This coming Wednesday is March 17 – St. Patrick’s Day. Whether or not you believe in leprechauns or that St. Paddy drove the snakes out of Ireland, you must acknowledge one bit of St. Patrick’s Day magic. On March 17, no matter what our ancestry, we all become Irish for the day!
Prelude Slow Air From ‘The Crock of Gold’ Suite, composed and played by Martin O’Leary
Call to Worship words adapted from Israel Zangwill
Come into the circle of love and justice.
Come into the community of mercy, holiness, and health.
Come and you shall know peace and joy.
Come, let us worship together.
Chalice Lighting words from the Rev. Suzelle Lynch
Each time we light the chalice
we renew the commitment to our Unitarian Universalist faith.
With the spark of a match, we make it new again –
as fresh and surprising as the first day
we encountered this spiritual community
And realized we were home.
Gesture of Friendship
Message for All Ages
Even though we are not holding services in our church building or using the church office for meetings, OBUUC still needs our contributions to operate. In addition, we continue to share our plate with a different worthy organization each month. The Offertory Outreach recipient for this month is the Friendship Clubhouse. Please give as generously as you can. Instructions for how to make donations to either or both OBUUC and Friendship Clubhouse are included in the weekly email. We also have a short video prepared by Friendship Clubhouse, with more information about who they are and what they do.
“The Universalist Society of Racine, Wisconsin Territory” was established in 1842, and the first meeting of the Society was held in 1843. That means that 2021 is the 178th year that this congregation has been meeting. Three years ago, to celebrate the congregation’s 175 Anniversary, OBUUC commissioned a hymn which set words of Olympia Brown, who served as the minister of this church from 1878 to 1886, as chosen by lyricist and UU Minister Kendyl Gibbons to music composed by UU Minister Jason Shelton. Our hymn is called “Lift Up the Gates,” and is sung here by the OBUUC choir.
Reflection Commitment by Andrea Bumpurs
A few weeks ago, Lisa Scott-Ptacek and I organized a Sunday service with the theme “Beloved Community.” Although that term can refer to communities of many sizes and compositions, we centered our service on the Beloved Community that is OBUUC. Three wonderful members of this community – Maria Scott, Lee Roberts and Kayla Matz – spoke about what OBUUC means to them. They made it a moving and inspiring service.
The theme for this service is “Commitment,” and that term, like Beloved Community, can refer to many things. Once again, though, as with the former service, I want to focus this one on OBUUC.
First, what do I mean when I talk about “OBUUC”? OBUUC is a group made up of individual human beings who have voluntarily come together – who have congregated – to pursue goals that we have in common.
The most important part of that definition is that OBUUC is people. It is not a building or an address. If we ever needed proof of that, we have gotten it through the COVID-19 virus. For a year now, we have not been physically together in a physical space. We have held Sunday Services and Sunday school, committee meetings, interest groups, concerts and parties – pretty much all the things we have always done – virtually. And we have helped each other when times have called for it – provided meals and sent cards and made calls and run errands for each other. We have said good-bye to one Interim Minister and have chosen and welcomed another. And we are still here together! It’s not the same, and I know we truly miss being together physically. But we know that we, the members and friends of our congregation, are OBUUC. Whether we meet in our treasured sanctuary or via pixels on our screens, we are OBUUC.
What, then, does it mean to have a Commitment to OBUUC?
One part of it is what we often hear called the three T’s: Time, Talent and Treasure. As part of our commitment to OBUUC, we are encouraged to give as much as we can of each of these, although Time and Talent often work together. We give of our Time and Talent when we serve on a committee that helps with the business of the congregation, or help with children’s RE, or when we repair and maintain our buildings, or sing in the choir or otherwise bring music to the church, or help the Good Shepherd Committee or, when we meet in our church, serve on a Hospitality Committee – there are so many ways that the people in this congregation give of their ample talents and precious time to make things happen for the good of OBUUC!
Making a commitment of Treasure is something we’re all familiar with. The members of the Stewardship Committee – giving of their Time and Talents – encouraged us all to give of our Treasure. It takes money – lots of money – to maintain a congregation and the way we get that money is through the goodwill of the people in the congregation. We have been asked to be as generous as we can, given our individual circumstances, and I am confident that we have been and will continue to be.
Those commitments to the operation of the congregation are not what brought us together, though. We didn’t come here, and we don’t stay here, just because we want to paint the Annex or sing in the choir or usher on Sundays or fill out a Pledge Card.
We came to find a community of like-minded people and we stay because those people and what they stand for and what they do is important and meaningful to us.
How are we like-minded? I think there are two basic ways. One is that we appreciate not being asked or required to believe – or to say we believe – anything that does not ring true to us. We are expected to think for ourselves and are free to respectfully disagree with what anyone, including the minister or anyone else speaking from the pulpit, says.
Another way that we are like-minded is that it is a very common experience for those of us who “found” Unitarian Universalism to realize, when we first see the Seven Principles in print, that they are things we already believe. Before we walked in the door, and even if we had never articulated them exactly this way, we already … affirmed
- The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
- Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
- Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth;
- A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
- The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process;
- The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all; and
- Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
These beliefs were already in us and part of us, and we were delighted to find a group of people who felt the same way. That was a large part of why we felt we had finally found our “home” and our family. And just as we were once new to Unitarian Universalism and to OBUUC, we welcome others who find us and want to join us on this adventure.
We have a commitment to those principles and to the people here who hold them with us. But even that isn’t all of it.
Our beliefs lead us to care about certain things. We care about how people treat each other in daily life and interactions. We care about how structures of power treat the people they come in contact with. We care about the justice system and fairness and mercy. We care about how democracy works locally, nationally and internationally. We care about the planet we inhabit and how we can best keep it habitable. And because we care about those things, we are led to act in certain ways. We vote and help and encourage others to exercise their right to vote. We run for office and help govern our communities. We serve in the justice system on many levels. We do our best to help those less fortunate or in need. We march and protest and write letters and seek to change what seems to us unfair and unjust.
Not all of us do all of those things. We are different individuals with different abilities and ways of expressing our beliefs. But whatever we choose to do or however we act, we are committed to making our communities, our country and the whole world a better, fairer, more just and equitable place for everyone. Especially for those who come after us.
So – when I talk about the topic of Commitment in the context of OBUUC, this is what I mean.
- We are committed to the people who make up the congregation we call OBUUC.
- We are committed to welcoming others into our congregation.
- We are committed to the Principles of Unitarian Universalism.
- We are committed to the concepts those principles represent.
- We are committed to taking the actions those concepts encourage and inspire us to take.
- We are committed to the next generation; and the one after that; and the one after that.
We belong to an organization – a congregation – OBUUC – that inspires us to be our best selves and encourages us to act with integrity, kindness, principle, and with a fervor for justice, peace and equity. And we have a deep commitment to the sustainability and success of this congregation. So may it be!
Hymn “The Fire of Our Commitment.” OBUUC Choir
Benediction and Chalice Extinguishing
As we began our service today with a reference to St. Patrick’s Day, so we end it, and extinguish our chalice with this Celtic benediction:
Deep peace of the running wave to you.
Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
Deep peace of the shining stars to you.
Deep peace of the infinite peace to you.
Postlude Fainne Geal an Lae -Martin O’Leary