Ministers Column January 2020

Dear Ones:

Happy New Year! I hope you’ve had a wonderful holiday season and are ready to begin 2020—UUS:E’s 51st year! Sorry, no big anniversary celebrations this year! But now that we’ve spent a year dedicating a good portion of our collective energy to reviewing the past five decades of our existence, it’s time to look forward. UUS:E leaders are beginning to envision a new strategic planning process. This process will be informed by the results of last year’s congregational survey. I am excited for us to now take a very intentional look at the future of our congregation!

Speaking of the new year, I’ve always loved a reading from the 20th-century Christian mystic Howard Thurman called “The Work of Christmas.” It’s #615 in our hymnal. He writes:

When the song of 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.

This reading says to me: “You’ve celebrated your values. Now that the festivities are over, put your values into action!”

Our ministry theme for January is integrity. Putting one’s values into action, living one’s values—which is what Thurman’s post-Christmas reading is about—is a definition of integrity. Our theme-based ministry resource, Souls Matters, reminds us that “Integrity stems from the Latin word ‘integer’ which means whole and complete. So integrity requires an inner sense of ‘wholeness’ and consistency of character. When you are in integrity, people should be able to visibly see it through your actions, words, decisions, methods, and outcomes. When you are ‘whole’ and consistent, there is only one you. You bring that same you wherever you are, regardless of the circumstance. You don’t leave parts of yourself behind.”

It has always been my hope that being part of the UUS:E community helps each of us to live with integrity—to be whole and consistent, to be fully ourselves. That is also my hope for us as a congregation. Within the context of our UU principles and our congregational covenant, what are our core values and how do we live them out? How do we put them into action? What is the shape of our integrity? How do people in the wider community recognize it? I suspect these will be ongoing, underlying questions for us as we begin taking that intentional look toward our UUS:E future. In the meantime, if you have thoughts about integrity, I’d love to hear them. Please feel free to reach out to me.

Once again, happy new year! Here’s to a great 2020 at UUS:E!

With love,

—Rev. Josh