I had a chuckle recently when, just out of curiosity, I took a look at the eNews column I wrote at this time last year. In that column, I took note of the fact of how rare it was to be looking ahead to a double year–2020–remarking that it had been a century since the last one–1919. I did take note of the war that consumed the world in 1919, which thankfully we have managed to avoid a century later. But little did I anticipate that the two years would share a different notorious commonality – massive pandemics that sickened and, in our case continues to kill, millions world-wide.

I did wonder if 2020 might be “an epoch-making” year and guessed that if we did it might have something to do with the upcoming election.  Well, I got that one right, but I could never have guessed how.

I said I expected the year would also be important to UUCA, with my planned retirement, which, of course, was delayed – see paragraph 1. And I said that to prepare us for the transition I would devote some time in worship to “the basics of our religion,” choosing as a way to do that a series of services about our 7 principles. I did that and found it a helpful discipline for us, even if it turned out I was sticking around. This year as, once again, I look forward to my retirement I want to attempt a similar project, and we’ll see where this takes us.

 Our religious lives are challenged in so many ways by all that we’re living through that I thought it would be worthwhile to look at our grounding. To do that, I’m going to use as a prompt a book called A House for Hope: The Promise of Progressive Religion in the 21st Century. Its authors are two respected leaders in our movement; Rev. Rebecca Ann Parker and Rev. John Buehrens.

 The book uses the metaphor of a house to describe the basic theological premises of our tradition. In a series of services, we’ll work our way up from the ground we build on to the foundation, the walls, the roof, the welcoming rooms and the threshold. And we’ll touch on such subjects as what we understand to be the beginning and end of all things, what religious community looks like, how we cope with evil, how we understand God or ultimacy, what it is to be human, and what the mission of liberal or progressive community is.

It’s a lot, and needless to say what I have to offer will give you only a tasting of a very rich feast. But I hope it will be enough to get you reflecting more deeply on who we are, what we have to do, and where you situate yourself in this hopeful tradition. We begin this Sunday in The Garden. See you there.

Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister