There is so much causing us to stress these days. Sometimes one of the greatest gifts we can give each other is the gift of laughter and fun. Join us in sharing the wonderful gifts of laughter, love, and togetherness. It’s not always appropriate to get silly, but when we can, it’s a wonderful thing! Rev. Dr. María Cristina Vlassidis Burgoa will be preaching.
We encourage masks in all buildings. 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.
Religious Education for children and youth happens during worship on Sundays. Children and youth arrive in the Sanctuary for the just a little bit and welcome in Sunday with a story and song. Then, they attend their own programs in the Education building. Learn more here!
If you don’t have a chalice, but want to light one, check out our Making a Chalice at Home page.
In person services are followed by coffee hour.
Today we honor Black History month by lifting up the celebration of Mardi Gras which is deeply rooted in African ancestry. It is a rich cultural tradition that on its surface might appear to be all about the beads, the floats, the parade and it is. But, it is also much much more! Mardi Gras is religion, rebellion, resistance, celebration, survival, and the land and legacy that lives on in the people of New Orleans, their rituals, and their music expressing grief and celebrating life. We Unitarian Universalists are no strangers to those deep cultural roots. The First Unitarian Universalist Church in New Orleans began in 1833. But most of us got to learn more about New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005. My colleague Rev. Marta Valentin and her wife had moved to New Orleans just two weeks before the hurricane. She was to start as the new Minister at First UU. The church building was flooded when the levees broke, and the congregation was scattered as the city was evacuated. Rev. Valentin held that community together for almost two years, after losing her own home and possessions to the flood.
A call was made to all UU churches to help New Orleans rebuild. I was a new Ministerial Intern and together with Rev. John Buehrens and my colleague Rev. Julia Hamilton, took our youth group to New Orleans. It was important for us to model cultural humility, deep respect, and not to act as if we were any type of saviors or heroes. Once we landed in New Orleans, we were on sacred ground. And the people were grieving. The houses were marked with spray paint showing the number who had died there. In the 9th ward, the mud covered everything. We engaged in community service, helped people recover a few precious possessions, met with organizers, musicians and artists, who taught us the significance of the second line, the mardi gras indians, and the true healing nature of vodun. We also attended mass at the catholic church near the school where we slept and ate in a communal setting. And we worshiped with Rev. Marta, to show our solidarity, to bear witness, and to recommit to helping rebuild New Orleans for as long as it took.
While in seminary, I chose to focus on funeral rites for children as my master’s thesis. I learned that in many countries in Latin America including my own, Chile, there used to be a tradition of dancing and feasting during funerals. Often it was the mother of the child who took the first step. To honor her child, to embody her grief, to begin to process, to articulate her unspeakable loss, and to send the little angel on to their journey to meet their ancestors. Today when you hear the music, know that we offer it as a prayer for all the Saints. The people in New Orleans taught us that music and dance are necessary for the soul to heal and for the people to renew hope. And that joy is a powerful thing against oppression. So today when we sing and dance, may we remember that this music is deeply rooted in both African traditions as well as multi-cultural roots representing the Creole richness of New Orleans. It is music that accompanies funerals as well as festivals. Music that is offered as a prayer and a way to communicate with the ancestors. It truly symbolizes the circle of life and death, the sacredness of a people with a strong legacy of resistance, beauty, spirituality, and the courage to sing and dance in the face of oppression and injustice. As we honor Black History Month, we honor All the Saints that have made New Orleans the rich cultural and spiritual center that it is. We especially recognize the role of music in shaping New Orleans history, culture, and spirituality. May we remember that dance has a purpose and that we all carry our ancestor’s rhythms within us. Joy is resistance!