I'm getting excited about a new thing I'm going to try during this church year. The Worship Committee and I agreed that we would experiment with "theming" the church year and the theme we decided on was the Sources of Unitarian Universalism. You know the Sources---they're on the same page as the Principles in the hymnal---but we rarely delve into them very deeply. We mostly take them for granted.
As I thought about this theme during the summer, I started to get more and more excited. This is an opportunity to see the history of UUism in a new way: through the writings, ideas, orations, controversies, etc. that have been part of our religious and spiritual development.
Then, serendipitously, I got to thinking about what adult religious education course I might teach this year, with my expanded hours, and it occurred to me that to offer some kind of enrichment conversation around each source would be enjoyable both for me and for participants. Out of this pairing of theming and adult RE came the idea of a series of conversations about the sources, using popular culture in the form of movies or primary sources such as ancient writings or other such illustrative mechanisms.
I am a wacko about acronyms and this was a perfect opportunity to create a new one. Of course, I don't know how my flock will react to the one I've figured out, but I'm open to changing it! What I came up with was "Wine and Cheese Conversations on Sources" or "WACCOS". I think those who will participate may be just wacky enough to like it, but we'll see!
On Sept. 23, I'll be preaching on Source #1, which is stated as "The Living Tradition we share draws from many sources (including): direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces that create and uphold life." I don't have the sermon figured out yet, and I'll post it when I've preached it, but I did decide what to suggest as preparation for the WACCOS session.
Years ago I watched the movie "Smoke" with Harvey Keitel and William Hurt, Stockard Channing, Forrest Whittaker, and others, and was blown away by the interactions between characters and the depth of character shown by the figures in the movie. The DVD is advertised as a comedy, and it has funny moments, but mostly it is a commentary on the ability of human beings to care for each other.
So in my newsletter blurb about both the sermon and the conversation (I hadn't yet come up with the acronym so didn't advertise it), I suggested, in preparation for the conversation, that participants watch the movie "Smoke". I was pleased to learn recently that a woman in the congregation who also loves this movie has organized a "movie night" showing for anyone who hadn't yet seen it.
Then, on the ministers' chat this morning, an idea was put forth that really interests me. A colleague who blogs intermittently at The Lively Tradition mentioned that for summer services recently, which are all layled, he challenged his worship leaders to use movies as thema for those less formal services, asking congregants to watch the movie prior to the service and the worship leader to speak about the themes of the movie.
Next summer, we will likely offer services all summer, which means adding four July services. That's IF we are actually in our new building by then, of course! This might be an attractive way to do that, so I'll keep it in the back of my mind and suggest it if and when the time comes. Those of you in layled congregations might piggyback on this idea yourselves.
Anyhow, the year is starting off on a very high note! And I'm so glad not to have to travel so much. What a pleasure to be able to stay home and minister!