Sunday Service given at Unitarian Universalist churches in Groveland & Modesto -
Prelude: Triton with Tibetan Bowls and Bells
Chalice Lighting: We light this chalice honoring community and remembering We Are One. We share One Spirit with all Creatures, Beings and all of Life. Let our worship of singing and dancing this morning bring us together in the peace, love, and unity of the ONE.
Opening Non-Words: Congregation mirrors/echo's movements: wave hi - little & big, smile, wink, thumbs up, stand, shrugs, neck & shoulder rolls -shake hands - pat backs - shake everything out - breathe in & out UP & DOWN. All sing and move: "We are opening up in sweet surrender - to the luminous Light of the One - we are opening up in deep surrender - to the fertile darkness of the One."
Welcome, Introductions, Announcements
Joys and Concerns
Response in music and movement: From You I Receive, To You I Give - "From you I receive, to you I give. Together we share, and so, we Live."
Offertory: Adagio, Beethoven
Reading: from Hafiz, 12th C mystic - "The God Who Only Knows Four Words" "Every child has known God. Not the God of names. Not the God of don't. Not the God who ever does anything weird. But the God who only knows four words. And keeps repeating them, saying: 'Come dance with me.' Come Dance. "
Sermon - Let the Spirit Move: I guess you've gotten the idea - today's service is about moving - dancing - embodying Spirit - Letting Spirit MOVE through us.
It is said that "in the Beginning was the Word" - the Word being SOUND, a Sound which is VIBRATION or MOVEMENT. Sound and Movement are inseparable. This vibration that is both sound and movement is the essence which animates life. The latest metaphysical theories and findings have revealed what is inside of the smallest of the smallest - inside the quark, I believe it is - they've discovered that what it is made of is - a thread of vibration. . . . . . and this vibration is the moving substance of Everything that is. Some would call that God, or Christ energy, or Spirit. It is essentially nameless, but I like to call it the Holy One or the Great Mystery.
Be Ye as little children and Ye will enter the gates of Heaven. I believe that Awe and Wonder is the basic experience of true spirituality. Awe and wonder is closely linked with gratitude and appreciation for Beauty. We were all born with a natural desire to join with and attune ourselves to the beautiful and harmonious vibration of existence - to let our Life resonate - passionately relating to the universe with our own joyful sounds and movements. Up until the 4th Century, dance was an integral part of worship. Sacred dancing was not only a natural way of expressing joy, praise and thanksgiving, but it was also a way of salvation and a way of prayer. There are 44 words in the Hebrew language that mean Dance or Dancing. And in Aramaic, the language in which Jesus spoke, the word for dance and rejoice are the same.
In many cultures and religions both ancient and present day, there are movements associated with praying and worship: Bowing, rocking, chanting, the Shakers ecstatic dancing, the hadrat movement; the Yeminite step - limping around the altar to gain God's favor, all sorts of clapping and snapping to get God's attention, prostrations, gestures and hand mudras, genuflecting, the spinning and sacred whirling of dervishes, and the many disciplines that work with the breath and movement as spiritual practice. In all times, people have danced for the sheer joy of it. Social, folk and religious dancing has brought people together in harmony through the unifying power of rhythm. And singing of all kinds has brought people together in harmony through the power of sound and breathing in unity.
It is so sad that we have been cut-off from our physical selves. We see through the ages, there has developed a deeply rooted distrust of the body - and especially of the female body. We cannot ignore the centuries of patriarchy, the power of the church and its hierarchy, the burning of so called witches, and our tragic puritan legacy.
Something is definitely lacking when our words and actions come only from the head and do not include our other senses - especially our hearts and our bodies - our physical selves. And something is unbalanced when we attend only to thinking and working and mental doing, without taking time to appreciate the non-verbal realms and forms of expression.
Let us now reclaim our bodies. Let us now reclaim our natural inclination to spiritual movement. All expressive art forms, and especially Divine Dance - help us to move beyond intellect toward our own UU Source #8: which says that we derive our UU principles from: "Direct experience of the transcending Mystery and Wonder affirmed in all cultures - - - which moves us to renewal of Spirit, and an openness to forces which create and uphold life." Dance is a direct language of spiritual expression. Sacred dance - Spiritual movement - the kind of dance we will be doing this morning opens a way for this "direct experience of the transcending mystery and wonder".
We're here today to offer you and lead you in an experience of spiritual practice and worship that gets us beyond our intellect and reasoning - that gets us out of our heads and out of our pews and chairs - and into the integration of mind/body/spirit. Looking with awe and wonder at Creation in all of its glorious manifestation - and reclaiming our voices and bodies as the instruments for expressing praise, prayer and Spirit.
There Is So Much Magnificence in Creation - We're going to stand and move to an adaptation from one of the Dances of Universal Peace - the original dance says there is so much magnificence in the ocean - waves are coming in, waves are coming in. (Imagine the feeling of ocean or standing near and seeing and hearing ocean's magnificence). Now with that feeling of waves of energy coming in to us lets sing about all of creation - Imagine and remember the beauty and light and peace and magnificence that there is in all of Creation - sing and move to the lyrics: "There is so much magnificence in Creation - Beauty flowing in, Light flowing in, Love flowing in, Peace flowing in, Spirit flowing." Bow in Namaste, be seated.
About the Dances of Universal Peace - The Dances of Universal Peace, which we are sampling here this morning, and which we will also do here this evening are for opening up to Spirit - opening up to renewal and joy by appreciating the forces which create and uphold life. The Dances of Universal Peace were created by spiritual teacher, Zen and Sufi master, Murshid Samuel Lewis in San Francisco in the 1960s. His inspiration was from a great mystic teacher, Hazrat Inayat Khan who brought Sufism to the West, and sacred dancer Ruth St. Dennis. Murshid Sam recommended that the way to world peace is for all people to "eat, pray and DANCE together". And, Ruth St. Dennis said: "Divine Dance is the unbroken rhythm of spiritual affirmation." As you have just experienced, this way of dancing is not like ballroom or line dancing, nor like ballet. It is not "performance" oriented. There is no 'audience' and no 'performer'. Rather, this type of dance is an inner concentration - an expression of Spirit with movement that comes from within. It's purpose is to balance all of our thinking and working, worrying and doing - with equal amounts of spiritual peace and pleasure. It's purpose is to join us in the Unity of Religious Ideals which is the mystic root of all faith traditions. This type of dance is a meditation - an inner concentration - a "darood" or body prayer. It is both an expression of Spirit and a movement toward Spirit - or as we say "Toward the ONE. In the Dances, we experience a Unity of Spirit which is beyond spoken language - beyond the external divisions and distinctions which divide the world's religions. The next Dance, which we will experience just sitting and singing today, expresses the beauty of all religions harmonizing their forms to express the spiritual realization that we all come from the same One Holy Source.
House of Prayer: teach, sing, harmonize all verses. (all sitting)
Those Who Love: Our closing Dance this morning is with partners, so please form a circle and face a partner. Our circle represents our one human family - our one world in community and communion. When we celebrate the Divine in ourselves and honor it in each other and in all creation, we are a powerful force for making Peace. We are creating inner peace for ourselves and we create peace for the world by loving the sacred Unity of all that is.
Benediction and Extinguishing the Chalice: We extinguish the chalice, but not the Light of Spirit within us. We release our hands, but not our connection with one another and with all that is. Blessed Be, Shalom, Amen.
Postlude: Let It Be A Dance ("Let it be a dance we do. May I have this dance with you. Through the good times and the bad times too. Let it be a dance. Let it be a dance, Let it be a dance." - Ric Masten)