As we explore the theme of awe this month, consider these words from Rev. Kendyl Gibbons:
“Religious community exists to help us deepen and celebrate and be nourished by our authentic experiences of reverence. We gather not because we think we can force those experiences to happen on demand on Sunday morning—sometimes they do, although you can’t count on it—but rather because we want to remember and affirm them; we want to testify that we are the kind of beings who have such experiences, and that they change us for the better, and give shape to the larger meaning of our lives.”
We are a diverse community. Words that some of us might use to express reverence for the vast and infinite universe—God, holy, sacred, divine—might cause others to shut down and lose interest. Really there is no adequate language to describe the mystery of the infinite, and much has been lost trying to force words and creeds on one another throughout history. Unitarian Universalism is a non-creedal religion in recognition of that fact: Our principles center us in commitment to common values and action, not language or ritual.
The word worship comes from the Latin root Worth-ship: Worship is a time, ideally, when the gathered community feels worthship not only of our individual lives but of our collective strength. In a community as diverse as our own, that’s not easy. Some services will meet one group fully and leave another unmoved. The Worship Arts Ministry tries to balance the kinds of experiences we provide, but the hardest work remains with each person who joins the community: To feel worth-ship not only in language and experience that helps us personally but to also know the value that comes in appreciating other peoples’ needs getting met.
As we explore the theme of Awe in this December time of darkness and celebration, may all be enriched. May awe be inspired in all of the ways that it might come in: a child’s joy reflected in twinkling lights, the clarity of cold starry nights, the hush as the candlelight is passed during the Christmas Eve service, a deep conversation where something murky becomes clear. Happy December!