We enter this new year together, so many possibilities await us, experiences we will have as a community, care we will offer each other, work we will do together. We covenant to communicate with kindness, to serve with compassion, to openly share our laughter and tears, to show reverence for the divine in all that is. These are powerful commitments within our covenant, and I would say revolutionary in their power. We have an opportunity to look within and beyond our congregation and choose to learn and worship and play together, to renew our commitments. And we do not know what good work we are poised to do. It is inspiring to imagine!
This is the time of Epiphany in the Christian tradition when newly born Jesus was revealed to the three wise men, or Magi as they were known, whose names were Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, who traveled a far distance to pay homage to this holy baby. Knowing their names lends intimacy to this story. These were actual people in history, wise men, kings or so it is told who traveled for days to arrive at this humble place with precious gifts to offer. They had an epiphany in witnessing a “Star in the East.” It is a mythic story that is hard to believe truly occurred. But we can choose to find a deeper meaning of truth – every child that is born is a holy child. Sudden realizations, transformations of belief, epiphanies can happen to any of us, do occur. What about an epiphany that we have experienced in our own lives – a sudden insight or realization that changed how we felt about ourselves, or what we believed, how we needed to be? Have you experienced an epiphany in your life? How were you changed? I remember standing on a bridge during a 300 mile walk for Peace and Nuclear Disarmament in the late 1980’s and having an “epiphany” – a sudden realization that woke me up in that moment. All of the other walkers passed by me as I stood on that bridge in Massachusetts – the three Buddhist monks who led our walk offering simple beats of the drum as they walked in mindful silence. The mother carrying her young son on her back, the man who walked backwards, the hippies and the Quakers, the longtime activists and the lost ones. They walked by me but I had to stay on the bridge; I had had an epiphany, a sudden realization that the cars going by beneath us had people in them that could be woken up. I raised my hand, offering the sign of peace and then the sign of love over and over again, imagining this energy traveling from my hand down into each of the cars, into the hearts of these people. I imagined that they might wake up, have a realization like I was having that we were all connected by invisible threads of light, that the cause of peace and the disarming of our nuclear weapons needed to happen. I have rarely spoken of this experience, I guess fearing that people might question or misunderstand, might not believe such a connection is possible, think me arrogant for imagining I could change someone’s mind or touch someone’s heart through a simple hand gesture. But I believed it then and still believe it is possible today. And I realize it begins with myself. How open am I, how open is my heart to liberation? How free am I from fear? How bold can I be in promoting our own dear principle of the interconnectedness of all existence? I hope that we might share our “epiphany” experiences, our sudden realizations that have left us changed, so that we might know each other in deeper ways.
So it is that we embark on a new year, through a doorway together looking to nurture and strengthen our dear community. May we seek to open our doors even wider to welcome any and all who might find their way to us. May we look for ways we can help to end injustice and increase our care for each other, and all those being ostracized or threatened or misunderstood. May we listen and care for each other in deep and loving ways. This is the work of a faith community, this is the call from our Unitarian Universalist denomination, and a way that we can further peace and equality within ourselves and beyond. We know that this is nourishing and fulfilling work, our pathway forward as a community. I am deeply honored and blessed to serve this inspiring congregation that is All Souls. Let us embark into this new year of 2024 together with hearts open and courage flowing freely.
With gratitude and blessing,