“Wow. You may not be ordained, but you’re doing ministry already.”– Rev. Peter Morales, President, Unitarian Universalist Association(UUA). Watch as Eliana Okeson, UUA Summer Seminary 2015 graduate, delivers her “preach-off” sermon at First Universalist Church of Denver.
ELIANA OKESON: Hello, my name is Eliana Okeson. I attend Jefferson Unitarian Church in Golden, Colorado.
Dark night, path of lights, chalices illuminating. Mind by many souls, one by one they enter, walk the length, become the edge once more.
My turn. Love. Hand on my shoulder, thank you, love. Sweet soul, hug. Thank you. Big smile, love, made me feel welcome. Thank you, beautiful love. Buddy, hand on my shoulder, love. Thank you.
One more check in later, mine, worthy.
As Unitarian Universalists we strive to live the seven principles. Likely the most well known is the first, the inherent worth and dignity of every person. As a whole we've done a pretty great job living it. We have been at the forefront of many equality movements, civil rights, immigration justice, LGTBQ rights and beyond.
Yet, how often have we gone and told somebody what they mean to us, what do we love about them, and that they are worthy of that love and appreciation. A teacher I greatly admire once wrote each of her students a note for Valentine's Day. On a pink construction paper heart the size of a dinner plate she affirmed what a big part each of us were to her classroom, what a joy it was to teach us every day, and what we meant to her. I know of five that are still hanging in her students' homes close to a decade later.
Not only do we fail to tell people what they mean to us, but when we do we make a major mistake. You may hear said, I love that skirt but the polka-dotted shirt was not working for me. I love you shared some of your soul earlier, but it wasn't the right place. I love when you play the clarinet, but that A was so out of tune. I love but. I love but. I love but.
When we say such things all that is remembered is what is after the word but. Society has hardwired us to just pay attention to the things we believe we need to fix. I probably shouldn't wear that shirt again. Might not be a good idea to share because it could be the wrong time or place. I shouldn't play for anybody anymore.
Take away that but. I love. I love. I love this about you. In the words of Brene Brown, you're imperfect and you're wired for struggle but you are worthy of love and belonging. She reminds us that we are worthy of love. You are worthy of love. Your mother, father, sister, brother, son, daughter, friend is worthy of love.
So I challenge you to go tell somebody what they mean to you. Tell them you love them. Tell them they are worthy of your love and worthy of everybody's love. Tell them they're beautiful. Thank you.