing He says to Simon and the other Fisher fisherman.  This is a mirror image.  Jesus is constantly bringing misfits together.  Eli sits in the tollbooth, and he said he would follow Him.  Is that something to celebrate?  This is the type of person I would never associate myself with, and now they’re in my church!  No, thank you.

OK, let’s keep going.  While He was reclining at table — this is speaking about Jesus.  How many of you guys are familiar with the holiday Thanksgiving?  OK.  After the meal, if there’s a lazy boy recliner in your home, some elected official in your family usually has claim or domain to that lazy boy, right?  Like the 9-year-old is not getting it, right?

And generally after this, after the meal somebody will take the position of reclining.  Is that a position that speaks to ”I’m afraid of what’s going on around me” or “I’m nervous?” No, that a posture of “I am at peace.  I’m with my people and I can recline among them.” Jesus is here reclining.   So this is more than just sitting.  This is a feast, and He is reclining, which means he is totally comfy where He is and who He’s with.

OK, now one of the things that we need to know about the ancient tables, especially to have someone at your table, was a communicatory means of saying to everyone, including the people at the table, “These are my kind of people.”

If you had table fellowship with people you were communicating, “These are my kind of people,” and what we actually have record of manuals on how to do feasts.  Within the Roman Empire, table fellowship with people lower than your estate generally brought you lower.  So you are constantly trying to be at the table of those who are wealthier than you, more at the table of those who are more powerful than you, right?

Because it was it was a social ladder. And by the way, when you sat at the table, you did not want to be last.  You wanted to be closest to the head of the table, because that was a symbol of power.  You wanted to be not last, but first.  That was how you got power.  OK, notice what Jesus does while He was reclining at the table in Levi’s house.  Many tax collectors not only carry the weight of moral decay – so if a Pharisee were to use the word sinner it would have been a whole package of people, almost like a profession where it would have been like murderers and adulterers — but it also would have included the poor and people who were not in a position to maintain the traditions of their forefathers.

So this would be people like shepherds, who were actually included in the sinner category.  So this isn’t just like moral decay, but it’s also just people who cannot or will not keep their religious traditions.  It’s a broad category, and the reason that I want to point that out is because it doesn’t say many tax collectors and other types of sinners.  Do you see it? There are two categories here.   I understand this text to mean that some of the tax collectors and sinners like Levi were also following Jesus. So you’ve got the devout fisherman immediately connected to tax collectors and sinners.  A bunch of misfits bound together by Jesus.

OK, let’s keep going.  When the scribes who were Pharisees saw that Jesus was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples “Why does He eat with tax collectors and sinners?”  Notice the repetition.  In the ancient world, to your knowledge, Was ink expensive or cheap?  It’s very expensive, so if you were going to keep repeating a phrase, there must be some sort of intent behind it.  Right notice the phrase “tax collectors and sinners” keeps getting repeated?  Why does Mark do that? I think because every time we read it, we’re supposed to wince.

When Jesus heard this, He told him it “Is not those who are well who need a doctor, but those who are sick.  I didn’t come to call the righteous but sinners.”

OK, let’s see.  Number one, notice that Jesus is not concerned about approval.  Jesus is not concerned about other people’s opinions of who He has invited to His table.  Jesus does not seem to be concerned about associating with those people.  In fact, I would like to argue He invites it.   Notice who’s at the meal.  The fisherman, the Pharisees and scribes and the tax collectors and sinners.  Who’s brought them all together?  We are a bunch of misfits bound together, not by our common obscenities, but by the love and grace of God made known to us through Jesus.

Jesus has been doing this since the beginning of his ministry.  The Kingdom of God brings together not differences, but different.  As Scott McKnight says that we are a fellowship of different.  We’re different than each other.  Let’s go hard in the point.  I am so convinced of this and committed to it that I might start preaching, might get excited.

A homogeneous church has no gifts for you.  A Church of sane has no growth for you.  Or me.  In fact, I think that a church that’s same — where everyone is just very comfortable with each other, where everyone’s saying “We see things the same way” — not only do I think there’s not spiritual growth, I think there’s a huge danger of misunderstanding our prejudices and preferences as what Christians believe and do.  And then we’re aghast when we discover that another Christian thinks or behaves differently than we do.  And then here’s what I’m watching us do as a community.

Right now we just start saying ‘You’re not a real Christian.  You ain’t like me, you ain’t like us.”  That approach rips apart the unity of the church, and no one’s impressed.  No one looks in on a bunch of people who share the same political perspectives gathering together and saying, “Well, that’s unique.”  It’s not unique.  That’s what everybody is doing.  No one looks in on a bunch of people who are in the same class economic class who are gathered together and bound together and says, “Well, that’s unique.”  It’s not unique, it’s what everybody is doing.

The unique thing about the Kingdom of God is that it binds together a bunch of different misfits who have no business being together, unless there was some sort of supernatural resurrection power.   A homogeneous church has no gifts for you.  Here’s the other piece:  Do you think that Jesus is smart?  Do you think that Jesus is intentionally putting Simon, Peter and Levi together at the table?  And He’s going to allow the conflict to happen.

