Our beautiful Ingathering and Water Communion Service inaugurated the new church year and we are busy with preparations for returning to our sanctuary and our buildings in the coming months. We hope to soon be able to raffle a few seats each week to members and friends who are vaccinated and would like to attend worship in person. We are proceeding cautiously, because although the LA County health data is trending in a good direction, we know that’s partly because of the measures that organizations like ours have taken to protect community health.
With our young people back in school and many young adults returning to their college campuses, life is starting to regain some sense of normalcy for many in our congregation. We’ve not only begun to livestream from our sanctuary at 10:30 am on Sunday mornings with a small worship team, but we’ve also resumed renting to a few community groups and have opened our space for outdoor meetings of church groups. We are presently restricting participation in activities at the church to those who are vaccinated. So, we are in the liminal time of transitioning to what will hopefully be a new normal. It isn’t possible to know exactly when the transition will be over, but we are thankful to everyone who is making it possible and for the graciousness and understanding of the larger community in the midst of these many changes and new routines.
Our spiritual theme for community reflection this month is Cultivating Relationship. Each month, our theme-based ministry invites the whole congregation to reflect together on an important theme in liberal religious life to help deepen our spiritual lives and build greater community. Cultivating Relationship asks us to explore how we nurture the complex and sometimes messy bonds that are the lifeblood of any gathered community. Religion is all about relationship as it attempts to comprehend and promote how people should relate to each other, to the larger world, and to ultimacy or the divine. We are a covenantal tradition, which means we aren’t defined by creeds or dogmas but we are defined by the mutual promises we make to each other about the kind and quality of relationships we aspire to model in our church and in our larger society. Our 7 Unitarian Universalist Principles define what we consider to be the bedrock of our covenantal promises and these promises are further delineated in our congregational covenant — ”Love is the doctrine…” — and healthy congregations covenant.
In my reading of the Buddhist monk Thich Naht Hahn this past month, I am reminded that it is our deep interbeing with each other which is the real substance of our existences. He reminds us that if we deeply perceive a flower, we will see that it also holds the rocks and soil, the oxygen and sunlight, the planets and the stars. So in cultivating relationship, we should be ever more mindful of the preciousness of the interconnectedness of all things.
We know these times have been a traumatic challenge for most of us and we hope you will lean into your beloved community for support and care. You may confidentially request pastoral care or share a joy, milestone, or sorrow you’d like us to include in a Sunday morning service by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. We are all connected and we are committed to showing up for each other, both in times of difficulty and need and in times of joy and celebration.
With love and faith,
Rev. Jeremiah Lal Shahbaz Kalendae