Sunday Morning Worship, General Assembly 2013
General Assembly (GA) 2013 Event 5004
Speakers: Rev. Dr. William F. Schulz, Dallas Bergen
Our Sunday worship service will take us to the farthest reaches of the cosmos and into the deepest places of our own hearts as the Rev. Dr. William F. Schulz, president of the Unitarian Universalist (UU) Service Committee and former Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) president, preaches on “Tasting the Wine of Astonishment” and the GA Choir sings.
Report from UU World
Order of Service
- Pre-Service Singing: "We Are…"
- Opening Words: Peter Morales
- Chalice Lighting: Sally Beth Shore
- Hymn: "For the Earth Forever Turning"
- Covenants: Kay Montgomery
- Covenant with Each Other—We Need One Another: Kay Montgomery (and Small Ensemble)
- Covenant with the Earth: Lily Strehlow
- Covenant with Creation: Abbey Tennis
- Choral Anthem: Dallas Bergen: "The Hour has Come"
- Meditation: Hope Johnson
- Hymn: David Glasgow: "Blue Boat Home"
- Tasting the Wine of Astonishment: Bill Schulz
- Offering: Mel Hoover and Representatives from Kentucky Interfaith Power & Light
- Offertory Anthem: Dallas Bergen: "Drinkin' of the Wine"
- Musical Interlude
- Closing Hymn: David Glasgow: "Touch the Earth, Reach the Sky!"
- Benediction: Peter Morales
REV. DAVID M. GLASGOW: It's our last morning in Louisville. I know, right? But in so many ways it feels like our work together has just begun. We're going to be lighting our chalice in just a few minutes, but can we do some singing before then? We have a lot of great morning music in our hymnals, but we're going to start with a hymn whose text and tune both date to the middle of the 16th century. Would you join in singing with us?
[MUSIC - "YOU THAT HAVE SPENT THE SILENT NIGHT"]
REV. DAVID M. GLASGOW: These next three songs, all from our silver hymnal, form sort of a triptych that celebrates two of the great hymn writers of our heritage, Unitarian minister William Channing Gannett, and Unitarian Universalist minister Vincent B. Silliman. First we'll sing a hymn that Gannett wrote in 1892 as alternate lyrics for the well-known hymn tune Nicaea. We'll end the triptych with the 1935 Silliman hymn from his Beacon Song and Service Book. And in between, we'll lift up a hymn written by Gannett and later recast by Silliman for the same song book. Join us in singing.
REV. DAVID M. GLASGOW: We do have time for one more song before our 9 o'clock service time. But first I want to acknowledge the great musicians I get to share the stage with this morning. From Providence, Rhode Island we have Eva Kendrick. From Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, Becy McDicken. From Knoxville, Tennessee, Wendell Werner. From Seattle, Washington, Burt [? Gilhagen. ?]
We have a string quartet with this morning. From right here in Louisville, down at the piano at the moment is [? Hiroco ?] [? Litman. ?] From Cambridge, Mass, Karen [? Lynn. ?] From Rockford, Illinois, Teresa [? Wilmet, ?] who is singing in the choir at the moment. And from Peoria, Illinois, the name I've been practicing all week, Erin [? Morget ?] [? Dica. ?] Hey. And that group will be conducted later this morning by the music director at Thomas Jefferson UC, Frank Richmond, who composed the piece you'll be hearing later.
And of course, the GA band and GA, choir directed by Sean McCann and Dallas Bergen, respectively. Isn't it wonderful to worship with musicians like these?
REV. DAVID M. GLASGOW: Now I'd like to give voice to a poem whose author is unknown but whose spirit lives on in our silver hymnal at number 43, set to a tune composed for the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Shall we sing together?
Pre-Service Singing: "We Are…"
Words and music: Ysaye Barnwell © 1991 Barnwell Notes Publishing. Used by permission.
