Catching My Breath

The next two Sundays,  Dee, Brian, and Rev. Erin Matteson (read more about Rev. Erin here) are going to be leading worship.  And what will I be doing?  Well, catching my breath.  Or trying to.  For these next two weeks, my goal is to take more time and space for, well, breathing. (How blessed I am to have a safe home to shelter in and presumably safe air to breath).  I have felt the adrenaline draining out of me the past few weeks and now there is the non-adrenalined pandemic world to cope with–and the persistent uncertainty.  Now that I have a grasp on doing worship via Zoom, and we got the Payroll Protection loan, and all the other pandemic related tasks that came along, I am forced  (or am forcing myself) to just be present with these new and unfolding realities.  It’s as if all the sermons I have preached these past two months are unpacking themselves inside me.

I have been able to attend a few sessions of the Festival of Homiletics, which like so much of our lives now, has been on-line.  I joined a few other UU ministers in watching particular sessions and we wrote each other messages as we watched–it felt good to be ‘in the pews.’  Rev. Anna Carter Florence preached a really moving sermon on the book of Ezekiel and the story of God bringing Ezekiel to the Valley of Dry Bones and telling him to ‘prophesize’ or preach to the bones. And Ezekiel does. And as he does, God reassembles the bones into bodies and breathes life into them.

Ezekiel is one of those books that’s particularly strange. It tells of Prophet Ezekiel’s visions and is considered to be highly allegorical. Scholars believe that Ezekiel’s teachings take place after the Israelites have been exiled from their homeland and are feeling disoriented being so far away from their homes and their temple. How do they practice their traditions if they can’t be at their temple?

This feels just about right at this moment– preaching into a computer screen probably doesn’t feel nearly as odd as preaching to a valley of dry bones.  Fortunately, you are all alive and enfleshed, at least for now.  And while most Unitarian Universalists do not consider the church building “their temple,” many of us feel deep affection for our buildings and grounds. Rev. Carter Florence reminded us preachers that so much is out of our control– our job is not to be God, but to be Ezekiel– befuddled, confused, and perplexed but continuing on doing the next right thing. I think that is true for all of us. Our job right now is to embrace the weirdness of this time, be clear about what is in our power and what is beyond it, and stay committed to our Unitarian Universalist values in the face of all that challenges them.

This Sunday May 24th: Stepping back 6 feet (at least) … A Case for Physical Distancing How are you doing with physical distancing? How are you experiencing others when out and about? Putting this into practice may help us avoid more than a virus. Come explore more about what this new social practice invites. Worship Leaders: Dee H, Rev. Erin Matteson, and Jorge Torrez.

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