This month will be the start of something very new at UUMAN. (No, not the start of the new church year with a newly settled minister. Hopefully that is old news by now!) Beginning in September we will initiate a monthly thematic focus in our worship services and in our MCY program. With time, this thematic focus might permeate into other aspects of our ministry here (e.g. thematic chalice lightings, small group ministry, theological/philosophical reflections, adult enrichment, etc.)
Appropriate to the start of the new church year, September’s theme will be Covenant. Some other themes this year include Healing, Identity, Transformation and Risk
We won’t be undertaking this thematic approach on our own; rather, we will be informally joining approximately 200 other Unitarian Universalist congregations who will also be focusing on these same themes. This approach to ministry was initiated by the First Unitarian Church of Rochester, NY in 2006.
Why are we doing this? There are several reasons. Obviously, the monthly theme can provide us with a central focus upon which we can deepen our understanding of our shared existence. Also, we often talk about communication. (Actually, we only talk about communication when we are miscommunicating – when we fail to communicate.) The monthly theme can provide us with another level upon which we can practice communication around a common subject. Reflections upon the common theme can also provide us with the opportunity to see each other’s varied perspectives. With this, we may hopefully better understand one another and communicate more effectively as a result.
Also, the common theme can provide families with the subject matter for the sparkling discussion around the dinner table each night. (You all discuss nothing more than UUMAN and Unitarian Universalism at mealtimes, correct?)
It is my hope that we will approach this thematic focus with a light touch. Rather than strict adherence to the theme, flexibility and spontaneity will always be encouraged. I always liked how the “Pirate’s Code” was explained in the movie “Pirates of the Caribbean.” There was no rigid code per se, they were “more like guidelines.” Feel free to color outside the lines.
Again, the theme for September is Covenant. Covenants are our promises to one another; yet these promises are bound up in human frailty and imperfection. One of the central purposes of the covenant is that its rebuilding provides us with a new opportunity to rebuild ourselves better, stronger.
Also, and often overlooked, our covenant provides us with the backbone and support to do the work of this church. Many of us, myself included, are “doers.” We like to do stuff – get things done. Yet let us not forget that it is our covenant with one another (and with our world), that provides the base, the support and the reason for our ministry. Catholic theologian Margaret Farley states:
Civilization’s history tends to be written in terms of human discoveries and inventions, wars, artistic creations, laws, forms of government, customs, the cultivation of land…At the heart of this history, however, lies a sometimes hidden narrative of promises, pledges, oaths, compacts, committed beliefs, and projected visions. At the heart of any individual’s story, too, lies the tale of her or his commitments.”
To the end of this quotation I would add “ …and those committed to her or him.”
Through covenant may we be committed to one another in our work.
Take care and be well.