Continuing Conversations

with Reverend Gordon Clay Bailey

Wednesday
Nov302016

March 2017

 Women, if the soul of the nation is to be saved, I believe that you must become its soul.

                                                                                          Coretta Scott King

As we celebrate Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day in the month of March the words of Mrs. King speak to me about how we can take inspiration from the wise women who came before us.  Coretta King’s vision of the role of women in making our country and world a better place remains a challenge to which we all should respond.  I think we need to face the fact that, though the UU feminist foremothers provide a positive legacy, we all have fallen short of completing the mission they and Coretta King imagined for us.

Unitarian Universalist women have often lead and shaped the struggle for equality.  In 1863 Olympia Brown became the first women to complete formal theological training and earn ordination as a Universalist minister.  Suffrage leader Elizabeth Cady Stanton gained inspiration from her association with the Unitarian Church of her time.  We can take pride that the UU heritage includes so many of the feminist foremothers while knowing that much that still needs to be done to realize true equality.

Sadly, women remain the victims of discrimination and abuse.  I am the proud son of a strong mother, the brother of a powerful sister, the husband of an activist for justice, the father of young women on the move and the grandfather of a girl that has the right to be who she wants to be free from male dominance or aggression. Yet I know the struggle continues.

I look to my faith, my spiritual home, and our congregation full of dynamic women, to lead and guide me in my quest to be a better ally and advocate for equality.  I want to hear and understand your voices, your witness, and your power so as to strengthen me and other men to be equal partners in the march towards a world free from oppression.

Coretta Scott King was right.  Creating change requires all of us to strive for the ideal of one world, with one destiny, joined together from material and spiritual necessity.  Let’s work together as sisters and brothers, parents, teachers, students, partners and friends, all committed to a positive human enterprise, with lives committed to love. 

For info about UU women in history see Notable Universalist and Unitarian Women: www.uuwhs.org/notable/index.html

For info on women’s history - The National Women’s History Museum:

www.nwhm.org 

 

 

February 2017
Minister

Usually in February, during Black History Month or whenever I get this feeling I start sharing African American, black history, and American history with people far and wide.  I used to do it mostly during February as an educational imperative. Yet more recently I’ve found more necessity in dealing with the ongoing narrative of Black Life in America as a day-to-day phenomenon.  Dealing with the humanity, culture, artistic aspects and diversity of a people far and wide is not easy.  Trying to share a lot during a month when the theme I’d like to engage our community with is listening is doubly hard.  Nevertheless, let me say that I feel that it is important to see, hear, know, study, engage and most importantly listen to people that live in a county (USA), sate (California), county (Los Angeles) together.  I feel even more strongly about us as Unitarian Universalist being able to hear and listen to the narratives of others in our movement that are different than our own.  I appreciate the fact that we as a church have chosen me as our minister.  That speaks volumes about your ability to be with someone very different.  I am now asking you to spend some intentional time learning about other black folk as this month of February passes by.  Who were the first Africans to come to this region?  When was the first black child born here?  What have been the contributions of Negroes, Blacks and African Americans to LA County or even more close to us our Unitarian Universalist denomination.  Let’s continue to learn from one another.  Let’s grow our historical knowledge about a people different than ourselves.  Let’s all listen to each other in new ways discerning more, understanding more, loving more as we go.
 
In faith,
 
Rev. Gordon

 

December 2016

Our spiritual theme for this month is Incarnation. Incarnation means moving from theory, speculation, possibility, plans, hopes, and good intentions into actual existence. Envisioning may be an essential ingredient of incarnation, but bringing a vision into actual existence requires effort, determination, desire, confidence, resources and patience – and sometimes, according to many religious traditions, it also requires openness to creative forces beyond ourselves.

Each year, December brings a month filled with holidays. Celebrations complete with a variety of gift giving traditions, and to the glee of students and educators alike, school vacations. Before we fully engage this season, I’d like to suggest that we look closely at the traditions we hold near and dear.  We need to discuss with family and friends the rituals across cultural holiday traditions and, most importantly, the ways we as a church and you as a family group celebrate them.

