The Rev. Wendy Pantoja
“Love thy Neighbor . . .”
I know that Unitarian Universalists are not much for Bible quoting. However, I would be hard-pressed to find one among us who cannot finish that quote. “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” (Mark 12:31) And so I thought it a fitting theme for a month often associated with love. But rather than the romantic love often suggested by one of its holidays, I invite us to look at the love we would cultivate in kinship with each other.
Who is our neighbor? How wide a circle “should” we draw? To respond to this question I look to the Spanish word used for “neighbor” in this biblical verse: prójimo. This word does not speak only of the neighbor next door or of the person in the next cubicle or sitting next to you on the bus, at school, or at church. It draws a wider circle with the definition of “fellow human being.” And so, when we look at Black History, another theme associated with this month, we may want to do so not for the trivia we may pick up about which inventions or explorations were done by black men and women or what trials and tribulations were suffered by black people throughout history. These are important but our exploration should not just end there. We would be wise to look at the work that has yet to be done to bring justice and people to fellow citizens who have yet to be fully accepted as such. We also need to look at what needs to be done to bring justice and peace to anyone of any race, ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, size or, age, citizen or not.
A couple of days before this writing and the cause of my scratching what I had written to begin over again is the lawsuit brought against this state by fellow Floridians: marriage equality. Six same-sex couples have sued for the right to marry the love of their lives, for the right to give their children equal access to both parents, for the right to have their loved one at their side during a health crisis, for the right to have their loved one see to it that their wishes are respected when the end is near.
Perhaps paraphrasing some familiar words we hear every Sunday morning will help us make a greater commitment to our neighbor, to our prójimo today and always:
I am glad you are my neighbor
- whoever you are
- whatever your gender, age or ability,
- whatever your beliefs or cultural background,
- whomever you love,
- whatever your gifts.
You are welcome in my heart. May we walk together in the ways of truthfulness, service, holiness and love.
En paz y fe,
Contact the Minister
Minister’s Office Hours
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: 1 PM – 5 PM*
Monday: day off
Friday: Sermon writing day
Saturday: reserved for special meetings and other events
Please know that this schedule is subject to change in order to meet other ministerial and denominational responsibilities. It will also be revised over the course of the year in response to congregational needs.
Rev. Wendy is available by telephone 9 AM – 8 PM except on her days off. Emergency calls will be accepted at any time.
*It is always best to call for an appointment. If these hours do not accommodate your schedule, please do not hesitate to call for an appointment at a mutually convenient time.