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Sat, May 23, 2015
May Minister's Message
From Associate Minister Rev. Aaron White

Early on in my time at this church, I attended a concert some other church members were at by a Quaker artist, Carrie Newcomer. She sang a song that has stayed with me since. It is about experiences of the Holy, with a refrain that says “I do not know its name.” For a person whose life is devoted to professional ministry, I don’t publically talk much about the ways that I experience God. Trying to articulate the reasons for that is probably material for another column or sermon. However, I know that , even for ministers, dinner party conversation can get a bit uncomfortable with others when we veer off the beaten path of weather and movies to deeper matters in our lives. One of the ways I experience God is in acts of human care.

As we close this year’s theme of Living Compassion, I am reminded that some of the most profound holy moments in my life have occurred when care was given and received between flesh and blood human beings. This is why an entire year exploring compassion didn’t seem like too much for me – as if I could grow as much as I need to around compassion in only a year!
Maybe it is refreshed eyes coming back from a recent sabbatical. Or perhaps after six years into my ministry here, I’m simply growing in my ability to notice it, but recently, I’ve been experiencing the “God of Many Names” regularly. Unsurprisingly to me, I have this experience often in the midst of human relationship, and often around human pain. A member of the church will come to mind on my drive to work, and hours later, we receive a call from them in the hospital. A tray full of soil from a woman’s hometown bloomed with a single flower the day after she died. A friend talks of their struggles at a meeting of colleagues, and I sense a comfort sweep through the room. I’ve passed right over moments like these in my life. Perhaps for some of you, they don’t mean much. But they have spoken to me in recent months. They speak to me of the existence of a reality bigger than my own faults and goals, the possibility for hope and care that exists in the most unexpected places, and a “Mystery beyond all naming” that helps me experience awe. Like Carrie Newcomer, I do not know its name, but in moments of compassion and human care, I’ve met a presence that is worthy of the name God.
Many good thoughts to you all as we finish a year about compassion, knowing there is still much good work to do.
In faith,

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