“There is a thread we follow.”
“People wonder about what we are pursuing.”
“We have to explain the thread, but it is hard for others to see.”
And I wonder, dear neighbors--
All of us gathered here, from various faith traditions—with different beliefs—representing a variety of worshipping communities--
Is there a common thread we follow?
I don’t think we could be here otherwise—if there wasn’t a common thread woven through our various faith traditions and beliefs.
There is a thread we cling to—it is like a map. Or a light. A changeless guide in our ever-changing lives and world--
And I wonder about this thread we follow—it must transcend, but not negate the particular and diverse beliefs and practices represented here in this gathering.
The poet writes: “People wonder what we are pursuing”—surely each of us at one time or another has been met with curiosity at best—hostility at worst—regarding our religious practices and beliefs.
I don’t know about you, but it can be hard for me to explain to people why I am a Christian. Why I am a priest. Sometimes it’s hard to be aligned with an institution. Goodness knows religion has caused a lot of damage over the centuries.
The poet’s words speak to me--“We have to explain about the thread, but it is hard for other people to see.”
And yet, I truly believe that all of us are here this evening because we are holding tightly to the thread. We don’t have to explain the thread to one another—even though there is diversity in religious practice—there is commonality in this thread we follow.
My religion. Your religion. Any religion—no one particular religion is the thread itself—but rather all of our religious practices and beliefs illuminate the thread. But the thread itself is universal.
We followed the thread here, tonight. Christians and Jews. Muslims and Human Secularists. Protestants and Catholics.
I wonder – is the poet’s thread community?
Community literally meaning “With Unity, or Together”
The poet’s thread—community-- brought us together here, in this place --
with unity for one another,
together for peace and justice,
with unity for human dignity and flourishing,
Together for respect and reconciliation and understanding of the other
With unity for art and beauty, music and story. Rest, work and play.
There is a thread we follow. And when we hold it, we can’t get lost. Not in darkness. Not in violence. Not in hate or grief or fire or gushing water. When we hold it, we cannot be lost to death or fear or loneliness.
Community. Union. Communion. Unity. Together.
One of my heroes of the Christian tradition is Dorothy Day. She was a lay Catholic woman who founded the Catholic Worker Movement. She was a pacifist, activist, and writer.
What I find most inspiring about Dorothy Day is her ability to convey through her writings and her life the essential moral goodness of community.
She writes in her autobiography:
“We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.”
Friends, when we hold tight to love, we find community. And when we hold tight to community, we find love.
And this--this is the thread we follow—love that is community and community that is love.
I give thanks this evening for this holy gathering of thread bearers, weavers, and illuminators—a living community of love, woven together by the diversity of faith traditions celebrated and honored in our great city.
As we go forth from this place, may we continue to hold tightly to community—to one another. May we celebrate our faith—whatever it might be-- joyfully and fearlessly—this is our gift to our neighbors—to show one another how to follow the thread, how to hold tight to community. How to hold tight to love no matter what.
There is a thread you follow. It goes among
Things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.
—William Stafford --
My Sermons (and other thoughts)
a sampling of sermons preached in the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona and a sprinkling of other writings