East Shore's Collective Soul, Jason McCann

Start Date

Prelude – (Music) – “Reunion”

Change will come
Change is here
Love fades out
Then love appears

Now my water's turned to wine
And these thoughts I have
I now claim as mine
I'm coming home

Change has been 
Change will be 
Time will tell
Then time will ease

Now my curtain has been drawn
And my heart can go
Where my heart does belong
I'm going home

Call To Worship – Jason

Let us recognize that each of us is gathered here today to congregate within these walls. We may gather for different reasons; to feel spiritual, to have a sense of community; to learn and grow; or simply to see who they end up putting up on the pulpit this week. No matter the reason you’re attending this Sunday morning, thank you for doing so. Today’s service is titled “East Shore’s Collective Soul”, and all of the music you will hear today comes from various CD’s released by a band of the same name -“Collective Soul”. It’s the core messages from these songs, our recent church history, and various readings I’ve found that enabled me to put together this service. I hope you enjoy it!

Chalice Lighting – Jason

We light this chalice each and every Sunday as a symbol of our desire to congregate together. To join in unison to teach and learn from one another. When the fire burns strong, the flame will hold steady on the chalice as a symbol of stability. That single image is an icon that is used to represent our faith. When the flame flickers though, it reminds us how fragile we can be, and how influenced we can be by outside forces. This chalice is lit today to serve as a reminder of how fragile we really are, and how our own efforts within this congregation can make us feel like a candle exposed to the elements. But the Chalice and this place represent the shelter it provides that flame so that is can continue to burn brightly.

Opening Hymn – (Music) – “Reach”

Should I thirst for knowledge
Can I beg you for some water
Should I fight your battles
Can I rest upon your shoulders
I hope I'm able to ride out this storm
So come on Gabriel and blow your horn

Reach, Reach out to me
Can't you see I need you to save me
Yeah, Reach, Reach out to me
Can't you see I need you to hold me

Should I beg for mercy
Can I be the one you treasure
Should I question knowledge
Can I have all of your answers
I hope I'm able to find love today
Can I ask you to light my way

Reach, Reach out to me
Can't you see I need you to guide me
Yeah, Reach, Reach out to me
Can't you see I need you to love me

Take me out of these walls
Take me somewhere I can see
Take me away from it all
Please just reach out to me

Joys and Concerns – (Read from the Book) - Jason

Silent Lighting of the Candles – Jason

Not every Joy or Concern is written here or expressed out loud. We offer this time for anyone to light a candle to represent that deep concern or joy that you wish to remain private.

Anthem –(Music) –“ Staring Down”

Loosened from my pride
Oh, that monster, he kept me so tight
I threw my aces down
Just to face the here and the now

So here I go again, I want to please
Yeah, here I go again, sweet I sleep
Sweeter I dream

I've been looking, I've been staring down
I've been searching, I've been staring down
And your love is what I found

As cautious as a thief
Oh, but restless with all of my needs
Now I stand before all I want
And all that I adore

So here I go again, I need to please
Yeah, here I go again, sweet you sleep
Sweeter I dream

I've been looking, I've been staring down
I've been searching, I've been staring down
And your love is what I

Long days, long nights
Just blinded by what was already in sight
Now I've found, I've found my way home
Yeah, I found my way home

I've been looking, I've been staring down
I've been searching, I've been staring down

I've been looking, I've been staring down
I've been searching, I've been staring down
And your love is what I found

Reading 1 – “excerpts from "Engaging Our Theological Diversity"” –Cindy Simerly

The following Reading includes excerpts from a book called "Engaging Our Theological Diversity" written in 2005 by The Commission on Appraisal of the Unitarian Universalist Association.

