By Lynn Kettleson and Rev. Rebecca Bryan
We have begun a year-long conversation that will help us to work together to find our collective story.
We are now deep into our second monthly ministry theme – intention – exploring how intention shapes our lives, so we wanted to take the opportunity to explain where we hope these themes take us as a congregation.
Ministry themes over the next eight months are really a process to ignite a conversation within our community. We share experiences, and, over this year, these conversations will enable us as a congregation to find, discuss and mold a social glue that will unify and energize us as a religious community.
In November, we will explore balance and in December creativity. Here are the themes for the rest of this church year:
At this point, early in our exploration of themes, we are creating a seedbed for next year’s exploration of where we want to go and what we want to be as a congregation. Each service is also accompanied by a question or questions, so we ask each of you to think about how we bring these important questions back into our lives and confront them.
It is our hope that these themes will help each one of you create a better connection to this community and for your own life. The wonderful thing about the best communities is that they help remind us that we don’t have to do it alone; we can and will do it together.
While themes are central to the worship service, those discussions will not be limited to Sunday services. Already, Chalice Circles and Young Church are looking for creative ways to incorporate our themes into their content. Community Human Services is thinking about ways that we can relate our monthly loose plate donations to the themes. Justice Action Ministry is also looking to incorporate themes into their efforts.
In addition, we are currently planning monthly live discussions of the sermon and theme. These will generally occur on the third Sunday of every month. This month’s discussion will be held on October 21 in the Lower Meetinghouse after the Sunday service. And we’re exploring how we can expand those discussions using social media or our web site.
The September story discussion on the theme of narratives drew a number of enthusiastic members following the Sunday service, all eager to share how our religious community relates to their everyday life. They sincerely came because they wanted to extend the worship service and to discuss in personal detail how their own narrative fits. They also wanted to hear other members’ stories in order to know them better.
“I like the idea of having a session like this,” one commented.
One person who is new to the church said she came because she is trying to figure out her spot in the world. “I wanted a burning bush; I wanted to look out the window and to see the bush ignite,” she said. “Then it hit me: I need to share my story.”
Another said that the shared stories helped her to connect and create a picture of the people. “It helps to feel a little spark of God in me,” she said.
As for me, as your minister, these stories are just the beginning. It was rewarding to hear people share because these stories are a way to explain deeper meaning; to look back at what is meaningful in life. As we continue to share with each other, I believe we will all realize that this is a community where we can safely open to each other and know that our community comprises a group that wants to know each other so that we can work together to achieve something great that we can all be proud of accomplishing.
By the end of this year, I believe that we will have fully engaged in deep discussions that go to the core of our mission and vision. Once we all have explored these themes, we will be better equipped to deal with today’s minutiae.
Awakening happens when you experience a radical openness. Sometimes, when we are open, we hear these stories in a cosmic way. That’s religion in its purest form.