Celestial Lands The Religious Crossroads of Politics, Power, and Theology

Opening Day: GA 2010 Day 1

It is always amazing to me, that first day of General Assembly. I seem to spend most of that first day in the hallways, greeting friends not seen in awhile. Those who have been there awhile point others in the right direction to get to the myriad of events and places to check in, and we stand in the hallway, greeting one another.

Two things were different this year… the first was all the congratulations from colleagues and friends, on my ordination and graduation. Others wanted to know my plans for next year, and still others came by to share with me theirs. So much of our faith is about that “meeting” – the relational dynamic that is one of the core elements of this faith we call Unitarian Universalism.

At this General Assembly which has the potential to be quite contentious, we need to be reminded of the importance of the relational dynamic in our Liberal Faith.

I attended a dinner for Military Chaplains and Chaplain Candidates, where we were able to share our love for and say goodbye to Rev. Beth Miller, the outgoing Director of Ministry and Professional Leadership of the UUA, and more importantly to us, the UUA Military Chaplain Endorser. Never have we UU Military Ministers had such an amazing advocate and friend, always willing to make time in her busy schedule for one of “her” ministers. We visited with one another, shouted some inter-service rivalry across the room, and said some hello’s and goodbyes. It was wonderful to see all my military chaplain colleagues.

I then briefly attended the CMWD / Heartland ingathering… and then switched into my dress uniform for the opening ceremonies. If you want to be noticed at General Assembly, wear a U.S. Army Class A Uniform. Any friends and colleagues who had not found me before found me then… I was also amazed at how many people I did not know wanted to come up and shake the hand of one of our faith’s military chaplains, and do the UU version of “Thank you for your service” (the UU version is often much longer).

What shocked me was when the denizens of the Celestial Lands began to find me and tell me how much they loved the blog and website… I write Celestial Lands for myself… and it never fully sinks in as real that others read it, until someone comes up to you at GA with a whole collection of their favorite articles printed off, looking for a signature. Amazing… and thank you.

I loved the banner parade, especially seeing banners of congregations I have preached at, have served, or will be serving soon (yes, I saw the Midland banner). Seeing Peter Mayer perform live was wonderful, as was all of the music. The Chalice Lighting raised a few Freudian eyebrows… and I have yet to decide if the innuendo’s within the reading were intentional or not… a mystery for the ages.

But above all else, the Opening Ceremony of GA serves one purpose… to remind us that our Liberal Faith Movement is more than just our one church, or our small cluster of churches. It shows us that we are not as isolated as we sometimes feel, or as we sometimes make ourselves seem. It reminds us we are a faith with a vital, necessary, and noble purpose… no less than the salvation of the world, in this time, in this place, for us all.

And, as one colleague invited me to an after-party, another colleague said “No, David will go back to his hotel room and get some sleep… he’s the responsible one.” As I was beginning to feel good about that, another said “No, it’s just that he’s married”. Also true.

And so begins the 2010 General Assembly of the UUA.

Yours in faith,

Rev. David

5 Thoughts on “Opening Day: GA 2010 Day 1

  1. Welcome to Minneapolis-Saint Paul ! (Twin Cities is officially frowned upon now) I’m sure you have lots of things to do / see with any available “free” time, so I won’t suggest any local attractions, except to encourage any and all to cross the river to Saint Paul for Unity Church’s service at 10 am. http://www.unityunitarian.org/

    Questions: How many UU Military Chaplains and Chaplain Candidates are there total? How many attended your dinner?

    I like the new design too! (I usually read in RSS)

  2. David wrote:
    “The Chalice Lighting raised a few Freudian eyebrows… and I have yet to decide if the innuendo’s within the reading were intentional or not… a mystery for the ages.”

    David,

    Personally, I would use a neutral descriptive term like “sexual metaphor” instead of “innuendo.”

    I’m aware that folks object to sexual metaphor being used in language (at least two other UU blog authors have commented on this chalice lighting besides yourself).

    If it were a culinary metaphor being used in a chalice lighting, I doubt anyone would raise an eyebrow. But as soon as a sexual metaphor is used, folks get all upset and confused.

    I’m just puzzled why using a sexual metaphor in worship is so terrible.

  3. Steve…

    No, I’m pretty clear that in my opinion, they were innuendo-like. I have seen sexual metaphors used in the pulpit in ways that were wonderful. That was not my opinion of this particular experience. I recognize that others might have had a different experience…. but I will defend my right to name mine. My experience of this particular event was somewhere between amused disbelief and the feeling of watching a train-wreck happening, and knowing there was nothing you could do about it.

    I do not believe that it was intended in the way it was received by many of the people there at the event… I like edgy, and this felt beyond the edge to me.

    Yours in faith,

    David

  4. Lois Reborne on Friday June 25, 2010 at 0:52 +0000 said:

    Interesting – what was said is not the text that was submitted ahead of the event. “Penetration” for example – nowhere in the supplied text. I am watching at home, and going back and forth between text and image. So, I mostly “heard” the text, and only now, going back to just listen do I “hear” the spoken words. Whew.

    I said the good Rev got a bit carried way in the moment.
    Text is here, under the video.
    http://www.uua.org/events/generalassembly/2010/ga2010/165845.shtml

  5. Pingback: Blogging the UUA General Assembly | Celestial Lands

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