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Welcome Back - A message from our minister

posted Oct 13, 2013, 11:20 AM by Leah Jeri   [ updated Oct 13, 2013, 11:38 AM ]
Hello, everyone! I hope you had a chance to get some quality R&R over the summer days, and that your spirit and energy survived the grueling heat of July. The August weather has been a blessing, hasn’t it? Ann and I have been enjoying morning bike rides through the local countryside. 
We are coming up to our first Sunday Service of the new church year. Some churches and fellowships call it “Homecoming Sunday.” And the notion of returning “home” fits well with our worship and Small Group Ministry theme for September…Kinship. It is a wonderfully rich theme, and in both worship and in the Small Groups, we will be exploring what it means to live in kinship with other creatures and the world. [Please see the column on Small Group Ministry for details about that program. At it’s core, Small Group Ministry is all about broadening our circle of kinship.] 
Our Unitarian Universalist Water Communion ritual embodies what it means to live into our covenant and to be united in kinship. It’s a symbolic gesture of our promise to “dwell together in peace; to seek the truth in love; and to help one another.” A beautiful metaphor for our being One in the midst of all our diversity. Don’t forget to bring to the service a small offering of water that has some meaning for you, to add to the common waters of our community. 
As Unitarian Universalists, we see “kinship” a little differently than many other religious traditions do. Some traditions emphasize “going deeper” inside yourself. Others stress becoming “pure” or doctrinally disciplined. Unitarian Universalism has always leaned in the direction of “broadening” our connections with life, or “becoming more.” Our liberal faith has always sought the divine not in one, indisputable, supernatural truth, but in the awesome diversity of truths revealed in the multitude of experiences and relationships that we encounter in our earthly lives. 
All of which leads us to kinship as a spiritual practice. Indeed, Unitarian Universalism is arguably all about extending our circle of kin. Whenever we feel the temptation to limit that circle – and we sometimes do - our faith challenges us to open further. Embodying our promise to stand on the side of love is all about expanding our circle of kinship. Both religion and science affirm the relational truth that who we are does not end at the barrier of our own skin but is found most fully as we experience our interdependence with others. 
And, yes, this opening and extending of self comes with sacrifice and the weight of greater responsibility. As Rabbi Laurence Kushner puts it, “If everything is connected to everything else, then everyone is ultimately responsible for everything. The more we comprehend our mutual interdependence, the more we fathom the implications of our most trivial acts.

We find ourselves within a luminous organism of sacred responsibility.” This responsibility can seem a burden. But it is a burden that ultimately dissolves into the blessing of connectedness and compassion. 
This idea of connectedness is what this month will be all about. Living a life of kinship is ultimately about discovering we are not separate beings. We are more alike than we often imagine. Trusting and depending on one another is not nearly as risky as we tell ourselves it is. We truly are one family that is better off together than we can ever be alone. 
Yet we live in a winner-take-all culture that promotes the myth of “the survival of the fittest” and “looking out for number one;” a culture that sees some people’s lives as somehow “less valuable” than other people’s lives. In a culture that excludes so many, the message of spiritual kinship is a saving one. Recommitting ourselves to continually expanding our circle of kin is not just something we do for others, it is also something we do for ourselves. Even something we do to find ourselves. As the African expression goes, “I am who I am because you are who you are.” The circle of Kinship. 
I urge everyone to join one of our small groups to share your story of kinship, and hear the stories that others share. This kind of connection and support can transform your life. 
With gratitude for this circle of kin at the Foxborough Universalist Church, 
Rev. Tim