Why do you think the majority of the New Testament is full of commands like this?  Stop sinning against one another.  Stop hating on one another.  Stop devouring one another.  Rather, practice the fruits of the spirit –, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, understanding, goodness, self-control.  Because naturally we don’t want to do those things when people are different than us.

There’s a gift waiting for us.  Jesus will shape us on convincingness.  Jesus has bound together the local church as a bunch of misfits in order to shape us more and more into His image.  Here’s where you’ll see it.  You’ll have an experience when in good-faith conversation with someone who has an opposite view of you, and you’ll say something like this:  “I’ve never thought about it that way.”

That’s a gift.  I’ve never seen that before.  That’s a gift.

CS Lewis said that each one of us has a light that we’re shining on God, each from our own different perspectives.  And when we communicate that to each other say, this is God working in my life.  We’re communicating the goodness of God to people who can’t see it the way we see it.  And so each of us when we do so in good faith and love and unity, we get a full picture of God.  The homogenous church has no gifts for us.  So, so let’s do it.  Let’s follow Jesus’s invitation to be at the messy table of misfits and see if He doesn’t have good gifts for us there.

Let’s keep going.  Now we’re switching the scene.  Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting.  People came and asked Him, “Why did John’s disciples and Pharisees disciples fast, but your disciples do not fast?” Mark is contrasting the feasting and the fasting.

Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot fast while the groom is with them.”  But the time would come when the groom would be taken away.  Is He talking about his death and burial?  The time when he would be taken away from them and then they were to fast on that day?  OK, so now He’s going to switch metaphors.  He’s saying, “Hey, in my presence we don’t fast, we feast.”

We don’t eat, OK.  Another TV time out ***

*** One of my greatest laments, and I want I’m just going to say this — I’m going to fly with it — you guys can talk to me later about it.  One of my greatest laments is that all these seats are bolted in and facing forward.  And when we take communion, we’re not doing it as part of a feast facing one another.  I get that, but it just eats away at me.  So if anyone has some extra concrete that we can level this thing out and put some chairs in here, I’m up for it.  And here’s why.  Because the center of our Christian tradition is coming to Jesus’s table and feasting.  Communion was always a part of a greater meal where people would come together — a bunch of misfits around a common table.  And they would eat a full meal and celebrate what God has done in their lives.  And there was no cellophane.  Let the angels rejoice.


OK, so now He’s going to change out the metaphor.  Notice this, no one shows a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment.  Otherwise, the new patch pulls away from the old cloth and worst here is made and no one puts new wine into old wineskins.  Otherwise, the wine will burst out their skins and the wine is lost as well as the skins.  New wine is put into fresh wineskins.

Jesus is not doggin on the old way.  He’s not saying that it was pointless or useless.  He’s not saying out with the old in with the new.  He’s simply saying that He’s ushering in the Kingdom of God in a fresh new expression, and it requires new models, new ministry.  It’s not “The old sucks and now the new is here.”  It’s rather there’s a new fresh expression of the Kingdom of God and so fresh wine, fresh wineskins.

For us as a church, this is something that we’re wrestling through right now.  We were planted in 1977.    We’re 45 years old.  Let me ask you a question:  Do you think North Phoenix has changed at all since 1977?  Do you think Phoenix has changed at all in the last five years?  It’s changed in big ways.

We are continually in the top ten over the last few years in biblically illiterate cities, meaning people don’t read the Bible.  And including a lot of people who are part of church families.  We also recognize that the politics of the area is changing.  We recognize that the economics of the area are changing.  We also recognize that there’s a bunch of people coming that weren’t raised in Phoenix.  I was born and raised in Phoenix, so I’m a native and this city has doubled in my lifetime, some by people who are born here, but a lot of that growth is people moving in.  I mean just this place is exploding with people.  Yeah, we’re different in 1977.  And here’s the deal:

In 1977 there was an expression of the local church in Desert Springs that was the right fit for the right time.  And then in 1983 and 1989, in 1992 and 1997, and on and on and on.  And here we are in 2022 simply asking, “Do we need fresh wine skins for this new wine, right?”

We’re not going to do things simply because it’s the way it always has been, so we’re praying through that right now because we think that the city is dramatically.  I’m going to ask you a not so hyperbolic question:  Does this community need to see people who are on different sides of a political issue come together and engage in loving civil discourse?

Does this community need that?  Does this church community need to show that people who fly different flags can lay down their flags and unite at a common table with one common king?

Yes, our city needs that. Right now we have what I call “hater–tainment” enterprises.  Enterprises that are making billions of dollars on our corporate rage.  And sometimes we just yell and scream this at each other.    Does our community need to see The light of the Kingdom of God manifest in a corporate group of people?  OK, yes. It’s fresh wine.

New wine for a new time and new ministry for a new season. There are new moves we need to make as a church.  And that’s scary.  Following Jesus into the dark is scary.  Following Jesus into a dark with a bunch of misfits is even worse.  But there are so many gifts waiting for us.  There’s so much beauty.

