© Jeremy D. Nickel 2011. All Rights Reserved.
Mission Peak Unitarian Universalist Congregation
February 13, 2011

The Hidden Minority (lay sermon on the same day)

I am so proud of our larger movement of Unitarian Universalism, that we have been such an important and long-standing part of the reason Marriage Equality is the law of the land in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, and in the District of Columbia. Unitarian Universalism has been one of the main organizing forces behind this movement and we will continue to be on the frontlines of the struggle here in California and everywhere we need to be.

Often times we as UUs have a difficult time identifying who we are. People ask us: do you believe in God? - a question that sounds simple, but for us, well, as a movement, it's complicated. We so often find ourselves defining who we are or what we believe, in the negative, by sharing a long list of things we don't believe. I think that as a consequence of this, we end up feeling insecure about our identity, which often leads us to inappropriately take pieces from other traditions in a desperate attempt to identify who we are.

But I think we might have finally gotten it right with this Standing on the Side of Love campaign. One of the main ideas that can be traced as an ever-present thread within both our parental lineages, is standing with those who need our power and privilege to shed light on the abuse of their community. As Theodore Parker stood against Slavery. As James Reeb stood with Martin Luther King in Selma, Alabama and paid with his life. As Martha and Waitstill Sharp stood with the thousands of Jewish children they smuggled out of Nazi Germany, UUs have again and again risked their own lives, have put their safety on the line for people they had never met, for people in far away lands, for their neighbors, for their brothers and sisters. That is what standing on the side of love means. And that is what we as Unitarian Universalists are called to do. It is who we are.

We are called to stand with our brothers and sisters whose love is threatened. We are called to stand with our neighbors whose right to a living wage is under siege. We are called to stand on the side of love with children who are sick and still do not have healthcare. This is what is truly at our core as Unitarian Universalists. When the first principle of our denomination says that we affirm AND promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person, those words become real only when we live them in the world.

When we pledge each Sunday to treat all people kindly, they are just words until we put them into action. Some moments in our lives hold more weight than others, but it is impossible to know which ones these will be. And one way we can stand on the side of love in our everyday lives is to be willing to step into these moments whenever we see them unfolding and to stand on the side of love.

These moments happen all the time, all around us, in parks where our children play and a child first tries on the bully role, in our offices when someone makes an inappropriate joke and instantly communicates to others that they are not safe, at the supermarket you give your money to that cheats its employees out of their fair wages, in the voting booth when you fail to show up and exercise your right, and certainly with the decisions you make on how and where to spend and perhaps more importantly to invest your hard-earned dollars. These moments that shape peoples' lives are all around us. They come in so many different forms, but they do come. The question is, do you act? Do you step into the breach and stand on the side of love?

It is so easy to dismiss these moments as just another in a never-ending cascade of moments. But each of those moments is an opportunity to live your best aspirations for yourself, and to live up to the best part of who we are as a movement.

And as I say "Ashe, may it be so" I ask that you join me and stand as you are willing or able and sing today's closing hymn, "Standing on the Side of Love."

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