James used to say you can pray three ways: please, thank you, and “wow!” Today you will hear my prayers. First, thank you, I came here for the first time on the Sunday after 9/11. My beloved sister, who was already fighting cancer, worked in Tower 2. I came to Saltwater Church. I came to grieve, and I came to feel grateful that my sister survived. I was fearful, and confused, I found a wonderful religion. I found you. You comforted me. You talked of love, when so many in this country were spouting hatred. You surrounded me with laughter and chalice circle discussions and invited me into your homes. You even showed up when I invited you into mine. You held me during a divorce from a good guy everyone here liked. Later, I found my Tom here. THANK YOU!
You also cause me to catch my breath and say, “Wow.” I close my eyes during the service when the music transports me to the eternal. This choir – and often we sing so joyfully, so passionately, that I feel that connection to the divine. Your art, and writing, infuse me with the beauty and sweetness of the world. In the welcoming room, here in this space… WOW. This church invited a transgendered child to speak here last week. Where else can I find that? WOW. This church gives my children the message that they are beautiful and perfect and holy just as they are. This community takes our message out there, marching and lobbying and saving the planet as a spiritual practice. WOW.
Now, for “please.” A few days ago, advertisers in Britain pulled out of Google when they discovered their ads were associated with violent content. They had not been able to persuade Google to change their filters. So, they pulled their money. Now, Google is changing their filters. When I pledged here, I am voting for social and environmental justice, for acceptance and love of all people. I am sending my spiritual values out into the world on the river of my intention.
In Judaism, there is a belief that the Messiah will not come until every single Jew is “all in,” praying for the Messiah in unison. I love that message. Jewish children grow up knowing that if they sit on the sidelines, they alone could be responsible for the prolonged agony of the world. True here, too. You matter, and our children matter. Your pledge is a declaration of being “all in”. That our values in action – together – can heal this broken world. Please pledge at a level that demonstrates your commitment to our shared faith. Please.