Ironicschmoozer’s Weblog


Another Great Stewardship Testimonial from a UU Service! — Feb. 19, 2011

Every Sunday in February a member or pledging friend gives a reflection on what this UU congregation means to them and how they think about their commitment of financial support to the congregation. 

Today’s was very engaging, and brought Irwin spontaneous applause. 

Good Morning.

My name is Irwin and I’ve been attending services here with my wife, Abby, and my daughter, Lily, who turns thirteen in two weeks, for about three years.

“Value.”   “Value” is an interesting word.  The heiress’ ring is of great value.  When Bel-Air offers two-for-one half-gallons of ice cream…that’s a good value.  I value my family more than anything else in the world.  It describes the expensive, the bargain and the priceless.  And in the midst of that stew of definitions, it has another meaning, doesn’t it?  Just think of the plural form, add that “s” to get “values” and something else entirely comes to mind.

I’m Jewish and was raised with a Reform congregation here in Sacramento.  I learned Hebrew, had my Bar Mitzvah, went to camps and religious school, learned wonderful stories and traditions and celebrated the holidays.   Reflecting on that experience, and as I think today about what it means to me to be Jewish, I see it being about my connection to that long, rich, intellectual, artistic and comedic heritage.  The values I connect with as a Jew are indivisible from my connection to that heritage.

I also went to a Catholic high school.  The Jewish population of my class consisted wholly of me and one other kid—Sam.  While there, I had a fantastic theology teacher.  I’ll never forget the way he described the essence of Catholicism.  Remember the movie from the 70’s – Oh God!?  George Burns, embodying God, comes to Earth to pester the John Denver character into spreading the word.  Struggling with this unfathomable turn of events, he asks God for proof.  George Burns hands him a business card.  The card is plain white with small black letters in the center that reads, in simple type, “God.”  My teacher loved this because he said it captured faith perfectly.  He said not to look for burning bushes, healers or water walkers.  That the values of Catholicism come from faith, specifically faith in God.

Fast forward years later and I find myself here, testifying in church on a Sunday morning.  Even as I stand here, looking out at all of you, it’s hard for me to believe.  But what draws me here each Sunday, and what compelled me to accept the request to testify, is the beauty of the core value of this community: a belief in the goodness in everyone.  Like mathematical postulates, which are accepted as being true without proof, and which serve as the foundation of theorems and equations that are used to explain everything from the movement of electrons to the attraction of galaxies, the belief in the goodness in everyone serves as a building block that guides the principles and actions of this community.  Hey, if you are going to build a philosophy from a core value, a belief in the goodness in everyone seems like a pretty good choice to me.  And I see that here each Sunday, when I talk with the members, when I participate in events.  And when my daughter attends Religious Education, or OWL sexuality classes, or MUGS retreats, I know that the people I entrust her with act from a belief in that core value.  And with that value as a starting point, and some money, this community will be able to share its beacon of love and justice for the coming year.

In full disclosure, my family and I are not official members of this church.  But we strongly support what this community is about and what it offers us so, as friends, we are happy to contribute financially and to make our third annual commitment, this year increasing our commitment.  We do this because we value this community: we find it of worth.  And it’s a good value:  we get so much for our contribution.  And that belief in the goodness in everyone?  Well, most importantly, we value that value.

Please think about what the value of this community is to you and consider an annual commitment that matches the value you derive.

Thank you.

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