My Father Is Divine

This past Sunday the young adults presented a fine worship service at First Unitarian.  Joseph Boyd spoke movingly of his father (it was Father’s Day), and I asked him to be a guest writer on my blog.  I’m sorry that you will not see here his evocative delivery, but the words hold power, still:

My father loved baseball. As a kid he dreamed of going to see a live baseball game, and at the age of 38 he got his first opportunity. I was nine, and he took me along to see the Seattle Mariners. My father wanted to get the most out of this experience, so he did some research, and discovered that the teams held batting practice two hours before the start of the game. If you stood in the outfield during batting practice, you would have a small chance of catching one of the baseballs that was hit over the fence. My father bought us both baseball mitts and we drove up to Seattle, and arrived two hours before the start of the game.

When we arrived we saw hundreds of other fathers with their children, all wearing baseball mitts. We took a spot in center field, and up to bat comes Ken Griffey Jr., one of our favorite baseball players. On the first pitch he smacks it to center field straight toward my father. It is such a straight shot that everyone around us backs away and gives my father space to focus on the ball hurdling toward him. The ball comes closer and closer, and he has his black mitt in front of his face. The ball hits the top of his mitt, smacks him in the forehead, and bounces onto the field.

Without skipping a beat my father shouts to the outfielder: “Hey, that’s my ball. Look!” He points to his forehead where the baseball has made an imprint. You can see the stitches of the baseball. The center fielder laughed, and then threw the ball up to my father. My father then gave the ball to me as a memento of that day.

When people ask me about my father today, I usually tell them that he died years ago, and that’s about all I usually share. My father struggled with depression for most of his life, and I let that struggle define who he was in my mind. When I thought of my father I saw a man who was sad, a man who was lonely, a man who was broken. It was a two dimensional view of him that I clung onto.

God and father are often synonymous in many spiritual traditions. “Our father who art in heaven,” for example. Growing up, our fathers are gods to us. They are certainly bigger than us, and more powerful. They are there to protect us, to guide us, to love us.

As we get older we quickly learn that our fathers don’t have all the answers, and that they’re not always going to be there when we need them. For some of us our fathers were never there. They were absent- physically, emotionally, or both.

My father knew he wasn’t perfect. One day he came into my room, and he asked me: “You know I love you, right?” I could tell by his body language that the question was not rhetorical. It was a real question for him. “You know I love you, right?” I saw in that moment that he doubted himself as a father, he doubted his ability to communicate his love to me.

My father communicated his love to many people. He was a minister, and his ministry has served as a guide to my life. Through his life, he taught me two important lessons:

1. Strength is not the absence of weakness. True strength is leading with your weakness.

2. How to write a sermon. As a boy I was fascinated with the process of constructing and delivering a sermon that would move hundreds, thousands, millions of people. My father slowed me down and taught me: Don’t worry about writing a great sermon. Live a great sermon, and the words will follow.

Our fathers are divine, but not in the way we expect. Their divinity does not stem from perfection, but from their fallibility. It stems from the imperfect love they offer us. It comes from their hurt, their vulnerabilities. To give love, and to raise a child in the midst this hurt and vulnerability, is truly divine.

As a boy I saw my father as a man who was sad, a man who was lonely, a man who was broken. Today I see my father is more than that. My father was a man who loved baseball, a man who loved God, and a man who loved me.

What Does ‘God’ Mean?

When did you give up God? Or did you?

I started doubting at an early age. My problem is that I never seemed able to access this God of love and mercy that the minister talked about. In the pain of my childhood and adolescence, my prayers seemed to go no higher than the ceiling. When your momma leaves and your daddy drinks and your guts are spilling out in anguish, what good is a God who says, “Look, I just work here”? I mean, what good is a God if you can’t see Him, hear Him — if you can’t converse, for heaven’s sake? Maybe there isn’t a God at all, I concluded.

I’ve been a minister myself for over 25 years now, but that doesn’t mean I’ve given up wondering about God. In fact, I confess that when I use the word God, I have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about. And yet, paradoxically, I’ve staked everything there — with this Mystery that I cannot comprehend with my finite mind.

