As I walked across the sunny campus of the University of Tulsa in 1969, my thoughts were interrupted by a stranger asking me an abrupt question: “Are you saved?”
During that time period, college campuses were a buzz with those kinds of questions, mostly from a group who were called Jesus Freaks. They may have been from Campus Crusade, or some other heavenly body, but they were everywhere, it seemed. That was in 1969. It’s no longer the norm to have that question thrust upon unsuspecting college students.
Why is this question of being saved or about salvation so haunting?
Salvation is at the heart of so many theological questions. We wonder about afterlife, especially since no one has been there to come back and tell us all about it. And, we wonder if our lives are being followed as if some power was keeping score of our good days and our bad days.
Through experiences, theological reflection and direct experience of that mystery—who I call God—I am at peace with my salvation. Hopefully, your journey has also assured you that salvation is not to be feared.
A new Salvation with Church of the Restoration
When I think of salvation, I recall another event in 1988. The late Unitarian Universalist minister, Reverend Marjorie Bowens-Wheatley gave a reading at the opening ceremony and first birthday of Church of the Restoration—Unitarian Universalist here in Tulsa. That reading was titled A Litany of Restoration. This reading is now found in our hymnals, Singing the Living Tradition, number 576. The opening sentence says:
If, recognizing the interdependence of all life, we strive to build a community, the strength we gather will be our salvation.
The interdependence of life connects through community
Not everyone will recognize our interdependence with each other and life. So, there is a choice to be made here. Your priorities change because what is important to you changes. When you start seeking out your tribe, when you find folks who resonate with you around purpose, your thinking changes as you build community.
What is important may depend upon the goal you set for yourself. The goal Reverend Marjorie challenged us to grasp was the goal of building community.
Community is our ultimate goal and it makes so much sense, doesn’t it?
When we are interdependent, we think more of what we can do together rather than what others can do for us. This sense of mutuality is a given in a framework of building community. So, Rev. Marjorie gives us the big ice cream cone in the sky when she announces the strength we gather will be our salvation.
Strength from building community is salvation.
Strength and working out the details of how to love beyond belief is salvation.
Strength from feeling comfortable in our uncomfortableness is our salvation.
Strength from discovering our weaknesses are challenges for us to improve and weaknesses does not mean unchangeable flaws.
Strength in knowing you are loved simply because you understand you are part of this universe—an essential part.
If we begin to gather strength, we began to move closer to our real reason for being here; to leave this world a better place than when you came in to it.
If, recognizing the interdependence of all life, we strive to build community, the strength we gather will be our salvation.Rev. Marjorie Bowens-Wheatley, “Litany of Restoration,” 1987, in Been in the Storm Too Long and Singing the Living Tradition #576
If you are black and I am white, it will not matter.
If you are female and I am male, it will not matter.
If you are older and I am younger, it will not matter.
If you are progressive and I am conservative, it will not matter.
If you are straight and I am gay, it will not matter.
If you are Christian and I am Jewish, it will not matter.
If we join spirits as brothers and sisters, the pain of our aloneness will be lessened, and that does matter. In this spirit, we build community and move toward restoration.
Join us at All Souls on every Sunday in April, 2019 to explore the theme of SALVATION.
We’d love to have you with us in-person or online, together in community and covenant.
Live stream services are at 10:00 a.m. CST for our Traditional service or the 11:30 a.m. CST Contemporary service.
Listen to all our services, including The Point, Humanist Hour (Sundays at 11:30 a.m.) on our weekly podcast, too.
Rev. Gerald Davis serves as the minister of Church of the Restoration Unitarian Universalist and as an Affiliate Minister at All Souls Unitarian Church, both in Tulsa,Oklahoma. Every second Sunday, you can join Rev. Davis at 1:30 p.m. for All Souls Reads. Rev. Davis leads the discussion about literature that explores the human condition when overcoming oppressive circumstances. April’s Book is The Teacher Wars: A History of America’s Most Embattled Profession by Dana Goldstein. Read more from Rev. Davis on beyondbelief.online.
Cover Photo: All Souls members gather in the Garden to celebrate the end of the church year and each other in 2017. Photo by Bonita James.