In the same way as you would never use a Stradivarius as a door stop or a Porsche as a plough, we must strive to not cause the masses to believe that authentic, transformational, brilliant and beautiful spirituality is just so much vapor.
Sure, you can "know" God, as the inner, inexplicable and transformative personal experience. But do not ever, my friend, do not ever be so arrogant as to assume you actually "know" God, in terms of explaining God or understanding God.
Being a Christian is not easy because it requires that we do things within a certain framework. As Christians, we have chosen to follow one who set the example for us. Jesus said that we must forgive someone as many times as needed.
If God is so Great, why can't He just create a world without any pain whatsoever? I don't want people to stop talking to God. I'm not even angry at God for something terrible like cancer. I just want people to think.
I had a brief conversation after service with someone who noticed that we do not have the American flag in the sanctuary during our worship services. The kicker: He said to me, "It's because of that flag that you have the freedom to worship they way you do in this country."
Probably the deepest inquiry in any of the spiritual traditions is the question, "Who am I?" If we look behind the roles and images that our culture gives us, behind the ideas that we internalize from our family, who's really here?
I wonder if how I look at people and what I think of them has any relationship to justice in the world. When I look at people and make judgments about them in the privacy of my thoughts, am I just looking at them or is my looking and my judgment really just?
Some people do not believe in God at all, while others believe in many gods. Others believe that God infinitely shapes their lives and their afterlives. Others look to themselves to be shaped. There are a variety of different religions, and as many as 22 major religions in the world today.
Here's another thing -- receiving generously a gift of authentic love has nothing to do with deserving. It's called unconditional love for a reason. That love that embraces us, even when we mess up. This love surpasses our calculations of right and wrong.
We need to destroy evil by fighting it but also by modeling the alternative. We need to show the world that ordinary man is capable of being exceptional in his kindness, in his honesty, in his moral and spiritual stature.
No matter what we learn about the who or the why of what happened today, I choose to believe that in the end "perfect love casts out fear." In our hearts. In our minds. And on that one city block in the heart of Boston.
When we make the decision as adults to be baptized in water, it is then we fully commit to let go of our old life. It is then we allow ourselves to begin healing. We are proclaiming that we trust in God to wash away those things that bind us to our past.
Sixty-five years ago the State of Israel was born. Yom Ha'atzmaut commemorates the Israeli Declaration of Independence in 1948. The root letters of the word atzmaut can be translated as "essence." This poem is my attempt to share and celebrate a small slice of Israel's essence.