Please join us on Sunday for a very special worship service. This Installation Ceremony is our congregation formally entering into shared ministry with Rev. Maria Cristina. The service will include special guests, music and more. We will celebrate after with food.
We require masks in all buildings. We encourage all in person participants to be vaccinated. Read more about our In Person Guidelines here.
• To virtually attend, please Zoom in using room number 989 3107 9078, passcode: chalice.
• To phone into the service, call 669-900-6833, Meeting ID: 989 3107 9078.
For those joining, please mute as soon as you enter the room, so everyone can hear. Please note, the services will be recorded, but at this time, there are no plans to share the recording.
All Ages Worship Sundays
Gather in the Sanctuary for our all-ages worship. All ages worships are an opportunity to worship together as a family and in community. We include interactive elements to engage and encourage youth and children’s participation. There is a rug in the Sanctuary for young children and a caregiver/nursing chair. Children can sit with families. In the Sanctuary foyer, we have bags to gather seasonal and themed worship tools students can take to their seats. We strive to make these services inclusive of learning styles and needs. With your help, we can envision a meaningful and loving Sanctuary. We do not have other programming for children and youth on these mornings, except where otherwise noted.
If you don’t have a chalice, but want to light one, check out our Making a Chalice at Home page.
Both virtual and in person services are followed by coffee hour.
Thank you, Rev. Maria Christina, for the invitation and honor to preach on this joyous occasion. It is a joy to return to the congregation where for seven years I served as the religious educator.
I want to first bring into the room two people who were beloved members of the East Shore Community and are now ancestors who made a deep impact on me as a person and me as a faith leader in Unitarian Universalism. Walter Andrews and Jose Garcia became ancestors during the pandemic. Both Jose and Walter would be thrilled that East Shore is installing a warm, loving, brilliant leader who began her journey in Chile and is now the spiritual leader of East Shore Unitarian Church.
Walter, Melinda and their children joined East Shore in 1968. Walter was my biggest supporter and held a vision of Unitarian Universalism that fiercely centered love. Walter mentored me into becoming a more faithful Unitarian Universalist leader. Jose encouraged me to embrace my power as a leader of color. Presente.
I want to begin with an allegory, the tale is attributed to different versions in many countries, the most famous from the Hasidic Jewish tradition from Lithuania.
The Difference Between Heaven and Hell
Once there was a Rabbi who carried with him a deep curiosity of what lay beyond the other world. He studied many books for clues of what might be found beyond the veil of earthly existence. After spending decades studying and meditating, he created a magical blade that would cut the veil between the worlds.
He randomly chose a place to use the magical blade and as he cut the veil and walked through to the other side, he found himself in a beautiful and sunny meadow filled with long tables and plenty of delicious food and drinks. He thought surely this must be heaven!
However, as he looked closer, he realized the people were frowning and miserable. He couldn’t understand why until he saw the long spoons next to them. No matter how they bent their arms and wrists, they could not feed themselves, so they were bitter and angry.
Upset at what he saw, the Rabbi returned to the earthly plane.
He realized he had stumbled upon what must be hell. People in perpetual misery because they could not benefit from the nourishing food in front of them.
The rabbi wanted to know about heaven, surely there was a place that held happiness and joy.
He decided he would move through the veil again, this time cutting through a different place to find out what he would come across.
He found a different spot and he cut through the veil and found himself in what appeared to be the exact same lush green, sunny and beautiful meadow.
Again, there appeared a long table with a bounty of delicious food and drinks.
This time the people were full of joy and happiness, even though the spoons were also long, making it impossible for anyone to feed themselves. The reason they were happy and full of joy is that they were feeding each other.
This was heaven: joy, love and community care.
When he returned to the earthly plane, he knew that the difference between heaven and hell was not the place, but what lived in people’s hearts.
Now, the story continues with the rabbi wanting to “save” the people in hell by bringing people from heaven to try and teach them to feed each other, to show them how to do it.
But the people who were in hell refused to listen, saying, “I’m not feeding him, he is a jerk, and I don’t like him.”
Another saying, “They are selfish, I won’t feed them.” And on and on it went.
All the made-up reasons why the people in hell would not open their hearts to feed each other.
I am not sure I need to be too detailed in connecting the dots from this allegory to modern day American life, but I will anyway.
