Welcome to this online worship service. We may be apart and distant, yet we are home to each other as we gather in this new way
Prelude -Carrie Newcomer – “You Can Do This Hard Thing”
Call To Worship
Pandemic by Lynn Ungeri
What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
Promise this world your love–
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.
Kindling of the Chalice Flame – Carrie Newcomer – “Sanctuary”
Love be with you and all living things.
Gesture of Friendship: Heart Sign with hands
Message for All Ages: Athena and the Owl; Symbol of Wisdom
Once upon a time…
There was a new city far off, which had not been named yet. It had just become the most magnificent city on earth. It was filled with stone and marble buildings that reached towards the sky. It was simply beautiful. But the new city needed a god or goddess to watch over it and help it prosper. King Cecrops, the king of the new land, had been pondering who would be the best god or goddess to claim the city. He had decided it must be between Athena and Poseidon, but could not decide which one would be better. Therefore, the king decided a contest would be held.
One day Athena decided to venture to this new city in search of a book to read. She was always trying to expand her knowledge, and she also wanted to go see the new city. Athena was the goddess of wisdom, and she was very, very wise. She was also the goddess of war. But not of violent war like her brother Ares. No, she won wars with her brains and clever tactics. Upon arriving, she immediately fell in love. As she was walking by the King’s palace, he stopped her and told her of the contest to be held between her and Poseidon to find out who would be the god of the city. King Cecrops told her that in order to win the contest, she must provide the people of this new city with a gift. If her gift was better than Poseidon’s, she would get to claim the city as her own. Athena agreed to the contest and immediately began to think of the gift she would present.
Athena wandered to the nearby forest to do some deep thinking. She was the goddess of wisdom and therefore she would be expected to come up with a gift that would really please the people. She could not disappoint them. She could not lose this magnificent city to Poseidon. But she just did not know what gift would be worthy. She knew Poseidon, god of the sea, was powerful and would probably produce a great gift for the people. Athena began to worry.
As she sat on a tree stump pondering, she heard a sound in a nearby tree. She went to follow the noise and found a girl staring up at a small bird in a tree. The girl was beautiful but looked sad. Athena asked the girl her name and why she looked so sad. The girl told Athena her name was Haley and that her owl was stuck in the tree and she did not know how to get it down.
Athena told Haley she would get her owl down for her. Athena used her wisdom to come up with a plan to lure the owl down with berries she found in a bush nearby. The owl’s eyes grew big when he saw the berries, and he immediately flew down from the tree he was perched in. On his way down, he grabbed a small branch from the tree and placed it in Athena’s hands. Athena was confused as to why the owl handed her a branch of a tree, but held on to it. In gratitude for saving her owl, Haley gave Athena the owl to keep. Athena thanked the girl for the bird and realized she must return to the city for the contest. With the owl by her side, Athena rushed to the city without a clue as to what gift she would give the people.
Poseidon had already arrived to the new city and presented the people with a stream of water. The people were so happy to have this beautiful stream in their city and to have water to drink. They rushed to the stream and dove their faces in the crystal-clear water. Poseidon thought he had won the contest and rights to the city, but the people immediately rose up from the stream and started spitting out the water. It was salt water! They could not drink it and they were not happy. It was Athena’s turn to present her gift. The only thing she had was the branch of the tree the owl had given her. She reached out her arms and presented the people with the branch. It was the branch of an olive tree. She placed it on the ground and from it a full olive tree grew. The people were delighted. They had olives to eat, oil for their lamps and cooking, and wood for their boats and houses. King Cecrops declared Athena the winner and in her honor the city was named Athens.Athena could not believe the city was hers. She turned to look at the owl and thought how lucky she was to have found it. The bird was wise to know the branch was the gift she needed to win the contest. She realized the owl must be the wisest of all animals. Just as she was the goddess of wisdom, this owl must be the animal of wisdom. She decided from that day onward, the owl would be her sacred animal and would never leave her side.
Hymn #100 Come Sing a Song with Me by Carolyn McDade
Reading: Not Just the What, But Also the How, by Rev. Karen G. Johnston
Wise ones say:
we can be good,
all at the same time.
Wise ones say that
we can listen to understand,
not necessarily agree,
and be moved by a truth,
that does not make sense
to our lived experience.
And let it change our world.
They tell us also
to raise up those
who are trodden upon.
To cultivate humility
when the world would rather
we grow certitude in our hearts.
Wise ones remind us
we can recognize that
those who do harm
do not always intend to;
and that it is still ours
to reckon with the impact.
They tell us that
we can say “I don’t know”
and “I’m not sure,”
and still be warrior,
still be whole,
still be leader.
In fact, the kind of leader
we long for.
Wise ones tell us to pay attention to
not just the what, but also the how.
May this be the meditation of our hearts.
May this be the words of our mouths.
Not just the what, but also the how.
May we be the wise ones
today, and every day.
Message: How we know, unknow, and know again – Rev. Marlene
Dear Beloveds, two months ago when we were planning our Sunday worship services for this month on our theme of Wisdom it seemed like a good idea to preach about how we know what we know and how we learn new ways of knowing. Little did I know that over the last two weeks everything I thought I knew would be upended and I would find myself in a time of propound unknowing, untethered and in uncharted territory. These times call us back to Wisdom more than knowing. On what is permanent rather than what might be transient. On knowing again what is true.
I’m the kind of person who likes to “know” what I’m doing. I like to “know” what I will be doing tomorrow, next week, next month, next year. I like seeing things and events on my calendar. I like to plan for them. I like to know that on this day I will be doing this, on that day I will be going there, on this day I will see these people. Truth be told it drives my wife Gloria a bit crazy.
I also like knowing what I’m doing in the sense of having the skills and experience to do my job or tasks well, to be competent. It feels good to know that I am good at what I do. I am terminally over educated after all.
And today, as I write this, all that is gone. Much that was on my calendar has been cancelled for the next few months and what remains is uncertain. I don’t know when I will next see my children and grandchildren again except on a computer or iPad screen. I don’t know when I will see my colleagues and most importantly, I don’t know if I will get to see all of you in person before my ministry with you ends.
Nothing I “know” or have been taught or learned about ministry in all these years has prepared me for this. I am having to re-learn, re-know as I go.
And I so very much don’t like any of it. At all.
What I do know though is that this a time to rely less on what I “know” but on Wisdom. On those things that remain true no matter what. The Wisdom of what is essential. The Wisdom that all of you teach me.
And what may those things be you may ask?
Wisdom tells me that these things are true:
That we are connected each to the other. Even when we are apart.
That we are each other’s home
That we create that home together
That we will get through this hard time
That Love is the guiding force of what holds us together. Always.
That here is a Love holding us and we can rest in that love.
Blessings my people.
Video: There is a Love Words by Rev. Rebecca Parker, Music by Elizabeth Norton
Joys and Concerns:
While we are apart, use this moment as a time of introspection, meditation, thought, or prayer, and send your joys and concerns into the spirit of life.
Offertory Music: Phillip Phillips – Home
Closing Words: by Khalil Gibran
Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry,
the philosophy which does not laugh,
and the greatness which does not bow before children.
Video Postlude: Carrie Newcomer and Parker J. Palmer – Abide