(Over these past three days we have been sharing the homily given by Karen Smith at the January 10 service of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Gwinnett. Today’s is the final installment of that series.)
Most Unitarian Universalists believe that this existence is the only one we have. We are very much in this world and we are ‘of this world’. As Rev Scott Alexander said, “we are more concerned with getting heaven into people than people into heaven.” Living into our faith requires us to do something about the world in which we find ourselves, to bring justice, equity, and compassion to others. We live into our faith by trying to build a beloved community out in the world as well as in our congregations. Unitarian Universalism is all that we teach, to ourselves and others.
Sometimes living into one’s faith is a bold action of protest in Washington DC. Sometimes it is a silent vigil at Stone Mountain Park or seat on a float in the annual Gay Pride parade. Mostly, living into one’s faith is in the small, commonplace things we do every day to show the world what we think of it, what Simon Schama has referred to as the “nobility of the ordinary life.” We live into our faith when we cast our vote in a public election, when we pick up trash from the side of the road, when we contribute to the welfare of people we have never met in Malawi or Haiti or West Virginia, or we buy the coffee and chocolate they have grown. The goal of living a life of faith is to build the beloved community for ourselves and others, especially the others that will be here when we are not. I hope for it to be as the Buddha has said:
When you see me, you will see the teachings, and when you see the teachings, you will see me.
The last line of the quote asks what it is that is keeping me from living fully for the thing I want to live for. I will have to include these stories for my grandchildren as well. These will be stories of my own timidity, of the times when I hesitated out of fear or failed to act out of ignorance, when I was not as good as I could have been, of the times when I failed my faith.
If I am not around in person to model behaviors for my grandchildren, these letters will share with them my ideas on how to build a beloved community. It will give them a framework in which to view their world, that will still, I am sure, benefit from the messages that Unitarian Universalism has to offer. And Unitarian Universalist congregations will still be the curriculum; full of curiosity, courage and compassion.