The Burmese political leader Aung San Suu Kyi once said that by helping others we help ourselves. If you are feeling helpless it is indeed time to help someone–else. In this service we will explore how we find our true purpose in service to others. We will also celebrate the contradictions of the hero and the victim and explore how there is no contradiction, no separation, no boundary after all. We are all in need of rescue and rescue has been with us the whole time.
Historical paradoxes of Thanksgiving in the United States tend to strain our hearts. We cannot forget the massive injustices which devastated Native American people. This year we celebrate Thanksgiving Sunday in both morning services. In the afternoon we host USG’s second Teach-In– “From Punitive to Restorative Justice: The Job’s the Thing”– to educate and organize ourselves to create opportunities for work for formerly incarcerated citizens who are now returning to their homes. From the personal to the communal, how can we place our worst experiences in context and move forward to a better place? Together we will celebrate giving thanks and giving back to life.
Healing from the trauma of war in our society requires us to embrace new practices of living that can restore our humanity. Our contemporary society is remarkably insulated from the realities of ongoing wars around the world. With very little effort we can pretend that we are safe in our leafy enclaves from the dangers that mere mortals face in faraway places. But we are at war, and all of us (not just the soldiers or veterans or foreign causalities) are impacted by the deep trauma of this ongoing conflict. We must uncover ways of reclaiming peace to overcome the stress of our times.
Samuel Longfellow served as Minister of the Unitarian Society of Germantown from 1878-1882. Joseph Abdo wrote a biography of Rev. Longfellow entitled “The Quiet Radical” in which he lays out the ways in which this Unitarian minister touched people’s lives with compassionate spirituality and radical ideas, including ideas on Women’s Rights and the Peace Movement. How can we apply the lessons of his life to our lives today?
Thanksgiving, like many holidays, makes space around itself that affords us the opportunity to briefly change our routines. We make use of this extra space in many ways – to be in the places, or with the people or doing the things for which we are most grateful, or which most urgently need an attention we may not always be able to offer. It’s also an opportunity to recommit ourselves to building just a little space into our lives for regular, daily gratitude. With this in mind, we might ask: what does gratitude look like that is small enough to fit in each day?
Davy Knittle grew up attending USG. He lives in West Philadelphia, and is a PhD candidate in English at Penn.
Come hear the superb Mariachi Maya band with guitars, trumpet and great vocal renditions of Mexican ballads. Come to this happy celebration and reunion with memories of your deceased loved ones! For our 150th Anniversary we will also specifically honor past members of our church. Bring a photo of a deceased loved one to place on the altar.