A beautiful sermon…

double comfortI stumbled across an author recently called Alexander Mccall Smith. I’m now into my fifth book by him and have developed a great fondness for them.

The one I’m reading at the moment is called “The Double Comfort Safari Club”, about a detective agency in Botswana. The plot is not really the point of these books; it’s the enjoyment of looking at the world through the eyes of the characters in the book.

About one third of the way through the book, the owner of the detective agency is in church listening to a sermon by a visiting priest. I found it one of the most moving sermons I’ve ever heard, so I’m taking the liberty of reproducing it here:

 

“My brothers and my sisters,” the visitor began, “we are seated here with those we know and those we do not know. But even those we do not know are not strangers. We are united with them in a community which is brought together by one thing, and that one thing is love. It is that love that we profess before one another here today, and it is that love which joins many millions of people throughout the world, wherever gatherings such as that which we attend today take place. That is a sea of love. It touches on the shores of all. There is no place where you cannot see it, even if for some, for the poor and the oppressed, it seems far away, in the distance.

“There are people who say that what we are doing here has no meaning. That it is superstition, that it is wishful thinking. Wishful thinking? It is not that; it is not. Is it wishful thinking to say to yourself and to others that we must love one another? Is it wishful thinking to say that we must forgive others, so that love might grow within our hearts? Is it wishful thinking to imagine that it is only through an effort to love others that a hard and unhappy world may be transformed into a world of kindness and compassion? I do not think that it is.

“There are many creeds and beliefs; there are many ways of leading your life; there are many roads to oneness with the world. But there are other ways, too, and these are all about us. There are those who worship money and success. There are those who do not care about the suffering of others, as long as they are all right. There are those who think that science and mastery of the physical world will bring us happiness and save us at the end of the day. I cannot agree with any of these. I do not think that science alone will deliver us from the consequences of our greed and our stupidity—it is science that has made the very things that are poisoning our world. I do not think that material success will necessarily make us happier—the faces of the rich tell us that; I do not think that a big car or a big house makes a big man. I think that the measure of whether a life has been a good one is how much love there has been in that life—love both given and received.

“This is a place of love, here where we are gathered together today. Our message is love, not fear, nor enmity, nor dismissal of others. It is just love. That is all.”

 

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