Welcome – Mission and Covenant
Be a beacon and a refuge for all
Grow in spirit
Touch our community
Love is the doctrine of this church,
The quest of truth is our sacrament,
and service is our prayer.
To dwell together in peace,
To seek knowledge in freedom,
To serve others in community,
To the end that all souls shall grow
Into harmony with creation,
Thus we do covenant with one another.
Chalice Lighting – THIRSTY By Gregory Pelley
And so we gather, from the ebb and flow of our lives
Thirsty for connection to ourselves
Thirsty for connection to others
Thirsty for connection to the larger life.
As we light this chalice
May all who gather here be filled:
Filled with joy and hope
Filled with compassion and love
Here, may we be filled
So that we may pour ourselves out
into the world.
There are seven principles Unitarian Universalists affirm and promote:
The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
Song – Gathered Here
Gathered here in the mystery of this hour
Gathered here in one strong body
Gathered here in the struggle and the power
Spirit draw near.
Reading: I Want to Be with People – Affirmation By Dana E Worsnop
Often people say that they love coming to a place with so many like-minded people.
I know just what they are getting at — and I know that they aren’t getting it quite right.
I don’t want to be with a bunch of people who think just like me.
I want to be in a beloved community where I don’t have to think like everyone else to be loved, to be eligible for salvation.
I want to be with people who value compassion, justice, love and truth, though they have different thoughts and opinions about all sorts of things.
I want to be with independent-minded people of good heart.
I want to be with people who have many names and no name at all for God.
I want to be with people who see me in me goodness and dignity, who also see my failings and foibles, and who still love me.
I want to be with people who feel their inter-connection with all existence and let it guide their footfalls upon the earth.
I want to be with people who see life as a paradox and don’t always rush to resolve it.
I want to be with people who are willing to walk the tight rope that is life and who will hold my hand as I walk mine.
I want to be with people who let church call them into a different way of being in the world.
I want to be with people who support, encourage and even challenge each other to higher and more ethical living.
I want to be with people who inspire one another to follow the call of the spirit.
I want to be with people who covenant to be honest, engaged and kind, who strive to keep their promises and hold me to the promises I make.
I want to be with people who give of themselves, who share their hearts and minds and gifts.
I want to be with people who know that human community is often warm and generous, sometimes challenging and almost always a grand adventure.
In short, I want to be with people like you.
Offering and Response –
“For the gifts which we have received—and the gifts which we, ourselves, are—may we be truly grateful. Yet more than that, may we be committed to using these gifts to make a difference in the world: to increase love and justice; to decrease hatred and oppression; to expand beloved community; to share, and to keep sharing, as long as ever we can. Amen.”
Sermon – We Gather Together By John Hall
This was supposed to be about togetherness. This was supposed to be about finding comfort in our spiritual community. Then all the killing started. It started with one black man executed by police in the streets, then another, and it ended with twelve dead police officers. And I wanted to throw all of this out. I wanted to forget everything about finding comfort and talk about the first principle and Gandhi, and “an eye for an eye making the whole world blind” and…and…and….
Then I realized that I was preaching to the choir. I realized that the people in this room are pretty darn good at living the first principle. I realized that the people in this room understand what “Black Lives Matter” actually means and why it is important. I realized the people in this room understand that there are many deep and dreadful things wrong with the police across this country. I realized that everything I wanted to rant about and rail against was because I felt horrified and outraged. But I was also weary. My mind hurt, my spirit hurt, and I needed something. I needed something and I didn’t know what it was, and the more it eluded me the more soul-sick I became. Then I realized that what I needed was to find comfort in my – our – spiritual community. I needed to be around people that understood those seven principles that are seared into my soul and that guide my thoughts, words, and actions. I needed to be around other spiritual questors whose relationship with the divine is “it’s complicated” and whose response to these kinds of dreadful tragedies were more nuanced than folding hands in prayer and leaving the solution up to the powers to whom those prayers are addressed.
We come here to learn, and to challenge ourselves, to grow in wisdom and perhaps closer to the divine. We come seeking transcendence or sometimes to just try to make sense of an often cruel and chaotic world. The beauty of that coming together is that the mere act of it helps to renew and refresh us. Our bodies might need a hug, our hands might need to be held, or we may just simply need to be close to others who accept us into covenant and community with them without prejudice or judgment. Our spirits also need to be touched. We need communion with each other. We need to know that we are welcomed and celebrated for who we are and all we hope to be and not measured and found wanting for not being what they want or for expressing or even simply being something or someone that makes them uncomfortable.
We come here to speak the words in our hearts and minds, no matter how strange and disheveled they might be – like a great snarl of yarn, knotted and bunched – and know that there are others here who will sit with us and take that awful snarl and say “I will help you unravel all this. It will be alright, and when we’re done, you will have something comprehensible, and maybe, just maybe, you can make something of it.”
I’m here to say that I need you. I need each and every one of you. I need to air my joys and concerns and I need the help of my spiritual community. I need you all to be my philosophical quilting bee, and help me make something of the terrible snarl of thoughts and feelings that I bring here with me today. I also know that I’m not alone. I was on facebook this week, as I am wont to do, no really, and I saw friend after friend after friend in one way or another, express the same anxiety, the same weariness, the same gnawing disquiet as me. I’m grateful that I have you here in fellowship today. I am here for each and every one of you, and I know that you are all here for me.
We are gathered in a circle today because I cannot lead you today. I cannot lead when I feel so lost. I need to be one of you. I need to be among you, not in front out you.
Joys and Sorrows
If you woke this morning with a sorrow so heavy that you need the help of this community to carry it;
or if you woke with a joy so great that it simply must be shared, now is the time for you to speak.
For the joys and sorrows that haven’t been spoken, but which remain in the silent sanctuaries of our hearts
These joys and griefs, spoken and unspoken, weave us together in the fabric of community.
Benediction -A New Song, a New Harmony By Richard S. Gilbert
By our presence here with one another,
Hearing the harmony that is the music of the spheres,
May some of the harshness and discord of our human lives
Be transmuted into music.
A new song in our hearts may there be,
And a new harmony in our beings,
So that we shall return to our several duties
with fresh courage, and with eagerness and with rejoicing.
Adapted from Robert French Leavens.
Song – Go Now in Peace
Go now in peace, Go now in peace
May our love and care surround you
Everywhere, everywhere, you may go.