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Running to Make a Difference in the World

The Jesus I now Know.  Running for the Highest Glory! 2011, 25 Years later

Running for 25 years still changing and growing, challenging to a World of Peace and a World free of Cancer

In 1990 I ran with Fred and Grete in Central Park for a mile.  This year I run my 19th marathon as a member of Fred’s Team to raise funds for freeing the world of cancer in memory of both of them> They were people of courage and vision.  I run to honor them.

10 years ago soon after the attack on the city of New York and our nation, 30,000 runners ran through the five boroughs of New York City with the message from a Worship Service that had a pastor pray, “May all runners be a river of love and peace flowing through the center of this city and as a message to the World of God’s love, peace and healing. Wow!  It is a Wow, a witness, a wonder, and a welcome beyond words and beyond faith, in a restrictive sense, yet of faith in an all inclusive sense.

25 years ago there was a wow as a new Albany pastor would be running his first ever marathon in New York City and holding a Worship Service for runners as a runner.  Running for a Greater Glory was the lead to an article that appeared in the TU, November 1986.

This year I am running for the 25th time and holding a “community of faiths” peace vigil that will allow for four stations in which communion in different Christian/Catholic traditions will be offered, with previously blessed sacraments.
Simultaneously all other faiths will gather to celebrate their commitment to respectful embrace of differences and their focus on cultivating love in peace in the world starting with celebrating unconditional love toward each other and agenda free peace for each other.  It will still be a Service of Celebration of Faith “for runners by runners” which was and has been the focus of these unique services.  This year it will be “for runners by runners” regardless of what particular faith group they may be part of, All will be welcome to participate in a Celebration and Affirmation of the Community of Faiths.

The service this year is part of the marathon’s honoring the memory of  9/11 in the 10th Anniversary year.  Only when religions, faiths of all kind, can maturely embrace their shared concern for love and peace to rule in the hearts of all humanity and simultaneously respect other beliefs, will religious leaders lead the way to harmony and balance in the international arena of life.

25 years ago  I would not have been caught dead or alive leading this kind of service.
So why am I leading it this year?  When serving as a pastor here in Albany, Pineview Community Church (1986-1995), my focus was always on loving and caring for people, introducing then to the peace of God that passes human understanding, and offering this as a witness to God’s love to transform, through faith in Jesus, anyone’s life into “abundant living”.  I still believe all of that and live and preach it.   At the same time I do not believe that anyone has the right to define the “Jesus way” as any particular ecclesiastical or theological way that is itself exclusive, excluding, and elitist.  Jesus was none of that.  Jesus was inclusive, including and humble to the point of sacrificing his life rather than to win a point and thereby to make a point.  The point Jesus made is often lost in the ecclesiastical and theological garb in which we religiously robe ourselves.  I did.  I met Jesus in the most deeply painful places of my life and learned that it is about being “willing to sacrifice” all my agendas and all the conditions I want to put on how God works and witnesses to people.  To not restrict or define how God leads people to a life of sacrifice, surrender, and serenity.
The Jesus way is the way of sacrifice, surrender, and serenity.  The Jesus way is the way of inner peace, that leads me to live in peace with all people that is serenity.  It is also the way the surrenders “my way, however I define my way” to “the way” which is the way of “peace and love”.  This way is a way of unconditional love and agenda free loving.  Compassion without conditions and without agenda is not religious as much as it is spiritual.  Spiritual can be assisted by religion but religion does not produce spirituality.

John Lennon sang a song, “Imagine”.  In it here asked us to imagine “no religion” as a way to imagine living in love and peace.  The reason behind that line is that religion is so often a part of the hostility in the world.  In the name of “truth and right” we have become untruthful and wrong.  Not in what we believe but in what we believe about others who believe differently.

I used to believe that my belief, about who Jesus was and is, was correct and I had to correct everyone else who had a wrong or at least faulty understanding of Jesus.  I was sincere in my love and concern for the “lost”.  What I was blind to was that I was lost in being right and correcting others which fed my ego needs more than clearly represented a God of love.  The God of love and peace, sent Jesus in love and peace into a world of anger, violence, and blindness.   Jesus confronted the people who thought they were right about what they thought about God and yet lived inconsistent with what they knew.  In the 21st Century I believe Jesus is again asking us to, set aside the parts of us that feel like our theology or ecclesiology are right, and embrace the an inner peace that is agenda free, a love that is unconditional, and a belief system that welcomes everyone regardless of anything into a community of faiths that embrace these three qualities of God and of Christ.  Namely, the qualities of serenity, sacrifice and surrender are the way of love and the way of Jesus.

The way of Jesus is not some particular ecclesiastical or theological or religious way.
The Jesus way is the way of being willing to sacrifice, surrender and serenity.  Many if not all religions of the world teach this way but do not call it the “Jesus way”.  This may actually be because we who hold to faith in Jesus have represented the Jesus way in such a narrow exclusive and self-serving way that the true Jesus was unrecognizable.

This year at the ING NYC Marathon a new vision and a new celebration will invite people of all faiths to gather together as one, celebrating and committing to living in peace and love with humility, love and peace toward all in the name of the God of all!

Additionally, I run to raise funds for cancer research as part of Fred’s Team since 1992.  Memorial Sloan Kettering is a world pace setter in cancer research and treatment.  I have raised over 50,000 dollars for this cause.  I ran with Fred and his good friend Grete the year before he died.  She was the first captain of Fred’s Team.  This year I run in memory of both of them as Grete died earlier this year.  They were both people of love and peace, strength and courage.

So while different, I will be running in the same faith for an even greater Glory.  This Glory is the Glory of God in the highest:  higher than any ecclesiastical council, higher than any theological truth, this is the Glory of God beyond and above all human versions of truth and embracing the divine truth that there is “one Shepherd and one Flock” (John 10:10). That there is one way and it is the way of love, peace and humility”.  It is the Jesus Way, but it is not my way.  It is not correcting people who believe differently but connecting with people, appreciating the differences respectfully and celebrating as one so that “we may be one” because we are one in faith, hope, and love.  This is not about “religious tolerance” but about embracing all faiths as one in affirming “sacrifice, surrender and serenity”:  the Jesus way.  This is not about universalism it is about a universal truth: that “sacrifice, surrender and serenity” are who God is and how we are to live.

In the Talmud we read, “The willingness to sacrifice is the prelude to freedom”.  This freedom is, without any conditions about anything, to love all and, without any agenda regardless of anything and respectful of all, to live in love and peace toward all.

So in NYC this fall the marathon which is “like none other” will host 119 nations of earth and offer a peace vigil uniting faiths of earth to “live as one”.  I will be walking more than running this year, finishing in more than 6 hours rather than less than four.  I am still trim in my body and yet more expansive than ever in my faith, hope for peace and my love for all.

“And I saw a great crowd of people from every nation (every ethnic group) and every tribe (every faith group) and people (every state of being) gathered together Worshipping”.  What a worldwide witness to the Glory of God in the highest.  High above our particular theologies yet celebrating the Good News of God’s love and peace for all toward all.

Wow!  What a witness. Running for a Greater Glory!  Not for a particular church, not for a way of believing, but for the Glory of God!

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