Archive for category Small Group Ministry

SGM #36: Corner of the Sky

SGM #36: Corner of the Sky

#36 Small Group Ministry Session Written by Rev. Jude Geiger, MRE, First Unitarian, Brooklyn – Based on the sermon, “Corner of the Sky” preached by Rev. Jude at First UU on 4/28/13 for our Annual Bridging Service and can be found online here: http://www.fuub.org/home/clergy/sermons/?sermon_id=111

Welcome & Opening Chalice Lighting  (For this session’s chalice lighting please light the chalice, sit in silence for 30 seconds.) Then go around the room and each share what your favorite movie is (this is a reference to the sermon this session is based upon.) You can also share your name and something you have left behind to be here.

Statement of Purpose:  To nurture our spirits and deepen our friendships.

Covenant Reflection

Reading: An excerpt from Rev. Jude’s sermon.

“The beauty of our faith – throughout all our smart-thinking, all our critique and challenge, part of it recognizes that there’s no one way to understand the world that’s absolutely correct. Our neat rows on Sunday morning are filled with folks who each hold a different view from the next. We seek to reflect the breadth of human experience without placing it in a box, catalogued and pinned. Follow Unitarian Universalism far enough down the road, and eventually it asks us (as Ebert described) to surrender more completely to the underlying mystery of the story – of our story. We point to a central awe at the heart of our lives – and we struggle to name it – as best and sometimes as worst as we can. Meditation or Mindfulness can bring us there. A dedication to God can bring us there. Compassion for the simple sake of compassion can bring us there. What we call it, or what discipline we use, matters much less than the openness to a sense of wonder in our lives.”

Discussion Questions: 

Share a time when you’ve allowed your “head” to rule your “heart” to your own detriment. Where has your head gotten in the way of your religious path? Our Sixth Source reads: “Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit.” Where has our reason created idolatries of the mind, rather than warn us against them? Likewise, where has reason brought us closer to a sense of wonder in our lives?

Closing:   (please read aloud ) excerpt from Rev. Jude’s sermon

“Our religion is about the laughter and the tears. It’s about the heart at our center. It’s about how we are in the world, and how we strive to be. It seeks to ground us in the mystery that is our life. All the details will pass; all the facts will someday be forgotten; it will be the laughs and the tears that linger in our hearts. Always make room for them. Always make room for them.”

Advertisements

, , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

SGM #35: Resurrection for the Rest of Us

#35 Small Group Ministry Session Written by Rev. Jude Geiger, MRE, First Unitarian, Brooklyn – Based on the sermon, “Resurrection for the Rest of Us” preached by Rev. Ana Levy-Lyons at First UU on Easter 3/31/13. This session explores the meaning of resurrection in our own lives.

Welcome & Opening Chalice Lighting  (Please read aloud) An excerpt from Rev. Ana’s sermon.

“Death and taxes are supposed to be life’s two inevitabilities and in the Christian Scriptures, Jesus weighed in on both. Taxes, he agreed, are a given. “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s,” he said. Death, however, he contested.”

Statement of Purpose:  To nurture our spirits and deepen our friendships.

Brief Check-In: Share your name and something you have left behind to be here.

Covenant Reflection

Reading: An excerpt from Rev. Ana’s sermon.

“It’s a truism that death is part of life. Parts of ourselves die every day. The process of entering adulthood necessitates the death of part of our childhood. We lose the comfort of breastfeeding or lose our fascination with dinosaurs or our childhood best friend drifts away. Relationships die, identities die, beliefs die, dreams die.

Most of these deaths happen to us, we are passive; we have no control over them. But the wisdom of this season suggests that for resurrection to occur, to awaken into new life, we need to be active participants in letting a part of ourselves die. Painful as it may be, we have to be accomplices to the killing.

