American Unitarian Conference™
Promoting the American Unitarian Tradition
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Riding the Sacred Bus
There are times when it seems more convenient and efficient to take a bus on
a journey rather than a car or train or plane. Unlike cars, there
are no parking problems and bus drivers are relied upon to know the road
and give their full attention to staying on it. Unlike trains and
planes, the bus routes are more diverse and the schedules seem more
As we make our journey through life, we may choose a religious denomination
or congregation to facilitate our travel as we would in boarding a bus.
Generally, we start on the sacred bus of our family’s choosing
however, as we grow older, we may transfer to another sacred bus that
seems to be traveling on a route of our own choosing. Our
destinations vary, as do our needs and the needs of those traveling with
us. We may stop here and there to tend to our individual chores
and then rejoin others on the ride to our similar destinations.
Within the past two years, some of us have chosen to clamber aboard one of
the AUC sacred buses. Almost like a charter or tour bus, we may
not have been sure of the exact route. However, for the most part, we
expressed unanimity as to our ultimate destination. Unlike many
other sacred buses with stained glass windows, our buses allowed us to
look at the passing landscape and both revel in its beauty and express
concern over its deficiencies.
While many charter and tour buses are elegantly outfitted, our buses are
more utilitarian. They may not be equipped with appointments that
keep us highly entertained; however they allow a wide range of
interaction among the riders. We should be mindful that there is a
danger in too much interaction.
There is an inherent flexibility with AUC buses that allows us to disembark
occasionally with the assurance that there will be another one along
when we need it. Some of our fellow riders have already stopped
for a while to re-examine their travel plans. Some have gotten off at a
stop where they perceive a need that demands their attention.
Others have stayed on the bus engrossed in their discussions with each
other thereby passing the opportunities to engage with others who
don’t usually take any bus (except, perhaps, whenever their sense of
faith requires it).
Our attention should be given to these two latter groups: those whose
discussions overshadow their responsibilities – and those whose
disillusionments overshadow their potentials. Our spiritual
outlook on life allows us to address the needs of others without
demanding that they conform to our beliefs. Some of us may feel
ill equipped to minister to others because of limitations on our own
time, talent, and resources.
The act of ministry may, however, be tailored to the time, talent, and
resources that we do possess. Most people know of at least one
other person who respects and relies on them for advice, guidance, and
support. Whether ministering is performed to one person at a time
or to a small group, those people may in turn be encouraged to minister
to others. We need to change our perception of congregations
which, instead of relying on the leadership of one minister, can
transform themselves into a fellowship of ministers who each serve
others according to their capabilities however limited they may be.
We need to get off the sacred bus more often. We need to forsake the
comfort of like-minded company in order to serve those with different
mind-sets. We need to seek out those who are not on any other
sacred bus because they did not meet others’ qualifications or because
they were offended by others’ judgmental rules. We need to
assure such non-riders that they will be accepted as they are and that
they are more than welcome to share our sacred bus as we journey through
© 2002 American Unitarian Conference™