January Minister’s Column


Dear Ones:

There’s a reading by Howard Thurman in our hymnal entitled The Work of Christmas: “When the song of angels is stilled, / When the star in the sky is gone, / When the kings and princes are home, / When the shep-herds 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.”

The holiday celebrations are over. It’s January—a new year. And I tend to agree with Thurman: It’s time for the work of Christmas to begin. I say this with a heart that feels both heavy and light. The heaviness comes most immediately in response to the December 14 shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in New-town, CT. What horror we humans are capable of fomenting! But the lightness comes from witnessing such incredible acts of compassion and love in the wake of that shooting. And seeing this, I know we humans are capable of great things.

But what great things? In response to acts of evil, what shall we do? Our ministry theme for January is discernment. And although we couldn’t have imagined the events of December 14th when we selected that theme, it feels utterly relevant now. This is a moment for discernment. How shall we respond to a world that seems so broken in so many ways? How shall we respond to a culture that seems so violent so much of the time?

On January 6th I will preach about discernment in general terms. How do we make good decisions about which paths to follow? Then on Martin Luther King Jr. Sunday I will look more closely at this question of responding to evil. It’s a continuation of my sermon in response to the Newtown shooting, “What Does the World Require of Us?” It will focus on the work of repairing the world. There are many ways to respond. There are many projects already going on. Three jump to mind immediately—and each has some connection to violence in our culture.

On Tuesday, January 8 at 6:00 P.M., State Health Care Advocate Vicki Veltri will speak at UUS:E about the status of mental health services in our state. This seems all the more pressing given the Newtown shooting.

On Thursday evening, January 10, we are organizing a community conversation on mass incarceration at Faith Congregational Church, 2030 Main St. in Hartford at 7:00.

On Thursday evening, January 31, we are organizing a community conversation on the educational achievement gap at 6:30 at the new arts space, MCC on Main, 903 Main St. in Manchester.

I hope you can attend one or more of these events. They all should prove valuable. They all should help us to discern how best to respond to a world that seems so broken in so many ways.

With love,

Rev. Josh