Archive for May, 2018

May 27 2018

June Journal: What Does It Mean to Be a People of Blessing?

Published by under Minister's Musings

“Dear Colleague”:

An Open Letter of Love and Gratitude to Rev. Geoff Rimositis

by Rev. Nancy Palmer Jones

 

Dear Colleague, dear Rev. Geoff,

I can’t quite remember the first time you addressed me as “Dear Colleague.” Was it during our first year of working together, shortly after we had created our “startup” weekend in the fall of 2005? We were still almost strangers to each other, but we each sat down and spent hours filling out all those temperament-typing, leadership-style tests. Then we drove up to Berkeley together to see a ministerial counselor, who looked over our tests, asked us many questions, and finally told us that we were great complements, cut out to be wonderful working partners. (And wasn’t that was a relief!)

Or did this phrase crop up later? Did it first show up in writing, as you answered one of my many emails—probably on your day off—about some “urgent” bit of congregational business? Or did it happen spontaneously one morning, when your cell phone rang and, seeing my number, you answered with an enthusiastic, “Hello, Dear Colleague!”?

Whatever the specifics, I definitely remember the feeling of hearing those words for the first time: thrilled to be acknowledged as partner and colleague, new as I was to settled ministry; touched and tickled to be held in your quiet, supportive care. “Dear Colleague” has become our nickname for each other, richly layered now with all that we have shared over these last 13 years. Thirteen out of your impressive 24 years of serving this Beloved Community—your unprecedented 24 years, let me add, for you have served the First Unitarian Church of San José longer than any other minister in all of its 152-year history!

So much Life shared in these years of working side by side. In our weekly meetings, beginning always with prayer, we have laid bare the heartbreaks and the triumphs of our personal and professional lives—and there have been quite a few! We have brainstormed about church programming, worried over congregational conundrums, shed tears for congregants who have died or hit hard times—and laughed until we’ve cried about some of life’s most beautiful, awkward, human moments. We have shared luscious retreats with other dear colleagues in our UU ministers’ support group, the Sparks for Growth. There, your poetry, dance, and flute playing could always shake us out of the doldrums and lift our spirits high.

I have witnessed the beauties of your ministries, especially your passion for our faith, your delight in our children, and your Universalist empathy for all you encounter. I have marveled at your steady spiritual practices and the depth that they bring you. I have loved watching you re-create yourself and your approach to your ministries again and again, always open to learning and growing, determined to support this congregation’s journey toward building a multicultural, multigenerational Beloved Community for the 21st century.

On Sunday, June 10, we will reflect on the ways that you have helped transform this congregation. Here, I offer my wide-open thanks for the ways that you have helped to transform me—by being you, your own unique self, my “Dear Colleague.”

So thank you, Rev. Geoff! May this next chapter in your life bring you still more growth and learning, more poetry and flute playing, and—always—the blessings of never-ending Love.

 

With love and never-ceasing collegiality,

 

Your Dear Colleague, Rev. Nancy

 

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May 25 2018

June Theme: In Our Own Voices – What does it mean to be a people of BLESSING?

Published by under Minister's Musings

In Our Own Voices: What does it mean to be a people of BLESSING?

 

Blessing is another beloved word for me, which all too often we Unitarian Universalists think we must not use for fear of offending someone. How can we *imagine* (May’s theme) our own Unitarian Universalist way into blessing each other and the world? How can we imagine a way of feeling blessed that may or may not be tied to the agency of Something More?

Here’s what makes this theme of Blessing simple and clear for us in June: This month we celebrate two people who have been enormous BLESSINGS to our congregation. In worship followed by a special congregational meeting on Sunday, June 10, we honor Rev. Geoff Rimositis as he completes 24 years of service as our Associate Minister and sets off into retirement at the end of the month. And the next Sunday, on June 17, we lift up our thanks for Rodney Lemery—and he offers his thanks to us—as he completes his two-year part-time internship with us and sets off on the next stages of his journey into ministry.

When I think about these specific blessings, I have no trouble shouting that word from the rooftops in gratitude and joy for having known and worked with these two glorious human beings! Please join us this month to celebrate all our many blessings!

 

With love,

Rev. Nancy

 

“In Our Own Voices” shares congregants’ free-flowing responses to the theme of the month. We draw these responses from on-line surveys and use them in creating worship, small-group ministry content, and other opportunities for spiritual growth.

 

Congregants’ Responses: 

  • People value us for our positive influence on themselves and others.
  • Appreciating the blessings that we have? Trying to do more for others, so they’ll have more blessings?
  • Count your blessings. To be a people of Blessing is to be happy and thankful. It’s to be aware of even the smallest of blessings and is confident that more will come. Not that life will be easy or without pain, but that being a people of blessing means also to be a people of patience. Blessings will come.
  • I struggle with the concept of blessing. Who am I that I could bless someone or something? What is it that one gives, when one gives blessings? I find myself drawn to thinking about privilege and unearned privilege. Is it a blessing to be born into a family of financial means? Is it a blessing to have had an inspirational teacher? Why would one person deserve to receive that blessing when another doesn’t get it? Is Blessing a commodity that can be given and received? Does “I give you my blessing” mean the same thing as “I approve of what you’re doing and I will support you”?
  • To get it right! Not as others proclaim it, but as a result of all of the prayer, study, and imagining that our normal days prevent us from noticing. It’s very hard to realize that the blessings are all around us with the clamor of those who want us to need and want, rather than just be blessed.
  • From etymonline.com/word/bless, verb: Old English bletsianbledsian, Northumbrian bloedsian“to consecrate by a religious rite, make holy, give thanks,” from Proto-Germanic *blodison “hallow with blood, mark with blood,” from *blotham “blood” … Originally a blood sprinkling on pagan altars. This word was chosen in Old English bibles to translate Latin benedicere and Greek eulogein, both of which have a ground sense of “to speak well of, to praise,” but were used in Scripture to translate Hebrew brk “to bend (the knee), worship, praise, invoke blessings.”

 

Note: For this column each month in the coming year, our Worship Associates—a group of almost 20 members who help us to create and offer our worship services—will offer their reflections on our themes. You can contribute, too! Take a look at next year’s themes, and send us your thoughts about how these themes relate to your life, to our life together in community, and to Unitarian Universalism as a whole. What questions, stories, images, and songs do these themes evoke? You can send your thoughts on one or more of the themes to Worship Associate Co-Coordinators Marnie Singer and Alice Lynch: marniesinger@sbcglobal.net, lynch.alice@gmail.com.

 

Congregational Themes for the Coming Year:

September 2018-June 2019 

  • September: What does it mean to be a People of Vision?

The practice of intentional imagination

  • October: What does it mean to be a People of Sanctuary?

The practice of finding sacred space within and ensuring welcoming space for all

  • November: What does it mean to be a People of Memory?

The practice of honest remembrance and honoring the shoulders of all our ancestors and predecessors on whom we rest

  • December: What does it mean to be a People of Mystery?

The practice of embracing life with humility and awe

  • January: What does it mean to be a People of Possibility?

The practice of personal unfolding and prophetic vision

  • February: What does it mean to be a People of Trust?

The practice of commitment and faith in a love that won’t let us go  

  • March: What does it mean to be a People of Journey?

The practice of pilgrimage, courageous growth and patient change

  • April: What does it mean to be a People of Wholeness?

The practice of repairing what is broken and knowing we are enough

  • May: What does it mean to be a People of Curiosity?

The practice of moving from fear to broken-openheartedness

  • June: What does it mean to be a People of Beauty?

The practice of savoring life’s gifts  

 

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