Leader Letter

Subscribing congregations should share this letter with congregational leaders.  Being oriented to the month’s theme, and equipped to help others in the congregation get aligned with it, builds the whole congregation’s engagement with the theme.  Which, of course, means unity and energy for the community.

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Dear Friends,

Last month, I attended a two-day spiritual retreat in Houston, Texas, with my friend and colleague, Joanna Crawford. The retreat was called "faith walking," and it was designed to help people integrate their spiritual lives with their missional ministry, serving others. I think I expected it would be a lot about why it is important to serve others, out in the community. But, instead, the focus was on living with integrity. Their idea was that, if a person takes integrity seriously, then it becomes awfully hard to profess high ideals without actually putting them to work.

Another theme of the retreat arose: vulnerability. They seemed to suggest that reaching down from a high tower of privilege to help others might provide some material needs, but was not truly the transformational relationship that we call ministry. If a person was to live with integrity, then that meant to live with honesty. If one was to live with honesty, then that meant vulnerability. Because, if you are like me, there are ways in which you have not been honest with yourself, with your loved ones, and with the wider world.

So, the retreat ended up being less about how to provide services to the wider community, and really about how to confront the wide chasm between what we say and what we do. Or, rather, what I say and what I do. One of the exercises, which the leaders asked us to bring home for our closest relationships, was to ask two questions: what can you almost always count on me for? And, secondly, what can you almost never count on me for?  Can you imagine asking those closest to you in your life these two questions? The conversations that follow are an invitation to integrity, to new chapters in your relationships, to new insight in your life. But the entry fee, the ticket, the cost is vulnerability. As I have reflected over the last month on what is required of a life of integrity, vulnerability has arisen again and again. Integrity is such a strong word. But strength requires the willingness to be open, the courage to engage the world in a spirit of truth.

So, this month, we are looking at the theme of vulnerability. As we do, we are not taking up the theme of surrender or defeat. We are not proposing that one shrink oneself down.  Instead, this is about doing hard, brave things: in your life, and your love, and toward your greatest intentions. We are on this journey together. I hope it is as thrilling and inspiring for you as it continues to be for me.

Faithfully,

Jake

Rev. Jake Morrill
Lead Minister ORUUC
Executive Director UUCF
Launchpad Partner