Grace Notes – May 2017

Over the past nine months, we have explored the world’s religions in classes, book clubs, covenant groups, films, and in our services. We have found much to scratch our heads over – from the plethora of gods in the Yoruba religions and Hinduism, to the idea that there is no self in Buddhism. We’ve found sacredness in the Jewish celebrations of the Days of Awe and the care for our ancestors and heritage found in Confucianism. And all along the way, we have found connections to our Unitarian Universalist faith – not just in humanism and Christianity, but even in Hinduism and Islam.

Our conversations with these religions has been rich. We have not just looked at them as though through glass at a museum. We’ve engaged them, conversed with them, discovering the places where our faith and theirs meets, and more, how understanding their faith can help us understand ours more deeply. In the book club, as we’ve learned what makes the world’s religions different, we have considered how those differences inform our own understanding of our faith. In the movie group, we’ve engaged in fictional and not so fictional stories as a way to better understand the lived religions. In our pub group and the covenant group, we’ve wrestled with the key concepts and questions that shape those religions. In our children’s and adult religious education, we’ve engaged some of the key doctrines and tenets as a way to understand how each religion enters the world. And in worship services, you have engaged in some of the rituals of these religions and have seen how the wisdom of others inform our Unitarian Universalism as I have preached about things that matter to us – from spiritual growth to theology to justice.

I know I have said this before, but there’s a reason we count many sources as foundational for Unitarian Universalism – if we affirm and promote spiritual growth and the free and responsible search for truth and meaning (third and fourth principles), then we must accept that people on the other side of the world may have something to contribute to our understanding of what it means to be human, what it means to have faith, and what can help us nurture our own spirits and help heal the world.

On May 21st, we will bring this formal part of the conversation to a close in a service called “Postcards.”

Why postcards? Because as we have engaged in these conversations, we have learned a thing or two, questioned a thing or two, or maybe have even incorporated a thing or two. And these things matter – what each of you bring from these conversations enriches the spiritual life of this congregation.

I invite you to send in a quick note from the field, as it were, and I’ll share them – and in some cases, offer commentary on them – during the service on May 21st. Buy a picture postcard – or pick one up at the service on May 14th – and write down your question, observation, or comment about our conversations with world religions, and send it in by mail to the church (PO Box 221, Southold), or put it in the offering basket to be collected on May 21st. And much like the question box sermons, I’ll read out the cards that day and we’ll see where we’ve been and what we’re thinking about.

One final note – I will be keeping the cards as one of the mementos of my time here on the North Fork, so please pick pretty postcards, and sign your name!




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