Honoring the Ancestors

Sunday November 1, 2015 10;45am  This time of year brings many chances to honor those who came before: All Saints Day, El Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), and Samhain are all times of connection to the ancestors. In this service, we will have a chance to share with each other the names of the beloved dead that were and are an important part of our lives. You are invited to bring a picture or memento to share.

Coffee with Question 10-18-2015

Around 1900, as modernity took hold of the great cities with their ever-increasing number of inhabitants, the revolution profoundly changed the ways in which people thought about the world, and about themselves.  It also accelerated with enormous might, taking less than a generation to undermine, batter, and eventually crush social structures, moral norms, and traditional ideas that had existed for centuries….Both the interwar years and the first decades of the twenty-first century have been marked by a pervasive sense of insecurity, and in both periods the reasons and possible remedies for this insecurity have been the subject of intense debates….there can be no doubt that compared with the decades immediately after the Second World War, our lives have become more precarious – not because of a war but because of political choices made by us and on our behalf by politicians elected by us….job security is largely gone.  For decades, this rapid erosion of social rights and protections was covered by the political idea the this was the flexibility demanded by the free market, and that the reward of such risk taking was a chance of immense gains.
The ideological justification of this…was carried by a growing distrust of the state, of democracy, and of politicians, who were regarded as either unwilling and unable to make the changes necessary or as not entitled to interfere with individual liberty….citizens were no longer regarded as organs of a collective body working in unison, as in fascism, or as cogs in a gigantic machine, as in Bolshevism.  Rather, they were seen as independent agents making choices in a free market, governed by principles offering opportunity and freedom without taking sides.
The irony…is that the gospel of the free market is just as ideological as those of communism and fascism.  The belief in the seemingly unideological power of the market has helped only a small minority, creating for the rest a world in which hundreds of millions of people live less well and more precariously than their parents….And yet the very people who have to be more afraid for their livelihoods, whose standard of living is more threatened, and who have to pay more for basic needs frequently defend the system, perhaps because it offers something even more fundamental than security:  hope, orientation, a kind of transcendence.  We treat the market as the fundamental reality of society.  It gives us something to believe in.  We have chosen to adhere to a political gospel, much like the communists and fascists of the 1930’s.
…After the First World War had crushed mighty empires and the moral universe sustaining their outlook on life, millions took refuge from the challenging void and fled into ideologies or simply danced and shopped until they dropped – or, if they were to poor to participate, at least they dreamed of shopping and the high life.  The great political faiths were accompanied by a refusal to engage with the challenges of the time.  There is a comparison to be made here, and we can only hope that the verdict spoken about us by the generation of our grandchildren will have cause to be kinder than the judgment we deliver about our grandparents, who lent their lives and hopes and abilities to murderous illusions.
Here is my question:  Given all of the above, and everything we know is happening today and might happen in the future, how do you think future generations will judge us?

In Our Own Voice

Sunday October 18, 2015 This service is a part of the work of our Accessibility and Inclusion Ministry (AIM) team. Susan Ling of National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of McHenry County will tell us about the work and services NAMI offers. Intern Michelle Lattanzio will offer insights gained from the personal impact of mental illness.

Immediately following the service, all are invited to a presentation of “In Our Own Voice” by Susan Ling and a NAMI volunteer. This powerful presentation consists of both video and live stories on living with mental illness. Lunch will be provided. If you are planning to attend this presentation, please contact Carol Alfus (calfus77@gmail.com)

The Minister’s Mind: Letting Go

This month’s “Soul Matters” theme is one that it seems like we human beings need to return to again and again. Even though we know that change is inevitable and resisting it is painful, we tend to get anxious when it’s happening to us. We’ve learned a lot from the Buddhists who know so deeply that it is our stubborn attachment and clinging that causes suffering, and yet…when the time comes to let go, we still have a hard time with it.  We need constant reminders to open our hands and let go. It takes too much effort and causes too much pain to stay stuck.

One of my favorite reminders is this poem by Jack Gilbert:

Failing and Flying

Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.
It’s the same when love comes to an end,
or the marriage fails and people say
they knew it was a mistake, that everybody
said it would never work. That she was
old enough to know better. But anything
worth doing is worth doing badly.

Like being there by that summer ocean
on the other side of the island while
love was fading out of her, the stars
burning so extravagantly those nights that
anyone could tell you they would never last.

Every morning she was asleep in my bed
like a visitation, the gentleness in her
like antelope standing in the dawn mist.
Each afternoon I watched her coming back
through the hot stony field after swimming,
the sea light behind her and the huge sky
on the other side of that. Listened to her
while we ate lunch. How can they say
the marriage failed? Like the people who
came back from Provence (when it was Provence)
and said it was pretty but the food was greasy.

I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,
but just coming to the end of his triumph.

May each of us practice letting go. May we do so gently and celebrate our triumph.

You can find more resources on Letting Go (films, books, quotes, activities, questions…) in the Soul Matters packet here.

Love will Guide Us,

Rev. Sean