Opening Our Communities In This Sacred Season
Opening Our Communities In This Sacred Season

Dear Leaders,
 
This is a significant week in so many ways. The Surgeon General predicts this week and next may be some of the most difficult and deadly in the pandemic. For me, the virus has hit close to home with both a dear friend as well as a family member experiencing symptoms. This will be true for more and more people over the course of the next couple of weeks.

This week is also a sacred time in both Judaism and Christianity. The celebration of Passover and Holy Week are traditionally marked by family gatherings, sacred meals of memory, feasts of celebration, and a time when people gather in places of worship filling them with music, prayer, and celebrations of life and hope. For many in the northern hemisphere, celebrations of spring abound and in two weeks, the holy month of Ramadan begins. With all of the various ways our theologically diverse congregations gather, this is a special season, typically full of music, meaning, and ritual.

How do we celebrate this year? How do we mark this time?

People are tuning into our online worship services who are sick, who have loved ones who are dying, who have lost their jobs, who are not sure how they will feed and house their kids. 

People are tuning in whose lives are being treated as disposable. This is happening in jails and detention centers, in triage protocols that put people with disabilities at the end of the list for care, in Indigenous communities being stripped of their land, and in Black communities where generations of systemic inequity cause more people to die. There is so much grief and fear that needs ministry.

Some say, “Unitarian Universalists are quick to celebrate Easter without acknowledging Good Friday.” This year is an opportunity to rest in the deeper meaning of this sacred time. The stories of Passover and Holy week are stories of people’s courage and faith in the midst of fear and grief. The Hebrews survive plague and liberate themselves from slavery. Christians experience the murder of Jesus at the hands of the state but refuse to let that silence his voice, his teachings, and their faith.

These are stories of resilience. They remind us that each of us is here because of the strength and resilience of our ancestors. Their strength is our strength too. Their stories help us understand how to keep our loved ones and communities whole, and to keep our faith, our values, and what is most important as a centerpiece of how we live and how we show up for one another in this moment.

These are the stories we need today—stories that reflect a Unitarian Universalism that is both deeply pastoral and urgently prophetic. There is a real opportunity to open our communities to all who need a life-saving message, who need connection, who need material and pastoral support and the experience of beloved community in their lives.

The commitment to mutual care never ended at the walls of our congregations. And we know our congregations are not our buildings, but our people.

How do we celebrate this year? How do we mark this time?

In this season of holidays and holy days, may we mark this time by sharing the stories, practices and rituals that affirm life, that nurture resiliency, and always, even in the midst of fear and injustice and loss, call forth an affirmation of love and justice, wholeness and peace. 

I send you my love and my deepest gratitude for you, your families and loved ones, and the communities that you lead. May moments of joy and peace accompany you and find their way into your days. 

 

Yours in love,

Susan   

 

Resources to Care for Your Congregation

Resources and Actions to Ensure Care For All 

  • Take action with #UUtheVote: Write your Representatives and Senators to safeguard free and fair elections in the stimulus bill, including expanded vote by mail.
  • Join the #NoBodyIsDisposable campaign, organizing to ensure people with disabilities, fat people, the elderly, people with HIV/AIDS and other illnesses are not targeted by discriminatory triage policies during the COVID-19 pandemic.

About the Author

  • The Rev. Dr. Susan Frederick-Gray is the ninth president of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). She was elected in June 2017 to a six-year term... ...

For more information contact pr@uua.org.

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