The corner of Ford Parkway and Cleveland Avenue in Saint Paul, Minnesota was the first place I saw the tagline for the United Methodist Church’s Rethink Church initiative. The words were printed on a bus stop bench: “Open Minds, Open Hearts, Open Doors.” I remember thinking, “No fair! They stole our slogan.” Of course, that never was our slogan (I believe the Unitarian Universalist Association was rolling out “Nurture Your Spirit, Help Heal Our World” around that time). Still, not every UMC congregation’s doors were completely open, at least to those who identify as LGBTQ. At any rate, Openness is a quality that’s highly prized in a religious communities, and the same is true for individuals. Hence this week’s small group ministry session based on resources from SpiritualityandPractice.com.

Chalice/Candle Lighting

Opening Words:

By being receptive, we can avail ourselves of the spiritual wealth available to us. By being open, we can receive things beyond what we ourselves might imagine.
—Deng Ming-Dao in Everyday Tao

Check-in/Sharing

Topic:

An Excerpt from Blue Truth: A Spiritual Guide to Life & Death and Love & Sex by David Deida

David Deida sheds light on the spiritual practice of openness and what that means in terms of relationships, self-realization, and our emotional life. Here is an excerpt.

Right now, and in every moment, you are either closing or opening. You are either stressfully waiting for something—more money, security, affection—or you are living from your deep heart, opening as the entire moment, and giving what you most deeply desire to give, without waiting.

If you are waiting for anything in order to live and love without holding back, then you suffer. Every moment is the most important moment of your life. No future time is better than now to let down your guard and love.

Everything you do right now ripples outward and affects everyone. Your posture can shine your heart or transmit anxiety. Your breath can radiate love or muddy the room in depression. Your glance can awaken joy. Your words can inspire freedom. Your every act can open hearts and minds.

Opening from heart to all, you live as a gift to all. In every moment, you are either opening or closing. Right now, you are choosing to open and give fully or you are waiting.

Questions: Are you waiting for anything in order to live and love without holding back?

Check-out/Likes and Wishes

Closing Words:

Openness is a receptivity to everyone and everything. It is quite fundamentally an other-centeredness, a disposition of availability to others.
—Wayne Teasdale in The Community of Wisdoms edited by Wayne Teasdale and George Cairns

To Practice This Thought: Whenever you feel you could be more open to the moment, adopt a gesture—hands cupped upward, for example—to signify your receptivity to others and God.

Group Session Plan based on resources on Openness from www.spiritualityandpractice.com.

For a PDF version of this small group ministry session, click here: Openness.

For more information on small group ministry, visit the UU Small Group Ministry Network.

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