Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Theology of Manure: Sacred mystery, magical compost, or mess?

Tomorrow I'll be leading the service at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Plymouth.  The theme is Manure!  Or rather, how we're all connected by the choices we make, that which we consume, all that we waste and the earth.  Manure reminds us of the interconnectedness of spiritual ecology -- we are one with the Divine through the choices and consequences of our actions.   I've wrapped in some 19th century transcendentalism in there, a story about Hawthorne's time at the Utopian agrarian community Brook Farm, my time at Sadhana Forest, eating as spiritual practice, and recognizing we are all connected to the Divine through our labor and love.  It is a lovin' spoonful, to say the least!

We've an amazing group of people helping out with music (Scarborough Fair, 'Tis a Gift to Be Simple and Here comes the sun!) including my dearly beloved, Michael, performing on his dobro (guitar) for the first time in public after almost 30 years.  I'm so proud of him.  His fingers are pulsating blisters but he can finger pick George Harrison's SUN SUN SUN like nobody's business.  Thanks, Bunkie.

I'm pretty excited about the sermon and readings, too.   I'll post them in the next blog installment. The Order of Service is here below.   I finally got my sermon down below 3000 words.  Tricky to say what I want about spiritual ecology and share my heart in less than 20 min.  But I think it's pretty good.

I thought I'd post everything here for those of you who can't join us.  I'd love your feedback and thoughts.
I'll add some photos later but for now, here is the Order of Service I've put together.

It is based on a typical UU service -- but I've selected the hymns, unison response text, songs, prayers, opening/closing words, readings and chalice lighting words.  I also came up with the idea of having a BASIL COMMUNION -- not something we UU's do, mind you.  But I thought it went with the theme (and songs).

Michael is strumming on his guitar now after a day of replanting the holy basil (tulsi), basil, and sage seedlings he's been growing under the grow lights this week.  Several little fast growing sprouts have popped up through the vermiculite and are being transplanted into little 2 ounce peat pots full of GRADE A COW MANURE! There's a 30 pound sack of manure sitting on our dining room table.  He is in heaven and all is well with the world.

Wish us luck!

SUNDAY, MARCH 13, 2011

Order of Service:

Gathering Music 

Prelude (Scarborough Fair)

Opening Words: Children of the earth and sky” by Alice Berry
Children of the earth and sky, we are nurtured, sustained, given warmth and light from above and below. 

Supported by earth's strong, firm crust, we build our homes, till the fields, plant our gardens and orchards. 

When we turn from self and seek to be aware, we will find holy light in human faces, in blossom, birdsong, and sky. 

Then earth is truly our home, and we are one with all earth's creatures, Parents of earth's children yet to be.

*Opening Hymn:       #44 "We Sing of Golden Mornings"

We welcome you! You are invited to explore our principles and purposes while we honor your freedom of conscience. Our congregation celebrates the presence and participation of all, regardless of spiritual beliefs, age, gender, abilities, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, or gender identity. If you are looking for a rational, thoughtful, ethical, spiritual and free approach to religion, we invite you to join us.

Lighting of the Chalice

Unison Response:
The element of fire represents passion, veracity, authenticity, and vitality. If the chalice is the supporting structure of Unitarian Universalism, then we are the flame. We are the flame, fanned strong by our passion for freedom, our yearning for truth-telling, our daring to be authentic with one another, and the vitality we sustain in our meeting together. In all of this there is love.

Candles of Celebration and Concern

1st Reading: “Naturalchemy” from the Humanure Handbook: A Guide to Composting Human Manure by Joseph Jenkins



Prayer and Silent Meditation on Hands  by Christine Robinson
I invite you into a space of quiet and peace, to ground yourself by noticing your contact with chair and floor, by sitting straight, by becoming aware of your breathing.

Look at your hands. They've been through a lot, those hands … they have strengths, scars, beauty…. I invite you to remember that it is your hands that do the work of love in the world. These hands may hold another's hands. These hands may type emails to politicians, sign cards of consolation and congratulation. These hands may patiently teach, quilt works of beauty or write words urging peace. These hands may bathe children, feed elders, nurse the ill, work the earth, organize communities. These hands clasp in prayer, open in release, grasp in solidarity, clench in righteous anger. These hands are God's hands, your hands, our hands; a great mystery of flesh and intention, a great potential of embodied love. 

Anthem:  ’Tis a Gift to Be Simple   Shaker song by J. Brackett (1848)

2nd Reading: ‘Letter to Sophia’ by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1841)

Sermon: The Theology of Manure: Sacred mystery, magic compost or mess?
Basil Communion
We have come now to the part of our service where we will partake in communion.  Communion is derived from Latin communio (sharing in common). 

We share in common the love of the earth, a profound appreciation for regeneration and life.  In that spirit, let us embrace the life giving power of manure and seed, of plant and sunlight, the work of hands and hearts. 

Helpers will begin passing out the holy basil and sage seedlings.  Please take one and pass it along until everyone in your row has one.  If you want to take yours home, please do.  If you’d like to hand them back in after the service for us to grow, return them to the table in the fellowship hall at coffee hour.  Margaret Salt and the garden committee will be planting these basil and sage plants in the spring once the snows melt.  They will be for all our use, open to all of us in a community of sharing.  The work of our hands, the joy of our love.

*Closing Hymn:        #77 "Seek Not Afar for Beauty"

*Closing Words:        by Marjorie Newlin Learning
Remembering that the universe is so much larger than our ability to comprehend, let us go forth from this time together with the resolve to stop trying to reduce the incomprehensible to our own petty expectations, so that wonder -- that sense of what is sacred -- can find space to open up our minds and illumine our lives

please great your neighbor in silence with a simple folding of hands together before your heart, a smile and a slight bow.  This NAMASTE means “The Divine Light in me Honors the Divine Light in You”

Postlude -- Here comes the Sun!

(see next blog for full readings and the Sermon!)

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