"Resilience”

Worship Script 2


 

Strong in all the Broken Places

Worship Script (2 of 4)

 

OPENING WORDS

Bring Your Broken Hallejujah, by Rev. Theresa Ines Soto

Bring your broken hallelujah here.
Bring the large one that is beyond
Repair. Bring the small one that’s
too soft to share. Bring your broken
Hallelujah here. I know that people
Have told you that before you can give
You have to get yourself together. They
Overstated the value of perfection by a
Lot. Or they forgot. You are the gift.
We all bring some broken things, songs
and dreams, and long lost hopes. But
here, and together, we reach within.
As a community, we begin again. And
from the pieces we will build something new.
There is work that only you can do. We
wait for you.
 

HYMN #360 Here We Have Gathered

  

FIRST READING

Do Not Be Ashamed by Rev. Theresa Ines Soto

Do not be ashamed of your broken heart. It broke
because you dared to use it. Dared to stretch its shape
to hold more love. Because you used its beats to keep
time to a song that only you can hear. And you, the
owner of a well-used heart, are also loved. Come close.
Let the love flow from our heart to yours, pouring into
mend the cracks, sliding in between the rusty gears until
they tick again. Let your heart come back to life, broken,
and now broken open, which both may hurt, and which
can lead to room for much more love.

 

SECOND READING
Litany of Atonement by Robert Eller Isaacs

For remaining silent when a single voice would have made a difference, we forgive ourselves and each other other; we begin again in love.

For each time that our fears have made us rigid and inaccessible, we forgive ourselves and each other; we begin again in love.

For each time that we have struck out in anger without just cause, we forgive ourselves and each other; we begin again in love.

For each time that our greed has blinded us to the needs of others, we forgive ourselves and each other; we begin again in love.

For the selfishness which sets us apart and alone, we forgive ourselves and each other; we begin again in love.

For those and for so many acts both evident and subtle which have fueled the illusion of separateness, we forgive ourselves and each other; we begin again in love.
 

HYMN #396 I Know This Rose Will Open

 

STORY FOR ALL AGES
Excerpts from The Broken and The Whole, a sermon by Rabbi George Gittleman

The Rabbis of the Talmud, the ancient repository of Jewish Tradition ask, an interesting question about the Holy Days.

Passover has the exodus from Egypt, Chanukah, the Macabian revolt. What about the yamim noraim, The Days of Awe, The Holy Days– what historical events correspond to them?

Not a bad question considering how ancient and steeped in history we are. Well, according to their reasoning the Days of Awe commemorate the second giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai.

Let me remind you of the story: Moses comes down the mountain with the Ten Commandments in his arms, sees the Golden Calf and in a rage, smashes the tablets on the ground. He then goes back up the mountain and gets the second set.

The Rabbis of Talmud reason that Moses went up Mt. Sinai for the second time on the new moon of Ellul – the time these holy days are really suppose to begin, received the second tablets on Rosh Hashannah, and descended down the mountain with them in his arms some 3,500 years ago this evening.

Pretty wild story, but that is not all. There is a problem: What happened to the first set of commandments that Moses smashed?

The Sages couldn’t believe that the sacred fragments of the first set of tablets were just left on the ground. After all, the Torah reports that they were created by God alone. So what do the Sages say? According to the Talmud, the broken pieces of the first tablets were placed side-by-side with the whole second set in the aron hakodesh. The broken and the whole, side-by-side.

 

MEDITATION

Meditation on Broken Hearts, by Thomas Rhodes

Let us enter into a time of meditation, contemplation, and prayer.
Feel the earth beneath your feet as it supports you.
Feel the love of this community as it surrounds and enfolds you.
Feel your breath as it flows in and out of your body.
Listen to your heartbeat.
Listen to your heart . . .

