Archive for July, 2018

Jul 22 2018

August Journal – The “Getting to Know You” Challenge 2018-19!

Published by under Minister's Musings

The “Getting to Know You” Challenge 2018-19!

In worship on Sunday, July 15, 2018, our Senior Minister, the Rev. Nancy Palmer Jones, and our Interim Director of Religious Education, Susie Idzik, bravely modeled a way of getting to know each other by answering some deep questions about their own lives and about their hopes and dreams for the Beloved Community we are trying to build at the First Unitarian Church of San José. They took up some interesting and fun questions from the congregation, too, and they will continue to share those answers in the weeks and months to come.

The result? A warmer, more intimate and meaningful connection with our key staff members. You can hear their dialogue by going to and clicking on the link for the audio file for July 15.

Now they invite all of us to participate in the “Getting to Know You” Challenge 2018-19!

The Challenge:

Gently, kindly, experiment with using one or more of the following getting-to-know-you questions with folks whom you would like to know more deeply—family and friends, congregants and visitors at FUCSJ. These questions invite you and your companions to search your hearts and share your truths. How we tell our stories will change from day to day and year to year, so we always have new depths to explore with even our longest-term loved ones.

You might use these questions to start a deeper conversation during Social Hour after worship on a Sundayor during a Circle Supper or other casual gathering. Use them as check-in questions during your Small Group Ministry session or at the beginning of a meeting. Experiment with seasoning your meal-time conversations with these questions, or others like them.

When you share these questions, be ready to offer your own honest, vulnerable answers.

Let folks know how genuinely curious, open, and loving you feel as you ask such personal questions. Each person gets to decide how deep they want to go with their answers.

It’s worth a try! Here are the questions that Rev. Nancy and Susie suggest:


  • How did you arrive at this point along your journey in life? What in your past has brought you to where you are now?
  • What’s being born in you right now? What is most alive in you at this moment?
  • What seeds are you planting now, and how do you hope they will grow? What are your hopes and dreams for the days to come?

Good luck! And please be sure to let Susie and Rev. Nancy know how it goes. They have faith that if we all take up this “Getting to Know You” Challenge, then in a year, we will feel a palpable sense of closer connections, of deeper empathy and compassion, and of re-energized collaboration as we strengthen and grow our Beloved Community.

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Jul 18 2018

August Journal: “But What Can We Do?”

Published by under Minister's Musings

“But What Can We Do?”

by Rev. Nancy Palmer Jones

“But what can we do?” some of you cry, in the face of fear, anger, and exhaustion resulting from the onslaught of discouraging news on the national front. Shouldn’t we be doing something with more lasting impact than simply showing up for rallies and marches, as important as the numbers at those protests may be?

          There is not just one answer about what we are called to do to create a morally just society. Yet I also believe that we are all called to two practical efforts right now and for the months to come:

1.     Engage in Get-Out-the-Vote (GOTV) activities with our partners throughout the county and the country.

2.     Build our personal and communal strength and resilience through participating in the practices that bring us back, again and again, to our best selves and to something larger than ourselves. That’s my definition of spiritual: connecting with our best selves and with something larger than ourselves, both of which guide and lure us toward the good, toward Making Love Visible in all we do and say.

Stay tuned in the next weeks and months for more specifics on how and where we can be involved in #1. And be sure to share with us what your networks suggest for Get-Out-the-Vote actions.

For #2: just as physical exercise builds the body’s strength, so too spiritual practices build our emotional, psychological, and moral muscles and agility, our soulful strength and resilience. These are not “soft” or self-involved responses to the hardships of this day, but rather real skill-building techniques that will sharpen our senses and deepen our compassion and connections to one another.

Here are three suggestions for this month of August:

Spiritual Practice #1: Wherever you are right now, take a moment to move out (in body or in spirit) into the air, to take a breath, and to reconnect with your body, no matter what shape it’s in. Just take a moment to drop your senses into this wondrous, complicated vessel—your very own body—which carries you through the world.

And while you do, try to hear this message: We are so glad you are HERE, present, presente, alive in this time and place. Breathe and repeat: We are so glad we are here together.

Spiritual Practice #2: Take a break this month from just one habit in your life in order to open up time for fresh perceptions. Take away something, even just for a few days, that has been absorbing your time and energy, and then notice what enters in to fill that time and heart-space.

          Maybe you will take a break from social media or the news, from sugar or alcohol, from habitual worry or distracted driving. No matter what your circumstances, I bet there is something you can relinquish in order to create some spaciousness for your soul.

          When I took such a break in July, music flooded in. I came across an old but half-forgotten James Taylor song: “Shower the people you love with love, show them the way that you feel …” I was struck by our need for this deeply empathic, compassionate message to counter all the hate and fear, all the renewed bigotry and injustice around us. “Shower the people you love with love” … I thought of some of my closest friends. I thought of you. I began to say and show my love more often.

          I also came across Sarah Bareilles’s more recent song “Brave”: “Honestly I wanna see you be brave with what you want to say!” Brave and loving—full-on expressive of these powerful, grace-filled parts of ourselves. Willing to be vulnerable and authentic, thoughtful and considerate in order to create “brave space” among us.

And that leads to Spiritual Practice #3: Please do show up in our community as often as you can—for worship and/or Circle Suppers, for Musical Mystery Theater rehearsals and/or Contra Dances, and/or for some other activity listed in our online calendar or mentioned on Sundays. Let us show up to build our spiritual strength, to connect with our best selves and with something larger than ourselves. When we do, we build our muscles for resilience and resistance, for courage and hope.

We are in this struggle for the long haul, dear ones. Strength, resilience, courage, and Love—we can build these together!And Get Out the Vote!

With my love,

Rev. Nancy


P.S. Spiritual Practice #4: Please pause for a moment to enjoy these videos of the two songs mentioned above:

  • James Taylor:
  • Sarah Bareilles:


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