This Sunday we will engage in our annual flower communion, a ritual begun by Norbert Capak in 1923 in the Unitarian church in Czechoslovakia as a way of honoring our diversity and promoting the goal of peace and equality for all.
Our first UU principle reminds us to honor the inherent worth and dignity of all people. The uniqueness and beauty of each flower reminds us of the uniqueness and beauty of each person.
When we fail to recognize another person’s worth and dignity due to barriers of race or class or nationality, we no longer see their humanity. A person whom we no longer see as fully human becomes expendable, and we can ignore their suffering. The UUA has issued a statement condemning family separation at the border. Our faith tradition demands that we recognize the humanity of those who suffer, and work to alleviate their suffering.
As Unitarian Universalists, when we think of the suffering of children being torn from their parents arms, we are moved to act, to speak out, to demand justice, for we understand how harmful this practice is to children, and we cannot stand by and allow such injustice to continue. Our faith tradition calls us to speak out against injustice; to witness for the rights of the oppressed; to work for a better and more just works for all.
The separation of children from their parents and imprisonment of children in camps is dehumanizing for those imprisoned, but also for those who carry out these actions and all who witness this horror and do nothing to stop it. We cannot as people of faith allow ourselves to be complicit in this attack on children and families.
As your Director of Family Ministries, my role is to support the religious and spiritual development of children, youth, and families in our congregation. Often, in the process of discerning what we will teach our children, we discover what truly matters to us. As a faith community that values the sacred connection between parents and children we must recognize the evil of systematically removing children from their parents for political gain.
We may feel powerless to do anything to stop this. We may be tempted to believe the administration has good reasons for this policy; that somehow this is what we need to be safe. But the damage that is being done to these children is too high a price to pay. We must speak out; we must insist that this injustice end; we must help ensure that not only these children but other vulnerable groups are not dehumanized in this way.
The UUA webpage Love Resists has tools and resources for taking action, ways to get involved and build partnerships, and sources for spiritual disturbance. We have support both through our local community and our national association to step up, to be bold, to demand change.
Norbert Capek died in a Nazi internment camp in 1942. Before his death he penned these words: “It is worthwhile to live and fight courageously for sacred ideals. Oh, blow, you evil winds, into my body’s fire. My soul, you’ll never unravel. Even though disappointed a thousand times or fallen in the fight, and everything worthless seem, I have lived amidst eternity. Be grateful, my soul. My life was worth living. The one who was pressed from all sides but remained victorious in spirit is welcomed into the choir of heroes.”
This Sunday, as you hold the flower you receive, be reminded of not only of the beauty of our uniqueness, but of our responsibility to ensure that everyone have healthy homes in which to grow. As we work to nurture our own children, may we seek the same nurturance for all children.
Blessed be. Amen. Go in peace.