Once a reporter asked him, “Do you really think you are going to change the policies of this country by standing out here alone at night in front of the White House with a candle?” A.J. Muste replied softly: “Oh I don’t do this to change the country. I do this so the country won’t change me.”
So much change is in the air right now. Election Day is just around the corner on Tuesday, November 8th, and it will help to determine the direction of this country for the next two years. Don’t forget to vote and to support our UU the Vote organizing and other activities that support a vital and flourishing democracy. Our friends at the UUA are considering revisions to our Principles, Purposes, and Sources to be brought for first consideration before our General Assembly in Pittsburgh next year. Closer to home, we’ve launched a new Leadership Development program that will equip established and emerging congregational leaders with the latest knowledge and tools to be effective spiritually-grounded agents of change.
Our Bylaws Refresh Task Force is carefully considering feedback from the congregation before presenting the final draft to our Board of Directors before congregational consideration. We’ve polled the congregation about evolving our name to “Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Santa Monica” while also retaining our historical designation of “Community Church,” to foster inclusion and encourage “both/and” thinking and we found broad support. With 71 members responding, we found 85% supported the change and 15% opposed the change, so we will include it in the proposed bylaws. Our Unitarian Universalist movement and our congregation are broadly committed to becoming a diverse, multicultural, and multireligious liberal religion through our anti-racism and counter oppressive efforts and this has brought a multitude of changes to our worship life, committees and groups, social justice activities, and ways of being together in community.
Our theme for congregational consideration this month is: “The Path of Change.” The meaning of the word “change” evolved over time from “to substitute one for another” to “become different, be altered.” I remember my dear Minister of Religious Education at my home congregation once preached a sermon about a Buddhist parable in which an axe had its various parts changed over time and the story invited us to question if it was still the same axe. It seems the evolution of the word’s definition reveals much about the stress and anxiety change may evoke in our lives. Will change simply mean becoming different or will it be a substitution of one thing for something other entirely? Will we still be ourselves once we’ve changed and what if we’ve changed, like the axe, in so many ways? Is there something that endures all change? I find much truth in this observation of Anais Nin: “We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.” May we approach change with such nuance and appreciation!
Our friends at Souls Matters invite us to reflect together as a congregation and in small groups with these stirring questions: If you could change one thing about your past, what would it be? How good was your family at changing their minds and admitting they were wrong? And how has that shaped you? If you could reclaim a trait or strength from your childhood self, what would it be? What many of us fear most is becoming reconciled to injustice, resigned to fear and despair, lulled into a life of apathy. Have you put in enough strategies to avoid this fate? If you could easily let go of one grudge, wound or regret, what would it be? Sure, “they” need to change. But how might changing something about yourself enable that? Would your 5th grade self still recognize you as “you”? What do you wish you would have changed your mind about earlier? Is that broken thing you keep trying to put back together keeping your life from the beautiful thing waiting to be built?
We want to hear from you! If you have a joy, milestone, or sorrow to share with the community, please contact our Pastoral Care Team so we can include it in our weekly announcements and in our Joys and Sorrows on a Sunday morning. You may also contact the leadership of our Pastoral Care Team to request confidential support by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yours in ministry and love,
Rev. Jeremiah Lal Shahbaz Kalendae