One of my favorite Christmas presents this year is The Little Book Of Saints, complete with beautiful plates of the saints and their symbols. Having been raised a Unitarian Universalist, I knew about three saints before starting this book, but I am now a font of useful information. Do you know that there is one saint for Surgeons, Dog Trainers, Antique Dealers, and Ironworkers?? His name is St Roch, and he was born in 1340 in France. He was orphaned at a young age but went to medical school. His life was saved by a dog but there is no good answer for why he is connected to antique dealers or ironworkers.
What if there were saints in the UU tradition? Surely Francis David would be canonized as one of the earliest Unitarians. The UUA website informs us that “the beginning of the Protestant Reformation took hold in the remote mountains of Transylvania in eastern Europe. Here the first edict of religious toleration in history was declared in 1568 during the reign of the first and only Unitarian king, John Sigismund. Sigismund’s court preacher, Frances David, had successively converted from Catholicism to Lutheranism to Calvinism and finally to Unitarianism because he could find no biblical basis for the doctrine of the Trinity. Arguing that people should be allowed to choose among these faiths, he said, “We need not think alike to love alike.”…
In sixteenth-century Transylvania, Unitarian congregations were established for the first time in history. These churches continue to preach the Unitarian message in present-day Romania. Like their heretic forebears from ancient times, these liberals could not see how the deification of a human being or the simple recitation of creeds could help them to live better lives. They said that we must follow Jesus, not worship him…
During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Unitarianism appeared briefly in scattered locations. A Unitarian community in Rakow, Poland, flourished for a time, and a book called On the Errors of the Trinity by a Spaniard, Michael Servetus, was circulated throughout Europe.”
For his curiosity and scholarship, Mr. Servetus was burned at the stake with his manuscript tied around his thigh. More modern saints in our Living Tradition would have to include James Reeb, a Unitarian Universalist minister, who, along with twenty percent of the denomination’s ministers responded to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s call to march for justice in Selma. He was murdered by a couple of thugs, leaving behind a wife and young children.
Who will be remembered from this era? Who will write the definitive treatise that will unite progressive and open-minded people, leading to new and lasting legislation? Who will be called to action to defend the rights of all peoples, regardless of race, religion, sexual identity, age, ability or any other trait that humans use to separate themselves from each other? Perhaps it could be you! Come to 4 Cleaves Street and be part of a loving, learning, searching and serving congregation. We are all capable of saintly behavior, but we like trying to be our best together, in community.
See you there!