I don’t know about you, but I am happy to put the year 2017 in the rear-view mirror! It was a challenging year on many fronts, for many of us, but with the hope and anticipation that is inherent in this season, we now look forward to a New Year filled with the promise of positive change and progress.
As inheritors of a faith tradition that calls us to work for “justice, equity and compassion in human relations,” we know that all three of those qualities were in short supply during the past year – and thus we renew our commitment to make all three more manifest in 2018. I hope you will join me, early in this new year but later in this month, at the Cincinnati Women’s March (https://www.facebook.com/events/134129797272058/). I hope you will be sure to register to vote – now – and then vote, both in spring primaries and in the November election. I hope you will make a new year’s resolution to commit to one new social justice project or activity – and take a friend, neighbor or family member with you. I hope you will take advantage of the amazing educational opportunities Heritage Church continually provides, throughout the year, in the form of film series like our Anti-Racism Film Series (returning Jan. 5) and our Death Positive Film Series (returning Jan. 26). I hope you will become part of our Social Justice Collaborative (the next meeting is Sunday, Jan. 7, at 9 a.m.).
Personally, there are other things I find myself eagerly anticipating as 2018 begins. This year, Jennifer and I will celebrate with our son Patrick as he graduates from The Ohio State University. When we moved to Cincinnati, and to Heritage Church, Patrick was entering first grade. Now, he will be entering the “real world” with many possibilities (and challenges) of adulthood awaiting. Throughout the past 16 years, Heritage Church has been our rock – a steady, grounding presence in our lives that has held us and supported us through both joy and sorrow. For that – for you – we are eternally grateful.
There’s one thing more I want to lift up, as I look ahead to 2018. Many of you know that creating a natural burial sanctuary has been a dream of mine for some time, dating as far back as my first sabbatical here at Heritage. Now, thanks to the incredible generosity of 25 Founders, our church’s green burial initiative, Heritage Acres Memorial Sanctuary (www.heritageacresmemorial.org), is rapidly moving toward becoming a reality. Our Heritage Acres Board (myself, Donna Buckley, Heather Wasco, Richard Asimus and Joyce Richter) has declared 2018 “The Year We Get Land.” It is our fond hope – and it is a realistic hope – that Heritage Acres will be open by the end of the new year! We look forward to providing an environmentally sustainable, ecologically grounded, natural burial alternative for the Tri-State region that will outlive all of us, and speak for generations to the principles that this church and our faith hold dear.
May 2018 be a year of change and transformation. May we experience both new beginnings and a return to simpler, more compassionate traditions. Here’s to a peaceful, loving, inclusive, happy New Year!