Sunday June 3: Reflections for Religious Education Sunday (Rev. Dr. Anita Farber-Robertson)

THOUGHT FOR CONTEMPLATION:

“Our children can be our greatest teachers if we are humble enough to receive their lessons”

(Bryant McGill)

PRELUDE

WELCOMING WORDS: Wendy M.

CALL TO WORSHIP:

These are the days that have been given to us;

Let us rejoice and be glad in them.

These are the days of our lives;

Let us live them well in love and service.

These are the days of mystery and wonder;

Let us cherish and celebrate them in gratitude together.

These are the days that have been given to us;

Let us make them stories worth telling to those who come after us.

(by William R. Murray)

PROCESSIONAL: “Enter, Rejoice, and Come In”

LIGHTING OF THE CHALICE: Zura T.

We light this chalice

For the hopes that we bring

And the work of love and justice

that we do together.

(Rev. Dr. Anita Farber-Robertson)

OPENING HYMN: “Enter, Rejoice, and Come In” (# 361)

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.

CANDLES OF JOY AND CONCERN

MEDITATION AND BODY PRAYER: (led by Rev. Anita)

(Adapted from Annie Scott)

Sometimes we are comfortable and able to pray in our minds, just thinking about things.

But sometimes it helps if we enter into our meditation and prayer using our whole bodies.

Today I invite you to enter into meditation and prayer with me using our whole bodies.

I invite you to stand as you are willing and able. If standing doesn’t work for you, you can do

First, breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in, breathe out. Let us become aware of our whole bodies, our feet on the ground, our bodies straight, our arms at our sides, our heads up tall to the sky.

Now we will enter our movements of prayer.

Bring our hands in front of us, pressed together, quieting us.

Now let us lift our arms open wide, to welcome the Spirit of Life, God of Love.

Pull our arms back down and hold our hands to our hearts, reminding us of the inner presence of the Holy the still small voice that dwells within.

Reach our arms out, offering to the world what we have to give.

Stretch our arms up to the universe, that we might be open to receive.

Then pull our arms back, gathering in what we have received, into our hearts

And return again to quiet.

Let us each do that quietly three more times.

Amen

MUSICAL MEDITATION

REFLECTIONS FROM OUR YOUNG PEOPLE

Interspersed with “No Other People’s Children” chorus

OFFERTORY

HYMN: “Come Sing a Song With Me” (# 346)

TESTIMONIAL: Amy M.

Singing “This Little Light”

Reflection for Religious Education Sunday

The Rev. Dr. Anita Farber-Robertson (copyright)

A several years ago at the Seattle Special Olympics, nine contestants, all physically or mentally disabled, assembled at the starting line for the 100-yard dash.

At the gun they all started, if not exactly at a dash, at least with all the excitement, energy and enthusiasm they could muster to race to the finish line and win.

All, that is, except one little boy who stumbled on the asphalt, tumbled over a couple of times and began to cry.

The other eight contestants heard the boy cry. They slowed down and looked back.

Then, they all turned around and went back…every one of them. One little girl with Down’s Syndrome bent down and kissed him and said “This will make it better.”

Then all nine linked arms and walked together to the finish line.

Everyone in the stadium stood and the cheering went on for several minutes. People are still telling the story.[1]

For that moment, in that situation, everybody won, and everybody knew it. Winning together is way better, it turned out, than is winning alone.

Empathy is what made it possible. These children could extend themselves beyond their own intentions, needs and goals, and perceive the needs and goals of another. No; actually, it was more than that. They could perceive the needs and goals of another, and experience them as important, as having a claim on them too. And that, is huge.

Isn’t that what we want our children to get out of our religious education program? Isn’t the higher purpose of the year’s instruction to give our young people the tools for empathy across all kinds of created divides? Tools that would equip and enable them to love their neighbor as themselves? I think so. In fact, I think it is exactly what we who are adults have been trying to do for ourselves this year as well.

I had the privilege of spending three different Sunday mornings down with the children this year, participating in their classes. It was wonderful. I came away feeling envious of the adults who had those opportunities much of the year.

