Jan 05 2015
Called to Create
by Rev. Nancy Palmer Jones
“This Theme Is a Call to Action …”
So writes one congregant about “creation.” “It is our responsibility as Unitarian Universalists,” this person goes on, “to light the candle of love, to seek truth, and to serve in whatever way we can. We may be a part of someone else’s creation or the generator of our own creation…. Either way is important.”*
Creation as a “call to action” for “our responsibility to light the candle of love, to seek truth, to serve in whatever way we can” … Now there’s an “elevator speech” summing up Unitarian Universalism!
It’s true: the Unitarian Universalist tradition calls us humans to co-create, in the here-and-now, the world we dream about. Ttheologically diverse, as a community we don’t rely on some external force to set things right. Change for the good requires our own sweat equity, a determined will, and lots of healthy partnerships.
In the same way, we may hold a range of beliefs about what happens after we die, but as a whole, we Unitarian Universalists face the afterlife question with humble honesty: we humans can’t know for sure. We can’t count on a happy ending by-and-by—so we better get to work right here and now.
In short, we are called to be co-creators of a world with “justice, equity, and compassion in human relations” and “peace, liberty, and justice for all,” as our Principles say. This creation is up to us—and we are not alone. That’s the “co-creator” part.
A Long, Tall Order
Still, “called to be co-creators”—that’s a tall order!
It has been the Unitarian and Universalist call to action for a long, long time. One hundred years ago this year, our Universalist ancestor, the Rev. Clarence R. Skinner, published The Social Implications of Universalism. You can read the whole text of this pithy little book at http://www.pacificuu.org/publ/univ/writings/skinner_social_implications.html.
Although Skinner’s language sounds fusty, non-inclusive, and religiously conservative to us now, his book was revolutionary in its day. Rooted in a radical Universalist Christianity and drawing on early-20th-century psychology and sociology, Skinner heralded “the new heaven and the new earth,” where the “whole of humanity can be gathered as a unit, each individual with his [sic] custom, creed and personality guaranteed freedom and democratic respect, but each individual enlarged and expanded so as to meet all other individuals on the common ground of mutual needs and universal interests.” Skinner calls this vision “heaven on earth.” And it’s up to us—us humans—to bring it to fruition.
Wow. A tall order, indeed.
Like Building a Muscle
But what if the capacity to co-create the world we dream about is like a muscle we can build with every act of creation we try?
Nothing makes me happier than the process of creating something. That “something” could be as big as giving birth to an idea or an event in partnership with you, or as simple as stringing beads on a thread to form a necklace. It can be as small as taking a snapshot of some tiny slice of “Creation,” or as huge as joining with allies to bend the arc of the universe a little further toward justice. With every creative gesture, we grow stronger—like building a muscle.
This month, we’ll look at many kinds of creation—from evolution to the Beloved Community, from creation myths to the creative arts. We will encourage each other to stretch our creative muscles, and to figure out what contributions we are called to make to the creation of “heaven on earth,” right here and now.
I stand ready to bring my sweat equity, my will, and my beloved partnerships with you to these acts of creation. I’m looking forward to what we will create!
With love and gratitude,
* Take a look at “In Our Own Voices” in this issue for the wide range of congregants’ responses!
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