December 12

By: Rev. Tracy Howe, Team Leader and Minister for FaithINFO, UCC National

Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid... (excerpt from Isaiah 40:1-11)


Imagine a world without punishment and condemnation; a world where harm is held in tenderness and tenderness grounds our communities and strategies of justice.  The afflicted receive comfort and healing, repair and restitution.  The one who does harm is also held in tenderness, has a path for growth, a chance to not harm and not be condemned forever.  Our ability to imagine, through courage and compassion, an alternative to the carceral society we live in, is critical to realizing it.

The prophet says the mountains will be made low, the physical embodied structures that tower and feel impassible will fall.  The valleys, the margins, the criminalized shadows will be lifted up into dignity, respect and care.  It is not so now, but can you imagine it? Can we imagine it together? Can we claim this collective power?

This power holds possibilities for so many things.  Though the mountain is still there, maybe we encounter the criminalized lifted in dignity anyway.  Maybe through imagining tenderness and a community where there is comfort and care for beloveds of all genders, shape, orientations, our neural pathways will strengthen and compel our actions in that direction.



When punishment seems to be the only way to justice,
teach us to sing, comfort, comfort.

When harm seems to demand retribution,
show us a more tender way.

When the mountains seem unsurmountable,
enliven our imaginations.

When the valleys threaten to swallow us,
lift us up.

Keep us rising in freedom,
until all are dignified, respected, and cared for.  Amen.


Artwork: “Everything Created Must First Be Imagined” by Dave Loewenstein.
Used with permission CC BY-NC-ND
Find more at Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative


“Science fiction is simply a way to practice the future together. I suspect that is what many of you are up to, practicing futures together, practicing justice together, living into new stories. It is our right and responsibility to create a new world.” - adrienne maree brown

Take Action

Abolition is imagining tender futures.

  1. Let your imagination flow…journal about a day in a world full of tenderness.
  2. Encourage cultural organizing and collective imagination in your political action spaces (for more about how to do this work, see Building Up a New World: Congregational Organizing for Transformational Impact from Pilgrim Press).
Learn How to Build a New World!

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