The Other F Word (Future Tense: week 1)

After Nate Donovan’s capital campaign testimony last Sunday, a few folks asked me if he almost said “the f word.”

I laughed and said, well, I guess it would’ve been Nate’s “f word.” Midway through, see, he said, “this is our chosen f-f-f—I can’t say that word!…spiritual tradition.”

See, for Nate, the “F word” – the word he couldn’t quite bring himself to say – would probably be faith.

Faith is sometimes a confusing, even charged concept, especially if you grew up in a religious community that used “faith” as weapon, to cause shame, or to draw a line between who mattered, and who didn’t; who belonged, and who didn’t. Especially religious humanists and atheists in our community can struggle with what it means to have “faith.” 

And yet the idea of faith is also a powerful tool when it comes to moving fully into the future, and the underlying tensions that we’re exploring in our series. And, given that in 2016 we embedded the idea of “growing our faith” into our mission statement, understanding what faith means for Unitarian Universalists feels like a vital part of doing the work we have committed ourselves to, together. 

At the same time, this wrestling isn’t new. Whether with the word “faith,” or the meaning of the word, faith is something Unitarian Universalists and our congregation have been attempting to articulate and engage for a long time. Which is why we’ve decided this Sunday to turn back the clock – and re-engage a sermon from the past. A sermon from Foothills former minister, the Rev. Walter Royal “Roy” Jones, Jr., entitled “Faith for the Long Haul; Faith for Right Now.” 

Our hope is that by looking back at what Roy said nearly four decades ago, we can also more fully engage the idea of faith as an active and ongoing part of our spiritual path at Foothills, and that we can consider together what faith offers us as we look ahead to the future.

This will be the first in an experiment we are launching in 2020, what we call Throwback Sundays (borrowed from our friends at All Souls UU in Tulsa, OK). 

On Throwback Sundays, we will engage a sermon from Foothills’ past and see what it has to say for today. Our hope is that this will allow us to feel more connected to our own history, to know ourselves as the “future” that the past version of this community was imagining, and in turn, to be better ancestors for those who are yet to come.

And, it’s a great chance for these sermons of the past to come to life once again – so many of them are filled with so much insight and wisdom, it’s a gift to be able to bring them out to let them speak to us today.

We’ll see how it goes this Sunday, and then based on this experience we’re thinking we’ll offer a Throwback Sunday about every 5 or 6 weeks. Big thanks to the Foothills History Project for all their work on our archives over the last two years, as that made finding just the right sermon for this Sunday so easy!

So, join us this Sunday as we explore Faith for the Long Haul – as it was in 1983, as it is today nearly forty years later – and as it will be forty years out (2060! Woh!). At 8:30, 10, or 11:30 – looking forward to seeing you.

In partnership,
Rev. Gretchen

Notes from Future Tense: Week 1 – Tomorrow Land   
Listen to the message
Read the text of the message

A House Called Tomorrow by Alberto Rios
Getting Through the Day by Theresa Hardy

We sang our series theme song People Get Ready
We sang May Nothing Evil, Come and Go With Me, There is More Love Somewhere, Fire of Commitment

Victoria Safford’s sermon Powerful and Powerless
Theodore Parker Biography American Heretic
Rebecca Parker’s collection of essays, Blessing the World: What Can Save Us Now
Valerie Kaur’s talk on the darkness of the womb

1. Our faith is oriented towards the future – a future where we are all free, a future we will not live to see

2. We cannot depend on the hope of results to sustain us – only the hope of one another

3. In these times where it can feel like the world is ending – it is also a sign that a new world is possible

4. In times of great loss, we circle ‘round each other – midwives for a world being born; hospice chaplains for the world dying

What resources do you need, what practices, and what people – to stay in this work for your whole life?

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