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Sunday Morning Worship, General Assembly 2012

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General Assembly 2012 Event 502

Report from UU World

Program Description

"Justice Is Love in Action"

Get ready to be moved as Rev. John T. Crestwell, Jr., the General Assembly musicians, choir and the Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis ministers lead us through a spirit-filled and challenging service on advocacy and social action. Need some good energy to take home with you so you can do more for yourself and community? Then don’t miss this year’s Sunday Morning Worship Service!

Order of Service

  • Gathering Music: Kellie Walker, General Assembly (GA) Music Coordinator; David Glasgow, Music Director, Unitarian Universalists (UUs) of the Cumberland Valley, PA
  • Welcome: The Rev. Peter Morales, President, Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA)
  • Chalice Lighting: Anastassia Zinke
  • Introit: "I Dream a World," Langston Hughes & Rosephanye Powell; GA Choir directed by Keith Arnold, Minister of Music, Jefferson Unitarian Church, CO
  • Call to Worship: UU Church of Annapolis (UUCA), MD, Ministerial team: The Revs. Fred Muir, John T. Crestwell, Christina Leone, and Summer Minister, Anastassia Zinke
  • Hymn: "Building a New Way"
  • Prayer/Meditation: The Rev. Fred Muir
  • Responsive Hymn: "Spirit of Life"
  • Time for All Generations: The Rev. Christina Leone
  • Hymn: "Open the Window"
  • Reading: Excerpt from Ware Lecture by Martin Luther King Jr., 1966; The Rev. Geoffrey Black, President, United Church of Christ
  • Choral Interlude: "Spiritual," Ysaye Barnwell; Sophia’s Journey, Jefferson Unitarian Church, CO
  • Sermon: The Rev. John T. Crestwell, Jr., UUCA Associate Minister of Outreach, Leadership and Evangelism
  • Offering: Taquiena Boston, UUA Director for Multicultural Growth and Witness with representatives from Comités de Defensa del Barrio and Puente Arizona (Please make checks payable to UUA)
  • Offertory Anthem: "Groundless Ground," Pamela Martin and W.T. Greer III
  • Benediction: The Rev. Peter Morales
  • Postlude: Transformation

TRANSCRIPT

Pre-Service Singing

REV. KELLIE WALKER: We honor the people who came before, and didn't let their light go out even in the most difficult of times. Please rise in body and spirit—body or spirit as we sing together.

[MUSIC—"THIS LITTLE LIGHT OF MINE"]

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Ev’ry-where I go, I’m gonna let it shine.
Ev’ry-where I go, I’m gonna let it shine.
Ev’ry-where I go, I’m gonna let it shine.
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Building up a world, I’m gonna let it shine.
Building up a world, I’m gonna let it shine.
Building up a world, I’m gonna let it shine.
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Words & Music: African American spiritual, c. 1750 -1875. Arr. By Jason Shelton and Dana Decker

REV. KELLIE WALKER: Please be seated for this next song by Shelley Denham Jackson. "When I Am Frightened" is found under that title in the hymnal supplement "Singing the Journey," but the actual name of the song is "Then I May Learn," which changes the whole meaning of the song. What a wonderful message to give to children as well as adults. If you will show me compassion then I may learn to care as you do.

[MUSIC—SHELLEY JACKSON DENHAM, "THEN I MAY LEARN"]

"When I Am Frightened"

When I am frightened, will you reassure me?
When I’m uncertain, will you hold my hand?
Will you be strong for me? Sing to me quietly?
Will you share some of your stories with me?

If you will show me compassion, then I may learn to care as you do,
Then I may learn to care.

When I am angry, will you still embrace me?
When I am thoughtless, will you understand?
Will you believe in me, stand by me willingly?
Will you share some of your questions with me?

If you will show me acceptance, then I may learn to give as you do,
Then I may learn to give.

When I am troubled, will you listen to me?
When I am lonely, will you be my friend?
Will you be there for me, comfort me tenderly?
Will you share some of your feelings with me?

If you will show me commitment, then I may learn to love as you do,
Then I may learn to love.

Words & music: Shelly Jackson Denham, 1950- , c. 1999 Shelley Jackson Denham.

REV. KELLIE WALKER: I would like to introduce David Glasgow to help lead the next two songs. David will be music coordinator of GA starting next year in Louisville, and has been helping me out for many months in planning music. Please welcome him.

DAVID GLASGOW: Thank you. The African-American spiritual we're about to sing voices hope for a future where all will be free, and, likely for its writers, also held another level of meaning about where and when to make that move toward freedom. We acknowledge all of the anonymous people who created this powerful, powerful music from their struggle and from their strength. Would you please join me and rise in body or spirit as we sing "Come and Go With Me to That Land."

[MUSIC—"COME AND GO WITH ME TO THAT LAND"]

"Come and Go With Me"

Come and Go with me to that land,
Come and Go with me to that land,
Come and Go with me to that land,
Where I’m bound (where I’m bound)
Come and Go with me to that land,
Come and Go with me to that land,
Come and Go with me to that land,
where I’m bound.

There’ll be freedom in that land,
There’ll be freedom in that land,
There’ll be freedom in that land,
Where I’m bound (where I’m bound)
There’ll be freedom in that land,
There’ll be freedom in that land,
There’ll be freedom in that land,
where I’m bound.

