Ironicschmoozer’s Weblog

Pastoral Prayer for UUSS service Sunday, September 8, 2013

On these warm and shining days, it is a blessing to draw the breath of life.   Let us give thanks for this day and for all our gifts.  Sitting near us are fellow seekers on the journey toward wholeness, joy and hope.  We give thanks for this time to be still and reflect with one another.

We come together, in part, for celebration of the joys and achievements of life.  On this opening day of a new year of Religious Education, we give thanks for a committed corps of adult volunteers and for so many full-hearted youth, children, and babies.   Today we say farewell to four homeless families after a week of hospitality here through Family Promise, and give thanks for the generosity of our many volunteers.  At this time, let us call out and give voice to the glad occasions of our own lives and of those people we celebrate.   PAUSE.

On many hearts are those who need healing and care.  We embrace those among us mourning a loss, living through transitions, tending an injury, worrying about jobs or finances, facing an unwelcome diagnosis, wrestling with addiction, or working a recovery program, one day at a time.  We send our love to you.  We send our love to all who are healing from surgery and other treatments, including Mary, convalescing after a broken hip.  Tami, home after surgery.  Ginny, regaining strength after a heart attack.  Jerry, back with us after a long bout of pneumonia while out of the country.  Now let us speak the names of others on our minds.  Whether whispering to ourselves or saying a name aloud, let us bring into the space of our sanctuary those who need our loving wishes. PAUSE.

On this day also we hear of wars and rumors of wars.  So many are living with fear, pain and loss in zones of conflict, including the civil war in Syria.  Wedded to power, the Syrian tyrant kills children and adults without mercy, even with chemical weapons, dealing death and agony to hundreds.  A hodgepodge of rebel forces, understandably outraged, now has grown to include extremists.  They use weapons, fighters and money from terrorists; they bring boys into battle and scar their souls.  We, as caring people, feel helpless.  American leaders debate an American military action, bombing.  Such an action seems to have no clear objective, but has many unforeseen risks.  Many of us may protest against military action, but we must also grieve the bloodshed that continues.  There is no good answer to this dilemma.  Who can say?  There may be no answer at all.  Certainly, no answer can make us pure.

We contemplate this tragedy in humility and in mourning.  Now two million Syrians, having fled the strife of their nation, try to stay alive and sane in refugee camps.  Let our hearts reach toward them.  Let our efforts our nation’s generosity hasten to their aid and their survival.  As we speak for nonviolence, let us pray for mercy.  As we long for mercy, let us act for healing in all the ways we can, wherever we may be.

In all the choices of life, let us act for healing and wholeness, and give thanks for all our gifts.  On these warm and shining days, as we draw the breath of life, let us remember how fragile is the gift of life.  Now let us take a minute of silence, just for the simple gift of being alive, here, together as members of the human family.  Amen.


Service of Remembrance for those lost to anti-gay violence — (chalice lighting words)

Sunday, November 7, 2010, 4:00 PM

Words for Lighting of the Unitarian Universalist Chalice

PFLAG Service of Remembrance for People Lost to Violence

against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Persons

St. John’s Lutheran Church, Sacramento.  See photos here.

Good afternoon.  I serve as one of the ministers of one of several Unitarian Universalist congregations in this region.

Our contributions today include the song we’ll hear from the men’s chorus later on, “Everything Possible.”  It was written by singer Fred Small, many years before he began to study for the ministry and seek ordination as a UU minister.   Now he serves our  congregation at the First Parish of Cambridge, Masschusetts.

Our visual contribution today is this lamp in the form of a chalice, which we use every Sunday morning at the congregation I serve on Sierra Boulevard.  Almost every Unitarian Universalist worship service these days will begin with words of reflection or invocation, and the kindling of our flaming chalice.

For our faith tradition, the symbol of the flaming chalice goes back to the 1940s, to a time of danger and oppression in Europe.  Relief workers of the Unitarian Service Committee assisted many refugees from the Nazi persecutions.

One of those rescued refugees was Hans Deutsch.  After his own escape, he joined the Service Committee.  He designed the symbol of a flaming chalice to be worn by his fellow rescue workers, so they might be easily indentified by those at risk, so they might be recognized as friends by those in flight from violence and persecution.

For this afternoon’s service, I light the chalice in grateful recognition of the compassion and courage which lead human beings to create safe spaces for other human beings.  I light it in thanksgiving for those who offer protection and care to all who suffer from fear and persecution.

Let the flame remind us of the moral duty and the sacred calling to guard the dignity and worth of every member of the human family.  Let it remind us of the blessings of safety, hospitality and healing.

As I light the chalice flame for this interfaith worship service, may we call forth all the good will of humanity.

Let us bring into this sanctuary the world’s longing for love and respect, for tenderness and understanding, for freedom and peace.  So may it be.