Monday, July 03, 2006

Happy July 4th!

Happy Fourth of July!

I'm back from St. Louis and the annual meeting of the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists.

I conducted a short multifaith worship service on Saturday morning at 8:00 am. I was concerned that only a few people would get up for the service. But, there were close to 50 people there -- sex educators, sex counselors, sex therapists. People in their twenties to people in their late seventies. Straight people, gay people, bisexual people, people of transgendered experience. People of faith and people of little faith. Maybe even people of no faith who were curious.

It turned out there was a workshop starting immediately at 8:30 am in the same room. We had a little bit of trouble with the ipod music system that my 13 year old son had figured out for me before I left Connecticut. I had to cut my sermon back as I was delivering it.

None of that mattered. The service came together. We sang together, clapped together, spoke the names of people in our hearts, prayed together, and the sermon "worked." The spirit was present.

No more so than the concluding hymn. We spontaneously joined hands and together sang the chorus of Jason Shelton's moving hymn, "Standing on the Side of Love." Tears ran down many faces as we joined our hearts and voices together:

"Hands joined together, our hearts beat as one,
Emboldened by faith, we dare to proclaim,
We are standing on the side of love."

So may it be on this holiday of liberty and freedom.

1 comment:

Debra W. Haffner said...

Sent to the Religious Institute by someone at the service:

Well, I have to cop to being one of "those of no faith who were curious." Actually, scratch that -- it implies I'm curious about, or seeking, some religion to call "home." I'm not. Better would be "of no faith but eager” -- eager to experience that wonderfully electric, spiritually and emotionally moving, loving and welcoming connection that I hadn't enjoyed since you did this last year in Portland (yes, my last religious service attended!). And I have to say this, too: it ain't the hymn-singing or the hand-holding or the iPod selections that particularly do anything for me. It is 100% your sermons that move me so deeply.

I wonder how many other atheists consider themselves such adoring fans of members of the clergy??? Well, only those who "get it" -- that love IS spiritual, and that religion is OBLIGATED to support social justice for ALL. Reverend Haffner -- Debra -- thank you AGAIN for being a highlight of another AASECT Conference for me and a shining example to your peers “of the cloth.” I can only hope that someday they, too, get it.