Small Group: The Self


First UU Church of Nashville Covenant Group Session Plan #144
Meghann Robern, Intern Minister

April Worship Theme: Letting Go

Opening Words: Lifting Our Voices #124, adapted from Derek Walcott

The time will come
When, with elation,
You will greet yourself arriving
At your own door, in your own mirror,
And each will smile at the other’s welcome,

And say, sit here. Eat.
You will live again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
To itself, to the stranger who has loved you

All your life, whom you ignored
For another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

The photographs, the desperate notes,
Peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Chalice Lighting and Covenant

Check-In and Sharing


The path from childhood to adulthood is about creating identity, about creating a “self”. And yet, we must do such creation in the larger context of our existing families, cultures and traditions, which can often constrict us as much as they support and guide us.

How does your “self” now differ from the self you envisioned being as a child?

What lessons were you taught as you grew up that changed how you saw yourself? Which of these lessons helped you flourish? Which have possibly held you back?

What, if anything, would you like to consider letting go of in order to better your “self”? What would turning that into a learning, growing experience look like for you?

Closing Check-Out and Chalice Extinguishing

Closing Words: Lifting Our Voices #110, adapted from Angela Herrera

Don’t leave you broken heart at the door;
Bring it to the altar of life.
Don’t leave your anger behind;
It has high standards and the world needs vision.
Bring them with you,
And your joy and you passion.
Bring your loving,
And your courage and your conviction.
Bring your need for healing,
And your powers to heal.
There is work to do
And you have all that you need to do it right here in this room.


Small Group: Prayer


First UU Church of Nashville Covenant Group Session Plan #143
Meghann Robern, Intern Minister

February Worship Theme: Prayer/Meditation/Equanimity

Opening Words: Bobby McFerrin, “The 23rd Psalm (Dedicated to my Mother)”

The Lord is my Shepherd, I have all I need
She makes me lie down in green meadows
Beside the still waters, She will lead

She restores my soul, She rights my wrongs
She leads me in a path of good things
And fills my heart with songs

Even though I walk, through a dark and dreary land
There is nothing that can shake me
She has said She won’t forsake me; I’m in her hand

She sets a table before me, in the presence of my foes
She anoints my head with oil
And my cup overflows

Surely, surely goodness and kindness will follow me all the days of my life
And I will live in her house
Forever, forever and ever

Glory be to our Mother, and Daughter, and to the Holy of Holies
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be
World, without end Amen

Chalice Lighting and Covenant

Check-In and Sharing


Do you pray? Why or why not?
If you do, what form(s) does it take? Body/movement? Silence? Chant?
Is prayer different from meditation for you? Why or why not?
What images and/or feelings does the word “prayer” bring up for you? Are they comfortable or uncomfortable?

Closing Check-Out and Chalice Extinguishing

Closing Words: Shantideva, “A Bodhisattva’s Prayer”

May I be a protector to those without protection,
a leader for those who journey,
and a boat, a bridge, a passage
for those desiring future shore.
May the pain of every living creature
be completely cleared away.
May I be the doctor and the medicine
and may I be the nurse
for all sick beings in the world
until everyone is healed.
Just like space
and the great elements such as earth,
may I always support the life
of all the boundless creatures.
And until they pass away from pain
may I also be the source of life
for all the realms of varied beings
that reach unto the ends of space.


Small Group: Universalism


First UU Church of Nashville Covenant Group Session Plan #142
Meghann Robern, Intern Minister

February Worship Theme: Prayer/ Meditation/Equanimity

Opening Words: Clarence Skinner, The Social Implications of Universalism p12-13

But the fight for freedom is never won. Inherited liberty is not liberty but tradition. Each generation must win for itself the right to emancipate itself from its own tyrannies, which are ever unprecedented and peculiar. Therefore those have been reared in freedom, bear a tremendous responsibility to the world to win an ever larger and more important liberty.

Chalice Lighting and Covenant

Check-In and Sharing


Clarence Skinner, The Social Implications of Universalism, p20-21:

A democratic people demand a democratic God, a robust deity who likes his universe, who hungers for fellowship, who is in and of and for the whole of life, whose sympathies are as broad as the “rounded catalog, divine, complete,”

“The devilish and the dark, the dying and diseased,
The countless (nineteen-twentieths) low and evil, crude and savage,
The crazed, prisoners in jail, the horrible, rank, malignant,
(What is the part the wicked and the loathsome bear within earth’s orbic scheme?)
Newts, crawling things in slime and mud, poisons,
The barren soil, the evil men, the slag and hideous rot.”

