Friday, December 11, 2015

How Do Unitarian Universalists Find Meaning? by Reverend Tom Capo

Unitarian Universalism, as a non-creedal religion, requires us to make our own meaning from our experiences and to focus on our heart and mind, in an “ethos of care and compassion.” [1]

As Unitarian Universalists, as people on a spiritual journey, as diverse believers, we need a community that can provide care and support for us as we open ourselves to deeper meaning.  “With an open heart and mind, with a compassionate and caring faith community, and with a zone of doctrinal freedom that sanctions and enables us to draw on different theological, religious, scientific, and spiritual resources … [we develop] a Unitarian Universalist religious sentiment or conviction.”  In other words, we affirm that we are Unitarian Universalists.

Freedom enables a diversity of perspectives
“Orthodox, conservative, and traditional evangelical and fundamentalist traditions, by contrast, do not allow for this mental space of doctrinal freedom; the freedom that enables and encourages a theological diversity of explanations . . . that [can] prompt a change of heart. Our liberal faith tradition is founded, in part, on this difference between emotion and belief. This is why we can love beyond belief. Our hearts are not restricted by [a prescribed] belief.

We transmit this openness to difference to our children
We maintain doctrinal freedom in our worship (liturgy) during our Sunday services. Moreover, we transmit this openness to difference to our children through the way we teach them how to handle their shifting emotions long before their own personal religious belief systems as Unitarian Universalists are set in place. This is our emotional signature as a caring and compassionate religious people, a people who love beyond belief.

For UUs intellectual freedom is a religious right and we are moral agents
We are members of a democratic faith because of our ongoing affirmation and experience of intellectual freedom as a religious right and because of our ever-renewing experience of emotional integrity through our liturgical rites. These personal experiences of open-mindedness and open-heartedness as a religious practice prompt us, as Unitarian Universalists, to work in the world for justice, equity, and freedom as moral agents.” (from Tapestry of Faith, What moves us UUs).

As we affirm and promote a faith that is not static, as we seek our own individual beliefs, as we make meaning in constantly changing world, as we live in a community of diverse believers, as we embrace being non-creedal, as we keep our hearts and minds open to change, as we work to make the world a better place, we covenant to be a beloved community, affirming that we will treat one another with respect, love, care, and compassion. 
This community and the larger community of Unitarian Universalists support one another on this journey, a journey that began hundreds if not thousands of years ago, and which is still in process.  We are willing to consider our own errors and our own missteps.  We are willing to break a few rules, look outside the box of traditional religion.  We always have.  This is our heritage.  We exist in the tensions and the reconciliations of such a journey.  And we come together here to be on this journey as a community. 
We bring our children on this journey with us, but we are not here just for our children.  We bring our own needs here, but we are not here just for our own spiritual needs either.  We bring our desire to make the world more equitable and just, but that is not the only reason we come together.  
We come here because we are Unitarian Universalists; we are here to give our faith meaning and to live our faith together.  This is my faith; this is your faith; this is the faith of our forebears; this is a faith for any who choose to join us on this bumpy, often uncertain, wonderful, beautiful, heart changing journey we are on. 
May you make a meaning that resonates in your heart this season.
Reverend Tom

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