Welcome: Good morning everyone. Welcome to the Olympia Brown Unitarian Universalist Church in Racine, WI. I’m the Rev. Eric Meter, the congregation’s interim minister. I’m honored to be with all of you on this beautiful October morning. We gather together this morning as best we can to restore our courage as we face the world as it is. In one another’s company our convictions and faith are renewed. We are more when we are together: wiser, more resilient and more able. Because of this OBUUC, as the congregation is known, is a vibrant congregation. For further information, please see our website… obuuc.org.
Prelude: Ave Maria by JS Bach / Gunoud, performed by Anna Kojovic and Lynn Orlando
Search Committee Announcement:
As you know, a congregation’s decision to call its settled minister is one of the hallmarks of how UU congregations live out their values. These decisions are also among the most important decisions members of any congregation can make. While Search Committees have a great deal of responsibility, theirs is not the only preparatory work that needs to be done. Please join me, your Settled Minister Search Committee and OBUUC Board members on Saturday, November 7 for a Beyond Categorical Thinking Workshop that helps prepare congregations for calling their next settled minister. BCT, as it is often called, helps promote inclusive thinking at every step along the way, because ministry, ultimately, is the work of both professional clergy and members of the congregations they serve.
The Settled Search Committee, along with the UUA Transition Office, is hosting a workshop, for our church, called Beyond Categorical thinking. The workshop is designed to promote inclusive thinking and prevent unfair discrimination during a congregation’s search for a settled minister.
The 2 part Workshop will be on Saturday, November 7. It is a 3-hour workshop that will be in two halves with an hour and a half break in between. The first half will take place at 10 am-11:30 am. The 2nd half of the Workshop will be 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm.
Chalice Lighting: by Barbara Hamilton-Holway:
We gather here – as individual people –
young and old;
male and female;
temporarily able and disabled;
gay, lesbian, bisexual and straight people,
all the colors of the human race;
theist, atheist, agnostic, Christian, Buddhist, feminist, humanist.
We gather here as a community of people who are more than categories.
We gather here – each ministering to the other, meeting one another’s strength, encouraging wholeness.
We give thanks for this extraordinary blessing –
the gathering together of separate,
unique individuals as a whole, one body, our church.
Here may our minds stretch,
our hearts open, our spirits deepen.
Here may we acknowledge our brokenness and be ever stirred by love’s infinite possibilities.
Our Chalice is lit.
Hymn: Breath, Sweet Honey in the Rock, text from a poem by Birago Diop
Listen more often to things than to beings, (2x)
‘tis the Ancestor’s breath when the fire’s voice is heard,
‘tis the Ancestor’s breath in the voice of the waters.
Zah Whsshh Aahh Whsshh
Time for All Ages: City Dog, Country Frog by Mo Willems
Centering Words: adapted from Joel Miller Eric
set up time of stillness and reflection
Mother and Father Presence, Spirit of Life,
weaving your love through us and among us:
Comfort us in our sorrows, laugh with us in our joys.
Walk with us as we find the words
or make the pictures
that tell the stories of our lives.
Be a small, still voice in our souls
that calls us to listen, carefully,
to the living stories around us;
a small still voice in our minds
that calls us to an ever greater compassion;
a small, still voice in our hearts
that calls us to cherish all our lives;
a small, still voice in our bodies
that calls us to use our anger to build cities of hope.
Mother and Father of Earth and Stars:
We are all your children. May your love for us
Become our own love for all.
Amen. Blessed Be.
Time of Stillness and Reflection
Music for the Day: Across the Great Divide by Kate Wolf, performed by Bill Garvey
Honoring our Departed:
These words from Kelli McNeal: The topic of death and dying is one that many people prefer to avoid. It’s much easier to keep living life and put off any thoughts about an ending. But, alas, death is inevitable. It’s a part of our daily lives. Some die after a long fight with an illness, some die because of an accident, or at the hands of another. Death comes in many different forms, but it often leaves a group of people seeking; seeking answers, seeking peace, seeking to see their loved ones one last time. We hold on to memories of meaningful interactions with our loved ones, remembering the laughs, tears, and the times of peace. But death also makes us hold a mirror up to ourselves and begin thinking about how we want to live our lives, how we can learn from our loved ones who have died, carry on their stories, their passions, their hopes and dreams. At this time of year, we celebrate our endings as well as our beginnings. We say goodbye to all of those who in this past year have died; those known to us, and those many more unknown. We take time every year to remember and honor their lives.
Each year, we come to this time of the year. We watch the leaves turn and fall from the trees. We watch the fields become bare, stalks of wheat and corn falling to the earth, returning to the soil again.
For a people to live, they must remember that the seeds remaining after a harvest are the seeds that beget the next crops to grow. Without seeds, new growth will never come, and the field will be overrun with weeds.
For a people to thrive, they must remember the stories of those who have gone before and teach them to the young people. Without stories, the core of personality and purpose that centers the community will be lost, and the young people will not know who they are to become.
This is why we remember.
As we remember, we bring the dead to life for a moment in our hearts, and through remembering, we know that we too shall someday attain the immortality of being remembered by those whose lives we touch.
Who do you wish to bring forward now? Who have you lost in this past year?
We honor all those whose names have been given voice at this time, and those countless others whose names are either unknown to us or simply reside in silence in the core of our hearts.
The Olympia Brown Unitarian Universalist Church is a community of generosity and abundance. Especially now, in this challenging and anxious time, your generosity is what keeps this community as vital as it is. Our offertory outreach partner for October is the United Way of Racine County’s Covid Relief Fund. The fund was established earlier this year to meet the unexpected and immediate needs of those nearby effected by this global pandemic. For more information on how to donate to OBUUC and support the United Way’s Covid Relief Fund, please visit our church website.
Offertory Anthem: My Lord, What a Mourning, performed by OBUUC Choir
Benediction: words by the late Forrest Church
After death our bodies may be resurrected. Our souls may transmigrate or become part of the heavenly pleroma. We may join our loved ones in heaven. Or we may return the constituent parts of our being to the earth from which it came and rest in eternal peace. About life after death, no one knows. But about this we surely know: there is love after death. Not only do our finest actions invest life with meaning and purpose, but they also live on after us. Two centuries from now, the last tracings of our being will yet express themselves in little works of love that follow bead by bead in a luminous [chain] extending from our dear ones out into the world and then on into the next, strung out by our loving hands. Death is love’s measure. Not only is our grief when someone dies testimony to our love, but when we ourselves die, the love we have given to others is the one thing death can’t kill. Only our unspent love dies when we die.
Postlude: Diapason Piece by S. Wesley, performed by Anna Kojovik