Last month, I facilitated a book group discussion on The Last Week by Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan—an amazing historical and theological study of the last week of Jesus’ life as chronicled in the Gospel of Mark. In one chapter, Borg and Crossan discussed the prophetic tradition, begun by the Hebrew Prophets and embraced by Jesus, that emphasized how worship should reflect and commit us to God’s call for justice, rather than individual piety or salvation. The famous quote by Micah sums this up best:
“Will the HOLY ONE be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
8 The Holy One has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the HOLY ONE require of you?
To do justice and to love kindness
and to walk humbly (or attentively) with your God.”
Worship invites us through liturgy—song, prayer and meditation, chalice lighting, sermon, offertory—to lift up and name what has ultimate worth and meaning to us, what is worthy of our attention and our commitment. As Unitarian Universalists, our worship hopefully lifts up, names, and reflects our covenants, our Purposes and our Principles. Our worship should connect us deeply to our call to affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person and communities grounded in peace, liberty and justice for all.
On May 12th, I would like to invite us to hold our Sunday morning service at the Mothers’ Day Walk for Peace. Carla Corey and Jayne Boissonneault are organizing a team from First Parish to participate in the walk, in Dorchester, on Mothers’ Day. The Walk is sponsored by the Louis D. Brown Peace Center, which provides educational programs on peace and nonviolence to local schools, and support to families and communities who have lost loved ones to gun violence. The shooting spree in Newtown, Connecticut left many of us reeling, wondering how to respond to such violence and destruction. For many families, the reality of such violence is a regular occurrence, one they live with in their neighborhoods and streets. We can respond by going where such violence and such loss are not aberrations, but part of the daily reality. We can bear witness through worship for justice and peace, by taking our service out of our sanctuary, and walking attentively with our neighbors, as well as the Spirit of Life.
There will be a worship service at First Parish for those who cannot go on the walk, and Dolores will be providing alternative programming for the Religious Education program. But I would encourage as many of us who can go, even if you can only walk a little bit of it, to sign up with Carla and Jayne, so we can walk as a congregation. There will be many other congregations there (including several Unitarian Universalist ones) and an interfaith service at the end, with an interfaith choir. The Director of the Peace Institute, Tina Chery, will be speaking at our worship service here on April 28th, and will have more details on the events of the day.
I am very excited about this opportunity to bend the moral arc of the universe a little bit more toward justice, to give and receive more love, more hope, more peace, and more joy not just somewhere, but where it is needed, where it matters.