Monday, April 13, 2015

Happy Easter, UU Style

I know Easter has come and gone, but I came across the following story and debated between posting it and keeping it private.  I'm choosing to post it because I think it's beautiful.  Perhaps my favorite thing about belonging to the UU church is the freedom to explore ideas, challenge beliefs, and draw your own conclusions.  I love this story because it focuses on what people believe, not on what people insist is true.  [Disclaimer: Of course, I understand that not all Baptists, Lutherans, Methodists, Catholics, Unitarian Universalists, (or members of any group for that matter) always agree with their particular denomination, so no one is to be pigeon-holed in their thinking.]

 The following is extracted from a 2001 Easter sermon by the Reverend Michael McGee adapted from a story by Jim Wallace.

A group of friends of various religious denominations were seated in fellowship discussing the true meaning of Easter one Sunday when the Baptist said: “I believe we place too much emphasis on chocolate bunnies, colored rabbits and Easter eggs instead of the spiritual aspects, which is the real meaning of Easter. That’s what I believe,” said the Baptist. “Me too,” said the Methodist. “Me too,” said the Lutheran. “Me too,” said the Catholic. “Me too,” said the Nazarene. –And the Unitarian Universalist was silent.

“I believe the real meaning of Easter is that Christ died on the Cross for our sins,” said the Methodist. “Me too,” said the Nazarene. “Me too,” said the Lutheran. “Me too,” said the Baptist. “Me too,” said the Lutheran. –And the Unitarian Universalist was silent.
“I believe the real meaning of Easter is the triumph of Jesus over the Grave,” said the Lutheran. “Me too,” said the Catholic. “Me too,” said the Nazarene. “Me too,” said the Baptist. “Me too,” said the Methodist. –And the Unitarian Universalist was silent.

“I believe the real meaning of Easter is not only what each of you have said, but also that all people who believe in the sacrifice and Resurrection of Jesus are cleansed of original sin through baptism and are restored to the favor of God and many share in His eternal Life,” said the Catholic. “Me too,” said the Nazarene. “Me too,” said the Baptist. “Me too,” said the Methodist. “Me too,” said the Lutheran. –And the Unitarian Universalist was silent.

“I believe the real meaning of Easter, in addition to what has already been said, symbolizes that the bodies of all people will be resurrected and joined to their souls to share their final fate,” said the Nazarene. “Me too,” said the Baptist. “Me too,” said the Methodist. “Me too,” said the Lutheran. “Me too,” said the Catholic. –And the Unitarian Universalist was silent.
The group then turned to their Unitarian Universalist friend, whom they all recognized as a little strange, and said, “Your silence is a mystery to us. Just what do you believe as a Unitarian Universalist is the real meaning of Easter?”

The Unitarian Universalist … said: “I believe the real meaning of Easter is the appreciation of life’s renewing cycles and, that for all things there is a season. I believe the real meaning of Easter is the acknowledgment, with its accompanying sadness, of a very human Jesus who was forced to die on the Cross because of his liberal religious views and beliefs. But most important of all, I believe the real meaning of Easter is the Celebration of Thanksgiving for the presence of the sacred in each and every living person and thing; for the presence of the sacred in the birds that sing; for the presence of the sacred in the flowers which sway and the grasses which rustle in the gentle breezes of spring. This is what I believe is the real meaning of Easter,” said the Unitarian Universalist.  “Me too,” sang the birds. “Me too,” waved the flowers. “Me too,” rustled the grasses. “Me too,” sighed the wind. — And all the rest were silent.

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