Because this is General Conference weekend and I can see everything “on-demand” as it were, I have made the choice to treat this as a Sunday when I can support my wife in her religious choices. So, twice a year, we all go to the Unitarian Universalist church she attends, the First Church in Salem. I like the congregation a lot. I particularly like the pastor, Rev. Jeffrey Barz-Snell. So, I had been looking forward to attending with her — to the extent that I started thinking about why that was, and formulated the seed for this post.
One of the things that I have appreciated about Pastor Jeff is that he has always taken a very humble approach to his sermons. It may be that most Universalists are that way, but I like that he does not pretend any God-given authority, and relies solely on his reasoning, education, and down-to-earth-we’re-all-in-this-together view of things to persuade in his sermons. I suspect the approach is not uncommon among the UU congregations, as there is “The Covenant” hanging on the wall to the right of the pulpit:
In short, they believe in doing their best to live according to the spiritual truth they know. This can be applied to almost anyone, which is why I believe it’s important to support my wife, and anyone else for that matter, in whatever religion they choose. When we are true to the knowledge we have, God will give us more, guiding us ever closer to him. This is the “line upon line” principle, taught in Isaiah 28 and reiterated several times in LDS scriptures.
Interestingly, both sermons Pastor Jeff gave this morning – the “children’s moment” and the general sermon – both illustrated this principle. For the children, he had an object lesson with two pieces of fruit, one of which was made to seem much more appetizing than the other, and taught the principle of knowing good people by their “fruit”. For the adults he talked about the importance of sticking to the core Christianity from which Unitarians originated. For the kids, tools to teach them how to find knowledge, and for the adults, a reminder that extreme interpretations of Jesus Christ are not the only option, and Christianity will always have value to those able to separate Christ from the “Christians.”
We are all at different levels of spirituality, but this principle is the same for all of us. Hold on to the truth you have. Live it, use it, then ask for more. That is the way we ALL progress to be closer to Him. I am grateful for all of the good people in the world that do their best to follow the truth they understand. We should all spend more time asking, seeking and knocking.
I’ll be spending the remainder of this week watching the General Conference sessions I missed.