FROM YOUR MODERATOR - Fred Griffith
I know this is supposed to be a very busy time of year, but I swear it seems busier than usual, at least for me. Here it is, the darkest time of the year, the season of cold and hibernation, and instead of focusing on the season of good cheer, I am busier than usual... That is one of the reasons why it is so important for me to stay in touch with our church family. It gives me a reason and opportunity to step back from my busy life to reflect on the meaning of that life.
My first year as Moderator of the Houlton Unitarian Universalist Church has been very full. As you know, in addition to our Sunday Services, we have had dream work-shops, book discussions, meditation sittings, Monday Evening Conversations, film nights, coffeehouses, bar-b-ques, and concerts. Throughout it all, volunteers have been hard at work on our new, soon to be opened, wifi café downstairs, selling tickets to the raffle quilt, and dealing with a leaky roof and a crumbling foundation! To support all of this, folks have volunteered to serve coffee hours and coffee-houses, mow the lawn and trim the grounds, clean and set up the church rooms, meet and plan as Board members, offer Sunday services and other activities, and do everything necessary to keep us running smoothly.
As of January 1st, we will begin the actual Bicentennial year of the founding of the religious body that evolved into the First Church of Houlton, Unitarian Universalist. While we want to celebrate all that our predecessors have done over the centuries, what is important to me is all that our current members do. It is our fellowship in Covenant that holds us together and makes us a family. That family, which is all of you, is what makes this church special!
Be sure to take part in all that our church family has to offer this season! We have a Winter Solstice service on Tuesday evening December 21st (6 pm drumming, 7 pm service), and a Christmas Eve Service on Friday night at 7pm. On New Year's morning meditation begins at 8am and Breakfast at 9:30am.
This Holiday season, I wish to express a special thanks to Rev. Dave and all the members of the Board. Your work and support have made it easy and an honor for me to serve as your Moderator. May you all have a blessed Holiday season!
With love, Fred
THE MINDFUL MINUTE - #49
Choose to eat at least one meal a week in silence - look, smell and taste what you are eating while you are eating it. Observe how you feel after the meal.
NOTE FROM THE TREASURER
As a member of the Pledge Committee, I want to thank all of you who have sent in your pledges and donations for the 2011 year. At this writing, we are at $16,005 on our way toward a goal of $37,600. Since we can count on a contribution of around $10,000 (approximate amount) from the Trust earnings in 2010, we still have a shortfall of $11,600. We all can be grateful for the trust money which represents gifts from our local Unitarian-Universalist ancestors. The Board will be working on the 2011 budget in December and January. If you plan to pledge or donate, now is the time. For many, giving gifts is an important part of their spiritual practice this time of year. Your church will gratefully welcome gifts as part of your practice. Sincerely, Susan Glick, Treasurer and Pledge Committee member
THE CUP CAFÉ GRAND OPENING!!
Look for the grand opening of The Cup Café during the winter of 2011. One of the final pieces of the café - the espresso machine - is almost in place! Our staff will be honing their barista skills for the grand opening hoping to serve you the best cup of java you've ever sipped. If you are not already a member of "The Cup Club" please check out one of our brochures or ask Penny, Audrey or Dave about the details. (If you have made a donation to the café project you are automatically enrolled in the program.) More later.
WINTER SOLSTICE CELEBRATION
On December 21st we will, once again, celebrate the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year. We will begin with drumming at 6 pm in the sanctuary followed by our ceremony at 7 pm in the parlor. As we celebrate the Solstice we will join across time and space all the festivals of light emerging from the dark. As we kindle our candles, we will join all the Yule fires, all the Hanukkah candles, and all the Christmas lights the world over - to brighten the darkness of winter, and the darkness and despair in the world. Refreshments will be served afterwards. All are welcome.
NEW YEAR'S DAY MEDITATION AND BRUNCH
Once again we will start off the new year with a morning meditation followed by our famous brunch. The meditation begins at 8 a.m. and lasts for about one hour. It is conducted in the Zen Buddhist tradition and consists of two periods of sitting meditation (zazen), walking meditation (kinhin), chanting, a short dharma talk by our minister and the ceremonial sounding of the Hahn to ring in the new year. Bring along a cushion and mat or you can sit on one of the couches or a comfortable chair. No previous experience in meditation is necessary. (brief instruction will be included!!) It is a great way to quietly honor entering a new year. Some may prefer to join us for the mindful eating and drinking coffee practice that follows the meditation session. All are welcome.
