Call to Worship
based on Proverbs 8
One: Does not wisdom call,
and does not understanding raise her voice?
All: "To you, O people, I call, and my cry is to all that live.
One: The LORD created me at the beginning of the work of creation… Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
All: and I was daily God’s delight, rejoicing always,
One: rejoicing in the inhabited world and delighting in the human race.
Eternal One remind us again and again that we are not separate, that our egos do not define us. Remind us that we are made from your Substance, that we are part of the Whole that is you. Stir up in us the desire to live in unity with you and with each other loving our neighbor and treating others as we want to be treated.
When I look at your heavens, God, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor.
The Wisdom of Emma Curtis Hopkins
God is the only Substance there is in the universe; and God is Spirit. Then Spirit is all there is anywhere, and whatever is not of Spirit is nowhere, has no real existence, is but a figment…It is as if a shadow tried to prove itself something substantial.
The Wisdom of Fannie James
“Since there is but one Substance, one Mind, one Life, I must be in eternal unity with that One that is All in all.”
When the Spirit of truth comes, it will guide you into all the truth… The Spirit will glorify me, because it will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Eternal has is mine. For this reason I said that the Spirit will take what is mine and declare it to you.
Reflection by Rev. Dr. BK Hipsher
"Living in Unity"
Click on the audio bar below to hear the recording. Text follows.
Living in Unity
As we begin this week I want to recall the huge tornado that ravaged Oklahoma this week in the United States. This awesome and amazingly powerful storm has been described as an “act of God.” I even heard one reporter describe the tornado as the “finger of God.” Weather is a phenomenon that operates on physics, not divine purpose. This storm was not guided by the hand of God. This tornado and other natural disasters that kill and destroy are not ordained by God. But God does show up in it to be sure. The teachers that shielded children with their bodies, the first responders who ran in to help rescue those who were trapped, in those who are volunteering there helping folks sift through the rubble to find anything that can be saved… these are the places where God shows up in the form of acts of love.
Our first reading this morning is another affirmation that we are made in God’s image. God is “mindful” of us even if we think we are unworthy. God cares for us, all of us. The Psalmist says, from his hierarchical perspective, we are made “a little lower than God” … this puts us in very good stead. This Psalm is a self-confidence pep talk for all of us. On those days when we wonder if our lives matter, this reading is a good one to have at hand to remind us that we are held in high esteem by the creator of the universe.
Our second reading speaks of us as Spirit. It’s interesting to me that it does not draw this sharp binary between flesh and spirit. It just simply refers to us as spirit which to me is a very different thing. In fact it seemed like the opposite to me. Our shadow selves, that part of us that is egotistical, angry, and violent, is not our true selves. It’s important that we work on making sure we do unto others as we would like to be treated.
We ought to strive to live ethical lives and move toward loving our neighbor as ourselves. And it’s important to remember that no matter how miserably we fail, our failures do not define us. We are part of that Substance that is God. When we can remember this fact it keeps us in an attitude of gratitude that allows us to live out the love of God in how we are in relationship with each other.
Our third reading makes plain our theme for this Sunday… unity. I read these few words the first time this way…. “Since there is but one Substance, one Mind, one Life, I must be in eternal unity with that One that is All in all.” I read it as a mandate for something I must do. I must be in eternal unity with that One… it sounded like a command to me, a goal, something that I need to work toward.
And suddenly I realized that the emphasis should be on another syllable, as they say down south. “Since there is but one Substance, one Mind, one Life, I must be in eternal unity with that One that is All in all.” Using this emphasis it becomes something that is discovered, a happy surprise understanding. It’s not something I have to work toward, it just IS. In fact, I can’t escape it if I wanted to separate myself. This is a very different way to looking at this concept.
The words in our gospel reading that jumped out at me were the words “all the truth.” That seems to me a very different thing than Truth with a capital T… a Truth that is absolute, unchanging, static. If I were looking for “all the truth” in a human context I would ask different people for their understanding of the truth. It goes without saying that I would get different viewpoints, different perspectives. And it’s a sure thing that some of these “truths” would conflict with each other.
This also explains this last line… “… the Spirit will take what is mine and declare it to you.” I take this to mean that if we listen to what the spirit has to say to us, we will hear other opinions, other viewpoints. What is mine, what I think, what I believe,… will be declared to you. And vise versa. I will begin to understand your viewpoint if I listen to what the spirit is saying.
We are all part of one whole, and that one is the substance of the universe, the source from which we all come. When we hurt another person or neglect creation, we hurt ourselves. This is a principle that is contained within nearly every religion on the planet. And yet, we act as if it is not true. We exclude each other, we berate each other, we demonize each other and expect that it will elevate our status.
The truth is it works in just the opposite way. When I hurt you, I hurt me. When I exclude you, I exclude myself from being in communion with you. I lose the opportunity to know you, to be in right relation with you. That is a tragedy for both of us.
Listen carefully this week to what is attributed to God and remember, just because someone says it … that does not make it true. God is love not hate, God is unity not disharmony, God is inclusion not exclusion. The way you experience the love of God is important. So share it with others. Your experience is an important part of being “in eternal unity with that One that is All in all.”