Order of Worship
February 12th, 2006
“Heart Communion”

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Children’s Invocation I’ve Got Joy Down in my Heart – Children’s Choir
What Can One Little Person Do – Children’s Choir
Choral Invocation Standing on the Side of Love – UUMAN Choir

Story Part I
There was once a village that found itself in quite a pickle. They had to choose their next mayor.

The village was known as ‘Beneficence’ - one of the most wonderful places you could imagine. It was known, far and wide, that the people living in the village all ate together, learned together, laughed together. They cried when they lost something important and celebrated when the found something important. Beneficence was, by far, the best place in the world to live.

Many felt that reason it was such a great place to live was because of the Mayor. He had helped run the village for as long as anyone could remember. And, when he first started, he suggested a special system of taxes. They collected money, like most villages. But taxes in Beneficence required people to give something of their hearts as well. People were expected to give love. Or care. Or attention in some measurable way. It meant people were required to visit a neighbor if they were sick. Help fix someone’s roof if it was leaking. Put out the fires out or fetch the children when it was time to come in.

After a short time, the giving of love and care became natural. They enjoyed it so much, it wasn’t a requirement at all.. And the interesting thing… the giving of love and care made people feel much better about having to give money. The giving of love had made money not nearly as important. People found they rarely had to pay someone to help them. So people exchanged love, instead of money, as a way of getting things done. So people gave lots of love – AND – lots of money. And everyone was happy. And the coffers were full.

And because most people felt that Beneficence had become great because of the Mayor, he was extremely popular.

(Church President comes in and walks around looking beneficent and even hoisting his clasped hands over his should like a champion.)

Everyone loved the Mayor.

Unfortunately he died.

(Church President appears shocked to hear the news)

And as the villagers were removing his lifeless body from the throne where he once reigned…

(Church President comes over and whispers to Suzanne – mock complaining)

…You don’t want to die?

(Narrator erases…)

…Okay… Ahem… Unfortunately he was carried away by a pack of wild marauders… and thrown into the pit of despair where he railed against his captors and begged for crumbs of bread and scraps of raw…

(Church President complains again…)

… oh, what now?!? …

(more whispers and more exasperated erasing)


(looks at Church President sternly)

… he was called into a very looooooong meeting… from which there was NO escape…

(Church President throws up his arms and is carried away by other board members).

…He should have stuck with death… Anyway, now that he was taken hostage, the village found itself in the precarious position of looking for another leader. And thus, the pickle they found themselves in.

No one in the village could remember ever having to elect a mayor before. They didn’t know how to decide? Or even what qualities to look for. The village asked for suggestions. One of the biggest men in the village pointed out that a leader must be strong. …One of the warriors who defended the village noted the importance of bravery. The professor of the village said they must have lots of education and degrees. One of the craftsmen mentioned experience. The Banker pointed out that a leader must be good with numbers. The administrator pointed out that a leader ‘should have access to a lot of office supplies.’…And, of course, the poet and sage insisted the next leader have lots of Wisdom. These were compelling arguments. But it wasn’t until one of the smallest among them came forward and said she thought what made their last mayor such a great leader was that he loved them. In every decision made, the people knew they were loved.

That made their heads nod. So, they decided that the next leader should be someone who could love them more and better than anyone else. So, naturally, they would need to select the person with the best heart. Indeed, a perfect heart.

But, they should hurry, they thought. For just in the time since the last mayor had left, the village had become much more anxious. People’s generosity and their calm and trusting manner became a little more cautious, a little less willing to help when needed - and a little more suspicious of each other’s intentions.

So they went about looking for someone who would love them as much as the last mayor. Someone whose heart was not too small to see the big picture and not too big to see the little things that people did for one another. They’d have to find someone who loved more than just what was easy to love. Someone who could see love in everything. But how would they find such a person? How would they know a perfect heart when they saw one? And where might they look?

Hymn: “There is More Love Somewhere”

Chalice Lighting

Our goal as UUs is not to love what is easy, or what is safe or what is already loveable. Our goal is to love the world into a better place – which is to say, to love fairly in unfair moments, to love the weak in strong ways, to love the troubled back to health – For this kind of love, we light our chalice.

