As seven years of our ministry together draws to a close, we can look back with fondness and pride. As we say goodbye, we can acknow-ledge the times we have disappointed one another and forgive ourselves and each other. We can be grateful for the big moments and the little ones, and know that our journey together has been meaningful and fruitful. I, for one, have been changed for good. I owe you my deepest gratitude for the moments you have shared with me, some public, and some deeply personal.
And so much has happened in that time – in your lives, in my life, and in the life of the congregation. as my ministry among you comes to an end, I leave you with seven thoughts:
- Remember that this is a community that cares for one another. To love one another, they say, is the greatest commandment. Love wins. But remember that love doesn’t win by itself. It wins because we fight for it, because we choose it again and again and again.
- Come on Sundays even if you’re not interested in the sermon topic. What you are doing here together is not consumable, it’s not a product. As you sit in the Sanctuary surrounded by these people working toward creating beloved community together, know that it matters that you are here – to the person sitting next to you, and to everyone. As Horton the Elephant said, “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” Plus, you never know what magic is waiting for you in unexpected places.
- When someone asks you to volunteer for something, say yes. But only if you really want to. And by that I mean two things – One, this community is yours, it only exists because of the commitment of each of you. And two, it’s no good to have volunteers who aren’t really into the commitments they’ve made. So if you are asked to volunteer for something and it isn’t your thing – give a gracious no, and then go find something that IS your thing. Which brings me to number 4:
- This community matters. It matters to all of us here today. It matters to the community around us. It matters to the queer kids who met here years ago before there were other places that would give them a meeting space. It matters to the couples who had no place else that would celebrate their marriage. It matters to the earth when we limit our collective carbon footprint. It matters to immigrant partners when we declare this a sanctuary congregation. This community matters because you live your values every day both inside and outside this building.
- The children are NOT the future. They are the present. They will become the future, but they are here now, and they are participating in the life of this congregation now. They are learning how to do church. How to live in community. How to be Unitarian Universalist. How to live their values. Help them, support them, get to know them. Really see And let them help you. You won’t regret it.
- Go deeper. No really. That’s the greatest opportunity we have in religious community. You’ve gathered here for fellowship and fun, to connect and reflect and the relationships you build here are special. This community is built to hold all of you – both “all of you” and all of YOU. Go deeper, ask questions, explore your authentic selves. Because the greatest gift you can give the world is authenticity.
- And seven’s a duplicate: It’s so important I’m going to say it again. Love one another. And keep fighting for love to win. Even when things look bleak and we have to fight harder than we ever thought we would, keep choosing love. Keep choosing love again and again and again. Choose fierce, active love. Live your values, fight for justice. If you do these things, love will always win because hate will never get the last word.
It has been my goal these seven years to help you trust yourselves, to support you in finding your own voice, to believe in what is possible when we come together and try. And I do believe in what is possible. I believe in this community and I believe in what it has to offer
I will miss you a great deal, and hold you in my heart as I travel this next stage of my journey. As I leave, I hope you will remember just one thing:
It’s possible. Anything’s possible.
Rev. Lisa Bovee-Kemper
June 10, 2018