May 30 2013

Building on what’s bright

Published by at 6:35 am under Minister's Musings

What moments from the past nine months stand out for you in bright relief, as though backlit or perhaps even lit from within? In what moments, small or large, have you felt a sense of rightness, of comfort, contentment, passion, or joy? When have you met a challenge that brought out the best in you? When you have achieved something that makes you feel grateful and proud?

Shining star
Appreciative Inquiry asks us to look for such “sparkling moments” on our journey toward a goal, and then to build on the qualities of those moments in order to grow. The paradigm shift from solving a problem, which keeps us focused on what’s broken, to building on what’s healthy and bright releases energies we didn’t know we had.
Let’s say our goal is to live true to our values, to “make Love visible in word and deed,” as FUCSJ’s mission and vision put it. What bright moments from our life together this year at First Unitarian point us toward how we can grow next?
On a recent Thursday morning, Rev. Geoff and I sat down to list our sparkling moments for the 2012-13 church year. Here are just a few of mine – a deeply personal and very partial list of moments when I feel that you and I have been at our best.
Caring for each other: Like love itself, sometimes our brightest moments mingle joy with sorrow. Walking with long-time members Gene Martin and Anne Gunn in the last months of their lives, and then celebrating those beautiful lives with you, have been transformative for me this year. Now I see the ways in which we carry forward our love for them and their legacies to us. I am grateful, and I think of them every day.
These are just two of the losses we have suffered in our church family and extended family this year. What loves and legacies are you carrying forward? How have you been changed by the dear ones you have lost?
Sharing the ministries of this congregation: All our partnerships have grown stronger and deeper this year. My list of sparkling moments includes every single gathering with Worship Associates, Pastoral Associates, Small-Group Ministry Leaders and Content Team and the small groups themselves. Right now, the intense holy moments with our Search teams for our new Choir Director and for Office Manager (and the amazing pools of candidates we have had for both—such a sign of our health!) shine especially brightly. I love working with our strong, creative, dedicated officers and other elected/appointed leaders. I love all the ways in which you and I collaborate, making good ideas even better by working on them together. Who knew that meetings could satisfy the mind, heart, and spirit so deeply?
Every member has a ministry to offer to this spiritual cooperative. So tell me: What is your ministry within this congregation, and with whom do you share it? What bright moments have lit up your ministry this year? What inklings of discernment have you had about what you’d like to contribute? How will each of us grow in these ministries in the year to come?
Embracing 21st-Century Ways of Doing “Church”: The Pacific Western Regional Assembly, along with Rev. Geoff’s and my workshops and collegial conversations, offers exciting, urgent visions of how to be a spiritual community in the Media Age. Ministering with UUs beyond the walls of our congregation; “curating” on-line resources that people can access anywhere anytime for making meaning and making a difference; creating virtual connections through social media – these are the waves that we must catch and ride. The Program and Operations Council, including the ministers, are diving into the recreation of our website, with professional help. And I love my growing on-line ministries and the fresh possibilities for sharing Unitarian Universalist ways of living.
Have you “liked” FUCSJ’s Facebook page yet? It’s a great way to stay in touch. Feel free to “friend” me on Facebook, and at the same time, send me a message letting me know who is making that friend request.
The 21st-century congregation is not so much about bringing people into membership as it is about sending people out into the world to make a difference – that’s how the Rev. Christine Robinson puts it. So tell me: How are you expressing Unitarian Universalism beyond the walls of our beloved church? What is your “UU mission” in the world?
Working for Justice: No list of sparkling moments could be complete without mention of our powerful work to make this world a better place. Working for compassionate immigration reform, including the Teddy Bear Campaign, and passing a congregational resolution on the Rights of Nature, stand out for me here.
Weathering Life’s Storms: Not every transformative moment “sparkles,” of course. When we manage to learn and grow from life’s biggest challenges, we have so much to celebrate! On my list of “bright moments” is the difficult but important experience of ministering with you during my divorce in 2012. A divorce is never an easy passage, even when it is amicable, and I feel grateful and awed by how much support I have received and by how sustaining our ministries together have been through this tough life transition. Thank you, Beloved Community, for all your love!
There are so many bright moments I long to lift up; this list is partial, indeed. I would love to hear your lists, too. May you find time this summer—as I surely will—to reflect on the year just past so that in the year to come we can continue to build on our strengths, both personally and in community.
With much affection,
Rev. Nancy

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