Worship Service Themes for 2023-2024
Spiritual Practice of the Month: Welcome
This year, Rev. Parisa invites anyone who wishes to join in a spiritual practice each month to go along with the theme. This is a do-it-yourself guide, and we hope you’ll share your insights with one another as you engage the practice.
Take a moment in the morning to consider the opportunities you will have to welcome others. What intention and practice do you want to bring forward as you encounter others who may need your welcome? Write down your intentions.
Take a few moments to reflect on the opportunities that presented themselves for you to offer welcome. What surprised you? What helped you feel more connected? What kept you feeling distanced? How did surfacing your intentions change your awareness?
As we return to the familiar surroundings of our congregational home, we will “see the welcome in each others’ eyes,” as the hymn goes. We do so with joy, anticipation and gratitude. The spiritual practice of welcome is a key to peacemaking both within and among peoples around the world, and the political limits on welcome are at crisis levels. How do we ground ourselves the value of offering open arms and open hearts in a world that often tells us this is dangerous and unwise?
We (humans everywhere) meet new challenges and make sense of who we are in the world by learning, drawing from and interrogating our heritage. This month, we will explore the lessons of our animal companions, Indigenous wisdom, and the life passages that are the shared inheritance of our community. We’ll also celebrate the 175th ‘birthday’ of this congregation, founded by social innovators amid the farms and mills at the outer edges of Boston. We’ve grown our theology and expanded our vision to include heritages very different from those of our founders, and sources of wisdom well beyond their awareness.
Research shows that people who actively document or dwell on the things they are thankful for have stronger mental health, physical health, and interpersonal relationships. How do we cultivate practices of gratitude that can sustain us and our communities through the many challenges we face? How does the posture of gratitude shape our souls, and in turn, our lives?
We reach the longest night and shortest day, offer festivals of light and reflect on the power and lessons of the dark and through it all we know that inseparable from the grief of a passing year is the hope of what is to come. A messiah? A new world? A hope and a vision we haven’t yet realized? This month we explore the power of the time between, the time of waiting, the time of yearning and hope through some of the many observances of the season: Chanukah, Winter Solstice, Christmas.
January: Liberating Love
“Love is a battle, love is a war; love is a growing up.”
The great thinker, writer, philosopher James Baldwin wrote that to truly love another, we must be committed to their liberation from delusion. This is not a comfortable, cozy kind of love, but a gift of genuine support and challenge that we can offer one another to grow into the people we were meant to be. How might we continue the path of unlearning the harmful messages that have kept us separated: by race, by gender, by assumed or implied identities and their meaning? How can our theology of redemptive love ground us on the journey?