Resilience: Strength + Flexibility

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Homily by Eva Riebold

Moment of Perspective – AJ Fox

The opening words are by Amy McKenzie Quinn.

Welcome to this common, sacred space.
Common, because we are all welcome.
Sacred, because here we transform the ordinary
and attend to the profound.
We carry with us our regrets, doubts, fears, stories, laughter;
may they inspire our worship.
Above all, may we each meet what we need most to find,
On this day, in this common, sacred space.

Let the Life I’ve Lived
American Spiritual
Written by Joe Carter, arr. Andy Davis
Used with Permission
Performed by Ryan McCoy

I’m so excited for this week’s message about the personal practices of resilience from our members and friends, and I think that this song speaks somewhat to that theme: the way we live our lives matters. During one particularly challenging period of my life, my dad taught me a lesson from boxing. He said that some of the greatest boxers triumph not because of how well they can land a punch, but how well they can take body blows. They know how to protect their head and hang out on the ropes as long as they need to for their opponent to get worn down before they can muster the strength to come back swinging. Sometimes our daily living will feel like this – hanging out on the ropes, taking the hits, catching our breath. Sometimes our work for a more just, free, beautiful, loving world will look like this. When all is said and done and we contemplate our life’s legacy, I think our resilience, our ability to stay in the ring, to practice small acts of rebellion and resilience — all of this is equally a part of our legacy. Let the life I’ve lived speak for me. Let the challenges I endured speak for me, let the days when I quietly gathered my strength and kept using my personal spiritual practices speak for me. May the resilience of our shared lives speak for this community.

  • Emily McKinney, Music Director

Sing and Rejoice
Traditional Round
Public Domain Work
Performed by Luna Hamburg, Ruth Jenkins, Ryan McCoy, and Emily McKinney

This fun quartet was recorded originally in June for our theme of Play, but we had so many of our wonderful musicians willing to share music for that theme that we couldn’t use everything. I’m actually glad that this recording got moved into our theme of Resilience, because I know for me, and so many in this community, singing, especially with other people, is a major source of our personal resilience. You may notice that we get a little silly toward the end of this one, which I think highlights the connection between play and resilience. Singing, laughing, and maybe a little “nose trumpet,” might be just the thing to help us stay grounded and resilient for the work ahead. I hope you enjoy this as much as we enjoyed recording it, and my thanks to Luna, Ruth, and Ryan for coming over and for persuading me against kazoos.

  • Emily McKinney, Music Director

Creative Spirit
Words and Music by Grace Lewis-McLaren
Used with Permission
Performed by the First UU Virtual Choir

There is a connection between how well we can quiet ourselves, access an expansive sense of spirituality, or creativity, or possibility, and how resilient we are.

My hope is that hearing the choir pause for a moment and invite us to do just that actually creates a small moment of strength and resilience for all of us during this service.

Our “creative spirit” takes so very many forms in this community: some of us run, some of us paint, or sing, or write poems, or sew, or garden, bake and share bread, or lovingly edit orders of service. This spirit of creativity is directly tied to our collective strength and resilience. Many thanks to the choir for helping us pause for a moment to reflect and honor that creative and resilient spirit within each of us.

Here’s what I could find about the composer:
“Grace Lewis-McLaren is a graduate of Eastman School of Music and of Pacifica Graduate Institute. She has served in a music leadership capacity for many different UU churches.” (From

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

Oh how bittersweet this moment is for me – to submit the final selection on my last Sunday in the position of music director. It has been my deep joy and honor to serve in this way. I’m overwhelmed by all the kind cards and notes. These words in my little song that I wrote for this congregation are truly the prayer of my heart at this moment. This congregation has given me the roots and wings we sing about in Spirit of Life. You fill my life with light, love, and song. This is not a goodbye, but very a much an “until we meet again,” and we will, soon. I’ll be stepping back for a time to allow the music ministry of my successor a chance to get established, then I’ll be back in the role of enthusiastic member of this community. I’ll see you all at potlucks and music jams and messy, beautiful RE events. So, until we meet again, go now in light, in love, in song.

The closing words are On the Lookout as We Leave, by Rev Scott Tayler.

Resilience is not easy.
Starting over is never simple.

And yet it is the work that leads back to life.
So trust that the seeds of hope are taking root,
even when the ground is cracked and dry.
Believe grace is hiding just around that bend.
Know there is always a way forward,
even if it’s not the one you wished it would be.
The lights never stay off friends.
The world is too wild for that.
Life never wants to leave us behind,
for there is something unruly and loving at the heart of it, that is always sneaking in from the side,
wanting us to take its hand
and dance!
So be on the lookout, beloveds,
as we go on our way.

Categories: Sermon