As I am preparing tomorrow’s service for Groveland Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, I have found a wide variety of music and readings that I would like to include. (Granted, I may not be able to fit all of them into one service and still have time to preach!) Since many of you will not be able to attend our morning worship for National Standing on the Side of Love Day, I thought I would post a little “sneak preview” of the sources that have been inspiring me while working today. The finished sermon will be posted after it has been delivered on Sunday, February 13, 2011. I hope you find these readings and lyrics as thought-provoking as I have!
“A Lifelong Sharing” -Mother Teresa
Love cannot remain by itself—it has no meaning.
Love has to be put into action, and that action is service.
Whatever form we are, abled or disabled, rich or poor, it is not how much we do, but how much love we put int the doing; a lifelong sharing of love with others.
“All I Ask of You” – Weston Priory Benedictine Monastery
(Chorus: All I ask of you is forever to remember me as loving you.)
Deep the joy of being together in one heart, And for me, that’s just where it is.
As we make our way through all the joys and pains, Can we find our younger, truer selves?
Someone will be calling you to be there for a while; Can you hear their cry from deep within?
Laughter, joy and presence: the only gifts you are. Have you time? I’d like to be with you.
Persons come into the fiber of our lives, Then their shadow fades and disappears.
“For an Exile” -John O’Donohue, from To Bless the Space Between Us
When you dream, it is always home. You are there among your own, the rhythm of their voices rising like song your blood would sing through any dark.
Then you awake to find yourself listening to the sounds of traffic in another land. For a moment your whole body recoils at the strange emptiness of where you are.
This country is cold to your voice. It is still a place without echoes. Nothing of yours has happened here.
No one knows you, the language slows you, the thick accent smothers your presence.
You sound foreign to yourself; their eyes reflect how strange you seem when seen across a cold distance that has no bridge to carry the charisma in which your friends delight at home.
Though your work here is hard, it brings relief, helps your mind in returning to the small bounties of your absence.
Evening is without protection; your room waits, ready to take you back like some convict who is afraid of life outside.
The things you brought from home look back at you; out of place here they take on lonely power.
You cringe at the thought that someone from home might see you now here, in this unsheltered room.
Now is the time to hold faithful to your dream, to understand that this is an interim time full of awkward disconnection.
Gradually you will come to find your way to friends who will open doors into new belonging.
Your heart will brighten with new discovery, your presence will unclench and find ease, letting your substance and promise be seen.
Slowly, a new world will open for you. The eyes of your heart, refined by this desert time, will be free to see and celebrate the new life for which you sacrificed everything.
“A Network of Mutuality” -Martin Luther King, Jr.
We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. There are some things in our social system to which all of us ought to be maladjusted. Hatred and bitterness can never cure the disease of fear, only love can do that. We must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation. The foundation for such a method is love. Before it is too late, we must narrow the gaping chasm between our proclamations of peace and our lowly deeds which precipitate and perpetuate war. One day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek but a means by which we arrive at that goal. We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means. We shall hew out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.
Hymn 112 “Do You Hear?” (in Singing the Living Tradition)
Do you hear, oh my friend, in the place where you stand, through the sky, through the land, do you hear, do you hear? In the heights, on the plain, in the vale, on the main, in the sun, in the rain, do you hear, do you hear?
Through the roar, through the rush, through the throng, through the crush, do you hear in the hush of your soul, of your soul? Hear the cry fear won’t still, hear the heart’s call to will, hear a sigh’s startling trill in your soul, in your soul?
From the place where you stand to the outermost strand, do you hear, oh my friend, do you hear, do you hear? All the dreams, all the dares, all the sighs, all the prayers—they are yours, mine, and theirs—do you hear, do you hear?
“Faith Without Certainty” -Paul Rasor
The way we live our lives names our theologies more effectively than any label we can give them. If we name a theology of love but treat people with disrespect, if we name a theology of interdependence but insist on our own independence, if we name a theology of inclusion but think we need to make all the important decisions, we are out of sync.
This works the other way around too. When we participate in an antiwar demonstration, when we write a letter protesting inadequate health care, when we go to work in a shelter or youth program in the city, when we sit at the side of someone in pain, we are living and naming our theologies. The things we do, the things we go along with, the things we are silent about, these are all a part of the faith we name and practice. (xxii)
While we can and should draw on the resources and insights of other traditions…, liberal theology must speak first to the tradition it serves, which is basically a middle-class religious tradition. We must ask: In what ways are we implicated in the social structures of oppression? What are our various privileges in the current social structures, and how are they connected with, even dependent on, the suffering of others? How might our own practices unwittingly perpetuate the oppressive structures we are seeking to overturn? How can we use our privilege to effect change and alleviate suffering? What are we willing to give up?
These are some of the questions we must ask if we want to liberate ourselves and reverse the inertia of the tension in theological liberalism that often interferes with our own best intentions to do truly liberating social justice work. (163)
“When I Am Among the Trees” -Mary Oliver, from Thirst
When I am among the trees, especially the willows and the honey locust, equally the beech, the oaks and the pines, they give off such hints of gladness. I would almost say that they save me, and daily.
I am so distant from the hope of myself, in which I have goodness, and discernment, and never hurry through the world but walk slowly, and bow often.
Around me the trees stir in their leaves and call out, “Stay awhile.” The light flows from their branches.
And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say, “and you too have come into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled with light, and to shine.”
“Meditation on Breathing” (from Singing the Journey, Hymn 1009)
When I breathe in, I breathe in peace;
When I breathe out, I breathe out love.
Hymn 123 “Spirit of Life” (from Singing the Living Tradition)
Spirit of Life, come unto me. Sing in my heart all the stirrings of compassion. Blow in the wind, rise in the sea. Move in the hand, giving life the shape of justice. Roots hold me close; wings set me free. Spirit of Life, come to me, come to me.
Tao te Ching, from “Teaching 13” -Lao Tzu
One who sees himself as everything is fit to be guardian of the world.
One who loves herself as everyone is fit to be teacher of the world.