Princeton University Religious Life

No Partiality

No Partiality

It was Albert Einstein who said, “Before God, we are all equally wise – and equally foolish.” It was the Apostle Peter who said, in the sermon recorded in our passage from the Book of Acts, “Before God, we are all equal.”    As he put it, “God shows no partiality.” How could this not be amazing, wonderful news? Those who care for, work for, even die for human equality can only rejoice – the equality we understand to be inherent in the human being is a tenet held by none other than God Almighty. God shows no partiality – we are a

Going the Extra Mile

Going the Extra Mile

has been six weeks since I last preached in this Chapel, and as I reflected on the scripture passages for this week I thought, “Wow, a lot has changed.” For instance, six weeks ago it never would have occurred to me that Egypt might ever be governed by anyone other than Hosni Mubarak and his inner circle. There, and in Tunisia, massive change has so recently been brought about by ordinary citizens committed to nonviolence – using the power of moral argument, of audacious presence in numbers, and of a principled refusal to respond to attacks with attacks. I think I am not alone in the world in having lost respect for the supporters of Mubarak when they plowed into peaceful demonstrations by unarmed people and beat them up. I’m no International Relations scholar, I’m just a humble pastor, but I think that’s when Mubarak’s side lost.

The Peace for Which We Long

The Peace for Which We Long

A little over a year ago a British politician (I don’t remember who) announced that, in the morass of the global economic freefall, there were now “green shoots” beginning to appear - after many months of financial devastation, a few sprouts of new life were coming up in the economic wasteland of grey brambles. It was a phrase that was picked up by many people in a number of countries - it was an idea that all certainly wanted to be true, but more so it was an image that resonated deeply in every culture.

Getting to Bethlehem

Getting to Bethlehem

Let me begin this sermon by saying – don’t get any big ideas!

In 1995, I began serving as Dean of another university’s chapel, and I quickly learned that, only a few years earlier, my predecessor had nixed a Christmas Eve tradition that was loved by many (as much as it was not loved by many!). He got rid of the donkey. Their tradition had been to have the children who were portraying Mary and Joseph in the nativity pageant come down the long center aisle with a live donkey, little Joseph trying to coax it forward and little Mary trying to stay upright on its back, and if that weren’t permitted by the donkey, she would walk along beside it too.

The Spirit of Life

The Spirit of Life

“The person who dies with the most toys wins.” I don’t know who coined this phrase, but I hope that he or she meant it tongue-in-cheek. In any event, there are innumerable people around the globe who believe it, because they apparently are dedicating their lives to amassing as many material commodities as possible and, more to the point, would seem to have this really as their life’s goal, or point . Such an approach is only inflamed, I think, by a broader culture that is heavily consumerist, that says “You are what you earn; you are what you own.” We learn from multiple sources to care about brands, about not just the number but the status of our acquisitions, and to consider all of them the true indicators of our worth, our human value, our success in life and as human beings.