"Sabbath"

Worship Script 3


 

Worship Script (3 of 9)

Sabbath as Subversive

 

OPENING WORDS

 Labyrinth by Leslie Takahashi Morris


Walk the maze

Within your heart: guide your steps

Into its questioning curves

This labyrinth is a puzzle leading you

Deeper into your own truths

Listen in the twists and turns

Listen in the openness with in all

Searching.

Listen a wisdom within you calls to a

Wisdom beyond you

And in that dialog lies peace.

 

HYMN #359 When We Are Gathered

 

FIRST READING
The World Is Too Much With Us by William Wordsworth

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.
 


SECOND READING
Genesis 1:1-2:3
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, 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. Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. And God saw
that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the
light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was
morning, the first day.


And God said, ‘Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the
waters from the waters.’ 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. God called
the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.


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. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters
that were gathered together … Seas. And God saw that it was good. 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. ... And God saw that it was good.
And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.


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, and let them be
lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.’ And it was so. …. And God
saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.


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.’ 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. … And there was
evening and there was morning, the fifth day.


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. …. And
God saw that it was good.


Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind 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, and over every creeping thing that
creeps upon the earth.’ …


And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.
And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.


Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. And on the
seventh day God finished the work …, and … rested on the seventh day from all the
work …. So God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because on it God rested
from all the work of creating.

 

HYMN #157 Step by Step the Longest March

 

STORY FOR ALL AGES
Pablo Casals, from Spirit in Practice Curriculum, Tapestry of Faith


Pablo Casals, born in Vendrell, Spain to a Puerto Rican mother, is thought by many to be the greatest cellist who ever lived. His recordings of the Bach Cello Suites, made between 1936 and 1939, are considered unsurpassed to this day.
 
Casals’ prodigious musical talent became evident early. By the age of four he could play the violin, piano, and flute (having been taught by the church organist and choir director). When he first heard a cello at the age of 11, he decided to dedicate himself to that instrument, and he had already given a solo recital in Barcelona three years later at the age of 14. Five years later he was on the faculty of the renowned Municipal School of Music in Barcelona and was principal cellist of the Barcelona Opera House. He gained international acclaim in a career of such length that he performed in the United States for both President Theodore Roosevelt and President John F. Kennedy.

Yet even having attained such unquestionable mastery of his instrument, throughout his entire life Casals maintained a disciplined regimen of practicing for five or six hours every day. On the day he died, at the age of 96, he had already put in several hours practicing his scales. A few years earlier, when he was 93, a friend asked him why, after all he had achieved, he was still practicing as hard as ever. “Because,” Casals replied, “I think I’m making progress.”
 

MEDITATION
Excerpt from a Braver/Wiser Reflection from Marisol Caballero, “Go Play”

“The more I watch the news these days, the more I'm coming to view playing — intentionally seeking joy — as a means of radical resistance. And I’ll continue to laugh with my friends at songs that deliver terrible emotional advice.

Prayer:
Divine Mystery, you are present in my joy and in my sorrow, anger, and fear. Guide me to create joy in my life and in the lives of others, that despair finds no permanent home within my soul. 

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

Subversive Sabbath, by Pamela M. Barz

“The world is too much with us.” Wordsworth wrote these words in 1802, forty
years into the first Industrial Revolution. He was born in 1770 so he never actually
knew the world he mourned for, a world rooted in nature and bound by the rhythm of
the seasons. All he knew in his lifetime was a culture that had given their hearts away
to the “sordid boon” of materialism, getting and spending, laying waste the earth.
Workers flocked from farms to the mills working long days, breathing sooty air, and
often getting maimed and killed in their new machinery. Though Sunday was still
mandated as a day off, winter and summer, the mill workers’ time was not their own.
 

If you’ve visited the Lowell Mills historic site, you know what conditions were like, a
little later on, for workers in this country. Though there were more goods for sale, and
the standard of living for the wealthy and middle class improved, the standard of living
for the mill workers and those left on the farms actually went down during the first
decades of this revolution.
 

