Saturday, September 11, 2021

 

The entire service script is included this week. 


Order of Service - Script 


for Sunday  September 12, 2021 


Holy Communion 


For Unitarian Universalists, the term Holy Communion can have many meanings. Water Communion is one. Another is the deep, spiritual sharing of many elements of our worship services. 



NIUU, Jeanie Donaldson, Sue Hansen Barber, 

   Pastor Fred 


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Prelude


Welcome:  

Come into this circle of love and compassion,

Come into this community where we can dream and

Believe in those dreams—

Welcome to North Idaho Unitarian Universalists where we accept, we support, we transform:  Ourselves, Our Community. Our world.   




Lighting the Chalice: 


Chalice Lighting:  “Thirsty”

By Gregory Pelley

And so we gather, from the ebb and flow of our lives

Thirsty for connection to ourselves

Thirsty for connection to others

Thirsty for connection to the larger life.

As we light this chalice

May all who gather here be filled:

Filled with joy and hope

Filled with compassion and love

Here, may we be filled

So that we may pour ourselves out

into the world.


Hymn: Fountain of Love - by Jeanie Donaldson


 I Feel a Fountain of Love

By Jeanie Donaldson


I feel a fountain of love emerging deep in my soul

A small fountain, but soon it can grow.

I feel a fountain of love bubbling up in my soul,

Just beginning to wash away hate.


I feel a river of love that’s pouring into my soul,

Yes a river, but soon it can grow.

I feel a river of love flowing into my soul,

That is washing away all the pain.


I feel an ocean of love, a torrent rising inside, 

Yes, an ocean that floods all I am,

I feel an ocean of love, in a powerful wave

That replaces the anger with joy!


Refrain:

Oh--water, rippling water, refreshing, cleansing water,

Oh--love like water, mending and growing my soul.



Covenant: 

Love is the spirit of this church, and service its law

This is our great covenant:

To dwell together in peace,

To seek truth in love,

And to help one another. 


Meet and Greet / Check-in  / Joys and Concerns /  Sharing



Meditation: 


Water Makes Its Mark

By Matt Alspaugh

A glass of tea sweats a circle of droplets on an old table

Drying, they pull dirt and stain from the wood, leaving a ring

Water makes its mark

Deep in the earth, in a cave, a drop falls each minute

Where it lands, a great pillar of white rock has grown up

Water makes its mark

On the surface above, a stream burbles and flows

carving out potholes in the granite of its bed

Water makes its mark

Along a highway cut, a geologist points out the layers of tan slate

each penny-thin sheet,

the memory of a torrential rainstorm eons ago

Water makes its mark

In its network of veins, the blood—

salty like the sea water from which we sprang

flows on in cycles, giving life

Water makes its mark

The dark clouds pass on, yielding no rain

Crops wither, and drought comes

Famine, migration, violence, and death soon follow

Water makes its mark

A space probe turns its camera toward whence it came

Imaging one solitary pixel of light

Its color the pale blue of oceans

Water makes its mark

A solitary tear slides down the cheek

A tear of abiding joy,

a tear of unending grief

We see, and share the depth of feeling at its true core

Water makes its mark 

 


Sermon: 


I have chosen the theme of Holy Communion 

  as a starting place for my sermon regarding 

    our Water Communion this year. 


In the first place, I want to affirm 

  that our forms of Communion 

    within the UU traditions 

      are just as holy as 

        any form of it. 


You see, the word, "holy" is an important term 

  to describe something that is unique and special 

    for a person or group. 


To begin to understand what I'm trying to say, 

  let's consider the Holy Bible. 


The word Bible is based on the Greek word, biblios, 

  meaning book. 


If the word Holy means special, 

  then the words, "Holy Bible" 

    describe it as the Special Book. 


The word Communion describes sharing.


So Holy Communion refers 

  to a time of special sharing. 


Last month, Paula Neils shared with us 

  a great Touchstone service on Communion. 


