Love. Revere. Discover. Connect.

September 2, 2018: “The Inherentness of Worth and Dignity”

(With guest musician Sherry Niederkorn)

Call to Worship Rev Denis Letourneau Paul

This morning’s service won’t look or feel the way it does most Sunday mornings. You can tell that already by the arrangement of the seating.

This morning we worship – we give shape to that which has meaning in our lives – by sharing our thoughts with one another. Because thought, reason, and sharing knowledge and experience, are some of the things that give our lives the most meaning.

When we’ve done this in the past, we’ve changed seats between questions, seeking a breadth of opinions and multiple connections. But today, we’re seeking depth in conversations with one another, staying throughout our time together in the same group. I invite you to dig deep with your group, deep into the core of the questions.

This morning, we worship deeply, bravely, as we Love, Revere, Discover, Connect.

Chalice Lighting Rickie Beck
We come bound by the threads of a dream
Of all walking together side by side,
none of us above or below
Less or more or forgotten.
A dream that more is possible
even more than we have yet imagined.
A dream of kindness and connection
that softens and turns us toward each other with tenderness.
A dream of courage and commitment
that will enable us to stay the course
and admit where we have gone astray.
May this vision comfort and challenge.
May it weave us together and never let us go
until the dream is made real.

First Discussion Question:
We have a vision of ourselves. We have a vision of UU as a place that welcomes all, welcomes everyone who wants to come in and join us. We have a vision of ourselves as seeing the invisible, the poor, the abused, in a world that finds it easier to just walk right past them. We have a vision of ourselves as comforting the afflicted, fighting for justice, and giving voice to those who have been silenced.
You’ve probably learned something, right here in this congregation or out in the world, from someone who surprised you, someone you may not have otherwise thought capable of teaching you.

Perhaps it was someone less educated than you, or someone of a completely different socio-economic status or political party. It was probably a profoundly humbling moment, to realize that you knew less than you thought you knew. Or, exciting and expanding.
So the first question is:
Who has surprised you by serving as your teacher in a life lesson?

Second Discussion Question:
Fredrick Douglass wrote: “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did, and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”

When we allow bad behavior of bullies to continue, to the detriment of the community, we allow the perpetrators to become tyrants we submit to.

But sometimes, in our hope to uphold the worth and dignity of every person, we UUs allow all kinds of atrociaous behaviors, behaviors that others might not tolerate.
A family member’s verbal abuse is tolerated as long as it’s only verbal and not physical; A fellow congregant is so stuck on an idea that nobody else is buying into that it derails all discussion and forward momentum; or someone who has committed a crime so horrible that that you can’t see the humanity in their actions.

Has the behavior of another person ever put you, your family, or an institution you love at risk? How have you protected yourself, and still upheld that person’s dignity?

Third Question
Viola Abbitt wrote “We are Unitarian
Universalists. When we lift up our Seven
Principles, some of us think of them as a
form of theology —but they are more
important to our collective than that:
they do not tell us what we should believe;
they tell us how we should be.
They tell us how we should act in the
larger world and with each other.” …

She wrote these words as UUs of many races and colors gathered to envision our association as a multicultural one, more representative of the broad diversity of our contry as a whole. She continued…

“It has been a long, and sometimes unforgiving road to today. But we are here today because we are mindful of that past, and because we have hope for the future. We want the practice of this faith to be a fulfilling manifestation of its promise. Open your hearts. Seek new ways of understanding.”

Based on what you’ve shared so far this morning, how do you think our First Principle, our commitment to affirm and promote the worth and dignity of every person, can help us be more inclusive?

I’m looking for tangible ideas, for each of you personally, and for our association.

How do you think our first principle can help us be more inclusive?

By Dori J. Somers
We, all of us, build houses for our dreams..The masonry and lumber, glass and tiles,A solid form, wherein we see our hopes,A shelter and protection for our growth. This house shall be a dwelling placeFor courage, for integrity, for loveEngendered, nourished by a familyThat speaks of “we” and means all humankind. These walls shall represent the privacyAnd dignity of individuals,The open doors, a welcome to all people,All ages, and all generations. The windows shall keep light of inquiryIllumining from outside and within.May all words spoken here be born of loveAnd energy rekindle in the heartsOf those who dreamed this house–         who plied the toolsAnd paid the price to actualize the dream. May dreaming never cease for those withinWho know the world to be a troubled place,But dare to struggle with imperfectnessToward that brighter hope, that better day. Let memories add warmth…a heritage,A quilted patchwork stitched with historyOf kindliness, of daring for the good,Of funny moments, jokes and smiles and tears. This is a precious place, as every homeThat shelters those who love and strive and share.Its blessing is in lives that meet within… In living, learning, caring, sheltered here.