One assignment our Summer Seminary (#UUSumSem) program students receive is writing a 3-5 minute homily based on a prompt. On Saturday night they presented their homilies to each other, and then voted to select the five they wanted to represent their class during worship on Sunday Morning at First Unitarian Church of Oakland, CA. Here Summer Seminarian Ella Boyer asks not, "Who is God?", but "What is God". The answer she finds is both illuminating and inspiring.
Watch now as Ella Boyer Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Summer Seminary 2016 Grad delivers her homily, “What is God?" during First Unitarian Church of Oakland, CA. Sunday Worship:
Learn about Summer Seminary, a program of the UUA Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries.Read the transcript of Ella’s homily:
ELLA BOYER: It does not make sense to me to ask, who is God? So instead I will ask, what is God? In ancient holy books, God is described as wrathful, that we must become worthy of his love, that he is some giant, awesome entity up in the sky bringing judgment down upon us. To me, this does not fit.
We may find God in deep places of grief, somber sanctuaries, and in the hardest moments. And there is certainly holiness here. However, it is important, I think, to remember that God is also joyful. God is in the playful light that dances on the leaves of plants and in the bumbling bees that visit all the flowers.
Sufi mystic Hafiz describes in a poem, "God and I have become like two giant, fat people living on a tiny boat. We keep bumping into each other and laughing." This reminds me more than anything of babies. And when babies laugh, it bubbles up through their entire being from their toes to their head. When a baby laughs, it is the purest, most precious joy. That is God.
Our spirits also remind me of babies. And that behind the walls of sorrow, the built-up layers of protection and jagged cynicism, we are soft and round, filled with wonder. Our souls and hearts are big. And our spirits, though we are imperfect and at times wrong, even hurtful, are full of the divine. We hold holiness in ourselves.
The divine and sacred do not exist in some place above us in judgment. No. It exists in our boat with us as we clumsily experience it and learn to live in its presence. God surrounds us in the sea and mountains and forests, in our friendships and connections, flowing through the smiles of the youngest babies to the oldest grandmothers, laughing with us.
So go out. Experience the world. Look for what is holy and sacred to you, not just in times of despair. Let it fill you in happiness. And when you laugh, let it be in the purest form of joy, bubbling from your toes to your head. Let it fill your heart and soul in the moment of precious happiness. You will not find anything holier.[APPLAUSE]