Interdependent Web: Prayer ablaze

Interdependent Web: Prayer ablaze

A weekly roundup of blogs and other user-generated web content about Unitarian Universalism


Prayer ablaze

Alison Leigh Lilly writes that sometimes she wants prayer that is more than a simple candle flame.

Sometimes what I want is a wild fire. A fire that roars. A fire that beats at the air with its bright fists clenched. Sometimes I want prayer like a fire that claims everything it touches. Prayer that ripples out across the rough dark surface of the world like music spilling down endlessly from the night sky, carrying the stars with it. Prayer that rolls over the vaulted ceiling of the heavens with thrilling impossible lightness — a fire round and hot like laughter, dragging the lush purples of faraway galaxies in its wake. (Holy Wild, April 28)

The work of love

The Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein shares examples of how ministers love their congregations—by sending their spirits over the community.

How many times do you sit with fingers on the keyboard, composing a sermon, and stop, feeling with an invisible part of yourself for the contours of what you must say next? You tilt your head to the right or to the left and stare out the window and listen, knowing only that your own take on the gospel message is too little, too limited, there is someone you are forgetting, someone’s life and reality and truth that is not being included and you need help remembering whose it is and what it is.

You are sending your spirit out over your congregation. (Beauty Tips for Ministers, April 24)

The Rev. Andrew Weber faces a choice when his child vomits.

I could try to pick him up carefully and run him to the bath tub, I could go and get a towel and wrap him in it . . . but I thought about what was the most important. And the most important in that moment was to comfort my son. So I picked him up and let him lie on my shoulder and cuddle with me. The floor was gross, his clothes were messy and now mine were too. But love was given and received. (Drive Like a Minister, April 25)

The Rev. John Morehouse remembers riding with a long-haul trucker whose story of transformation inspires his own.

He told me as the miles fell under our wheels of such desperate times as driving his rig blind drunk down the Rockies hoping he would die. Until the day he almost did. His brakes gave out and the runaway ramp was miles away. As the adrenaline pumped into his body he prayed. God, spare me this and I will give my life over to love. Somehow he managed to get to the runaway ramp but he was doing over 80 miles an hour with 60,000 pounds at his back. He hit the ramp fishtailed in the gravel and stopped inches before the end. That runaway ramp proved to be his promised land. He was good to his promise, got sober, fell in love, married, had four kids and went looking for sorry cases like me to help them create a new life. He would tell me often that the exodus story was his favorite, a reluctant prophet Moses once a prince of Egypt who led his people out of bondage. Who doesn’t need to be led from bondage he asked me. (Facing Grace, April 26)

Getting real with church

The Rev. Dr. David Breeden has more questions than answers about the supply and demand of religious community.

Come to that, what the heck is the demand? Is that demand for the most part generational? Sociological? Is that demand based on economic class? Based on education? Aesthetics? Nostalgia? History?

Why do denominations with stricter theological views, while shrinking to some extent, experience more demand?

Why are smaller congregations going out of business while larger congregations grow? What demand are larger congregations supplying that smaller ones cannot?

How low will denominations and congregations go to survive? (Quest for Meaning, April 28)

The Rev. Sharon Wylie explains why it’s important for congregations to employ credentialed UU ministers.

[Clergy] misconduct and abuse across faith traditions makes people suspicious of churches (rightly so) and has pushed people away from religious communities. I am saddened by our collective inability to ensure that the ministers serving our congregations are competent, suitable, and able to navigate the complexity of human relationships and ministry without hurting others through sexual harassment or other abuses.

It is the responsibility of congregations to research the background of anyone invited to serve them. So if you want to check out whether someone is a UU minister or not, here’s what you need to know: The only way to know for sure if a minister is in fellowship (preliminary, final, or retired) with the Unitarian Universalist Association is that they are listed in the UUA Directory. (Ministry in Steel Toe Shoes, April 26)

Justice issues

Emily De Tar reminds UUs of our movement’s historic economic privilege.

We Unitarian Universalists are not unlike many denominations in the US, who came from more wealthy beginnings. We may be a small denomination, and we may at times be financially struggling, but Unitarians once owned all of Harvard University, and have churches that date back to 200 years in different affluent areas of the country. This is not true for all of our members, and this is not true for all of our churches, but I think it’s important to recognize that within our denomination's institutions, we have economic privileges that factor into who might feel welcome in our communities. (Voices of a Liberal Faith, April 23)

The Rev. Lois Van Leer notices that her congregation’s Black Lives Matter banner has been stolen—and then learns about racist vandalism at a nearby Black church.

Seeing pictures of some of the elders sitting in the church sanctuary with the graffiti in the background was profoundly disturbing. For centuries, the Black church in this country has been the only place that granted Black men authority, dignity, and respect in their role as pastor. In fact, it was nearly the only leadership role that whites allowed Black men. And the Black church has historically been the place not only of refuge and safety but of sustenance, inspiration, and liberation. To vandalize Black churches is to vandalize the hearts and spirits of Black congregants. (Woodinville UU Church, April 25)

The Rev. Myke Johnson is angry about Maine’s governor vetoing a solar energy bill.

Yesterday, the governor of Maine vetoed the compromise solar energy bill that the legislature worked so hard to pass. . . . This one man is destroying thousands of potential new solar installations, all the jobs that go with it, and ultimately, adding to thousands of tons of carbon emissions because of his attack on renewable energy. I read today that even the utility companies supported this compromise bill. It certainly wasn’t a great bill. A great bill would have added incentives and support for increasing our shift to renewable energy. But it did provide a modest way forward.

But one man can veto it all. It makes my blood boil. (Finding Our Way Home, April 28)