The Universalist idea of God is that of a universal, impartial, immanent spirit whose nature in love. It is the largest thought the world has ever known; it is the most revolutionary doctrine ever proclaimed; it is the most expansive hope ever dreamed.

Modern Unitarian Universalism has moved beyond the two Christian doctrines from which it gets its name. But there are still lessons to be learned, and stories to be told, about our current identity and the future of our faith from where we came.

What speaks to you in the passage from Skinner’s book? Even by his own declaration, he says a free religion should be constantly evolving, so he was aware that his definitions and models of theology would fall short in the future if we were truly Universalist. What in his Universalism do you think doesn’t apply to us anymore, and why? What can be adapted with some word changes, but keeping the idea intact?

Who in your life challenges the idea of Universalism? Who might you balk at welcoming into the congregation, and why? Should there be limits on who receives radical hospitality and expressions of love at all, or just adjustments to what is offered? How can we reconcile Universalism with what we know now about toxic people and relationships?

Closing Check-Out and Chalice Extinguishing

Closing Words: Clarence Skinner, The Social Implications of Universalism, p23

A universal faith demands a universal application. This vast idea cannot be confined in one human mind, or in one favored class, but escapes beyond the narrow limitations of individualism into every conceivable relation of life. It cannot be calmly accepted by one and denied to the many.

Small Group: Myths


First UU Church of Nashville Covenant Group Session Plan #141
Meghann Robern, Intern Minister

December Worship Theme: Gratitude

Opening Words: Thomas Merton, adapted (Lifting Our Voices #43)

We are living in the greatest revolution in history–
a huge spontaneous upheaval of the entire human race:
not a revolution planned and carried out
by any particular party, race, or nation,
but a deep elemental boiling over
of all the inner contradictions that have ever been,
a revelation of the chaotic forces inside everybody.
This is not something we have chosen,
nor is it something we are free to avoid.

Chalice Lighting and Covenant

Check-In and Sharing


“As you may have heard, the first film in the third Star Wars trilogy will be opening around the country this coming Friday. You may have also noticed how this is a big deal. It threads my own generation, who were the first to be captured by Hero’s quest pasted onto a space opera with verve and panache. But also it also threads together the generation following who lived into the much higher production values and rather darker themes of the prequel trilogy. And now it looks like that thread will be running through a third generation, who already knew all six of the previous films looping them as technology allowed, as many times as their hearts desired.

Many who wonder at the staying power of these films over generations have pointed to that connection to Joseph Campbell’s Hero With a Thousand Faces, with its thesis of a great myth that plays out in culture after culture. Now I watch a third generation caught up in this story with at least as much enthusiasm as so many of us felt in May of 1977, and I find it hard to argue with Professor Campbell’s premise.”

(excerpt from a homily given by James Ishmael Ford at Pacific Unitarian Church in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA on 13 December, 2015)

Even if you’re not a fan of Star Wars, the idea of mythology and archtypes as fundamental to human development through storytelling is compelling. Often these stories, that are told over and over again in different iterations, are not factually true, like a historical document, but are true in what they teach us about each other and living in right relationship. They help us discern not only what is worth fighting for, but how we fight when the time comes.

What stories have informed your development as an individual? As a person in relationships with others? What stories have you discovered you interpret very differently from someone else? How did you react? Have you ever started a relationship with someone (friendship counts!) based on a shared love of a story?

What stories are precious to you, and why?

Closing Check-Out and Chalice Extinguishing

Closing Words: Rebecca Parker, adapted (Lifting Our Voices #47)

Your gifts
whatever you discover them to be
can be used to bless or curse the world.
The mind’s power,
The strength of the hands,
The reaches of the heart,
the gift of speaking, listening, imagining, seeing, waiting
Any of these can serve to feed the hungry,
bind up wounds,
welcome the stranger,
praise what is sacred,
do the work of justice
or offer love.
Any of these can draw down the prison door,
hoard bread,
abandon the poor,
obscure what is holy,
comply with injustice
or withhold love.
You must answer this question:
What will you do with your gifts?


Small Group: Unity & Diversity


First UU Church of Nashville Covenant Group Session Plan #139
Meghann Robern, Intern Minister and CG Facilitator

October Worship Theme: Unity & Diversity

Opening Words: UUA Lifting Our Voices worship supplement, #41 (Penny Hackett-Evans)

Each of us brings a separate truth here.

