“Embodiment”

Worship Script 3


Embodiment
Worship Script (3 of 4)

 

OPENING WORDS

We gather in curiosity

We gather in love

We gather in wonder

We gather in love

We gather in courage

We gather in love

We gather in vulnerability

We gather in love

As we gather, let us be all we are

With each other, no matter the conditions

Of our hearts this morning.

However life finds us,

We gather in love.

 

HYMN #89 Come, My Way, My Truth, My Life

 

 FIRST READING
“When I fight off a disease bent on my cellular destruction, when I marvelously distribute energy and collect waste with astonishing alacrity even in my most seemingly fatigued moments, when I slip on ice and gyrate crazily but do not fall, when I unconsciously counter-steer my way into a sharp bicycle turn, taking advantage of physics I do not understand using a technique I am not even aware of using, when I somehow catch the dropped oranges before I know I've dropped them, when my wounds heal in my ignorance, I realize how much bigger I am than I think I am. And how much more important, nine times out of ten, those lower-level processes are to my overall well-being than the higher-level ones that tend to be the ones getting me bent out of shape or making me feel disappointed or proud.” 

 Brian Christian,

 

 SECOND READING
“When we ourselves are not truly in a place of peace and we go out and try to create peace in the world, it becomes a fragmented and sometimes even corrupt form of peace. This happens because only peace can create peace, and unless we are the embodiment of it, we are projecting our bias of what peace should look like onto other people’s lives. To be at peace means to accept reality as is. Embodying peace is, in fact, the very essence of what it means to be free, as well as offering this freedom to others.” 
 Alaric Hutchinson, .

 

HYMN #123 Spirit of Life

 

STORY FOR ALL AGES
A beautiful poem opens the Hebrew Bible, which is the sacred scripture of both Christians and Jews.  It is an ancient understanding of the formation of the world.  We don’t hear it literally, like we’re reading a newspaper.  Scientists have shown how the world was formed through the Big Bang, a much less orderly process.  But let’s listen to these ancient words, so we can hear a celebration of elegant order and interrelationship that early people understood.  As we listen, let’s hear how often this world is pronounced good.

In the beginning when God createdthe heavens and the earth, 2 the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. 3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

6 And God said, “Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” 7 So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. 8 God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

9 And God said, “Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. 11 Then God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.” And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16 God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 17 God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

20 And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.” 21 So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good.

26 Then God said, “Let us make humankind[c] in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth,[d] and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”

27 So God created humankind[e] in his image,
    in the image of God he created them;[f]
    male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” 29 God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.

 

MEDITATION

Breath of Longing

Breath of Peace

Breath of Sorrow

Breath of Hope,

Abide with us,

Be in us,

Be among us this day.

Let us feel your blessings

In our awareness

As we are moved to action

That will protect the undefended

And restore the beauty of justice

All this we pray, in thy holy name,

Blessed be,

And Amen.

 

CANDLES OF JOY AND CONCERN

Those who are so moved are now invited to come forward to light a candle, expressing a joy or concern in their lives. As you do, you may briefly share what it is. We ask that people coming forward speak for no more than a sentence or two, and speak from the heart about issues in their lives, rather than political issues, which we can take up at coffee hour or in the parking lot.

 

 Sermon

Inhabiting Ourselves (Excerpt)

by Rev. Amanda Poppei, Senior Leader of Washington Ethical Society

Have you ever had an alien invade your body?

I am in the 8th month of this, my second pregnancy, and I definitely feel a little invaded. Both my babies have been very active in utero, and so by this point in the pregnancy I spend much of my time…well, let’s say noticing this being that’s taken over my body. An elbow here, a foot there; she is making her presence known, and in a way I can’t ignore.

And of course, she really has taken over my body—not just as a kind of parasitic organism (although let’s be honest, that’s not a bad description), but also in the way that much of the time I now spend thinking about my body is really thinking about her, about what she needs, whether she’s safe and when she’ll arrive. A colleague who is even more pregnant said to me the other day, “I find it so strange not to know when my body will suddenly take over my life.”

Pregnancy can certainly bring a heightened awareness of how we are at the mercy of our bodies. But the truth is, pregnancy is not, by far, the only state that reminds us of this fact. All of us are at the mercy of our bodies, these vessels that transport us through life and, eventually, lead us out of life, too.

For some of us, our bodies are a source of pleasure and pride, doing what we want them to when we want it, carrying us on strong legs and at just the pace we like. For others of us—perhaps for most of us—our bodies have been at times a source of disappointment, or fear, or pain, or even self-hatred.

Or a source of denial. Plenty of us go through times when we just try to ignore our bodies, ignore the aches and pains, even their mere existence. As inheritors of the Western philosophical tradition, we have our own tendency to separate the life of the mind from the life of the body, to imagine that we are beings that can exist on a purely cerebral level without the annoying hang-ups of our bodily forms.

To which I say: How’s that going for you?

We have yet to evolve into creatures with giant brains and little wispy tails of being, as one might see in a science fiction movie. We are instead people with decidedly physical natures, and no matter how much we may pretend, those physical natures are a huge part of what makes us who we are, what makes us human.

My favorite passage in Eve Ensler’s The Good Body is from a monologue given by a Masai woman.

Do I like my body? Do I like my body? I love my body… My fingers, look at my fingers. I love my fingernails, little crescent moons. They lead right up to my arms—so strong—they carry things along. And my legs, my legs are long. Masai people, we are tall, I get there fast…. Look at that tree. Do you see that tree? Now look at that tree. (Points to another tree.) Do you like that tree? Do you hate that tree ‘cause it doesn’t look like that tree? Do you say that tree isn’t pretty ‘cause it doesn’t look like that tree? You’re a tree. I’m a tree. You’ve got to love your body… You’ve got to love your tree. Love your tree.

Our trees, our bodies, are uniquely our own. They carry in them the stories we have lived, the struggles we’ve experienced. They also carry in them the care we show them, the way that we feed and nurture them, the way we parent them. No body is perfect. Some feel further from perfect than others, I know. I have had my own share of journeys with this body, but I’m still aware that it functions very well.

Some of us have bodies that don’t function well at all, which can make getting through the day difficult. Some of us have bodies that let us down in big ways, that are subject to diseases and experiences that are exhausting and painful. And all of us—all of us—have bodies that will not last forever.

But we also only have this one body, this one vehicle to get us through life. And the fact that it gets us around at all still seems to me to be something worthy of our thanks and our compassion.

HYMN # 95 There is More Love Somewhere

 

BENEDICTION

As you go into this week,

Be vessels of peace,

Be conveyors of song

Be channels of hope

Bring all you’ve gained here,

And bring it out to brighten the world.