The part yearns for the whole. The incomplete, for the complete. The self, for that which is beyond the self. In all cultures and in all times, this yearning is felt. We give names to the unnamable. We say the Tao, we say Atman, we say Jehovah, we say King of Kings and Lord of Lords, we say the Goddess, we say Beloved, we say She Who Is, we say the Ground of Our Being, we say Father, we say One Whose Name I Cannot Know, we say Holy One, we say Higher Power, we say the Divine, we say the Infinite, we say Ein Sof, we say Oversoul, we say Allah, we say Yahweh, we say Gaia. “As a deer pants for brooks of water, so my self longs for You, O God,” says the Hebrew scripture. We thirst, we are desperate for that which gives life.

At the same time that our spirit yearns, we are in a world in which truth is known through the senses, through observation and experimentation, through logic. We will not accept what we cannot see. “Show me,” we doubting Thomases say. “Let me place my hand in the wound. Then I’ll believe.” And rightly so. Haven’t we spent the last 400 years ridding ourselves of superstitious nonsense? No more hanging of witches, thank you very much.

But what about the yearning? It’s still there. It’s not answered by science alone. And so we reach out beyond what we can know — and wonder if our reaching makes any difference at all, if the Great Mystery gives a flip about us, personally. About the pain and injustice in the world. About the future of this despoiled planet.

We cry out, in our most vulnerable moments. The child is very ill. Or the lover has deserted us for our best friend. Or the diagnosis is pending. “If I ever needed you, God, I need you now. If you exist, please answer. I’m on the other end of the line. I’m listening, God, for once in my life I’m really listening.” But our pleading gives way to silence. We get nothing. Nada, nada, nada. So we may just decide there is no God. There can be no proof of God’s existence, we say. True enough.

It’s painful when we become existentially aware that God really is dead, as Nietzsche told us back in the 19th century. A man before his time, Nietzsche died on the cusp of the 20th century, and now we know the power of his prophecy. The disappearance of an all-powerful divine presence, The One That Is In Charge, has left us empty and anxious. Having outgrown the God of our childhoods — the Santa Claus God, the Good Parent God — some of us never find a deity more in keeping with our adult experience — or as far as that goes, the contemporary experience.

Paul Tillich, one of the greatest theological minds of this century, used to be challenged by doubters from time to time. When someone would say, “I don’t believe in God,” Tillich would typically respond, “Tell me about this God you don’t believe in.” As the individual spelled out his problems with the Old Man in the Sky, Tillich would simply say, “Well, I don’t believe in that God, either.”

So what do we do, then, with this void? How do we address our longing?

Perhaps the mystics can help us. Their message has been essentially the same, in all times and in all faith traditions. They are anathema to church hierarchy, for they are the heretics to theological certainty. They say that words and beliefs are mere idolatry, that we have to enter into the presence of the Holy. They say that prophets are flashes of light that point to the Source of all light. They say it is good to not know, to just sit with the emptiness. It is good to be innocent, to be a beginner, for the Holy One is beyond words. And where is the Holy? Everywhere and nowhere. “The world is shot through with the grandeur of God,” says poet Gerard Manley Hopkins.

Listen to voices from various traditions. The Buddha said, “There is an unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed; therefore, escape is possible from the world of the born, the originated, the created, the formed.” From the Indian scripture, the Upanishads: “There is a light that shines beyond all things on earth, beyond us all, beyond the highest, beyond the very highest heaven. This is the Light that shines in our heart.” From the ancient Jewish scripture, the Kabbalah: “The essence of divinity is found in every single thing — nothing but it exists. Since It causes everything to be, no thing can live by anything else. It enlivens them.” From the Christian mystic Meister Eckhart: “God’s nothingness fills the entire world; His something though is nowhere.”

How can we then relate to this God, then, that is nothing less than What Is? We can’t set up a statue and think that statue is God. We can’t find a person — whether it is Jesus or Buddha or Mohammed or whatever — and say that person is God. We can’t find a holy book or a piece of music or a mountain and say that is God. We are the finite speaking of the infinite, and so we cannot name the Nameless.

Those who insist on remaining in the literal dimension must either cling unquestioningly to the Father God of our ancestors or simply reject God entirely. God has stepped out of personhood, and is not on “our side” in war or football games, and will not save us if we trash the planet. That God is stone dead, a dusty relic.

But that doesn’t mean that the numinous dimension has disappeared from existence. When I accepted my first call to ministry, a dear friend sent me a small bronze plaque, which remains prominently in my study: Vocatus atque non, vocatus deus aderit. “Bidden or not bidden, God is present.” We don’t have to invoke the presence of God, we don’t have to wonder where God is. God just IS.