There’ be justice in that land,
There’ be justice in that land,
There’ be justice in that land,
Where I’m bound (where I’m bound)
There’ be justice in that land,
There’ be justice in that land,
There’ be justice in that land,
where I’m bound.

There’ll be singin’ in that land
There’ll be singin’ in that land
There’ll be singin’ in that land
Where I’m bound (where I’m bound)
There’ll be singin’ in that land
There’ll be singin’ in that land
There’ll be singin’ in that land
where I’m bound.

DAVID GLASGOW: Would you please be seated?

REV. JOHN CRESTWELL: You all look like you're ready to workshop this morning!

[APPLAUSE]

REV. JOHN CRESTWELL: I'm Reverend John Crestwell and it's exciting to be here. And I'd like for you to sing a song with me that begins to bring us to where we need to be to get ready for worship. It's going to be familiar to many of you so just sing along as you catch on. I'll help lead you through it. It's "Alleluia." And I call this song "Transformation."

[MUSIC—JERRY SINCLAIR, "TRANSFORMATION/ALLELUIA"]

"Alleluia, Alleluia"

Alleluia, Alleluia...
Transformation, transformation...
Faithful service, faithful service...
Peace and justice, peace and justice...
Love and forgiveness, love and forgiveness...

Welcome and Introduction

REV. PETER MORALES: Good morning.

AUDIENCE: Good morning!

REV. PETER MORALES: Buenos dias

AUDIENCE: Buenos dias.

REV. PETER MORALES: Welcome everyone. Bienvenidos todos. We come together this morning to worship. We come to sing. We come to pray. We come to listen. We come in gratitude. We come to remind ourselves of what is sacred. We come to affirm the power of love. We come together to be one strong body. We come to delight in one anothers' presence. Let us feed our souls today. We come to affirm that we are one people.

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

[APPLAUSE]

Chalice Lighting

ANASTASSIA ZINKE: We light this chalice today as a justice-seeking people who face a bleak and desolate midnight of cruelty and exploitation. Our eyes are open. Our souls cry enough. Sailing upon an ocean of injustice, we seek a compass, a true course to a land where love reigns and justice prevails. We are not alone in this journey. There's a light from a distant shore that calls us, come! Come! It is the light of our faith and the call of peoples from around the world. Come! Come! We hear as we head into a bright and glittering daybreak of freedom to a place we all call home.

Introit: "I Dream A World"

KEITH ARNOLD: The bright and glittering daybreak of freedom was also envisioned by African-American poet Langston Hughes who, in the language conventions of his day, dreamed of a world where all will know sweet freedom's way. This morning, Mr. Hughes, along with composer Rosephanye Powell, continues to help usher in a society where black or white, whatever race you be, will share the bounties of the Earth with freedom and joy shared by all.

[MUSIC—LANGSTON/POWELL, "I DREAM WORLD"]

I dream a world where man
No other man will scorn,
Where love will bless the earth
And peace its paths adorn
I dream a world where all
Will know sweet freedom's way,
Where greed no longer saps the soul
Nor avarice blights our day.
A world I dream where black or white,
Whatever race you be,
Will share the bounties of the earth
And every man is free,
Where wretchedness will hang its head
And joy, like a pearl,
Attends the needs of all mankind-
Of such I dream, my world!

Words by Langston Hughes, Music by Rosephanye Powell. Text ©1994 by the Estate of Langston Hughes, Music ©2002 by Gentry Publications. Used by permission.

[APPLAUSE]

Call to Worship

REV. JOHN CRESTWELL: This morning's call to worship, it was written by Kenneth Patton. Your response, when prompted, will be let us worship. Let's try that together.

ALL: Let us worship.

REV. JOHN CRESTWELL: Let us worship with our eyes, and ears, and fingertips.

AUDIENCE: Let us worship.

REV. JOHN CRESTWELL: Let us love the world through heart, and mind, and body. We feed our eyes upon the mystery and revelation in the faces of our brothers and sisters.

AUDIENCE: Let us worship.

We seek to know the wistfulness of the very young and the very old. The wistfulness of people in all times of life.

ALL: Let us worship.

ANASTASSIA ZINKE: We seek to understand the shyness behind arrogance, the fear behind pride, the tenderness behind clumsy strength, and the anguish behind cruelty.

ALL: Let us worship.

ANASTASSIA ZINKE: All life flows into a great common life if we will only open our eyes to our companions.

ALL: Let us worship.

ANASTASSIA ZINKE: Let us worship not in bowing down, not with closed eyes and stopped ears.

ALL: Let us worship.

REV. FRED MUIR: Let us worship with the opening of all the windows, all the windows of our beings with the full out-stretching of our spirits.

ALL: Let us worship.

REV. FRED MUIR: Life comes with singing and laughter, with tears and confiding, with the rising wave too great to be held in the mind, and heart, and body to those who have fallen in love with life.

ALL: Let us worship.

REV. FRED MUIR: And let us learn to love.

Opening Hymn: "We Are Building a New Way"

REV. JOHN CRESTWELL: Now if you will rise with me in body and/or spirit to sing our morning hymn, one of my favorite's, "Building a New Way."

[MUSIC—MARTHA SANDEFER, 'BUILDING A NEW WAY"]

We are building a new way.
We are building a new way.
We are building a new way,
Feeling strong-ev’-ry day,
We are building—a new way.

