Victory?

A colleague — he doesn’t use his name on the blog that I saw; perhaps that’s an emerging blog convention — linked to me, and I’ll point you to his, too: Across, Beyond, Thought.
I wonder if there are more of us sharing online.

Of course, I’m thinking about the Sunday sermon; it is entitled, “The Victory that Conquers the World.” Or, as I promoted it in the church newsletter:

Memorial Day reminds us of the sacrifices others have made in the field of battle. But what do we make of the “conquest of faith,” where the battlefield is our own soul?

The principle reading
— I follow the Revised Common Lectionary — is 1 John 5:1-6, focusing, of course, on verse four:
“for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith.” (NRSV)

There is an understandable aversion to conquest language. Need I mention the Crusades? the Latin American conquest?
I think a sharp line needs to be made between conquests of human beings against one another, and our victory in God in Christ against that threat against every person: personal death, and by extension, the end of existence, even the love we have. Victory (to use one military concept) comes through participating in God’s army (another military concept.) Except here the fight is participation in God’s living, loving, and responsive Spirit. This creates for the person
a second life which is not destroyed with the body. But what about “those who don’t choose”? It would overstate the power
of the atomistic view of freedom for one to opt out of creation as an act of will. At a foundational level, to be alive is to participate with God. Faith, as John Murray understood, is the confirmation of this second life, and with it, comfort and confidence in the face of personal death. In life, too, this is the sense that “I’m not alone,” all indications of malice, oppression, or hatred notwithstanding.

Why this blog?

Let me be clear why I’m starting this blog: it is in part a positive response to the call by Bill Sinkford, the president of the Unitarian Universalist Association to reclaim a “vocabulary of reverence.” First he preached a sermon he gave a while back in Fort Worth, and a few days article in the New York Times appeared highlighting his feelings and alluding to some hard feelings on the humanist and atheist edge of Unitarian Universalism. Again, to the positive, it is amazing, after more than a decade within institutional Unitarian Universalism to see the shift from latent hostility towards Christianity and theism to, well, qualified curiosity.

The Religion News Service contacted me — they wanted a story of their own — and I gave them a quote:

“For us to be more effective in that realm, we have to be comfortable with people for whom religious language is where they live,” he said. The Rev. Scott Wells, pastor of Universalist National Memorial Church in Washington, agreed. Without religious language, he said, it is impossible to be a religious voice. “If we’re not willing to step up to the ecumenical and interfaith table, then we will find ourselves increasingly marginalized and could go the way of the Shakers,” he said.

Day One

God forbid I should think myself one of those theologians who never has an unpublished thought. There are days that I have a hard enough time to come up with a cogent thought. So for now, let it be enough to try and record my best idea to share.

Almighty God, uphold in my ministry every good thing, and guide those who labor and struggle in your name. Upbuild us, so we may grow in your likeness. This I pray in Jesus’ name.