Many years ago there was a catch phrase in evangelical Christianity. WWJD? It stood for ‘what would Jesus do?’ For a while you saw it everywhere — buttons, t-shirts, bumper stickers, those colorful rubber bracelets, and even some billboards in the south. The phrase became part of a book franchise that to-date has some 60 titles on a variety of topics.
Of course parodies popped up right away. My favorite is WWJB? — who would Jesus bomb. It felt like the perfect answer to the warmongers that claimed a preventive strike could somehow lead to peace. I still shake my head over that warped reasoning.
Until recently you could also buy a beaded bracelet that featured WWUUD? standing of course for ‘what would [a] UU do?’ It was meant to be a reminder that how we live our principles out in the wider world is more important than what we say in worship or among our like-minded friends.
Sunday February 1st is the first day of Rev. Bill’s sabbatical. Throughout the six months that he will be away from Heritage on his well-deserved period of rest and renewal, I suspect that problems and opportunities will arise. And I also suspect that the words “What would Bill do?” will pop out, perhaps inadvertently in more than one discussion. Those words may even escape from my own lips during a problem-solving conversation.
But here’s the thing: We don’t need Rev. Bill to tell us what to do. It’s true that his unshakeable sense of justice and deep faith in the power of love serves us well. He has a way of articulating hard truths that allow us to see more clearly and translate that renewed vision into action. Bill embodies the love that is the Spirit of this church.
What you might not realize right now is that Bill’s kind of faith is contagious. We don’t have to ask, “What would Bill do?” because we have direct access to the same Spirit that feeds Bill and guides his life. We can draw from the similar sources of wisdom, drink from the same deep wells of compassion, align our actions with the same sense of righteous justice.
During Rev. Bill’s sabbatical, new leaders will arise, new avenues for social action will open, and relationships between the wider world and Heritage will be strengthened. And when Bill returns we will not only say, “Welcome back, we missed you.” but also say “We’ve grown while you were away. And we’re ready to grow even more now that you’ve returned. Let’s get started.”
May we make it so.