We all cling to our selves as they have been. We cling to our fears, cling to our feelings, cling to our rationalizations for why our lives have to be as they are. Letting parts of ourselves die is one of the hardest things in the world. And actually collaborating, actively participating in the death of parts of ourselves is even harder. This is what the Phoenix does when it builds its own funeral pyre and this is what Jesus did when he carried his own cross on his back and this is what the earth does when it blows cold wind and snow onto its own back every winter, killing the grass and leaves and sending all creatures into hiding.”

Discussion Questions: Reflect on the many endings and beginnings in your own life. Which stand out the most as major turning points in your life where rebirth happened? It’s often easier to focus on the endings that brought us difficulty and regret. Were there times that seemed impossible in the moment, but healthy and transformative in hindsight? What grew from them in your life?

After this session, consider writing up a short version of this to share with Rev. Ana. She is seeking to collect these stories all month to be an on-going discussion in our community.

Closing:   (please read aloud ) excerpt from Rev. Ana’s sermon

“The teaching of this season is that there is a force in the universe that makes resurrection possible for all of us – for those of us struggling, feeling stuck, feeling powerless, feeling alone – there is a force in the universe that makes it possible for us to be reborn into freedom, empowerment, and love. We are given little deaths if we are willing to die them and then we awaken.”

, , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

SGM #34: Living Commitment

#34 Small Group Ministry Session Written by Rev. Jude Geiger, MRE, First Unitarian, Brooklyn – Based on the sermon, “Living Commitment” preached by Rev. Ana Levy-Lyons at First UU on 2/3/13. This session explores the meaning of love in light of the everyday. The sermon it’s based upon is found here: http://www.fuub.org/home/clergy/sermons/?sermon_id=99

Welcome & Opening Chalice Lighting  (Please read aloud) #627 in Singing the Living Tradition by Max A. Coots (read responsively if you have multiple copies.)

Statement of Purpose:  To nurture our spirits and deepen our friendships.

Brief Check-In: Share your name and something you have left behind to be here.

Covenant Reflection

Reading: An excerpt from Rev. Ana’s sermon.

“In an arranged marriage, love is not the soil in which the marriage grows. At best, it’s the other way around: the marriage is the soil in which love grows. This is the theory – that in sharing a life, you grow to love each other. To test this theory you really have to be a couple in an arranged marriage who have been together a long time. This is the test run by Tevya and Golde in the song we heard earlier – “Do You Love Me?” – from the musical Fiddler on the Roof. They are a couple living in a 1905 Russian shtetl in an arranged marriage of 25 years and the husband, Tevya, wants to know whether the rich soil of this marriage has borne fruit in the form of love.

So he asks his wife whether she loves him. To her, the question doesn’t even compute. Love isn’t the point of marriage in their world. The point is sustenance, survival, getting things done, raising kids, making use of the economy of scale in warding off poverty. But Tevya really wants to know and he keeps nudging her about it and finally Golde concedes that for 25 years she’s washed his clothes, cooked his meals, cleaned his house, given him children, milked the cow; they’ve gone through 25 years of experiences together, good and bad, and that all of that somehow does add up to love. She asks, “‘If that’s not love, what is?'”

Discussion Questions: How do you know when you’re in love? Do our actions define or indicate love? Which comes first, “commitment” or “love?” Outside of a romantic relationship, share a story about a time when obligations brought about a deeper emotional connection to that which you were obligated.

Closing:   (please read aloud ) #697 by Wendell Berryin Singing the Living Tradition

, , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Small Group Ministry: The Still Point

#33 Small Group Ministry Session Written by Rev. Jude Geiger, MRE, First Unitarian, Brooklyn – Based on the sermon, “The Still Point” preached by Rev. Jude Geiger at First UU on 12/30/12. This session explores how we ground our sense of gratitude and our work for justice, in our hearts. The sermon it’s based upon is found here: https://revwho.com/2013/01/02/sermon-the-still-point/

Welcome & Opening Chalice Lighting  (Please read aloud) #419 in Singing the Living Tradition attributed to Kalidasa

Statement of Purpose:  To nurture our spirits and deepen our friendships.

