I’ve never done a sermon series before, but in case you didn’t know, we’ve been doing one this fall. The arc of my most recent sermons here have focused on reflecting what it means to be a Unitarian Universalist; what it means to belong, to be a member of this congregation; what it means to have a vision for the future, why it is necessary for us, as Unitarian Universalists, to do faith formation.
As part of the series, we did a service on “Belonging.” What does it mean to be a member, what does it mean to belong to this congregation? We said that membership means, “Taking off the bib and putting on the apron (Michael Piazza).” Membership means joining us in commitment to our mission and ministry. “Membership is…a covenant among individuals to become something new (Renee-Noelle Felice, Belonging, Commission on Appraisal, 65).” Membership is a covenant we, the existing members, make with our newest members; giving them authority to change us, to make us something new.
We also dedicated a Sunday to faith formation (“Faith Formation – 2020”) which emphasized that as Unitarian Universalists, we are completely responsible for growing our faith. Unitarian Universalism doesn’t sell a system of beliefs. We create an environment for you to plant and nurture the seeds of your faith – “we don’t sell fruits here, only seeds (Judith Frediani).”
We later did a Twilight Zone skit as a way to playfully paint our vision for the future of UUMAN (“Engaging in UUMAN’s Vision”). In this sermon I also emphasized that “the method is the message;” that participating in the process in vision creation is the transformative part. Some of the visions that were suggested included:
- We envision that UUMAN will be a place of prayer, love and voting.
- We envision that UUMAN will live sustainably off the grid.
- We envision that we will encourage our kids to speak the truth.
- We envision that we will empower kids with a knowledge of sexuality.
- We envision that we will be attuned to the homeless and others in need.
- We envision a congregation that plays in worship
We spent one particular Sunday discussing UUMAN’s mission. Might there be a way that we could all inscribe this mission on our hearts…or at least remember it? ? We described “UUMAN – In Six Words” as a way of editing, paring down to the bare essentials, the essence of UUMAN.
In the very near future, we will be engaging one another in congregational visioning in an effort to formally articulate the future we wish to create. Who knows, we might end up tweaking or even re-writing our mission statement. It will depend upon you. Changing our mission will depend on the discussions you have and the visions you articulate.
On my first Sunday back after returning from summer break, I related that despite this congregation facing a new culture and society that is no longer pre-disposed to churchgoing, all of you chose to spend your Sunday morning here at UUMAN (“I So Appreciate”). And I so appreciate the many of you who continue to give your time, talent and treasure to this place that feeds you in ways that no other place can.
Thank you & take care,