Fellowship Church: August 24, 2014

The August 24 service at the Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples included the following.

Readying the Spirit featured a piano prelude by Dr. Carl Blake.

Ingathering of Community included this responsive reading from the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference:

A Litany For Children Slain By Violence and Traumatized By Those Called to “Serve and Protect”
August 17, 2014

Leader: A sound is heard in Ramah, the sound of bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children. She refuses to be comforted, for they are dead.

Assembly: We pray for the families of children who have been slain by gun violence, left to die on streets with less dignity than is given to animals.

Leader: A sound is heard in every city. Communities are weeping generationally for their children. Our sons, like Emmett Till, Trayvon Martin, Ezell Ford, Michael Brown and John Crawford. Our daughters, like Ayanna Jones, Miriam Carey, Malisa Williams and Tarika Wilson.

Assembly: As people of God, we weep for the lives of all children who instead of enjoying the sweetness of innocence become victims of hate, victims of war, and victims of violence.

Leader: Now, let us rise up and interrupt these rushing waters of violence that leave children and communities wounded and paralyzed, traumatized by internal disintegration and state terror. Let us rise up and demand this nation abandon its affair with beliefs, practices and laws that are rooted in militarism, justified by racism and propped up by systemic inequities.

Assembly: We will rise up against laws rooted in evil that have no concern for life, nor any concern for God’s love. We will rise up until justice rolls on like a river and righteousness like a never failing stream.

Leader: Oh Lord, we commit ourselves to seeing all children the way that you see them. No matter their age or race, they are precious gifts made in your image, created with transformative purpose and unlimited promise.

Assembly: And for that cause, we pledge to be hedges of protection for their lives, we pledge to stand against anything that threatens their potential or promise.

All: We embody the universal spirit of Ubuntu, “I am because we are and because we are, I am.” We are all Rachel crying for the children! Therefore, we pledge to lock arms in solidarity with the families of the slain. We pledge to let our voices be heard all over this nation and the world, for we know we are called to do what is just and right.

Practicing the Presence included this Meditation from Wade Hudson:

On August 3rd Rev. Yielbonzie Charles Johnson’s offered a very thought-provoking sermon here. He recommended cultivating “intimate direct action” by traveling the Four Roads to Intimacy: Move away from self-deception and really get to know yourself; Utilize solitude; Establish a strong sense of community; and then without fear experience intimacy, or the “uncircumscribed engagement in the world.”

Webster’s defines “intimate” as “belonging to or characterizing one’s deepest nature.” As I see it, intimacy involves “speaking from the heart.”

What does “speak from the heart” mean to you? [Members of the congregation offered some answers.]

I googled “speaking from the heart” and the top result said “Ask yourself: is what you’re saying coming from your analytical mind or your intuitive heart?” and “Know that speaking from the heart doesn’t mean getting carried away by your emotions.”

I think of speaking from the heart as a blend of speaking from the gut and speaking from the intellect. After all, the heart is half way between the gut and the brain.

But an intimate conversation involves more than speaking. It also involves being a good listener.

What does being a good listener mean to you? [Members of the congregation offered some responses.]

Also, to my mind, I am not a particularly good listener when I immediately respond to someone with something like, “I hear you. The same thing happened to me,” and then proceed to talk about myself.

We have good reasons for being reserved, for not being more transparent. For one thing, what we say might be used against us. Teachers and bosses punish us for saying what they don’t want to hear. So we learn to be guarded and it becomes a habit.

Howard Thurman, however, affirmed Gandhi’s maxim, “Speak the truth, without fear and without exception” and Thurman wrote, “Be simply, directly truthful, whatever may be the cost.” I don’t know if I can ever live up to that standard. I would, however, like to move in that direction.

How many intimate friends do you have with whom you at least weekly discuss highly personal matters, problems as well as joys? Would you like to have more intimate friends? How many of those friends belong to Fellowship Church? Would you like to have more who are?

If we want to grow a strong sense of community, as recommended by Rev. Johnson, do we need to nurture more intimacy with one another? If so, how might we do that, either during the social hour or at other times during the week? Some questions for reflection.

Maybe, if we make more of a conscious effort, we can practice more fully what Dr. Thurman preached.

Resting in the Presence included a sermon by Dr. Kathryn Benton reflecting on the following quote from John Lennon:

There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.

Offering Our Gifts included Announcements by Elanor Piez, Church Treasurer.

Sending Forth included this poem by Rev. Takashi Tanemori:

We can create our lives by
Transforming our experience
Into something new,
Like a butterfly soaring freely
Into the splendor.

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