Grace Notes: Thu Dec 7, 2023 – Rev. Kimberley Debus

There’s a phrase we sometimes use in congregational settings: “moving at the speed of church.”

At its worst, it indicates how change happens sometimes excruciatingly slowly; sometimes that’s because schedules by their nature slow things down, and sometimes because people create delays and roadblocks.

At its best, however, it indicates the care and attention leaders are giving an issue – building relationships, considering all angles, making sure we are preferencing progress over efficiency.

And for a congregation like this one – full of people who naturally want to get things done and feel like things are moving – it’s both a blessing and a curse. Especially when some of those people are doing things, but it’s not always clear anything’s happening.

What we forget is that even in times of waiting, of relative dormancy, things are generating, rejuvenating, gathering energy for the next action – this is the lesson of winter in our part of the world. Often we can’t see everything that is happening underground, and certainly our long-ago ancestors worried that nothing was happening and the sun would not return. We can see how this kind of thing might worry us even today.

It helps, then, to have some assurances that while it looks like nothing is happening, something most assuredly is.

“What’s your point, Rev?” I hear you muttering to yourself. My point is this: over the past two months, various members of the ministry team, the racial justice team, and the leadership team have been in conversation about CUUC’s action and reaction to the current conflict in Gaza.

We have talked about – sometimes with you – learning more about the conflict, the underlying racisms involved, and the ways they play out both at CUUC and in our wider Westchester community. Some of our ideas have not been as well thought out – and subsequently as well received – as we first thought. That’s okay; remember that our Universalism is predicated on grace for messy humanness in messy times.

Over the last eight weeks, we realized that as much as we want to act quickly and decisively, we must also be careful about relationship and ensuring everyone who should be in the conversation is in the conversation. And mostly we keep talking and thinking through what is next.

That’s hard. We want to be people of action, and yet the best action right now is taking our time to listen, to consider, to build and repair relationships, and ensure we are staying true to our values.

As of right now, here is where we are:

  • On Sunday, Rev. Paul will lead an Embracing Change/Difficult Conversations session after worship in the Fellowship Hall. A second session will be scheduled, to be held on Zoom.
  • On January 19th, Rev. Paul will lead a vespers service
  • In mid-January, a select group from leadership, racial justice, and ministry teams will meet for a planning session to better figure out what’s next. Among those actions:
    • Find, advertise, and support ways to be directly engaged with those in communities more closely affected – both locally and in the Middle East
    • Write and publish a congregational statement
    • Engage various learning opportunities on the historical background of the current conflict, antisemitism, generational trauma, “othering” in western cultures, etc.
    • Deepen our understanding of covenant amongst each other, how covenant works in our faith, and the role covenant plays in building the beloved community

It is our hope that if nothing else, we are on the right path.

Blessings to all,
Rev. Kimberley