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.

Respecting Differing Opinions

There has been a big debate about respecting other people’s ideas on social media lately. The election cycle seems to bring out both the best and worst in people.

I have a few things to say on the issue.

1) We don’t have to respect other people’s beliefs and ideas.

2) We do have to respect people for who they are.

3) Sometimes it is hard to do, but we have to try.

4) When we hold other people’s beliefs and see where they are coming from it can help us respect other and grow together in learning and searching for what is true.

This sermon from October 18, 2015 talks about how to do just those things.
Here is a link to the podcast and a link to the First UU of Austin page which has a transcript and a video of the sermon.
Hope you enjoy and are inspired.

Namaste,
Cricket

[First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin] Dialogue with conservatives => http://podplayer.net/#/?id=8244801 via @PodcastAddict

http://austinuu.org/wp2013/dialogue-with-conservatives/