12/27/20 Making Space for Stillness by Suzanne Landis and Lisa Scott Ptacek

At this moment we seek to make a place for stillness, for an inner sense of calm, for a peace that passes understanding.  Our call to worship, “Reaching for the Sun,” by the Rev. Angela Herrera, invites us to such a place.


Call to Worship:   “Reaching for the Sun”  by Rev. Angela Herrera

“Beneath the hustle and bustle,

beneath the stream of thoughts that clambers and chatters

over the landscape of our interior world,

beneath our habits of momentum and stirring,

there is a stillness, deep and peaceful,

the place where creation begins.

Who lives there?

We know her by many names.

Truth. Love. God. Wisdom.

We turn our hearts toward her face,

toward the mystery,

and bring our prayers of awe, of longing, of hope, of exhaustion.

She holds us in our grief and anger,

in our disappointment, our loneliness, and our rebirth.

From her viewpoint she sees us

Children of the stillness

Children of love

She sees our place in the order of things

joined together in the larger story

and she invites us again and again into living,

invites us into loving,

invites us into being loved.”

Come, all who are seeking “stillness, deep and peaceful”.  Let us worship together.


Prelude:    Gnossienne No. 1 by Satie           Anna Kojovic-Frodl, Piano


Chalice Lighting:  “Chalice Flame Contemplation” by Rev. Samuel A.Trombone  
In this time of long nights and short days,

Let us seek the light within

By contemplating, through our mind’s eye,

The image of a candle flame . . .


Let that little candle flame be your friend this morning.

Allow it to quiet your mind,

As you attentively watch it’s flickering glow.


Allow it to calm your mind in a way that brings a stillness

that can light up the interior of your being

that can help you find the wellspring of your feelings.


Allow it to show us our inner sense of knowing, that

can help us notice the ways we’ve strayed or harmed others;

to warm us, reflecting on the ways we’ve been touched

and the ways we’ve opened our hearts;

and inspire us through making new connections and discovering new insights.


May this simple flame

Touch the dry twigs that guard our hearts

allowing the power of light to penetrate our self-protection

and show us the amazing potential for heat and light

that resides within us.



Hymn No.352:  “Find a Stillness”


Gesture of Friendship



Message for All Ages  “OWL Moon” by Jane Yolen, Illustrated by John Schoenherr

Children’s Blessing



Centering Words/Time of Silence from “Invitation to Arrive and Rest” By Shari Woodbury

Reader 1: Out of the din of the city

Reader 2: Away from the noise of the crowds

BOTH: We come

Reader 1: To rest in this moment

Reader 2: in this place

Reader 1: Set apart from the never-ending to-do lists

Reader 2: embracing the seventh day, a day of rest

BOTH: We come

Reader 1: To the warmth and stillness

Reader 2: Of this sacred hour

Reader 1: Remember, you have chosen to be here

Something in your life led you to arrive here, now

Reader 2: Whatever tasks and cares await you, now, for this brief time, simply rest

Reader 1: Allow your soul to be nurtured

Let the waves in your mind and heart gradually subside

Reader 2: As you come home to yourself

Holy, and whole

BOTH: Come, let us enter a time of stillness together


A Time of Stillness and Reflection


Music  “Dona Nobis Pacem” by the OBUUC choir


Reading:       “Here. Now. You.”  By Kat Liu 

When I heard the Venerable’s robes rustle at what I estimated to be about forty minutes and yet she did not give the signal that our sitting meditation had ended, that’s when I knew she would take us to the full hour. But my knees were complaining and my mind was bored with counting breaths. What to do in the time remaining? Suddenly a stray thought entered: What if this were your last breath?

Funny thing, I immediately began to breathe slower. Drawing in the air to fill every crevice of my lungs and then slowly pushing it out until there was nothing left to expel. “Well,” I thought, “I must want to live.”

Of course, when I got to the end of that “last” breath I was still there. So I began another breath, still asking, What if this were your last breath? There were flashes of regret—unfinished projects, loved ones grieving—but one breath isn’t enough time to do anything about regrets. There was only enough time to experience the moment, to know that I was there, breathing.

Inhalation. Exhalation. When the moment passed, there was the next moment, and the next. In this way, I spent the remaining twenty minutes entirely in the present.

Outside of the meditation hall, we still plan for the future and think of the past. But so often we replay past regrets and worry about future events to the point where we’re no longer present in the present. As the Venerable says, “We forget that we are breathing.”


