November comes with gifts of the new season, as the waning light brings leaves to ground, and bare branches begin to silhouette against the sky. A time of turning.

This year the conversations around the country with family and friends, particularly at Thanksgiving tables, will be steeped with an import comparable to the ferment in every casual corner during the stormy times between the successful end of the Revolutionary War and the re-working of the Articles of Confederation into a national Constitution.  Who are we? What are our values as Americans? How shall we be – among the many cultures and opinions not only in this land, but around the globe? 

Black theologian Vincent Harding inspired me to let go of the comforts of my fears and familiar haunts when I studied with him at Harvard School of Education. He saw the question as: “What does it mean to be truly human? Democracy is simply another way of speaking about that question. Religion is another way of speaking about that question. What is our purpose in this world, and is that purpose related to our responsibilities to each other and to the world itself? All of that seems to me to be a variety of languages getting at the same reality.” (1)

In our theme of “multiculturalism” this month, I am deeply grateful to Dr. Harding. His book “There Is A River,” spoke in the words of the Negro Spiritual; his lectures sermonized and sang; he demanded we dig down deep. “Since the course of a river cannot be understood independent of the terrain through which it flows” (2) we find purpose in our Unitarian Universalist tradition of thinking beyond categories and borders and into new realities. I have hope-filled faith that our hearts broken open are wide enough to feel that river of determination, coursing living love, and immense flowing strength that will carry us through.

See you in church,

Rev. Sydney


(2) Eric Foner

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