I have come to understand that growth in congregational life (and hopefully other places) comes when we create brave and sacred spaces to understand ourselves, our boundaries, our gifts and our limitations in relation to others. The solo practitioner of spiritual/religious life can grow only as far as they can imagine. When we introduce others into our spiritual lives, we can have a broader and deeper understanding of the world and our place in it. In congregational life, if we are interacting only with “like-minded people,” at some point it limits our ability to grow. This is one of the reasons covenant groups are designed to introduce us to new people through the years.
We grow at the edges of our understanding but also at the edges of our comfort.
We grow when our traditional understandings are challenged.
We grow when we have to examine and reflect on beliefs, ideas and actions that we have previously thought or done.
We grow when we are open to engaging.
We grow when we are willing to be vulnerable, to listen, to be open and allow for the mysterious, unknown and unknowable to challenge our certainty.
This year, as our new congregational year begins, it will be difficult to balance the grounding and comfort we need in such tumultuous times with the growth that we will need in order to deal with the evolving and shifting ground beneath us. I have never known a more important time to be a member of a community like UUCF. I can’t even imagine trying to do this alone. The uncertainty that will come during this congregational year compels us to stay open, flexible and as loving as possible. We must learn from the past but the past is a pre-pandemic memory.
Last year our Ingathering theme was “The Church of Now.” This year our theme for Ingathering is “The Church of the New.” Our shared journey is emerging in ways that remain to be seen, and this is truly a time for UUCF – wherever and however we connect – to create brave and sacred spaces to understand ourselves, our boundaries, our gifts and our limitations, and to boldly and lovingly move forward together into whatever this year brings.
There are no experts in dealing with what we face, that is why the way forward will be a road that we can only build together.