I’m very excited about Pluralism Sunday, May 27th. At my church, we will hear the words of our Christian scriptures, hymns, and Communion liturgy, of course. But we will also hear poetic and prayerful words from the Jewish, Muslim, Unitarian, Native American, Hindu, Buddhist, Sufi, and Earth-based religious traditions.
Now, I know that talk of pluralism can make us nervous, especially if we come from traditions that insisted that only certain groups, vocabularies, or opinions were valid. But we always need to remember that the churches that told us other churches weren’t “legitimate” or that other religious traditions weren’t valid often were the same churches that told us same-gender love wasn’t real or that same-gender attraction was disordered. Luckily, we re-examined the beliefs we inherited about sexual orientation. But if the well meaning but mistaken people from our past got it wrong by trying to change, exclude, condemn or dismiss same-gender loving people, shouldn’t we consider that they were also mistaken in trying to change, exclude, condemn or dismiss people who worshiped differently from us? If God is big enough to allow for human love that transcends gender norms, whatever would make us think that God isn’t big enough to allow for love of the divine that differs from the tradition we find most appealing?
We will be celebrating Pluralism this year not to diminish the importance of Jesus in our lives nor to diminish the importance of our church or scriptures, but as an act of faith; that is, we will celebrate the joy of trusting God to be accessible in ways beyond how we came to know and love That which we call “God.”
The God we find in the human search for meaning recorded in our sacred texts and in the life of Jesus whom we call Christ is described by one New Testament writer as “Love.” Do only Christians love? Could the Source of all life love only Christians? The God that is love could no more restrict Itself to Christianity anymore than It could restrict Itself to heterosexuality! The God we have encountered in Jesus Christ is an all-embracing, all-inclusive, unconditional, limitless Love. We celebrate this truth week after week within the liturgies, traditions, and texts of our inherited (or chosen) Christian faith.
On Pentecost Sunday we will feel the unfettered spirit of God blow again through the words and devotional thoughts of people beyond our faith tradition. We will be reminded that the God who loves us just as we are loves all people just as they are. We remain grateful to the one in whom we first encountered the Divine, Jesus our Christ. But our devotion to him need not exclude or condemn those who have encountered the Divine in other ways.