On December 28th, 2014, we gathered to honor Kwanzaa and the principle of Imani or “faith.” Acknowledging that ours is a religious tradition that lives with both faith and doubt, everybody we know has faith in something because a truly faith-less person would never get out of bed!
Starting off with Charlie Brown Christmas music from Tom Roberts and then sharing song together and food for the Pantry, Rev. Dave set the Kwanzaa table and shared a faith-full story from our Universalist past, Rev. John Murray preaching in Thomas Potter’s chapel in Good Hope, New Jersey. We heard readings on faith from Rev. Howard Thurman and Rev. Benjamin Mays, two divine lights who were African American leaders in the 20th century. Rev. Mays wrote of how “Tomorrow may not be better, but we must believe that it will be.” Through working and playing and praying and moving together toward a better world, we (in the words of the song) “earn the name ‘humanity'” whether or not we reach that better world in our own life time.
In his reflection on both the grace and challenge of living by faith, and to the system we’re currently living with, Rev. Dave offered these words:
“I understand being tired… In life. In fulfilling our mission of celebrating life, nourishing the spirit, and committing to justice… Even when we have faith, we may be tired. But with this Buddhist three-fold understanding of faith, we will never be joyless when we we live and work and play convicted by faith rightly understood: a conviction that something is, a determination to accomplish goals, a sense of joy deriving from these two.
Faith in a greater reality that we’re living into: Faith in a better world; Faith in tomorrow; Faith that we can be equal to our tomorrows and that we will be part of the solutions that we’ll be called upon to develop. Truly understood, this offers “a sense of joy” rather than exhaustion and hope rather than despair.
Given our mission, despair is not really an option. Our mission goes beyond feeling good or even being happy. Our mission is about participating, in whatever way possible, in something that lives beyond our little lives, beyond our time here, beyond what we can see or know or even imagine.
My doubts are provisional. My faith is ultimate: Faith that life is more good than it is painful. Faith that love is greater than fear or indifference. Faith that what I do (or fail to do) makes a difference; if not forever, at least for this life, for a short or long time, for this moment–this eternal moment.”
May we be led to a life of faith (and doubt) that will bring us and this world a little closer to the better world we are imagining and living into being. Amen.
– Rev Dave