Paula and the other presenters helped us see 

  how Communion for us UU's 

    can refer to the many ways we help each other 

      and work together for the common good 

        not only for our own communities and people 

          but also for people all over the world. 


It was a beautiful, meaningful service. 


The privilege of preparing and presenting 

  a Touchstone service 

    is available to any member or friend 

      of our NIUU congregation. 


With years of experiencing preparing and presenting 

  worship services for people I care about, 

    I can honestly say that it can be among life's 

      most meaningful times of sharing. 


Touchstone services provide the leaders 

  with many options to serve 

    every element of worship, 

      so no one would be left to their own devices. 


Whether you have done so in the past or not, 

  I highly recommend that you volunteer and present 

    a Touchstone service. 


You will have plenty of help and helpers, 

  and you will provide a meaningful time to share 

    for each other and for the whole congregation. 


So a Touchstone service itself 

  can be an experience of communion for UU’s. 


We are in immediate need of presenters during 

  October and November of 2021. 


We will also need presenters for every month of 

  2022 with the exception of April. 


Even before sharing 

  in the beautiful Touchstone service 

    about communion, I had already picked the theme 

      for today and the next two Sundays. 


I decided to retain my planned themes 

  for several reasons. 


First of all, 

  I wanted to offer my perspective on the subject 

    as a UU Christian. 


Secondly, I believe that our Communion

  in all its forms 

    is worthy of respect, 

      since, as I said previously, 

        our Communions are as holy as any other. 


I want to affirm that, 

  especially as part of our Water Communion. 


Finally, in the Revised Common Lectionary readings 

  from the special book, aka the Holy Bible

    there have been several weeks in which 

      the primary theme has been the "Bread of Life." 


In a Christian context, the term, "Bread of Life"

  refers to Christ Himself as well as the bread 

    of Christian Holy Communion. 


I have offered an echo of this meaningful ritual 

  to our congregation 

    in the form of a simple act 

      of taking a piece of bread or a cracker or cookie 

        and saying, "Shall we break bread?"


And as we do so saying, "We remember." 


I will offer this opportunity again in the near future 

  when it is possible for us 

    to eat together and to remember again. 


For today it is enough for us to remember together 

  that our rite for today 

    helps us remember the Water of Life. 


It is a rite in which we all share, 

  whether virtually or in person, 

    and the virtual sharing can happen 

      even for those who are physically present. 


Every time I have had the privilege 

  of sharing in UU Water Communions, 

    some of the participants have mimed 

      the pouring of water into a common vessel, 

        thus participating in the rite virtually. 


Water is basic for all life as we know it. 


When planets orbiting other stars in our galaxy 

  are noted for their possibilities, 

    the first question asked 

      by contemporary astronomers is, 

        "Would it be possible for liquid water 

          to exist on the surface of this planet?" 


If so, life as we understand it might be possible; 

  if not, life would not be possible. 


So the waters of earth are quite literally the Water of Life. 

At the same time, water can be a danger 

  when it appears in the form of storms 

    or certain kinds of ocean waves. 


If we move through deep waters, 

  we need to understand how to swim in it, 

    first and foremost being willing to trust 

      that the water will not pull us down. 


We can swim 

  if we allow the water in which we move 

    to lift us with the natural buoyancy of our bodies. 


Recent events have taught us both the benefits 

  and the dangers of water in our lives. 


Our Water Communion rite reminds us 

  of how the Water of Life binds us together. 


Many other parts of our worship services 

  also bind us together, so 

    every worship service we share 

      includes elements of communion 

        in the various activities of our time together. 


Just to highlight a few of those elements, 

  our music - hymns, preludes, or any special music - 

    draws us together as only music can do. 


Speaking the words of our church covenant 

  is an act of communion 

    in which we commit ourselves 

      to love and service as we seek

        to help one another. 


Readings like stories,  or opening and closing words, 

  become focal points that highlight themes 

    and enable us to share the experience of worship. 


