Posted by: dacalu | 11 December 2011

Simply Christianity

Here is a copy of tonight’s sermon at Canterbury (the Episcopal Campus Ministry at UA).  Blessed Advent to all.

I know I have a terrible habit of making things complicated,

so here’s a quick summary of my faith.

God loves you.

God created you from nothingness

and upholds you in existence.

God desires your company.

An infinite and omnipotent being

made you whole-cloth as someone to talk to, to love, and to be with.

That’s a difficult proposition,

because you’re stubborn. (Well, we’re stubborn.)

God spoke through prophets, mystics, poets, dreamers, mathematicians,

artists, and countless others for countless centuries.

Some responded to God’s love, but far too few.

Why this is exactly, I don’t know.

I could say we fell, we were prideful, we were selfish, or whatever,

but I honestly don’t know what that means exactly.

It means we have trouble talking to God—whatever the cause.

And this is not surprising,

because we have trouble talking to one another.

We have trouble understanding and being understood.

So God became human,

to see what all the fuss was about,

to interact with us as we interact with one another,

to tell us the truth about God and creation in our own language,

to jump start us into right relationships.

And we killed him.

Again, I don’t know why exactly.

Oh, I can talk about selfishness, greed, and power.

I can tell you about the forces that go along with killing God;

I can tell you it’s in human nature,

But the why of it?  The brute force question

of human bloody-mindedness?

I just don’t know.


God did a surprising thing.

God did not take offense.

Shocking as it seems from our perspective,

God did not take offense.

And he returned to us.

And continues not only to teach, but to listen.

God is present in the world,

through creation—certainly and continually—

but also as a participant.

God cares so much to hear what you have to say

that he went through Hell to hear it—

God did not die to do something to you,

God died because of you

and returned for your sake.

And we have this promise:

that death will not get in the way—

not God’s death,

and not our own.

All of that is God’s gift to us,

not an exchange, not a sale, not a bribe or a contract.

That was given freely, and is given freely,

in our very existence.

That’s the Good News,

offered freely to all,

that no matter how bloody-minded you may be,

God made you, loves you, and returns to you,

no matter how dark things seem to become.


All of that, however, is not Christianity.

That is the truth that Christians profess,

but it is not the practice, desire, and belief of Christians.

It is what makes the world what it is.

It is not what makes us what we are.

That may sound surprising, but I hold it to my very core.

No.  What makes us Christians is not the good news,

but how we respond to the good news.

Some of us, seeing how much God loves us,

and seeing how much God loves even those we hate,

and hearing what Jesus had to say,

but more importantly noting what Jesus came to do,

choose to do something about the Good News.


We choose to talk to God,

who seems so bent on listening to us.

We pray.

We choose to listen to God,

who seems so bent on talking to us.

We meditate.

We choose to listen and talk to one another,

not just hold silent or spout words,

but to build the kind of relationships that mean something,

to be worthy of God’s attention,

and worthy of God’s presence among us.

We choose to help others talk and listen to God.

The prayers:

the formal words, polished by centuries of use

that help us to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest

God’s message to us.

the informal words,

spoken only in places safe enough to bear our soul.

The practices:

the histories of God’s people,

lovingly kept for millennia in scripture and tradition;

the study of creation;

the regular practice of coming here to share in God’s love—

always present, but more meaningful somehow

when experienced together;

the life lived in community,

open to others, open to God.

The sacraments:

breaking open the most profound experiences of our lives

to see God peaking through.

That’s Christianity,

not the gift of grace in Creation,

nor the gift of grace in Jesus Christ,

but the gift of grace in discovering

that we can be God reaching out to us.

We are the body of Christ, alive in the world.

The very spirit of God is alive in us, as the church, the Spirit of God,

no doubt impossible without the creation,

impossible without the life of Jesus,

and yes, impossible without God working within us.


Love yourself.

God made you.

God listens to you.

God finds you interesting, and wonderful, and worthwhile.

Love others.

God made them too, and, I guarantee,

each and every one is worth getting to know.

Some people have trouble seeing God.

Some people have trouble hearing the good news.

Give them something to believe in while they figure out the rest.

Be good to them.

Fight the bloody-mindedness that somehow lives in each of us.

Love God.

Keep your heart and mind open to new and wondrous things.

God keeps giving us gifts and God keeps coming back from the dead.

Never make up your mind that God cannot be found,

that someone cannot be God to you,

or you to them.




  1. Wonderful! Quite simply, live in the Love that Is God.

  2. This is wonderful! I will pass it along!

  3. […] the original post here : Share this:FacebookEmailPrint Previous postExamen of the […]

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