Finding time to write has been a challenge. Other things have taken precedence, and needed to. On December 31 we admitted my mother-in-law, Lois, to Solvay Hospice House here in Duluth. Five days later, she died.
I thoughtfully and passionately believe in God. More than that I have faith in God, that is, I trust God, trust that the meaning of my life is the meaning it has for God. However, I don’t believe that God is a cosmic controlling power. I don’t believe “God determines every detail of the world” (Process Theology: an introductory exposition, 9). My theology could be wrong here, but I don’t see how a theology that has God determining all that happens is compatible with a significant notion of human freedom. What makes God God, in my theological view, is that God is the only necessary being and God’s purpose, while it can be temporarily thwarted, is never entirely defeated. God’s purposes keep coming again and again and again into human lives and into the world.
If God does not determine every detail of the world, the fact that my wife Julie and I now live in Duluth, Minnesota is not simply something God arranged well ahead of our coming. Yet I believe that we have been here for seven and a half years, now, is seen as good in God’s eyes. I trust that God’s Spirit influenced the events which brought us to be here now.
You see, both Julie and I grew up in this community. We went to different high schools here, and met at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. While Duluth is a wonderful place, we did not aspire to return here. As a United Methodist pastor appointed by a bishop, aspiring to be some particular place is a good recipe for frustration. Seven and a half years ago, I was appointed as pastor of First United Methodist Church, Duluth. We returned home.
Four years ago, my father died. We were here. Two years ago, a close cousin of my mother’s died. We were here. A year ago, my grandmother died. We were here. Now just a couple of weeks ago, Julie’s mother died. We have been here during her final illness and through her death.
I believe thoughtfully and passionately in God. I trust God. I believe God works through influence, and God delights in serendipity. That we have been here now has been serendipity. That we have been here now has been grace. Such serendipity, such grace is part of God’s purpose in the world. Thanks be to God.
With Faith and With Feathers,