Harold Babcock's Sermons

January 22, 2012


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Hear this sermon

January 22, 2012


“Only the people who risk are truly free.”
 — Anonymous?


It wasn’t until I sat down to write my sermon for this morning that I was reminded that today is my son Ben’s 29th birthday.  One could say that the greatest risk any of us ever takes is having a child.  I vividly remember my initial reaction on seeing Ben: O my God, what have I done?

Now my son is about to have a son.  What will the ever uncertain future hold for him?

Unlike in the days before birth control, having a child today is often a carefully taken decision.  We carefully consider all the pros and cons before making the fateful decision to bring a new life into what we know is an often beautiful but always troubled and tenuous and possibly already overcrowded world.  Then, we take the leap, with all the risk that leap entails, never knowing the outcome, of course, but changing our lives forever.  That we don’t know just how much our lives will change is undoubtedly a very good thing.

As now, and perhaps as in every time, there wasn’t a lot of certainty in the world into which we welcomed Ben in January 1983.  It was the height of the cold war, and the fall of communism only six years later seemed a remote possibility, more like an impossible dream.  (I could not have imagined, at that time, that less than twenty years later I would have traveled widely and made dear friends in a formerly communist country.)  The possibility of nuclear Armageddon, as vividly portrayed in a movie of that time, “The Day After,” seemed very real.  There was terrible violence to our south, in places like El Salvador and Honduras, a little understood and seedy secret war in which our own government was engaged.  Apartheid still held its evil sway in South Africa, and the beautiful “cedars of Lebanon” were ablaze in civil war.  The cultural divide in our country was beginning to become more visible in fierce debates around religious values and social issues such as abortion and gay rights, even in the liberal state of Minnesota, where we were living at the time.  It was not a particularly hopeful time, perhaps it was not a smart time, in which to bring a child into the world.  But we did it anyway.

Was it worth it?  Of course.  One is never prepared, I think, for the love or the anguish we will feel for our children.  As noted, it has changed my life in ways I could never have predicted.  Yes, there have been the inevitable ups and downs and disappointments of parenthood.  But I would not have missed those experiences, and I hope that they have changed me for the better, at the least made me more empathic and compassionate toward the trials and tribulations of others.

If it is true, as it says in the little quotation on your orders of service, that “Only the people who risk are truly free,” I guess that should mean that we parents are all free.  Perhaps.  Maybe we are, in ways which we now only vaguely perceive.

As our responsive reading this morning [by Rabindranath Tagore] painfully reminds us, it is difficult to take the risk of sharing our true feelings.  But if we are to grow and change for the better we must learn to do so.  Therapists have long recognized that keeping our “deepest and truest and most precious words” locked away in our hearts is destructive of our well-being.  Dare we take the risk?

Dare we take the risk to love?  For even requited love is risky business.  Love may not mean “never having to say you’re sorry,” but it does surely mean grief in time.  When we love, we do so in the sure knowledge that someday all that we love will die.  Let us hope that that day is far away; but make no mistake, it will come.  For many it comes too soon.  To love is to risk all that we are and all that we have.  But what would life be without love?

That quote on your orders of service comes from a poem entitled “Risk.”  Is it true that only the people who risk are free?  Here’s the poem: 

To laugh is to risk appearing the fool—
To weep is to risk being called sentimental—
To reach out to another is to risk involvement—
To expose feelings is to risk showing your true self—
To place your ideas and dreams before the crowd is to risk being called naïve—
To love is to risk not being loved in return—
To live is to risk dying—
To hope is to risk despair—
To try is to risk failure—
But risks must be taken, because the greatest risk in life is to risk nothing.
The people who risk nothing, do nothing, have nothing, are nothing, and become nothing;
They may avoid suffering and sorrow, but they simply cannot learn to feel, and change, and grow, and love, and live. . . .
Chained by their servitude, they are slaves; they’ve forfeited their freedom.
Only the people who risk are truly free.

