First Unitarian, Take Two

Last week, I attended the First Unitarian Church of Rochester for the first time. This week, I decided to make my second visit there, despite arriving home late from a party and getting to bed at 3am. Somehow, I managed to get up in plenty of time to get a shower, get dressed, and arrive more than fifteen minutes before the start of the service. It was well worth it.

Today’s sermon was on improvisation. Pastor Jen opened her sermon by pointing out that she would not be improvising her sermon, as she was not very good at that. So instead, she offered an excellent prepared sermon about improvising life. In it, she discussed how the principles of improvisational theater could be applied to a spiritual life.

I think that the principle or rule that resonated with me most was “start anywhere.” I think this is because I’ve often found that starting something is always one of the hardest parts of any endeavor. (In fact, it was the subject of my first blog post here. This principle reminds us that the first step simply needs to be made.

Of course, the other rule or principle that resonated with me was “don’t worry about making mistakes.” I think the two are related. I think the fear of making a mistake is what makes the first step in any venture so hard. So we allow that fear to stop us. These rules together remind us that making the first step at all is more important than making it the “right” one.

I’m reminded of another comment I’ve heard, though I don’t remember the source. At one point, I remember someone saying that a change in direction is easier to make than a change in inertia. So by this theory, getting the ball rolling is important even if it starts rolling in the wrong direction. After all, you can use the new momentum to help effect the course correction over time.

Like I said, the sermon was fascinating.

After the service, Rick and I hung out for a while. He wanted to learn a bit more about what I believed and what I mean when I say that I’m a witch. The conversation lasted for about an hour. I’m not sure how much I really told him, as the conversation actually meandered across a wide range of topics. But hopefully, it was a start to satisfying his curiosity. If nothing else, he’s gotten a better glimpse into my mind in general. Hopefully, he didn’t find it too frightening. *g*

One thought on “First Unitarian, Take Two”

  1. Well, speaking as a physics geek, a change of direction is a change of inertia. Inertia is a state of constant momentum, so to change either speed or direction requires the application of force.

    I shut up now.

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First Unitarian

I decided to get up this morning and attend the 10am service at the First Unitarian Church of Rochester NY. I had heard of it back when I first came to the Rochester area and had even learned approximately where it was. However, I had originally decided not to check it out.

That was largely due to my experiences at the UUA church back in Big Flats. Those experiences weren’t negative in any sense. The people were friendly enough, as was the pastor. I got no sense that the leadership was abusive (spiritually or otherwise). In fact, I would be hard pressed to say anything disparaging about the church there. I’d even encourage those who are interested in that church to check it out for themselves.

So why did I quit going? It simply wasn’t right for me. I have an idea of the kind of spirituality I’m looking for, and I didn’t find it there. Instead, I found a number of services that included what were (in my opinion, at least) exercises in hyper-intellectualism. As I was looking for something more down-to-earth and applicable to real life, I just decided the services weren’t for me.

In many ways, that was too bad. I actually liked the people there and would have considered socializing with them and building friendships. (Indeed, had I attended that church now, I might be willing to give it more time than I did back then for that very reason.) But spirituality-wise, I didn’t find a good fit. And since that’s what I was looking for at the time, I moved on.

To be honest (and I hope Tracie and any other UU readers won’t hold this against me), that’s generally been my impression of the UUA in general. UU’s are great people, and I’d gladly have lengthy conversations with them, go on picnics with them, and generally just hang out. But as a rule, I just think that the UU is too loose and unfocused for the kind of worship I appreciate and look for.

However, when I was once again reminded of First Unitarian here in Rochester last week, I decided I might as well give it another try. After all, this is a different church. And I have grown as a person. So I convinced myself to set aside my skepticism and prejudices and have a go. I’m glad I did.

Let me just say that this morning’s sermon did not suffer from the hyper-intellectualism I had experienced in Big Flats. In fact, I found this morning’s sermon, which focused on “The path of non-effort” and learning to be the one being helped rather than the one helping to be entirely applicable to my life. Indeed, it fit well into many of the lessons I’m going through on my own right now.

The rest of the service was quite nice as well. It had a time for prayer and meditation, some group hymns, and some readings from various sources. I also liked how everyone was encouraged to stay after the service for coffee to talk and learn about the various programs the church is offering.

I suspect I’ll go back again soon, possibly as early as next week. In fact, if today’s service is representative, I could find myself becoming a regular attender. Mind you, I don’t think I will ever make Unitarian Universalism my primary spiritual identity. Nor do I think it will become my primary form of worship. I prefer too much focus and tradition for that. Besides, I’m a witch through and through. But I could certainly see myself as going to First Unitarian as a secondary form of corporate worship. It would give me a chance to be around other open-minded people too, which is always a plus.

One thought on “First Unitarian”

  1. Yeah, I have kinda the same reservations about UU “spirituality” (for lack of a better term).

    Sometimes I think coffee hour is better than the service!

    Mystic Grove will be leading the services at the Tarpon Springs UU church next month. Hey, you could always tell your First Unitarian that you want to lead a service on witchcraft! 🙂

    OK maybe not.

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