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Finding God At The Edge

Gary Elkins

February 26, 2002

American Unitarians are used to finding God at the edge. We are not part of the creedal Christian Community, not allowed to join the National Council of Christian Churches, and denied membership in the liberal World Council of Christian Churches because we don’t claim the risen Jesus as God.

We are religious heretics! We are at the edge!

Rabbi Niles Elliot Goldstein in the early chapters of his book, Finding God At The Edge (Bell Tower, 2000), compares the Prophet Jonah and his story with the 69th Psalm. The disobedient prophet tries to run away from God and in the process of trying to get away, falls into the sea and is swallowed by a large fish only to be rescued and saved in a miraculous manner.

Jonah is a story of repentance and forgiveness. All characters in the story including the animals and God repent or have a change of heart.

Goldstein states "Drowning in the spiritual abyss that has become his prison, Jonah finds redemption. Jonah finds God not on the windswept peak of some majestic summit, not in a place of beauty or comfort, but at the edge, in a realm of anxiety, shadows, and muck. Jewish tradition, interprets the story of Jonah as an allegory for the journey of the soul from spiritual death to renewed life. Here Jonah must face his demons and fears in quietude and isolation. When he has confronted them honestly, when he has purified his soul of narcissism, God ‘brings up’ Jonah’s life from the pit into which it has fallen."

The Psalmist in Psalm 69 cries out of anguish in distress for divine help "Save me, O God, for the waters threaten my life; I am sunk in the abysmal swamp where there is no foothold; I have reached the watery depths; the flood overwhelms me. I am wearied with calling, my throat is parched; My eyes have failed with looking for my God."

Like Jonah and the Psalmist, American Unitarians find God at the edge. Through our Faith, Freedom and Reason, we unite with the universal message of God’s redemption and forgiveness for all persons, not just those persons within limited defined boundaries. Amen.

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