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UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST CHURCH OF MINNETONKA
Themes are based on Soul Matters Sharing Circle, a group of over 200 UU congregations who follow the same monthly worship themes so we can more easily share small group material, as well as worship, sermon, music and children’s religious education resources.
September 2016 – EVOLUTION (This month’s theme was taken from Soul Matters - February 2014)
(February) is a perfect time to wrestle with what it means to live a life of “evolution.” The birthday of Charles Darwin sits right at the center of the month. If we Unitarian Universalists were to create a list of high holy days, this certainly would make the cut. Darwin’s great gift to the world from our UU perspective was not just in offering us a new scientific frame, but also an entirely different way of understanding ourselves. All of a sudden human beings were invited to see themselves not simply as children of God, but also as children of the universe. A separation between us and the rest of the natural world was healed, or maybe it’s better to say that we were suddenly invited to heal that separation.
October 2016 – LETTING GO (This month’s theme was taken from Soul Matters - October 2015)
We cling. You name it, we’ve wrapped our grasping fingers and anxious hearts around it: success, safety, society’s standards of beauty, personal desires to be accepted, perfectionism, duty, fear, grudges, hurts, hopes, stuff, shame and privilege. Whether the object of our grasping is good or bad is not, as we learn, truly the issue. It’s the grasping itself. That’s the real problem. Holding on too long and too tightly is never good for the soul. So our faith pleads with us, “Let it go!” But here’s the twist: Our faith follows that up quickly with “Let it in!” This spiritual dance takes a two-step. As Forrest Church puts it, letting go must be followed up by reaching out. Indeed, the tragedy of grasping so tightly is not simply that we anchor ourselves to that which burdens us, but that we end up shutting out that which is trying to save and feed us.
November 2016 – STORY
Our lives are not just made up of stories; they are also made by stories. This might be the most important reminder of this month. Indeed, who of us hasn’t felt controlled by a story? Stuck in a story? Hopeless about the way our story will end up? Simply put, stories write us as much as we write them.
December 2016 – PRESENCE
The underlying message here is that the world is full of unnoticed gifts and grace. It’s a message perfectly fit for this month that so often celebrates presents over presence. In the face of commercials and billboards that tell us our lives will finally be complete if we stuff them with a few more shiny objects or plastic gadgets, our spiritual traditions come along and remind us that our lives are already complete. Their message: The greatest gift of the holidays is noticing the many gifts that have been sitting there all along.
January 2017 – PROPHECY
Prophets are known for their condemnation. Images of an angry bearded man shouting and predicting God’s judgment come to mind. But for Unitarian Universalists, the prophetic voice has always been less about shouting “You’re evil!” and more about pointing out “We’re all asleep!” The prophetic message, for us, is not so much “Repent!” but “Wake up!” Recent political events are relevant here. On election day, many of us realized we had been living in a bubble. We existed in an echo chamber but told ourselves we had a clear picture of the world. Whether it was class, condescension or comfort, something distorted many people’s view.
February 2017 – IDENTITY
Afraid that our inner light will be extinguished or our inner darkness exposed, we hide our true identities from each other. In the process, we become separated from our own souls. We end up living divided lives, so far removed from the truth we hold within that we cannot know the “integrity that comes from being what you are.” ~Parker Palmer
Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes. ~Walt Whitman
It’s one thing for a religion to offer you an identity; it’s quite another for a religion to celebrate your identity. At our best, we seek both.
March 2017 – RISK
The important question about risk (and about life) is not “Are you willing to jump off?” but “Are you willing to jump in?” Not “Are you willing to put yourself in danger?” but “Are you willing to give yourself to something bigger?” Not “Will you be daring?” but “Will you stay true?”
April 2017 – TRANSFORMATION
Let mystery have its place in you; do not be always turning up your whole soil with the plowshare of self-examination, but leave a little fallow corner in your heart ready for any seed the winds may bring, and reserve a nook of shadow for the passing bird; keep a place in your heart for the unexpected guests, an altar for an unknown God. -Henri-Frederic Ariel
May 2017 – EMBODIMENT
“I spend most time wondering if I should be somewhere else. Instead, I’m learning to shape the words “thank you” with my first breath each morning. My last breath each night. So when the very last breath comes, at least I will know I was grateful for all the places I was so sure I was not suppose to be. ”
- Sarah Kay, Poet, from The Paradox
June 2017 - ZEST
“In my own worst seasons I’ve come back from the colorless world of despair by forcing myself to look hard, for a long time, at a single glorious thing: a flame of red geranium outside my bedroom window. And then another: my daughter in a yellow dress. And another: the perfect outline of a full, dark sphere behind the crescent moon. Until I learned to be in love with my life again. Like a stroke victim retraining new parts of the brain to grasp lost skills, I have taught myself joy, over and over again.” - Barbara Kingsolver
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