by Rev. Margret A. O’Neall
One of the beloved hymns in our UU tradition includes the words: Gather in peace, gather in thanks. Gather in sympathy now and then. Gather in hope, compassion and strength. Gather to celebrate once again.
As a faith community we gather, finding strength and comfort in being together. And in gathering, we celebrate: we celebrate our achievements and our possibilities. We commemorate our losses, our sorrows. And sometimes we celebrate the simple fact of being together.
Celebration takes many forms – we celebrate to acknowledge an event; to commemorate, observe, honor, mark, salute, recognize, acknowledge, remember, to memorialize or ceremonialize. We celebrate birthdays and anniversaries, new beginnings and points of transition. When a child is born, we celebrate the new arrival, a sign of hope and promise for human life. When a loved one dies, we celebrate all that was amazing about their life. Sometimes we celebrate in solitude; more often we gather with family and friends, creating an occasion of celebration together.
The Unitarian Universalist faith tradition has much to celebrate in our long history, as does this Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Phoenix. This congregation has overcome adversity, spoken out against injustice, and been present for what is most right and true in our human lives. Now UUCP is poised on a new threshold, preparing to write a new chapter of your history, celebrating the call of your next settled minister, a call that honors your commitments, reflects the brightest points in your past, and illuminates new levels of possibility for your future.
We gather, we create and we build; together we mourn our losses and we celebrate all that is rich in this life we create together. May your celebrations in this time give meaning to this transitional space through which you have journeyed, to the investments you have made to create beauty and resilience in your spaces and your actions, and to the future you dream in vision and possibility.