Soul Matters


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December: “What Does It Mean To Be A People of Hope?”

To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places – and there are so many – where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.

Howard Zinn

 This time of year, especially when it comes to hope, the dominant messages are about hope offering us calm: “A new day is on its way.” “Justice and joy are growing in the womb and will soon be born.” Hope, from this point of view, is a welcomed whisper that reassures.

This soothing message comes to us as a gift. During dark days we all get tired, feel alone and the fruits of our efforts are hard to see. We are released from the burden of believing that “it is all up to me” or that it all must be solved now.

It’s a beautiful and needed message. But, theologian Jürgen Moltmann, believes it’s also only half of what hope is trying to say. Hope doesn’t just whisper “It will be different,” it also shouts “It should be different” and “It can be different.” It takes the form of a holy impatience that declares, “Enough is enough. The time is now!”

Hope doesn’t just promise us that change will come in the future; it also changes who we are in the present. When we believe that a new day is dawning, we don’t just sit down and wait. We get up and go out to meet the light. When hope convinces us that there are unseen forces working for the good, we begin to look around more closely, and in doing so we notice that darkness and pain are not all that is there. When hope’s holy impatience gets into our bones, we start acting as if we deserve that new day now. Which in turn changes others by convincing them that we all have waited long enough.

Bottom line: listening fully to hope, doesn’t relieve us of duty as much as it reminds us that wind is at our back and unseen reinforcements are at our side. Yes, hope reassures, but it also emboldens. It doesn’t just offer us a promise; it gives us a push.

But all of this only happens if we listen fully.

Our adult faith development Soul Matters packet for this month is available here .

Our Soul Matters Sharing Circles will meet twice this month:

Sunday Dec 3rd  at 9:30 a.m.

Sunday Dec 17th at 9:30 a.m.

November: “What Does It Mean To Be A People of Abundance?”

Abundance is not about having what you want, but about noticing what you have, and multiplying it through sharing it, multiplying it through your manner of being in this world.

   Rev. Angela Herrera


Appreciation is central to this month theme. Noticing the abundance around us is clearly the work we are called to do. But one wonders if that’s enough.


Sometimes there’s a passivity to appreciation that leaves nothing changed. There’s a big difference between appreciating the blessing of family and committing to sitting down together for dinner at least three or four times a week. It’s one thing to notice the beauty that fills your own backyard; it’s quite another to pull yourself out of the rat race so you have time to enjoy it. It helps to have a sermon remind us that our spouse or parent is doing the best they can, but that insight rarely sticks without a commitment to action that helps us truly let go of all the things we wish they were and embrace the limited but wonderful abundance of what they are.


In short, appreciation only gets us part of the way there. Noticing places abundance in view, but only new commitments put it within reach. Without a decision to change our lives, noticing becomes nothing more than nostalgia.


So, what needs to change so you can dance with what is plentiful rather than worrying about what is scarce?  What clutter finally needs cleaned up so there is room for new abundance to enter in? What changes will free you from the urgent and allow in the important?


Our adult faith development Soul Matters packet for this month is available here .


October: “What Does It Mean To Be A People of Courage?”

“Courage doesn’t always roar.”

– Mary Anne Radmacher


Courageous people change the world. There are so many examples of that this month. October is LGBTQ history month and reminds us of the many who bravely moved (and continue to move) our world toward greater acceptance and affirmation. The revolutionary prophet of peace, Mohandas Gandhi, was born on October 2. Our Christian friends celebrate Reformation Day and Martin Luther’s courage that changed how we all think about religious authority. We rightly honor such giants. The problem is most of us aren’t that tall.


Or are we? Here’s what we have to help each other remember: In addition to the heroic acts that alter history, there are also the daily choices that prevent history from altering us. Battling evil and bending the arc of the universe toward justice deserves praise, but there’s also the ordinary work of integrity and not allowing yourself to be bent. This needs to be noticed as well. There’s the bravery of embracing your beauty even when it doesn’t fit the air-brushed images surrounding you. There’s the courage of calling out the micro-aggressions that happen almost every day at work. And what about resisting the persistent seduction of status and stuff? The list is long: Turning down that drink one day at a time. Making yourself get out of bed when the depression tells you to stay there. Holding your partner’s hand in public. Make no mistake, there are dozens of ordinary acts of bravery we rise up to everyday!


Or maybe we should say there are dozens of ordinary acts of bravery we help each other rise up to every day. Courage is not only noble; it’s contagious. The bravery that makes it into the history books may save the world, but our ordinary courage keeps each other going. Watching someone else make it through another day helps us endure. Witnessing someone else confront bigotry allows us to bravely be more open about who we are. They say that courage is found by digging deep, but most often it is passed on.


So don’t worry so much if you haven’t changed the world yet. And certainly let’s stop comparing ourselves with those giants. Our work rests less in looking up to them and more in looking over at and gaining strength from each other. And remembering that others are looking over at and needing strength from us.


Our adult faith development Soul Matters packet for this month is available here .


Themes already explored:


September 2017 : Welcome


Welcoming is most often associated with “expanding the circle” and making more room. We talk about make ourselves larger through the practice of welcoming in new experiences and new ideas. But sometimes the more important work for welcoming is becoming smaller.


For instance, those of us who are white are learning that true welcoming of diversity just can’t happen until we shrink and de-center our voices. Welcoming newcomers requires right-sizing our needs and putting our preferences second. Welcoming regularly involves the smallness of humility and willingness to listen and learn. And, of course, there’s also the work of downsizing our egos enough to admit mistakes, ask for forgiveness and welcome in the work of repair. By becoming “smaller,” we paradoxically are better able to welcome in and receive the gift of “more.”


You can view the previous year’s topics here.