The one who gets wisdom loves life; the one who cherishes understanding will soon prosper. – Proverbs 19:8 (NIV)
In the UCC campaign, “God is Still Speaking,” launched in 2004, the humble comma was given a theological twist: “Never place a period where God has put a comma.” The campaign reflected wisdom from John Robinson’s sermon to the Pilgrims before their voyage: that God has yet more light and truth to reveal.
It was also a sly promotion of the Open and Affirming movement, an effort that began in the United Church of Christ in the 1970s. Why sly? “God is still speaking” meant that the 7 or so biblical passages arguing against any virtue in homosexuality were interesting but just that: they were interesting for their time and place, but did not represent the totality or finality of God’s “still speaking” revelation. The campaign’s slogan fought biblical literalism without saying so.
Today, many of our churches describe themselves as the best-kept secret in town, although we are working to share that secret: through websites and social media campaigns these days more often than printed newsletters. We have stopped promoting our histories and have started saying that our best days are today and tomorrow. We are trying not place a period where God has put a comma.
As individuals and churches, we are rapidly learning new languages—and it is not always easy. I personally don’t speak web or Facebook or Instagram. Every now and then I will amuse myself by posting a flurry of tweets. They are all too long and too awkward. I don’t appear to have a digital sense of humor, only an analog one.
It’s a good thing that God is still speaking while we are all finding our way,
Comma us, O God, give us a great sense of your powerful continuity and our own powerful discontinuity. Amen.
Donna Schaper is Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. Her most recent book is I Heart Frances: Letters to the Pope from an Unlikely Admirer.