The UUCO Experience
Each week we explore a subject that informs our hearts and minds to inspire us, as we live our Unitarian Universalist values in our personal lives and help build a more loving, fair and just world. Our topics are wide ranging and thought provoking. Our liturgical calendar includes honoring the seasons, celebrating holidays, commemorating our personal and communal losses, and enacting the uniquely Unitarian Universalist rituals of Water Communion in September and Flower Communion in June. The weekly explorations vary but often include a children’s story, readings from a wide variety of sources, drama, visual media including video, musical reflection, and, of course, a sermon.
The clear, pure sound of the singing bowl evokes a moment for our spirits to settle in, to open up, and to connect with our faith.
Lighting the Chalice
The Reverend Debra Faulk of the Unitarian Church of Calgary, Alberta speaks to the important of the chalice:
A chalice lit in our midst is a symbol of our liberal faith; a faith built on the foundation of freedom, reason, and tolerance; a faith sustained by acts of kindness and justice; a faith that visions a world flourishing, with equality for all her people; a faith that demands the living out of goodness; a faith that requires thoughtfulness; a faith of wholeness. This tiny flame is the symbol of the spark of all this within each of us.
Each week, we light our chalice while reciting our traditional words, as listed in the Order of Service.
Our chalice lighting words are a long-standing tradition in our church. The collective recitation creates a space in our service where the congregation comes together as one – one mission in our church, one hope in our community, one light in our world.
Prayer is the spirit speaking truth to Truth.
– Philip James Bailey
As Unitarian Universalists, our feelings towards prayer vary greatly, as our individual faith varies as well. Yet, here at the UUCO, we do pray, embracing prayer from the pulpit, with our minister leading us in declarations of both gratitude and sorrow.
We also offer time for quiet personal reflection through our Sacred Silence and our ritual of Candles and Stones. The initial flame is lit from our chalice; each subsequent candle is lit from that. Individual prayers or hopes, then, are lifted into our world with the love from our entire congregation.
We also offer an option to drop a stone into water, releasing burdens or granting forgiveness. As this ritual begins, we add water from our Gathered Waters to the vase. Thus, our trials are truly being dropped into the hearts of all our congregants, allowing us to share the burden and help one another through harder times.
We have chosen to pray as a congregation for a simple reason: it brings us together. Whether the individual is praying to a God, to a Goddess, to a Divine Spirit, to a Universal Energy, or simply to the hearts of friends and family, the collective spirit raised in one voice unites us in love and trust. And what can be a more beautiful celebration of our faith than a loving, trusting unification?
The depth of our offering ritual is striking. We have three key parts: collection, presentation, and the blessing.
Collecting the offering is done during the service as a way to publicly acknowledge and support the mission of our church. We encourage our congregants to participate in this ritual weekly, even if is just dropping a quarter in the basket. In doing so, we are bonding ourselves to our church’s higher service. Beyond this, there is the knowledge that we are giving back to ourselves: we are the church and the church is us; in giving to the church, we are giving to ourselves.
Presenting the offering is a shared act of generosity. As we literally rise to the occasion, we are able to relish in the sacred circle that is giving and receiving: From you, I receive; to you, I give; together we share and from this we live.
Blessing the offering is an act of faith, an audible reminder that we use the gifts to further the work and service of our church, to live out our ideals, and create a better world.
Rarely do members of the same family grow up under the same roof.
– Richard Bach
UUCO embraces the idea that the different generations have much to learn from each other. Wisdom and experience are passed from elders, as exuberance and innocence are passed from youth. Because of this, our church has consciously chosen to hold intergenerational services. We feel that in choosing to worship together, we are choosing to acknowledge the sacredness in each of us and to nurture the nature of a church family.
Our youth play an active role in our services. Each week, you will be able to see our youth participating in the following rituals:
- Lighting the chalice
- Collecting & presenting the offering
- Overseeing the Candles & Stones