October is a month now blessedly in the past. It was hard month for our people as we were in various ways witness to reminders of both the fragility and the tenacity of life. Some well laid plans were shifted to make room for the grieving.
On November 1, I have changed my plan to speak on Compassion in Public Life and will take up the matter of life and death as it has recently shaken our congregation. I do not claim a dominant theology on these subjects but will attempt to provide a frame for holding recent and future loss.
November’s themes are “compassion” and “service” as we consider the part of the MSUS vision that challenges us to be “agents of compassion, service, (justice and joy)." Guest speakers will highlight these themes.
On November 8, a guest from the UUA will help us to move beyond the categorical thinking that stunts our compassion with first impressions and cultural myths.
On November 15 we will be challenged to a deeper understanding of the Black Lives Matter movement and invited into deeper engagement with issues of racism in our world.
On November 29 we will be introduced to Alexandra House, the agency which will be the focus of our social justice efforts in the coming year. We hope that these efforts can begin in service and expand to making a real difference in our larger community’s capacity to change the conditions which allow domestic violence to determine the fate of many of our citizens.
Every effort is being made to maintain equilibrium during these poignant times. I plan to be away from November 2-6 and again Nov. 12-15. I can, however be reached by email or by cell phone through the church number.
In love and gratitude,
The new year is launched and there is much afoot!
The first of our 9:00 services have happened with a modest but credible attendance. Some attending have noted the extra hours that Sunday has after early church. RE teachers have enjoyed being able to both experience the service and teach. We are still awaiting the thundering hoards of newcomers!
October is upon us with the promise of waning allergies and fall color. Our worship theme is for October “agency and justice” and comes from the line in your Vision Statement that refers to being “Committed agents of compassion, service, justice and joy”.
To be an “agent” is to exercise agency which is “action or intervention, especially such as to produce a particular effect”. Its about making things happen. Your Vision challenges you to be actors rather than observers, engaged in the life of your church as well as in the life of the larger community. Unitarian Universalism is a faith that is embodied in life and in action that is informed by principle. In particular this month we will be looking at the second source in our open canon which is, “Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion and the transforming power of love.”
I confess that when I think about my own embodiment of this principle, I look a little like an aging Wonder Woman with the works of Mary Oliver and Richard Gilbert under one arm while brandishing a flaming chalice in the other. My cape, which engulfs my whole figure, is covered in hearts. You can fill in the rest. (Or not!) Absurd as this is, it reminds me of the power and value added when our agency toward “powers and structures of evil” is expressed in compassion and love. So much of the action or intervention we see aimed at a particular social or political outcome is expressed in aggression and other negative ways. What might it look like to bring compassion and love to our understanding of evil and to our biggest challenges?
My sermons this month will attempt to address these questions and to encourage a bolder love. In our Adult Education series we will look at how our work in the world to address structures of injustice can be enhanced by intentional attention to what we believe and why.
See you in church!
In love and gratitude,
Last spring members of MSUS at the MidAmerica Region Annual Conference attended a workshop on “Theme Based Ministry”. This is an idea that is gaining traction in many UU congregations across the Unitarian Universalist Associations. The idea arose out of a desire to go deeper into some topics presented in Sunday services. The approach is to choose a monthly theme that is addressed in a variety of ways during that month. An article or two might appear in the newsletter; a book club selection might align with the theme; there might be an adult RE class or a focused social justice event; new and existing small groups might discuss the topic; it would be the topic of two or more Sunday services; it might align with the lessons in religious education.
There is a highly structured system that can be used to institute this approach that can take a great deal of organization, staffing and planning. This year we will be taking a beginning stab at a version of this for MSUS. We will be focusing on themes raised by our new Vision as well as emphasizing one of the wisdom sources that inspires Unitarian Universalist principles and practice.
A list of all the themes for the year appears below. Each of these will be elaborated upon in the newsletter. If you have ideas for programming that might fit with any of these themes, please let me know.
In September our theme will be “Spiritual teachings of Earth-Centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.”
We will begin our theme with a gathering of water, real and virtual, from places you have visited over the summer. Please bring a sample of water that can be added to the common bowl. The Service will focus on water in many forms and uses and its place in many religious traditions both as an expression of connection to earth and as a symbol of other realms.
On September 20, I will be exploring earth centered spirituality and it relationship to both the principles and practices of Unitarian Universalism. Don’t forget: You can join me at 9 or at 10:30 beginning on September 20!
In love and gratitude,
Themed Based Ministry
September Theme: Spiritual teachings of Earth-Centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.
October Theme: Agency/Justice (Source: Words and Deeds of Prophetic Women and Men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion and the transforming power of love.
November Theme: Compassion/Service
December Theme: Joy (Source: Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God's love by loving our neighbors as our selves)
January Theme: Humanism (Source: Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of mind and spirit.)
February Theme: Love
March Theme: Commitment
April Theme: (Source: Direct experience of transcending mystery and wonder affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces that create and uphold life)
May Theme: Transitions revisited
June Theme: Tradition, transition and transformation