Sunday, April 1, 2018: Easter Reflection

THOUGHT FOR CONTEMPLATION:

“Love one another, as I have loved you.” Jesus of Nazareth ©

PRELUDE

WELCOMING WORDS: Mary H.

CALL TO WORSHIP:

(by ee cummings )

i thank You God for most this amazing

day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees

and a blue true dream of sky; and

for everything

which is natural which is infinite

which is yes

(I who have died am alive again today,

and this is the sun’s birthday; this

is the birth

day of life and of love and wings;

and of the gay

great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching

hearing seeing

breathing any-lifted from the no

of all nothing-human merely being

doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake

and

now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

INTROIT

LIGHTING OF THE CHALICE: Lily R.

Chalice of Morning

Light up our day

Chalice of Freedom

Light up our way

Chalice of Easter

Give us new wings

Chalice of Joy

Teach us to sing.

(by Rev. Dr. Anita Farber-Robertson)

OPENING HYMN: “Lo the Earth Awakes Again” (# 61)

OUR COVENANT:

Love is the doctrine of this church,

The quest for truth is its sacrament,

And service is its prayer.

To dwell together in peace,

To seek knowledge in freedom,

To serve humankind in fellowship,

To the end that all souls

Shall grow into harmony with the Divine.

This is our great covenant,

One with another, and with our God.

SONG OF ASPIRATION:

From all that dwell below the skies,

Let songs of hope and faith arise,

Let peace, good-will on earth be sung,

Through every land, by every tongue.

Amen.

CHILDREN’S TIME: Katie Camire and Rev. Anita

CANDLES OF JOY AND SORROW

MEDITATION AND PRAYER

MUSICAL MEDITATION

OFFERTORY

READING: exceprted from a piece by Wallace Robbins in “For Everything There is a Season”

Because we are linguistically speaking, English by descent, we have called the Day of Resurrection “Easter” after the name of an Anglo-Saxon Spring goddess, no doubt with hair the color of daffodils and violets. … It is time to open the pores to the new warmth of the sun and to rejoice in the return of the birds and flowers…

But if we were not English but French, we would call the day “Paques,” a word of traceable descent from the Hebrew word Pesach, “Passover.” While scholars suggest that the Passover was itself doubly founded on the celebrations pf the first wheat harvest and of the new lambing of the flocks, it was, by the time our Era began, a joyful remembrance of the deliverance pf the enslaved people…It was a time to look up out of the national captivity of Roman power, to a renewal of freedom.

…while New England sun and rain have no treaty of peace so that the battle goes back and forth, it looks as though we have a…certain victory over Winter. Things go rather well in the department of Nature’s seasons; it is the realm of human nature, the …need for personal and social deliverance that expectations are slow. The natural spirit of Easter is strong; the human arousal from slavery, the assurance of life and hope of deliverance of us all from the bad past in full pursuit of this present is weak.

That is to say that our hope is very dim if we were to look at our prospects in terms of our known capacity of performance, if we were to project our future in terms of our present. For we are a people depressed by our own violence; we are a Moses who has killed and fled, a stammering dependent exiled from the softness of the royal court, a person born to lead but holding a shepherd’s crook instead of a scepter.

Until the bush burns and the voice which calls us out of our past into our future is heard, we are waiting.

It is in this mood that we should understand that the promise and the new being pf Easter do not come by our strength or by our deserving or by the mechanics of Nature, but by that unexpected opening of history to possibilities not even dreamed-that which theologians call “a mighty act of God.” …

Easter is a time to be happy …that there is indeed a miracle which, when a; is hopeless, breaks open the way to new purpose and new life.

ANTHEM: “I Choose Love” (by Mark Miller) ( * )

READING: “Life Again” (by John Banister Tabb)

Out of the dusk, a shadow,

Then, a spark.

Out of the cloud, a silence,

Then, a lark,

Out of the heart, a rapture,

Then, a pain.

