From the Minister, Thu Dec 21

As 2017 nears its end, I am reflecting in gratitude on what a wonderful congregation this is that I am fortunate to serve. It never ceases to astonish me that there are such good and capable people in this world.

There are Unitarian Universalists all over the country, of course -- something like 200,000 adults if we go by church membership rolls, and something like 600,000 if we go by telephone polls (apparently, for every actual member of a UU congregation, there are two others who aren't members but will tell a phone pollster that they're UU), and 1,000 congregations. It's true that these numbers are small compared to the total population -- less than one-tenth of one percent of the population -- but that still seems to me like a lot of folks willing to commit to the combination of congregational life plus Unitarian Universalist principles and values. I've been to a lot of UU congregations all over the country, and I know us: amazingly dedicated to nurturing our spirits and helping to heal the world. It's astounding.

But I'm not really talking about UUs-in-general. I'm talking about the amazing UUs of the congregation I know best: Community UU at White Plains. You rock! Seeing your faces on Sunday morning is unfailingly the highlight of my week. Some of you arrive exultant, and I am lifted by your triumph. Some of you arrive carrying a burden of worry or sadness, and I am touched and honored by your humanity and presence.

Our congregation is so vibrant: the Brunches! the Choir! all the RE Classes and Projects and Activities! the Journey Groups! the Social Justice Teams! the Annual Auction! The Annual Canvass! The Long-Range Planning Team! In the Spirit of Truth! More programs than I can name, even if I could shake a stick at them all. And on and on. As I write this, the chancel in the sanctuary is festooned with a vast poinsettia array -- testament to some of our members' care to bring seasonal beauty to our shared worship space -- and beside the chancel is a tree covered with hats and gloves -- testament to the congregation's compassionate care for those who don't find it easy to stay warm through the winter.

We are here to do the work: the "liturgy" (which means "the work of the people") of our weekly rhythm, and beyond; the "work of Christmas" as Howard Thurman says:
"When the song of angels is stilled, when the star in the sky is gone, when the kings and princes are home, when the shepherds are back with their flock, the work of Christmas begins: to find the lost, to heal the broken, to feed the hungry, to release the prisoner, to rebuild the nations, to bring peace among the brothers, to make music in the heart."
We have the work of expanding and maturing our spirits, of growing wiser and more compassionate, of examining and re-examining our concepts and habits to move toward an ever more liberative way of thinking and being. The tasks before us are sometimes daunting to me -- but I am buoyed by this congregation: by how good at, and prepared for, this work you are.

Thank you!
  • Check out the two Common Reads for 2017-18: HERE
  • Statement of Conscience: Escalating Economic Inequity. HERE
  • The December issue of On the Journey explores Embodiment. Pick up a copy at CUUC, or view it HERE.
Let's Chat

The Tuesday Coffee Chat is on Christmas break next week (Dec 26). The TCC resumes on Jan 2, 3-5pm -- for anyone who might find that a convenient way to get together with their minister.
  • Jan: The Cafe inside the Barnes and Noble at Vernon Hills Shopping Center, 680 White Plains Rd, Eastchester
  • Feb: The TCC comes to Irvington! Specific location TBA.
Drop by if you can! You can also make an appointment to see me at CUUC, or invite me to visit your home. Call Pam at the church office (914-946-1660) to schedule either.

Practice of the Week

Confront Your Negative Inner Voice. In a voice full of alarm and panic, Bertha would yell, "You better NOT do that -- you'll look stupid!" When I heard her, I would immediately back off and lose my opportunity to make a friend. The fact that Bertha was only a voice inside my own head didn't make her any less scary. She was completely in control -- until I came upon a method that got her off my back and out of my head. Once her attempts to scare me no longer worked, my life radically changed. You may have your own particular form of "Bertha." It may be a voice in your head that tells you you're not good enough, or smart enough, or that you'll always be a loser. Like an out-of-control cancer, destructive thoughts can ruin a person's life if they're not confronted. READ MORE

Your Moment of Zen

Metaphysics. One can be simultaneously both a Buddhist and a Christian. There might seem to be some, um, metaphysical differences. Are the differences in the metaphysical doctrines of Buddhists and Christians relevant to whether one can be both Buddhist and Christian? This question has far too many wheels, cogs, bells, flashing lights. A person could get lost in all that machinery. Can you not be away and at home at the same time? Is there not something to which all things relate, something that vanishes if named, and has in any case been vanished from the beginning?

That evening Owl said, "I'm still thinking about our experience at the Little Church in the Grotto. Can a Buddhist be a Christian?"
Raven said, "Love thy neighbor."
Owl asked, "Can a Christian be a Buddhist?"
Raven said, "There are lots of them."
Owl asked, "Aren't you bypassing a conflict in metaphysics?"
Raven asked, "What has metaphysics got to do with it?"
Owl asked, "What is the antecedent of 'it'?"
Raven said, "Good move, Owl.
Crane references God; Raven not so much.
Still: the mystery, humility, not knowing.
Raven mentions karma; Crane points to grace.
Still: sunshine and air are not earned,
nor our parents' love,
nor that nuthatch in the birch;
and causes have effects.
Choose a language, get a loyalty.
Choose a loyalty, get a language.
Who can name the antecedent?
Case by Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
Previous Moment of Zen
Saturday Zen Practice at CUUC: HERE

Other News for Sun Dec 24
RE News
Music News
From Ministerial Intern
This week's e-Communitarian
Practice: Confront Your Negative Inner Voice

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