We are working to be free.
We are working to be free.
We are working to be free,
Hate and greed and jealousy.
We are work—ing to be free.

We can feed our every need
We are working to be free.
We are working to be free,
Start with love, that is the seed.
We are work—ing to be free.

Peace and freedom is our cry.
Peace and freedom is our cry.
Peace and freedom is our cry,
Without these this world will die.
Peace and freedom is our cry.

Words & music: Martha Sandefer, 1952-, c. 1986 Martha Sandefer. Arr. Jim Scott? 1946-

[APPLAUSE]

Prayer/Meditation

REV. FRED MUIR: I invite you to remain standing. I invite you to rise in body or in spirit. I invite you to sway or join hands with me, to unite your hearts with me, in reflection and prayer.

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Spirit of life to whom and to which we attach so many names, worthy dreams, lofty ideals, sacred aspirations. We yearn to be whole, complete people. We want to do what is right. Grace us with insight and imagination. Inspire and infuse us with the fire of commitment. Oh holy and precious life. Come on to me. Come into us. Surround me. Dwell with me. Guide our feet. Walk with us. Come and keep bright the flame in my soul. Come and run this race with us. Sing in my heart.

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Spirit of life sign melodies that permeate, linger, lighten, and embolden us. Sing songs that caress, nurture, refresh, and bind me up. Make of our lives lyrics we want to sing. Help us to remember and know for certain that there is a Balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole. Sing in my heart, spirit of life, sing in my heart all the stirrings of compassion. Disturb me, move me, heal me. Let my prayer and our deepest longing be that your song align us with all that is righteous and true in this shared life.

Standing on the side of love.

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Our minds and hearts are with those whose lives are on the margins, who suffer from chronic incompleteness, who live and suffer from a deficit of compassion. May we be as bold in our affection as we are with our words. Life spirit blow in the wind. Push us forward, though we will resist. Twist, turn, and pull us back when our eyes miss the prize. Make us swift of foot because too many have been holding on for too long.

Blow spirit. Blow like the wind. Fill us with the spirit of commitment and compassion. Rise in the sea, spirit of life. Raise us from the swells of indecision and despair. Lift us to a place where our vision is clear and far. Raise us so that waters will roll down like an ever-flowing stream to take us to that place of inherent worth and dignity for all.

Moving the hand, spirit of life, giving life the shape of justice. Make of my hands—make up our hands instruments of peace worthy of the work they are called to do. Let us share our hands with others. Let us hold the hands of others. Let us mold with our hands and with others communities of justice and freedom where all your people, spirit of life, are one.

As we begin to complete our time here, as we reflect back over the week and remember all the ways that the spirit of life has moved and shaped us, let us make room in our hearts and souls for those who, in their presence or in their absence, those who are with you in memory or spirit, friends, ancestors, names, those who are the roots that hold you close and the wings that set you free. Without them, we would not be who we are today right now.

They have been, they are your roots holding you close and accountable. They have been our wings liberating us to make commitments of compassion and justice. Please join with me now in saying their names into the silence of your own minds or say their names allowed into this great hall. Say there names! Sing their names!

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Come to us. Come to me spirit of life. May the blessings of the spirit, may the gifts of life be with us here and with all of those with whom we share the stirrings of compassion and the shape of justice. Let us sing, "Spirit of Life."

Musical Response: “Spirit of Life”

[MUSIC—CAROLYN MCDADE, "SPIRIT OF LIFE"]

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.

Words and music: Carolyn McDade, 1935-, c. 1981 Carolyn McDade, harmony by Grace Lewis-McLaren, 1939-, c. 1992 UUA

Time For All Generations

REV. CHRISTINA LEONE: Here I have a box. This is a special box. This box reminds us that there are many things in the universe which we do not know, and we can only wonder about. Wondering is an important part of being a Unitarian Universalist. This special box, this is our wonder box. I wonder what's inside? I need a volunteer who could help me find what's in the wonder box. Anyone?

[LAUGHTER]

REV. CHRISTINA LEONE: Oh! Peter! Please. What's inside? Can you open it up and find out? What is it?

[LAUGHTER]

REV. CHRISTINA LEONE: What is it?

REV. PETER MORALES: It's a fork.

REV. CHRISTINA LEONE: It's a fork. Thank you, Peter. You can sit back down.

[APPLAUSE]

REV. CHRISTINA LEONE: This fork reminds me of a story.

[LAUGHTER]

REV. CHRISTINA LEONE: Many of you are familiar with the fairytale of the princess and the pea, the story by Hans Christian Andersen, who tells of a princess whose royalty was proven only when she couldn't sleep on a pea, even though it was covered by several mattresses. This is not that story.

[LAUGHTER]

REV. CHRISTINA LEONE: This is the story of "The Fairest and the Fork." Once upon a time there was a king.

[APPLAUSE]

He was the king in a land where some things were fair and some things were not fair. He decided to hold a contest to see who would be a member of his royal court to help make things to fairer in the land. The king designed a test to find the fairest of them all. And a royal decree was sent throughout the land, I will open up my castle doors and I will let you come in and take a nap.

Your dreams will tell me who to choose to join my royal court of fairness. Little did the people know this test had a twist. For the king had placed a fork beneath the mattress. The first person who knocked on the castle door proclaimed, I am the fairest of them all. I am sure my dreams will prove it.

