Here’s a homework suggestion for the New Year.

No, seriously, if you take the time to do this, you might thank me. It looks like four pages, but it’s really just two; one you can skim, one is blank, and only two take some thinking.

Simply read through the Introduction to the Soul Matters materials for January, “What Does It Mean To Be a People of Intention?” (PDF), and then do Our Spiritual Exercises, Option A: Filling in the Blanks with Intention. 

“It’s not easy to stay true to our deepest intentions. But often it’s even harder to recognize what they are.”

The fourth page is a list of 19 questions to help you recognize the intentions you carry with you and hope for. The first one asks you to complete the thought:

“My most important promise to myself is ____________________.”

And the last one?

“I have always intended to ___________________once I have finished _________________.”

You don’t even have to answer all the questions. I’m asking the members of the Spirituality on Tap and Soul Matters for Young(er) Adults groups to answer enough to be able to pick two or three sentences that seem to merit their greatest attention right now so we can share them at our next meeting.

“Here’s what I discovered. Intention is different from setting goals or resolutions in that it “pulls us into” who we truly are. Goals and resolutions ‘push us out’ into future possibilities. To set intentions, we listen to our inner voice which tells us who we truly are.”
— Katie Covey, on what she learned from Soul Matters colleagues during their brainstorming session on being a people of intention.

If you think about intentions the way Katie does, intentions come from you and are connected to you. You live into your intentions and make them a part of who you are. If intentions work that way (and I like thinking that they do), a little time to get to recognize and know the intentions I care about would be very helpful.

I intend to read these pages over quickly to get a feel for them. I’ll check that goal off.

Then I’ll put them down, let them work in my subconscious and come back to them in a day or two when I can fix a cup of tea and sit and reflect, visit with the thoughts more, theirs and mine, and fill in the blanks. 

If you do your homework, we can usher in a more personally intentional and hopeful New Year together.

Our Martin Luther King Day service is particularly special this year. The Unitarian Universalist Association has launched a campaign to form a five-million-dollar endowment to “uphold and center the history and perspectives, the voices and the leadership of Black Lives of Unitarian Universalists.”

They are calling it The Practice and Promise of Our Faith, and it is our opportunity to make a real commitment toward making “the beloved community” real.

We are asked to join in the campaign by scheduling a Sunday service and by helping to meet a one-million-dollar donation from a generous donor that will match our congregational giving. If we meet the threshold of $10 per member, our contributions will be matched dollar-for-dollar. Our impact will be doubled. “This is our time to be Bold, Radical and Transformational as we commit to nurture a radically inclusive, justice centered, multiracial and multigenerational religious faith!”

As we will celebrate in our service, this is not an abstract idea but a personal and personally felt opportunity to change the trajectory of our history, the potential and tone of the present and nothing less than the possibilities of Unitarian Universalism for our children and the people and children to come. By doing our part, we begin to make our intentions real so that we might live in to them and make them be who we truly are.

—Rev. Jim McKinley, Minister