Sunday, 2 December 2018: Love Is Too Strong a Word

Prelude

Hackney Colliery Band – A Bit Of Common Decency

Chalice Lighting: Open to Unexpected Answers

By Julianne Lepp

We seek our place in the world
and the answers to our hearts’ deep questions.
As we seek, may our hearts be open to unexpected answers.
May the light of our chalice remind us that this is a community of warmth, of wisdom, and welcoming of multiple truths.

Gathered Here (3 Times)

Gathered here in the mystery of the hour.
Gathered here in one strong body.
Gathered here in the struggle and the power.
Spirit draw near.

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 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 respect individual religious paths, even those we do not understand, for we aspire to accept one another and to encourage spiritual growth.

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 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 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

Music: Light One Candle – Peter, Paul, & Mary

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.

Lesson: Love Is Too Strong a Word

When Robert and I were first married and new UUs, we would spent Christmas in West Virginia with my family and then go to North Carolina where his sister was living. The year our daughter was born, our then brother-in-law, who was the UU minister in Greensboro, gave us this tape, and I first listened to it in the dark, driving over the mountains back to Tennessee. Vonnegut’s ideas really spoke to me then, and listening to him again now, I think shaped my ideas of faith more than I ever realized.

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Ware Lecture, UUA General Assembly, 1984

Almost 35 years later, UUism has largely ignored what Vonnegut had to say that night. Love is still the doctrine of this church, we have stood on the side of love, and now we side with it.

It was hard to find readings and music for this service. I discovered through a variety of searches that there are no hymns, UU, Christian, or otherwise, about respect. There were no chalice lightings or readings about respect, except for a few about the interdependent web. The idea for the prelude came from a Vonnegut quote:

Love is where you find it. I think it is foolish to go around looking for it, and I think it can be poisonous. I wish that people who are conventionally supposed to love each other would say to each other, when they fight, ‘Please — a little less love, and a little more common decency’.

― Kurt Vonnegut Slapstick, or Lonesome No More! (1976)

Vonnegut wondered what Jesus really said in Aramaic. All we have are the Gospels written in Greek, so I started there. In both “Love your neighbor” and Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, the word used is “agape“, which is one of the many Greek words for love, sometime translated loving kindness. When the Bible was translated into Latin, “caritas” – what became charity in English, was used in the love chapter from Paul’s letter, but “diligio” in Love your neighbor. Diligio is the root of what became diligent and diligence. Diligio means something more like esteem, regard for, taking care, respect, than what we now think of as charity, or of love. Respect God, and respect your neighbor.

I thought we would try a unison reading of the Love Chapter of Corinthians, to see how it feels to say Respect rather than Love.

Unison Reading

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not respect, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not respect, I am nothing.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not respect, it profiteth me nothing.
Respect suffereth long, and is kind; respect envieth not; respect vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
Respect never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

And now abideth faith, hope, respect, these three; but the greatest of these is respect.

– I Corinthians 13, King James Version

Hymn: Spirit of Life

Words and Tune: Carolyn McDade

Spirit of Life, come unto me.
Sing in my heart all the stirrings of compassion.
Blow in the wind, rise in the sea;
move in the hand, giving life the shape of justice.
Roots hold me close; wings set me free;
Spirit of Life, come to me, come to me.

Joys and Sorrows

(Please save comments and announcement for 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: May we go forth from this place – Charles A Howe

May we go forth from this place thankful for the life that sustains and renews us, and open to the grace that surrounds and surprises us.
May we go forth from this place with openness and with thanksgiving.

The chalice flame is extinguished Until once again ignited by the strength of our communion.

Go now in peace.

Ware Lecture 2018

Since 1961, every year at the UUA General Assembly there is a special lecture called the Ware Lecture.

This year’s speaker is Brittany Packnett. 

“Brittany Packnett is a leader at the intersection of culture and justice. Cited by President Barack Obama as a leader who’s “voice is going to be making a difference for years to come,” Brittany is an unapologetic educator, organizer, writer, and speaker.

Brittany is an alum of Washington University in St. Louis, American University in Washington, and is a current Aspen Institute Education fellow. She is a proud Advisory Board Member of Rise To Run, an organization committed to recruiting grassroots, diverse, progressive women to run for office, and Erase The Hate, NBC/Universal’s Emmy-Winning initiative to rid the world of discrimination.

Ultimately, Brittany is a proud Black woman who believes that freedom is within our grasp—as long as we unleash love, and build our power, because “power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice.” (MLK)” For more information read this article. 

The lecture is tonight at 8:30pm and will be live streamed.

