Excerpted from the sermon "The First Day and the Rest of Your Life" delivered at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Akron by our Minister Emeritus; Rev. Gordon McKeeman - January 2, 1972
Let me suggest to you that change is something that happens under the impact of necessity. We are not likely to change unless it appears to us that it is necessary for us to change. Now, I think it you were to take a poll and ask any ten people if they wanted some changes, the majority would say, "Yes we would like some changes." If however you ask them if they wanted to change themselves, if they were ready to pay the price of changing themselves, perhaps a different result would arise. In order for change to take place, we must want or need to change badly enough to pay the price of change. The price of change for human beings is self discipline. If you want a change you've got to adjust to altered circumstances. And in order to do those things - any of all of them - self discipline is required.
Sometimes we talk at the beginning of the year about a fresh start. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. There's a kind of aura of a fresh start about that. But, in fact, the notion of a fresh start can be a kind of dodging of reality, because any first day that any of us takes at this point begins with the baggage of the past. Every one of us has experienced happy and hurtful experiences. We have, al of us, things that we fear to do out of embarrassments and failures of the past. We all have security blankets, food, and money - and statues - and prestige that we fear to risk or lose so we not make a fresh start, that is, a start without any encumbrances. We start from where we are, and that is starting from where we are means an acknowledgment of our self-knowledge, some better or deeper understanding of who we are as the starting place for what we might be. The most profound changes that ever occur are inside people. They occur when people acknowledge realities of their own existence and seek out some broader perspectives. This requires often times the company of others. Few people understand themselves well enough to be able to know what they really are apart from the reflections they get from other people. Few of us can do without the company of others. Few of us there are who do not need a widening of the context of our lives. Most of us do not mind change as long as it doesn't alter anything. But if it does, it might alter us and that might be painful - or difficult - or demanding. Today is the first day of the rest of your life.