"Doing Church" - Monday Moment - September 19, 2022

Happy Monday, Friends! Thank you for indulging my consideration of the seven principles of Unitarian Universalism. I’m excited to begin a new series using the texts of canticles or songs drawn from the Gospels. Three of these canticles, traditionally called the Song of Mary (the Magnificat), the Song of Zachariah (the Benedictus Dominus Deus), and the Song of Simeon (the Nunc dimittis), form the basis of the songs used often in morning and evening prayer along with the psalms.


To start this series, I’m turning to Luke 1:46-47: “My soul doth magnify the Lord,and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.” These lines begin the Magnificat, the song of Mary. Having been visited by the angel Gabriel, Mary travels to visit her cousin Elizabeth who is also pregnant. If having an angel tell you that you’re pregnant despite being a virgin and that your son will be the world’s savior wasn’t enough, Mary is greeted with an exaltation as the “mother of my Lord” (Luke 1:43).


Since moving to Westerville in November, I’ve not had an easy time of finding and committing to a church congregation. Within ten miles of my apartment there are affirming churches in every denomination which has affirming churches. I could easily attend any of those congregations and several of those are either partner churches with LOVEboldly or are led by pastors I consider friends and colleagues. I continue to struggle to find the right place for me. Of course, I do have my community at Middle Collegiate Church in New York, which is my church home, at least virtually.


“Church” does not have to happen in a purpose-built building. Church can and should happen anywhere. During my first week here, I was introduced to Java Central, my local coffee shop and second home/office. Java Central has the feel of a quirky, hipster coffee joint with young, hip baristas and owners who care deeply about the community. There are multiple Pride flags and after the Dodd decision a sign went up stating the shop unwavering support of reproductive rights. It is one of the last places I expected to hear “church talk.” Yet, every time I hang out there (at least twice a week) some group is discussing church, religion, or Jesus. Sometimes I agree with what I hear, sometimes I feel sorry for at least one person in the conversation, and sometimes I want to flip my table and take on everyone involved. Occasionally, people come up to me and whoever I’m with because they overheard us, making Java Central a gallery of faith and thought for me and others.


Doing church is not a concept I was raised with—Catholics go to church—but it has become a fundamental part of my spirituality. When we do church, when we bring the church into the world and make our coffee houses churches, we magnify God and we rejoice in that which we call divine.


What is church for you? How are you the church in the world?


Let us pray: God, make us your church. Help us make our environments churches for all people. Where we go it well, bless us. Where we screw it up, forgive us. Help us bless and be blessings in the world you created for us. We ask this in the name of your child, Jesus. Amen.


Blessings, on your week, my friends. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you.


Faithfully,


Ben