In Praise of Fullness 4.23.23

This past Sunday service at Westside, I worried about going over time. There is just so much happening in the life of our congregation, so much to fit into our shared time together. And it makes for a long announcements section, and a long newsletter for that matter.

We’ve got the auction bidding well underway, a UUA General Assembly to prep for, a stewardship drive to round out in time for budget season, community circles, interfaith justice gatherings, youth worship, a growing hospitality ministry, and so much more!

For our relatively small staff (remember, we’re largely part-time too) and dedicated volunteer leaders–who also have full lives outside of this community–it is a lot to take on. In my conversations with folks lately, there is an understanding that to go on like this would be a recipe for burnout. But for now, for a season, it’s worth it because the work is important and life-giving.

I’m an extrovert, and one who thrives in fast-paced settings, juggling multiple complex projects. In this time, it would be easy for me to get swept up in the excitement of it all. And yet, it feels important to savor the slower, quieter moments too.

Yes, it is a testament to the strengths of this community that we are doing so much, providing so many opportunities for connection and service. And yet, I want to remind us all, especially those of you superstar volunteers who have heavier loads the most: our value is not determined by our productivity.

We don’t need to be putting on amazing programs left and right to be doing good ministry in our community. We don’t need to rapidly expand our budget or our membership to be on track to “success” (though there’s nothing wrong with growth). We don’t need to be anything other than who we are, together, to be doing community “right.”

There are ways I think we at Westside have been learning this. In deciding to only hold two Sunday worship services per month, our worship team acknowledged that something needed to change in order for them to offer high-quality services at a sustainable rate. In our right relations work, people are taking the time to unpack experiences in recent years, slow down, and work toward healing. It is not just another program to fill time; it is a commitment to examine current circumstances and learn new ways of being together.

Over time, you will likely come to learn that I have little interest in doing things a certain way just because that’s how they’ve always been done. In this regard, I am grateful for the way these pandemic years have upended our routines and forced us to re-examine things previously taken for granted. We get to re-build our lives, and how we spend our time, intentionally. And I hope, we will carry this spirit of intentionality far into the future.

So, please, when you join us for Bingo Night, or agree to join one of our many committees that is actively recruiting volunteers, it is my hope that you will do so with a spirit of intentionality. How beautiful it is that we can choose to work together, to have fun, to offer service to this community. May the things we choose nourish us, teach us, help us to open our hearts, and bask in the fullness of it.

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