In what ways does holiday gift giving and merry making figure in the popular imagination through great literature that is re-read and performed year after year? Trace your own traditions especially the practice of gift giving and big celebratory dinners.  Consider if common themes and elements can be found within the different spiritual traditions that form your own theology and make your connections to Unitarian Universalism meaningful. 

As the holiday season fast approaches, we often find our world speeding faster past us. There just doesn't seem to be enough time in the month, weeks and days, for all that we have to do. We are trying to keep up with decorating, shopping, parties, end of the year meetings, purchasing that special new gadget that is on sale and keeping up with the gift giving of our family, friends and neighbors. We are so swamped with everything that we often do not take the time to focus on the spiritual meaning of the holiday season.

 Therefore, here is a little exercise you might consider.   Write down your affirmations or guidelines for what you want this season to be about. You can write it on a post-it note or an index card. Place it where you can see it. Place it on your bathroom mirror or in your wallet, for me I am putting it on my refrigerator. 

Look at what motivates you this season. Is it about keeping up with your gift giving? Is it about trying to outdo others? Or, is it about bringing service and light to a world in desperate need of love? Is it about trying to make every persons party? Or is it about visiting someone that you haven't seen in some time? Is it about eating and drinking more, until you feel wasted? Or, is it about your quest for a deeper meaning in your values? Only you can examine this.

Work to control things that you can. In life, we can control only so many things.  Obviously, this past electoral season proved that for many of us.   So focus on what you can manage.  You can control binge eating and drinking. You can control arguments and bad language. You can control charity towards those in need. You can control over spending. You can control visiting a lonely family member, friend or neighbor.  You can control how much you volunteer with us at UUCVH!

For some, this is the loneliest time of the year. Look around you. Has a friend or someone in your circle recently lost a loved one? Seek them out and spend some time with them. Invite them over or take them shopping. Plan something that is constructive with them. If a person lives far away, pick up your phone and give them a call.

Look for the good around your life. Many people brace for the holidays, when they might be better off embracing the holiday season. Sometimes the smallest good can shine through to liven up your spiritual meaning of the season. You just have to look for it.

Finally, take some time for yourself. Get away from everything for a few hours by yourself. Pick a place and time just for you. Schedule a block of time for your mind. Find a place to just relax and enjoy yourself. For some, it might be a few quiet moments in meditation. For others, it might be a stroll along the beach or a walk in the mountains. This time for yourself, will give you the opportunity to focus on the spiritual meaning of the holiday season.   Given our theme this month try to make something good happen.  Let the power to create permeate your spirit.  Come watch “It’s a Wonderful Life “with me/us on December 17, 7 pm, at the church and allow the possibilities to take hold.

So, here’s to a season filled with light and love!  May it be so for each of us! 

In faith, 

Rev. Gordon Clay Bailey

 

 

Monday
Oct312016

“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”

William Arthur Ward

So my dear church family where are we on this matter? Choosing Gratitude as the theme for this month is easy and yet it often seems that expressing gratitude is difficult.  I’m hoping that life has made the possibility of experiencing this extraordinary feeling part of your paradigm for healthy living?  If yes, then we will experience and share how it impacts our lives together.  If not, then the theme for the month is appropriate.   

Did you learn that gratitude is one of the human activities that are essential for your life? I hope so, because then you already have a leg up. If you’re already motivated and willing to put in the effort and commitment it takes to be grateful, I’m applauding you.  If by chance you haven’t realized that gratitude is vitally important, as of yet, I’m recommending it to you as an offering for better living.  How exactly you accomplish this is up to you; what’s needed is to find at least one activity from a world of possibilities and to put gratitude into action.

One of the things I learned long ago in seminary was to keep a gratitude journal.  If you enjoy writing, if you are good at it, or it feels natural to you, then it is a promising way to practice daily.

Maybe you’re an artist and it’s in the creation of your art that you find the expression of this feeling?

Or maybe still you’re a deep thinker and you stop in the midst of your busy days to ponder, to bask in, or simply to relish the joys in your life.  Who made a difference?  Was it the bead maker? Did the auto mechanic rush the service so you could get to work on time?  Maybe the girl next door brought in your paper?  What I’ve experienced in life, is a straight line running from the 1960s to now, of the world, people, nature, family, friends, strangers offering me a kindness just because.  Wow am I grateful!

