Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cultivating Life

The season of Lent began Wednesday, March 9, with Ash Wednesday. A traditional view of Lent is that it's a time of sacrifice and restriction, a journey to the desert of repentance. Spiritual guide Edward Hays invites us to experience Lent instead as a time of expansion and growth. It is a journey, yes, but it's a journey deep into our souls. It's a journey of self-reflection and spiritual cleansing - a journey that invites us to more deeply know ourselves that we might more deeply encounter the Divine, and a journey to the Divine that we might more deeply know ourselves.

Sunday's worship will invite us to explore this journey. Our offering will be designated for United Campus Ministries. In addition to our financial offering, we will also collect packages of cookie dough for UCM to aid their service project of making cookies for the Children's Fair April 17. Please remember you are always welcome to bring canned and/or boxed food for Project Dignidad. Our potluck theme is general.

We're growing The Gathering, a place where life is cultivated

Gathering for Worship
Sunday, 3 April 2011
5:30 pm,
618 Locust

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Gathering for An Interfaith Tour

Sunday, 27 March, 5:30 pm, 618 Locust

This Sunday we will vicariously travel the world of religions as Susan Donaldson, Pat Hines, and Brenda Maiman share with us their experiences from the recent World Religions Tour sponsored by the Peace Ambassadors of West Texas. Led by Dr. Helen Rose Ebaugh, Professor of Sociology at the University of Houston, the tour included visits to a Jewish synagogue, a Muslim mosque, a Catholic Co-Cathedral, a Swaminarayan Hindu temple, a Baha'i Center, and more. Dr. Ebaugh believes that in today's world, understanding different religions is "absolutely critical, because no matter what country you're in, what kind of business you're doing, you're rubbing shoulders with people of different cultures and different religions.... If we're really going to have peace and tolerance in the world, we're really going to have to learn about one another's religions." The Houston trip was blogged and photographed by San Angelo Standard Time's Matthew Waller. (There's even a picture of Brenda.)

Our offering will be designated for one of the places visited, Casa Juan Diego. Our potluck theme is vegetarian, in honor of Jemery Hahn, who's last Sunday with us will be this Sunday.

A reminder: we collect an on-going "offering" of canned and boxed food for Project Dignidad; this Sunday would be a great time to bring food to share with those who rely on Project Dignidad and other free food providers to feed their families.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Extending Radical Hospitality

This Sunday we will gather for worship and extend hospitality to the Rev. Jennifer Innis when she joins us as part of a pulpit exchange. Jennifer currently serves as Interim Minister with the Unitarian Universalist Church of Midlandand as Consulting Minister with First Jefferson Unitarian Universalist Church in Fort Worth. She is completing five years of service with UU Midland by helping them find their next minister. She notes, "Getting to know West Texas is a great help in my introduction to the Lone Star State."

She, her spouse the Rev. Patrick Price, and their 2 1/2 year old son Nate live in Plano where Patrick serves Community Unitarian Universalist Church. Prior to coming to Texas, she served UU churches in Massachusetts (her home state), Maine, Alabama, South Carolina, and Illinois. Jennifer received a B.A. in theater from UMass/Amherst and her M.Div from Harvard Divinity School.

Jennifer's theme and sermon title is: The Taming of Hospitality. Our offering will be designated for United Church of Christ Disaster Ministry - Japan Relief, and our potluck theme is general. Let us extend a warm and gracious West Texas welcome to Jennifer.

Sunday, March 20
5:30 pm
618 Locust Drive

Monday, March 14, 2011

Mindful Eating

Theresa read the following passages on mindful eating. Passage one:

How many of us were taught early on in our lives that our inner feelings and sensations were the signals by which our body’s regulation and healing is effected? In modern life in the Western world, the answer to that is “almost no one.” Instead, we were taught to ignore our inner signals in favor of obeying various “outer authorities,’ experts and specialists. Unfortunately, the human organism just doesn’t follow external social standards or arbitrary rules established by someone else’s experience or research. Trying to force your body to meet standards that cause it to be stressed leads to conflict, frustration and disease. It has its own rhythms and standards to follow. It is flexible and adaptable, but it has its limits. If those limits are not respected because you are not listening to its signals then it begins to break down.

