Sunday, April 19, 2020

Welcome:

Good morning and welcome to West Fork Unitarian Universalists. I’m Cricket and I feel blessed to serve this congregation as a lay leader. I’m glad to see all of you here today.

Thank you for joining us.

Let us use the prelude for centering. We are about to enter sacred time. We are about to make this time and this place sacred by our presence and intention.

Please silence your phones… and as you do so, I invite us also to turn down the volume on our fears; to remove our masks; and to loosen the armor around our hearts.

Breathe.

Let go of the expectations placed on you by others—and those they taught you to place on yourself.

Drop the guilt and the shame, not to shirk accountability, but in honest expectation of the possibility of forgiveness.

Let go of the thing you said the other day. Let go of the thing you dread next week. Be here, in this moment. Breathe, here.

Prelude: 

Opening Words:  Surrender to This Life by Gretchen Haley

Chalice Lighting: April 2020 – Global Chalice Lighting

Welcome Song: Come, Come Whoever you are

Principles: There are Seven Principles which Unitarian Universalist Congregations affirm and promote

Story for All Ages:

Offering and Response   (Unison)

Please join us in our unison 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.

Reading: To the People who have Mistaken Freedom for Liberation by Rev. Theresa I. Soto from their book of poetry Spilling the Light: Meditations of Hope and Resilience

Lesson: The Power of We 

I invite you to reflect, and to consider your own Inner Universes – some of which you  probably know so well, others of which might remain vague, remote, or perhaps even as yet unknown to us.

Now lets consider that others, each and every one of us, also has his/her/their own Inner Universes as well, some familiar and known, some perhaps not.   It is telling to ask ourselves, not rhetorically, “Who are you?”, and then pause and listen for the answer.  Note it.  Then ask the question of yourself again:  “Who are you?”, and note the answer you hear.  Do this several times and see what answers you find.  I propose that these answers, as ostensibly mundane or obvious as we might suppose them to be, actually reveal an enormous amount about ourselves.  For these answers reveal to us who we understand ourselves to be; how we identify ourselves; how we see ourselves.

Most often when asked “Who are you?”, people reply with their name.  Next it is often their occupation. After that, we start to see variations in the replies:  gender or sex, state of residence or nationality, sometimes their religion….  After that, if the respondent has not “run out of answers” or become exasperated with the whole exercise, responses might begin to reflect a broader understanding of self – an ethnicity, race, or tribe; perhaps our species or our biological kingdom; planetary resident: Earthling; citizen of our galaxy, sometimes even member of the Universe Itself.  When we get to this point, it is interesting to look back and retrace our steps; to see how we go from identifying ourselves in a very specific (egocentric) way all the way to an Infinite, Universal understanding of self.  We go from “micro” self – small, egocentric definition of self – to “macro” self:  a specific expression of Being Itself.

To be sure, we are all of these things – always: our name, gender/sex, practitioner of some skill or profession, from some particular place, but we are also a particular expression of Being Itself.  It is a paradox of our existence.  And understanding ourselves as such is, I believe, how we give up – and give away – our “small self” and expand into our large Self.   This giving away of the small self and acting from our large Self determines how we behave in relation to these aspects of our identities, and it makes all the difference.  That is, whether we see the world from a “small self” perspective, or from a “Infinte Self” perspective.  When we see and behave in the world from a “small self” perspective, we can be led to more self-interested attitudes and pursuits – a “me, my, mine” worldview, where everyone and everything is relative to me.  It is easy to see how this perspective opens the door to selfishness.  However, when we are able to shift that paradigm of self-understanding to one of “large Self – a specific instance of Being Itself,” then we view all creation through the lens of equality – equality of worth and value, for we see that truly we all are essentially the same – the same expression of the Universe, Being Itself, the Divine.  Then, we understand that, by virtue of this equality of Being, we are compelled to “love our sister as thyself”, “judge not”. “tread lightly upon this Earth”, welcome the stranger, feed the orphan and the widow, act with compassion and extend to all the same rights, freedoms, dignities we would to ourselves.

“I” becomes “We”, distance and difference between the two are revealed to be an illusion, and as co-equal expressions of Being Itself, we serve, give, assist, care for, and love one another, knowing that we are really, paradoxically, loving ourselves.

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: Hope by Jennifer Pratt-Walter

 Closing 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.

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