The Fall/Winter 2023 issue of UU World explores stories of spiritual journeys and practices, pathways for connecting with others, and actions for creating justice in the greater world. We invite you to use the following questions for reflection, or to spark a guided conversation in your own congregation or small group.
In “Finding Faith,” four Unitarian Universalists who were not raised UU share what brought them to the faith and what keeps them coming back.
- What was your journey to Unitarian Universalism like?
- If you were raised UU, what about the faith has kept you connected or inspired you to return after time away?
- How does your congregation keep current members of all ages engaged?
- How might your congregation—and the faith more broadly—better reach out to people just discovering Unitarian Universalism?
In “Sabbath Practices for Wintertime,” Rev. Joanna Lubkin extolls the virtues of setting aside a regular sabbath time to engage in restorative activities such as reading, connecting with loved one, or spending time in nature. She asks: “What might take a quiet winter nap in the garden of your life so it can sprout and blossom when the time is right? And what would it look like to not just accept and survive our times of rest, but to delight in them?”
- Do you set aside intentional time for restful practices in your life?
- If so, how has that changed the way you think about your time?
- If not, how might you incorporate a practice of intentional rest?
In “Liturgy of the People,” Janice Marie Johnson says, “Worship leadership deepens my faith, my sense of community, and my sense of responsibility to community.”
- Does your congregation have worship associates or other avenues for lay leaders to help shape worship?
- If you have contributed to worship, how has your involvement deepened your connections to Unitarian Universalism and your community?
- How might your congregation encourage more members to get involved with creating worship services?
In “I Am Not a Criminal; My Child is Not a Crime,” Rev. Sara LaWall, the mother of a trans teenager, shares a letter she sent to her local paper urging people to push back against a bill seeking to ban gender-affirming care for minors. LaWall encourages readers to “publicly declare your support for the trans community as part of your UU values, through letters to the editor and other displays of support.”
- How have you and your congregation shown support for LGBTQ+ rights?
- Are there local trans-led advocacy organizations you might support?
- Have you written letters to your newspapers and politicians as a way of living your values?
In the Moment of Reflection “Nurturing Beauty,” Rev. Otto O’Connor writes that it is the terrible things in the world that “put the beauty in sharp relief” and urges readers to see and create beauty “amidst the reality of our world . . . treasure its fleetingness and let it go” as a way to survive and as an act of rebellion.
- Where do you find beauty around you?
- How does taking time to recognize beauty in times of trouble help sustain you?
- Is there a practice you might develop to encourage you to seek, treasure, and share such fleeting moments of beauty?
In “Q&A with New UUA President Rev. Dr. Sofía Betancourt,” Rev. Dr. Betancourt says: “Recently in a sermon I asked people what they were willing to risk as envoys for love in the world. I would like to look back six years from now and find UUs with a deepened commitment to living our values and being able to express those values in language that’s expansive, specific, and non-exclusionary, and leaves room for their Beloveds in community.”
- What are you willing to risk to create more love in the world?
- How have you and your congregation lived Unitarian Universalist values in the world, and what more might you do to create Beloved Community?
In “Join UU the Vote,” Cal Ball explains that he first joined a UU congregation “not necessarily in search of spirituality, love, or compassion” but because he was angry and needed an activist outlet to feel like he was creating positive change in the world. But, along the way, he writes, he was surprised to realize how much his engagement with the work had changed him. “It struck me that, my god, I’ve developed friendships all over this country with all the folx I’ve been working with. And I realized I was feeling love, which is not anything I ever anticipated; it was a warm and wonderful realization.”
- How has your involvement with social justice work, either individually or with your congregation, surprised you?
Has it made you feel more connected to your faith and community?