Brief Check-In: Share your name and something you have left behind to be here.

Covenant Reflection

Reading: An Excerpt from T.S. Eliot’s “The Four Quartets” — “At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless; Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is, But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity, Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards, Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point, There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.”

An excerpt/edit from the sermon: 

“And it’s those moments between the moments (as T.S. Eliot writes in another section of the same epic poem) that we can return to for solace, for energy, or inspiration. The pausing is not solely about rest, but about renewal. Those two words may seem like the same thing, but I believe there’s a difference. Anyone who has woken up in the morning, after a full night’s sleep, with no will to goto work or school knows the difference between rest and renewal. The still point is about coming back to our place of renewal – stopping so that we can start once more – with fresh purpose and meaning. Gratitude enables us to meaningfully act.”

Discussion Questions: Where do you find places of renewal in your life? How do you allow your heart to replenish itself, and not just your body? Do you agree that gratitude enables us to meaningfully act? If so why. If not, which emotion would you base your purpose and actions upon?

Closing:   (please read aloud ) #688 by Nancy Wood in Singing the Living Tradition

, , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

SGM: The Five Stones

#32 Small Group Ministry Session Written by Rev. Jude Geiger, MRE, First Unitarian, Brooklyn – Based on the sermon, “The Five Stones” preached by Rev. Jude Geiger at First UU on 10/28/12. This session offers an opportunity to reflect on our personal theologies and how they relate to our broader congregation. The sermon it’s based upon is found here: https://revwho.com/2012/10/28/the-five-stones/

Welcome & Opening Chalice Lighting  (Please read aloud) by Rev. Jude Geiger

May we find a spirit of endurance,

When all we need is the strength to carry on for one more day,

A view that makes space for hope,

When a way is hard to find,

And an inclination to love –

Ever knowing that the world needs such passion,

All the more when we find it lacking in our own hearts and minds.

Statement of Purpose:  To nurture our spirits and deepen our friendships.

Brief Check-In: Share your name and something you have left behind to be here.

Covenant Reflection

Reading: An Excerpt/Edit from the sermon, “The Five Stones.”

Our UU theology is rooted in our six sources. They ground us in our religious meaning. Here they are more simply put: Transcendent mystery and wonder moves us to a renewal of spirit. Prophetic deeds challenge us to confront systems of oppression with compassion. All world religions hold wisdom to inspire our ethical and spiritual lives. Love our neighbors as ourselves. Reason and science warn us against idolatries of mind and spirit. We are part of this world and ought to live in harmony with it.

What does our liberal faith say about living?  1. Revelation is not sealed — in the unfolding of the human spirit we continuously experience life in new ways and so too does our experience of truth. 2. Relationships between people ought to be free — mutuality and consent are both ethical and theological principles 3. We have an obligation to work toward creating a Beloved Community — our faith inspires us to the work of transformational community that is centered in justice and love. The prophethood of all believers has a corrective effect on systems of oppression 4. Each child that’s born is another redeemer — we are all potential sources of good in the world and each have a role to play. Goodness happens in relationships with one another. 5. We choose hope — Our resources – both sublime and mundane hold all the capacity we need to transform the world.

Discussion Questions: What jumps out for you? Do you agree with all of this? Where do you differ? How does having a “theology” help you? How do you live by this already, how is this a challenge? How does this apply to your daily living?

Closing:   (please read aloud ) #683 by Theodore Parker

, , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Small Group Ministry #31: After Sandy

#31 Small Group Ministry Session Written by Rev. Jude Geiger, MRE, First Unitarian, Brooklyn – Based on the sermon, “Beyond the Limits of Love” preached by Rev. Ana Levy-Lyons at First UU on 11/4/12. This session offers an opportunity to reflect on the effects of Hurricane Sandy to our community. It is found here: http://www.fuub.org/home/clergy/sermons/?sermon_id=84

Welcome & Opening Chalice Lighting  (Please read aloud) #539 In Singing the Living Tradition by Maya Angelou

Statement of Purpose:  To nurture our spirits and deepen our friendships.

