The caption reads: “Is God keeping you from going to church?”
It’s a full-page ad on page 62 of the October 15 issue of TIME. The copy says, “Maybe you’re uncomfortable with the idea of God – or at least someone else’s idea of God. Yet maybe you yearn for a loving, spiritual community where you can be inspired and encouraged as you search for your own truth and meaning. This is a church, you ask? Welcome to Unitarian Universalism.”
There’s a flaming chalice logo at the bottom of the page and at the top it says, Nurture Your Spirit. Help Heal Our World.
This coming Sunday we will celebrate our 1,000-member Association of Unitarian Universalist congregations.
We come from many places; from Jewish, Catholic, Protestant backgrounds. Some bring their Hindu, Buddhist and Islamic heritage. Some were raised in non-religious families and some come to us from an anti-religious upbringing.
We come at different stages of life: some come to have their children raised in an atmosphere of spiritual freedom to learn about the wide variety of religions in the world and in our local or near-by communities. The seventh grade class, Our Neighboring Faiths, spend half their time visiting Jewish, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Native American faith communities.
Our eighth grade class, Our Whole Lives, makes the trip to Boston, Lexington and Concord, visiting Unitarian Universalist churches that appear very different from what they’ve experienced in Westport, with our glass walls and without any traditional religious symbols, but who share a common quest to ‘nurture the human spirit and help heal the world.’
Association Sunday provides an opportunity to join with our sister congregations in celebrating our heritage and shared vision – a vision founded in the American dream, where individual freedom is balanced by a sense of responsibility to make the world a better place.
By celebrating our common heritage we’re reminded, here in Westport, that we’re not alone, that we’re part of a quest for religious freedom that goes back thousands of years. We’re reminded that we need one another, and we’re reminded that there are millions of people in our country who long for a religious or spiritual community that celebrates life without encumbering one another with outworn theological creeds and dogma that’s outdated.
“No one can be excommunicated from the Unitarian church except by the death of goodness in the heart,” is the way Channing put it.
I hope you’ll make a point of participating in this Sunday’s celebration. Tim Brennan, who was an active member here before moving to Boston and joining the staff of the UUA will be with us.