REV. DAVID M. GLASGOW: Once again, as we've done many times this week, we move from ancient words to modern ones, celebrating the spirit that remains constant throughout eternity. The prayers and dreamings of those who wrote those hymns live on in us and will continue to live on in the lives of those who will follow us. We come from dust, and to dust our bodies shall return. But our mercy, our love, our faith, these define who we are.
Sing with us. We are.
REV. PETER MORALES: Good morning. Before I offer opening words, I want to say something about this morning's worship service. As I considered the theme of covenant for this General Assembly, I thought about asking someone to preach at this Sunday service who could speak to our covenant beyond Unitarian Universalism. We have a covenant with all of humanity. We are committed to be compassionate and to seek justice.
I quickly decided to ask my colleague Bill Schulz to deliver the sermon today.
REV. DAVID M. GLASGOW: Bill served as president of the UUA for eight years. And after leaving the UUA, he went on to lead Amnesty International USA as its executive director for 12 years. He now serves as president and CEO of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee. The UUSC has long been our faith's global human rights organization.
The UUA and the UUSC today are working more closely than ever. Together we have launched the College of Social Justice as a joint venture. Together we are creating service and learning opportunities for UUs, both in the United States and in other nations.
Bill Schulz's life has been committed to the values of compassion, justice and equality. Please help me thank and welcome the Reverend Dr. Bill Schultz.
REV. DAVID M. GLASGOW: Had you and I lived 500 years ago, 5,000 years ago, or 50,000 years ago, we would have experienced the night sky as a living, mysterious, everyday presence. Two years ago I got a taste of the way our ancestors experienced the night. It was a moonless night at 9,000 feet elevation in Utah, 20 miles from the nearest artificial light. The detail, the depth of that sky were beyond anything I had seen. The Milky Way spanned the sky with details and variety. The night sky was breathtaking and beautiful.
Our ancestors gazed together with family and members of their clan at stars. They created stories about constellations and the hazy arms of the Milky Way. Imagine the awe they must have felt. Imagine how very real was their sense of connection to the natural world, and their knowledge that their very lives depended on one another. Humility, awe, a palpable sense of our interdependence-- come, let us experience that together once again. Come, let us worship together.
REV. SALLY BETH SHORE: Good morning. We have come across time and space, come here to rekindle our faith, to learn and to grow. As we light our chalice this morning, let us be reminded that we are not only our grandmothers' prayers, our grandfathers' dreamings. If we are the breath of the ancestors, then we have to remember our ancestry as those great stars. We are their descendants. Their remains comprise our bodies and our world.
And so as we enter into our worship this morning, we reflect on this shared history, the same for all of us, this ancient story. We light this flame, reminded that our existence is not a fluke but a miracle, and let this miracle of our flames, our togetherness, be of hope, of beauty, and of love that we spread.
[INAUDIBLE] from this hymn, taking inspiration from the words of Rhysling, the blind poet who travels to Venus in the Robert Heinlein novel, The Green Hills of the Earth. Our gratitude for the imagery Rhysling describes is deep and rich, but tempered with our awareness of the fragility of the world in our care. Would you rise in body or spirit and join me in singing?
Hymn: "For the Earth Forever Turning"
Words by Kim Oler, Arr, by Nick Page © 1990 Boosey & Hawkes, Inc. Used by permission.
KAY MONTGOMERY: A covenant is a promise we make to one another. This morning we articulate three covenants. First, we speak of our promise to one another as a religious community. But we do not exist in a vacuum. We are surrounded by other communities, other faiths, and other people.
So second, we make a covenant as well with the entire world. But even that is not enough. For our world is but a speck in a swirling, tumbling universe. So finally, we will speak our covenant with the whole of that we call creation.
Covenant with Each Other—We Need One Another
KAY MONTGOMERY: Let us covenant with each other through the words of George Odell, set to music by Keith Arnold. Please join the quartet singing on the response, if you're comfortable with that. When we mourn and would be comforted or when we are in trouble and afraid--
When we are in despair or in temptation and need to be recalled to our best selves again--
When we would accomplish some great purpose and know we cannot do it alone--
When, in our hour of success we look for someone to share our triumph--
When in our hour of defeat we look for some encouragement, that we might endure and stand again--
When we come to die and would have a gentle hand prepare us for the journey--
All our lives we are in need, and others are in need of us. May we find truth and comfort in knowing--
[SINGING: We are not alone.]
