I’m writing to you from while attending a UU choir workshop hosted by our sibling congregation, Westwood Unitarian in Edmonton. Even this first night, with a shared meal, an opening discussion of how our music reflects ours six sources, and vespers worship full of singing together, has been magical. By the time you are reading this, the workshop will have concluded and I will have returned home to Winnipeg days ago, but right now, I am in that liminal space of excitement and anticipation for the work to come.
The reason I’m telling you all this for a column you won’t be reading until days from now is that our initial conversation as a working group of devoted UUs was centered around our six sources, which don’t often get as much attention as our seven principles. While our principles are calls to action, are statement of intent and action as opposed to creeds or dogmas, our six sources represent us and who we are. I invite you, whether newcomer to our community or veteran, to read over them again: http://cuc.ca/principles-and-sources/ .
One of things about our sources that we were reminded of tonight is that each source includes the word “which”, making each source a conditional statement. So, for example: “Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God’s love by loving our neighbours as ourselves”. What this statement means, when it includes the “which”, is that instead of claiming that we draw on all teaching from Judaism and Christianity, we have the freedom to choose those which teach us about loving others. The same goes for each source — the condition listed after “which” is what guides us in our discernment, both as individuals and as communities and congregations.
And the catch to this freedom, to this permission to choose, is in the closing statement to the sources: “Grateful for the religious pluralism which enriches and ennobles our faith, we are inspired to deepen our understanding and expand our vision.” This list of our sources is a promise to ourselves and to those who have yet to come that we embrace all of these sources — not just the ones that resonate with us personally. This closing statement means that we, as Unitarian Universalists, must be willing to support what gives meaning and joy to the person sitting next to us, even if it does not for us, and that true pluralism means trusting that it will soon be our turn for meaning and joy. True community comes when we care about the freedom of everyone else in our sanctuary as much as we care about our own.
In gratitude and faith,