Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Coming Together

I want to tell you the story of an example of truly integrated ministry.  So often people in a congregation of our size complain that it feels like "herding cats" -- that we seem to be doing lots of things without all that much connection between our efforts.  TJMC-UU was actually once described as a "hyperactive" congregation!

Yet two nights ago we saw a beautiful coming together of a whole lot of parts of our church to create our annual Elder Dinner.

So ... this dinner grows out of the tradition of the Women's Alliance Spring Luncheon.  Today it is our annual event to recognize and honor the "elders" of our congregation -- those who have passed the 70 year mark.  At one time it was the responsibility almost entirely of the UUpity Women.  But this year was a different story.

  • The UU Women's Network (under the guiding hand of Carol Saliba) handled the bulk of the dinner itself (with help from others, of course!).  
  • Lovely bouquets of paper flowers were lovingly made by the Covenant Group which meets on Tuesday mornings at church.  
  • Children from our Religious Education program made personalized coasters for guest to take home with them.
  • Two of our youth, as well as three cute youngsters, provided post-dinner entertainment.  
  • Staff were represented by Leia, Alex, and myself.
  • And the leftovers were packaged and frozen to be offered as food by CareNet to members and friends who could use a little help during challenging times.
I am sure that I've left out someone or some group, but do you see where I'm going with all of this?  The story that all of the groups and activities at TJMC cause us to fly off in different directions may, at times, be true, yet it's not the only truth.

More and more we are looking for ways to bring our efforts together in common cause.  And we're finding them.  Whether it's a social justice ministry creating sessions for our Covenant Groups to use, our Board President serving food at a celebratory dinner, or an older adult whose children have grown teaching in RE -- we are increasingly becoming truly one community even when we're doing many things.

Where do you fit into this mix?  Where could you?

Something to think about.

Pax tecum,


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Prayer for All Mothers ...

On Sunday I read someone else's words for our communal prayer.  I don't do this too often, but when one of our Worship Weavers (who shall remain nameless, but her initials are "Pam Philips") pointed me to them I found them so apropos that I knew I could not do better.  Here's what I said:

To those who gave birth this year to their first child—we celebrate with you
To those who lost a child this year – we mourn with you
To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains – we appreciate you
To those who experienced loss through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away—we mourn with you
To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and disappointment – we walk with you. Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don’t mean to make this harder than it is.
To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms – we need you
To those who have warm and close relationships with your children – we celebrate with you
To those who have disappointment, heart ache, and distance with your children – we sit with you
To those who lost their mothers this year – we grieve with you
To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother – we acknowledge your experience
To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood – we are better for having you in our midst.
To those who are single and long to be married and mothering your own children – we mourn that life has not turned out the way you longed for it to be
To those who step-parent – we walk with you on these complex paths
To those who envisioned lavishing love on grandchildren -yet that dream is not to be, we grieve with you
To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year – we grieve and rejoice with you
To those who placed children up for adoption — we recognize the complexity of your decision and remember how you hold that child in your heart
And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising –we anticipate with you.
And on this Mother's Day in particular, we think of the Nigerian mothers whose daughters are missing and who have no idea of where or how they are
This Mother’s Day, we walk with you. Mothering is not for the faint of heart and we have real warriors in our midst. We remember you.  We bless you.  And we are blessed by you.

The source of this prayer was a blog post titled, "An Open Letter to Pastors (a non-mom speaks about Mother's Day)."  It comes from the blog, a site I would imagine a great many people in our congregation have never visited.  "Keeping Christ at the Center of Marriage" is not one of the imperatives most here are drawn to.  Yet this prayer, and the other things this self-identified "non-mother" has to say about the religious observance of Mother's Day and the challenges it brings ... well ... worth our hearing.

We Unitarian Universalists like to lift up our inclusiveness.  It's good to remember, every once in a while at least, that we don't have the corner on that virtue.

Pax tecum,