General Assembly: GA Presentations: Presenter views and opinions do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the UUA.

Thursday Morning Worship, General Assembly 2008

Two women in a stylized dance, their skirts flaring as they face each other in front of an elaborately lit stage.

Core of Fire Interfaith Dance Ministry

General Assembly 2008 Event 2002

More than 400 people gathered early Thursday morning for worship led by Rev. Sarah Lammert, the minister of the Unitarian Society of Ridgewood, NJ.

We were welcomed by a piano prelude by Annease Hastings. The chalice lighting and opening words invited us to find the spirit of diversity within the largeness of truth, and the oneness of our being.

This theme was expanded with an interpretive dance by the Core of Fire Interfaith Dance Ministry, choreographed by Dr. Carol Penn, to a song by Vienna Teng: "And we will be as one people; soon, love, soon."

In her sermon, Rev. Sarah Lammert described how the death of a star is transformed into new life, as yet unborn, by the creation of new elements such as carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen, and urged us to recognize that we are one with all life in this interconnected universe. She called us to embrace "A Wider We" within the UU Church of the New Millenium. UU is not the lowest common denominator of a diversity of beliefs, rather it is our highest common calling. She called us to be a beacon that amplifies the mystery of the divine.

She quoted Dr. Diana Eck of Harvard Divinity School at the installation of Rev. Galen Guengerich at the Unitarian Church of All Souls, New York, who said "The world is in need of your theology," and she urged us to move beyond religious word-wrangling to express who we are and what we stand for in a way that makes a prophetic difference in the healing of the world. With our theology of oneness and our affirmation of the worth and dignity of every being, we have something unique to offer in the service of wholeness and healing. She called us to articulate a new vision of human wholeness: a new understanding that the fate of one is the fate of the whole. She challenged us to expand our ability to include one another's lexicon for expressing what is worthy of reverence. Generosity in this case is about a way of listening.

Looking at the earth from space, the astronaut Sunita Williams said, "It is hard to imagine anyone arguing down there." This vision of our peaceful blue planet calls us to a wider sense of "we" to provide a clear message of hope and love.

Out of stardust came life, and we are each a spark of the divine. To all that includes rather than excludes, that creates, that gives life, that offers healing, let us say: amen; may it be so.

In closing, Sarah Dan Jones was joined by Annease Hastings and John Hu, who led us in the song composed by Brian Tate to Paul Gauguin's words: "Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?"

Reported by Mike McNaughton; edited by Jone Johnson Lewis.