It's been a whole year.
We've seen a beautiful model of how to face hate in a sanctuary, and how to close ranks with love and keep that hate out. Tennessee Valley UU Church and Westside UU Church have chosen to stand on the side of love. A love that is a fierce and abiding love. This is no frilly place to be, this is a Sequoia like love with roots that wrap around bedrock and branches that reach to the heavens.
Because we have been tried, we are all a bit stronger in this, our beloved community. And a bit wiser. We have evacuation plans, and greeters who keep an eye out for trouble. We know where the exits are and where to take the children if we have a lock down. It's not pleasant to plan for such events, but it helps us straighten our shoulders, square them off and say "we will not shrink back, we will face hate and fight fiercely with the best weapon we know; we will fight with love".
We opened our service last year on the first week of August with hymn number 1. May Nothing Evil Cross This Door. I repeated it though the year in many children's worship celebrations, hoping some would learn the words and have them to hold in their hearts when things are hard. At our year end celebration, I spoke the works as our music director played the hymn solemnly, reverently, like a slow and thoughtful waltz.
I believe in our beloved community with all my heart.
"....and though these sheltering walls are thin, may they be strong to keep hate out, and hold love in."