Obviously, our opportunity to greet each other, 

  whether in person or online 

    and our sharing of joys and concerns 

      are times of communion for us 

        as we join together for mutual support. 


We share in our own unique kinds of communion 

  Whenever we worship together, 

    Whether virtually or in person. 


Amen. 


Let it be. 


Blessed be. 



Water Communion Ritual (after sermon)

We gather in community to worship at a corner of our year as a church. This morning we carry love and hope and courageous faith, and seek to renew our covenantal commitments. We remind ourselves of the home we share, a home that we come back to, whether after a long or short absence, a home we welcome all to make their own: a home of love and hope and faith—come, let us gather together within.

And, we gather ritually this morning—carrying gifts of our summer—symbols of the water that we have been present with, and which has been present to us.

These symbols may call to mind light summer showers, thunderstorms, dewy mornings, and misty evenings. Or moments at oceansides, poolsides, riversides, lakesides—swimming, fishing, hiking, strolling—and who we were with while there, even if we were alone. Perhaps we found ourselves in the presence of water during a moment of grief or birth or rebirth. Or, perhaps in a mundane place whose sacredness is palpable nonetheless.

We reflect upon what we brought with us to these moments and places, in backpacks and coolers, surely—but moreso, what spiritual, emotional or other baggage we carried. And what we did with it while we were in these watery places and moments.

Did the water’s unprovoked and indefatigable resiliency inspire you? Or its serenity? Maybe its waxing and waning tides? The music of its motion, or the silence of its sleep?

Did you feel the interdependent web of all existence coming alive in those moments? Some of you may have had the gift of a momentary spiritual epiphany. Others of you a growing awareness of how this very water is like strands of the web, and how the web is us… and everything.

Perhaps the ties to spiritual companions throughout the world come clearer and clearer. Bring to mind the monsoon rains that our UU partners in the Philippines and India know; or the churning ocean that the Uus in Tierra del Fuego know; the rivers and valleys of Transylvania; or Lake Victoria and Lake Tanganyika present to Uus in Kenya, Uganda and Burundi. What brings these companions, like us, to the water? What does the water bring to them, like us?

How glorious. How sacred. How peaceful. Let us rest and rely on that truth in a moment of silence.

 

 

 

Blending Waters

And now, come forward to add the water you have carried with you.

Depending upon your congregation’s tradition, you may invite participants to describe the origin of the water they are bringing. Or, to offer one word the water carries for them. After the waters have been gathered, conclude with the following paragraph.

Ending

May our gathering together this morning be a blessing for one and all. May it inspire us to a year of hope and love and courageous faith. And may we walk that year in the full awareness—as often as possible—of the blessed ties that bind each to all. Amen.

Hymn - #100 - I’ve Got Peace Like a River 

I’ve got peace like a river, 

I’ve got peace like a river, 

I’ve got peace like a river in my soul.

(repeat) 

 

I’ve got joy like a fountain... 

 

I’ve got love like an ocean... 

 

I’ve got pain like an arrow… 

 

I’ve got tears like the raindrops... 

 

I’ve got strength like a mountain... 

 

Congregational Response (time dependent)


Offering Information 


Our Charity of the Month:


Kootenai Environmental Alliance

 

Kootenai Environmental Alliance is the oldest non-profit conservation group in Idaho and one of the oldest in the Northwest. 


We were founded in 1972 by former Idaho State Senators Art Manley and Mary Lou Reed, well-known environmental attorney Scott Reed, and representatives from several local and regional sporting organizations. 


The organization started in response to the extensive environmental damage in the Idaho Panhandle caused by timber and mining interests, land developers, and policies of land managers of the federal government.


We have always held that an informed public is essential to safeguarding our environment. To that end, KEA held public meetings almost every week for 30 years to provide the public an opportunity to hear experts, political candidates, and local officials address local, regional, and national environmental issues. 


Continuing the tradition, we now hold “KEA Happy Hour” meetings at our office at 206 Indiana Ave suite 112 the 1st Thursday of each month at 4 PM, running September through June."


