Category Archives: Rituals

Water Communion Liturgy

Prayer

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.

Commissioning our Music Ministry

fullsizerenderTo commission is to entrust and confer authority upon a person or group of people to engage in a particular action or to give a specific charge.

Today we gather in this space made sacred by our presence to confer upon our growing music ministry a charge: to fill our hearts and minds and spirits with the healing, uplifting, joyful and transcendent power of music to unify and inspire[1] this (gesture to congregation) our beloved community.

Will {insert name here}, the chair of our music committee, and {insert name here}, the coordinator of our orchestra, please stand. We call upon you to promote, encourage and support the value of music in our faith community through the coordination of music to enrich our lives and deepen our worship experience.

{insert names here}, Do you accept this charge? If so, say I do.

At UUCC we are fortunate to have a fellowship of pianists to share their love of the piano on Sunday morning. {insert names here} will you please stand. We call upon you to bring your love for and joy of your instrument to sacred space on Sunday mornings. We call upon you to celebrate all that is our life, to guide our journey into all things spiritual and to deepen and enliven the human spirit.

{insert name here} do you accept this charge? If so, say we do.

{insert name here}, as the director of the orchestra, we call upon you inspire the instrumentalists among us. We call upon you to bring our hymns alive and conduct with a vision of excellence in orchestral arts. We call upon you to gather up a community of individuals dedicated to their instruments and committed to creating a spiritual symphony to arouse and deepen worship experiences for all.

{insert name here}, Do you accept this charge? If so, say I do.

{insert name here}, as the music director, we call upon you to reveal and celebrate the breadth and wealth of world’s music, which expresses and embodies the values of Unitarian Universalism.[2] We call upon you to keep a commitment to excellence in choral arts as you gather up individual voices and bring alive the holy above us, below us, around us, in us and through us.

{insert name here}, Do you accept this charge? If so, say I do.

To the musicians and vocalists among us, those in the choir, in the orchestra and those in the pews with gifts to share, please rise at this time. Your talents humble us. We graciously receive the generosity in which you share your love of music. We call upon you to love what you do and have fun in your coming together as you share the joy of music with this, (gesture to congregation) your beloved community. We call upon you to strive for excellence in shared ministry as you inspire us with desperate voices in harmony with the divine. Will all who accept this charge give me an alleluia.

While the congregation is blessed with a dazzling assortment of talented musicians who grace our services with their craft, we believe that congregational singing is the musical heart and soul of worship[3] thus we charge you the wider community to join in singing with hearts and minds wide open that together we may lift up a joyful noise in celebration of life, love and all that is holy. Will all who accept this charge give me an alleluia.

[1] “Mission Statement” Music Committee the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Montclair, NJ http://www.uumontclair.org/music/music-committee/

[2] “Our Purposes” Unitarian Universalist Musicians Network. http://www.qrd.org/qrd/www/orgs/uua/Old/archive/uu-UUMN.html

[3] First Unitarian Universalist of Nashville. https://www.thefuun.org/music/

Appreciation and Commission of New Church Leaders

Appreciation of Church Leaders

To be sure, there are people who give much to this church of their time and their talents whose names will not be called this morning, and there are people on this list who do things for which they are not, now, being recognized.  This service is not an attempt to honor all those who serve this community.

Today, we recognize those who have stepped up for the past year or more to the task of church leadership.

Today, we pause to say thank you, to those who accepted a charge and served, to those who will be passing on the light of leadership.

Will all the outgoing members of leadership please come forward to be recognized for your contributions to the life of this vital and dynamic faith community?

As you come forward please take a candle from the basket and light it from our chalice.

Will the outgoing leaders please come forward now…

You hold in front of you the symbol of our faith, a flame from our chalice the symbol that brings us together and binds us together in the common search for the common good.   For the past year you have stepped up to the call of leadership guiding us toward this vision. We are grateful.

