Lessons from Another Pandemic
Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton.
Over the past couple of months, as this present pandemic has unfolded, I’ve reflected on my personal experience of an earlier, different pandemic. Thirty years ago, when I was living and working in the thick of the AIDS crisis—at least as it was playing out primarily among gay men in Dallas—it would have been hard to imagine that what I and so many were living through might provide something of meaning to people in a public health crisis three decades later. In looking back, though, I now appreciate that there are lessons about life that endure from that time, and that are worth being shared. While many of these lessons have shaped me in significant ways—and are central to my theology—I’ve rarely spoken from the pulpit about the many stories from that chapter of my life continue to guide me and inform my values. It is my hope in sharing more this Sunday that we might all find some inspiration to bring the best of ourselves to the challenges of this present pandemic.
While meeting for our services online isn’t ideal (or perfect), it has been so wonderful to see your shining faces on Sunday mornings as we come together from our own homes to create anew this beloved community. I am grateful to everyone who has recently joined us on Zoom, even when it has required some stretching to embrace this new technology. As we continue to adapt to this new format for worship, we are learning how to best use this tool to support the shared life of our congregation. Sadly, in this, we are also working to protect our online gatherings from the vile attacks that have been on the increase over the past couple of weeks. Many organizations, including several UU congregations, have had their online gatherings “zoom-bombed” by individuals and groups bent on disrupting events with highly offensive language, images, and behaviour. We are working to put in place protections against these disruptions; these efforts may involve small but noticeable changes for our shared experience on Sundays, including having you arrive in a Zoom “Waiting Room” before being admitted into the main meeting room by one of our virtual ushers. We appreciate your understanding and patience as we work through these challenges.
Finally, I want you to know how deeply grateful I am for the ways we have come together as a congregation to care for one another and the world around us. In these uncertain times, may we lean on the strength and stability that comes from knowing we are all in this together.
In faith and love—now more than ever,
(No Order of Service this week.)