The Art of Resistance

Prelude: Jim Pearce

Chiming of the Singing Bowl:  Rev. Misha Sanders

Words of Welcome and Announcements: Lynne Dale

Good morning! I am Lynne Dale, a Worship Associate here at Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Sandy Springs, Georgia. 

Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation seeks to create loving community, inspire joy and spiritual growth, and support courageous action. All are welcome, as together we journey towards justice and equity by learning, caring, and acting together.

We especially welcome any newcomers and visitors we have today.  I hope you’ll join us after worship for coffee hour… from the comfort of your own homes. You can just stay right here when the service ends. There is no need to leave this zoom call, we will begin coffee hour as soon as the postlude is over. 

Each week brings us closer to finishing the building renovation and completion of the new patio behind Subramanian Hall. We are planning to lay the patio paver stones next Saturday, Sept 26, and are relying on volunteers to help us with this project. We need strong workers for two shifts—9 am till noon and 1230 till 4 pm. Food and water will be provided and chairs will be set up in Subramanian Hall when you need a break. Bring gloves, hats and knee pads. We are saving a few thousand dollars by doing this ourselves. Please notify Constance Dierickx or Lil Woolf if you can help. Details are in the newsletter and will be emailed this week as well.

If you haven’t already, now is a great time to grab whatever materials you’ll need to light your own chalice if you’d like that to be part of your worship experience today. 

As always, kindly set your phones to worship mode; we won’t know, but I think you might enjoy the hour free from distractions. And feel free to check in on your social media of choice to let your friends and family know about this place of caring you’ve found today. Our congregation is an exciting place to be, and we love it when you share the good news. 

And although we cannot be physically together to greet each other today with hugs, high-fives, smiles, and words of love, we are all together in spirit and each and every one of us is welcome.  

And now let us prepare for worship with our Director of Music, Dr. Phillip Rogers.

Music: Dr. Philip Rogers “Gather the Spirit”

Call to Worship: Rev. Misha Sanders

Good morning. I am the Rev. Misha Sanders, and I am honored to serve as the senior minister here at Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation, in Sandy Springs, Georgia. 

I call us into worship this morning with a poem by Rev.Angela Herrera, called, How Poets Pray.

“What do you do with the secret verses of your heart? 
With your need for redemption, the story without words? 
With paradoxical truths, too private and nuanced to share, that cannot be printed or spoken aloud?
You weave their energy into a poem, 
carefully, carefully, over and under and through, 
luminescent strands that cannot be un-teased, 
until the poem is shot through with light from an unknown origin. 
And you whisper it into the dark. 
Breeze-forms delivered into the deep.”

And now, I’m so happy to turn it over to our own Harper Bush, who  will be lighting our chalice.

Lighting of the Chalice: Harper Bush

We light this chalice,
symbol of our purpose
to bring more love
and justice into the world.
We light this chalice,
knowing our beloved community is dispersed
across communities,
not bound by walls
but connected
through the web of life.

Story Wisdom: Rev. Misha Sanders “A is for Activist”

For our Story for All Ages, we are going to learn more about activism. There are so many ways that we can stand up against injustice or things that are unfair in our community. What cause or social justice issue is really important to you? (Please share your thoughts in the chat).

Our story for today is entitled A is for Activism. This book explores our UU values of community, equality, and justice in a fun way by using each letter of the alphabet to explore social justice issues in our community. I am going to share my screen so that we can enjoy this story together.

Reading: Lynne Dale

For the Consideration of Poets
By Haki R. Madhubuti

where is the poetry of resistance,
the poetry of honorable defiance
unafraid of lies from career politicians and business men,
not respectful of journalist who write
official speak void of educated thought
without double search or sub surface questions
that war talk demands?
where is the poetry of doubt and suspicion
not in the service of the state, bishops and priests,
not in the service of beautiful people and late night promises,
not in the service of influence, incompetence and academic
         clown talk?

