Sunday January 8, 2017

Prelude:  Willow by Heather Jinmaku

Welcome: Do Not Be Alone Right Now By Karen G. Johnston

Do not be alone right now. Gather together.

Gathering together grows courage: in ourselves and in others who see the numbers swelling. It is a small thing, but right now it is an important thing.

Great sources of wisdom remind us: just because you cannot stem the tide of all hate, it is still right to do the thing you can do. These things add up: your one thing & my one thing; his one thing & their one thing & her one thing. Together it becomes a BIG thing.

Do not be alone right now. Any liberation—all liberation—is collective liberation. My freedom is bound with yours and yours with mine. Inextricably.

Let us together cast our lots doing this BIG thing: bending the moral arc of the universe towards justice.

Chalice Lighting:  Global Chalice Lighting for November 2016 from
Chapter 1, Tao Te Ching, written by Lao-tzu
Modified from a translation by S. Mitchell
Unitarian Universalists Hong Kong (

The tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao;
The name that can be named is not the eternal Name.
The unnamable is the eternally real.
Naming is the origin of all particular things.
Free from desire, you realize the mystery.
Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations.
Yet mystery and manifestations arise from the same source.
This source is called Mystery.
Mystery within Mystery,
The gateway to all understanding.

Story for All Ages: Cleaning Our Clothes Closets By Martha Dallas

Who here has to go through their clothes sometimes, say every year or so? Maybe it’s something your parents make you do…. [ask for a show of hands]

So I’m wondering: How do you decide what to keep and what to get rid of? [Take responses. If needed, suggest ones such as: Does it fit? Is it all worn out and ratty? Perhaps you never wore it anyway.]

Tell me about what’s left in the closet when you’re done: are there older things? Newer things? Both? [Suggest that there is usually a mix of both.]

Switching gears: does anyone remember how long ago this church started? [Remind them the age of the congregation. Ours was 200 years!]

Think about what those people had in their closets. Were their clothes similar to ours? Different? [Suggest examples of things that were surely similar to what we still wear, eg. mittens in winter.]

Those people came here on Sundays. They heard sermons, they prayed prayers and read readings. They sang hymns and taught children what they felt was important.

The things they believed, their religious ideas—are kind of like the clothes in our closets. Like with our clothes, we need to look at our beliefs every so often and ask ourselves if they still fit. Perhaps they’re too worn out to wear in public any more. Maybe there’s something we borrowed from someone else that we never really used anyway. We want our beliefs to reflect who we really are on the inside, so we keep the ones that still fit, still work, and still have meaning for us when we wear them. Like our clothes, we want our beliefs to change a little with us as we grow and change, so that they always remain true to who we are.

Offering:  (in 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.

Responsive Reading: We Travel This Road Together By Tess Baumberger

From the busy-ness of everyday we gather once a week
to remember who we are, to dream of who we might become.

We travel this road together.

As companions on this journey, we share the milestones we meet along the way.
Individual moments of joy and sorrow become shared moments of comfort and celebration.

We travel this road together.

We share this journey across differences of belief and opinion
Because we value diversity and because care for one another.

We travel this road together.

Today as we take the next steps, let us notice our fellow travelers:
The burdens that they carry, the songs that inspire their hearts.

We travel this road together.

As we gather in beloved community, let us open the holy havens of our hearts,
Let us share the sacred places of our souls
For we are pilgrims who share a common path.

We travel this road together.

Lesson:  Grow When the Spirit says Grow

There are seven principles which Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote. They are

  • 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.

The Popular ones, 1 and 7, get talked about a lot. The second one falls in line, right behind the first. The 4 and 5th principles have been talked about a good bit this yes, especially with the election, and the 6th is like their little brother tagging along. But the 3rd, often sneaks in under the radar. It is part of the group, but is often the quiet one at the party, who sits in the corner and waits to be noticed.

There are different versions of the principles, written in different ways to make them easier to understand and remember – (simpler) We believe that we should accept one another and keep on learning together- (Kid) We are free to learn together – (Rainbow) Yearn to learn throughout life. I am worried by the idea that spiritual growth is made simpler by saying learning, but I like the idea that it is still together.