The following are cited responses from small groups talking about community

"It’s the First Principle in living flesh. It’s the care and respect and compassion that we all have for each other, it’s the support network for all of these people who may not get that hammock of caring and of love that they need, they might not get it at home or at school, and it’s here for them, unconditionally. I think that’s what really makes it work and holds [the district youth community] together." —a youth focus group participant

"I have a vision of the UU movement as interreligious dialogue. As we respectfully share those things of ultimate importance to us we are mutually transformed. This is a model for the rest of the world, a better way to do religion. I believe that we do not need theological unity in our theological diversity." —two adult GA workshop participants

"Unitarian Universalist congregations are often congregations of people who didn’t fit in. And so we create communities that are awkward,because that’s how we know how to be! To me this is where the UUA falls down, and why you have CUUPS and the Buddhists and the Christians and all these little subgroups— because we offer the hope of a spiritual journey, and we offer no tools to do it with. We stay in the head, and we don’t talk to the heart . . . .
[What people need] is touching and tasting and smelling and being, and not just talking about touching and tasting and smelling and being." —two adult focus group participants

"I’m no longer convinced that you can have the omni-inclusive church, you can have the one-size-fits-all church, or even the one-sizefits-all denomination. But I think that’s kind of the cultural common wisdom that goes around the UUA, that is what we’re trying to do. And I think that’s part of the pain of talking about trying to find a center,
because we’re all so terribly worried that we’re going to find a center that excludes somebody." —several adult focus group participants


The conclusions reached by the commission included the following: 

"Each church member brings a different understanding of the UU faith into his or her religious community; each brings a different hope for how to experience religious and spiritual life. One theology cannot fit every kind of Unitarian Universalist today. Within the UU religious movement, which embraces a spirit of questioning and daring, permeates a strong and steady fear of “the other.” It is not easy to have that which we hold dear threatened by “the other” either. Paul Rasor, director of the Social Witness Program at the Quaker study center Pendle Hill, asserts,
Liberals want to create a strong and inclusive community but we often want to do it without giving up anything, without letting down the barrierswe erect around ourselves in the name of individual autonomy."

"How should UUs build a strong foundation of community? We build it brick by brick, step by step, with all of the sensitivity that we can muster. We build it knowing that we will make mistakes along the way. We also build it knowing that it will not be perfect. Embracing community is a choice, an offering of heart and mind. Part of community is belonging to a group of people who strive to promote and sustain a healthy part of the individual and collective self. In community,we are offered opportunities to learn who we are; to recognize the permeable ways in which leadership is transmitted; and to be grateful for each other, for those on whose shoulders we stand, and for those who will in turn stand on our shoulders."

Offertory Words – Jason

The time has come to express our happiness with our church. The offering allows each of us to share the burden of holding up these walls, and allowing our leaders to help facilitate the day to day church operations. Mostly, the offering allows you the chance to replace me with someone much more qualified on a regular basis.

Offertory Music – (Music) –“Giving”

Giving me cause so I may yearn 
Giving me words so I may learn 
I want more I want more 
Giving me thoughts that I may keep 
Giving me dreams so I may sleep 
I want more I want more 
Still all I need is love 
So give me more 

Giving me calm to fall into 
Giving me hope to guide me thru 
I want more I want more 
Giving me light to see thru tears 
Giving me strength to crush my fears 
I want more I want more 
Still all I need is love 
So give me more 

I won't break you down 
I won't bring you down anymore 

Giving me choice so I may seek 
Giving me faith so I'll believe 
I want more I want more 
Giving me breath of your mercy 
Giving yourself to comfort me 
I want more I want more 
Still all I need is love 
So give me more

Reading 2 – "Give Yourself" by Ralph Waldo Emerson – Brian Beck

"What do you want for your birthday?" the father asked his daughter. "Do you want a doll?"
She wrinkled her nose and scrunched her eyes and thought. "No."

"A tea set?"

"A pony?"

"No, Father, I have a year to think. I want this year to be a special year, to remember."

"All right. You think and let me know."

Ellen thought. She thought of bonbons, chocolate, new dresses, hats, kid boots, books, gloves, lace collars, but none of these were what she wanted. What would be special?

Each day her father asked her, "Ellen, do you know what you want for your birthday yet?"

And Ellen would shake her head, "No, Father, I’m still thinking."

After four days her father said, "Ellen?"

"Yes, Father, I’ve decided."

"Well?"

"I have a riddle. It will tell you what gift I want for my birthday. The riddle is this: You cannot buy it, for it is worth all the money you have, but onlyyou can give it."

"I need to repeat this riddle because it will tell me what gift you want for your birthday—I cannot buy it, because it is worth all the money I have, but only I can give it. Is that right?"

"Yes, Father."

"Well, now it is my turn to think about your riddle. I have to find the perfect present in the mystery."

Her father paced and pondered. He repeated the riddle over and over. "I cannot buy it, but only I can give it." He paced and pondered. Finally, he smiled, "I know what it is! I know what it is!" Now he had to think about how to give it.