We bring the truth of our own life, our own story.

We don’t come as empty vessels but as full people,
each with our own story and our own truth.

We seek to add to our truths and add to our stories.
This room is rich with truth, rich with experience.

All manner of people are here:

We all bring our truth with us.

May we all recognize the truth and the story in other lives than our own.
May we hear and honor the truths that we all bring as we gather together.

Together we have truths.

Together we have a story.

Together we are a community.

Chalice Lighting and Covenant

Check-In and Sharing


The Reverend Mark Morrison-Reed offered up four things for UUs to consider regarding “The Perversity of Diversity”:

  1. Lighten up. Many UUs are fearful of making mistakes, of saying the wrong thing and offending someone. Our fear prevents us from forming authentic relationships. We cannot let trepidation prevent us from reaching out. We will inevitably make mistakes, but we can forgive one another’s blunders.
  2. Know who we are. We can only attract those who are like us. By knowing who we are, and being authentic to who we are, we will be able to attract more people who are like us across ethnic and racial lines.
  3. Appreciate the diversity that’s already within us. The more we can do this, the more we would attract others to join us. Let’s affirm and celebrate with joy the diversity we already have.
  4. Understand how we are caught in a conundrum—we have a perversity to our call for diversity. We want to change, but not too much, and we want to stay in our comfort zone. We settle for looking different rather than being different. Change will come whether we want it or not, simply because the society around us is changing.

How do these ideas make you feel? Have you ever stopped yourself from doing something out of fear of offending someone? Can that stopping, that not reaching out, ever be a good thing? Why are some areas of diversity so much harder to achieve than others?

Bridging from the Sept 27 worship service, how do you reconcile your multiple identities into one whole person? How can that work you do with yourself be applied to congregational life? To life in a larger community like Nashville?

Closing Check-Out and Chalice Extinguishing

Closing Words: UUA Lifting Our Voices worship supplement, #23 (Jonipher Kwong)

Spirit of Life,

You speak to us from the East and the West
You speak to us from the North and the South
You call to us from the depths of our being
We respond with enthusiasm and fervor
We cry out from Manila to Maui
We shout from Alaska to Alabama
We proclaim your wondrous love from the highest mountain to the deepest ocean
Our voices must be heard. We shall not be silent.
Our voices must be heard.


Small Group: Vocation


First UU Church of Nashville Covenant Group Session Plan #138
Meghann Robern, Intern Minister and CG Facilitator

September Worship Theme: Vocation/Self-Awareness/Self-Reflection

All the readings and quotes for this session plan are from Becoming: A Spiritual Guide for Navigating Adulthood, edited by Kayla Parker.

Opening Words: “Labyrinth,” by Rev. Leslie Takahashi

Walk the maze
within your heart: guide your steps into its questioning curves.
This labyrinth is a puzzle leading you deeper into your own truths.
Listen in the twists and turns.
Listen in the openness within all searching.
Listen: a wisdom within you calls to a wisdom beyond you and in that dialogue lies peace.

Chalice Lighting and Covenant

Check-In and Sharing


“I used to think that finding my purpose meant finding a tiny intersection point between my passion and the world’s need. Then I took faith that the world needed passionate people–as Howard Thurman says, ‘people who have come alive.’

“But the greatest learning has come from feeling my fears, my losses, my dreams, and even my quest to ‘find me,’ transformed through the experience of finding and feeling we. Discovering my identity as one who is loved and loves passionately–this has been to come alive.

“What do I want to do with my life? . . . Embrace it.” — David Ruffin

What do the people in your life love about you? Do you agree with how they see you? What do those things tell you about yourself?What are the people, places, things, ideas, that you love the most? Do you feel comfortable expressing those loves, passions, dreams in your life as you live it now? Why or why not? How do the relationships in your life enhance or hinder how you express yourself?

Do you feel that you have “come alive”?

Closing Check-Out and Chalice Extinguishing

Closing Words: “Living Waters,” by Stephen Shick

We float on a sea
hidden beneath dry surfaces
covered by stones.

Isn’t this why we drink and dive so deeply
go down to the sea in ships
risk drowning, again and again?

Isn’t this why Moses parted the waters
to begin his journey?

Why Jesus crossed the waters
to comfort and challenge us?

We were born in water.
We float free in water.
We are washed clean by water.

Isn’t this why we long to find our inward sea?
To help us wash clean the world?