James Baldwin wrote that “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” Let us face our doubts, pay attention to what they are telling us and teaching us. Our doubts can be doorways to deeper exploration … read more.
Speaker: Rev. Larry Peers
We often have a limited understanding of faith. We may need to broaden our attention to the dynamics of faith in our everyday life and not confuse it, as many have, merely with beliefs. Some scholars within Unitarian Universalism and within Christianity have come to understand that our understanding of “faith” was diverted somewhere along the way in the history of Christianity. Many in Christianity came to identify faith with creeds, orthodoxy and “correct doctrine.” This was not the origin of Christianity, and Unitarian and Universalists perspectives have offered an alternative view of what “faith” means in a way that can provide an opening and liberating view for us.
This service marks the beginning of the Jewish New Year and the “Days of Awe,” the period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Whatever our religious orientation, each of us can benefit from times that call us into deeper reflection and reconciliation as part of a personal and interpersonal process of renewal. Rabbi Heschel wrote: “Wonder or radical amazement is the chief characteristic of the religious person’s attitude toward [the world].” Included in the service will be UU minister Rob Eller-Isaac’s musical litany which has the refrain, “We begin again in love.” Following the service, we will have some traditional holiday foods (apples, honey, etc.).
Decluttering is all the rage these days. With the popularity of Japanese author Marie Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” and the Netflix series, “Tidying Up” some have been finding new ways of culling and organizing possessions. Henry David Thoreau has recently been called “The first Declutterer.” His “Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity” exhortation in Walden is only one indication of how his prophetic witness and his spiritual life were intertwined. In this service, we will draw some personal and practical lessons from Thoreau who wrote: “We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake…by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us on even in our soundest sleep.”
When we dare to have our individual and our collective expectations, we also dare to hope and to be changed. In this annual Ingathering Service, we will take individual and collective responsibility for shaping our life together as a congregation in this new congregation year. As part of our service, we will have a Gathering of the Waters Ritual. Please bring a small amount of water from a special place or even your own home to pour into our common bowl.
William James’ words in 1906 could still accurately describe our contemporary condition: “Compared to what we ought to be, we are only half-awake.” We know a lot more now about our human capacities for attention than we ever did. The question is not, “Are you paying attention?” but “How are you paying attention?” In this service we’ll explore the personal and religious significance of our ways of attention and practices that enhance our everyday experiences.
For the writer, Jane Box, “silence…is the place in which the work grows.” In our own lives, silence can often seem so “golden” that it is a rare and treasured gift. At times, we avoid silence by filling our spaces with blaring media within our … read more.
One of my favorite hymns in our grey hymnal is “Find A Stillness,” with lyrics by Carl Seaburg, set to a Transylvanian folk tune. It is a meditative even prayerful hymn that includes these verses:
Find a stillness, hold a stillness, let the stillness carry me … read more.
A Flower Communion is celebrated as an annual ritual in many Unitarian Universalist congregations around the world. It celebrates beauty and wonder, and also the gifts of human uniqueness and diversity in community. This ritual originated in 1923 with Rev. Norbert Čapek, a Unitarian Minister in Prague who, because of his advocacy for human freedom, died a prisoner in Dachau concentration camp. Norbert Čapek celebrated the “hidden cry for harmony with the Infinite” in every soul.” In October 2017, Rev. Peers visited with and taught Unitarians in the Czech Republic who celebrate a Flower Communion. Their communities have blossomed in recent years.
There is a question that we most often avoid, even though it is probably the most important question we can ever ask. It is the kind of question that often has no immediate answer, or if our answer was immediate, we should probably pause—and ask the question again. In fact, it is helpful to ask the question frequently. Well it may be most helpful to ask the question several times a day.
You might ask, “What is the question?” Well, that’s not the question. See you at the service!