NIUU

P.O. Box 221

CDA ID 83816


Welcoming Guests and Announcements

 


Extinguishing the Chalice/Closing words:  #529 - The Stream of Life


The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day runs through the world and and dances in rhythmic measures. 


It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth in numberless blades of grass and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers. 


It is the same life that is rocked in the ocean-cradle of birth and death, in ebb and flow. 


I feel my limbs are made glorious by the touch of this world of life.  And my pride is from the life-throb of ages dancing in my blood this moment. 


- Rabindranath Tagore


Thursday, July 29, 2021


Prophet, Priest, and King 


The three categories of prophet, priest, and king are ways of understanding religion and politics in ancient Israel and in our own time. 


 

In the delightful poem by Edward Lear, 

  the Owl and the Pussycat sailed away 

    for a year and a day in a beautiful pea green boat. 


It was a year and a day ago 

  that I first presented a sermon 

    on Prophets, Priests, and Kings. 


I offered to continue to speak on the subject, 

  even with just a little encouragement 

    from the congregation. 


I received an overwhelming response. 


A great many people wanted to hear more. 


Today begins my continuation of the subject matter. 


Its relevance continues for us 

  and for people all over the world. 


Many religious leaders would like to be prophets, 

  but few are capable of dealing with the rigors 

    of that sacred trust. 


Many political leaders 

  would like to be kings and queens, 

    but few are worthy of any such consideration. 


There are many priests among religious people, 

  whether they use the term of priest or not, 

    and they function in society 

      as leaders of religious and spiritual functions. 


Some of our priests are ordained 

  as official leaders of religious organizations. 


Many more are simply spiritual servants 

  of other people and of the wider world. 


Priesthood is both a function and an official office. 


Those who serve in both the function and the office 

  are often called, "Reverend," 

    although many of them 

      don't care much for the term. 


Every priest, bishop, pastor, or member of the clergy 

  is deeply aware that she or he is no more worthy 

    of being revered 

      than any other human being. 


This is exactly why I prefer the term, pastor. 


I'll say more about priests and priestesses, 

  and then I'll work my way backwards 

    through kings and queens 

      to prophets and prophetesses 

        before this sermon concludes. 


See? I just told you a little bit about 

  what I'm going to tell you. 


I'm openly using the sermon outline 

  that I spoke about a few weeks ago. 


Priests and Priestesses are often understood 

  primarily as go-betweens. 


Traditionally, they were thought to go between 

  people and God. 


Whether people today believe 

  in God or Goddess or both,    

    priests and priestesses can be understood 

      as going between 

        or bridging the gap 

          between people, each other,  

            and their spirituality. 


Remember that I understand spirituality 

  primarily as a matter of breathing. 


This doesn't mean that spirituality is limited 

  to a study of breath and breathing, 

    but the word "spirit" 

      does basically mean "breath." 


What this says to me 

  is that breath and breathing 

    provide us a paradigm for understanding 

      our relationship with the transcendent reality 

        of our place in the world and the universe. 


We all belong. 


We all have a function. 


Priests and priestesses are here 

  to help us understand

    how to use our unique abilities 

      to make the lives of others better. 


The function of a priest or priestess 

  is to help others understand their own function. 


No one can do this perfectly, of course. 


So a priest or priestess 

  needs their own priest or priestess, 

    their own pastor. 


A pastor is a shepherd. 


A pastor to pastors is a bishop. 


We UU's don't have bishops, 

  but we do have regional executives. 


Our own Pacific Western regional executive 

  recently spoke of the congregations in her care. 


By speaking this way, she described perfectly 

  the function of the bishop, 

    even if she isn't called a bishop. 


A bishop is a pastor to pastors and congregations. 


A reading from the Old Testament 

  a few Sundays ago 

    assigned by the Revised Common Lectionary 

      spoke about the shepherds of Israel. 


