Flower Communion

Flower Communion is a traditional Unitarian celebration of the way our unique identities weave together to form a beautiful community. This will be our first on site multi-access meeting. This isn’t our grand re-opening. That will be in the Fall. We are experimenting with how we can do a very important ritual in our calendar.  If you aren’t comfortable coming, we will bring you a flower at the end of it.

We will begin assembled inside the sanctuary, very briefly, for our welcome, call to worship, chalice lighting before proceeding outside to visit ministry tables while our communal vase is assembled. We’ll invite you to come back in to get a flower and proceed downstairs to get a snack and go outside again to finish worship. You can opt to stay outside during the inside portion of our worship, if that feels safer, and wait for us to join you there. When inside, stay masked AND distanced. When outside, stay masked OR distanced. You may spread out over the lawn and walkways in family pods. Some chairs will be available for those who need to rest.

While we experiment with serving online congregants as well as those of you who are here, we ask that those on site turn off WiFi connection on your cell phones during service to prevent any degradation of our connection speed for the online version of the service. Thank you!

Flower Co-op/Landscaping Station: Get a paper cut-out flower and write a haiku on it that will be collected in a spontaneous display of the joy and diversity we are bringing to the gathering along with our flowers.

Hospitality Snack Station (Fellowship Hall): Get a drink and home baked goodie. View Eric Nelson’s photography display and our new library.

Caring Network Greeting Card Station: Everyone likes to get a card in the mail with a friendly greeting. Caring Network will have table, chairs, and cards for you to write to fellow congregants who would appreciate a personal card.  Pens, stamps, colorful cards and our directory of names and addresses with be there for all to use, kids as well.  We’ll then send them out in Monday’s mail. Feel free to take a copy of our latest directory.

Hugging: Rev. Barnaby, staff, worship team WON’T BE hugging people out of respect for where people may be in their range of comfort with this. Perhaps ask first before hugging someone.

Children: While we have tried to make this service kid-friendly, we won’t be able to have a separate children’s program so we ask families to stay together to keep everyone as safe as possible. The Nursery and Fenn House will be locked. There is a changing table in the lower level bathroom.

You can opt to watch the service live via zoom here: https://zoom.us/my/cvuusservice. Portions will be recorded for viewing later online, if you miss being with us this Sunday.

Order of Service

Preservice (online): Past Flower Communion slideshow with Ronnie Romano playing piano

Prelude (inside): Chuck Miller

Bell (inside): Recognition of Abenaki Land   Julia Chant

Welcome & Pathways to Connection (inside): Rev. Barnaby Feder

Call to Worship (inside): Our Flowers, 2021 by Rev. Barnaby read by Karl Lindholm

Chalice Lighting (inside): Within the Heart of the Flower by Amy Zucker Morgenstern read by Karl Lindholm

Invitation to Move Outside: Dr. Francois S. Clemmons will lead us out singing Come, Come Whoever You Are (masks on and no singing until you are outside)

Offering (online): Today’s offering will be Festival on the Green. Contributions can be made at https://cvuus.breezechms.com/give/online. Onsite worshipers will find an offering table outside.

Music (inside): Chuck Miller while our Communal Vase is being assembled, interspersed with….

….Interviews: Margy Young and Rev. Barnaby will be visiting outdoor ministry tables…

….and online viewers will also see a Mini-Homily from Rev. Barnaby

Return Inside to receive flowers and process to Fellowship Hall for pick-up refreshments….

Closing Music (outside):  Spirit of Life led by Poppy Rees with Jay Harrington on guitar

Benediction (outside): Rev. Barnaby

The temple bell stops —

But the sound keeps coming out of the flowers.

(– Matsuo Basho, trans. Robert Bly)

Thanks to our incredible “Stream Team” Margy & Jordan Young, Rich Wolfson and Richard Hopkins, Francois for singing us out, Elizabeth Golden for hospitality and all who made and helped serve snacks, our Caring Network and Flower Co-op and Landscaping ministry, our greeters, ushers and all who assisted with worship.

