Our Month of Possibility

Dear Friends,

The theme for the month of January is Possibility. It’s of possibilities that I wish to speak about here. On January 27, we’re going to have a shortened worship service to begin the process of creating a congregational covenant. This will serve two purposes, the first being that we will make official the rules of engagement that we’ll have with each other—be that in committee meetings, social gatherings, or in worship services. The second reason being that this covenant will also be the framework for which the Right Relations Team will use to do their work.

Conflict is inevitable—what matters is how it’s handled. Is it handled in such a way that the people or organizations involved figure out a way to resolve their differences and have a way to move forward? Or does it descend into triangulation, name calling and hurt feelings that are never addressed? I don’t believe that most people like conflict. I know I don’t. I’ve spent most of my life trying to avoid it. Much like Jonah who in trying to avoid what God had asked him to do, avoiding something has hidden consequences. For me, when I try to avoid conflict, the conflict itself doesn’t get resolved and it usually gets worse before it gets better. As for Jonah, well, we know what happened to him. While I don’t think Tree of Life is going to be swallowed by a literal Great Fish, unresolved conflict can be a great fish unto itself. It might not be an animal that swallows us whole, but unresolved conflict can kind of feel like being swallowed whole.

I have great hopes for the creation of this congregational covenant. And I look forward to walking with you all through the process. To get the process moving in the right direction, I have enclosed some sample covenants for you all to look at and be thinking about when we break into small groups on the 27th. I hope as many of you as possible can join us on that Sunday. See you then!

Kevin DeBeck minister@treeoflifeuu.org

5 Sample Covenants

Atkinson Memorial Covenant of Right RelationsEvanston Covenant of Engagement

Just Trust Me

Sunday, February 3, 2019 10:45am

How many times have you heard those three little words? What does trust mean to you and what are the implications in our lives when trust is broken? How do institutions violate our trust?

Trust, sometimes easily given, leaves deep scars when violated. Many of the barriers to a successful life are the result of broken trust and violation of our tender beings. How can we build resiliency and thrive in a world where many times unwittingly people break trust?

If this theme resonates with you, join Lou Ness for a conversation about learning to trust yourself first, others second and building bridges to wholeness in relationships.

“There Are Always Possibilities–Looking Behind, Looking Ahead “

Sunday, January 13, 2019, 10:45 am

In his first service of the New Year, the Almost Rev. Kevin DeBeck reflects on lessons from the previous year to imagine the possibilities for the upcoming year.

Our Second Sunday collection will go to Thresholds

Established in 1959, Thresholds provides healthcare, housing, and hope for thousands of persons with mental illnesses and substance use disorders in Illinois each year. Through care, employment, advocacy, and housing, Thresholds assists and inspires people with mental illnesses to reclaim their lives.

Thresholds is one of the oldest and largest providers of recovery services for persons with mental illnesses and substance use disorders in Illinois. We reject the notion that anyone is a lost cause, utilizing evidence-based practices and a wide range of supports to treat the whole person, rather than just the disease.

They offer 30 innovative programs at more than 100 locations throughout Chicago, the adjacent suburbs, and nine surrounding counties. Services include assertive outreach, case management, housing, employment, education, psychiatry, primary care, substance use treatment, and research. Last year, Thresholds served more than 16,000 adults and youth, with 75% of services delivered out in the community, representing more than 500,000 hours of care.

“The Tale of Christmas, Told in Story and Song “

Monday, December 24, 2018 7:00 pm

The Almost Rev. Kevin DeBeck

Come celebrate Christmas Eve at Tree of Life with stories and hymns from the season. The service ends by candlelight. A special offering will be taken to support our minister’s discretionary fund. This fund allows our minister to provide private financial assistance to our community when financial needs become a pastoral issue.

Holiday Choir Concert Service

Sunday, December 23, 2018 10:45am

Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation is happy to announce our upcoming Christmas concert. On Sunday the 23rd at 10:45 am, the TOL Choir, First Notes youth ensemble, and guest musicians from around the Chicago area will present a winter cycle by John Rutter for choir and ensemble alongside beloved carols,songs, and themes of the season under the direction of Music Director, Forrest Ransburg. As always, the concert will feature unique and memorable music, wonder, warmth, and camaraderie! Please come join us for this concert to make your season even more special!

Holiday Services at Tree of Life

This holiday season, Tree of Life will have some special services to mark this holiday filled season.

Sunday, December 16, 2018 10:45am

Season of Lights Holiday Pageant with the Religious Education children and youth. Our students have been learning about many Festivals of Lights from around the world. Please join us on December 16th as they showcase their knowledge and bring to you: Season of Lights.

Sunday, December 23, 2018 10:45am

Choir Concert. Tree of Life’s beloved holiday concert is fast approaching! Mark your calendars now! The concert will take place on December 23rd beginning at our regular service time of 10:45 am and will feature the wonderful TOL Choir and our beloved First Notes, as well as guest instrumentalists and soloists. The concert will be as diverse as it is delightful and is sure to be a holiday treat to be remembered. Be sure to be there and bring a friend or five!

Monday, December 24, 2018 7:00pm

The Mystery of Hope. Come celebrate Christmas Eve at Tree of Life with stories and hymns from the season with the Almost Rev. Kevin DeBeck. The service ends with the congregation singing Silent Night by candlelight.


Soul Matters at Tree of Life; Being a Community of Mystery

In our culture, we have a built-in expectation that any “mystery” is offering us the opportunity to put together the pieces of a puzzle or to find answers to something unknown.   But as we explore this month’s Soul Matters packet, frequently we are urged to also think of the “mystery” in our lives as something to be simply experienced — that it is something that can be listened to.  In fact, the packet authors encourage us to actively make space within ourselves, to allow the wonder of life to speak to us.

The physician and author, Rachel Naomi Remen, writes:  Mystery has great power.  [As a doctor], I have watched people in their confrontation with the unknown as they recovered awe, wonder, joy, and aliveness.  — they remembered that life is holy….     Everything and everyone has a dimension of  this unknown.    Mystery helps us to see ourselves and others from the largest possible perspective, as a unique and possibly endless process.    A sense of Mystery can take us beyond disappointment and judgment to a place of expectancy.   It opens in us an attitude of listening and respect.    ……..Knowing this, enables us to listen to life from the place in us that is Mystery also.   So not only can we witness Mystery; in some profound way [we discover that] we are Mystery.

The December Soul Matters packets offer materials to explore the meaning of “mystery” – as we consider how we experience it in our lives and how it is a part of our experience in community.   We use this theme for worship and for faith formation in our RE program and chalice circles.  The Soul Matters resource packet can be accessed here If you need a printed copy, please feel free to take one from those available in the fellowship room or ask for a copy, if they have all been taken.   You might also like to consider joining a chalice circle to share your insights and hear what others are saying – there are chalice circle flyers in the fellowship room with information about this program.

Wishing you joy in community,

M.E. Tanabe