"Life is an adventure in forgiveness." - Norman Cousins
October's ministry theme is Forgiveness - not always an easy topic. Somehow the arrival of Autumn and the changing landscape, with leaves of various hues coloring the hillsides and roadways, streets and backyards of our neighborhoods, signals a profound shift for us. The leaves will soon fall to the ground, leaving branches stark and bare. Change is happening all around us - so it is right for us to change as well.
Other religious traditions often have mechanisms (holy days, rituals) to help believers work through this process of repentance and forgiveness, with various degrees of success. Unitarian Universalists - not so much. So I look to the Jewish High Holy Days, in particular, for inspiration and guidance.
Here we are invited to explore and reflect on forgiveness as a practice in our lives. It’s not just about offering and accepting apologies, as important and foundational as those actions may be. We are asked to practice forgiveness throughout the year, adopting traits and behaviors that may or may not come easily or naturally. The varied components of the act of forgiving ask us to be vulnerable, to be honest, courageous and compassionate. Being a forgiving person enlarges our spirit beyond resolving hurt feelings.
This is especially important in times of change and transition. Our work together in these interim months is to begin understanding First Church through three lenses: who we were, who we are and who we want to be. This first step - exploring who we were - involves telling the story of First Church, gathering diverse impressions and the variety of experiences that this community represents. This is no easy task and it asks us to stretch into "forgiveness" mode, where we'll practice open-hearted listening, allowing ourselves to be vulnerable and compassionate to one another and with ourselves. We will begin this process soon - watch for more information about when and where.
In the faith, with hope and love,