What’s the Buzz?

“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness

and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

Frederick Buechner, a prolific writer, and many would say, closet theologian, died earlier this week at the age of 96.  Born in Manhattan, Buechner was educated at the Lawerenceville (NJ) School, Princeton University and Union Theological Seminary in New York City.  His novels were wide-ranging, but were nearly always seasoned with a soft underlying sense of God’s working in the lives of a variety of characters, most of them, like most of us, flawed in ways large and small.  He won acclaim for Godric, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and “Lion Country,” which was a finalist for a National Book Award.  The latter work was the first of four books in a series called “The Book of Bebb,” which followed the misadventures of a smarmy southern preacher named Leo Bebb who preyed on his congregations’ gullibility.  Yet in spite of his near-total lack of sincerity, Bebb continued to find himself in situations where he could both carry and convey a sense of the divine, the persistent presence of God.

If I had to chose one characteristic of Buechner’s writing, it would be his ability to find grace in the most graceless of us.  While his novels, essays and autobiographical works are not religious in the formal sense of the word, they still reveal a deep and nuanced idea of the transformative power of faith (with a lower case f).  When it comes to religion, he once wrote, “Contrary to widespread religious belief, I don’t think God goes around changing things in the sense of making bad things happen to bad people and good things happen to good people, or giving one side victory over another in wars…” Indeed, he thought “through the chance things that happen, God opens up possibilities of redemptive human change in the inner selves, even in people who wouldn’t be caught dead believing in Him.”  It would be difficult to finish reading a Buechner book without agreeing with him.

This week we’re going draft American folk icon Pete Seeger to help us look at one of the most familiar parts of the Bible, to churched and unchurched alike, and, I hope, find something new in it we’ve likely never noticed before.

Here are the links to this week’s bulletin and service.

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