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[Chalice] A Unitarian Parable for Christmas [Chalice]

Presented December 24, 2003, Christmas Eve
by Rev. Dr. Rob Manning

It came to pass that at a certain point in time, God became very concerned about the human animals she had created. Why was God so concerned? Because God came to believe that the humans she had created as brothers and sisters all to each other were becoming divided and all split up between themselves, with one group against another group against another group throughout the whole world. She thought about how she would fix this problem and bring all the humans back together in one family again. She knew that they were losing their religio, their link, their connection with one another and with Her. To restore their religion, their link with each other, God decided to send into the world a special baby everyone would celebrate and everyone would welcome into the family.

And at the birth of the baby the plan worked great. Everyone came to celebrate the birth of this baby and welcome him into the family. All different kinds of People came from all directions to greet the baby. Wealthy and powerful people like kings came, and ordinary folks like shepherds came too and for a while everyone was back together again. Even the animals came because they too knew there was something to celebrate and they wanted to come join in the celebration of the birth of the special baby into the family.

Now things were fine when the baby was just a baby, but as the baby became a man some people thought he was a prophet and some people thought he was a rabbi, a wise teacher, and some people thought he was God's special son. After he died, things only got worse. Eventually, there were many people who thought he was God's son and many people who thought he wasn't, that he was a prophet or a rabbi. And these groups began to fight with each other. And even the people who thought he was God's son didn't agree with how exactly he was God's son. Some people thought he was adopted, and some people thought he was born at a certain time as God's Son, and some people thought he always existed right along with God herself. And all these people with these different views started arguing, and fighting and even killing each other over these differences. And there developed many more differences and arguments and fights and even wars, and after a few hundred years God was depressed because things had actually gotten worse and now people who were after all all brothers and sisters to each other from God's point of view were even more divided than they were before, and they had lost that sense of religio, that sense of their connection to each other that they had felt that day when the baby was welcomed into the family.

Not too long ago one of our family members right here in our church family said something very interesting and intelligent to his dad. He said: “Maybe we shouldn't be in this church because in this church they don't believe in God.” Well, that young man is really thinking and talking to his dad about important stuff. His mind is really working. And he's absolutely right partly, which is really the only way anyone is absolutely right. He's right in that some people in this church don't believe in God. And some people do. Some people believe that Jesus the baby was God's son in some special and unique way, and some people think that that story of Jesus is a very important and meaningful story, and some people even think it's a silly story. But they are all in our church family because we believe that we are all connected in a way that is deeper and more important than simply agreeing about things in terms of what we believe. In our church family we feel that all humans are connected to each other no matter what they believe, and in our church family everyone is welcome, from atheists to Zoroastrians and everybody in between. In our church we believe in religio, in that linkage between all people that is much more basic than what people believe, than what they think is The Truth!!! And in our church family, where everyone is invited because we think all people are family to each other, all those things we disagree about or might want to discuss and sometimes even argue about with each other, well that doesn't stop us from being family but actually makes our family more interesting.

And really, isn't that how families work? If you disagree with your brother or your sister or your dad about something, they don't stop being your brother or your sister or your dad, do they? They're still your family. And even that member of your family who's kind of different, like crazy Uncle Fred or like in my family crazy Uncle Robbie with the long hair, well, they are still part of the family. I know in my own little family in my house my dog JJ and I have some things we disagree about. For example, he thinks it is ok sometimes when I am sleeping soundly to slip off the bed and sneak downstairs really quietly and go into the kitchen and leap up on the counter and eat a whole loaf of bread or an entire plate of cookies, leaving for me not even the crumbs but only the wrapper, and sometimes he even eats the wrapper. Sometimes this makes me mad and I don't agree with him that he should have the right to do this, but JJ is still part of my family and he always will be no matter what that crazy dog believes!

So I'd like to thank my bright young friend for his remark to his dad, for all of us in our whole church family need to remind ourselves every now and then what it means to be in this church family. We are very different in this church, and some of us are atheists and some of us are agnostics and some of us are Buddhists and some of us are more Christian, and maybe even Zoroastrians. But beyond all of these things we are all of us brothers and sisters to each other and in our church family no one is outside the family.

©2003 Rev. Dr. Rob Manning

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article:
Manning, Robert J. S. 2003. A Unitarian Parable for Christmas, http://www.uuquincy.org/talks/20031224.shtml (accessed December 11, 2018).

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