Ingathering – Duct Tape Theology

It’s time for my “Duct Tape Theology” message this morning,
and I begin with a question:

What can we do with duct tape? [Go to slide show]

  • Protect a coffee cup
  • Make shoes
  • Transport stuff
  • Make festive clothes that are water resistant
  • Make fake elephants looks life-like
  • Baby sitting
  • Airplane repair

Just some of the many things you can do with duct tape…
But I’ve got something a little different in mind this morning—
we are talking “Duct Tape Theology,” after all.

I’m going to need help to share my message.
Will need six people….
Duct tape will be involved … but don’t worry! 🙂

[Six people, pre-selected, come down to the bottom.

They assemble in a circle, facing outwards.

Don, who acts as my hands for this segment, guides them]

Theology is like a mansion with many rooms,
and one of those rooms
has to do with the relationship people have with each other
and the universe.

What holds it all together?
See where I’m going here? DUCT TAPE!
But before we do any duct taping (!!),
I need to emphasize one more thing.
That we are Unitarian Universalists coming together,
meaning that we are a diverse group….

We aren’t necessarily all on the same page about things.

It’s an exciting way to be religious, for sure,
but it can sometimes make it hard to work together
and move forward all in the same direction…
It’s like herding cats!

Want to illustrate this with these dolls, which come from Goodwill

(God bless Goodwill)….

Each of these dolls is veRY different….

[Hold up one doll at a time:

monkey, moose, frog
pink gorilla, smurf, crazy purple monster that laughs when you shake it.

Hand the dolls to Don, who then gives one to each person]

**

To recap so far:

The theology we’re talking about this morning
is about what holds us to eachother and to the universe.
How are we connected?
What does the duct tape look like?

One form the duct tape takes
is our common purpose and vision for the future,
symbolized by the RED duct tape.

RED is for passion and purpose.

[Don wraps the people up in red duct tape,
careful that the tape touches only the dolls.
When he pulls the tape off the roll, and we hear the sound, say: ]

Ahh, the sound of what holds us together!

Our common mission: to change lives,
to invite people into experiences of rejuvenation, release, love,
service, justice-seeking, hope,
healing, forgiveness, etc….

Also our common Long Range Plan aspirations,
which hundreds of us helped create together
and which we want to achieve by 2016….

Say YES after I say each aspiration:

  • We will be among the most engaging and enriching congregations in Atlanta YES
  • We will increase our impact in the larger world YES
  • We will motivate and inspire ourselves and others YES
  • We will have the resources to fulfill our aspirations and potential YES

And then comes our Year 1 implementation plan
which is going to hold us together too:

  • Plan will be presented to the Board at its September meeting
  • Plan addresses each of the aspirations
  • Will be reporting progress on the plan to the Board on a monthly basis and to the congregation at its Spring meeting….

Sharing a common mission and a common vision of our future
is like duct tape connecting us—
enabling us to be stronger together than we could ever be alone….

**

Now there’s something else that holds us together.
There’s more Duct Tape Theology to talk about,
but before we go there,
want to know how my volunteers are doing…

Let me ask you all to rotate clockwise.

Barb’s got that crazy purple doll, and I want to see what he’s doing with it….

Great!

OK, on to the next force that holds us together
symbolized by the classic pewter-colored tape

[Don begins to wrap people up in the pewter-colored tape]

Here’s a hint about what this duct tape represents:
we read it responsively a moment ago.
Our common commitment to being a people of covenant.
Listen to the echo of this
in a very old part of our history:
a saying from a remarkable man
known as King John Sigismund of Transylvania,
the first and only Unitarian king in history.
In 1568 he said, “In every place
the preachers shall preach and explain the Gospel,
each according to his understanding of it,
and if the congregation like it, well.

If not, no one shall compel them for their souls would not be satisfied….”
In other words, we don’t have to think alike to love alike.

We’ve been saying this for hundreds of years….
We don’t need a creed to hold us together,
IF there is love and a desire to help each other.
But can things hold together,
if the love and desire to help eachother isn’t there? NO.

Our community comes apart at the seams.
Hope can’t get to change without struggle.
We’re not strong enough to contain the struggle
and keep it creative and positive….
That’s why being a people of covenant—
where we make practical promises to eachother to love one another—
is all-important to the viability of our spiritual way.

It’s theological duct tape!

For example:

consider again a part of our UUCA Covenant of Healthy Relationships:

We will seek a peaceful and constructive resolution process when conflicts arise.

Barb Greve, our Interim Director of Religious Education,
is very open about how the work during a program’s interim years
can create anxiety in people.

Change is difficult, even if you want it.
Change makes people anxious,
and anxious people don’t necessarily communicate in direct ways,
they don’t necessarily assume good intentions,
they don’t necessarily check the accuracy of their perceptions
and assumptions… And so on.

But what will bring us through is the pewter-colored duct tape!
Gotta rely on that duct tape…

Or consider another aspect of our covenant.

We will build the common good.

Brings to mind the old insight
that the more you put into this place, the more you’re gonna get out of it…

Duct tape theology!

We are engaged in our Annual Stewardship Campaign
and we need everyone’s participation.

You might have been asked to be a Visiting Steward—
we need you!
For sure you will be asked to pledge to UUCA this year generously …
and it’s so important.
We have a shared vision of our future,
as defined by our Long Range Plan aspirations,
and to make progress towards them,
people need to step up
in terms of their gifts of time, talent, and financial resources.

This is our spiritual home.
Gotta build it.
Earlier we heard that we still need teachers for our preschoolers
and for our 6th graders.

Gotta step up.

This is our home.
Gotta build it.

**

[To the people in the circle:]

You all still doing OK?
Let’s check something out.
How stuck together are the dolls you are holding?
Test how much give you got there.
Too much give, and we need …. more duct tape!

Which brings us to the third and last thing I want to say about Duct Tape Theology today.
One more way in which we are connected,
symbolized by the WHITE duct tape.
RED is for what? (passion and purpose)
PEWTER is for practicality
and WHITE is for spiritual purity.

[Don duct tapes the people with the white tape]

We are not just connected with each other—
we are connected to the universe too….
Unitarianism says (at the very least) that we all come from a common source
Universalism says (at the very least) that we are all going to the same place

We are all in this thing together
This interconnected web of all existence
Gay and transgendered and straight
Rich and middle class and poor
Republican and Democrat and Independent
Buddhist and Christian and Muslim
Atheist and agnostic and theist
We are all in this together

And what is this THIS I’m talking about?
Listen to these words from our UU version of Amazing Grace:
Spirit of Life, come unto me.
Sing in my heart all the stirrings of compassion.
Blow in the wind, rise in the sea;
Move in the hand, giving life the shape of justice.
Roots hold me close; wings set me free;
Spirit of Life, come to me, come to me.

That’s the duct tape that holds the universe together
That’s what’s at the center of our worship life here at UUCA

Our reverence for the Spirit of Life
as it manifests in our hearts and in the world
What renews us when we feel old and used up
What gives us hope in a time of hopelessness
What helps us forgive ourselves when we feel stupid and weak
What flows through us as joy
What bubbles up in us as a sense of humor
What calms us with patience
What heals us with peace

Theological duct tape

Red, pewter, white

Passion, practicality, purity

What holds us together….

Let the congregation say AMEN!

**

I gotta take a picture of this.

No one’s gonna believe we just duct taped people in church!

[Music, as Anthony takes pictures]