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Reflections from Rev. Alan Taylor

Becoming a People of Perseverance
Rev. Rev. Alan Taylor, Senior Minister

Perseverance is a quality that I have long admired both in ordinary people who defy their circumstances and those who become famous through their struggle for truth, hope, and justice. This month we have the opportunity to explore what makes us a People of Perseverance.

The critical ingredient is having a purpose, a vision to pursue. When we live with a compelling purpose or vision for our lives, we are driven beyond what we thought we were capable of. We keep on keeping on, despite the challenges, the obstacles, even the exhaustion.

My colleagues who serve on the west side of Chicago face such tremendous challenges: fewer monetary resources, wider drug use and homelessness, limited educational opportunities for their children, higher teenage pregnancy rate, and officiating memorials for too many people killed by violence. I am in awe of my colleagues who walk with many more people who struggle mightily, in a community that does not enjoy such resources as Oak Park. Yet they persevere. Their faith in humanity, their faith in the power of love, their faith in their God provides a foundation for perseverance.

When my oldest was born, my mentor in ministry said to me, “Alan, as a parent you will be pushed beyond what you imagined you are capable of.” I had no idea what he meant in that moment, but over time, parenting requires perseverance, and a child provides a specific purpose that calls people to grow.

I appreciate how many of us put ourselves in the service of goals that require us to grow beyond what we imagined ourselves capable.

Our congregation knows something about perseverance. Addressing the challenges of our building have taught us something about staying the journey within our congregational life. For years this congregation was unsure how we would ever be able to adequately stabilize our building, let alone renovate it. The needs of Unity Temple went so far beyond what the congregation could address.

Yet we kept our hearts open to possibility. You know, that’s how I define prayer: opening our hearts to possibility

Then, once it was clear we could meet the financial obligations, we had another obstacle. We were obliged to meet for two years outside our building. This journey taught us a lot about what it means to be a covenanted faith community not connected to a specific building. We thrived during this challenging time because of our clarity of vision, because of our shared purpose. In fact we clarified our purpose during our Daring to Dream process!

As a People of Perseverance, may we open our hearts to possibility, cultivate resilience as individuals and as a community, and support one another through the journey of life.