*Hand of Friendship

Story Part II
After much debate, it was decided that the next mayor would be decided by a contest. Posters sprang up throughout the land that the next Mayor of Beneficence would be the individual who proved to have the perfect heart. And that person,, it was decided, would get, not only the throne, but all of the great wealth that had accumulated in the village of Beneficence. And everyone knew what that meant.

Beneficence was famous. Not only was it known for kindness and love. But for riches as well – Everyone knew that the people who lived there gave away most of their money voluntarily to taxes because they always knew they would always have friends and neighbors to care for them. What use did they have for money when they had all the care they could imagine?

Well, it seems that the longer they went without a mayor, the more anxious the people became. The village became more and more afraid that the love and care the people of Beneficence once showed so naturally to one another would stop. And they worried that if they couldn’t count on love and care, they better protect not only their hearts, but their money. In their anxiety, people actually began to calculate how much of the money in the village treasury rightfully belonged to them. Greediness and a need for attention and recognition grew. And because control of the village coffers went to the next leader, the list of people who applied for the job of Mayor also grew.

It was decided that the contest for the perfect heart would be judged by empirical evidence. An atrial nuclear magnetic, resonance imaging machine was acquired so that, as the contestants for the mayor’s job began showing up, a picture of their heart would be taken and examined. And all the people of the village stood in the middle of the square waiting to see who would be the next mayor.

Many hearts came into view. But none of them appeared to be perfect. Some seemed way too small to love everything about the village. Some too big to make some of the harder decisions that required a delicate touch. Some seemed a little withered from lack of use. Some seemed tough from being over-exercised. Some were cold and meant they would not be forgiving. Some were too fiery hot indicating they might be too passionate. Most were torn and mended and patched together.

For two and a half days people filed past the monitor. One by one, young and old, girl and boy, big and small, people revealed their heart while the village held its collective breath hoping the perfect heart would be found.

After almost every heart in the village had been tested and showed rips and tears, a stranger walked into the village square. He smiled boldly and confidently. He waved to the crowd of people as he was stepping up to the machine and said to them:

“I have heard of your contest,” he said. “And I am here to claim the prize – the throne of this village and all the money in the coffers. Because I have the most perfect heart in all the land.”

Some in the crowd rolled their eyes. This was not the first time they had heard such a claim. The bold and the brash were the ones that usually had hearts that were much too big, or much too small. So when the stranger stood in front of the machine no one was expecting to see the image that came into view: a perfectly shaped, perfectly sized heart in perfect condition!!

Suddenly, murmuring erupted everywhere. Whispers and gasps everywhere. Some folks bowed down when they saw the image of the perfect heart.

“There!! You can see for yourself. My heart is perfect. I have done nothing but care for my heart since the day I was born. My parents made sure that everyone who crossed my path loved me unconditionally. I have been lavished with attention and always given the best care. And because of that my heart has grown to become the envy of the land. You can see, there is not a scratch on it. It is the heart of a true leader. And so I shall be to all of you for the days to come.”

The people of the village stood and stared. No one could deny what was being said was true. But somehow, something seemed wrong. Although the machine showed he had a perfect heart, there was something that didn’t feel right. Everyone had come to believe that when the new leader appeared, their anxiety would vanish. But if anything, the people felt even more anxious then ever. Something about the way he looked at the people… How he spoke with such expectancy. Entitlement. It was quite different from their previous mayor. And though it was something they couldn’t put their finger on, each and every person felt it in their own heart.

Though this stranger did indeed meet all the conditions of the contest of having a perfect heart. He did not give the people confidence. He did not make them feel the love they were looking for. He did not bring hope. And as the stranger approached the podium to take the throne, the people wondered what to do.

