Sunday Sermon – Fourth Principle Finding Meaning and Truth – March 5th, 2017

 3/5/17   Sermon Fourth Principle Finding Meaning and Truth

Rev. Paul D. Daniel, Minister


We all travel different paths to find personal truth and meaning.


Perhaps like many of you I had to leave my faith of origin to


find what resonated and made rational sense to me.


Judaism and the Old Testament stopped speaking to me at an early age soon after my Bar Mitzvah yet,


I still have great love for the Jewish people and our history.



Perhaps, once a Jew always a Jew,


once a Catholic always a Catholic.

You get the idea.


I suspect we all still carry some


of the roots and trappings of the faith in which we were raised.


It feels embedded in our genes.

The final straw that turned me away from Judaism was the


violence of a vengeful God in the Hebrew bible appalling.


Why would a loving God 
torment Job,


destroy all of humanity in a flood or enslave his/her chosen people?


Why would the Christian God allow


Jesus to be tortured and crucified to prove his love and devotion?


How can a Christian rationalize the crusades and the inquisition? Inhuman treatment in God’s name has no place in any religion.     


We all need to believe in something more humane,

more Unitarian Universalist as it turned out for most of us here today.


We UUs covenant to live by a set of values


developed through a process of personal and collective discernment, moral reasoning and rationality, not blind faith.


We UUs need a faith that is open to both science and myth and


places right human relations with each other and the holy as the highest good.


Faith doesn’t need obedience, but rather moral and ethical precepts and love eternal without dogma or creeds.


We live the questions of our life and learn to accept that life has no easy answers.


That is our way.


This search for meaning and connection is universal.


It calls UUs to use heart and intellect to find


values and principles by which to live,

raise a family,

interact with the world and

ultimately find comfort at the end of our days.

For many of us this experiential search is fundamental to our existence,


our sense of well-being and spiritual contentment.


We like that our faith is built on freedom,


but it is not the freedom to believe whatever we want.

We know by experience that with freedom comes

responsibility embedded within

Fourth Principle,


“a free and responsible search for truth and meaning”.


Unitarian Universalism encourages
us all to follow


our own unique spiritual path to create our own belief systems,


with a belief in God or not.


Whatever the nature of our journey we travel together in spirit.


Walt Whitman said it this way,

“We will go where winds blow,

waves dash, and the Yankee clipper speeds by under full sail.


Forward after the great companions!
And to belong to them!


They too are on the road! …

To see nothing anywhere but


what you may reach it and pass it.

To look up or down no road but

It stretches and waits for you—


To know the universe itself as a road—

As many roads—

As roads for traveling souls.


That curiosity, is what beckons many of us, that


non-judgment openness to change and growth that

can come with fresh ideas and new connections.


As fellow spiritual explorers, we have a responsibility to each other, to honor our differences,


to reserve judgment on what we don’t understand,

to be open to a wide range of beliefs.


We are here to find our own


sacred truth that gives meaning to our lives.


Without that faithfulness to our own agency and our fellow travelers


our search can become self-serving, narcissistic, even destructive.


We are all, less we forget, part of


the interdependent web of existence.


As part of that connected whole


we must consider how our lives intersect with others and how we

are called to work for their integrity, safety and security as well as our own.


Paige Getty writes,


“too often we abandon this responsibility in our insistence on

maintaining our so-called freedom.


Remarkably, somehow, we seem to have convinced ourselves that


freedom implies an affirmation of rampant individualism—


 justifiable and legitimate,


regardless of our actions or their consequences.


We UU secular, atheists, agnostics and humanists can,

 like many fundamentalists,

deepen the schisms that creates


an “us” and “them”,


the religious right from left,


liberal from conservative,


rather than acknowledge that


another’s faith, though very  
different still has worth and validity.


While tolerance of religious diversity is embedded in our faith


we sometimes fail to grant legitimacy to


certain political, religious or social perspectives that vary from our own.


Acceptance of one another can be challenging at times but


we must overcome our own prejudice and resistance to diversity if


we are to breathe life into our faith.


It is a stony road we trod when


we set out to live with commitment and certainty


about our own closely held truth.


It also takes an open mind and a


loving heart to change our cherished beliefs when confronted with new insights, experiences and information.


If we are to honor a


free and responsible search for truth and meaning,


we are called to be intentional about our daily living including our spiritual search.


We must be candid about


what we do and say and


take responsibility for the

consequences of our
actions that can also affect others.


We must live our truth with integrity


 and in the words of Francis of Assisi.


“Preach the Gospel at all times. If necessary, use words.”


In a similar manner, the great UU William Ellery Channing


admonished us to “live holy lives, rather than being skilled disputants”.


I rather think that the holy


eludes many of us in favor of
a good argument,


but life and faith are more than being right and winning.


It needs to be about doing
right by one another.


Living in harmony,

even when we disagree.


That ultimately, is far more satisfying and comforting than being disagreeable.


Sharing our spiritual truth can yield its own rewards.


We might ask ourselves when we face our own death


which of our personal truths


will sustain us and have meaning enough to make death bearable?


That is what the fourth principle is all about,

to illuminate great truths,


define the human condition and

provide new insight to shape the world into


the heaven we seek in the here and now.


Our unique journey happens side by side with


other seekers after spiritual truth.


Our responsibility to ourselves is

to bring reasoning to the search,


to accept alternative wisdom


that makes sense, but to not


rely on our own perspective alone, before we come
to a conclusion.


We must be willing to open

ourselves to the unexpected that some might call mystery.


Our common humanity, our common experience of loss and death, birth and hope


brings us together in this search.


Our free church calls us to think, reason


and reflect on all that we encounter in life.


The meaning we attribute to our experiences shapes


our mind and spirit and calls us to act in the world.

Beyond freedom, we are

challenged to seek authentic truth responsibly,


that balances freedom and responsibility


grounds our search for truth and meaning.


We must each intellectually question in what we put our faith.


Onward, ever onward fellow seekers and supplicants Whitman might say. 


The challenge is great for the road leads through the


unknown mystery that some call God and others love. The rewards of that journey can be life transforming.

May it be so!

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