Tell Us a Story

Published by FirstUUAdmin on

Throughout the month of May, we’re excited to explore the “Story” theme. As we continue to imagine what and who we are becoming as we live out our Unitarian Universalist principles together, our stories help us to come to know one another at a deeper level and to dream of the ways our stories will intertwine to build a collective story of liberation, justice, equity, and peace. Stories are the raw materials from which to build values, principles, and communities of care. Today we share stories from several of our members. The stories are personal and diverse, and we invite you to listen with an ear toward themes and threads, and an openness to the experiences that have brought each of us to this place, where we seek to weave our personal stories into a tapestry of community that honors our differences and makes space for our collective becoming.

Transcript – Doris Ewing

– Betty Ridge

Transcript – Cabbage and Donuts by Ritchie Mayes

Transcript – Emily McKinney

We hope you’ve enjoyed these stories today and that they’ve sparked your imagination and desire to tell your stories too. Maya Angelou wrote “there is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” We know that thinking through and writing or sharing our stories in other ways helps us to make sense of our experiences, to draw meaning from them, and to move forward with greater insight and understanding. Imagine the power of all of us exploring our stories together. We hope to hear your story soon. We’d love to feature the stories of our community throughout the month of May, so please submit your stories through the link in What’s Up or on our Facebook page.

The opening words are Let Us Drink from the Stories that Sustain Us All, by Rev. Scott Tayler.

We gather as a house of stories.
As we learn of those who have gone before,
the way in front of us becomes more clear.
As we weave together the tales of who we are,
our loneliness lessens and the web of our oneness is revealed.
As we listen deeply in those times of tender trust,
we descend into the longings and learnings, hopes and fears,
of the humanity we share.
Beneath the wells from which we drink,
there is a deeper well that feeds them all.
Come, let us tell each other tales of our thirst.
Let us drink from the stories that sustain us all.

Let Us Break Bread Together
Traditional Words and Music
Used with Permission
Performed by Eva Riebold

Breaking bread together is a basic human activity and often a religious ritual. How we long to do this again with family, friends, and community! This song is from the African American community and from the traditional Christian practice of communion. I learned that for slaves, the words had double meanings for finding freedom.

You may have noticed that we have been using a lot of traditional songs for our virtual services. Some of you may not know that we must use music that is in the public domain or get permission from the holders of the copyright because of Zoom. I find myself going to African American spirituals because they are beautiful and convey deep emotion and desire for justice.

  • Eva Riebold, Pianist

How Could Anyone
Words and music by Libby Roderick
Performed by the First UU Virtual Choir, accompanied by Eva Riebold
Used with Permission

This song captured my imagination for the theme of Story because I have learned that so much of our hope and our pain, individually and collectively, stems from the stories we tell ourselves and one another about who we are. I can so easily turn a neutral interaction with a stranger into a reason to ruin my day just by the story I tell myself in my head about what was said or done. So much generational trauma continues on because of stories we heard about who we were in our childhoods from other hurting people. Stories are inherently human. The stories we tell ourselves have the power to shape the outcome of our lives. My friends, I hope that the stories you have been told have been kind ones. Not all stories are true. I hope equally that you find the courage and hope to tell true and kind stories to those around you.

In the composer’s own words: “How Could Anyone has been used for every conceivable purpose to bring inspiration and affirmation to people struggling with every imaginable challenge and to celebrate the beauty of human beings everywhere: AIDS orphans in Zambia keeping their spirits high, Latina mothers initiating their daughters into adulthood, gay activists affirming their inherent worth, children with disabilities at summer camp honoring their wholeness, Japanese women and girls recovering from eating disorders, men in prison making peace with their pasts – these groups and thousands more have made the song their own and used it to inspire powerful action on behalf of our shared humanity. It has been featured in every format and venue, from videos, films and slide shows to hospitals, prisons, kindergartens, marches, peace gatherings, weddings, funerals and shelters. Princess Diana even wore a t-shirt with How Could Anyone’s lyrics printed on the front to work out at the gym.”

Our thanks to Eva and the virtual choir for pulling this together for us.

  • Emily McKinney, Music Director

Tell Me a Story
Words and Music: Nancy Shimmel
Used with Permission
Performed by the First UU Virtual Choir

This gem comes to us out of a songbook put together by the Association for Unitarian Universalist Musicians Network (AUUMN) and fits the theme so very well. Each verse highlights different ways that we can share stories and perfectly captures the childlike wonder and awe we can experience through shared stories. It is simple and beautiful, with lovely improvised harmonies from our dedicated choir members. Our thanks for their persistence in lifting their voices in service of this community week after week.

Go Now In Light
Written by Emily McKinney
Performed by Emily McKinney and Luna Hamburg

The closing words are To Speak, Listen to and Care for Our Stories, by Rev. Shari Woodbury.

May we have the courage to speak or write the stories within us that need to be told – the stories that make up our lives.
May we listen with a loving mind and heart to the stories of others’ lives – others here in this church, and others in our wider community and world.
Let us choose with care the stories that we teach to our children, remembering that all of our stories have power, and that all of our stories are connected, for all of life is one.
In the name of all that is sacred in these gathered hearts, may it be so.

Categories: Sermon