CUUC

CUUC

2018-05-24

From the Minister, Thu May 24

"Love Resists" -- a joint campaign by the Unitarian Universalist Association and the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee -- is worth paying attention to. Check out their website HERE.

Particularly, let me mention the work "Love Resists" is doing to organize to end the cash bail system. Here's the word:
"On any given night in the United States, more than 450,000 people who have not been convicted of a crime are locked up in jail simply because they don't have enough money to pay bail. Universalism means no one is disposable and interdependence means that none of us are truly free as long as people are in jail. Join us on Tue May 29 at 7:30 p.m. EST for a webinar to learn how the cash bail system criminalizes people for being poor. REGISTER HERE During this webinar Unitarian Universalists and others from around the country will learn about cash bail and the growing movement to end money bond and pre-trial detention. You’ll also hear stories from people impacted by this unjust system, as well as from volunteers and staff at several community bond funds. Whether you have been part of Mama’s Day Bail Out work in the past or you are new to this issue, you will leave with ideas of how you and your congregation can contribute to local and national bond funds and support the fight to #EndMoneyBail. It’s also great preparation for the UUA General Assembly #EndMoneyBail Public Witness led by Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism!"
Free on Tue evening? Spend an hour learning how others can be free.

Yours in the faith we share,
Meredith

The Liberal Pulpit

Index of past sermons: HERE
Index of other reflections: HERE.
Practice of the Week. Get (and Keep) Your Life in Balance. The one area of our lives that doesn’t work so well is the one that affects us the most. That’s the area that, until it starts going better, is most important. Thus, having a system that reminds you to work on your weak areas is essential. With the various aspects of your life in balance, you’ll feel happier and more peaceful. You’ll spend less time distracting yourself from problems that could have been avoided. Rather than simply getting through each day, you’ll experience the abundance that comes from feeling you’re spending your time doing what’s truly important. READ MORE
Your Moment of Zen. Porcupine came again to Raven for a special interview and said, "A week ago I found that everything was completely open and clear to the very bottom, but last night I woke up for no reason and was filled with fear and panic. What's going on?" Raven said, "A week ago you realized that everything is completely open and clear to the very bottom, and last night you woke up filled with fear and panic." Porcupine hung his head and asked, "What should I do?" Raven said, "The context is not the practice." Porcupine thought for a moment and said...READ MORE
Zen at CUUC: Sat May 26
Let's Talk
One option: I'm at a coffee shop from 3-5pm (almost) every Tuesday until Father's Day. I invite you to drop by and visit with me. May 29: Sunshine Coffee Roasters, 1932 Palmer Ave, Larchmont. Jun 5 & 12: Starbucks, 2 South Greeley Ave, Chappaqua
Another option: Drop by the Minister's Study at CUUC. I'm in and available: Wed & Thu: 10-12 & 3-6 (through Jun 10)
Or: The Parsonage is open for drop-in visits on Fridays, 12:30-5.
Or: Call Pam (946-1660, x2) or me (352-682-8492) to make an appointment!

The two Common Reads for 2017-18: HERE. Of particular note, regarding Centering: See recommended reading HERE On the Journey, May: Truth. HERE.

Commencement Exercises

"I did a thing ..."

I've "liked" so many Facebook posts in the last few days that began that way. Not terribly eloquent, quite a bit understated, yet so true. My fellow seminarians at Meadville Lombard and Starr King are sharing their joy and elation about graduating and having their Master of Divinity degrees finally conferred.... some of us have been at this on the five or six-year plan!

First among the things and commencement activities I did last weekend in Chicago was the graduate vespers service and dinner honoring the three recipients of honorary degrees; the highlight of the evening for me was the remarks from the honorees. Dr. Daniel O. Aleshire, recently retired executive director of the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada (the accreditation body), spoke about the never-ending importance and need for human ministry to address the needs of our world which artificial intelligence cannot. Hillary Goodridge, Program Director of the UU Funding Program and co-plaintiff in the 2001 Massachusetts lawsuit that won marriage equality in 2004, spoke about the importance of financial support for social justice change-makers and "keeping the gift moving." Rev. Abhi Janamanchi, Senior Minister of Cedar Lane UU Church of Bethesda, MD and Meadville alum, spoke of the challenges and imperative of ministering well from the parish in a time and world of increasing diversity and division.

