Love – we start with love. . .

In a few minutes we will rise and speak our Bond of Union together.  The Bond of Union stops me each week.   There, for all to see on the page, and spoken together: our values and commitment, simple and beautiful.

I remember when I first came to visit this church.  I read the Bond of Union silently with awe.  I was (and am) impressed that this church says  what it means. Over time I’ve also learned that this church does what it says.  Powerful, and uncommon.

For the first 6 months here, I couldn’t get through saying all the words.   I always choked up somewhere along the way.  We would rise, the words would be written there, and somewhere in the Bond of Union it would hit me that this is the deepest meaning of my life and of others’ lives here.  I treasure what the Bond of Union talks about, that we all say it together, and that it binds us back into history and forward into possibility and action.

Love – we start with love.  Enough said.

Quest for truth. As a long-term UU, this is not a new idea. But it IS a new idea in the long history of religions. I love it.

The first part of the Bond of Union ends with service. It’s kind of the “so what” part.  Fancy thinking and feelings aren’t enough; they must lead to service and bringing more good into the world.

The second part of the Bond of Union talks about specifically how:

Seek knowledge in freedom.

Dwell in peace. This is not always easy. And it takes skill and compassion.

Serve humanity. And in fellowship.  This is what we review with our youth when they go out to do service.  We work together in fellowship – hands together, not a hand up.

Care for the earth in stewardship.  This reminds me of learning from our source of earth-centered spirituality, but it goes further – into caring for the earth.  And stewardship is a sacred trust. That’s the best way I know to describe how humans’ relationship with earth should be.

That all may grow in harmony with the good.  On the Hurricane Sandy service trip, a person from another denomination asked about UUs and God. – something along the lines of, ’You folks don’t believe in God, do you?’  A UU gave a quick answer: ‘We just spell it with 2 Os.’  Hmmm. I’ve thought about that for years.  We can agree about some things that are good/worthy and we are all trying to be in harmony with the good.

Thus do we covenant. What a word!  Much more than agree, contract, plan, intend: covenant has special character of involving our soul, our deepest, most sacred selves; in a sacred bond.

Where else in our lives do we make a sacred agreement, about crucial values, with our deepest selves?  Nowhere else – at least, not in my life and, I suspect, not in yours.

And we say this, all of us, together.  I usually look around the circle. And I see people making the covenant together, our deepest selves calling forth our most closely treasured values, reminding ourselves yet again, coming back to living these values.  Making and remaking bonds between us, across and around the circle.

The bonds go back in time too.  In the back of the hymnal are two roots of our covenant.   To think of our UU values and work in the past, to have those guiding us now, to fit into an ongoing tradition, to have a line of UUs having done good work on which we build now – this is a treasure.

And as we leave after our worship, carrying these values into the world with the “fire of commitment,” we work to bring forth good in the wider world.  I am so thankful we call ourselves and each other back to these values. I am so thankful we have each other in this beloved work.


Donna Newsome