It was good to see you yesterday. Indeed, it was great!
Our Homecoming service is one of the highlights of the church year – I know I’m not alone in that feeling. I was anticipating the gathering outside, thinking about it on my early morning walk at Compo Beach, and those well-worn lines from Edwin Markham came to me:
“They drew a circle that shut me out – heretic, rebel, a thing to flout. But love and I had the wit to win, we drew a circle that took them in.”
During my walk I also realized that a circle has no definite place where it begins and ends; when we gathered in our haphazard circle I suggested that ‘the circle begins with you and it ends with the person to your left, which means you are the beginning, and since you are to someone’s left, you are also the end.’
Hindu Scripture says, “I am the Self that dwells within the heart of every mortal creature: I am the beginning, the life-span and the end of all.”
So, to begin with, you are the reason I am here, serving this ever-evolving congregation.
Together we hope to make the world a better place, not only for ourselves, but for those in our community who need our presence, our influence. Sometimes they need a place to bring their grief at the time of a difficult loss. Sometimes they need a place to be married – especially if they are a same-gender couple, as is the case with a call I got this morning from two women asking if I would officiate at their marriage. Fortunately the date was open on my calendar.
They said, “We’ve heard that you are open to same-sex weddings,” and we had a nice conversation and set a time to meet to plan their special ceremony.
Sometimes we, ourselves, need this place, so we can be reminded that we are part of a circle that embraces the best in all the world’s religions, reminded what’s at the heart of them all – it’s about basic human decency, kindness and compassion. It’s not about a particular creed.
I titled my Homecoming sermon ‘A Faith Statement,’ introducing it with a succinct faith statement by Dalai Lama from his book, Ethics for the New Millennium. He says:
“As someone nearing seventy years of age at the time of writing I have accumulated enough experience to be completely confident that teachings of the Buddha are both relevant and useful to humanity. If a person puts them into practice, it is certain that not only they but others, to, will benefit (but) there are other faiths, and other cultures, no less capable than mine of enabling individuals to lead constructive and satisfying lives. What is more, I have come to the conclusion that whether or not a person is a religious believer does not matter much. For more important is that they be a good human being.”
That’s what it all boils down to. So, be good! See you soon.