Sunday August 14, 2016

Prelude: Little Earthquakes by Tori Amos

Welcome: Committed to Respond By Lynn Harrison

Committed to respond to the call of a wounded world…
We join together this day with loving hearts, hands and minds.
Embracing the interconnected web of water, air and earth…
We light a fire of sustaining hope, ever bright with love and justice.
May we bring forth this day new wisdom, strength and courage
To create a new world not of wealth, but well-being.
A world of new peace and abundance for all.
As we give thanks for this earth, our shared and singular home,
May we dedicate ourselves to its ongoing care.
Rising to the calls deep within us, and all around us…
May we respond today and always with courage and with love.

Chalice Lighting: All Animal Chalice By Mark Causey

We light this chalice, spark of the original fire of creation, to remind us that we all on this planet—the furred, the feathered, the finned, and the scaled, along with us featherless bipeds—we are all made of the same star-stuff and all share a common destiny. We all share the same hopes of a life free from harm and suffering and the same aspirations of happiness, love, and flourishing—being able to express our own unique natures and capacities as best we may. We are just that many diverse perspectives from which the whole is seen and experienced. We are inextricably intertwined, interconnected and interdependent. And it is good.

Blessed be.

Song: Gathered Here x3

Gathered Here, in the mystery of this hour
Gathered here in one strong body,
Gathered in the struggle and the power,
Spirit Draw near.

The Rainbow Principles:

Respect the importance of all beings.
Offer fair and kind treatment to all.
Yearn to learn throughout life.
Grow by exploring ideas and values together.
Believe in your ideas and act on them.
Insist on peace, freedom, and justice for all.
Value our interdependence with nature.

Story for All Ages:  The Microbes and the Planets By Carolyn Fisher

Did you know that there are trillions of little tiny creatures living inside your bodies? They’re called microbiota, and they’re SOOO tiny that to them, you and your body… are like a planet. To my microbiota I am Planet [your name]. You are Planet [name of child present]. You are Planet [name of other child present]. You are Planet [name of other child present].

Microbes are so tiny that you can’t see them, can’t hear them, and can’t feel them move. One microbe all by itself can’t do too much. They live in your planet-body and depend on you for their entire lives. But your planet-body also depends on them to stay healthy. If the microbiota are out of balance, you are more likely to get sick. Have any of you ever been sick? Yes! Me too! What did you have? Have you ever had a fever? Have you ever thrown up? When this happens, it might be because the microbiota in your planet-body got out of balance. Some microbiota protect you from bacteria that make you sick. Other microbiota help digest your food. In general, if you are healthy, you can thank all those trillions of tiny microbiota working together to keep things in balance.

So our bodies are like a planet, but our PLANET,  Earth, is also like a BODY! And people are like one kind of microbiota. I am Microbe [your name]. You are Microbe [name of child present]. You are Microbe [name of child present]. You are Microbe [name of child present]. Most of the time, our Planet Earth is soooo big, and we are sooo tiny compared to it, that we don’t even notice or remember how much we depend on our Planet: for the air we breathe, for the food we eat, for the water we drink. But just like the microbiota in our bodies, our Planet Earth also depends on US. Just like your body depends on your microbiota to stay balanced and healthy, our Planet Earth depends on PEOPLE to stay balanced.

You probably know that our Planet Earth is not very healthy right now. This is because people have been out of balance. Sometimes this feels like a really big problem for one little microbe like me. Our Planet Earth is SOOO big! But together with lots of other people, I am working to get our Planet Earth back in balance. I do little things, like biking or walking instead of driving [or something else you do]. I do medium things, like going to meetings with government workers or talking to people about how important it is to put things back into balance. And sometimes I get to be part of big things.

Our Planet Earth is sick, and each of us are just tiny microbes. But working all together, we can push the balance of our Planet Earth back towards healthy.

Now I want the kids to come up here on this platform with me, and I want everybody in church today to work together to make an ocean wave, so we can all feel less like tiny microbes, and more like the big, important thing we all are. When I raise my arms, you all raise your arms too (as you’re able), and we’ll all say WOOO!! Then the people near us will either jump up or raise their arms (if it’s comfortable) and also say WOOO, and we’ll watch the wave travel out from our platform to the back of the church. We’ll do it three times.