And how is it with your heart?
Does your heart feel whole, shielded by intellect, cocooned by reason, closed to feeling?
Or is it broken, fragile to the touch, brimming with the pain of loss?Or has your heart been broken and healed so many times
that it now lies open to the world,
knowing that true growth comes not without pain,
that tears may wear down barriers,
that we may carry the hearts of others
even when our own is too heavy for us to bear.

None of us has an unblemished heart, not one.
For such perfection can be found only in death,
and we who are alive still have much to heal.

So let us give thanks for the broken places in our hearts,
and in our lives.
For it is only through such brokenness that we may truly touch one another
and only through touching one another that the world may be healed.

Let us give then thanks for the brokenness that we share.

 

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

Strong in the Broken Places

by Teresa Schwartz, Senior Co-Minister, First Unitarian Church of Chicago, Illinois

A famous rabbi once said the truth will set you free. Trouble is, the truth is truth, whether we like it or not. The truth is that we will all break in this life. That’s how we learn to recover.

I’ve had a few orthopedic surgeries over this year; I’ve spent most of the last twelve months in physical therapy. I like PT because there’s a certain sense of community there. We all have no illusions: we are all broken—and in some quantifiable, diagnosable way.

Physical therapy can be a pain in the butt. Three times a week, in fact. Often, it’s just painful. After an injury or surgery, the body creates scar tissue. Flesh grows back darker, raised. On horses it’s called proud flesh. Proud flesh; it’s a badge the skin wears. It is stronger, which is good. The tissue is stiffer, though, which is not so good, especially in a joint that’s supposed to move. And so, over and over again, I practice bending.

My therapist told me that I can only heal by breaking. Breaking up the tissue, over and over again. The truth will set us free. Sometimes, the truth makes us stronger.

The other day, my five year-old son, Matthew, found my three-pound hot pink barbells in the basement. They had gotten lonely under an end table for a little while—by which I mean three years. He recognized them, but didn’t know the word for them. He calls them “strengtheners.” We go on, day by day, lifting the weights of our lives, hoping to be a bit better, or at least to have triceps like Michelle Obama.

You feel sore afterwards. It turns out that soreness is actually tiny, tiny tears in the muscles. It’s through breaking the body that it knows how to grow stronger. Resilience is the ability to grow stronger at the broken places.

This month brings the Jewish High Holy Days—the New Year, Rosh Hashanah, followed ten days later by Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. The days in between are known as the Days of Awe, or the Days of Turning—a time devoted to fixing what has broken in one’s relationships. There is wisdom in admitting that our brokenness is how to make a new start.

At Mt. Sinai Moses received the commandments from God. These were the laws to give life. He descended the mountain and saw his people dancing around a golden calf, an idol. And Moses (who had an anger problem— remember he killed the slave master in Egypt) smashed the tablets bearing the original commandments, and they shattered to bits.

Later on, Moses received a new set of tablets. But what became of the broken pieces? Usually broken things are buried, like we bury the dead. In the Talmud, a collection of commentaries on the Hebrew Scriptures, it says the broken tablets were not, in fact, buried. The broken pieces remained precious. They were placed in the most sacred place—the Ark of the Covenant, alongside the intact commandments. They remained safe as the nation of Israel wandered through the wilderness.

Mystical Judaism teaches that the Ark of the Covenant is a symbol of the human heart. And there, in our hearts, brokenness and wholeness live side by side; we carry them wherever we go. That combination of brokenness and wholeness is how we grow, change, create.

The Chassidic Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk may have said it best: “There is nothing more whole than a broken heart.” There is nothing more whole than a broken heart.

 

HYMN #124 Be That Guide

 

BENEDICTION

By Maureen Killoran, inspired by "Choose to Bless the World" by Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker

No matter how weak or how frightened we may feel, we each have gifts that can make a difference in the world. In this coming week, may you do at least one thing to support the broken; to welcome the stranger; to celebrate what is worthy; to do the work of justice and love.
 

Be strong.
Be connected.
Each day, act — so you may be a little more whole.