It’s a pleasure to be back. I worshipped at Vision just about every Sunday since Don and Pam founded it, until last fall when my job started requiring me to be in New York on Sundays. I direct Christian education ministries for Trinity Church on Wall Street. I try to bring to my work there the spirit of Vision, because part of what’s special about Trinity is that it has more than three hundred years of tradition, and part of what’s special about Vision is that we’re about to turn 10.
A few years ago I attended a retreat for Trinity. At one point we were paired off and asked to share our answers to the question: What is your earliest memory of God? I don’t know about you, but I usually start out a little uncomfortable in these sharing sessions. I’m sure everybody will say something amazing and I’ll say, “ummm….” And sure enough, my partner was a British priest who talked about being three years old and playing with items on an altar and knowing that she’d be ordained someday. I felt fine, though, because as soon as I heard the question, I knew what my answer was.
In fact it may be my earliest memory of any kind. I was two or three, and I was really mad about something. I threw a tantrum, crying and stomping. I ran and hid under my bed and muttered to myself how awful my mother was and how much she hated me. Finally, when I ran out of steam, I looked out from under the bed to see that she had been sitting quietly the whole time in the rocking chair, holding a glass of milk and smiling. She wasn’t angry at all, just patiently waiting until I was ready to climb into her lap to be comforted.
I call this a memory of God because it’s what I think of when I hear, “God is love.” That’s probably one of the most quoted lines in the Bible, and it’s a wonderful message. But do you ever wonder, if it’s true, why awful things happen in our lives? Does God’s love come and go? And what about the awful things I do … on rare occasions? Does God love those?