When Ellen’s birthday came there was no present from her father. She didn’t expect one. After she had opened the presents from her brother and sister, from her mother and grandmother, and after the cake was all gone and the celebration over, Ellen’s father said, "It is now time for Ellen’s present from me. Ellen, come and sit with me."

So Ellen climbed into the armchair and sat on her father’s lap. "My present to you is very special. I hope it is what you wanted—for it is not a book, or a toy, or clothes, but instead it is a present that is for all seasons and for each day. This year your birthday present from me is that we will spend time together every week, just the two of us. For you are my very special daughter and I love you dearly."
Ellen hugged him. "Oh, Father, I knew you would figure out the riddle."

Her father said, "You cannot buy it, for it is worth all the money you have, but only you can give it. It took me a long time to figure out the answer, but when I did I knew what gift you wanted. The answer was simple—give yourself."

"Oh, Father, I wanted a gift to make this year special. Time together with you will make this year the very best year of my life!"

Ellen looked at her father’s eyes. "Why Father, you are crying!"

"Yes. You teach me more than any book I’ve ever read or written. By giving you time, I will gain more than I give."

It was Ellen’s turn to figure out this riddle. How could her father, by spending time with her, get more than he gave? She thought she knew, love multiplies. But perhaps she would only understand when she was older, when she had children of her own.

But her father understood. And when he wrote an essay on Giving, he wrote "Give yourself." For he knew the wonder of this gift. 

Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Copyright: The author has given Unitarian Universalist Association member congregations permission to reprint this piece for use in public worship. Any reprints must acknowledge the name of the author.

Meditation – Jason

Normally we would have a Silent Meditation at this point. But today, while the instrumental plays, I ask that you close your eyes, take a few deep breathes and enjoy the peace and relaxation of the music and those around you. Snoring is strictly prohibited.

Meditation Music – (Music) – Pretty Donna

This Instrumental was performed by the lead singer of the band by recording each instrument individually and then overlaying them into one recording.

Sermon – Jason

About 2 months ago, I was driving home from East Shore after attending an adult RE class called “Spirit in Practice” and listening to some Collective Soul. At first, I wasn’t paying attention to the music so much, as I had heard the songs many times before. Instead my mind was wandering and I was thinking about East Shore and all the things that had transpired within the church in recent months. I wasn’t focused on the negative so much as I thinking about what the future might hold.

Let me back up a little. As some of you know from the “This I believe” statement that Robin and I gave a few months ago, Robin and I found East Shore when we were searching for a minister for our wedding. After our first visit, we knew Nicole would be great for our ceremony, but we had a few concerns with regards to the church itself. The ongoing joke was that the people were way too friendly and conversational. We weren’t sure if East Shore was just a cool church with friendly people or if we might be getting ourselves involved in cult. Our backgrounds had come from very different church’s, and although neither of us felt particularly strong about them, we knew that this place was different. We just weren’t sure if that was good or bad. But, we stuck it out for a few more Sundays and quickly realized it was indeed a good thing. That or we had drank enough of the coffee to be properly brain washed. 

After Robin was pregnant with our first daughter, we lost touch with East Shore and were focused on child rearing and career building. But two children, and about 5 years or so later, we came back in full force. We attended regularly, had the kids in RE, and shortly thereafter became full members of East Shore. We even started volunteering for a few things here and there. Yep, things were as they should be. 

Now fast forward through the events of last fall and winter and into the early spring. I’m sitting in my car thinking about the future of East Shore and what I hoped it would be like. Part of me was thinking maybe it was time for a break. I mean, it looks like there is rough road ahead, and who knows, maybe in 2, 3 or even 5 years we can come back when things are better, and all will be good again. It was then the track changed on the CD player and the song “Reach” came on. For the first time I heard the lyrics in a whole new perspective. Previously, I felt like the singer was drifting through life, looking for help. A man who was lost, and really needed someone to point the way back to good. 

However, as the lyrics were sung this time, I identified with the song from a different angle. What if the “Man” in this song was East Shore? What if the church was asking me for guidance? Can a church do that? Can a church need? Can it long for meaning? After all, it’s just a building right? No, it’s more than a building. I wouldn’t be a member of a place just because I liked the building. What is it then? What is East Shore? You would think it would take a long time to answer a question like that. But for me, the answer came quickly and with a profound “AHA!” moment. 

