Rev. Mark Ward: Welcome to a New Worship Year

Mark Speaking-WE DO

Here’s a quiz: What do the following words have in common?

Invitation
Letting Go
Ancestry
Expectation
Resistance
Desire
Liberation
Creation
Blessing
Simplicity

OK, maybe that wasn’t fair without any advance notice. In any event, I hope you find these words intriguing because these will be our themes for worship and small group ministry in the coming year. How are we invited into a religious life and what exactly are the attributes of such a life? What does letting go have to do with spiritual growth? What do we claim as our ancestry, and how does it, should it influence us? Those are just some of the interesting questions that these themes raise in my mind, and I’m sure you have more. It should make for a fascinating year.

These themes were chosen with input from people in about 100 UU congregations – including ours – who with us are taking part in what’s called the Soul Matters program. This program was created some years ago at the Unitarian Church of Rochester, NY, as a way for UU congregations to share resources that can enrich their worship and deepen their conversations in small groups. Each month a staff person at the Rochester congregation gathers suggestions from participating congregations for resources to explore these themes – poems, quotes, films, websites, YouTube videos as well as provocative questions and personal reflections that address this theme. Then, that person distills all those resources into a file that is sent out to the congregations that are involved.

I’ve found it a rich resource for worship, and our small groups have enjoyed it as well. So, I hope this whets your appetite for some wonderful digging in the coming year in the company of your fellow UUs. Our theme groups and covenant groups will be recruiting new members, and we’re going to make every effort to make sure that everyone who’s interested finds a place. We’re paying attention to this, because we believe that it is those groups that are among the places where being a member of this congregation has its greatest impact on our lives.

And let me make sure to add that, as usual, our summer services will close with our annual Water Service, this year on August 30. Its focus this year is “I’ve Seen Rivers.” Please plan to bring water from your travels or a place that has meaning to you to share in the common bowl at our service. And may you find some renewal in these lovely summer days.