Monday, February 2, 2009

evolution sunday

I preached a homily yesterday on the compatibility of religion and science. As the first Sunday of every month is a multigenerational worship service in our congregation we shortened the sermon and increased the elements of the liturgy that better speak to all ages: story, ritual, music.

The theme of the day was Evolution in recognition of the annual Evolution Sunday project promoted by Prof. Michael Zimmerman of Butler University. Prof. Zimmerman wanted to create a liberal religious balance to all the conservative religious voices speaking against evolution. He produced a clergy letter that has collected over 11 thousand signatures from Christian clergy (now there's a Jewish version of the letter and a Unitarian Universalist version that I encourage our clergy to sign). And when Charles Darwin's birthday rolls around every year on February 12 (this year is the 200th anniversary) congregations are encouraged to create an event promoting the compatibility of good science and healthy religion.

For our service our DRE, Lynne Webber, read a children's story about the Big Bang called The Everything Seed. And we divided the story in two parts with a ritual in the middle. For the ritual, Lynne had prepared a glass bowl filled with yellow streamers each of which was attached on one end to the bottom of the bowl. The bowl sat on the altar in the middle of the worship space with the congregation all around. We had people come up to the bowl and take a streamer and then unroll it as they returned to their seat until the whole space was filled with yellow streamers connecting everyone back to the center point.

Then we had one of the kids dressed as a demon come into the space and with a pair of scissors start attacking the streamers. We flicked the lights on and off the pianist strummed inside the piano and I beat on a drumto make scary background music. The demon went all around the altar cutting every streamer. When the demon had gone I talked about the spiritual situation of feeling like we're isolated from each other and from God, like we're holding the broken pieces of our lives and don't know how to recreate that connected feeling that is spiritual health and that we know is our true situation. But, you know, religion means to "tie again" so then we had everyone take their streamer and tie their ends to the ends of the people sitting on either side of them or behind them, or back to the center altar. It was beautiful.

And then Lynne read the rest of the story. And I preached.


Robin Edgar said...

In a variety of ways Creation Day was an inter-religious event promoting the compatibility of good science and healthy religion. It is most regrettable that the UUA apparently still believe that it was "within the appropriate guidelines of ministerial leadership" for the intolerant and abusive fundamentalist atheist minister of a certain unmentionable self-described Unitarian Church to falsely and maliciously "name-call" Creation Day as a "cult" of the "manipulative and secretive" "Solar Temple" variety. . . What was the UUA thinking? More pertinently, what *is* the UUA thinking in obstinately refusing to acknowledge the wrongfulness and harmfulness of that "less than competent" decision of the UUA's ever so aptly named Ministerial *Fellowship* Committee?

Glenda said...

Great sermon, Rev Ricky.

I have a background in science, and one thing that concerns me is that the progress in science seems to come so much more quickly than does the wisdom to know how to use it in an ethical and sustainable way.

I wonder if that is because too many efforts tends to degenerate into shouting matches generating more heat than light, or if the fruit of the "Tree of Wisdom" (if there was such a thing in the Garden of Eden) ripens more slowly.

BTW, I loved the streamer ritual.

See you next week,