Sunday morning, I skipped attending one of the several UU worship services in the area and attended our Coming of Age service courtesy of Facebook Live. (A shout-out and Thank You to those who make it happen!) I found the service moving and the statements thought-provoking. They each did a thing, didn't they?

The Commencement Service was held at First Unitarian of Chicago, a grand and stately stone structure in the Hyde Park neighborhood. Rev. Dr. Pamela Lightsey, VP for Academic and Student Affairs, delivered the commencement sermon, "Following A Circuitous Route." And, THAT's when my eyes welled up with tears, repeatedly, as she urged us to pick up the waylaid stones and pieces of our callings we'd set to the side during our studies and re-commit to moving forward on those "impossible dreams" that first led us to pursue ministry.

More on my own circuitous route in the next few weeks remaining at CUUC until the June 17th service.

In the meantime, I leave you with these questions to ponder:

What dreams have you set aside in order to accomplish other goals? How might you re-claim them?
How do you keep the gifts of your dreams and accomplishments moving in the world?
What in the world requires the best of your humanity and embodied intelligence? 

If not us, then who?
 

 

Get (and Keep) Your Life in Balance

Practice of the Week
Get (and Keep) Your Life in Balance

OCCASIONAL or WORTH A TRY: These are practices suggested for "every once in a while" -- or "give it a try." You may find it so valuable that you stick with it, and it becomes a Key Supporting Practice for you. Some of them are responses to a particular need that may arise; others are simply enriching occasional enhancements to the spiritual life. All of them are worth a try at least once. And any of them might become a regular and central part of your spiritual practice.

from Jonathan Robinson, Find Happiness Now, adapted, abridged

By working with hundreds of clients in therapy, I’ve learned that people’s lives are only as good as the worst thing in their life. If someone is rich, healthy, and beautiful, but their relationships are terrible, they’ll feel rotten. The one area of our lives that doesn’t work so well is the one that affects us the most. That’s the area that, until it starts going better, is most important.

Thus, having a system that reminds you to work on your weak areas is essential. With the various aspects of your life in balance, you’ll feel happier and more peaceful. You’ll spend less time distracting yourself from problems that could have been avoided. Rather than simply getting through each day, you’ll experience the abundance that comes from feeling you’re spending your time doing what’s truly important.

1. The List of Areas to Balance

Make a list of the areas of your life that need to be in balance. My list has eight areas to keep track of. Your list will be probably be very similar, since these are widely shared, or even universal, areas in all our lives. Here’s my list:
  • Career
  • Recreation
  • Spirituality
  • Level of fulfillment
  • Bodily health
  • Family and relationships
  • Finances
  • New learning
It’s easy to get absorbed into just one or two aspects of life, and let the others fall by the wayside. Yet, to have a truly fulfilling life, it’s necessary to create a healthy balance among the competing priorities for our time.

We may look like we’re successful in the short term, but if we fail to create balance, in the long term we will either burn out or be unhappy.

2. The Monthly Review

Once a month I look at each of the eight areas of my life, and I ask myself: “How am I doing in this area? Am I spending the appropriate amount of time, energy, and attention on it?” Usually the answer is obvious.

3. The Vow

If a particular area isn’t doing so well, vow to focus on it more during the upcoming month. Write down the vow at the beginning of each month.

4. The Daily Plan

I prioritize my day before I eat breakfast. I used to sometimes forget to set up my day, so I created a little reward system for myself. As soon as I’m done figuring out what’s most important to do that day, I eat breakfast. Since I love eating breakfast (and never miss it), this simply way of rewarding myself for prioritizing guarantees that it always gets done. Then, as I look over all the things I could do during that day, I ask myself two questions.