Covenant with the Earth
LILY STREHLOW: As we covenant with the earth, please join me in this reading from The Art of Blessing the Day by Marge Piercy.
The discipline of blessing is to taste each moment, the bitter, the sour, this sweet, and the salty, and be glad for what does not hurt. The art is in compressing attention to each little and big blossom of the tree of life, to let the tongue sing each fruit, its flavor, its aroma, and its use.
Covenant with Creation
ABBEY TENNIS: And now, in a responsive reading by Robert Weston we will affirm our covenant with creation. Kay and Lily will help lead the response, and your words will appear on the screens.
Out of the stars in their flight, out of the dust of eternity, here we have come, stardust and sunlight mingling through time and through space.
ALL: Out of the stars we have come, up from time. Out of the stars we have come.
ABBEY TENNIS: Time out of time, before time in the vastness of space, Earth spun to orbit the sun. Earth, with the thunder of mountains newborn, the boiling of seas.
ALL: Earth is warmed by the sun, lit by sunlight. This is our home. Out of the stars we have come.
ABBEY TENNIS: Mystery hidden in mystery, back through all time, mystery rising from rocks in the storm and the sea.
ALL: Out of the stars, rising from rocks and the sea, kindled by sunlight on earth, arose life.
ABBEY TENNIS: Ponder this thing in your heart. Ponder with awe. Out of the sea to the land, out of the shallows came ferns.
ALL: Out of the sea to the land, up from the darkness to light, rising to walk and to fly. Out of the sea trembled life.
ABBEY TENNIS: Ponder this in your heart, life up from the sea, eyes to behold, throats to sing, mates to love.
ALL: Love from the sea, warmed by sun, washed by rain, life from within, giving birth, rose to love.
ABBEY TENNIS: This is the wonder of time. This is the marvel of space. Out of the stars swing the earth. Life upon Earth rose to love.
ALL: This is the marvel of life, rising to see and to know. Out of your heart cry wonder. Sing that we live.
DALLAS BERGEN: It's been a pleasure working with the GA choir and our GA team of musicians in preparation for today's contributions. We offer a most challenging piece of music by Canadian composer Srul Irving Glick, with poetry by Carol H. Leckner. Poetic texts, particularly those written from another time, often use language that does not align with our principles of inclusion. Works in the public domain can easily be changed, but the matter becomes complicated when working with protected works of intellectual property.
Respectful of this work of creation while recognizing its imperfections, we will present it unaltered. But we endeavor to express the greater spirit of this work, invite you into sharing and receiving of its central message, a message that urgently calls us to wake up, to enter into a covenantal relationship with one another and with the planet.
The text reads, "The hour has come for mankind to embrace, for the sun blazes upon the conscience of the earth and time is growing short. And what is visible must be seen. For the fire is intense in the consciousness of the planet, and healing is the yearning of her heart. Our cells are life's tissue, our bones and marrow her rivers and narrows. Our heart pumps the cry of her heart.
"Where art thou, oh family of man, brothers and sisters? For the time is growing short. And what is visible must be seen, for the hour has come to love."
Meditation: Hope Johnson
REV. HOPE JOHNSON: The title of the meditation that I am about to share with you is "One Love," inspired by the Honorable Robert Nesta Marley, commonly known as Bob.
"We are one, a diverse group of proudly kindred spirits, here not by coincidence but because we choose to journey together. We are active and proactive. We care deeply. We live our love as best we can.
"We are one, working, eating, laughing, playing, singing, storytelling, sharing, and rejoicing, getting to know each other, taking risks, opening up, questioning, seeking, searching, trying to understand, struggling, making mistakes, paying attention, asking questions, listening, living our answers, learning to love our neighbors, learning to love ourselves, apologizing and forgiving with humility, and being forgiven through grace, creating the beloved community together. We are one." Blessed be.
