For four years, National Public Radio aired a popular series called “This I Believe.” In these programs, people famous and not so famous, did exactly what the title says — they told us what they believed. I am grateful for the invitation to be a regular contributor to this new T&G column. Perhaps the best way to start is to adopt the NPR challenge and tell you what I believe in the very core of my being.
‒ Jesus Christ came into this world to engage us in God’s mission of mercy, compassion and hope.
‒ Sometimes God answers prayers late and with very little attention to detail.
‒ Grace is wild and free; and we cannot control it.
‒ We are not in charge but everything we do matters.
‒ The music of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band is packed with spiritual meaning. (And, call me old school, but “Born to Run” is the greatest rock song ever written.)
‒ My wife, Betsy, and our three kids are the greatest gifts God has given me in a life that has been undeservedly, abundantly blessed.
‒ God smiled when baseball was created.
‒ With Pope Francis and faith leaders around the world, I believe that the issue of climate change is an issue of Gospel justice. We must be good stewards or the poorest among us will suffer the most.
‒ The Prayer of St. Francis offers more wisdom than all the self-help books ever written — seriously.
‒ There are many ways to the one God. Ecumenical and interfaith work is at the core of my ministry as a bishop.
‒ Spirituality is not abstract or “out there.” God is present in our lives, here and now, transforming the world into the dream God has for it.
‒ Thomas Merton was right. When we deal with God, we are necessarily in over our heads.
‒ A Haitian proverb says, “God gives but does not share.” We have been given enough — a planet created for fullness of life, but we have to decide how things are divided and shared — or not shared. Human beings must be concerned with “who gets what.”
‒ God invites us to be a “Beloved Community” (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) and that means addressing racism in all its forms and facades, shedding light on prejudices, and changing policies and laws that exclude any of God’s precious children.
‒ Love is stronger than death. I’m betting my life on it.
This I believe.
And if you believe any of these things or none at all, I welcome you to this conversation. This will be an adventure in exploring the good news of God’s liberating love in our lives. Our world has never been more in need of the love that sets us free. That’s for another column.
The Rev. Douglas Fisher is bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts.