from The Living Dead service 131027

CandlesFrom ghosties & goblins, and long-leggity beasties, and thoughts that go bump in the night, may good folks deliver us. If you are grieving this morning—feeling haunted by the ghosts of loved ones, we wish you peace, and we welcome you in…

According to many traditions and customs, the veil between worlds gets very thin around this time of year. Many people, who believe there might be *something* beyond this lifetime, have rituals and routines to communicate with, or protect themselves from, anything that might exist beyond our usual perception. This morning, may we be fully aware of those who have passed from this earth, and of the many ways that we still feel their influence; may we grow beyond any negative effects they’ve had, and grow further into the positive ways they’ve influenced us; and may we note the ways that *we* affect others…
So may we be.

And so, let us name our beloved dead. We will begin quietly, in the silence that underlies all sound. Then let us sound a gong, and eventually, over that gong, let us speak aloud the names of those who have passed from this earth. There is no rush; we’ll do this for as long as it takes. If a couple of us speak at the same time, that is okay. Let us begin with a deep breath…
{tolling & naming}
For all those just named, silently or out loud, we give thanks. They were not perfect, nor are we, but we bear the marks of their passing, and we ache with the bittersweet joy of knowing them, and missing them…

…There are seven billion human beings on this planet. Of those, about six billion of us are actively doing all we can to *not* think about our eventual death. We read books and play sports and get into fights and cook elaborate meals and create photo albums of undeniable beauty and do all kinds of other things to avoid the excruciating truth that, one day,  we will belong entirely to memory. Most of us have gotten quite good at distracting ourselves. Unfortunately, as we create these buffers against death, we may also buffer ourselves away from life. We can end up missing some of the richness of life.

Our defense mechanisms and our distractions shield us too well from the scary, and the sublime, aspects of life. It is possible to exhibit all the physical signs of life, but still be more zombie than truly alive. With the routines of work and family life, of week and weekend, of paycheck to paycheck to vacation to paycheck, we may find little true joy in our existence. We may lack any connection to a larger sense of purpose.

Thankfully, Unitarian Universalism can break us free from our zombie existence. This congregation can transform peoples’ lives; we can re-animate zombies into thriving, joyful human beings…


Our lives may be but brief candles, but our deeds and loves shine brightly far longer. Even as we extinguish our chalice, may the light of our tradition burn through our words and deeds.  {extinguish} So may we be.

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so may we categorize: