We’ve been reflecting on the shift that just happened at Justice GA. As a faith tradition, we seemed to have gone through a collective growth spurt and many experienced this at General Assembly. This is the second in a 4-part series featuring examples of how we experienced and observed health and transformation.
Spiritual Vitality & Relevancy
Stefan Jonasson looked me in the eye and through a big grin said, ”we were in Arizona in the audacious belief that our presence mattered. Growth is a consequence of that level of commitment.”
Showing up as spiritual practice.
Consistently throughout General Assembly the Saturday night witness at Tent City was called a “vigil” or “prayer vigil,” rather than a protest. We were reminded that our Arizone partners requested that we not perform civil disobedience. To show up faithfully in partnership often requires us to put aside our initial reaction and to ask “what do you need me to do?” And then show up and do it with love.
I served as a sponsor to three of the youth who were Youth Caucus staff members, so I was gifted with the prayerful preparation offered up by the Youth Caucus. We were invited to come with love in our hearts, not fear or hate. To ask that not only Sheriff Appaio be transformed in love, and the prison be transformed in love, but also the counter-protesters we will encounter and ourselves. We were reminded that we are all children of the holy and we are there to witness and sing out our love to those behind bars. Did I mention that this was at the Youth Caucus? My siblings in faith, we are in such good hands as these youth take up their places in religious leadership.
That transformational moment was in the middle of the vigil for me. At first I was confused and didn’t understand why everyone in my section was waving toward the prison across the barbed-wire fence and field. I squinted and realized that the people on the inside of the prison were waving to us. They could hear us! They knew we were there for them! I lost all composure and waved like my life depended on it and yelled, “I love you!” And I could feel myself growing in my faith, in my Unitarian Universalist relevancy.
You can see more coverage in pictures, video, and written testimony about the Interfaith Witness for Human Rights: Candlelight Vigil at Tent City Jail.
- How does your congregation integrate Unitarian Universalist theology into your justice work to that justice-making becomes transformational to all involved and not just reactionary?
- How do you prepare members of your congregation for justice work as spiritual practice?
I will not try to sugar-coat it. Even though worship is one of the center pieces for religious community, it is an area that many of our congregations struggle with as far as quality and spiritual sustenance goes. No shame. You aren’t alone, if this describes your congregation. Identifying the problem and yearning for something more is the first step. That’s one of the reasons I come to General Assembly: to fill my spiritual well with amazing worship and be taken to a higher place with the music. I will often return to the videos throughout the year to fill up again. I have used some of the videos with Worship Committees to set an example. I encourage you to do the same.
This year’s worships felt more alive than past years. Like our souls depended on it. Perhaps it was the justice focus. I kept wondering, what would our impact be like in the world if I and my siblings in faith experienced this kind of worship every Sunday? Please note, that it may be handy to have tissues nearby when you watch these. As my Gramma used to say, “that’s just Spirit leaking out.”
May All Beings Be At Ease: On Co‐creation Worship
Synergy Worship: The Call Across All Ages Worship
- What moved you and inspired you in these worships? What can you incorporate into your own congregation’s worship?
- What would worship look like if its focus supported the purpose and mission of your congregation?
Those are some examples. How else did you experience and/or observe growth spurts at General Assembly? Please share your thoughts in the comments, including your name and congregation.