Ironicschmoozer’s Weblog


A SHARED MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT & SENIOR MINISTER: The Annual Pledge Drive Kickoff!

FEBRUARY 3, 2015

Dear Members and Friends,

UUSS IS AT ONE OF THE SHINING MOMENTS OF ITS HISTORY RIGHT NOW.

• We’ve added 50 new members since May. Worship is deep, joyful and lively. Our Greeters welcome new visitors every Sunday—even at our temporary home.

• Our dynamic duo of ministers has yielded new surprises in our worship and programs. We can build on this progress by fully funding Rev. Lucy’s position at UUSS.

• Our music program is blossoming now, with a growing choir and amazing duets and soloists. Next year, we strive to fund a Choir Director position once again.

• The new Spiritual Deepening Circles have 100 participants. Adult Enrichment has brought more than 125 people together. Theater One has staged a great variety of plays—more now than last year, when we had a full stage and auditorium!

Religious Education volunteers and staff give generously of their talents and love to our children and youth. We seek to support UUSS families even better.

• Our talented staff works together with high spirits to support the congregation in pursuit of our UUSS mission: we come together to deepen our lives and be a force for healing in the world.

• Our Earth Justice Ministry, Kids Freedom Club, and other social-action groups have brought people together to learn, organize, serve and give of themselves.

Our pledges of monetary support make it all possible. Starting Sunday, February 8, members and friends will make pledges to the operating fund for the 2015-16 year.

Funding our UUSS goals for success in the new budget year calls for an average pledge increase of 10%. We know that hardship has affected some of our households, so we also appreciate that many others will stretch in order to make an increase larger than 10%.

In shared commitment, both of us will increase our household pledges to UUSS.
Your pledge is your decision. Pledges of all sizes are valued and appreciated.

What we ask is your generosity.

Generous giving makes possible so much within and beyond our congregation. Thank you.

We can keep this congregation shining in the coming year. Let it shine!

Yours in service,

Roger Jones, Senior Minister, and Linda Clear, Board President

PS—Please read the Pledge Form for 2015-16. Fill out your Pledge Form and bring it to the next Sunday service or mail it to the office at 2425 Sierra Blvd., Sacramento 95825.  Your monthly pledge of support will keep UUSS thriving… from month to month, from year to year, and from generation to generation. Thank you!



A Kid’s Eyewitness View: What Happens in Religious Education?

 

By a Spirit Play Member

I am 9 years old and I have been attending Religious Education, or RE, for two years. I’m writing this to let you know what goes on every Sunday in RE.

When it’s time to light the chalice in the main hall, we know it’s time to go to RE. I’ve memorized our Mission, Values, and Covenant, so I am comfortable saying them in front of the congregation. As they sing us out to the “Go Now In Peace” song, the aisle where all of the kids are exiting is very crowded. As they walk the kids in a line to the RE classroom, all of the kids catch up on each other’s news.

The Doorkeeper shakes our hands and asks if we are ready for Spirit Play. After we come in, the kids form a circle with everyone sitting next to their friends. When we do “Joys and Sorrows,” everyone says what they are happy or sad about.

The storyteller then tells a story based on the “Rainbow Principles.”  When it’s time to do activities, everyone gets really quiet so they can get picked first. The things that there are to choose from are blocks, drawing, dress-up, Play-Doh and other fun activities.

Everyone is in a rush to get first in line when RE is over and their parents have arrived to pick them up.

Some of the kids are happy to see their parents, and some don’t want to leave.

 



Open-Mic Night on Sierra Blvd–Shindig @ the Hex!!! Friday (Aug. 19) at 7 PM

UPDATE:  Well, it was quite an event.  We had 130-150 adults, teens and kids present during the 3 hours of our open mic concert tonight.  Many church folks and friends offered their music:  some fun, some moving, some really excellent and beautiful.  Our MC, Eric, was cheerful, celebratory and pretty easy-going given all that he had been managing to make this happen.  Thanks to all the church volunteers who made it happen in addition to the performers.

