Where to draw the line

WP_20141029_010Speaking of boundaries, the universe was conspiring to embody my message of “boundaries are the trickiest things” from the sermon on Sunday.  The Board voted last month to re-stripe the parking lot because we were out of compliance and concerns had been expressed about liability issues.  So, Building and Grounds Committee got on it, got some bids, and contracted with a guy to do it.  This Tuesday morning Brenda rushes out to stop them from striping the wrong parking lot– the lot in front of the education building,the lot that already has lines!!!! Where to draw the line is a question we are asking ourselves, whether we are raising a child or re-striping our church parking lot!

I look forward to celebrating Dia De Los Muertos with you all this Sunday in worship. Please bring a memento of a beloved who has passed to add to our altar during worship. Many thanks to Mary R, Mary M, Mary L, Victoria C, Adlai F, Kathryn S, and Rita R for their decorating and ofrenda-creating labor!


Trusting and Changing


Peach tree leaves are achangin’

This weekend, many of you participated in our Ministry Start-Up workshops this weekend. And the big thing that came up? Trust.  In particular, people voiced hurt they still feel about some board decisions and budgeting process from I think a few years back (I’m still trying to get the stories straight!)  Our facilitator broke participants into small groups, who then were asked to name the unspoken rules of the congregation, the stories we tell about our congregation, the sacred cows of the congregation, and the truths no one wants to say (I took photos of the notes that were taken, see below and feel free to ask what any of it means!)

I was grateful for folks’ honesty and, in particular, the vulnerability of acknowledging not just ‘someone did something wrong’, but rather someone did something that felt hurtful.  Man, it is hard to acknowledge vulnerability. And if we want to be a religious community where lives are transformed, honesty and vulnerability are necessary–as is learning to forgive, let go, and re-build trust.  As one wise and honest person put it in one of the workshops, “I need to share how I feel and I would rather have a root canal.”  Here is to good dental care!

I will be attending a regional meeting of UU ministers this weekend, so worship associate Avonelle Tomlinson and her pagan group will be leading a Samhain ritual, helping us UU’s engage with our 6th source: “Spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature”

Unspoke Rules of UUFSC:

WP_20141016_008 The Stories We Tell About Ourselves:



 Sacred Cows of the Congregation

WP_20141016_011Unspoken Truths About the Congregation:


Labor of Loving….


Photographer: Ted Pack, fellow but unphotographed work party laborer

I have been using the word “labor” so much more recently. When I thank someone for doing something, I am not just saying ‘thank you.’ I am saying thank you for your labor.  And yes, some people have been giving me strange looks.  But, what else is new! This whole being human thing takes a lot of work.  This whole doing church thing takes a lot of work!  Since moving here to Modesto, I have started to look at food very very differently.  After living through my first “shake”, can I ever look at a walnut or almond the same way?  (And by the way, I think we should start a dance craze called “the shake”, choreography to be determined).   Every end product is made up of hours of labor and effort that is so easy to NOT see.  When I think about spiritual labor, I think of this as the work we do to make the invisible visible, to bring gratitude and awareness to all the ways we labor, in love or in a variety of other emotions…..

This weekend, UUA Congregational Life Staff Joshua Searle White will be facilitating two workshops focusing on starting off our ministry relationship on the right foot:  On Saturday afternoon, from 1-4pm, all folks who serve on committees or teams are encouraged to attend.  Josh will then join me in the pulpit Sunday morning and facilitate another workshop for all members and friends of the congregation from 12:30-2:30pm after worship.   Come join in so our labors in shared ministry are as fruitful and effective as we dream them of being!

Weekly Reflection: Off Road Church

under constructionAnybody who has been to UUFSC recently knows that our church as become “off-road.”  With all the construction on Kiernan Ave, transforming it into a four lane split highway, you will have a bit of a bumpy ride driving into the church driveway.

But, there is a way I kinda like those 10 seconds of bumpiness.  It’s easy to think that “spiritual” stuff should be light, happy, smooth, and peaceful.  But in fact, I know I have seen my spirit grow the most when times were bumpy.   Church is a place that nurtures spirituality, not a place that guarantees easiness.  Church is a place where we are all “under construction.”

off road churchThis Sunday is my first leading worship as the newly settled minister at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Stanislaus County.  As many Unitarian Unviersalist congregations do, we kick off the start of our official church year with a Water Communion Ritual.  You are invited to bring a little water from a special place, from your kitchen sink, or to bring none at all in honor of the drought.  And if you want to support our children for their special blessing part of the ritual, please bring blue, green, or purple ribbon, string, or fabric– anything that you can wave and twirl!