Sermons & Other Thoughts from Rev. Brian Chenowith

Tag: MLK

Stayed on Freedom

Our reading came to us from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”

If our religious tradition is anything, it is a vastly storied one. Though we are, by all accounts, a newer religion – with Unitarian Universalism being 57 years old and the parallel histories of our pre-merger ancestors, the Unitarians and Universalists, being as old as this country – we hold within our own volumes of history a great wealth of saints and sinners, wild religious experiments, growing pains, and sublime inspiration.

Today is one of those stories of the sublime. Because though our history on this continent is quite young, the core ideas of this faith are much older. Yesterday, the calendar landed on an remembrance that is central to the burning flame of Unitarian Universalism: the 450th anniversary of the Edict of Torda.

Now, if you remember my enthusiasm with the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, I assure you, I am equally enthusiastic about this weekend. The only difference is that, instead of creating t-shirts, coffee mugs, puzzles, lego sets, Christmas tree ornaments, and posters like the Lutherans did for the Reformation celebration, our own Unitarian Universalist association created a discussion guide to mark this occasion. That is so very UU. So while I have no swag for you today, I do have great enthusiasm. Read the rest of this entry »

Thou Shalt Engage

Our reading from this Sunday was an excerpt from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.

Tomorrow morning and throughout the day, our nation will pause to remember the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, one of the great saints of America for the movement he formed, the pacifism he practiced, and the dream of this country he shared with all of us for a racially, economically, and politically just America.

It feels especially fitting this year that we will pause to remember so great a man, and the values he lived – with tensions in the world rising, an uncertain political future ahead for our country, the real effects of the new government already being made tangible, and racial divides underscoring much of the struggle in communities near and far.

With progressives and many moderates, and I can imagine a very large handful of traditional conservatives, fearing for what is ahead in this country, the values that guided Martin Luther King Jr. and his followers are worth exploring more than ever. As Unitarian Universalists, we have a special affinity with Martin Luther King Jr.

Some of us even try to claim him as one of our own. He wasn’t. But he was close with us. He preached at our general assembly in 1966, he was close with many of our ministers, and he found white allies at the ready within our ranks.

He quoted Unitarian and Universalist ministers in some of his speeches, and yet he still held on to his Baptist faith – a faith rooted in the gospels and in the liberation stories of the Hebrew scriptures. He died tragically. Read the rest of this entry »