Seek, Connect, Serve
Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton.
Seek • Connect • Serve
It’s not exactly easy to explain what a Unitarian is, let alone describe how we live out our faith. If you’ve had experiences anything like mine, your efforts have at least occasionally been met with blank stares and baffled expressions. From the outside (and sometimes from the inside, too!), our liberal religious tradition can be a challenge to grasp. The curious rightly ask: “How can you have a faith where people believe very different things? or “How does a religion work without an authoritative set of scriptures or even basic agreement about God?” At times, I’m simply inclined to say, “It’s something of a mystery. I don’t really know how to explain how or why it works, but, for the most part, it does.” That answer, though, isn’t quite sufficient for every circumstance.
As I shared last week, a sub-group of wordsmithing board members and I have been working for many months to refresh our existing mission and vision statements by distilling them down to their essence. With thesauri in hand, we’ve reviewed reams of newsprint with ideas generated at congregational meetings and leadership retreats in recent years. We’ve sifted through the various (and, in many cases, lengthy) statements adopted by the congregation over the past decade, carefully searching for recurring themes. We’ve engaged with the board, convenors, and staff in this conversation, as well as with members of First at our Congregational Retreat in November, incorporating their collective feedback with further changes to arrive at:
Our hope is that we will together endeavour with a spirit of both generosity and curiosity to live with and live into these words, trying them on for size, wrestling with their implications, listening for the deeper questions they may be asking of us. In time, I hope we might even find they help us to better explain what it means to be a Unitarian, and what it means, in particular, to be a part of First. On Sunday, I’ll reflect on how these words not only help us describe ourselves, but also offer a path for us to follow, as well.