On Worship

I define Worship as the act of opening oneself to awe and wonder, to the experience of one’s relationship to the past and future, to what is known, and to that which remains mystery.

That experience can take place in many different contexts. I have experienced it within moments of unexpected kindness; moments of surrender to beauty, to need or generosity; within the subtle scent of roadside weed; as well as within sparkle of a stranger’s eye.

Within the context of Unitarian Universalist congregations the Worship Hour is the container within which fears and frustrations may be faced, insights and empowerment may be found, and in which joy and gratitude may be savored and meaningfully transformed.

Preparing for the Worship Hour is an important part of my spiritual practice and it is an honor I cherish. Inspiration is found within Congregational Life, in an array of secular and religious calendars, in current events and in the churnings of my conscience, in chance encounters, poetry, art, music, history, and science.

However much research is done, ultimately, I insist that sermons bear authentic witness to my spiritual grapplings – and stand in support of others’.

I believe sermons to be an intimate dialogue initiated between the speaker and those who gather to listen with open hearts and minds. As the words are spoken, those who listen silently contribute something unique – there is a palpable energy exchange. I feel and respond to the presence of those gathered. And I know that each heart might hear and take away something different.

I have found that no two presentations of a sermon are ever the same and that the engagement with what has been heard continues long after the words have been spoken. In this way, sermons are living experiences, evolving with the person who hears them, questions, rejects or integrates them.

I have also found that only the barest essence is exposed in a sermon’s written form. This is among the many reasons why I prefer to share sermons after the fact only as audio files, rather than as written documents. The exception is when written sermons are made available to those with hearing impairments, or to those unable to be present.

Ritual (ex: drawing, meditating, flute playing, etc.) is an important component of my own life, and I know it to be an important component of congregational Worship Life. It is such within the Worship Hour (through Chalice Lighting, Affirmation statements, familiar hymns, etc) and beyond.

Some of the universal rituals with which people have engaged for millennia include Child Dedications, Coming of Age Ceremonies, Marriage or Commitment Ceremonies, and Memorial Services.

I relish opportunities to create, experience, share, collaborate on and experiment with, explore, enhance and celebrate ritual – on behalf of the full spectrum of human experience and in support of Love made visible on this earth.

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