Sunday, August 18, 2013

Whom Do You Serve?


And Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled…

Then the man said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” And the man said, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then the man said, “Your name shall no more be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.

Then Jacob asked him, “Tell me, I pray, your name.” But the man said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And then he blessed him.

Jacob called [out] …“For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.”  The sun rose upon him as he passed …limping because of his hip.


The morning brought such a lashing rain
I decided I might as well stay inside
And tackle those jobs that had multiplied
Like an old man's minor aches and pains.
I found a screw for the strikerplate,
Tightened the handle on the bathroom door,
Cleared the drain in the basement floor,
And straightened the hinge for the backyard gate.
Each task had been a nagging distraction,
An itch in the mind, a dangling thread;
Knocking a tiny brass brad on the head,
I felt an insane sense of satisfaction.
Then I heard a great crash in the yard.
The maple had fallen and smashed our car.
Barton Sutter

I wrestle most days to get the little details right.  Sometimes when I am feeling overwhelmed, it helps to focus on small things that can be fixed.  I feel satisfied when I can see what I have straightened out.  AH, those papers are all organized now.  The pictures are hanging level on the wall.  The organizational chart is clear and accurate and flowing in my mind…

The chaos is pushed aside for a moment.
Some days, often on stormy days or when it is drizzling outside, I realize that life has left me, left most of us, with our assorted pains, our “limps”.   Wounds that have become scars, places out of joint or stiff from wrestling.  Terrors.

Nagging, little pains.  Perhaps we can take another pill, or stretch out and ease the old wounds…maybe a trip to the massage therapist will help…

Then the tree falls.  Or some other potentially life changing loss hits…

It is those moments, when “the maple falls and smashes the car”, when we realize to what or to whom our life is “all bound up…”

I was at my home in Jacksonville some years ago.  It was a spring or maybe it was summer.  We had received lots and lots of rain, day after day.  On this particular day, it was just drizzling…the windows were open and it was smelling sweet like spring does…when suddenly there was an earth-shaking THUD.  I was in one side of the house, when the deafening sound and the shudder of a huge tree falling and smashing something started and then only seconds later came to a stop.  I was convinced that the kitchen on the other side of the house was gone.  I was sure some terrible damage had been done to the roof, to the room that was no more, damage that would inconvenience me for weeks.

With trepidation, running to the kitchen, I saw out the window that one HUGE live oak branch had fallen in the back yard.  It was resting un-easily on what was left of the carport roof.  Under the carport were all the tropical birds that my girlfriend and I had not long ago housed there. 

We had built an outdoor aviary, where they could be messy and loud and would be plenty warm enough for the late spring and for summer.  I was panicked.  I was sure that tree limb was not finished falling all the way down to the ground…When it did, which it surely would, the birds would be either smashed or their cage ripped open and them set free..

I could hear the neighbors gathering in the street.  I was irritated that not one ventured to our front door to ask if we were ok.  I was relieved that no crowd appeared in the back yard to watch me hurry to rescue the birds.  Dutiful that ONE day, they were all amazing easy to capture.  Their little hearts beating way faster than they already did every day, they agreed to all be hurriedly shoved into one cage, crammed together predators and victims, all answering to a higher call to survive..

In the house, they were separated once again.  With the tree guys and the insurance people called and all having done their jobs…life went on.   Life went on… Forever, I knew what too much rain can do.

The writer Anne Dillard thinks a church should be a dangerous place, a zone of risk, a place of new birth and new life, where we confront ourselves with who we truly are and who we are being called to become.  She says a church ought to be a place where you need a hard hat.

Luckily, I have one. 
Given to me years ago by a congregational president…during a particularly difficult transition in the church’s forward progress.  I plan to put it in my office here.  I may need it.  You may need to borrow it.

I may need it when we aren’t sure what the future is going to bring.  I may need it as a charm to wear when what feels like life-threatening harm has come to call, when you and I venture forth into dangerous areas.  When there is an earth-shaking THUD.  Or when I wrestle with all night as Jacob did.  Or you do.

In the story Jacob, he asks for a blessing.  He gets a new name and he receives a blessing.  Yet he walks away from the hard night with a limp. 