The problem at times isn’t how kind or how good life has been.  The issue more often has been my not taking note of it.  Is this you too?

My journal once stopped, has become alive again.  I’ve found my voice, my groove and in it I can see the many blessings more clearly.  This month I’m going to express my gratitude to you and to my family and to the many friends, and colleagues that cross my path and smile, give a hand, or provide meaning to my life in some way.

A person I know shared a letter they read in a book.  This note sums up a lot - it was sent to a high school English teacher, more than thirty years after being in class.

The main thing I want to tell you is that you were, without question, the most influential teacher I encountered in High School, and that I am extremely grateful for the interest you took in me.  You seemed to think I had something on the ball, and trust me on this, that was a minority opinion among the school faculty.  Your estimation of my abilities, inflated as it may have been, translated into a certain degree of self-confidence that served me well, I think, in the years that followed.

Perhaps more importantly, you treated me – a pretty unsophisticated 17-18 year old – as an adult, and there is nothing on earth more empowering, to a teenager, than that.  Even allowing for the fact that the 1970s were very different times than these, I sometimes find myself thinking “What was she thinking?”

This in some way reveals just how powerful it is to express your gratitude directly to a person in your life.  Let me say thank you for allowing me into your lives, for sharing this ministry with me. It is a joy to be here and my dear friends I am grateful!

Have a wonderful season filled with gratitude, compassion and love.

In faith,

Rev. Gordon Clay Bailey

Wednesday
Apr272016

Continuing Conversations

 

            The autumn leaves, they have my attention.  The shorter days, they inform my life.  The cooler nights, the breezy afternoons, the colors of an awesome life, all bring me closer to this season and this time in my life.

            Recently Lisa and I saw a movie that was funny, quirky and relaxing.  “Hello My Name Is Doris” took us on a journey that was both upsetting to me and insightful.  The long and the short of it for me was about the midlife issues of caring for a parent, collecting too much stuff, sibling misunderstandings that extend into later life and fantasy exploration.

 

            Somewhere along the story the lead character Doris goes to a rock group’s performance (Baby Goya).  The young people at the show seem to love Doris and her style and way of being.  The head of the group tells us of an upcoming album title – New Vintage and wants Doris in her late middle-aged look to be the cover shot. Wow, that sent my head spinning.  I couldn’t stop myself.  I thought of our Unitarian Universalist Principles and was inspired!  I started thinking about the UU faith and in particular our congregation. And how we are New Vintage ourselves!

 

            Are we on the verge of living into a – New Classical age?  I sure hope so.  Finding the time, energy, spiritual direction and excitement that a new love or new vocation can bring is what I’m trying to find for us.  It is not that UUCVH isn’t wonderful just as it is; it’s the potential for more that intrigues me.  It’s that I see a congregation that is even more than what we presently are.

 

            This reaffirming of faith, this excitement about engaging the spirit, this willingness to dive in, taste, touch, and feel things anew, is both exhilarating and needed. The changing of the seasons, the march of time, the willingness to live into the moment is happening before our very eyes and if we are willing to walk through a new door of understanding maybe, just maybe we will find ourselves renewed by this community of seekers, teachers, saints, sages and sojourners.

 

            So my friends now is the time, not some later far off date.  The fall of this year or be it the fall of our lives is calling us in to action.  Our religious lives, our church, our world, needs us to recommit.

 

            We have had a few new youngsters join us and Elizabeth and the RE committee are hard at work.  AJ and I are offering different options for adult growth.  Our local cluster of congregations has created a new vehicle for service.  I for one am totally engaged.  How about you?

 

 I hope learning is taking place. I hope maybe, even just a little, contemplation into things we haven’t spent much time thinking about before is taking place?  The Board and committee on ministry and all of the committees are busy doing their thing! 

 

Social Action is ready, willing, and I believe able to be the hands or in part, the worker bees for our community of Unitarian Universalist who place a premium on doing, not talking.   Faith in action is a reality I respect!  Feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, mentoring the young or unemployed, cleaning our park, or some other way of being connected and engaged with the world about us is part and parcel of living our faith.

