In his autobiography, John Murray, the pioneering American Universalist minister, described a near brush with death in Boston in 1774 at the age of 32. A demonstrator seeking to disrupt his talk at a meeting hall hurled a large stone through a window that narrowly missed his head. Murray paused to retrieve the rock, which he held up to the audience, and then said, “This argument is solid and weighty but it is neither rational nor convincing.”

Murray’s supporters were impressed, but nonetheless still scared out of their wits about his safety. They urged him to end his address. Murray coolly responded that he intended to keep preaching. adding, “…for your consolation, suffer me to say, I am immortal while He who called me into existence has any business for me to perform; and when He has executed those purposes for which he designed me, He will graciously sign my passport to realms of blessedness.”

In these uncertain times, I almost wish for something like Murray’s faith that he was bound for “realms of blessedness” and, meanwhile, protected by an all-powerful God of Love who wanted him to assure everyone that God would save them too. But I remain grounded in messages more like the one Catherine Keller, a former seminary professor of mine, shared recently at an online event celebrating her newest book.

I’ll paraphrase it: “It’s cowardly not to leave yourself open to hope about the challenges we face. But it’s only true hope if it is haunted by the possibilities we may be headed for further tragedy and decline. We may not overcome.”

In other words, the future is in doubt. What we do – without divine protection — matters. It helps me realize that I am already in a “realm of blessedness” to be seeking to figure out what we should do in the company of you, this amazing congregation of fellow seekers and lovers of life.

Blessed be, Rev. B