Most recently I was down with the children when they were discussing the topic of Gender. During Children’s Time I had told them the story of the crayon that was labeled red but found that whenever it tried to write or color it came out blue. Then they went downstairs, sat in a circle, lit their chalice, and began. Katie recapped for them; sometimes, labels are wrong, or do not serve us.

The children nodded. Ted raised his hand. Katie invited him to speak.

“Well,” he said, “I am not sure this is exactly on the topic, but I learned about something recently that bothered me. It is something that happened a long time ago- a really long time ago – in the forties.”

Everyone was listening, intrigued.

“It seems,” he said, “that there were baseball teams then. I’m not sure what kinds of teams, but they were playing each other – maybe minor leagues. In any case, there were girls who played during practice with the team. And some of them were good. But when it was time for the real game, the girls were not allowed to play. Only during practice.”

“I don’t think that’s right,” he said.

The group was engaged. No one else had heard about this. They talked about it, recognizing that what he was telling them really was on topic, that these girls had been labeled as non-players only because of their gender even though they were baseball players, and some of them were good ones. They agreed with Ted that this was not fair and was not right, that in fact it was disrespectful.

What I want you who are here today to understand, is that what happened that day in Sunday School would probably not have happened in many other places. Over a dozen children sat in a circle, kids of all different ages. Many several years older than Ted, possibly almost twice his age. And they listened with full attention, engagement and respect to the ideas of a seven-year-old. They recognized the value of his offering and took it into the circle as seriously as any adult-introduced curriculum or question to be pondered, and with him they explored and examined it for all the ways in which it revealed injustice.

They had empathy for the girls of long ago who were treated so poorly, and they had solidarity with Ted as their co-learner, and even teacher.

Our young people live in a culture that is stratified and divided by age, by gender, by color, by social location. And for one hour each week, on Sunday mornings, they sit in a circle and practice being the change they and we seek. I think it is extraordinary.

Well done, children of MUUC! And well done all you adults who held that space and nurtured the values that grew and blossomed in our young people all year long.

Well done. I am so proud of you.

Amen.

VOLUNTEER RECOGNITION

LITANY OF TEACHER APPRECIATION:

Katie: This morning we wish to thank you for your commitment to this church, to our values, and especially to our young people.

Rev. Anita: This year we engaged in an all-church exploration of diversity. We did not know what that would mean. We did not have a pre-prepared curriculum. We began by being the change we wanted- creating diversity in the classroom by creating a mixed age experience of exploration You accepted the responsibility of engaging our young people in experiences to expand their understanding and deepen empathy for others. Everyone was learning.

Katie: The enthusiasm you have for our children and for the faith you are helping them live has encouraged them develop their own identities, while affirming and respecting the identities of others. We acknowledge the responsibility you have accepted and thank you for the commitment you have made.

Rev. Anita: The time you spend teaching, caring for, and being with the young people of this community is a special ministry. Our young people are delicate growing souls. You have tended them with care and love. Thank you.

Parents: We thank you for journeying with our young people, teaching and guiding them, being present and learning with them. You have been role models for our children, teaching them by your example.

Young People: Thank you for being our leaders. Thank you for the time we shared, for the fun we had with you and for the learning we did together.

Teachers & Assistants: We accepted the responsibilities of being teachers and co-learners with our young people. We brought our enthusiasm, curiosity, and energies to help them grow. Thank you for opportunity, and the support you have given us. We were enriched.

Congregation: We honor the role that you have within our community. We celebrate what you have brought to us and our young people. We know that this is not something you can do alone. We are all learners and teachers and we strive to remember that. We are your partners.

All: As we close this church school year, we remember that together we make up this incredible community; young people and adults alike. May we continue to value the unique gifts each brings, that we might grow and be enriched by our time together.

(Rev. Dr. Anita Farber-Robertson)

CLOSING HYMN: “How Could Anyone Ever Tell You?” (# 1053)

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: “This Little Light of Mine” Spiritual ( * ) arr. Vicki Tucker Courtney

( * ) = means author/composer is a person of color

[1] From the internet- story appears in several places