Tag Archives: Force for Good

If Not, What’s the Point?

How we treat our critics is the clearest indication of our theology. From “If God is Love.”
Last Saturday two friends and I went to the Women’s March in Concord, NH. It was glorious, inspiring and heartwarming to see so many women, as well as men and children, with messages on signs as diverse as the people. Many issues, yet, one hope.

At one point, I noticed several women standing quietly with their signs on the outskirts of the crowd close to the street. From their signage, one saying ‘Pray to End Abortion,’ one could infer they were evangelical social conservatives. It gave me pause to see them there. Then, I knew clearly what I needed to do. Simply, welcome them.

So, I approached, extended my hand, smiled and introduced myself. “I’m Rev. Stephanie Rutt. I’m an interfaith minister and just wanted to say I’m glad you came today. I feel it is so important that women with all different points of view can stand together.”

The first woman remained silent but looked at me with what seemed a mix of surprise, slight suspicion and even a bit of fear. The next one I approached seemed genuinely glad and open. She smiled and I instantly felt we could have gone for a cup of tea. The last woman seemed slightly preoccupied with her cell phone but was courteous. Hummmmmm, I thought. Just like us. As the morning went on, I imagined how good it would have been if one of the speakers had acknowledged and welcomed them. If not, I thought, what’s the point?

I am not naïve. I am fully aware that, given the opportunity, many on the religious right would institute a theocracy based on their religious beliefs instead of supporting a democracy encouraging the freedom of expression of all religions. Yet, if we hunker down on our side of the line and portray them as the enemy, how is progress toward a one America, indeed a one humanity, ever to be made? Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. reminded us that someone has to be willing to stop the cycle of hate – and there is plenty of hate, prejudice and fear on both sides.

And so, I extended my hand, and heart, to my evangelical sisters with the prayer that, in doing so, we might just open some possibility of finding, together, that which we have in common – a fierce, passionate, uncompromising love for God.

And, for me, I’d let God take it from there.

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Ding…Ding…Ding…Ding…

There are many things that pierce my heart during this holy season. Early morning prayers in the dark in the middle of our Christmas lights. Heaven. That catch in my throat when I sing fall on your knees…in Oh Holy Night. Writing a note to that only-at-Christmas relative or friend far away. Finding, creating, that oh-my-gosh-I-can’t-wait-until-they-open-it gift for a loved one. Going on a mission for the completely unforeseen and unexpected gift for that dear one God has placed into my charge. Yes, there are so many tender, sweet moments.

But, nothing awakens me to love, sometimes even causing me to hide some sudden burst of emotion, like the sound of that Salvation Army jingle ringing out. There they are, my sister or brother in plain jeans and jacket, standing in the cold (for how long?) ding…ding…ding…ding…ding…ding…ding…ding…

Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy in the beloved hymn, ”Do you hear what I hear? Ringing through the sky, shepherd boy? A song, a song high above the trees with a voice as big as the sea.”

Yes. I hear…humbled now, aching, busting, I do.

Said the night wind to the little lamb, “Do you see what I see?” Yes. I see now all the faces those anonymous coins and rolled bills will help to brighten on Christmas morning, every morning, making each face as bright as “that star dancing in the night.”

Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king, “Do you know what I know?” And, suddenly, I do. Squeezing my crumpled bill into the small opening, I know that each and every coin and bill dropped into that red bucket will be magnified by our Beloved God a thousand-fold within the hearts of the ones receiving. Oh my, what more wondrous could possibly be known?

Thank you, ma’am.
Oh no, dear brother, sister…

Let’s thank that dancing star…”with a voice as big as the sea.”

Blessed Holidays Everyone!

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Become a Force for Good!

When the unthinkable happens in our own backyard, its force is so unexpected and stunning, we are left staggering and numb.  Some instinctual rage wells up in our collective gut and cries NO!  Not this!  Not here!  And, as that same cry echoes through our collective heart, the mind gropes helplessly for some way to understand.  Yet, we remain at a loss.

And, we are likely never to fully know what brought four boys to the Cates home early that Sunday morning to perpetrate such evil on Kimberly and Jaime.  We trust that Kimberly now rests in the arms of Grace and we hold Jaime and David in our collective care.  For William, Steven, Quinn and Chris, we must raise the sword of justice, not flinch in our duty, and hold each accountable.  But, I, for one, believe that true justice will occur beyond our laws.  The Bible tells us we reap what we sow.  Eastern faiths call it karma.  Simply, we don’t get away with anything.  At some point, most likely long after the events have faded in memory for most of us, the full force of what each boy has done will well up, unabated, to be purged and reconciled.  And, each will know, for himself, the cries for mercy heard long before from Kimberly and Jaime.  It is the Divine law, echoed in all traditions, that what we do to another, we do to ourselves.

Meanwhile, what are we to do finding ourselves in the wake of such evil?  I say, “Stand up!”  Unwavering and undaunted, let’s turn the tide by becoming a Force for Good!  Let’s courageously search our own hearts for ways to better see the signs of despair growing among us.  Let’s join arm in arm to stand for the disenfranchised so the forces of evil struggle to find places to prey.  While we are not individually responsible for the choices and actions of others, we are culpable for the conditions that give rise to such actions.  So, as a Force for Good, let’s strive to include all in our collective prayer, the slain, the slayers and their families, as we seek to serve a greater good.  And, to those who would ask, “Where was God?” when evil strikes, I would answer, “It is God who waits for us! WE are here to become instruments of divine Grace!  WE are here to be a Force for Good!”

We have created a blog called Become a Force for Good! www.becomeaforceforgood.wordpress.com List your organization, what you are doing, what your needs are, where volunteers are needed.  Share your inspirational stories, ideas and experiences.  Become a Force for Good!

Rev. Stephanie Rutt

Tree of Life Interfaith Temple

Amherst, New Hampshire

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