26 August Minister’s Moment

Wednesday was the first time this summer that I just felt good being outdoors.  Not too hot, or too rainy, just plain nice.  The beach beckons.  So here goes…equity and compassion in human relations;

Last Sunday I talked briefly about the first three principles of the Unitarian Universalist Association:


– The inherent worth and dignity of every person;

– Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;

– Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;

To get us thinking I paraphrased them as:

– The laws of physics

– The laws of Moses

– You are OK, let’s go bowling.

And,of course this takes some explanation.  The first one is a statement of physical truth.  People have worth.  People used to explain physical phenomena using other sets of laws (before they figured out what an atom was, physics was pretty crazy.)  In 1948 much of the world subscribed to the Universal Declaration of human rights, which affirms that people have inherent worth.  It is our moral-universalist view of the world.  It is our truth.


The second one, how we will relate to other humans, is like the laws of Moses.  With Thou Shalts and Thou Shalt nots, they are the agreed upon rules of the game.  Plenty of societies have different laws using principles of power and control… but we have these as our basic commandments. 

And then the third one is most interesting.  “Acceptance of one another… in our congregations” might be how you parse it, or simply “Acceptance of one another,” which might mean it applies to everyone in the world.  It’s not clear, maybe both are true?  The word “acceptance” is stronger than “tolerance” and so I translated it to “You are OK” rather than something like “You have a right to exist.”  To accept someone takes effort, so this principle is a promise to make that effort. 

And in my homily I explained that any activity could be spiritual if we think of it in the right way.  So “encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations” implies that we are growing together, and that we are encouraging each other.  Reaching out and inviting someone who you only slightly know to go bowling sounds rather like encouragement to the spiritual act of prayer for a 7-10 split, doesn’t it?

More seriously, how would you translate “encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations”?

At this past weekend’s Social Justice retreat we heard that all social justice work was about personal transformation.  I want to suggest we broaden that.  I think all work in beloved community is about personal transformation.  Working together invites all of us to grow.

Surf’s up…

I love you,

Rev Charlie