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Thursday Morning Devotional, General Assembly 2015

Captions were created during the live event, and contain some errors. Captioning is not available for some copyrighted material.

Logo for General Assembly 2015 in Portland Oregon.

The theme of General Assembly 2015 in Portland, OR, was Building a New Way.

General Assembly 2015 Event 202 (first 25 minutes of video)

Program Description

Open your heart in this down home Oregon worship! With prayer, singing and a little bluegrass, we prepare ourselves for the good work of the day.


  • Rev. Cecilia Kingman
  • Susan Peck

The following final draft script was completed before this event took place; actual words spoken may vary.

Hymn: “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”

Susan Peck, GA Music Coordinator: Good morning, my friends! Rev. Cecilia Kingman and I are pleased to lead you in worship this morning. (Slide 1) We open our first full day of General Assembly with the beautiful hymn “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” Unitarian John Wyeth included this melody in his Repository of Sacred Music in 1812. The original text by Robert Robinson was adapted for Unitarian Universalists by the Reverend Eugene B. Navias, who passed away late last summer. In his long career, Reverend Navias created lasting ties between ministry, religious education, and hymnody, especially with his GA presentation on “Singing, Shouting, and Celebrating.” Please rise in body or spirit to sing, shout, and celebrate the grace we seek together this week.

Musicians playing:

  • David Servias, piano,
  • Jeff Chamberlain, guitar,
  • Seth Moran, fiddle,
  • Emily Brault, banjo;
  • Congregational Singing

Chalice Lighting

Rev. Cecilia Kingman: Good morning. We are honored to have here with us to light our chalice this morning the Rev. Dr. Emily Brault, who serves as Chaplain at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility, a women’s prison in Wilsonville, Oregon.

The chalice, this beloved symbol of our free faith, reminds us that we are larger than even this assembled body. Let us call to mind all who keep to this faith tradition, across this land, in our congregations and communities, and in the prisons and streets as well. And let us also call into this space all of our siblings in faith around the world, from Transylvania to Cuba, from Iceland to Burundi.

And, lest we not forget them, let us also call into this place, into our midst, all who have come before us, those blessed ones who dreamed of religious freedom, who preached the love of God for all people, and those martyrs who lost their lives for our faith. Let us give thanks for this great cloud of witnesses. May our work today honor them all. Amen.

Rev. Emily Brault lights the chalice.


Rev. Cecilia Kingman: Our centering reading this morning is an ancient story, thousands of years old, first told by a peasant prophet and wisdom teacher, Jesus of Nazareth. This version comes from the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas, which is not included in the regular canonical Bible. Before I tell you this story, an invitation in how to listen: Scholars tell us that Jesus, as a wisdom teacher, used parables that were oblique and hard to understand. Like a Japanese koan, if you think you know the meaning, you probably haven’t quite got it. So let us hear this ancient parable and seek the deepest wisdom in it, without any need for certainty:

Jesus said: “Listen, a sower came forth, filled his hand, and cast the seed. Some fell upon the road; the birds came and picked them out. Others fell upon the rocky ground: they found no means of taking root in the soil and did not send up ears. And others fell among thorns, and they choked the seed, and the grubs devoured them. And others fell upon the good earth, and this portion sent up good fruit; it gave as much as sixty-fold and even a hundred and twenty-fold per measure.

Thus ends the reading.

Song “Take Up Your Spade”

Susan: Sara Watkins, young American singer-songwriter and fiddler, wrote the song “Take Up Your Spade” for her second solo album. At the end of each verse, please feel free to join us on the refrain: “take up your spade and break ground.”

Centering Prayer

Rev. Cecilia Kingman: Will you pray with me? Spirit of Life, God who is Love, I thank you for this gathering of good souls and the chance to work and worship together today. We gather with great hopes and aspirations. Help us also gather in humility. We long for a new way of human living, a new vision, a new day. Help us remember that we are not the only people with visions and longings. Help us to listen more than we speak, learn more than we instruct, love more than we critique. Help us be together this week in kindness and compassion and true humility.

Source of Wisdom, dwell among us and help us discern our role in an ever-turbulent world. Be our Vision, show us the way we seek, and keep us from false prophecy and the temptations of ego. Turn our hearts to your purpose and your way—the way of wisdom and compassion.

Above all, help us remember that we are all held in a greater love. Help us remember that nothing can separate us from your love: not principalities nor powers, not governments nor police, not the actions of other people nor the cycles of history, not our place in society’s strata, not even the errors of our own ways. Nothing can remove us from your vast and abiding embrace. Help us know that love and live that love outward toward all your creatures, this day and all the days to come. I ask this in the name of all that is sacred. AMEN.

Reprise of Song