Thursday, January 18, 2024

A New Hope for A New Year

by The Rev. Connie Yost

 I am a bit late coming to this New Year 2024 blog post, but my thoughts about it have been welling up as we enter this election year.  I admit I approach 2024 with fear – fear that the onslaught of election news will wear me down, and a greater fear that a candidate will win the Presidential election who will further degrade not only our democracy but humanity itself.  I long for God in all of this, for those people who can lift up and further the attributes of my God – kindness, strength, hospitality, equality, creativity, beauty, truth, love.

Of all the religious holidays we celebrate, I have come to resonate most deeply with Epiphany. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Epiphany as “January 6 observed as a church festival in commemoration of the coming of the Magi as the first manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles or in the Eastern Church in commemoration of the baptism of Christ.”  For Western Christians, this is the day that three wise men or Magi, guided by a star, discovered the baby Jesus, born in a barn to poor people who soon became refugees to protect Jesus from the murderous King Herod.

January 6 – Epiphany – is the day Christians celebrate the light in the darkness.  How very terrible that it is now inextricably bound up with the day a mob descended on the US Capitol with murderous intent to stop the certification of electoral college votes in the 2020 Presidential election.

And yet, because the vile act of January 6, 2021 happened on Epiphany, I find it even more important to remember the message of Epiphany.  The Magi were not Jews, they were Gentiles, and yet they traveled far to find a new revelation of God in the Jewish baby Jesus.  They bridged divides and hardships to join in this revelation, this new light in the world.

The word epiphany comes from the Greek epiphaneia, meaning “manifestation.”  The Merriam-Webster dictionary further defines the manifestation as:

1.  especially of a divine being

2.  a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something

3.  an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure

4.  an intuitive grasp of reality through something (such as an event) usually simple and striking

5.  a revealing scene or moment

Maya Angelou's defines Epiphany as “the occurrence when the mind, the body, the heart, and the soul focus together and see an old thing in a new way."

Epiphany brings me new hope because it affirms that there is always the possibility of something new happening in our thoughts, in our lives, and in the world.  We just need to pay attention.  We need a spiritual contemplative, meditative practice to help us be attentive.  We need our spiritual practice to ground us where our hope truly resides, in the “power of love and renewal that lives within the universe, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God.” (Sallie McFague).  Jesus as Prophet shows us that “God offers us quiet, contemplative eyes; God also calls us to prophetic and critical involvement in the pain and sufferings of our world – both at the same time.” (Richard Rohr)

For many Christians, Epiphany is not just one day, but the beginning of a season that lasts until the first day of Lent.  For me, the Epiphany season is one of new beginnings, new hope, bringing light to the word, and a time to focus on the attributes of my God in the world - kindness, strength, hospitality, equality, creativity, beauty, truth, love. 

Epiphany asks me these questions:  How am I doing as the manifestation of these attributes in my life?  How can I bring more of these things into my life?  How is my spiritual practice supporting me?  How attentive am I to Spirit’s message of love in the midst of my own pain and the sufferings of the world?  How can I bring the light of Epiphany into the world?

Copyright 2024 Constance B. Yost. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Why Does Economic Inequality Matter?

By the Rev. Connie Yost

 I think there are three major reasons why economic inequality matters:

 1.     It is morally wrong.  We must have an economy that supports everyone with a living wage.

 Corporations pay their top executives immense salaries and run up shareholder wealth by buying back their own stock (to inflate the stock price), starving corporate investment in research and development, and squeezing employees in any number of ways: fighting unionization, decreasing wages and benefits, relocating jobs, downsizing through layoffs, raiding pension funds, speeding up production, selling off product lines and divisions, etc.

 It is morally wrong to sacrifice the well-being of workers in order to pay executives and shareholders top dollar.  In my mind, there is no justification for the CEO of Dollar General being paid nearly $17 million per year while the median employee earns $17,733 per year, an inequality ratio of 935:1.How Your Pay Stacks Up With the CEO’s (

 It is morally wrong that, as David Cay Johnston recently reported, “Last year the 237,000 highest paid employees in America together made more money than the lowest paid 60 million workers.”All 60 Million Wage Earners at the Bottom Make Less Than the Top 237,000 Executives — A DCReport Exclusive |

 It is morally wrong that while some people make huge sums of money, and there are 60 million workers who make less than $25,000 per year.  The Poor Peoples Campaign estimates that before the pandemic, there were approximately 140 million poor and low-income people in the US, accounting for over 40% of the population and including more than half of the children in the country.

 2.     Economic concerns lead directly to democracy concerns

 Economic concerns fuels people, even causing them to vote against what seems to us to be their own self-interest.

 David Cay Johnson, in the article referenced above, points to the effect the ever growing gap between the highest paid and the lowest paid has on democracy:  "This divide plays a major role in fueling the rejection of democracy by many millions of Americans who, both polls and vote results show, are willing to throw away their liberties in the false hope that a dictatorial system will somehow alleviate their financial stress."

 Wealth concentrated in the hands of a few can buy elections.

As of last month, notes a new analysis from Americans For Tax Fairness, 465 U.S. billionaires had pumped $881 million into the 2022 federal midterms. And that total doesn’t even include untraceable “dark money” contributions or donations made during the campaign’s final days. By this election cycle’s end, OpenSecrets reports, billionaire campaign dollars could top $16.7 billion.REPORT: BILLIONAIRE MONEY IN THE 2022 ELECTION - Americans For Tax FairnessPress release: Total cost of 2022 state and federal elections projected to exceed $16.7 billion • OpenSecrets

 3.     Economic justice is the lens through which social justice needs to be understood and dealt with.

Racism, immigration, climate justice, sexual and gender justice, disability rights, disparities in education, healthcare, and wealth, etc.  Economic justice informs all of these and must be the lens through which we ground our social justice work.