When stuck in traffic, waiting in line, or anytime there’s nothing to do other than be present, find a comfortable position in which you can breathe freely.

What if this were your last breath?

Just for this moment, believe that this is all you have. No time to worry about the future or the past. Just enough time to know that you are breathing.

Draw it in.

Savor the sensation of your lungs filling.

Savor your heart beating.

Savor the sensation of your chest relaxing as you exhale.



Here. Now. You.



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 November is the Health Care Network of Racine County:
The Health Care Network was founded in 1987 after a county-wide task force began studying the unmet health care needs of people not eligible for public aid programs in Racine County. Since its founding, HCN has provided free or low-cost medical, dental, and social services appointments to thousands of unique, uninsured patients. The support and generosity of the Racine community allows Health Care Network to continue to making sure everyone in our community has access to high quality, efficient and effective healthcare. For more information on how to donate to OBUUC and the Health Care Network, please visit our church website, obuuc.org.


Offertory Music:  “Hallelujah” by Cohan, for Cello and Strings, Sheku Kenneh-Mason on Cello


Reflection    “End of the Year, Beginning of New”          Lisa Scott Ptacek

This is the season of the Winter Solstice.
The days are short; the long winter begins.
In the natural world, life seems to pause; the trees have dropped their leaves and stand bare, outlined against the cool grey sky; animals hibernate; the energy of the earth is waning and lies in dormancy.

Even the sun takes a rest, cool and distant after the radiant warmth of the summer, and seemingly advises us to do the same.

It is the quiet dormancy of midwinter
A time for turning inward, of introspection and reflection

It is not easy for those of us who are not comfortable with the dark, the silence.
The world outside has been drained of vibrant color, turning black and white and shades of grey.
Inwardly we are confronted with the dark places of our soul; the pain, frustrations, fears, loneliness, regrets, and worries seem to emerge and call out to be noticed.

But winter is a sacred time.
It is a time to rest, to be comforted and restored.
It is a time to dream and create our vision of the future.
It is a time of renewed hope and promise.
The energy of winter is that of going within, of planting the seeds of inspiration and intention, and preparing for the awakening of life and the new year

Ritual of the lights and candles

In these final days of 2020, this liminal space between the end of this year and the birth of the next, I invite you to join me

Take a moment now, close your eyes if you wish, and think back on the year that is ending.
What do you regret? What lingers? What remains unfinished?
What you do welcome to come to an end?
Forgive and make peace with it now.
Release it from your heart and into the universe (blow out the candle)

Let’s look back again
What wonderful things happened that we didn’t expect?
What came out of the darkness, the pain, the disappointment?
What silver lining?
What do we want to keep with us, packed in our travel bag as we enter the new year?

We light this candle with gratitude, love, and intention.
Moving forward, step by step, with a little more light, and hope, and progress, each day.

As we turn back once more on the year that is ending, let us remember our friends and loved ones who have left this life.
Let us say their names, and embrace them in our hearts
We carry their spirit and living memories within ourselves
(light a candle for each name spoken aloud)

Arthur Shattuck
Peter Banaszak
Marsha Nelson
Ann Naik
Fletcher Lee
Rae Antczak
Marilyn Reidel
Dick Outland
Mary Lou Dettmer
Clina Barrette
Friends, family and loved ones that we remember now

Finally, we light one last candle, with the words of Rev. Scott Taylor

We light this flame in honor of all that leads us forward,
all that leans down and helps us up after we fall,
all that reminds us why we started,
all that tells us there is still hope and seeds of surprise,
even when no lights are in sight,
even when warmth seems so far away.
May this hour of tender and courageous connection
help us fall in love again with this wild world.
May it reignite our trust that the path ahead will be gentle.
May it tempt us back to joy.

May it leave us dancing to the lure of emerging light.



Closing Hymn:  “Be Still” by the Fray


Benediction/Extinguishing the Chalice Flame: ”Anchors of Calm” by Rev. Scott Tayler

When the winds of your daring days begin to swirl,

May you find your breath.

May you remember that still point inside

That is always waiting to welcome you back home.

And from that place of sacred peace,

May you be an anchor of calm

For those who need it as much as you.

Go in peace

Go in love



Postlude:  “Spiegel im Spiegel” by Arvo Pärt     Anna Kojovic-Frodl, Piano and Darlene Rivest