Headliner Brady McKay was great, with a fabulous jazzy, Gospely, sultry, lovely voice, and a great band.  Her women’s chorus and girls chorus as backup were great as well.  I enjoyed seeing so many folks from the church and having a chance to connect.

Though this was not intended primarily as a fundraiser, Eric reported that after paying the headliner and covering a number of costs, we netted $600 congregation.  Always helpful!

 

Shindig at the Hex, 7:00pm, this Friday night, August 19. 2425 Sierra Blvd., Sacramento

Bring your Friends and Relax for an Evening of Fun at our first open-mic/concert evening event!

Spread the word, grab a friend, come on out for great performances of music, original poetry, comedy, and more, along with our headliner: Brady McKay! Eric Stetston, our music director/composer/ukulele player and pianist/vocalist, has been taking applications for performances and the variety is excellent.

Tickets at the door: $10 general audience,  children 12 and under free. Invite your friends by sending them these links to our promo fliers posted at:  http://uuss.org/Special_Events/ and http://uuss.org/Groups/Music/



Let’s Get this Party Started! Family Minister’s Ideas & Request for Help

Three years ago UUSS members adopted a five-year plan and a mission statement.  The goals include

  • development of the building and grounds to meet the needs of the coming generations of members and friends,
  • deepening connections among members and helping folks get involved and make friends, and
  • strengthening ministries to families and children.  This includes building community across the generations.

I have lots of ideas about the last category, and I am happy to invite you to participate. Here are a few ideas—some new for us, some tried and true:

  • UU District Assembly in Fremont—You’re kidding me!  No, we hear that Young Fun, Child Care and MUUGs programming is very popular with families.  May 13-15.  Eric, Doug, Erika, Carole, Seya and I have registered!
  • All -Church Family Camp—this annual outing an hour away takes place June 17-19.  Have you been?  Can you help organize for it?  See Fran Kennedy or Ruth VanUnen.  (Doug’s got his guitar in the car already, so buy the marshmallows!)
  • A UUSS picnic with outdoor games to kick off the summer.  A group of members made this a party to remember last June.  You can help make one happen again.
  • A swimming and putting-green party for families with kids at a member’s home.  A wonderful person has suggested hosting this, but we need some organizers. See me.
  • A UUSS night at Raley Field to watch the River Cats and feel the Delta breeze.
  • A workday around the RE building in late summer; lemonade afterwards!
  • A Blessing of the Animals ritual for pets–in the spirit of St. Francis–out in our meadow on a Saturday afternoon in September/October.
  • A Dia de los Muertos (day of the dead) potluck supper, with home-cooked dishes reflecting our many ethnic heritages, or favorites of our departed ancestors or parents.
  • Game night at UUSS—puzzles, board games, or some active games to use up some of that child-energy.  We could do this once per month.
  • Thanksgiving Dinner—consider if your activity group wants to organize it this year.
  • Tree-trimming crafts party and holiday potluck dinner Dec. 1 or 8.
  • This is not nearly enough.  I think there is room for more fun, more fellowship across the generations.

I hope you will let me know if you have ideas, and let me know what you think of these.  Remember, a community event must be a community effort.

Yours in service,

RJ

PS—Thanks to all who have made pledges of financial support for the coming budget year.  No matter what you get out of being part of UUSS, your gift makes a difference for the good of the whole.  And that makes a difference in my life.  Thank you!



Blessing of the Community Garden, UU Society of Sacramento

UU Society of Sacramento Community Garden Blessing
Sunday, May 19, 2009

Ringing of the Bell

Welcome and Background                Pat Naylor

Opening                                                 Rev. Roger Jones
Welcome to a special event in the unfolding history of this congregation:  the naming, dedication and blessing of our community garden. You know, a couple of months ago there was no garden in this place.  Today we thank all those who helped make it happen and we celebrate this new addition to our ministries of learning and serving.

Naming of the Garden
[It was announced that Candy McMorris had won the contest for a name for the garden…and the name is:  UURTH SONG.]

Blessings of the Four Directions            Roger and Four Others
Written By the Rev. Beth Johnson

EAST
We call upon the Spirits of East, Spirits of Air, Dawn, Spring
Come forth from your lovely realm to bless this garden.
Bring forth birds and butterflies on soft, gentle breezes.
In times of planting may we sow seeds that bear much fruit and flower.
Blessed Be.