It would appear from this poem that risking the things that make us most human is a necessary aspect of living an emotionally full and complete life, a life which is “free.”

Having little of it myself, I have always greatly admired physical courage, the courage to risk one’s very life, especially the courage to “lay down one’s life for another.”  Is there something or someone for whom you would risk your life?  It is hard not to wonder how one would react at the moment of ultimate crisis.  Some of you know, having met the challenge of a life or death moment.  Would I abandon the ship like the cowardly captain of that ill-fated Italian liner?  Would I cut and run?

In spite of my personal doubts about all that, I have to agree in principle with that unknown author that taking some risks in life, even physical ones, is essential if we are to grow as human beings.   I worry if nowadays we are so overly protective of our children that we prevent them from taking some of the risks that they need to take in order to become healthy, mature adults.  I worry that we don’t allow them to fail often enough, or bump up against the sometimes harsh realities of life enough.  I certainly feel that I was more protective of my children than my generation’s parents were of us, and I think theirs may have been even less so.  Perhaps they were more fatalistic and less sanguine about the realities of life and death.

I’m not talking about taking foolish risks—God knows there are abundant stupid and meaningless risks one can take–and I took many of them.  I am definitely not advocating dying a meaningless or ignominious or untimely death.  What I am talking about is taking risks which might entail physical or emotional harm, but without which we will never experience what it means to be fully human or to fully appreciate the amazing gift of life we have been given.

Two of the great books that I have read in recent years are A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and Water, by the only recently deceased Patrick Leigh Fermor, who, in 1933, at the age of 18, with his parents’ blessing (he’d been misbehaving at school), walked, by himself, all the way from Holland to Istanbul.  It’s hard to imagine parents allowing such a trek today, even with the benefit of all our modern means of communication and GPS tracking systems to boot.  And it wasn’t as if pre-WWII Europe was a much safer place than it is today.

Fermor went on to live an almost unimaginably interesting and romantic and adventurous life, one which also included becoming a hero during the war.  Was it worth the risk?

One of the interesting contrasts that I have noticed during my visits in Eastern Europe is that “security”—perhaps we should say the “myth” of security—is not a big priority there.  People living in that part of the world have never experienced much security.  The attitude there is much more one of carpe diem: live for today.  Live is lived more on the edge.

The expectations about safety are quite different than they are here.  Farm and industrial machinery usually lack the safety devices we have come to take for granted.  Transylvania is an OSHA nightmare.  There is no effort to make parks or trails safer for those who choose to make dangerous or foolish decisions. Young and old ride bicycles on narrow, winding roads where trucks and cars whiz by, missing them by only inches.  The riders don’t even wince.  Horse drawn carts appear suddenly out of the dark on busy highways.  Though operating under the influence is severely punished, serious accidents due to speed and reckless driving are not uncommon.  Young people hitchhike because it is the only cheap means of transportation and most don’t own cars.  Children still walk, sometimes for miles in all kinds of weather, to get to school.  I would guess that permission slips for school or church trips are unheard of and would be laughed at.

Somehow, it all seems more realistic and honest to me.  There is no security in this life, in spite of all our best efforts and wishes to make it otherwise.  I hate the expression “homeland security,” and I hate what we have done in the name of it.

Years ago, my ministerial mentor Charles Grady wrote the following little poem, entitled “Our Jeopardy.”  It seems like an appropriate way to end: 

It is good to use
best china
treasured dishes
the most genuine goblets
or the oldest lace tablecloth.
There is risk of course
every time we use anything
or anyone shares an inmost
mood or moment
or a fragile cup of revelation.
But not to touch
not to handle
not to employ the available
artifacts of being
a human being—
that is the quiet crash
the deadly catastrophe
where nothing
is enjoyed or broken
or spoken or spilled
or stained or mended,
where nothing is ever
lived, loved
pored over
laughed over
wept over
lost or found.

May we, too, be willing to risk those “available artifacts of being a human being,” and in doing so, may we find the more abundant and free life we seek.  So may it be.  Amen.