He asked for a blessing, he asked to be honored as special, as chosen, yet he left the encounter with a wound…a hip out of joint.  He will have to live with that injury the rest of his life…

His name no longer Jacob, but Israel…

He went into the danger zone and came out wounded, yet transformed… 

There is always pain in holy work.  If there is no pain, if it is all easy and smooth and obsessively attending to the details is satisfying cause it keeps the chaos at bay…then one is likely standing at some distance, intellectualizing, observing, perhaps cataloging….   Taking a sampling taste of various religious traditions, perhaps casually visiting faith communities…  testing the waters, but never really diving in…  never wrestling…with meaning and purpose and ultimacy…

Who do you serve?   To whom or for what are you in service?   Is it fear?… or something else?

Engagement with the sacred, doing the kind of holy work that changes us into who we can be, who we ought to be, are meant to be ….is painful and often terrifying…It can, and often does, leave us wounded, yet transformed…broken and blessed.  Yet, we know who we serve.   We who go into the danger zone again and again,…into the holy place where there is brokenness and blessing…don’t need names. 

Story after story in every religious tradition talks about this…  what it is like to encounter the holy.

Reading about it, listening to other people’s stories is not good enough.

Debating the names of the holy is missing the point.

I have taught Bible courses to UU’s many times.  I have said many times that I love studying the books about the Bible way more than studying the Bible itself. 

I could say the same thing about the Bhagavad Gita.  I love reading books about Hinduism, yet I have never traveled to India…for I am afraid.

I am a “study it from a distance” kind of learner, most of the time…

But not all the time.

If there is a life at stake, I will do my best to be fully present, engaged in doing what needs to be done….

If there is a congregation at risk, losing its way, forgetting who they are and why they exist and to whom they are in service….I will do my best to partner them back to right relationship with the holy.

In the story from Genesis, Jacob asks for a blessing, which he receives…and he receives a new name…

But he has yet to understand who or what he serves…

The man said to Jacob, why is it that you ask my name? 

One wouldn’t have to ask, “who are you”  if one was really in it…If one was living engaged with the divine, one would not ask, one would know.


Who or what calls out to you?  With whom or with what do you wrestle?  Who or what leaves you blessed and broken? …transformed?

Straightening the books on the shelf, staying in the office getting the flow chart just right, is not the kind of learning, engaging, wrestling with life’s meaning and purpose that real spiritual maturity demands. 

One has to open the book, read the stories….hear your own story in the stories…learn to let life’s little nagging pains not worry you so much, not give straightening little things give you an insane sense of satisfaction, when SANITY and wholeness comes from doing the hard, deep, engagement with what calls you beyond pettiness and futility to LIFE…to solidarity with those who work for justice…into the love that creates true community, where risk and trust go together…

Sometimes you need a hardhat..

You can borrow mine...

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

When to Contact the Minister

My wife and I are about to close on a house in Salisbury.  It is halfway between her place of ministry in Charlotte and mine here!  It is an older home, in a historic district. I am imagining I am going to learn very quickly where the home improvement stores are in that town!  I am already acquainted with some of the home improvement “experts” there.   Friends who live there now, some in older homes, are already offering advice.

I am not shy about trying to learn what they know, about asking “how do you go about doing…? ... Whatever comes up that we might need to know to make this old house more live-able for us.  Make it do what we want it do while we live there.  How can we make it fit us?  And be fit for us?
You have some of that to do with me and me with you.  How will we learn over time to fit, how to be fit for each other? 
Just like I do in approaching others, sometimes you will come to me as an “expert” on something.   Other times, I will help you see how you are the expert.  That is what is meant by “shared ministry”.  We are all talented and wise and have gifts to share. 

A week from tomorrow, I will be traveling to Minneapolis for the annual Interim and Developmental Ministry training.  I plan to ask lots of questions of those who have been doing interim ministry for a while.

There will be some “developmental” ministers like me there too.  I plan to especially corner them and seek out their wisdom. 

But, I can tell you there aren’t that many of us and no one has been doing Developmental Ministry very long.
This thing you and I are doing together is like an interim ministry, what Rev. Eric did,   only different!  There aren’t any “experts” yet! 
Developmental ministers partner with congregations for 3-5 years, to get them ready to settle a called minister, and they might even become that called minister.  We stay longer than an interim, to help your leaders really move your congregation into a new way of being together.

