Preparing for A Service of Healing

So on April 23rd I’ll lead “A Service of Healing” at FUUSM. For some reason, this has excited me more than I thought it would. Maybe excited isn’t the right word — perhaps it has perked up my ministerial aspirations? It has just led me to really put my heart and soul into it. I just feel like there is such a need for healing — for making ourselves whole. I almost wrote “whole again,” but I’m not sure we are whole to begin with. Nothing to do with original sin or anything like that, rather, I don’t think we are born into a world where we can ever be truly whole – we are always already in a world of brokenness, pain, and suffering and it is only our journey of life where we can seek wholeness and healing together in community. It is a journey of wholeness, not a destination. In preparing for this service, I am reminded of those that would criticize UUs for not engaging congregants’ emotions (enough) in worship services or in church life in general. While I think that this can be overdone in any context, and I have seen it wwwaaay overdone in Christian contexts, I agree that perhaps UUs have over-intellectualized and over-emphasized political action at the expense of engaging people’s need for affective spirituality. Of course, I’ve also complained of UUs as being too focused on their own spiritual paths and being all about “feeling better” or “feeling good” rather than making the difficult decisions that need to be made in order to bring about the just world that we envision. So I guess, like all religions, we are always working on this balance. I certainly include myself in this.

UU minster Rev. Dr. Thandeka writes a lot about this, as does Michael Durall in The Almost Church (you can get this here at the UUA bookstore), although I’m not sure I’m sold on either of their positions 100%. Certainly, I have learned a lot from reading both of them and hearing Thandeka speak. She is a visiting lecturer at HDS this semester. She recommends Rick Warren’s very popular book The Purpose-Driven Church in terms of thinking about the way that Unitarian Universalism can better address the needs of more people. She argues that a key reason why Unitarian Universalism lags in numbers and influence and why evangelical and/or fundamentalist churches are bursting at the seams is because they have managed to address the affective needs of people whereas UUs ask people to join committees before we ask them what they need for their own lives and own healing. Thus, I’m thinking about how to invite our congregation and, more broadly, lots of other people who are not in our congregations, into a space of healing while also not turning UUism into a self-centered feel-good fest that is all about making “me” feel better.

One final depressing note is that I heard on NPR that there are over 150,000 people on the East Coast who are members of curling teams. You can read about the sport here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curling. Apparently the winter Olympics helped curling to pick up popularity and it is booming. I’m sorry, but please tell me that Unitarian Universalism can beat curling in terms of appeal and numbers. And I know curling teams do not have healing services. Could it be because the “rules” are more defined? Something to think about as I’m off to bed. Easter is in the morning!

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2 Responses to Preparing for A Service of Healing

  1. BJG says:

    Will this be on tape by any chance? I’d love to be there. Maybe after I retire I can fly up to MA every week you’re going to give a talk.
    Mom

  2. Jeff Giddings says:

    Elizabeth,

    Curling is actually an exceptionally civilized game. Etiquette is a Big Deal in curling circles — not just friendliness, but mindful courtesy, kindness, and respect, all good UU traits. This doesn’t negate your frustration about the number of curlers vs UUs, but I thought you might like to know.

    –Jeff

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