Are you ready?

Offering and Response  (Unison)

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.

Song: Simple Gifts

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gain’d,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be asham’d,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.

The Earth is our mother and the fullness thereof,
Her streets, her slums, as well as stars above.
Salvation is here where we laugh, where we cry,
Where we seek and love, where we live and die.
When true liberty is found,
By fear and by hate we will no more be bound.
In love and in light we will find our new birth
And in peace and freedom, redeem the Earth.

Sermon: Taking Care of Earth’s LifeBoat by Cricket Hall

24 years ago, I took a class at gifted camp about the Earth. I thought it sounded fun. We were going to make our own recycled paper. There was a paper mache globe involved. This war right up my alley, fun and messy, but in a controlled way.  During this class I learned, for the first time all about climate change, or as it was referred to then global warming. I had no idea that species were going extinct. I had no idea that we were causing a hole in the ozone layer. I was horrified. During our class we learned about recycling. I came home from summer camp and forced my parents to start recycling.

That’s what everyone thinks of when we think of good environmental behavior, right? That’s what we all get taught in schools, camps, 4-H, and sometimes church. All you need to do for the environment are the three Rs. Everyone knows Recycle. Most people know Reuse. Only some people know the third are and it is the most important out of the three. It’s Reduce. It doesn’t matter how much we recycle or reuse if we don’t start reducing. This means we need to use less. We need to reduce how often we use our cars. We need to reduce how much paper we use. We need to reduce how much we buy.

All of these things are very good but not everything we need to help take care of the world. And please don’t think that I am discounting them or saying they are not important, because they are. Using the three R’s is very important, but it can only get us so far.

On April 20th, I visited Methodist Theological Seminary in Ohio for an open house event, but it was also Earth Day. This meant that there was a big lecture on campus, which was delivered by Rev. Timothy L. Van Meter and titled “Millennial Dreaming: Cultivating Hope and Ecological Vision”. While I learned a lot from the lecture, I walked away worried. Amphibians are disappearing from the planet at a faster rate than any other class of creature. But coral reefs are not too far behind. All of the hottest years on record have been since 1998.

There were many more disheartening things that Rev. Van Meter mentioned and discussed in depth, but what struck me most was that oil companies had known for years that they were hurting the environment and had been covering it up. Did you know that many of those companies are now being put on trial for covering up the findings of their environmental surveys? It is very similar to the tobacco companies being put on trial for hiding information about cigarettes causing cancer.

Scientists have been working long and hard on how to control climate change and how to help the environment. According to Gus Speth, an environmental lawyer and advocate,


So what do we do?  How do we work to make a cultural and spiritual transformation?

1st I think we have to work on greed. One of the things I have noticed lately is that there are a lot of products that are “green” lately. This, I discovered in my research for this sermon is called “greenwashing”.  Buy this water bottle because it’s easier to crush, has a smaller lid, and a smaller label!  Look, we use less packaging now, you can buy this and still be green!! Look at these new reusable plastic water bottles, aren’t they cute!!  This is in many places and for many things. Companies are making a profit off of people trying to do better for the environment.  This is greed. We cannot make the companies less greedy, but we can choose better options when we are in stores. We have to think about things carefully. This means being skeptical. This means not throwing something in the cart just because it’s green.

I believe that personal greed falls into this category too. This is a lot harder to deal with, because it means facing our demons head on. It means that we have to be aware of our short comings and aware of where we are not listening to the world around us. Do we really need that? Do I have to have this? Is my money better spent doing something else? These are always good questions to ask.

2nd is Selfishness. Greed and selfishness go hand in hand. I want this, it will make me look better. Selfishness often convinces us we need something that we do not need.

Selfishness is also about not listening to others. When we don’t listen to others we have a hard time helping. So often in the fight for the environment, we want to do what we have always done and not listen to more ideas. We also don’t want to see that perhaps what we are doing to save the environment is hurting other people. We are so desperately trying to save the planet and be the hero, that we are not paying attention to the consequences of our actions.

