The Rev. Dr. Craig Rubano

When asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my answer is always the same: If you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t understand data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a pulse. What I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world.

— Paul Hawken

There is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we are brave enough to be it.

— Amanda Gorman

Hope is contagious!

— Greta Thunberg

To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.

— Howard Zinn

When I was in college, there was “Feb Club,” a movement that produced a party every night of the month to counteract the scary winter stretch into the midterms and the uncertain future. It was thought that February was a month in which one was particularly susceptible to doldrums. So, while our congregational themes for the month are weighty, we’ll balance them with hope and joy and love. Justice and equity are—or can be, optimally—interrelated for, while “equity” (with word roots in “equal”) represents solutions for addressing imbalanced social systems, “justice” (with word roots in “law”) takes equity further by fixing those systems sustainably. Both are needed to even the playing fields of life so that all might flourish. Of course, for those of us who have profited by the unevenness of those fields over generations, equity and justice can feel a bit threatening, so education, courage, determination, and follow-through are needed, along with a large dose of hope.

Our opening quotations for the month address the need for hope in hard times. And, if the newspaper headlines in January were any barometer for our world, and for a U.S. election year, some active, aggressive hope will be required. Not empty, pie-in-the-sky hope, but, as Zinn reminds us above, hope based in the history-based reality that, time and time again, humans have demonstrated an ability for “sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.” We need to have the determination to remember that ordinary people (Hawken) are working tirelessly “to restore this earth and the lives of the poor.” We need to have the courage (Gorman) to be the light in the eradication of racism in ourselves and our institutions, in the establishment of equity to right myriad oppression-related wrongs, and in the creation of innovative solutions amid the growing desperation of a climate crisis. Even someone as clear-eyed about crisis as Greta Thunberg can declare, with an exclamation point, that “hope is contagious!”

Our worship services this month offer some roadmaps on how to continue living into our vowed 8th Principle mindset (Feb 4), how to put Love at the center of our values (Feb 11), and ways to implement kindness (Feb 18) in our relationships with others—those known to us and otherwise randomly selected. I hope that our programming in February will enliven hope in us all. I will try to do my part by offering, as a benefit for UUCMC’s operating fund, the concert that I will premiere in NYC beginning in March, my first concertizing in the City in more than a decade. I hope you will join us the night of Friday, February 23rd for Take the Moment, a collection of songs handpicked to tell the story of those pivotal moments of change in my life that have made all the difference. Joined onstage by Music Director Beth Ertz at the piano and bassist Marc Schmied, and drawing from my experiences as Broadway actor, scholar, pastoral theologian, cabaret artist, minister, and goat owner (!), we’ll tap into music and lyrics by Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers, Stephen Sondheim, Alan & Marilyn Bergman, Jerry Herman, and more. I hope you will come to support ($20 minimum suggested donation, $10 for students) the work of UUCMC and celebrate the unique way music and great lyrics help sustain the stories of our lives.

Together, we’ll get through February… and, if an extra day added to the end of the month seems daunting, remember, at Yale, a leap year just means one more Feb Club party!

Rev. Craig

February Worship Services

February 4   Continuing to Live Our 8th Principle     Rev. Dr. Craig Rubano

As we begin Black History month and open exploration of our monthly congregational theme of Justice and Equity, we know that there always is antiracist work to do. This Sunday we’ll garner some insights from some recent publications to see how we might take next steps in living into our vowed 8th Principle of dismantling oppressions within ourselves and our institutions.

Music: Dr. Louise Chernosky

February 11   Love at the Center of our Values            Rev. Dr. Craig Rubano 

At this year’s General Assembly of UU Congregations, a vote will be taken to approve a new conceptualization of what have been, in past years, our six, seven, and then eight Principles: the graphic for the proposal frames six overarching values as petals with Love at the center of the flower—for, in the language of the proposal, “we live our shared values through the spiritual discipline of Love.” As Valentine’s Day approaches, let us strive to understand Love as that powerful force that holds us tight and will not let us go.

Music: Dr. Louise Chernosky, UU Singers

Following the worship service, there will be a Fundraising Mac ’n’ Cheese and Chili Luncheon in the Community Room.

February 18   Random Acts of Kindness Day: A Multigenerational Service      Michelle McKenzie-Creech, CDFM and Rev. Dr. Craig Rubano

Begun in New Zealand in 2004, Random Acts of Kindness Day is celebrated in the United States on February 17th, urging people to “pay it forward” in random acts that demonstrate six concepts related to kindness: respect, caring, inclusiveness, integrity, responsibility, and courage. In this service, all ages will explore how kindness embodies Unitarian Universalist values and brings us closer to a Beloved Community with justice and equity for all.

Music: Dr. Louise Chernosky

February 25   Love Is the Key                                     Guest Minister

How do we respond to the divine love flowing through us and all creation, which calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves? Join us as we explore ways to tap into this river of love and help it transform us and the world.

Music: Dr. Louise Chernosky