Out of the dead, cold ashes,

Life again.

HYMN: “O Day of Light and Gladness” (# 270)

(The children are excused to their special activity of preparation)

READING: “For the Asking” (by Denise Levertov)

In her poem, Levertov is speaking about Augustine of Hippo, the Christian Patristic theologian who was active in the late 300’s and early 400’s creating much of what is now orthodox Christine doctrine.

Augustine said his soul was a house so cramped God could barely squeeze in. Knock down the mean partitions, he prayed, so You may enter! Raise the oppressive ceilings!

Augustine’s soul didn’t become a mansion large enough to welcome, along with God, the women he’d loved, except for his mother (though one, perhaps, his son’s mother, did remain to inhabit a small dark room). God, therefore, would never have felt fully at home as his guest.

Nevertheless its clear desire fulfilled itself in the asking, revealing prayer’s dynamic action, that scoops out channels like water on stone, or builds like layers of grainy sediment steadily forming sandstone. The walls, with each thought, each feeling, each word he set down, expanded, unnoticed; the roof rose, and a skylight opened.

Easter Reflection

Rev. Dr. Anita Farber-Robertson (c)

Augustine said that his soul was a house so cramped that God could barely squeeze in.

Have you ever felt that way? That your soul was so cramped with stuff, maybe like your garage, or your basement, your attic or your broom closet, cramped with stuff that you accumulated but don’t need, or stuff that is broken, or useless, or doesn’t fit any more? Have you felt the pull to stretch, stretch beyond your domesticated familiar cramped-in self?

Augustine said that his soul was a house so cramped that God could barely squeeze in.

Have you ever felt that way? Have you spun a web of old beliefs that keep you bound in the chrysalis of your soul, so that you can’t escape to freedom? Freedom to think again. To see again. To hear again. To listen, newly to signs of life.

Augustine said that his soul was a house so cramped that God could barely squeeze in.

Have you ever felt that way? Maybe you have had old habits that fill up your days and nights so that the visitors can never become guests invited in. Has your soul become a house locked in by expectation so that surprises are not allowed?

We know that when it is time for the caterpillar to spin and then curl up within the chrysalis, it relinquishes the ways of old. Its days of creeping and munching are over, as delightful as they may have been. So, we must relinquish too. The caterpillar who won’t accept the loss, will perish in the abode designed for nurturing flight and freedom. It could happen.

Or we could decide, like the growing butterfly, to expand, stretch out and break the walls that serve no longer. To become the change we want, to expand our soul until there is enough room for the light and life to enter.

The poet is not too hard on us, not too demanding or condemning. The poet noticed that even when Augustine could not do what he intended, his yearning for it, his acknowledging it, this desire for more open spaces in his heart and spirit, was in fact a change itself. each feeling, each word he set down, expanded, unnoticed; the roof rose, and a skylight opened.

It could happen. It could happen to you, to us. Each day that we wish for transformation, each day that we wish we were a little kinder. It could happen. Each day that we wish we were a little braver, it could happen. Each day that we wish were a little more patient, it could happen. Each day that we wish we were a little more understanding, it could happen. Each day that we wish our hearts were more open, and our souls more expansive, it could happen. The walls, with each thought, each feeling, each word he set down, expanded, unnoticed; the roof rose, and a skylight opened.

It could happen. Today. Here. For you.

Happy Easter.

Amen.

(Children return and lead congregation in closing)

CLOSING HYMN: “Halle, Halle, Halle”

EXTINGUISHING THE CHALICE (read by the congregation):

We extinguish the flame but not the light of truth,

the warmth of community,

or the fire of commitment.

These we carry in our hearts until we are together again.

BENEDICTION

CONGREGATIONAL RESPONSE:

May the long time sun shine upon you,

all love surround you,

and the pure light within you

guide you all the way home.

POSTLUDE

( * ) Indicates a person of color