CST Chapel Service, May 5th, 2015
Call to Worship
We gather today under the streams of the Maypole, signifying the arrival of spring, the bonds of friends and family, and the jubilation of harvests to come.
To our altar,
We offer cream to celebrate the richness of divine, creative love
We offer cake to celebrate the sweetness of this beloved community
We offer whiskey to celebrate the fire of our commitment
Chalice Lighting (from Singing the Living Tradition)
We gather this hour as people of faith
With joys and sorrows, gifts and needs.
We light our chalice, this beacon of hope,
sign of our quest for truth and meaning,
in celebration of the life we share together
Scripture Reading: Song of Songs 2:10-13
My beloved spoke and said to me,
“Arise, my darling,
my beautiful one, come with me.
See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.
Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
is heard in our land.
The fig tree forms its early fruit;
the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.
Arise, come, my darling;
my beautiful one, come with me.”
The celebration of Beltane is about the waxing cycle of the year. It celebrates fertility, abundance, and recognition of the gifts given to us by the earth, by our loved ones, by our gods, that sustain us through the inevitable periods of waning. Today we are at a unique juxtaposition of Beltane, which asks us to focus on what can do moving forward, and the end of our community’s organizational year, wherein we are all focusing on what we have done in the past. Many of us are graduating, turning in the last of our assignments and preparing to catalog all we have learned for ordination and fellowshipping committees. We have faculty and staff retiring, closing a door on long, productive careers. Our school is getting ready to sleep as the rest of the world enters seasons of activity and creation.
As so many of our are leaving this beloved community — some for good, and some for just a season — how do we keep our fires for justice, love, and vocation alive? Beltane reminds us to look to those closest to us, our beloveds, to remind us of what is worth fighting for. Today is my anniversary. I will not be spending it with my husband, as I have class until late tonight. But my call to service, to religious leadership, is also his call. Instead of being upset at our separation on this special day, he surprised me with this cake on our altar. He baked it from scratch, with the help our two young children, to show his commitment to our life together. We kindle each other’s fires with our love, and hopefully we will pass along that example to our kids.
Again and again I have been moved by the love and abundance in this community over my three years here. I have questioned my call, and been brought back by fellow M.Div.s, who were able to see me in ways I could not on my own. I have witnessed profound hospitality, not just for each other, but for our pets as well. I read emails about grocery support for students’ families who are struggling to get enough food. For all of these things and more, I am ablaze with gratitude. Love is the source of my fire of commitment, and there is no time of year that celebrates love more than Beltane. Love is the source of growth and renewal, of healing, of grace. Love is forgiveness, and inclusion, and the one true act of creation. Like the Velveteen Rabbit, we are made real when we are loved. Our missions, our visions, our change, manifest only when we love the hell out of this world. Take that with you today, for the waning times.
So mote it be.
Please join me in the spirit of prayer, with words adapted from Jackson Browne’s “For a Dancer”:
Keep a fire for the human race
And let your prayers go drifting into space
You never know will be coming down
Perhaps a better world is drawing near
And just as easily, it could all disappear
Along with whatever meaning you might have found
Don’t let the uncertainty turn you around
(The world keeps turning around and around)
Go on and make a joyful sound
Into a dancer you have grown
From a seed somebody else has thrown
Go on ahead and throw some seeds of your own
And somewhere between the time you arrive and the time you go
May lie a reason you were alive
Will you choose to let it show?
Passing of the Chalice
For UUs, the flaming chalice symbolizes many things — service, justice, community, the search for truth and meaning — any list with an ending would be incomplete. As I and the other graduates leave this place, we pass the responsibility of its caretaking to you and the continuing students. May you all keep it safe, and strong, and vibrant. May you hold it with loving hands and hearts for those who will come after you. Blessed be.
Please stand and join hands for our benediction from Unitarian minister Theodore Parker:
Be ours a religion which, like sunshine, goes everywhere;
its temple, all space;
its shrine, the good heart;
its creed, all truth;
its ritual, works of love;
its profession of faith, divine living.