A diverse, welcoming community of open hearts and minds since 1948
A message from Interim Senior Minister David Keyes
More than anything, I wish all in this church community a merry Christmas, and a blessed New Year.
And may it be more blessed, and more meaningful even though—or because—this year the season is overshadowed by the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. As I listen to carols and sacred music, address cards, plan services for Christmas Eve, I pause often and tear up.
In some moments, I hope never again to hear another word about what happened, never another word about what should be done to prevent it from happening again.
In other moments, I welcome news and views, and am encouraged by the national self-examination that seems to be going on. As is the case so often with loss and catastrophe, we look for ways to find meaning in grief, to find inspiration in the worst of times.
Today, I learn that the NRA has spewed forth its response: More guns; a more heavily armed America. This is sickening. Yet I pause a moment to thank the NRA for heightening my resolve not to let this be for me a passing moment of sanity soon forgotten. I will keep writing letters, joining gun control groups, and speaking out in the pulpit you have so generously loaned to me. (Because we must be in this struggle for the long haul, my first sermon on the topic is not anticipated until January 27.)
Among the learnings and awakenings, there are two I would share with you. The first is from the avuncular dean of liberal theologians, Martin Marty, who offered this reflection, noting that in Newtown and across the country, citizens crowded into churches and synagogues and took counsel from ministers and rabbis:
“They had no embarrassment convoking God or the gods in quiet attempts to console the heart-sick. …In tens and tens of thousands of communities, no one had to apologize for employing the language of faith. But a question: if the sanctuaries are needed and the pews are full at times of crisis and horror, who will keep sustaining them, thus making them available while more of the spiritual-but-not-religious believers abandon them?”
And so it was here, where the sanctuary was filled on the Sunday after the killings, and the children of the church ministered to us in song and presence. I hope you will not think it too self-serving if I invite you to help answer Martin Marty’s question with a year-end donation to UUCA. If you are looking for something you can do, here it is.
And I offer as well, as some have requested, this passage from Stephen Jay Gould, which I read at those services:
"Good and kind people outnumber all others by thousands to one. The tragedy of human history lies in the enormous potential for destruction in rare acts of evil, not in the high frequency of evil people. ... We have a duty, almost a holy responsibility, to record and honor the victorious weight of these innumerable little kindnesses, when an unprecedented act of evil so threatens to distort our perception of ordinary human behavior."
Go forth then, you good and kind people of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington, into a season where, as William Blake suggested, joy and sorrow are woven fine—a tapestry of love, sorrow, and action that is our life.