Sunday, June 03, 2012

Our Message to Our Community


 

This weekend, there is an art fair on a street near the church. We have a table there and plan to meet people and talk about liberal religion. This is the message that we are carrying....

A Happier and Healthier Life….

It is human to want a happier and healthier life;  it is human to want to know where you fit into the Universe; it is human to want to have a purpose in your life. 

These are the big questions that religion tries to answer.  But for many, religions have too many answers and not enough room for the questions. 

So, people say that they are "spiritual, but not religious." 

Maybe that is you.

You want some room to explore the big questions.  You want a chance to live your own life and learn your own lessons.  You want find a way, your own way, to make a more just world.

If you describe yourself as "spiritual, but not religious", perhaps you are a religious liberal.   

 A religious liberal believes that all religions are human creations, ways for people to become closer to God, to the ultimate reality or the truth.  A religious liberal knows that you don’t have to believe in God, or even have a final answer to that question, to be a spiritual person.

For a religious liberal, all the religions in the world carry some truth.

A religious liberal believes that what matters about a religion is how it changes the lives of the people who hold it.  "By their fruits, ye shall know them", said Jesus.  What is true is what makes for happier, healthier and more just lives.

A religious liberal believes that each of us are on a journey of discovery, learning, from our own experience and from the world's great teachers, how to live well with love and meaning.

The First Unitarian Church of Worcester has been a center of religious liberalism for over 225 years in the city of Worcester.  You have seen our steeple a thousand times. 

Over a hundred years ago, the First Unitarian Church of Worcester put our purpose in one sentence. They wanted to bring together people who were inspired by Jesus, but who accepted the truths of science.  They wanted to give thanks and express their reverence the joys of life and the wonders of the Universe.  They want to come together to seek justice and serve humanity. 

They said it in one sentence and it became our covenant:  "In the Love of Truth and the Spirit of Jesus, We Unite for Worship of God and the Service of All."  

We still say that Covenant every week in our worship service.  It is our purpose and mission in life.

The Keys to a Happier and Healthier Life.

We think that you will have a happier and healthier life if you build your life around the values implied by our covenant: such values as honesty, humility, reverence, gratitude, openness, self-possession and solidarity.

But you don't need to read them in our covenant: you know them already. 

And if you consider yourself, "spiritual but not religious" you are already trying to bring them into your life.

First of all, happiness and health comes from having "an attitude of gratitude" for life.  You don't have to like everything; and there are injustices we should not accept. There are things in life that should be mourned, or resisted, or fought, but to be happy and healthy, you have to somehow be with even them. Life beats the alternative.

Health and happiness grow when we are reverent, when we feel awe and appreciate the mystery of reality.  We don't have to understand everything; but we should just take some time to feel it.  Loving life is the business of Is-ness.  Was all of this, the sun and the stars, and this planet teeming with life, and these people, laughing and loving made by a single pair of hands? Does that matter?  We should love the source, and each other.  Or, as tradition teaches us, "Love God with all your heart, all your mind, all your strength, and Love your neighbor as yourself."

Honesty and Humility: these are basic values.  The truth is enough.  Liberal religion knows the difference between a rich and inspiring story and a fact.  A person needs both in their lives but has to know which is which.  Mostly, we need to understand the truth about ourselves, and our limitations.  Lao-Tze, the Taoist teacher, says “those who would take over the world and shape it to their will never succeed.” 

Openness.  Are you open to the new?  To people who are different, to unfamiliar music, to points of view you have not heard before?  Being liberal religiously is a way to practice keeping an open attitude to everything that is changing.  “Change alone is unchanging.”  said one of the earliest of the Greek philosophers, Heraclitus.  Nothing will make you more unhappy than a habit of suspicion of the new and different.

Self-Possession.  In a wildly diverse world, somebody has to be different and it might as well be you. Liberal Religion encourages you to define for yourself who you really want to be, what you believe and how you want to live.  It’s your life and you have a right to try to live it on your terms.  The Sikhs say: “... Divine dwells inside everything, seek therefore in your own heart.”  Knowing how to be different than others while still staying in relationship with them is one of the first steps toward spiritual growth.

Solidarity: Happiness and health depend on a habit of seeing other people with compassion.  How do they experience life, and can you lessen their suffering and pain?  It’s wanting justice for them and for all.  The Buddhist traditions call upon us to cultivate boundless goodwill and to cherish all living beings as a mother watches over her child. 

Liberal Religion, and the First Unitarian Church of Worcester, is not about believing this or that, but about learning new ways of living. 

No one succeeds in living these virtues all the time.  After all, people are distracted, busy, insecure, nervous and often self-centered.  We are hungry in body and spirit, and desperate for love and acceptance.  Of course, we are often going to be jerks, or doormats.

We worship together on Sundays to remind ourselves of what we are trying to do with our lives and to inspire ourselves to keep at it.  No matter how we did last week, on Sunday, we start over trying to be the people that we want to be. 

We invite you to be our guest to experience our worship service and the other programs that we host.

In the summer, casual and informal services are led by our members.  There is always music, silence and prayers, as well as message from the heart.  This summer might be a good time to dip a toe in the water. 

After Labor Day, our minister, Tom Schade, gives the message at our regular services.   Our program is for the whole family.  We have a full program for developing the capacity for wonder and reverence in children in the fall, as well as an incredible choir and music program. 

Other programs are held during the:  a meditation group and a community dinner on Monday night, yoga on Tuesday and other things to be involved in.  Check our website for more information.

Now, pay attention.  We want you to come.  You don’t have to be a member, or join, to participate; we are used to having a lot of guests and visitors.  We welcome people of any race, from any country, from any religious tradition.  We welcome gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer people.  We try to make it possible for people with disabilities to participate.  

You’ve seen our steeple hundreds of times.  Why not step inside and explore?




  

3 comments:

PeaceBang said...

Love it.

jerbellows said...

Tom, this is wonderful. Well said!

Scott Hayman said...

Tom. Just read this again this morning and it's great! I think the absolutely gorgeous day outside helps alot too!

Thanks,
Scott