I hope you’ll be able to help install Margie on October 29 at 4 p.m.
Margie’s ministry is taking shape as we move through this colorful fall season. You’ve been an inspiration to her, demonstrating my friend and colleague Jack Mendelsohn’s assertion that, “Good ministers and good congregations create one another.”
Margie welcomes your calls and visits, so don’t hesitate. Those one-on-one meetings are the most effective ways for her to get to know you—to discover the person behind the name tag.
Which reminds me to say thanks for wearing your name tag.
A week after Margie’s installation I’ll be going to Barbara Fast’s installation at the Westminster Unitarian Church in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. Barbara has graciously invited me to deliver the sermon on this special occasion.
Barbara sent me a passage from the first installation sermon at her church, preached by the Rev. William Ellery Channing in 1828. It was a two-hour sermon, so she sent a segment that spoke to her, as it did to that newly-formed congregation. To give you a flavor I edited these lines:
Channing said, “To honor God is not to tremble before him, it is to become what we praise, to feel the divine principle within us, the very spirit of God.”
He went on to say, “There is danger that the thought of God may become the instrument of our degradation. Religion has been so dispensed as to depress the human mind, and it to crush human energy and hope.”
”I reverence human nature too much to do it violence. I see too much divinity in its ordinary operations to urge on it a forced nature. To grow in the likeness of God, we need not cease to be men and women. This likeness does not consist in extraordinary or miraculous gifts, but in our essential faculties, our highest powers of understanding, conscience, love and the moral will. No preaching is so intelligible as that which is true to human nature, and helps men and women to read their own spirits.”
I’m drawn to the notion that ‘to honor God is to become what we praise.” Of course, that line reminds me of the poem, White Heron, by John Ciardi. Channing would have appreciated it.
In addition to the installation celebrations that are coming up, we had a couple of important celebrations here: my son Jonathan married Rosie on September 30, and Jack Raineault was married to Ruth Ahlers this past weekend.
Thanks for the ideas for future sermons, and your suggestions for email etiquette. The file is growing, helping to point me in your direction. “No preaching is so intelligible as that which is true to human nature, and helps men and women to read their own spirits.” Keep reading that spirit. You become what you praise!