Interims are around to give you time to grieve, or at least shift your loyalty from a past leader, to pause and breath and allow the space to let in a new called minister…

We are on a different kind of journey together, you and I.  It has less to do with pause and breath and more to do with CHANGE and grow…

It is a path that ought to lead UU Greensboro into becoming a highly functioning, efficient, live-able, fun, safe, “make a difference in the world” kind of place…

Are you ready?

We will be building not only a new way of being together, but re-building trust, and that will take time.

In the meantime, life goes on.  In the meantime, whether we get to that place we are going or not, life will happen.  Life, and marriages, and children born.  Illness and death, and getting up again the next morning with a loss to live with.  In the meantime, maybe you aren’t a leader and you don’t care about all that was or what will be.  You are here now.  Maybe you just came in the door this morning, or in the last few months.  Maybe you came in the door 20 years ago, or 10.  And you just want a minister to be a minister.  For you a minister is not just to manage a journey to the great transformation in the sky, but for the meantime. 

Being your minister is not just about standing and talking to you on Sundays…
[although that’s very important!]…

It is about being for you and with you in the meantime.  …as life happens. 

I am here to help you celebrate, to comfort you, to challenge and inspire you, to just be present so you can hear yourself, so you can be your own expert.

Call me, send me an e-mail, do what ever it takes to initiate contact with me when you need me to be your minister. 

In these first few months, I would love just to get to know you better.  Ask me out for coffee, or lunch or dinner.  Invite me over, or in, or come by just to visit. 

I will do the same.  You may learn that I will seek you out if I sense you have a ministerial need.  A life or death major event is happening in your life, or you are struggling with how to find meaning or purpose…in the midst of a terminal diagnosis, or a move or a separation…

The UUCG grapevine will keep me somewhat informed about some of your concerns that call for a pastoral response.  I will be listening for your needs during joys and sorrows, and during our “casual” conversations.  You may not know I am listening to you that way, but I am.  You may not yet be ready to seek me out, yet.  But I hope you will when you are ready.  I hope you will act as if, I can be your minister!  Sometimes, I will be the one who comes to you.  I promise I am listening for the metaphorical door to open.  If it does I promise I will walk through it.

When that happens I hope I help you see/experience, what I am here for as your pastor.  

You don’t have to rely on the grapevine to let me know something I should know.  I’m good, but I am not psychic!  Contact me.  My phone works, my e-mail works, my office times are posted.
Call me, come by.  Call me first, then come by!

Sometimes, some of you may come by…eager to me to tell me what some one else needs from me.  That’s OK.  But sometimes, some of you will come by or call to tell me not what someone else needs, but about a “concern” or an issue that some third person has with me. 

It would serve us all so much better if you would take that person’s hand and offer to come with them, so that I can hear directly from the person who has a concern clearly and exactly what their concern is!   If you come tell me alone, I am very likely to hear what you have to say not as an expression of their concern, but as yours!  That’s OK, too.  But you need to know I am hearing what you say as your concern.

Let’s choose to be direct!   I will be direct with you!  And gentle.  If you are bold, I will be gentle in hearing what must have taken a lot of guts to say.  That’s my promise to you!

If you are a member here, I will officiate your marriage ceremony or your memorial service at no charge!  If you are a friend, a friend of a friend, a relative…I will make you a deal!

If you are ready for your child to be dedicated, here or in a sacred space of your choosing, come see me.

If you want to talk about your ceremony of life and how you’d want to be remembered come see me.  Let’s talk
If you want to talk about theology or polity or something thrilling or confusing that’s happening in the UU World or in the world that has a spiritual, ethical, justice-making dimension come see me.

If you can’t figure out how to be a UU at work, let’s talk

I am always ready to hear what you are excited about learning next.  I am here to help you explore religion and spirituality, to help you widen your horizons, to deepen your knowledge, to grow in understanding, to help connect with others who have your same interests or concerns, to help you to understand those in this community who are different in their faith orientation and practice from you.

It is appropriate to call me for comfort or guidance, or help with hearing yourself think, for a confidential place to express your feelings, to talk about illness, death, transitions.  Call me to be present during a crisis or trauma…

Pastoral care is about deep listening, providing comfort, recognizing when the door is open for spiritual growth, and being present with you as you walk through that door. 
Most UU ministers are trained in “brief counseling”, knowing how to identify growing edges, to comfort and to be present during times of crisis.  We are trained to make appropriate referrals especially when the need to be addressed goes beyond our skill set, or the kind of time that is needed is far beyond what we have to offer.

