Having had a Biology Major at the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire there were many interesting classes that I had the opportunity to enjoy. One of the most memorable was a summer coarse studying Bryophytes and Lichens (or should I say moss). There are well over 200 different varieties of moss right here in Minnesota and Wisconsin, of which I had about 150 in my personal collection at one point. Anyway back to the class. It was a week-long excursion in northern Wisconsin at one of the University of Wisconsin Biology Camp locations. Each day consisted of going out and collecting different mosses and then coming back to the lab and identifying what specific moss it was. Dr. Foot, our instructor was our guide and helper throughout the week. It was on the second day that my respect for Dr. Foot increased greatly. Our class was on a little outing to collect a rare type of moss that can be found only on a peat bog. If you know anything about peat bogs the peat we are talking about is itself a type of moss called sphagnum. Peat grows very rapidly and in large clusters, sometimes so large it can become an island unto itself. That's where we were that morning, on an island of peat moss, on the shore of a little lake. This particular bog even had trees growing on it. As we stepped foot on the bog Dr. Foot gave us some instruction that sounded rather foolish. While on the bog we were to walk with our arms fully outstretched. Dr. Foot modeled how we were to walk and it made him look rather foolish. He kept reminding us to keep our arms outstretched as we went along. Slowly the class started to lower their arms because they didn't want to look so foolish. I lowered my arms because I didn't want to look foolish and no one else was doing it, except Dr. Foot. That is until it happened. It happened to me. I was the one who found a hole in the moss that, within a matter of seconds, had engulfed me up to my shoulders. Somehow my arms went out to my side and I was able to stop myself from slipping down over my head. As I was in that hole I felt helpless, I couldn't move. The moss was so tight around me all I could think about was how glad that there were other people around to help. It took several people and about 30 minutes to pull me out. And here's the funny thing. everyone was walking from that moment on with their arms straight out to their sides and no one looked foolish anymore. Our Epistle Reading for this Sunday is taken from Philippians 3 starting at verse 17 where it begins with Paul saying, "Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have for us." Paul is sharing these words with his brothers in Philippi, the church in Philippi. He was encouraging them not to stray away from the cross of Christ. Oh, you may look a little strange or different as you walk in Christ, but it is for your good and for the good of the Gospel. Don't give up when it seems that everyone else has abandoned Christ. Keep doing what I am doing because I am imitating Christ. Christ is our joy, our crown, our Savior. These words encouraged the church in Philippi as they continued in their faith. As we come to Christ Lutheran Church to worship we are surrounded by brothers and sisters in Christ. We can see each other as people who are imitators of Christ, as example to each other. This keeps us strong in the faith. And whenever things start to look foolish, even when they are instructions from His Word, we can encourage one another as we stand firm as the body of Christ.