Before I dive into the hymn, a few words about Charlottesville, since my only pulpit today is this one:
I am certain I don’t have anything to say that hasn’t been said more publicly and eloquently by colleagues, friends, and admired public figures. But I too must proclaim this as loudly as possible, because we cannot keep silent. Of course – OF COURSE – I condemn the hatred of white nationalism and white supremacy, and I condemn any person or system that encourages, excuses, or refuses to say anything to stop it. It tore our country apart 160 years ago and it’s tearing us apart now.
I pray for healing and comfort for the families and friends of those who lost their lives yesterday as they answered the call of love. Their deaths were senseless. And they were doing good in the world at the moment of their senseless deaths. No words of comfort will be enough, but I see you, and I see them.
And for the young white men who have been radicalized into religious and racial terrorism, I offer my own prayers that they let go of their hate and fear – and I pray that young white men stop being radicalized – and I pray we figure out what the solutions to that radicalization really are. Because it’s a problem we white people have to solve in order to ensure that the black, brown, and queer lives that we say matter actually live.
I’m heartbroken that three people have died. I’m more heartbroken that we have agents of radicalization in power in this country. And … my Universalism tells me that all souls – even those peddling evil – are human souls, worthy of the radical love of God. I’m reminded of that scene in the film Contact, when Ellie (Jodie Foster) goes through the wormhole and sees the extraordinary beauty and vastness of the universe, and she says two things: “they should have sent a poet” and “I had no idea.” I believe that even the most hate-filled people have that moment at death, when they cry in amazement at the awe-some, extraordinarily expansive, radical love.
May we – on the streets, in congregations, in conversations, in work and play, on blogs and social media – may we all show a glimpse of the radical love that dissolves fear and hate and holds all.
Now, the hymn. Another short commentary, not surprisingly.
This is one of the Brian Wren songs I actually really like. It isn’t a litany of metaphors; rather, it goes somewhere. And it’s got a graceful tune, thanks to David Hurd. It’s warm, loving, affirming. And maybe it was just the thing to sing today – reminding us of the bigger picture of life, love, action, compassion, connection.
We are not our own. Earth forms us,
human leaves on nature’s growing vine,
fruit of many generations,
seeds of life divine.
We are not alone. Earth names us:
past and present, peoples near and far,
family and friends and strangers
show us who we are.
Therefore let us make thanksgiving,
and with justice, willing and aware,
give to earth, and all things living,
liturgies of care.
Let us be a house of welcome,
living stone upholding living stone,
gladly showing all our neighbors
we are not our own!
Again I say Amen.
The image is of amazing faith leaders, including UUA President Susan Frederick Gray, bringing love in defiance to hate yesterday in Charlottesville.