Can I just say how much I love spoken Joys and Concerns? I really really like it. I know it can be an opportunity for blowhards to blow, but it also a chance for people to share their lives with their community. I want to know if the folks sitting around me have had a death or a birth in the family, or have lost or gained a job, not for the sake of gossip, but so that we can support and affirm them. It makes it easy to let people know where you are in your own life without feeling like to have to reveal too much in a conversation, or figure out how to work it in. It builds a closeness and a trust that silent candle lighting does not.
No matters how much I am encouraged to do so, I am not going to come up to someone after the service and say, “I say you lit a candle today; is there anything you want to tell me about?” I’m just not.
It reminds me of the time for prayer requests from my childhood. Each child got to feel like they had their moment that was important. Their life and concerns, no matter how small, were important to God. Now Joys and Concerns is like that, but without the necessity for belief in the Almighty. My triumphs and struggles, as much as I choose to share them, are important to the community and we take the time to recognize that all of us have a place in the service.
For me, Joys & Concerns helps to keep the focus on the democracy of US, rather than the hierarchy of YOU and WE that often develops in organizations. I don’t know if it has become blasé to longtime UU’s, but as a newcomer, Joys and Concerns has become one of my favorite parts of Sunday mornings.