Open The Door (3.3.2019)

As we creep closer and closer to Spring, I’m happy for the extra hours of daylight, the random deceptively warm days where you can open your windows and the emergence of green, but I will tell you what I miss about the winter. That’s right. The baked goods. I think there is a cookie gene in me because in the cold season, I get the urge to bake all the cookies just like my mother did – like shortbread, chocolate chip and ginger cookies.

My mother is old school. She gave me a copy of her favorite recipes neatly organized in a photo album along handwritten in her cursive so tiny I think even the Keebler elves would need a magnifying glass to read it. One day I decided to make the ginger cookies. I followed her directions to the T and with anticipation bite into my freshly baked cookie- only to spit it immediately out. I called my mother, “Mom! It tastes like I licked a flagpole!”

That was the day I learned baking powder and baking soda are too very different things and I need a magnifying glass to double check my mother’s recipe.

That’s the sign of a good recipe though, right? We want to share it. Now I know you may be saying, oh no, I’d never share my great Aunt Nora’s famous brownie recipe. That belongs in Fort Knox! Even if you do say that, you still get a thrill when folks ask you for it.

We as humans want to share things that bring us joy, that stirs up excitement, that offers a new way to experience life- whether it is a recipe, a new show, a new friend, or even a new religion. That is what happened in this exact spots six plus decades ago. The thing that prompted this enthusiasm from folks was Univeralism and its spirit of hope for the 20th century.

You see these folks, their eyes were on the horizon. Many of these people already attended a the National Memorial Universalist Cathedral in DC but they wanted a congregation that would link the city to the then countryside, where the traditions of the past met with this neighborhood building for the future. They sensed a great future for Universalism in Montgomery County. It was more than sensing. It was action. About a dozen people formed the Universalist Fellowship of Takoma Park.

They gathered together, found the perfect slice of land, hired a young minister fresh out of seminary- the one Rev. David Hicks McPhearson and, ten years later, broke the ground for this church. They set the minister up in the stable for his office, and they got to the business of meeting people in the neighborhood. No longer did you have to drive far into the city to get Universalism.

And soon enough, Unitarianism too. They were forward thinkers like I said, our foreparents of this congregation sensed the merger of Unitarianism and Universalism on the horizon. Even before the merger was announced, UUCSS voted to have Unitarian and Universalist in the church’s name together once the two faiths fused together.

Still, I remind that this is not a montage of our church’s birth blazing with Chariots of Fire playing. Our foreparents, much like us, had anxiety, had doubts, wondered if this church would be, could be and if would still be.

Hope kept them on. This small group started with a bit of farmland, a dream, and a lot of uncertainty but still they were undeterred. They imagined a congregation full on Sunday morning with people coming together in worship and this once improbable image lives on today.

It lives on in the worship associates who gather together each month to plan our Sunday services.

It lives on in the choir and the musicians who sing and play not only on Sunday mornings to us but to the wider community here.

It lives on in the religious education teachers who sacrifice Sunday service to teach our children and youth the morals and values most important to us.

It lives in on in the interpreters and Deaf Access committee members that ensure our message is known to people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

It lives on in the audio and technology volunteers who maintain a functioning sound system and website for us.

It lives on in the lay ministers who share their presence with those in pain and suffering.

It lives on in the Sunday Support folks who ensure that we all have perhaps the most sacred of UU objects: coffee.

It lives on in the Green Sanctuary Committee that keeps us devoted to the Seventh Principle.

It lives on in the Rainbow Alliance, in ensuring love for all.

It lives on in the Racial Justice Task Force, in ensuring our congregation never ceases its anti-racism work within these walls and across the country.

It lives on in the Finance Committee tracking our numbers and keeping us in the black.

It lives on in everytime someone pushes those heavy white chairs outside in the foyer down and sets them up in a circle so we can be in community together.

It lives on each a congregant says to another one, “It is so good to see you.”

It lives on in you, in all of us.

All of us inter-connected together make their vision a reality. With each other, we make our wishes for a better world not just wishes but possible. Their idea for a church of the justice-seeking, love-abiding, question-asking and better world-making now exists here and now with all of us. Just like them, we have many plans for the future of this church. You all are in the midst of the search process for a settled minister. There are ideas of furthering our musical outreach with the community. Intergenerational worship is growing. This weekend your strategic planning committee meets to plan the next couple years with input from all the committees of this wonderful place. There’s a lot to be excited for. We enter now into the reality-making of our ideas and plans. These plans only become real with the generosity of you.

To start the process of the Annual Budget Drive off, the ABD team is hosting cottage meetings for all you to share what you are grateful for and what you are looking forward to and why you are committed to the future of this congregation. Cottage meetings sign ups begin next week and the meetings continue through March and April. We hope to see you there.

We enter into the coming year with a spirit of wide open arms. When talking to a colleague about this church, they said to me, “UUCSS is a very friendly place.” I don’t think we should be the secret of New Hampshire Avenue anymore. The Annual Budget Drive is a way for us to ensure our doors remain open for what the future brings. Our friendly spirit gives us open arms to our new minister. Our friendly spirit is an opportunity for us to open the doors of our congregation to our neighbors, helps to engage in social justice, in radical hospitality, in fighting for peace. Our generosity keeps our homes filled with open minds and open hearts.

As we kick off our Annual Budget Drive, our future knocks on our door to invite us into greater connection and purpose.

Knock knock.

Open the door.

There’s great things ahead for us here. Come along, won’t you.

Blessed be.