A week or so a go I wrote about a post by Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, president emeritus of the Union for Reform Judaism, called “Now Is Liberal Religion’s Moment.” In it, Yoffie suggest that liberal religious communities need to “strengthen the ritual and liturgical elements of your congregation’s religious life” in response to the coming administration.
A week later I read another post that is a perfect illustration of what that might look like: “Joining the resistance: A 100-day counter-agenda for the Church,” by Cody Sanders, pastor of Old Cambridge Baptist Church in Harvard Square and American Baptist chaplain at Harvard.
How might our congregations seize this window of time as an opportunity to develop a prophetic vision that ruptures the taken for granted status quo of the world-as-it-is with a compelling vision of the world-as-it-ought-to-be?
His response? Use “the first 100 days of the Trump presidency” as a “time to develop our own ‘100-day counter-agenda’ in our congregations.” These 100 days encompass “most of the season of Epiphany, all of Lent, Easter Sunday and the following two Sundays of the Easter season. That’s 15 Sundays during which our worship and work can explicitly witness to another way.”
In his congregation, “this 100-day counter-agenda is beginning to take shape around the themes of sanctuary (Epiphany), reparations (Lent) and resurrection-as-resistance (Easter).”
Note that while Sanders is using the standard liturgical calendar for Christians, he’s also added themes. What would it look like if Unitarian Universalist congregations using theme-based ministry took these same 100 days to offer “a compelling vision of the world-as-it-ought-to-be” through “liturgy, hymns, holidays, and festivals” built on those themes?
I checked out some of the theme-ministry resources I’m aware of and found some intriguing possibilities. The Soul Matters Sharing Circle, for example, is exploring the following themes during the same period: Prophecy, Identity, Risk, and Transformation. A lot can be said about our vision of the world-as-it-ought-to-be using with them.
Unity Church-Unitarian in Saint Paul, Minnesota, is covering these themes in January, February, March, and April of next year: Resistance, Prayer, Sin, and Redemption. And the themes at All Soul’s Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, are Creation, Freedom, Religious Authority, and Redemption. The Church of the Larger Fellowship has its themes for the first quarter of next year ready as well: Change, Embodiment, Covenant, and Creativity.
I could see any and all of these themes acting as starting points to “prophetically worship and work in the space between the world-as-it-is and the world-as-it-ought-to-be.” If your congregation is already using themes, consider how they might work as a #100DayCounterAgenda to the new administration.
And if you’ve never used themes, consider this: there are 15 Sundays during these 100 days. What would it be like to take three of these themes and do 5 Sundays on each one? Resistance, Risk, Embodiment. Prophecy, Prayer, Creativity. Identity, Covenant, and Transformation.
I’d love to hear your ideas about what this might look like! So please share in the comments or on social media using the hashtag #100DayCounterAgenda.