Soul Matters involves small groups facilitated by Rev. Samaya and each month a different theme is explored. Together we engage in generous listening to each other as we share our experiences of engaging with the theme over the month.
What does it mean to be a people of trust?
In religious circles, “trust talk” most often revolves around having faith that life will look after us. For instance, our Christian friends sing hymns about God “watching over us” and keeping “an eye on the sparrow.” Our Jewish friends lift up the Exodus story to encourage faith that God will help us make our way even when things look bleak. Likewise, prayer practice for our Muslim friends is all about reminding oneself that you are in Allah’s safe hands. We UUs translate similar sentiments using the language of trusting “a Love that will not let us go.”
This call to trust Life’s support comes to us as a gift. After all, it’s all too easy to convince ourselves that life is a foe. So we need our faith communities to restore our faith that life is ultimately a friend. We need the reassurance. We need to know that when we fall, we can count of being picked up.
But what about being pushed? Don’t we need to count on that too? A Love that won’t let us go is essential, but isn’t it just as important to have faith in a Love that won’t let us get too comfortable? Especially as we welcome in Black History Month, we certainly don’t want to forget about a Love that disturbs. We need a Love that promises to not let privilege remain hidden and unsettles those who have it. A Love that tells those of us who are marginalized and tired, “I won’t let your pain be ignored.”
And just when that call to trust seems the one we all need to listen to, another voice adds itself to the mix. This one telling us to trust that it’s not all up to us. That sometimes it’s ok to rest. That doesn’t disturb but instead assures us that we can let go. That tells us to trust that we can – for a while – put the work down because others are ready to pick it up, knowing that we will be there to pick it up when rest calls to them.
- So, friends, where does that leave us?
- What is it?
- Trust life to pick us up?
- Trust life to push and poke us?
- Trust that it’s ok to put the work down for a while?
- It is all of them, of course. And more.
But maybe it’s mostly about trusting that we’ll know which call is right for us. Maybe it’s about having faith in ourselves and not letting anyone tell us what we need to trust.
There’s no one message this month after all. Everyone’s heart is wrestling with a loss of faith in its own way. The trust you need to repair is likely different than mine. What we both long for is safe space. Space to say how hard that work of repair is. Space to say how much it hurts to have to repair it in the first place.
So let’s remember that above all. And prove, this month, that we all can be trusted to offer each other that precious space.
Have you signed up to join a small group yet? We have two groups that meet to reflect deeper on the theme.
- The first one meets on the last Monday of the month from 7-9 pm.
- The second one typically meets on the last Wednesday of each month from 1:00 to 3:00 pm.
If you’d like to join a small group, please let Rev. Samaya know.
What is Thematic Ministry?
You may be wondering what Theme Ministry is. Like other small group programs, its central goal is to foster circles of trust and deep listening. However, theme ministry adds four unique components:
1. Explore the Worship Themes in More Depth
Theme ministry is not a “stand-alone” program. It is designed as a companion program to a congregation’s worship experience. Congregations using theme ministry position it in their system as “an opportunity to explore our congregation’s monthly worship themes in more depth.”
2. Experience the Worship Theme, Don’t Just Talk about It.
Unitarian Universalists want to do more than just read and talk about spiritual topics. Discussing a topic is important. But there is nothing like experiential learning. Honouring this, our thematic package provides participants with a spiritual exercise each month to engage prior to their group meeting. For instance, when we wrestled with the concept of grace, small group participants not only read what theologians have to say about it, but are challenged to find a way to bring grace (a gift one doesn’t expect, earn or even deserve) into another person’s life.
3. Questions To Walk With, Not Talk Through.
In traditional small groups, questions are an opportunity for the group to think together. Theme ministry uses questions differently. We see them as tools for individual exploration. Instead of asking our groups to go through the questions and discussion them one by one, participants are asked to read all the questions ahead of time and find the one question that “hooks them”—the one that speaks to and challenges them personally. Participants then live with–or “walk with”-that question for a couple weeks leading up to the group. People come to their meeting, not with an answer to each of the questions on the list, but with a story about how this one particular question lead them to deeper, personal learning. This technique leads us away from abstraction and intellectualizing and challenges us to think about how the topic (and question) apply to our daily living.
4. A Reminder That UUism is Distinctive, Not an “Anything Goes,” Religion
Our monthly themes are not just interesting topics. Rather they focus us on a spiritual value that our UU faith has historically honoured and emphasized. At each meeting, we are reminded that our faith promotes a preferred way for us to be in the world.
At the start of each month, a resource packet will be made available via hard copy, on our website, and through the Chalice Lighter. Resource packets include articles, poems, quotes, questions to wrestle with, and spiritual exercises all related to the theme. Of course, if you have material related to the theme, you’ll be encouraged and invited to submit them to Rev. Samaya for inclusion into the packet. The services during the month will be related to the theme in some way shape or form – it could be as simple as a chalice lighting that folds in the theme, or the entire service.
Please feel free to contact us for any further information.