We once again find ourselves upon the threshold of another orbit around our home star. The holiday season brought with it many gifts and challenges and hopefully rekindled our spirits in the midst of the wintertime. As we lit the candles of the menorah and told ancient stories of resistance and liberation, so many of our Jewish siblings were being victimized and targeted. Let us hold the Jewish community in our hearts as begin this new year as stewards of peace and defenders of justice. Many of us are ready to turn the page on this chapter of human history and are dreaming of new ways to create community together both in our congregation and in the wider world. Many of the old structures of the social order which harmed and oppressed people are passing away and we are working to create ways to revitalize our communities and our threatened planet home. It is important that we shelter those most vulnerable in our liberal faith communities, speak out for humanity and our environment, and provide spiritual leadership in a world that is still navigating its way through so many societal challenges and advances.
The New Year is a good time to engage in some self-reflection and consider what it is we want for ourselves now and in the future. What are your resolutions for the new year? We so often make aspirational promises to ourselves at this time because it is one of the many opportunities we have to listen to our deepest callings in life and catalyze changes. I’ve been thinking about what some the hopes for our beloved community are this year. When I arrived, we identified some cultural work that would serve as the foundation for this next stage of developmental ministry. Although this work happens in congregations, it also speaks to the challenges facing humanity more generally in this time of challenge and uncertainly. I share with you these resolutions for our community which will hopefully help us to enhance the ways we minister together and our capacities to create effective change in the world.
Sustainability & Regenerativity
As our global communities begin to explore what it will be like for humanity to make the shift to paradigms of sustainability and regenerativity, we also need to do the same as a beloved community. We need to shift to a paradigm of sustainability and regeneratively that will allow us to live beloved community in ways that are spacious, restorative, and healing for the community. This will allow for greater reflection by the community on its many achievements and help it to move from feelings of brokenness to wholeness. This is necessary to fully integrate and practice what has been learned in the past few years and to chart a course for the future that emphasizes the quality of our relationships in community as least as much as it values the work and ministering we do together. Are we practicing self-care and community-care? Are we slowing down and letting go of that sense of unending urgency? Are we having fun together? Are we making time for silence and for regeneration? Are there spiritual exercises which sustain us?
Intersectional Anti-Racism & Anti-Oppression Commitments
We are living in a time of mass mobilization for change in our religious communities and in the world at large. Movements for social justice are once again receiving the attention they deserve. From Black Lives Matter to Standing Rock, the Climate Movement to Occupy Wall Street, LGBTIQ Rights to Me Too, we are living in an era of increased consciousness, communication, and strategic organization for change. Our larger UUA movement is coming to terms with white supremacy and legacies that have harmed marginalized populations (and everyone else) in our movement. May activists are beginning to find a spiritual foundation for their activism and are beginning to understand that the many forces of oppression and liberation in society are related to each other. The queer womanist writer and activist, Audre Lorde, had correctly observed a generation ago: “There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.” Unitarian Universalism has an important collective experience to bring to such work and we also need to engage with it in our own communities and in our own time. How are we engaging in the work of anti-racism and anti-oppression? Are we learning to think intersectionality and to understand how the struggles for liberation are interwoven? We we preparing ourselves well to be agents of justice, love, and transformation in our society?
Hospitality & the Multireligious Embrace
As Unitarian Universalists, we are a tradition with many sources that welcomes people from a variety of spiritual paths. We encourage the free and responsible search for meaning and support many groups in our congregations who find meaning in particular religious traditions, theologies, and philosophies of life. Unitarian Universalist communities flourish when they welcome and encourage a diversity of beliefs rooted in our common principles, history, and shared values. One characteristic of white supremacy culture is either/or thinking which can be reductive and erase our complexities and nuances. To move beyond polarized and either/or reductions, we will need to move towards a mosaic model of multireligiosity which honors the diverse beliefs, practices and traditions inherent to Unitarian Universalism, shelters people, philosophies, traditions and wisdom that is threatened by our dominate society, and encourages us to understand the complexities of our religious paths and identities as individuals and as a beloved community. Are we exploring the story of our liberal faith tradition and engaging with it in all of its complexity and nuance? Are we making space for people who may be different than us in some beliefs but with whom we share common liberal religious values? Are we stretching ourselves to have greater fluency in the great religions of the world and systems of philosophy and ethics? Are we as inclusive as we can be?
Let’s make this a year of sustainable and regenerative living, deepening justice in our world, and a broad and inclusive embrace!
With love and gratitude,
Rev. Jeremiah Kalendae