Rooting for Each Other

Sunday Service: Rooting for each other

June 4th, 2017 - 10:30 AM                   Rev. Fiona Heath

Last year we adopted a new purpose: to Deepen, Nurture and Act.
It’s in our DNA.

I find our purpose, our DNA delightful.  It recalls us to our unique religious roots in scientific knowledge, while calling us to a larger purpose.

I hope all of you also feel a sense of connection to our purpose.
To deepen in spirit, to nurture community and to act for an equitable, sustainable world are three interwined ideals.

I don’t think we can have one without the others, each a necessary leg of a three legged stool.

As American educator Parker Palmer says, community can not take root in a person living a divided life. Only when we are in communion with ourselves, can we find community with others.

And so we must deepen in spirit in order to develop our personal identity and integrity. (Palmer, The Courage to Teach, pg. 92)

The concerns of the world are great, and can not be dealt with by individuals alone.   We need one another to act for an equitable, sustainable world.

And so we must nurture community, tend to the network of relationships, values, tradition, and place that create this chalice community.   

As a community of the chalice, we are not a therapeutic community, although we care for another; we are not a civic community, although we care about the public good; we are, in Parker Palmer’s words, a community of truth.

Not the Truth, with a capital T.
Not a fixed in stone truth, certainly not the only truth, or even the ultimate truth.
I can imagine the response should I try to preach “the truth.”

Truth is an eternal conversation about things that matter.
Truth is an eternal conversation about things that matter.

That’s what we try to do, to have conversation about, and experiences of, things that matter.  We seek to explore the truth about life.

Truth evolves, is in process, is dynamic and lively.
We learn and develop.
Truth is a conversation about things that matter.
We are a community of truth – of conversation about meaning.

I have always loved that our symbol is a flaming chalice – that light which flickers and flares, dynamic and alive.  Like our understanding of truth.

This religious tradition offers one way to understand reality, to seek truth.
With our seventh principle, we acknowledge the interdependent web of life.
We are in always in relationship with other people and other creatures.

Some of us are glad to connect with the sparrows in the roof outside, others would prefer a more distant connection.  
Either way, we are in relationship.

The study of ecology offers a picture of nature as a dance of communal collaboration, an endless interweaving of the web of life. (Palmer, p.100)
This religious community seeks to be a dance of communal collaboration.

In nature, endings and beginnings, life and death, are simply factors in the on-going, larger communal life.   
Today we honour beginnings and endings.

We welcomed new members into this community.
After I speak, we will honour members who have contributed so much to this community.

We are nurtured by new growth, we are nurtured by the gifts of those long rooted here. Both are needed to keep a community thriving.

Beginning and endings shape the centre, the messy middle where we dance together.

We are also connected to the larger whole. As people of the chalice we accept that the reality we belong to, the reality we long to know, extends far beyond human beings to the “grace of great things.” (Palmer, pg.110)

Unitarian Universalism exists in part to remind people of the “grace of great things.”  

It is not about the leaders, however fabulous we may be.  It is not about the congregration, however fabulous you may be.

It is about the larger whole.  The best religious traditions remind us that the planet, the solar system, the galaxy, the universe, is so much more mysterious and wondrous and awesome then we can ever fully comprehend.

In the face of the wonders of all that is, we come together as the people of the chalice.
It is good place to be, but it is also a real place.

This chalice community will disappoint you, has disappointed you.
It’s part of the dynamic process of seeking evolving truth while in relationship.  
Life ebbs and flows.

It takes time to integrate new members, and let go of long held roles.  
It takes time to learn how to grow well together.

And we have to accommodate all those who belong here, whatever stage of life they are at.
Sometimes people can only come and sit in the service and cry.

Communities need diversity to thrive.  And ecological communities include strength and fragility.  There is no peak of perfection.

Scientist Xavier Le Pichon studied plate tectonics, and applied his findings to human society. Pichon suggests that a healthy, evolving community is one with the capacity to accommodate fragility.

He notes that earthquakes happen when weaknesses in the earth can not be expressed, have no place to go.  The pressure builds up, and the earth ruptures.

Communities which are rigid, which don’t take into account the weak points of the community, tend to be communities which don’t evolve. (in Becoming Wise, Krista Tippett)

To nurture community, we seek to engage one another’s gifts, to play to our strengths, and shore up one another’s weaknesses. Healthy communities make room for people where they are a, treating all with respect.

As we dance together in this communal collaboration of truth seeking, may we hold one another in strength and fragility.

May we deepen in spirit, nurture community and act for an equitable, sustainable world.

So Say We All!


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