Saturday, July 31, 2010

Finding the Right Service

One year ago, I wrote about the Sunday Service and how important the service is to UU Christians who are a faith minority in the UU Church. The topic has come up again in our Christian Fellowship group. For almost 2 years we have been experimenting and creating a small group service that fills our spiritual needs. Our discussions have illuminated that our group feels a need to have the following items in our service--items that are not regularly included in the Sunday UU congregational service:
  • Communion with both bread and wine/juice;
  • Traditional prayers;
  • Bible reading with discussion, insights from Christian ministers, or silent reflection; and
  • Hymns which use the original Christian lyrics and/or music from contemporary Christian artists.

None of us is a professional minister and we're a small group, so even with a service in place, we still feel the need to connect with a larger Christian body. We've done a bit of digging and found several churches in our area who have self-identified as Progressive Christian churches (no easy task in North Carolina), and have begun a series of "field trips" to visit these churches. We hope to bring back ideas for our own small group, explore more of what each of us as a progressive Christian needs, and perhaps establish a partnership with one of the churches we visit.

I recently had an opportunity to visit the Episcopal Church which I attended for many years in Michigan, and knew for certain that what I miss most about the Christian Sunday service is the Bible reading and the sermon on the Word, usually with a hefty dose of encouragement to get out and LIVE the Word.

I love my UU congregation and the Sunday Service is spiritually and mentally invigorating. But I know I still need fellow Christians. I'll continue to seek out opportunties that I can add to my personal routine that will keep me connected to my Christian roots within the UU framework.

As I said a year ago, if your church service is not providing your connection to the Thin Places where God is found--or provides it only rarely--keep looking. Perhaps a visit to a Christian church once a month will help. Getting together with other Christians for Bible reading and discussion may be what you need. Be creative. Be imaginative.

God will show you what you need.


Saturday, July 3, 2010

Worship Is The Word

From Webster's New World Compact School and Office Dictionary, 1982:
worship n. 1. a service or rite showing reverence for a deity 2. intense love or adoration.
From "The American Heritage Dictionary", 3rd ed.:
worship n. 1a. The reverent love and devotion accorded a deity, an idol or a sacred object. b. The ceremonies, prayers or other religious forms by which this love is expressed. 2. Ardent devotion; adoration.
Reverence. Love. Devotion. Adoration. Worship.

Many Unitarian Universalists shy away from the word. Some feel there's nothing to worship. Others feel that the word is too...irrational, holy-roller, emotional. But UU Christians? Ah-h-h. We are more likely to use the word, act the word, at Sunday service and in our daily lives. It is the element of the UU Sunday service that we often say we miss, that we crave. I'm a strong proponent of ritual for its value in preparing us to enter a spiritual space of worship. A friend reminded me that, in general, Christian services with their visual drama, music and repeated prayers and actions provide a chance for us to encounter what Celtic language calls "thin places" where we can encounter God and can experience God's power, greatness, awesomeness. And worship with people similarly moved by the Spirit.

Some UU Christians are not Deists, do not believe in God, but they follow Jesus--Jeshua, the man, the rabbi, the moral teacher--and have an experience of his presence in their lives. I don't know how the word worship fits into their vocabulary, but I intend to ask at the UUCF Revival in October.

That's what we do as UU's--embrace the infinite colors of belief to come a little closer to the Truth. That's what we do as Christians--come together to learn how others experience the Divine, the Spirit of Life, Jesus.

I'm looking out my window at the summer sunlight filtering through the woods behind my house, the leaf green here, deep and vibrant, there, cut with patches of bright yellow green. An occasional breeze shifts the patterns. A beautiful morning full of promise, full of God's life.

A time for worship, indeed.