Thank you for joining us for worship!

Remote viewers can join us for Zoom Coffee Hour at 11AM. Login at https://zoom.us/my/cvuusservice/.

Stay Connected!

Follow us on Facebook CVUUSVT for future updates on our Sunday morning worship services.  Sign up for our e-weekly blast news at office@cvuus.org.

Request a virtual visit with Rev. Barnaby at https://cvuus.breezechms.com/form/VirtualVisit or arrange for one on one time with him in our Sanctuary at revbarnaby@cvuus.org

Our Flowers, 2021 by Rev. Barnaby Feder

Our flowers who show us heaven

Hallowed be your names,

Your shapes, your colors and scents;

Give us this day nourishing beauty;

May you survive our trespasses,

And inspire us to forgive those who harm us;

Call us away from greed and folly and wastefulness;

May we see in your glory our glory,

For all of us are blooms of a Love

That is Life’s glory for ever and ever.

Flower Communion Homily 2021 by Rev. Barnaby Feder

Flower Communion was invented in 1923 to celebrate beauty and diversity. Subsequently, it also came to affirm that Love will survive in the face of oppression and disaster. Here’s the story.

The inventor of the ritual was Norbert Ĉapek, an ordained Baptist minister who encountered and then embraced Unitarianism while living as a refugee in the United States during World War I. While he was in exile, his wife died, leaving him with eight children. He remarried a Czech immigrant named Maja, who was a librarian at the New York Public Library.  In 1921, Norbert and Maja returned to Prague, determined to create a Unitarian congregation there in the capital of Czechoslovakia, a new nation born in the ashes of World War I.  They had influential support stemming from their friendship with Charlotte Masaryk, the Brooklyn-born Unitarian wife of Thomas Masaryk, the founding leader of Czechoslovakia. Both Masaryk and his son made appearances in the new Unitarian pulpit – in publicity terms, it was like founding a church after the American Revolution and having George Washington show up as a guest preacher. The church grew to more than 3,000 members and Maja became a minister there alongside her husband. There were more than 600 children in its Sunday school and several other churches patterned after this congregation sprang up. But the growth came to a halt as Europe plunged into economic depression during the 1930’s and political fascism spread. Flower Communion became a day of congregational comfort, hope and liberal resistance to the gathering woes.

When Nazi Germany occupied Czechoslovakia in 1939,  Maja went back to the United States to raise money to help refugees.  She introduced the Flower Communion to American Unitarians in a worship service in 1940 at the historic First Parish Unitarian Church on Harvard Square in Cambridge, and then shared it with others. In 1941, she learned that Norbert and their daughter Zora had been arrested by the Gestapo.  Ĉapek was eventually sent to the Dachau concentration camp, where he is thought to have died in a gas chamber in 1942.  But by then, his Flower Communion had already begun taking root in this country.

I want to leave you with one simple message from the many we might find in this years’ Flower Communion: our faith, particularly the Universalist side of it, says one truth stands out above all others. There is an enduring spirit of life-giving Love and love-giving Life loose in the Universe. I see it as an emerging evolutionary tendency toward God. But call it what you will, the flowers say it too.

Consecration Prayer for Flower Communion 2021  by Rev. Norbert Ĉapek, adapted by Rev. Barnaby Feder

Infinite Spirit of Life, we ask thy blessing on these the messengers of fellowship and love. May they remind us, amid diversities of knowledge and of gifts, to be one in desire and affection, and devotion to good and beauty. May they also remind us of the value of comradeship, of doing and sharing with one another. May we cherish friendship as a most precious gift. May we realize that whatever we can do, great or small, the efforts of all of us are needed. May we be strengthened by the knowledge that one spirit of love unites us, and may we endeavor together for a more joyful life for all. Amen