Hymn: David Glasgow: "Blue Boat Home"
Words by Peter Mayer. Arr. Jason Shelton © 2002 Used with permission.
REV. DAVID M. GLASGOW: One of the Apollo 8 astronauts once said, when we originally went to the moon, our total focus was on the moon. We weren't thinking of looking back at the earth. But now that we've done that, that may well have been the most important reason we went.
Once we gain the perspective of seeing our home, seeing ourselves from the other side, we can never go back to old ways of thinking. Peter Mayer gives thanks for these great winds that urge us on in our next hymn. Will you rise of body or spirit and join us in singing?
Tasting the Wine of Astonishment
REV. DR. BILL SCHULZ: I have been preaching to Unitarian Universalists now for more than 44 years.
Wait a minute. One of the definitions of mental illness is doing the same thing over and over again, with no appreciable effect. So I thank you, Peter, for giving me one more opportunity to prove my sanity. Because this is no doubt the last time I will preach to this many Unitarian Universalists at one time, I've decided to tell you, in the next 20 minutes, everything I know.
Now, what I know may not impress you, as it did not impress the woman at Pepperdine University who approached me after a lecture some years ago to say, Dr. Schulz, I couldn't hear a word you said tonight. And thinking to be modest I replied, well, you're probably not missing much, to which the woman responded, yes, I know, that's what everybody told me.
Well, it was Pepperdine, after all. Nonetheless, I am going to tell you, if not everything I know, than at least the most important things I know. The problem is that the most important things I know are not original to me. A fellow named Emmanuel Kant summed them up 225 years ago in the only penetrable sentence he ever wrote.
"Two things fill me with ever new and increasing awe," Kant said, "the starry heavens above and the moral law within." I went into the ministry for two fundamental reasons. The first is because I noticed that my parents listened with rapt attention to everything the minister said on Sunday and thought ministers were very, very wise. For an only child who lived in a world of adults and occasionally struggled to be heard, this made the ministry a very appealing profession.
Right now all of you are making this old man very, very happy. As I tell my students when I teach them preaching, don't worry about people glancing at their watches when you preach. You only have to be concerned when they start shaking them at their ears.
And the second reason I went into the ministry was because I knew that everything I cherish would someday pass away, that everyone I loved, all those adults who populated the world around me would die. And it broke my heart when, indeed, they did. I was not so naive as to think that by becoming a minister I could ease that hard thing. Had I thought that, I would have chosen a faith other than Unitarian Universalism. But I wanted to live intimately with it, to not run from it, to accompany others into its presence, to relieve what suffering I could, and to finally make peace with our sojourn.
That strategy has not worked, at least not perfectly. I have never become reconciled to the dying. It continues to break my heart. But what the religious life has forced me to do is to look to the farthest reaches of those starry heavens and the murkiest depths of that moral law within, and to ask myself what the connection between the two of them might be.
The first of those impulses to contemplate the heavens is not limited, of course, to religious people. One of my favorite New Yorker cartoons shows a man woman, their arms around each other, their dog at their side, peering up at a starry night. The woman turns to the man. I'm not religious, she says, I'm just scared. Well, I am too. But that hasn't kept me nor Kant nor every one of you from periodically staring into the sparkling heavens at night and trying to grasp the immensity of creation, the size and grandeur, the breadth and wonder of the cosmos of being itself.
Because I can't possibly convey to you in words the magnitude of all creation, we are going on a journey. In the next three and a half minutes we are going to travel from our beloved earthly home to the farthest limits of the known universe and back again to the very building blocks of life. And as we do, I simply want you to do pay attention to what you feel.
"Thou hast made us to taste of the wine of astonishment," says the Psalmist. And remember, what you've seen is only the known universe. You and I do not need to understand quasars or black holes or string theory or cosmic inflation to be stunned into silence by the majesty of being itself. To set ourselves within the context of what we just saw is to understand on one level that everything that happens here on earth, war, joy, passion, death is, in the great cosmic scheme of things, pretty trivial.
