Goodbye, My Friends

While it’s true that our shared ministry is ending today, another journey for you and for me is about to begin. I feel confident that this congregation will find new life with the guidance of your interim minister and your strong lay leadership. . . . And, while I think it’s safe to assume that you’ll encounter difficulties and conflicts along the way, my hope is that you’ll be there for one another when you do and that you will find your way back to love and peace.

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Let’s Say Grace

Perhaps we might think of saying grace not as an opportunity to retrofit a childhood prayer or practice but, rather, as an opportunity to simply pause . . . to simply take in the profound reality that the earth’s profound abundance – as well as profound human and animal sacrifices – have once again brought us life in the form of a protein and two sides on a round plate.

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Keeping the Faith

My hope for you and for me is that whatever we each believe anchors and guides us in rough going. And, while our life experiences will shake us up from time to time and may leave us in doubt about who we are and where our lives are headed, may we know that a strong faith can also be a flexible, fluid and changeable faith . . . and that we may, from time to time, uncover a new and more meaningful strain of it.

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When One Door Closes, Another One Opens

My guess is that we all have let go and closed doors on parts of our lives . . . and we’ve had doors unexpectedly close upon us. The pain we experience in these moments may crowd out life’s light for a little while or for a very long time.

But with time and kindness, my hope for you and for me is that it’s also possible for light to re-enter our lives through open doors . . . perhaps just a little at first, but also just enough for us to know that the light is always there.

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It seems that the train ride across the Mississippi invited Hughes to honor the flow of pain and promise experienced by African Americans, as well as his own deep wisdom.  

At our UUA General Assembly, which took place in New Orleans on the shores of the historic Mississippi, I received an invitation, too, of both a different and similar sort. There was much discussion this year about building greater awareness of the ways we unknowingly perpetuate systems of white supremacy within Unitarian Universalism. Congregations were asked to have courageous and beloved conversations about this so that we can discover where we are in our own awareness journey and what we might do to change and grow.

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Being an Ally: Race, Racism and Social Justice

But actual allyship and advocacy rarely involve a sustained sense of positive emotion. They exist perpetually in the “emotional ambivalence associated with [critical thought and action].” Being an ally calls for embracing a different type of emotion – that of discomfort, which another scholar, Berlak wrote was not just unavoidable but also necessary. And by discomfort what I mean is feelings of confusion or fear — What if I look like or live my life like the people we are organizing against? I am socioeconomically privileged. I’m a man. I’m straight. I’m white. I’m Christian. I am a citizen of this country. I am someone who can exercise their civic rights, like the right to vote, easily. What if the people I consider my family, friends, or community look and live like the people we are organizing against? Is my presence as an ally or advocate wanted here? Do I belong in this space? Do I belong in this movement? What role is it possible for me to play?

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From Father to Son

As Unitarian Universalists who affirm the worth and dignity of every person and promote justice, equity and compassion in human relations, I imagine we all agree that something needs to be done to stem the tide of black male deaths in our country and to put an end to systemic racism. We know of many movements and programs out there that are working to do that, and some of you are active in these.

I also believe it’s important not just to look at what needs to be done out there, but also what needs to change in here – within Unitarian Universalism – to end our own internal racism so that we can truly claim the just and beloved community that is our ideal and our goal.

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