Two years ago, the fellow who purchased my auction item of the right to choose a sermon topic suggested the idea that "belief divides and doubt unites". The English actor Peter Ustinov was one of many who coined phrases with that theme and my congregant and his wife had seen a play in Seattle where the adage was featured in a poster.
Tragically, before he and I could have a conversation about the sermon, he died suddenly and the sermon has been on hold ever since. His wife has grieved his tragic death long and hard and has not been ready to set a date for me to offer the sermon until now. We have set the date for June 15 and I will talk with her about it in advance, to get a sense of where she thinks he might have wanted me to go with it.
I have seen many references to this concept lately: the Dalai Lama, visiting Seattle right now, referred to how religious belief is so often a source of conflict and division. We see belief, both secular and religious, causing division in our presidential campaign. We as Americans are deeply divided by belief.
This is going to be a hard sermon to write, because I am still grieving the man's death as well. I want to honor him and do so in a way that recognizes his many strengths and the contributions he made to our congregation. Yet I still feel the loss strongly and find my emotion about it creeping in whenever I start to think about how to present his topic.
Your thoughts about this topic might help me start to get past the grief and on into serving his memory appropriately. Please have at it! It would be a great kindness. I'll be grateful for your help.