West St. Louis County - 73 Strecker Road - Ellisville, MO 63011 - Phone: 636.256.7393
Transforming Ourselves ~ Our Community ~ Our World
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We believe we are enriched by diversity and everyone's gifts are valued.
December's theme is hope, and when I reflect on hope, there is a scene from the movie, The Hunger Games, that keeps flashing through my mind:
...... President Snow: Seneca, why do you think we have a winner?
......Seneca Crane: What do you mean?
......President Snow: I mean, why do we have a winner? ... Hope.
......Seneca Crane: Hope?
......President Snow: Hope. It is the only thing stronger than fear. A little hope is effective. A
.........lot of hope is dangerous. A spark is fine, as long as it's contained.
......Seneca Crane: So?
......President Snow: So, contain it.
......Here is a link to see the clip from the movie.
It is said that human beings are hardwired for hope. It may be one of the markers of human consciousness. We hope for the sun to come out. We hope for a better day. We hope for our illnesses to be healed. We hope for a job, a stronger economy, a good grade on that last test, a promotion. We hope for happiness and security for our children. We hope for love, strength, justice, fairness, the end of suffering. We hope for peace.
The reason I keep reflecting on that one scene from The Hunger Games is that hope is so essential that it can be manipulated. I thought about that a lot during the last presidential election. Each candidate was offering a different package that promised hope. Whose package would the American people buy into?
Why do the stores hang their Christmas decorations after Hallowe'en? Christmas is about hope. Perhaps hope associated with the holiday will get us in the mood to do more shopping. Lotteries sell hope, too. It's much more likely that a person will become a millionaire the old fashioned way, with hard work, patience, and the willingness to take risks and to learn from mistakes, rather than through buying a lottery ticket. And yet, millions will buy faithfully buy their lottery tickets week after week in the hope of being the lucky one.
Perhaps President Snow is right. A little hope is effective. A lot of hope is dangerous. But dangerous for who?
Religion, too, is in the business of offering hope. Every religion offers a pathway to hope. Some promise hope through right belief, others through right action, and most through some combination of both. Some offer hope freely, you need do nothing to deserve it. Others offer it with conditions. Some of us are familiar with forms of religion that framed hope in a way that we experienced as stifling.
When Universalism emerged in America more than 200 years ago, it was ridiculed because Universalism rejected hell. The only hell, it said, are the hells that we create here on earth. Everyone is saved. Everyone gets to heaven, no questions asked. Universalism offered hope without boundaries. President Snow would have undoubtedly seen this as a dangerous kind of hope.
For many people, this was too much hope. It was a dangerous kind of hope. It took away the controls they assumed were necessary for people to make moral choices. Take away the fear, they said, and there was no reason to do good. Take away the threat of shame and punishment, and there was no reason to do good. This kind of radical hope, they warned, would lead to anarchy and destruction, evil gone wild.
Universalists disagreed and continued to proclaim this dangerous hope. Unitarian Universalism has been shaped by this radical hope, this hope that so many said would lead to ruin. In Unitarian Universalism, hope is a promise and a process. We have hope because we trust in our world and trust in ourselves. We have hope because history shows us that the arch of the universe bends towards justice. We have hope because there are heavens on this earth right here and right now. We have hope because we trust in the power of love to transform our personal and collective consciousness. This radical hope, this dangerous hope, opens hearts, opens minds, and leads to opened hands ready to serve.
During the months of December and January we will celebrate Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Christmas and a New Year. Each of these holidays offers hope in a different way – one in the breaking through of hope in human action, one in the breaking through of hope in the natural world, and the other of breaking through of hope in the relationship between humanity and the divine. We will explore each of these through the lens of our Unitarian Universalist faith with its radical commitment to hope.
Rev. Krista Taves
We invite you to read sermons delivered by Rev. Taves at Emerson, in particular, you may wish to learn more about Unitarian Universlist Theology through a series of sermons Rev. Taves delivered at Emerson Chapel during early 2009.
For more about Unitarian Universalism, check out this link: Visitors to UUism and if you like what you've seen here, and on our website, we hope that you will come be our guest this next Sunday morning.
For a concise summary of the Seven Principles of Unitarian Universalism, click here.