It was four years ago, on April 1, which was a Sunday, I signed the Book at Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church and became a member of that august body. I’m especially remembering that day this year because I am part of the Search Committee for a new called and settled minister. That process of calling a minister continues, and so, there will be no details here of any of our deliberations. Searching for a new minister and recommending one to the congregation is a grave responsibility, and it has been a great honor to be a part of the process. And it has been a great pleasure (and still remains — we’ve got work still) to be associated with the others on the committee (Alex Knapp, Don Skinner, Jim Crist, Penny Burdge, Spring Lenox and Tiffany Johnson). Their willingness to share time and ideas and dreams has been humbling and inspiring. It has been great to look through the packets of so many talented ministers, to read about their ideas and dreams and to get a glimpse of the witness they bring to Unitarian Universalism and the world. It has been greater still to get to speak at length with some of those ministers and to listen to them as they flesh out their vision. But it has been greatest still to get to know the members of the committee. Not only has it been fascinating to learn more about each, but deeply moving to see them as they walk in the world and in the work of this church. As we move closer to the time when we extend an invitation to one of those ministers, it is our bond as a group that matters most to me personally. The committee is supposed to be representative of the congregation — the congregation in microcosm — and so, I’ve also come to feel closer to the congregation, even as we’ve been largely absent during this search process. Last Sunday, Easter Sunday, was my first time back in a service, an Easter service (and Easter has a special part in my Unitarian story), and being back, during the hullabaloo of Sunday, was wonderful. I expect today to be equally wonderful.
When I signed the book on April Fool’s Day, I did so intentionally (it was not a normal New Member Sunday). The opportunity to sign the book on that day could not be passed up. That might lead some to think that I don’t take my Unitarian affiliation seriously. But I take foolishness and silliness very seriously. I think that humor allows us to see parts of the truth which might otherwise go unstated or unseen. When I am dead serious, the light of my reason may flash the more brilliantly, but the beam is often of a narrow focus. When I am in a lighter mode, my vision is blurred somewhat, but has a wider scope. And wider scope is what, for me, Unitarian Universalism is all about. If we can laugh at ourselves, we embrace humility. If we can share a laugh with others, we include them in community — we embrace hospitality and one another. And if humor can get past the censors of our mind and help us see a better way, or see some flaw that needs addressing, well, that is all in the service of a greater truth.
So, four years ago, I signed the book at SMUUCh on April Fool’s day, in a spirit of play and joy. I hope that no one concludes therefrom that I think don’t take our movement, or, more importantly, our people, seriously. That would be, what we’d call in my Catholic upbringing, a most grievous error.
Happy April Fool’s Day — two days late. But, it’s Sunday, and a sunny Sunday, so the wait seemed right.