Anonymous asked:

Gretchen, stop trying to make God happen! It's not going to happen!

God's dead. I said "Baby, that's alright with me." Answer:

God is dead. Long live God.

Love is the Spirit of This Faith: A Reflection on the Center of Unitarian Universalist Faith

“Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God’s love by loving our neighbors as ourselves.” –the fourth source of Unitarian Universalism

“God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him. […] There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment […] We love because he first loved us […] This is the commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” –1 John 4:16-21

                Unitarian Universalists love Love. We talk about it constantly. It’s in our congregational covenants, it’s implicit in our principles, and we claim as a source of our faith the call to love our neighbors as God loves them. We started a popular campaign to stand on the side of love, and many of our hymns proclaim both God’s love and our love of life. We are saturated with love. This may seem banal and uninteresting, of course we love love. Of course we think that love is a high value, if not the highest value, what else could there be? But the very banality of love in our movement has hidden in plain sight the simple truth that we are more Christian than we would like to think, and also the theological underpinnings of what love means to us. Unitarian Universalism has suffered from the lack of a clearly defined center of faith since we broke from Christianity and embraced theological pluralism. I believe that love can be the center of our faith without deserting our current pluralism and acceptance, and that in some ways it already is. To adapt my congregation’s covenant for the purposes of this essay and express what I believe is the essential message of our faith: “Love is the spirit of this faith, and service is its law. This is our great covenant: to dwell together in peace, to seek the truth in love, and to help one another.”

                “Love is the spirit of this faith, and service is its law,” sums up the teachings of Jesus when he told the young lawyer that he must love God with his whole being, and love his neighbor as himself. When asked what was the greatest commandment, Jesus responded by saying, essentially, that love is the greatest commandment. There is nothing higher than love. Repeatedly throughout the gospels Jesus is telling his disciple to love one another, to love their enemies, to forgive one another and settle differences, to accept and show compassion to those who are outcast. To just love other people irrespective of race, gender, class, nationality, or sexuality. Just love as you want to be loved. But how do we want to be loved?

                “To dwell together in peace,” is the beginning of how we love one another. We must respect one another enough to live in communion, in community, with one another without fighting. To listen to the one another’s opinions and come to a respectful, peaceful conclusion. And if there is not an obvious solution to a problem we respect our differences and do the best we can to live together in peace. But peace is not just the absence of fighting, it is also a state of wholeness and unity. To dwell together in peace we must always be seeking a state of unity and communion in the love that binds us together.

                “To seek the truth in love,” we must respect one another enough to accept different theological views and to continually search and question our own deepest held beliefs. This is hard work, but by supporting one another in our search for truth and meaning in our lives, we live in love of one another. It is also interesting to note that in classical theological thought both truth and love are described as the essence of the nature of God. Theologically speaking, when we affirm this statement we are saying that we will seek God in God. We are promising to surround ourselves in the divine.

                “And to help one another,” is the promise by which we affirm the importance of the Jewish and Christian commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves. We promise, out of our love for humanity, to help our brothers and sisters in their afflictions and problems to create a world of compassion and justice for all people. Self-sacrificial love is what we are called to with this promise, to do as Jesus taught: to give without expecting anything in return, to offer more for our sisters and brothers than is asked, and to lend without expecting to get it back.

                So what is love exactly? What do we mean when we say that love is the spirit of this faith? In a very basic way, love is respect for another person simply because they are a person which we affirm with our first principle. But even more explicitly, to invert the famous biblical passage, love is God. God is that which is in all but greater than all, and there is no better candidate for this than love. And although it is cliché, St. Paul’s description of love in 1 Corinthians 13 still holds true as a great expression of the nature of love, “love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrong-doing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” You’ll notice that love rejoices with truth, while we modify this to the statement that we seek the truth in love. And just as the bible and our own tradition describes God as both Spirit and Love, we affirm in our covenant that Love is the Spirit of our faith. That God is the God of our faith. Like I said, we are more Christian than we would like to admit.

                But what is faith? What do we mean we say that our faith is in love? As theological liberals we affirm in the words of Paul Tillich that “faith is the state of being ultimately concerned.” In other words, our faith is whatever is the center of our being, that which is more important than anything else in our lives, without which we cannot live. Both as a matter of scientific fact about human well-being, and as an act of faith we proclaim that love is our ultimate concern, our ultimate reality. We cannot live except that we live in love. Because God is love, and those who live in love live in God, and God in them.

                So what is the gospel, the good news, of Unitarian Universalism? It is love, and we live out our faith in a covenant with one another and with God. “Love is the spirit of this faith, and service is its law. This is our great covenant: to dwell together in peace, to seek the truth in love, and to help one another.”

Unitarian Universalism Unitarianism Unitarian Universalist UU love christianity theology tradition

"Then when G-d asks [Cain], ‘Where is your brother Abel?’ he arrogantly responds, ‘I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?’
In essence, the entire Bible is written as an affirmative response to this question."
- Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, Jewish Literacy (via mermaideleh)

(via allthetreesofthefields)

The Liberal Church Finding Its Mission: It's Not About You


The Rev. Peter Boullata, wrestling with how Unitarian Universalism is perceived and what we could become.

Excerpt: “What would it take for a parent, in the car with their thirteen year old, to be able to say, driving past a Unitarian Universalist meetinghouse, something like: That’s the church where they believe you can hear God talking in nature. Or: That’s the church where they teach religious studies and make you think about what to believe. Or perhaps: That’s the church that says there’s no Hell. As well as: That’s the church that houses homeless people in its building in the winter. That’s the church that helps you recover from addiction.”

Inasmuch as Unitarian Universalist communities continue to neglect discernment, theology, discipline, spiritual practice, faith formation, vocation and engagement with our historic testimonies and tradition, we will never be a missional religious movement. As long as we are known as the church of individual seekers we will never have the kind of impact that a missional religion has on transforming the world. It should go without saying that the chronically self-involved have no interest in serving the needs of others.

Unitarian Universalism Unitarianism

That moment when you’ve answered so many questions in class that your professor skips over you for someone else regarding a question about your own religion.
Prof: So who are the Unitarians?
Me: Psh, I got this.
Prof: Yes, other person.