Thirty Days of Love, Day 7: Gather to Discuss
Date: January 22 – Gather to Discuss Story of Us, Story of Now.
Staff Member: Director of the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries Carey McDonald
Description: Gather after services, or plan another time, when your congregation can discuss your story of us and story of now.
To Do: Lead a discussion about making sense of the present moment, and what we are called to do.
The sermon at the church service I attended today was titled “Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory,” a reference to the last speech delivered by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Today’s service, led by Rev. Molly Housh Gordon, held up the biblical commitment to reaching the Promised Land of justice and the Kingdom of Heaven on earth as something that we can only attain in the long run. Contributing to progress towards the Promised Land, and even glimpsing it from a far-off summit, is as much as any one of us can hope for in our lifetime.
From Rev. Molly’s frame, the Story of Us is our long tradition as Unitarians and Universalists in working towards a more peaceful and loving world. It has been a path with stumbles and regrets as well as one of triumphs and successes, but never one that had a clear end. Each of us can only be one part of the larger journey implied by the social gospel. It follows that the Story of Now is the importance of working as a community, not merely as individuals, to creating the world we dream of. That cooperation seems all the more critical in the divisive and fractured society of today’s America.
Since I moved away from the church of my childhood last summer and have yet to join a new church, I called up my brother, who is living across the country, and we talked about the Stories of Us and Now as a congregation of two.
Peter and I discussed the checkered history of UU’s being on the side of righteousness, 19th century New England industrial magnates come to mind, though of course hindsight is always 20/20. We agreed that churches are often the only institutions that prioritize unconditional acceptance and love, and sometimes they are what holds entire neighborhoods together. As such they reflect the cultures of the areas where they are located, and our chuches are no exception.
My brother and I talked about the UU Story of Us as our historically lonely commitment to affirming the inherent worth and dignity of each person, something that is certainly a lifelong journey just within a single congregation. The Story of Now is the need to widen our circle, to find new ways to be and relate, so that we can affirm that worth and dignity of more and more people. Not an easy task in an era of media and advertising that constantly sends the message of “not good enough.”
To use the same Reinhold Niebuhr quote that Rev. Molly used this morning, “Nothing worth doing is completed in our lifetime, therefore we are saved by hope. Nothing true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history, therefore we are saved by faith. NOthing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone, therefore we are saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as from our own, therefore we are saved by the final form of love which is forgiveness.”