What we can do is to be fully present in each moment of our living, receptive to the Light, which hints of the fire that permeates and animates all that exists. I find this Light in strange and wonderful places — in ordinary and extraordinary days of my living. I find it in the taste of cornbread, fresh from the oven and layered with sweet butter. I find it in the faces of children, who have not as yet learned to hide their delight or their pain. I find it when I get up just before dawn on Sunday morning and walk out on the front porch and look upon the morning light just beginning to creep through the branches of the two huge trees that stand there blessing and guarding me. And yes, I have found it also in the terrifying roar of a hurricane. I have found it in the voices of the dying, who are apt to say, “I’m all right with this.” “The world is shot through with the grandeur of God.”

This is not to say prayer is to be foregone, because it is in our heart’s opening that we become known even to ourselves, and then sometimes a path is revealed, a path to unity with others and with God. Scripture may be helpful. Poetry. Meditation. My spiritual director is a nun, a brilliant academic who speaks six languages, and she tells me she “prays without ceasing.” She is in constant communion with her God. On the other hand, I have never felt any comforting presence during prayer. We are variously gifted, or not, spiritually speaking, so each of us must find our own way. There are many windows in the Divine house, many sources for light to shine through. In my experience, it’s the letting go that is the critical part.

Let me clarify. The spiritual life is not about belief or unbelief — it’s all about letting go of ego. It doesn’t matter whether we count beads or sit in meditation or pray or do none of these. It’s about taking self out of center and putting something bigger than self in the center. It’s about relinquishment. It’s understanding that our highest calling is simply to be a conduit of the Holy, in whatever incarnation is right for the moment.

Who is God? What is God? I don’t know, I just work here. In my own spiritual life, I have been so lost I couldn’t imagine ever being found. I have found myself in the darkest of nights. I have been pushed into stillness and into emptiness. I have known what it means to let go even of God. That’s when the encounter begins, out of the void, when I become raw and naked, innocent enough to receive. That’s when I stumble uncertainly into right paths. There is a Light beyond all things.

Why Unitarian Universalists Belong Together: a Fifty-Year Recollection

A dramatic moment unfolded on May 23, 1960, for Unitarians and Universalists, two small liberal denominations that had considered a merger for at least a hundred years. Simultaneous sessions of both denominations met in adjoining rooms in John Hancock Hall in Boston. They were connected with a public address system which faltered in the midst of the historic proceedings. Scattered, passionate acrimony remained, but a strong positive vote was given on both sides. Donald Harrington, minister of New York’s Community Church, proclaimed that on this day was created “a new world faith” which would stand alongside the other great American religions: Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish — a bit grandiose for this new denomination, Unitarian Universalism, which numbered at the time a grand total of 141,821 members. The last formal act for consolidation took place on May 12, 1961, at the first annual meeting of the Unitarian Universalist Association in Boston, when the constitution and by-laws were ratified.

Why had these two small, struggling denominations failed to join before this time? Do they really belong together? Some Universalists, who were ever more pious than Unitarians, would still say no. And many Unitarians have little understanding of what Universalists brought to the union, and so do precisely what the Universalists feared: disregard the Universalist heritage, referring to the denomination simply as “Unitarian.”

The main problem with the merger always lay with the Universalists. They were the smaller of the two groups, with fewer resources and less stability. In fact, at the time of the merger, they brought only 36,864 members to the joint membership, about 25 percent of the total. But the domination of the Unitarians was not merely numerical — there were class differences which had kept the two groups apart. Both groups emerged about the same time in this country — at the end of the 18th century — and both had roots in England, but the Unitarians came from upper-middle class stock, and the Universalists tended to be from rural areas and were less well educated. Their worship styles were different, too, the Unitarians tending toward the cool and intellectual, while the Universalists were warm and emotive. As one anti-merger Universalist put it, the Unitarians seemed more interested “in analyzing the nature of infinity … than in the spirit of love. I … feel that I ought to put on my company manners when I go into a Unitarian Church.”