 

            I am hoping to host a meeting of Interfaith Clergy this season, right here to start a much-needed dialog.  I’ve been told I am one of maybe two ministers of African descent to have served this area?  I don’t know for sure, but as I attend local meetings I am usually the only person of my ethno cultural background.  Nevertheless, I believe in working together.  This is the only way I know to move forward in a very complicated world.

 

            Our own friendship dinners and possibly small group ministry are also part and parcel of the important work that congregations do together.  Yes, eating and sharing are work.  I think they are good works but work nevertheless and we enjoy each other at UUCVH very much!

 

            I’ve been wondering how many of you speak Spanish? I’ve wanted to be part of a Latino/English conversation for many years.  What would an open invitation to the Latino Community look like?  How would we welcome Spanish-speaking guest into our spiritual home?  How do we even bridge the gaping chasm between the others and ourselves?

 

I don’t have all of the answers or even enough of them at this point to give voice to them all and yet I know in my heart we must find a way.  The time is at hand.  The season is right. A new manifestation is going to be needed if growth and sustainability are important to us.  Then, and maybe only then, will we begin to act in radically different ways?  So my friends, get yourselves ready.  Prepare a way for a new you and a new us!

 

            I love autumn!  I love the possibilities it allows. I find it particularly lovely in a place like ours that has the best of all possibilities. The Verdugo Hills are beautiful.  Our weather, climate and lifestyle are like a dream to me.  The trails through the parks provide the most spectacular views. Our location is awesome if nature and beauty fill your heart. This backdrop for spiritual enrichment, deepening of our individual souls, and engagement of the big questions of life in a safe communal setting is awesome!

 

             How grand is that?  I’ve known some people that have waited a lifetime for a chance like we have.  The ability to come together on a weekly bias to live, learn, discuss, engage, lift up, review and celebrate is a wonderful thing.  The will to determine what we stand for and what our response to the issues of the day will be our quest.

 

            Ah yes, in the words of Rabindranath Tagore seem appropriate to me- Today the peace of autumn pervades the world… In the planets, the sun, and the stars, the joyous dance of atoms through endless time. (# 540 in our hymnal)

 

 

In faith,

Rev. Gordon Clay Bailey

 

 

 

 

July 2016

Staying Woke

One of the great liabilities of history is that all too many people fail to remain awake throughout great periods of social change.  Every society has its protectors of the status quo and its fraternities of the indifferent who are notorious for sleeping through revolutions.  But today our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change.  The large house in which we live demands that we transform this world-wide neighborhood into a world-wide brotherhood.  Together we must learn to live as brothers or together we will be forced to perish as fools.

                                                                                                MLK jr

 

Staying awake during my drive is always an issue for me.  My eyes are not what they used to be.  I’m often distracted by the beauty of the land and my mind can wander.  What’s a middle-aged head in the clouds kind of guy to do?  Well for this cross continental trip the drive was made a lot easier for me as I contemplated our year together, what GA had/has in store for me/us and the global/national/local issues that both confound me and engage me.

So first things first- as I left Pasadena Monday I couldn’t help but be amazed and dismayed at the hills being on fire.  OMG (oh mother goodness), what a site to see driving away from our valley as the fire roared.  Then the landscape, mountains, plants, our state and nation pulled me into a love affair made new.  What an amazing place we call home. 

Then I had the sheer joy to find Native American radio and a show that talked about the word RADICAL and all of its implications, historic significance, and reality in today’s Public Square.  While in NM I wept long and hard.  Feeling so sad about the ways we have and continue to treat First Peoples. Feeling both a sense of connection and new purpose I’ve been Re- Radicalized and as long as I have breath I must be vigilant in doing what is right!

The heartland of our nation reminded me of the things of my childhood.  Green spaces, lots of trees, ice cream, fireworks, farms   and people that reminded me of aunt Bea and Andy- it sure feels good to me.  They were lovely to behold!  The reality probably is very different?  Some are doing well, some not so much.  Roads seem in really bad condition and our infrastructure sure needs a fix.  Nevertheless, I felt at ease.  Despite histories that are far from perfect and present conditions that leave me wondering about the worldview that people of the nation are seeing I was glad to get to this part of the world.

