In my twenties in San Francisco I became a sophisticate and an acting agnostic. It wasn’t that I had stopped believing in God; it’s just that God didn’t seem to be around the neighborhoods I frequented. … One day [my teacher] asked me to read to him … a section which ended with these words: “God loves me.” I read the piece and closed the book, and the teacher said, “Read it again.” I pointedly opened the book, and I sarcastically read, “God loves me.” He said, “Again.” After the seventh repetition I began to sense that there might be truth in the statement, that there was a possibility that God really did love me. Me, Maya Angelou. I suddenly began to cry at the grandness of it all. I knew that if God loved me, then I could do wonderful things, learn anything, achieve anything…
That knowledge humbles me, melts my bones, closes my ears, and makes my teeth rock loosely in their gums. And it also liberates me. I am a big bird winging over high mountains, down into serene valleys. I am ripples of waves on silver seas. I’m a spring leaf trembling in anticipation.
Excerpt by Maya Angelou from “Letter to My Daughter”
Easter is coming. The rains are moving through, leaving a trail of blossoms and overgrown succulents in their wake. The cities are sparkling and fresh, filled with the passion of young people marching for justice and calling for change. Our elders smile knowingly: spring brings new life and new life will not be denied. I’m a spring leaf trembling in anticipation …
Sometimes in defiance of the state of the world and sometimes in celebration of it, we observe a holiday of the ancient past: a holiday of bursting buds, shoots of green, and surprising life emerging from beneath the short and shadowed days of winter. That knowledge humbles me … and it also liberates me.
You are welcomed home to First Congregational this Easter season, and your presence increases the joy of our community celebration. On behalf of our leadership, I also give thanks for your many gifts: your participation and presence, your passions, and your gracious contributions that allow our ministries to make new life possible … if God loved [us}, then [we] could do wonderful things, learn anything, achieve anything.
May the renewing spirit of spring be with you and yours,
The Rev. Elena Larssen, Senior Minister