-The Rev. Harold E. Babcock

Readings: “Come to the Edge,” by Guillaume Apollinaire (sometimes attributed to Christopher Logue); “Risk,” by Anais Nin



January 15, 2012

Martin Luther King , Jr. and Economic Justice

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Hear this sermon

January 15, 2012

“Any religion which professes to be concerned about the souls of men and women
and is not concerned about the social and economic conditions that can scar the soul,
is a spiritually moribund religion only waiting for the day to be buried.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

It is sobering to think that today would have been Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 83th birthday.  What might his eloquent and prophetic voice have had to say about the events of the last forty-four years?  Unfortunately, we will never know.  King’s death at the age of 39 was certainly one of the tragic but defining events of my young life.  I am sure that it played no small part in my decision to consider the ministry as a meaningful career.

For King showed me and a generation of other young people that it was possible for a single person to make a difference and to lead constructive social change, and that religion and the church could still be relevant.  He, like his hero Gandhi and others before him, proved that the universal human values which are found in all religious traditions could be a powerful motivating force on the road to a more just and peaceful and loving world.  He showed us the importance of living a life of service to others and not just to oneself.

In thinking about what I could say about King this year that would be fresh and new, it occurred to me that one of the most overlooked legacies of Martin Luther King, Jr. was his critique of the interconnection between militarism, racism, and poverty, and especially his growing commitment to economic justice not just for African Americans, but for all Americans.  I suspect that this is not by accident.

Indeed, like his increasingly vocal opposition to the Vietnam War, King’s work on behalf of economic justice may have been as much a cause of his unpopularity, and ultimately of his death, as his work on behalf of civil rights for African Americans.

It is sometimes forgotten in all the mythology surrounding King that the last evening before his assassination in Memphis,Tennesseein 1968 was spent not at a civil rights rally but at a gathering in support of striking sanitation workers—read “garbage men.”  There, King gave one of his most memorable and prophetic speeches—remembered mostly for the “been to the mountaintop” premonition of his imminent death.

Somewhat surprisingly, given its fame, that passage is found only in the final paragraph of his speech.  King knew that his new focus on the link between the ongoing war inVietnam, the evils of racism for both blacks and whites, and an oppressive economic system was dangerous.  He had received threats on his life—nothing new.  He had already survived one assassination attempt when he was stabbed by a mentally ill African American woman in the 1950’s, and he most likely felt that it was only a matter of time before there would be another.  (In fact, much of his final speech focuses on all the changes he would have missed had he sneezed following that first assassination attempt, as the tip of the knife had settled perilously close to his aortic artery, and the doctor told him he would have died if he had sneezed.)

One could speculate that King advocating on behalf of African American rights was far less threatening to the powers-that-be than King advocating on behalf of economic justice for blacks and whites alike.  As he himself noted, “Many white Americans of good will have deplored prejudice but tolerated or ignored economic injustice.”  King wrote, 

The curse of poverty has no justification in our age.  It is socially as cruel and blind as the practice of cannibalism at the dawn of civilization, when men ate each other because they had not yet learned to take food from the soil or to consume the abundant animal life around them.  The time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty.

King’s insights about the relation of economics to injustice seem prescient today.  Early in the year in which he died, King wrote,

Most of the people who are poor in this country are working every day and that is not said enough.  They are working here in Washington and in all our cities.  Working in our hotels, they clean up our rooms. . . .  They work in our hospitals, they work in our homes. . . . .  Most of them are working every day, working sometimes sixty hours a week, working full-time jobs and getting part-time incomes.  These are problems that are very real.