Brief Check-In: Share your name and something you have left behind to be here. If the group agrees, more time can be spent this month sharing our stories of Hurricane Sandy.

Covenant Reflection

Reading: An Excerpt/Edit from the sermon, “Beyond the Limits of Love.”

Unitarian Universalists tend to not like the idea of religious laws and requirements. We like to think that we’ll do the right thing out of love. But love doesn’t always result in people doing the right thing… or even the sane thing. Part of the tragedy of moments like this is that they expose the sad truth that love doesn’t take us far enough. We’re generally myopic when it comes to making hard choices on a large scale. Progressives talk about loving and caring for the earth. We can love the beautiful sunsets and mountains, the flora and fauna we encounter, but this kind of love is sentimental. Love is really bad at abstractions. It’s no good at acting on cause-and-effect at several levels of remove. It’s lousy at reading climate charts and calculating statistics and probabilities and running computer models to connect our actions with their indirect impact on the most vulnerable among us. And yet that is exactly what we need right now.

Discussion Questions: Looking back on the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, how does Rev. Ana’s words regarding the utility of love resonate with you? When does kindness fall short? How do you see the world differently as we begin to get back on our feet as a city, with so many people now homeless? What would sustained change look like in the world at large? What would it look like in your – particular – life?

Closing:   (please read aloud – responsively if you have several copies) #576 “A Litany of Restoration” by Marjorie Bowens-Wheatley (In Singing the Living Tradition)

, , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

The Virtue of Character

The Virtue of Character

#30 Small Group Ministry Session Written by Rev. Jude Geiger, MRE, First Unitarian, Brooklyn – Based on the sermon, “The Real Dirt” preached by Rev. Ana Levy-Lyons at First UU on 4/22/12 found here:

http://www.fuub.org/home/clergy/sermons/?sermon_id=69

Welcome & Opening Chalice Lighting  (Please read aloud) #484 In Singing the Living Tradition by William Henry Channing

Statement of Purpose:  To nurture our spirits and deepen our friendships.

Brief Check-In: Share your name and something you have left behind to be here.

Covenant Reflection

Reading: An Excerpt/Edit from the sermon, “The Real Dirt.”

The producers of the modern french fry seem to believe that nobody will appreciate the integrity of good soil or of the potato that grows unseen underground. Likewise, nobody will appreciate or even know if you do good unseen, underground. The social Capitalist, the voice that’s always running the cost/benefit analysis, argues with Jesus on this point, saying, “I mean, if you’re going to do a good deed anyway, why not get the benefit of having people know about it? If you give all your money away to charity and you do it anonymously, no one’s going to think you’re a good person, they’ll just think you’re poor.”

Here is where I disagree. From what I’ve observed, the deep truth of a person or thing eventually seeps out and becomes legible. No one can pretend to be something they are not forever. Any kind of façade that does not integrate with what’s behind it ultimately crumbles. Conversely, if you focus on being the person you are even in ways that are not visible to others, people will get it, even if they don’t know why.

Discussion Questions: Our founding American Unitarian minister, William Ellery Channing once said to a classmate, “In my view, religion is another name for happiness, and I am most cheerful when I am most religious.”[1] The larger context for this quote was a discussion around the notion of ‘making America a better country.’

How does Rev. Levy-Lyons’ notion of “the deep truth of a person” relate to your sense of character? Where are you in the continuum between the ‘social Capitalist’ and ‘Jesus?’ Can you share a story of a time when someone’s hidden character shined brightly? How did it move you? What about religious living brings you inner satisfaction, or happiness as Rev. Channing spoke of?

Closing:   (please read aloud – responsively if you have several copies) #568 “Connections are Made Slowly” by Marge Piercy In Singing the Living Tradition)

 

 


[1] “The Making of American Liberal Theology: Imagining Progressive Religion 1805-1900,” Dorrien, Gary. P.15

, , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: