One of my favorite times of the week is Sunday before the service begins. I love greeting our multicultural, multigenerational crowd gathering for Sunday services and our Religious Exploration program. There is a lot of chatter, people who haven’t seen each other since last week and always someone returning who hasn’t been there for a while. There are visitors and children, and one of the best perks of my job is to stand there and greet everyone. And to confess, sometimes the services even start a few minutes late because I am enjoying this so much.
We gather to experience all the emotions as we process what is happening in our lives and the world swirling around us. We have cried through some very dark times together and we have had times where we have laughed to the point of crying. I thought about all this when I read a note from Rev. Keith Kron, the director of ministerial transitions at the Unitarian Universalist Association. In general, the note talked about the struggle to fill ministry positions because, like in other helping professions, there is a shortage based on a variety of factors including the impact of the pandemic. But here is something Rev. Keith wrote that gave me pause: “The author of the book, Radical Curiosity, Seth Goldenberg (CEO of Curiosity and Company) writes that we are in ‘In-Between times.’” He’s talking about that in relation to the planet, but I’ve yet to find a religious person who disagrees with this point about religion as well. (This book would be a great UU Common Read for congregations and ministers.)
What does it mean to be religious now? What does it mean to live one’s faith? What does it mean to be a congregation? A denomination? A minister? A congregation member? I think in the midst of overly busy lives and an overly busy world, we’re trying to figure that out. I would add an important question for this moment: What are reasonable expectations of ourselves, of others, of ministers and staff, of institutions and systems during this time?”
These are questions we face in religious life in America and we at UUCF are no different. It makes me think of how important our relationships are and how deeply important living our faith through the practice of our covenants is as we travel through this time. We are all on the same team. We may have various opinions about things, but I don’t know anyone who attends a UU congregation or calls themselves a practicing Unitarian Universalist who doesn’t long for a more loving, more compassionate, more empathetic, more equitable, kinder and more connected world. This is what I feel on Sunday mornings no matter the trials and tribulations of the rest of the week.
Part of the practice of our faith, and I do mean practice, is how we take this connection, feeling, supportiveness and oneness we feel on Sundays into the rest of the week, into our lives and, as much as possible, into the world.
Whatever the horizon holds, I invite us each and every day, maybe in the morning when you wake up or in the evening when you are preparing for sleep, to reflect on how we have carried that Sunday morning feeling forward in how we treat ourselves, our loved ones, each other and the planet. I invite us to remember these wise words from our Emergent Strategy framework: “Never a failure, always a lesson.” There are no perfect Unitarian Universalists. These are not perfect times. So, let us practice our covenants for they are a guide for our faith journey. Let us try to live that faith as best as possible. Let us give ourselves a break because at times the road feels muddy and rough. And, always, always, always, as much as we can, when needed, let us begin again in love.