Joan Rivers said, "I knew I was an unwanted baby when I saw that my bath toys were a toaster and a radio." Take one look at this video, Joan, and forget about it. Every single one of us is but a brief upsurge of organized consciousness flitting through the cosmos for a milli-fraction of a second.
Insignificant as we each be, however, every single one of us, and indeed, the very earth itself, is held tight in the embrace of creation. We came from it, we will return to it. Dust to dust, ashes to ashes. Energy is never created or destroyed. It just changes form. As the great poet Elder Olson put it, "Nothing is lost. Time like the sea gives back all in the end, but only in its own way, empires as grains of sand, mountains as pebbles. Be still, be still, I say. You were never the water, only the wave."
We are, each one of us, held in the embrace of creation. Ponder this thing in your heart. Ponder with awe. This is the wonder of time. This is the marvel of space. Out of the stars swung the earth. This is why we are in covenant with creation.
But if that is true, why do we feel so frightened? Why do we know exactly what the woman in that cartoon meant when she said, I'm not religious, I'm just scared? Well, it is because though we taste of the wine of astonishment, thou hast also showed thy people hard things.
I would be surprised if very many of us could travel as we just did to the far reaches of the universe, and in addition to feeling wonder at the unfathomable not also feel our vulnerability. To set ourselves within the context of what we just saw is to understand at another level that everything that happens here on earth, war, heartache, joy, passion, death, everything is enormously important, because we are so very fragile, a tiny star flying through space, our bodies 90% water, our minds susceptible to demagoguery, our earth the prey of exhaustion, our hearts so prone to break.
The father of a child with dwarfism allowed his daughter to undergo painful limb lengthening surgery. Someone criticized him for it, calling it akin to torture. I'll tell you what torture is, the father said, having arms too short to wipe yourself. Our fragility as human beings, as a human race, and as a planet, that's the connection. Between those starry heavens above and Kant's moral law within, can anyone truly understand the tiny speck of the universe we human beings occupy and not see in an instant that everything that keeps us isolated from one another, every ideology that divides us, every faith that preaches its superiority over others, every intentional cruelty is stupidity on a truly cosmic scale.
Last February, two days after the meteor hit Chelyabinsk, Russia, deep in the Ural Mountains-- you remember that-- two days after the meteor hit I was in a New York City taxicab when the driver said to me, out of nowhere, I am from a Chelyabinsk. My parents still live there. I hope they are OK, I said.
Oh yes, he said. But when the meteor hit, my old father was sitting by the fireplace in his underpants reading. And when it hit, he leapt up to his feet, shouting, it's the Americans! The Americans, they've finally done it! And he rushed outside in his underpants into the minus 10 degree cold, ignoring my mother's welfare completely and accidentally locking the door behind him. She was so angry that when he started desperately knocking on the door to get back in, she wouldn't open it. Go ask your friends the Americans to help you, was all she shouted.
When you are floating through space on a fragile blue boat, you truly do need one another. Spouses need spouses. Americans need Russians. Straight folks need LGBTQI folks. Jews need Muslims. The UUSC needs the UUA. And we all need each blossom of the green and gladsome tree. This is why we are in covenant with each other and the earth.
The starry heavens above, the moral law within, and their connection with one another, those have been the touchstones of my ministry, as indeed they are of Unitarian Universalism. So what lessons do we draw? These two-- first, that because we are all so fragile, our obligation as human beings is to be agents of that moral law, to make glad the hearts that travel with us, and to remind those who would turn drab the promise of justice that everyone will die, that not a one of us wins in the end, and that those who exploit the fragility of the earth or the vulnerability of their neighbors despoil a sacred covenant and betray the precious moment they have been given upon this earth.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was asked how he managed to prevail against so much power aligned against him, the police, the banks, the businesses, the sheriffs. And he said, we never let them rest. And that's what the moral law commands us to say to all those who would steal life's promise from the helpless. We will not stand for that. We'll never let you rest.
