Committed to Serving

Published by FirstUUAdmin on

by Rev Michelle Scott-Huffman

Moment of Perspective – Tree of Life

The opening words are “When we commit to live among the ruins,” by Karen G Johnston. 

Let us gather together
making a place of honesty
where we commit to discover
how to live among the ruins,
how we might move among the ruins
and find what can be saved.
With our collective liberation
in each of our hearts,
let us gather up those materials
we need to build and rebuild
Beloved Community in our midst.
In gathering this morning,
may we be strengthened
for what lies ahead.

There is More Love Somewhere

African American hymn
Public Domain
Performed by Eva Riebold, Emily McKinney, and Persephone Hamburg

There is More Love Somewhere, our prelude this week, comes out of the African American experience of slavery. Our theme this month is Commitment. This song touches our deepest times of sadness and longing in our lives. But for there to be hope we have to keep going, keep walking, keep on keeping on and that is hope and that is commitment. And we hope for peace and love and joy, somewhere, sometime. I think as UU’s we tend to gloss over and try not to acknowledge the amount of pain in the world and try keep our services “upbeat.” But there is a lot of pain in our lives, let’s acknowledge it and endure it and hope will be there. This is one of my favorite hymns and I think one of yours. Sing along with Emily, our beloved music director. There is more hope somewhere.

–Eva Riebold, Pianist

The Fire of Commitment
Words and Music: Jason Shelton and Mary Katherine-Morn
Arranged and Performed by Bob Nicoll and Barry Hall of UU Society of Grafton and Upton, MA
Used with Permission

I deeply, distinctly, vividly remember the first time I heard this song as a newcomer to First UU and to UUism in general and how it just hooked into me. I remember thinking I was so excited to have found a faith tradition that not only did not require me to believe in things I found offensive to my soul, but a faith tradition that believes in really, really awesome music. I love the lyrics. I love the rhythmic emphasis and melody. I cannot wait to sing this again with our own choir and congregation, hopefully in the near future. This one is just too much, too fast, too demanding to try to coordinate it at a distance and ask me to do a passible job with the audio editing. So I am grateful to my colleagues in music ministry at the UU Society of Grafton and Upton in Massachusetts who did such a nice job with it and made this video available. I really can’t say much more about how this song leads us to our values than Rev. Kimberly Debus did here:

So I will leave you with her words and my hope for all of us that our own fire of commitment will continue to burn brightly in the world. We have so very much work to do, friends. May our shared fire of commitment light our path as we go.

–Emily McKinney, Music Director

I Lift My Voice
Words and Music by Andrea Ramsey
From the Justice Choir Songbook
Used with Permission
Performed by Ryan McCoy and Emily McKinney

Current CDC guidelines allow fully-vaccinated people to gather without masks or distancing at this time. Ryan and Emily are fully-vaccinated.

Just in case you did not see my disclaimer above, let me first introduce this video by reassuring you that Ryan and I are both fully-vaccinated for COVID-19 and as a people of science, are abiding by the most recent CDC guidelines for safe gatherings of fully-vaccinated people.

With that out of the way, let me introduce you to some very cool things I came across in preparing this video for the service. First of all, if you don’t know about the Justice Choir organization, you should check them out here:

We have sung many selections from this wonderful free resource in the past and I firmly believe there will come a day when we might lead some singing at City Hall or the Capitol in defense of our UU values.
Which brings me to one reason I love this composition: I can’t think of a more UU activity than raising our voices in song for the causes of justice, love, and a more safe and equitable and beautiful world for everyone. And that’s basically the entire bent of the lyrics: When we raise (or lift) our voices, we tend to do it not in angry shouts, but lifting our voices in strong melodies meant to move human hearts closer to where we know they can be.

I went to find out more about Andrea Ramsey, the composer, and was THRILLED to discover a resource dedicated to making sure music educators can teach music theory from the examples of music written by women composers. Andrea’s work is featured in the database, which you can check out here:

You can read more about this contemporary woman composer here:
And after looking at some of her choir titles, I think we’ll be singing more of her music once we’re all back together. Until then, may we remain committed to lifting our voices together in song, for good.

–Emily McKinney, Music Director

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

Here is your reminder that as we all get more familiar with this postlude, I would love to include your voice in the weekly track of the song, whether you normally sing with the choir or not. Please contact me if you’d like to join the audio file fun.

Our closing words are by Edward Everett Hale.

I am only one; but still I am one.
I cannot do everything; but still I can do something;
and because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.
May it be so for us today!