First Question: What’s really important to do today in order to create a balanced, happy life? This simple question gets my mind focused in the right direction. It’s a much better question to contemplate than asking yourself, “What do I have to do today?” Asking about what’s important helps remind me that the bottom line in life is not how much I do or make. Instead, it’s how much of my dreams of creating joy, love, and contribution I can integrate into my day-to-day life.

Second Question: What are the seven most important things I want to make sure I get done today? I write a brainstorm list of things I’d like to do, then I prioritize them from one to seven. Frequently, I include activities that are not business related, such as buying my partner flowers, or going on a bike ride. Over time, I’ve discovered that my career has its own way of getting my attention, so I don’t have to remind myself to give time to my career. The other areas of life are more likely to require intentional prioritizing.

Whatever aspect of life you are most likely to ignore is the one that’s most important to schedule. By scheduling your workouts, time with friends, or whatever you tend to overlook, your life will soon come into greater balance.

If you don’t get everything done on your list, write it on your next day’s schedule. If you finish the top seven items before the day is over, ask yourself the two prioritization questions once again. It only takes a minute, yet its effect on your life will be immense.

Many Americans suffer from time poverty. Though our material circumstances may be well above the poverty level, and studies indicate that we work fewer hours than we did thirty years ago, we may nevertheless feel that we don’t have enough time to do all the things we need to do. We waste a lot of time doing activities that bring us little lasting value -- such as watching TV – and forget to do things that add depth and meaning to our lives. A system to prioritize every single day what’s truly important to you will allow you to master your time and life. Without such a system, we are swept into the river of distractions – and will someday look back on our life and wonder where all the time went.

* * *

RE News: Sun May 27

Lifespan Religious Education
Our Coming of Age Service last Sunday included a family COA ritual in which parents named something that they are going to let go of as their youth move from childhood into young adulthood. Their statements were reinforced by lighting flash paper in our chalice that vanished before our eyes. This action brought home the visceral feeling of letting go and connected with all the ways we need to let go in our lives. The Bridging Ceremony at the RE Sunday Service on June 10 will be another letting go ritual, showing us the stages of independence that children, and the adults in their lives, move through. Of course, as attested to by the recent story about the 30-year-old Hudson Valley man who was evicted by his parents, we know the process does not happen overnight or in a linear fashion, but our rituals help us recognize the need to shift the orientation of the relationship as the stages of life unfold.

Please see the following four (4) announcements:

1) This Sun May 27
All ages participate in a Fun Sunday program.

Then...

June 3 - Regular RE with review and preparation for RE Sunday. This is a great way for your child to capture the meaning of the year and what it was all about, whether having attended each week or infrequently.

June 10 - RE Sunday Service and Barbecue - Our meaningful celebration of the year in RE that includes the banner parade for all classes, children's participation in the service, and the Bridging Ceremony for high school seniors.

To view the Religious Education Google calendar, CLICK HERE.
To view a spreadsheet version of the RE Calendar, CLICK HERE.

2) College Scholarship Awards
Each year CUUC offers two scholarships in the amount of $250 for our graduating seniors. One scholarship is given in honor of Sylvia Schnall-Pierorazio and the other Rev. Betty Baker, both former CUUC Directors of Religious Education.

Please send a short essay on your contributions and leadership at CUUC, with a brief explanation of how the scholarship will be used and the names of two CUUC references to dlre@cucwp.org by May 31.

3) Unirondack Family & Friends Weekend This Weekend - May 25-28
Join other CUUC families at this Unitarian camp on Memorial Day weekend for family fun and connection.
A few of our families attended last year and had a great time.

For information and to register, CLICK HERE.
Contact Rebecca Rugg at rebeccaruggbiz@gmail.com to find out more from an attendee.

