Monday, July 16, 2007

Only five days away

Since our minister is on vacation in July, we've had pulpit guests each Sunday this month. Next week is my turn, and it will be the first time I've delivered the full, 20-minute sermon. I've shared the pulpit a few times, but I've never been the main attraction.

This summer's theme is "The Search for Truth and Meaning," which is, um, pretty vague. But also familiar. You see, until this year, my alma mater, Rhodes College, required each student to complete a four-semester humanities course called "The Search for Meaning (some long subtitle here about Western religion, literature, history, and philosophy)" (they now have a more flexible way to complete the requirement). Having been an Art History major, a Women's Studies minor, and filling as much of my elective time as possible in the Religious Studies department, the "Search" coursework was near and dear to my heart.

I started college a good Presbyterian girl. Rhodes is a Presbyterian college. The expectation, all around, was that I would graduate a good Presbyterian woman.

But that's not what happened. The courses I took in religion, history, art, literature, philosophy, psychology, and anthropology opened my mind to a broader worldview and a wider definition of the divine. By the end of my sophomore year, I had stripped myself of the "Christian" label and began searching for my own truth and meaning. I explored earth religions like Wicca (didn't work for me), and through those explorations, found the Unitarian Universalist church.

The UU church has been a great fit for me and for my family. My children are natural skeptics. My son is the youngest person I've ever met that claims to be an atheist. (Actually, he doesn't like that word at all. He just says that he doesn't believe in God, the devil, heaven, or hell. This all coincided with him figuring out about Santa. I think these two things are connected.) My daughter is more comfortable with ambiguity and refuses to be pinned down about her theology. Her skepticism is most visible when she watches television or movies. When something amazing happens onscreen, she often wonders aloud how many "takes" were needed to get that shot.

But our church gives us more than a place to not believe.

One of my favorite UU quotes (that I'm about to misquote) is that we are "searching for the truth with love." That's what I appreciate about our church. Nobody claims to have "THE" answer to life's questions. We do know that there are paths that don't work for us. That's something that I think is important to point out. Many people think that if you're a Unitarian Universalist, you "can believe whatever you want." No. No. NO!

If you believe that sacrificing babies is a good way to worship the Divine, no. That's not okay at my church. Not a bit. If you believe that white people are superior to other people, no. If you believe that it's okay to treat gay people poorly, no.

But if you believe that it's okay to not have all the same beliefs as the person sitting next to you in church, if you believe that there is good reason to choose inclusive language in church, if you believe that community can also be a verb, then the Unitarian Universalist church might be a good place to visit.

And hopefully, if you visit this Sunday, I'll have chosen good words. Because my sermon it not finished.


laura said...

::hugs:: How's the sermon coming? been thinking of you... somehow sermons are much more intimidating than history lectures!!

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