Nevertheless, the two groups had much in common. Most significantly, each was a free faith, with no creed, and both had a strong policy of congregational autonomy. They were compatible theologically, though each brought a different emphasis. The Unitarians brought the concept of “one God” rather than the Trinitarian God of conventional Christian churches. Too liberal for both Calvin and Luther, they had come out of the left wing of the Protestant Reformation, and were adamant that each person must be free to follow the dictates of conscience. The Universalists, who believed in the doctrine of universal salvation, were widely known for their tolerance and generosity of spirit. Both groups allowed the umbrella of their religion to encompass an increasingly diverse range of beliefs, including atheists, agnostics, humanists, Jews, as well as Christians. And by the time of their consolidation, the class differences were more historical and perceptual than otherwise, especially in urban settings. The merger, then, was a practical move to strengthen two small denominations that had limited resources. Long in coming, it was the right way to go, not only for pragmatic reasons, but because each faith continues to teach and strengthen the other.

I personally entered the church in the 1970′s. Like a majority of the members, I was a “come-outer” from another faith, in my case Southern Baptist. As a newly divorced woman, I no longer felt welcome in the Baptist church, and so I found myself isolated, cut off from my community. One day as I was bemoaning my fate, my therapist said to me, “Why don’t you go over to the Unitarian Universalist Church? There are a lot of divorced people over there.” In the Baptist church, I could not be a deacon, much less a minister, but the Unitarian Universalists soon engaged me in leadership positions, and six years later, I was on my way to seminary at Starr King School for Religious Leadership in Berkeley, CA.

At that time a kind of cool academic intellectualism characterized the pulpits of many of our churches and fellowships. This approach emerged not only from the Unitarian emphasis on reason, but also from the influence of the Humanist Movement of the 1920′s and 1930′s, which dominated the lay-led churches that the UUA started from 1948-1967, mainly in university communities. That style began to be questioned as more women and gays and people of color entered our ministry. Newcomers to Unitarian Universalism were looking for more than intellectual searching — they wanted spirituality. At the same time, many of the come-outers brought with them a fear of religion from their painful growing-up days in more dogmatic churches, so ministers had to work with that fear, reframing conventional theological language so these folks could feel safe to explore new forms of spirituality. Church music moved from the rigidity of all-classical, all the time, to music more ethnically and stylistically diverse.

And so today, we are Unitarian, with a strong emphasis on reason and learning. Our congregants tend to be highly educated and we love ideas. But we are not satisfied to rest there. We are also Universalists, wanting to explore emotional and spiritual depths, wanting to be whole persons, generous and loving and ever more inclusive. Considering population growth, we’re not much bigger than we were 50 years ago, for only 0.3 percent of American adults identify as Unitarian Universalists. But we are influential far beyond our numbers, because we are found at the edge of change, wherever change is needed. We are informed, and we are passionate, heartful people. We are Unitarian Universalists, and we belong together.

Unitarian Universalist Theology

How many times have I heard people remark, “You can believe anything and be a Unitarian Universalist.” Or someone might say, with no trace of irony, “I go to the Unitarian Universalist church because I don’t believe in organized religion.” Incredulous, I say to myself, “Gee, I try to be organized. And we do have a choir. And choir robes. And ministers. And a building.”

Unitarian Universalism is a religion – and one with a long and noble history. Why are we so often misunderstood? One problem is our public relations gaffes. All too often when Unitarian Universalists have gotten in the national news, it has been because of some P.R. blunder, like the minister who, during the worst of the AIDS epidemic, passed out free condoms during the Sunday service and spoke on the subject, “The Condom Conundrum.” This was not a bad idea – it’s just not what most churches in the nation were doing on Sunday morning. Or the student minister (she never actually made it into our ministry) who had a funeral service, with communion, for her dog and invited all of the cats and dogs in her Berkeley neighborhood to the service. The AP wire photo showed a dog standing on its hind legs, its mouth open for the communion wafer, and the article stated, “The guests neither barked nor balked at receiving the host.”

We are a free religious faith, and so have no creed. And as freedom is wont to do, our faith invites a certain degree of wackiness and abuse. But if that’s the price of freedom, then I still choose freedom.

Our faith, of course, does have requirements. To become a Unitarian Universalist, you make no doctrinal promises, but you are required to do much more. You are required to choose your own beliefs – you promise, that is, to use your reason and your experience and the dictates of your conscience to decide upon your own theology, and then you are asked to actually live by that theology. You are asked to take your chosen faith very seriously.

In a very real sense, all theology is autobiography, is it not? Our experience, real and vicarious, is what informs our sense of reality, our internal picture of the way the world works, what our values are. We believe what we know is true – that is, our felt knowledge – not what we are told is true. In the final analysis, how can a person who wishes to live with integrity do other than this?