 

Namaste,

Cricket

Reminder

We will be joining UUFM tomorrow at their church in Morgantown.
Sunday May 20 at 10:45 AM at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Morgantown, Rev. Rose Edington and Rev. Mel Hoover will present “Love Will Guide us,” as the guests of UUFM and West Fork UUs. “Mel and Rose,” as retirees, still work on the state and national levels to promote social justice on many levels. Active elders in Black LIves of Unitarian Universalism, they will talk about the Intersectionality of “Race” and “Choice,” reminding us that: Black and Women’s Lives Matter. We will celebrate the inherent worth and dignity of one another together on Sunday. Please come.

Lent 2018- Day 1- Love

Today is the first day of lent. It’s also Valentine’s Day. So it is appropriate that the word for today is love.

Here is a meditation about love …

https://www.uua.org/worship/words/meditation/meditation-hope-and-love-time-struggle

I also wanted to include music so here is Bon Voyage singing “Though I May Speak” at UUCC.

To close I would like to leave you with this prayer.

This Is Our Calling

The world aches for us to join together and bring about healing, toil for justice, and produce ever-increasing love. This is our calling. Go forth and act accordingly. Amen.

Namaste,

Cricket

UU Lent 2018

In Christian churches there is a 40 day period beginning Ash Wednesday and leading to Easter, that is full of meditation, prayer, and sacrifice. This is act of devotion and a spiritual practice.

While this is not a practice that all UUs participate in, it is something from our history and something that we may wish to participate in. The question might come up, “is there a Unitarian Universalist way to practice Lent?” The answer is yes. A calendar has been created by Mr. Barb Greve and Alex Kapitan. The idea is to focus on a particular word each day during lent and on the Sundays we are to reflect on the word and encourage each other to enact it in our lives. Should you choose to participate you can share your reflections with the hashtag #UULent

Here is the calendar for reference.


We aim to have a devotional about the daily word each day.

May your day be filled with light and the coming weeks be filled with introspection and healing. May we all use this time to nurture other spirits as well as our own, so that we are strong enough to help heal the world. May we use this time to connect with each other as we work towards beloved community and collective liberation. Blessed Be. Amen.

Namaste,

Cricket

4th Sunday in Advent

Advent is the season of waiting. In the Christian year, it is the four Sundays before Christmas. Each Sunday there is a candle lit. They symbolize Love, Hope, Joy, and Peace. This week is about love. The reading below found on the UUA Worship Web is about waiting and love. What are we waiting for? What does love mean to us?
Season’s Blessings,
Cricket
The Virgin Monologue By Jim Burklo

“‘God did it’ isn’t an explanation,” said Joseph.
He got no account for the baby’s chromosomes,
No description of the mechanism that
Transmuted the divine shadow into royal blood.

“‘The devil made me do it’ would have sounded better to me,” said Joseph,
Though it never did him any good when he said it to his old girlfriends.

It was a mystery to him,
What moved him to listen for the rhyme
And puzzle for the reason
That Mary gave him the news in the manner that she did:

A mystery that put him at peace.
There was something in the way she held his hand
That no medical journal article could correlate;
Something in the way she gazed into his eyes
That eluded the grasp of genomic research.

“I don’t ask you to believe what I am saying,” she said,
“I don’t ask you to take my word for it.
I just ask you to love, as if.

Love me as if I were yours,
Love this baby as if he were yours,
As I love you as if you were mine.”

Love “as if” makes every child divine
Love “as if” fits all in David’s line
Love “as if” this love was meant for you
Love “as if” the Christmas tale is true.

On this difficult morning …

As we read the reports and watch the news about Charlottesville, may we remember that we are not alone.  As our hearts break and we are faced with the reality that we have not come nearly as far as we need to, may we speak out. As others defend or explain away the problems facing our nation and our world, may we continue to encourage them to wake up. As we wonder if our ideals and expectations are doomed to fail, may remember that none of us are free until all of us are free. May we continue to answer the call of love and fight for the lives that need us most. May our voices continue to rise until they are heard above the hate.

May it Be,
Amen

We Answer the Call of Love By Julia Corbett-Hemeyer

In the face of hate,
We answer the call of love.
In the face of exclusion,
We answer the call of inclusion.
In the face of homophobia,
We answer the call of LGBTQ rights.
In the face of racism,
We answer of justice for all races.
In the face of xenophobia,
We answer the call of pluralism.
In the face of misogyny,
We answer the call of women’s rights.
In the face of demagoguery,
We answer the call of reason.
In the face of religious intolerance,
We answer the call of diversity.
In the face of narrow nationalism,
We answer the call of global community.
In the face of bigotry,
We answer the call of open-mindedness.
In the face of despair,
We answer the call of hope.

As Unitarian Universalists, we answer the call of love —
now more than ever.