Category Archives: Liturgy

Our Nation and Our People are Hurting

...a candle for all who are sitting at the edge of their chairs this week with anger, with tears, with fear, with trauma long buried resurfacing or circling around anew.

Let us pause to breathe together

Our nation, our people, our love for each other is hurting, hearts are breaking, AND we are rising strong, resilient, and courageous to comfort the wounded, empower the survivors, and build up a people who will bring down the chains of oppression, the power of patriarchy, and the sins of white supremacy.

Tonight, I light this candle for each of you. May your unique expressions of love and anger, compassion and disdain be the balm that saves the people one interaction at a time.

We will rise!
We will rise together!
We will rise!

Opening Prayer – Maine Senate

Prayer for the Opening of the Maine Senate
by Rev. Carie Johnsen
Wednesday, April 27, 2011, 10:00 a.m.

God of Grace, God of Wisdom and Creativity, God of love divine.
As we open today’s session of the House, we invite the spirit of justice, liberty and freedom to gather and mingle in the chambers with us. We invite the spirit of truth, love and compassion to be their companion in the day ahead.

In the quiet of this morning, in the still of this day, let us remember the people of Maine who have elected the officials who gather now to begin their work on behalf of the people. Let us remember the people of Maine who seek to live with dignity and hope for a bright tomorrow. Let us remember those who are vulnerable and afraid, suffering and at risk, disenfranchised and marginalized.
The work ahead of this legislative body is no easy task. It is demanding and relentless. It is at times powerful and rewarding; yet is has the potential of being harsh and ruthless. We pray that it may never be heartless.

God of Grace when the day is long and hard, and when we find ourselves in the middle of dialogue unforgiving, may we pause and look into each other’s eyes and remember we are all in this together.

God of Diversity remind us to listen deeply and compassionately to the constituents and the leaders who bring divergent and conflicting ideas to the table.

We pray that our words be kind rather than divisive. We pray our words bring forth solutions rather than barriers. May we be reminded our religious, social, political, and ethnic diversity is a precious and fragile gift to be treasured and celebrated.

God of Creativity open our hearts as we work together in the direction of a sustainable tomorrow. Open our minds to the collective wisdom of our colleagues, our constituents, our state, our country, the global community and our universe.

God of Wisdom remind us No one person or group of people can comprehend the full reality of any situation. May we be reminded not to discard our convictions but rather to hold them lightly as if they were resting in the palm of our own hands. In this way, we invite the others to take them from us to refine them, strengthen them or perhaps replace them.

God of Courage and reason, give us strength. Grant us the audacity to stand forever vigilant to the values of justice, integrity, and equality. May we be bold and brave in our attempt to render legislation that is reasonable, fair and just.

God of Humility remind us to laugh at our foibles and be kind to our fellow travelers. May we be reminded we are one among many in a vast interdependent web of existence that is never ending and always unfolding.

And finally, God of Wisdom remind us to bow toward the greater mystery that something more powerful than ourselves exists in the universe.

God of Justice. God of Glory. God of Wisdom and Creativity, we bow to you as we enter this auspicious day. So may it be, amen.

Opening Prayer Maine Senate

Spirit of Life, Love and all that is Holy, we gather in these chambers made sacred
by the presence of your people, committed to what is right and good and true.

Called by something beyond ourselves and within ourselves, we gather:
the eyes and ears and heart and mind of God, know by many names
but never truly know.

By the will of people, we gather.
May our discourse and debate expand possibilities, generate creative resolution,
and affirm life and love.

May our compromises, our decisions, and our votes, bring strength, compassion, equity, and justice to all that is, was, and will be.

We gather with ideals and passions, convictions and power:

May our shared dreams, divergent ideas, and conflicting commitments merge in a circle of mutuality with each other, with the people we are called to serve, and with all of God’s creation.

Guided by wisdom greater than ourselves, may we hold this work in the open palm of our hand to be refined, strengthened and, perhaps replaced. May we suspend knowing, listen to understand, expand options, and craft the impossible.

