On Sunday I recommended the practice of naming one thing in your life you give thanks for and one thing you want to change in the next year. There was a lively discussion in the sanctuary as people paired off to share their ideas. When I asked for some examples of what they wanted to change in the next year, I heard answers that ranged from hope to diet, respect to determination.
We live in fractured times. Those fractures make many of us anxious for our future, and the future of the country, our children and the planet. As we gather around Thanksgiving tables this week I urge you to put more emphasis on what we are thankful for. There is much we cannot change alone: transphobia, climate change, and political dysfunction to name a few. And yet, there is much we can embrace with thanks. The shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs, while horrific, was brought to an end by people risking their own lives to tackle the gunman down. The denial of reproductive rights by the Supreme Court while tragic is being answered by thousands of congregations across the country who are arranging for women to come to states where abortion is still legal. There is still goodwill and courage for us to give thanks for. Even as we continue the struggle for justice, we can be thankful for the strength and gifts we do have. Holding that dichotomy is part of what it means to be a faithful Unitarian Universalist.
Our congregation is one step closer to choosing a new name for ourselves, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Westport. That decision was far from unanimous; there are strong feelings about other names we might have preferred. But the process was inclusive and democratic with several more steps to go. Some might ask “why bother?” The answer lies in what our name signifies. Yes, we are still the same loving and supporting community we have always been AND our new name helps us to embrace the world we are growing into. A world that is increasingly diverse, interfaith and non-religious. Once we have formally decided on our name, I hope we will discern and embrace a new vision of what we need to become to face the future we are already living. I, for one, am very thankful for the work of the Naming Committee, the Board and all of you for guiding us through this process.
As we continue to evolve, I encourage all of us to give thanks for the gifts we enjoy, those in our own lives and in our collective life as a congregation. Even with a fractured world, let us give thanks anyway to remind ourselves that we are always in the act of becoming.
I leave you with this poem from Miller Williams, “Of History and Hope”
Who were many people coming together
cannot become one people falling apart.
Who dreamed for every child an even chance
cannot let luck alone turn doorknobs or not.
Whose law was never so much of the hand as the head
cannot let chaos make its way to the heart.
Who have seen learning struggle from teacher to child
cannot let ignorance spread itself like rot.
We know what we have done and what we have said,
and how we have grown, degree by slow degree,
believing ourselves toward all we have tried to become—
just and compassionate, equal, able, and free.
Happy Thanksgiving, Rev. John