Unitarian Universalist Congregation
of Northern Chautauqua

companionship on life's sacred journey

The day widened, pulled from both ends by the shrinking dark, as if darkness itself were a pair of hands and daylight a skein between them, a flexible membrane, and the hands that had pressed together all winter — praying, paralyzed with foreboding — now flung wide open.
— Annie Dillard

Message From Our Minister

From the Heart

What does it mean to pray? Unitarian minister A. Powell Davies writes: “What is it to pray but to open our hearts?” And this is a good start to understanding prayer. Whatever else happens, in true prayer our hearts do open up to more of the truth and love possible for us.

When I am speaking publicly, I will sometimes say something like: “I hope and pray our congregation will continue to work towards a more racially just society.” This combination of hope and prayer is very important and potent for me. In this combination, the hope is not just a vague desire for racial justice, but rather a commitment to do what I can to this end. I am also promising to work to convince others, and to be open to all worthy possibilities, including changing myself and my habits.

So if you hear me make such a prayer, and then observe me acting in a way that contradicts the vision, you can rightly bring me up short and let me know your concern. And, having made such a prayer about our congregation, members and friends know I am promising to lift up the ideal of racial justice. And they know I will speak up when I sense we are acting in a contrary way.

So what are my prayers? Well, I do hope and pray for racial justice. More generally, I hope and pray our congregation will become more and more a loving, inclusive community where we live out our ideal of the “worth and dignity of every person,” as our First Principle says.

May it be so.
Rev. George Buchanan