The UCN/ CVUU Spring Auction is months away, and last year’s has long since been cleaned up, and yet, they both are very much with us. Last month I went on an inspired hike in First Landing State Park carefully, lovingly organized by Mary Gaskill. We spent three hours in a fantastic natural area, so close to the bustle of Virginia Beach, yet quiet and peaceful. Our hiking group sometimes walked together in silence, and sometimes engaged in spirited conversation, though none of it involved Church Business, as I remember.
And then last Saturday Paul Greggs took a group on a trip using his giant canoe — he offered a trip in his “War Canoe,” which seats 12, as an Auction Item – down by the North Carolina border. The trip was a wonderful combination of silence and singing, hard paddling and letting the canoe glide through nature. Each of us took our own rests, and let others provide propulsion, and then joined in the rhythm and teamwork.
These auction events may have raised perhaps $300 for the new building. That will buy a few chairs, or maybe an acoustic panel or two. And thank you all for that. And I invite you to see the events in an entirely different, faithful way. I see them as religious offerings. Paul and Mary put a lot of love into the preparations. They offered hospitality to the assembled group and we felt included. They opened our eyes to new experiences, and connected to our hearts as well. Saying thank you is only the start. They are inspirations to “pay it forward.”
“Church work” like the landscaping projects at our new building are similar, though life jackets are not required. Carefully and lovingly planned, with hospitality and common purpose. They are offerings. The same can be said about team teaching of our children, singing in the choir, or making coffee. All of these provide the opportunity for embodied faith and build the beloved community.
Last Sunday I spoke on Forgiveness, Grace and Love, with extra emphasis on grace and finding moments of grace in our lives. I was inspired from the Leadership Workshop last month and also by the graceful gatherings we have had this fall. I ended with these words:
YES, It is Grace that will save us.
It is Grace,
not the grace from above,
the touch of a deity’s finger,
It is grace from a cell phone,
from a mixing bowl,
from a doorbell,
from a smile
Grace is the new tool of the Universalist
Where words and platitudes and truth no longer win
Love is the goal
Forgiveness is the strategy
Grace is the tool.
Grace comes from conversation, from cooking together, or walking with. Our annual auction schedules opportunity for grace – times when we are together in an intentional but open ended way. Though you probably have not planned gifts for Christmas, why not start planning an offering for the auction? The simpler, the better. Bagels in your kitchen and then going to your local museum, or hiking trail? Love is the key ingredient.
The next Leadership Workshop is this coming Thursday, October 26 at 7 PM. Sorry, no childcare, but you can arrange to Zoom in with your computer. Email me for details: firstname.lastname@example.org
I love you,
PS: Next Wednesday 10/25 at 6:30 the LGBT Life Center is offering: “Reducing Depression, Stress and Anxiety in the LGBTQ and LGBTQ Youth Community” See http://talkaboutitnorfolk.com/events/
PPS: Come Sunday! Members of the Racial Justice Task Force have been working together on a transformative service!