Minister’s Column January 2021

Dear Ones,

Our January ministry theme is imagination. From late December to late January, we will have the opportunity to imagine what it means to be one among many Unitarian Universalist congregations in Connecticut. As we did this past August, we’ll be visiting the services of other congregations (Hartford on 12/27, Hamden on 1/3, New London on 1/10, and West Hartford on 1/31.), and they will all be visiting us on 1/24. Not only will this sharing of services provide a wonderful opportunity for us to hear other ministers preach and to experience how other congregations conduct online worship; it will also provide the staff in each of the congregations a much-needed, post-holiday break.

All services will be at 10:00 AM. Login information will be provided in our regular eblasts. On some Sundays we will be logging into our regular UUS:E Virtual Sunday Service Zoom room and watching from there. On other Sundays we will join the host congregation in their Zoom room. We will attempt to be as clear as possible with instructions.

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Speaking of imagination… As we enter into 2021, I’m wondering how you imagine life will be different as the worst impacts of the coronavirus pandemic begin to subside. Of course, we can’t say with complete certainty that things will improve. However, with the arrival of multiple vaccines, and a new administration in Washington, DC that will be much more unified with public health experts in its approach to fighting the virus, it is reasonable to assume that the worst impacts of the virus will be behind us by late spring or early summer. (Geez, that still feels so far away!)

So I’m curious: how will life be different for you? We’ve said many times that “we can’t go back to the old normal.” For me, that statement refers primarily to social, economic and racial conditions in the larger society. The new normal must address fundamental, systemic injustice. Too many lives are at stake. But for the purposes of this column, I’m wondering what you imagine will be different for you specifically? For example, are there new life patterns or rituals you’ve developed during the pandemic that you plan to continue as it subsides? Are there insights you’ve had over the last nine

months—about yourself, your family, your work, your down-time, your spiritual life—that suggest new ways of living once the pandemic winds down? The pressure to return to life as it was will surely be intense. How do we resist that pressure and live our best new normal?

When I say I’m curious, I really mean it. I am inviting each of you to share with me your imagining of how life will be different for you because of something you’ve realized during the pandemic. Send me an email at minister@uuse.org. Or leave a message on my home office phone, 860-652-8961. I look forward to hearing from you.

And lest I forget to say it, HAPPY NEW YEAR! Given how awful 2020 was, I think it’s safe to imagine that 2021 will be better on all fronts! Or here’s another way to look at it: If the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine data are accurate, then 2021 will be at least 94.5% better than 2020! I like those odds.

Amen and blessed be.

With love,

—Rev. JoshRev. Joshua Pawelek