“Money”

Worship Script 3



Worship Script (3 of 4)

"Our Collective Impact"

OPENING WORDS

 

By Heather Christensen

Unitarian Universalism is a grand vision
of a world filled with peace and justice, love and joy.

That vision is embodied in a few large congregations,
numerous mid-sized congregations,
and many, many small congregations.

No matter its size,
every congregation depends on each of its members.

Each one of you,
by your commitment of time, energy, and resources,
helps make that grand vision real.

Individually and together,
we are Unitarian Universalists,
building a world filled with peace and justice, love and joy.

 

HYMN #404  What Gift Can We Bring

 

FIRST READING

Excerpts from Emotional Currency: A Woman's Guide to Building a Healthy Relationship with Money by Kate Levinson, Ph.D.

On the surface, our relationship to money appears straightforward and uncomplicated: Either we have enough of it or we don’t. But there are a few subjects as emotional charged, deeply personal, and culturally complex as money. Thought the fields of economics, fiancé, and psychology has given little notice to inner money loves, for most of us, there is more to how money works than simply using it to make ends meet. In order to have a full relationship with it, we need to understand money as both tangible and symbolic as well as recognize our responses to it as both emotional and ration – we have to become good jugglers!

 

SECOND READING

Excerpts from Lewis H. Lapman, Money and Class in America, ch.4 and ch. 8 respectively.

We might make a public moan in the newspapers about the decay of conscience, but in private conversation, no matter the crimes a man may have committed or how cynically he may have debased his talent or his friends, variation son the answer “Yes, but I did it for the money,” satisfy all but the most tiresome objections.


Money is like fire, an element as little troubled by moralizing as earth, air, and water. People can employ it as a tool or they can dance around it as if it were the incarnation of a god. […]. It acquires it’s meaning from the uses to which it is put.

 

HYMN #157Step By Step the Longest March

 

STORY FOR ALL AGES

DAVID AND GOLIATHby Christopher Buice

Once there was a little girl who worried about a very big problem—world hunger. She read in the newspaper about children all over the world who did not have enough to eat. She wanted to do something about it, but she was only a little girl and this was a giant problem. What could she possibly do that would make a difference?

One day, when she was feeling sad about the situation, she told her father what was on her mind. After listening to her problem, he was very quiet. Then he scratched his head and rubbed his chin. He cleaned his glasses with a handkerchief and then he said, “Young lady, maybe it’s time I told you a story,” and began to tell her about David and Goliath.

David was a little boy who had a very big problem—Goliath. David lived in a land called Israel and the Philistine soldiers were threatening to invade his country. The very biggest Philistine soldier was named Goliath who told the people of Israel, “If you can find one person who can beat me in a fight, then we will not invade your country.”

But there was no one in all of Israel who thought they could beat Goliath. “He is much too tall and strong,” the people said. “This problem is just too big for us. There is nothing we can do about it.”

David was surprised that no one would fight Goliath, so he went to the King of Israel and told him, “I will fight Goliath.”

The king looked down at the boy. He did not want to send such a small fellow to fight such a big man. Because no one else had volunteered, he said to David, “I admire your courage, young man. I will give you the best armor in my kingdom.”

But when David put on the armor, he fell straight down to the ground. After all, David was just a little guy and the armor was very heavy.

And so David said, “Thanks, but no thanks . . . I think I’ll just use my sling.”

The king was surprised by the boy’s courage and he said, “Go forth and may God be with you.”

David went out onto the battlefield and, facing Goliath, he said, “I am ready to fight.”

When Goliath saw this little guy standing before him he began to laugh. “You are only a boy!” he chuckled, and then he began to roar with laughter. While Goliath was laughing David put a rock in his sling, twirled it around, and let the rock fly. The rock hit Goliath in the head and the giant came crashing to the ground. David was a hero.

“That’s a great story, Dad,” said the little girl, “but what does it have to do with me?”

“David lived a long time ago,” said her father, “but the world still has giant problems—hunger, pollution, wars. We can do something about it.” He got up from his chair and walked over to the couch and began tossing cushions everywhere.

“Dad, what in the world are you doing?” she asked.

“I’m looking for spare change. You know how it always falls down in the cushions.”

“But why do you want spare change?”

“I’m putting all my spare change into a box and I’m going to give that money to a charity that helps feed the hungry.”

“But what difference will that make?” asked the girl.

“Well, see for yourself,” he said and he lifted up the cushions. What she saw gave her a surprise. Scattered underneath the cushions were dozens of coins, and how they shined and glimmered.

“Wow!” she said, “I never realized how much money was in our couch.”

“It can add up,” said her father. “The world has a giant problem and too few think to throw stones that are close at hand. These coins could feed many or save a child’s life. And if everyone used their coins to fight hunger, then we might just throw the stone that would send this giant problem crashing to the ground.”

The little girl smiled and then she got down on her knees. Together, father and daughter gathered coins from underneath the cushions.

 

MEDITATION

Stand By This Faith words adapted by Olympia Brown, reading #569


Stand by this faith. Work for it and sacrifice for it.


There is nothing in all the world so important as to be loyal to this faith which has placed before us the loftiest of ideals.


Which has comforted us in sorrow, strengthened us for noble duty and made the world beautiful.


Do not demand immediate results but rejoice that we are worthy to be entrusted with this great message.


That you are strong enough to work for a great true principle without counting the cost.

 

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

"Money, Money, Money"
by Ellen Quaadgras, minister, Westminster Unitarian Church, East Greenwish, Rhode Island

At age 10 or 11 I was just beginning to understand more about how the world works, about morals and ethics and my own agency. I was waking up to my ability to make choices about all kinds of things.

