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So much happens in church. We get to see and touch each other; to hear each other's laughter or distress, as well as our children's eager insights; we get to unite our voices in song and in prayer and sometimes in silence; we get to just be - held in a supportive, loving, faith community that welcomes all seekers; gathered in a beloved sanctuary that holds deep memories and important promises.
What beautiful strength we receive to help us face the struggles of what can often be a harsh, competitive, divisive world.
We’re going to need to access that beautiful strength in different ways now as we anticipate gathering together on line for a longer period of time. Read more...
In February, I will be participating in a panel discussion at Linden Ponds entitled Grave Decisions. The published intent of the discussion is “to review the requirements at the end of life, and the view of death in general, of your particular faith tradition.” Representatives from the Jewish, Protestant, Catholic, Islamic, Buddhist and Hindu traditions will also participate.
I look forward to learning from colleagues in other faith traditions and expect the questions from the Linden Ponds audience to be, as always, both insightful and penetrating. It will be good to be reminded and further enlightened about the beliefs and traditions that guide other faiths. But because Unitarian Universalism does not espouse any set creed, I expect I will also encounter what I often do: some will shake their heads at me and say, “So it seems Unitarian Universalists don’t believe in anything.” Read more...
With all the reminiscing about Woodstock this August, I found myself thinking back to what kind of music I was enjoying in the late 1960’s. Probably it won’t surprise you that this former high school Drama Club member was listening to musical comedies, not exactly what was being heard at Max Yasgur’s farm. In the spirit of reminiscing, I dug out my Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris CD and played it a few times. Brel was a Belgian artist greatly appreciated by musicians ranging from Frank Sinatra to David Bowie; Nina Simone to Judy Collins. Some of the songs on the soundtrack still haunt me - especially the finale, “If We Only Have Love.” It’s a gorgeous song, built on a slow crescendo with lyrics that include: “If we only have love//With our arms open wide/Then the young and the old/Will stand at our side.” Read more...
When I prepare sermons, much of my time is spent in cutting down the material I have. You may find that hard to believe when you have watched our morning services run past 11:00, but I can honestly tell you that my sermons are generally brutally edited. With Time for All Ages and Joys and Concerns often developing into the children’s and your important offerings of insights, it makes sense for me to try to allow time for them to take on their own vibrant growth. Even if I don’t always succeed.
Still, some of what I wind up cutting out from sermons is really good stuff. And usually that good stuff isn’t my own words, but insights I’ve found from others that pertain to the theme of the sermon. The thoughts of others appear in the Centering Thought, the Responsive Reading, and the Reading, so maybe part of what I’m trying to do by balancing my reflections with the reflections of others is make sure you know I’ve pondered those words of wisdom. Read more...
There’s usually a wide range of reactions to our custom of suspending regular Sunday services for the summer. Some people enjoy the chance to embrace a different schedule. Others miss the regular meetings and interactions. Plenty of people have opinions somewhere in between. Certainly spiritual life and feelings don’t just stop when church isn’t in session, so I’d like to make a suggestion about how we all might consider nourishing ourselves in that regard in July and August.
No, that’s not a command to listen to what I am about to say. It’s the activity I suggest to you for the summer. Make room in your week for a session of intentional listening. Consider the sounds of nature at twilight or sunrise. Consider the sounds by the water. The way our weather seems to be going, consider the sounds of rain. Consider the sounds of an instrumental piece of music. Consider the sounds of a poem being read. Consider the sound of a marshmallow being toasted for a s’more. Consider the sounds of a quiet or busy home.
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