AT A carol service this month, hosted by the Open Table inclusive Christian community in Liverpool, I read one of the readings, which I found moving, inspiring and too good not to share. It’s an extract from a lecture called ‘Jesus for the non-religious’ by John Shelby Spong, a retired US Episcopalian Bishop:
Suppose we change our God definition. Suppose we take God out of the sky… and suppose we begin to think of God as a presence at the very heart of life. We have to use words, so I use these words without any sense of investing them with more than their meaning will bear.
If God is the source of life, as I believe God is, then… God is present in you, and me, and in the whole created order. And if God is the source of life, then the only way you worship God is by living. Living fully. Sharing life, giving life away, not being afraid, wandering out of the certain into the uncertain, out of known into the unknown.
If God is the source of love, as I believe God is, then the only way you can worship God is by loving. Not by being right, but by loving. By loving wastefully. The image in my mind is an old sink in the basement, that you plug up the drains and you turn on all the [taps] and the water overflows the boundaries and goes all over the floor and fills up every crack and cranny… and never stops to ask whether that crack deserves this living water… You love because love is what you have to do, not because somebody deserves the love. You love wastefully.
If God is the ground of being, as I believe God is, then the only way you and I can worship God is by having the courage to be all that we can be, in the infinite variety of our humanity. Whether we are male or female, gay or straight, transgender or bisexual, white or black or yellow or brown, left-handed or right-handed, brilliant or not quite so brilliant. No matter what the human difference is, you have something to offer in your own being.
Nobody else can offer what you have to offer, and the only way you can worship God is by daring to be all that you can be, and not be bound by the fears of yesterday.
Hear Bishop John Shelby Spong read this reflection: