Author: Graham Bell

▶️ Hello, Goodbye, Hello, Goodbye

This is the last service MPUUC will share with Rev. Jim McKinley. It will also be the service where we welcome Rev. Greg Ward back from sabbatical. There is a poignancy in transition. It requires us to reflect and reconcile newly discovered experiences of love and truth with those which lessons built in to the bedrock of our heart and mind. It is almost never a wholesale exchange: releasing the old for the new. Rather, it is a sacred parsing. Learning a new arrangement for what can never be replaced alongside all that cannot be denied.

▶️ Three Suggestions for the New Year

Wisdom to remember from a clay tablet a potter gifted Rev. Jim on which she’d inscribed three koans of life advice he’d been given and returned with from his month long journey to Panama. A tablet handed down with three guides for right relationship with life; sounds like a familiar ancient story that had ten, but they were in the form of commandments.

▶️ Breathing Love

We have hymns that borrow from loving kindness meditations; and many of us have learned stress-reduction meditations for self-love. Eric Dittmar is planning a participative event using these and one more—not to deliver a lesson, but to let you explore a message about love that lies in these methods.

▶️ Letting Go of Our Dearest Illusion

Chris writes: “We may think we know who we are, and where we are. But our self-image and our understanding of our world may have evolved when we were very young, without much grown-up reflection or revision. I am 80. If I’m ever going to see through this illusory, imaginary self, in an illusory, imaginary world, the time is now. Today I’ll say a little about my efforts to look beyond this limiting story. I’ll also invite you to look at your story, and what may await you as you see beyond it.”

▶️ The Gift(s) We Are

While searching for gifts to give, take a moment to look no further than yourself. Take a holiday from the constant outside messaging of what you don’t have and the internal critique of who you are not. Pause and unwrap the gifts you are as this person, this people, this congregation. Let’s free up some appreciation, self compassion and determination so we might better enjoy who we are while living the process of the who(s) we think we need to be.

▶️ You Gotta Own It

My daughter shared that insight in the middle of our raft trip of 24 days through the Grand Canyon in December, 2019. It was cold. I was suffering and the Canyon is the ultimate “no way out only through” experience. “Ya gotta own it, Dad,” where “own” is embrace and love and “it” is me, who I am here and now. That “a-hah” moment and phrase have become my guide, touchstone and koan in more adventure, study, personal growth and then the solitude, isolation, limitations and disruption of navigating the pandemic. My hope is that our reflections together reveal a helpful touchstone or two for you as we enter this Holiday season together.

▶️ Guest At Your Table

The alarming rise of fascism, authoritarianism, and nationalism in the United States and in many places around the world is putting the lives of people, and the sustainability of the planet, in critical danger. These far-right forces have co-opted the word “freedom” for their own purposes, but the concepts of liberation and freedom mean something very tangible to UUSC’s grassroots partners in communities the world over.

▶️ Preoccupied

We often feel like our lives are being taken over by outside events and influences. The Sunday before Thanksgiving marks the onset of the likelihood of added holiday season stress and alienation. With gratitude, appreciation and mindful reflection we can reoccupy ourselves and share in the fullness around us.

▶️ Hope That Works

The accent is on “works”. The title is not a wish, but a statement. We’ll share an understanding of hope for right now, hope-in; hope that makes a real difference and brings true joy into every day whether in the face of climate change, illness, politics or the simple overwhelm of too much. Hope-in that resides within our larger hopes and fears is a practice “at the core of who we are already.”

▶️ The Chalice of Our Being: a Spiritual Compass

Rev. McKinley shares how our UU chalice works for him as profound symbol and spiritual compass. He uses it to ground and focus him amidst the confusions of the constructed world. It brings him back to our home in the cosmos and right place in life.