“Ways of Knowing”

Worship Script 1


Worship Script (1 of 9)

 

OPENING WORDS

Friends, we join in this hour

Not as human doings,

But as human beings,

Worthy without having

Lifted a finger.

Let us not rush to action

Let us simply be

Let us wait, let us breathe

And let wisdom come

That our lives would serve Love.

 

HYMN # 1 “May Nothing Evil Cross this Door”

 

FIRST READING

“The Real Work,” by Wendell Berry

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,

and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.

The mind that is not baffled is not employed.

The impeded stream is the one that sings.

 

SECOND READING

“i think any poem worth its salt, if poems can indeed be salty, should allow the reader to think. this poem is of course a chronological poem tracing the development of humans through the movement of black women. i have no feelings that the poem is exclusive of any one but i wanted to write a sassy hands-on-the-hips poem from the understanding that i am a woman and indeed was once a girl. i think it works because the more you know about anthropology and history the more you can follow what i am saying; on the other hand you can be a little child with no previous experiences and catch the joy of the poem. it goes from the first human bones discovered all the way to the space age. what has been included is as important to me as what has been excluded. what i strove to do was show progress, movement, humor and a bit of pride. 

this is the most i’ve ever commented on any poem of mine since i tend to agree with t.s. eliot when he said a poet was the last person to know what the poem was/is about.” 
― Nikki Giovanni

 

HYMN #123 Spirit of Life, by Carolyn McDade

 

STORY FOR ALL AGES

The Fawn Who Played Dead, A Jataka Tale from the Buddhist tradition

Once upon a time, there was a herd of forest deer. In this herd was a wise and respected teacher, cunning in the ways of deer. He taught the tricks and strategies of survival to the young fawns.

One day, his younger sister brought her son to him, to be taught what is so important for deer. She said, "Oh brother teacher, this is my son. Please teach him the tricks and strategies of deer." The teacher said to the fawn, "Very well, you can come at this time tomorrow for your first lesson."

The young deer came to the lessons as he was supposed to. When others cut classes to spend all day playing, he remained and paid attention to the good teacher. He was well-liked by the other young bucks and does, but he only played when his class work was complete. Being curious to learn, he was always on time for the lessons. He was also patient with the other students, knowing that some learn more quickly than others. He respected the teacher deer for his knowledge, and was grateful for his willingness to share it.

One day, the fawn stepped in a trap in the forest and was captured. He cried out in great pain. This frightened the other fawns, who ran back to the herd and told his mother. She was terrified, and ran to her brother the teacher. Trembling with fear, crying big tears, she said to him, "Oh my dear brother, have you heard the news that my son has been trapped by a hunter's snare? How can I save my little child's life? Did he study well in your presence?"

Her brother said, "My sister, don't be afraid. I have no doubt he will be safe. He studied hard and always did his very best. He never missed a class and always paid attention. Therefore, there is no need to have doubt or pain in your heart. He will not be hurt by any human being. Don't worry. I am confident he will return to you and make you happy again. He has learned all the tricks and strategies used by deer to cheat the hunters. So be patient. He will return!"

Meanwhile, the trapped fawn was thinking, "All my friends were afraid and ran away. There is no one to help me get out of this deadly trap. Now I must use the tricks and strategies I learned from the wise teacher who taught so well."

The deer strategy he decided to use was the one called, "playing dead." First, he used his hoofs to dig up the dirt and grass, to make it look like he had tried very
hard to escape. Then he relieved his bowels and released his urine, because this is what happens when a deer is caught in a trap and dies in very great fear. Next, he covered his body with his own saliva.

Lying stretched out on his side, he held his body rigidly and stiffened his legs out straight. He turned up his eyes, and let his tongue hang out of the side of his mouth. He filled his lungs with air and puffed out his belly. Finally, with his head leaning on one side, he breathed through the nostril next to the ground, not through the upper one.

Lying motionless, he looked so much like a stiff corpse that flies flew around him, attracted by the awful smells. Crows stood nearby waiting to eat his flesh.

Before long it was early morning and the hunter came to inspect his traps. Finding the fawn who was playing dead, he slapped the puffed up belly and found it stiff. Seeing the flies and the mess he thought, "Ah, it has already started to stiffen. He must have been trapped much earlier this morning. No doubt the tender meat is already starting to spoil. I will skin and butcher the carcass right here, and carry the meat home."

