During a recent discussion after my sermon on Radical Hospitality, we talked about the potential impact that the use of traditional theological words might have on each of us and how sometimes they can feel painful. I suggested that these kinds of words (sin, salvation, redemption, faith, communion, worship etc.) are powerful symbols. They cannot simply be discarded as the pain associated with them will remain behind. Instead, I suggested, it is more helpful to replace the meaning of these symbols with definitions that work or make sense for us. In this way, we can both reclaim a powerful language of reverence for ourselves and more easily support the spiritual growth of others for whom these words are necessary. Our Touchstones theme for the month of November is one of those words… faith.
Faith can be thought of as trust. Many people say they have faith in God; they have trust in God. Faith is usually followed by “in”. Whether that “in” is spoken or implied, there is a belief that underlies faith. When people say they have faith in God, they have trust in something they believe to be true about God; for example, trust that God is good or that God loves them. We all have faith in something; we have trust in something – for some of us that is God and for some of us it is something else. We might have faith in the power of love over hate. We might have faith that goodness will prevail over evil. We might have faith in the power of reason or we might have faith in the scientific principles which (begin to) explain our universe. What do you have faith in…? In what higher principles or values do you trust? I invite you to take some time to reflect on the role of faith in your life.
Whatever it is that we have faith in, that is what we worship (or hold up as worthy). The words of Unitarian minister Ralph Waldo Emerson come to mind…
A person will worship something – have no doubt about that. We may think our tribute is paid in secret in the dark recesses of our hearts – but it will out. That which dominates our imaginations and our thoughts will determine our lives, and character. Therefore, it behooves us to be careful what we worship, for what we are worshipping, we are becoming.
Our Universalist forebears taught us that God is Love. If we have faith in Love, if we hold up Love as worthy, then we are becoming Love embodied. In these turbulent times, may each of you embody Love.
In faith and With Love,