Ministers are trained to listen for and explore what role your faith or your core beliefs are taking in helping or hindering your move through a transitional point in your life.

Part of pastoral care is to be available to you when you are upset or disappointed with me.  You can expect to receive a good listen.  You can expect that what you have to express will be kept within the bounds of confidentiality.  When I am engaged in giving pastoral care, my focus will be on you and your needs. 

I am your minister, yet…I am also human!  Like with all human interactions, you may come to me at a time when I am distracted, defensive, reactive, and am not able to offer you a good listen.  Even when you’ve done your part and initiated contact and have been clear that you are looking for pastoral care, there will be times when my needs will get in the way of meeting your needs.  I will tell you when we need to arrange for another time, so that I can get myself out of the way!...and be able to listen to you without getting defensive, without rushing to “fix” the problem, without trying to end your discomfort….  Coming up to me after a Sunday Service in the crowed foyer is not the best time to seek pastoral care from me!  It is OK to arrange a time then, but it dishonors both of us for you to ask for or me to offer pastoral car in the middle of a crowd!

When I am present to you and for you, I will do my best to listen to you…to listen to whatever you have to say, whatever you feel, with respect that you are coming to me to be heard, to be companioned until you find your way again.  I promise to give the space for you to say whatever you need to say.   

When I am present with you I will create space for you to hear your own wisdom; for you to find your own way to continue to be in loving relationship with yourself. 

I am here ready for your call.  I am here to be your minister…to celebrate life with you, to help you grow, to hold you through change….

There are so many of you that I don’t yet know.  Call me.  I would love to visit you in your homes, or at your place of work.  I want to know what motivates you to be a part of this community.  I want to know what you are expert at, what you struggle with, who or what is important to you and why.

I want to know what your hopes and dreams are for yourself as an individual, for your family, for this congregation and this community.

Call me!

Many years ago UU minister Peter Lee Scott wrote a column called "When to Call the Minister." In the intervening years, his column has been adapted, messaged and added to by others. Here’s a version:


When you don’t know me, but would like to.

When you have problems you would like to discuss with your job, children, marriage, or anything else where a sympathetic ear might help.

When you are going to the hospital or know of someone else in the congregation who is.

When someone close to you has died or is critically ill or you’re dealing with a significant loss of some kind.

When you are planning to be married or divorced.

When you would like your child dedicated.

When you are pregnant and glad you are or wish you weren’t, also if you want to be pregnant but aren’t.

When you feel ready to join the congregation.

When you have concerns or suggestions.

When you have religious or spiritual questions.

When you are seeking to deepen your spiritual life.

When you are upset with me or would like to express appreciation.

When you have won the lottery and want to make a large donation to the church.

To add a little humor, Rev. Marilyn Sewell (retired minister who was with the First Unitarian Church in Portland, Oregon) added several reasons NOT to call the minister:

Don’t call the minister when:

You want to give her "the real scoop" on another member.

You want to explain that you’ll have to cut your pledge in half because you are spending the summer in the south of France.

You want to tell her you didn’t like what she wore in the pulpit last Sunday.

You want to tell her that one of the reasons you are a UU is that you have always distrusted organized religion. (Our church is, after all, a part of organized religion).

Your leaders have wisely organized this place so that you have a minister who is a pastor, too.

Call me!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Transient and the Permanent

When I was a child, I was taken to church (willingly) by my parents “every time the door was open” (as they say).  I loved the sense of community, of adults beyond my parents who cared about me, of friends beyond my sister and brother to be with.  I even often enjoyed Sunday School, because of the stories.  Sometimes, though I would ask way too many questions about the facts, or the mechanics of how did something happen the way it was said to have!  When my questions were met with silence or encouragement to just believe, I didn’t like that so much!

Sometimes I enjoyed the sermons, but mostly what I liked was the music!

I was in the youth choir. I was in the hand bell choir.  I loved the sound of the whole congregation in one voice, washing over me.  I loved when the adult choir performed and the soloists,… even the one we made fun of …who sang like we were at the opera…  I loved it all.

I was child in that church.  I was a teen.  It wasn’t until much later as a young adult in religion classes at the big state university, and with my revolutionary peers that I would begin to question the “theology” of the words to the hymns I loved so much.  It wasn’t until later that I realized there were parts of “church” that needed to be left behind.  

