Atone = At One

On Yom Kippur, the one thing, the only thing, for which we really have to atone, is all the times we weren’t awake, all the moments we didn’t approach with the awareness that that moment was the complete fulfillment of everything. We atone for all our lapses, our naps, our falling into the dream-delusions of separateness, by returning to being at one: at one with the dirty dishes, at one with the traffic jam, at one with your persnickety client, at one with your capricious boss, at one with your child’s tantrum, at one with every disappointment. It is a wonderful and dead-on accurate fluke of English that “atone” is “at one.” We atone for our mistakes by being at one with them -- and with every aspect of our lives.

In this context, the question of mission, the question of articulating a church mission, is the question of how we can be together in a community in such a way that:
(A) Our church is at one with the things, responding harmoniously to what arises, and
(B) We all help each other to develop the sense of vision, of how to bring to each moment a creative engagement.

Unitarian Universalism puts a heavy emphasis on individual conscience. Yet sometimes in our lives our individual conscience is simply at its wit’s end. Grief and loss are headed your way – and mine. If they are not with us right now, they are headed our way. Meanwhile, our individual consciences have spent their life thinking about other things, will never see grief coming, have no idea by themselves how to cope with significant loss.

To learn to find peace with, to be at one with, all of life, even the difficult and painful parts, our individual consciences needs the resources of a community embodying a tradition – a tradition of practices and texts and the habits of using them to make meaning even when all meaning seems to be gone.

How do we do become the community that can offer that resource to our members and to the world? On what shall we get to work in order that the tradition, teachings, and values of Unitarian Universalism can come to life, find embodiment in our doing, and thereby nurture spiritual maturity in us? In short, what are we here to work on? That's the mission question.

On what are we here to work? For what does a Unitarian Universalist congregation congregate? Why do we gather at Community Unitarian Church and contribute our resources to its support?

It’s awfully nice to the members and friends of CUC to all chip in to pay my bills, give me a nice house to stay in, pay most of the health insurance premium for my family, but what exactly is it with which you’d like me to help you?

What is it with which we’d like to help and be helped by each other?

Articulating a clear and helpful statement of mission is no easy thing. More clarity on what we’re trying to do here – so we can help each other do it – and I can add what I can – would feel good.

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This is part 2 of 5 of "Mission: Possible"
Next: Part 3: "Name the Change"
Beginning: Part 1: "The Vision Thing"

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