The central task of the religious community is to unveil the bonds that bind each to all. There is a connectedness, a relationship discovered amid the particulars of our own lives and the lives of others. Once felt, it inspires us to act for justice. It is the church that assures us that we are not struggling for justice on our own, but as members of a larger community. It is the church that assures us that we are not struggling for justice on our own, but as members of a larger community. The religious community is essential, for alone our vision is too narrow to see all that must be seen, and our strength too limited to do all that must be done. Together, our vision widens and our strength is renewed.
-Rev. Mark Morrison Reed
Our covenant, as a welcoming congregation, is to inspire a sense of awe, joy and reverence in people of all ages. We celebrate through words, music and the arts. We actively model an inclusive, diverse, and sustainable community. We each contribute to the work of the church. We provide a safe and nurturing haven for free thought. We treat each other with loving kindness. We cultivate growth and celebrate the changes growth brings.
-Unitarian Church of Lincoln Covenant
Our theme for the month of February is Beloved Community. Beloved Community is a constant presence in our worship liturgy and preaching- it is a touchstone as common as ‘worth and dignity’ or ‘interconnected.’ It is often implicit: it is the goal described by our congregational covenant. When we live into the hope of an ‘inclusive, diverse, and sustainable community,’ we are creating a kind of Beloved Community here in Lincoln Nebraska.
The work does not stop with our congregation. Beloved Community, theologically, is both eschatology (the goal we are moving toward) and ecclesiology (what the church is). In traditional Christianity, the organized church is often described as a ‘sign and foretaste’ of the Kingdom of God: while the Kingdom is not here yet, we can taste part of it through participation in the church.
For us, our work to create Beloved Community is a ‘sign and foretaste’ of what we want to help create in the world. The vision statement of the church calls us to ‘transform ourselves and the world,’ extending the community we create here to be an example for the world.
This month we will talk in worship about a few of the ways we’re doing that, including our participation in the Beloved Conversations program through Meadville Lombard, and renewing our status as an LGBTQIA+ Welcoming Conversation. These are very practical programs, but it is through practice that we turn theology into lived experience.