Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Back to Talking about Prayers

Once again, Bridgett has pushed me to actually blog about something I have been pondering. Awhile I go, I blogged a little bit about how I missed having standard prayers in service. As most of you know, I was raised Catholic, and had to memorize certain prayers. I can still say them. Why? Because I said them most Sundays and a lot of Wednesdays for YEARS. I was quizzed on them. It was expected that every Catholic child could recite them. Since my children go to a Lutheran school, they also have to have certain prayers memorized. I am fairly certain other religious beliefs also have a cadre of prayers or meditations most adherents know by heart. Why don't we?! Yes, we have members that come from a wide diversity of backgrounds that believe many different things. I also realize some UUs have a lot of emotional baggage wrapped up in saying prayers. There is no reason though, that we can't redefine what prayer (or meditation if you prefer that language) means to us - especially as a denomination. I know we are congregationalist and balk at having too much hierarchical direction, but I think we are missing the boat on this.

A lot of people attend our churches looking for a sense of community and a spiritual home. I like to think that many of our congregations strive to be welcoming and work hard to bring the newcomer into to the fold. Once the newcomer is feeling settled though, I think we can kind of come up hollow in the theological area. I have met many UUs who sort of reach that level of being comfortable but not exactly sure what it means to be a UU. Adult Religious Education programs can help with this, but wouldn't it be great to have more structures within the service that connects us to each other. We have the chalice and a couple of hymnals, but after that, it is pretty much up to each congregation on how it holds services. Why not have a few prayers or meditations that are regularly said in all the congregations? What a wonderful way to connect with each other. I love the idea that UUs around the world are all saying the same words. That is powerful.

Obviously, this would not be an easy task to accomplish. I would call on the UUA to explore this idea. We spend a lot of time advocating various important causes, let's spend some time strengthening our foundation. I feel this would go a long way in supporting our congregants and our denomination.


Anonymous said...

As a former Catholic, I issue a hearty hurray! I miss the ritual. While we have standard words around joys and sorrows at the start of service and end each service with Namaste, nothing else is ever the same. However, I doubt we could agree on a standard prayer in our own smaller congregation let alone the larger UU body. One can hope, though!

Bridgett said...

As a current Catholic, ritual is important to me (it's why I stay when there are so many reasons to leave). So I agree. The flow of a liturgical year, the same words sinking into one's heart--it's important in life to have consistency and familiar things.

RevNaomi said...

I'm a fan of both regular prayers and spontaneous prayer. Which prayers would be willing to say every week? What kinds of prayer would be too challenging in your communities?

plaidshoes said...

RevNaomi I think that is a lot of the problem - what would people be willing to say? Since we don't have a "leader" dictating our options, we have a long road to climb in choosing approrpriate prayers and convincing every congregation the value of joining in. I imagine it would have to start with a task force and move out from there. There is no easy way, but I would certainly be willing to help if the UUA would ever be interested in this idea.