Prelude – Wildflowers by Dolly Parton with Emmylou Harris &Linda Ronstadt
Greeting: #361 “Enter Rejoice and Come In” Greet your neighbor in any way you feel comfortable, as we sing this familiar song.
Song #1 My Life is Made Worthwhile by Norbert Capek
This year, at the Flower Communion will sound the N. F. Čapek’s song My Life is Made Worthwhile. This hymn was written by N. F. Čapek on March 31 in Dachau. It was taken out from Dachau by his daughter Zora and newly recovered in the archive of Unitaria, the Religious Society of Czech Unitarians.
Adapted from a story by Janeen K. Grohsmeyer in her book Lamp in Every Corner: Our UU Storybook (Boston: Unitarian Universalist Association, 2004). Used with permission.
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.
Song #2 Answering the Call of Love #1014
Offering: Quiet meditative moment with music
Presentation: Towers and Flowers by Cricket Hall
This morning, I’m going to start my presentation by reading a story from the Bible. I’m going to read the New International Version because it is remarkably close to the Jewish Study Bible Tanak version. This is Genesis 11, verses 1-9.
Now this is one of countless stories from around the world of how humans got separated and how different languages evolved. There is anthropological evidence to deny most of the stories and say they are just myths. They were used to explain why different people were different, even if they were in relatively close proximity. But for the next 10 or so minutes, let’s just pretend that this is the way it happened. Let’s pretend that this was how we understood the world, because this story has more depth than just language.
When I was a child growing up in the United Methodist church, I heard this story several times. It was always followed by a sermon on pride. “We humans had the audacity to build a tower to heaven and try to be like God.” I thought, “How dare we? We are not like God.” And the story was repeated so often that I began to believe that this was how language was fragmented and people disconnected. Much like the Greeks, I began to feel that pride was a dangerous, punishable offense.
Imagine my surprise when I read the passage for myself in Seminary last fall. For those that know me more, imagine my righteous indignation. It was not pride that God wished to destroy. The humans were not doing something that made them like God. The humans were punished for working together. It says in verses 5, 6, &7, “5 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building.6 The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.””
So, the gods and goddesses decided that working together the people could accomplish anything. Then, they decided that was a bad thing and scattered us and made us speak different languages. The tower was not sundered and people dispersed because of anything that humanity did wrong, but because of fear. The gods were being helicopter parents so scared of us hurting ourselves, they were not willing to let us climb. When we worked together, it scared them. When people work together we can accomplish anything.
By now you might be thinking, “What does this have to do with flower communion?” Often during flower communion, we are told the story of Norbert Capek one of our UU martyrs who struggled to make his people safe, his church safe, and the world a better place. Together Capek and his wife Maja, decided to bring Unitarianism back to their homeland, newly independent after World War I. It was a liberal faith and sermons were often lectures. But there were those who felt the need for something more spiritual. They felt there needed to be more connection. So, Capek decided that there needed to be a special ritual for this faith, something that brought people together and belonged only to this group. Thus, flower communion was born. 94 years ago, today. That’s one year shy of being as old my grandmother and Betty White. Flower Communion was brought to the United States by the Rev. Maja Capek in 1940. She believed that it was an important ritual to carry on.
And carry on it has. Some may ask why? But the answer lies in two words: one is ritual and the other is communion. Ritual, after all is what creates connection. Ritual is at the heart of relationship. It is through ritual that create bonds which help us steady ourselves when the seas of life get rough. There is comfort in knowing that others do what we do. There is peace in knowing that you have people with you. This is why bedtime routines are important and gathering for holidays, even when it’s stressful, are good for the soul. We come together and we know what’s going to happen with people who we built a relationship and we form connections that will be there when we need them.
Communion is defined as
- a group of persons having a common religious faith; a religious denomination:
- association; fellowship.
- interchange or sharing of thoughts or emotions; intimate communication:
- the act of sharing, or holding in common; participation.
I really like those last two definitions: interchange or sharing of thoughts or emotions; intimate communication and the act of sharing, or holding in common; participation. Those definitions sum up our ceremony today. We each brought a flower that meant something to us. We are sharing emotions. We are communicating intimately with each other, even if we are silent. We are participating in sharing.
Capek knew that his church needed something to bind the people together, but also that he had to make sure that people were not reminded of injuries caused by other churches. He wanted people to be able to share in a communion because he knew it would bring them together. He knew it would help them feel connected and give them strength in times of darkness.
Today, we are celebrating Flower Communion with hundreds of churches all over the world. Each of us in our own time zone, in our own language, have brought flowers to church and put them together. The flowers will be blessed. We will all take a different flower home. We will leave with a piece of someone else. Not just in this congregation, but all over the world. Flower Communion transcends language. It is a connection on a deeper level.
Whether the story of the tower of Babel is true or not, there is some truth with in it. There are many languages and peoples all over the world. If we work together we can accomplish anything. When I look at the story of the tower of Babel now, I no longer see overly proud people who were trying to be like God. I see people who were working together for a common goal. I see people like us, who want things to be better. I see people who knew the power of their group. People who knew that working together they could accomplish anything. We share the communion today with people around the world who all want the world to be a better place, so in a way flowers are becoming a new language today.
Blessing of the Flowers
During the first Flower Communion in 1923 N. F. Čapek presented the following words as Blessing of the Flowers
For this year we asked the Unitarian and Universalist leaders from around the world to help with presenting Čapek‘s words. The result is this unique Mosaic of Blessing of the Flowers:
It is time now for us to share in the Flower Communion. I ask that as you each in turn approach the communion vase you do so quietly–reverently–with a sense of how important it is for each of us to address our world and one another with gentleness, justice, and love. I ask that you select a flower–different from the one you brought–that particularly appeals to you. As you take your chosen flower–noting its particular shape and beauty–please remember to handle it carefully. It is a gift that someone else has brought to you. It represents that person’s unique humanity, and therefore deserves your kindest touch. Let us share quietly in this Unitarian Universalist ritual of oneness and love
Blessing/Litany: Remembering Our Int’l Family of Faith By William G Sinkford
Love is the spirit of this church
And service its law.
This is our great covenant;
To dwell together in peace,
To seek the truth in love
And to help one another.
Closing Words – The Communion Prayer by Norbert
We have Spiritual Outings on the first Sunday of each month during the summer. This month, we will first gather at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Morgantown to share in the celebration of Flower Communion. Please arrive at the Morgantown church before 10:45 a.m., and please be sure that each person brings a flower for the communion.
Following this service we will move to Coopers Rock State Forest for a very short spiritual outing service, followed by a potluck picnic, conversation, and walking in the park.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to carpool.
We would love to have you come worship with us.
or write to us at PO Box 523, Clarksburg WV 26302