Last night I had a wonderful experience of attending the Ash Wednesday service at Trinity Presbyterian Church. As Jeff and I emerged from the sanctuary, a friend from Trinity greeted us and proclaimed lovingly, “the Unitarians are here.” Somehow that seems especially funny at a place called “Trinity.” Despite my firm grounding in Unitarian Universalism, I rarely miss an Ash Wednesday service- a day which marks the beginning of the Christian season of Lent. Lent is the forty-day period (forty days if you don’t count Sundays) leading up to Easter Sunday. For many Christians it is a time of taking inventory. How am I doing in my life? Am I living my faith? Am I letting myself get distracted and off course and, if so, how can I get back on course? Each year I use continue to use Lent to re-ground and get back on track spiritually, emotionally, and physically as I need to.
As a congregation, I invite all of us to get back on track. As a congregation we have had some significant transitions in the last year. We enlarged our building, received a new minister, experienced new members and lots of growth, we have added a Religious Education class for preschoolers and much more. In addition, if you have been here a long time you might recall a period of strain in the congregation from which some are still healing. Some of us have been tending to these challenges and transitions for quite a while. I hope you feel, as I do, that we are entering a new time in the life of the congregation. A time when we don’t have be quite so distracted by what’s going on in the congregation and instead can re-focus on our Mission and Vision and also follow our call to “Stand on the Side of Love” in our community. When we hung the district’s “Standing on the Side of Love” banner on our building I invited folks to do something (maybe even something new) to stand on the side of love in our community. It could be small or it could be huge. And I invited folks to write it down or submit a picture for the poster board that Kati Trice put up in our fellowship hall. Some of you have written down things and submitted pictures…and we are not yet done.
We will continue to have that beautiful banner outside our building until right after Easter Sunday when we pass it along to another congregation at our district’s Spring Conference (4/29/-5/1). This is our last push (forty days if you don’t count Sundays), to get out into our community and change lives, bring peace, enact our faith. I recently read a story about a woman who bought a sheet of shiny foil star stickers and gave them out whenever she witnessed acts of kindness in her day to day life. What a beautiful way to stand on the side of love. We have lots of creative people in our congregation and I would LOVE to hear what creative ideas you have for enacting our faith in our community.
In the coming forty days (not counting Sundays) I invite you to do one or more of the following:
*Read more about the Standing on the Side of Love (SSL) campaign: http://www.standingonthesideoflove.org/ and think of ways we can bring that campaign to life in Denton!
*Go online and purchase some SSL stickers, pins, brochures and/or rally cards and hand them out at church and/or out in the community!
*Volunteer your time and energy to one of our many nonprofit organizations and/or to someone who is in need of your support.
*Reach out to someone in love, even though you might feel prejudice or bias.
*Do something consistently and over time that is good for our planet and our community.
*Lead a group to do something to Stand on the Side of Love in our community.
*Contact our political leaders and urge them to stand on the side of love on an important issue.
And once you have done one or more of those, then POST it on our poster board in our fellowship hall so we can all celebrate with you! Be sure to include your first and last name because after Easter I am going to send an invitation to each and every one of you who posted (children, youth and adults), to come to my home and celebrate together our efforts and outcomes. My hope is that there will be so many people who participate that 1. Kati Trice will have to make more poster boards and 2. that I will fret about how to make you all fit into my home.
Deep peace to all of you as we wind down from winter and make our way toward spring! I am so delighted to be your minister and I am grateful for all the many ways you bring light and love to this Fellowship and to our wider community.