Puppets May Save Us

I have visions of puppets overtaking our chancels. I have visions of Story for All Ages being acted out by huge caricatures of our ancestors. I have visions of General Assembly Banner Parade being shepherded by twenty foot puppets representing our principles and collective story.

So imagine my delight during Friday morning worship at General Assembly when a fleet of puppets burst down the aisles. Bumble bees, crickets, caribou, wolves, loons, and a huge (I mean huge) whale illustrated the sermon. It was joyful and poignant and appropriate for all ages. What a beautiful example.

If your congregation uses puppets in worship and/or religious education, please contact me.

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Tandi’s Annual Tips to Make the Most of Your General Assembly Experience

Internet portal to all things GA: http://www.uua.org/events/generalassembly/

Unitarian Universalist Association of  Congregations’ Blog: http://www.uuworld.org/news/ga/

  • Before you go to General Assembly (GA), skim the Pacific Northwest District of congregations (www.pnwd.org under “Congregations”) or your own district.   Find congregations that are similar in size, and make a list.  At the General Assembly, seek out people from those congregations who are in similar leadership roles as you and compare notes.  What is working well?  What are challenges?  What are possible solutions?  Swap contact information and keep in touch.  There is a message board at GA where you can post and receive messages to people.
  • Even better – contact folks ahead of GA and arrange regular meetings (breakfasts?) to debrief the experience and start plotting collaboration and support once we’re back home.
  • Be extra-friendly to the folks working the General Assembly – they are all volunteers and our UU brothers and sisters.
  • Sing out at the Opening Worship and let the rush of celebrating with thousands of Unitarian Universalists from all over our continent sink into your bones. Let our collective energy feed your spirit. After each worship service ask what you liked best and how you can bring that nugget home to your own worship.
  • Seek out district board members and your Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations trustee and tell them what your greatest hopes are for our religion and your congregation.  Our boards set the vision for our collective ministry with long range dreaming. Tell them what your priorities are.
  • Seek out U.U.A. of C. staff with your questions.  Tell us what you need to build a vibrant, thriving religious community. During Plenary staff sit in a block to the front-left when facing the stage.
  • Go to a workshop that speaks to a need in your congregation. Before you leave General Assembly, create a plan for how you will apply what you learned back in your home congregation.
  • Go to a workshop that speaks to a personal passion or interest.  Before you leave General Assembly, create a plan for how you will apply what you’ve learned back in your home congregation and/or your personal life.
  • Keep some extra room in your suitcase for the wonderful Unitarian Universalist clothing and jewelry available in the display booth area.  Everyone should have at least one piece of UU jewelry to wear.
  • Keep the energy going! When you return to your congregation, schedule some coffee time with key folks to share what you learned. Give them copies of the hand-outs and your notes.  Write an article for your congregation’s newsletter.  Make yourself available at coffee hour for people who are interested. Seek out the next group of leaders who should go to General Assembly 2011 to represent your congregation and bring back inspiration, perspective, connections, and ideas to help your religious community be all that it can be.

Lilac Ordination

The lilac bush intoxicated us with her heavy blooms.  The world seemed perfect as was the time to share my inner wrestlings with my Gramma.  We were both on our backs staring up at the clouds looking for familiar shapes.  There’s a little hill next to the lilac bush that was perfect for such moments.

“Gramma?  Can a heart burst?”

“Yes, why?”

“Gramma, I’m afraid my heart is going to burst sometimes.  Sometimes it’s too full with love.  And sometimes it’s too full with sadness.”

“Mmm…” She reached out and squeezed my hand. “So, what are you going to do with that?”

She often asked that sort of question.

“I think I’m gonna to be a minister.”

I said it not quite convinced, as the only ministers I knew were male and Christian and I wasn’t either. They had The Answer and I knew there were many. They saved people from their pulpit.  I felt called to heal with actions and  love just in the regular places of my life. … “I think I’m gonna be a minister.”

“What makes you think you aren’t a minister now?”

The sound of the gulls overhead were drown out by the paradigm shift crashing in my skull.  The deep, deep breath of spring air I took in cut through the lilac drunkenness and the colors all around us intensified exponentially.

A minister was born.

Religious Education happens when we are witnessed deeply, and when our safe people believe in us as our own beliefs are taking form.