In the Interim: Reverend Terry Sweetser

I was so proud to be part of our congregation on October 5th when we welcomed more than 300 people to the Sharps’ War screening and panel discussion. Seeing us all come together to make this major event not just successful but inspiring was awesome. It shows that when the Unitarian Universalists of Wellesley want to make a difference we can!

But we are not only about serious intent, but we are also about light-hearted celebration. Anyone who attended our Sunday of Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse (October 30th), including TWO terrifying haunted houses, knows what I mean. I’m telling everyone I know UUSWH is the place to be on Sunday, why not do the same? And speaking of Sunday.

Sunday Worship: We use a thematic approach to religion. This year we are focusing on the precious gift of our UUSWH community. Within it, we find values and questions rarely encountered elsewhere in our lives. What do we find when we gather? And what can we share with the world? Each month we will explore a different aspect of building and fortifying this beloved community.

September: Covenant
October: Healing
November: Story
December: Presence
January: Prophecy
February: Identity
March: Risk
April: Transformation
May: Embodiment
June: Zest

In November we consider stories and specifically, What Does It Mean to Be a Community of Stories?

Our lives are not just made up of stories; stories also make them. Who of us hasn’t felt controlled by a story, stuck in it? Or hopeless about the way our story will end up? Simply put, stories write us as much as we write them.

For instance, who can’t relate to the friend that tells us that her family “clings to the story about how I’m the clumsy one.” We’ve never seen our friend trip, not once. Or drop a thing, ever. And yet, somehow, when she goes to her parents’ home or back to a family reunion, she spills coffee on at least one outfit, stubs at least one toe and stumbles down at least one step. That's the power of story!

Or think about our current struggles with economic or racial justice. Folks describe the incredible income gap as “natural” or “the result of complex global dynamics over which we have little control.” Similarly, often the same folks tell the story of race in our country with an “entrenched” story arc. Talk about a debilitating way of telling the story.

So let’s tell a new story! Fresh starts and new tales are the core of our faith. We have a choice. Our stories are not predetermined. Remember the old theological dispute our UU ancestors debated with their lives?Some said that God had predestined not just the big story of humanity, but our individual stories too. Some of us go to heaven and others go to hell. God had written the list in ink. Nothing any of us could do about it.

“Well,” said our spiritual ancestors, “that’s a bit harsh, don’t you think!” Forget this final fate driven story, they said. Freedom has a much bigger role than in this. God is not so much the author of the story as she is the magical muse that needles and nags us to put our stamp on the narratives before us. In other words, we come from a long line of spiritual relatives who agreed with Shakespeare that “All the world’s a stage,” but then went on to clarify that it’s an improv show.

So fate and freedom? This month is much more about the tension between these two than one might have thought, leaving us with questions like: Are you an actor conforming to the scripts handed to you? Or have you found your way to becoming a director, a screenwriter, an author? How are you struggling right now to regain control of the storyline of your life? How are you and your friends working to regain ownership of the storyline of our community? Our country?

Or maybe control is not your work. Maybe your spiritual work is about finding a new storyline. Maybe retirement, divorce, illness or the empty-nest has closed the book on one story and is inviting you to leap into a whole new narrative. Does that leave you excited about what’s to come? Scared? A bit of both?

No matter what don’t give the storyline away. That’s the message of our faith. And hopefully the gift of this month.

See you at church!