It fell out of favor for me to sing the old hymns about a risen savior come to save me from sin.  Consciousness raised, I replaced those songs with protest songs, with Peter, Paul and Mary and Bob Dylan and much later “womens music”.  The forms changed, but the community building remained….

The forms always change…

Thrilled to be in this living faith that acknowledges and honors change, I was stunned some years ago when there was some consideration regarding changing the wording of the principles and the sources….Frankly, I was stunned that the majority demanded that every word, every phrase stay the same exactly as it had been…

Not quite dogma and doctrine as is offered by some other faith traditions, yet our principles and purposes, our sources, play a role in holding us together, in forming the circle that defines who we are… Eventually, they too, will change.

They aren’t the essence.   Neither are our governance structures, or “they way we’ve always done it”.   All those forms are like the Buddhists say:  The fingers that point to the moon.  Everyone knows it isn’t the finger we worship!

The feelings from those child hood times that music brought to me about love and care and community have stayed in my memories.  (and some of those old hymns)  That feeling reminds me of times and of people long past, of forms out of favor, of all that is the essence of love beyond our immediate families, beyond all the particular communities that have formed and deformed us….

Moving in our lives towards greater compassion step by step involves constantly sorting through what is transient and what is permanent and trying to understand the difference and where our loyalty ought to lie, to whom or to what it ought to be given.

Almost 200 years ago, in the late 1840’s thousands of Bostonians couldn’t get enough of one Unitarian preacher by the name was Theodore Parker.  He wasn’t always as popular as he would become for a while in the city of Boston.  What he did, for a time, a very important time, was help people sort through, tell the difference between the finger and the moon.
His name may be at least vaguely familiar to some of you as he was in the news (at least the UU news) not too long ago.  President Obama had attributed the quote; “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice” as many do to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, JR.   Yet, MLK did not create it.  As a few UU’s were quick to point out the originator was none other than our own Theodore Parker! …a Unitarian way back in the mid 1800’s.
Perhaps you are familiar with more famous contemporary, Ralph Waldo Emerson?   Perhaps you know that as a young man Emerson left the Unitarian ministry because he thought the denomination “corpse-cold”!  He detected no passion, no activism, no “religious” spirit among the Unitarians who were taken by the forms rather than the spirit!

Frustrated, Emerson resigned as a clergy person and never again served a congregation as its pastor.  As you know, he moved on to become a famous transcendentalist author and speaker. 

Theodore Parker, was Emerson’s contemporary, and he –as a Unitarian pastor, filled a large hall in Boston, Sunday after Sunday with thousands.  There was nothing corpse-cold in his services.  He was and he remained committed to the faith that values the freedom of the mind and spirit above all else, and he became the model of the activist minister.
His most remembered sermon, was one he delivered in 1841 entitled “The Transient and Permanent in Christianity”.

In it he laid out, what was at the time, his controversial theology.  That sermon and the person of Theodor Parker marked a significant turning point for Unitarians. 

Earlier when he was a student at Harvard, he had been exposed to what we know think of as the very early forms of Biblical scholarship, understanding the text according to its original cultural and historical setting.  Because of this, he came to believe that it was idolatrous to make the bible more important than a living and immediate relationship with the holy.  He preached against words that had been written down so long ago to become more important than God!
At the time, what his perspective was called “transcendentalist”.  Not all Unitarians were Transcendentalists and not all Transcendentalists were Unitarian.  Yet what defined them all was the belief that the religious impulse, in other words, the desire for and the knowledge of something beyond the self, was inherently resident in all of humankind.  Transcendentalists thought that the quest for “truth” was natural and universal and was satisfied more by the exercise of intuition than by reason, or allegiance to dogma or doctrine.

During the early part of the 1800’s while Parker was in the early years of his ministry, most Unitarians generally subscribed to what might be called supernatural rationalism; meaning certain religious truths could be determined by the exercise of reason, but to also be a Christian (as the vast majority of Unitarians were) one needed to believe that Jesus was more than human.  The evidence that he was found in the miracles he performed. 
Parker began to preach that one need not rely on a belief in the miraculous to hear and to live out the ethical truth of the core of Christianity, what he termed its primary and permanent message.   Insisting that all human beings are by nature religious, he preached that the beauty and greatness of the religion of Jesus lay in its affirmation of the essential truth of all religions, which is simply love of God and love of man. 
Religion was the process of awakening to the essential truths that live within each of us.  In other words, to be religious was to touch and be touched by the ‘spark of the divine’ within.

