The Politics of Compassion

Published by FirstUUAdmin on

by Rev Michelle Scott-Huffman

Connecting both the second and fifth of the Unitarian Universalist Principles.

2nd Principle: Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
5th Principle: The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;

Our opening words this morning are “Tired” by Irene Sipos

Sitting across the aisle
on the B train
I look at the row of weary faces

various shapes, sizes, colors, ages,
a horizontal explication of what it means
to have woken many mornings

to brave routine, to leave concerns at home
along with scattered laundry and unwashed
dishes to head for same/same at work.

I picture each of you, one at a time. I try to
observe without you knowing and suddenly I
see round, soft faces, no creases in foreheads,

no wrinkles like parentheses around eyes, no down-
turned mouths, no slumped shoulders. I see the plump
babies you once were. And with that, a rush of hoping

that you were affectionately held on generous laps, that
you were sung tender songs, that you were offered
a bowl of blueberries as initiation to the messy pleasures

of this world. I hope that occasionally you reach back,
even if only briefly to recall your beginning self as a
visitor new to the planet, unencumbered and dear.

Piano Concerto No. 5 in F Minor, Largo

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

One of the great acts of compassion Eva has done for me and all of this month is to keep us supplied in beautiful instrumental preludes to use in our services. This beautiful Largo movement is gentle and warm and sounds like compassion embodied to me.

This movement is so well-loved that Bach used the themes in several other instrumental solos. It was originally published as a small, chamber music setting for solo harpsichord and strings, but music historians believe Bach likely also wrote versions for solo oboe and solo violin, and he has used this melody underneath some of his cantata settings of sacred music.

– Emily, Music Director

Building Bridges

Words: The Women of the Greenham Common peace occupation in England, 1983
Music: Contemporary English Quaker Round
Used with permission
performed by Emily McKinney

This was one of the first tracks following our entry into doing worship “COVID-style” where I experimented with layering multiple tracks together for the illusion of more musicians. I’m grateful for the technology that’s letting our church musicians collaborate and participate together these days.

We used this song most recently for the theme of Possibility, but I suspect it will take on new meaning as we hear it again next to Rev. Michelle’s message about the Politics of Compassion. We desperately need the ability to reach out to one another and build bridges of compassion across the deep chasms and divides in our country’s shared political life.

– Emily, Music Director

We Are A People of Compassion

Words: Members and Friends of First UU Church of Springfield, MO
Music: Emily McKinney
Performed by Emily McKinney

My sincere gratitude for all who sent me a few words about what Compassion is to you. This was a deeply meaningful way for me to engage with our theme this month. The spiritual growth I experience from being in community with all of you is what keeps me coming back!

What you’re hearing on this track is my chime drum and guitar, with a cedar flute on the repeat of the vocal section the second time through. My chime drum is really a “compassion-centric” instrument for me because it’s cut with a scale that has no “wrong notes” on it, and I often bring this to the bedside when one of my hospice patients is in the dying process and their family doesn’t know what to do with themselves or their hands. This instrument offers them a way to make beautiful music for their loved ones without any musical training. My cedar flute was acquired when I was completing my internship and I have used this instrument many times at bedsides to “breathe” with people who are having some respiratory or emotional discomfort and musically journey alongside them and guide them into a more stable way of breathing and being. These instruments, used with my guitar to create a “heartbeat” loop under the words submitted by our own people, seemed like a natural way to accompany these words of Compassion.

– Emily, Music Director

If You’re Taught You Learn to Be Mean

by Sky Smeed
Used with Permission
Performed by Karla Gilmore, accompanied by Emily McKinney

I’m so excited to share this song with everyone. Karla reached out to me last month and mentioned that she had been in contact with contemporary singer-songwriter Sky Smeed and had obtained his permission to record and sing this song in an upcoming Sunday Service. I slotted it in toward the end of August to give myself a little time to learn a guitar part and do the necessary audio-editing and the timing really just worked out perfectly to have this particular song accompany Rev. Michelle’s message this week. A big thanks to Rebecca for figuring out all the chords and sharing the chord sheet with me and Karla, and we are always so grateful to have Karla sing for us.

Karla shares with us that Sky uploaded this song to YouTube in 2018 but that it still feels VERY relevant today, only two and a half years later. Sky Smeed is from Kansas and currently lives in Lawrence and has frequented some of our local music haunts, such as the Shoe Tree Listening Room and Linderg’s here in Springfield, as well as a house concert in Buffalo, MO. Maybe once we get COVID under control, someday, we could invite Sky to share a few more songs with us in person. Here’s a link to his original recording of this one:

– Emily, Music Director

Our closing words are both reminder and sending forth, from Rev. Dr. William F. Schulz.

This is the mission of our faith:
To teach the fragile art of hospitality;
To revere both the critical mind and the generous heart;
To prove that diversity need not mean divisiveness;
And to witness to all that we must hold the whole world in our hands.

Categories: Sermon