 

Arriving in Columbus and getting to GA has been on my mind and now I’m here.   Getting to work is what this trip is all about.  Getting my energies replenished by UU’s that are moving, doing, shaking and staying awake through the justice issues, political, social, environmental, cultural, changes and upheavals of our time is amazing to me.

What I’m seeing, hearing and feeling is life altering if you’re open to that kind of experience.  I feel open and ready to engage.  How about you?  GA can be visited on line.  Our movement is taking on big issues and I believe trying its best to help a world in need of healing/love!

Lastly, the music has been awesome.  I know of only a few things I like more than good music in fact really there is Nothing like being with thousands singing, moving, feeling the power of music to heal us and bring us together. I leave you with these words from a song you might know-

‘I Need You to Survive’ 

 

These words are simple yet they remain at the heart of my/our ministry together. 

 

Stay Awoke and in love,

 

Rev. Gordon

 

June 2016

 

Ahh sweet June and the weather is nice finally.  Children are getting ready for freedom, college students are back and the pace of life takes on a decidedly summer time attitude.

 

As I’ve grown older I am in awe of the summer season.   I have lots of expectations of beach walks, fun parks and lazy days.  I love the blue skies and long walks with my loves, my community and myself (time for internal discourse).

 

These are the days I’ve longed for.  I came in part to California to lead a life filled with short pants, tee shirts, sun tea, and cookouts, beautiful bodies and older bodies sitting on decks.  This way of life, all of it allows me to see and be seen in a different light.  I’m happier now and I’m more open to the world around me. I must admit it I’m a guy whose disposition is totally improved by the warm weather and sunny days.

 

So what happens if this isn’t your season?  Where do you turn if this time of year turns you off?  How do you survive the long season of the sun?  I guess it is much like those of us that tolerate winter or rainy seasons or even El Niños.  I imagine you find an air-conditioned space, draw the blinds, pull the curtains and delve into movies, novels and quite time in the house.  Wow, that doesn’t sound so bad after all.  The kids are outside!  The people are off to the beach, mountains or visiting their loved ones and hence the malls, stores and other places you might visit may be emptier?

 

Oh, where am I going with this?  I am going to the fact that no matter the season.  No matter your age.  No matter your health condition you’ve still got yourself!  You still have the situation that you’ve been a part of or even created.  You still have the woman/ man in the mirror.

 

Michael Jackson was a lot of things, the King of pop, a childhood star, an innovator of sight, sound and effect and yet for me as a man that shares the same skin illness (vitaligo), same era (late baby boomer) and same ethno cultural group (African American)

I am most appreciative of a song that he sang (Man In The Mirror) that captures so much of my mind when it comes to the life I want to lead at this point and time.

 

I’ve been a crusader of sorts.  Seeking to dismantle the linked oppressions that affect me and the world around us in negative ways.  I’m a do-gooder to a point and have stuck my nose in other people’s business too many times to remember.  But the issue of anti-oppression, concern for the environment and my deepest hope for the world that we live in to become the paradise (Beloved Community) I think it was meant to be consumes me.

 

I dream of blue skies but not just blue, clean fresh, exhilarating air that invigorates and renews the spirit of us all.  I fantasize about a world where racism and ethnic division no longer exist and people of the planet much like the wild flowers of a meadow live side by side in each other’s company.  All beautiful and possibly fragrant!  I am seeking a world free from the hate and stigma that being a member of the LGBTQ community brings.  The feelings that separate us and strikes fear, dismantles families, churches, and promotes legal affairs in our country. 

 

If I am Latino (Asian, African, Amer-Indian) and you are European it should not matter!

If I am gay (GLBTQ) and you are straight it should not matter!

If I am old and you are young it should not matter!

If I am not able bodied and you are able bodied it should not matter!

If you are well educated and I am not it should not matter!

If you are economically well off and I am poor or marginally getting by it should not matter!

If you are an activist and I am only able to manage my own affairs it should not matter!

