Imagine Beloved Community

Published by FirstUUAdmin on

by Michael Rodrigues Jr, Mike Brown, Monica McNeal, and Susanne Bounds

Our Chalice Lighting words are from Fulgence Ndagijamana in Lifting Our Voices: Readings in the Living Tradition:

When strangers meet, endless possibilities emerge…
Each is called to serve something larger than the self.
Today, this morning, let’s light the chalice:
for opennesses
for willingness to grow,
for rich curiosity,
and for common purpose.

Come, Come, Whoever You Are
Words adapted from Rumi
Music by Lynn Adair Ungar
Used with Permission
Performed by the First UU Virtual Choir

This hymn has become a touchstone for me with this community, and I know that’s true for many of us, as well. It always connects me back to the roots I have grown with this congregation and makes me want to come through the doors, physical or virtual. I’m grateful for each choir member who lent their voice to this effort, and eager to “come, yet again, come,” to the upcoming service to Imagine Beloved Community with our members and friends.

– Emily McKinney, Music Director

Our World is One World
Words and Music: Cecily Taylor, arr. Richard Graves
Used with Permission
Accompanied by Eva Riebold

If the global events of the past 12 months have done anything for us, it is to show us how we are deeply, inextricably connected in beautiful and terrifying ways. Our shared systems, processes, culture, and norms affect each one of us. So, too, does each individual choice to step outside of our established systems and norms. Whether one professional athlete and activist like Colin Kaepernick breaks our norms by taking a knee during the national anthem to protest racial injustice, or one infectious individual refuses to wear a mask around others – we are beautifully and tragically bound up together, for better and worse. This pandemic has highlighted for us that while our world is one world, the blessings and burdens of living in it together are not equally distributed. I can’t think of a more appropriate hymn for us to sing together as we continue to imagine beloved community.

– Emily McKinney, Music Director

Building Bridges
Words: The Women of Greenham Common peace occupation in England, 1983
Music: Contemporary English Quaker Round
Used with Permission
Performed by the Virtual UU Choir

To me, this song is a beautiful description of what a beloved community can be. It takes all of us being willing to reach out to one another, and to receive it when someone reaches out to us, to ever have any hope of building bridges between our divisions. Division feels like the word of the moment in America. Our communities, and often even our families, are deeply divided over issues of human rights and public health, just to name a few. It’s not easy, but I believe as UUs, we are doing the work together in this community to be equipped to be bridge-builders out there. We can start here inside our own ranks with choosing love and humility and to listen and learn and change when we are asked to widen our welcome in some way. I’m excited to hear from our speakers this Sunday about what they imagine in a beloved community.

Here’s a nice write up on this lovely round from our hymnal, as well:

– Emily McKinney, Music Director

A New World
Words and Music by LEA
Performed by LEA

Susanne Bounds is one of our speakers this service and she suggested that this wonderful performance from virtual guest musician, LEA, would support the message well. I’m looking forward to experiencing the message and this music with you on Sunday morning. LEA has graciously provided so many hymns from our hymnal as recordings for our free use, and asks for only a small donation when we use her original songs in a service, like this one. You can read her bio and learn more about her here:

– Emily McKinney, Music Director

Our closing words are the proposed eighth principle of the Unitarian Universalist Association:

We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant to affirm and promote: journeying toward spiritual wholeness by working to build a diverse multicultural Beloved Community by our actions that accountably dismantle racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions.

Categories: Sermon