Climbing upon the soft mattress it became immediately clear that something was wrong. Tossing and turning, eventually the napper fell asleep, and dreamed of a fairer kingdom. Upon waking, these dreams of fairness we're told to the king who shook his head and opened the door to the castle. You are not the fairest of them all.

[LAUGHTER]

REV. CHRISTINA LEONE: The second person who knocked on the castle door proclaimed, I am the fairest of them all. I am sure my dreams well prove it. Climbing upon the soft mattress it became immediately clear that something was wrong.

[LAUGHTER]

REV. CHRISTINA LEONE: Calling for his servants to bring more mattresses, more blankets, more pillows, piled higher and higher, eventually the napper fell asleep and dreamed of a fairer kingdom. Upon waking, these dreams of fairness were told to the king who shook his head and open the castle door. You are not the fairest of them all.

The last person who knocked on the castle door proclaimed, I am the fairest of them all. I'm sure my dreams will prove it. Climbing upon the soft mattress it became immediately clear that

ALL: Something was wrong.

REV. CHRISTINA LEONE: Lying awake, worrying that sleep would never come, the contest would be lost. Tossing and turning, the napper spent his time awake with the discomfort of the fork beneath the mattress. And when the time was up the king was told a story of an uncomfortable, restless time. A time spent worrying that the discomfort of a bad nap was nothing compared to the discomfort of living in an unfair kingdom. The king opened his arms and embraced the last person. You who knew discomfort and never grew accustomed to it, you who knew discomfort and wondered about others beyond yourself, you are the fairest of them all. May we, too, go and do likewise.

[APPLAUSE]

Hymn: "Open the Window"

REV. KELLIE WALKER: Elise Witt's song "Open the Window" was inspired by the Georgia Sea island spiritual "Heist the Window Noah." In keeping with the cultural tradition of spirituals from this part of the country, John will sing the verses and invite you all to come in on the chorus with the choir. Your words are—open the window, children. Open the window now. Open the window children. Open the window, let the dove fly in. Open the window, let the dove fly in. Feel free to add some good harmony and just let your voice shine.

REV. KELLIE WALKER: We'll start with the chorus.

[SINGING—ELISE WITT, "OPEN THE WINDOW"]

Open the window children, open the window now.
Open the window children.
Open the window let the dove fly in.
Open the window let the dove fly in.

Mama and Papa are fighting like snakes-
Open the window let the dove fly in.
Ba-by is a cryin’ like her heart will break.
Open the window let the dove fly in.

Open the window children, open the window now.
Open the window children.
Open the window let the dove fly in.
Open the window let the dove fly in.

Neighbors lock their doors, build fences so high.
Open the window let the dove fly in.
Don’t see what’s to discover on the other side.
Open the window let the dove fly in.

Open the window children, open the window now.
Open the window children.
Open the window let the dove fly in.
Open the window let the dove fly in.

Borders ‘round countries, borders round the sky.
Open the window let the dove fly in.
The only border close you is the border ‘round your mind.
Open the window let the dove fly in.

Words and music: Elise Witt, 1953-, inspired by the Georgia Sea Lisland spiritual “Heist the Window, Noah

[APPLAUSE]

Reading

REV. GEOFFREY BLACK: Over 40 years ago, on May 18, 1966, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered the "Ware Lecture" to the Unitarian Universalists at the General Assembly in Hollywood, Florida. This morning's reading is from his lecture. Hear these eloquent and challenging words.

"My friends, there are some things in our nation and in our world to which I am proud to be maladjusted. And I call upon you to be maladjusted and all people of goodwill to be maladjusted to these things until the good society is realized. I never intend to adjust myself to segregation and discrimination. I never intend to become adjusted to religious bigotry. I never intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few."

[APPLAUSE]

REV. GEOFFREY BLACK: "And leave millions of people perishing on a lonely Island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of prosperity. I plan to be as maladjusted as Abraham Lincoln, who had the vision to see that this nation could not survive half-slave and half-free. As maladjusted as Thomas Jefferson, who in the midst of an age amazingly adjusted to slavery cried in words lifted to cosmic proportions—'we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights. That among those these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.' As maladjusted as Jesus of Nazareth, who could say to the men and women of his day, he who lives by the sword will parish by the sword. "Through such maladjustment we will be able to emerge from the bleak and desolate midnight of man's inhumanity to man, into the bright and glittering daybreak of freedom and justice."

Then, Dr. King went on to say these words, "if we are to have a truly integrated society, white persons and Negro persons and members of all groups must live together, not merely because the law says it, but because it's right. But that does not make legislation less important. It may be true that you can't legislate integration, but you can legislate desegregation. It may be true that morality cannot be legislated, but behavior can be regulated. It may be true that the law cannot change the heart, but it can restrain the heartless. The law cannot make a man love me, but it can restrain him from lynching me and I think that's pretty important also."

LAUGHTER]

[APPLAUSE]

REV. GEOFFREY BLACK: "And so, while the law may not change the hearts of men, it does change the habits of men."

