“Com-passion:” A Theological Foundation for Intergenerational Worship

Why do we do justice work?  Theologically speaking, we are guided by ancient tradition and covenants that teach us to “do unto others as we would have them do unto us.”  A more contemporary articulation for Unitarian Universalists would be that to honor the inherent worth and dignity of every person means advocating for all human expression whatever the situation.  Such advocacy is how we honor that worth.  But when we’re crossing cultural boundaries in doing our advocacy work, we need to be mindful that our efforts do not patronize nor our expressions become misappropriation.

In my own anti-racism and anti-oppression work over the last decades, and especially in the early days of that awakening in me, I came to appreciate a way to understand “compassion” more fully.  I am thinking here about the Latin roots of the word compassion:  the prefix com meaning with, and passion meaning to feel.  “Com-passion” equals “feeling with.”   I’m not writing about some action where one in privilege reaches down to alleviate the pain of someone less fortunate.  That is a vapid, empty devaluation of the word itself.  But I am talking about discovering ways to identify with those whose positions we advocate, so that their concerns and their struggles become ours in the most intimate, intuitive ways. (more…)

The Deep Well of Appreciation

To rise, to rise each morning

with the faint glow of starlight on our backs

as we head into the joys, the surprises, the challenges of each day

sometimes with awe and wonder, perhaps expectation,

perhaps dread…

 

To rise, to rise each day peering over waterlines,

sandbags, walls, garbage, bunkers…

in wind swept deserts and streets

lined with sweet smelling olive trees alike

What a gift we are given when we can rise

in freedom, of some sort, to some degree. (more…)

One Hundred Percent

Editor’s Note: This post comes from Pastor Prayers, the blog of the Rev. Parisa Parsa, who describes herself as a mother and a minister serving a wonderful congregation in Milton, MA. Parisa writes:

This is the text I wrote as the basis for my homily at the UU Vespers service at Occupy Boston on October 16, 2011.  I spoke without notes, so the homily delivered was ‘adapted.’

Isn’t it great to be here?

It is a thing of beauty to see people coming together across political persuasions and ages and ethnicity and just about everything else in order to say: we are all in the same boat.

In order to say: we are all in the same boat and we are not about to let it sink!  It is ours to repair and restore together. (more…)

“We should do a service on this!”

It is not uncommon when Unitarian Universalist congregations want to take on something important – to address a big issue or begin some new action – to turn to the worship service.  “We should do a service on this!”  someone will say.  Sunday is, after all, the time when the greatest number of people is gathered together in one place.  If you want to get a message out, or want people to feel the importance of something, the sanctuary on Sunday seems to be the place to do it.

Yet in recent years people from congregations of all kinds have offered the critique that worship that focuses on social justice is “too political;” that it’s not “spiritual enough.”  By this, people mostly seem to mean that a lot of so-called “social justice” Sundays feel more like a fascinating presentation on the topic, or a rallying call to action, rather than a soul- and life-transforming experience of worship.

(more…)