Oops, I missed Church!


Very cold Fargo



I really enjoy going to my church.  I never thought I would ever say that.  But it is true.  I go to church most Sundays.  Heck, the service starts at 11, it’s over at noon.  All is well and it starts off my Sundays almost always with meaning and hope and love.  But, I missed going to church two weekends in a row! Two weeks ago, it was because I didn’t want to go out in the -25 degree weather (I believe I was in the majority of our congregation on that thought process.)  Then, this past weekend, I missed mostly because, well, frankly, I was just too darned lazy and tired. I had spent the entire – yes, the entire previous day — traveling.  So my eyelids were closed, on my sofa, with two warm blankets wrapped around me during the entire Sunday program.

So there you have it, confessed to the public. I missed Sunday church.  The absolutely groovy thing is, it just doesn’t matter, at least not in terms like it matters if you miss a  “Sunday Mass”, or didn’t “keep the Sabbath holy”.  It isn’t earth shattering. It doesn’t mean much to anyone but myself.  I hear I missed another phenomenal talk about someone’s personal spiritual journey.  But that is all on me, my loss, and a little regret for  having not been able to share in that story. 

When I don’t attend, I miss the people I see on our Sunday gatherings.  I miss the snacks, coffee, and conversation afterwards. I miss the music. I miss the community.  But I will be back.  I always go back. When I do, well, no one will have judged me for missing a service.  I may have been missed, as I miss others when they choose to not attend.  There is no guilt. There is no shame.  There is nothing wrong with making the decision to miss a Sunday service.  It’s more than OK.  And I love it.

I was gone, but not judged for being gone, and that, my friends, is one of the beautiful things about being a member of the Fargo Moorhead Unitarian Universalist Church.  See you on  Sundays at 11 am.

Unitarian Universalists Church

Belief is the Enemy of Faith – by Peter Morales, President, UUAC

Religions are not all the same, of course. Yet certain common themes and core values emerge in all of them. Among these are compassion, community, the practice of a spiritual discipline, and the pursuit of a difficult path toward a new level of consciousness.

We UUs have been open to other faiths for a long time. We draw from a number of religious sources. We respect and try to appreciate other traditions (well, at least the more liberal and progressive parts of them). I have sometimes joked that we are a kind of spiritual refugee center for people from other traditions. I am one of them.

Many current UUs came to our faith out of a rejection of the faith into which they were born. The search of many young people today is fundamentally different. They are not in flight from oppressive orthodoxy. Instead I see them searching for something much deeper than an absence of dogma. Something new is struggling to be born.

What is holding back a new spiritual awakening? How can we help it emerge? How can we play a role in this great cultural movement?

I think we can help change the conversation. We need to think about faith, religion, and spirituality in a new way. When I grew up I was taught that religion was about what we believed. What made my denomination different (and correct, of course) was our sound doctrine. We were right. This made religion too much about being right, about us and them. Too much attention then goes into defending our beliefs.

I am now convinced that “belief,” in the way we usually use the word, is actually the enemy of faith, religion, and spirituality. Let me say that again: belief is the enemy of faith. When we dwell on beliefs we ask all the wrong questions. My faith is much more about what I love than about what I think.

When the conversation shifts away from our beliefs to what we hold most dear, to what moves us at the depths of our being and what calls us, wondrous new possibilities emerge. We share and explore our deepest experiences. We discover what we have in common. Our attention naturally turns to how we want to live our lives and to the commitments we are willing to make. Our concern at the personal level becomes one of developing our awareness, of spiritual disciplines, of growth. At the interpersonal level, our attention turns to loving relationships. Finally, our attention turns to issues of compassion, justice, and interdependence. Faith becomes a relationship. Faith is about being faithful to what we hold sacred.

A new interfaith, multifaith spirituality is struggling to be born. Ours has always been a faith beyond belief. We have a historic role to play.

This article appeared in the Fall 2013 issue of UU World(page 5). See sidebar for links to related resources.