“Our brightest blazes of gladness are commonly kindled by unexpected sparks.”
—Samuel Johnson, The Idler; Poems
Over the course of the year, we will be using an approach to worship and faith formation called “theme ministry.” Each month of the traditional “church year” (September-June) will have an overarching theme; for September the theme is “Expectation.”
At first, I thought I had no expectations for the 2019-2020 church year. To be certain, I have many things on my calendar already. I have made plans, I have set goals and I have hopes aplenty, but I have no expectations about what or how it is all going to go. I think that this is the best possible relationship that one can have with life: to be optimistic enough to have dreams, to make plans, to be pragmatic enough to prepare for each day as it comes, and work hard on things that matter. Sometimes my high expectations have left me disappointed with myself and others, shut me off from the spice of lived experience, of real engagement, and the ability to respond to emerging needs.
Then I got to thinking, perhaps I am not looking at the idea of expectation correctly or, better yet, it is entirely possible that I have mishandled my expectations by holding on to them too tightly. Have you ever done that? When we have exceedingly high expectations or when we cling too tightly to them, we make of each new day—never mind each new year—a closed-off thing, and therefore it is not expectation at all, but perfectionism in disguise. However, if instead we allow our sense of expectation to be a delightful anticipation, we will not become subject to each twist of fate, but will remain spacious, open, and full. To people who seek truth and meaning, a gentle expectation is a great gift indeed, leaving us with a delightful anticipation of each unfolding moment.
As we begin this new journey into theme ministry together, we will be taking part in Soul Matters, which is a collective orientation to whole church involvement that includes suggested applications for Religious Exploration, Membership Development and Music. It is rich in online resources, training and brain storming sessions for lay-leaders as well as closed Facebook group pages for the 170 participating Ministers, DREs and Music Directors. It is something that the Worship Team is quite excited about and looking forward to introducing you to. Slowly. As we are learning about the wonderful resources and how to make the best use of the supportive Soul Matters staff, we will also be experiencing it as a process right alongside of you. It’s going to be … well, you’ll see.
See ya in Church!
About Soul Matters & the Monthly Themes
To understand a little more about Soul Matters, here is a description from their website, which you may also wish to peruse https://www.soulmatterssharingcircle.com.
“The Soul Matters Sharing Circle is a network of Unitarian Universalist congregations who follow the same monthly themes so we can more easily share small group material, as well as worship, sermon, music and children’s religious education resources. We are a web of support and connection. Companions traveling a new journey together each month.”
One key concept is that Soul Matters is a theme-based program that enhances and enlarges, rather than insists upon, what the actual content of worship will be—that’s still up to me and Donna and Jill and the rest of the Worship Team. Below are this year’s monthly themes.
We would well served to frame each theme within the context of a question beginning with, “What Does It Mean to be a People of…”