"Sabbath"

Worship Script 1


 

Worship Script (1 of 9)

Wholehearted Sabbath
 

OPENING WORDS
Each day by Kristen Harper
Each day provides us with an opportunity to love again,
To hurt again, to embrace joy,
To experience unease,
To discover the tragic,
Each day provides us with the opportunity to live.
This day is no different, This hour no more unique than the last,
Except . . . Maybe today, maybe now,
Among friends and fellow journeyers,
Maybe for the first time, maybe silently,
We can share ourselves.

HYMN #295 Sing Out Praises For the Journey

FIRST READING
Introduction to Abraham Joshua Heschel’s The Sabbath, by Susannah Heschel
In trying to re introduce the importance of the Sabbath, my father did not berate Jews for their
neglect of religious observance, nor did he demand obedience to Jewish law based on the
absolute authority of rabbinic text. Writing in an era in which books by clergy advocating the
psychological health promoted by religion were coming into vogue, my father went against the
trend. He insisted that the sabbath is not about psychology or sociology: It doesn't serve to make
us calmer or to hold the family together. Nor does the Sabbath represent a rejection of modernity or the secular world - For him the sabbath was a compliment to building civilization not a withdrawal from it.

SECOND READING
Excerpt from Acts of Faith: Meditations For People of Color by Iyanla Vanzant
You do not want to be rich and have a disease body. You do not want to be healthy and broke.
You do not want to have good health, abundant wealth, and poor relationships. You want to have
all of the good. You want to enjoy every aspect of life abundantly. You want it from expected
and unexpected sources. You want to have more, give more and get more. In order to do it, You
must think abundantly. Speak abundantly. Do everything in an abundant way. Rest well. Dress
well. Eat well and act right. You cannot achieve abundance with ugly, words and deeds.
Abundance is a direct reflection of your preparation to live abundantly.

HYMN #288 All Are Architects of Fate

STORY FOR ALL AGES
Give Yourself, (A Story about Ralph Waldo Emerson), by Sheri Phillabaum
"What do you want for your birthday?" the father asked his daughter. "Do you want a doll?"
She wrinkled her nose and scrunched her eyes and thought. "No."
"A tea set?"
"A pony?"
"No, Father, I have a year to think. I want this year to be a special year, to remember."
"All right. You think and let me know."
Ellen thought. She thought of bonbons, chocolate, new dresses, hats, kid boots, books, gloves,
lace collars, but none of these were what she wanted. What would be special?
Each day her father asked her, "Ellen, do you know what you want for your birthday yet?"
And Ellen would shake her head, "No, Father, I’m still thinking."
After four days her father said, "Ellen?"
"Yes, Father, I’ve decided."
"Well?"
"I have a riddle. It will tell you what gift I want for my birthday. The riddle is this: You cannot
buy it, for it is worth all the money you have, but only you can give it."
"I need to repeat this riddle because it will tell me what gift you want for your birthday—I
cannot buy it, because it is worth all the money I have, but only I can give it. Is that right?"
"Yes, Father."
"Well, now it is my turn to think about your riddle. I have to find the perfect present in the mystery."
Her father paced and pondered. He repeated the riddle over and over. "I cannot buy it, but only I
can give it." He paced and pondered. Finally, he smiled, "I know what it is! I know what it is!"
Now he had to think about how to give it.
When Ellen’s birthday came there was no present from her father. She didn’t expect one. After
she had opened the presents from her brother and sister, from her mother and grandmother, and
after the cake was all gone and the celebration over, Ellen’s father said, "It is now time for
Ellen’s present from me. Ellen, come and sit with me."
So Ellen climbed into the armchair and sat on her father’s lap. "My present to you is very
special. I hope it is what you wanted—for it is not a book, or a toy, or clothes, but instead it is a
present that is for all seasons and for each day. This year your birthday present from me is that
we will spend time together every week, just the two of us. For you are my very special daughter
and I love you dearly."
Ellen hugged him. "Oh, Father, I knew you would figure out the riddle."
Her father said, "You cannot buy it, for it is worth all the money you have, but only you can give
it. It took me a long time to figure out the answer, but when I did I knew what gift you wanted.
The answer was simple—give yourself."
"Oh, Father, I wanted a gift to make this year special. Time together with you will make this year
the very best year of my life!"
Ellen looked at her father’s eyes. "Why Father, you are crying!"
"Yes. You teach me more than any book I’ve ever read or written. By giving you time, I will gain more than I give."
It was Ellen’s turn to figure out this riddle. How could her father, by spending time with her, get
more than he gave? She thought she knew, love multiplies. But perhaps she would only
understand when she was older, when she had children of her own.
But her father understood. And when he wrote an essay on Giving, he wrote "Give yourself." 
For he knew the wonder of this gift.
Ralph Waldo Emerson.

