Trusting the Goodness of God Rev Dr Durrell Watkins All Souls Sunday 2016 Religion, for me, is NOT fire insurance. We seem so silly and we make religion seem so irrelevant when we treat it as if it where the reservations desk at an afterlife resort. Let me tell you the 100% honest truth about […]
Trusting the Goodness of God
Rev Dr Durrell Watkins
All Souls Sunday 2016
Religion, for me, is NOT fire insurance.
We seem so silly and we make religion seem so irrelevant when we treat it as if it where the reservations desk at an afterlife resort.
Let me tell you the 100% honest truth about what happens after we die: I have no idea.
I spend no time trying to figure it out and no time trying to persuade anyone else that I do know what can’t be known.
This is what I believe: God is good.
This is my commitment: to trust as best I can the goodness of God.
That’s it. That’s my whole theology of the afterlife…this life, too, for that matter.
God is omnipresent…there’s not a spot where God is not.
If God is omnipresent, then that means whatever I am is part of God, and if the omnipresent God is eternal, then I must in some sense be eternal.
What will that look like after this experience of life? I couldn’t possibly know, but I trust that it will be good, because God is good.
Jesus said in John’s gospel, “In God’s house there are many rooms.” I don’t know what those rooms look like or who goes to which room, but if they are in God’s house, they must all be fabulous.
My faith is that God is omnipresence, so neither in this life experience or in any other could I ever be separated from the divine presence. I didn’t know what this life would be like until I got here, and it’s always changing.
I don’t know what the next will be like, but I trust it will be in the presence of God and so all will be well.
The prophet Haggai was onto something when he said, “God’s spirit is among you; so, do not fear.” God is with and within us; there is nothing to fear.
I’m an admirer of the 17th century theologian Emanuel Swedenborg.
Swedenborg wrote, “Human beings are so created that as to their internals they cannot die.”
In other words, what we really are is deathless. What is internal, is eternal.
What is internal?
Quaker founder George Fox said there is “that of God” in everyone.
The divine Spark within us is our true nature, and it is perfect, and it is one with its eternal divine Source.
A 17th century Carmelite monk, Brother Lawrence, wrote about the Practice of the Presence of God. If God is omnipresent then we don’t need invoke God’s presence, but rather learn to experience it wherever we are. Brother Lawrence wrote, “Think often on God, by day, by night, in your business and even in your diversions. [God] is always near you and with you…”
Paramahansa Yogananda, who brought Kriya Yoga to the west, said,
“I am the ocean of consciousness. Sometimes I become the little wave of the body, but I am never just the wave without the Ocean of God.”
And the Sufi poet Rumi said, “You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.”
Now, these enlightened, intuitive, deeply thoughtful souls thought these things, but that isn’t proof. We don’t have proof; we have beliefs which are well rehearsed opinions.
I am as a matter of choice rehearsing the opinion that gives me strength, comfort, hope, courage, and peace.
I’m trusting that God is good, that there’s not a spot where God is not, and therefore I can’t be apart from God in this or any other reality. I choose to say with Haggai, “God’s spirit is among you, so do not fear!”
The omnipresence of God upon which I so totally depend is what gives me the authority to say without equivocation that every person has sacred value.
God is the Ground of Being and to be at all is to be part of God and to be part of God is to forever have access to the loving goodness that God is.
I don’t know what’s next, and I don’t need to know. Faith is trust, and I trust because I can’t know.
But what I believe with the entirety of my being is that we are forever in God’s presence and in God’s presence peace and joy are always possible.
Jesus said in today’s gospel: To God, ALL are alive.
Not just those who belong to certain religions, not just those who live in certain parts of the world, not just those who hold certain beliefs, not just those who are heterosexual, not just those who are physically alive today…the reality of my faith is that all means all, and to God ALL are alive!
Now, free from the fear that we could ever be rejected by God, let us endeavor to experience the Holy more deeply here and now.
Let us live in the power of hope, here and now.
Let us trust that God is compassionately predisposed toward all people, in this life and in whatever may come next.
And as a community committed to worshiping a God of pure, endless, and unconditional love, let us be conduits of that love so that the healing power of that love can make a difference in whatever world we happen to occupy at the time, which for now happens to be 21st century earth.
Religion has been used to scare, control, manipulate, divide, oppress, conquer, kill, and silence people.
God forgive us for so misrepresenting the truth of all-inclusive, unconditional, divine Love.
But religion that is progressive, positive, and practical…religion that brings people together to celebrate the love of God which will never and can never let them go, that is a power for good in the world.
That is the religion of Paramahansa Yogananda who taught, “God is eternal Bliss. God’s being is love, wisdom, and joy.”
That is the religion of the prophet Nahum who said, “The Lord is good…!” (1.7)
That is the religion of the Christian mystic from the middle ages, Julian of Norwich, who said, “As the body is clothed in cloth…so are we, body and soul, clothed in the goodness of God.” Believing that is what allowed Madam Julian to affirm, “All shall be well, all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”
I believe that in the eternal, loving presence of God, for you and for me and for every soul that has ever lived and that will ever live…All shall be well.
Religion done right is healing. Religion done right brings hope and joy. Religion done right reminds us we are God’s miracle and not God’s mistake. Religion done right inspires us to embrace the best of our faith, and share it in a way that will heal broken hearts, heal aching spirits, heal fearful souls.
All Souls Sunday is a day to remember that all souls, all people, are children of God, and God never abandons her children…in this life, or any other. And this is the good news.
© Durrell Watkins 2016
God help me trust in your goodness.
Fill me with peace and joy.
In this life and whatever follows…
let me know that all shall be well.