In rare moments of deep play, we can lay aside our sense of self, shed time’s continuum, ignore pain, and sit quietly in the absolute present, watching the world’s ordinary miracles. No mind or heart hobbles. No analyzing or explaining. No questing for logic. No promises. No goals. No relationships. No worry. One is completely open…
— Diane Ackerman
Happy Pride Month! June brings us the bright rainbow flags of community, resistance, and struggle, the honoring of Juneteenth (June 19) which celebrates emancipation in the US, and the turning of the star-wheel at the Summer Solstice (June 20). In church, this is also the final month of the church year before we transition to the liminal summer months.
Our Annual Congregational Meeting will follow the special UUA General Assembly Worship Service online on Sunday, June 27, as it did last year. Beginning at 12:00 pm, the Annual Meeting will include a new awards program to celebrate leadership and service to our community, so please plan to join us! More details will be provided later in the month.
Then, our staff and groups throughout the church are encouraged to take a break and restore themselves after one of the most demanding years of our lives. I know I am beyond ready to travel to visit family and friends in Ohio and San Francisco who I haven’t seen in nearly two years! I will also find some time to rest and play to renew myself for the new church year in September.
We anticipate returning to our sanctuary in September after we go on the GLAM (Greater Los Angeles Ministry) Summer Virtual Road Trip. On Sundays at 10:30 am in July and August, we will gather with Unitarian Universalists for online worship with our local sibling congregations. This will be a wonderful opportunity to experience the many forms of liberal religious worship, to build the larger Beloved Community, and it will give our dedicated but exhausted worship leaders a much needed break. The move to GLAM in July will also allow us to plan, design, and install new audiovisual capability in the sanctuary so we can continue to serve the online community that has joined us for worship over the past year.
Our spiritual theme for congregational exploration this month is Play. Theme-based ministry invites the entire congregation to reflect upon universal themes of religious life in creative ways each month. Play can be broadly defined as activity that is engaged in for the purpose of enjoyment. Many of us are probably in need of some recreation, leisure time, and play after the stresses, fears, and isolation of the past year. You’re invited to reflect on this theme to prepare for a summer of societal reopening and the many celebrations, events, and vacations that await.
Our friends at Soul Matters suggest a few questions to deepen your engagement with this reflection: What makes something “play” for you? When you feel free from the burden of producing an outcome? When creativity is involved? When you lose time? When you can just be yourself? All of the above? Something else? Can worship be play? Can play lead to transcendence? Can play be a form of political resistance? When has play saved or healed you? Who keeps you playful?
Although I will be away in the month of July and for part of August, our Pastoral Care Ministry will be available to provide support, presence, and companionship while I am away. Chaplain Michael Eselun and the Rev. Kikanza Nuri-Robins will provide adjunct professional support while I am away, and I am so grateful for their collegial leadership and stewardship of our beloved community. You can request pastoral care by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your requests are shared with the pastoral leadership and are confidential. You can also submit joys, sorrows, and milestones to be shared on Sunday mornings with this email address.
May we make some time for play in the weeks and months ahead! Let us offer praise that we’ve made it this far with love as our companion and guide.
With love and gratitude,
Rev. Jeremiah Lal Shahbaz Kalendae