Our free faith was hard won. It has a long history, and our religious ancestors died for this freedom.

A Unitarian, King John Sigismund of Transylvania – now known as Romania – pronounced the first edict of religious freedom in the year 1568. I traveled to Romania several years ago and stood in the church in Torda, where that proclamation was made. This was an almost unimaginable act in an age in which people were being burned at the stake for not getting their theology just right.

Francis David, King Sigismund’s spiritual advisor, was the single greatest influence on the king’s theological beliefs. After Sigismund’s death, David lost favor and was finally arrested for his views. I made a pilgrimage to the town of Deva and walked up a long, dusty hill to the dungeon where he was imprisoned. It was actually a deep hole in the ground into which David was lowered, and there he sickened, and died. His famous words still live with us, though. He said simply, “You need not think alike to love alike.” At the center of our faith is not belief, but love.

Many others died for their faith during this period of religious persecution. The Unitarian movement came out of the left wing of the Protestant Reformation, and we were way too far to the left for both Calvin and Luther. The Unitarian scholar Servetus, who wrote On the Errors of the Trinity, was burned in effigy by the Catholics and then burned in fact by Calvin, with a copy of his book strapped to his thigh. It is said that if he had been willing to change just one word of his book – to change “Jesus is a son of God” to “Jesus is the son of God” – he could have saved his life.

So this is our heritage – or at least a little taste of it. It is rich, and we can be proud of it. This is not light or easy stuff that we’re a part of. But because we are a free faith, could our movement be said to have a theology? After all, our contemporary churches are populated with Christians, atheists, humanists of various stripes, Jews, Buddhists, and even Wiccans. Whoever will, may come. Nevertheless, when we look at our history and the practice of our faith, certain theological themes dominate, and so I will argue that, yes, we do have in fact a theology of sorts, a theology that has been relatively clear and consistent through time.

We must begin with the assertion that Unitarian Universalism has always emphasized freedom as a core value. It follows that human beings have a choice. We are not predestined by God before our births, to be saved or unsaved. We are not mired in original sin by the very fact of our birth and therefore have to go through a ceremony called baptism, even as babies, to cleanse ourselves of that sin. We do not have to have someone sacrifice himself by dying on a cross to save us from hell. Yes, human beings have a propensity to do evil, but we also have the propensity to do great good. We have a choice. Unitarian Universalists prefer to think of ourselves as being born into “original blessing,” as theologian Matthew Fox likes to put it. (He was of course ex-communicated from the Catholic Church, for that heresy and others.)
The term “Unitarian” indicates our belief that God is One. As Church doctrine began to be codified in the fourth century, the concept of the trinity was found to be confusing for our Catholic forebears, and they disagreed with their colleagues in the church hierarchy. But when the vote was taken in 325, the Nicene Creed was adopted, and the doctrine of the trinity was established. Note that the trinity is not a Biblical concept it originated in the power structure of the Catholic Church. Basically, the Unitarians lost the vote.

The concept that God is One goes beyond the controversy over the trinity, however. If God is One, then the God of the Jews and the God of the Muslims and the God of the Christians is One. God is One. I remember a tragic incident that occurred during my ministry. One evening I was called to the hospital to be with the mother of a two-year-old child who was brain-dead after choking on a piece of chewing gum. The mother, a Unitarian Universalist, was estranged from the child’s father, who was of another faith. Leaving the hospital, I found myself in the elevator with the father’s minister, and I said to him, “Well, we can do the memorial service together.” And he responded, “No, we can’t. We don’t worship the same God.” His comment made my sadness deeper still, and the estrangement of these families seemed ever greater. What other God could he have been thinking of?

As Unitarian Universalists, we respect other religious traditions we don’t think we have the market on the truth. I like the way my late colleague, Dr. Forrest Church of All Souls in New York, put it. He said that truth is like light shining through the windows of a great cathedral, in different colors and shapes. The light comes from the same source. But it looks different, depending upon which window it shines through. So it is with the various religious traditions of our world. In conducting worship, I regularly use readings from a wide range of sources, including Native American, ancient Chinese, the Hebrew Bible, Rumi, as well as a lot of contemporary poetry. Truth is where you find it. There is no single scripture that holds all the truth.