MEDITATION
A Litany of Whole-Heartedness by Dawn Skjei Cooley
Because there have been times when shame has crushed our ability to be wholehearted
We let go of who we ought to be and embrace who we are.
Because we have not always had the courage to be imperfect
We let go of who we ought to be and embrace who we are.
Because we have struggled to have compassion for ourselves or others
We let go of who we ought to be and embrace who we are.
Because we have been afraid of our own vulnerability
We let go of who we ought to be and embrace who we are.
Because we are sometimes too scared to live authentically
We let go of who we ought to be and embrace who we are.
Because we want to be whole-hearted people, confident in our worthiness and our belonging
We let go of who we ought to be and embrace who we are.

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
A Whole Hearted Sabbath, by Laura Bogle, Minister, Foothills Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Maryville, Tennessee
It was August 21 st of last year when something out of the ordinary happened. Schools closed.
People took off from work early, or even the whole day if they could. Some had parties, and
gathered with family and friends to play and eat and enjoy each other. Even those who had
stayed at their desks or shops or factories or in their cars stepped outside at the same time, and for about two minutes looked up and focused their attention on something else—something beautiful; something much, much bigger than themselves.
And you didn’t have to pay for it. Sure, you could pay for parking near a good spot, and I’m sure there were some t-shirts you could buy. But the total solar eclipse itself could not be commodified. (We have not yet figured out how to control the path of the sun and the moon for maximum profit.)
For that moment, I felt as if we had entered a different dimension. The light dimmed and the cicadas struck up their chorus in the middle of the day. We could see some stars that are normally hidden from us at 2:30 in the afternoon. Some people cheered. Others, like my children, became very, very quiet. The heavens that many of us don’t pay much attention to suddenly became the focus of our excitement and awe and amazement.
And it didn’t seem to matter your religious preference or your political orientation or your age or your race or your social status. We were all there together. And I was so thankful to witness  it—both what happened up above, and what happened down here. Why did it take something on this scale of magnitude—a total solar eclipse!—for this kind of stopping, just to be in awe.
I loved it so much, I wanted it for everyone. I thought about those locked away in prisons or stuck in jobs they could not leave, and some who could not or would not step outside and look towards the heavens for a moment of freedom.
The experience also made me think about other times and other cultures that respect a kind of rhythm of rest, a rhythm of gratitude and awe at regular intervals. A rhythm that many of us in this country have mostly left behind. A rhythm of Sabbath.
The great 20 th century Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote in his 1951 book ,The Sabbath:
“There is a realm of time where the goal is not to have but to be, not to own but to give, not to control but to share, not to subdue but to be in accord.” He’s talking about the biblical 4th Commandment, to observe the Sabbath. It’s a time to imitate God, to stop your work and appreciate gifts of creation.
In 2005 his daughter, Susannah Heschel, also a great scholar and theologian, wrote a new introduction to his book, in which she reflects on what observing the Sabbath was like growing up in their home:
When my father raised his Kiddush cup on Friday evenings, closed his eyes, and chanted the prayer sanctifying the wine, I always felt a rush of emotion. As he chanted with an old, sacred family melody, he blessed the wine and the Sabbath with his prayer, and I also felt he was blessing my life and that of everyone at the table. I treasured those moments…
My mother and I kindled the lights for the Sabbath, and all of a sudden I felt transformed,
emotionally and even physically. After lighting the candles in the dining room, we would walk into the living room…facing west, and we would marvel at the sunset that soon arrived.
There, again, is a turning to the heavens and the gift of creation that we receive, no matter what;
turning the ordinary—wine, candles, sunset—into the extra-ordinary during a special realm of time.
When and how do you enter a realm of time where the goal is simply to be, to give, to share;
where your attention is tuned not to CNN or NPR or Facebook or Twitter or your to-do list or
your fill-in-the-blank activity? But tuned instead to something much bigger and much smaller at the same time. Tuned to something like the sunset, something like a cricket sounding in the middle of the all the noise.
American scholar and theologian Walter Brueggemann writes:
It is unfortunate that in U.S. society, largely out of a misunderstood Puritan heritage, Sabbath has gotten enmeshed in legalism and moralism and blue laws and life-denying practices that contradict the freedom-bestowing intention of Sabbath… Sabbath is a bodily act of…resistance to pervading values and assumptions behind those values.
If the intention of Sabbath is about freedom, I suggest some ideas of what Sabbath is not about:
deprivation and strict laws, such as not being able to buy wine on Sundays, or a kind of piousness that probably wouldn’t fly with our Unitarian Universalist sensibilities. The Sabbath is not about simply escaping and ignoring the world, nor is it even primarily about resting, though that can be part of Sabbath observance.
Poet David Whyte tells a story about a time when he wasn’t yet published, though he wrote
poems. It was a time of his life where he was working very hard for a non-profit organization, trying desperately to save the world. But he was exhausted, and he knew it. He just didn’t know what to do about it. He had a friend who was a Benedictine Monk, whom he asked for advice.  What should he do to not feel so exhausted all the time?
And his friend, Brother David Steindl-Rast, suggested that the cure for exhaustion is not necessarily rest; 
it is wholeheartedness. Find what you can be wholehearted about, said Br. David, and you won’t be so exhausted.
You’ll feel more free.
A practice of wholeheartedness as Sabbath can help us find the resilience to move through a busy
week, through hard times at home, hard news week in and week out. A liberating practice of
wholeheartedness can move us toward what matters most in our lives, helping us resist pressures
of our capitalist culture that say human value comes from our production and consumption
—how much we can sell, earn, or buy.
The good news is that this kind of practice can look many different ways. But it is, truly, a practice.
Because we just have to keep at it: trying, maybe not doing so well, and trying again.
How do we build in moments of Sabbath rest and wholehearted listening throughout our days and weeks?
I encourage us to think about a practice of Sabbath that does not necessarily mean taking a whole day, though those of you more practiced can show us how to do that.
Here’s a simple practice that I do with my younger daughters most mornings. We kind of stumbled organically into it, but it works for us.
Weekdays when I drive them to their preschool, as we cross the Tennessee River we simply say “Good morning, River!” And sometimes we note: Is the river foggy, is it calm, is it shiny, can we see any boats or birds?
Now, there are plenty of mornings that I forget. I am sometimes wrapped up in my head thinking about the day ahead, or caught up listening to National Public Radio.
But usually my daughters remind me. They call from the back seat, Good morning, River! A couple of times we forgot, and
they made me drive back so they could offer the greeting. And now we have taken to adding, Good morning, fishes in the river! Good morning, sky and clouds! Good morning, birds! And sometimes we sing, “I’ve Got Peace like a River.”
That’s it. A few moments on the morning drive. But it turns my heart towards what I love and
what loves me back—my daughters and the land. And it resists the relentlessness of urgency.
We stop and we look. We treat the earth as a friend whom we greet fondly. I carry the spaciousness
and freedom of that moment into my day.

