Rev. Jeremiah Lal Shahbaz Kalendae - November 26, 2023
From Monthly: "Generosity"
Let’s consider that we live in a generous and grace-filled world. We can notice connections between gratitude and generosity, or how ideas about generosity get in the way of justice. We can ponder that generosity’s enemy is a scarcity mentality. We’ll explore and ask questions in worship, small groups, and personal reflection on this month’s theme of Generosity. The flame we kindle in the chalice of faith / Holds blessings of warmth and light and life-giving energy. / It shines forth a beacon to guide us all home / It lights up our longings to connect and to share / It possesses the power to shape a world / where equity and compassion reign supreme. / May this warmth and light and life-giving energy / celebrate the blessings we have claimed, / and help us extend them in hands and hearts / that offer these blessings to all. ~ Rev. Suzelle Lynch, “Celebrating Blessings” “When there are strings attached to our giving, it can change the way we relate to each other… giving and receiving gifts with strings feeds into the consumerist culture in which relationships, love, looks, and everything else can be bought and sold and bartered for the right price. It’s like coming to church and asking, “what’s in it for me?” rather than “how can I serve?” Unitarian Universalist minister Richard Gilbert describes a time when he was asked about his religion. He explained that he neither feared hell nor sought heaven. He believed in “the importance of being good – for nothing.” Gifts without strings is a way of being good – for no reason… ~ Rev. Dr. Sandra Fees, “Gifts with Strings” Plant more than you harvest, sun and water, earth and seeds. Plant more than you harvest, give the earth all that it needs, give the earth all that it needs… / Clear the meadows and the highways, but plant stout trees between. Let the forests hold the hillsides, cover the earth with green, cover the earth with green… / Some seeds fall by the wayside, but some will make it through, On the water or wind or a loving hand, the cycle starts anew, the cycle starts anew. ~ Jim Scott, JimScottMusic.com As we light this chalice, with its freely shared light and freely shared warmth / Let us be reminded of the many things that are freely shared with us / And that we freely share with others / May we lean into generosity shared from the heart / That can warm those around us. ~ Rev. Michelle Collins, “Freely shared” I tell my students, ‘When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game.” ~ Toni Morrison A simple change of perspective can revolutionize the way we move through life. Instead of focusing just on what we want, we can choose to focus on what we want to give… In our personal lives, to live in the spirit of abundance means growing our gifts rather than compensating for a lack we see or that is seen by others. It means building on our strengths, rather than trying to eliminate our weaknesses. It means asking ourselves, “What do I want to offer?” rather than “What should I get in return?” ~ Rev. Elizabeth Stevens Generosity is an activity that loosens us up. By offering whatever we can – a dollar, a flower, a word of encouragement – we are training in letting go. ~ Pema Chodron From you I receive, to you I give, / Together we share, / And from this we live. ~ Rabbis Joseph and Nathan Segal (#402 in our hymnal, Singing the Living Tradition) There seems to be such a thing as beauty, a grace wholly gratuitous…We must somehow take a wider view, look at the whole landscape, really see it… If the landscape reveals one certainty, it is that the extravagant gesture is the very stuff of creation. After the one extravagant gesture of creation in the first place, the universe has continued to deal exclusively in extravagances, flinging intricacies and colossi down eons of emptiness. ~ Annie Dillard …I’ve been thinking about the patience / Of ordinary things, how clothes / Wait respectfully in closets… / And towels drink the wet / From the skin of the back. / And the lovely repetition of stairs. / And what is more generous than a window? ~ Pat Schneider If we are prepared to interrogate our privilege, we will conclude that philanthropy is not only about giving back, but it may be also giving up something, so that we can have an America where opportunity does exist for all. ~ Darren Walker Lively and important discussions within the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) are currently underway about the proposed revisions to Article II of the UUA’s Bylaws; here’s two perspectives on generosity provided by SoulMatters, with links for further exploration: Article II Proposal – its wording on the Value of Generosity: “Generosity. We cultivate a spirit of gratitude and hope. We covenant to freely and compassionately share our faith, presence, and resources. Our generosity connects us to one another in relationships of interdependence and mutuality.” Article II Commission Reflection – Arguing against the amendment to add “gratitude” to our values, the Rev. Cheryl M. Walker explained the commission felt that “the ultimate goal of our gratitude is generosity.” https://www.uua.org/ga/off-site/2023/business/iii Starting at 2:34:50 and ending at 2:36:25. The final version of Article II, as amended by the June 2023 General Assembly, must receive a simple majority vote to move forward. The Article II Study Commission has six months following that Assembly to incorporate and clean up any amendments passed by the delegates, and send it back to the Board of Trustees to be placed on the June 2024 General Assembly agenda for a final vote. But where did this come from? It’s part of deepening our faith through anti-racism and anti-oppression work; please see the report from a two-year commission appointed by the UUA Board in 2021: https://www.uua.org/files/2023-02/article-II-study-report-2021-23.pdf In November we also honor the Transgender Day of Remembrance with these prayers: Spirit of Life… We know that you know that transness is life and that You accept us and all the ways that we are, not as part of being human but as a multiplicity of expressions of love… Soften the hearts of those who are causing their own suffering by clutching their transphobia so tightly. Show them the way back to their own humanity… ~ Rev. Theresa Ninán Soto May we come to a time when we cease to shame children around gender roles and expression, where we allow for freedom and exploration of identity and expression, and to a world that operates from love ~ Rev. Sunshine Jeremiah Wolfe; full piece at https://www.uua.org/worship/words/prayer/transgender-day-remembrance-prayer