“Giving and Receiving”

Worship Script 1


 

Putting Generosity First

Worship Script (1 of 5)

 

OPENING WORDS

Gratitude by Swiftwalker


Let’s start with the people we love
and those who love us,
thankful they are in our lives
obliging us to open our hearts.

Let open hearts embrace the Earth,
the sea and soil and stars,
blessed by bold beauty,
the bounty of being.

Then with hearts open to beauty
let us embrace the arts
and the generation of learning
that we should have wisdom.

Let what wisdom we have,
wan and wanting, lead us to
strive so the seventh generation
hence can live more fully.

It is in that work, and that alone,
that we can express our thankful spirit.
May we make it so.

For the opening to make it
so, let us be truly grateful.
 

HYMN #113 Where is Our Holy Church

 

FIRST READING

 Excerpts from the Dhana Sutta: Treasure translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

"Monks, there are these seven treasures. Which seven? The treasure of conviction, the treasure of virtue, the treasure of conscience, the treasure of concern, the treasure of listening, the treasure of generosity, the treasure of discernment.”

"And what is the treasure of generosity? There is the case of a disciple of the noble ones, his awareness cleansed of the stain of stinginess, living at home, freely generous, openhanded, delighting in being magnanimous, responsive to requests, delighting in the distribution of alms. This is called the treasure of generosity.”

“These, monks, are the seven treasures.
The treasure of conviction,
the treasure of virtue,
the treasure of conscience & concern,
the treasure of listening, generosity,
& discernment as the seventh treasure.
Whoever, man or woman, has these treasures
is said not to be poor, has not lived in vain.
So conviction & virtue, confidence & Dhamma-vision
should be cultivated by the wise,
remembering the Buddhas' instruction.”


SECOND READING
Excerpts from Bearers of Light by Marta I. Valentin

These excerpts are from a sermon given by Marta I. Valentin to New Orleans based churches on the anniversary of Katerina. She invited people to reflect on being bearers of light.

In the words of Diane Thornton: "Give yourself to giving, and you'll find that the things that matter are returning." The things that matter cannot return unless we actively bring them back, unless we pull them out of the darkness of no return, and shine the light of possibility on them. Possibilities that are as diverse as we are, inside and outside of these four walls.

To be a bearer of light is to hold in the highest esteem, the building of relationships. As Rumi wrote, "This being human is a guest house, every morning a new arrival." Each day we have an opportunity to build a new relationship where previously none existed.

A bearer of light is not concerned with what they can take, but with what they can give to any situation, even one that might rile them, or aspire to throw them off course.

A bearer of light while it can have a spiritual significance as what Thomas has stated in his gospel, it does not have to. It can be a commitment one makes to lighten an experience that might seem heavy, to share an insight even when it might scare you to do so, to act the clown when everyone around you is being so serious.

It can be a commitment to be that ray of sun that emerges at the blink of an eye.

 

HYMN #404 What Gift Can We Bring

 

STORY FOR ALL AGES

Sophia’s Guest by Becky Brooks


Once upon a time there was a teacher named Sophia. Sophia had been a teacher in the town where she lived for so long that the kids she first had in her class grew up and had kids of their own and sent them to her class too. Nearly everyone in the town knew Sophia and loved her because not only was she an excellent teacher, but she was also very kind.
One day when Sophia got to work, she found a note on her desk. The note read:

Dear Sophia,
I will be around tomorrow.
I wonder if I might stop by your house for tea tomorrow afternoon.
Your Friend,
God


At first Sophia thought it was a joke. But the more she thought about it, the more she realized that if it was a joke, it wasn't a very funny joke. And she couldn't think of anyone who would play a joke on her like that.

Then she thought: what if it wasn't a joke? What if God really was going to come to her house tomorrow afternoon? Sophia thought she should get ready, just in case.

On her way home from work, she stopped by the store and bought one of those mats people put on their porch that says, in big letters: WELCOME!

When she got home, she cleaned her house from top to bottom. She brought in fresh flowers from the garden and put them in a vase in the living room. She cleaned and cleaned until everything was sparkly.

In the morning, Sophia realized didn't know what God liked to eat, so she baked bread and made a casserole and fruit salad, and baked some cookies too. And what about the tea? Did God like hot tea or iced tea? She thought she better make both. And what if God's favorite thing in the whole world was lemonade? She thought she should make some of that too.
She was so nervous! She didn't know what to expect.
Just then, there was a knock at the door. Sophia's heart went pat pat pat.

She took a big breath, opened the door slowly, and on the other side was...the Mayor of the town.

"Hello Sophia! I was walking by and smelled the delicious fresh baked bread!"

Sophia said, "I'm so glad you're here, come in, come in! I am expecting a very important visitor who you might want to meet! Please come in and make yourself at home."

Sophia and the Mayor sat, having a nice discussion when there was a knock at the door. Sophia's heart went pat pat pat.She took a deep breath, opened the door slowly, and on the other side was...a group of children from her class.

"Hello Miss Sophia! We were walking by and noticed the smell of fresh baked cookies!"

Sophia said, "I'm so glad you're here, come in, come in! I am expecting a very important visitor who you might want to meet! Please come in and help yourself to some cookies."

The children were giving the Mayor some much-needed advice when there was a knock at the door. Sophia's heart went pat pat pat. Deep breath…open door… It was...the entire women's covenant group from church!

"Hello Sophia! We heard the tea kettle and laugher and thought you might be having a party!"

Sophia said, "I'm so glad you're here, come in, come in! I am expecting a very important visitor who you might want to meet! Please come in and make yourself at home."

ll afternoon people stopped by Sophia's house, lured by the yummy smells and happy sounds. The townspeople filled her house, upstairs and downstairs and overflowed into the back yard and the front yard. As they got hungry, they made dinner together and ate as the sun set and the moon rose.

