As we enter yet another season of expectation, I wanted to touch briefly on why these holidays might matter to us as Unitarian Universalists. It is often said that what makes us unique in the religious world is that we place the right and responsibility of what we believe in the hands of the individual. Courses such as Building Your Own Theology ask participants to consider how and why they believe what they do about such important matters as good and evil, God, and the afterlife, to name a few. From these beliefs, we are expected to construct a theology that makes sense to us.
What is missing from this process is that we don’t believe in any one of these elements in a vacuum. We are part of various communities including where we work, whom we spend time with, our families, and this congregation. Those relationships help to shape what we believe in a much more fluid and organic way than the mechanical idea behind individually constructed theologies. Instead of constructing what we believe, I am much more convinced that we dance into what we believe. We are not static individuals who can be placed into little boxes of belief although many a sociologist has tried.
I think it is better to describe us as part of a co-evolving theology. Along the spectrum of our congregation there are a vast variety of preferences from atheist to Liberal Christian. But all of those identities are changeable. Just the other day someone told me they had been a firm atheist but after coming to our congregation for a few years she feels more like an “enchanted agnostic.”
I hope that all of us will be open to change. I hope all of us will be willing to dance with each other towards a wider and deeper view of what matters most; to consider the possibility that you might not be as certain about what you believe as you once thought.
One of the reasons the Holidays are so important is that we are reminded of stories from long ago which might compel us to open our hearts to different truths. Hannukah and Christmas are festivals that have evolved over centuries to remind us that courage and light will prevail in times of darkness. These and other holidays invite us to open our minds and hearts to something beyond mere sentimentality. These holidays invite us to re-consider what we hold to be the ultimate truth. Perhaps miracles do happen, but not in a way that suspends reality. Perhaps there is still courage and love in the world, even if the news suggests otherwise.
I know my theology has grown deeper and become more inclusive throughout the years. Perhaps yours has as well. I would love to hear from you.
Yours always, Rev. John