Easter 2008

I am often asked by others what do Unitarians Universalists do for Easter.  Do you even believe in Jesus?  If not, then how exactly do you celebrate Easter?   These questions usually refer to the question of whether Unitarian Universalists believe in the doctrines that many Christians have about Jesus–born of the virgin Mary, ability to perform miracles,  his descent into hell, and his physical resurrection from the tomb, and then ascension to heaven where he sits on the right hand of the father.   These are doctrinal questions that have been debated for 2000 years.

Unitarian Universalists have no doctrinal test or creed that a person has to subscribe in order to be a member of a Unitarian Universalist Congregation.   What they are asked to ascribe to is a covenant with the members to seek to uphold a set of principles, seven to be exact.  These set of principles if upheld would be evident in hopefully ever increasing measure through our behaviors and deeds as Unitarian Universalists.   Like all covenants, some principles are harder to adhere to than others and so create opportunities for us to apply our spiritual disciplines that inform us.   These disciplines come from our living traditions and include direct experience of the trancedent mystery, the words and deeds of prophets, our Abrahamic faith heritage from which Unitarian and Universalism emerge, the humanist teachings using reason and science, wisdom from world religions, and the earth-centered spiritualities.   

A Unitarian Universalist does not need to subscribe to the doctrinal beliefs about Jesus in order to celebrate the resurrection of life.  There is enough evidence around us to tell us that resurrection is a living reality.  Many Unitarian Universalists celebrate Easter as a re-birth in the cycle of life itself; the return of spring, birds and animals are giving birth to new life, there is an abundance of life all around us this time of year.  Unitarian Universalists tend to emphasize the life of Jesus, his teachings of compassion, his willingness to confront the institutional evils of his day rather than focus on whether or not Jesus physically raised himself from the dead.  These teachings are resurrected in us daily, every time we show compassion to the least of these, or confront the institutional evils of our day, or insist on the equality of all people. 

So for me, do I even believe in Jesus?  Yes, I believe that Jesus is a historical figure.  I trust teachings of Jesus.  I seek to emulate them daily in my life.  Do I believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus?  I do not need to. Everytime I see a person express compassion, confront institutional evils such as racism, or seek to reduce suffering in the world; there Jesus is incarnated.  His message is resurrected in our deeds.   Therefore as a Unitarian Universalist, I join Christians from around the world to celebrate Easter. 

Blessings, Rev. Fred L Hammond

Published in: on March 24, 2008 at 2:33 pm  Comments Off on Easter 2008  
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