3rd Apathy is so hard because it is not caring. I don’t know how to make people care. The poster animals for climate change and extinction are helping. They make people care a little, but I think we need more than that. I think we need to remind people what is really at stake. I think that people see the animals who are far away and say, “oh well so the polar bears die out, that doesn’t mean anything to me?” I think we need to really show how the environment affects people. I think we need to show the changing world in such a way that makes people really think. We need to show people that we can work with others. We need to start working together and bringing people in.

I want to share with you a video about Environmentalism vs. Environmental Justice. The speaker is Alex Kapitan who helped coordinate the Commit2Respond campaign.

“Commit2Respond is a coalition of Unitarian Universalists and other people of faith and conscience working for climate justice.

Unitarian Universalists and other people of faith and conscience have been on the frontlines of environmental justice for decades. United in collective action, connected through partnership, we will change the world.

We are diverse in spiritual belief, yet united in faith that a better world is possible and that our collective power can create change.” From

So, what can we really do? We are small. We have limited resources. We are like the microbiota we mentioned in the story. But we can’t let that hold us back. We start with the basics. We use less things. We throw away fewer things. We can organize a park cleanup day. We for groups with other organizations to do more in our area. This is not just for us to do. This is for everyone to do. We cannot be expected to bear all of it, but we cannot let the world be injured anymore. We cannot let the people of the world suffer anymore. The more we are energized the more others will be energized as well. Thinking back to our story I want to talk about our bodies again, but this time I want to talk about our immune system. Our immune system is made of many parts. There are big parts and little parts, but they are all necessary to fight infections. We may not be a big natural killer cell, but even a small white blood cell has a job to do. We can still fight polution.We can still fight for environmental justice.

I leave you with Earth Day Prayer by Paula Cole Jones as an expression of gratitude for our connection to one another and the Earth: by Paula Cole Jones, Racial & Social Justice Consultant, Joseph Priestley District in the Central Eastern Region, UUA

May we honor the Spirit of Life that flows through the ages and runs through all living things.
May we be enlivened with curiosity about the mystery and sustainability of our planet.
May we approach learning about, understanding, and appreciating this world as part of our daily bread.
May we find peace and connection with each other, with life and with the environment around us.
May we fall in love with aspects of this Earth over and over and over again,
because we take care of who and what we love.
May it be so,

Amen, Ashe

Responsive Reading: Green Sanctuary Kick-Off Responsive Reading By Molly Housh

Setting ourselves to the task of Greening our Congregation, together we promise these things:
Most simply, we will each do our small part to care for the earth around us.
We will start with one step forward toward the thriving world that we envision.
Then we will step again, and again, setting forth together in this community.
Deep problems call for religious answers. Recognizing the depth and urgency of the environmental crisis, we must answer the earth’s call to our spirits.
We will bring the concerns of the earth to live deep in our hearts and in the heart of this congregation.
Realizing that we have been too concerned with consuming things now, we must turn our attention to the future.
We will take up the needs of the generations to come: clean water to drink, sweet air to breathe.
Acknowledging the earth most basically as our home, we must set about the task of restoration.
In this our congregational home, we will find small and large ways to remember the environment in our worshipping, our learning, our celebrating,  and our justice-making.
Aware of the urgency and complexity of our environmental crisis, we end by promising simply this:
As people of faith, we pledge ourselves to work toward a planet transformed by our care.

Song: This Little Light of Mine

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine, x3
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Ev’rywhere I go, I’m gonna let it shine, x3
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Building up a world, I’m gonna let it shine, x3
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Everything I do, I’m gonna let it shine, x3
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

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.

Silent Meditation

Song: Go Now In Peace (3 times)

Go now in peace, go now in peace
May our love and care surround you
Everywhere, everywhere, you may go

Chalice Extinguishing Words: Four Element Blessing By Eric Williams

May the firmness of the earth be yours.
May the flow of the water be yours.
May the freedom of the air be yours.
May the fierceness of the fire be yours.
May all of the gifts of this life,
The Below and the Above,
Be with you now and remain with you always.