“Gratitude”

Worship Script Example

To print this outline as a PDF, click here.

 

OPENING WORDS

Friends, the Sufi poet Hafiz wrote these words:

"Even
After
All this time
The Sun never says to the Earth,

"You owe me."

Look
What happens
With a love like that,
It lights the whole sky." 
 

What if we gathered today in such a love?

What if we allowed its radiance to fill up this room,

 

And to light the whole sky?

Let us open our hearts, let us be in that spirit,

In the hour to come.

 

HYMN #346 Come Sing a Song with Me, by Carolyn McDade

 

FIRST READING

There is no closer bond than the one that gratefulness celebrates, the bond between giver and thanksgiver.  Everything is a gift.  Grateful living is a celebration of the universal give-and-take of life, a limitless yes to belonging. Can our world survive without gratefulness?  Whatever the answer, one thing is certain:  to say an unconditional yes to the mutual belonging of all beings will make this a more joyful world.  This is the reason why Yes is my favorite synonym for God.

Brother David Steindl-Rast

 

SECOND READING

There was a time when I was in a state of utter despair, immersed in guilt over promises made on which I had not delivered. I went to my vocal coach, Fred Wilkerson, weeping copiously. He asked what was the matter. I responded, “I’m going crazy. I am almost at the brink of suicide.” He offered me a legal-size, lined yellow pad and a pen. He said, “Write down your blessings!” Furious that he didn’t understand my condition, I shouted, “Don’t talk nonsense, I’m telling you I am going crazy.” He said, “Write down that you could hear me say ‘write down’ and think of the millions who cannot hear the cries of their babies, or the sweet words of their beloveds, or the alarm that could help them seek safety. Write down that you can see this yellow pad and think of the millions on this planet w
ho cannot see the smiles of their growing children or the delight in the faces of their beloveds, or the colors of the sunrise and the softness of the twilight. Write down that you know how to write. Write down that you know how to read.” Wilkie, as he was known, gave me that lesson in 1955. Fifty-five years later, I have written 31 books, essays, plays, and lyrics for songs — all on yellow pads. I remain in an attitude of gratitude.

— Maya Angelou

 

HYMN #123 Spirit of Life, by Carolyn McDade

 

STORY FOR ALL AGES

There was once a very rich king named Midas. The columns of his palace were inlaid with gold, and his treasure room was filled with jewels, yet he was not satisfied. He longed for greater wealth. He did not care for music or flowers or indeed for anything else except his beautiful little daughter and his riches.

Midas wished to give his daughter, Marigold, the finest dresses ever made, the most beautiful beads and jeweled bands for her hair. This was one reason why he longed to have gold and riches. But marigold loved to wear a short white frock and to go barefoot over the grass with only a band of ribbon on her head.

She liked to feel the cool wind blow through her curls; she loved roses and violets much better than jewels. Sometimes she begged King Midas to leave his treasure room, where he liked to sit, to walk in the woods with her.

The birds are singing,” she would say, “and the very first anemones are in bloom.”

But Midas would pat her head and tell her to run out and play.

One day, as Midas sat counting his riches, a stranger walked into the room and touched him on the shoulder. Vines twined around the visitor’s head, and a leopard skin hung from his shoulders.

Who are you?” cried Midas in alarm, ‘and how did you pass the guards?”

I am Bacchus,” said the stranger. “I have come to thank you. Not long ago you were kind to my old teacher, Silenus. The gods do not forget such things.”

Then Midas remembered that one evening an aged man had stumbled into the palace. Midas had given him shelter and food and fresh clothing. In the morning the King had sent him on his way with a companion to guide him.

Midas rose to his feet—as even a royal mortal should stand in the presence of the gods—he bowed low to Bacchus, inviting him to be seated. Bacchus looked at the chair inlaid with gold. He saw the table strewn with jewels and coins and glittering bowls. He shuddered and moved farther away from Midas.

I cannot stay in this room,” said Bacchus. “There is no sunshine here, nor any sound of the wind in the vine leaves.”

Midas looked at the god in amazement.

You talk like my daughter, Marigold,” said he. “True there is no sunshine here, but look! See the golden lights on these bowls, and the red glow on the jewels!”

Have you seen the colors of grapes when the sun shines through them, purple and red and amber?” asked Bacchus.

No,” said Midas, “I like grapes only when they are brought to me on a golden platter. There is nothing in the world so lovely as gold. I wish that everything I touch might be changed into that beautiful metal. Then I should be happy.”

You shall have your wish,” said Bacchus, hurrying away out of the gloomy room to his vineyards on the sunny hills.

I shall have my wish!” whispered Midas delightedly. “Can he really mean it?”

Just then the palace servants struck the big gong and called the King to dinner.

Midas locked the door of his treasury and walked toward the room where his dinner awaited him. He glanced down at the great key in his hand. It was gold! His sleeve, too, gleamed a dull yellow and felt stiff to his touch. His girdle was changed into the same metal. His sandals, everything he wore was shining gold.

He touched a marble column as he passed, and it turned yellow. The curtains which he brushed in passing grew rigid and gleaming.