Because he was convinced that the only solution to the economic inequalities that existed, and still exist in our society, was what he called “a radical reconstruction of society itself,” King was often accused of being a communist.  (We hear echoes of this criticism when our current presidential incumbent seeks to address problems of distributive justice and is accused of being a “socialist,” an only slightly less-pejorative term.)  King spoke directly to these accusations as follows:

I read Marx as I read all of the influential historical thinkers—from a dialectic point of view, combining a partial yes and a partial no.  In so far as Marx posited a metaphysical materialism, an ethical relativism, and a strangulating totalitarianism, I responded with an unambiguous “no”; but in so far as he pointed to weaknesses of traditional capitalism, contributed to the growth of a definite self-consciousness in the masses, and challenged the social conscience of the Christian churches, I responded with a definite “yes.”

Nonetheless, as our morning’s reading [by Jonathon K. Cooper Wiele] suggested, to “celebrate all” of King we must embrace the extent to which his critique of capitalism had grown into a strong advocacy for a fundamental economic realignment in the western world.  In his famous speech “Beyond Vietnam,” given in April of 1967, fully six years before that war would finally come to an end, King said,

A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast between poverty and wealth.  With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the west investing large sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries and say: “This is not just.”  It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say: “This is not just.”  The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. . . .  A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: “This way of settling things is not just.”  This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of people normally humane, of sending men home . . . physically handicapped and emotionally deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love.  A nation that continues to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

The more I have thought about this aspect of King, the more it has seemed to me that he would be very much tune with the spirit of the Occupy Wall Street movement.  The disparities of wealth to which King was pointing in the 1960’s have not abated, but, one could argue, have actually grown far worse in the years since.  And the kind of non-violent, mass protest in which the Occupiers have been engaged would, of course, be right up his alley.

So I was not particularly surprised when our friend Tom Stites forwarded me a link this week to an article entitled “Black Churches to Energize Occupy.”  “The mission,” writes reporter Scott Galindez, “which is being called “Occupy the Dream,” will start on Monday, January 16 . . . in commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday.  On that day   . . . pastors who are part of the Occupy the Dream movement will connect with the well-knownOccupy Wall Streetgroup to hold protests at Federal Reserve banks in 10 cities around the nation.”

“The strategy,” writes Galindez, “will be to raise the consciousness level of African-Americans, starting in church pulpits, by spreading the message of income equality, economic justice and empowerment.”  As the article makes clear, Occupy the Dream is organized around the vision of Dr. King, “who sought to wage war on poverty, unemployment, and economic injustice.”

As Sgt. Shamar Thomas and David DeGraw of Occupy Wall Street recently wrote in welcoming the founders of Occupy the Dream to the larger movement, “The Occupy Wall Street movement draws its strength from people of all different walks of life, with opinions across the political spectrum, coming together to find common ground and unite against the global financial interests that have bought control of our government.  Dr. King’s vision of economic justice is an edifying example of what we intend to achieve.”

The great challenge of our time is whether the current political stalemate can be overcome and progress finally made toward building a more just and equitable nation and world.  In this important work, the life and thought of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. still have an important role to play in speaking to the moral conscience of this brave new world in which we live, and of reminding all of us, as he once said, that “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”

King would, I think, be gratified by the many positive changes that have taken place inAmericasince his death.  He would be disappointed, but not surprised, by the depth and tenacity of the problems to which he so eloquently and prophetically pointed our attention more than forty years ago.  Like all the biblical prophets before him, King spoke truth to power and gave voice to the poor, the oppressed, and the downtrodden, regardless of the color of their skin.  He was ultimately a realist who knew that great changes never come quickly or easily and that our work in the world is never fully done.

In his final speech inMemphis, King invoked the image of Moses from Deuteronomy 33, standing on the top ofMt.Pisquah, able to see the promised land, but not allowed to enter in.  It was a truly premonitory image, evoking both the death of Moses in that same passage and his own death less than twenty-four hours later:

Well, I don’t know what will happen now.  We’ve got some difficult days ahead.  But it doesn’t matter with me now.  Because I’ve been to the mountaintop.  And I don’t mind.  Like anybody, I would like to live a long life.  Longevity has its place.  But I’m not concerned about that now.  I just want to do God’s will.  And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain.  And I’ve looked over.  And I’ve seen the promised land.  I may not get there with you.  But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land.  And I’m not worried about anything.  I’m not fearing any man.  Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.

