The visit from Westboro Baptist Church got me thinking about the idea of hell. Our visitors carried signs saying who they thought was going to that place which our religious ancestors disavowed. In the Minister’s Salon on that same Sunday, we were talking about those signs and about the idea of some people being condemned just because of who they were in their true nature and we also got talking about what is the alternative to a belief system that is based on a fear of hell.
The alternative, according to our religious ancestors, is a theology which says, as are Universalist teachers also did, that it is our job to create Heaven on this Earth. And what is heaven, we asked in our discussion and we came around to the idea that heaven was creating the conditions in which people can thrive and live in their authentic and full selves.
In this sense, it occurred to me that evening, as I reflected on the weekend’s events that it had been a Sunday in which we had seen a little glimpse of what that heaven on Earth could look like. The diligent work of the ministers and staff to make sure that as much as possible could be anticipated and to make sure that those most vulnerable would feel held and supported.
The faithful meeting the day before of the people from our caring committee who were concerned about the hearts of those who might be bothered by our visitors. The strong presence at the rally against gun violence, the March for Our Lives, responding to the demands for action from our community’s youth. The powerful, nonviolent, engaged and singing witness that we held to have love overcome hate. The service and ceremony of creating a ritual to allow our community to honor those who are calling their two names and pronouns. The good spirit with which people took on the extra tasks and jobs and responsibilities of that week and in doing so giving of their many gifts. The tireless service of those who came in later that afternoon to begin the arduous setup for our winter nights service when we host families who are without homes and open our hearts and lives to them for two weeks. That all of this could happen in just one weekend in the life of this vibrant congregation speaks to the power of interdependence that our tradition also teaches.
We don’t always get a glimpse of what heaven could look like. I believe I saw a little shimmer of it in the very faithful life of this congregation. And for that I will be forever grateful.
Rev. Leslie Takahashi serves as the lead minister of the congregation.
P.S. – People have asked what the name of this column means. Logos means words. So, some words from me. Hope they were helpful.