Rev. Michael Schuler preached a great sermon on 09/13/09 entilted, "What Kind Of A Community Are We?"
That's a question that all vibrant, dynamic congregations are asking all the time.
Schluer says "Contemporary society encourages us in countless ways toward a life of distraction...To establish disciplines of any type, we have to counteract many distractions of modern life, and this particularly true if we undertake long-term transformative practices. Most of us need communities to develop such practices, but we have to make sure they genuinely serve us. While accepting the support and challenges they give us, we need not be limited by them. The final authority for our personal growth is always with us."
When I was in the Catholic Seminary as an adolescent we were not suppose to read the newspapers, magazines, or watch TV. It was never clear to me where the line was to be drawn between what was permissable and not. It seemed to lie between being educational and being entertaining.
So much of modern life with texting, cell phones, and all the electronic media is definitely not only distracting but addicting.
Schuler's idea perhaps is that we need to stay focused if we are going to get any where. If we are looking for transformation, personally, interpersonally, societally, we need to KNOW WHAT MATTERS. Increasingly, people complain of being stressed, rushed, scattered, pressured, anxious, depressed, etc.
We need communities that help us stay focused on WHAT MATTERS otherwise we are too easily led down blind alleys.
As we build the Brockport Unitarian Universalist Fellowship we need to talk with each other more often and in more depth about what we think as individuals and as a congregation WHAT MATTERS.
Schuler describes the congregation at First Unitarian Society of Madison as one of "awakened ignorance" by which I think he means a congregation always curious, open to reflection, looking for new knowledge and understandings. They are not a congregation defined by a set of fixed beliefs. No one at First Unitarian has the answers, but they certain have and raise the questions.
I want to belong to a congregation that supports one another in living the questions the most important one being, how is it best to live life?
The second characteristic which Schuler describes is the desire to find the sacred in oneself and then to share it and pursue it with others. Church is not where a person goes on Sunday to encounter the sacred, but rather is the place that one comes to obtain recognition, acknowledgement and validation for the sacred which one has encountered all through one's week in one's work, relationships, prayer, recreation, and other parts of life.
I think Rev. Schuler has it right. Two important characteristics of a dynamic healthy community is the ability to ask and pursue important questions that matter, and a place to articulate the experiences that one has of the sacred during ones daily life.
You can access Rev. Schuler's sermon by clicking here.