The Revised Common Lectionary 

  is a schedule of readings from the Bible 

    used by a number of denominations, 

      from the Roman Catholic Church 

        to the United Church of Christ (UCC), 

          (remember the word, UNITED, there), 

            the Christian denomination 

              most closely related to us UU's. 


Cindy Matthews tells me that one interpretation 

  of the abbreviation, UCC, is 

    Unitarians Considering Christ. 


The shepherds of Israel, as referenced 

  in the RCL reading recently 

    were the kings (and queens) of ancient Israel. 


Many people in Israel today 

  long for a king like the good ones of old. 


Although Netanyahu's name can be interpreted 

  as "gift from the Lord," 

    he has not quite measured up. 


Neither have other national leaders 

  who have aspired to be kings or dictators 

    in modern times. 


If I start talking about would-be kings, 

  I won't have time to say much else. 


So I will simply say that national leaders in our time 

  are far more effective 

    if they turn away from too much power

      and work for the well being of the people 

        entrusted to their care. 


Actual monarchs, such as the king of Spain, 

  the Queen of England, and the Queen of Denmark, 

    have often done better in caring for their people 

      than elected leaders have done 

        in many other places. 


My point in saying this is not to debate

  various systems of choosing leaders of nations

    but to show how leadership itself 

      is meant to be a form of stewardship, 

        providing care for the people 

          rather than a method of self aggrandizement. 


Beginning with our first president, 

  George Washington, 

    the USA has had many such leaders. 


Other leaders have not done so well as shepherds. 


Those who address the problem of leaders 

  who are not shepherds 

    are generally prophets and prophetesses. 


Sometimes an entire system of government 

  is brought down 

    by the testimony of a prophet, 

      at least in part. 


In the former Soviet Union, 

  the witness and testimony of the great prophet, 

    Alexander Solzhenitzyn contributed 

      far more to the fall of that unjust system 

        than most people realize. 


In South Africa Nelson Mandela 

  famously contributed to the fall 

    of the unjust apartheid system of government. 


In the U.S.A., the prophet, Martin Luther King, 

  contributed greatly to the continuing collapse 

    of the complicated and unjust system 

      of racial discrimination known as Jim Crow. 


Although there are today attempts 

  at reinstating portions of the Jim Crow system, 

    I believe that they are doomed to failure, 

      partly because of prophets 

        who are speaking out against those attempts. 


Prophets are not primarily concerned 

  with making predictions. 


One way of describing the function of prophets 

  is to say that they comfort the afflicted 

    and afflict the comfortable. 


In doing so 

  they contribute to the well being of all people. 


Social justice calls on everyone 

  to care for other people, 

    and prophets call on us all to do exactly that. 


So prophets are advocates for social justice. 


In this way a prophet may seem to be political, 

  but there is much more 

    to a prophet’s work than that. 


In every community there are prophets 

  to this very day, 

    and they are constantly calling us 

      to see and to live in the truth, 

        even when the truth is uncomfortable. 


For this very reason 

  prophets are not always popular people. 


Their lives may be at risk 

  from the powers that be 

    and from the people whose wealth and power 

      the prophets may threaten. 


The rest of us can do the work 

  of hearing and heeding the words of the prophets, 

    which are not always, but sometimes, 

      written on the subway walls, 

        as in the "Sounds of Silence" 

          by Simon and Garfunkel. 


At any rate, 

  the words of the prophets 

    are very often in unexpected places. 


The rest of us can look 

  in those unexpected places 

    and share the words of our own prophets 

      as well as others 

        to promote the mindfulness and well being 

          which the prophets themselves 

            are advocating. 


So the prophet, the priest, and the king, 

  as well as the prophetess, 

    the priestess, and the queen 

      are the people in every community 

        providing a view of well being, 

          guidance, and leadership 

            for us all. 


As we participate in their work, 

  we also become part of the well being, 

    the peace (Salaam, Shalom) 

      of our own times and places. 


Amen. 


So let it be. 


Blessed be.