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 – “Turning Tide”by Jan Garret and JD Martin
Call To Worship – Linda Barnes
Suspended between all that was and all that might be,
we struggle to find this very moment—to live this very moment.
Let us sit together for a moment, and savor this moment.
Let us relish this between time where past meets future,
Let us harbor a faith that reminds us that right now, right here, is enough.
Chalice Lighting – L.A. McCae
We light this chalice, on the shorelines of life
Gathered as One at thresholds unknown
Surrendering to the Mystery and Blessing that surely awaits
As we dispel fear and call forth love, light, and peace
Crossing over the threshold together – as One
Love be with you and all living things
Message for All ages – The Second Sky by Patrick Guest and Jonathan Bentley
We are blessed…
We are blessed by being…
We are blessed by being here…
We are blessed by being here together.
Meditation and Reflection
In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.
For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.
It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.
Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.
Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.
Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.
To Bless the Space Between Us
Musical Reflection – “Crossings” by David Wilcox
Reading from “Inclusive Evangelism” by Robert W. Karnan in Salted With Fire
Our church and fellowship buildings and the moments we share within and outside them point to a sometimes wild and raging visionary courage in the face of tall that would demean and destroy and pervert and estrange what is in our hearts. There is no more critical task for our lives than the courage to love and to be there honestly and fully for one another. Deep and good friendship and all the trust and serenity that come with it are transformative. Deep friendship makes a healthy life possible, even likely. It makes for peace and for strength in facing the hardest issues. Doing what we can for what is right, just and fair here where we live is the most powerful social justice force on earth….
The quality of love and goodness we expose from our sometimes reluctant hearts will change the world. Our task is not to make more UUs or to make bigger congregations or to raise great gobs of money. It is to heal and inspire, to open and to remake, and thus change what is sorry to what is a joy. It is why we gather in the spirit of love and justice. It is why I give my life in service to what can only be described as invisible and intangible but which is also the most powerful force of all: our all too human, sometimes faltering, sometimes complete, sometimes painful and sad, sometimes serene and laughing love – that speaks, if anything at all does – with the voice of God.
Reflection – “Church on The Threshold” Rev. Dr. Marlene Walker
Church on the Threshold! Holey Moley! What a theme for this time we find ourselves living in; a theme that seems to be so precise for our times, a threshold time that just keeps growing, growing and growing”.
This past week all UU congregations received a communication from Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, President of the UUA, about new recommendations and guidelines for UU congregations. Here’s some of what is in those recommendations and guidelines,
“Over the past several weeks, the UUA has consulted with multiple public health officials in order to update the guidance we provided on March 12 recommending congregations stop gathering in person.
Based on advice from experts, we continue to recommend that congregations not gather in person. We also recommend that congregations begin planning for virtual operations for the next year (through May 2021).
Take a moment to breathe. I know this is significant.
While there is much public conversation about “reopening,” the reality is public health officials consistently predict a long trajectory for this pandemic. A majority of our congregational members, leaders, and staff members are in high-risk categories. Our care for the well-being and safety of our members and staff must be a priority in this pandemic.
Additionally, religious gatherings are considered highly contagious events. The acts of singing, the familiarity of people across households, the multigenerational community of children, youth, adults and seniors—the things that make our congregations so special—also create more risk for spreading the virus.
Given that so much uncertainty and risk remain, anticipating a year of virtual operations allows for more creative long-term planning, while still being flexible if conditions change significantly. We recognize that with time, and depending on the specific conditions and recommendations of local public health officials, small in-person groups of people and limited staff activities onsite may become possible while wearing masks, observing social distancing guidelines, and following diligent cleaning practices.
In making our recommendations, we are guided by science and our deepest held values. This pandemic teaches us that our actions directly impact the health and well-being of our neighbors and so it is imperative that we make choices that keep our congregations and larger community safer. As COVID-19 disproportionately impacts people with disabilities, Black people, Indigenous communities, Latinx people, the elderly, and essential workers, a majority of whom are women and women of color, religious communities have a moral responsibility to do all we can to reduce risks for those already at such high risk.
Public health officials are clear. There will need to be multiple weeks of reduction in infections, adequate testing, sufficient personal protective equipment available, contact tracing programs and perhaps a vaccine before it will be safe for many of our congregations to fully gather in person again.”
Yes, it says May 2021! You heard that right. And while I knew it was coming, and was not surprised by the decision, and wholeheartedly agree that it is the right decision, now that it is out and official, I am still trying to get my head around it. Around what it means, and what it will require of us.
Talk about being on threshold! Talk about needing to think in transformational terms and being engaged in transformational change to create a transformational way of being church. None of us, and I mean none of us, know or have any clue at this point what the future of the church will look like a year from now. What we do know is that we will work together to create that new way of being church together. This threshold will require of all of us to be engaged in transformational change. In an article on the blog “On Being” Jim Marsden writes;
“Transformational change is different from either developmental change or transitional state change. In developmental change, we grow by adding or developing new skills or by learning new things that will take us to where we want or need to be. With developmental change, we learn new things and grow, but our understanding of ourselves and the world that we are a part of has not necessarily changed. In transitional change, a framework commonly used in strategic planning, we assess where we are today and where we would like to be in the future with as much clarity and specificity as possible. We then look at the gap between where we are now and where we’d like to be, and then go about the business of “closing the gap.” Here too, our understanding of ourselves and the world does not change. In fact, transitional state change is most successful when there are no surprises to how we see and understand ourselves and our world. Transformational change, however, occurs when our foundational understanding of ourselves and the world around us significantly shifts. A transformation occurs when we go beyond the bounds of our current understanding and awareness. We cannot think our way through this change; we have to experience our way into it.”
And so it is in this threshold of change we find ourselves in; “We cannot think our way through this change; we have to experience our way into it.” I was blessed years ago in seminary to be a student of the amazing Buddhist teacher Joanna Macy. Joanna talks about the time we are living in as being “the Great Turning” which she describes as a shift from the Industrial Growth Society to a life-sustaining civilization. This time, this threshold, is an example of that shift, of our need to become a life sustaining civilization and I would say a life saving church.
We can do this; I know we can. We are in a tough time right now, the way forward is not clear, and it’s scary, and still I know we can do this. In Joanna Macy’s words, “Out of this darkness a new world can arise, not to be constructed by our minds so much as to emerge from our dreams. Even though we cannot see clearly how it’s going to turn out, we are still called to let the future into our imagination. We will never be able to build what we have not first cherished in our hearts.”
What I know is that what we cherish in our hearts is this church, its people and Unitarian Universalism, and the world around us. And I know that in this Great Turning we find ourselves in “we will be known by the company we keep, by the ones who circle round to tend these fires, we will be known by the ones who sow and reap the seeds of change, alive from deep within the earth. And most importantly that we will learn to lead in Love. Always in love. Always in love.
Benediction and Chalice Extinguishing – “We Shall be Known” by the “How We Thrive” Virtual Choir