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Topic “Minister's Message”

Encouragement to Think Ahead

The following is the profound yet simple closing of our minister's column in our church's monthly newsletter, "Contact."
"We gather to grow our souls, that is, to become fully human, to become attuned to the reality larger than ourselves which some call spirit, or God, or simply life itself. And we gather to help heal the world, shape it for the better, in small ways and big ones.That mission of growth and service in community is the heart of what we’re here to do. It’s a worthy thing to give our entire lives away to.
In hope,
Rev. David Schwartz"
Please click the CONTACT button to the left to read his full column; it is filled with his progressive thinking about how our church can best respond to the challenges of race and justice that will leave us proud in the eyes of "the new generation growing up with that theory as the common-sense understand of their world who ultimately embrace it. I hope always for myself and for all of us:that we can remain nimble enough to change and not just wait for a new generation to pass us all by."

Nobody Can Make It Out Here Alone

From Our Minister
"One of the things that gets in the way of that struggle [for a life rooted in loving com-munity] is the ingrained belief that our deep needs for loving community are actually individual aberrations and holdovers from childhood fantasies or immature yearnings for utopia that the mature individual will eventually overcome."
By the time we get to be adults… typically, we are simply accepting as “common sense” … our isolation and our belief that the world is simply made up of a conglomerate of isolated beings like ourselves.”
- Rabbi Michael Lerner

In this congregation are people who believe that life will go on after death and people absolutely convinced it will not. In this congregation are people who have had a personal experience of a higher power that has saved their life and people who are firmly convinced there is no higher power but us.

Our tradition has an unusual answer to this challenge, declaring that our unity does not require unanimity or uniformity. We’re not bound together by a shared set of facts that we believe in, nor even by search or battle for the one right way to think. We say: deeds not creeds.

It sounds like the setup for a joke: a Christian, a Humanist, and a pagan walk into church. But the punchline is something like: they all do fine and thoughtfully recommit themselves to their shared values. They covenant, promising each other that being in relationship with each other is more important than being right.

As far as I know, every single one of our newcomers looks us up online before they walk through our doors. They’re not coming in to find out what we think in theory. They’re coming in, in person, to see how we act. Do we act our values?

A friend shared that a marriage counselor who works with couples who are contemplating divorce said "People tend to engage the question as 'Do I stay or do I go,' but this isn't actually the question. It's just the response. The actual, underlying question is 'Can I bring my full self to this relationship?' " Do I trust my partner to bring their full self to the relationship?”

This is the question our newcomers, and in fact, everyone, is asking. Can I bring my whole self to church? We gather in this house because we yearn for a community where that is true in practice, not theory. And we continually screw up, because we are totally human beings. We lose the thread, and find it again, or get called out and called back in, and keep working to make it real. We don’t do community perfectly, but we’re not called to be perfect, we’re called to be faithful to our values, and to live out our promises to be good to each other.

Our deep need for loving community is not a holdover from childhood fantasies. Our desire to know each other deeply and acknowledge our shared experience – fear, faith, compassion and pain -- is not immature yearnings for utopia that the mature individual will eventually overcome. This meeting of people, heart to heart, is deep toward the center of what gives our lives meaning and sustains them.

Maya Angelou writes:
Lying, thinking
Last night
How to find my soul a home
Where water is not thirsty
And bread loaf is not stone
I came up with one thing
And I don’t believe I’m wrong
That nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone.

From Our Minister

The following is Rev. David's column in the December issue of Contact, our church's newsletter. Take time to read his thoughtful message; it's a positive one and a good reminder of our humanity and connection with each other. His story may help you recall a time when you had a personal revelation that reminded you of a once forgotten truth.
David wrote,
"We cannot properly place our confidence in our own creations; we must depend upon a transforming reality that breaks through encrusted forms of life and thought to create new forms. We put our faith in a creative reality that is re-creative. Revelation is continuous.”
--James Luther Adams, 1901-1994. UU Minister and Theologian

I had a revelation in the men’s department of Macy's -- not a shopping-related spiritual experience, but capital-R Revelation. This was years ago in Minneapolis, on a Friday morning in November: 8:10 am. The second-floor skyways of the city, build to protect from the winter cold, cross over streets and through stores. On that cold morning I was walking to a meeting, surround by a hundred other commuters walking to work through the men’s department.
The day before I had met with a family who suffered a profound and unexpected loss. The matriarch of that family—the one who held them all together for decades—had died, and died younger than she should have. The family gathered—grown children, a husband just stunned, in shock—to tell the stories of her life, to plan for a memorial service. They spoke about her as people do in the moment, in the present tense. Home that night, late in the darkness, I had wondered for a long time with grief and gratitude to have companioned that stunned and hurting circle.
And then: Friday morning. Walking through the Macy’s, the stillness of that night was with me, an interior quiet. It seemed as if every person was alien: as if I were set apart from every other person by the weight of sorrow I carried.
But in a moment of unbidden Revelation it all reversed and I knew that every person in that place carried that same grief—they had or they would, someday. Every one of them would gather, at a church, or a house, or bar, or club, to tell stories about the person they loved who was gone. And the very grief which I had felt as a solitary burden setting me apart in fact connected me with every other person, close as life itself.
In that moment, just for an instant, I was filled with an old and fierce and wild joy. Like seeing everything in focus all at once: an intuition of the immensity of this place, this world, and the dearness, importance, preciousness of each person in it.
You’ve had that sort of experience, too. Some variety of it, big or small, for an instant, or an hour. You’ve seen and felt unveiled the bonds that bind each to all. That thing which we call an interconnected web, perceived with heart, not mind. That’s revelation: a transforming reality breaks through to show a fundamental and easily-forgotten truth.
Most of life isn’t like that. Most of life is traffic and dishes, laundry and email. It’s trying to figure out how your health insurance works and where your children are going next. No different for any of us.
But if revelation can arrive at 8:10am in Macy’s on a Friday in November, it can come at any time. Revelation isn’t something that happened long ago. It isn’t something that can
come only in certain forms or signs or symbols. Revelation is transforming, creative, surprising, and above all, continuous.
In this season of darkness and cold, when we retell an ancient story that calls us home to hope, may unexpected joy and connection break through into your life.
In hope,
Rev. David

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Buddhist Meditation

Reverend Marcia Curtis invites you to participate in Buddhism-based meditation in a group setting. Join us Sundays at 7:30pm in the church sanctuary. Newcomers welcome. Meditation and Dharma talks are very week.

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