We Are Not Responsible
By Harryette Mullen

We are not responsible for your lost or stolen relatives. 
We cannot guarantee your safety if you disobey our instructions. 
We do not endorse the causes or claims of people begging for handouts.
We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. 
Your ticket does not guarantee that we will honor your reservations. 
In order to facilitate our procedures, please limit your carrying on. 
Before taking off, please extinguish all smoldering resentments. 
If you cannot understand English, you will be moved out of the way. 
In the event of a loss, you’d better look out for yourself. 
Your insurance was cancelled because we can no longer handle
your frightful claims. Our handlers lost your luggage and we
are unable to find the key to your legal case. 
You were detained for interrogation because you fit the profile. 
You are not presumed to be innocent if the police 
have reason to suspect you are carrying a concealed wallet. 
It’s not our fault you were born wearing a gang color. 
It is not our obligation to inform you of your rights. 
Step aside, please, while our officer inspects your bad attitude. 
You have no rights we are bound to respect. 
Please remain calm, or we can’t be held responsible 
for what happens to you. 

Interlude: No Coming, No Going

Joys and Sorrows: Valerie Johnson

Good Morning. I’m Valerie Johnson, a member of Northwest’s Care Corps Team, and I am here to bring you the Joys and Sorrows this morning. And I invite you all now, those of you with Joys and Sorrows to share with our congregation here gathered virtually, to open the chat box at the bottom of your screen and enter your Joys and Sorrows.

Joys and Sorrows is our time in this space to honor these sacred moments and milestones. For our Ritual, we have water and we have river stones. Smooth and heavy in our hands, these river stones symbolize life’s pleasures and times of ease and life’s burdens and times of heaviness. The water in our bowl is a precious natural resource. We use it sparingly, reminding us of the preciousness of each life and its unique journey.

This is a stone of sorrow for John Weinert, who had a fall down some stairs early Tuesday morning and later underwent surgery for severe head trauma at Wellstar North Fulton. He is still in the ICU and expected to be moved from there soon. No calls to Penny at this time please. She’ll share with us an address for cards really soon. In the meantime, please send John and Penny healing prayers and thoughts. 

This is a stone of joy for Veta Tucker. She recently had surgery for breast cancer and had been waiting two weeks to hear back from her oncologist. He called this past week with the great news that she does not need any chemotherapy. She is so relieved and happy as you can imagine, as we all are.

This is a stone of joy for Richard McComas. Richard was not feeling well following a routine visit to his doctor and was hospitalized Tuesday through Thursday of this past week. Donna said he was checked out by his cardiologist and seems to be fine. Indeed, he is feeling fine and glad to be home. A Joy.

This is a stone of both sorrow and joy. Sorrow over the passing of the Honorable Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday. And joy that we had her on the Supreme Court fighting for so many of the things that are important to us as UUs. She inspired so many.

This last stone I place in the water for all those of us with joys and sorrows that remain unspoken.

Prayer and Meditation:  Valerie Johnson

Now I’ll read excerpts from A Meditation on the Coming of Autumn by the Rev. Josh Pawelek of Unitarian Universalist Society East in Manchester, CT.

Autumn comes this week. Here and there among the green leaves
on branches of trees a sliver of gold, a spot of red, a dollop of
brown. The final harvest of the year begins. Apples and pears have
ripened for picking.
As the migrating flocks slowly head off on their time-honored
southern routes, may we on this morning and throughout the
coming autumn look back with fondness on who and where we’ve
been, on all we’ve come through to be here now.
And as the leaves begin to fall, may we grieve well for all we have
lost. And in grieving well, may we prepare ourselves to receive the
new life that is always emerging.

Music Interlude: Diversity

Sermon: Rev. Misha Sanders The Art of the Resistance

We could sit in silence for the next few minutes and let that performance be the whole sermon, and we will have truly been to church.

That was a performance on Britain’s Got Talent, lest we forget that the Black Lives Matter movement is a global phenomenon with impact more far-reaching than we sometimes understand.  

The Art of the Resistance.  

Powerful, beautiful, brutal, and life-changing.

The Art of the Resistance. 

And beloveds, since we have segwayed into this portion of our service today with that particular piece of art, on this day in particular, one day after a mass protest at the Irwin County Detention Center in defense of the lives of imprisoned immigrant women, let me say this loud and clear:

Never believe the white lie about the Black Lives Matter movement leaving behind other people of color.

Black Lives Matter leaders made up nearly the entire front line yesterday in Ocilla, while following the lead of the majority-Mexican organizers. 

It is NEVER going to be Black folks who fail to understand that none of us is free until we are all free.

