Welcome, by New Unity member Qaisar Siddiqui
It is my pleasure to welcome you here this morning to this radically inclusive community of love and justice. Radically inclusive means that whoever you are, whatever you believe or don’t believe, wherever you are from, whatever you look like, whatever joys and sorrows you carry, and whomever you love, you are welcome here.
For those of you who are here for the first time today, a very special welcome. We know that it is not easy to arrive for the first time. You wonder what you will find. You worry. Please take a deep breath. The worst is over! Let us help to make you feel at home. Let us help you to find whether this community is right for you. I hope that all of you find in the next hour something to inspire you, something that makes you think, something that touches your heart, something to help you in your own journey toward wholeness. Whoever you are, you are not alone. You are welcome here.
Today we’ll be talking about something you’re not supposed to mention in church: money. As part of our quarterly theme of 'reconciliation', we’ll be looking at how to make sense of finance and faith, or cash, credit, and church, and how the two can work in tandem, if at all, to further a mission of radical love and justice.
Reading: Wild Geese by Mary Oliver
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting — over and over announcing your place in the family of things.
Reading: Extract from A Vindication of the Rights of Women, by Mary Wollstonecraft
Whilst my benevolence has been gratified by contemplating this artless picture, I have thought that a couple of this description, equally necessary and independent of each other, because each fulfilled the respective duties of their station, possessed all that life could give.
Raised sufficiently above abject poverty not to be obliged to weigh the consequence of every farthing they spend, and having sufficient to prevent their attending to a frigid system of economy which narrows both heart and mind.
I declare, so vulgar are my conceptions, that I know not what is wanted to render this the happiest as well as the most respectable situation in the world, but a taste for literature, to throw a little variety and interest into social converse, and some superfluous money to give to the needy, and to buy books.
For it is not pleasant when the heart is opened by compassion, and the head active in arranging plans of usefulness, to have a prim urchin continually twitching back the elbow to prevent the hand from drawing out an almost empty purse, whispering at the same time some prudential maxim about the priority of justice.
Closing Words by New Unity member Qaisar Siddiqui
Despite the collection plate, or sack, having already been sent round, and generously filled by today’s congregants for this month’s chosen charity, there’s still a part of the idea of money and church combined that still irks me.
What I love about Kent’s message is that it challenges us to look further than notions of money equalling power, corruption, or elitism; and that we may choose to direct the flow of resources and charity to that which the rest of society would deem undeserving, or pointless.
This doesn’t mean we’re asking for you to write us a cheque for a few million - although of course we wouldn’t exactly say 'no' to it either - it only means that money, even if it makes the world go round, even if it’s funny in a rich man’s world, can still be used for the greater good, and for radical love, justice, and independence.