We gather together this morning as best we can to restore both our courage and our faith as we face the world as it is. 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. Because of this OBUUC, as the congregation is known, is a vibrant congregation.
Prelude “Ave Maria by Gounod/Bach” performed by Douglas Clum
We light our chalice this morning to these words by Erik Walker Wikstrom:
When we light our chalice everyone focuses on the flame.
Yet it is the paraffin of the candle, the cotton of the wick,
and the oxygen in the air around us
that makes [the] flame possible.
As leaders we are not called to be a lone beacon on a hill.
Rather, we are meant to work together
so that we might, together, shine.
Our Chalice is lit.
Hymn “We Sing Now Together” performed by Lynn Orlando, Diana Pavao & Vern Peterson
Time for All Ages by Rev. Keith Kron
Centering Words: UNCLENCHING by Rev. Keith Kron
It was a nearly perfect summer day for a walk, and I wasn’t alone.
My favorite sighting on my street in Providence was a woman walking her adorable French bulldog down the street. I heard, “Good boy, Luke,” several times as she pulled slightly on the leash to keep Luke from being too distracted.
Around the corner comes a man with pit bull. Luke immediately goes stock still. The pit bull is wagging her tail with the greatest of hope and charm — clearly excited about the possibility of a new friend. (She won me over).
The woman tries to get Luke to move forward, in vain this time as the French bulldog is “playing statue.”
Eventually the man with the Pit Bull reaches the woman and her dog. If possible, the French bulldog gets even stiffer. The woman is trying to say to Luke that it’s okay, and the Pit Bull sniffs hopefully and inquisitively at her new wished-for friend.
And then in an instant, Luke relaxes, and sniffs back. And quickly their tales are all a-wagging as the sniff and nuzzle and snort.
I notice the owners have relaxed and then have unclenched, and they are now talking amiably, though near as I can tell their tails are not a-wagging with the same ferociously as their pets.
It’s only then that I realize I had been clenching and now feel my body relaxing.
I left the happy foursome and headed off, thinking how much of a metaphor this has become for today’s times. How we all seem to be living lives of trepidation, and yet hope and kindness are out there if we look beyond the stereotypes, if we present ourselves with kindness, if we just try.
I thought about what reputations pit bulls have. And yet she was the kindest of them all.
Maybe in these difficult and trying times, we need to be more like the pitbull, in whatever ways we can, offering a little hope and kindness to those new friends we might make.
set up time of stillness and reflection
Time of Stillness and Reflection
Reading: Black is the Body by Emily Bernard
In the 1990s, Emily Barnard was Black graduate student at Yale. One night, while in a coffee shop, a young man with mental health issues came into the shop, stabbing Emily with a knife. She writes about the pain she experienced that night in her book Black is the Body:
I did experience terrible pain on the night of August 7.
The person responsible for it was the surgeon on call.
I lay on a gurney, feeling helpless and afraid. The surgeon walked over to me and without saying a word to me, plunged his fingers into my gaping wound.
I gasped and instinctively grabbed his hand.
It was only then that the man looked at me, and said icily, “Don’t. Touch. My Hand.”
His eyes were Aryan-blue and as cold as his voice. I asked questions about what was happening to me and he refused to respond. Only the attending nurses treated me with any kindness and respect.
Whenever I tell the story of the night I got stabbed, I always say the person who did the most injury to me, who left the deepest wounds, was not Daniel Silva (the young man in poor mental health who stabbed me), but the surgeon.
Reflection Rev. Keith
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, 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 November is the Root Pike Watershed Initiative Network. For more information on how to donate to OBUUC and Root Pike WIN, please visit our church website.
Offertory: “When You Wish Upon a Star” by Harline – Washington, performed by Douglas Clum
Benediction words adapted from those by Darcy Roake
There is too much hardship in this world to not find joy,
There is too much injustice in this world to not right the balance,
There is too much pain in this world to not heal,
Each of us ministers to a weary world.
Let us go forth now and do that which calls us to make this world
more loving, more compassionate
and more filled with the grace of [ the spirit of life ],
Postlude: Love Will Keep Us Alive by The Eagles, performed by Douglas Clum