In the normal course of a week, our congregation provides two worship services complete with soul-stirring music; five choir rehearsals; two adult classes; and numerous children’s classes including Our Whole Lives, a Youth Group, and a field trip. We provide outreach services to refugees, and to children who need tutoring; and we consult with other community groups on all matters of needs including stemming gun violence and providing support to those suffering domestic abuse. We host several twelve-step programs and provide pastoral care to many through our Pastoral Care Chaplains Team and our Ministers, and through those who make it their ministry to care for those who are homebound or otherwise in need. Then there are the meetings of small group ministries, and committees and staff who keep all this going. In short, we are a caring and active community that touches the lives of many both within and beyond our congregation. We are so much more than what happens on a Sunday morning.
As the news of our political process and deepening tribal behavior seems to strain reality, I am reminded of just how powerful congregations like ours are in the daily lives of so many. It is work that is often not seen and certainly not reported on by the media. It is the work of making hope.
Last week someone from our larger community contacted me to make a contribution to our Capital Campaign. As we talked it became obvious to me that while she, as a citizen of Westport and not a member of our congregation, appreciated our beautiful building, what she really appreciated was the impact we — as a congregation, as a people, as Unitarian Universalists — were having on so many. As I thanked her for her contribution, she told me “You all are the Hope Keepers. You keep hope alive when so much seems wrong.” I think she is right. We are the Hope Keepers: toiling in the fields of our local concerns, to make this world just a bit better than it might otherwise be. And we are not alone. Throughout this great country, there are thousands of congregations doing this same soul-saving work.
Beloveds, Hope is not a promise of a better tomorrow. Hope is the work we do to make that promise possible. Our hope, the hope we keep, is our worn hands, our bright eyes and our courageous hearts that keep on keeping on because that is what people of faith do. We are the ones who create our salvation. And that is good enough for me.
See you in church, Rev. John