In 1984, Leontine Kelly served this Conference as the first African American woman bishop in any major Christian denomination. Last year, our own Karen Oliveto, was elected as our denomination's first openly lesbian bishop. And on Friday night, we ordained our denomination's very first Fijian elder. The President of Fiji was there, along with the Queen of Tonga. I couldn't help but think about how much poorer the Body of Christ would be without all our diversity. And so it is beyond me how any church or group within the church thinks that it can be the whole Body of Christ all by itself. Only together can we Christians love God with enough heart, enough mind, enough spirit and enough strength to be Christ for the world. The Church is either catholic or it is pathetic.
In Ezekiel's vision is our lesson. At some point in our adulthood we are going to come to a place where we are the dry bones left on the battlefields of life. Some of us will have no sinew, no flesh, and our skin will have been stripped away. And even for those of us who will appear to be perfectly healthy, there will still be no breath in us. The new life that Jesus promises us and the Spirit gives to us, will come, but it can be a slow process. Yet it isn't all that complicated. In fact, it's as easy as breathing. So listen to your meditation teacher: Focus on your breath. For when we focus on our breath, we become more aware of the one thing that is even closer to us than breathing. We become more aware of and we begin to sink deeper into the presence of God.
The Apostles' Creed is one early summary of the faith. It talks about believing in the Father and the Son and the Spirit. But there is no explanation of how that equals believing in one God. The Nicene Creed is later and longer, but no more helpful. The truth is that fancy theological formulations don't do much for us. If we really wanted to define the Trinity, we would need a very simple, very universal and very precise kind of language. And there is no language more precise, more universal, more fundamental than math.
Well, my friends, fifty years after the Summer of Love, hate is on the rise again. We are living in a world of hurt. We are living under a regime of fear and intimidation. Peace and justice, compassion and mercy, truth and integrity, humility and decency—so many of our values are taking a beating; so many of our hopes seem to be receding. It's a good thing that Godspell came back to Broadway a few years ago and Superstar is going live on NBC for Easter 2018. But we have a dire need to dream some new dreams, see some new visions, find a new language and write some new songs to teach a new generation about the radical love of Jesus.