Marigold came dancing in from the woods, her hands full of white anemones. She sat down in her tall chair beside the King’s/

Why, Father,” she said, “when did you buy that funny stiff robe? And your yellow sandals, where did you get them?”

Midas smiled delightedly as he sat down. “They are solid gold, my dear! The gods have given me the Golden Touch. You may have anything in the world that you wish.”

Look at your chair, Father!” cried Marigold.

No doubt it also is gold,” smiled Midas, turning to see. “It seems more comfortable than ever. I shall have every chair in the palace made over.”

He took his white napkin in his hand and shook it out. It was wonderful to see the golden color spread over the snowy linen, almost as if a yellow flame ran up the folds.

Smiling more than ever, he reached for his spoon. “We shall have all the golden dishes we like,” he said.

Then he raised a spoonful of the savory soup to his mouth. He tasted it, and it was very good. But oh, horrible! When he tried to swallow it the taste vanished and there was nothing in his mouth but a hard lump. He choked and sputtered and coughed.

He looked at his plate in surprise.

Can there be a stone in my soup?” he wondered. Midas tried another spoonful, but the same thing happened. He broke a piece of white bread, and it turned to gold as he raised it to his lips. He touched an apple and a pear. They became hard and glittering.

Oh!” shouted the kind, “I do not want my food to become gold. Everything else, O great god Bacchus, but not my food!”

Bacchus did not hear. He was far away in his vineyards listening to pan’s music. Marigold climbed down from her tall chair, and ran to the King.

O dear Father,” she said, “what has happened?” She put her arms around his neck and her cheek to his. At the same moment her skin grew dark and yellow. The pink and tan of her cheek vanished. Only her hair remained its own color, for her curls had always been like spun gold.

Midas put his hand on her to caress her, then drew away in terror. For his little daughter was not cold and hard, a golden statue.

O Bacchus, o great Bacchus!” cried Midas, leaping to his feet, “take away this dreadful gift. My daughter has become a golden image. Everything I touch grows hard and cold. Give me back my little girl, or let me die!”

Bacchus heard at last and came down from the hilltop and entered the palace.

Well, Midas,” he asked, “do you still care so much for gold?”

No, no!” said the King. “Take away the Golden Touch and give me my Marigold.”

Bacchus smiled wisely at the King. “Perhaps now you will like the sunshine as much as gold,” said the god, ‘and the glowing lights in grapes better than the glitter of stones. Perhaps now you will leave your treasure room sometimes and walk in the woods with Marigold.”

I will, I will!” shouted Midas. “Only let her live again!”

Then go to the river and wash,” said Bacchus.

Midas ran as fast as he could out of the room and down the marble steps, which turned to gold as he passed. In the garden, the rose bushes which he brushed lost their green color and became tawny yellow. The gravel path changed, and the grass where he walked showed his footprints in yellow tracks.

Down the river bank Midas stumbled, and splashed into the water. His garments became soft and white. His girdle and sandals were of leather once more. But the river sands where he washed became golden and remained so forever.

He ran back to the palace and took the golden figure of little Marigold in his arms. At first she felt hard and cold to his touch, but in a moment Marigold’s arms moved, her color returned, and she grew soft and warm.

O Father,” she said, “I had a strange dream. I dreamed that I could not speak, or move. And I dreamed that your robe was made of gold---“

But see, it is soft white linen now,” said Midas. ‘Let us eat.”

The servants brought more hot food, and Midas and his daughter finished their dinner. Never had soup tasted so good to him, nor fruit so juicy. His napkin seemed more beautiful in its snowy whiteness than any golden fabric he had ever seen.

When they rose from the table, “Marigold showed him the white anemones.

There are whole banks of them in the woods,” she said. “And when the sun shines on them, and the wind blows, they look just like little dancing nymphs with yellow hair and white tunics. Won’t you come with me and see them?”

Indeed, yes,” said Midas. He put his hand in Marigold’s and walked with her to the woods. There he found more happiness than he had ever known in his treasure room and learned to love the white buds of flowers more than the largest pearls in his coffers.

 

MEDITATION

Spirit of Life, Source of All,

We gather this day as those who have received,

And for that we thanks.

We receive beauty in the turn of the seasons,

We receive comfort in the presence of each other,

We receive hope in the sounds of children,

And renewal in the reminder of how precious life it.

May we count all our blessings, and know them by name,

And may we make our blessings count.

May we convert the abundance of what we receive

Into the fuel that sustains our generosity

Through the days of adversity and hardship

When it might seem we have nothing to give.

Let us remember how much only a little can do,

And dig deeper, and offer forgiveness, a listening ear,

A compassionate heart, and a mindful presence,

To all we encounter

So may it be.  Shalom.  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

[Here is where a theme-based sermon, printed in the Church of the Larger Fellowship magazine, Quest, will be provided.]

 

HYMN #6 “Just as Long as I Have Breath”

 

BENEDICTION

As we go from this place,

Let us go giving thanks,

Aware of how precious

Is this life we share.

Go in peace