We tend to consider imagination too lightly, forgetting that the life we make, for ourselves individually and for the world as a whole, is shaped and limited only by the perimeters of our imagination. Things are as we imagine them to be, as we imagine them into existence.
-Thomas Moore, The Re-enchantment of Everyday Life
Happy New Year! A new year arrives and with it new hope and new possibilities. Each passing day feels as though it brings us closer to a brighter future. I don’t imagine many of us will miss 2020 though new life was born, anniversaries were celebrated, traditions were honored, memories were made, and unprecedented challenges were met with innovation, resilience, grace, connection, and the strength of community.
I would like to celebrate the many leaders of our community who stepped forward to shepherd us through this long dark night and kept the vigil through each new challenge and uncertainty. Our Board of Directors, worship leaders, musicians, pastoral caregivers, small group ministry facilitators, staff members, and many committees and groups of the church all demonstrated exemplary leadership and are deserving of our praise and gratitude for what we achieved together as a congregation in the past year. Though we were physically separated for most of the year, many connections grew stronger, and our sense of our church as a beloved community was emboldened by facing a common threat together. We had to put aside conflict and differences to truly care for one another and center what is most important in our lives. Though, we are still in the midst of the pandemic and a volatile social, cultural, and political landscape, we are also turning the page of history and preparing for what might be born of this rupture in our lives.
“Imagination” is our theme for community reflection in the month of January. Each month, we engage with a universal spiritual theme throughout the life of our church to build community as we deepen our spiritual lives. Our themes are derived from the Soul Matters Sharing Circle which is a theme-based ministry utilized by hundreds of Unitarian Universalist congregations. I am heartened to think that as we struggle with these themes each month we are doing so with churches all around the country and creating a discourse that extends far beyond the confines of this beloved community. Imagination can be broadly defined as creating realities beyond those of the senses.
Liberal religion has had a unique relationship with the role of imagination in religion as we’ve often dreamed of the future that may be rather than romanticizing the past or demanding conformity with what has been. Religion is very much an exercise of imagination that invites us to consider realities beyond the concrete world of our senses. As I have shared before, I’ve always approached religion and spiritually as a form of art for this very reason. How has your imagination shaped your sense of religion or your spiritual life? What might it mean for you to approach our common spiritual life as an artist? What will you contribute to the canvas of 2021?
Let us enter this new year with the appropriate degree of caution and also with a creative optimism for the future. As the Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker reminds us in Choose to Bless the World: None of us alone can save the world. Together–that is another possibility waiting.
As always, if you are having a difficult time or would appreciate spiritual companionship, you can access our pastoral care team at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please reach out to your beloved community if you are in need. We care about you and we love you.
Yours in ministry,
Rev. Jeremiah Lal Shahbaz Kalendae