nine billion names
Following Arthur C. Clarke's Hugo-winning story about selling a computer to "lamas," so they can more quickly finish their earthly work of printing the nine billion names of God...
The list of names is not important,
nor is the question of whether or not
any god exists that might be called by one of those names.
What is important
is that there are six billion human beings on this planet right now.
Each of those six billion people,
at this very instant,
is thinking or dreaming or feeling or acting,
and those thoughts and dreams and feelings and actions
will affect the next instant,
and the next.
Every instant, every moment,
six billion people spend something of ultimate value—
their own life energy—
on thinking and dreaming and feeling and acting.
It could be love, or sustenance, or rest or children
that is the focus of our individual life energy at this moment.
It could be work, or recreation,
or hate or fear or greed or envy
or hunger or agony or illness.
Every instant, those six billion ideas and emotions combine
to create the next instant,
which starts the whole process over again.
We aren’t exactly naming gods,
but we are indicating what we feel is important.
There is a list of six billion concepts
and emotions and actions
generated every moment.
It would take my printer years to print it all out,
but the combined mass of human beings
does it over and over again,
every second of every day,
as we tumble into the future
that we are co-creating.
What if all six billion of us
were focused on the ideas of fairness and justice.
What would the world look like, in that next instant?
What if we give our energy
only to that which we truly value,
and did not give it
to those things from which we wish to be free?
There are things which are larger than ourselves:
truth, love, beauty,
Life, fairness, connection…
Worship, to me, is paying homage to those human values,
to be aware of what we are creating,
as we think and dream and feel and act.
Worship is not self-denial,
not chanting “we’re not worthy” or “we’re so sinful”
I understand if that’s what it feels like,
because you learned it as a child.
Once, when I was six or seven,
I woke from nightmare with tears streaming from my eyes
and my heart clattering in my chest.
I went to heaven,
and discovered it was an everlasting, never-ending
I do know how the concepts and limits
of other faith traditions can wound us.
That is why it is so important for us
to take back those words,
and not allow others to force their meanings into our heads...
Worship is a human activity,
reminding ourselves of our highest human values.
It does not give away or deny our power;
rather, it is an affirmation
of the huge amount of power that we possess
as six billion of us
create the next instant
and the next
with our thoughts and feelings, and dreams and words and actions.
Once a day, or once a week,
or at least once per year, on Resumption Sunday,
let us remind ourselves
of our collective power and responsibility
to co-create our world.
So may we be.
--from last year's UUCGT "Resumption Sunday" service