Winners and Losers



As part of my own preparation for this Sunday, I read all of the things that you all wrote about First Unitarian on those “steeples” that are decorating this sanctuary.

So many spoke to me.

“We are such an important beacon of tolerance and pluralism.”

“It gives a space for my family and me to share the light and love of the universe.”

“A source of love and support during turbulent times.”

“Our Whole Lives, Religious Freedom, Freedom of Thought.”

“History of service and social justice ministry through the years.”

“It feeds our hunger for truth, beauty and justice.”

“A place for youth to learn and grow.”

“Music to lift our spirits and heal our souls.”

“Growing a Beloved Community in the heart of a city that is struggling with rapid change.”

The statements go on and on. Hundreds and hundreds of them. They are the best reminder of the importance of what we do here, week after week, and year after year.

Perhaps that is all I need to say. I don’t think I could imagine a better way to encourage you to support this congregation. You know why support for this church is important.

The value of what we find here, each of us, is reason enough, certainly, to make support of this congregation not only an important but a joyful exercise. Certainly.

But beyond what we each find inside this sanctuary, what has transpired and is transpiring outside these sanctuary walls demands at least to be named. That is the environment in which we are called to minister, the world in which we strive to make a difference.

The election cycle will finally end on Tuesday. I may be speaking only for myself, but I am so ready for it to be over. I feel weary and worn down by the personal attacks and the mean spirited assaults. The disregard for truth has been appalling. The greatest democracy on the face of the planet has been through a political season in which we have not wanted our children to listen, the language has been so foul and the sentiments so hate filled.

I am ready for the election to be over…and not because I have confidence that my personal preferences will carry the day.

Kate Birdsall described this season as stirring up the muck that has always been at the bottom of our body politic. I think she is right.

We have all lamented the politics of fear and the demonizing of our neighbors. It would be so easy to assign blame for the anger and the thinly veiled threats of violence.

But it would be such a misjudgment to lay the blame on just one candidate, or one party or on this particular period in American life.

Because the fear and the hate have always been present in American the Beautiful…even when the discourse has seemed more polite.

Racism and zenophobia, oppression of women, fear of Muslims and the religious “other,” abuse of power and the privileges of wealth…these are not new issues.

But as a society we have refused, in every generation, to have the reality of that far from perfect reality limit our vision of what can be.

We’ve tended to tackle one thing at a time…women’s suffrage, Black suffrage, the social safety net, Marriage Equality. I believe we need to understand how these issues are all related…all of a piece.

But if there is an American exceptionalism that I am able to honor, it is our willingness to be a work in process. The progress has been too slow, too often but we remain clear that progress there must be.

The Spirit of Life demands it. The Spirit of Love calls it forth.

Declaring a winner this Tuesday will not magically heal us. The divisions and the fear that have been stirred up, brought to the surface will not recede into the background once again…nor should they.

We cannot vote nearly half the American population off the continent.

And our task, as religious liberals, will be different depending on who wins and who loses on Tuesday.

But our most fundamental religious calling is to address the divisions and the fear so that we, as a people, all of us…can move beyond them and be about the business of building Beloved Community, moving toward a sustainable vision of justice, equity and compassion for us all.

This church stands for that vision. And, naïve as it may sound, we proclaim that vision as a possible future for all of us and for our children and their children.

And we commit ourselves to be architects and builders of that future.

And we support this church for the role it has played in bringing us this far along our way…and the hope it represents for a collective future in which love can live.

You said it well:

“We are such an important beacon of tolerance and pluralism.”

“A source of love and support during turbulent times.”

“Growing a Beloved Community in the heart of the city…”

and in a nation and a world that cries out for hope.

The words of Mark Belletini,

“I am going to vote for you.
I am going to vote for me.
I am going to vote for the power of free people
To actually be free,
No matter who they are,
No matter who has abandoned them,
No matter who hates them…

I actually am going to vote for love.”

Our pledges to this church are votes for love

May those votes be cast both generously and joyously.

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