Our theme for May is “Come to the Table”.
Do you remember when you were a child and your family would call out, “Come to the table!” You may have been playing, or involved in some project, but you knew that when you got that call, it meant to come NOW.
As adults, of course, we often have other obligations, other commitments, other projects which would preclude us dropping whatever we’re doing and come NOW.
I certainly do understand that.
But I also want to extend the invitation. Come to the table. If you haven’t been to church in a while, come back and see us. We’ve missed you!
And the larger truth is that UUFS needs you at the table. Certainly, we need your “time, talent and treasure”. But more importantly, we need your voice, your input, your unique point of view. Without these things there is the danger of becoming stagnant, out-of-touch, irrelevant or just plain boring. Coasting along, doing the same things in the same way by the same people leads us nowhere new. Ultimately this kind of stagnation can lead to the death of any institution.
UUFS is the ONLY true voice of liberal religious values without creed here in Salisbury. I know that no one reading these words would want UUFS to simply disappear. If you are reading this you feel some connection to us, to Unitarian Universalism. If you continue to receive this newsletter, clearly you care on some level. And one way of showing you care is by showing up.
Now, I recognize that some of you have felt ignored, or frustrated, or angered in the past. You’ve felt your needs have not been met, or your voice not heard, or felt overburdened and put-upon. Perhaps you’ve “stepped away” from the table for a while.
I understand that completely, and am deeply sorry for your experience.
We must, both individually and as a community, constantly remind ourselves that we are flawed (sometimes deeply flawed!). We can’t always see the consequences of our actions. Often those actions are thoughtless, inconsiderate, or unkind. While this is in no way an excuse, it is, hopefully, a reminder that all of us are “muddling through”.
We must “forgive ourselves and each other, and begin again in love”.
And so this is an invitation to “begin again in love”.
In the Jewish tradition there is Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement. It is a day to acknowledge our faults and shortcomings, and to ask sincere forgiveness from those whom you have hurt.
We UU’s do not have such a day, of course. But perhaps we should.
My colleague Barbara Wells writes: “UUs struggle with this a lot, I think. We cherish the intellect and the ability to learn and grow so much, that sometimes we forget that making mistakes is a part of the process. I know I find it difficult to admit when I’m wrong or when I have hurt someone. So let me take a moment now and say to you, this congregation I love so well, if I have hurt you in this past year, forgive me. When I have botched something badly, or not been there when I might have been, please forgive me. I am sorry and hope to do better…”
I certainly echo Rev Wells’ sentiment.
And she continues, “Can I ask you to do the same? Take a moment and reflect internally on someone you might have hurt this year. Something you did that caused pain or anger or hurt. Can you admit to it? And can you ask for forgiveness with your whole heart, promising to do better?”
We too, as a community, must also do this. We must ask for forgiveness with our whole heart, and promise to do better.
But unless we are reminded of how we have fallen short, have caused pain, or anger or hurt, we cannot know how or to whom we must ask forgiveness.
And so, this month, at the end of our church year as we go into our Summer programming, I invite you to come back to us, to “come to the table”. Come help us to do better, to BE better. Our beloved community needs you.
Wishing you peace and blessings, Rev John