Have you ever experienced the gift and the beauty of a reconciled relationship that seemed irreconcilable?  Christ rose from the grave, and He can raise dead relationships back to life again.  And a lot of times He’s going to use his local church to do that.  We get to model that.

And so, just as your pastor, this is just my plea for you, my invitation to you.  Man, let’s do this together.  And let’s not be so concerned about the things we do, but the type of people that we are.  Let us not be so concerned with our curriculum that we’re teaching, but the lifestyle that we’re teaching, just like Jesus did.  Let’s be a people committed to continually practicing the fruit of the spirit in first Corinthians 13 — love when we approach one another, not suspicion, but curiosity, expecting that God has a gift for us.

We can bemoan and complain about how those people are influencing our city.   Or we can simply say our mission field is growing and we have a greater opportunity to put on display the Kingdom of God in this moment.  What a gift we have.  And in joyous anticipation we can say, “Come on in.  Everyone is welcome at Jesus’ table.”  And then we can practice the fruit of the spirit.  We can keep pointing each other to Jesus.

I’m going to do an exercise right now.  I just would ask you would close your eyes for a minute, and I want you to imagine the people that you do not like.  So think about your affinities, think about your convictions, your politics, your economic status, your ethnic heritage.  Maybe if you name it, there’s a category of persons that you not only don’t like them, but also you don’t approve of them.  And I want you to consider what it would be like if Jesus brought 100 people who fit that category into our church tomorrow, just as He brought Levi into this group of fishermen.

And before you jump to fear or anger, I want you just to ask this:  Lord, what gifts might you have for me if that were the case, if they were to join our fellowship?  What ways would you shape me? That’s hard for me to do ’cause I’ve got a big list.  I’m very opinionated.  You guys know these things.  Arrogant, rude, combative. And so I got a big list too.

But the more and more I spend time approaching people with curiosity instead of suspicion — recognizing that in this conversation I’m not trying to change them, but I’m going to recognize how the spirit might be changing me — it has radically transformed my life and grown my relationships exponentially more than my default.

One last thing, so I’m just going to kind of skip.  I hate to do this, we’re out of time, unless you guys want a 2-hour sermon, which I can do.  Let me just get us to chapter 3.   I want to lean into this space and then we’re gonna land the plane.

Jesus entered the synagogue again, and a man who was there had a shriveled hand.  Notice what the Pharisees are doing to accuse Him. They were watching Him closely to see whether He would heal on the Sabbath.

What are the religious leaders that are supposed to be shepherding this sick — including the man with the withered hand — what are they doing instead of attending to the man’s needs?  They’re using him as bait.  Is that corruption in a religious leader?  Would you like for me to use your sickness as bait?

Jesus told the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand before us.”  Then He said to them, “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath or to do evil?”    Is it lawful to save a life or to kill on the Sabbath?  This is the easiest question they could have answered that day.  Notice what they what they did.  They wouldn’t even answer Jesus. When Jesus brings fresh wine and wineskins — a new fresh expression of the Kingdom of God — who gets angry?  The powerful religious elite.  And when the powerful religious elite get angry and combative, who gets angry?  If that’s not something for us to meditate on for the next few years, I don’t know what is.

They’re resistant to His change.  They’re resistant to His expression of the Kingdom, and they’re angry.  And he’s angry right back because they’ve corrupted their faith.  He was grieved at the hardness of their hearts.  So the man stretched it out, and his hand was restored immediately, no?

Do you remember what Jesus’s question was?  Is it lawful on the Sabbath to save a life or to what?  He healed the man.  What did the religious elite do — who are stuck in their traditions?  What do they do? They immediately plot to do what?  What is better — to heal a withered hand on the Sabbath or to plot Jesus’s murder on the Sabbath?  Do you do see the profound resistance against Jesus?

The Pharisees went out and started plotting with the Herodians.  OK, if there was a Pharisee in this room a moment ago when I said imagine a group of people that you do not like and you do not approve of, the Pharisee would have imagined a Herodian.  They did not like each other.  They were on opposite sides of how to do government, politics, power and religion.  And if we had a Herodian here, when we did that little imaging a group of people, they would have imagined the Pharisees.

So notice this:   We’re not even halfway through the Gospel of Mark.  We’re the early part of the third chapter in and notice that the Pharisees and Herodians are plotting together to kill Jesus are misfits. too.    The Kingdom of God unites misfits around Jesus in unity, peace and love.  The kingdoms of this world unite misfits in hate, rage and fear.  Both kingdom structures that are at play to unite misfits.  Only one leads to flourishing.  The other leads to death.

Let’s pray.   Lord, we love you.  In this world today, Lord, we know that it is very difficult for us.  It’s extremely difficult for me as I see you putting together a bunch of misfits.  And yet we know it’s for our good, and so we submit ourselves to you.  Let us not be quick to offense.  Let us not be quick to fear.  Rather, let us be quick to listen.  Let us be overflowing with compassion.  Let us defer to one another, treating each other with curiosity and not suspicion, expecting good gifts to come when you work through a unified body of misfits.  We love you, Lord, and it’s in your name we pray.  Amen