In his 1841, sermon, “The Transient and Permanent in Christianity”, he claimed that the essence of Christianity could be found in what Jesus taught about love, a teaching that anyone could teach and anyone could follow, even if they had never heard of Jesus. 
He caused a controversy because he also said that one needn’t believe in miracles, nor in the literal authority of the Bible, nor subscribe to the various creeds, confessions or doctrines found within the history of the Christian church, or even in the Divinity of Jesus, to know and to live by the core of Christianity. 

Essentially, he said that one didn’t have to believe in Christ, to live the religion of Jesus.

At the time, the Transcendentalists, (among whom were some women) included only a very small percentage of Unitarians.  These transcendentalists were coming to value a more passionate, intuitive, natural spirituality.  They were the young men and women, who like Emerson, objecting to the “corpse cold” version of Unitarianism that was acceptable to the social elite….objecting to the old forms…

Parker boldly challenged Unitarians to leave the transient behind and focus on the essential!  
By 1845 a small group of Parker enthusiasts founded the 28th Congregational Society in Boston.  It was a Unitarian congregation, but primarily served as a lecture forum for Parker.  He regularly drew 1000’s, including William Lloyd Garrison, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Louisa May Alcott, Julie Ward Howe and many other famous progressive persons. 

There was a growing hunger for a deeper, more immediate, more passionate religion that made sense...and that made a difference.  His was a unique Unitarian congregation for its time, equally representative of both men and women and racially integrated.  In was in that pulpit where he became widely known for the passion and conviction he brought to social ills.

He talked about America becoming an “industrial democracy”, “of all the people, by all the people, for all the people” (a concept that later influenced Abraham Lincoln and could be heard in the Gettysburg address.)  

He focused his passionate love of neighbor on cultural, social and political reforms.

He was a well known out spoken abolitionist, who harbored fugitive slaves.  It was said he kept a loaded pistol on his desk while writing sermons, in case those he helped on the way to freedom (who he sometimes housed in the basement) were threatened.  He believed that women should be equal to men.

He said that “while the church exists to cultivate the heart, mind and conscience, it should also “ be the means of reforming the world.”  It was one of his images—that the arc of moral universe is long but it bends toward justice—that would be adopted over a hundred years later by the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. …and quoted by Barack Obama…and many others..

He greatly influenced younger Unitarian ministers who admired him for taking reason to a new level, for his fight for a truly, free faith and his example of public engagement.   He never left the Unitarian ministry.  He continued to call himself a Christian until the end of his life.

In his 1841 sermon he said; “It must be confessed, though with sorrow, that transient things form a great part of what is commonly taught as Religion.  An undue place has often been assigned to forms and doctrines, while too little stress has been laid on the divine life of the soul, love to God, and love to man....if we are faithful, the great truths of morality and religion, the deep sentiment of love to man and love to God, are perceived intuitively, and by instinct, as it were, though our theology be imperfect...”

“....Christianity is a simple thing; very simple.  It is absolute, pure Morality; absolute, pure Religion; the love of man; the love of God acting without let or hindrance....The only form it demands is ...doing the best thing, in the best way, from the highest motives....”

In a sermon entitled, What would Theodore Parker Do?, the Rev. Mark Ward, currently serving our sister congregation in Asheville said:  “Spiritual exploration and the search for truth and meaning require a good deal of inner work as well as time to engage with each other..... But we do not fully inhabit our faith until we live it, until it guides how we interact with others and society at large, until it helps open our eyes to a larger view of the world and the duty we owe to each all humankind and to the earth.”

Music perhaps better than theology, combines excellence of form, the mathematics of composition, with feeling and intuition…with memory and hope…with the soulful things that cannot be measured or regulated…

Words and forms, even the chalice, notes on the paper, are only the form, the fingers that direct our attention to the moon.

Let us gather again and again to worship, to lift up “what will live and give life” generation after generation.. 

The forms may change, may go out of favor and come back again, but what gave us life, what gives us life remains.

Amen, blessed be, shalom, salaam, namaste - the light in me honors the light in you…