Flower Communion

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Religious Education director AJ Fox tells us about the origins of Flower Communion in the homily this week.

Moment of Perspective – International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia – AJ Fox

The opening words are by Rev. Scott Taylor.

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.

My Heart Ever Faithful
by J. S. Bach,
Public Domain Work
Performed by Eva Riebold

This is one of my favorite Bach pieces. There is something about his melodies and the very tight rhythms that become a meditative practice for me when I play them. They are comforting.

–Eva Riebold, Pianist

Daisy Chain
Words: Florence Manning
Music: Elizabeth P. Keenan
Used with Permission
Performed by the First UU Hybrid Choir

First, please let me explain what very exciting thing I mean when I credit this to the “hybrid” choir. This is the first time that we have been able to gather some of the choir members inside our sanctuary in the choir loft with Eva at the piano since March of 2020. But, not everyone could make that rehearsal and recording session. Over the last 400+ days of this community functioning in virtual space, we’ve gotten pretty good at creating virtual choir tracks, so it was not hard at all to make a hybrid recording where we simply added the voices of those absent, virtually and after the fact. To me, this is a vision of inclusion when we so long to be together but not everyone can do so, either for safety or logistical reasons.

About this round – the two flower rounds I chose for today are for Flower Communion, and perhaps the two flowers, daisies and roses, are a nod to my own mother. Her favorite flowers are daisies. She told me that everyone loves carefully cultivated roses but many consider wild daisies a “weed,” and that it was ok to be and to love whatever I wanted in this world – whether I was a daisy or a rose.

I love the hypnotic, interweaving nature of this round. The music itself seems to capture the mystical tone of the lyrics and the idea that all life is connected in interlocking patterns of seeds to flowers to seeds. It’s a gem with some unique moments of clashing harmonies, which I think just highlights the dance of tension and release present in real life. I hope you enjoy hearing it as much as we enjoyed getting together to record.

  • Emily McKinney, Music Director

I Know This Rose Will Open
Words and Music: Mary E. Grigolia
Used with Permission
Performed by the First UU Hybrid Choir

I was filled with such hope and joy as I saw beloved choir members take up their familiar spots in the choir loft this past Sunday, and it occurred to me that we might as well be singing the words, “I know this church will open.”

I believe we have centered our values and the core of our shared faith all through this pandemic, and that continues now as we carefully move toward reopening the physical building. We will get there! And we will do it, together, in ways that protect the most vulnerable in this community.

I think back to last year’s flower communion and the grief that hung heavy in the air as we faced the reality of trying to engage in one of our few shared rituals, apart from one another, in virtual space, and I compare that to the joy and knowing that we will very shortly be together, exchanging flowers out on our lovely grounds, and I feel the spirit of this song deep in my bones. We are moving past some of the worst fear of the last year as we know more about how to keep one another safe in community. What a joy. A blessed Flower Communion Sunday to you all.

Here’s a bit of the background on this round: https://farfringe.com/stlt396-i-know-this-rose-will-open/

  • Emily McKinney, Music Director

Meditation on Loving Kindness
Words: Trad. Metta Lovingkindness Meditation
Music by Emily McKinney
Performed by the First UU Virtual Choir

The words to this simple choral blessing may sound familiar. They are almost identical to the words of the metta loving kindness meditation that Rev. Michelle shared with us last week. I had actually already written this song by that time, and I was excited to see that she and I were on the same page. The words are not my own – they come from one of my favorite loving kindness meditations. I couldn’t think of any better words to offer to this congregation as we collectively prepare for whatever this coming fall will mean for each of us. I’m looking forward to the day when the choir can look each other and all of us in the eye as we share these heartfelt words and simple, interwoven harmonies. Until then, may you be safe, healthy, happy, and live with ease.

–Emily McKinney, Music Director

Our closing words are “It is worthwhile to live and fight courageously for sacred ideals,” by Norbert Čapek.

It is worthwhile to live and fight courageously for sacred ideals.
Oh blow ye evil winds into my body’s fire; my soul you’ll never unravel.
Even though disappointed a thousand times or fallen in the fight and everything would worthless seem,
I have lived amidst eternity.
Be grateful, my soul,
My life was worth living.
He who was pressed from all sides but remained victorious in spirit is welcomed into the choir of heroes.
He who overcame the fetters giving wing to the mind is entering into the golden age of the victorious.

Categories: Sermon