Sunday November 20, 2016: Joy in the Moment

Prelude: Morning Has Broken – Cat Stevens

Welcome: Look To This Day by Kalidasa

Look to this day:
For it is life, the very life of life.
In its brief course
Lie all the verities and realities of your existence.
The bliss of growth,
The glory of action,
The splendor of beauty
Are but experiences of time.
For yesterday is but a dream
And tomorrow is only a vision;
But today well-lived, makes
Yesterday a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well therefore to this day.

Chalice Lighting by Yvonne Aburrow

The chalice is the fullness of life’s experiences
And the emptiness of innocent openness to wonder
As we light the chalice flame
Let us explore the empire of the senses,
Let us celebrate experience and experiment:
the twin expressions of freedom, reason and tolerance.

Song: Come, Come Whoever You Are (5 times)

Come, come, whoever you are,
Wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving,
Ours is no caravan of despair.
Come, come yet again, come

Responsive Reading: Seven Promises

Let us live lightly on the Earth, beginning with our church community,

for we respect the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

Let us embrace others both near and far in hope and compassion,

for we lift up the goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all.

Let us remember that everyone bears responsibility for the health of our congregation,

for we affirm the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process.

Let us remain open to new ideas, knowing that we need not be afraid of change,

for we trust in a free and responsible search for truth and meaning.

Let us respect individual religious paths, even those we do not understand,

for we aspire to accept one another and to encourage spiritual growth.

Let us treat others as we would like to be treated,

for we desire justice, equity and compassion in human relations.

Let us listen actively and speak and act respectfully to others,

for we believe in the inherent worth and dignity of every person

Story: How Treachery Came to Russia – Rainer Maria Rilke

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.

Reading: The Peace of Wild Things – Wendell Berry

Story: The Tiger and the Strawberry (Zen Koan)

There was a man walking across an open field, when suddenly a tiger appeared and began to give chase. The man began to run, but the tiger was closing in. As he approached a cliff at the edge of the field, the man grabbed a vine and jumped over the cliff. Holding on as tight as he could, he looked up and saw the angry tiger prowling out of range ten feet above him. He looked down. In the gully below, there were two tigers also angry and prowling. He had to wait it out. He looked up again and saw that two mice, one white, the other black, had come out of the bushes and had begun gnawing on the vine, his lifeline. As they chewed the vine thinner and thinner, he knew that he could break at any time. Then, he saw a single strawberry growing just an arms length away. Holding the vine with one hand, he reached out, picked the strawberry, and put it in his mouth. It was delicious.

Koans, of course, are meant to be enigmatic. This particular one is not just mysterious, it is an open-ended story – we are left with the man neither up nor down, hanging on by a thread which is visibly being nibbled away, with danger above and below.

One interpretation is that the cliff is life. We cannot reverse time and go back to the womb, and at the bottom is death. We hang on to the vine, all of the things that sustain our lives from day to day – our jobs, the cooking, the cleaning, the caring for others, knowing that climbing is useless, because at the top is a tiger, that letting go is useless, because at the bottom are more tigers – stuck in the middle again. And we see the mice, nibbling at the vine.

But there is the strawberry. Why not, in that moment, enjoy that strawberry? Eating it, or not eating it, will not make one bit of difference to the situation – it will not make the vine thicker. It will not make the tigers go away. It will not make the mice go away. Neither will it make the vine thinner, or bring on more tigers – and more tigers would not make the situation work.

Maybe the key to this story is that we are here, somewhere on a cliff, with no much that we can do about it but hang on. The ending, bar a miracle, is inevitable.

Lesson: Finding Joy in the Moment – Lisa deGruyter

I started working on this service in October, and never figured out what to say to you that I thought would help. This morning, an essay from the Buddhist magazine Tricycle showed up in my mailbox, and it seems to me it says well what I couldn’t, so I am going to share it with you.

What Is True Safety? by Thanissara Bhikku

Song: Let It Be a Dance We Do, led by Ric Masten


Let it be a dance we do. May I have this dance with you? Through the good times and the bad times too, Let it be a dance.


Let a dancing song be heard. Play the music, say the words. And fill the sky with sailing birds, And let it be a dance Let it be a dance, Let it be a dance. Learn to follow, learn to lead. Feel the rhythm, fill the need. To reap the harvest, plant the seed, And let it be a dance


Everybody turn and spin. Let your body learn to bend. And like a willow with the wind, Let it be a dance. Let it be a dance, Let it be a dance. A child is born, the old must die. A time for joy, a time to cry. So take it as it passes by, And let it be a dance.


The morning star comes out at night. Without the dark, there is no light. And if nothing’s wrong, then nothing’s right, So let it be a dance. Let it be a dance, Let it be a dance. Let the sun shine, let it rain. Share the laughter, bear the pain. And round and round, we go again, So let it be a dance.

Joys and Sorrows

(Please save announcements and comments until the end of the service)

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

Closing: The Work Continues by Martha Kirby Capo

Our time together is finished, but our work is not yet done: May our spirits be renewed and our purpose resolved As we meet the challenges of the week to come. The chalice flame is extinguished Until once again ignited by the strength of our communion.

The chalice has been extinguished. Go now in peace.

Announcements, Shameless Self-Promotions, Etc.