Greetings and Blessings to you all. It is an honor to have been selected to serve as your minister and to be able to make my contribution to the glorious, dedicated, and unique history of this Fellowship. It is so good to be with you all again. I recall the joy, the challenges, and the unforgettable memories of my Internship at SUUF. Now, I know it is true. You can go home again! My first expectation for our shared journey at this time is that our sacred space be a safe space and a brave space. A safe space where we acknowledge the unprecedented health and environmental challenges during this time of pandemic and tumult. A brave space where we openly embrace the social justice challenges in our world and in our community. My commitment to you is that I will, always, honor the storied past and speak truthfully to your longings for the present and the future of our Fellowship.
I realize that I am not the center of this congregation just as none of us is the center of our universe. We are all integral parts of one whole. This, as we say, “is where I’m coming from.” Expectation may be defined as: “a strong belief that something will happen or will be the case in the future.” I wonder out loud: “What are your expectations of your new minister? What are your longings for this new ministry? Do you trust that I will honor them, whatever they may be?” I too show up with expectations and concerns: “What will they think of me? Will or can they be honest with me? Are they willing to be open to what I bring if it’s not what they expect?” My request is that you feel free to share with me your vision, your concerns, your longings for our ministry always Hope and hard work, coupled with the principle of compassion, will guide me as I remind us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow humans and all sentient beings.
The forces of violence gather at our every turn. Violence gives a false meaning to the nature of power to all who participate. I know that a disciplined love is our only hope for a future for our children and grandchildren. Vaclav Havel asks us: “Can the words of the wise be enough to achieve what must be done? Or will it take an unprecedented disaster to provoke this kind of existential revolution – a universal recovery of the human spirit and renewed responsibility for the world?”
It is my expectation and hope that a small group of spiritual folks, in a beautiful part of Arizona, known as Sedona, will come together to model and dedicate themselves, as Havel said, to the recovery of the human spirit and a renewed responsibility for our world. That these folk be able to look each other in the eye and know, as James Baldwin reminds us: “love takes off the masks that we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.” This is our heritage, and this is the work that remains in our journey toward love and justice for all.