I invite the congregation to join together in expressing their appreciation by reading the response found in your order of service

Congregational Response:

Grateful for your commitment and vision to leadership during this past year, we celebrate you.

For all that you have done to keep the values of liberal religion at the center of church business, we celebrate you.

For all that you do to keep the life of this faith community vibrant and engaging, we celebrate you.

For who you are, for the vision you kept in front of us, we are grateful. Thank you.

As you return to your seat I invite you to place the ongoing flame of leadership in joys and sorrows. Do not blow out your candle.

 

Commissioning of the Church Leaders

[The newly elected leaders will stand and step to the sides and front of the congregation]

Leader:  These are the people we have called to serve us.  Will the Congregation please join in the Ritual of Commissioning?

Congregation:  We, the members of this congregation, charge you to be guided in your work by the vision we express in our unison chalice lighting and by the Unitarian Universalists Principles we affirm in common.

Right Side:  We charge you to affirm the dignity and worth of all persons and to champion the rights of children, youth, women, and men; straight and gay; old and young; that this might indeed be a “free church, open to all people.”

Left Side:  We charge you to cherish our spiritual diversity and to help us to live together so that we are strengthened rather than divided by our religious pluralism, so that we might truly “cherish the integrity of each individual and search for truth with reason as our guide.”

Right Side:  We charge you to honor our past without being bound by it, that we might be “mindful of our past [yet draw on] modern knowledge [as we] respond to the spiritual needs of persons.”

Left Side:  We charge you to hold in your hearts the needs of the wider community in which we live, so that we live out our devotion to “the common good in community, nation, and world.”

Leader (to the Board):  Members of the Board, you are charged with keeping sight of “the Big Picture,” with holding our vision, honoring our past, and guiding us toward our future.  Are you ready and willing to accept this charge?  [Board Members respond: We are.]

Leader (to the elected Chairs, Long Range Planning, Committee on Ministry, Small Group Ministry Steering Committee, Nominating Committee):  You are charged with keeping sight of your particular piece of our community’s mosaic, with advocating for the needs of the area of our communal life which is your specific concern, and working with one another for the common good of the whole.  Are you ready and willing to accept this charge?  [New leaders responds: We are.]

Leader (to the Congregation):  Do you, the members and friends of this congregation, affirm these elected leaders as volunteers who need your support, your participation, and your appreciation as well as your caring and concern?  [Congregation responds: We do.]

Congregation:  Grateful for your willingness to take on the responsibilities of leadership in our community, we affirm your calling and vow to support your ministries of leadership in every way we can.  We encourage you to take care of yourselves as you take care of us, and to remember that you are part of this community even while you lead us.

Officers, Chairs, elected committee leaders:  We thank you for your faith in us, and vow to do our best to live up to the charge you have given us.  We promise, also, to remember that the ultimate responsibility for our church lies with all of us, for this is our home, our community.  May we all do what we can to make it a home we can be proud of.

Leader “For all that has been – thanks.  For all that will be – yes.”  Blessed be. Amen

 

Inviting the Silence

And now, let us enter with greater intention
into the respite of this hour.
Let us breathe in the calm that holds all.
Let us breathe in the care that cares for us all,
the mystery above us, below us, within us and beyond us.
Let us prepare to pause… to listen
that we may touch the wisdom of the ages
with the curiosity of all things new.

{ring the chime, standing still until the silence has faded, hold space of silence for up to 5 minutes}

Building Dedications

Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Augusta
The Church – The Judd House – The Drew House

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In far off times others will put their carvings beside yours,
and light candles where yours long ago burned away.
In their celebrations there will be a lingering of your questions and solicitations.
The rafters and pillars will remember your dreams,
And your children will discover the beauty of your ancient hands.
~ Keneth Patton

Here on the corner of Winthrop and Summer, we pause to honor the ancient tradition of communities gathering to name and celebrate what is most holy.