May the marginalized, oppressed, and suffering be the breath that leads our ideals.

May our outcomes serve the people, all of the people, God’s people. We are the stewards; God calls us to love, to care, to serve with compassion, to be architects of a more equitable and just nation, to unite with a global community.

Assembled in the call to serve,
gathered in this place of privilege, as people of privilege,
Spirit of Life, Love, and all that is Holy,
be here now.

So may it be. May it be so. Amen.

MLK Benediction

MLK Dinner Portland, ME. January 16, 2018

Be still, my friends for just one more minute.
Look to the person on your left and look to the person on your right.
Look to the person across the table and across the room.
These are your people.
We, my friends, are the keepers of the dream.
Powers greater than ours sanction and sustain our call
to stand up, speak up and demand
nothing less than justice and equality for all.
In this room we have been graced with all that we need.
Gather up the strength and the wisdom.
Gather up truth and justice.
Gather up light and goodness.
The future is expecting us.
The time is now.
Life calls us on.
May we be granted bold courage.
May we be embolden with radical hope.
May our lives be a living expression of Revolutionary Love.
Go in peace.
Go in love.
Take what you find here
back with you into the world.
There is much to be done
and the world needs the grace of God’s finest
abundant in this time and place.
So may it be, Amen.

O Magnum Mysterium, O Great Mystery

O Magnum Mysterium, O Great Mystery

In reverence and awe
we gather before thee.
From the edges of the expanding darkness,
to the grand depths of the great sea,
to the molten core beneath our feet,
Life emerges – glorious, anew.

Creation blesses us at every turn,
if we but pause long enough,
to be spellbound by the beauty,
to be held captive with wonder and delight.

If we but pause long enough,
to see beyond what the eye beholds,
to quest for the ineffable with mystic gladness.

Gifted with consciousness & agency, creativity and capacity,
we seek to understand our place in the grand order,
we seek purpose amid chaos and destruction,
we seek clarity and resolve in a complicated world,
we seek to bring comfort where there is suffering,
we desire healing to bind up a wounded nation,
an anxious people,
our lonely souls.
And, most of all, may we learn to Love, truly love, authentically Love,
when it is complicated and hard, when our minds resist,
and most of all, when it simply seems, out of our reach.

O’Magnum Mysterium, O’ Great Mystery

We stand before thee humble stewards of Life Expanding,
We strive to be God’s Love,
to be curators of goodness,
to be enlightened beings,
to align with what is right and good,
to serve Life,
to serve Love,
to serve Creation.

In this season of hearth fires and candlelight,
may we seek beauty in the moments,
May our wonder spark joy and laughter
May we welcome both the giving and the receiving,
and, may our quest for peace
begin in the silence of our hearts.

In this Season of hearth fires and candlelight,
May we be inspired by ancient stories,
the birth of a child,
a candle that burns bright,
the enlightenment of humanity,
the returning sun.

In this season of hearth fires and candlelight,
I pray, we see beauty, truth, and Love,
in stories revealing,
in memories making,
in life ever unfolding.

So may it be, Amen.

This day, a depository of abundance

This day, a depository of abundance,
faith lingers
joy thrives
hope dwells
love reigns
if we but chose to make it so.

This hour, a reservoir of grace,
truths revealed,
vulnerabilities appeased,
companions exposed,
relationships awakened,
if we but chose to make it so.
This moment, a gateway,
wide vistas,
bright horizons,
melting stones,
crumbling walls,
if we but chose to make it so.

Come my friends, enter
that we may fill the void
with abundance and grace.

