When we work in the community and look with intention, we can find many gifts, such as the gift of diversity; finding “the inherent worth and dignity” of each person.
Rev. Eric Mayle is the Minister of Community Justice for Centenary United Methodist Church and the Executive Director of Centenary Community Ministries, Inc. (CCMI), the nonprofit started by the church in 2009. CCMI has several ministries including transitional housing for men in recovery from drugs and alcohol, financial assistance for people for people in need, bicycling ministry and a community garden, among others.
“A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language,” writes Dale Carnegie. Genesis goes on and on with all the names God gives the creatures of the earth. On the one hand names are super important, a symbol of our “inherent worth and dignity,” as our first principle says. On the other hand, a name is just a name and what is truly important is the character that lives underneath the name. Join us as we look at the theology of naming and why it matters today.
Most people see themselves as good people. Moral people. We believe in our “good” identity even when we do things that are less than “good,” things that are worthy of critique from others. Author Dolly Chugh offers an alternative to the ‘good” versus “bad,” “moral” versus “immoral” mindset: Good-ish. Believing in the “good-ishness” of people we step outside of the seductive but scientifically inaccurate notion that people are either and always a good or bad person. In the good-ish mindset moral perfection is less the goal than having a more clear-eyed understanding of oneself and trying to be better. Join us as we celebrate the liberation that can come when we know ourselves, not as either saints or sinners, but as lovable-even-as-we-are-imperfect, growing, good-ish people.
In honor of Memorial Day, I will speak on loving our enemies (Matthew 5: 43-48.) There will also be music and reflections related to war, peacemaking, enemies, violence, and love.
Rev. Dr. David P. Gushee is the Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics; Director, Center for Theology & Public Life at Mercer University, and Immediate Past President, American Academy of Religion and Society of Christian Ethics. A devoted teacher, Professor Gushee offers courses to seminary students at Mercer’s McAfee School of Theology, and to college students in Macon. He has also been heavily involved in numerous activist efforts for peace, justice, human dignity, and the integrity of God’s creation, most notably in addressing torture, climate change, and the continued harm being inflicted on LGBTQ persons by Christian churches and families.
Free choice is perhaps the most fundamental part of being Unitarian Universalist. The desire of religious communities made not by obligation or law but by people freely choosing to come together is the beginning of congregational polity (and Puritan existence in North America), a structure that we still practice today. Free choice is also the foundation of covenant. Covenant being made of the promises people make one to another, presumably promises that are freely chosen. Another way of thinking about choice is desire. We desire to “walk together” as the original Puritan covenants once said. Join us as we consider covenant and how we might live it in our life together.
If loss is the other side of love, then dissatisfaction is the other side of desire. Desire is longing, and most often longing is never completely satisfied. As the Muslim poet Rumi writes, “Every thirst gets satisfied except that of these fish, the mystics, who swim a vast ocean of grace, still somehow longing for it!” Join us as we explore this more mystical side of desire and the art of living with heartbreak.
Desire. A relatively small word for all that it tries to encompass. Unitarian Universalism is pro-desire. The sexual kind of desire as we say in our Our Whole Lives Sexuality Education Curriculum, “is a very good gift, one of connection, creativity and pleasure” and perhaps more broadly, spiritual and creative desire. As UU minister Arvid Straube writes, “Prayer is simply being in touch with the most honest, deepest desires of the heart.” And yet, our journeys with desire are not as simple as simply affirming it. Feminists have worked hard to reclaim desire in a culture that has tried to shut women’s desire down. But it’s not just women: being a grown-up in our profit-driven country often means we are expected to be sensible, logical, oh responsible, practical (to quote from Supertramp’s “Logical” song). Join us as we seek to more authentically listen to and honor our desires.
Unitarian Universalism is quick to assure us that we are not broken human beings in need of some savior but whole, perfectly imperfect, just as we are. We may be whole, but are we complete? And if we are complete already, then what is the purpose of community? Join us as we explore what humanity-uplifting Unitarian Universalism has to say about embracing our brokenness.