Minister moment – March 17, 2017
Friends, I need your advice. I’m working on the Easter Sunday service (April 16), which will be about the Gospel of Thomas, the Fifth Gospel. The service will explore our links to the founder of Christianity, Jesus of Nazareth. So here’s where I need some advice. Consider this statement: Being an inclusive faith community means that you not only advocate for things for your benefit, but also for things for the benefit of others.
Last year’s Palm Sunday service included foot-washing. One Gospel describes foot-washing at the Last Supper, and some Protestant churches ritually wash feet on the Thursday before Easter. I am thinking of programming it in our Easter service. So here’s where I need your thoughts. Did you participate in the ritual? Would you like us to do it again? Even if it makes you personally uncomfortable, would you like others to be able to take part? Last year we had a meditative hymn sung by those who were not washing – their contribution to the ritual. Send me an e-mail with “foot-washing” somewhere in the title. [email protected] and I will share responses with the committee.
This year’s Palm Sunday (April 9) will be a chance to look at social justice at UCN, both in our past and in our future. I certainly hope you can make it to this special service. Consider these different phrases: Social Service, Social Action, Social Justice. Let’s talk about how they related to our congregation in the past and how they relate in the present and in planning for the future.
Jannie Marvel is the UCN representative to Hampton Roads Pride. At their last meeting, the leader of the Hampton Roads Pride Boat Parade mentioned that they were looking for boats to sail in the parade on Pride Saturday, June 17th. UCN normally has a table for Pride, staffed by UCN members and folks from the UU congregations in Newport News and Williamsburg. Consider volunteering for something on Pride Day. Also that week, a group of LGBT-welcoming religious organizations will have an Interfaith LGBT celebration one evening. Stay tuned for details.
Closer in, ODU has a Pridefest on April 22, and we can host a table there too! Do we have interest? The legacy of LGBT inclusion and advocacy at the Unitarian Church of Norfolk is one reason I was attracted to ministry here. With new challenges to Trans- and Gay-rights — work we thought was done — may call us again to service, action and justice-making.
This week I participated in two interfaith events. Tuesday, the Norfolk Senior Pastors’ Roundtable met with Interim City Manager Doug Smith and Police Chief Boone. The group talked safety, the changing style of police procedures, area development, and jobs. New police recruits are now required to engage with the community – starting before graduation. Community involvement is encouraged throughout their careers. Other pastors wondered if new jobs coming to Norfolk will help those who are unemployed or simply import new, specialty workers. Training programs were described and more promised.
The second was Hands United Building Bridges, a clergy group working to expand knowledge of diversity and, perhaps, motivate faith groups to reach out across beliefs. We are planning long-term for an interfaith event around Martin Luther King’s birthday next year.
This Sunday I’ll be talking about “The Nine Commandments” — the ones that didn’t get a movie. The Congregation will also be welcoming new members (If you have been through our Pathways to Membership class and want to join, but haven’t been in touch with Clark Mahoney, send me an e-mail or get in touch with Clark M ([email protected]). That’s it for now”
I love you!
PS: Here is last Sunday’s book list:
The poem “Benediction” was from Rebecca Ann Parker, “Blessing the World- What Can Save Us Now.” Opening Words were from Barack Obama, “The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream.” Hillel’s (one foot) elevator speech was indirectly from Barbara Diamond Goldin, “A Child’s Book of Midrash”
The service was commissioned by Jim Early, who was the highest bidder for the “Sermon Topic” item at the UCN Auction last year. He wanted a concise definition of Unitarian Universalism. Although he was not able to attend, he is getting a recording (thanks, Doug) and a copy of the sermon. Here is my “Elevator Speech” from the beginning of the sermon:
“Since before the founding of our nation, Unitarians And Universalists have taught love and the worth of every individual.
“As members in association we hold as sacred the connections of love and family, community and nation and beyond to encompass the entire world. We affirm our shared responsibility for life on this planet.
“We place great value on learning and growth in awareness, acknowledging our shortcomings and working to heal wounds and form a more perfect union.
“Just as the way people interact in society varies by location and changes over time, we see worship, celebration and the work of the congregation as evolving and open to new ideas and inspiration.
“We want to make a difference. Our public ministry works to inspire others to make a difference for our shared future.”