“Faith anyhow is not believing without proof; it’s trusting without reservation.”

“God is partisan to the poor.  God is not neutral.”

“I could never believe in a God who didn’t suffer—given the suffering of the world.  I could never believe in a God whose chief characteristic was his power, not his goodness.”

~Rev. William Sloane Coffin, The Collected Sermons of William Sloane Coffin:
The Riverside Years, Volume 1

One of the preachers I admire most is Rev. William Sloane Coffin (1924-2006.)  I quoted him in my sermon on Sunday and often refer to him as my “theological buddy.”  In case you missed it, the quote I used was: “It is often said that the Church is a crutch.  Of course it’s a crutch.  What makes you think you don’t limp?”

William Sloane Coffin led an interesting life.  He was an Army and CIA veteran before becoming ordained in the Presbyterian Church (and later received Ministerial Standing in the United Church of Christ.)  Perhaps most famously, he became the Chaplain at Yale University when he was 33.  He was a Freedom Rider, peace activist, and marched with Dr. King.  Coffin became one of the most forceful voices in the Progressive Christian movement when he took over as Senior Minister of the Riverside Church in New York City.  He visited the hostages in Iran during the Iran Hostage Crisis and often preached on civil rights, gay rights, and disarmament.  Basically, William Sloane Coffin preached the kind of sermons that get pastors into a lot of trouble, possibly even fired.  And whether one agrees with every stance that he held or not, he is fascinating to study and never wavered in his convictions, no matter the consequences.  

I just finished reading Volume 1 of his Collected Sermons from the Riverside Years.  All 597 pages.  Though I’m taking a break before beginning Volume 2!  Why take the time to painstakingly read sermon after sermon?  Because sometimes it helps to spend time with people we admire.  To learn from them.  To hear their stories.  Sometimes we are lucky enough to have those people in our lives and readily available to chat with.  Other times those people are no longer with us.  (Or they were famous preachers and are now deceased, and if one wants to spend time with said preacher, one better get reading!) 

Who are some of the people you admire most (consider family, friends, or even public figures)?
What lasting lessons did they teach you?
Just something to think about this week. 

Pastor Lauren

(This Week’s Thoughts 9.12.19)