The church year has officially begun! We begin our church year anew each year with our Water Communion. Merging our waters together is a symbolic representation for us that we are indeed a community of covenant. But what does it mean to be a community of covenant? With the help of the Soul Matters material we will be exploring this topic all month long in September. Each of us is going to explore the topic at our own speed as the commitments of our individual lives allow. Some of us may come to church on Sunday and listen to what the minister has to say on the topic. Don’t forget to check out the themed bulletin board next across from the sanctuary while you are at church. Some of us may join a drop in Chalice Circle and spend a few hours discussing the topics together once per month. We have four Chalice Circles starting this week on September 18th, 20th, 22nd, and 26th.
Some of us may have even more time to explore the resources provided to us by Soul Matters in the form of wise words, videos, podcasts, articles, movies, songs, and books. I have provided a small sampling of these for you to check out below. This is not required reading. They are simply meant to companion you on your journey this month, get your thinking started, and maybe open you to new ways of thinking about what it means to be a community of covenant. If you want even more resources please email me and I can send you the full packet. Also, we have a few spots still available if you want to join a Chalice Circle. Please contact me by Sunday September 18th at Dir.ARE@TahomaUU.com.
What Does It Mean To Be
A Community of Covenant?
Definition: a formal and serious agreement or promise. In Jewish and Christian theology, an agreement between God and God’s people; in Unitarian Universalism, an agreement about how we will strive to be in relationship with one another.
Synonyms: commitment; trust; bond; pact; pledge; agreement; understanding
To seek the truth in love means that even when we stumble, we continue to love. Even when we flail, we stay in relationship. To seek the truth in love means that we talk about the hard things rather than denying that things can be hard. This is a very difficult task. It is not something that I have found easy to do, but it is something that I continue to try to be brave enough to do.
~ Rev. Anne Mason, Soul Matters Minister
The ancient question, “Who am I?” inevitable leads to a deeper one: “Whose am I?” – because there is not identity outside of relationship. You cannot be a person by yourself. To ask “Whose am I” is to extend the question far beyond the little self-absorbed self, and wonder: Who needs you? Who loves you? To whom are you accountable? To whom do you answer? Whose life is altered by your choices? With whose life, whose lives is your own all bound up, inextricably, in obvious or invisible ways?
~ Douglas Steer, Quaker teacher
A covenant is not a contract. It is not made and signed and sealed once and for all, sent to the attorneys for safekeeping or guarded under glass in a museum. A covenant is not a static artifact and it is not a sworn oath: Whereas, whereas, whereas. . . . Therefore, I will do this, or I’ll die, so help me God.A covenant is a living, breathing aspiration, made new every day. It can’t be enforced by consequences but it may be reinforced by forgiveness and by grace, when we stumble, when we forget, when we mess up.
~ Rev. Victoria Safford
full text here:http://www.uuworld.org/articles/bound-in-covenant
Covenant is one of those words that can initially sound kind of stuffy, academic and out-of-date. But when you unpack its meaning and its practices, covenant holds a whole vision for how to live in this complicated, beautiful and broken world. It is a vision that says we are most human when we bind ourselves in relationship. But not just any relationship – relationships of trust, mutual accountability and continual return.
This is not what our culture teaches us. Our culture teaches us that what it means to be human is to be an individual – self-defined, self-determined, separate even. But our UU covenantal theology affirms that being human comes down to the commitments we make to and with each other – the relationships we keep. We become human through our promises to and with each other.
Let me tell you right now, sometime in the next year, maybe in the next few minutes, the people you most believe in and care about are going to disappoint you. Your church is going to disappoint you. This world is surely going to disappoint you. Like, all the time. We all are walking wounded and weary from the way this world can – and does – break our hearts.
And what our faith asks of us, what our faith imagines for us, is that somehow, right at that moment when our hearts break, we will find our way to see through that heartbreak. We will stay put – not close off, not run away, not hurt back – but keep on being in relationship, doing what we can to repair the world and each other, keep on opening our hearts with greater love. And, right then, our covenantal faith says – we will feel not only most human, but also most whole and most at home.
Rev. Gretchen Haley
Senior Minister of Foothills Unitarian Church, Fort Collins, Colorado
Videos & Podcasts
“Heresy, Hubris and the Future of our Faith” by Rev. Sue Phillips
St. Lawrence District Assembly, April 2, 2016
“On Covenant”, a position paper by Rev. Sue Phillips
“As [Unitarian Universalist] congregations we ‘covenant to affirm and promote’ the Principles. Affirming and promoting shared values is important, but it puts tepid commitment at our collective center, asks virtually nothing of us, and offers virtually nothing. This is not covenanting. It is parallel play.”
An animated movie about the quest to fulfill the dreams and promises of a lifetime.
“Would You Harbor Me?” by Ysaye Barnwell
“Count on Me” by Bruno Mars
Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice, and the Promise of America by Eboo Patel
In Sacred Ground, author and renowned interfaith leader, Eboo Patel, says this prejudice is not just a problem for Muslims but a challenge to the very idea of America. Patel shows us that Americans from George Washington to Martin Luther King Jr. have been “interfaith leaders,” illustrating how the forces of pluralism in America have time and again defeated the forces of prejudice. And now a new generation needs to rise up and confront the anti-Muslim prejudice of our era. To this end, Patel offers a primer in the art and science of interfaith work.