Salvation is not a word I like, I have to admit. I generally don’t mind Christian theological concepts, but this one makes me twitch. It’s the worship theme this month and so I’m squirming a bit. Salvation, from a liberal theological standpoint, is often described as “wholeness.” But I think that’s a bit of a stretch. The original Greek word for salvation is Soteria. Soteria means protection from harm, often then translated into “salvation.” The world “Salvation” is the Latin translation of the Greek, but comes from the Latin, meaning to “wash away” (your sins). The word Salvation, then, is quite different from Soteria. One implies you need help and are in danger; the other that you are dirty and need of a good cleaning.
I don’t mind the former, but twitch at the latter definition. Our Unitarian forbearers believed that we needed to help “save the world.” And we did this by first saving ourselves. That is, we worked on removing the dangers (of addiction, ignorance, and meanness) from ourselves; then we worked on eradicating them from the world. Soteria is not a bad concept. In ancient Greece it was often used at the beginning of a letter asking “write me about your Soteria”. In other words, “Please tell me how you are doing.”
Right now many in our country are not doing well. And we have a chance to provide Soteria – a place of safety, healing and comfort – in a dark world. Come join us this month as we explore these ideas and how, together, we might save the world from itself.
Ever glad I am on this path with you,
Rev. Sian