Unitarian Universalism is a historically Christian religion. The Unitarian Church and the Universalist Church, two liberal Christian denominations, merged in 1961. Since then, UU has become less and less Christian and more and more theologically diverse. Officially, “Jewish and Christian teachings” is just one of the six sources of faith that today’s UU church claims--alongside world religions, earth-centered traditions, and others. At the UU Fellowship of Central Michigan, a congregation of 100 people, I know that some people consider themselves Christian and would therefore consider Easter an important holiday...and many don’t. About 20 of us right now are doing a class called “Building Your Own Theology,” which asks everyone to figure out exactly what they believe. It will be interesting to see how many name Christianity as a primary part of their religious beliefs.
Personally, I was thinking about this as I walked by the river on Easter Sunday. The holiday felt less significant because I had already ritualized and honored spring, hope, new life beginning--the classic themes of Easter--on the spring equinox two weeks ago. Spring equinox is the pagan holiday of Ostara, from which the word Easter is probably derived. And I realized that my beliefs and practices have evolved to be more pagan than Christian.
Pagans today recognize and honor the cycle of the year with their holidays. To me this has become a core of my spirituality: marking the time that I spend on this planet, rotating daily and going around the sun yearly. This is my 53rd trip around the sun. Spring equinox, marking light ascending, days growing longer, spring arriving--this is the main religious story for me. The story of Jesus being killed and resurrected is one example of that for me: an example of death and rebirth, like the trees and flowers, like the sun and the river. The bigger story for me is the earth circling the sun and where I am placed on the earth to observe it. Happy Easter to all who observe the holiday; happy spring to all who live in this hemisphere and see light and warmth returning; may hope bless all of us, whatever our religious beliefs.
Divine and undying spirit of Jesus, be with me now. Nurturing energy of Mother Earth, be here now. I pray for all people, and all living beings, to have peace and life and hope today. May spring bless the fields and rivers, the marshes and hills, bringing food to sustain the deer and the rabbits and the birds.
May people in their families and by themselves be renewed and blessed by the spring. May the story of Jesus dying and being reborn give hope and meaning to those who connect with that story.
May the whole world know peace and hope, with no exceptions.
Rev. Andrew Frantz
April 7, 2021