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  • Writer's pictureDavid Carlson

612 How do we make the God we worship with our lips the God we worship with our lives?

Updated: Nov 18, 2021

Day 612 Wednesday, November 17, 2021

How do we make the God we worship with our lips the God we worship with our feet, with our lives?

All of us human beings do, in fact, serve some kind of God, maybe even a gaggle of gods. There is no opting out. You may describe yourself as atheist, agnostic or whatever, but in the end, everyone has to hitch the hope of their life to some ultimate possibility. That ultimate possibility might be the God of justice and mercy, or it might be the God of money, or the God of cynicism but they all serve as gods if we live as their servants.

Paul Tillich, the great Lutheran theologian, was perhaps the most articulate observer of how religion functions. He defined God as “ultimate concern,” thereby making crystal clear the link between religious belief and actual human behavior. In other words, when we say the word “God,” what we are talking about is some kind of “ultimate concern” that steers our lives. The word “God,” is just that, a word, a very elastic word, but it is a word that speaks to our professed belief. To “believe” in God is to say what I will live for.

Well, maybe.

Tillich goes on to distinguish between “professed” belief and “operative” belief, suggesting that we might say we believe in one kind of God and actually worship another. I am reminded of Jesus’s words in Matthew 7 or Luke 6 to the tune of “You say ‘Lord, Lord” but you do not do the will of my Father.”

Christianity, like many religions, has streams within it that uses the language of religious faith to damn and to condemn those who do not believe. There can be a kind of elitism that establishes the believer as superior and the non-believer as flawed and heathen. Perhaps this served some kind of useful purpose in the past (I don’t know), maybe it was based on the assumption that God could and would actually damn people for all eternity if they did not believe, but today it just serves to separate us. It makes us arrogant, judgmental, self-righteous and ugly.

Consider that white-skinned Christians in this country have professed with complete sincerity, I think, a faith in the God of love, a faith in Jesus, and yet somehow managed to own, chain, rape, beat and hang black-skinned people.

Well-meaning Christians of all denominations and races have sincerely sung songs of worship and praise to the God who made us all, read Galatians 3, and still found justification in excluding women, subjugating women, and even beating women.

Pious and zealous Christians have prayed fervently to Jesus, the Prince of Peace, and then found their way to killing not only people of other religions but people of other Christian denominations, and only because of their religion. You can see the problem.

On the other hand, there are people who, with their lips, proclaim no god, but with their lives, they worship the God of love and justice and kindness. They can’t find their way to theism but they can find their way to holiness. Lots and lots of people make their way to God without ever speaking the word.

In any event, the task before us, as individuals and as a community, is the search for integrity. How do we make the God we worship with our lips the God we worship with our feet, with our lives?

I want to highlight a strategy that is a little less like working out and one that is more like being wooed. In the life of the Church, there is a theological intuition that holiness and grace are primarily osmotic. Osmotic. The word is the adjective form of the word “osmosis,” a process in which, fluid flows through a semi-permeable membrane. What I have in mind is that we can become whole, in part, simply by what we draw near to, what we place ourselves next to. Just “showing up,” as one comedian reminds us, is a big part of the story.

In other words, if you want to be a person who, like Jesus, loves and engages those who have been abandoned or impoverished, you don’t just will yourself to that love. You don’t have to grit your teeth and try to overwhelm the personal hesitation or fear.

No, it’s much easier than that: you simply choose to be with those who do. You just show up and say, “Can I hang with you guys.” And the testimony of most people is that, in the company of the holy, you and I can become holy.

Want to live more simply? Hang out with people who do. Just show up. Listen. Learn. Don’t grit your teeth. Want to live nonviolently? Hang out with those who do. Want to develop a rich life of prayer and engagement, be near those who have done just that. Want to forgive someone you can’t forgive, just draw near to the ones who so readily forgive.

A very good path to integrity is being in the company of the beloved community.

We will grow and learn by being near and with each other. We will learn to worship God with our words and our actions. So it’s true, after all: the more we get together, the happier we’ll be. It’s the most compelling argument about why it’s important to be a part of a committed faith community that I know.

- Jack Jezreel

Song: Raffi - The more we get together

Announcement #1

Announcement about the Synod: Local Meeting

from Kay Lambert

Star of the Valley Parish

Star of the Valley Parish is Sponsoring a Gathering in Oakmont. All Are Welcome

After decades of financial and sexual scandals, Pope Francis officially launched the Vatican’s two-year synod and is inviting ALL to help purge its abuse of power by engaging in meaningful conversation, devoid of rejection and judgment. His vision is to gather people from different backgrounds, ages, ethnicities and particularly those on the margins of society to come together. He wants each of us to share our experience of church, to tell our stories and to listen to one another.

“There is no need to create another church, but to create a different church.”

Star of the Valley Parish is sponsoring a gathering here in Oakmont.

Those interested in joining in this process are welcome to come to our first of several gatherings.

Date: Thursday, November 18

Place: Msgr. Fahey Parish Center (495 White Oak Dr. Santa Rosa)

Time: 1:30 pm

If you have questions or concerns contact

Marcy Fox at

Please feel free to invite friends, family and neighbors whether they are Catholic or not.

Announcement #2:

Upcoming Mass and Concert with Doug Harmon and John Poirer:

From Doug:

Please announce that Michael John Poirier will play the 5 pm Mass with Doug at Resurrection Parish on Saturday, November 20th and at 7pm Doug and John will play guitar and sing with Doug on cello in a concert there in memory of His Mother: Maryjane Poirier! Thanks,☮️Doug

Announcement #3:

Volunteer Opportunity with Seeds of Learning:

Please respond to Mark Etherington on his email at:

This Saturday, November 20th, from 9-12 is our next opportunity to volunteer at the Foodbank. Get your Thanksgiving week off to a great start. This is the toughest time of the year, and the time of most need for the Foodbank . If you can make it, we would love to see you there for the fastest 3 hours of your week.. Please let me know if you can make it so I get your name on the list. Thanks for helping Seeds of Learning support the Redwood Empire Food Bank.

The Redwood Empire Food Bank is located at

3990 Brickway Blvd., Santa Rosa, CA 95403

Take the Airport Blvd. exit west off of Hwy. 101. We are directly behind the Medtronic corporate campus; turn right onto Brickway Blvd. and turn into the second driveway on the right. We ask that you carpool when possible as we have limited parking. Please plan on arriving 15 minutes prior to the event start time.

Please share the following rules with your group prior to the event:


1. Closed toed shoes are mandatory - wear comfortable shoes as you will be standing on a concrete floor.

2. Age Requirements - To volunteer independently, you must be at least 14 years old. 12 & 13 year olds are welcome to volunteer if they are accompanied by an adult at all times.

3. Dress in layers - the temperature in the warehouse can be unpredictable.

a. Please leave dangling/loose jewelry at home.

b. Long hair should be tied back. Hats are typically fine.

1. Refreshments - you are welcome to bring beverages/food to consume during breaks. We have an area set aside for coats, handbags, snacks; please do not bring into the production area.

4. REFB staff and volunteers may not consume or take home any of the food that is being processed.

5. We encourage you to take advantage of the on-site Value Market where you can purchase healthy snacks and beverages.

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