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Updated: Jun 3, 2022

At this time of year, there are often many blessings in our lives such as graduations, weddings, and family gatherings. Yet it is often difficult to celebrate and be joyful when there is much pain evident in this time of COVID, the Ukraine war, and school shootings. Join us this month as we explore the practice of lifting up blessings, in good times and especially during difficult times. How can celebrating blessings and giving gratitude fit into these times?

At UUs of San Mateo, this month marks the end of our program year and the start of summer. On June 5, we celebrate the amazing UUSM choir and music director, Joel Chapman, with a Celebration of Music service. After service on June 12, please stay for the congregational meeting to approve next year’s budget and leadership slates. It is a blessing to come together in community. On June 19 the service will center around the blessing of having Rev. Stefani Etzbach-Dale join us in the pulpit, and on June 26, we will worship with UUs around the nation at the General Assembly service offered online and in person.

Looking at the calendar, there are many dates this month that lift up blessings from which we’ve all benefited. June 4th is the 99th anniversary of Norbert Capek’s first Flower Ceremony which is a beautiful reminder of the unique gifts within us and the beauty and blessings of community. The Rev. Olympia Brown was ordained by the Universalists on June 25, 1863, as one of the first female ministers in the country, a small achievement on the road to gender equality for which I am grateful.

Juneteenth, a federal holiday observed on June 19, commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African-Americans in the United States. Overturning moral wrong and working to dismantle all systems of oppression are blessings, indeed. May we celebrate the strength and resilience of our African-American brothers and sisters, honor their past and present, and strengthen our commitment to continuing so much justice work that still needs to be done.

Finally, the entire month of June is Pride month! It is a time to lift up the many, many blessings offered by our LGBTQ+ family and friends. We also celebrate the inherent worth and the right to self-determination, equity, and respect due to all people everywhere. Stop by the UUSM booth on Saturday, June 11, from 11 am-5 pm in the San Mateo's Central Park at this year’s San Mateo Pride event!

The following piece by Rev. Robin Tanner is a reading I often use with the youth during Reading Week as a ‘blessing for finals.’ It is a good reminder that there are always blessings, even in times of stress and uncertainty.

Today we share in a blessing for losers, risk-takers, all failures far and wide....

Blessed are they who fall in the mud, who jump with gusto and rip the pants, who skin the elbows, and bruise the ego,

for they shall know the sweetness of risk.

Blessed are they who make giant mistakes, whose intentions are good but impact has injured, who know the hot sense of regret and ask for mercy,

for their hearts will know the gift of forgiveness.

Blessed are they who have seen a D or an F or C or any letter less than perfect, who are painfully familiar with the red pen and the labels as "less than,"

for they know the wisdom in the imperfect.

Blessed are they who try again, who dust off, who wash up, who extend the wish for peace, who return to sites of failure, who are dogged in their pursuit,

for they will discover the secret to dreams.

Blessed are they who refuse to listen to the naysayers,

for their hearts will be houses for hope.

Blessed are they who see beyond the surface of another,

for they will be able to delight in the gift of compassion.

Blessed are they who stop running the race to help a fellow traveler, who pick up the fallen, who stop for injured life,

for they shall know the kindness of strangers.

Blessed are they who wildly, boldly abandon winning,

for they shall know the path of justice.

Our congregation has been through a lot this spring, as we work to re-emerge from the pandemic and experience the heart-wrenching of saying goodbye to Rev. Ben and starting the search for our next minister. Celebrating blessings does not replace hardship or pain. But, just perhaps, gratitude for our blessings might help soothe our souls, strengthen our resolve, and lift our hearts as we move forward into the summer. Bright blessings, and may it be so.



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