Hymn: There is more hope somewhere
Joys and Concerns
Reflection – Meditation – Prayer

Take a moment to stop, turn inward and ponder the essence of goodness you have inside you – the possibility, the mystery of unveiling truth, the light that goes by many names. We are grateful for this time and these people. For the care they show and the renewal we find. Help us to remember that we are often larger than the worries and doubts and fears that cross our path. That our response – especially when it is in concert with the people around us – enables us to do greatness. With the help of others we can know

  • the joy of
  • the sorrow of
    Let us know that our lives are more because of this time and these people.

Story Part III
The time came for the stranger with the perfect heart to take his reign in the village. But before he made it to the podium and took up the crown, another woman stood up and got their attention.

People knew her as the woman at the well. She stood by the village well and helped people draw water. In that way, she knew everyone who lived there. Her face was always kindly. But now she looked serious. Her walk to the podium was deliberate, but not proud. And when she turned to the people, all their caution turned to curiosity.

“Good people of Beneficence. We lost our leader. And that has made us anxious. And in thinking about who we would get to replace him, we reflected on who we have been. Who we are. And what we most wish to become. We decided, of all the qualities we want in our next leader, the most important is love. The kind of love that has helped us care for one another so well up till now. The kind of love that has always prompted us to do right by our neighbor. The kind of love that made everything – including money – seem much less important.

“We thought we could recognize a perfect leader by their having a perfect heart. And so we have stared into this machine for days to find a heart that has no flaws. And that is what we have found in the man who stands before you.”

“But I contend to you this day, we have not found someone who has a perfect heart. We simply have found someone whose heart has never been broken. And a perfect heart is more than that,” she said and she stepped in front of the machine.

All at once a roar came up from the crowd. The woman’ heart, which appeared on the monitor wasn’t perfect at all. Although it was beating strongly, it was more riddled with scars, rips and tears than any other heart in the village. There were places where pieces were missing. And lots of places where pieces seemed lumped onto the side. It was a funny hodge-podge patchwork heart.

“This old heart of mine is, I suspect, like many of yours. Worn with age, broken in places, mended with time and attention. It has been held together by consoling stories, memories of how things once were and hope of the way things might still become. Wisdom and reason have both torn it apart and pieced it back together again. And the scars – which have kept it working long after it knew it was broken, are fashioned from sympathy and faith. It is the scars that actually make it stronger than it once was. I believe this heart of mine – like the heart many of you have earned – is more perfect than one without any scars.”

Of course, this led the stranger to protest that he had won the contest fair and square. He started to demand the crown which only confused the people of the village. They stood in the middle of the square and listened – on the one side, the stranger held up the image of his perfect heart. And on the other side, the woman held up a very different image. The people, it seemed, were torn between a choice they hadn’t anticipated. And many of them felt even more anxious than before.

A call came forth from the crowd that the people should decide type of perfect heart would most likely lead to the love they were looking for. “It is up to us to decide! Stand on the side you believe will make the best mayor of Beneficence!” And as the call went out, the people milled about. Shoving began. People started to argue. Some took their place on one side or the other, believing that was the side were love would be found. But overall, the feeling was not one of love – but of anxiety and Unrest. And many knew not where to look or how to respond.

Hymn:  There is more Peace Somewhere


Anthem Standing on the Side of Love


Offertory Response

“We sing now together in joyful thanksgiving acclaiming creation whose bounty we share; both sorrow and gladness we find now in our living, we sing a hymn of praise to the life that we bear.”

Story Part IV

The commotion would not die down. Most of the people, who had still not chosen a side, felt frustrated and anxious. People began to lean toward one side and see that their friends were moving to the other side. For a moment, they were paralyzed in indecision.

Just then, someone asked what the last mayor would have done. And then another asked ‘what a perfect heart might choose in this situation?’ The crowd turned to the two candidates and fixed an expectant look in their direction. “What would someone with a perfect heart do in this situation?” they asked. “Let us decide based on their answers. And they all became quite as they waited for the two leaders to speak.

