Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Preparing worship for colleagues

Today I got an email invitation from Keith Kron, a friend and colleague here in the PNWD who coordinates worship presenters for our UUMA retreats. We have a retreat coming up April 15-18 and he needed someone to present worship on Wednesday morning of the retreat.

I said yes because in our chapter it is our professional duty to say yes when asked to do something for the chapter (unless it's impossible). But I did so while quaking slightly in my boots.

It's not easy to present worship for the colleagues. It's different from presenting worship for congregants; there's a sense of needing to say something different from what you might say to a congregation of laity. The faces looking back at you from the chairs have all got the same kind of expertise and they're probably better at it than you are! or so it feels.

I've presented worship in the past but I called on a raft of others to help me and presented a modified Taize service, with lots of singing and chanting and reading and silence. Piece of cake.

This time I need to find a way to say something fresh to my colleagues, something they might not have thought of, something that may be unique to my experience but has commonalities for them.

The line "No man is an island" popped into my head and I realized that's what I have to say that is unique-----since moving to the island, I've learned a lot about what it means to live on an island, to be separate from the mainland, and to resist returning to the mainland, preferring to be isolated from the mainland. I think we UUs do that to some extent, finding our religion to be a safe little island, resisting having much to do with other religious folk, preferring to be isolated and different.

I think that's where I'm going to go. I'll use John Donne's ancient words as a springboard and find some songs that fit. I'll let you know how it goes.


LinguistFriend said...

Kit, of course Donne's lines are familiar. But I wonder whether you have read Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who took that comparison further, writing "No religion is an island. We are all involved with one another. Spiritual betrayal on the part of one of us affects tha faith of all of us. Views adopted in one community have an impact on other communities. Today religious isolationism is a myth. For all the profound differences in perspective and substance, Judaism is sooner or later affected by the intellectual, moral, and spiritual
events within the Christian society, and vice versa.

We fail to realize that while different exponents of faith in the world of religion continue to be wary of the ecumenical movement, there is another ecumenical movement, world-wide in extent and influence: nihilism. We must choose between interfaith and inter-nihilism. Cynicism is not parochial. Should religions insist upon the illusion of complete isolation? Should we refuse to be on speaking terms with one another and hope for each other's failure?
Or should we pray for each other's health, and help one another in preserving one's respective legacy, in preserving a common legacy?" The source was his essay
"No Religion is an Island" in Union Seminary Quarterly Review
21, no.2, pt.1, 1966. It was reprinted in one collection of his essays.

LinguistFriend said...

Oops, of course "tha" should be "the" in the third sentence.

ms. kitty said...

Thank you so much for your citing Rabbi Heschel, LF. This is something I hadn't read and I appreciate the reference. I'll use it in my homily.

ms. kitty said...

And you're like me in that you can't stand to let your own typos stand. And maybe you're like me in that you enjoy the accidentally funny typos of others!

Ms. Theologian said...

Well, I never make toyps... :)

You might also consider that certainly from a scientific perspective, the Americas are one big island. We tend to think of islands as small, but I think we're deeply affected in the US by our islandness (even on the mainland).

ms. kitty said...

Another helpful comment! Thanks, Ms. T.