Since he completely believed the deer was dead, he removed and cleaned the trap, and began spreading leaves to make a place to do the butchering. Realizing he was free, the fawn suddenly sprang to his feet. He ran like a little cloud blown by a swift wind, back to the comfort and safety of his mother. The whole herd celebrated his survival, thanks to learning so well from the wise teacher.

 

MEDITATION

When we are overwhelmed with the world
And cannot see our way clear,
When life seems a struggle between tedium and apathy
Or frenzy and exhaustion;
When today seems a punishment and tomorrow a torment,
May we find the courage of patience.

May we recognize courage in ourselves and our companions;
That is not dramatic, that elicits no fanfare;
That commands little notice by the world,
That is forgotten and taken for granted.

May we learn how to cope
Like those who live one day of pain at a time,
Who see the long path of suffering and do not despair,
Who inspire us by their patient courage,
When we are impatient and afraid.

May we know such courage
And quietly celebrate its presence among us.

Blessed Be.
 

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

"Discovery" by Phil Marshall

This year I became an Uncle, and in a few days time I will become a “goodparent.” My niece’s name is Ella, and we’ve met by video but not in person, so I know what she looks like and what she sounds like, but not yet what she smells like. I mailed her parents a little adaptor back in September so that they could plug their 8-inch tablet computer into their television set and show me to Ella life-size. However, when they tried it, she carried on looking at the much smaller computer screen. She saw through the trick straight away! You see, she knows that Uncle Phil is really a 4-inch talking head, not some blown-up new-fangled TV projection.

I wonder what Ella will think when she meets the real me? Perhaps we should spend some time playing with the tablet together, so that she can see me and my 4-inch talking head at the same time. Then, when we each go home, she’ll know that when she next sees my talking head, she’ll really be seeing me.

Imagine what the world must be like to a nine-month old person. If you get a chance you should get down on the floor with one of them and try it out, because it’s brilliant. Almost everything around you is new, and there is nothing on your to-do list except “explore!” For example, if you are nine months old, there is no better use of the next ten minutes of your life than to do everything you can think of with that wooden spoon that Granny just gave you to play with.

Does it feel like the plastic ladle I had yesterday? For best results, I’ll need to put it in my mouth. Does it taste the same? Not quite. I’ll try banging the spoon on the table. (A nice loud sound! I made that.) This spoon and yesterday’s ladle make different banging sounds.

And they also look different, and taste different, so that’s now three ways things can be different. So much variety! Almost everything in the world is different from everything else.

But what happens when I bang the table with the spoon again? The sound is the same as it was a minute ago. And now? Yep. And how about now? Yep. So this is interesting: the world is full of all sorts of different things, but lots of them stay the same in some way. Most of the time you can tell what’s going to happen next.

Books though: books are not like that. When you turn the page of a book, you don’t know what’s going to be on the next page (unless you’ve read it before). What fun! It’s like when you’re playing with a grown-up and they do something unexpected. People are different from most other things: sometimes you can tell what they’re going to do and sometimes you can’t. You just have to do the best you can. (Keep watching, though, as the grown-ups hide and re-appear, hide and re-appear: it’s worth it to see them smile again.)

The insights that toddlers have are profound, but they are about things that are so familiar to us that we don’t even notice them anymore. The world is incredibly diverse, requiring each of us to inhabit an immensely complicated mental model just to keep track of it all. However, it is also so predictable that we are able to update this model in real time, using a miniscule fraction of the sensory data streaming into our nervous system.

It turns out that wood is like plastic—mostly carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, in different arrangements but leading to solid materials that are similarly lightweight and strong; but they are made by two very different organisms that have figured out how to harness energy and recycle atoms in very different ways.

These are amazing facts, but almost all of the time we pay them not a moment’s thought. We’ve got other things to do, apparently! Well, however many other things I have to do, as much as possible I plan to be down on the floor with Ella, wondering at the world through her eyes. It’s the moments of novelty, realization and unpredictability that remind us what a wonderful world we live in. Surprise! Informed, delighted, we are children again.

 

HYMN #12 O Life That Maketh All Things New

 

BENEDICTION

As we go from this place,

Let us go giving thanks,

Aware of how precious

Is this life we share.

Go in peace