“In the inhalation and exhalation there is an energy and a lively divine spirit, since He, through his spirit supports the breath of life, giving courage to the people who are in the earth and spirit to those who walk on it.” Early Church reformer, Michael Servetus offered those words, describing his unitarian and humanist perspective.
In my pilgrimage of sorts to Geneva, Switzerland–the place where Michael Servetus was burned at the stake in 1553, with a copy of his unitarian book Christianismi Restitutio chained to his leg, I find myself reading and contemplating the world in these ways–the intersection of science and religion and politics. In a world where scientific experts are ignored and forsaken, only to see politicians thrust a tradition and orthodoxy upon our citizens, even ignoring history to perpetuate not responsibility but an ignorance, not repair but disregard.
As we prepare ourselves and our families for back to school time, as children leave their summertime fun and the anxieties fill–the anxieties of dealing with not only those with differing values but those who bully their values upon us, and the tension grows of what conflicts will present themselves in fall time elections [remember to vote in the August election, as well as the November one], as we exist next to and advocate for self and others, remember the words of Elie Wiesel, “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”
Let us not be indifferent but to love–as hard as that can be.
During this month of warmth and growth, let us explore the lessons we can draw from his journey and how they resonate in our lives today.
Let us remember the importance of intellectual curiosity, the courage to question, and the necessity to embrace diverse perspectives within our community. The new academic year helps to facilitate this, but so too does the August weather, the warmth and the outdoors. August invites us to embrace self-reflection and to delve into the core of our beliefs and values. Just as Michael Servetus dared to challenge the status quo, we too must take the time to introspect and examine our spiritual paths. What do we hold dear in our hearts? How can we foster a more inclusive and compassionate community? Engaging in honest introspection helps us nurture our spiritual growth, leading us to a more profound understanding of ourselves and others.
Servetus’s life exemplifies the impact that an individual can have on the world. He fearlessly stood up for what he believed in, even in the face of adversity. Likewise, each of us possesses the power to create positive change within our community and beyond. Our deeds, no matter how small, can ripple through the lives of others and inspire transformation. As we explore ways to make a difference, let us actively seek opportunities to extend kindness, lend a helping hand, and be agents of positive change in the world–Loving ourselves and others.
As we engage in these events and activities, let us remember the spirit of Michael Servetus and the values he championed. May we use this month to reflect, renew our commitments, and take steps towards creating a more loving, just, and compassionate world.
With gratitude and hope,
– Rev. Will