My spirituality is most active, not in meditation, but in the moments when: I realize God may have gotten something beautiful done through me despite the fact that I am an @**hole, and when I am confronted by the mercy of the gospel so much that I cannot hate my enemies, and when I am unable to judge the sin of someone else (which, let’s be honest, I love to do) because my own crap is too much in the way, and when I have to bear witness to another human being’s suffering despite my desire to be left alone, and when I am forgiven by someone even though I don’t deserve it and my forgiver does this because he, too, is trapped by the gospel, and when traumatic things happen in the world and I have nowhere to place them or make sense of them but what I do have is a group of people who gather with me every week, people who will mourn and pray with me over the devastation of something like a school shooting, and when I end up changed by loving someone I’d never choose out of a catalog but whom God sends my way to teach me about God’s love.
― Nadia Bolz-Weber, Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People
Nadia Bolz-Weber is a Lutheran pastor in Denver. The quote above comes from her most recent book, Accidental Saints, which was the common read for my annual reading retreat/reunion with my seminary friends. I had the pleasure of hearing her speak last May at the Festival of Homiletics in Denver. The church she began in Denver (while still in seminary!) is named House for All Sinners and Saints, which is at once an aspirational name and quite the mission statement, and it ministers to many in Denver who might be considered to be living on the fringes of the community. The congregation lovingly shortens the name to “House for All.” It’s a church name that reminds me of our own UU aspirations for community ‑ there are so many of our congregations that bear the name “All Souls.” To those who are unfamiliar with Universalist theology, that might seem like a name dedicated to the reverence of people who have passed, of people who are in the past. I’ll admit, my own lingering Catholic schoolboy heart has often taken that phrase to mean just that, despite my own Universalism. It only takes a little imagination to tack Rev. Nadia’s “House for” onto that “All Souls” to begin to grasp the true meaning of the aspiration in the name ‑ and, given the challenges in her quote above ‑ to glimpse the real discipline it might take to build that “house for all.”
This Sunday at 10:30, “A Room for Every Soul” — one final exploration of what the community we dream of building might require of us.