Helping people find community and discover the promise of God's eternal love is what Union Avenue Christian Church is called to be. Collectively and individually the members of Union Avenue are stewards of this legacy and of the gifts that God has granted us. What we do with these gifts ultimately defines the character of our life and the depth of our spiritual understanding.
Most modern-day psychologists agree that everyone on earth feels an existential sense of separation. Some perception of: in here is self, and out there is the universe. Because of this sense of separation, we feel a need to protect ourselves. Einstein called it an optical delusion of separateness. He called it a prison, because the primal mood of the separate self is fear. To the degree that you feel separate, you feel fear. When we are in that trance of separateness, we organize ourselves around defending and getting. When we are in this trance, we can’t see the others around us as real, sentient beings, but, rather, we see them as two dimensional figures.
Humans historically ran around in groups of about 8-15, and it was a matter of survival to recognize who was in the "in group" and who was in the "out group." We lived in these groups for 10,000 times longer than we’ve lived in our more current forms of community, so it is deeply impressed upon our psyches to get what we can, defend, protect, and determine who is in and who is out. We are conditioned to look for differences and attack.
So I would suggest to you, that we as a community are highly evolved. We can survive, coexist, and thrive in the midst of differences and disagreements.
Furthermore, cultivating an inclusive, loving community is an intrinsic part of the spiritual path. And because I am the new chair of Faith Formation, I see it as the highest honor to dream up and facilitate ways for all of us to be able to look around at the faces we see every Sunday and have a sense not of separation, but of belonging. So that who we see on Sunday mornings are not just two dimensional figures, but, rather, radiant, complex creatures with a rich inner life. So you can look around and say, "These people are part of my web of belonging."
If all of that sounds like a lot of blah blah blah, let me summarize: the trajectory of human evolution is to live in loving community, and participating in that is a deeply spiritual practice!
With that said, here is what we have in store for you in the months ahead . . .
- Spotlight features of individual members of the congregation in our weekly bulletin, beginning in January
- Creating personal connectedness through "spiritual partners" – joining pairs of individuals from our community who agree to create a unique web of mutual support for the other – to share, encourage, and help each other
- Monthly enrichment gatherings (sometimes during the Sunday School hour and sometimes after church … sometimes in the friendly confines of Union Avenue Christian Church and sometimes out in the world) in which we share from our abundance to teach … encourage … challenge others to venture outside their comfort zones to grow … share … connect
- A "rooted in community" retreat coming in the spring of 2016
BY: Crystal Parker, Chair, Faith Formation Team