[APPLAUSE]

[SINGING ]

[APPLAUSE]

Sermon

The Rev. John T. Crestwell, Jr., UUCA Associate Minister of Outreach, Leadership and Evangelism

REV. JOHN CRESTWELL: Back in my old tradition, they would say, well, it's time to go home. I would first like to thank Reverend Peter Morales for asking me to give this sermon. Thank you so much. And to his special assistant Dea Brayden who helped to really make this service happen. It would not have happened without her for sure.

[APPLAUSE]

I would also like to thank the President of the UCC Church Geoffrey Black for being here.

[APPLAUSE]

And I would also like to thank my colleagues from the Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis, they look marvelous.

[APPLAUSE]

We have a little cheering section up here. I've titled my message to you this morning, Justice is Love in Action. Justice is Love in Action. I recognize that we are here on a very special Sunday, this General Assembly Sunday to worship and give thanks.

But we are also here because we are very concerned about the State of Arizona, and how it treats some of its people. Amen. We expressed our concerns privately and publicly. We've been loud in our opposition this week. We are certainly letting Governor Brewer and her sheriff know that these beautiful brown people down here are here to stay.

[APPLAUSE]

Perhaps they haven't gotten the memo. They too are God's people. And as they say in my neighborhood, God don't make no junk. We are here to let them know not to play politics with people's lives. We are here to tell them to embrace instead of me erase. Learn how to love instead of hate. Learn how to, as Dr. King said so well, live together as sisters and brothers, or perish as fools.

We made some progress this week. They know we're here. In fact, the sheriff, I think, he shut down the jails for visitors because we're here. And we've made progress, but the road is rough, the going gets tough, and the hills are hard to climb. We've still got a long way to go and I just want to encourage everyone here to go home and start a little trouble.

[APPLAUSE]

In the name of justice. For indeed, justice what we seek, beloved community becomes manifest from our persistent marching, our letter writing, our continuous public witnessing, our one-on-one conversations proclaiming that we stand on the side of love and on the side of justice. But you know something, we do whatever we choose to do in life. And I want to be honest with you this morning, we have the world we have because enough of the right people have not stepped up to renounce human tragedies.

[APPLAUSE]

We can collectively speed up the day to beloved community, but first we all have to dedicate and rededicate ourselves to this work. And we have to look in the mirror and be honest with ourselves and say self, you know what, I have not done enough for the underprivileged, marginalized, and oppressed. See, I do understand that learning how to take a stand is a process, it is a growth process.

To take a stand on anything important we have to be convicted. Our conscience must be pricked in some small or great way. There has to be a moral imperative that holds us captive and moves us from hibernation to participation. It takes courage and faith to stand in the face of ignorance which oftentimes can cost you your time, your peace, and your sleep. I'm being real with you. There is a price to pay if we want justice to roll down and history is wrought with examples.

One example for me, many of you may or may not know but in an early sermon, long before his Ware Lecture, Dr. King shared the moment when he chose to stand on the side of love, accepting his call to lead in spite of the difficulties. It was sometime in 1955 during the Montgomery bus boycott. And hear these pretty lengthy words of the then 26-year-old Martin Luther King.

"I came home and my wife was in the bed and I immediately crawled into bed to get some rest to get up early the next morning. And then immediately the telephone started ringing and I picked up the phone. On the other end was an ugly voice. And that voice said to me in substance, 'nigger, we're tired of you and your mess now. And if you aren't out of this town in three days, we're going to blow your brains out and blow up your house.' I had heard these things before, but for some reason that night it got to me. I was frustrated, bewildered.

Then I got up and went back to the kitchen and started warming some coffee, hoping the coffee would give me a little relief. Then I started thinking about many things. I pulled back on the theology and philosophy that I had just studied in the universities trying to give philosophical and theological reasons for the existence and the reality of sin and evil, but the answer didn't quite come there. I sat there and thought about a beautiful little daughter who had just been born about a month earlier. She was the darling of my life. And I'd come in night after night and see that little gentle smile, and I sat at that table thinking about that little girl and thinking about the fact that she could be taken from me at any minute.

And I started thinking about a dedicated, devoted, and loyal wife who was over there asleep. And she could be taken from me, or I could be taken from her. And I got to the point that I couldn't take it any longer. I was weak. And something said to me, you can't call on daddy now, he's up in Atlanta 175 miles away. You can't even call on momma now. You've got to call on that power that can make a way out of no way. And I discovered then that religion had to become real to me. And I'm bowed down over that cup of coffee—I'll never forget it—and oh yes I prayed a prayer, and I prayed out loud that night.

I said, Lord, I'm down here trying to do what's right. I think the cause that we represent is right, but Lord I must confess that I am weak. I'm faltering. I'm losing my courage. And I can't let the people see me like this because if they see me weak and losing my courage they will begin to get weak. And it seemed, at that moment, that I could hear an inner voice saying to me, Martin Luther stand up for righteousness. Stand up for justice. Stand up for truth and lo I will be with you even until the end of the earth."

[APPLAUSE]

Powerful words that we now know as Dr. King's "Kitchen Call." It was a major impetus in moving forward socially and I'm sure we had that conversation with his God many times in his ministry when the road got rough. And his call we know is extraordinary. Most of us won't have that kind of call, but even still the world is calling, do you hear what I hear? The world is calling, do you hear what I hear?

AUDIENCE: Yeah!

REV. JOHN CRESTWELL: Good. The spirit is calling you. It is calling us to wake up and understand the game that is being played. It is asking us to learn the game of life and get into it ready to play. Now currently in this game we're witnessing a paradigm shift in many societies and many are uncomfortable and afraid. This game is called modern tribalism.

