UUAA Dec 27, 2015 [Backlog]

Front quote:

God did not enter the world of our nostalgic silent-night, snow-blanketed peace-on-earth sugar cookie suspended-reality of Christmas. God slipped into the vulnerability of skin and entered a world as violent and disturbing as our own.

~ Nadia Bolz Weber

Hymns:

  • 254 Sing We Now of Christmas
  • 256 Winter Night
  • 127 Can I See Another’s Woe?
  • 155 Circle ‘Round For Freedom
  • 241 In the Bleak Midwinter
  • 181 No Matter If You Live Now Far or Near

Reading:
Excerpt from “The Slaughter of the Innocents of Sandy Hook,” Nadia Bolz Weber

Sermon Title:
“Other People’s Children”

This was a Christmas service, but a somewhat sharper one than usual. If I remember correctly, the essence of it was that just because it is not our child that suffers, does not make it okay that any child suffers. Or, “there is no such thing as ‘other people’s children.'” It probably connected the rough birth of Jesus with the plight of children who are not cared for by their families or communities, for whatever reason: refugee children, children in foster care, possibly other broad groups.

Can I see another’s woe, and not feel pain myself? The state of compassion in which the answer is “no, I cannot” is one that UUs consider good. (And there is value in being able to see the world as it is.)

I wish I remember more of the words for the silence and reflection, because I have noted down “taking next steps with old stories” and I do not remember what that is from. I do remember what it is about: we should not just retell the same old stories in the same old way. The stories we tell shape our sense of reality. We should move forward with and within and around these stories to use them to change the world, not keep it the same.

A side note: I love the hymn Circle ‘Round For Freedom. It is so fantastic. I want to teach it to protestors and sing it when appropriate. I like it a lot better than chants about “fuck those racist killer cops.” (Do I need to censor swear words? I don’t have a real audience; will swear words limit the audience I can accumulate?) It’s just super great.

UUAA service August 10, 2014 [Backlog]

Quote:

If it is language that makes us human, one half of language is to listen. Silence can exist without speech but speech cannot live without silence.

~ Jacob Trapp

Hymns:

  • 395 Sing and Rejoice
  • 1056 Thula Klizeo
  • 86 Blessed Spirit of My Life
  • 286 A Core of Silence
  • 352 Find a Stillness

Reading:
Today by Mary Oliver

Anthem:
Trois Gymnopedies, No. 1 by Erik Satie

Offertory:
Trois Gymnopedies, No. 2 by Erik Satie

I note next to “Call to Worship”: “Summer as season of rest??” So I have to suppose that the call to worship included some reading about or reference to the notion that the summer is a season of rest. Certainly it is the season in which children are released from their classes (most of them to a summer of leisure); it is also, for this reason, the season in which families take the most vacation time. It is a season in which some places of worship (such as my congregation) reduce the number of services, and do not offer religious education/Spiritual Growth and Development every Sunday for the kids. The summer holidays tend to be pretty chill, unless you are the master barbecuer at the block party, or in charge of the fireworks for your town. It is thus not entirely strange to position the summer as a, or the, season of rest.

The sermon was titled “Is Silence Weird?” and was given by Guest Minister Rev. Fran Dew. My notes offer “We seem to enjoy being busy; this is spiritually unhelpful.” Seems obviously true. In moments of quietude, we find peace. It is the rare person who discovers serenity in the rush of doing. I note that a Buddhist silent practice is to quiet the “monkey mind,” while a Christian silent practice is to fill one’s mind with God, and ask, “are these not the same?” That answer would probably depend on the individual Christian’s concept of what it means to fill one’s mind with God, whether it’s an active, imagining, thing, or more of a passive allowing one. (As I am singularly incapable of either quieting my mind or thinking meaningfully about any god, I have got no personal experience, but anyone who does is welcome to chime in.)

My last note is “the purpose of words is to create silence,” annotated “(some Buddhist myth or other).”

A few weeks ago during the service, Glen Thomas remarked that he feels he needs to do a good job when he provides the reflection preceding the bit of silence in our services, because for some of us it’s the only silent time we’ll get all week. That struck me. It doesn’t seem like it ought to be correct, but I can’t honestly say he’s wrong. Personally, I have access to silence, but I reflexively fill it with metaphorical noise. Anyone have thoughts about how to grab little bits of silence, here and there?