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Freedom of Religious Thought

What Worship Means to Us

In a religious tradition which does not require a belief in God, why worship at all? True, there are some among us who do not like to use that word because of its traditional connotations. But many of us choose to use it framed by the meaning of its Anglo Saxon roots: worth-shape is the act of focussing upon and clarifying what is of greatest worth — that which we wish to serve with our lives. For some, the word God broadly defined serves as a focus, especially when understood as the power of creativity within and among us, rather than a separate and omnipotent reality. For others, mindfulness of the depth of the present moment (as Buddhism teaches) anchors our lives. For most, that of worth which we come together to shape is at least partially framed by abstract values and principles such as compassion and justice.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, in his younger years a Unitarian minister, wrote, “A person will worship something—have no doubt about that. We may think our tribute is paid in secret in the dark recesses of our hearts … but it will out. That which dominates our imaginations and our thoughts will determine our lives and character. Therefore, it behooves us to be careful what we worship, for what we are worshipping we are becoming.” In a world where consumption, financial gain, power and competition tend to shape the common culture, it is all the more important that we choose carefully; that we intentionally shape and clarify what centers our lives; that we experience worship.

It is a part of our philosophy that “the truth is not spoken until many voices are heard.” Many of our services are lay-led, providing diverse points of view. Also, after each service we hold a discussion forum on the topic of the morning’s reflection, so that all can share their thoughts.

Because we are diverse, our expressions of worship can be quite diverse. The first time you visit, you might encounter an earth-centred winter solstice ritual; the next time it might be a panel on social justice which is intellectually provocative. We encourage visitors to come several times to get a sense of that diversity which stretches and challenges us all.