Religious Exploration – What does it mean to be a people of blessing?
Leah | May 31, 2018

It’s often assumed that blessings come directly from God or through a priest, minister or rabbi from God. But our Soul Matters theme challenges us to think of blessing in other ways.

From my colleague, Katie Covey:
          We UU’s are a people of blessing because of our belief that each of us is able to bless and each of us is worthy to receive blessings.
         This lens brought the whole month into focus.
          Viewed through the lens of blessing, the Flower Communion becomes a UU Service of Blessing. We bless the flowers with our awareness. We bless each other with our simple message of diversity. We bless and heal each other and the world. This is the beauty of thematic ministry, the new angles which give our rituals life. There are several elements for the Flower Communion which I had never heard of. I hope some of the elements are new to you, too, as we steep ourselves in this uniquely UU ritual of blessing.
          The lens of “Blessing” gave me a way to cover the celebration of Ramadan. The Muslims call the imperative to fast, a “blessing,” and give thanks for the extra time to concentrate on helping the needy and studying the Quran. They understand that hardship can liberate us into blessing.
          The lens of “Blessing” gave me a way of recognizing the fight for racial justice and covering Juneteenth. It is hard, important work AND ALSO a blessing and joy to celebrate the rainbow of skin tones we are. It is a blessing and joy to celebrate the final reading emancipating the enslaved Africans in Texas. What a blessing that we can support the celebration of Juneteenth.

I’ll be extending the theme of blessing when I lead the service on July 1st. I wondered “How can we as Unitarian Universalist evoke the power of offering blessings in ways that honor our religious tradition?” This service will be much like my service on May 27 – with a full sermon to engage the hearts and minds of adults – but divided into small chunks in the service and with more music and interaction than traditional services, but not with the pageantry of our multigenerational services, to make it more accessible to children and youth.

In case you missed it, the title is “You can do it! – The Potential Power of Blessings”

Rabbi Lawrence Kushner offers “The one who offers a blessing is like a coach whispering to an athlete before a competition, “You can do it!” More than encouragement, positive spin, or sincere wish, the words of blessing literally bring forth and make real an otherwise unrealizable force. In this way, blessing is not supplication but symbiosis.”

In joyful service,
Leah Purcell, Director of Religious Education