Early in the 19th century the liberal religious voice of the Unitarians and the Universalists began to emerge in New England. Here in Augusta, the Reverend Sylvester Judd and the Reverend Sylvester Drew became shepherds of our beloved faith.

In the two centuries that followed countless people of faith have loved our congregations into the future. In 1992, with the merger of All Souls Unitarian and Winthrop Street Universalist our common values and shared principles were woven together into a fine tapestry of faith.

Over the decade the bonds of this community have grown, stronger and deeper. The Reverend Drew described our Universalist heritage as a “faith which works by love.” In this decade the love of this community has been tested and rebuilt. With every nail removed, with every carpet torn up from the glue that binds, with every wall demolished and every floorboard stripped of its varnish, this congregation cared for their community. With every bucket of spackle emptied, with every gallon of paint spread, with every new window installed and with every bulletin board hung this congregation cared for their community.

An Act of Love, demonstrated as a community committed to each other transformed each building into a fresh bright and open space.

An Act of Faith, emboldened by dreams of who you are and how you would walk into the future you loving prepared the way so your children’s children will discover the unfolding beauty of their faith.

An Act of Devotion, lived out in hours of labor and love, you laid a new foundation in the walls and windows, so that the dove could fly in and the dove could fly out.

And so, we gather to dedicate the buildings. Let the Act of Dedication be begin.

From this day forward, our building here on the corner Winthrop and Summer will be known as The Church. It is here where we will gather as a community — it is in singing, in worshiping, in gathering for fellowship, in breaking bread, and in the caring for the youngest that we know who we are, who we are becoming and where we are going.

___{child’s name]____ we send you forth with the water made holy by our presence, by our witnessing, by our steadfast commitment to the goodness of humanity.             Go forth and bless The Church

From this day forward, our building at 71 Winthrop will be known as the The Judd House. It is here where the mission and vision of our faith community is carried forward by our minister, our staff and the leaders of the community. It is here where our chalice children begin to know the principles of our faith as they are lived out in their growing years.

__{child’s name}____ we send you forth with the water made holy by our presence, by our witnessing, by our steadfast commitment to the goodness of humanity. Go forth and bless The Judd House.

From this day forward, our building at 6 Summer Street will be known as The Drew House. It is here where our future unfolds in our religious exploration programs, youth and our children’s programs, in small group ministry and in the work of our committees who take up the mission and vision of our faith.

___{child’s name____ we send you forth with the water made holy by our presence, by our witnessing, by our steadfast commitment to the goodness of humanity. Go forth and bless The Drew House.

Let us line the sidewalk here and face inward to our beloved campus made holy by your hands, by your presence, by your commitment to witnessing and bringing to life our liberal religious faith.

Let us turn and sing ___{select song meaningful and known to gathered congregation}___

Benediction

May our doors remain open for all who enter.
May the citizens of Augusta know us a generous, kind and welcoming.
And may the faith which works by love ripple wide and far,
Now and forevermore.
Blessed Be and Amen.

Burning the Mortgage

Just as life is a grand mystery… from whence we come and from where we go… so to is this mortgage… from whence it comes is just that, a mystery. Lost in institutional history is knowledge of where the church mortgage originated.

But today, unlike the grand mystery, we do know where it goes. It goes into the achieves as something that was, a memory past of the many boards over time who have diligently wrote this line item into the budget; a memory past of the many treasurers over time who have diligently written a check once a month to meet this financial obligation, a memory past of the many members over time who have pledged to this congregation so that this line item, this obligation could one day be stamped paid in full.

Let it be know that on _______{date}________ {name}, UUCC Treasurer will be the last treasurer to write the last check in payment of this financial obligation.

And, let it be written in UUCC historical achieves that on June 5, 2011, {name}, UUCC Board present stood before us and burned the mortgage as the congregation sang “Amen”.

Pianist leads the congregation in singing “Amen” the mortgage is burned.