Published by FirstUUAdmin on

A Blessing of the Backpacks and Masks, Water Communion, and Homecoming Special Service
by AJ Fox, Director of Religious Education

Our August 23, 2020 message begins with a Sufi Parable read by Babs Garcia.

By Molly Housh Gordon

We gather together this morning
tenderly—like drops of dew on a leaf of grass
hopefully—like gathered raindrops in a cloud
gleefully—like water rushing in a stream to the sea
deeply—like groundwater pulled up from a well

We gather from every direction,
for another year of growth and depth,
another year of companionship and hope,
another year of learning to love this world.

We gather like the water that joins us across all of creation,
the water that connects us within and without:
merging and flowing across the entire world.

Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring

by J.S. Bach
Public Domain Work
Performed by Eva Riebold

This piece has nothing specifically to do with water for Water Communion Sunday, but it was one of the first pieces of classical music I started to recognize and love as a very young child. The flowing, almost trickling melody has always captured my imagination with imagery of flowing water and left my spirit feeling refreshed. I hope you enjoy Eva’s lovely performance of this piece and that it accomplishes the same gentle soothing for you, too.

Also of note: I wanted very much to play this on flute for a service at Easter or Christmas in the more restrictive religious tradition I grew up in and was told it was forbidden because it didn’t come from their hymnal, so it’s particularly gratifying to have a place where we can use any music that touches us to support our time together in spiritual growth.

– Emily, Music Director

I’ve Got Peace Like a River

Words and Music: Marvin V. Frey
Used with Permission
Performed by The First UU Virtual Choir, accompanied by Eva Riebold

From UU Minister Kimberly Debus, “I am always surprised when a simple song like this suddenly gets to something deep. Because emotionally, this song reflects what I suspect many of us long for these days – moving, active, forceful peace, joy, love – to help us through the pain and tears – to help give us towering strength. There are a lot of hard days ahead, and we need peace, not like a stagnant pond but like a moving, thriving, ever-changing river.”

She didn’t write those words for our current time, but she very well could have. This quote really gets to the heart of what we need from our church community and from our shared music-making these days. There is a hole in my heart this year that water communion does not also kick off the first in-person choir performance. As I was editing the sound files together to make a virtual choir, I closed my eyes and “conducted” the choir playing with tears streaming down my face and just drank in these beautiful words. I hope you find what you need in this musical offering of shared, symbolic water.

– Emily, Music Director

Meditation on Loving Kindness

Words and Music by Emily McKinney
Performed by the First UU Virtual Choir

The words to this simple choral blessing may sound familiar. They are almost identical to the words of the metta loving kindness meditation that Rev. Michelle shared with us last week. I had actually already written this song by that time, and I was excited to see that she and I were on the same page. The words are not my own – they come from one of my favorite loving kindness meditations. I couldn’t think of any better words to offer to this congregation as we collectively prepare for whatever this coming fall will mean for each of us. I’m looking forward to the day when the choir can look each other and all of us in the eye as we share these heartfelt words and simple, interwoven harmonies. Until then, may you be safe, healthy, happy, and live with ease.

– Emily, Music Director

Go Now in Light

written and performed by Emily McKinney

Description: Sometime last year, we started having a family Wednesday night service and AJ asked me if I could help with finding or writing short, engaging, UU-centered music that wouldn’t get us in any trouble with copyright laws if we shared it online after the fact for families who couldn’t attend live.

I’m so glad they asked me to do this, because I really loved writing this music for our congregation to use. It tapped into why I felt called into music ministry to begin with in an entirely different way than I had experienced before. If you hadn’t caught it, the roots and wings referenced in this song are a nod to Spirit of Life, the first song to anchor me to a UU identity.

Little did I know when I wrote this how much we (all UU congregations) were going to need short, UU, copyright-free music just a few months down the road. It felt really good to be able to offer my short worship songs to all the other UU music ministers that were thrown into the same lurch when we went online. I feel more connected to all of you when I see you singing along with the words I wrote as a gift for this community. No matter where you find yourself going this fall — back to school, back to work, back home with family, back to bed, back to the fridge (again), or just back to the other room — wherever you go, “go now in light, in love, in song.”

– Emily, Music Director

Categories: Sermon