 

I’m no longer a young healthy man; I’ve gone through a Job season.  Not that I was ever the Creators most perfect human.  Oh, far from it nevertheless, I’ve had my share of health woes and other issues that come up with parenting, life circumstances and my own internal idiosyncratic ways dealing with life.

I’m saying to you all that if we look in the mirror and are 100% honest and fair what ways might we change?  How might we grow our souls, bodies and minds in new and more productive ways? 

How can we use this season for the good of all?  I will be reading a lot this summer and pontificating a good deal over the next three months.  Look at Facebook and Twitter for my postings.  Engage with me in dialog over the electronic mediums and even send me a snail mail if you still use that tried and true form of correspondence.

 

I’m looking to change the tenor of my ministry and even myself.  I feel a new manifestation is at hand and I’m in the early stage of a great beginning.  I am planning a plethora of things for next congregational year.  I will be planning a new form of worship each month and year of adult RE that expands our horizons and brings us closer to our faith and spirit. I’m looking at more engagement with our youth, deeper connections with our local community.

 

 In the final analysis, what is our time together about if transformations of mind body and spirit aren’t possible?  I’m ready are you? 

 

I hope this summer will be a wonderful one for you all!  I trust you will be as safe as possible, use your sunscreen, hats, fans or AC as needed.  Drink lots of water!  Be kind to yourselves and to the world around us.  And know that I love you and have had an awesome season with you all!

 

In faith,

Rev Gordon Clay Bailey

May 2016

 

Often, people ask me what is different about Unitarian Universalist Congregations; I say that we are a people bound together by a behavioral covenant, rather than by a creed.  That we are a denomination of pilgrims on a journey of spiritual discovery and communal connection. The more I have thought about it, the more I have realized that my “standard answer” is not as complete as I want it to be, it doesn’t get to the core of my own beliefs, and ultimately its why the concept of Covenantal Community is the topic of this month’s new-letter column.                          

In reality, virtually all synagogues, churches, and masjids are covenantal communities and I am sure they would all hasten to point out that there are definite behavioral components to the covenants on which they are based. The concept of behavioral covenants is an ancient one, one that predates the sacred writings on which most western religious covenants are based.

But I am going to bring this closer to home.  I am suggesting that we look anew at what covenant means to us both individually and collectively as a congregation.  We have a unique opportunity here.  We are poised to make changes in our own lives and in this La Crescenta, Glendale, LA Co, community.  To this end I am offering a sermon on covenant, we are offering an adult education class on your building your own theology, and we have the annual meeting coming up.  All of these activities here at UUCVH along with the District’s annual meeting and our UUA General Assembly all lead us towards this critical act, this profound locus, this important ideal of what it means to be in community as a UU and a member /friend of UUCVH.

Hence, I don’t believe we can do both covenant and individualism, individuality, yes, but not individualism well within the context of the Unitarian Universalist faith.  Articulating and living our Principles as a commitment to covenant—creating and sustaining a community by “promising to one another our mutual trust and support”— and finances, this takes extra effort.

I hope, nay I am counting on this community of history and integrity, promise and reward to come together, shape a new future, and live long, prosper and love well.

This is my dream for us; I hope in part it is yours as well?

In faith,

Rev Gordon Clay Bailey

Monday
Feb012016

April 2016

 

 

Every spring is the only spring — a perpetual astonishment. ~Ellis Peters


 

Spring is a time for renewal, growth, and expansion; we feel it in the air.  Even though we can do this at any time during the year, it feels just right to do it during spring.  We seem to have that extra energy and focus to get physically active, take action, and create change and so it with us here at UUCVH.  

This spring is a great time to envision endless possibilities, and to use our creative gifts to reach new levels of personal and congregational achievement, wellness, happiness and success.

Spring is a good time to let go of the old and make room for the new.  This can apply to the traditional spring cleaning but most importantly we need to apply it to letting go of old grudges, resentments, and anger that holds us back from enjoying inner peace and more happiness in our lives.

When we hold on to the old we keep ruminating and re-visiting old wounds they keeps us stuck. And sometimes we don’t even know it.   When we choose to let go of the old ways we make room for and open the door to endless possibilities that are waiting for us.