Harvest Communion

Since time immemorial
people have gathered
around hearth fires and theologies
around alters and relationships
around births and deaths
to bear witness to passionate living
expressed in
laughter and touch
tears and tenderness
anger and pain
silliness and seriousness
fear and vulnerability
courage and valor

People have gathered
around water coolers and wine
around friends and enemies
around tables and in bedrooms
to share the intimacy of an imperfect life
to befriend regret, resentment and bitterness
to soothe grief and heartache
to rejoice in goodness and praise the holy
to companion loneliness and isolation
to find grace in the darkness of despair
to stand in awe of the beautiful and abundant

People have gathered since time immemorial
to bow before all that we don’t know,
all that is and was and shall be.

Gathered now to bear witness,
share the journey,
exchange the stories,
May we open our hearts and minds
And prepare the spirit for the ritual of communion.

Bound Up With Humanity

Bound up with humanity and united in life,
we gather in the shelter of faith, hope and love.
Nestled in the sweet company of
open hearts, curious minds, and generous spirit,
we settle into the beating pulse of transcendent mystery.
Called to truth,
guided by the ineffable,
the path opens,
the way is made clear.
the adventurous soul follows;
trust leads us on.
Called by life
Gather by faith
may our time together be an aspiration,
an emergence of goodness and light.

Opening Words in Celebration of 25th Anniversary Unitarian Universalist Community Church

On the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of Small Group Ministry at Unitarian Universalist Community Church in the twenty-fifth anniversary year of the consolidation of All Souls Unitarian Church and Winthrop Street Universalist Church in Augusta, Maine. (October 29, 2017)

Spirit of life, love and all that is holy,
in these sacred halls
in the bonds of community
in the well of that which nourishes and sustains
we gather in the comforting arms of the care that cares for us all.

Into this holy gathering, we come
in search of relationships that are real, and
healing communities to bear witness to the life forever unfolding
beautiful, complicated, and true.

In this holy time, we pause
for almost two hundred years, Unitarians in Augusta
have sought the unity in the oneness
that which is known by many names but never really known

In our desire to touch and be touched,
see and be seen,
love and be loved,
we seek out each other that we may know God as Love:
in our midst, in family, in friends, and in thy enemy.

In this holy time, we pause
for almost two hundred years, Universalists have celebrated
the goodness of all of humanity and the sanctity of a life well lived.

In our search for healing and wholeness, truth and justice,
we strive in word and deed to create and sustain
a world in which all of creation is held in the light and love

In this holy time, we pause
for twenty-five years
unified and strong,
vibrant and real,
dynamic and engaged,
One by one we arrive,
Unitarian Universalists, united in faith.
One by one we arrive
into the hallowed arms of a community
of Life, Love, and all that is holy!

In this holy time, we pause
for twenty years Unitarian Universalists of Augusta
have gathered in small group ministry
seeking deeper connection,
cultivating meaning and purpose.

In the company of others,
exploring this faith
sharing the spiritual journey.

Together we make
this space holy,
this time sacred
and this faith real.

Come, let us worship together
as we have done for countless generations,
as we will do well into the future.

Water Communion Liturgy


In the spirit of life and love, we gather.

In the spirit of life and love, we gather.

In the spirit of humility, we bow before creator.

Let us breathe in and breath out together, knowing this breath of life is shared and sustained by all of creation.

Let us listen in the silence for the sure signs we are not alone: the giggle of a child, the shuffling of feet, the heavy breath of a neighbor, the songbird in the yard, the sirens that pass by (insert other sounds heard in the room).

For all of this is life, beautiful and glorious.

For all the joy, laughter, and love, we also know sorrow, tears, and hate. Death, destruction, and violence unfold before us.

For all the comfort of home, companionship of friends and family, and of place, we also know loneliness, displacement, and homelessness, and danger. Fearful, vulnerable, and fragile we carry on.

Let us, this morning, create a prayer together. I invite you to speak randomly from where you sit. I invite you to lift up that which rests on your heart and mind. I invite you to speak up and I will echo back your prayers at the close for those using our assisted hearing devices.

{Pause for sharing}

May we be still in the embrace of this community as we hold those suffering in the light of Love and all that is Holy.

With gratitude for the sustaining waters of mother earth, and life ever flowing,
we light a candle at the center of our communion vessel.

