A surprise visit!

stephan_papaI was delighted that I was in the office when the call came . . . Stephan Papa, special assistant on growth to Unitarian Universalist Association President Peter Morales, was driving between Thurgood Marshall BWI Airport and appointments in the Philadelphia area, and he had a moment to stop by to see our magnificent temple at First U Baltimore. I shared the story of the construction of the First Independent Church of Baltimore (Unitarian)–the way I tell it–and enjoyed our common misremembering names from Unitarian history. (Between the two of us, we eventually got it all right!)

Stephan asked whether I think Peter Morales is right about what Unitarian Universalism needs these days, and I shared my general agreement. President Morales says we need to “get religion,” and I think he is right on that. Indeed, the large number of visitors who come to our congregation are seeking a religious home. Our Young Adult ministry is beginning a study session of world religions and spirituality, and many of the younger people who are coming to speak to me about personal issues are coming to speak to a pastor and bringing an expectation that I will address the state of their souls.

I hope that our expression of religion is more than a cafeteria grab bag of world religion, and especially more than a misappropriation of the spiritual practices of “the other” (whether Native American, African American, or reconstructed Druid!). I hope that our religion sees itself as distinctly humanist, even when allowing for a variety of opinions on divinities. But a spirituality that locates itself in the gathered people is the religion I desire. I see our community as a chalice into which our people may pour their all, all their joys, all their sorrows, all their questions, all their convictions. That this is a place for our hearts and minds and even bodies, for our vulnerabilites and our passions, and for our consideration of things of great worth, then this becomes for me a religious site. I look at our community and affirm, “this is the people who will change the world, and this is enough.”

My religion affirms the openness of the circle of our chalice. At the end of worship, we hold hands. We don’t struggle to make a perfect circle, nor even to see the completion of the circle as an end. Always there are open hands, yet reaching to each other, yet reaching to the city, yet reaching to the mystery all around us. A mystery that is fully human as it is experienced by humans, “heart and soul.” A mystery that is divine as all things contain divinity.
Yes, I think you can count me among those who believe Unitarian Universalism should “get religion!”

What do you think?

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