A few years ago I opted to subscribe to a program, written by UU’s, that offers us a chance to worship along common themes along with other congregations. This service provides a theological theme for the month, and that theme carries through the worship life, the religious education life and the small group ministries life of a congregation, as the congregation chooses to engage with it. This service is called Soul Matters.
I don’t know if it’s the autumnal colors, or the arrival of sweater weather, but this month’s theological theme is Change. Change is something that, as part of a growing, living tradition, are deeply engaged in. Unitarian Universalism calls ourselves a liberal faith, which means that we are a people who are willing to engage in self-reflexive thought. We do not take the past to have all the answers, we are not prisoners to words written thousands of years ago, or concepts that pre-date the printing press. We encounter an idea, we examine it carefully, and we decide, individually and collectively, if we want to integrate this concept into our lives.
Change can only happen with movement.
In the 1920’s and 1930’s the modern Humanist movement not only began, but really began to interact with Unitarianism. Some of our ancestors, both Unitarian and Universalist, were signers of the 1933 Humanist Manifesto (and its subsequent revisions.) At the time there was a great struggle in Unitarianism from the church that was (rooted in Biblical Unitarianism) to the church that would become, the one we know today.
Almost 100 years later there is another shift coming to Unitarian Universalism. I won’t claim the ability to foretell what this next chapter in our faith will be as it is just beginning and will take decades to really rise to a prominence, but as happened a century ago those people who are comfortable where we have been are struggling with the change that is not just coming, but just beginning to manifest itself in our congregations.
John F. Kennedy wrote: Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past and present are certain to miss the future.
When we are on the side of change, this is an easy concept to embrace. When we are on the side of stasis, this statement is a real challenge.
The key to successfully navigating this, or any change, in a congregation is the way we treat each other as we consider the future together.
Corretta Scott King tells us: It doesn't matter how strong your opinion is. If you don't use your power for positive change, you are indeed part of the problem.
One thing in life is certain, and that is change. The question I’m left with is how do we step into the coming changes with a focus on that which mirrors our values as Unitarian Universalists. How do we lead with love and kindness?