Pastor’s Corner: What if We Don’t Understand?

Sunset over Mauna Loa with deepened blues.

November 18, 2020

When I was in seminary, my hymnody horizons expanded. That was when I first encountered hymns that were common in other UCC churches, and in churches from other traditions. Our student body included large numbers of UCC and American Baptist students, plus some Methodists, Roman Catholics, Unitarians, and Presbyterians.

There was one Baptist hymn I encountered then that bounces into my head from time to time, a most resilient “earworm.” “Farther along, we’ll know all about it,” it claims. “Farther along, we’ll understand why… We’ll understand it all by and by.”

To a seminarian wrestling with systematic theology papers, that was a goal fervently to be desired. Our educational endeavor was all about gaining and if possible increasing understanding. We’ll understand it all by and by.

These incomprehensible days make me wonder: what if we don’t?

What if understanding isn’t the purpose? What if comprehension isn’t the destination? What if knowledge isn’t the goal? What if we find ourselves in the “great by and by” and still don’t understand everything?

I think that might be all right.

I’d like to understand everything. I have a deep and persistent curiosity. As people have observed, I remember the oddest things (I also forget quite important things; I’d like to understand that).

More important than knowledge, however, is the assurance of grace. More important than comprehension is the comfort of compassion. More important than understanding is the overarching love of God.

In a world that so often makes so little sense, I crave comprehension. But in a world in which caring makes all the difference, I prefer the sustenance of love.

With aloha,

Pastor Eric

Categories Pastor's Corner Reflections | Tags: | Posted on November 25, 2020

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