The stranger with the perfect heart stepped up first and shouted before them:
“A good heart always remains strong, true to the course. It doesn’t waver and falter. A good heart always makes the right choice – based on the most perfect of reasoning, the evidence of a sure thing. A good heart never chooses a course that might lead to regret. Look at the woman over there. She has wasted her time and attention on things that led to heart ache. She has opened herself to disappointment. Her heart records the number of time she has loved and lost The variety of ways she has discovered brokenness. She has watched love slip through her fingers. And felt the sting of emptiness and loneliness. Her path is never certain. Follow me and I promise you will never know loss. You will never know disappointment. Because you will understand what it means to have a perfect heart.”

As he finished speaking, he could see a few of the people in the middle of the square shaking their heads. And a few – especially those who had been most anxious – were comforted. And they moved toward him, till he was surrounded by dozens of folks calling for their friends to follow behind them and stand on this side of love.

The woman stood up next and looked around at the crowd. And she smiled.
“Of course,” she said, “everything he has said is right. A good heart always makes the right choice. Never wavers or falters or chooses a path it regrets. And, he’s also right: I have followed down many paths that led to disappointment and heartache. And there is a reason for that,” she said as she walked in front of the machine.

“Do you see that scar – the one that runs down the middle?” she asked as she pointed to the image on the screen. “It was the first broken heart I ever had. It came when the boy I had a crush on in second grade asked, on the last day of school, if I would walk to the bus with him. I said, ‘no’ because I wasn’t sure what would happen. I was afraid I would say something silly or that he would reject me. So we never did. He moved away during the summer and I never saw him again. I vowed it would be the last time I ever cried for not loving someone.

Since then, my life has been about taking risks. Little ones where I let others know I liked them. Big ones where I opened my heart – and my world - to people, even when I didn’t know what would happen next. I made best friends with people I knew would move away. I waited for some of them to come back. And sometimes they did. I watched people – and pets – I loved dearly get sick. I even watched as some of them died. And I chose to be with them all the way – even though I knew it would hurt more than I could have imagined. I stayed with the woman down the road when her son left home – even when she cried and cried for days and I had nothing I could think to say that didn’t sound stupid. But eventually she stopped crying and I stopped feeling stupid. I tried and tried to be a ballerina – because it was my dream. I didn’t give up even when I wasn’t picked for the recital. No matter how many times I wasn’t picked. And I cried when it didn’t happen like I imagined. But I found a way, in my mind, to think of myself as a ballerina - and that has made a world of difference to me.

I risked losing friends by standing up for people who were treated badly for being different. Either because they were a different color than me or spoke a different language. Or because they were gay. And I sometimes fell in love at the wrong times. With the wrong people. For the wrong reasons. And I have the scars to prove it. But I never let fear of making a fool of myself stop me. Or fear of being hurt. Because every time I have loved something truly, deeply, honesty – my life became a little more worthwhile. And I like to think that others lives became worthwhile too.

My friend is right. My scars are proof that I have had my heart broken. But I wear them proudly because each one is a badge that says I tried, over and over, to say ‘yes’ to life. Because, ultimately, I believe life is worth saying ‘yes’ to. And I love it when life says ‘yes’ back.

I have been hurt because there are things in life worth hurting for. And most everyone of them has a name, a face and a story.

And as she continued to speak, the people drew closer to hear what she had to say. Until they were sitting all around her. Even the stranger, who had come across the square from where he was standing. He saw everyone crowded around the woman and knew that it meant that he would not be the next mayor. And he was very disappointed. In fact, it was enough of a heartbreak that it became his first scar. And his first glimpse of everything he had never, to this point, been able to know. Everything that would make all the difference in his ability to really know love. And to really be happy.

So he walked over to where everyone else was standing to join them. And he began to sing.

Hymn There is More Joy Somewhere

Heart Communion

*Closing Hymn Standing on the Side of Love

Story Epilogue
It is said that the village of Beneficence went on to become even greater than before. It became more loving and more wealthy than anyone could imagine. And the reason is that the people there came to an important realization. To stand on the side of love was not to choose one person over another. Or one side over another. It was to reach out and form the largest possible circle you could make from stretching your arms – and your hearts – as far as they could go. Everything standing on the inside was standing on the side of love. Everything on the outside – well, that was just another possibility… waiting to be discovered.

Choral Benediction
Go in Peace
*Please stand as you are able