Our theme in January is Community.  Direction for this new year includes intentions to “living in covenantal community”; and also to “weave multiculturalism into our church community” along with “sustainable and centering transformation.” This month we will inquire into the many meanings of community

January 7th “Concentric Circles of Community” Rev. Sydney will reflect on the ripples we make when, like a stone tossed into a pond, the water moves in response.


I love the meme from Neil deGrasse Tyson: “On this day long ago, a child was born who, by age 30, would transform the world.  Happy Birthday Isaac Newton, born on Dec. 25th 1642.” Certainly by the new year, I am ready to widen my attention and hail the host of humans who have been inspired to carry forward the work of those who inspired them, into the paradigms and language of their contemporary times.  It was Newton who said, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” This gracious humility is characteristic of those who see a wider context to their lives, and the gratitude for the evolutionary and human endeavors which created them. The North African Roman Terence wrote in one of his plays, “Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto” — I am human, and I think nothing of which is human is alien to me.

It certainly seems alien to see the seamy, venal side of human nature playing out so powerfully here and abroad in this new year. But it does seem to be a logical consequence of structures we created — global capitalism without ethics, for one — and human proclivities we inherit like aggression and dominance. The challenge is to infuse ethics and a sense of proportion into the structures we have created. This week in particular I am aware of how our technology has outstripped our cognitive abilities to monitor and regulate them. This historical age insists that we develop capabilities of intellect and emotion which can manage and not be governed by the onslought of information, misinformation and sensory stimulation. So too, the development of weaponry is demanding that we develop new capabilities of restraint and moderation.

My humanism whispers that we are capable of rising to this occasion even as the triggering, pulse- and hair-raising news continues. It is a still small voice of confidence. And others have known this; I have seen it. In an inner court of the so-called Lama Temple in Beijing, in the innermost temple I saw it in the most revered statue of the Buddha. In that face I saw an expression at once serene, confident and peaceful.  I felt strengthened and reassured by the simplicity and certainty of the Buddha – an expression I have seen even if fleetingly in your faces, in the faces of our children, in those who come to this church home. We are a seeking bunch. Our journey in this new year begins again with vast stretches of wilderness to cross. May we find, each and all of us, the joy of new discovery and skill.  It is good to be human together.

In the faith, Sydney

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