William Sloane Coffin was a penetrating thinker, vigorous preacher, and controversial prophet. As pastor of Riverside Church in New York City (pictured at right), he often took stances that some found troubling. And yet, he always grounded his messages in the promise of faith and the strong foundation of scripture. I love, and wish I had created, the benediction he offered at the end of each service.
“May God give you the grace never to sell yourself short; the grace to risk something big for something good; the grace to remember that the world is too dangerous for anything but truth and too small for anything but love.”
Coffin’s fundamental conviction was that love is stronger than death, stronger than hate, stronger than anything that seeks to counter its redemptive impact. In a sermon at Stanford University, he said, “If your heart is full of fear, you won't seek truth; you'll seek security. [But] If a heart is full of love,” Coffin continued, “it will have a limbering effect on the mind.”
I love that idea, that love has a limbering effect on the mind. We can see that dynamic at work in this week’s Psalm. The Psalmist has much to fear, and yet resolves those fears by re-affirming God’s steadfast love. You can read it here.
This week’s worship service will be filled with joy. We’ll celebrate children born or adopted into our congregation in the past year. We’ll celebrate a baptism and dedicate backpacks and school supplies for children served by our mission partners.
And please remember how grateful the staff and I remain for your resilience and commitment. You are a gift.