One particular memory of that time is from a summer day when my family had gone to see my grandmother. I loved visiting her, playing card games around her old wooden table, looking out at the street from under her bright orange awning. I loved the smell of her place, and no matter what the actual temperature it always felt warm in there. 

We’d spent the afternoon with her that day and were getting ready to head home. I told my grandmother I needed to use the restroom before we left and she told all us kids she had something special that she would give to us when I came back. She would often give us a 10 or 20 guilder note (5 or 10 dollars) as a gift, which was a huge amount to me at the time.

I remember those minutes of anticipation as I was pondering what my grandmother wanted to give us. I felt sure, somewhere in me, not only that she would be giving us money but that it was going to be more than usual. Why I thought that, I don’t know, but I do remember then thinking that if she gave me 100 guilders—about $50—that that would be too much. To me, that was like an overwhelming treasure. I would be demure, I told myself, and not take it. No, no, that’s too much, I would say.

It was an early experience with setting good intentions that didn’t end up as intended.

When I stepped back out into the hallway with the rest of the family my grandmother pressed a 100 guilder note into my hand. There was no thought, no word from me beyond a thank you. I didn’t demure. I didn’t say No, no, that’s too much. Along with my brother and sister, I took the note, thanked her, and left with my family.

It wasn’t until recently that I even remembered that incident. I was in spiritual reflection class and we were talking about our relationship with money: where our thoughts and feelings about money come from, and how those feelings limit us or open us up. When I first remembered this long-ago event I was embarrassed—to have made that promise and then broken it so easily. Ugh, why did I do that and what did it say about me?

As I dug a little deeper, though, I had an image of myself as more hapless than intentional, on automatic pilot, with the momentum of the moment overriding my budding awareness that I have agency, that I am in charge of money, not the other way around. As I looked some more I realized I’d been absorbing thoughts and feelings and beliefs about money since before I could even begin to understand what it really was or what it meant. I was picking up all kinds of messages about this core reality that influences so many aspects of our lives before I really knew its significance.

Big things like: It’s really good to have it. You’re not supposed to talk about it. You’re not supposed to want too much of it.

And random things like: If someone takes you out to dinner, get something inexpensive on the menu. Don’t be miserly, but be sure to save plenty. Drive a hard bargain but be generous in all you do. Don’t go into debt if you can avoid it. Oh, but never ask for money—unless you’re asking your parents, but preferably not after the age of 25. And, did I mention, you’re not supposed to talk about money?

I’m still emerging from that foggy, tangled, unthinking, auto-pilot relationship with money.

Lewis Henry Lapham, in his book Money and Class in America, notes:

Money is like fire, an element as little troubled by moralizing as earth, air, and water. [We] can employ it as a tool, or…dance around it as if it were the incarnation of a god. Money votes socialist or monarchist, finds a profit in pornography or translations from the Bible, commissions Rembrandt and underwrites the technology of Auschwitz. It acquires it meaning from the uses to which it is put.

But while money itself is value-neutral, it does not, in practice, feel neutral for most of us. I think about what it can mean. Money can represent power; it can represent security. Those who have a lot of it can nevertheless feel poor. Those who don’t have much can feel wealthy. It triggers fear in us sometimes, elation at other times. It can trigger jealousy, guilt, anger, superiority, inferiority.

Surveys say that money disagreements are one of the top causes of arguments between spouses, and as much as we hear again and again that it’s is not the be-all-end all, most of us are sympathetic to the words of comedian Spike Milligan: “[They say] that money can’t make me happy. All I ask is for the chance to [have that] proven [to me].”

I wonder how many of us feel calm and relaxed in our relationship with money? How many of us are navigating money in a way that feels clear and right and purposeful? We might feel like there is too much of it leaving our hands. We might find that when the topic of money comes up, we feel bad because we have too little or too much, or something feels unfair, or because we’re afraid about a future we can’t see.

And that discomfort, I think, leads many of us corral our interactions with it into short periods of time—maybe on Sunday afternoon once a month paying bills. It becomes kind of like taking out the trash. We do it, but we don’t like it, and we try to think about it as little as possible.

Which can limit our discomfort, but can also leave those emotional cross currents, money anxieties, conflicting attitudes and auto-pilot responses firmly in place, making us vulnerable to spending our money in ways that don’t really reflect who we are and want to be. But how we do or do not spend has an impact on us. And, aggregated across a community or a country, it has a big impact on all of us.

I think back to that early money memory I shared. I wonder whether on some level I realized that if I’d said No thank you to my grandmother, she might have been surprised, maybe even insulted. My brother and sister might have been left feeling guilty. Maybe I knew, on some level, that I would be entering emotional territory. And perhaps most of all I knew that I would have been stepping away from a familiar way of relating to something and it would feel different inside of me. It might change me.

But I think in order to get clarity about what we really want to do with the resources that are so important in our homes and in our lives, we may just have to walk into emotional territory. We might indeed feel different. And yes, it might change us.

Money is like fire. It can be harmful or it can be put to good use. I believe that when we put it to good use, it not only changes the “out there,” it changes the “in here”—because it strengthens our own relationship with our own values. So that we can look in the mirror and say, Yes, that feels good. That is what I want to create. That feels right. One money decision at a time.

 

HYMN #318  We Would Be One

 

BENEDICTION

By Lauralyn Bellamy

If, here, you have found freedom,

take it with you into the world.

If you have found comfort,

go and share it with others.

If you have dreamed dreams,

help one another,

that they may come true!

If you have know love,

give some back

to a bruised and hurting world.

 

Go in peace.