“Grace and truth have met together,” we hear in the psalm (85) “Justice and peace have kissed. Truth springs up from the earth, and justice looks down from heaven.” So it may be when we live lives centered on the deep Divine Reality that is the root of all being – the Reality and Holy Power of the Holy One our God. “Grace and truth will meet. Justice and peace will kiss.” These are the fruits of integrity for people and for society, the fruits of living together with a clear and faithful moral compass.
So may it be … but so often it’s not.
We hear from the Apostle Paul about these fruits of the spirit: “The evidence that God’s power is present among us is seen in our selfless love, joyous demeanor, and genuine peace, our long-suffering patience, warm-heartedness, and moral integrity, our trustworthiness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5L22-26). This is the evidence of God’s power present among us, the fruits of living according to good and true values and virtues, of being guided by a clear and faithful moral compass.
So may it be … but so often’s not.
And we suffer for it. A lot of suffering boils down to the lack of these virtues of grace, lack of truth, lack of justice, lack of peace, lack of integrity, lack of trustworthiness. We harm ourselves and harm each other, harm our relationships, harm our connection with God and with our own souls. That kind of harm has a momentum to it. There is so much in our world and so much in ourselves that wants to pull us off course, to get us to turn from the true north of our most important values, get us to violate our integrity. That’s why it is so important to be clear about the virtues and values that we hold dear, and to keep them front and center, to keep reminding ourselves of our highest vision and our deepest truth, keep a fresh and clear moral compass to guide us and to correct our course when needed. Because, let’s face it, it’s easy to forget and easy to stray off course. It’s probably multiple times a day when we need a course correction. And if we’ve been drifting for a long time … we’ll have to take what feels like a hard turn back.
I mean, if our guiding virtues are truly things like “selfless love, warm-heartedness, moral integrity, gentleness, and self-control” If we’re really desiring as Jesus and the Prophets said, to “love God with all our mind, body, and soul, and to love our neighbor as ourselves” – I mean, c’mon, that’s going to take a lot of reorientation, and regular reorientation.
And that’s fine.
That’s why this is all about grace and mercy. Grace and mercy – these are core values for us, as Protestant Christians, Grace and Mercy which we have experienced, through Christ, as emanating from God.
So, with all of this said, about spiritual integrity and our moral compass, I want to share with you the guiding values that we have been teaching the young folks who have gone through the Our Whole Lives sexuality and faith program.
These values are written to be about romantic relationships and sexuality, but they really speak to all of different kinds of relationships in our lives.
And as we these values, I invite us to reflect on them. To think about the ways you have lived by them, and the ways you have experienced others live by them. Celebrate that.
And as we hear these values, I invite us to also be honest and accountable to the ways that we have not lived by them. And to acknowledge the ways we have experienced others not live by them. There may be some things to grieve here. Or some things to repent of. And in all this, may there be a spirit of mercy, grace. Some course correction is always needed for us, Lord’s knows it. You know, but also, when we hear these values and reflect on them, it can just feel good to hear good values proclaimed in a strong clear way. So, feel free to say Amen if you feel it.
– Every person is entitled to dignity and self-worth
– We respect other people because they are equal to us, as beloved children of the living God
– We need to avoid double standards. People of all ages, people of different races, backgrounds, class, income levels, physical and mental abilities, sexual orientations, gender orientations, all people must have equal value and rights.
– Sexuality should never involve coercion or exploitation
– Sexuality in our society is damaged by violence, exploitation, alienation, dishonesty, abuse of power, and the treatment of persons as objects.
– We are called to enrich our lives by expressing romantic connection in ways that enhance human wholeness and fulfillment and express love, commitment, delight and pleasure.
– All persons have the right and the obligation to make responsible sexual choices, in ways that are appropriate to them, and to their age and stage of development.
These are values good and true, that we can keep as the truth north of our moral compass. Now, living by good strong values is often hard in this fallen world. There are a lot of forces both from outside ourselves and from within ourselves that want to press us in a different direction. And also, Lord have mercy! when sacred values get violated, it can be … words can’t describe what the suffering can be like. So it can be easy to give up, to despair, to get hard-hearted, get cynical, get mean. But because these are sacred values, if we really give them up we’re turning on our souls. It’s just simply healthy to not throw them out but to keep them and to keep the world and ourselves accountable to them, with both strength and mercy. That true north doesn’t change. And in that can be our hope and our strength.
To conclude, before I hand the mic to Ava and Isabelle, let me just share with you the lyrics of the song they’re going to sing. “One Day” by Matisyahu – who is a Jewish Orthodox hip-hop artist. This song sums it all up, the vision it takes to live by a strong moral compass:
“Sometimes in my tears I drown But I never let it get me down So when negativity surrounds I know some day it’ll all turn around, because… All my life I’ve been waiting for, I’ve been praying for For the people to say That we don’t wanna fight no more, there’ll be no more wars And our children will play One day (One day), one day (One day) It’s not about win or lose, ’cause we all lose when they feed On the souls of the innocent, blood-drenched pavement. Keep on moving though the waters stay raging In this maze, you can lose your way It might drive you crazy, but don’t let it faze ya, no way
One day this all will change, treat people the same Stop with the violence, down with the hate One day we’ll all be free, and proud to be Under the same sun, singing songs of freedom
One day … One day …
“Grace and truth have met together,” “Justice and peace have kissed. Truth springs up from the earth, and justice looks down from heaven.” Thanks be to God.