Wordsworth was speaking to his time, but his words still speak to us today, as
we’ve moved beyond Industrial Revolutions to the Anthropocene Age, where human
activity hasn’t just changed the rhythm of human life but the very conditions of the
earth and its climate. Next week, hundreds of thousands of people are expected to
gather in New York City for the People’s Climate Change March to ask world leaders at
the UN Climate Summit to look beyond their short term interests and agree to take long
steps to halt climate change.
 

In addition to the scientific proposals for reversing the effects of climate change, I
have a spiritual proposal. Observe a Sabbath. We tend to think about taking a Sabbath
rest as a personal thing, time for rest, leisure, family. A time out of all the demands
which weigh on us. That’s how I was thinking of it when I first planned this sermon,
but as I explored the concept, I realized that the Sabbath is about far more than r & r.
 

The Sabbath reminds human beings that we are not in charge. The world will survive if
we do not oversee it for one day in seven. Even God took a day off – can’t we? And the
rituals of Jewish sabbath observance all point to that truth. On the Sabbath, one does
not do any work. And yet people eat and are still sheltered. Even more than refraining
from work, on the Sabbath one does nothing to change the world in any way. When I
was a chaplain at Wellesley College, I ran a knitting spirituality group for the college
community. The campus rabbi used to come occasionally. She and I once got talking
about knitting as a meditation tool. She agreed that it could open people to that space,
but, she said, “You can’t knit on the Sabbath.” “Why?” I asked. And she explained that
knitting changes the world. Knitting changes a strand of yarn into a scarf, a sweater, a
square. At the end of even one row, something exists which hadn’t existed before.
Something has been created. On the Sabbath, humankind is asked to recognize the gifts
we have, not make new ones.


But the Sabbath asks us to look beyond our individual lives. The Sabbath is not
just a personal observance; it is a political act, for it provides for the health of all
creation, not just the health of individuals. As the book of Deuteronomy phrases it, the

4th Commandment reads: Observe the sabbath day and keep it holy…. For six days you
shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God;
you shall not do any work—you, or your son or your daughter, or your male or female
slave, or your ox or your donkey, or any of your livestock, or the resident alien in your
towns, so that your male and female slave may rest as well as you. Remember that you
were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there
with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded
you to keep the sabbath day.”


Notice, that no one you are responsible for is to do work on the Sabbath. And
the reason isn’t because God commanded it, but because any one could have been a
slave or in a position of powerlessness. Out of our common humanity, Moses tells the
Jewish people they are to attend to others.


What would it mean for us to provide for others to rest as we take a day of rest?
Could we wear clothes made in sweat shops? Eat at restaurants which don’t pay a
living wage? Do we drive and contribute to rising carbon levels in our atmosphere?
The Christian writer Marva Dawn calls this passage “the hinge” that opens our
personal spirituality to care for the larger world.


The founder of Chick-fil-A who died this week was known for closing his
restaurants on Sunday so that all his employees could take a Sabbath. In one of the
obituaries for him this week, he was quoted as saying that he didn’t care what religion
his employees practiced, if any, but they all could use a day off once a week. He might
have made more money if he’d opened his restaurants seven days a week, but
maximum profit wasn’t his highest concern.


What would it take today for everyone to have a Sabbath day of their choosing?
What would we have to do to create the conditions to allow this? How would it change
our lives here in Scituate? And how would it change our understanding of ourselves?
Would we find ourselves perceiving the divine in nature as Wordsworth envisioned?
Would we find ourselves newly motivated to care for creation in all its goodness as the
opening passage of Genesis envisions? Would we recognize our shared human
condition of pain and joy, fear and hope? We can only try to refrain from creating, from
doing, from working for a day now and then, and find out.

 

HYMN #90 From All the Fret and Fever of the Day

 

BENEDICTION
A Power At Work in the Universe by Tom Schade

My friends,
There is a power at work in the universe.
It works through human hands,
but it was not made by human hands.
It is a creative, sustaining, and transforming power
and we can trust that power with our lives
[and with our ministries].
It will sustain us whenever we take a stand on the side of love;
whenever we take a stand for peace and justice;
whenever we take a risk.

Trust in that power.
We are, together, held by that power.