In the Interim: Reverend Terry Sweetser

“The edge is where I want to be,” writes poet Lisa Martinovic. She continues, “It’s the trailhead to the road not taken.”

Living on the edge is risky and unpredictable. So, March is just right for testing our edgy side. That’s why we dare to go all in this month and why we kick off our annual Stewardship Drive on the weekend of March 12th. Imagine the audacity of having Stewardship Sunday on the morning daylight savings kicks in!

I think it’s time to for our congregation to find it’s edgy ground again. The place where we can love more change into the world. The cliff where we can freefall into standing up, speaking out and doing what needs to be done. It’s time to forsake the mealy middle for hard edge of faith outside the the googleable universe to where we don’t twitter, we THUNDER!

Welcome to exciting times!

For Sunday Worship we use a thematic approach. This year we are focusing on the precious gift of our UUSWH community. Within it, are the values and questions we rarely encounter elsewhere in our lives. What do we find when we gather? And what can we share with the world? Each month we will explore a different aspect of building and fortifying people and possibilities in this beloved community.

September: Covenant
October: Healing
November: Story
December: Presence
January: Prophecy
February: Identity
March: Risk
April: Transformation
May: Embodiment
June: Zest

In March we consider what it means to be a community of RISK.  We ask ourselves what we dare and how we can help each other to commitment, to living in the zone. Risk is about, and this is my message for the month, Risk is about loving enough to jump in, be faithful and do what needs to be done.

To act is to be committed, and to be committed is to be in danger. ~James Baldwin

Risk is usually associated with the dare devils and thrill seekers. The real danger, we’re told, is a life of boredom. The battle is between the bland and the bold.

Yet, as James Baldwin reminds us, it’s not quite that simple. He places commitment, not thrills, at the center of the game. For him, the ones to be admired are not so much the dare devils as the dedicated ones. And that Holy Grail? Well, he suggests, maybe it’s not “the exciting life’ as we’ve been told. Maybe it’s the faithful life. And that turns everything wonderfully on its head.

From this perspective, the important question about risk (and about life) is not “Are you willing to jump off?” but “Are you willing to jump in?” Not “Are you willing to put yourself in danger?” but “Are you willing to give yourself to something bigger?” Not “Will you be daring?” but “Will you stay true?”

And the message changes too. Suddenly, it’s not “Run to what’s thrilling!” but “Don’t run away!” It’s all about remembering not to let the thrilling trump the faithful. As exciting as roller coasters and jumping out of planes might be, let’s remember to remind each other that the most deeply rewarding risks are the ones that involve jumping into causes and putting our hearts in the hands of others.

As the poet David Whyte puts it: “We are here essentially to risk ourselves in the world. We are meant to hazard ourselves for the right thing, for the right person, for the right work or for a gift given against all the odds.”

Bob Marley’s take is equally compelling. He writes, “The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just gotta find the ones worth suffering for.” And here’s the twist: It’s not just Baldwin’s dangers, Whyte’s hazards and Marley’s suffering that come at us when we take the risk of living faithfully. Grace and gifts slip in there too!

As the Scottish writer W.H. Murray explains, “Concerning all acts of creation, there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no one could have dreamt would have come their way.” How thrilling is that?!

See you at worship!