I love the words of Howard Thurman that we often use as the close of our Christmas Eve services:
When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among the [siblings],
To make music in the heart.
Here we are in January, faced with this work of healing a broken world, and maybe healing something broken in our own hearts or the hearts of people dear to us. Our theme for the month is Identity, and in a sense, this is the work of faith development – helping us know who we are, individually and as members of a community. Helping us to be able to articulate what gives our life meaning and purpose. Holding us accountable to our highest ideals and values. Teaching ourselves and our children the practices and rituals of our faith, even as our liberal religious tradition invites us to question and evolve those practices and rituals as our understanding of what is needed to build Beloved Community evolves.
As we engage with this topic, I invite you to consider, individually as well as in your families and various groups at church, what does your identity as a Unitarian Universalist mean to you? If you are hesitant to claim the label still, I invite you to explore that reluctance. How does your identity as a UU mesh with other identities you hold?
I believe these conversations are important, because as we feel a sense of belonging to a community, we deepen our commitment to acting in service to that community.
One chalice lighting we teach our younger children goes: This is the church of the open minds. This is the church of the helping hands. This is the church of the loving hearts. May we take up our part of the work of Christmas in this new year, and find satisfaction in doing that work together with open minds, helping hands, and loving hearts.