What Does It Mean To Be A People of Beloved Community?

February is a month filled with interfaith celebrations.  From Chinese New Year to Nirvana Day, from Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent to Purim, people from different faith traditions have much to celebrate.

UU’s are not exempt from this month of celebration.  We celebrate the birthdays of Fannie Barrier and Susan B. Anthony along with Thirty Days of Love and the signing of the Edict of Torda.

So, maybe it is not surprising that our Soul Matters theme for the month centers around Beloved Community.  After all, what is the beloved community if it is not enriched by the many people and traditions that constitute it.

Henri Nouwen, the treasured catholic teacher, activist and pastor, once described beloved community as “the place where the person you least want to live with always lives.”

On its surface it seems to be a straightforward reminder not to expect perfection from the communities we join. And not to expect perfection from others. Indeed, it’s a plea to stick with those troublesome others. Forgive them. Accept them. Stay open to the whole of who they are, not just the caricatured sliver of them that makes it easy to write them off.

Besides the obvious calls to commitment, conflict resolution and hard work, there’s also a hidden call to hope woven into Nouwen’s words. To stay in community with difficult or offensive people, we have to hold on to the hope that they can change and grow. We have to believe that their better selves exist and will eventually show up. We have to have faith that giving them the benefit of the doubt is worth it. That assuming their good intentions isn’t foolish.

It’s a tall order. This kind of hopefulness and generosity toward others is not easy. So, join us and let’s explore together what to means to be a people of beloved community.