Monday, April 15, 2013

On Being a Bold Unitarian Universalist by Kathy McGowan

I have often been heard saying “I want us to be bold Unitarian Universalists!” I say this because I believe that the world needs us and we should be out there letting the world know who we are and what we value.

It is one thing to be in our congregations and feeling like we have found “our people” but it is entirely another to be living our faith every day in the world and letting people know that what helps us to face the often harsh environment around us is our Unitarian Universalist faith.

Let’s not be afraid to wrestle with our values like “the inherent worth and dignity of all.”  The more we try to live our values, the more they will be challenged, and that is OK.  I think we are up for the challenge, and that the struggle is what helps us to be better.  We can fail 1,000 times and can come back again.  As the 13th century poet, Rumi said,

“Come, come whoever you are
Wonderer, worshipper, lover of leaving.
It doesn't matter.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vow a thousand times
Come, yet again, come, come.”

We come to church to be comforted and to be challenged.  We must do both within our walls so that we can go back out into the world ready to do battle with injustice, cruelty and hate.  We can do battle because we have struggled ourselves.  We have known what it is like to be challenged and confused.  We have also known the power of coming together in a circle of love, where differences can be acknowledged but not used to define who we are. 

We can have the courage to be bold Unitarian Universalists in the world once we have faced our fears in our congregations.  We can let love be our guide to help us confront our challenges.  We can learn how to stay at the table when differences appear insurmountable.  We can keep hope alive for ourselves and others as we walk together on this one fantastic journey.

I think it is fitting to end this posting about bold Unitarian Universalists with this from Universalist minister Olympia Brown.

“Stand by this faith. Work for it and sacrifice for it. There is nothing in all the world so important as to be loyal to this faith which has placed before us the loftiest ideals, which has comforted us in sorrow, strengthened us for noble duty and made the world beautiful. Do not demand immediate results but rejoice that we are worthy to be entrusted with this great message, that you are strong enough to work for a great true principle without counting the cost. Go on finding ever new applications of these truths and new enjoyments in their contemplation, always trusting in the one God which ever lives and loves.”

In faith and love,

Kathy Alden McGowan