Perhaps most of all, life should be fun. But joy doesn’t just mean happy. Or not even “very happy.” Joy means that sense of being completely engaged with the source of happiness.
Speaker: Rev. Rick Hoyt-McDaniels
There are dangers in life that are beyond our control. Spiritual health consists in overcoming the unfounded fears we face within. Trust that we are good enough, smart enough, and strong enough to make our own way through the challenges of life.
One of the qualities I love about Unitarian Universalism is that we strive to be a reality-based religion. We use the best tools of science and reason to start from an accurate description of reality. From that ground we build our faith to places that science alone cannot reach: from knowledge to wisdom.
For the rest of this church year we look at the goals of faith. What’s it for? There are both individual spiritual goals (what my faith does for me), which is where we will start, and there are broader religious goals (what my faith tradition hopes for all people), which we will get to in spring.
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.
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 between parents and children.
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.