Symbols carry power. They give meaning. Vast ideas are captured within a symbol. They create patterns that reinforce messages. Symbols are the bridge between the human reading them and the essence of what the symbol represents. Sacred imagery helps connect the imminent with the transcendent. A Buddhist teaching captures this connection. Hear Thich Nhat Hanh describe it: “Bhikkhus, the teaching is merely a vehicle to describe the truth. Don’t mistake it for the truth itself. A finger pointing at the moon is not the moon. The finger is needed to know where to look for the moon, but if you mistake the finger for the moon itself, you will never know the real moon” (Old Path White Clouds: Walking in the Footsteps of the Buddha).
Entering into our summer series we will explore the power of symbols. We will see how they create patterns in our life. We will seek reflections of symbols in Creation and throughout our community.
Preacher: Rev. Steve Jerbi
Text: Matthew 4:12-23
Long before the cross became the primary symbol of Christianity, early followers of The Way used the fish symbol. It was often used in secrecy to hide allegiance to Christ from the forces of the Empire. The connections of the fish are known throughout the Jesus stories – feeding the multitudes, the miraculous catch, the resurrection brunch with fish. Today we focus on the call to follow Jesus and fish for people.
Spiritual Practice: Take a favorite Bible verse and try to write it using only emojis. Post it to the “Members and Friends of UCUCC” Facebook group or email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Indigenous and Settler Relationships to Land and Place
Preacher: Professor Dina Gilio-Whitaker
Text: Proverbs 8:1-9
We kick off Seabeck All Church Camp with a reflection from our featured speaker and a chance to explore our theme for the week. See articles about Seabeck to learn more about our online and in-person events.
Spiritual Practice: Seabeck week. Find an object that represents a new learning from Seabeck All Church camp. Create a representation of it – with a photo, a watercolor, a charcoal sketch, or pen and paper.
Preacher: Rev. Amy Roon
Text: Matthew 5:14-16
The center image in the UCUCC rose window is a lighthouse. Nautical imagery has been important to Christianity from the beginning – with images of boats, anchors, and fish. In a port-town like Seattle, traditional imagery is contextualized and modernized to speak to the people. How does merging nautical themes with the divine shine continue to speak to us today?
Spiritual Practice: Scripture uses light/darkness symbolism without racial overtones. In 21st century US society, this binary cannot be divorced from colorism and racism. Read this article: Make a list of new ways to express the meaning of the metaphor without reinforcing racialized imagery.
Preacher: Rev. Dr. Catherine Foote
Text: Genesis 9:8-17
The rainbow is a symbol out of the Hebrew scriptures as a sign of the covenant between God and all of creation. This relationship is not limited to humanity but extends affirming that all the earth is sacred. This symbology, within the church and beyond, continues to speak of expansiveness. The pride flag’s roots of “somewhere over the rainbow” dreams of a world where all are valued. The flag itself continues to evolve with the Philadelphia Pride flag explicitly honoring people of color and the Portland Pride flag extends to include colors associated with the transgender community.
Spiritual Practice: Learn about the orthodox tradition of praying with icons. Find an icon – ancient or modern – that inspires your spiritual awakening.
Go Deeper with your spiritual practices throughout the summer: Read adrienne maree brown’s Emergent Strategy. Look for the ways biomimicry informs her work. Explore middle ages mystic Hildegard of Bingen and how her visions continue to inspire new connections for spiritual growth. How does she use symbols and symbolism throughout her writings?