Sunday, May 7: The Way Leads On

THOUGHT FOR CONTEMPLATION:

“One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.”

(by Andre’ Gide)

PRELUDE

WELCOMING WORDS: Jeff M.

CALL TO WORSHIP:

(by William R. Murray)

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.

INTROIT

LIGHTING OF THE CHALICE: Emma & Kate S.

Chalice of light

Awaken our vision,

Chalice of warmth

open our hearts,

Chalice of flame

Rekindle our faith.

(by Anita Farber-Robertson)

OPENING HYMN: “Gathered Here” (# 389)

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.

THIS I BELIEVE: Bill T.

CHILDREN’S TIME:

(by Rev. Anita)

Connor had a favorite pair of boots. They were kind of like cowboy boots, but they were winter boots, made for walking in the cold and the snow. He had gotten them after school began, in anticipation of the winter.

He was so excited the first day that it was cold enough and his parents let him wear them to school. He loved them. After that he wore them every day- even on the warmer days. Nobody paid much attention and Connor was just so pleased, happy feet in his happy boots.

The school year came and then it ended. The warm weather came.

Connor still put on his boots every morning. His parents tried to talk him into putting on his sneakers instead. They’d be cooler and more comfortable. But no, Connor insisted. He was going to wear his boots.

Connor wore them all summer. He looked a little silly his sister thought- walking around in shorts and a t-shirt and winter boots. But he didn’t care. He liked them.

When summer was ending his parents took him to buy new school clothes. After all, Connor had been growing over the summer. He was fine with that- new pants, new shirts, even a new jacket.

And then the challenge. New shoes. Connor didn’t want new shoes, He wanted his favorite boots. Nothing more.

Kicking and screaming they took him to the shoe store. His Dad held him firmly in his lap while his mother tugged and tugged to pull off those old boots. Connor cried.

The man in the shoe store took out his measuring tool and measured Connor’s foot. It had grown a whole size!

“Connor” everyone said. “Your old boots don’t fit you anymore. You need new ones.”

Conner got real quiet and grumpy. His Dad took him by the hand and led him around the shoe store looking at shoes and at boots. Connor turned his head this way and that, not wanting to look.

Finally they came to a pair of construction worker type boots. Connor loved trucks- especially the big earth movers. He’d been watching a new building go up in his neighborhood this summer, seeing the construction workers move big heavy things with great big equipment.

So Connor agreed to try on the construction worker boots.

Ooooh. They looked great. Just like real construction workers. And they felt good too. His toes stopped hurting. He wiggled them inside the new boots. They could move around. That was kind of fun.

Connor couldn’t remember the last time he was able to wiggle his feet inside his boots. Now that he thought about it, he couldn’t remember a time when his feet didn’t hurt.

Well, those days were over.

Connor had happy feet in boots that fit. And even though his parents weren’t sure why, everyone noticed that Connor wasn’t so grouchy any more.

SINGING CHILDREN TO THEIR CLASSES:

Go now in peace, go now in peace;

may the love of God surround you,

everywhere,

everywhere

you may go.

CANDLES OF JOY AND SORROW

MEDITATION AND PRAYER

MUSICAL MEDITATION

INTRODUCING THE MINISTERIAL SEARCH PROCESS: Cindy Spring, Ministerial Search Consultant

OFFERTORY

ANTIPHONAL READING: “The Way” (# 670)

HYMN: “Where Do We Come From?” (# 1003)

SERMON:

The Way Leads On

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

When I was a single mother of two young children, I had a Honda Civic. I loved it. It was efficient, economical and it was reliable. Exactly the things I needed in a car.

Somewhere along the line in the story of my life, I met a man and we started courting. He had two young children also, and happily our children became good friends. Three years later, we married.

A year after that, my grandmother died. My husband and I looked at each other. We knew that we all needed to go to the funeral. And we knew that we had no car with six seat belts. He had a Honda Accord hatchback. For our little trips around town, I am embarrassed to admit, we’d let some of the kids sit in the way back, without being strapped in. But we knew there was no way we would travel all the way to New York City without everyone being properly and safely buckled in. We rented a car with six seat belts and drove to New York.

