Our worship theme for December is "the roles of religious heroes (Jesus, the Buddha, Moses, Mohammed, etc.) and what we can learn from them; this Sunday I am specifically preaching on Jesus and his message to Unitarian Universalists.
Being as how we don't see Jesus as God, we have a different take on Jesus' message to humankind. We see Jesus as a great teacher, a radical, a reformer, a prophet, a preacher, a changer of lives. But not God. (In fact, it's long been a puzzle to me why religious traditionalists are so stuck on the idea of Jesus as God. God's son, perhaps, but also the son of a human mother. Just like I am God's daughter. But let's not stray off into that territory---my topic is moral courage.)
Moral courage, like Jesus had, like Moses had, like Siddhartha Gautama had, like Mohammed had, like the millions of human beings who have died for their ideals, their commitments, their concern for others.
As a child I was taught that Jesus never did anything wrong, that he was perfect from day one, that his little indiscretions (running away from home to go sit with the rabbis in the temple, for example, and scaring his parents to death) were in the service of a higher calling. It was a little hard to accept; all the boys I knew were naughty at times and I could hardly believe that Jesus was any different.
In seminary, I revisited the story of Jesus's meeting the Syro-Phoenician woman, who asked him to heal her daughter. He initially rejected her but she spoke so eloquently and clearly of her need that he relented and did what she asked. Jesus changed his mind about what the right thing was to do! Heavens!
That took moral courage, for sure. It meant changing his mission, from convincing the Jews that the kingdom of God was inside oneself to convincing Gentiles as well, much to the dismay and surprise of his followers.
Who has that kind of moral courage today? Who are the "Gentiles" who need a break, whose lives are of little concern to the authorities, whose civil rights are not important, whose families are not important.
Sorry, I'm off on my favorite rant. I just wish there was a little more moral courage in our world today.