4/26/20 Stitching a New Garment for Change by Omega Burckhardt

Call to Worship
“We will not go back to normal,” says Sonya Renee Taylor. “Normal never was… We should not long to return, my friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature.” We are in a special moment, one in which we can pause – looking back, to see how we have fared in this time of crisis. We can pause – looking forward, knowing now that we are in this for the long haul. We see the devastation, but also the unity and beauty of coming together in a common collective movement making real change for ourselves, our communities, and our world. Let us appreciate the ways in which we may hold on to that spirit of beautiful and powerful change. Come, let us worship together.


Kindling of the Chalice Flame

If you have a chalice, light it as you say these words:

As the first hint of green begins to peek through the barren ground
As that little sprig grows into a healthy stem
As that stem grows into a stalk and forms a bud
As that bud slowly opens with each new day
To form a yellow daffodil
Let us be, like that first hint of green, renewed by the warm of the sun’s rays
And ready to emerge with a new energy, ready to face the day.
We light this chalice to bring a glimmer of that warmth into our space.
(words by Jennifer McGlothin)


 Hymn: “Yonder Come Day”
Dr. Glen Thomas Rideout is the Director of Worship and Music at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Ann Arbor. Click below to watch his beautiful rendition of “Yonder Come Day,” a song of returning hope, like the spring morning sunshine.


Message for All Ages
“So when the time comes for you to set off on your own, heavy winds will sweep past your building and great grey clouds will congregate above. Your loved ones will stand there like puddles beneath their umbrellas, holding you tight and kissing you and wishing you luck. But it won’t be luck you leave with, because you’ll have love. Love. Love.”

Click below to read along with the book Love by Matt de la Peña.


Reading “Kinder than Before” by Donna Ashworth

History will remember when the world stopped
And the flights stayed on the ground.
And the cars parked in the street.
And the trains didn’t run.

History will remember when the schools closed
And the children stayed indoors
And the medical staff walked towards the fire
And they didn’t run.

History will remember when the people sang
On their balconies, in isolation
But so very much together
In courage and song.

History will remember when the people fought
For their old and their weak
Protected the vulnerable
By doing nothing at all.

History will remember when the virus left
And the houses opened
And the people came out
And hugged and kissed
And started again

Kinder than before.


Singing Meditation
For this meditation piece, enjoy Dr. Rideout’s version of “I Know This Rose Will Open” (Singing the Living Tradition #396). Close your eyes and focus on one part of his song, or perhaps sing or hum along.


Reflection by Omega “Stitching a New Garment for Change”
Dolphins are said to have returned to the canals of Venice, thanks to the reduction in noise and other pollutants. The Himalayas are visible for hundreds of miles, the first time in a century. Air is cleaner above major U.S cities; Los Angeles is experiencing the lowest levels of air pollution in decades. In a humorous nod, this image came across my social media feed this week: “Cheese and sausage have returned to the Milwaukee River.”

This week we celebrated the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Even as the world held steady indoors, maintaining distance from each other and fighting anxiety, boredom, and perhaps a bit of loneliness, we paused to acknowledge this moment of spring. Our Earth, our Blue Boat Home, is healing. Our – humanity’s – collective action is having a positive impact in ways we could not have imagined possible just a few short months ago.

Sonya Renee Taylor’s words that opened today’s service read, in full: “We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was not normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate and lack. We should not long to return, my friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature.” The celebration of Earth Day this week is a way to see how much our lives could change – how much our world could change – if we work collectively to make it happen. Michael Grunwald makes a similar point in a recent article in Politico, “The haze that is currently lifting around so much of the world—the Himalayas are suddenly visible from India—is literally opening new horizons, reshaping notions of what’s possible, showing that at least in an emergency, individuals can make sacrifices for a collective benefit.”

We can see that our collective actions are having a major impact on the health of our planet, but they are also having an effect on our lives in distinct, more personal ways. Clearly, we are in a time of anxiety and health crisis, and we mourn for those impacted by the COVID-19 virus. No one is thankful for this global pandemic, and we do not want to rush the “opening up” that some are pushing for. But, this moment in time also gives us an opportunity and a moment of grace. What do we wish to keep? What kinds of changes have we made that we want to stay the same, as we return to “normal”? What kind of garment do we want to stitch for ourselves and our world?

The anxiety about our present moment leaves us vulnerable to a scarcity mindset. True, there are moments of grave scarcity in our midst, and we cannot ignore that this is the case. But, what are the moments of abundance that we can cherish, when we look back at this time? I am challenging myself to keep a note of these moments, too, for I know how trauma works in my brain and body. Long after the threat of this virus is gone, my brain and my body will remember the fear and anxiety of protecting myself and my loved ones. What can I do, now, to help myself remember that there were moments of beauty, too? I am spending a lot of time with my teenagers who have assured me that, as soon as they possibly can, they will be leaving this house and will not come back. I don’t doubt them in this; it is right and age-appropriate. However, I am trying to remember that I need to cherish the time with them, especially when we laugh or walk the dogs or watch movies together. I am actually more connected with friends and family than I have been in a while. We are making sure to check on each other more frequently than before the virus, ensuring that everyone has what they need. We cook more as a family (and do more dishes as a family, too). And, lo and behold, I have started to correspond with people by letter and postcard again. I can count on one hand the number of personal letters I have gotten in the past five years, and in the past three weeks, I have received and sent twice as many. What a joy!

Judith Campbell wrote a reflection that I’d like to share as final words. How will you make sure that certain ways of living continue in your life, long after the threat of this crisis is over?

We have learned to live with less…but will we continue?
We have learned to make do and mend…but will we continue?
We have put aside our calendars, our to-do lists…and our travel plans and we have turned to jig saw puzzles and endless games of Monopoly at the dining room table.
The air and the waters surrounding our precious planet have started to clear…but will it continue?
We have learned how to have meetings and give virtual hugs on Zoom.
We have learned how to “unmute”….and more importantly, when not to unmute because listening is an acquired skill.
We are not born with it.
We have made friends with our kids and our parents,
And even ourselves.
We have listened to the sounds of silence and learned slowly how not to be afraid.
…But will we continue?


Joys and Sorrows
As is our custom, we will share Joys and Sorrows during our Sunday 10 a.m. worship time (please see the Zoom link for information).


Closing song to Extinguish the Chalice
As we extinguish our home chalices today, let us carry with us a flame that will help us live into a new way of being, one in which we reach for a higher purpose of stitching together moments of grace and beauty into betterment of ourselves, our communities, and our Earth.

Enjoy this song as you extinguish your chalice. Sing along! Or perhaps move around, experiencing it as you see appropriate.
In peace,

Steve Winwood, “Higher Love”


Special Announcements:

Scrip is an important fundraiser for OBUUC. Did you know you can use Scrip online?

The Stewardship Support Team ended our campaign for raising funds for the 2020-21 cycle about 4% short of the current budget. We have planned a 3-week campaign to have 1:1 matching funds for all extra donations or signed financial commitments that come in between this past Sunday and May 10. The total goal is to raise $15,000 during this period. Please watch the following video: