Before I dive into our theme, let me take a moment to introduce myself to those of you I haven’t yet had the chance to meet at Buckhorn or here at the church. I’m Diana McLean, the Ministerial Resident serving both Foothills and the Unitarian Universalist Church of Greeley; this shared position is part of an experimental multi-site partnership between the two congregations. You’ll see me in the pulpit occasionally beginning this month, and I’ll typically be in the office on Wednesdays. Much of my work at Foothills will be around membership and engagement. I look forward to getting to know you!
As we continue exploring this month’s theme of “What does it mean to be a people of forgiveness?” I am especially interested in what forgiveness looks like at a community level.
Because we are human, we will sometimes fall short of the promises we make each other. When we do, what does it mean to be people of forgiveness? How do we move forward after a hurt has occurred in our community, in a way that is healthy? Every church encounters these situations, and in our case, I believe the answer is found in the concept of covenant.
Unitarian Universalist congregations like this one are covenantal communities—we are bound together not by a shared creed but by a covenant, by promises about how we will be with each other on this shared journey. When congregations join in multi-site partnerships like the one between Foothills and the Unitarian Universalist Church of Greeley, then there is a covenant between the congregations as well as the covenants in place within each church. You can see that covenant here: http://foothillsuu.org/our-partnership-with-greeley/
As we move further into this year-long experiment of partnership between Foothills and the Unitarian Universalist Church of Greeley, I imagine there will be times when forgiveness is needed. We are two systems full of human beings, and we are bound to sometimes let each other down. Sometimes this is the result of unvoiced expectations—maybe even expectations we didn’t know we held for each other. Other times it may be the result of actions made with the best of intentions but resulting in less than ideal outcomes. In fact, the covenant of partnership between the two congregations ends with these words:
“We acknowledge that we are each new to this partnership and so we assume we will stumble at times and encounter challenges that test the well-intended explicit and implicit promises of this covenant. When these challenges arise, we promise to come together in conversation, and seek help from outside resources as we may need, to seek and offer forgiveness generously, to learn well from our experiences, and to begin again.”
We will be stronger, individually and as partners, if we can forgive ourselves when we make those kinds of mistakes, and when we can extend that forgiveness to each other when we are disappointed or hurt.
I look forward to continuing to explore this rich theme with you, and to joining you in worship for the first couple of times!
In gratitude, Diana