To those whose slaughter without regret, who butcher without remorse, we say, we are all children of the cosmos. Harm another, and we'll never let you rest. And to those whose greed would make barren the lush plains, whose narrowness of heart tarnish the very luster of humanity, no rest for you, no peace for you-- no rest, no peace, no victory!
And then there is a second and final lesson we draw, a more gentle one, from the starry heavens above, that because we are so fragile, so unlikely to be here in the first place, such a surprising twist of creation, our wisest sentiment is gratitude and our smartest strategy is trust. I know it doesn't feel that way when we are in the midst of the maelstrom, when our lives are falling apart around us, when all those beloved ones are dying. I know it doesn't feel that way, of course it doesn't.
Even Leonard Woolf, the exquisitely rational husband of the novelist Virginia, even for him-- the day Virginia Woolf walked into the River Ouse and disappeared, Leonard reported in his diary the cumulative mileage of his car. The day of her cremation, he went to have his hair cut. But on the page of his diary for the day she died, March 28, 1941, on that page and that page alone in all his years of neat diary-keeping, there is a brownish-yellow stain. He had tried to wipe off the page the evidence of his tears.
I know it often doesn't feel this way. I told you that I have never become reconciled to the dying. But the most important thing I know through all the heartache and the tears is that in a universe like this, there cannot be anything fundamentally wrong, and that held, as we each are, in the embrace of creation, at the end of the day it's all going to be OK.
In the ancient world, a poetry contest was held each year. And the third place winner was presented a rose made out of silver, the second place winner, a rose made out of gold. But the first place winner received a real rose, a living rose that, while it was far from perfect and didn't live forever, spoke while it did of art and beauty and passion and power. And who among us, my friends, if we had to choose, who among us would not choose the living rose?
Offering: Mel Hoover and Representatives from Kentucky Interfaith Power & Light
REV. MEL HOOVER: Bill, thank you for your inspiring message this morning. Indeed, we are so fragile. We are so unlikely to be here. And yet we are so lucky to be here. In this moment in time we can make good on our covenant with each other, the earth, and creation. We can combine our passion and our energy and our resources to make glad the hearts of those who travel with us in this life.
And I'm glad I have with me my colleagues, the Reverend Dawn Cooley and the Reverend Elwood Sturtevant and Mark Steiner, with us from Kentucky Interfaith Power and Light this morning, this year's recipient of our offering. And now I invite you to listen, to listen to their stories of compassion, commitment, and hope.
REV. DAWN COOLEY: The Kentucky/West Virginia Ministers Coalition is thankful that this week thousands have responded to our cry to pay attention to the misuse of resources causing harm to the people of Appalachia and beyond. We have shown you how our lives are connected, how we are one, and that the impact of the extraction industries affects the health and well-being of all life that exists upon our earth.
My ministry with First Unitarian Church downtown has been powerfully affected. In Louisville, our people suffer from higher rates of respiratory disease. In west Louisville, where the power plants and chemical factories are, there are higher rates of cancer, liver disease, and skin disease. The infant mortality rate is higher, and the life expectancy for someone in west Louisville is a full 10 years less than that of people who live elsewhere in the city. In this way, Louisville is representative of how damage to the environment hits the poor and people of color first.
But Louisville is far from alone in these issues. These issues are for all of us. As people of faith in the human spirit, faith in our connection to one another, isn't it our moral obligation to take injustices to heart and, through our personal ministries, make changes? The congregation I serve is one of many participating members of the Kentucky Interfaith Power and Light, because we believe in the work that they are doing. I ask you to join us to ensure a safe and healthy future for generations to come.
REV. ELWOOD STURTEVANT: The congregation I serve, Thomas Jefferson Unitarian Church here in the Louisville suburbs, is a covenant member of Kentucky Interfaith Power and Light. In 2010 we were honored with one of KIPL's first awards for our green sanctuary work, including providing compact fluorescence to eastern area community ministries, so that people who came for help with their utility bills could start saving both their own money and our earth.
