Ministers Column September 2011

Dear Ones:

My summer vacation and study leave time are winding down. I am feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. I am very much looking forward to a full return to ministry at UUS:E.

This September feels both fraught and full of promise to me. Certainly the 10th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon loom large in our cultural vision. We live with the legacy of those attacks. They haunt us. They also inspire us. They remind us of the fragility of life and the hatred and violence that can grow in human hearts. They also remind us of the greatness to which human beings can aspire in spite of life’s fragility, as well as the love and decency human beings can bring to bear in response to hatred and violence.

September feels fraught because our nation seems sick. Our politicians and our people seem as divided and fragmented as ever. I won’t rehearse all the social and economic ills we face, but they feel very prevalent to me. Roger Cohen’s August 14th New York Times Op Ed, “The Age of Outrage,” seemed to capture this feeling well. August didn’t go the way it normally does, he suggested. There was no time of leisure and relaxation. Instead, “the world speeded up. Stress levels soared. Idle moments evaporated. Egos expanded. Devices became hand-held. Money outpaced politics. Rage surged.” He was talking about the economic crisis in Europe and the London riots, but he might as well have been describing the United States.

Yet, September also feels full of promise to me. If it is true we are in the midst of a national and global sickness, it is also true we have opportunities to engage in acts of healing. If it is true that our politicians and our people are as divided and fragmented as ever, it is also true we have opportunities to respond with love, compassion and decency. Let us not deny the real challenges we face as a nation, but let us also not wallow in anxiety, stress and despair. Let us, instead, aspire to greatness. Let us, instead, discern how we can be loving and decent human beings for the sake of a more just and peaceful world.

On this September 11th we will use our annual water communion ritual as a way of remembering the attacks ten years ago, as well as looking forward to a more just and peaceful future. On the afternoon of the 11th I will be participating in an interfaith service at Faith Congregational Church on North Main St. in Hartford to commemorate the 9/11 attacks, to reflect on how our nation has changed over the past ten years, and to ask how we can all help achieve that vision of a more just and peaceful world. I will share more information as it becomes available. I hope you’ll join us at Faith Church for this very important event.

With love,

Rev. Josh