Every Sunday we sing: Love is the spirit of this church and service is its prayer; And this is our great covenant: to dwell together in peace, to seek the truth in freedom, to speak the truth in love, and to help one another. Usually one line always lets me know where I am seeking meaning. In our newcomer gatherings we say to them we are a covenantal faith not a creedal one to help them understand that there are no required beliefs in becoming a Unitarian Universalist. But I don’t think we dwell long enough on what this actually means. At our Board retreat last Saturday, our church president, Paige O’Brien lifted up the fact that in 1997 this church combined our mission and our covenant to help us embody both.
If you check out our mission on this website (under About) you will find our covenant and mission rich with verbs: gather, create, nurture, reflect, explore, grow, support, care, seek, respect, serve, celebrate, hold, and carry. Take a minute, is there a verb speaking to you and calling to you to make meaning? Do you hear a yearning, a desire to be fulfilled, a gift to be given? Every time you act on this call you are living into our covenant. What a joyous thing!
I know to truly live into this promise we must be vigilantly aware of what it asks of us moment to moment. During our April 8th Service of the Living Tradition we will offer fellowship to our new members and dedicate ourselves to our children and honor our elders. What a wonderful opportunity to make our covenant explicit. What do these relationships mean to you? Do you find yourself adding verbs like “welcome, value, guide, befriend” to how we gather? Or forgive, reconcile, renew, to the ways we nurture and create knowing that we will inevitably fall short of this amazing promise we are making? I am asking you now to be so vigilant in the promise we each make to dedicate ourselves to the spiritual development of our children. Last Sunday, Piali De and Britt Argow facilitated an on-going conversation that is seeking to find a way of living into our covenant that will help us evolve from a parent co-op youth program to one in which we all hold and carry our children. What does your relationship with youth and the children look like? Do you find yourself staying away from whole congregation worship because you find the content diluted? If so, can you discover a gift to offer our children and youth during a few Sunday mornings?
Do you find yourself wishing the children and youth would be less noisy and less squirmy in the pews? Please know that the Board approved the moving of the first pew on the right to the back of the sanctuary with the best interest of you and families in mind. The upfront open space will allow bean bag chairs and open seating that will hopefully help youth and children comfortably see, sit and relax with their families during worship. And the space will enable people in wheel chairs to sit upfront. I am hoping this trial change will help facilitate an inclusive environment where we all discover joy in worship together. Lastly, please come to the next meeting Piali and Britt facilitate on April 22nd, (The HATCH meeting) to offer your ideas on how you can help hold and carry your relationship with youth and children. The future of our faith depends on your participation. In closing, I offer the words of Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker: Let us covenant with one another to keep faith with the source of life knowing that we are not our own, Earth made us…And, let us covenant with one another to seek for an ever-deeper awareness of that which springs up inwardly in us. Even when our hearts are broken by our own failure or the failure of others…there is a Universal Love that has never broken faith with us and never will. This is the ground of our hope and the reason we can be bold in seeking to fulfill the Promise.