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Columns and occasional online reflections from First UU Ministers, staff and members of our community.



Rev. Lane Campbell - Labels, Language, and Identity, Oh My! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rev. Lane Campbell   
Tuesday, 21 February 2017 00:00

blog lc pronounsThe words we use to define ourselves and who we are matter.

I have never been more in touch with this concept than I am at this particular moment in my life and in the lifetime of the United States.  Words to identify who we are can be claimed in an empowering way, allowing us access to groups of people who share our identities.  Words to identify who we are can be used as weapons from people intending to do harm.  Words to identify who we are can be celebrated by communities of shared identity and by allies.  And words to identify who we are can be misunderstood, as words have different meanings in different communities or contexts.  Either way, these words matter and bring meaning into our lives.

For myself, I can tell you I identify with all sorts of words and labels: white, woman, queer, cis-gender, temporarily able-bodied, partnered, middle-class, minister and so on.  These words and the meaning behind them give shape to who I am.  And there are many other words folks would use to describe me, some I would claim and others I would not.  One of the deepest exercises I have ever taken part in invited participants to trace our bodies and then to write inside of the shapes of our bodies all of the labels used to identify us by others.  Then, we went through the labels and crossed out those that do not apply to us.  It was an extremely empowering exercise, to be able to say, “That's not me.  This is who I am.”

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Rev. Jennifer Brooks - Identity PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rev. Jennifer Brooks   
Tuesday, 14 February 2017 00:00

blog jb indentityEach of us from time to time stands alone beneath the stars, longing to know our place in the universe. There is something about the majesty of endless dark strewn with tiny lights that provokes both awe and self-reflection.

Who am I? Why am I here? What is the meaning of life?

These are expressions of humankind’s deepest longing. It’s as if the universe, expanding for billions of years, evolved creatures that could speak its most profound questions. Perhaps we who ask are the ones tasked with finding the answers. Perhaps to search for meaning is what we evolved to do.

Perhaps the answer to our search for meaning is, ultimately, not in service to the meaning of life but to the meaning we each make from our own individual lives.

Yet our meaning-making is often overwhelmed by the sheer busyness of our lives. Survival, success, relationships good and bad, security, insecurity, errands and what’s-for-dinner. In all of this activity, who we are and the meaning we hope to make can get lost.

Until we stand under the stars again, and look up, and remember the questions.

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Rev. Lane Campbell - What They Dreamed Be Ours to Do PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rev. Lane Campbell   
Monday, 16 January 2017 16:47

blog lc dream2It is a new year, full of fresh possibilities, where many of us are looking ahead towards the future.  It seems like we cannot help but set goals or intentions or make commitments in this time of the new year.   A new year comes with new hopes, new imaginings, new doorways opening.

In this time of year when we celebrate the prophetic Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. alongside visioning and setting goals for the year to come, I wonder about what it took for MLK to dream and to make those dreams a reality.  How many people helped him to dream big that “one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with white boys and white girls as brothers and sisters”?  Who worked hard alongside him to get the Voting Rights Act passed in 1963?  Martin Luther King joined many visionaries of that time to cook up dreams so big, we are still working on them today.  We can see how far we have come and yet we know there is still a ways to go until people of all races and classes live in the equality our country's ancestors dreamed of so many years ago.  This community of folks created a dream so big, it is hard at times to see if it will be achieved in my lifetime or in the lifetimes of our youngest children.

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Rev. Eric Meter - Who Are Your Guides? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rev. Eric Meter   
Monday, 19 December 2016 13:39

blog em tutuI’ve always wanted the congregations I serve to be seen as moral beacons in their communities. At the same time, the “prophetic voice” is an idea that long left me vaguely uncomfortable and challenges me to this day.

One of my mentors in ministry used to say that, in his experience, we had a cultural or social revolution every other generation. So if it didn’t fall to you to work for change directly, it was your responsibility to prepare the younger generation as best you could.

Looking back at that now, it seems a bit too simplistic. At least in my lifetime, the need to speak “love to power” has been more or less constant.

If we are actually in a state of perpetual war, and it sure seems like we are, then the work of resistance needs to be constant as well. And, of course, I’m not talking just about war in the military sense.

So, on many fronts, it will help us to keep our eyes open for sources of inspiration, and, to use a phrase from Rebecca Parker, “choose our guides”. 

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Rev. Eric Meter - Listen PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rev. Eric Meter   
Friday, 07 October 2016 11:41

blog em listenOur theme thing month is healing, specifically what it means to be a community of healing.

One of my teachers long ago would often use the phrase “to increase the odds on love.”

There was something about the phrase that seemed off at first, but grew on me in time. There are no guarantees with love, and so often the best we can do is to lean in to make it more possible.

With that in mind, our question this month might be “How does a faith community increase the odds on wholeness?”

Well, we might begin by paying attention to one another and those around us, something we do quite well, by and large.

All the same, healing is something we usually think of in individual terms, not communal ones.  

And beyond that? How can we increase the odds on healing in a wider sense?

In response, I can’t help but remember what Don Wheat, former minister of one of our congregations in Chicago, once said, “When you don’t give people the chance to say I hurt, they end up saying I hate.”

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