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Appreciation of CommUUnity   rabbi chava

Holy friends, during May and June we will explore two beautiful themes: appreciation and communion. How fitting it is that our annual meeting (June 7) – my first with you – will be held within the container of these themes. The annual meeting is a good time for us pause and take stock.

When I was growing up, we had a reading in our prayer book that has stayed with me for over 40 years. It is written by Rabbi Chaim Stern, of blessed memory. Not all of its language is applicable here, yet it speaks to the spiritual gesture that is our annual meeting:

In this quiet hour of worship we reflect upon the meaning of our lives. I harbor within – we all do – a vision of my highest self, a dream of what I could and should become. May I pursue this vision, labor to make real my dream. Thus will I give meaning to my life.

An artist in the course of painting will pause, lay aside the brush, step back from the canvas, and consider what needs to be done, what direction is to be taken. So does each of us on this Sabbath eve pause to reflect. As I hope to make my life a work of art, so may this hour of worship help me to turn back to the canvas of life to paint the portrait of my highest self.

May my efforts to grow in moral stature bring me the joy of achievement. And may I always hold before my eyes the vision of perfection we call by the name of God …

At the amazing service on Powerful Women last month, we read the following UU affirmation by Michael Hennon, inspired by the Salem Covenant of 1629. (An interesting history of the covenant can be read here: Here is the text we shared:

We covenant with one another and do bind ourselves together in the presence of this religious community

To express our deepest and most cherished convictions, as they are borne by each person to find a common vision for a better world; To seek the life of the spirit, as it is known by each person, choosing with reverence its name;

And to walk together in the way of truth and love, as it is shown to us and to all people, in word and in deed.

I find this text so beautiful and meaningful, and it got me thinking about what it means to live in covenantal community.

Did you know that we, as a congregation, have a covenant? As Jerry Beasley wrote to me, it is “our collective, public agreement to a set of fundamental principles.” It was co-created by you, our members. It reads:

Mindful of our vibrant Congregational history and steadfastly committed to a strong future, we strive to promote good in the world and aid each other in ethical and spiritual development.

To this end I (we) willfully covenant to:

Welcome with open minds and hearts all who gather here;

Inspire and respect others, from youngest to oldest, on our various spiritual paths;

Assume good intentions, communicate directly, share ideas freely, listen willingly, disagree respectfully and forgive easily; Support the ministry of our congregation through gifts of time, talent and money; Encourage all voices to speak and be heard, as we participate in a collaborative and democratic process.

Annual meetings are about more than mechanics – it is a joyous, deep time to take stock, appreciate and shape our shared future. Thank you for taking some time to consider this. Bless you for co-creating a community of love, honesty and growth.

In love and blessing –

Rabbi Chava Bahle







Rabbi Chava Bahle

The Common Heart: Spiritual Paradigm Shift; Rabbi Chava Bahle at TEDxTraverseCity 2014

Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Grand Traverse
6726 Center Rd.
Traverse City, MI 49686
231-947-3117 (office) 231-947-0726 (fax)