We Bid You Welcome
By Rev. Carol Bodeau
This month we are welcoming several new members to our Westside community. Let’s all make a point of saying hello this month to someone we don’t know, reaching out in care and friendship to someone who might be needing a little extra support, or going the extra way towards reconnecting with old friends. And a big welcome to all of you newer folks who are calling Westside home! This month, I’m thinking a lot about what it means to be welcoming, and to meet the many needs of folks who come to our community, either over long periods of time or even only briefly. There are many, many reasons an individual or family (of any size) might come to Westside on a Sunday morning. And some of these reasons might seem mutually exclusive! A few months ago, the Committee on Ministry made a point of talking with lots of you about your hopes, dreams, and wishes for being part of Westside. And you gave us a huge range of answers, some of which seem, at first glance, contradictory. Many of these, in particular, had to do with Sunday morning worship. Some said, “I love the Tibetan bowl!” while others said, “I like the sermons, but I really think that bowl is a waste of time. I find it distracting!” Some said, “I love to be intellectually stimulated, but I don’t want the services to be about emotions.” Others said, “The most important thing is the emotional experiences I have there.” Some said, “This has gotten way too political!” while others said, “We’re not dealing often enough or directly enough with political issues.”
And this is really only the beginning of the wide range of preferences you expressed regarding our most central activity together: Sunday morning services. You can see how this might present the worship team with some challenges. As a Unitarian Universalist community, we are charged with finding a common path, while having many different approaches, learning styles, and preferences for how we go about deepening and growing. Some of us rely on Sunday as a time to get away from intellectual pursuits, and into our hearts., while others crave intellectual stimulation. Others want more time being inspired, even challenged, to put values into action. And our own individual needs change from week to week. So how do we reconcile these different needs and wishes? The worship team tries to incorporate many different styles into each service, but we will inevitably both satisfy, and probably disgruntle, many people with the very same service. I encourage you, then, to consider yourselves part of the service itself. Though you may not be up front, or even in the choir, we each contribute to each service. Your positive responses show: in body language, in enthusiasm, and in conversations during coffee hour. But you also contribute when the service does not match your preferences. This is a great time to consider yourself the silent cheering section, the supporter, the backup team, for the positive experience of someone else, who needs something different from you. On any given day, someone is getting exactly what they need at Westside. It will not be any one of us every time, but it will always be someone. So we can show this, too: with our words, our presence, and our curiosity about other peoples’ experiences. So let’s rejoice that we get to be part of a community that honors our differences, and strives to meet a wide range of needs and styles. Let’s rejoice that, on a day when the service was too intellectual, or too emotional, or too political, or too musical….for one group of people, it was precisely perfect for many others. And, in that spirit, save the date: on March 17 (Saint Patrick’s day and a potluck day) we’ll be having a brainstorming session to come up with service topics for the coming year. All are invited to make suggestions, so come with ideas for what you’d like to learn about, experience, and participate in creating.
In faith and peace, Rev. Carol