Siding With Love

The tragedy of the world right now has left us in a state of anxiety. We are stunned and angered by the horrific attacks on innocent people in Israel and Gaza, and ongoing violence in other places, and wonder if the cycles of trauma caused by genocide and war will ever end.

There is a raucous shouting on social media that demands we take sides. Presbyterian minister Rev. Drew Paton offers these words in reply: If ever they ask you,“Which side are you on?” Tell them, plainly, “I side with the people.” A recent silent peace vigil led by American Jews and Palestinians together in White Plains, NY offers an example of this united solidarity for the people who mourn, pray, and long for peace. Our UU faith similarly calls on us to “Side with Love”. To side with love is to affirm that goodness is more powerful than hatred. This month I invite us to take the side of love– to affirm that powerful goodness through the work we do together in community.

One way we side with love and center humanity is through our commitment to slowing down- through singing songs of peace at Vespers, deep listening in small groups, or reflecting on our shared mission through a congregational conversation with the board- is an antidote to the violent demands of fast-paced disconnected living.

By slowing down, we also take time to listen to the calls of our souls, to the ways we might respond to violence by putting our faith into action– for instance by learning about and building intentional relationships with people of other faiths. In October, our Middle School Neighboring Faiths visit to Temple Sinai took place just one week after the Hamas attack in Israel. Our Jewish neighbors welcomed our presence at a time of great pain, fear, and anti-semitic threats; our youth offered moving reflections of this experience in a classroom conversation the following Sunday. In future months the Neighboring Faiths class will visit a mosque, a Catholic church, and a Buddhist temple, as they continue to learn from and build bridges between our different religions. Adults from our congregation are welcome to join these visits.

We also continue to integrate the wisdom of other faiths into our learning. While we can no longer wave the beautiful flags with religious symbols from our sanctuary ceiling, we can take the lessons of Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Chrisitanity, and other worldviews into our hearts and minds. In November we will reflect on our Soul Matters theme of the gift of generosity through story and reflection from Indigenous peoples in worship, as we recognize Native American Heritage Month.  True generosity that transforms our way of being from consumer to gift-giver is an antidote to the greed that impoverishes so many here in our nation and exploits those abroad.

We need affirmations of goodness and gifts that are more powerful than violence and hate in these times. Let us continue to build our world with these gifts as we side with love.

In peace,
Rev. Terri