We gather together this morning as best we can to restore both our sense of commitment and courage 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 faith community.
Prelude: “Trio Amazing Grace,” J. Jones performed by Anna Kojovic-Frodl
Chalice Lighting: words adapted from Petr Samojski
May this flame we light remind us that
every one of us can bring the light of love to the world.
May this clear flame be a symbol that every heart can burn bright with joy, peace, and harmony.
May the wisdom of ages speak to us through this flame and stay in us.
Every one of us can be a blessing to the world.
Hymn: Wake, Now, My Senses v1, 3 & 5
Message For All Ages:
Centering Words: by Rebecca Parker and John Buehrens
It rises from the heart of life, here and now, beating with joy and sorrow.
It longs for good to be affirmed, for justice and love to prevail, for suffering to be alleviated, and for life to flourish in peace.
It remembers the dreams of those who have gone before and reaches for connection with them across the boundary of death.
It acts to bless, to protect and to repair.
Reading: by Amanda Hays
After college, I started going to a predominantly White church in a low-income, predominately Black and Latinx neighborhood. I helped to lead a church program in which neighborhood families could come and eat dinner together, and then the kids would get homework help while their parents went to a support group. Another church in the neighborhood that was predominantly Black partnered with our church to run this program.
After the first semester of the program, we got all of the volunteers together for a feedback session to discuss what had gone well and what we wanted to improve for the next semester. I thought the feedback session had been a huge success. But when I got together with the leaders from the other church, these two Black women expressed frustration about the racist comments the volunteers from our church had made about what the Black families in the program needed. For example, they implied that Black children didn’t know how to set a table. I was so hurt that they thought my friends from church had said racist things, and I tried to explain to them that the intention behind their comments had been good. They didn’t seem to listen to me. They seemed so angry. I got so upset, I started crying and my friend who was in the room came over and put their arm around me protectively.
About a year later, I came across an article online about “White Women’s Tears.” The article described a situation in which a White woman had unintentionally said something racist to a Black woman. When the Black woman pointed it out, the White woman started crying and got the sympathy of everyone in the room, while the Black woman was chided by others as being “mean” and “angry.” According to this article, this is a common pattern: as soon as a White woman cries, the White woman, who is actually in the wrong, gets comforted.
The person of Color, who is actually being harmed, gets no sympathy at all, causing even more harm to them.
I had played right into the White Women’s Tears pattern! These Black church leaders had to sit in a room and listen to all these White volunteers say things about Black families that were hurtful to them. And when they told us so, I perceived them as angry and mean. My friend acted as though I was the one who needed to be protected. Despite our good intent, the impact was to say that my emotions as a White woman were far more important and legitimate than their emotions as Black women.
Confronting my own shadow side in moments like this is much harder to do than standing against injustice “out there.” I want to see myself as a person who helps others and fights injustice… not someone who hurts others and perpetuates injustice. It is an almost physically painful blow to my self-image to realize that I have hurt someone else, that I have had a racist impact. I am tempted to ignore the injustice, or to act as though I am the victim of the person who brings me this pain of self-reflection. But sometimes pain is needed for growth.
I wish I had seen at the time that what these church leaders were telling me about the racist impact of the White volunteers’ suggestions was not an attack but a gift of perspective and trust.
Musical Interlude: “Wayfaring Stranger” by Rhiannon Giddens
Reflection: 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.
Every 5th Sunday of a month, OBUUC donates our entire collection plate offering to Black Lives Unitarian Universalist. BLUU, as the effort is commonly known”
• Expands the power & capacity of Black UUs within our faith.
• Provides support, information & resources for Black Unitarian Universalists.
• With the goal of strengthening our ability for justice-making and liberation.
For more information and how to donate to OBUUC and Black Lives UU, please visit the church website.
Offertory: “The Prayer for Jewish Life,” E. Block, performed by Anna Kojovic-Frodl
Benediction: words adapted from those by the Rev. Maureen Killoran
I pray this day for courage,
The courage to be humble in the face of inequity and pain,
to know that the power has been given me to make a difference,
although not to end all suffering or to save all the whales that populate our days.
I pray for the courage of endurance,
to keep acting in the midst of despair,
to keep trying in the aftermath of failure,
to keep hoping in the emptiness
that follows loss or change.
May courage give me patience
and may I ever know Love’s healing presence
at the heart and center of my days.
Postlude: “You Can Do This Hard Thing” by Carrie Newcomer