by John Beckett
Once upon a time three brick masons were working on a large construction project. A lady walked by and asked them what they were doing. The first barely looked up from his work and said “I’m laying bricks.” The second stopped, thought, then said “I’m building a wall.” But the third smiled broadly and proudly proclaimed “Ma’am, I’m building a cathedral!”
The difference in the three brick masons was vision. The first was doing a competent job, but he could only see the task in front of him. The second could see where his task was leading, but he couldn’t see beyond his own work. But the third brick mason had seen the grand vision. He knew his work would combine with the work of the carpenters, glazers, sculptors and painters to create a work of beauty that would serve their community for centuries.
In the coming weeks, during our Fall Canvass, we’ll all be asked to pledge our giving for 2010. We’ll be asked to give generously, thoughtfully, and sacrificially. Some of us will ask “why?” and that’s a fair question. The usual religious answers are still true: we give because it’s the right thing to do, we give to give back some of what we’ve received, and we give because it makes us feel good.
But for skeptical Unitarian Universalists, perhaps a better question is “what for?” What are we giving for? What are we giving towards?
It’s easy to give the bricklayer’s answer. We’re giving to keep the lights on and the air conditioner running and to keep the pulpit filled on Sundays. A better answer comes from the wall builder, who can see the need to support our growing Religious Education program and to build some literal walls in an expanded sanctuary.
Yes, we’re giving to fund the nuts and bolts of running a church, and we’re giving to support some needed expansion. But my hope is that we’ll have the vision of the cathedral builder and give to build a thriving presence of liberal religion in Denton, North Texas, and across the world.
Let us give to reach those who need our message of love and acceptance. Let us give to provide a safe space for seekers who need a freedom the conservative churches can’t offer. Let us give to help those organizations who need our financial support as much as they need our moral support. Let us give so our children learn Unitarian Universalist values not just from listening to their teachers, but by watching our lives.
Future generations of Denton Unitarian Universalists will tell our stories and sing our songs. Let them say we built cathedrals not from stone and glass, but from the transformed lives of the people who walked through our doors.
Amen, and blessed be!