19 May Minister Moment

Tibetan monks spent a week creating a sand mandala on the carpet of the sanctuary at First Unitarian Universalist Church of Richmond. Then, last Saturday, they destroyed it. At this week’s Ministers and Directors of Religious Education meeting, First UU’s staff shared stories of monks creating the circular artwork one grain of colorful sand at a time. The monks saw that the sanctuary had paper doll cutouts holding hands, so they incorporated this UU feature into their design. Our Richmond friends also spoke of the monks taking time away from their painstaking work, of attending yoga class and of visiting a preschool — delighting in playing on the floor with the children.  

To be a Buddhist monk is a simple, completely trusting life. No possessions other than a begging bowl and a set of robes. A life concentrating on a message of love and kindness. What would it feel like to trust so completely? FirstUU has offered their space again next year. Perhaps then we might organize a trip inland to learn and visit.

This Sunday we join in celebration for our neighbors, the Unitarian Universalists of the Outer Banks, in Kitty Hawk, NC. They celebrate their “First 30 Years” with a special service and picnic. Rev David Morris, who preached here following election day, will be leading their festivities. I met their many energetic and loving members in December when I completed the pulpit exchange. May their next thirty, and the thirty beyond, be fruitful, joyful and inspired.

Word came recently that we here at UCN did not win a spot on the Southern Region’s “Chalice Lighters Program”… the program helps congregations raise funds for specific projects by asking UU members across the region to volunteer a few dollars, twice a year. The tradition was $10, but $25 seems more effective these days. We have already benefited from a Chalice Lighters call, in that the recent anti-racism training in Richmond was funded in part by congregants across the region sending in a check (or clicking a box and providing a credit card) in response to a call in January. Perhaps in the future we will have a project that catches the imagination of the region – will it be an enhancement we didn’t think of in our new building’s construction?

The Chalice Lighters call has now gone out to help our friends in Spartanburg, SC. Their downtown church serves the needs of UU’s and other community groups. Unfortunately, the community rooms are not ADA accessible, so they are raising money for an elevator.  As Unitarian Universalists we are committed to saying “you are welcome here.” Do you have a few bucks to help UUs in South Carolina say it, too? Full details of the call are here: https://goo.gl/EGu5D6. Or simply: http://uucs.org/donate/

This Sunday I will use the Tao Te Ching as inspiration for a meditation on “Trust and the Tao Te Ching.” I’ll be asking the questions: “What if your sacred texts were poems? What if they were intentionally contradictory?” Our children’s story will be Daoist Philosophy for kids.

NOTE: After the service we will holding a “Pathways To Membership” class in a special location. We will be asking everyone to leave the sanctuary promptly because it is our only fully ADA accessible space to hold a class. Please help us out by heading to the social hall, or back porch or even the lawn (and encourage others to do so, it’s part of being a welcoming community). By the way, if you are new to UCN and would like to learn how to join – reserve your early afternoon on Sunday and come to the class!

With so much going on, we have postponed our Stewardship Celebration Sunday to Memorial Day Sunday. Yes, you may be camping… but that means more cake for the rest of us. If you are like me, and just found that blank STEWARDSHIP Commitment Form… be like me, fill it out and send it in. Show the world that UCN is a vital, thriving community.

Pride Month changes: We will be THE HOST for an Interfaith Pride Week Celebration on Tuesday, June 13, at 7 PM. Last year’s ritual followed the Orlando shootings and was well attended. Mark your calendar, and come (or come help!) ALSO, Friday June 2, in addition to Fabulous First Friday, we are helping the LGBT Center by hosting one night of the “Reel It Out” film festival, 8 PM – buy tickets to the whole series or for 6/2 only. And come to Hampton Roads Pride events June 16 and 17. No UCN boat in this year’s Saturday PRIDE boat parade – maybe next year. And, I don’t know of any buses going to Washington Pride and March on June 11, do you?

Lastly, please plan on attending our Teach-In on White Supremacy on June 4. It begins with Adult Discussion at 9 AM, special RE classes and the 10:30 service. This is a denominational anti-racism initiative. It is a chance to listen to those who see our world from a side of racism that I, as a white person, cannot imagine. All I can do is listen and try to understand. Consider the Texas approved “World Geography” textbook explaining slavery simply: “The Atlantic Slave Trade between the 1500s and 1800s brought millions of workers from Africa to the southern United States to work on agricultural plantations.” (LA Times 10/5/15) I trust that the book selection board was all white, and did not see the whitewashing.

Our annual meeting follows the Teach-In on June 4.

On those many notes…

I love you,
Rev Charlie