Ah the Holidays! Traditions that give our existence in the United States a meaning that goes beyond the words we know as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year. And meaning is so very important to the human species…We all know these dates exist in earthly time, and attached to these dates there are national as well as religious and family traditions, but reverence is definitely the central theme for them all.
Reverence is a showing of deep respect. The Holidays during November through December allow us to set aside time in our lives to dwell on this deep respect. But what or who are we to be respectful of or to? Think about this for a moment, if we secularize these special days then why would respect ever enter into any part of a holiday’s recognition or tradition? The truth is, these are holy days and the secular has no place in them.
Oh sure, Thanksgiving can be about turkey, Christmas and Hanukkah about lights and gifts, Kwanzaa about community, and New Years about starting anew. We can even give a “sinister” new meaning to them as Thanksgiving has unfortunately acquired because of our ability to associate current human progress with past human realities…Hindsight is always 20/20.
But a nation needs its traditions in order to build upon its positive communal spirit. And the best way to build a positive communal spirit is to give joy and love to our gatherings. God as the “Great Creator” is the silver lining of our most profound loss and the essence of everlasting Love. To revere God is to give the greatest gift of all which is compassion. A nation that builds upon Godly traditions is at its most compassionate. Secular traditions eventually become divisive because there is no unifying principle to humble the communal spirit. Turkeys, evergreen trees, presents, candles and ball-drops are not unifying principles!
Because God is forgiving, God is for giving. Our nation’s year-end celebrations are meaningful because God has shown us the way. May we be blessed enough to know this Love, respect it, and share it always.
I left my faith two years ago. Before that time I was very committed to the faith of my birth, Unitarian Universalism. Ever since my children were born I served my church in various roles: teacher, membership chair, governing board member and past president, personnel committee chair, leadership facilitator, and docent of its historic site.
Unitarian Universalism is described as a liberal religion characterized by a “free and responsible search for truth and meaning”, open to all persons, and without a creed. Long before gay marriage became legal, we affirmed this right of passage and performed many of these unions. Born out of the Judeo-Christian traditions, the faith now preaches that Love is their doctrine.
I have come to see that my church has lost its way during this time of racial upheaval and that it is trapped in today’s climate of identity politics. It started after the 2017 presidential election when the Unitarian Universalist Association began to promote the “Resistance”. During that time the Faith in Action Committee became heavily focused on social justice issues like the Black Lives Matter movement and White Privilege re-education. Now they march for the Poor People’s Campaign, everyone’s right for employment, and sustainable living wages.
The members of Unitarian Universalism have a long tradition of being inclusive and justice seeking which aligns well with the faith’s democratic governance structure. This method of “doing church” helped me to ground myself in governance models that are inclusive and sensitive to just action. These models I easily applied to my role as a city councilor, and I was able to create needed change in my community of diverse hearts and minds. However, “doing church” and “creating communities of justice” is not the same as “worship”.
Worship is the feeling and expression of reverence for a deity. One should not worship money, a privilege, or a social cause in place of God…this will cause emotional suffering when one comes to understand that the object replacing the worship of God is fallible. I see this happening in our larger cities…Government is expected to solve all of humanity’s problems. The more troubling thing is that most if not all churches now are misguided in their worship practice.
Like Jesus turning the tables of the greedy and manipulative money changers at the Temple, we must shake ourselves awake to our true purpose as caring individuals spreading the Good News that God wants us all to know; our Creator loves us and our prayerful good deeds lead directly to Him. This would be my church and my proudest affiliation. Does this worship experience exist for me here on earth without racial creeds or social justice dogma? Like Jesus, each of us must find our direct link to The ever loving God.