News January 5, 2024
Happy New Year! I hope that your 2024 is off to a good start and that the winter holidays afforded you many blessings. I certainly enjoyed them and have felt especially grateful for the opportunity to take a trip to Palo Duro Canyon. It is one of the true wonders of the world. The second largest canyon in the United States, it is a great place for hiking and marveling at the majesty of the natural world. It is something to watch the rocks slowly change color throughout the day. As the quality of the light shifts the stone walls turn from soft pinks and muted yellows to brilliant reds, oranges, and sunflower tones.
It is one of my spiritual practices to cultivate a sense of wonder and awe for the everyday. One of my wishes for you for the upcoming year is that you will find joy and beauty not only in special times like the holidays but in moments of daily living. Committing to open yourself to the glory of the nature, even if it just some roadside flowers, is a great way of deepening your sense of connection to whatever it is that we might name the sacred.
The many ways of naming the sacred will continue to be the theme for the first part of the year as we conclude our series “Lives of the Spirit.” It will run through June and each month we will engage with the teachings of a spiritual activist. This month we will focus on Thich Nhat Han with covenant groups, a sermon (on the 21st), the senior minister’s book group (we’re reading his The Miracle of Mindfulness), and, on the 20th, a half day meditation workshop led by Rebecca McIlwain, who spent ten years living as a Buddhist monk.
“Lives of the Spirit” won’t be the only exciting thing happening at First Unitarian Universalist this year. Over the next several months we’ll be celebrating the 125th anniversary of our tradition coming to Houston and the 110th anniversary of the founding of our congregation. This Sunday, former Unitarian Universalist Association President the Rev. Dr. Susan Frederick-Gray will kick things off for us with a sermon titled “Love at the Center.”
Later in the month we will be holding a special press conference to share with the Houston community our successful installation of solar panels. Greening our campus is one way we live out our Unitarian Universalist values. We want to encourage other religious communities to do the same.
Also this month, on the evening of the 27th, we will be holding our second annual vigil to commemorate those who have died from gun violence. Our service, again, will be co-sponsored by Moms Demand Action. Last year, it provided a powerful space for testimony. I hope we will be able to create a similar sacred space for survivors of gun violence this year.
Next month we’ll be continuing our celebrations of our 125th/110th anniversary with a special service on February 11th marking the date of the signing of the congregation’s original charter and bond of union. We hope that both current and former members will attend.
Next month, on February 24th, we will also hold our annual auction. This year’s theme is “Reaching for the Stars.” I think that nicely summarizes our aspirations for our anniversary year. The congregation is growing--attendance is up more than 35% from the same time last year--and our capital campaign is positioning us to share our message of liberating love with more and more people. The auction is not just a good way to help us gather the resources to widen love’s circle, it is also a wonderful time of fellowship and fun. Please attend and consider donating an item, dinner, or experience.
Over the next months, we’ll be looking for other ways to mark the congregation’s achievement in making it for more than a century. Stay tuned for details!
Where are the Ministers
Dr. Bossen will be welcoming the Rev. Dr. Susan Frederick-Gray in the pulpit on January 7th and serving as the liturgist. He’ll be preaching on the 14th and 21st. From the 22nd to the 5th of February he’ll be out of the office on study leave. He’ll be participating in the Board workshop on the 20th, attending the UU Network of Houston luncheon on the 27th, and helping to lead the service “A Day of Mourning for Victims of Gun Violence” that evening.
Rev. Scott will be out of the office until January 16th, tending to family business and preaching on the 14th at the Lake Chapala Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Mexico. He will be attending the UU Network of Houston luncheon on the 27th, helping to lead the service “A Day of Mourning for Victims of Gun Violence” that evening, and preaching on the 28th.