Tuesday, January 19, 2010

In January, We Resolve To Grow

In January, we are given the gift of new beginnings with a new year. Many of us choose to start anew and improve our lives. We resolve to eliminate unhealthy habits, to loose our sluggish ways, to reduce the clutter of our busy lives, to shed our materialistic ways. We resolve to spend our time more wisely, to contribute more of our talents, time, and love to the world around us, to work for justice, deepen our wisdom and bring new meaning into our lives.

In January we resolve to grow: spiritually, mentally, and communally. As much of nature is in hibernation, we will begin to sprout new growth beneath the brown leaves of the winter forest. We promise, to ourselves and each other, to unfurl new strengths, responsibilities and enlightenment. As we resolve to grow — to expand our boundaries and stretch our tentacles up and outwards, reaching for the bright blue skies — we also resolve to burst into blossom.

Resolve to Be Radiant

Vow to be valiant;
Resolve to be radiant;
Determine to be dynamic;
Strive to be sincere;
Aspire to be attuned.
 —William Arthur Ward

Resolve to be thyself: and know, that he
Who finds himself, loses his misery.
Matthew Arnold

Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.
Helen Keller

Courage is a moral quality; it is not a chance gift of nature, like an aptitude for games. It is a cold choice between two alternatives; the fixed resolve not to quit, an act of renunciation that must be made not once but many times by the power of the will.
Richard John McMoran Wilson

Resolve is Faith

Religion is our human response to the dual reality of being alive and having to die. Knowing we are going to die not only places an acknowledged limit upon our lives, it also gives a special intensity and poignancy to the time we are given to live and love. The fact that death is inevitable gives meaning to our love, for the more we love the more we risk losing. Love’s power comes in part from the courage required to give ourselves to that which is not ours to keep: our spouses, children, parents, dear and cherished friends, even life itself. It also comes from the faith required to sustain that courage, the faith that life, howsoever limited and mysterious, contains within its margins, often at their very edges, a meaning that is deceptive.
F. Forrester Church

A mature faith is honest; of one piece. It is lived. It is not just a set of boundaries and pietisms. It is a serious effort to conduct life according to principles and ideals. It is emotional; heart-swelling. It is even naïve. In spite of uncertainty, it does not rule out leaps of faith. Finally, it is free, not bound by tradition, inheritance, geography or the passing parade.
Jack Mendelsohn, UU minister

I Have A Dream

During this month of resolve, we remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his life’s work towards justice. Below is an excerpt from his speech, I Have a Dream, delivered August 28, 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. As we resolve to better this world, King’s words resonate with courage, faith and promise towards a better future. When it appears that this world is hopeless, that all things are stacked against love and justice, Dr. King reminded us to have faith and to continue to work towards the integrity of humanity.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends. Even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

…With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day — this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride, From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania. Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that:

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia. Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee. Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!
Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Blessed Are Those

Blessed are those who yearn for deepening more than escape; who are not afraid to grow in spirit.

Blessed are those who take seriously the bonds of community; who regularly join in celebration and learning; who come as much to minister as to be ministered unto.

Blessed are those who bring their children; who invite their friends to come along, to join in fellowship, service, learning, and growth.

Blessed are those who support the church and its work by their regular, sustained, and generous giving; and who give of themselves no less than their money.

Blessed are those who know that the church is often imperfect, yet rather than harbor feelings of anger or disappointment, bring their concerns and needs to the attention of the church leaders.

Blessed are those who when asked to serve, do it gladly; who realize that change is brought about through human meeting, who do the work of committees, and stay till the end.

Blessed are those who speak their minds in meeting, who can take and give criticism; who keep alive their sense of humor.

Blessed are those who know that the work of the church is the transformation of society; who have a vision of Beloved Community transcending the present, and who do not shrink for controversy, sacrifice, or change.

Blessed are they indeed.

John Buehrens, Reading #728