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January 15, 2006

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Seventh Sunday After Epiphany (Year B)
Sunday, February 19, 2006

Portrait of the First President of the United States, Anglican, Deist

Presidents' Day
(celebrated Monday, February 20, 2006)
Religion and the Presidents
A 2005 Sermon from the Universalist Church in Stoughton, Massachusetts, examines the Presidents and religion, reviewing the (somewhat odd) overrepresentation of Unitarian and Universalist presidents and candidates to the office.

At least one blogger ("UU Enforcer"), a correligionist, complains that while he is a fan of the new hymnal supplement, Singing the Journey, he laments its lack of national songs and anthems, American and Canadian. On Presidents' day, one or more such pieces might be appropriate. Hymns of the Spirit Two had several from these countries (although published prior to "O Canada" becoming the national anthem of Canada). Our home congregation, as did many in our home town, sang the last verse of "My Country, 'Tis of Thee," every Sunday, since the 1976, only recently stopping this practice. It appears as no. 384 in Hymns of the Spirit Two, to AMERICA, by Samuel Francis Smith (1832):

My country, ’tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing;
Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrims’ pride,
From every mountainside,
Let freedom ring!

My native country, thee,
Land of the noble free,
Thy name I love;
I love thy rocks and rills,
Thy woods and templed hills;
My heart with rapture thrills,
Like that above.

Let music swell the breeze,
And ring from all the trees,
Sweet freedom’s song;
Let mortal tongues awake;
Let all that breathe partake;
Let rocks their silence break,
The sound prolong.

Our fathers’ God, to Thee,
Author of liberty,
To Thee we sing;
Long may our land be bright
With freedom’s holy light;
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God, our King.

Only the first and last stanzas require any alterations; namely, the line "land where our forebears died," in the first stanza. The last stanza, which we used as just after the doxology, requires a bit more adjustment, but the editor has had many Sundays to contemplate its words:

Our forebears' God to thee,
Author of liberty--
All laud we bring:
Long may our land be bright
With freedom's holy light;
Protect us by thy might,
Great God, we sing.

One loses the "royal" designation for God, but this seems not a terrible loss in a constitutional democracy. With this few changes, "My Country, 'Tis of Thee," will be added to Hymns of Spirit Three, but no doubt in the meantime the tune will be familiar to and singable by many.

Isaiah 43:18-25
A way will I make through the wilderness ...

from Hymns of the Spirit Three::
"Unto Thy Temple, Lord, We Come" No. 14R

Psalm 41
Consider the poor!

Words: Adapted from Pslams of David, Brady and Tate (1812) C.M.
Words: based on Pslam 41, Psalms of David, Brady and Tate (1812), adapted by REH (2006); Music: KINGSFOLD (C.M.D.)

Hap-py the souls that thought-ful-ly
the poor and out-cast serve;
When times of troub-les come a-round,
those souls does God pre-serve.
And You, their lives, with bless-ings crowned,
in safe-ty do pro-long;
and dis-ap-point the will of those
who seek to do them wrong.

If freed from heal-ing oth-ers’ ills,
now they with sick-ness lie;
O Love, be heal-ing still their fate,
and in-ward strength sup-ply.
O Life’s pre-sence has set me free,
be-fore that ra-diant face.
Your ten-der care se-cures my life
from dan-gers and dis-grace.

Let there-fore Is-rael's lov-ing God
from age to age be blessed;
And all the peo-ple's glad ap-plause
with loud A-mens ex-pressed.
Hap-py the souls that thought-ful-ly
the poor and out-cast serve;
When times of troub-les come a-round,
those souls does God pre-serve.

2 Corinthians 1:18-22
Each of God's promises is a "yes"

From Singing the Living Tradition:
"Just As Long As I Have Breath" No. 6

...I must answer 'Yes' to Life. The hymn from Singing the Living Tradition is indebted as well to Dag Hammarskjold (former Secretary General of the United Nations), from his private papers published after his death in a plane crash on UN business in the Congo, entitled Markings: "For everything that has been, thanks and praise. For all that is to be, yes." e.e. cummings, son a Unitarian minister, re-writes the passage from Corinthians this way (Reading No. 504 in Singing the Living Tradition):

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

Mark 2:1-12

Jesus cures the paralytic

Our correligionists, within and without our denomination, are much given to the poetry and religious musing of Rumi-- Jalal Al-Din Rumi, Sufi saint, founder of (what in the West are called) the Whirling Dervishes. So much of it, even more than below, takes on the topic of Jesus and healing, in a very straight-forward way. This particular rendition has a much less miraculous cast to it, and thus serves a different audience. One thinks, of course, of another President, the crypto-Unitarian Thomas Jefferson, who literally cut apart the gospels, redacting out the portions of the good news he thought to be too incredible to be true; the resulting work, The Jefferson Bible, is sold by the UUA's Beacon Press. Adapted from the Masnavi (the so-called "Qu'ran in Persian"), Book I, 143-81. YORKSHIRE,

The Teach-er said "O leave your home to-day,
ev-en your loved ones should now stay a-way."
Then gent-ly asked "and which town are you from?
Heal-ing de-pends on how my seek-ers come."
Through shar-ing sto-ries with the sick and poor,
the Teach-er spoke a-bout friend-ships and more.

"What loved ones might there now be liv-ing there,
what fa-mi-ly and friend-ships do you share?"
The sick one told of a long his-to-ry,
of all past loved ones and all fa-mi-ly,
speak-ing of ma-ny de-tails in each town,
from lo-cal food to fea-tures of re-nown.

Then the Phy-si-cian solved the mys-ter-y
find-ing the source of the deep a-gon-y.
"So where pre-cise-ly does your love re-side?"
"It's near the bridge, on the left-hand-ed side."
"We've re-cog-nized the ail-ment, count on me,
and true faith will pro-vide a re-me-dy."

"A pro-phet said, Who-ev-er dreams a dream
at-tains it soon-er through our God Su-preme."
The Heal-er's lov-ing words and pro-mis-es
re-lieved the pa-tient's count-less ill-ness-es.
True pro-mis-es grant heal-ing con-stant-ly;
false pro-mis-es reign in our li-ber-ty.

Modern dervishes, wearing the hat of the sort once worn by Rumi himself, dancing the very dance of sorrow Rumi once danced in memory upon the loss of his beloved, Shams i-Tabriz.

Posted by rehurst at January 15, 2006 05:31 AM


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