So, this Sunday we’ll be hearing from Paul Tillich.
For John Cleese fans who may recall this line from the short-lived comedy Fawlty Towers, I add, “You’ll love it! He’s German!”
He’s also dead, so I’ve volunteered to channel him from the Great Beyond. By which I mean, I will be reading his most famous sermon, entitled, “You are Accepted,” from a book.
It’s a beautiful sermon, very theological and existential and Tillichian (which is a word, I didn’t make that up), but also, extremely moving. As I’ve practiced it this week, I’ve teared up nearly every time at the crucial paragraph that gives the sermon its title. I hope I don’t on Sunday, but you all are forewarned. It’s powerful stuff we’re dabbling in here: Tillich wants nothing less than to create a moment for his listeners in which they experience God’s grace.
I’ve experienced those rare moments of grace many times in the unlikely setting of the PS 261 cafeteria. I anticipate yet another astonishing and unlikely moment this Sunday, as we listen to the words of this member of the communion of saints who now, I can only trust, lives eternally in the experience of that grace which is still for the rest of us so rare and momentary.