Copyright 2022 Constance B. Yost. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021


Prayer for the Line 3 Protests*

By the Rev. Connie Yost 

Delivered at the Public Prayer for Water Protectors,

Beaverton, Oregon on 9/4/21

Let us pray.

We gather today in the spirit of life, love and solidarity with the Native Americans and others who so courageously are protesting the Line 3 pipeline completion in Minnesota. 

In my faith tradition, Unitarian Universalism, we affirm the moral imperative that we must respect the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part. 

This pipeline represents an assault on mother earth as it endangers precious waterways, draining 5 billion gallons of water for its construction from an area that has had its water supply reduced by 75% in a drought.  In addition, its mere existence endangers the water supply of countless people along its path.

As Winona Laduke says, we say “no” to ideas that make no sense and hurt people and the planet.  We must look to a future of clean energy, not keep recreating the past that treats people and the planet as things to be used, and used up, and discarded.

We say “no” to callous disregard for Native American treaty rights.  It is time, way past time, that we stop waging war on Native Americans, stop stealing and destroying land, and stop assaulting Mother Earth. 

We know another way is possible.  We know that we can be investing in clean energy and projects and policies that affirm Native treaty rights, and respect and protect the planet.

We stand strong, because our cause is just.  As Winona Laduke says, though we are experiencing “the continuing sorrow of a broken system…we work for a future with fewer jails, [more just] laws for people and Mother Earth, and more hope.”

Let each of us call on our own source of strength so we can find it in our heart to stand strong, and have hope, even when the going gets tough.

This we pray, in the spirit of life, love and solidarity.   


*Call to Action

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Nabisco workers on strike in Portland, Oregon

I am part of the Faith Labor Committee of Portland Jobs with Justice, and we support the workers at Nabisco who are on strike.  Having worked mandatory overtime and in difficult conditions throughout the pandemic, these union workers are being asked to sacrifice even more by giving up overtime pay, pensions, and more!  Meanwhile, parent company Mondelez International recorded more than $3.5 billion in profits in 2020, paying the CEO $17 million.  We say "no" to corporate greed and "yes" to worker rights!  I was honored to give this prayer at the picket line rally on August 28, 2021.


Prayer for the Striking Workers at Nabisco in Portland, Oregon 

By the Rev. Connie Yost 

Jobs with Justice Faith Labor Committee

We gather today near the confluence of the Columbia and Willamette Rivers on land worked and loved by many native tribes in the past.  We honor the reclaiming of an important native site not too far from here, called Neerchokikoo [near-cho-kee-koo] by the Native American Youth & Family Center. 

May our words, actions and hearts join together today in solidarity also with the native community on whose sacred land we stand.

Let us pray.

We gather today in the spirit of life, love and solidarity with the Nabisco workers who so courageously are striking for their human rights.  Let each one of us in our own way, within our own faith tradition or no faith tradition at all, affirm the inherent worth and dignity of each of them.   

The workers before us work hard for too little; they see their strong work ethic being exploited by mandatory overtime, their family time taken away, and themselves used callously, as machines, not people. 

We affirm the dignity of these workers, who deserve time off to care for and enjoy their own families and friends.  We abhor the exploitive policies of Nabisco that asks workers to make concessions while the company posts record profits.  We say “no” to the greed that asks many to sacrifice for the benefit of a few.

Let us each call on our own source of strength so we can find it in our heart to stand with these workers even when the going gets tough.

Workers, may you know that are hearts are open to you in love, justice and hospitality.  May the strike soon bear fruit and your dignity be affirmed. 

This we pray, in the spirit of life, love and solidarity. 



Copyright 2021 Constance B. Yost. All rights reserved.

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Happy New Year 2021

Happy New Year 2021

I am not sure how happy this new year is for most of us.  For me, it started like so many of the days before it - gray, rainy and straining my ability to think up new things to do to keep myself from sinking into boredom and lethargy.

But I do feel hope in the new year.  There is a new federal administration coming  in a few weeks that won’t solve all our problems or do everything I want, but will definitely do better than what we have had.  With any luck the daily news won’t be full of a barrage of lies and attacks on our democracy by the very leaders who are supposed to be upholding and advancing our democratic principles.  Maybe some decency will even enter into the public discourse and we will offer meaningful, tangible support to all those who have been hurt by the pandemic and all those who were already hurting due to their immigration status and/or poverty wages.

That’s a lot to ask, it seems.  How can we be the richest country in the world yet have so many people living in intolerable circumstances?  Can it be that we collectively worship wealth more than equality?  Can it be that we care about justice only if it doesn’t cost us anything, or inconvenience us in any way, or limit our own ability to accumulate wealth?

The pandemic ended life as we knew it, and now that I have been lamenting this for over nine months, I am beginning to understand that there is a gift in this, waiting for us to claim it.

The Indian writer Arundhati Roy writes[i]:

What is this thing that has happened to us? It’s a virus, yes. In and of itself it holds no moral brief.  But it is definitely more than a virus. Some believe it’s God’s way of bringing us to our senses. Others that it’s a Chinese conspiracy to take over the world.

Whatever it is, coronavirus has made the mighty kneel and brought the world to a halt like nothing else could.  Our minds are still racing back and forth, longing for a return to “normality,” trying to stitch our future to our past and refusing to acknowledge the rupture. But the rupture exists. And in the midst of this terrible despair, it offers us a chance to rethink the doomsday machine we have built for ourselves. Nothing could be worse than a return to normality.

Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew.  This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next.

We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.