Religious Exploration on Theme of Possibility
Editor Albany UU | Jan 03, 2019

From Soul Matters: Of all our Soul Matters topics this year, possibility is arguably most central to our faith. It has distinguished Unitarian Universalists from the start. Historically, when others saw depravity and sin at the core of human identity, we saw potential. When many were preaching that this world was fallen, and we should look instead to the hope of an afterlife, we found ourselves falling in love with the possibility of heaven on earth. Theologically, you might say that we were the people that believed that God hadn’t given up on any of us and so we shouldn’t give up on each other or this world. Whatever your own beliefs, our history has led to us being a people of “why not?” Why not give people another chance? Why not fight what seems a losing battle? Why not risk a little failure?

So that’s our religion. But what about us personally? How open have you been recently to “Why not?” How’s your faith in possibility doing?  Trusting possibility isn’t so easy for many of us…

…We tell ourselves so many small things about who we and others are. And we know that’s not really because we’re pessimistic. More often than not, it’s about protecting ourselves. There’s comfort in convincing yourself that the work is hopeless; that way you don’t have to try and risk failure, hurt or disappointment yet again.

All of which is to say that maybe being a people of possibility has more to do with being a people of vulnerability and courage than we’ve thought. The work isn’t just about believing in possibility.  It’s about being willing to endure a few wounds along the way. It can hurt to be hopeful. Especially with all that is going on in our world and society right now, we need to make room for that.

So maybe the question this month isn’t “Are you ready to lean into possibility?” but “Who’s beside you and who are you bringing along?” “Who have you gathered to patch and pick you up when the path gets bumpy?” After all, no one makes it down the road of possibility alone.

And perhaps that’s the real secret: remembering that “Why not?” is something we all have to say together.

At least we adults need to come together to be open to possibility. As many parents and caretakers can attest, “Why not?” can be a child’s ceaseless question. Our RE program is a unique opportunity for us to come together in our religious community to support the yearnings of our children and youth.

January is a time to start anew in our Sunday school groups.

  • Our 3 groups that comprise grades pre-k through 5th will have UU Jams in three upstairs classrooms. The focus for stories and Jams (workshops) is “I Can Make a Difference”, inspired by the Soul Matters theme and the book of the same title by Marion Wright Edelman
  • Crossing Paths (6th/7th) grade will be learning about the Black Baptist church. I’m re-writing the unit from the old Neighboring Faiths curriculum to be more culturally sensitive.
  • Our 8th/9th grade group will get down to work to prepare for their service trip in March in NYC through YSOP
  • Our high school youth group will be looking outings and service opportunities and also at how create procedures to be accountable for following the covenant and better communications with youth and with parents and caretakers.


In Faith,

Leah Purcell, Director of Religious Education and Family Ministry