Welcome to this online worship service. We may be apart and distant, yet we are home to each other as we gather in this new way.
Prelude – “Come With Me” – Joe Jencks
Call To Worship – Rev. Marlene Walker
Walk through this door
Step into the threshold
And balance here
For a moment
Not the next place
In this place
And what will be
Step into this threshold
Transformative place and time
We light our chalice this morning
As a beacon of light
To guide and sustain us
Through the times of beginnings
And the times of endings
Through the in between places
That are neither beginning nor ending
Through the times of uncertainty and expectation
Of hope and of challenge
That we may reach the promised land
Of fulfillment, of enough
Of the ongoing creation of Beloved Community.
Love be with you and all living things
Message for All Ages – Penguins Jumping Off A Cliff
“Do penguins push one penguin in the water to test whether there are Leopard Seals around?
No, they definitely do not do this, although it may look that way to the casual observer. What happens is that penguins, like Adelie Penguins, congregate and wait at the water’s edge – and despite their marvelous adaptations for a life in water, they can often appear reluctant to enter it. Until it is safe and they are sure where they are going. Eventually one or two will dive in: whereupon the rest may or may not choose to follow.”
Children’s Blessing – We Are Blessed
We are blessed…
We are blessed by being…
We are blessed by being here…
We are blessed by being here together.
Musical Reflection – “Immortal Love” by Elizabeth Alexander, Text by John Greenleaf Whittier – OBUUC Choir
Meditation and Reflection – “The Beads of Life” by Nancy Woods
The space between events is
where most of life is lived.
Those half-remembered moments of joy or sadness,
fear or disappointment,
are merely beads of life strung together
to make one expanding necklace of experience.
The space between events is
where we grow old.
From sunrise to sunset, one day lives as another day emerges
from the fluid womb of dawn,
the first bead strung upon the everlasting thread of life.
The space between events
is where knowledge marries beauty.
In quiet reflection,
we remember only the colored outline of events,
the black and white of war,
the rosiness that surrounded our first love.
The space between events is
why we go on living.
The laughter of a child or the sigh of wind in a canyon
becomes the music we hear expanding in our hearts each time
we gather one more bead of life.
Musical Reflection – “The Brink Of Everything” – By Carrie Newcomer
Reading – The Parable of The Trapeze – Danaan Parry
Reflection – “Resting On the Threshold” – Rev. Dr. Marlene Walker
I love the message of our two stories – the one about the Adelie Penguins crowded on the ice waiting until till it’s safe to venture forth – and Parable of the Trapeze – of the space, between letting go of one trapeze and grasping the next as one, as a place of possibility. And how important to wait until it’s the right time, to just hang in the middle and not grasp or jump in to soon, or too late.
“In Between Times”, Threshold times are often times many of us tend to try to avoid. We, as humans, tend to not like the sense of uncertainty, of not being here or there. Of residing no longer in what was and not yet in what shall be. In between times, resting on the threshold, can also be times of great learning and growth and deeply spiritual times, creative times – if we can but let them be. If we can just rest on the threshold between what was and what will be.
Danaan Parry tells us in the Parable of The Trapeze that the transition zone is actually the only real thing and the bars of the trapeze are an illusion.
We are living in just such time, are we not? The world we knew two months ago is behind us, we will not return to that world. It is forever changed, gone. We did not choose to let go of the trapeze we were on but were forced, pushed, into this threshold space. And we as yet do not know what the world, what life on the other side of this threshold we are resting on will be like, or even when we will cross into it. We just know it will be different than what was.
It is ironic that our Soul Matters theme for the month of February, the month before we stepped onto this threshold we find ourselves resting on, were forced to let go of the trapeze of life we were holding onto by this pandemic was Resilience. Looking back at the sermon I preached way back than – seems like a lifetime ago now – I am reminded that Resilience does not mean going back to what was but means being changed by what has happened. By the thresholds, the transitions. I find these words by the poet Jane Hirschfield still, maybe even more, have deep meaning.
“More and more I have come to admire resilience.
Not the simple resistance of a pillow, whose foam
returns over and over to the same shape, but the sinuous
tenacity of a tree.”
A tree that is always growing and changing.
None of this is easy nor is it comfortable. It is downright scary and terrifying at times. Sitting on a threshold, in transition, between trapezes is never easy. I am not very good at it and this huge threshold we are on is being very hard for me, and for all of us. I want to push through, I want to know the answers, I want to know when I will see all of you again, when we can worship together again, when I can see and hold my grandchildren again. I want to know what my life, what our lives are going to look like. I want to know now! And of course I can’t. It’s not possible. Not yet.
You would think a long career as an interim minister would have prepared me for being comfortable with being on the threshold, of being in transition. That is what interim ministry is all about after all. Of helping and guiding congregations as they transition from one ministry to another, and to grow and change to be prepared for what comes next.
As you may recall from my very first sermon here that the guiding image of interim, transition, ministry is the Roman God Janus. The God who sits above the doors, one face looking backwards and one face looking forward. Our work in transition is not to recreate the past but to envision a new future. To be patient, to rest on the forming edge of time. To remember that we do not do this work alone. Even in this horrible Threshold time, unlike any threshold we have ever known or imagined, we do not rest on the threshold alone.
From my sermon on resilience these words:
A community has to have the elasticity to reform, stretch, adjust, and delight in each new vision of purpose, which springs it forward, not just back. “Remember those folk sayings that hold up the image of a tree being able to bend with the wind? Remember how they end with a message about resilience resting in our ability to flexibly lean and bend?
Well, for us UUs, another kind of leaning is just as important: the practice of leaning on those next to us! Yes, bend with the wind we say, but also remember that no one makes it through the windstorms alone.
It’s all a reminder that while resilience has a lot to do with what is inside us, it equally depends on what is between us.
Forget solo act; think community choir! We survive our pain by having the strength to tell others about it. We find the courage to make our way through the dark only when we sense we are not alone. Internal and individual grit only gets us so far; empathy, assurance and love from others gets us the rest of the way. Resilience has everything to do with the water within which we swim and the web of connections that surround us. Resilient people arise from resilient relationships!
So friends, let’s look around as much as look within. Let’s help each other remember that resilience arises not so much when we dig deep but when we remember we don’t have to do it all on our own!”
This is one of hell of a windstorm we find ourselves in. And still we are not in it alone. We will know, like the Adelie penguins, when it is time to safely jump back into the water together. And we will know when that trapeze that has our name on it is heading towards us and it is time to grab on. We will know.
That time is not yet. So, we rest on the threshold, imaging together what comes next and what that might look like. Knowing that it will not be the same as in the past. But for now, we stand together, on the brink of everything. And who knows we just may learn to fly.
Closing Hymn – “Bind Us Together” by Diana Pavao