[You can watch a video recording of this Call to Worship at the end of this text. To see the entire service, click here.]
Teaching One: The Spirit Intercedes: If God Is For Us, Who Is Against Us?—Call to Worship and Mel Goertz’s Haiku
Imagine the urgency the Spirit of the universe feels right now. It is calling to us, begging and pleading that we see what it sees and respond as it would respond. More than that, as the Apostle Paul put it, the Spirit is interceding—it is shaking and waking people up, it is stirring a new consciousness. It is on our side, the side of life and love and light, and if the Spirit is for us, who is against us?
Many times since my first sermon here three years ago I have told the story of how we got to this time and place, how the universe exploded into being thirteen billion years ago, how the solar system formed out of molecular gas and dust four and a half billion years ago and after five hundred million years life miraculously came into being, how those first single cells organized into ever more complex life forms and after three billion years the first reptiles crawled out onto land, how five times almost all life died out on earth and yet slowly came back after millions of years each time, how the human mind evolved over the past two hundred thousand years, and how just a blink of an eye ago, a mere 25 centuries, a new awakening in philosophy and religion and art emerged promoting an ethic of empathy, compassion, forgiveness, unconditional and universal love, the Golden Rule, justice, freedom, equality for all, based on the vision of the most evolved, wisest human consciousness, a vision of the true oneness of all life, loving our neighbor truly as our self. Then yet another breakthrough happened—societies began to organize themselves based on that wisdom. Not perfectly, but recognizably—democracies and republics emerged, and great social movements of reform moved those societies ever closer to the ideal.
Some saw the spirit of the universe as a force or power flowing through all time, places and beings. They saw how it worked toward building harmonious communities of cells or humans that could provide the conditions for the sustainable flourishing of life on earth, not just for one species but for the whole. Some called this force God and called the ideal world toward which the Spirit flowed the realm of God on earth.
They established institutions to help individuals evolve over the course of their lives beyond selfishness into citizens who would serve the common good, who would lay down their lives out of love, who would guide their communities and nations wisely and virtuously, who would move steadily toward the most expansive wisdom that humanity had attained so they could be entrusted with the wellbeing of all and help society evolve toward the ideal of the sacred way of God’s realm.
And yet at the same time some did not evolve along that path and could not extend compassion and empathy beyond their own tribe or believe in universal equality, equity and oneness, who believed that the highest good was the pursuit of self-interest and the individual’s acquisition of power and wealth regardless of the cost of destruction or diminishment to others, and this counter-culture became dominant and its wars and toxic wastes and oppressive abuses of the poor and vulnerable brought the entire planet to the edge of extinction, undoing all that the spirit of the universe had worked toward over four and a half billion years.
Look at this through the spirit of the universe’s eyes. Peer down at this poor, precious, rapidly dying planet, and let your vision focus in on one little village in a remote, quiet corner of one devolving democracy. See the worry, grief and longing in their hearts, see their love of nature and of one another, see their cherished ideals, see how fervently they are working to make their village and world fulfill the values that they know are essential to the survival and flourishing of life.
Imagine how much the universe wants to intercede and help them. The Spirit knows that all its hope for the children being born right now rests on people like these who have the love of the sacred way in their hearts.
The Spirit intercedes, and if God is for us, who is against us? The Apostle Paul answered that nothing in life or death can separate us from the love of God and Jesus said it was the greatest power and law in the universe.
If you were the spirit that created life on earth and evolved humanity toward oneness and the law of love, what would you do in this urgent crisis to help those who long to serve that cause?
Wouldn’t you help them find your higher power within them and within their beloved communities, giving them the wisdom, strength and courage they need to build a movement powerful enough to change the world?
If you were that Spirit, wouldn’t you help people find the spiritual tools, practices and support they need to meet the crisis they face?
Look around and you will see that the Spirit is doing this, the Spirit is interceding, and if God is for us, who is against us?
The question is, how can we work with the Spirit to pull off the miracles, little and large, that life requires?
I will address that in the next two teachings in this service.
The Spirit has moved through Mel Goertz to provide two beautiful insights in haiku form. Mel did not know what I would be talking about today, she just listened to her heart, and the Spirit led her to these messages. Her first haiku is a beautiful image of the way the Spirit works as a gentle but inexorable force of light reaching into the shadows of our world. Here it is:
The sun moved into the woods
and touched the trunks of the trees
And here is Mel’s second haiku, written many years ago when she was trying to find her way through a personal wilderness. It was the message she needed at the time, and now we all do.
Weather deep as the sea
or high as the sky
the Spirit is everywhere.
Let us worship together continuing on with this service.