Seasons and Rituals

We gather for worship on Sundays at 10:30 am. Our worship follows the seasons of the church year and is tied to the seasons of the natural year too. We often observe significant holy days from other traditions.

From September to June worship is shaped by the monthly theme. We follow a three-year cycle of themes, which helps us to go deeper spiritually and theologically.The themes for the 2017-18 church year are: faith, death, forgiveness, hope, justice, love, brokenness, transformation/resurrection, and transcendence.

During the seasons of Advent and Lent, we offer a midweek evening service called Vespers on Wednesday at 6 pm, a quiet half-hour of music, prayer readings, and silence. A simple meal follows Vespers.

The Church Year

September and October

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On the Sunday following Labor Day, the new year begins with our ritual of Water Communion. We bring water from places we experience as sacred, and pour it into a common bowl. This water is purified and used for our child blessing rituals. In September we often reflect on wisdom from the Jewish High Holy Days.

The end of October brings our annual All Souls service, when we remember those who have died. This service reflects the overlap of the church tradition of All Saints’ and All Souls’ days, and the earlier Pagan tradition of Samhain, which mark the thinning of the  veil between the living and the dead at this time of year.

 

November and December

The end of October brings our annual All Souls service, when we remember those who have died. This service reflects the overlap of the church tradition of All Saints’ and All Souls’ days, and the earlier Pagan tradition of Samhain, which mark the thinning of the veil between the living and the dead at this time of year.

In November we observe our national feast day of Thanksgiving, followed by the beginning of the season of Advent, the four Sundays the precede Christmas. Advent is a time for quiet preparation, and our Wednesday Vespers services offer a quiet and beautiful space in the middle of a busy time. The Sunday before Christmas is our Living Nativity, a heartwarming no-rehearsal pageant telling the story of Jesus’ birth, that’s a favorite here. On Christmas Eve, we offer a candlelight service of lessons and carols.

 

January, February and March

In January we gather on the Sunday of Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend for a breakfast with our neighbors from Calvary Baptist Church. Local politicians attend, choirs sing, and we reflect on the legacy of Rev. Dr. King.

February usually brings the beginning of Lent, the season of preparation that leads to Easter. We offer Vespers on Wednesday nights for these seven weeks. On Good Friday, the sanctuary is open for prayer and reflection from noon until 3 pm, with readings on the hour and half-hour.

 

April, May and June

Unitarian Universalists interpret Easter in diverse ways. Some of identify as Christian and follow the teachings and example of Jesus in his ministry, death and resurrection. Others of us understand resurrection in a more metaphorical way. And some of us primarily celebrate Easter as the return of light and warmth after the death of winter. Whatever our theology, we welcome the coming of this happy day!

In April, on the Sunday closest to Earth Day, we offer a service that helps us to give thanks for the good earth and commit to caring for her. One Sunday in the spring Religious Education program has worship outdoors at a local park, followed by a park clean-up. The first Sunday in June, our congregation’s annual meeting follows the worship service. The following Sunday, we celebrate the end of our Religious Education year. On Father’s Day, we offer the UU ritual of flower communion. First celebrated in Prague during the time of the Nazis, it’s a lovely ritual of peace and friendship.

 

The Summer Months

In the summer, our worship becomes a little more casual, and is sometimes led by our minister and sometimes by members of the congregation. Whatever the season, we are grateful every Sunday for this community and for all who come to be in touch with the Spirit of Life, to connect with one another, and to seek ways serve those in need.