With the sound of running water, our share the plate offering will be
given and received to help support hurricane relief in Texas and Florida.
~ Carie Johnsen

Water Communion

In our water communion we come home to a community we call our own. Whether it is your first day or simply too many to count, we are glad you have come home to spirit, to goodness, to grace.

We come home to a people who call us to our best selves and forgive us when we disappoint and fail.

We come home to a faith that guides our living, challenges our privilege, strengthens our resolve, deepens our spirit and grows our soul.

We come home to a sanctuary that breaths life into sadness, comforts our grief, stills our anxiety, shores up our fragility, and celebrates our humanity.

We come home to a movement that calls us to a love fiercely, live boldly, speak truth to power, uproot oppression, dismantle whiteness, call out privilege and demand justice; a faith movement that asks us to speak up and show up – over and over and over again.

We come home to a global community where all is not well. Where life is unbalanced and always teetering on the backs of others.
Where inequality is the reality from which we live. Givers and takers.
Those who have and those who have not. Overprivileged and underprivileged.
Good and bad. Evil and grace. Love and hate.
Peace and violence.

Still we come home to love, to companionship, to unity, to something greater and wiser to sustain our hope and dreams for life, glorious life.

Earlier we lit a candle at the center of our bowl to remember with humility and gratitude the sustaining waters of mother earth. In the stillness of running water, we embraced this community as we held each other and a world community in the light of love.

I ask,
Are you one of the suffering in need of love?
Are you one in gratitude with ample light to share?
Maybe you hold both realities in your heart this morning.

Either way, you have come home.

In a moment, as you come forward for our water community, you are invited to add water to the vessel. If you didn’t bring water we have water for you to add.

Your water represents a part of your life that is blessed with joy and woe, laughter and tears, life and death. Sometimes the distinction is clear. Sometimes it is blurred. Sometimes it is a blending of waters.

As you come forward bring to mind the place from which your water was gathered. As you pour your water recall the feeling that washed over you. Recall your location, who and what supported you, surrounded you, held you in embrace and shared the breath of life.

As you turn to leave we invite you to pause so that we can bless the sacred in you. The choir will sing as we gather the water and receive a blessing.

Carie and Noah will offer blessings as water is received.
Blessing: You are worthy, holy, and whole.

Blessing the Water

The creators of the water communion, Carolyn McDade and Lucile Longview said,

“Water is more than simply a metaphor. It is elemental and primary, calling forth feelings of awe and reverence. Acknowledging that the ocean is considered by many to be the place from which all life on our planet came—it is the womb of life—and that amniotic waters surround each of us prenatally, we now realize that [this worship service] was for us a new story of creation… We choose water as our symbol of our empowerment.”

In this spirit
we humbly acknowledge water as creator and sustainer,
we concede to water both giver and taker of life.

In this spirit we know,
these waters have been sanctified by life itself.
These ancient waters have already been blessed
by the redwoods in California, the wildfires that rage,
the imposing flood waters, the freezing tundra,
the expanding deserts, the melting glaciers,
the running river, the white cloud gathering.

These ancient waters have been blessed by
those who died when the waters overwhelmed the land and the surge rose and levees broke
dehydrated flora and fauna in the hot scorching sun
the creatures of sea seeking cooler waters
the person with walked miles for a bucket of clean water
the person who’s water was shut off for lack of payment
the protester who says water isn’t for sale
the farmer seeking a new life when the fields dry up
the thirst immigrant crossing the border

These ancient waters have been blessed by
the women washing in the holy ganges
the tears that won’t stop
the innocent child suckling
the thirsty runner and the sweat of labor
the joyful laughter,
the love of family,
the company of friends.

These ancient waters have been blessed.
As our lives have been blessed by love shared and spirit flowing.
As this day has been blessed by a community that cares for each other and all.

In this spirit we seek the blessings of life and love on the heart of humanity.
So may it be, amen.