Reflection on Faith and Reason

Once in awhile I actually get to sit in church and have a chance to worship. This Sunday I preached for the Westover Alumni in class reunion at 10 a.m. and then dashed over for most of the 11 a.m. service at First Christian on Rivermont. I wasn’t entirely settled during the sermon since there was a hitch in handing out the Earth Day buttons at the Children’s Sermon, but by Communion all was well and my mind was still. Phil Stump, retired LC History Professor was the elder and offered the prayer below.

Lord of love, Laudato Si – praised be you for the earth and its fullness are yours. We thank you that you formed us out of this earth, from dust that is the star-stuff forged in countless supernovas in the Big Bang. We thank you that you breathed your spirit into this dust of the earth. We thank you that you came to us, born of the same earth. We thank you that you gave us this bread and this wine which you taught us to make from the grain and the grape sprung from this earth. We thank you that they are the signs of your everlasting love for us, for your earth, and for all your creatures. In your precious name AMEN.

I heard in his words the careful balance between the miracle of creation and a scholar of science, an integration of the mystery of creation and the mystery of the Big Bang. In his words he alludes to the Pope’s most recent encyclical, Laudato Si,, devotion to simplicity and a commitment to ecojustice. If you know Phil, you are most likely impressed by his gentleness, wisdom and faith.

In this week between Earth Day and the Climate March we are all called to use both our faith and our reason to be part of the movement for the wholeness of the planet…and the wholeness of ourselves and our ways of living. Both faith and reason involve the pursuit of Truth and Beauty, which some choose to pursue only in the lab and others choose to pursue only in the scripture. But in my mind and heart while neither always make perfect sense I can hold true to both.

At a meeting of Disciples in Higher Education last week, someone asked how our institutions spoke to the denominational tradition of education, and I was able to say simply, we put our practice on our college seal. Our seal bears Snidow Chapel and Hopwood Hall. I have heard countless Enrollment tour guides (ESAs) explain to prospective students that the only straight sidewalk on campus lies between these two buildings. Students at both New Student Convocation and Commencement walk that sidewalk to bookend their studies at LC.

As you ponder Earth Day, the Science March last Saturday, or the Climate March this weekend; as you pursue Truth and Beauty in any discipline in your work this week; as you look toward the heavens for either the meteor shower or inspiration; please ponder, pursue, and look in the Lynchburg tradition, with both faith and reason.

Blessings, Stephanie

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