The Art of the Resistance from the heart of a grieving black mother songwriter made this song happen: 

Somebody’s hurting my sister 
And it’s gone on far too long
Gone on far too long
Gone on far too long
Somebody’s hurting my sister 
And it’s gone on far too long
And we won’t be silent anymore

Yara Allen wrote that. Yara Allen is Director of Cultural Arts & Theomusicologist for Repairers of the Breach, active in the Moral Mondays Movement the Poor People’s Campaign, and the Black Lives Matter movement. 

The first time she sang this song in public, a story I have shared with you all before, she was using the word ‘brother’ instead of ‘sister’ and she was singing at a rally in an Appalachian mountain town in support of lives lost and families broken by the evils of the coal mining industry.  

Yara Allen is an artist who understands that her Art of the Resistance transcends any one movement, encompasses the human struggle, and is for the edification, education, and a healing balm for the spirit of all of earths’ creatures.  

Speaking of all Earth’s creatures, two weekends ago, I joined up with my local vegan meet-up group and we created chalk art love notes and images on the Decatur town square. Because the Art of the Resistance sometimes facilitates social interaction in safer, creative ways during a global pandemic.  

Yesterday, my friend Shelly, right here in Atlanta, created a stunning portrait of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, because the Art of the Resistance is sometimes a tool to cope with grief.

I have watched my own loved ones come together and sing and clap and praise the God of their understanding as we buried our dead who lost their lives to this awful pandemic, because sometimes the Art of the Resistance is a joyful noise when joy is the last thing expected. 

Yesterday, I spent some time in Ocilla, Georgia on the grounds of the Irwin County Detention Center, inside the walls of which immigrant detainees with female bodies have been undergoing forced sterilization and other brutal medical malpractice. And, although it was impractical and inappropriate for me to spend any time getting permission to share images with you all, I will tell you that our Latinx neighbors came with Resistance Art. Sometimes the Art of the Resistance is in the form of colorful traditional clothing, cardboard signs, decorated vehicles, musical instruments, and songs, many of which were in Spanish, but the universal language of the melodies and harmonies came through loud and clear, and moved us all.  

Also yesterday a friend and colleague was in Washington DC where memorials to Justice Ginsburg are popping up spontaneously, as the mood of the town was quiet and somber, no chants, no gatherings, no displays of political stances… because sometimes the Art of the Resistance is silently placing a bouquet of flowers and an LED candle on the steps of a building. 

Sometimes… like today, I mean, the Art of the Resistance is creating a sermon that is really just a very short love letter to grieving women. I must and I want to carefully acknowledge that the legacy of fighting for women’s rights by Justice Ginsburg, and the current fight for the rights of the women in immigration detention are, in fact, inclusive of all women, cisgender, transgender, and intersex… and also of people with bodies that were assigned female at birth, although you may in fact be nonbinary or a man. And so, while saying clearly that not all women have wombs and not all womb-having people are women, it is still appropriate today to use a little bit of incomplete shorthand and sing it again.

Somebody’s hurting my sister 
And it’s gone on far too long
Gone on far too long
Gone on far too long
Somebody’s hurting my sister 
And it’s gone on far too long
And we won’t be silent anymore

Friends, I’m not going to talk to us long today, but I want to call us to action this week… today, if you can… in three small but significant ways.  

The first one, beloveds, was suggested yesterday by immigrant leaders in Ocilla, on behalf of the women being forced into mass hysterectomies by Dr. Mahendra Amin. We do not have to be patients of Dr. Amin to file a complaint directly to the American Medical Association with our concerns over his brutality and malpractice. I pass along the urging I heard yesterday to you today.  Go to the American Medical Association website, and file a complaint. If you forget Dr. Amin’s full name, that is also an easy web search, since his name is prominent in the news right now.  

So, call to action number one: File an AMA complaint saying that we won’t be silent about mass sterilization. Not one more. 

And call to action number two. Inundated our senators with calls, emails, and letters, urging them to refuse confirmation of a Supreme Court nominee until after our election. While it is a fine line always, beloveds, this business of preaching about principles and not politics, I believe that this is firmly on the side of principles. We who believe in freedom cannot rest when one of our greatest champions of fairness and equity has died and men in power want nothing more than to take us back a century, in her absence. Please contact Senators Loeffler and Perdue, my fellow Georgians. And for those of you in different states, please contact your US Senators, as well. I know for some of you that will be Cruz and Cornyn, and for some it will be Durbin and Duckworth. I know that some of those names inspire more confidence of a fair response than others. Pressure them anyway. Let your voice be heard anyway. We cannot be silent one more day.  