The idea of growth is scary. There is a lot of worry and doubt associated with it. Sometimes we feel that we don’t need to grow or that we can’t grow. Sometimes we are afraid we have not grown enough. So, we hide ourselves, we say growth isn’t important. We say, “I don’t need to grow, I’m fine” or “I continue to learn, so it’s okay”. But what we don’t realize is that we cheating ourselves out of new possibilities and we are cheating others out of the chance to grow with us. We get so caught up in whether we’ve done it right we forget that it is the part of the journey to make missteps. —Anaïs Nin  “We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another, unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made of layers, cells, constellations.”  And—Elizabeth Nguyen “We are part of community when we show up shiny and not-so-shiny. When we ladle soup into each other’s bowls and eat it eagerly. When we bring our sour and our sweet. When we shed the shiny and show up hungry.”

But the third principle isn’t just about growing or growing together, it is specifically about spiritual growth. What does it mean to grow spiritually? Many people boil this down to God-talk and therefore shy away from it, assuming you cannot grow spiritually if you do not believe in God. Spiritual growth is not only for those who believe in a god or goddess or even a higher power.  —Rev. Rob Hardies, All Souls Church Unitarian, Washington, DC “Spiritual growth isn’t about a vertical ascent to heaven but about growth in every dimension at once. It’s spirituality in 3-D. Growth in spirit doesn’t measure one’s proximity to a God above, but rather the spaciousness of one’s own soul—its volume, its capacity, its size.” Spiritual growth is about being open. It is about acknowledging that there is more than who we are. It is following intuition. It is knowing that we are part of something bigger, not just church, our communities, the state, the world, but the universe. It is all interconnected. We all have a spark. We need to let it shine. —Ray Bradbury “We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.”

We are used to the idea of growth being over when we achieve adulthood. But that isn’t true. There is no magical age or time when we are done growing. We continue to learn and grow throughout our entire live. Spiritual growth is not easy it does not just happen. Much like farmers we have to tend to our field’s growth.

Farmers grow crops in their fields and sometimes they let their fields lay fallow. Sometimes we should let ourselves stay fallow for a season. And that’s ok too. It’s ok to need that break, but we cannot deny our need for growth.

Farmers weed out the bad things to protect their plants. We need to do the same with our spirits. Pulling out the bad ideas, removing ourselves from negative situations, and discontinuing bad habits.  I like to think of us as fruit trees, to grow we need to prune or be pruned. We must take the negative things out of our lives so that we can continue to grow. Much like farmers use different kinds of fertilizer for different plants, just as we use different thoughts and paths. And that’s the great thing about us as Unitarian Universalists, we get all kinds of fertilizer to help us grow. We don’t have to accept all of it sometimes we can say, “well, that’s ones just not for me”. And that’s okay. But the idea is that together as a community we say, well this little bit works for this person and that little bit works for that person and we are going to encourage each other to sprout, bloom, and continue to grow. On an individual basis this means thought and care and taking care of our souls and making sure that they remain open, which is really the only way to become spiritually okay with the turmoil of 2016. Staying open and making sure we are big enough to let things in. We continue to help others and continue to help ourselves.

Hymn: Come Sing a Song With Me

Come, sing a song with me, come, sing a song with me,
Come, sing a song with me, that I might know your mind.
And I’ll bring you hope when hope is hard to find,
And I’ll bring a song of love and a rose in the wintertime.

Come, dream a dream with me, come dream a dream with me,
Come, dream a dream with me, that I might know your mind.
And I’ll bring you hope when hope is hard to find,
And I’ll bring a song of love and a rose in the wintertime.

Come, walk in rain with me, come walk in rain with me,
Come, walk in rain with me, that I might know your mind.
And I’ll bring you hope when hope is hard to find,
And I’ll bring a song of love and a rose in the wintertime.

Come, share a rose with me, come share a rose with me,
Come share a rose with me, that I might know your mind
And I’ll bring you hope when hope is hard to find
And I’ll bring a song of love and a rose in the wintertime.

Joys and Concerns:

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.


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.

Closing Words: Go Forth in Simplicity By Samuel A Trumbore

Go forth in simplicity.
Find and walk the path
that leads to compassion and wisdom,
that leads to happiness, peace and ease.
Welcome the stranger and
open your heart to a world in need of healing.
Be courageous before the forces of hate.
Hold and embody a vision of the common good that
serves the needs of all people.

Song:  Go Now in Peace (Repeat 3 times) – Go now in peace. Go now in peace, may our love and care surround you, everywhere, everywhere, you may go.