And there’s another theological perspective that Unitarian Universalists have concerning truth: we believe in evolution – not only evolution of life forms, but evolution of thought and evolution of moral and ethical understanding. So the truth that I embrace today may not be the truth I embrace tomorrow. Revelation is not static, but is ever unfolding. More and more will be revealed. Our part is simply to be open, and thirsty, thirsty for the truth that would be ours – but just for the time being. Such a stance keeps us humble – and awake. When we venture into the Mystery, we are entering the ground of the infinite with the powers of a finite mind. An awe-filled agnosticism is perhaps the better part of wisdom.

Unitarian Universalist theology is of this world, not of the next. Jesus, in fact, taught that the Realm of God is within and, contrary to most Christian practice, his teachings were centered on relationship, not salvation. Unitarian Universalists do not emphasize an afterlife. For one reason, we simply don’t know anything about it. No one as yet has come back to report. But we do know about suffering and injustice on this earth, and so we try to create the Kingdom of Heaven here and now, with real people.

Back to Francis David – our faith is focused not on what we believe, but how we love. It is a fact that people with the most fervent and orthodox beliefs have been known to engage in some of the most dastardly acts. Christopher Hitchens and other prominent non-believers take great pleasure in pointing out this discrepancy in religious faith. I would agree with Hitchens that the rise of fundamentalism in various parts of our world is one of the most frightening of contemporary social and political developments. When we place another beneath us, set apart from us, we tear out a part of our human heart, and then anything goes, for that person has become Other. For Unitarian Universalists, the question is never “What do you believe?” but rather “What kind of person have you become? What are the fruits of your living?”

The significance of love and tolerance in our faith is even more strongly a dimension of Universalism. The Universalist movement began in our country in the late 18th century, about the same time as did the Unitarian movement, both being imports from England. The American Universalist preacher Hosea Ballou told his followers that heaven and hell are not found in any kind of afterlife, but simply in the life we create on this earth. He also rejected the idea that Jesus’s death on the cross saved us – he taught that what saved us was Jesus’s embodiment of love and justice. Historically, paradise for the Universalist was a place where people struggle with injustice and where they are called upon to develop wisdom and our capacity to love.

The universalism in Universalist refers to universal salvation, a very radical theological concept that emerged in an age in which revival preachers were riding through the countryside telling people that they were going to burn in hell unless they repented of their sins. I remember the time I was speaking at a conference on Buddhist-Christian dialogue, and at lunch one of the Christian presenters, a noted academic, said to me, “This doctrine of Universalism, that’s a pretty silly notion, don’t you think?” I was taken aback, and I said no, that actually I thought it was a step in the right direction at a time when hell and damnation sermons were giving God a bad name. And then I paused, and I said to him, “Do you believe that God loves everyone?”

“Yes,” he said.

“So did God love Hitler, too?”

Reluctantly, he agreed. “Yes, I suppose so,” he said.

And then I said, “And so it’s not that much of a stretch, is it, to believe that a loving God could somehow in the end, reconcile all things to Himself.” And we let the conversation end there.
The Unitarians and Universalists talked for many years about merging, and although their theologies were close, they were kept apart by class differences. The Unitarians tended to come from the educated, upper-middle class, and tended to be more cerebral in their worship style than the Universalists, who were mainly rural and less well educated. They decided in 1961, at last, to merge and now the faith is known as Unitarian Universalist.

In summary, we Unitarian Universalists do have a theology:

  • We believe that human beings should be free to choose their beliefs according to the dictates of their own conscience.
  • We believe in original goodness, with the understanding that sin is sometimes chosen, often because of pain or ignorance.
  • We believe that God is One.
  • We believe that revelation is ever unfolding.
  • We believe that the Kingdom of God is to be created here on this earth.
  • We believe that Jesus was a prophet of God, and that other prophets from God have risen in other faith traditions.
  • We believe that love is more important than doctrine.
  • We believe that God’s mercy will reconcile all unto itself in the end.

Now this piece about God’s mercy – I confess that I don’t know how that could be true. How could God’s love be that encompassing, that forgiving? I can’t even forgive my neighbor who consistently gets out his leaf blower while I’m trying to write a sermon. How could everyone be saved? Surely some of us should go to hell! Surely the guy with the leaf blower.

No, not one. Not one, in God’s infinite mercy. And we are asked to stretch ourselves large enough to take that in. I’m not there yet. But that’s the great thing about my faith. It’s evolving. And so am I. May God have mercy upon my soul. And yours. So be it. Amen.