"Wow. You may not be ordained, but you're doing ministry already."– Rev. Peter Morales, President, Unitarian Universalist Association(UUA). Watch as Nelson Moroukian, UUA Summer Seminary 2015 graduate, delivers his "preach-off" sermon at First Universalist Church of Denver. READ THE TRANSCRIPT:
NELSON MOROUKIAN: Good morning.
AUDIENCE: Good morning.
NELSON MOROUKIAN: My name is Nelson Moroukian and I come from Saint Paul, Minnesota from the Unity Unitarian Church. We live in a world of constant change and we love in a community of constant change. In our Unitarian Universalist principles, we state that we have a goal of world community, yet there is so little diversity in our faith.
I was sitting in a service at my church, but it was not any old service and it was not with any old minister. In fact, our minister that day was a young, African American, Christian minister by the name of Reverend Danny Givens. He was preaching about paradise on Earth. It's not a very common occurrence for most UUs.
He said, "Paradise is defined as a walled-in garden. One that only let's in the worthy few who God knows will protect it, will enjoy it, and will not let in those who they know will bring it down." He said that, "As UUs, we must reject that idea of an exclusive paradise." And of course, the congregational agreed. We believe in the inherent worth and dignity of every person, so how could we believe in an exclusive paradise.
But then he said something that I will never forget. He said, "Our garden, the paradise of this faith, still has its walls up. And even though we built a door in those walls and we put up a sign saying all are welcome, we left that door closed and we never ventured outside to go bring people into our paradise. We say we believe that everyone is part of an interconnected web of existence and that we strive for a global community. So what are you willing to do to bring people into the paradise of freedom that is this faith?
If we can open up our minds to new ideas and our hearts and souls to new Gods, maybe one day we will venture out of those doors and out of those walls and gather up the people and say, come, I know a place where you can be free. If we can bring about that change by living into new traditions and new ideas, we can create a garden with open doors and open windows and then we can begin to take down those walls so we don't have to go out and tell others to come in, but they will want to come in of their own accord."
This week for the first time I tried a chanting meditation. As I lay on the ground chanting rue yah yah, I could feel my mind, my body and my soul working together to be in that moment. As the last note of the chant left my lungs, I could feel my soul buzzing inside of me, the same feeling I get when I sing in community and the same feeling I got listening to Reverend Danny Givens preach. And the thought came to me again. There is so little diversity in our faith.
When we open our minds, our bodies, our hearts and souls to new ways of fulfillment, we open ourselves to a whole world of energy and love waiting pressed against the borders of our reality to rush in and transform us. We just have to let it in. So today I challenge you all to try something new, something completely radical that you never would have thought of doing before, whether it be praying to God are sending your soul through a journey in another realm of reality. Try picking up a new instrument or letting the spirits move you to sing out and when you find that thing that pulls you down to Earth or lifts you up into the sky, when you feel God buzzing inside your soul, you will realize that this is a world of vast, inconceivable diversity.
We preach inclusivity and we preach global community, but our congregational diversity fails to reflect that. So ask yourself now, what will you do? What will you go out and do to make our faith a more inclusive one? Are you willing to go and stand at the doors of our paradise and tell people come in, we have been waiting for you?
And what will you do once they have entered our walls to make them feel comfortable, make them feel at home, make them feel loved and needed, and make them feel free to be and practice their faith however they need to? And what will you do to help build those windows and expand those doors to the garden of our faith until we no longer have to ask why there is so little diversity? So I challenge you try something new. Try going out of the door finding someone and telling them you know a place where they can be free. Thank you.