Back in June I declared that First United’s theme for the summer would be ‘God’s Circle of Justice.’ I even made a crude drawing of an illustration given by Dorotheos of Gaza in the 6th century:
Suppose we were to take a compass and insert the point and draw an outline of a circle. The centre point is the same distance from any point on the circumference. Consider that this circle is the world and God is the centre; the straight lines drawn from the circumference to the centre are the lives of human beings.
To the extent the saints enter into the things of the spirit, they desire to come near to God; and in proportion to their progress in the things of the spirit, they do indeed come close to God and to their neighbor. The closer they are to God, the closer they become to one another; and the closer they are to one another the closer they become to God.
See! This is the very nature of love. The more we are turned away from and do not love God, the greater the distance that separates us from our neighbor. If we were to love God more, we should be closer to God, and through love of God we should be more united in love to our neighbor; and the more we are united to our neighbor the more we are united to God.
The more we are united to our neighbor the more we are united to God.
So how have we lived into our theme so far this summer?
- We participated in Project Homeless Connect’s request for backpacks to be distributed later this month to homeless kids. After worship, all the members of the congregation helped fill 10 backpacks with school supplies purchased with donations to the cause. The kids especially enjoyed being part of the project. We may not meet the kids who will use those supplies this fall, but God’s Circle of Justice reminds us of closely we are connected to them and them to us.
- We’re packing up and moving our worship space next month. Starting in August, we’ll be at St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church at Turk & Lyon, near the University of San Francisco. This is a big move for us because it opens up for us a map of uncharted possibilities for partnership – getting closer. It will also set us down in a neighborhood where there will be, we think, more opportunities for mission – making connections.
- Of course the biggest deal is the decision that will be made tomorrow about rejoining the ELCA. Back when First United and St. Francis were expelled, the San Francisco Conference took the bold step of maintaining connection with these congregations. St. Francis has already reconnected with the ELCA, and now it is our turn to make that decision. I am so appreciative of the many people, members of ELCA congregations, who have expressed their hope for this reconciliation, and of the current staff of the Sierra Pacific Synod who have been so gracious in allowing us to work through this process of discernment. I can’t make any pronouncements about the outcome of the vote. In any event, we will have to enter into a new process of discovering what our relationship with the ELCA will now be. How will we be united with our neighbor?