The spirit and practice of revival

The following was written in 2009 as a Facebook note, but it’s worth re-posting here.

Friends, I speak to you today in the spirit of revival.

Last weekend (that is, in July 2009), I spent four days and nights at the UU Church of Little Rock as part of the first annual UUCLR Revival: “Come Drink Deep.” It was a weekend full of worship, workshops, and community meals and events, and it really did revive my soul, and I know I’m not alone in that. Led by the efforts of member Monica Robinson, the church decided to host a revival to bring back some of the spirit, the love, and the sense of community of the church, and to take that spirit forward into the life of the church upcoming.

I think the approximately 100 members of the church (and a couple visitors, too) that participated in at least some of the events left with a new or renewed appreciation for the church and their own spiritual lives. In two of the workshops I attended and helped lead on “Life’s Tough Questions,” I heard a deeper theological discussion than I have in a long, long time, maybe ever, among UUs. Other workshops included an interfaith panel, an origami session, numerous activities for the children including an exploration of the senses, a session on nonviolent communication, and a discussion of UU evangelism.

With a total of six services conducted by Rev. Bob Klein, Rev. Jane Bechle, myself and music director Paula Gribble, the children of the church, and members Greg and Monica Robinson and John Willis, we spanned an array of worship styles and messages. Rev. Bob led two earth-centered rituals around a fire circle behind the church. Rev. Jane urged members to leave behind the past and begin new lives as Unitarian Universalists. The children wowed us with a vision of what each of our unique gifts can do for this world. I charged members to live out their faith in every aspect of their lives (and, if I can leave aside humility for a moment, I rocked that sermon). And Monica told us to think about how the revival could lead us forward to a new place.

Perhaps even more touching were the community meals, where we sat and talked and broke bread together. More people showed up than were expected, which was about the best news I’ve ever heard.

In short, it was amazing, and really showed me what a church can do to call itself back to what it should be doing: being a community of faith that loves itself and seeks to use that love to change the world. I hope other UU churches will take something from this example.

And if I can help in that spirit, let me know. Bless you all.

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