Hallowed Week

A call to worship for All Hallows' Eve and All Saints Day

by Abigail Hastings

We come again to a time when mortals
            play out the battle of good and evil.
Before the goodness of the saints is delivered to us,
We must face the dark night
Don our courage
Wear it like a shield and
Say BOO! to the darkness
            before it engulfs us.

We make play of our fears
We cover our faces, disguise our bodies
We peer out into that world of shadows and light
And we think, for a time, we can prevail.

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for thousands of years

A wedding call to worship

by Abigail Hastings
“Call to worship” for the wedding of
Jessica Sehested and Richard Mark, Saturday 6 May 2006

for thousands of years
people have gathered
under a grove of trees
or an expanse of sky
beside an altar of marble
or beneath a cloth of blessing
to bear witness to such
a beautifully simple act
   of intention and promise

for thousands of years
people have looked on
as those they love
make known their choice,
this choosing of love
   and life and future

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Wintering over

A call to worship in a chilly season

by Abigail Hastings

We sing ~
In the bleak midwinter
Frosty wind made moan
Earth stood hard as iron
Water like a stone ~

And perhaps that’s how winter
truly feels

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Resilience Mojo for the Bonobo Year

A bleak midwinter sermon

by Abigail Hastings
Text: Jeremiah 31:31-34

I bring greetings from my home church, Judson Memorial in New York City, a sister Alliance and UCC church with deep Baptist roots as it’s a memorial to Adoniram Judson, missionary to Burma in the early 1800s. One thing I love about Judson is that it’s always full of surprises—always swimming upstream with the unexpected. I was at a church last month that had a humongous cross up front that reminded me of the 18-footer we had at Judson over 50 years ago. Then we decided it was more authentic to desacralize the space, to recognize the deep marriage of sacred and secular when you see it embodied, literally for example, in our space with the dancers and artists of the time (Judson is generally regarded as the birthplace of postmodern dance). So in that tradition of “guess what we’re doing now?” — Judson’s been having Bible study, ya’ll!

And not the easy parts—we’ve been muckin’ around with major and minor prophets, and recently studied today’s passage, Jeremiah 31. It’s a familiar prophetic playbook: basically, clean up your act, O Israel, or Yahweh will go elsewhere. What the Lord required was pretty basic: treat others fairly, don’t exploit the stranger, the orphan and widow, don’t shed innocent blood, and knock off following other gods.[1]

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When grief sits with you

A call to worship

by Abigail Hastings

The poet Ellen Bass talks about
when grief sits with you, “an obesity of grief,”
and asks, 
            How can a body withstand this?

“Then you hold life like a face,” she instructs us—
“and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again.”

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Call to Adventuring

A poem for Advent

by Abigail Hastings

We gather here by lambent light
            in from the cool and rain — rain on rain on rain….
            here to collect what light we can, shining in the darkness
                        — brave us —

but this is not the bleak midwinter — it is the barely winter
                        baby winter, just crawling to full height winter

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The Summer of Betrayal

A roundup of things best forgotten

by Abigail Hastings

Maybe it’s the extra week we were gifted with this summer—what with Memorial Day falling on the first possible Monday and Labor Day on the latest possible one, giving us 15 weeks of “cultural summer” instead of 14 (also noting that extra “leap second” we got to the world clock in June). Or maybe there was something in the contaminated water or fire-scorched air. The summer of 2015 is one for the history books, especially if you’re a fan of upside down world.

I’m talking about things not being as they seem and how that leaves us feeling a bit unmoored, sending us to reevaluate what we thought was solid and trustworthy. Of course I’m not talking about politicians—they long ago took us on circuitous paths of duplicity (setting the scene for the “anti-politician” candidates of this summer’s dog days). Few should be very surprised at embezzling FIFA officials, stock market vagaries, or that prisoners can escape maximum security prisons once in a blue moon (another rare event we had this summer). We can’t even feel very betrayed by the tumultuous weather—firestorms, floods, mudslides. That’s what Mother Nature does and if anything, she should feel betrayed by us in what shaped up to be the warmest year-to-date (well, just in the past 4,000 years, to be fair).

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