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In her last service as our Lay Leader, Jennie - to use her own words - is "mining" our Breviary for "pearls of wisdom". Everything in this last Service - from our opening words, all seven readings selected by Jennie from the many available - to our closing words have all been gifted to us from our Church Breviary. Listen on for these seven "pearls".

Peace

Jennie's focus today is on "Peace" and our Sixth UUA Principle: "The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all".

In the context of the war currently raging in Ukraine and its recent escalation, Jennie asks at the outset of her address today - "Is there such a thing as a Just War"? Jennie refers to the "Just War" criteria of 13th Century Roman Catholic Dominican priest, philosopher, theologian and jurist, St. Thomas Aquinas and to an article in Scientific American - Sept 1, 2018  by R. Brian Ferguson: " War Is Not Part of Human Nature", - the "hawks" arguing that we've become so addicted to war - so "numbed" to the destruction it brings - that war is hard-wired into us. 
The "doves" challenge this view.
Jennie offers pathways of hope - leading to peace, despite the challenges of climate change and global inequity. We begin that journey by looking into our own hearts! But there's a challenge: - it's also a path of Action. Listen on!

Today, Jennie challenges the narrowness of scientific reductionists who rely solely on science to explain the injustices and incongruities of life. While it should not be ignored, Science will never explain it all and there is meaning and truth in mythology that Science is yet to - and may never fully - explain. And Science sometimes gets it wrong!
Jennie argues that there is a broader, spiritual perspective - supported by spiritual practice - reaching beyond Science that we Unitarians Universalists ignore at the cost of our own spiritual impoverishment! "Transcendence is not a flight from our critical thinking but an inescapable part of our humanity", concludes Jennie and she suggests possibilities for putting spirituality back into our lives. This is an address not to be missed!

Today's address by Jennie, our Lay Leader - "What could possibly go right?" is set against a backdrop of uncertainty: - melancholy, following hard upon the death of Queen Elizabeth 11, and the possibilities for hope and renewal that a new era might bring - marked by the crowning of King Charles 111. It's about how attitudes will shape us emotionally and spiritually in these uncertain times. This will influence the paths we choose to tread. Will our choices be grounded in pessimism: "What could possibly go wrong?" or optimism: "What could possibly go right?" Which choice we make will shape our actions - as individuals and as a church; as communities and as a nation. Listen on!

Miranda's address "Turn and face the strange" begins with her reading from "My Commitments to Myself" by UUA minister, Rev. Laura Mancuso - "Taking care of oneself in order to maintain the capacity to help others." This reading can be found at the following link:  https://www.uua.org/worship/words/meditation/my-commitments-myself.
Miranda asks a question: "Were you and I to have the courage to live our lives beyond our comfort zones, what would this other you/me - look like...sound like...feel like"? "What might we still become were we to begin to live our lives - more courageously, beyond our comfort zones?
With the advent of new leadership and new possibilities for living outside the leafy green comfort zone of our Church Community, Miranda's question becomes a challenge: "It's only as we stretch ourselves or 'turn and face the strange' that we can transform into better versions of ourselves" - as individuals - as a Church community. And "How might we achieve this?" Miranda suggests three steps…. Listen on for much, much more!

On Love

Rather than the classic, theological, CS Lewis-type analysis of The Four Loves - or is it six? - that focus on Christian (Agape) Love, Jennie Dyster, our Lay Leader, starts her address on Love by paraphrasing in her own words the classic, 1740 French cautionary tale of "Beauty and the Beast", where there are winners and losers and where values determine outcomes.

We are conditioned to high and hopeful expectations in Love - that there is a perfect someone - somewhere, just for us! - who will satisfy our every need ...our every yearning!
Jennie talks about a messier, more realistic, less predictable, and more interesting Love - with ups and downs, twists and turns, burn-outs, and skids, laughs and tears ... a love that may - or may not - last! Such is the stuff of Life …and of Love?
Jennie closes her address, today with the well-known words of St Paul.

Listen On!

Jennie - our lay leader addresses the identity and function of Unitarianism in the context of declining church attendance and what the future might hold for us and for Unitarianism. Jennie asks an inevitable question - within which there is an implied challenge to any church foolish enough to define itself solely by a socio-political agenda: - 
When our raison d'être as a church has been achieved, - when there is wide social consensus, how might we Unitarians find a new raison d'être? - one that provides more than a spiritual stepping stone for seekers until they find something better.  While greater demands bring greater commitment, we need to do fewer things - better. Listen on to how might use our curiosity, awe and wonder to focus more on healing and building relationships…. deepening connections, exploring identity - thereby redefining spirituality and building our understanding of the Individual and Collective Soul in ways that might challenge and re-energise us all into the future?

In Praise of Shadows

Today, Nicholas awakens us to the magic of shadows - "where darkness and light intermingle, giving depth, subtlety, understanding", - deeper insights into ourselves, - others and the world around us. We've become addicted to light. Light is so often used metaphorically - to "cast", "shed", or "throw light on" - the dark, the "shadowy", - a light of scrutiny, of understanding, and insight. This predisposes us to see shadows as dark, negative, evil. But light is only made possible by the magic of shadows: the light and shade that shapes (Japanese) gardens, - that shapes our Art, our Music and our lives.
Listen on for more of Nicholas's insights in his beautiful encomium "In Praise of Shadows". -It's not to be missed!

Why Pantheism?

Today, Jennie asks the question - Why Pantheism? She explains what Pantheism is and what Pantheists believe. In doing so, Jennie identifies the common threads of our Seven Unitarian Universalist Principles and Pantheism that bind them so seamlessly together.

”Masking”

The title of our member, Aaron Poeze's address today is "Masking". With only a passing reference to "masking up" for more contagious Covid B variants, Aaron quickly tackles the real theme of today's address: the "masking" we do to gain social acceptance from our groups, where we feel compelled to "mask" our true selves - to belong. The problem with "masking" is that we become a caricature of ourselves, dissociated from our groups - and ourselves - to quote Donald Winnicott "not entirely present", our true potential - "locked up".
Aaron reminds us of our first three Universalist Principles to suggest what changes are needed to enable us to be true to ourselves and unlock our full potential.

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