Here’s another practice that is a kind of mindfulness activity you can do anytime, anywhere, to
create a moment of Sabbath in time. Choose a color—say, the color yellow. Then spend some
time out walking or driving, and put your attention on looking for the color yellow. You’ll be
surprised how much yellow you see when you start looking for it. It’s like listening for the
cricket in the middle of the big city. Practice enough and it becomes easier to find what we look
for, even in the midst of noise.
Here’s another. Choose a time each week—maybe just an hour, maybe a whole day—and put
away the thing that usually takes your time, attention, energy. You might even physically put it
away in a box for a while. Put your phone or your iPad out of sight. Put your to-do list of things-
into an envelope and seal it up. Cover up your TV with a cloth. Write down whatever is making
you anxious and resolve to put it aside for a time, knowing it’s mostly out of your control
anyway. And see what happens.
If you are someone who goes, goes, goes—try taking a nap in the middle of the day, if you can.
See what kind of wholehearted time opens up for you, what comes up in you when you stop and
let yourself rest.
Play can be a kind of Sabbath, too. In his book Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal and Delight in
Our Daily Lives, Wayne Muller describes play as “engaging in purposeless enjoyment of one
another.” Just do it with intention—delight in your friend or your partner or your kids or your
neighbor. Focus on that for a while.
And here’s one more that can be a family practice. At the end of the day, try lighting a chalice
candle and simply asking: What was good today? What was hard? What do I need to let go of?
What do I hope for tomorrow? Create a few minutes of time out of time, tuning life to bigger
questions.
I often include in my prayer and meditation the phrase, “…until all people have access to the
gifts of this life.” A Sabbath practice helps us recognize those gifts, gifts which can’t be bought
or sold, gifts that every person has a right to enjoy, wholeheartedly. As we find the gifts, may we
share them.

HYMN #299 Make Channels for Streams of Love

BENEDICTION
Adapted from Numbers 6
May the Eternal bless you and protect you!
May the Eternal smile on you and favor you!
May the Eternal Befriend you and prosper you!