SOUTH
We call upon the Spirits of the South, Spirits of Fire, Noon, Summer
Come forth from your lovely realm to bless this garden.
Bring forth the sun’s bright rays that give the warmth and light needed to grow our garden of plenty and bring joy and celebration to all.
Blessed Be.

WEST
We call upon Spirits of the West, Spirits of Water, Twilight, Autumn
Come forth from your lovely realm to bless this garden.
Bring forth the gentle rains needed to help our garden grow and assure a bountiful harvest to share with each other and people in need.
Blessed Be.

NORTH
We call upon the Spirits of the North, Spirits of Earth, Midnight, Winter
Come forth from your lovely realm to bless this garden
Nurture the roots and seeds in the rich pungent earth.
Teach us patience and faith when the garden goes through its dormant times.  Blessed Be.

Song Offered by Children (& Everyone)        Joan Rubenson
“The Garden Song”  (“Inch by inch, row by row, gonna make this garden grow.…”)

Blessing Litany                        Roger
Unison Response:  May this garden be a blessing!

Today we dedicate and celebrate this new creation.
May this garden be a blessing!

Let us praise the sacred mystery of creation, and the source of the sun and the rain, which call forth green things from the ground.
May this garden be a blessing!

Let us honor the hands that that plant, water, weed, hoe and harvest in this place.
May this garden be a blessing!

May the bounty of this place remind us of our connections to all of life and all of humanity, around the globe and in our own communities.
May this garden be a blessing!

May we remember those who are hungry or malnourished, and in our gratitude let us remember the ability and resources we have to make a difference.
May this garden be a blessing!

Let us greet the squirrels, birds and other critters who live around here, and let us pray that they might find enough food outside the bounds of our garden to be satisfied.
May this garden be a blessing!

And now, let us dedicate ourselves to the joyful tasks ahead:  working in the garden, harvesting and savoring its yield, and sharing it with one another.
May this garden be a blessing!
Let the people say Amen!  Amen!

Closing of the Ritual
As we conclude our dedication and as we depart from this place for now, let us go with gratitude.  Let us go in peace and return in joy.
The ritual is ended.  Merry meet, merry part, and merry meet again.
Blessed be.



Saying Grace (All-Ages Homily, Sunday Before Thanksgiving)

All-Ages Service, November 23, 2008

Family Minister           UU Society of Sacramento, CA

Saying Grace

One summer day I was back in my Indiana home town, having lunch with a group of my late mother’s cousins.  As we sat down to the table, one asked me “Roger, would you return thanks?”  He meant: would I say grace. The remarkable thing about this is that I had not been in the habit of saying grace, or hearing it, while growing up in my churchgoing Protestant family in that small town in the Midwest.  I didn’t get into the practice of saying grace until I was in my late 20s, after I had become a Unitarian Universalist.

This is what I prayed before lunch:  “Dear God, we give you thanks for the gift of life and the gift of this new day, for the blessing of reunion and joyful memories, for this food, and for the hands that have prepared it.  We call to mind those who are no longer with us but who live in our hearts.  May this food nourish us so that we can be more kind, generous, and loving. Amen.”

Learning grace as a UU has taught me the wide-open possibilities for saying thanks, whether or not we believe in God or mention the divine at all.  At a ministers’ support group in the late ‘90s, a colleague gave the blessing for a meal.  She included thanks for the farm workers, the truckers, and those who prepared and served our food.  Thus did I learn that grace is not just a nice ritual, but an opportunity for ethical reflection.

As children, many of us grow up learning the value of saying thank you for a favor, a gift, a helping hand, or a compliment from another person.  Why not acknowledge other sources of help and goodness?  In addition to thanking people, how about thanking the great cosmic mystery from which all abundance emerges?  Some say God, others bring to mind the web of inter-connected beings and elements, and the energy that holds it all together and welcomes us as a part of the whole.  The practice of giving thanks can take many forms.

