The sermon, ‘In Praise of Christianity,’ was postponed because of the January 18 Sunday morning snowstorm. We’ve re-scheduled it for February 29-Annual Meeting Sunday.
The delay gives me a chance to keep working on it. In recent years I’ve come to realize that I have some inner work to do on issues around Christianity. Let me summarize:
In the spring of 1972 I was called to serve Murray Universalist Church in Attleboro, MA. It was my first senior ministry, and I was the first Unitarian to serve the church in its 100-year history. The Unitarians and Universalists in America merged in 1961 to form the UUA, the Unitarian Universalist Association. I remember hearing about the merger-it was big news in the Boston area. My ears perked up when I listened to a news report on my car radio announcing the vote that led to merger.
I was driving my little VW bug on Route 38 in Wilmington. Isn’t it strange how some things stick with you? There was a good reason that it stuck-it was the same year that the minister of the Congregational Church where I was actively involved accused me of being a Unitarian. Well, maybe not accused, from his point of view. The firm spontaneity of his response to my comment that I thought the Apostle’s Creed was a metaphor-that I didn’t think anyone really believed it literally–felt like an accusation. He surprised me when he said with such finality, “You sound like a Unitarian!”
His comment put an abrupt end to my inquiry into the possibility of Congregationalist ministry. So I went to work as a teacher at Wellesley High School from 1962 to 1969. It was good preparation for the ministry, along with the work I did at Boston University Theological School. The third person of the trinity-of-preparation was my work at Follen Church in Lexington, where I served as Assistant Minister for two and a half of my three years in seminary. That was a real, honest-to-God apprenticeship. With graduation in ’72 I was called to Murray Universalist Church. Shortly after I began work there Ed Cope, a long-time pillar of the church, said to me one Sunday and in his strong, defiant voice, “I’m a Universalist. I’m not a Unitarian!”
He meant that he considered himself to be a Christian. He was convinced that Unitarians were anti-Christian, if not anti-Everything! He had a point.
At that time I labeled myself a religious humanist. In 1973 I signed Humanist Manifesto II, recently referred to by our former UUA president, Bill Shulz in an excellent article in the UUWorld. The sermon ‘In Praise of Christianity‘ required me to dig into my history. Sharing it from the pulpit will help the inner work. I hope you can be there.