Rev. Doug’s Comments at his Installment Ceremony on March 6, 2016
Many of you may recall that in Pope Francis’ comments – just after he’d been selected Pope – he made an unusual request. He asked the large crowd to pray for him.
At first, the request came across as arrogant. But Pope Francis’ implied message to the world was that he would not act as a high and mighty religious figure. Instead, he was just another person in need of prayer. More importantly, his plea implied that the people – and not just the priests, Bishops or Pope – the people are equally able to pray for and minister to others.
While I am certainly no Pope, I echo Francis’ sentiments. Your choice of me as your minister is a great honor and responsibility. It’s not one that I accept as your spiritual superior, however. Instead, I accept this role because of an inward sense I’ve had for over fifteen years that being a minister is my way to give back. But it is no different then the inner sense any of you have to be a parent, grandparent, nurse, teacher, social worker, engineer, whatever. We each work and give back in ways that capture our passions and skills.
In doing so, we are each ministers. I get to be called by that title but it is definitely not an exclusive designation for a small set of supposedly spiritual persons. Each of you are ministers to countless people and I encourage you to see yourselves in that light. How do we each contribute to making humanity and the world better?
I offer these comments most pointedly to the youth here today – especially to the teenagers who will soon take their place as leaders in our society. Each of you young people are ministers. You are powerful influencers and opinion shapers and care givers.
Our world desperately needs us all to be ministers in the sense that everybody yearns to find meaning and happiness in life. We each strive to elevate the human condition and build a human family that cares for all of its members. That is why we are here as Unitarian Universalists.
More than ever we need millions of ministers – every person – to advocate for and then practice values of love, inspiration, and mercy. To the teens in this room, go out into your schools, clubs and sports teams and be advocates for peace, for diversity, for befriending and championing all kids – especially those on the margins: the bullied, different, friendless, weak, black, immigrant, gay, lesbian, trans, goth, nerd, whatever.
To us adults, the principle is the same. Our secular world needs to be reminded of eternal spiritual truths. We each have the opportunity to bring people together, to point the way to living a purpose filled life, to extend hands of opportunity and respect, to inspire and to love.
I gratefully and humbly accept the work you’ve offered me to be the minister to the Gathering at Northern Hills. But I do so with the acknowledgement that I am one among equals – no better, perhaps worse, than any of you.
As a spiritual Community, we are like ancient people who gather around a bonfire, hold hands of communal support, and gaze out into a starry night and ask each other: What? Why? How? I know we will continue to ask such questions as ministers together. And, please keep me in your thoughts and prayers as I will strive to do the same for you.
I wish you peace and joy…