No matter how I reflect
- and draft
- and reject
- and revise
- and labour over
But since Unitarians have no set liturgy and no canonical text to repeat and re-appraise and re-consider over and over, like the Bible, or the Koran, or the teachings of Buddha, or the Analects of Confucius, I have a sense that a certain degree of variety and of novelty is required by congregations.
Novelty and variety--the handmaidens of lateral thinking. And valuable material can indeed come from a variety of sources. But I suspect that increasing lateral access to materials must necessarily result is a sacrifice of depth.
So you see the problem: I don't want to limit scope, since no one source has a monopoly on truth; likewise, I don't want to focus repetitively on a clutch of "core" material, since that would suggest orthodoxy or textual fanaticism, albeit a broader one than most conventional faiths.
A third path between these equally unsatisfactory routes might be to testify strictly from my own experience. What that gains in authenticity, it may lose when you consider that "my own experience" has been shaped by what the sources I know have said or written. As the communication scholar Gunther Kress said: "Every sentence I write draws on what I've heard or read before." Or something like that. Inevitably I end up standing on the shoulders of giants.
Maybe it's just a case of my trying to "say it better" in the context of a worship experience, meaning focussing on how I say it. This of course is where performativity creeps in, and worship isn't a show (notwithstanding those ministers, preachers, etc., who are able to move people by their performance of a single text).
Or maybe the presumption of the value of originality needs looking at.
Rev. Jo Lane said once that being a minister is like being a theatrical prompter, reminding the actors (the congregation) of the "missing lines" they've forgotten. This notion certainly accords with a somewhat view of idealistic view of education--the belief that the truth is in them already, they just need to have it "educed"--or drawn from them.
Prompters don't pretend to be the playwrights, (though sometimes actors and directors do!). So that role, at least, affords a proper humility toward the material one draws on for services.
I suppose then, managing expectations is part of ministry. Why should anyone expect another human, no matter how well read or trained, to be a fountain of original wisdom?
If that's what a congregation really wants, what they really want is God.
And that job's taken.