We gather together this morning as best we can to restore both our sense of commitment as we face the world as it is and the courage to dream of better days for all. We are more when we are together: wiser, more resilient and more able. Finding inspiration in the struggles of the past and courage for what lies ahead.
Prelude Come to My Garden, Colleen Wilkinson, vocals; Anna Kojovic-Frodl, piano
We bid you welcome.
We do not ask what you believe, or
Expect you to think the way we do,
but only that you try to live a
kindly, helpful life, with the dignity
proper to a human being.
Welcome, all who believe that religion
Is wider than any sect and deeper
Than any set of opinions, and all
Who might find in all our friendship
Strength and encouragement for daily living.
Hymn We Give Thanks, OBUUC Choir
Time for All Ages The Promise by Nicola Davies
Empathy Is a Choice We Make
by Leslie Jamison
Empathy isn’t just something that happens to us – a meteor shower of synapses firing across the brain – it’s also a choice we make: to pay attention, to extend ourselves. It’s made of exertion, that dowdier cousin of impulse. Sometimes we care for another because we know we should or because it’s asked for, but this doesn’t make our caring hollow. The act of choosing simply means we’ve committed ourselves to a set of behaviors greater than the sum of our individual inclinations.
This confession of effort chafes against the notion that empathy should always rise unbidden, that genuine means the same thing as unwilled, that intentionality is the enemy of love. But I believe in intention and I believe in work. I believe in waking up in the middle of the night and packing our bags and leaving our worse selves for our better ones.
Time of Stillness and Reflection
Reading Fragile and Hidden by the late Catholic theologian Henry Nouwen
Because life is very small, you can never see it happening. Have you ever seen a tree actually grow? Can you see a child grow? Growth is too gentle, too tender. Life is basically hidden. It is small and begs for constant care and protection. If you are committed to always saying yes to life, you are going to have to become a person who chooses it when it is hidden.
I have a case in point from my own life. I live in a community with handicapped adults. Just after I moved in they asked me if I would be willing to take care of Adam. Adam cannot speak. Adam cannot walk. Adam is what some people might call “a vegetable.” “Would you be willing to wash Adam?” they asked. “Would you be willing to dress him and give him breakfast?”
As I began to take care of Adam, I slowly discovered what life is about. Adam began to teach me about the smallness of living. As I bathed him this twenty-five-year-old man, washed his face, combed his hair, fed him, and dressed him, I began to realize what an incredible gift life is. Adam spoke to me in a language I didn’t know he could speak. He told me how hidden, vulnerable, and deep life is. Being with him gave me a sense of being closely in touch with living. After a while I felt an enormous desire to leave my office and my books to be with Adam, because he would tell me what life was about.
I began to realize that every time people say yes to live in whatever form – life on death row, the life of the severely handicapped, the life of the broken and the homeless – they start to give hope to each other. I never experienced hope so concretely until I began to wash Adam. Adam strengthened my hope. It wasn’t optimism. Adam is never going to get better. But he offers hope. This hope can form a very strong bond among people who are willing to go where life is fragile and hidden.
Reflection All We Can Be by Rev. Eric Meter
The Olympia Brown Unitarian Universalist Church is a community of generosity and abundance.
Especially now, in this challenging time, your generosity is what keeps this community as vital as it is, a beacon of respectful engagement and faith in the power of love.
Each month we share the generosity of our collection with a local partner. Our outreach partner for February is the Racine Interfaith Council or RIC.
Offertory Anthem Stand by Me OBUUC Choir
Benediction words by Jean Rowe
We have a calling in this world:
We are called to honor diversity,
to respect differences with dignity,
and to challenge those who would forbid it.
We are a people of a wide path.
Let us be wide in affection
and go our way in peace.
Postlude One World, Colleen Wilkinson, vocals; Anna Kojovic-Frodl, piano