Returning home I knew I had to face the reality. It was time to give up my little car. It was time to buy a car with at least seven seatbelts, one for each of us and one for a friend, any friend we might like to invite. Eight seatbelts would be even better. I went car shopping, and much to my surprise and horror, I bought a minivan, a Midnight Blue Voyager.

My self-image felt it had gotten whiplash. This van was an automatic. I’d always driven stick shift. It did not feel like serious driving, this automatic. I had not thought of myself as a suburban Mom, which is what I’d associated with minivans. But there I was. I did not think of myself as a soccer Mom- none of my kids played soccer, but I was part of the car pool for the girls’ gymnastics team. I guess I was a soccer Mom of sorts. Yes, I was still the minister of the First Parish Church, I had not lost that identity, but I had to face the reality that I had added other identities too, and one of those was of a Mom with a family that needed a minivan, a minivan that she drove. I got over it. It became my car. The way leads on.

The kids grew up. They got drivers licenses and cars of their own. The minivan was tired, had well over a hundred thousand miles, and I no longer needed eight seat belts. I geared myself up for that exciting and traumatic enterprise of buying a new car. I bought a Honda Accord, burgundy. More my size. More my style. And pleasingly, a little more upscale than the Civic, which was all I could afford when I was fresh out of seminary. It felt like a match, with a five speed stick shift, air conditioning, tape player, it felt really good.

Several years later we had a winter with serious snow. And I had bought a vacation house in the White Mountains. The Accord did okay, but not great. The plows left berms of snow at the end of the driveway, and sometimes in front of the door to my garage. One day in Swampscott I opened my garage door, stepped over the small berm the plow had left in front of the door, got into my car and backed out. The car backed out until the berm was under its middle. And there it sat, rocking on the berm unable to rest all four wheels on the ground at the same time. I got out, tried to push it, but it was happy to be rocking there on the little berm. I called triple A and waited until they arrived with a tow truck which attached itself to my sweet, but ineffectual car, and towed it out of my driveway onto my street. I thanked the young man, got in my car, and knew that the next thing on my “to do” list, was to buy a new car. The way leads on.

This new car would need high enough clearance to go over any berms the plow should happen to leave in front of my garage door. One with good enough four wheel drive traction, to be able to go up my driveway in New Hampshire in the winter. It was 1996. Toyota had just introduced the RAV 4, and I went to check it out.

I hated that they called it a mini SUV. I was not the kind of person who drove an SUV. It was not my image. But the RAV 4 was the right car, met all the criteria, good clearance, good visibility, efficient fuel economy and I could even get it with a stick shift. “Okay Anita, so it’s an SUV; get over it.” I heard my adult voice say to my reluctant pouty child self. “It’s what you need.” And it was. The way led on.

I am aware that I have been driving RAV 4’s for 21 years now. And while I do still have my vacation house in the mountains, I don’t have the house with the berm in the driveway any longer. This car is still working fine. And it is really comfortable and familiar. But I know the day will come when it needs to be replaced, and I will have to think long and hard about what my needs will be in the years ahead, when I retire. I don’t know what I will chose, or how much it will send my self-image into whip lash, but what I do know, is, the way leads on.

So I wonder how it will be for you, Melrose Unitarian Universalist Church. The possible moments of self-image whiplash. Maybe when we talk about your history, which we will do more of in the coming year, or Unitarian Universalist history, or the history of Melrose, or of our country. History of white supremacy. History of male supremacy. History of conflict avoidance and conflict conflagration. How all of those have shaped you and how you will take that knowledge to make your choices about going forward. What kind of a church do you most deeply want to be? Where are the children? What kinds of risks are you willing to take to get there? What will you need to leave behind in the service of becoming who you want to be? And can you be brave enough to choose religious leadership committed to that journey?

To what, dear ones, will you say “yes”?

Blessings.

Amen.

CLOSING HYMN: “Sing Out Praises for the Journey” (# 295)

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