It was longer than I usually preach and it was notes-rather-than-a-manuscript ... but here's an excerpt:
Enough for now. Off for my post-homiletic nap and then back for new member class tonight ... where we had to add two new small group leaders and 20 more chairs to make room for everybody. Just another day in paradise!
The people I prayed for are people who will never hear about the God of love because they are surrounded by those who have chosen to follow the God of fear.
Who will never align themselves with the God of justice because having rejected the God of judgment they don’t know there’s another option.
Who think they know enough about being a Christian not to want to be one because somebody told them God gives people cancer in order to bring them to Jesus. They don’t believe in that God and neither do I.
And so my heart breaks for those who are starving for what we dish up and serve here every single Sunday … great big heaping plates of God’s love, justice and compassion … along with that side of grace that like grits “just come” … for those who are yearning for what we can too easily take for granted because they don’t even know what’s on the menu.
We lost one of our finest preachers, theologians and advocates when we lost Peter Gomes last week. Dr. Gomes was with us here in 1997 for our Lent Event … and so as we celebrate his work and witness it seems fitting to remember his cautionary words from 1992 about the power and danger of the religion we’re giving up for Lent:
“Religious fundamentalism is dangerous because it cannot accept ambiguity and diversity and is therefore inherently intolerant. Such intolerance, in the name of virtue, is ruthless and uses political power to destroy what it cannot convert.”
The good news is we here are All Saints Church are not the only ones giving up that religion for Lent.
Rob Bell – an emergent evangelical known for his provocative views and appeal among the young, is making headlines – and waves – by describing as “misguided and toxic” the dogma that “a select few Christians will spend forever in a peaceful, joyous place called heaven, while the rest of humanity spends forever in torment and punishment in hell with no chance for anything better.”
He called it misguided and toxic. Conservative bloggers are calling it heretical and apostate. I'm calling it Amen and Alleluia.