How the Invocation Points to Stewardship and Belonging

by Jim Wormington

“Here you need not hide nor pretend…”

We hear these words spoken from the pulpit every Sunday, but sometimes we do hide and pretend.

I’ll admit that I do.

You see, my ego doesn’t want you to know I feel fear, or shame, or insecurity. My default mode is Game Face. “I’m fine. Everything’s fine. I’m okay, you’re okay.” Even if I’m not fooling you, part of me wants to. I’ll hide behind humor or cleverness or existential conversation … anything to keep you from seeing my pain. That would be too hard, too uncomfortable.

How sad. What a rare and precious opportunity I’m missing by withholding the deeper truth about myself.

Because, honestly, I very much want to be known, accepted, and valued. Probably, you do too.

Every time we meet, we have the power to offer each other the gifts of validation and affirmation. Aren’t such healing exchanges at the very heart of why churches exist?

As the invocation says, “Come into this place where we can touch and be touched, heal and be healed, forgive and be forgiven.”

It’s this potential, this possibility, that moves me to believe in and support UUCE.

No doubt, part of my motive is selfish. I want to receive something that might minister to my soul. But, you know what? I also want to give something. I want to hear you. I want the opportunity to know you, accept you, and value you. The mutuality is the beauty of what’s possible in this place that we “make holy by our presence.”

UUCE can be a place where you feel you belong, it can be a place where you develop meaningful connections to people, and a place where you grow as a person. I wanted these things when I first started attending. It turns out, they may not always happen without some intentionality. So, I made some choices.

I became a member. I decided I’d drop my pledge in the plate when it came around. I volunteered to run sound when the “A” Team can’t be there. I volunteered to make coffee before service (only once so far, but I’m on the list to do it again). These are fairly small, simple things. Anyone can do them. But they’re a part of me giving back and they help me feel more integrated into the life of the church.

I signed up for Circle Supper (which is an awesome way to meet people in an informal environment, engage in deep conversations, and eat excellent food). I recommend it!

I also (with a gentle nudge from Reverend Leslie) joined a men’s group. This, by far, has been the most important choice I’ve made since I started coming to UUCE. The group is a place where I can let down the walls. It’s a safe place where I can be vulnerable. I’m not saying it’s always easy for me. It isn’t. But I value that group of men very much. I know that when I’m talking about my struggles they’re going to offer me a listening ear, compassion, and their collective wisdom. All without judgment. How cool is that?

If you don’t feel connected here at UUCE, if you don’t feel “invested,” allow me to offer you this advice (with apologies to JFK): “DO ask what UUCE can do for you. And DO ask what you can do for UUCE.”

I believe that both the receiving and the giving will help fuel your desire to dig in deeper. I believe that building each other up, “bearing one another’s burdens,” is the launching pad for personal growth and the urge to engage in community service. The healthier and stronger we are in mind and body and spirit … the more likely we are to go the extra mile and invest ourselves in causes higher than ourselves.

I’m only starting the journey. If you’re still pondering your next move at the Spiritual Train Station, I invite you to hop on board!

Go ahead and bring all your “vulnerabilities and strengths, fears and anxieties, loves and hopes.” Together, we can care for each other and “spur one another on to love and good works.”

May it be.