UUCA Connections, our monthly newsletter, includes service descriptions, columns from the Minister, Board of Trustees President, the Director of Lifespan Religious Education and the Assistant Minister. It also includes upcoming events, timely articles, and one page that is devoted to our Earth & Social Justice Ministry discussions and program offerings. Read Rev. Mark Ward’s column below, or click here to read the entire newsletter, and get a better feel for our congregation and how you would fit in!
I began this church year in September by introducing you to a 2005 college graduation address by the novelist David Foster Wallace that I thought might serve as a good source of themes for us to explore in worship and our small group ministry. As we close the year I’d like to return to Wallace’s address for a moment to reflect on some of what I hope we may have taken away from it.
You’ll recall that Wallace’s address was centered on a Sufi story that told of two fish who one morning come upon an older fish who greets them saying, “How’s the water?” Later, one of the fish turns to the other and says, “What’s water?” The story prompts one of the great religious questions: How do we live in such a way as to be aware of, no less grateful for all that sustains us in this life? So, this year we explored some of what it means to be aware, to live authentically. And we considered some of the default settings, the routine ways of thinking that keep us from doing that, how we need to choose intentionally to take ownership of our lives, to set our sights on the fundamental truths that guide us. We give ourselves freedom, open our hearts to wonder and challenge, smugness and arrogance. Really? This month we explored how opening ourselves to laughter can be a spiritual discipline.
It’s been fun playing with these themes in worship, and I’ve enjoyed working with about 30 UUCA members and friends who have served as theme curators, gathering poems, books, films, quotes, Web sites, and–best of all–personal reflections on these themes. I hope you have taken a moment during the year to look at their contributions on our website. You can find them under the tab, “Worship Theme.” Click the latest theme and you can also find an archive of past theme contributions. We’ll be taking a break from themes over the summer, so if you haven’t had a chance to check them out, you might want to take a look. Keep an eye out for us to start up again in September, when we’ll have a new crop of themes for the coming year.
So, that brings us to the close of Wallace’s speech and our worship theme for June. Wallace says that it is easy for us to breeze by day-to-day without really reflecting on our lives, going through our days with, in his words, “a gnawing sense of having had and lost some infinite thing.” The alternative is making choices that honor the wonder and joy of being alive, that help us see ourselves in the faces of others and imagine a duty in our lives greater than our own amusement. It is about living as if life mattered: life before death. That’s our theme for June. What might “life before death” mean for you?