4) UU Summer Camps & Retreat Centers for Children, Youth, and Families
Unitarian Universalist retreat centers offer the opportunity to connect with UUs from around the country in fun and fellowship. Whether you are looking for a place to go as a family or somewhere for your kids to experience a fun camp, there are many amazing Unitarian Universalist summer destinations:

Ferry Beach is oceanfront in ME.
ferrybeach.org
The Mountain is atop the Blue Ridge Mountains in NC.
mountaincenters.org
The Rowe Center is in the Berkshire Mountains in MA.
rowecenter.org
Sophia Fahs RE Camp is one week in August on Shelter Island.
www.liacuu.org/Fahs
Star Island is a 46-acre island off the NH coast.
starisland.org
Unirondack is in the NY Adirondacks.
unirondack.org
Murray Grove is a Universalist retreat center nearby in NJ.
http://www.murraygrove.org/#!camping-in-the-grove/c15no
UUMAC Retreat is one week in July at DeSales University in PA.
uumac.org
The Central East Region offers a Summer Institute focused on climate change.
http://omdsi.org/
SUUSI is a weeklong multignerational event in North Carolina.
https://www.suusi.org/

Sincerely,
Perry
Director of Lifespan Religious Education and Faith Development

2018-05-23

Music: Sun May 27


In recognition of the successful renewal of CUUC’s Welcoming Congregation status, works by gay composers are featured in the morning’s Centering  and Opening Music; CUUC’s house band affirms diversity and personal authenticity in song; and our own Kim Force offers one of gay Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca’s settings of a traditional Andalusian melody, La tarara. The song, of Medieval Arabic origins, personifies a popular regional dance (the Tarara) as a young woman. Read on for programming details.

Centering Music: Adam Kent, piano
Barcarolle, Op. 37, No. 6
                                    Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Mouvements perpétuels
Assez modéré, Alerte
                                    Francis Poulenc

Opening Music:
Moment Musical in F Minor, Op. 94, No. 3
                                                Franz Schubert


Offertory: Elias VanDette and Kim Force, vocals: Christian Force, piano
Born This Way
                                                Stefani Germanotta & Jeppe Laursen


Reading:
Casida de las palomas oscuras (Casida of the Dark Doves)
                                    Federico Garcia Lorca

Interlude:
La tarara*
                                    Traditional Andalusian, arr. by Lorca



Special Hymn: Kim Force, soprano; Christian Force, piano; Joann Prinzivalli, guitar
True Colors*
Billy Steinberg & Tom Kelly
Performed by Kim Force, vocals / Christian Force, piano / Joann Prinzivalli, guitar

*The congregation is invited to sing along in the chorus:
I see your true colors shining through.
I see your true colors and that's why I love you.
So don't be afraid to let them show, your true colors.
True colors are beautiful like a rainbow.

Translation: La tarara

Refrain:

Tarara yes;
Tarara no;

Tarara, a girl
who has caught my eye

Tarara wears
a green dress
full of ruffles
and jingle bells

(refrain)

Tarara flaunts
her train of silk
over the brush
and the mint

(refrain)

Ah, crazy Tarara
moves her waist
for the boys
in the olive groves

(refrain)

2018-05-17

From the Minister, May 18

Five Features of Congregational Life
You might get spiritual development outside of congregations, 
but you won't get these anywhere else

Will congregational life in faith communities -- or all but the most conservative and reactionary forms of it -- eventually pass from the earth? I don't know. People will always have in interest in their spiritual development, but perhaps they will go to spiritual counselors who set up shop the way that psycho-therapists do. Or perhaps they'll go to spirituality classes, set up like yoga classes, or to book clubs. TED Talks could entirely replace sermons. Certain bars where the patrons sing showtunes might take the place (kinda) of the hymn-singing experience. Who knows?

There are five features of congregational life that none of these other vehicles for delivering inspiration or cultivating spiritual maturation have. I think they're worth preserving, though I notice that our culture has been growing increasingly ambivalent about them -- which is why the religiously unaffiliated numbers have been growing as they have. All combined, these five indicate a way of life that I would be sorry to see go.