By some estimates, indigenous people have lived on this continent between 12,000 and 14,000 years. Indigenous ancestors lived in harmony with the land, understanding that interdependence is paramount to the survival of all. All of that changed with the arrival of the Europeans.
It has been only 513 years since the arrival of European colonizers in 1492 and yet because of the practices of violent extractive capitalism, and the commodification of human beings..
Human, animal, plant, and ocean life on this planet are in peril.
The story of Heaven and Hell teaches us that it is due to a lack of imagination, creativity and relationship that we keep ourselves from creating heaven on earth. Both groups of people have the same challenges with the long spoons.
The only difference between both groups is the story they tell themselves about what is possible, about who is worthy of relationship and effort and care.
The stories that we tell ourselves matter. The values that we center matter.
We need each other to overcome the challenges of the long spoons.
More and more, we understand what indigenous people and communities of color have always known, how interconnected and interdependent we are and need to be for our collective survival.
We cannot have liberation for some, we must work toward liberation for all.
Unitarian Universalism is a dynamic and life affirming faith that seeks to tell and retell stories of what it means to be human. Because we believe that revelation is not sealed, we are constantly improving our stories and our understanding of our faith.
One such improvement is the recent work of revising article 2. As you have heard previously from Rev Maria Cristina, The Unitarian Universalist Association’s Board of Trustees charged a group of people to take on the task of revising Article 2, and they have been working diligently to update all our principles and sources to inspire us to live more fully into the Beloved Community.
What does this mean?
It means that we are looking at a new way of describing the values and principles that guide our faith. Instead of focusing on 8 principles and 6 sources, the Article 2 Commission has held numerous focus groups and conversations and has suggested a new framework for our consideration.
This image is a representation of the highlights of the commission’s work. Love is at the center. Surrounded by Justice, Generosity, Pluralism, Transformation, Equity and Interdependence.
The two themes that speak most to me are interdependence and transformation.
Interdependence reminds us that it is through connection and community that we thrive. We are better able to resist systems of oppression when we are in solidarity with each other.
Transformation is the part of our faith that comes alive when we are willing to be challenged. In Unitarian Universalist spaces, the invitation to be transformed is ever present. That is the magic of our faith community.
Julica has invited you to allow yourselves to be transformed, and to create an interdependent relationship with Rev Maria Cristina. I encourage you to accept the invitation.
In the story the people in heaven knew that their interdependence brought them life giving sustenance and joy.
They were not only surviving, they were thriving.
They wanted to share that knowledge and joy with those who existed in a place where they made up all kinds of reasons not to help each other.
The people in hell did not accept the invitation to be transformed.
The world right now is uncertain, and it seems that we are inundated with one crisis after another. I refuse to give in to despair.
I learned from Black activists that Joy is an Act of Resistance.
We can find joy when we recognize our interdependence and when we accept the invitation to transform.
A better world is possible, and a better world is coming, I refuse to believe otherwise.
Not just because I am alive but because I have children and because of all of our children. There really is no such thing as other people’s children.
We have a legacy to leave, let us accept the invitation to expand our imaginations to affirm equity, care, interdependence and love.
Let us all accept the invitation to transform. Amen Ashe and Blessed Be.
Let us be grateful
For the Blessing of this gathering!
Creator, Spirit of Life, Loving energy that guides us and protects us:
We thank you for our breath,
For our families, for our communities
We thank you for the blessing of sky, sun, moon, trees, rivers, ocean, mountains, healing herbs, water, and all our relatives who inhabit them and make them sacred.
We thank you for the awareness and the strength to continue learning, growing, loving and defending all people, places, and vulnerable beings.
Blessed be the moment, the place, the spirit, the stars and the people who conspired to bring us together today.
Blessed be the light that guided our steps
So we could arrive at this moment, this breath.
Creator, Breath of Life, Divine mystery:
May your light continue to illuminate our hearts with compassion
May your wisdom guide us on our shared journey
And may all the promises we have exchanged and shared today
Be honored in your holy name.
May we keep moving forward, Siempre adelante!
Open and Willing,
Singing and Praying,
Listening to the Voices of our ancestors
To each other, and to our own hearts.
In the name of love, of beauty, and all that is good and holy,
Go in Peace, in Love, and in Power! Amen! Ashe! Blessed Be!