A Wider Vision

A Wider Vision

Last Sunday I talked about some of the ways our UU tradition has failed people of color. How we have fallen short of our aspiration to be a truly welcoming faith. The good news is, there’s plenty of work for us to do, inside these walls and out in the world. Our world needs us! I hope you’ll come be part of the conversation on social justice today at noon. 

Today I want to lift up our potential, our giftedness, the possibilities that lie before us. Even with the struggles of these days, I am generally hopeful about what lies ahead. I sense that the pains of this time are the birth pangs of an expansion of more liberty and more justice for more people. The problem right now is that some folks are fearful about what’s changing; they are worried about what they could lose. They assume there’s a limited amount of human rights to go around. That you getting your freedom somehow diminishes mine. That you having more opportunity means I get less. But that’s not how it works! There isn’t a limited amount of love or justice in our world. We can create as much of that as we want! 

More Love, More Hope, More Joy

More Love, More Hope, More Joy

We just sang, “There is more love, some where… I’m gonna keep on, ’til I find it….” That song comes out of the African American spiritual tradition. It was created and sung by slaves because it helped them have the to have the hope and courage to carry on, when there wasn’t much reason for hope. 

When you sing a song, it’s helps to know where it comes from, who sang it, and why—what their experience was, what their lives were like. So you can give that song and those people the reverence and respect they deserve.

A Simple Christmas Faith

A Simple Christmas Faith

Have you ever asked a child about Christmas? If you looked into the eyes of a little one and said, “Tell me what you know about Christmas. What’s it all about?,” what would they say?

I imagine it would be something like, “There was this lady, who has a baby, and it’s born in a stable, and there are animals, and guess what? the baby is God. There were angels and candles and singing. But it was a silent night. And then there were presents!”

Incarnation: All the Feels

Incarnation: All the Feels

This Sunday I want to help you get ready for Christmas. People ask you that, right? “Are you ready for Christmas?” they say. What do you think that means? Probably something like, “Have you done all your shopping?” or “Have you done all your decorating?” Maybe it means, “Are your sufficiently stressed out, so that now Christmas can come and then you can collapse in exhaustion?” I hope that’s not your experience, because Christmas is this beautiful and rich season that invites us into a deeper experience of being alive, of being in touch with the Holy, of being reminded that if we meet God anywhere, it is right here—in this moment, in these bodies. And I need that, and I expect you do too.

Peace, When There is No Peace

Peace, When There is No Peace

I love this season of Advent, and this month that brings Hanukkah and the Solstice, and their stories of oil that lasts longer than it should, and the wonder and mystery of the longest night. I love this time of waiting and getting ready. And I need its promise: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it” (John 1:5). 

Because you know, the darkness around us is deep. That was true when the poet William Stafford wrote that line twenty years ago, and it’s certainly true these days. I guess it’s always true. There are always forces that are working against love and justice, and some days, it seems like they have the upper hand.

A Bigger Boat

A Bigger Boat

All month we’ve been reflecting on gratitude, and lately, given all the struggles people are facing, I’ve found myself feeling grateful, that things aren’t any worse than they are. It’s setting a low bar, I know, but these days, when it can seem like our world is going down the tubes, I’m grateful for the simple gift of a quiet day, a normal day.

Earlier this week there was a column in The New York Times by David Brooks, about the amount of suffering in our society these days. The first sentence says, “Wherever I go I seem to meet people who are either dealing with trauma or helping others dealing with trauma.” 

We Sing Our Thanks and Praise

We Sing Our Thanks and Praise

A few days ago I was in the car, heading back to church from a meeting over in Newburyport. I was in Amesbury, about to turn up the on-ramp to 495, when the road straight ahead beckoned to me. It was a beautiful and blustery fall day—bright and sunny and very windy, with leaves blowing everywhere. And the road ahead promised winding curves past fields and farms, along stone walls and barns and out into country with wider skies and maybe a field I could walk across, even a small hill to climb in order to take in our New England landscape in these late fall days when Thanksgiving is almost here. 

But that winding road I imagined, was, at least that day, a road not taken, as Robert Frost would put it. I didn’t head down that road less traveled, but it has stayed with me: that longing, to be out under the sky and in touch with the earth, to better feel the spirit of these days between autumn and winter. 

Serving with Power

Serving with Power

Last Sunday I talked about being thankful for what you have, being grateful for the small things it would be easy to miss. But if someone preached that sermon to me today, I’d be annoyed! Because I’m feeling restless with how things are, with all that’s messed up, and these days I’m feeling grateful for this who call us, who lead us, from here to where we ought to be. And I’m grateful for those who walk their talk.

In Praise of Small Things

In Praise of Small Things

One summer day many years ago, when our son Will was little, five or six I guess, I took him fishing. We went to a small river about half an hour from home; a stream where dark water swirled around granite rocks, a place I’d caught fish before. Before leaving, we gathered our gear, and packed some snacks, and then we headed out. It was midsummer and hot, but I figured it would be cooler in the woods and by the water. On the way, we were both excited. “We ought to be able to catch some trout,” I said, imagining myself, the proud father, taking a picture of my son holding up a big and beautiful rainbow trout.