1. Self-governance. Involvement with committees; democratic participation in, and approval of, the budget process; worrying about policies, procedures, bylaws; creating and leading programs. For some folks, this is not hugely appealing, but there need to be spiritual communities run by the seekers themselves. I understand -- as do most UUs today -- that the activities of self-governance form an inseparable and integral part of our path of growth and deepening.

2. Group Identity and Belonging. While we UUs ourselves are sometimes exasperated with the level of tribalism in the religious scene today, there are, nevetheless, deep satisfactions from being members of the UU tribe. That group identity and belonging would be mostly lost without congregations. While some yoga students eventually come to have a sense of themselves as yogis, that's generally pretty thin soup as identities go. People going for counseling generally derive even less sense of identity from the particular school or methodology their counselor was trained in. “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Client” is not likely to become a significant part of anyone's proudly proclaimed identity nor will it evoke much sense of belonging.

3. Family membership. Adults and their children share in congregational life. The concept of family involvement in a faith institution -- belonging together as a family rather than as separate individuals -- is an integral feature of congregational life. You don't get that with a counselor or a yoga class.

4. Caring for each other. Call it shared pastoral ministry: the love and care that congregation members show to other members – building friendships in church, visiting each other for social occasions and when one of us is sick. That sort of thing isn’t always entirely absent from, say, a close-knit, long-time book club, or a group-counseling group, but it definitely recedes into comparative insignificance without congregations.

5. Social justice action as a faith community. As with self-governance, most UUs today understand that working with fellow congregants on justice projects is an essential part of our spiritual path.

These five features of congregational life all have unhealthy, insular, cult-ish forms -- which contributes to the turn-off that increasing numbers of people find the prospect of congregational membership to be. Yet these five, in healthy versions, are deeply enriching and essential components of a good life. The "spiritual but not religious" trend misses out on them.

In Case You Missed It . . .

Click the pic for Cindy Davidson's May 13 sermon: "Truths Be Told."

For video of a number of past sermons on our Youtube channel, CLICK HERE.
The Liberal Pulpit: New this week:
Index of past sermons: HERE
Index of other reflections: HERE.
Practice of the Week. Practice for Life is Practice for Death. Death is powerful, very immediate, and a great motivator. But if you wait till the time when death is close to begin your practice, it may well be too late. It is much better to spend time in your life working on your spiritual practice so at the time of death it will be there for you. With years of practice while you’re still more-or-less healthy, when you’re dying, instead of being subject to a mind full of confusion and dread, it will be possible for you to meditate on love and compassion. READ MORE
Your Moment of Zen. Winter set in firmly, and frequent snowstorms prevented the community from meeting. One day was unseasonably warm, however, and a few members gathered for a day of zazen. In the question period, Owl said, "Many folks aren't surviving the winter, and I think all of us are reminded that we won't be here long. I'm not sure what my question is, but..." Her voice trailed off. Raven said, "Maybe there isn't a question." Mole spoke up and said, "I think there is. There's a lot of suffering in this forest. Folks are dying...READ MORE
Zen at CUUC: Sat May 19
Minister's Tuesday Coffee Chat

May 22: CANCELLED. (I'll be out of town.)
May 29: Sunshine Coffee Roasters, 1932 Palmer Ave, Larchmont. (Adjacent to the Red Mango.)
Jun 5: Starbucks, 2 South Greeley Ave, Chappaqua

I'm at a coffee shop (almost) every Tuesday from 3-5pm. I invite you to drop by and chat.

The two Common Reads for 2017-18: HERE. Of particular note, regarding Centering: See recommended reading HERE On the Journey, May: Truth. HERE.

RE News: Sun May 20

Lifespan Religious Education
The process of coming of age from a faith development perspective is a lifelong one. We are continually coming into our own as we move through various stages of life. As Unitarian Universalists, we embrace the never-ending unfolding of our spiritual evolution in which revelation is ongoing. Our 8th-9th graders will mark the culmination of their Coming of Age journey in RE this Sunday at the service they will lead. When they read their faith statements, it will not mark the end of their faith development path, only a rite of passage along the way. Each time we witness the COA Service as adults we are inspired by the youth and are reminded of our own ever-changing understanding of ourselves and the world around us.