Let me break this down to you, just focusing here on America. We are all living in a constructed or created reality, the American dream. This is what I'm talking about. We've collectively created it and we can collectively change it. It's not that simple, though, because it works quite well for a few gamers who get lots of incentives to keep the game a certain way.

Now, in this game there is no alien at work, only the tragic human condition with all of its prejudices and biases, virtues and vices, various stories, mores, folklores, et cetera. We've created meaning. We've created things we love. And we've created things we hate.

Now we're all in this game for better or for worse. And we all sort of create meaning out of all of this chaos and ambiguity. Now, within the game those with massive incentives have created, what I'm calling, the societal quintessential of privilege.

Now, here's what that looks like. If you're looking at a dartboard, in the center, the bullseye, in the center, that represents ultimate privilege. Now what does this center of that bullseye look like in its purest form?

It's a white man. He's tall. He's fit. He's blonde, blue eyed. He's CEO. He's Protestant. He's straight. He's man of the house. He's married and he's the best dad in the world. He has 2.5 kids, a dog, and a cat. He's wise and patient, so loving. He lives in a lovely home in the suburbs. He has great genes. His spouse, his wife, is also tall. She's fit. She's blonde and blue eyed, a supportive homemaker. She makes the best apple pie too. She's Protestant, straight, mild tempered, innocent, a little bit naive, by golly, it's June Cleaver!

[LAUGHTER]

And let me not forget she walks around in high heels and pearls. Amen! She's always so nice. Her home is in the suburbs. It's always tidy and clean. She's perfect. She has superb genes.

Now this game of privilege empowers and provides incentives to those who get closest to the center of that dartboard of which I've just described. If you have all of the things mentioned, step to the center. If you don't, take a step back for everything that you don't have. But let me say, the makers of this game doomed it from the start. It wasn't honest about what this country and world is. This is the dream of some, a few, but it is not my America. This is not the game that I would like to play.

Perhaps to some it is the America that you want and that's OK, but this has never been my America. And, sadly, it is the facade many strive toward but few ever get close to. I'm being real with you this morning. We are a diverse world. We have many kinds of families. We're not only white but we are black. We are Latino. We are Latina. We're gay. We're straight. We're bisexual, lesbian, transgender. We're Asian Pacific Islander. We have so many things and so much more. And that is my point.

[APPLAUSE]

The problem with immigration is the same problem that some people have with an African American United States President, which is the same problem they have with same sex marriage, and woman's reproductive rights, and overall empowerment, which is the same problem that I have with the mass incarceration system, the blacks and Latinos. It is all one big problem. Maybe two, actually.

[APPLAUSE]

One, America is getting too brown, too fast. And those who control the dartboard don't like it. They fear they are losing power.

Two, the traditional family myth is being challenged and changed before their eyes. O- M- G.

[APPLAUSE]

What is happening to my America? Where's the baseball and apple pie? The sky is falling! The world is coming to an end! My stocks! My country! My Social Security! What am I to do? Thank God the story is changing!

[APPLAUSE]

There's nothing wrong with the Leave it to Beaver story, that was one of my favorite shows growing up, I have to tell you. I like it. But the reality is that this current homogeneous paradigm has marginalized and oppressed far too many non-white people for centuries. And it is only presented to us one reality which is good and that's just not true.

That my friends is the issue, is what's going on right now. That is the lie that is being sold to us in movies, in politics, on television, it's everywhere and we have sort of bought into it somehow. As if it is some beautiful and perfect mono-cultural masterpiece.

We've never been a homogeneous nation. We've always been a heterogeneous nation made up of many kinds of people. The Census figures tell us that 36% of Americans are minorities. In a few decades the minorities of America will probably equal or surpass the European-American majority. Some are shuttering at this reality and working like hell to redistrict and suppress votes, and for the sake of what? The betterment of humanity? I say embrace the change.

[APPLAUSE]

Amen.

[APPLAUSE]

We are religious liberals, that's what we do. We evolve and resolve. We embrace not erase. And I say that you should tell some of your friends or family members in a very loving way to grow up.

[APPLAUSE]

I'm a first and seventh principle preacher, which means that my faith calls me to fight to participate in the game. This struggle is too important and too many lives are at stake. When I think about the worth and dignity of all in the interdependent web of existence of which we are all a part, I cannot see anothers woe and not be in sorrow too. I cannot see anothers grief and not seek for kind relief. I cannot see a falling tear and not feel my sorrow's share. I cannot see my faith as just for the privileged either.

I don't want to see my faith or my church as some mono-cultural experience. I cannot see my immigrant brothers and sisters dying in the desert and not get very upset.

[APPLAUSE]

I can't and I won't. I cannot look at our principles or our historic legacy as Unitarian Universalists, what we've been with the downtrodden and oppressed, and then do nothing. To me, that is a counterfeit faith, a kind of paltry piety. Justice is love in action. Justice is not just in what we say, it is in what you're willing to do.

[APPLAUSE]

However, a lot of us don't like choosing a side. You know, when we choose a side, it's like when we were growing up. I was always short and my sister, she's tall, she would always get chosen on the basketball team ahead of me. They would choose her before me. And it always made me feel bad. Some of us don't like choosing sides because it makes us feel bad. We feel like we're the loser. They're the winner, we're the loser.

