Monday, February 15, 2010

Love Doesn't Take Sides

My homily for "Standing on the Side of Love" worship service, Valentine's Day, 2010

Of course I’m standing on the side of love. I’m not a hater. I love everybody.

It’s the other people that are the haters. And boy do I hate them.

I mean I love them, because I’m a lover. But I just can’t understand how those other people take political positions that are so filled with hate? How can anyone not want gay and lesbian couples who have been together for 20 years or more to get married? What a bunch of haters! I hate them.

I mean I love them, because I’m a lover. But how can anyone support a health care system that gives billions of dollars in profits to insurance companies that don’t provide actual medical services, and meanwhile deny upward of 30 million people the protection of basic health care? What a bunch of haters! I hate them.

I mean I love them, because I’m a lover. But how can anyone not be grateful for the benefits that immigrants bring to our communities and to our culture and to our economy? Why would anyone want to make it more difficult for hard-working people to enter our country and do the jobs that need to be done? How can anyone think it’s justice to split up families between two countries or harass good people who are peacefully living in our neighborhoods? What a bunch of haters!

Here on the side of love we don’t have to stand with the climate change deniers, and the gun-toters, and the folks who would take away a women’s right to choose, and the folks who would imprison gays and lesbians just for being who they are. On the side of love we don’t have to stand with those haters who think prisons and war and tax cuts are the solution to every social problem. Boy do I hate them.

I’m glad I’m standing with you all on the love side. It’s all so pretty and nice and comfortable on this side. It’s all Sees candy and roses and bunnies on the love side of every political issue. This is the side of baby chicks. This is the side of Ghandi and Martin Luther King.

The other side is the side of Dick Cheney. That’s the side of Darth Vader, after he turned evil. It’s so ugly and cold and depressing on the other side. They don’t call it the Dark Side for nothing. It gives me the chills to even think about it. Here we don’t have to stand with torturers. Here we don’t have to stand with bigots. Here we don’t hate anybody except the people that hate us – and they started it!

Keep them far away from me. I’m standing on the side of love. Everybody here agrees with me, and we’re friendly, and there are free hugs, and I never get challenged in my opinions. And it feels so good to be so right all the time. I’m standing on the side of Jesus. I know they say Jesus is on their side, but they’re clearly wrong. I’ve got God on my side. And I know that they say God is on their side, too, but they must be wrong because I’m a Universalist and I know that God is love. And I know that God is standing on the side of love.

And as a Universalist I know that God loves everybody and brings everybody to salvation, universally, no one left out. I know that God doesn’t separate out one group of people from another group of people and push some people to one side and keep them apart. I know that God wants us all together, and whether we like it or not eventually we’re all going to have to figure out a way for everyone to stand together because in the eyes of God there is no outside. There is only one people and only one place and only one side: the inside.

Wait a sec.

I’m suddenly remembering that passage from the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus tells us to love our enemies. Jesus tells us that we ought to be like the Divine Spirit that moves over all the earth, you know the passage? “God causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matt. 5:45). That’s the kind of people we are called to be. That’s what love means.

So how can we stand on the side of love? There is no other side to love. If you’re standing on the side, keeping yourself apart, and disengaged, and feeling all self-righteous and superior, than that isn’t love. And if you really are standing in love then look around because you’re not off to the side, you’re being pressed in to the middle from every side.

I don’t mean standing in love requires taking the middle position of every political issue. But standing in love requires being in the middle of the political process. You can hold your opinion. You can be sure you’re right. You can even be sure the other side is wrong. You can be stubborn and unyielding and committed to justice, and I hope you are. But you can’t be disengaged from the other side. You can’t be dismissive of the other side. You can’t be right all by yourself. You can’t be effective if the only people you ever talk to already agree with you. You can’t tell yourself that the people on the other side should just shut up and go away, one, because they won’t, and two, because what kind of love is it that says to anybody, “Shut up and go away?”

Love means including all. Love means embracing all. Love means everybody together. Love means nobody left out. Love means no separation. In the words of the anthem Scott Roewe wrote for us and the choir just sang, “Love Lives Everywhere.” If you’re going to tell me that love lives just on this side of the issue and not that side, than I don’t think you know what love means. If you’re going to tell me that love is concerned with these people but love has nothing to do with those people, than I don’t think you know what love means. If you think you can be loving while ignoring or despising or screaming at people who disagree with you than you don’t know what love means. Or let’s say you’re more polite and you don’t actually scream at the people who disagree with you but still in your heart you hate them, and you tell your friends that those people are idiots, and if the only motivation you can imagine for someone to take the position they take on an issue is that they must be evil, selfish, hateful, bigots, well I’m sorry, sisters and brothers, you ain’t standing on the side of love.