Please see the following five (5) announcements:

1)This Sun May 20
All ages start in the sanctuary for a Wonder Box Story with the COA class, as they lead the service.

Classes
Pre-K-1 - Creating Home
2nd-3rd - Home (spiritual practice of play)
4th-5th - Bibleodeon: Jonah and making animals for the ark that Ted built)
6th-7th – Neighboring Faiths: Kiva Microfinance (https://www.kiva.org/lender/cuucwp)
8th-9th – Coming of Age Service
10th-12th – Attend COA Service

To view the Religious Education Google calendar, CLICK HERE.
To view a spreadsheet version of the RE Calendar, CLICK HERE.

2) Faith Development Friday - Tomorrow, May 18
An evening of learning, spiritual growth, and community
RSVP by 3pm Fri to cuucevents@gmail.com

6:15pm Pizza & Salad Community Dinner
7:00pm Programs Begin...

Faith Like a River
The Wisdom RE Ministry Team invites you to an Adult RE experience facilitated by Rev. Meredith. This class explores the people, ideas, and movements that have shaped our faith heritage. What lessons do the stories of our history teach that can help us live more faithfully in the present? What lessons do they offer to be lived into the future? You may also join this program online via Zoom videoconferencing by going to https://zoom.us/j/2898507899.

Family Journey Group
Parents gather to discuss the theme of truth (facilitated by Barbara Montrose), while children have their own group with activities and discussion based on the theme (facilitated by Perry Montrose, DLRE). Adults without children are invited to participate in the parents’ group.

Youth Group - There is no youth social night this month. There will be one on June 15.

Social Time for Adults
Those who would like more time to chat and just be together are welcome to continue hanging out in Fellowship Hall after the meal. Come to simply get to know your fellow CUUCers better, without specific programming.

Also stay for coffee and conversation after the programs.

3) College Scholarship Awards
Each year CUUC offers two scholarships in the amount of $250 for our graduating seniors. One scholarship is given in honor of Sylvia Schnall-Pierorazio and the other Rev. Betty Baker, both former CUUC Directors of Religious Education.

Please send a short essay on your contributions and leadership at CUUC, with a brief explanation of how the scholarship will be used and the names of two CUUC references to dlre@cucwp.org by May 31.

4) Unirondack Family & Friends Weekend May 25-28
Join other CUUC families at this Unitarian camp on Memorial Day weekend for family fun and connection.
A few of our families attended last year and had a great time.

For information and to register, CLICK HERE.
Contact Rebecca Rugg at rebeccaruggbiz@gmail.com to find out more from an attendee.

5) UU Summer Camps & Retreat Centers for Children, Youth, and Families
Unitarian Universalist retreat centers offer the opportunity to connect with UUs from around the country in fun and fellowship. Whether you are looking for a place to go as a family or somewhere for your kids to experience a fun camp, there are many amazing Unitarian Universalist summer destinations:

Ferry Beach is oceanfront in ME.
ferrybeach.org
The Mountain is atop the Blue Ridge Mountains in NC.
mountaincenters.org
The Rowe Center is in the Berkshire Mountains in MA.
rowecenter.org
Sophia Fahs RE Camp is one week in August on Shelter Island.
www.liacuu.org/Fahs
Star Island is a 46-acre island off the NH coast.
starisland.org
Unirondack is in the NY Adirondacks.
unirondack.org
Murray Grove is a Universalist retreat center nearby in NJ.
http://www.murraygrove.org/#!camping-in-the-grove/c15no
UUMAC Retreat is one week in July at DeSales University in PA.
uumac.org
The Central East Region offers a Summer Institute focused on climate change.
http://omdsi.org/
SUUSI is a weeklong multignerational event in North Carolina.
https://www.suusi.org/

Sincerely,
Perry
Director of Lifespan Religious Education and Faith Development