And third… this was to be a day to talk about art. I had hoped earlier in the week that I’d feel like doing that a little bit more than I do right now. But here we are, and here it is, our third call to action this week, and one that I truly believe is at least as important as the other two. Make some art. I strongly suggest the small investment of sidewalk chalk, if getting out and getting on the ground is a thing you can do. Maybe that’s not going to be the thing for you. Maybe you will call up a sister who is hurting and tell her you love her. Maybe you will write her a real paper love letter and send it to her via the US Postal Service. Maybe it will be an email or a text or a post on her social media. Maybe the art you make this week will come in the form of opening your mouth and singing when it is the last thing you feel like doing. Like this, right now. I don’t feel like drawing rainbows on the sidewalk. I don’t feel like making a joyful noise. I don’t feel like dancing. I don’t even feel like watching you all do those things. Not right this minute. Maybe you don’t, either. Most of the women you know are feeling downright gutted, and maybe you are one of them.  Which is precisely the situation Yara Allen is looking at at every protest, at every public witness for justice event, when she takes a breath and cries out:  

Somebody’s hurting my sister 
And it’s gone on far too long
Gone on far too long
Gone on far too long
Somebody’s hurting my sister 
And it’s gone on far too long
And we won’t be silent anymore

In this high holy week of Judaism, may we take time to not only mourn Justice Ginsburg, (may her memory be a blessing) but to hold close our Jewish sisters, and all our sisters who are scared and grieving. 

In this high holy week of Judaism, may we take time to not only mourn the losses of the women forced into mass sterilization in our immigrant detention centers, but hold close all of our immigrant sisters, and all of our sisters who are scared and grieving.  

May we never feel too much despair to believe that the Art of the Resistance matters. Our hearts know better, and we *know* this in our souls, when we consider the moments, perhaps even in this service today, that music, poetry, or visual images have moved us and inspired us to recommit to the fight of justice. 

We won’t be silent anymore. 

I love you. I’m going to sing it, I’m going to say it, I’m going to write poetry about it, I’m going to make chalk art about it, and I might even do an interpretive dance about it but probably not.   

I love you. Rebelliously. Radically. In the face of all the resistance. I’m going to love you more creatively and more out loud than ever, even if it gets weird.   

I love you and there’s nothing you can do about it. 

Somebody’s hurting my sister 
And it’s gone on far too long
Gone on far too long
Gone on far too long
Somebody’s hurting my sister 
And it’s gone on far too long

And we won’t be silent anymore.

Offering: Introduction by Lynne Dale

The offering that we take each Sunday isn’t just a stale habit: it’s an opportunity to recommit to this place, and to this people. Our offering is an affirmation—a “yes.” 

When we give, we say yes to something we value. With our gifts, freely given, may we say yes to the values of our faith. Our offering will now be given and gratefully received.

Dedication of the Offering: 

“To the work of this congregation, which is weaving a tapestry of love and action, 

we dedicate our offerings and the best of who we are.” 

Introduction of the next song: Dr. Philip Rogers

Hello. Our final music selection today is presented by the 2019 Unitarian Universalist Music Ministers Conference Conferees Choir and Band which was hosted by the First Universalist Church in Denver, Colorado.

The song, What Does the Lord Require? was composed and conducted by the conference Music Clinician, Dr. Mark Miller.

We hope that you enjoy it as much as we did.

Music: “What Is Required?” The Association of Unitarian Universalist Music Ministries [AUUMM] 2019 Conference Choir and Band

Benediction: Rev. Misha Sanders

A Power at Work in the Universe
By Tom Schade

My friends,
There is a power at work in the universe.
It works through human hands,
but it was not made by human hands.
It is a creative, sustaining, and transforming power
and we can trust that power with our lives.
It will sustain us whenever we side with love;
whenever we side with peace and justice;
whenever we take a risk.
Trust in that power.
We are, together, held by that power.

Postlude: Jim Pearce

Today’s service participants:
Worship leads: Rev. Misha Sanders and Lynne Dale
Chalice lighting: Harper Bush
Story Wisdom: Rev. Misha Sanders
Joys and Sorrows: Valerie Johnson
Music: Jim Pearce, Philip Rogers, Diversity, AUUMM 2019 Conference Choir and Band
Producer: David Morgen
Usher: Lil Woolf