[printprofilepic]Sometimes, our lives take such a turn that we need to know there’s someone who’s there for us, no matter what. Sometimes, it’s hard to know when to reach out. Sometimes, you might not be sure who to reach out to. A minister comes into a church community, in part, to be just that person to reach out to. It’s certainly one of the reasons I entered the ministry. Now, there are many things that I am not—a therapist, a lawyer, or a doctor, for example. But, what the minister is, what I am, is a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, a hand to hold—someone who can be with you when most needed.
But, when is that time? That’s often a tricky question. The answer is: whenever you need me. It doesn’t seem much of an answer, I know, but it’s the short and sweet answer. Perhaps it’s never crossed your mind before to call the minister when you’re in need—but you should. It’s why I’m here. Perhaps you’re worried I may be too busy for you—but I’m never too busy to be your minister. It’s why I’m here. Perhaps you think that what’s on your mind isn’t important enough—but you’re important to me. It’s why I’m here. Don’t ever hesitate to pick up the phone, or send me an e-mail, or leave me a message on the whiteboard on my office door. I’m the minister, and I’m here for you.
Still unsure when to call? Let me share with you a wonderful list, adapted (with some personalization) from an essay written by a UU minister, the Rev. Peter Lee Scott, over fifty years ago (times may change, but the role of the minister remains, largely, the same).
When to Call the Minister:
- When you haven’t met me yet, but would like to.
- When you have problems you’d like to discuss, concerning your children, your job, your marriage, or anything else where a sympathetic ear might be of help.
- When you’re going in the hospital or know someone else in the congregation who is.
- When someone close to you has died or is critically ill.
- When you or someone you love is in trouble or in jail.
- When you’re planning to be married, or wish you could be.
- When you have a child to be dedicated.
- When you’re pregnant but wish you weren’t.
- When you, or a friend or neighbor would like more information about the Unitarian Universalist faith.
- When you’re considering joining the congregation.
- When the Red Sox are losing, and you want to commiserate with him.
- When you have suggestions to make about programs for the Fellowship.
- When you’d like help with committee work or with other congregational activities.
- When there are community issues you’d like to discuss or would like me to be involved with.
- When you’re mad at me.
- When you appreciate something I’ve said or done.
- When you’d like to talk religion with me.
- When you’d like to talk parenting with me—as a parent, or as a child.
- When you’ve had good news and want to share it.
- When you’ve had bad news.
- When you’re feeling overwhelmed.
- When you want to tell me your history with the Fellowship.
- When you want to spend more time with the children and youth.
- When you’ve heard a great joke and want to share it, or you want to talk comic books, or you want to chat over a cup of coffee . . .
. . . and, well, I think you get the picture. This is, of course, not a comprehensive list. The rule of thumb is, if you think you might need to talk to me, then you probably need to talk to me. Pick up the phone. Send the e-mail. I won’t know you need me until you let me know that you do. But, I’m here when you do.
We draw ever closer to our “Searching for the Future” weekend, and so we have another visioning question to consider. This month, I ask us to contemplate the following:
What are our most courageous dreams for the future of this faith community?
The Rev. Rob Eller-Isaacs and our UUA moderator, Gini Courter, ask a similar question in a visioning workshop they led in New England a few years ago. “If you were five times as bold,” they ask, “what could you accomplish in five years’ time?” Five times as bold! Can we conceive of ourselves in this way? Imagine ourselves fearless? Imagine what we could accomplish as a congregation if nothing stood in our way. What would we look like? What would Los Alamos look like?
Now, I’m not so naïve as to think that nothing stands in our way. And it’s often true, as Rick Warren has been quoted, that “churches greatly overestimate what they can accomplish in five years and greatly underestimate what they can accomplish in twenty.” However, the seed of vision grows from a place of fearlessness. Dreams are supposed to be big and bold and nigh impossible. Reality comes after the brainstorm. So, what are your most courageous dreams for our church community?
On the 8th of November, I’ll be exchanging pulpits with the Rev. Ron Hersom, assistant minister of the First Unitarian Church of Albuquerque. Ron and I have been close colleagues since my arrival here in New Mexico, and we share officer duties in the local chapter of the UU Ministers’ Association. It’s taken us two years to get an exchange on our calendars, and I’m thrilled that we’re finally getting the chance. I hope you’ll come to hear him preach and give him a warm welcome. For my part, I’ll be taking my sermon, “Your Life is a Gospel.” to all three (three!) services in Albuquerque.
Finally, I’ll be out of the office from Wednesday the 11th through Monday the 16th to attend the UUMA Convocation in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. This is the first Convocation in nearly a decade, and I’m looking forward to a long and hopefully fulfilling week of fellowship and continuing education. Please be sure to attend the service on the 15th while I’m away, when our Ethical Eating Study Group will present. This is the first time our congregation has been this involved in a UUA study issue in quite some time, and this is an excellent opportunity to get an update and get in on the conversation. I’ll be back with you all on the 22nd for a service on gratitude.
As always, I’m available in an emergency by e-mail and cell phone while I’m away.
See you in church!
Rev. John Cullinan