“It’s A We Thing”

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Since America woke up to COVID-19 in early March, so very much has changed!
We have learned and are learning still how to live together in this virtual world. This
Sunday, we learn to say good-bye in it.

“It’s A We Thing” with Rev. Shayna Appel

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Join with us as we commemorate our planet and our passion to do it justice.
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Order of Service

June 21, 2020


Welcome & Announcements

Prelude:      Ashokan Farewell  by Jay Ungar
in honor of Reverend Shayna Appel
                                      performed by Peter Gibbons and Eva Greene

Chalice Lighting:         By Celia Thurston

I light this chalice for all the times you have lit this chalice;

For every time you struck the match

Or flicked that zapper thing

Or empowered a nervous parishioner to do the same.

I light this chalice for all that you’ve done:

For all you’ve fostered and cultivated and nudged;

For all you’ve suggested and directed and maneuvered.

I light this chalice for the intensity of your reactions,

In responding to grace and rejecting mediocrity

Within the tender balance between tradition and choice.

I light this chalice for your being here now,

Out of calling,

Out of commitment,

Out of love.

I light this chalice for the time you have spent [together]

Preaching and hurting and healing.

I light this chalice for you.

Hymn #347      Gather the Spirit,  sung by Catie G. Berg

Opening Words:    When the Wind Takes a Tree in It’s Arms     by Daniel Ladinsky

Three-quarters of the world dances all night,

the waves moving as they do on the seas.

And when the wind takes a tree in its arms,

what happens then?

The green branches of the earth may seem to

reach out to touch us if we near them in a forest,

a meadow, a field.

Does not all sway to a rhythm that began long

before we stood upright?

We are in the mountains home, just guests.

Guests of the sky, the streams, the giving soil

we nurse from.

Would not you be happier following their

example — bowing in unseen ways, then rising


Come, let us worship together.

Anthem:  God Beyond All Names by Bernadette Farrell

 Time for All Ages:    Weaving Our Path  By Martha Dallas [Adapted]

Imagine with me that you’re going along a trail in the woods in Vermont and you come across a steep gorge with a river rushing at the bottom. There is only one way to get across. You see a bridge and it’s made of… this: [show basket of grass… long overgrown grass, and pass it around so kids can touch the grass to get a feel for it.] What I want to know is what questions would be running through your mind before you set foot on that grass bridge? What I would want to know, more than anything else, is if the people who made the bridge also walked across it, and whether they still use it.

Of course, we don’t have bridges made of grass in [our state], but many were built for hundreds of years in South America by the Inca people, and I think a few still exist. Here’s how they did it. First, they made fresh bridges once a year. On the appointed day, everyone in the village would gather to begin work. Each person had a special role to play in building the bridge. First, there were people who gathered the grass. Then, other people took that grass and twisted it into long ropes. Then people took those ropes and wove them into thick braids. And those braids were twisted by other people into long cables, as thick as my arm. Certain people strung the cables across the gorge and pulled them nice and tight, and finally there were riggers who would lash the cables together in such a way as to create a footbed to walk on and rails on each side to hold.

Each person did their part as best they could, and they relied on everyone else to do their part well, because every one of them needed that bridge to safely carry them across the river whenever they needed to go that way.

I tell you about grass bridges this morning for two reasons: First, it reminds us of how important our small part is, when it’s part of something big and strong and even miraculous as a bridge made of grass. I have to say, I think it’s miraculous that a bridge can be made of grass. And these bridges could span 60 feet! That’s longer than the length of our sanctuary! And they could hold five people at a time, and llamas too!

Second, we in this congregation may not be building a bridge across a raging river, but we are building a way toward our future, our shared vision. I want to walk that way! I hope many of you will walk that way too. And if I’m going to walk that way, I want to walk a way that feels sure and strong and safe—a way that I know has been built well with everyone doing their part as best they can. So may we all build that way together, like the Inca grass bridge builders!

Music: O World, thou Choosest Not the Better Part

 Composed by Tom Baehr based on George Santayana’s poem

Reading I:      by Robert Fulghum from “It Was On Fire When I Lay Down On It”

1969.  A sign: ANYWHERE BUT HERE.  Held by three waifs flower children standing at a freeway entrance looking for a ride on the great river of adventure.  Common sign of that time — saw it more than once, and felt it in people many times.  Wanderlust mixed with discontent.

