Ordinarily, and whenever I can, I like to tell you about things that are about to happen in our community. Today I begin with two things that are now behind us, and how they may affect what will happen next.
Last Sunday, the Greater St. Cloud Faith Leaders sponsored its Service for Unity and Justice. Some of you were there, along with many others from a wide cross-section of local faith communities, to hear readings and join in prayers from Roman Catholic, Jewish, Native American, Muslim, B’hai and Protestant denominations. Near the end, Florence Orionzi and I were honored to lead the Episcopal Litany for Social Justice.
The event was held in lieu of a previously planned annual picnic where folks would have a chance to meet and socialize across ethnic and religious boundaries. But, as it was pointed out after Sunday’s service, people at picnics tend to sit and eat and socialize within their own comfortable groups, yet Sunday’s service caused us to stop, think and often say out loud, “Wait. We are all saying and praying the same thing here. That is, God made us all, and God wants us all to know and admit our equality on this planet.” To that end, I believe our service succeeded, and you can expect more to follow. Another event is being planned for some time in October.
Learning > Doing
On the morning of the Service for Unity and Justice, our St. John’s Sunday Book Club (it’s not a club and you are welcome to join) met to discuss the last chapter of Jim Wallis’s America’s Original Sin. We read this book over eight weeks – slowly and carefully – and we had many tough conversations around his message of racism, white privilege and the bridge to a new America. As out time drew near an end, our conversation turned to what we could do about what we had just read, learned and now have to admit about ourselves and our country. We know it is not enough to import the knowledge without giving something back; things don’t fix themselves.
The overarching theme that came from our last book club meeting is that if we listen to God, we will know what is right, and if we listen to Jesus we will know what to do about it. There will be many more conversations about what to do about it and how to get it done, and we can’t fix the world at a one-hour book club. But we took this from that last meeting – with the triune God walking with us and within us, we can do the right things.
As I pondered this week what the right things might be, I came across an updated edition of Robert Fulghum’s book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. If we really want to get to the essence of what “the right things” are, this is a pretty good place to begin. I thus conclude with some edited excerpts from Mr. Fulghum,
THE KINDERGARDEN CREDO
Mr. Fulghum writes, “Did I really learn everything I need to know in kindergarten? Do I still believe that? Recently I set out to get my statement of personal belief down to one page in simple terms, fully understanding the naïve idealism that implied. Here’s my Credo:
“Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate-school mountain, but there in the sandpile at Sunday School. These are the things I learned:
Don’t hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life—learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
“Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.
“The Kindergarten Credo is not kid stuff. It is not simple. It is elemental.
From the first day we are told in words we can handle what has come to be prized as the foundation of community and culture.”
Mr Fulghum concludes, “What we learn in kindergarten comes up again and again in our lives as long as we live. In far more complex, polysyllabic forms, to be sure. In lectures, encyclopedias, bibles, company rules, courts of law, sermons, and handbooks. Life will examine us continually to see if we have understood and have practiced what we were taught that first year of school.”
So my friends, as we consider what we are called to do, what that “right thing” is, perhaps Mr. Fulghum’s words offer us a pretty good place to begin. And as you extrapolate these basic truths into actions, remember – play fair and don’t hit people.
Have a Blessed Week!