Monthly Minister Column
Listening to the Call
This last month was the second time in my life that I have travelled to warmer climes during the winter months. I usually bear down and resign myself to bear either the bitterly cold temperatures when I was living in Saskatchewan or the constant dreary rain that seems to be endless at this time of year here in Vancouver.
I booked myself a couple of extra days when I went to Tampa in Florida for a week-long professional development with other Unitarian Universalist ministers. What a joy it was to walk around without an extra layer, or two, of clothing on, and to feel the sun on my skin – to feel the sun penetrate the layers of my body – first my skin, and then the tendons and muscles underneath my skin, and then into my very bones. In those moments on the beach, with my toes in the sand that felt much like shortbread dough, watching the pelicans dive into the ocean searching for food as the was sun setting … I could feel the force of new life well up in me – I remembered that far off call of the sun calling me to grow towards the sky.
And now that I’ve returned to the land of the wind and the rain – the sand does not look or feel the same (not to mention that it’s certainly not the time of year to even begin to think of soaking my toes into it). I’ve added the layers back on, and yet I’m aware that there are emotional layers that I am not wanting to put back on. You see, the ear of my heart and soul can now hear the call of the sun calling me towards growth, towards warmth ….
With the eyes and ears of my heart turned towards warmth, joy, and desire for growth in my own life – and in the lives of those I come into contact with, I’m now watching for signs of new growth all around me – the snowdrops are almost out, and my Camilla is in full bloom in the backyard. My body has attuned itself and now knows that soon the sun will be with us encouraging us all to shed our layers and feel its warmth in our bones.
And by layers, I mean the layers that come in the form of judgments about others and how they see me – these layers keep me hidden and prevent me from connecting deeply with my heart and soul. So, one of the ways I’ll be encouraging growth myself this month is by attending as many of the World Interfaith Harmony events as possible this month. I invite you to join me by checking out the events listed elsewhere in the Chalice Lighter or on our website and make a plan to attend at least one this month. I invite you to shed the layers that keep you from connecting with others – to share the light and the warmth that is found when we gather on Sunday afternoons with those you meet at these events. Extend the gracious hand of hospitality and listen to the call for warmth and connection calling us always new life.
Fishing Tips – How Curiosity Transformed a Community of Faith
Here’s a summary of the fourth chapter in the Board’s common read, Fishing Tips – How Curiosity Transformed a Community of Faith:
This month’s summary includes questions to ponder about the life at SFUC:
- What are we refusing to let die so that new life can come?
- What are we doing, singing, saying that keeps us stuck at a particular place on the journey?
- What do we do because “we’ve always done it this way”?
- Where is there joy and freshness?
- What are our dreams?
- What cobwebs do we need to clear out?
- Do we have a written statement of roles, responsibilities and terms, board policies, recruitment, evaluation, and succession? How alive is it?
- What does the Board do to play together?
- What areas of expertise does the Board have and how are its spiritual needs being met?
- What programs need to be shut down?
- How are we nurturing the second tier (committee chairs and other key volunteers other than the Board) of leadership?
February’s Theme – Radical Hospitality and Racial Justice
This month we delve deeper into the theme of this year’s Canadian Unitarian Council’s Annual Conference and Meeting – Radical Hospitality and Racial Justice. You’ll want to mark your calendar and make plans to attend it in Hamilton, starting Friday, May 18th to Sunday, May 20th. Our packet includes material from the Sharing our Faith packet, as well as other material researched by Rev. Samaya and Daylene Marshall. Simply click here to get to it.
Here’s one of our spiritual practices for this month – Deconstructing Racism
This spiritual practice invites us to reflect on our Principles and how they call to us to deconstruct racism. Many Unitarian Universalists look to our principles for guidance on how to live our lives. The first part of this spiritual practice invites you to create some time where you’ll be undisturbed and light your chalice. Use the time to reflect on the Expression of Reconciliation offered by the Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC) and the Unitarian Universalist Ministers of Canada (UUMOC) found here: http://cuc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/CUC-Expression-of-Reconciliation-Adapted-For-Congregations.pdf
As you are reflecting on the principles and how they were transgressed, choose one Principle that speaks to you, calls to you, stands out, or that you want to wrestle with.
The second part of the practice invites you to demonstrate how this Principle calls you to do anti-racism work and create a beloved community. You may choose to do visual art, songs, drama or any art form you choose.
Come to your small group prepared to share your presentation.
Sign up for small group discussion circles – stay tuned to the Chalice Lighter for ways to sign up – and come prepared to talk about your experience engaging in one of the spiritual practices listed in this packet.
Please feel free to contact Rev. Samaya for more information.
What is Sharing Our Faith?
The Sharing Our Faith program provides funds for congregational initiatives which enhance ministry, aid projects and outreach for the congregation, and enhance the Unitarian Universalist movement in Canada. Once a year, congregations are encouraged to hold a “Sharing Our Faith” worship service focused on the UU faith in Canada, with a special collection for the Sharing Our Faith fund. The fund consists of these monies, and from a Foundation Fund administered by the First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto. The funds are allocated in the form of grants to congregations for growth projects and initiatives.
Since 2001, Sharing Our Faith has awarded over $181,000 to congregations. Initiatives include:
- Support for part-time professional ministry
- Communication, publicity and increasing visibility
- Religious education and music programs
- Youth programs
South Fraser Unitarians will be taking up a collection on the third Sunday of February (February 18th) in lieu of our usual donation to the food bank.
When to Call the Minister
Many people wonder when it’s appropriate to call the minister to deal with pastoral care concerns, particularly with such an active caring community such as SFUC and with a three-quarter-time minister. I am available to meet with you in times of difficulty for pastoral guidance visits at a coffee shop, at a hospital, or in your home. My visit with you would typically be for short-term sessions of listening, support, and spiritual guidance. If longer term conversations are needed, I would be happy to refer you to someone with skills in the area needing assistance.
Rev. Samaya’s Office Hours:
This month, Rev. Samaya picks up her challenge to the congregation to get to know the neighbourhood SFUC has moved into. She’ll be moving her office hours this month as follows:
- Tuesdays (February 6, 20, and 27) and Thursdays (February 1, 8, 22) at Michael’s Artisan and Bakery located at 15578 24 Avenue,
- On Thursday, February 16th at McBurney’s Coffee and Teahouse located at 20504 Fraser Hwy, Langley;
On Tuesday, the 13th, Rev. Samaya will be in Vancouver meeting with ministerial colleagues.
Please feel free to drop by between 10 and noon and talk about what is on your heart or mind, share your thoughts on the questions raised in the Board’s common read, or simply to share with her what you are reading and why you enjoy it so much.