But the real point is that you’re not standing on the side of love if you’re standing on the side. Love is in the middle. Love is in the thick of it. Love is mixing it up. Love is reaching out and touching and inviting in and opening up. Love is listening and hearing and seeking to understand. Love is forgiving, and looking behind the fear, both theirs and our own: the fear that keep us apart. Love is creating safe places where everyone is welcome. Love is humbly asking, “What don’t I know?” not arrogantly boasting, “I know it all.” Love is community, not self-sufficiency. Love isn’t independent. Love isn’t dependent either. Love is the interdependent web of all creation (including Dick Cheney) of which we are not standing on the side, but of which we are all a part.

Love means, first of all, not labeling the people on the other side of an issue as haters. No one thinks they’re a hater. No one of any church or political party is holding a rally today standing proudly under a banner that says, “Standing on the Side of Hate.”

Love is not chocolate and bunnies. Really being a lover is hard work. Love means engaging with the people we really don’t want to engage with. Love means opening up a dialogue with people who we’re pretty sure have nothing to say we want to hear. Love means trying to understand people who we just can’t understand. Love means staying in there even when things get hot and hurtful and mean, without getting hot and hurtful and mean yourself.

Can we really be that strong in our love? Can we be that brave? Can we be that generous? Could we really be the ones who get off the side and move into the middle of love? Can we imagine getting out of our comfortable churches, with all the people who think just like we do, and talking to some people who are pretty sure that they’re the ones standing on the love side? Are we serious about solving the issues of the world in a way that brings everybody along, or would we rather pretend we can just leave some folks behind? And listen, you Universalists, if you think the other side is just going to fade away and you’ll never have to deal with them, well just wait. They’re all going the same place you’re going. We’ll see them there when both sides disappear into that loving circle where every point is the center, that irresistible embrace of divine love. That heaven of love where there are no sides.

4 comments:

ARISTIONO NUGROHO said...

Hi friend, peace...

Your blog very interesting.
But I have some questions for you:

First, why were you believe that Jesus is your God? Would you have evidence that Jesus is God? Or that is only your faith? What do you mean about “Jesus is God”? Does this mean have not same with mean “God of the Universe”? Or that is only mean “man as God”, like ancient Egypt peoples call Pharaoh as God?

Second, what do you response? If you know that the “God” which attribute on Jesus is created by Constantine (the Roman Emperor at 325 AC) and the leaders of Christians in Nicea Counsel on 325 AC (After Christ). In this councel, Constantine made huge changes in the faith, like “Jesus is Son of God”, and “Jesus is God”. The Emperor Constantine took “Jesus Conception” from Apollo, the son of the Greek God (Zeus). At the counsel of Nicea in 325 AC, the New Testament Cannon was changed. The writings of the New Testament were changed to be the books used by the church since Jesus they call God (Jesus is Son of God, Jesus is God).

Third, how about this informations? Nowhere in the Bible is the day of worship changed from Saturday to Sunday. This change was not made by the Almighty, but by the Roman Church. Christianity was corrupted by Paganism. The pure Deism of the first Christians was changed, by the Church of Rome, into the incomprehensible dogma of the trinity. There are many similarities between the pagan god of Christ and the Christian version of Jesus. For example, Greek mythology tells of Christ bring born to the virgin Isis on December 25.

Fourth, how about this information? God is Allah, the One and Only. Allah is God, on whom all depend. Allah begets not, and nor begotten; and none is like Allah (The Holy Qur’an 112:1-4).

Thanks for you answer.
I hope we can be friend, although we have different perspective.
If you willing visit my blog, and read my article at http://sosiologidakwah.blogspot.com
And... if you love books, don’t forget to read The Holy Qur'an please...

John Mott said...

This is wonderful. I am always dismayed with how quickly some (not all) people play what I call "the hate card" -- people on the other side of issues ranging from gay marriage to public schools are 'hateful'. Its a great shortcut to avoid dialogue, because dialogue implies that there might actually be other points of view or that it might take time to hear what people are saying.

Of course, some people on the right have their own 'hate card', they just call it something else.

I long for a Council of Grownups, where thoughtful points of view are expressed and heard between people that see our complex world through the many lenses that we possess.

John Mott
First UU Nashville

Bill Baar said...

Dick Cheney to the left of Obama on SSM.

I wish SSM supporters would give him a break on that...

thomasperchlik said...

This is great. I laughed at the first part and agreed deeply with the second part. Love is getting into the thick of it.

Good job Ricky.