So we don't really like a lot of times you choosing a side. I understand that. I do. And we've seen the world, how bruised and beat up it is from people choosing sides, creating all kinds of dichotomies and false dichotomies, one tyranny leading to another tyranny. I hear you. I get it.

But I have a litmus test that helps me decide whether to stand. Maybe it will help you. Does my stance lift up the worth and dignity of all? Does my choice eventually join one to another, or continue tearing us further apart? Does my choice move us toward beloved community, to a world with mutuality and reciprocity? Does it recognize the namaste, the holy, in others? Does it create the us against them mentality, or the we are together reality?

I ask myself these questions before I decide to take a stance. Perhaps you, too, could ask yourself some of these questions. Standing up is also about changing bad legislation. Amen?

AUDIENCE: Amen!

REV. JOHN CRESTWELL: In Dr. King's reading he mentioned how important moral legislation is in bending that moral arc toward justice. I think he was on to something. As King said, "you may not like me, but the law can keep you from lynching me." We need solid, moral laws. They protect us from ourselves. But when I think about the laws, past and present, in America it has quite often occurred to me that just because some things are legal, do not make them moral or ethical.

[APPLAUSE]

Sometimes we have to work real hard to get rid of very bad laws that keep the world separate and unequal. Slavery was legal at one point. Hello? And to stand against it meant you were breaking the law. That seems crazy for most of us today but it was legal for very long time. And so my belief is that sometimes we have to go against the norm so that the circle of privilege can be widened and shared by more people. We have to be collectively maladjusted to speed up the freedom of all the earth's people.

Reverend Bill Sinkford would always say we have to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted. And when we fail to act there are repercussions that occur, historical happenings that have been the result of our acquiescence. And I'll offer as an example for you, early America, in Virginia specifically, when immigrants from England and Africa came over to the New World. You may not know this, but at first, all who came over were indentured servants, white and black, Native American, alike. This was before the transatlantic slave trade. As long as a person professed to be a Christian upon their arrival to Jamestown, they were promised land and a few other things if they worked as indentured servants for around seven years.

This was, of course, in the 1600s but as time passed and the labor force changed, the law changed to reconcile what had become a lack of workers in early America. Now you've got to pick up a history book to get all the details. But at first, as long as you were Christian you were OK. But in 1705, about 100 years later, the law was amended in the Virginia General Assembly to state this—now watch the power of the law here my friends—"all servants imported and brought in to the country who were not Christians in their native country shall be accounted and shall be slaves. All Negro, mulatto, and Indian slaves within this dominion shall be held to be real estate. If any slave resists his master correcting such slave and shall happen to be killed in such correction, the master shall be free of all punishment as if such accident never happened." The Virginia General Assembly declaration, 1705.

And now many states followed suit with Virginia leading the way. America was now going to be a country defined by slavery, defined by black and white, defined by red and blue states. This unethical, immoral law in 1705 still lives with us today. The vestiges of it. We live with its ramifications. It was there in the Dred Scott case. It lived and created the Civil War, lived during Jim Crow, lived in Brown v. Board of Education, lived during the Voting Rights Act, and the civil rights movement. This bad legal decision has shaped American history as we know it. It has shaped out relationships with each other.

[APPLAUSE]

But thank, God for conscientious people who stood up and said, you know what, this is not right. Legal does that mean ethical or moral.

[APPLAUSE]

[APPLAUSE]

REV. JOHN CRESTWELL: History is replete with examples of how when we don't respond so many innocents suffer, but I'm telling you this morning the world is calling us. Calling the gentle, angry people. Calling the justice-seeking people. That is why we have to continue to stand up in opposition of any legislation that treats our brown immigrants and other sisters and brothers as if they're not fully human and fully divine.

[APPLAUSE]

I'm so clear this morning. I can see clearly. I can see clearly now the rain is gone. It's so clear to me when looking at history and the legal system why we must stand up for the human rights of immigrants in America. It's clear to me that advocating for those who are of the same sex and desire marriage, that's a no-brainer. It's clear to me why the mass incarceration system is jacked up and needs an overhaul. It's clear to me why conservation and ecological responsibility are required for humanity sustenance. It's clear to me that the medical system is corrupt.

[LAUGHTER]

It's clear to me that the few still dictate how the many eat. Is clear to me that we have a lot of work to do. Get in the game! Come on! Get in the game!

[APPLAUSE]

There are too many Josselines out there. We need to let them know that we're not giving up on them. That we, Unitarian Universalists, are not giving up on you. We refuse to give in to this exclusive dream. No, we will not give in to this myth. We can change the myth. It's a mental choice we must make.

I'm not going to live with a mind of fear and scarcity. That's a mental choice that I'm making. I'm going to choose to see God in others. That's a mental choice that I'm making. I'm going to keep marching and keep praying and keep meditating and writing letters and working with the UU advocacy organizations because I believe that we have the power to change human history to something that is truly welcoming and affirming.

[APPLAUSE]

Amen! Do you believe? I believe. You believe. We can speed up today to justice, for you see, when the spirit is working inside of you, you want to share and care and give and nurture.

When the great spirit moves and challenges you, you can't look at others without seeing yourself. When you are truly living a meaningful life you just want to give your life away. When spirit lives inside of your heart, you want relationships based on trust. That's the world that I dream of. That's the world that I dream of.

