Committed to Change

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Our opening words are  “Many Paths” by Martha Kirby Capo.

As we enter this sacred, silent space,
Let us renew both our commitment and our covenant:
There are those among us who have endured a loss in the past week;
May their hope be uplifted again in this community of faith.
There are those among us who have struggled with hardship in the past week;
May they find renewed strength in this community of faith.
There are those among us who have wrestled with questions that seem to have no answer in the past week;
May they find sanctuary during their search in this community of faith.
There are those among us who have cherished an unexpected joy in the past week;
May their rejoicing be celebrated in this community of faith.
As we commit to continue our free and responsible search for Truth, may we covenant to honor the many paths that have led us to this community of faith.
So may it be.

Be Thou My Vision
Traditional Irish melody
Public Domain
Performed by Eva Riebold

Our Prelude, Be Thou My Vision, feels like commitment to me. Although the words in our hymnal are traditional Christian and sound like dedicating one’s commitment to a higher power (Thou), in my mind that “vision”, that “wisdom”, that “thought”, that “presence”, “light”, and shelter” are just components of our own inner perspective and processes. And the melody is traditional ancient Irish and that draws on perhaps a Celtic tradition as well. So, this hymn “feels” right for me. Perhaps, it does for you as well.

– Eva Riebold, Pianist

Eli, Eli
Words: Hannah Szenes
Music: David Zehavi
Public Domain Work
Arranged and Performed by Persephone Hamburg

This song was suggested in our Soul Matters worship planning packets for this month, so you can imagine my joy and delight to remember that Persephone had been willing to record it for use back in December. She was willing to let us share this again and I am so glad. I was not the only person moved to tears when she sang it for us. Here’s what she wrote for us about this song in December:

“I was thinking I could sing a song I learned in my own religious school that is sung in Hebrew. It’s a beautiful song and here is the (more gender inclusive and conducive to poetry in English) translation:

Oh God, my God
I pray that these things never end:
The sand and the sea

The rush of the water
The crash of the heavens

The prayer of the heart.

(Eli, Eli,
Shelo yigamer le’olam:
Hachol vehayam,

Rishrush shel hamayim,
Berak hashamayim,

Tefilat ha’adam.)

I would love to sing it for everyone!”

(We’d love for Persephone to sing it for everyone, too!) Here’s a link to a very brief background on the song:

Le Sommeil de l’Enfant
Teresa Carreno (1853-1917)
Public Domain
Performed by Eva Riebold

From Le Sommeil de l’Enfant, Op.35
The Sleep of a Child
Women’s History Month

The Interlude, Le Sommeil de l’Enfant, Opus 35 (The Sleep of a Child), which I took a portion of, is by Teresa Carreno (1853-1917). This piece, along with a couple others to be performed by Colleen Appel and Rebecca Holt, was being prepared a year ago, in March, for Women’s History Month almost to the day when we had to close the doors to the sanctuary.

So, we are recognizing some early women composers of classical music, women who struggled to be able to live and perform as musicians. Teresa Carreno was born into the aristocracy of Venezuela, moved with her family to New York and suffered much tragedy in her life. She played for Abraham Lincoln when she was ten years old and at sixteen, she played for Queen Victoria. Her first husband kidnapped her baby legally and then more difficulties with a second husband. Later in her life she played for Edvard Grieg, taught piano and performed. Her last performance was with the New York Philharmonic. I imagine her composing this lullaby with thoughts for her lost child.

– Eva Riebold, Pianist

UU Doxology (Week 1)
Words: John Andrew Storey
Music: Lewis E. Whikehart
Used with Permission
Performed by the First UU Virtual Choir

We are taking our own little twist on the idea of Commitment this month by committing to using a single postlude for the entire month as our own small spiritual practice. This postlude serves to help us orient to the real “why” of this community, which is not just for us to have a nice way to spend our Sunday mornings, but to help us be a people that goes out into our community and does the work, gives the service, and shows the love that makes our entire world more just, beautiful, and inclusive. If you are a choir member (or not!) and interested in singing along, we are using this track the whole month and building on it each week. The choir and I hope that the congregation will gradually become familiar with this little sending out song and learn to sing a new one with us as we grow in our shared understanding of Commitment.

– Emily McKinney, Music Director

Our closing words are “Only Begun” by William G Sinkford.

Spirit of Life and Love, dear God of all nations:
There is so much work to do.
We have only begun to imagine justice and mercy.
Help us hold fast to our vision of what can be.
May we see the hope in our history,
and find the courage and the voice
to work for that constant rebirth
of freedom and justice.
That is our dream.

Categories: Sermon