Our liturgical theme for March 2021 is “Commitment”
Over the course of the year, in the words and music of Sunday services, in small groups and discussion circles, in classes for adults, children and youth, and in personal reflection and practice, our life together is anchored in a series of spiritual themes – one each month through the cycle of the year.
I grew up in the Catholic Church as most of you know. This past week Mardi Gras was celebrated. That day just before Lent begins. Lent, for many Christians, is the period of forty days before Easter from Ash Wednesday until Holy Thursday (the Thursday just before Easter Sunday). It is a period of fasting, abstinence and often giving up something. A lot of people think of it as a time to give up chocolate or other sweets and treats. But if chosen as a profound spiritual practice, it is a time for shifting habits, of making new commitments. One of my spiritual teachers years ago said the ancient church spiritual leaders knew what we also have come to know. It takes time to develop new habits or practices. Lent was a time to shift away from those habits that were no longer working and to seek new ways of seeing or practicing. And it could have been a time to renew practices that were working but had fallen to the wayside.
I think it is no small coincidence that our Stewardship Drive falls in the Lenten months. It is a time for us to renew our commitment to our community. Our budget and what we do with it speak volumes to the commitments we make to each other and to the larger community. When I was on the Board of my first UU congregation, I was introduced to the idea of budgets as moral documents. What do we want to commit to in the coming year? Sometimes when budget time comes around, we are tempted to cut indiscriminately. But what are the long-term consequences of those decisions? I know of one congregation that decided that the best thing to do was to cut its Director of Lifespan Faith Development (DLFD). The consequence was that it lost all its young families who decided to go to other local congregations or stopped attending any congregation whatsoever. And another congregation that budgeted for a DLFD during its beginning stages even when it had no families whatsoever and became a thriving and vibrant community. These are anecdotal stories, I know, but they hold a certain profound truth – what we hold dear, we give our resources to. And, what we give our resources to, has the possibility of flourishing.
I know that I, as a minister, not only have to preach, I have to practice what I preach. Practicing anything is difficult. It takes time. It takes energy. It takes commitment because practicing is how we commit.
Amen and Blessed Be,
Rev. Aileen Fitzke