I don't know about you this morning but I'm still a yes we can kind of guy.

[APPLAUSE]

I'm going to keep believing in the dream and in my faith that it can manifest its greatness in this life. Because see, I, like Langston Hughes, dream a world where we will know sweet freedom's way. Where greed no long saps the soul nor avarice blights our day. A world I dream where black and white, whatever race you be, we share the bounties of the earth, and every person is free. Where wretchedness will hang its head and joy, like a pearl, attends the needs of all humankind of such, I dream! My world! Amen!

[APPLAUSE]

Offering

TAQUIENA BOSTON: Can we get another amen?

ALL: Amen!

TAQUIENA BOSTON: Two years ago, Unitarian Universalists were asked to join a movement. A movement calling for an end to human rights abuses inflicted on immigrants and migrant communities. We were called to shine the light on these abuses, and to join our voices with the voices of the human rights organizations calling for justice not only in Arizona, but across this nation.

[APPLAUSE]

Over the last several days, we have worshipped, we have witnessed, we have done acts of service together to amplify the voices of human rights partners calling for justice. But our witness and service does not end here in Phoenix. As Reverend John said this morning, changing bad laws is long-haul work. And while this Justice General Assembly has been two years of working for immigrant and migrant justice, we know we have to be in this for the long haul.

[APPLAUSE]

We must take this experience home to our congregations and to our communities. And during this part of worship we have the opportunity to witness and serve through the act of generosity. First, I have the honor to introduce Carlos Garcia, Director of our partner organization, Puente Arizona, to speak of the work in their communities, in this community to bend the arc towards justice.

[APPLAUSE}

CARLOS GARCIA: Good morning, everyone.

ALL: Good morning.

CARLOS GARCIA: When I heard of this, this Justice Assembly, I didn't know how to imagine it. But last night it was clear to me when I saw those candles, when I saw all of you through the heat, be out there supporting our community. That's what justice, that's what love looks like. And thank you all for doing that.

[APPLAUSE]

For the last 10 years, and even before S.B. 1070 was introduced, our community faced checkpoints, bore witness to women forced to give birth in shackles, and travel to work and school on a daily basis already wondering if we would reunite with our families and loved ones at the end of each day. Arizona sought to erase us from history with a ban on ethnic studies, and remove us all together through S.B. 1070, and the constant growth of Secure Communities and other deportation programs.

In what amounts to a state of war of attrition on our community, it will get worse as we expect injunction will be lifted on some of the remaining portions of S.B. 1070. Further criminalizing and tools demanding all law enforcement to investigate and deport in massive numbers is set to become law as soon as tomorrow. But that will not be our future.

We are on the move and we're not going anywhere. We're not running away as the authors of S.B. 1070 had hoped.

[APPLAUSE]

We're moving our community forward. To be honest, this struggle has both destroyed parts of our community and made us stronger. In the past years, we have learned important lessons and developed new ways to fight. The name Arizona currently is a mark of embarrassment that makes people envision bigotry, but in the not too distant future, people think of a birthplace of a new human rights movement when they hear of this state.

[APPLAUSE]

For more than a decade we petitioned Congress for immigration reform, only to be kicked around as a political football by both parties. We hoped things would change with President Obama but instead of feeling our pain, he caused more of it. Instead of executive action to grant us relief, he gave us record deportations in unprecedented quotas. When all else failed we looked at these courts, but even they seem ready to deny us our humanity.

The present might feel heavy but the future is bright because love always overcomes hate.

[APPLAUSE]

Our numbers are on our side. The truth is on our side. With or without those in power, history is on our side. We just have to put our shoulders to the gears of history and push, unite, and continue to fight. Your contribution today will help organizations like Puente and Los Comites de Defensa del Barrios continue to fight. Your contribution this week by being here has already helped us and helped us move forward and continue to fight. I thank you for being here and appreciate your contribution and your presence. Yesterday at Tent City was amazing. The people that were out there from our community couldn't believe it as people just kept coming and coming. And on their behalf, thank you so much.

[APPLAUSE]

TAQUIENA BOSTON: We have worshipped. We have witnessed. We have answered the call for justice. Now let our light shine through generous giving. Let us give, not from the depths of our wallet, let us give from the depth of our hearts. The offering will now be received. Thank you.

"Groundless Ground"

[MUSIC—PAMELA MARTIN, "GROUNDLESS GROUND"]

Words by Pamela Martin, Music by W.T. Greer, III. From Sing for the Cure.

[APPLAUSE]

Transformation

Benediction

REV. PETER MORALES: I invite you to stand again, as you are able. Put down what you have in your hands and take the hand of your neighbor.

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Love is not just a feeling. Love may began as a feeling but love is much more. Love acts. Love reaches out. Love takes a stand. Love stays the course. Love changes our lives and changes the world. So let us go with love filling our hearts. Let us go determined to let love live within us, among us, and through us. Take it with you. Go in peace.

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Amen.

Postlude: "Transformation"

[MUSIC—"TRANSFORMATION"]

Alleluia, Alleluia...
Transformation, transformation...
Faithful service, faithful service...
Peace and justice, peace and justice...
Love and forgiveness, love and forgiveness...

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Monday, October 1, 2012.

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