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Soul Matters @ OUUC


In This Issue

  • Emily's Reflections
  • Invitation to Reflection
  • Sara's Reflections
  • Invitation to Practice
  • November Worship
ouuc chalice
November Worship

November 1, 2015 (Daylight Saving Ends)


Troy Fisher (Music Director) and Sara Lewis (Director of Lifespan Religious Education)

In this multigenerational service, we will remember those who have come before us and the gifts they passed on to us. All are invited to bring a photo or other memento of a loved one you would like to remember during this service.

Nov 8, 2015

“Beyond Categorical Thinking”

Eddy Carroll and Jo Victoria, Beyond Categorical Thinking Faciliators

Thinking of people in terms of categories is a barrier to relationship. Developing greater awareness of

our personal biases and filters is an important part of creating and maintaining beloved community and

calling the right minister for OUUC.

More information about the Beyond Categorical Thinking Program, the Saturday workshop sponsored by

the Ministerial Search Committee, and the facilitators is available at


November 15, 20015

“Amazing Grace”

The Reverend Emily Melcher, Interim Minister

Grace isn’t something we earn or something we deserve, but something we may receive when our hearts are receptive, especially when they have been cracked opened by loss or grief or despair.


November 22, 2015

“The Welcome Table”

Multigenerational Service

Each year, the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee invites members of UU congregations to get to

know several of UUSC’s partners in justice from around the world, by imagining hosting them as guests at our tables. Most congregations participate during the holiday season, and this year, OUUC returns to

that tradition, beginning with this multigenerational service where we’ll imagine a welcome table that

crosses all sorts of borders and brings all sorts of gifts. Each family will receive a chipboard bank with pictures of the partners, to place on their table throughout the season, and people of all ages are invited to contribute to the bank each time they eat, symbolically sharing their meal with the partners. At the end of the holiday season, families are encouraged to collect the money in the box and write a check to

the UUSC, either as a Guest at Your Table gift, or for a UUSC membership. Memberships begin at $40; unrestricted gifts of $125 or more will be matched by the Shelter Rock Congregation. (We’re aware that

some of you made UUSC Guest at Your Table and/or membership contributions for 2015 last spring, and

know that that may mean you’ll want to wait until next Thanksgiving to participate again; nevertheless,

we hope you’ll join us for worship and get to know this year’s featured partners/guests).

November 29, 2015

“Anticipating Grace”

The Rev. Emily Melcher, Interim Minister,

with reflections from members of OUUC

November's Theme: Grace

Grace Happens


We try so hard, don’t we? We try to be better people, to take better care of ourselves, one another, our communities, the earth. And sometimes we succeed. Sometimes our efforts make a difference.

Sometimes even a substantial one.

One arena in which our striving never leads to success is when we try to earn the love, affection, and kindness we receive. We try to be worthy of it -- if not before we receive it, then after – instead of

simply receiving these things as the gifts they are.

Embedded in our striving is hubris: the illusion that we

are in control of everything. When everything in our lives is humming along beautifully, we may lose sight of the likelihood that we didn’t start the humming, and that we alone don’t sustain it.

Sometimes, our lives hum along to a tune that exists both outside of and deep within us, and all we’ve done is catch the tune and join in. When we can’t hear the tune at all, when we are lost or in the depths of despair, we too easily believe that we must have fallen short, that we must be to blame.  In response, we redouble our efforts, fearful of our own helplessness, which, though neither relentless nor absolute (until the moment of our deaths) is nevertheless real.

Each of us has times in our lives when we cannot maintain the illusion that we are in control, and it is precisely in those moments that we are most likely to experience the unexpected, unearned gift known as grace.

It’s not something we earn; it’s something we receive, if we are open to receiving it. It can change our hearts and even our lives.

Invitation to Reflection:

Have you had an experience you’d call “grace” in your life? Has a path become clear to you in the very moment you acknowledged you’d lost your way? Has a friend called or stopped by just as you were feeling most alone? Has your heart been opened by something or someone you couldn’t have anticipated and hadn’t imagined? Have you succeeded at something that seemed beyond your capacity without knowing how you succeeded? Have you been forgiven in the absence of an apology, or loved without earning it, perhaps even without loving?


Emily Melcher, Interim Minister

A Sense of Grace


If you look up the definition of the word grace you will get something like “the unearned love of God”. This is the love that we receive even when we don’t do the right thing, even when we are wrong or fail.  This is the love that the Prodigal Son received from his father in the parable, this is the love that all children should receive from their parents: I love you no matter what.

I don’t think you have to believe in God to experience this sort of grace. Grace is an experience of being accepted and embraced by something: by another person, by the natural world, by the mysterious spinning universe, by Life. Grace is an unexpected and mysterious gift coming from an unknown source. Grace is being loved by life itself.

Do you feel loved like that? How would it be to say to yourself that right now, you are Enough, just as you are? You are worthy of love, worthy of goodness, worthy of grace? If your grace-bucket was full, would it be easier for you to be a force of grace in the world for others?

Grace is deeply countercultural to our American culture of meritocracy and capitalism. Grace doesn’t weigh how much you deserve or how hard you’ve worked, but is instead a gift freely given to all.  It is the big welcome table, where not only are we Enough, but we have Enough to share with everyone else as well.

Invitation to Practice:

Why do we “say grace”? I would propose that this practice gives us a moment to pause and notice, as well as appreciate and express gratitude for, the gifts we have received without needing to earn them. But how does a Unitarian Universalist practice saying Grace?

My favorite:

We each have drunk from wells we did not dig, harvested fruit we did not sow, and been wrapped in cloth we did not weave. For these, and all our other blessings, we give thanks this day.

Other ideas can be found here and here.  There is also a good book, Beginner's Grace, by Kate Braestrup, that I would recommend.

I invite you to try saying Grace this month, and see how it changes your appreciation of the blessings you receive.

Sara Lewis, Director of Lifespan Religious Education

Engage with the theme of the month in any or all of these ways:

  • Come to Sunday worship, and after engage with the interactive theme display in the Commons during coffee hour
  • Children and Youth Religious Education programs will be organized around the theme of the month as well
  • Join Circles of the Spirit for small group ministry around the theme of the month.
  • Join the closed Facebook group: Soul Matters @ OUUC
  • Email your reflections, ideas, music suggestions, art responses, photos, etc. to for possible sharing on digital platforms or in worship

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Olympia Unitarian Universalist Congregation
2315 Division St NW
Olympia, Washington 98502

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