East Shore is the collective soul of it’s congregation. East Shore Unitarian Universalist Church is singular, not a plural. It is not East Shore Unitarian Universalist Churches. It is one solid unit. And as one solid unit, it can only be the sum of the parts that make it whole. Those parts are not just the people who are members, but also those who simply attend, interact, and support it. It includes the music, sermons, volunteer and social justice efforts. And lastly it includes the actions of all those individuals and the effects of those actions. If we look internally at ourselves as individuals, each of us can see the parts that make us great, and the parts we aren’t so proud of. I think this is where the phrase “search your soul” comes from.

My “AHA” moment. East Shore is a collective soul. This seemed simple to me now, but I had never realized it before. Were there others that hadn’t thought about this? I started thinking about a way to share this knowledge, and the idea hit me that maybe a service dedicated to talking about it would be a good way to get the message out. And like anything here at East Shore, when you volunteer to do something, NO ONE is going to hold you back! So here I am. 

That’s enough right? I imparted great wisdom today……right? I mean, sure maybe some of you had thought of this already. I mean, It is simple enough to come up with. Sure it might be worded differently for some. East Shore is a family, made up of its members, etc. 

But It is not enough is it? It isn’t enough to simply realize that you and your actions are a part of something bigger. The real key is what you do with that information. That is what not only defines us individually, but will define us as a congregation. 

The first Reading today was from a very interesting report that focused on Theological Diversity, but the excerpts were chosen because they dealt specifically with what makes us great as UU’s. But also recognizes the things that can sometimes make it so challenging at the same time. The model can seem broken sometimes can’t it? Think about the idea of getting a bunch of people with all types of theological beliefs, sexual orientations, racial backgrounds, etc, and then ask them to gather together regularly, and discuss, profess and celebrate their differences, and then at the end of the day, be ok with being different. But somehow, it works right? Somehow, we still come here, and every week we join hands and we say those words…”Not to think alike, but to walk together” The first time I heard those words I thought they were the most interesting and odd thing I had ever heard. Today, It is the moment in the service each week that really makes me proud to be a UU. 

The second reading is about giving the gift of love. It is the most precious gift you can give someone isn’t it? I am glad some of you are nodding. Lucky for me, Robin was one of them. Hopefully I haven’t lost the rest of you already! This church, all of us, we need the feeling of love. And when we recognize just how special that love is and how truly easy it can be share sometimes, it seems silly when chose not to.

I printed out the lyrics to the songs I chose for a few reasons. The first of which is that I am willing to bet that most of you have never heard of Collective Soul and those of you that have heard them on the radio have probably not heard most of these songs. And given the nature of some of the songs, it is not always easy to hear exactly what the singer is saying. Another reason to have them in front of you is so you can read along and see if there is impact in the words like there was for me. 

The first song you heard today was Reunion. In regards to East Shore, the song is about acceptance and coming back to where we belong. We accept that our feelings are not always as strong for our church. We accept that change is everlasting. But we also accept that sometimes we need this place….these people. We accept that we will be accepted when we walk through the doors.

The Opening hymn was titled Reach. I know I talked about this song already, but I want to touch on it from both perspectives. From one side, you have someone trying to figure out his or her place. What is expected of me? What is my role? But viewing it as the Church itself, what are your expectations of East Shore and how realistic are those expectations depending on your involvement? It makes you think about the balance between what we as individuals expect the church to provide and what the church expects us as individuals to provide. 

The Anthem “Staring Down” is a newer song from the band. And in case you haven’t figured it out by now, I am going through these songs one by one, so get comfy! This song has a personal meaning to me. To coin a Poker term it’s about going “all in”. Ok, who had the over under on 11:15 as the time I’d reference poker up here today? Seriously though, I realized what I wanted in life, and what I wanted from East Shore. Robin and I sat down and talked about it. We realized that East Shore was more important to us than maybe we had realized. We knew that it was capable of fulfilling a need for us both. But it was a second realization that it would mean greater commitment that was more important. And we chose to give in to that fully. 

