The Christmas story is motivated by dreams. Angels appear in dreams to bring messages, instructions, and warning. And Christmas itself is a kind of dream. “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas”, visions of sugar-plums, a dream of peace on earth. A candle-lit, vespers service to send you off to dream your dreams, or a dreamless sleep.
Speaker: Rev. Rick Hoyt-McDaniels
Gathered round the manger is not a traditional family of mother, father, and child related by blood, but a family of choice including kings and shepherds and animals, from across a spectrum of diversity, seeking to be together to serve a particular vision. When we ask tonight in song, “Would you like to hold the baby?” the question is, do you want to join this family?
Jesus, in our Unitarian theology, is not a savior, but a teacher, not a god, but an example for all humanity. He doesn’t do the work for us, but teaches us how to do our own work. And as an example of the best we can be, his example calls each of us to be teachers as well.
If spiritual practice is a means of exploring one’s faith and expressing that faith to the world then parenting could be a form of spiritual practice, and so could a child’s experience of growing up in a family. Framed by the story, “The Empty Pot” by Demi, we share some spiritual lessons parents give children, and children give their parents.
Spiritual practice can be done in community (like at a church), or alone, or, also, in public. Many Unitarian Universalists consider their volunteer work, activism, and political engagement to be a form of spiritual practice, grounded in their faith and focused on our religious goals.
Second only, perhaps, to Sunday worship, communion with nature is the most common spiritual practice for Unitarian Universalists. When we visit a National Park, hike in the woods, stand looking out at the sea, or get our hands dirty in a garden, we are continuing a spiritual tradition that links us to the Transcendentalists and to the earliest forms of spiritual practice.
Many folks make a personal spiritual practice of reflecting on their lives. Mindfulness is a way of observing life closely as we’re living it. Keep a diary, journaling, or writing a memoir is a way to make sense of life in hindsight, and to carry the life lessons we learn forward, for ourselves, or others.
We make space for prayer and meditation in our Sunday worship, but prayer is also an individual spiritual practice for some. Prayers come in many types, and for Unitarian Universalists “praying” has many forms and meanings.
Dance and other forms of movement can be a spiritual practice. Yoga explicitly is about joining the mind and body and the individual and the divine (the word “yoga” has the same root as the English work “yoke”). Tai Chi does the same. And for some, running a marathon, or lifting weights can have the same spiritual result.
Many religions include a spiritual practice around eating a communal meal (The Eucharist, the Passover Seder) or not eating (fasting for Ramadan, Yom Kippur, or Lent). Eating together at a church potluck, or being mindful of the ethics of what we eat are common ways Unitarian Universalists participate in this spiritual practice.