Recently saw another sign by the freeway entrance.  SOMEWHERE ELSE AND BACK.  Liked the spirit of the sign, so I pulled over and the travelers piled gratefully into my truck.  Young university students, male and female – one of each.  Tired of “here” — taking a semester off to go see it all, wherever IT is.

“But your sign says ‘and back.’ “

“Well, this is home, you know, and we like it here.  We just want to be somewhere else for a while.  You ever feel that way?”

“About once a week, actually.”

When people are polled on what they would do if they won the lottery, first they’d pay their bills and then they would travel — go see the world, go somewhere else and back.  Nomads we are, at heart.  And it always amuses me when anthropologists find the ruins of civilizations that seem to have been suddenly abandoned.  What caused this?  Where did they go?  What was the problem?  No problem, really, they just woke up one morning in a collective mod to be somewhere else.  They went.  And just didn’t quite make it back.

Count up the number of places you have lived so far in your life.  Thirty-seven places in fifty-one years — that’s my record — and my wife and I are talking where-to-and-what-next again.  Restlessness is our way, and we scratch the itch when we can.  Having traveled “somewhere else and back” quite a few times now, here are two elemental truths I know:

First: the grass is not, in fact, always greener on the other side of the fence. No, not at all.  Fences have nothing to do with it.  The grass is greenest where it is watered. When crossing over fences, carry water with you and tend the grass wherever you may be.

Second: The River-Runner’s Maxim, taught to me when I was learning white-water canoeing from friend Baz, a maximum pro: “Sitting still is essential to the journey.” When heading off down river, pull over to the bank from time to time and sit quietly and look at the river and think about where you’ve been and where you’re going and why and how.

So.  Come sit by me on the bank and I will tell you where the grass is green and what I know about the river…

Sermon: “It’s A We Thing”

Music:   #1008       When Our Heart Is In A Holy Place

Offering shared with The Women’s Freedom Center

Offertory:  Azulão     by  Jayme Ovalle, sung by Victoria de los Angeles

Blessing Candles of Joy & Sorrow

Releasing of Covenant Ritual: By Tess Baumberger, Erika A. Hewitt

Minister: For the last four years you have offered me your free pulpit and the freedom of creativity in worship, gifts for which I’m grateful. I hereby return the ministry of worship to your able hands. Use it to speak the truth in love to one another; to continue to find reverence and meaning together.

Congregation: We thank you for your service in our pulpit. We accept its power of freedom for ourselves and release you from your service as worship leader.

Minister: For the last four years you have welcomed me into the transitional moments of your lives—times of sorrow and crisis, and also of great joy. It’s been my privilege to care for you in times of need. I now return the ministry of pastoral care to your hands. Use it to comfort and to celebrate the milestones of your lives with compassion.

Congregation: We thank you for the pastoral care you have offered us. We accept its power of compassion for ourselves and release you from your role as pastoral caregiver.

Minister: From my first days with you, you have asked me to lead you in works of justice and compassion, inspiring us to build a better world. I return the prophetic ministry to your hands. Use it to take the teachings of Unitarian Universalism beyond our walls, into a hurting human family.

Congregation: We thank you for your prophetic voice. We accept it for ourselves and release you from your service as our leader for peace and justice.

Minister: Since my arrival, you’ve asked me to serve as  administrator and professional leader of this congregation. Today I return the “administry” of this congregation to you. May you guide yourselves with courage and wisdom into a strong and sure future.

Congregation: We thank you for your professional leadership. We accept its power of vision and knowledge, and release you from your call as our professional leader.

Minister: The light of our shared ministry will be extinguished today, but our respective ministries will continue separately: our separate fires will bring light to the world in new and unique ways.

I light two candles from the chalice: one to symbolize your ministry as a congregation, and the other to represent the ministry that I take with me.

With love and gratitude, I release you from our covenant with one another. Go your way in peace, truth, and love.

Congregation: With love and gratitude, we release you from our covenant with one another. Go your way in peace, truth, and love.

Music: “As” by Stevie Wonder

Extinguish the Chalice:   The Work We Share by Krista Taves

It is our work, shared with each other in covenant,

That creates and sustains this beloved community.

We extinguish this chalice, but its light lives on

in the directions we have chosen today.

The light of this faith lives on in us, together,

in our hearts, minds, bodies and spirits.

Amen and Blessed Be.

Closing Circle

Carry the flame of peace and love until we meet again

Carry the flame of peace and love until we meet again