First, if you do nothing else for your heart and soul this week, please watch this short, fascinating, gorgeous, deeply moving video of the first time humans went deeply enough into space to look back and see the earth as a whole planet. The wisdom of the three astronauts looking back on it fifty years later is enough to save the world, if we will listen, and this week in America it is a particularly helpful perspective.
This Sunday is World Communion Sunday when we think of ourselves as one human family on this tiny blue home circling around one of a hundred billion stars in our galaxy, which is only one of a hundred billion galaxies in the universe.
A profound moment comes in the film when an astronaut shares the insight he had as the space capsule sped back toward the perilous moment of re-entry into earth’s atmosphere. He realized that the earth was no different—it too was a tiny, fragile spaceship with a diverse crew on it that had to work together as one for the sake of their survival.
Yet in the past two weeks the spokesman for our nation has advised the nations of the world to turn away from cooperation and any attempt to be united, and we have seen hostility and polarization in Congress escalate.
Our society has not been this divided since the Civil War, and World Communion Sunday 2018 finds the American church as divided as the nation.
Where can we look for hope?
The fascinating fact about this time is that while we are speeding toward the greatest crisis of human history, a powerful counter-force is rising to move us toward a society more like God’s realm of love and compassion, justice and peace. We know more than ever before about how to live together in unity, equity and sustainability, thanks to the development of nonviolence and healthy communication, developmental psychology and contemplative spirituality, and evolving environmental, economic and community models. A new level of consciousness is growing that is more like the heart and mind of Christ. More people see how we have to change.
All of this hope has roots in the kind of scriptures we will be reading this week. (Verses from Psalm 104 and three short passages from the Gospel of John, 1:1-5, 10:14-16 and 17:20-23.) They remind us that our oneness is partly that we inhabit this tiny planet on which we depend utterly for human survival, but our oneness is even more because we all have in us the greatest force in the universe, the force of love and life and light that we call God and that we saw fully alive in Jesus. That force is our greatest hope, and it is available to us right now, within and around us.
As the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, the Holy Spirit is the great community-creating force that flows through all history. God wants us to be one, and God loves this world and wants the human species to live together in love and survive. The history of the universe is a history of miracles of just the right transformation and needed evolution. If we work together with God using all the contemporary advances in tools and techniques, we have every reason to hope that God’s great power will prevail.
As a small church we can have a disproportionately significant influence if we can create a model of God’s realm of oneness and peace on earth. The good news is that this is exactly what we want to do according to our Draft Future Directions Vision.
This Sunday we will explore the scriptural roots of our hope, we will reflect on our dreams as a congregation and we will look at practical ways in which we can contribute to the creating of a true world communion.
Our music will be from all over the globe. Our hymns will be the Mexican “Pues si vivimos,” the Japanese “Here, O Lord, Your Servants Gather” and the American “When We Can See as God Can See.” The choir will sing a South African Introit (Siyahamba), a French Anthem (Chausson’s “Pater Noster”) and a Hebrew Choral Benediction (“Shalom Chaverim”). Pianist Annemieke McLane will play an African-American spiritual (“He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands”) and pieces by the Norwegian, Edvard Grieg, and the Spanish-Italian-Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera.