church in the snow


    Since we can’t get to church this morning because of the snow and ice, I’ve put together a service of poems, songs, and a film clip. So, having gathered, let us prepare our hearts for worship.

    Our call to worship is “Morning Poem” by Mary Oliver.

    Every morning
    the world
    is created.
    Under the orange

    sticks of the sun
    the heaped
    ashes of the night
    turn into leaves again

    and fasten themselves to the high branches —
    and the ponds appear
    like black cloth
    on which are painted islands

    of summer lilies.
    If it is your nature
    to be happy
    you will swim away along the soft trails

    for hours, your imagination
    alighting everywhere.
    And if your spirit
    carries within it

    the thorn
    that is heavier than lead —
    if it’s all you can do
    to keep on trudging —

    there is still
    somewhere deep within you
    a beast shouting that the earth
    is exactly what it wanted —

    each pond with its blazing lilies
    is a prayer heard and answered
    every morning,

    whether or not
    you have ever dared to be happy,
    whether or not
    you have ever dared to pray.

    Let us join together in singing our opening hymn.

    Julie Miller will now lead our time of confession: “Broken Things.”

    Our first reading is “Poem” by Mary Oliver.

    The spirit
    likes to dress up like this:
    ten fingers,
    ten toes,

    shoulders, and all the rest
    at night
    in the black branches,
    in the morning

    in the blue branches
    of the world.
    It could float, of course,
    but would rather

    plumb rough matter.
    Airy and shapeless thing,
    it needs
    the metaphor of the body,

    lime and appetite,
    the oceanic fluids;
    it needs the body’s world,

    and imagination
    and the dark hug of time,
    and tangibility,

    to be understood,
    to be more than pure light
    that burns
    where no one is —

    so it enters us —
    in the morning
    shines from brute comfort
    like a stitch of lightning;

    and at night
    lights up the deep and wondrous
    drownings of the body
    like a star.

    Our second hymn will be led by Emmylou Harris and Robert Duvall: “I Love to Tell the Story.”

    Our second reading is “Thanks” by W. S. Merwin.

    with the night falling we are saying thank you
    we are stopping on the bridges to bow for the railings
    we are running out of the glass rooms
    with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
    and say thank you
    we are standing by the water looking out
    in different directions.

    back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
    after funerals we are saying thank you
    after the news of the dead
    whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you
    looking up from tables we are saying thank you
    in a culture up to its chin in shame
    living in the stench it has chosen we are saying thank you
    over telephones we are saying thank you
    in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
    remembering wars and the police at the back door
    and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
    in the banks that use us we are saying thank you
    with the crooks in office with the rich and fashionable
    unchanged we go on saying thank you thank you

    with the animals dying around us
    our lost feelings we are saying thank you
    with the forests falling faster than the minutes
    of our lives we are saying thank you
    with the words going out like cells of a brain
    with the cities growing over us like the earth
    we are saying thank you faster and faster
    with nobody listening we are saying thank you
    we are saying thank you and waving
    dark though it is

    Let us now come together for Communion.

    The Gatlin Brothers will offer our closing hymn.

    Let us go out with joy as Lyle Lovett and his Large Band offer the postlude.

    Go in peace, live in grace, trust in the arms that will hold you.



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