It was a great party. People were playing games and telling stories and baking and playing music and talking together. Sophia had such a nice time that she completely forgot about her very important guest. Even as she waved goodbye to her friends at the end of the night, she felt only contentment at having such a lovely party.

In the morning, though, Sophia woke up and remembered everything. She was confused. Whatever had happened to God?
All during her walk to work she tried to figure out what had happened. Along the way she smiled and waved to the people she ran into who had been at her party. She thought to herself that she really should do that again sometime.

When Sophia arrived at work she was surprised to find another note on her desk. It read:

Dear Sophia,
I had such a wonderful time yesterday. The bread was delicious, the cookies were divine! Tea mixed
with lemonade is my very favorite! Thank you for being such a wonderful host!
I hope we can do it again soon!
Love,
God

 

MEDITATION
The Chalice of Our Being Meditation By Richard S. Gilbert


“Each morning we must hold out the chalice of our being to receive, to carry, and give back.”—Dag Hammarskjold

Each morning we hold out our chalice of being
To be filled with the graces of life that abound—
Air to breathe, food to eat, companions to love,
Beauty to behold, art to cherish, causes to serve.

They come in ritual procession, these gifts of life.
Whether we deserve them we cannot know or say,
For they are poured out for us.
Our task is to hold steady the chalice of our being.

We carry the chalice with us as we go,
Either meandering aimlessly,
Or with destination in our eye.

We share its abundance if we have any sense,
Reminding others as we remind ourselves
Of the contents of the chalice we don’t deserve.
Water from living streams fills it
If only we hold it out faithfully.

We give back, if we can, something of ourselves—
Some love, some beauty, some grace, some gift.
We give back in gratitude if we can
Something like what is poured into our chalice of being—
For those who abide with us and will follow.

Each morning we hold out the chalice of our being,
To receive, to carry, to give back.
 

 

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

"Generosity First" by Thanissaro Bhikkhu


In Thailand, children’s first exposure to Buddhism—after they’ve learned the gesture of respect—is in giving. As a monk comes past on his alms round, you see parents taking their children by the hand, lifting them up, and helping them put a spoonful of rice into the monk’s bowl. Over time, as the children start doing it themselves, the process becomes less and less mechanical, and after a while they begin to take pleasure in giving.

At first this pleasure may seem counterintuitive. The idea that you gain happiness by giving things away doesn’t come automatically to a young child’s mind. But with practice you find that it’s true. After all, when you give, you put yourself in a position of wealth. The gift is proof that you have more than enough. At the same time it gives you a sense of your worth as a person. You’re able to help other people.


The act of giving also creates a sense of spaciousness in the mind, because the world we live in is created by our actions, and the act of giving creates a spacious world: a world where generosity is an operating principle, a world where people have more than enough, enough to share. And it creates a good feeling in the mind.


The whole idea that happiness has to consist either in doing things only for your own selfish motives or for other people to the sacrifice of yourself—the dichotomy between the two—is something very Western, but it’s antithetical to the Buddha’s teachings. According to the Buddha, true happiness is something that, by its nature, gets spread around.


The quality of generosity, what they call caga in Pali, is included in many sets of Dharma teachings. One is the set of practices leading to a fortunate rebirth. This doesn’t apply only to the rebirth that comes after death, but also to the states of being, the states of mind you create for yourself moment to moment, that you move into with each moment. You create the world in which you live through your actions.


By being generous—not only with material things but also with your time, your energy, your forgiveness, your willingness to be fair and just with other people—you create a good world in which to live. If your habits tend more toward being stingy, they create a very confining world, because there’s never enough. There’s always a lack of this, or a lack of that, or a fear that something is going to slip away or get taken away from you. So it’s a narrow, fearful world you create when you’re not generous, as opposed to the confident and wide-open world you create through acts of generosity.


At the same time you break down barriers. Monetary transactions create barriers. Somebody hands you something, you have to hand them money back, so there’s a barrier right there. Otherwise, if you didn’t pay, the object wouldn’t come to you over the barrier. But if something is freely given, it breaks down a barrier. You become part of that person’s extended family.
In Thailand the terms of address that monks use with their lay supporters are the same they use with relatives. The gift of support creates a sense of relatedness. The monastery where I stayed—and this includes the lay supporters as well as the monks—was like a large extended family. This is true of many of the monasteries in Thailand.


If there’s a connection of skillful behavior, a good connection is formed. This sort of positive connection starts with generosity, and grows with the gift of virtue. As the Buddha taught, when you hold to your precepts no matter what, with no exceptions, it’s a gift of security to all beings. You give unlimited security to everyone, and so you have a share in that unlimited security as well.


So this is what generosity does: It makes your mind more spacious and creates good connections with the people around you. It dissolves the boundaries that otherwise would keep the happiness from spreading around.


You find, of course, that you end up getting a lot more if you start with the attitude of giving. The mind is more up for challenges: “How about if I give it more time? How about meditating later into the night than I usually do? How about getting up earlier in the morning? How about giving more constant attention to what I’m doing? How about sitting longer through pain?”


The meditation then becomes a process of giving, and of course you still get the results. When you’re not so grudging of your efforts or time, you place fewer and fewer limitations on the process of meditation. That way the results are sure to be less grudging, more unlimited, as well. So it’s important that we develop the Noble Wealth of generosity to bring to our meditation.
The gift of being virtuous builds on the simple act of giving, and the gift of meditation builds on both.

 

HYMN #299 Make Channels for Streams of Love

 

BENEDICTION

We Receive Fragments of Holiness by Sarah York

We receive fragments of holiness, glimpses of eternity, brief moments of insight. Let us gather them up for the precious gifts that they are, and, renewed by their grace, move boldly into the unknown.