 

Many years ago one of my parishioners came to see me because he could not shake a nagging feeling of anxiety and depression.  Through the pastoral counseling process I also discovered that he had a heart condition.  As I asked him questions to better understand what had happened in his life that could have triggered such physical and emotional symptoms he revealed that his mother had left his family on Christmas Eve as a child.  He understood perfectly the connection between his symptoms and the emotional pain of his life events.  Despite connecting the psycho-emotional dots he was not willing to forgive and let go of the anger and resentment inside.  He added “I want to be angry at her even though it is at the cost of my health.”  His improvement was small because he wanted to hold on to the old.  When we choose to let go of the old we can make great progress and hopefully alleviate some if not all of our emotional and physical challenges.

 

We all have struggles its called life.  While it is true that some challenges are harder than others, this only means that we have to work harder at letting go.   We are all being guided through the learning process of figuring out life by overcoming its challenges; this is part of our earthly journey. 

 

So while spring naturally invites us to let go of the old to make room for the new, I encourage people to do it on a regular basis to optimize happiness and hopefulness.  When it comes to transformation and renewal think of what Pablo Neruda said in one of his love poems “I want to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees.”

Be receptive to unforeseen possibilities and remember to be ready at any moment to give up what you are for what you may yet become.

 

In faith,

 

Rev. Gordon

 

Friday
Jan012016

As the dawn of a New Year has come, it is time for many of us to consider our New Year's resolution(s).  This is a promise that you make to yourself to start doing something good or stop doing something bad on the first day of the year.

The ancient Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts.  The Romans began each year by making promises to the god Janus, for whom the month of January is named.  In the Medieval era, the knights took the "peacock vow" at the end of the Christmas season each year to re-affirm their commitment to chivalry.  At Watchnight services, many Christians prepared for the year ahead by praying and making resolutions.

There are other religious parallels to this tradition. During Judaism's New Year, Rosh Hashanah, through the High Holidays and culminating in Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), one is to reflect upon one's wrongdoings over the year and both seek and offer forgiveness. People may act similarly during the Catholic fasting period of Lent, though the motive behind this holiday is more of sacrifice than of responsibility, in fact the practice of New Year's resolutions partially came from the Lenten sacrifices. The concept, regardless of creed, or even religiosity, is to reflect upon self-improvement annually and, I don’t know about you but to me, we as a society need this!

So what does all of this have to do with you? At the end of the Great Depression, about a quarter of American adults formed New Year's resolutions. At the start of the 21st century, about 40% did.  Most people aren’t into the practice; most don’t even want to go through the exercise.  But I’m here to encourage you; to help push you; to employ a bit of UU magic that just might stick.  This is about making a real change in attitude and in practical realities.

Whatever it is that has held you back from being all you want to be.  If your health is an issue? If your spouse has poo-pahed your attempts?  If your workload and free time don’t allow for it, it is time to change for the better now!  2016 is here and so is the very best chance for you to live the way you want to live.  It may not be all at once but the first 30 days of change are truly the determining factor.

Resolutions come and go, so do old friends, lovers, relatives, jobs, marriages etc.  But when we find the greatest love of all… an unparalleled appreciation for self, then, and only then, do we start to live the life we are meant to live! Use this time.  Use the season.  Find your way to creating the world, nation, state, UUCVH and home-life you always dreamed of.

We are in need of more strong supporters in our congregation to find their voice and take leadership positions.  Changing of the Board and committees happens every year or so.  I am really looking for a few good women and men to step up this year.  UUCVH needs you!  And, so do I!  Ministry is a fellowship of committed minds, bodies and spirits.

Let’s do this year right!  Let’s say yes to the pledge and really dig in deeply (UUA recommendations for a pledge, or volunteering at the UU for the equal amount of time).  Let’s find our best selves in the social action that comes from commitments to causes bigger than ourselves.  Let’s share the love of our spiritual/ religious community together in a new and deeper way and let our light shine for all the world (LA County especially) to see.

May health, peace and love be ours this day and all of our days,

Gordon Clay Bailey (Happy New Year)