Rev. Dr. Shannon Rogers, DDiv, UCCABlog, Rev. Dr. Shannon Rogers, SermonsLeave a Comment


June 28, 2020

Bishop John Shelby Spong: “A manifesto! The Time Has Come! In Unity Magazine”

“I will no longer temper my understanding of truth in order to pretend that I have even a tiny smidgen of respect for the appalling negativity that continues to emanate from religious circles where the church has for centuries conveniently perfumed its ongoing prejudices against blacks, Jews, women, and homosexual persons with high-sounding, pious rhetoric.”

These words echo through my mind today as I look at the headlines of events that mark these times in our nation. I envision the truth within these words as I remember the teachings from the Sunday schools, prayer meetings, and countless hours of sermons I have endured, seeking the truth of the teachings of Jesus and the will of God in my life. I feel a sense of shame come over me as I look back on those times when I was compelled to preach the message of the church and ignored the truth of God. I, too, was a part of that great divide that separated us “good Christians” from all those who did not believe as we did, all those who were not just like us, all those dying and lost souls that were not as holy as we.

And, like Bishop Spong, I too found the truth, and it has set me free in ways I never imagined. Neither Bishop Spong nor I can go back and change those words we said then. We can’t erase the words we preached and lessons taught, and we can’t redeem those we once misled. But we can share the truths God has revealed to us, and lead all who will follow toward the arms of God that we might have the truth of God revealed to all. And we might truly find ourselves free and loved as never before, and living that love for all the world to see while inviting others to do the same.   

I look around me, and I see the bigotry, discrimination, malice, hatred, and divisions that plague our country and the world, and it is appalling. But what makes it worse are those religious leaders who espouse these traits as gospel and the teachings of God. They preach and teach from their positions of authority all manners of prejudice that do nothing but divide the House of God and destroys any sincere hope for God’s Kingdom. These are not just things of our times; this has been going on from the birth of the Roman Church and before. We have always allowed ourselves to be led toward divisions. We have ignored the truth that would set us free and embraced a path of destruction without question.

Luke 20:38, “He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for in him all are alive.” Within these words, the writer of the Gospel of Luke tells us he believes that Jesus said these things. If that is true, then Jesus is telling us that we are to be living as if we are with God. And not just ourselves, but more so “all are alive” all are living with God. All means everyone, not just a select, elect few, but everyone who lives is God’s child. God is God of all or the God of none, and if God is Love, then that love is for all or none.

Within these truths, we must accept that every person alive is God’s child, God’s creation. We must accept them as God created them, and the fact that God loves them just as much as God loves you. We must accept the fact that God does not make mistakes. God makes each of us as God determines for us to be, and in that God sees no flaw. If God makes some different from others, that is God’s plan and for God’s purpose. All that is left for us to do is love them for who they are. God makes each of us different for a reason. Perhaps humankind would be more advanced and better off if we stopped trying to make everyone like ourselves, and found out how our differences can be used to make our world a better place.

We need to understand. Our would will never be the Kingdom of God until we accept the fact that God dwells within every one of us. I am positive God wants us to live as one, just as God is one, we too must learn the human race is one. When we accept this fact and stop dividing ourselves into them and us, then that Kingdom of God can be real. Jesus said that the Kingdom is never far away; it is in our hearts. But it can’t be found if our hearts are filled with all manners of hatred and as long as we are a divided species. 

Paul wrote in the letter to the Ephesians. Ephesians 4:2-6, Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

These words are meant to describe the witness of a follower of the teachings of Jesus. Today I ask you to examine your life, yourself. Ask yourself these questions and answer them truthfully. Am I truly humble and gentle, am I patient and have an attitude of love for all others? Do I make every effort to live in peace with all others that we might all be united as one? Do I understand and accept that there is one body and one Spirit, and we must all come together as one because that is God’s will for God’s children? Will I accept that God is the one God and Father of all, and it is not my duty to judge anyone; it is my duty to join together rather than tearing asunder?

What does your examination reveal? Does it tell you there is room for improvement? Will you commit to making those changes in your life that are needed to allow you to love without conditions, to live the love of God in all you say and do? Will you commit to living to unite with all of God’s children and love them as God loves you? If so, that is what is meant by repentance, and salvation is found in living those truths and loving all of God’s creation.

There is “one God and Father of all.” That is undoubtedly a true statement. But it isn’t enough to make a statement, and we must also apply it to our lives. If there is only one God, then that one God is Father of all because God is Creator of all. I will not judge God’s creations or attempt to determine if they are right or wrong. I will love them as God loves us all and pray that God will bind us together as one race of beings, that God’s purpose for humankind might be fulfilled. For the glory of God and the hope of all humanity.

Romans 15:33, “The God of peace be with you all. Amen.”

Rev. Dr. Shannon Rogers, DDiv       

Sr. Pastor and President, Unitarian Christian Church of America (UCCA)

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