Our world is confusing. We are pulled in so many directions by so many voices—in what we read, hear on radio, TV or the internet, and are told by friends, neighbors and families.
Many times a day we can feel afraid, outraged, or confused. We can feel pulled to buy things, help people, defend ourselves—or defend others from yet other people.
How should we respond to all this?
For me, I try (not always successfully) to respond from my core beliefs, the beliefs that rest near my bedrock. The beliefs that, even when I’m blown in the wind, seem like living anchors — if I can just remember to look down at them and reach for their steady strength.
What are my personal core beliefs? That’s a daunting question, and it was especially tough in my early years in ministry.
As it happens, I’m someone who doesn’t always know what I mean to say — until I hear myself say it to someone. So, early on, I asked myself, “What do I find myself saying over and over? Are such words a clue to my core beliefs?”
As soon as I asked myself that, I thought of the words I say at graveside services. At almost every interment I lead, I include these words:
God told us that we are each made in God’s own image. So, we carry within each of us a small spark that is a piece of God.
The brokenness of our world can overwhelm us. Our spark can grow dim. But the person we bury here today is no longer separate from God. She, even now, is united with God. Her spark of light is reunited with the source of all light.
These words remind me how strongly I believe that every human carries a spark of the divine: not just Christians, not just Americans, not just white folks — or just straight folks, educated folks, able-bodied folks, or wealthy folks. Every human is a carrier of my God. In other words, the God I have dedicated my life to serving is literally sheltered within every human. If that is true — and deep down I believe it is — then every human is worthy of dignity, respect and care.
For me, that first core belief leads directly to another: we are all loved by God. God loves us all even when it is hard for others to love us—or for us to love ourselves. Thankfully, God loves bigger and more steadfastly than I can. God is ready at every second to forgive and to welcome us back into relationship.
As with all beliefs, the theories are sometimes easier than the practice.
I have to admit that there are folks in whom I cannot easily see the divinity that I profess they shelter. And in these difficult times in our nation and our world where racism, hatred, misogyny, antisemitism and just plain meanness seem to be multiplying, I find myself begging God to help me see with my heart what my eyes and ears are missing—that these people too are imbued with a divine spark and are loved by God.
So how do I reconcile my core belief with my feelings and observations of a rampant vitriolic discourse that denies the inherent divinity in all? A political climate which seems to vilify and condemn, rather than helping us notice how beloved we all are?
I try to act on what I cannot always feel. Even when I can’t feel it, I know that we carry Christ inside us—as a small spark of God. And I know that all are loved by God. And there is nothing we can do about it.
So, what if a person frightens me, offends me, worries me or angers me? Well, that is my issue. God loves me in my feelings, but I cannot act in any way that denies another’s spark of divinity and worthiness of God’s love.
We are called to stand up to those who hurt and oppress. But, at the same time, we are called to remember that every person is loved by God just as much as we are. Our job isn’t just to stand against injustice, but to stand against injustice in a spirit of love.
On Nov. 6, our country is voting. We are stepping forward and taking an action that—if we do it thoughtfully and faith-fully—can reflect our core beliefs.
I want to encourage you to make sure you vote. Not voting is, in fact, a way of refusing to express our inner values in action. Uber or this church will give you a ride to the polls if you need one. This election is too important to miss because of transportation issues.
Here in MA, we are not just voting on our senatorial and congressional representatives, we are also voting on three ballot questions.
Question One is about health care and the number of patients who nurses can be expected to care for at a given time. The choices are:
A YES VOTE would limit the number of patients that could be assigned to one registered nurse in hospitals and certain other health care facilities.
A NO VOTE would make no change in current laws relative to patient-to-nurse limits.”
Question Two is about establishing a commission to work toward defining the differences in human’s rights and the rights of corporations.
A YES VOTE would create a citizen’s commission to advance an amendment to the United States Constitution to limit the influence of money in elections and establish that corporations do not have the same rights as human beings.
A NO VOTE would not create this commission.
Question Three asks if we agree with a law passed by the senate and house of representatives in July. The law passed in July adds “gender identity” to the list of prohibited grounds for oppression. And directs the state Commission Against Discrimination to adopt rules or policies and make recommendations to carry out this law.
A YES VOTE would keep in place the current law, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity in places of public accommodation.
A NO VOTE would repeal this provision of the public accommodation law.
Core beliefs—all humans are beloveds of God and carry a spark of God. Period.
When I vote on Nov. 6 (or before with early voting), my core beliefs will be my guide.
Any law which hurts, oppresses, or limits the safety and dignity of humans, I will stand against.
How about you?
Don’t forget, voting is not a “right.” Voting is a responsibility that keeps our government responsive to the people. Please vote.
And please carry your core beliefs into the polling booth with you. God will be with you.
— Rev. Pam