If you habitually try to control nature instead of listening to it and cooperating with it, and if you ignore your healthy limits and push beyond them with pills and various regimens of diet, you will be rewarded with an uncomfortable life.

ONE BOWL, Don Gerard

Passage two:

You can adopt better habits only if they honor who you are, your ethnicity, religion, and lifestyle, the climate where you live, the hours you work, and the stage of life you are in. There is a healthy, satisfying way of eating that is natural and realistic for you. The point is to know yourself, respect yourself, and make appropriate choices based on who you are and how you live. When you make alterations that will change your body and your life, they have to be ones that work for you and that honor who you are.

FIT FROM WITHIN, Victoria Moran

Passage three:

When we eat and look deeply into our food, we are in the company of many beings: the plants, animals, and people whose life energy was poured into the food on our plate. Each time we eat we take into our bodies the life energy of countless beings. The food on our plate is the product of the sun, the rain, the earth, the insects who pollinate the plants, and many people, including farmers, truck drivers, and grocers. This energy, which is the product of so many beings, courses through our body, propelled by every beat of our heart. It travels to the farthest cells, to our toenails and to the tips of our hair. These beings become us, our blue or brown eyes, our soft lips, our hard white teeth, our loving heart. This daily miracle of transubstantiation occurs in our own bodies, every day.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Gathering for Mindful Eating

As we begin the journey of Lent, a season for spiritual reflection and intentionality, Howard Green, Teresa Rylander, and Neil Snipes will invite us to reflect and be intentional about the spirituality of our eating, the how and what we put in our bodies.

As tells us, mindfulness is simply the moment-by-moment awareness of life. But it's not always so simple. We get caught in our own thoughts and self-talk that we are scarcely aware of life as it passes us by. This is very true of our eating. We eat meal after meal, snack after snack, barely aware of what we're eating and how much we're consuming.

Mindful eating is an approach that involves bringing one's full attention to the process of eating - to all the tastes, smells, thoughts, and feelings that arise during a meal. When we pay attention to our food---really pay attention---we begin to notice all sorts of wonderful aspects of the food and its relationship with the earth and our bodies.

Our offering will be designated for Bread for the Journey, a not-for-profit organization to whom we've previously given whose vision is to nurture the seed of generosity in every human heart. Our potluck theme is, in Howard's words, "something to savor and linger over as opposed to fuel for the road."

Sunday, March 13, 5:30 pm, 618 Locust Street

Monday, March 7, 2011

Movie Thursday: 800 Mike Wall

Thursday, March 10th
6:30 pm
City of San Angelo McNease Convention Center

The 800 Mile Wall highlights the construction of the new border walls along the U.S.-Mexico border as well as the effect on migrants trying to cross into the U.S. This powerful 90-minute film is an unflinching look at a failed U.S. border strategy that many believe has caused the death of thousands of migrants and violates fundamental human rights.

Everyone is welcome. Join us

Friday, March 4, 2011

Extravagant Welcome

Do you remember a time when you needed welcome and someone extended hospitality? How about a time you offered hospitality to someone else? What did you experience spiritually because of those events? What does it mean to "practice hospitality" and why is it one of the basic tenets of all faith traditions? We will engage these questions and more as we explore the practice of hospitality this Sunday.

Our offering will go towards welcoming Rev. Jennifer Innis, who will be with us March 20, as part of a pulpit exchange. I preached for the Unitarian Universalist Church of Midland last weekend, and was warmly welcomed. We want to extend the same welcome and support to Jennifer when she comes to be with us. In honor of Tuesday being Mardi Gras / Shrove Tuesday, our potluck is extravagant! Suggestions include anything rich and/or fattening (to use up that sugar, fat, and eggs before the beginning of Lent) or anything connected with Louisiana or Rio de Janeiro (both important Carnival locales). The evening sounds fun and tasty, doesn't it?