JANUARY 2013

Theme-Based Ministry Resource Flyer

UUofSCV Mission
The Unitarian Universalist Church of Santa Clarita Valley enhances the lives of members through spiritual development and active service in the community. We offer a diverse, non-dogmatic spiritual home to all who share our values as defined by the Unitarian Universalist Association. We provide a liberal religious voice, a social justice presence in the Santa Clarita Valley, and a stimulating and supportive environment to help our members on their own spiritual journeys during all stages of their lives.
What words or images do you associate with Grace?

GRACE

God, give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, Courage to change the things which should be changed, and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.
(Reinhold Niebuhr)

Human beings are capable of understanding and influencing their environment and the course of their lives to a tremendous degree. We regularly rely upon our ability to achieve favorable circumstances through the application of reason and will. And yet, sometimes things happen that we did not anticipate and perhaps did not even deserve. When unexpected events are unfavorable they are generally discounted as “bad luck”. Those that benefit us have long been associated with what is called Grace. Celebrated as a “gift of God”, Grace reminds us that we are not “in charge” and that we would do well to

remain open to unexpected aid, benefits and blessings. Grace keeps both shame and hubris in check. The tradition of making New Year’s resolutions reinforces the idea that we can create desired changes in our lives; and draws attention to those that are needed. While making resolutions can be a helpful exercise, it can also keep us stuck in the idea that our worth lies in what we “do” rather than in that we “are”. It keeps us entwined in the illusion of selfsufficiency. (And, if what we do doesn’t lead to the desired results, we’re likely to feel bad about ourselves - which does no one any good).

Consider the difference between making resolutions and being guided by intentions - and notice some of the many ways that your life is shaped by factors beyond your control. As you move through the day, notice life’s beauty, generosity and clarity. Practice “receiving” these gifts with gratitude - feeling yourself supported by mystery, as if you were floating on water. You might start at mealtimes by “saying Grace” in a way that acknowledges your interdependence. May honoring Grace in your life inspire you to be a source of needed Grace for others. In Awe & Gratitude, Rev. Stefanie

Thursday, January 3rd, 7:00 PM “SHARING CIRCLE”: a meditative
evening of readings and personal reflections on Grace. Invite a friend! Led by Sara Brown, at the Chalice Center

Unitarian Universalists of Santa Clarita Valley
Website: http://uuofscv.org

Sunday services at 10:30 a.m. 22900 Market St., Newhall, CA
The UUofSCV Chalice Center 22916 Lyons, Suite 2B (Check the calendar for hours)

The Reverend Stefanie Etzbach-Dale

MEALTIME GRACE Pausing in gratitude before each meal is one way of acknowledging the sources of strength and nourishment through which we benefit, body and spirit. Consider the role of sun, soil, air and water within the food before you; consider the time and talent, mystery and machinery, labor and love that went into the creation of each element of that meal. The very act of eating affirms your dependence upon forces seen and unseen, known and unknown. Connecting with and and expressing gratitude for these relationships is what saying Grace at mealtimes is all about - whether you do it out loud or silently. GRACE IN MOVIES • Amish Grace • Amazing Grace • Amelie • A Bug’s Life • Angela’s Ashes • Chocolat • The Color Purple • Saving Private Ryan • Forest Gump • Dead Man Walking GRACE IN BOOKS • Wrestling with Grace, R. Corin Morris • Addiction and Grace, G. May • The Active Life, P. Palmer • Channeling Grace, Caroline Myss • Grace, Max Lucado

Quotes to consider:
THAT WORD GRACE The experience of Grace as an undeserved, mysterious, positive force is universal. That experience has been described and explained in different ways over thousands of years. Poet Mary Oliver asks: “Do you think there is anywhere, in any language, a word billowing enough for the pleasure that fills you as the sun reaches out?” Unitarian Universalist Frederick Muir responds (in his book “Heretic’s Faith”) by saying that word is Grace: a consciousness of unity, a sense of divine order, a listening to life” that can’t be forced. Since the word Grace is typically associated with God, sin and redemption many Unitarian Universalists are unaccustomed to using it. You’ll notice it is missing as a category in the Singing the Living Tradition hymnal. How do you feel about reclaiming and redefining Grace? Courage is grace under pressure. E. Hemingway. Grace is the beauty of form under the influence of freedom. F. Schiller Beauty without grace is the hook without the bait. R.W. Emerson The ideal man bears the accidents of life with dignity and grace. Aristotle Jesus wept; Voltaire smiled. From that divine tear and from that human smile is derived the grace of present civilization. V. Hugo I do not at all understand the mystery of grace. Only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us. A. Lamott Everything that slows us down and forces patience...is an instrument of grace. M. Sarton

GRACE HAPPENS!
“Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moment and life itself is grace.” (Listening to Your Life, by Frederick Beuchner)

Next month’s theme is

PRAYER

UUofSCV’s Theme-Based Ministry is a religious education program offering a variety of opportunities for people of all ages to engage with timeless theological themes - encouraging spiritual literacy, relationships, and a stronger sense of responsible personal theology. The 2012-2013 (September-May) themes are: unity, vocation, gratitude, peace, grace, prayer, letting go, salvation, and truth. Contact Rev. Stefanie (RevSteffi@gmail.com) to speak with her about your ideas on this month’s theme, or if you have a book, poem, film, story, practice, or service project recommendation relating to next month’s theme. You may also contact the contact the Committee on Shared Ministry: Rick Kamlet, Sara Brown, Gerri Brehm.

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