MONDAY EVENING CONVERSATIONS - Session one - January 24, 6-8 p.m. - Facilitator: Bruce Glick
Beginner's Mind: Introduction to Meditation
If you have been thinking about starting a meditation practice or just want to improve your current meditation techniques we invite you to join us for this evening program. We will be showing the video, “Meditation for Beginners,” by Jack Kornfield followed by a short discussion. “With his gentle delivery and ability to translate ancient practices for modern audiences, Jack Kornfield has become one of the most accessible and sought-after teachers for helping first-time meditators get their start.” The video presentation will cover foundational skills such as basics of body postures and breathing, how to clear distractions and cultivate awareness, how to “make friends” with upsetting emotions, and how to focus healing attention on your body. Jack Kornfield was trained as a Buddhist monk in Thailand, Burma, and India and has taught worldwide since 1974. He is one of the key teachers to introduce Buddhist mindfulness practices to the West. He holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and is the cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society in Vermont and of the Spirit Rock Center in California. His popular books include A Path with Heart, and After the Ecstasy, the Laundry. Those interested in starting a meditation practice also may wish to purchase the recently published book, Why Meditate? by Matthieu Ricard.
MONDAY EVENING CONVERSATIONS - Sessions two and three
The Nature of Existence DVD by Roger Nygard
As part of our bicentennial year we've been looking at "religious pluralism" as one of the liberal ideas that defines our movement. In this documentary film, Roger Nygard investigates what he calls "the spectrum of belief" that spans our world today. It makes for an informative as well as entertaining 92 minutes of viewing. There is also a second disc of extended interviews we will view in a following session. There will be time for discussion after each viewing. Please see calendar for time and date. Synopsis and Reviews:
What if you asked the religious experts, gurus, scientists, and everyday people of the world why we exist, and what are we supposed to do about it? What started the Universe, and was it a mistake? Does God exist, and why does he seem so interested in our sex lives? After exploring the phenomenon of Trekkies, filmmaker Roger Nygard journeyed to the source of each of the world’s religions, philosophies, and belief systems, to find people who have influenced, inspired, or freaked out humanity…People such as Indian holy man Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (The Art of Living), 24th Generation Taoist Master Zhang Chengda, Stanford physicist Leonard Susskind (co-discoverer of string theory), Catholic Archbishop D’Ambrosio, Guru Satyen Raja, Harvard Psychologist Daniel Gilbert (Stumbling on Happiness), Stonehenge Druid Rollo Maughfling and many more…. “… an enlightening, provocative and captivating spiritual journey well worth taking.” Avi Offer, The NYC Movie Guru "’The Nature of Existence’ entertains and educates, fulfilling our desire for meaning in a chaotic landscape of existential questioning, providing answers to life's most meaningful questions, from an unprecedented spectrum of the world's academic and sacred traditions." - Ted Meissner, TheSecularBuddhist.com "The Nature of Existence is a timely, thought-provoking trip. Nygard, who makes no value judgments…walks a wide span of the theological, philosophical and scientific waterfront, offering voices ranging from mainstream Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Taoism and Buddhism to physicists, atheists , pagans, the Nation of Islam, spiritualists and non-spiritualists…he has come away with a movie that may be the most enjoyable philosophy class ever." **** Cary Darling, Dallas Morning News
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POETRY CORNER - Halo Effect by dave hutchinson
E-MAIL/INTERNET DISCUSSION LIST: UU HOULTON COMMUNITY
An email discussion mailing list is a tool for a group of people to exchange messages via email. Any subscriber to the list can send messages that are received by all the subscribers, creating an email-based group conversation. The UU Houlton Community Yahoo Group has been created for members and friends of the Unitarian Society of Houlton. We currently have 21 members. Please take a look at the webpage. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/uuhoultoncommunity/ If you'd find it useful and wish to join just click the "Join This Group" button, or contact Rev. Dave if you have questions or need further instructions.
OTHER UU ONLINE RESOURCES