Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer.
E. M. Forster
Last month Jennifer and I took a long weekend to visit my hometown, Savannah, Georgia. If you have never been there, put visiting Savannah on your "bucket" list. It is absolutely the most beautiful place I have ever been in the United States. Of course, I am biased—but others think so too.
While we were walking through the city, we happened upon the Unitarian Universalist Church of Savannah on Troup Square. Almost every square in Savannah has a church building. The Unitarian Universalist Church of Savannah meets in a gothic revival structure built for the Unitarian Church of Savannah. To the casual observer, it might be presumed that the Unitarian Universalist Church of Savannah was the same institution as the Unitarian Church of Savannah. Unfortunately, they were not.
The Unitarian Church of Savannah was founded and built the church building now on Troup Square in 1850. Sadly, the congregation dwindled and closed its doors nine years later.
About a century after the Unitarian presence ended in Savannah, a Unitarian fellowship started up. After meeting in different venues for about forty years, the Unitarian Universalist Church bought the building on Troup Square that had been built for the original Unitarian congregation in that city.
As this is my "Christmas" column you need to know more about this church. In 1857 James Pierpont, the music director of the Unitarian Church of Savannah and brother of the minister, composed a Christmas song about his memories of winter in New England. He entitled it, "One Horse Open Sleigh." You might know it better as "Jingle Bells."
Every Christmas millions of people still sing that song, hearkening back to that small congregation in Savannah. For we who are thinking about our own church building in our community, it is sobering to consider that it took Unitarian Universalism almost one hundred and eighty years to gain the strength that it currently has in Savannah. Certainly, that must have been an endurance test for our faith in the Deep South. Such a struggle must have also taken patience.
As we rush headlong into this season of joy and face the closing of the old year, let us also be patient with each other and know that we shall eventually be of sufficient strength to move heaven and earth, "making spirits bright."
May you find brightness in this season amidst the darkest time of year. May you connect with the Ground of your Being, however you define it. May pleasant memories be with you. May you know that you are loved and loving. May your spirit ever be bright.
See you in church,