To do more, my congregation now celebrates Valentine's Day in a special way. We take Valentine messages to our legislators in Frankfort, Kentucky for I Love Mountains Day, along with our Standing on the Side of Love banner.
REV. ELWOOD STURTEVANT: There we stand with over 1,000 people against the destruction caused by mountaintop removal coal mining. We used to carpool. But now Kentucky Interfaith Power and Light brings busloads of people from our church parking lot to the capital, just as it brings congregations from across the state together to work for healing our earth. But we want to do more.
MARK STEINER: Kentucky Interfaith Power and Light is ready to launch a new campaign. And we need you. We need you to make it more than a dream. I'm talking about the Healthy Future For Our Kids campaign, a response to the fossil fuel crisis that appeals to our moral call to protect our children and their health.
Our dream, the heart of this program will be to tell our stories from the mountain tops loudly, passionately, and publicly, with real people, youth, parents, grandparents, scientists, and medical professionals, each sharing their concerns and struggles, their life-changing and life-threatening stories. Think NPR StoryCorps for our planet. And our dream is bigger than this. We plan to address the ongoing use and terrible effects of mountaintop removal coal mining, as well as the improper and dangerous storage of coal ash near residential homes.
We will educate communities across Kentucky and commit them to action about the use and procurement of fossil fuels. We will emphasize the negative consequences to our children's health. We will intentionally reach out to communities of color as well as low income and rural areas.
And our dream is even bigger yet. We want to utilize grassroots organizing to mobilize secular and faith communities to engage in actions, from legislative lobbying to petition signing, from marches and rallies to changing policy. We want to identify leaders on environmental justice in energy issues and work with them to grow their networks and their effectiveness.
Right now the Healthy Future For Our Kids campaign is just a dream. Your support will make it real. The Healthy Future For Our Kids campaign can become a source of justice-making, a source of hope. It can become a place to put our energy for change into action.
REV. ELWOOD STURTEVANT: So for a healthy future for kids, the Kentucky/West Virginia ministers are making a substantial contribution. And we invite you to join with us in supporting this wonderful organization. We invite you to give generously for the fragility and beauty of life. And we have ushers who are also having credit card slips. If you need one, raise your hand and they will provide that for you as well. Please, give generously for the children here and children that you know as well.
Offertory Anthem: Dallas Bergen: "Drinkin' of the Wine"
Traditional spiritual, Rosephanye Powell (arranger)
"Drinkin' of the Wine" is a traditional spiritual set by the African American composer Rosephanye Powell. This work song seized upon the notion of redemption from hardship and slavery through the tasting of the wine of astonishment as found in the psalms. And you can see how those of African American heritage, those peoples enslaved, found connection with this lesson in their compulsory Judeo-Christian education.
I'll go back to that psalm which read, "Thou hast showed they people hard things. Thou hast made us to drink the wine of astonishment." And taking those words and connecting it to soul and body, they sang of their inevitable emancipation from bondage, either through a bid to freedom in the heaven of the free states in the North and Canada or via death summons to an afterlife in paradise.
Closing Hymn: "Touch the Earth, Reach the Sky!"
Words and music by Grace Lewis-McLaren, © 1988 Grace Lewis-McLaren
REV. DAVID GLASGOW: Unitarian Universalist poet and composer Grace Lewis-McLaren wrote our next hymn to celebrate the theme of our Palm Springs General Assembly 25 years ago, in 1988. The dreams we shared then are still alive today as we encourage one another to soar with courage ever higher. Please rise in body or spirit and join us in singing.
REV. DR. BILL SCHULZ: Please remain standing for our benediction. And I invite you to take the hand of your neighbor. Feel the connections across this hall, across our beloved movement, across all the tribes of humankind, across all human history, across the billions of years of our universe's existence. We are part of it. It lives within and among us. May gratitude fill our hearts. May compassion guide our every action. May we always choose the living rose. Go in peace.