This past Sunday I was not leading worship at our Fellowship in Mount Pleasant. Sometimes on those Sunday I choose to attend the worship service with you all, but this time I chose to go to a UU worship somewhere else. I had been in touch with my friend and colleague Molly Brewer during the week and learned that she was preaching that Sunday, so I decided to join her. Molly lives in Maine, and she was preaching at the UU congregation of Castine, Maine. For those who work as guest preachers for different congregations, the new normal of Zoom worship affords new opportunities: next week Rev. Molly is preaching in Washington State and the week after that in Texas.
Molly Brewer was a seminary student with me during the past three years. She identifies as a pagan Unitarian Universalist. Thanks to her and another seminary colleague, I had a memorable “a-ha moment” about the nature of neo-paganism: that it is a tradition seeking to recreate and connect with ancient traditions, largely Celtic ones, but without an unbroken connection to those ancient traditions. In her ordination ceremony in February, Molly included an invocation to the pagan goddess Brighid. In leading the Sunday service in Castine, Maine, Rev. Molly included reference to the pagan holiday of Lammas, which fell on that day. She brings her own beliefs and her own spirituality to her Unitarian Universalist ministry—and yet it is very UU. Everything about the service I attended in Castine felt familiar. I felt at home with the strangers who shared the Zoom space with me. I had the feeling I’ve had at other times attending and leading worship in different states: that there is a familiar core of belief and practice and language that unites Unitarian Universalists across the nation.
Like Rev. Molly, I bring my unique spirituality to my UU ministry. This was reflected in my ordination ceremony last month, where I included seven men from the ManKind Project who ritually called in the energy of the seven directions (East, South, West, North, Above, Below, Within) at the beginning of the ceremony. These are my people and my spirituality, and they inform my Unitarian Universalism. Another example happened last week when a member of this Fellowship, Mel Bailey, asked me to offer a blessing at her house dedication ceremony. With her permission, I included the burning of sage to ritually purify the house and the gathering of people there. This practice of smudging with sage, like calling in the directions, is an adopted practice of Native Americans passed on to me through the ManKind Project.
What is your individual spirituality – that mix of beliefs and practices you were raised with, along with new ones you have adopted on your journey? Whatever it is, your individuality is welcome in the Unitarian Universalist space. When all of us bring our authentic selves and share our cherished beliefs and practices, we make a beautiful and diverse mosaic.
Spirit of Life and Love, Spirit of the Divine understood in different ways by different people across time and space, be here now.
May the house of Unitarian Universalism be open to all who seek to enter here. May this faith be a house large enough for pagan spirituality, and native spirituality, and all the forms and nuances of spirituality that we bring into this space.
May we who gather in UU spaces be enriched by one another’s spirituality. May we appreciate and honor our differences. And may we all have a common sense of living for Love, delighting in Love, and seeking for greater Love in all things.
Rev. Andrew Frantz
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Rev. Andrew Frantz
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