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“Whence suns and stars derive their orbits”

When the Western Unitarian Conference adopted their statement of purpose in 1886 they affirmed this:

“We worship One-in-All – that life whence suns and stars derive their orbits and the should of [hu]man its Ought, — that Light which lighteth every [person] that cometh into the world, giving us power to become the [children] of God, — that Love with which our souls commune.”

Think about how radical this must have sounded in 1886.  For the Western Unitarians they were making their break from a Christ-centered movement into something they felt reflected the new frontiers of American exploration (without remembering that Native Americans had already explored this “frontier”).  For them this was as much spiritual as geographic.  They wanted their religious life to be as expansive as the galaxy of sun and stars.

I believe we are in a similarly expansive age — when many are searching for a spiritual expression that moves us beyond mere human constructions and yet can find its life in all-too-human forms as children of God.  People are more and more interested in “spiritual but not religious” values, and less and less inclined to go to traditional church services (this is true of all denominations).

I am an institutionalist.  I believe in our human structures of meaning making, i.e. congregations.  And yet I realize that the pendulum of history is swinging once more toward an expression of religious life that does not wish to be confined by Sunday morning.

Much of this movement has to do with cynicism about traditional religion.  But underlying it is also a recognition that we are at a new frontier of exploration – the galaxy of communities that can be created above and beyond geography through new forms of media, through connections forged by bits and bytes rather than in the pews.

There is a part of me that desperately wants to ground this new wave.  How can we help engender a sense of responsibility, accountability and groundedness in this flight to the stars?

And then I read again the above invocation: “that Light which lighteth every person that cometh into the world, giving us power to become the children of God.” Maybe it is time to let loose the reins and feel again the power of this great yearning to be connected to a greater source of being that gives us life and love.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Frank Clarkson #

    I am so with you, Terasa, both in my longing to connect to that greater Source and to help others do so as well. I had the privilege of preaching at the Baptist church across the street from the UU congregation I serve last Sunday. I told them my understanding of Christ was probably more mystical and untraditional than theirs, but that I have known the loving and liberating presence of God and Christ. I tell my people that I couldn’t be their minister if I thought it was all up to me; if I didn’t have faith in God. I sense that people are coming to church for an experience of the Holy, whatever one calls it, much more than just conversation about the Holy. Especially in this season.

    December 16, 2011
  2. Tammy Forner #

    “I believe we are in a similarly expansive age . . . ” Beautifully stated, Terasa! And so familiar to me from the pew-side of the experience of religious/spiritual life at this particular point in living. Thank you giving honor to the tension between our grounding traditions and the evolution of spiritual expression!

    December 16, 2011

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