The offertory song was titled “Giving”, and I think that pretty much sums that one up, moving along! “Giving” is an interesting title for this song. It should be called “Taking” in my opinion. We have all felt this way before right? Who else gets uncomfortable when that basket starts getting passed around? Especially if you don’t put anything in it and then have to pass it to someone else right? When the stewardship committee starts making announcements that it is that time of year again, even I squirm a little. It’s that voice in the back of your mind saying “C’mon, how many times are you going to ask me for money?” Think about it this way for second though? Could this church say the same thing about us if it has a voice? “How many times are you going to ask for events to attend?” “Why do I have to do RE every Sunday for these kids?” “How can I keep up with putting someone at the pulpit?” “Especially one who doesn’t give me such a silly voice?” We expect a lot from this place right? We have to make sure the relationship is give AND take.

I’m not going to comment on the Instrumental too much other than say that it is not often a rock band puts something like that smack dab in the middle of their first Rock CD. 

In a moment you’re going to hear “In a moment”. This song is about that turn around moment. That moment when you can let go of past transgressions, when your wounds are healed, and BAM, the next great thing happens. That’s now for me. This is my moment. I felt emotions just like all of you last fall and winter. But I also watched people from every corner of this church work together. I watched people pour out their hearts and feelings and put everything on the table for all others to examine. Then I watched us start to support each other. I observed this church start to define itself by asking each of it’s congregation their opinion on deep questions like our core values. I was fortunate to be a part of a great group of people on the Ministerial Search committee. There I learned that 5 people, from 5 different backgrounds, both sexes, born decades apart, and who had different and varying opinions on our last minister’s departure, could sit down and talk and discuss, and challenge each other and then make a unanimous decision on a wonderful candidate. I saw how this church was in need of help on this Sunday at the pulpit, but also had the confidence in one of it’s own members to provide you with what I hope has been something to think about. And I realize, this is the moment for me. I hope your moment has already occurred or is just around the corner. 

The last song you will here, “Collection of Goods”, is about working together to shed the negative, build the positive, and do it in a collective effort, as one soul. It also signifies that the service is over and you no longer have to listen to me up here! 

My message here is this. Find what makes you love this church and celebrate it. Spread that feeling across the rest of us. Find what makes you angry or sad about this church and do what needs to be done to help change it. Remember that it is not just you that makes up a part of this church, but your actions and efforts as well. We are all UUs, which means we are too stubborn to give up or walk out forever, so we are stuck here together. Let’s make the best of it going forward and show each other what it means to be a part of East Shore.

Lastly, I’d like to touch on today’s announcement. I have every confidence that Judy will be a great Minister here at East Shore. The timing was right on this for both her and East Shore, and given the situation we were in with having to hire a part time minister, we really lucked out. And just like I know she will be great and welcome all of us into her life, I know that each of you will welcome her here as well. After all, she is a part of our Collective Soul.

Closing Hymn – (Music) – “In A Moment”

The walls came up as the thoughts went down
To the hush of disparity
Sure we know the problem lies
With some insecurities
But we'll never see eye to eye
As long as our tongues are tied
And we'll never be seen as one
Until we find love

In a moment it could happen
We could wake up and be laughing
In a moment it could happen
We could forgive and be happy

It's a shame our world responds to life 
As a puzzle in disguise
I wish our course would lead us towards
The peace and loving kind
But we'll never walk hand in hand 
Until we let old wounds mend
And we'll never sing songs as one
Until we find love

In a moment some wisdom could be learned
In a moment new voices could be heard
In a moment we could make heads turn
In a moment we could change

Bond of Union – ALL

We join hands in Unitarian Universalist fellowship, pledging ourselves to an individual religious freedom, which transcends all creeds, not to think alike, but to walk together.

Benediction – Jason

Our time together is finished, but our work is not yet done. May our spirits be renewed and our purpose resolved as we meet the challenges of the week to come. The chalice flame is extinguished
until once again ignited by the strength of our communion. Go now in peace.

Postlude – (Music) – “Collection of Goods”

Resonate tones of saving grace
Separate from the gods of hate
Alleviate all our doubting ways
Congregate to more loving days

A collection of peace where we could live
A collection of hope for us to give
A collection of words that mean we care
A collection of love for us to share

Recognize all equality
Vocalize solidarity
Exercise your tranquility
Glamourize all of love's need

In memory of Art Severance – Shalom, and in memory of Nicole Kirk – Blessed Be

Event type
Worship Service