and may ill fortune never pry
about these windows; may the roar
and rain go by.
By faith made strong, the rafters will
withstand the battering of the storm.
This hearth, though all the world grow chill,
will keep you warm.
(hymn #1 in the Unitarian Universalist hymnal)
Last week I moved into my new house, across town from where I had been renting an apartment. Spiritually this means settling more firmly into this place; claiming this city as my new home; creating a space for love to thrive, for rest and recovery, for welcoming loved ones and visitors. Physically this means being surrounded temporarily by piles of boxes, and trying desperately to dig through them when I need a baking sheet to make dinner.
I live within sight of the Sacred Heart Catholic church, and I can hear their bells ringing regularly. Walking from home to the UU Fellowship building last Sunday, I cut through Sacred Heart’s parking lot. It was full of cars. One person was hurrying toward the door and putting on her face mask: it was 9:05 and Sunday mass had just begun. I looked in the window as I passed and saw the congregation gathered for Palm Sunday.
Having a church as a neighbor is even better than having a school as a neighbor--not quite as good as having a park or a forest; and much better than having a highway or a shopping center as a neighbor. My goal is to be a good neighbor to the people (and the church) around me. To clean up the yard and plant new gardens; to put salt on the sidewalk when it gets icy; to let sweet music flow at times from the open windows.
The Sacred Heart building is a neighbor to the UU Fellowship building too. Their theology may be different from that of many Unitarian Universalists, but I see them as partners, as cousins—as neighbors in faith. They are celebrating their highest holiday of Easter this week. They are meeting in person, while we are waiting a little longer before we do that. They gather to honor the sacred and to be in community. We have differences and we have things in common. As a faith community, may we be good neighbors to all the other faith communities around us.
For every human dwelling and house of worship, with no exceptions:
May the walls keep out hate and hold in love; may the roof shelter from rain and from the hardship of the world; may the hearth warm bodies and spirits; may all be welcome as friends and neighbors.
Rev. Andrew Frantz
March 31, 2021