            It’s my impression that more families have mealtime rituals nowadays than when I was growing up, whether they’re in a more conservative religious tradition, in a UU church, or none at all.  One family in this church is making a collection of songs to sing and words to say aloud for their mealtime ritual.  Here’s their current favorite:

Earth who gives to us this food,

Sun who makes it ripe and good,

Dear Sun above and Earth below,

Our loving thanks to you we show.

Blessings on our meal, our friends, our family and on us, and may peace be on Earth.

Blessed be.

In an earlier church of mine I dined with a family whose blessing included remembering those who are hungry or homeless, both people and dogs and cats.  Such a ritual can be a magical time, a sacred moment. I know middle-aged couples with no children, and those with none at home anymore, who sit down at the table, join hands, close their eyes, and breathe in silence for a few moments.

I know a couple in retirement.  Every evening they make a light supper, close a heavy curtain over the doorway into their dining area and light a votive candle.  Then one of them reads from the book A Grateful Heart, a collection of poems and prayers for mealtime. But even if we are eating alone, we can take a moment for gratitude.  My Buddhist meditation teachers have suggested that we pause and look at the food on the plate, noticing its colors and textures and smells, and then eat with a bit more attention and pacing.  Of course, this solo practice is easier for me to do when the news is not on the radio, I’m not reading a magazine, and the laptop computer is not open on the table. In other words, I rarely do it.

Here’s mealtime grace used by another family in this congregation:

We are grateful for all our gifts

We are safe, calm, and patient

We trust in the process of life

Peace and harmony fill us and surround us

All is well

Amen

            I want to tell you about my stealth grace.  When I am out with friends for a meal, and the food is served I might say, “Well, I am grateful to be alive, to have a place to live and a job I love, to have this food, and to be here with you.” Once a friend responded [with a skeptical tone] “Okaaay…”  Another said, “Yes!  Me too.” One friend responds, amen!  Another one likes to recount what he is grateful for.  Sometimes when I’m dining with others, I simply ask, “Are we not blessed?  To have this food and be safe and be here together…. Are we not blessed?”  Who but a crank is going to say no!

Many people know the value of making what’s called a gratitude list.  No matter how burdened we may feel, no matter how unfair life can be, this practice can shift our perspective and help us recognize the blessings we do have.  Over time, perhaps, the attitude of gratitude, and the practice of giving thanks, can lift our spirits.

Recently a colleague sent an email summarizing a children’s book she recommended.  The secret, the message of the book, she said is this:  You don’t become grateful by being happy.  You become happy by being grateful.

There are so many gifts in life, which we perhaps can recognize if we take some time.  Let us show our thanks in ways that are true and right for us.  May we remember to look for reasons both great and small for giving thanks, and may doing so increase our happiness.  Perhaps this is what it means to say, Happy Thanksgiving.  So may it be.



Family-Friendly Restaurant Dinner Oct. 15
September 23, 2008, 5:06 pm
Filed under: Family Ministry | Tags: , , ,

Join UUSS members and friends of all ages for an easy night out in a family-friendly setting: dinner together at Fresh Choice Restaurant.  Wednesday, Oct. 15, 5:30-7:30 PM.  Come when you can, dine, mingle and visit.  Come for dinner before Choir practice or your Ministry Circle or before a bath and bedtime story back at home.
(The UU Fellowship in Sunnyvale has done this every month since 2004, and it has been a good time for people to connect and share a meal together.)
The company returns 15% of our group’s total purchase as a donation to UUSS, so pick up an event flyer at church or download from www.freshchoice.com/fundraising.html.  Fresh Choice is a self-serve restaurant with a wealth of tasty salads, fresh veggies and fruit, pasta, pizza, potatoes, soups, breads and desserts, including the fun soft-serve ice cream machine (so fun that some ministers go twice).  Prices make it a good value, and for those who seek seafood or poultry, that’s optional.  They have wine and beer too.  It’s at 535 Howe Ave. near Fair Oaks, just a 13 minute walk from the church.  Phone is 916-649-8046. Our section will marked with Unitarian Universalist table markers.  —buen apetito from the Family Minister