Faith Matters: We need bridges, not walls

  • The Rev. Dan Dibble in the Trinitarian Congregational Church of Warwick. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Trinitarian Congregational Church of Warwick. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Trinitarian Congregational Church of Warwick
Published: 2/7/2020 2:00:51 PM
Modified: 2/7/2020 2:00:39 PM

(Each Saturday, a faith leader in Franklin County offers a personal perspective in this space. To become part of this series, email

“Beloved do not believe every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they are from God” 1 John 4:2-6

Episcopal priest, teacher and author Cynthia Bourgeault says it this way: “If reading scripture leads you to experience any of the gifts of the Spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control … these come from the Spirit, from the deeper stream of wisdom. If the reading gives you a sense of superiority, self-satisfaction, arrogant certitude, desire for revenge, need for a victory, dismissal or exclusion it is most likely inspired by your ego.”

Ego: Such a small word for such a powerful force in our lives and in the world. How do we recognize, confront and disempower it in our lives?

Rev. Cameron Trimble writes, “I believe we are living in a time of great cultural awakening. We are living in a time of institutional breakdowns and breakthroughs … We also see the rising of our shadow gods; the old tribal gods in their dictatorial posturing. We see the rising of populism and fundamentalism that offers a false sense of security in the face of … global awakening.”

It’s not just the old tribal gods of religion; we see it in the rise of racial and economic tribalism. From white supremacists in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand to Hindu supremacists in India, and Muslim and Jewish supremacists in the Middle East, the world is engulfed in hatred made lethal. The effects of the destructive nature of carbon extraction and the related acceleration of global climate change are compounded in areas of racial and economic marginalization. The reluctance of governing bodies to face their responsibilities to facilitate the transition away from carbon within the economic and ecological domains underscores the power of the old tribal gods invoked for the protection and preservation of privilege and power.

There are justice issues embedded within the economic and ecological issues that should very much be the domain of religion; “Let us not love in word or speech but in deed and truth.” (1 John 3: 18) The tribal gods that protect one group of people and destroy another is a small god and not the God proclaimed by Jesus. He was in constant conflict with the leaders of his faith tradition for their shrinking of God’s love and presence to a privileged few. In defiance of them, he healed those whom the righteous dismissed as impure. In defiance of patriarchal norms, he welcomed women into his company. Transcending nationalism and religious intolerance, he responded to the needs of Gentiles who came to him in trust and faith.

Jesus chastised those who claimed God’s hand in the death of others. Similarly, in regards to the fires in Australia, Rev. Trimble writes: I am struck … by the number of people I’ve heard crediting God for causing the fires and saving them. … Let’s finally be honest: WE have done this, not God. … I take great comfort in knowing that the God that we have come to know through Jesus was there on the day of (Jesus’) crucifixion AND on the day of (Christ’s) resurrection. God never abandons us — nor does God dictate our actions. We are free beings, endowed by God with the capacity to create our own heaven or hell on earth. All the while, God hopes we choose wisely.”

It is bridges we need, not walls; welcome, not exclusion.

About Trinitarian Congregational Church of Warwick

The Trinitarian Congregational Church of Warwick is a Christian community of believers. We rejoice in the gift of God’s grace and express our concern for the spiritual, physical and emotional well-being of the community and the world-at-large, by glorifying God through worship, prayer, study, work and play.

We make it our aim:

<sbull value="sbull"><text xmlns="urn:schemas-teradp-com:gn4tera"></text></sbull>to strengthen one another in faith, to build up one another in love, making the most of our individual differences.

■to be an agent of reconciliation among people, breaking down the barriers that separate and alienate us from God and one another”

Sunday worship is at 10 a.m. in the Metcalf Chapel, 32 Athol Road, Warwick. Chapel phone: (978) 544 - 2630



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