The Big Tent of Live Oak


These two pictures say so much about Live Oak.

And I think they offer a vision for Unitarian Universalism as a whole.

On April 19, we held a Good Friday Tenebrae service at Live Oak with a communion ritual, lifting up the story of the last days of Jesus. A week later, we danced around the Maypole, celebrating the Pagan holiday of Beltane.

Both of these services were done mindfully, with attention to the theological and traditional origins underpinning the rituals. Anyone interested was welcome to join in. Some participated because it it is part of their spirituality, others did so out of curiosity, some participated as a way on enriching their connections to fellow congregants.

At the last Policy Committee meeting, Board Trustee Tim Buckley spoke of his experience at the Tenebrae service. He said that the service did not speak to him personally, because he has realized that ritual is not significant to him. But he said he was moved by the people around him who clearly connected with the ritual. He said he was so glad that this service was available to them, and he was glad he got to witness their experience of it.

His attitude is, I’m happy to say, not unique at Live Oak. And that IS unique. For years, UU congregations have struggled with the discomfort that naturally happens as you widen the “tent.” Many UU congregations still struggle with this, battling over religious language, music preferences, and more.

I am profoundly grateful to be at a church that works hard to put personal preferences aside, understanding that the hymn one person hates is exactly the hymn another person needs to hear. There is a generosity of spirit here that flows into everything we do. And with every bit of generosity extended by one member, the rest of us grow more generous by their example.

This Sunday, I’m going to be laying out what I feel a 21st Century Unitarian Universalism should look like. (Spoiler: it looks a lot like Live Oak.)

Your presence at Live Oak creates and recreates this community. Thank you for all you bring to this Big Tent.