Harnessing Love’s Power
to Stop Oppression

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Pack Nothing, Begin Quickly

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Apr 16, 2014

Dear Friends,

As Passover is upon us and Easter is near, this is a special time for millions of Jews and Christians around the world. Tragically, this holy week started off with a shooting rampage at a Jewish community center in Kansas that left two adults and one teen dead. It has all the indications of an anti-Semitic hate crime, and it’s a painful reminder that the long journey to end oppression in our world also remains an urgent one.

And as is sometimes true of urgent journeys, we may need to drop everything that might cause us delay. Traveling lightly and rapidly, in fact, may be the only way to freedom.

This was certainly the case for the ancient Israelites. The Hebrew exodus narrative tells us that when the Jewish people decided to follow Moses out of Egypt, they had to leave in such a hurry that they couldn’t even wait for their bread to rise. In the words of poet Alla Reneé Bozarth, they had to “pack nothing and begin quickly” if they were to escape once and for all the horrors of slavery and open a new chapter of faith and freedom in their lives.

Bozarth writes of the Passover:

Pack nothing. Bring only your determination to serve and
your willingness to be free. Do not hesitate to leave your old
ways behind – fear, silence, submission. Only surrender to the
need of time – to love and walk humbly with your God . . .

Begin quickly, before you have time to sink back into old
slavery. Set out in the dark . . . Sing songs as you go. You may
at times grow confused and lose your way . . . Touch each
other and keep telling the stories . . .[1]

Her poem reminds me that the work of justice and recovering wholeness often means interrupting the ways I usually think (such as “I couldn’t possibly make time to do such and such”) and seizing opportunities that present themselves before I become captive to my old ways of acting.

As we gather together with family and friends this week and this Sunday . . . and as we hear the old stories of freedom and new life, I’m hopeful that the well-being we want in our lives and in the world is possible. I believe it will begin as soon as I’m willing to leave behind anything that stands in my way . . . and get on my way.

In faith,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Rev. Terry Davis

Minister, Northwest UU Congregation

[1] “Passover Remembered” in Womanpriest: A Personal Odyssey by Alla Renee Bozarth, 1998.

One Response to “Pack Nothing, Begin Quickly”

  1. Dramane says:

    Hi Nancy. I want to apologize for being so slow to repsond. There’s no good excuse. You ask an important question. How does Living Interfaith, and the embracing of Interfaith as a faith, differ from UU (Unitarian Universalism)?First, two quick caveats. One is that UU has no governing body that establishes doctrine. So UU congregations can vary quite a bit. As example, there are some very specifically Christian UU churches and there are some quite Humanist UU Fellowships that are very specifically NOT Christian. Many UU congregations are some blend of people of differing spiritual backgrounds. So generalizing can be tricky, as there is bound to be at least one UU congregation somewhere that falls outside that generalization. So please know that I know that there will be exceptions to however I characterize UU.The second caveat is that our culture tends to “compare” two differing entities in order to establish which is “better” or “best.” That will emphatically NOT be my purpose here. To my thinking Interfaith and UU are indeed different, but not in the sense that one is better than the other. Rather, there is something very specific that Interfaith is about that can make it more, or less attractive to a person – depending very much on what that person seeks.In general, UU welcomes people from all spiritual backgrounds into the UU family. You are probably aware that UU is a relatively recent combination of Unitarians and Universalists (1961), and while both were rather “liberal” Christian entities in their origin to begin with, the Christian heritage is, for the most part, left behind. As example, many of the traditional Christian hymns that have made it into the UU hymnal have had their words changed to make them less Christian and more universal. This thrust towards the universal, while (once again) having exceptions, is the general thrust of UU.Interfaith, as a faith, seeks to celebrate our differing spiritual paths. So, when we celebrate Christmas or Easter (as example) a Christian gives the morning’s message. We celebrate Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Baha’i and other spiritual path’s holy days as well – including UU (we just celebrated Flower Communion, led by a member who is UU), and when we do, we embrace for that day that path’s tradition. During a Christian service, we’ll sing the Doxology. During a Jewish service we’ll sing the Shema. And so forth. Roughly half of our services are celebrations of humanity’s diverse spiritual paths. We are intentional about this as one of our major thrusts is to learn about each other. As we say during the service, “Not to convert or convince but to share.” An article of our faith is that an important part of learning to treat each other with respect is learning about and celebrating our diverse spiritual paths as one family – the human family.That’s half of our services. In all honesty, the other half of our services might seem very similar to what one might find at a UU service. If you look at our service themes (and you may have already), that will become clear. Like UU (and many others, like my beloved Nuns on a Bus) Interfaith is very much justice oriented. Similar goals, just a differing approach.

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