May we always maintain a hopeful vision of the promised land of our dreams, not only for ourselves, but for all people, everywhere.  As King implored, “Let us be those creative dissenters who will call our beloved nation to a higher destiny, to a new plateau of compassion, to a more noble expression of humanness.”  So may it be. Amen. 

 – The Rev. Harold E. Babcock

Readings: from “The King We Ignore,” by Jonathan K. Cooper Wiele; from “A Testament of Hope,” by Martin Luther King, Jr.

January 8, 2012

Starting Over

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January 8, 2012


“And now let us believe in this new year that is given us—
new, untouched, full of things that have never been.”
 – Rainer Maria Rilke


Another new year is upon us, and while one could argue, as my late colleague Roy Phillips did, that this yearly transition is merely illusory, more of a continuation, in fact, than a new beginning, still the idea that something new is about to unfold has always provided a powerful incentive for folks wishing to make a fresh start.  The coming of a new year may not be a time for excessive optimism, but it is certainly a time for realistic hope.

I have never been a big fan of New Year’s resolutions.  The reality is that in life there are many new beginnings, and many opportunities to start over.  We needn’t wait until January 1st on the calendar to begin to make the positive changes we need to make.

Fortunately for us, we are followers of a religion that affirms that this kind of change is possible, and that it is possible to begin again.  It is never too late.  This hopeful outlook can help us through the many transitions that life places in our path, both those that are expected and, especially, those that are not.

For ours is a faith that refuses to believe that we are predestined to walk a particular path in life, or that we are forever tainted by some original sinfulness.  Rather, our faith says that we are free, that we can change, and that we can continue to grow and to learn new things as long as we live.

We believe, therefore, that while change is inevitable, change is also good.  This is not to say that change is always easy or welcome, because some changes are tragic.  What it means is that we recognize that change may sometimes be necessary in order to move us and our world a little further in the direction of our brightest dreams.  Even terrible changes can grow our souls and increase our capacity for compassion and empathy for others.

Yes, this faith of ours places a lot of responsibility on us.  It means that we cannot succumb to a comfortable complacency or to a despairing fatalism.  We can change for the better, we can make a fresh start, and because we can, we must.  We are free.  The choice is ours.

The great 19th century Unitarian minister Theodore Parker famously said that the “The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”  That is a hopeful statement, not necessarily an optimistic one.  Similarly, sometimes the change that we experience, while difficult at the time, bears wonderful fruit later on; perhaps not even in our own lifetimes.  At least, this is our faith.

I have great respect for people who have survived and thrived in spite of change and of unthinkable loss.  They give me hope.  I consider the hundreds of thousands of people who have come to this county in order to make a new life in a new place, leaving their old lives behind and starting over from scratch.  And I am humble before those who have made positive changes in their lives by overcoming addictions and by confronting their deepest and darkest fears and temptations or by leaving destructive relationships.  Such constructive and often heroic change is possible for each of us, regardless of the demons we face.

Some of us are lucky enough to have partners and friends who call us back to our better selves, often over and over again, allowing us to start anew on a more positive and life-affirming path.  I know how important this is, as I, like many of you, sometimes find myself in a negative or despondent place in my life, in a rut, even though it may be what my late friend Ed Atkinson once called a “fur-lined” one.  I need those occasional reminders that I can change, that I can break bad habits of behavior and attitude, and begin again.  As someone has written with truth, “I never changed because it was a good idea.  The pain of not changing became too great.”

The poet Theodore Roethke captures the potential of such attitudinal shifts in his poem “In the Time of Change”:

All things must change: the vision pass
The shadow lengthen on the grass,
The ship go down behind the sun,
The passion of the heart be done.
The flower droops; we cannot stay
The lovely miracle of May.

 But in the time of change, a rare
Illumination fills the air.
There is a shift, a holy pause
Between what is and what once was.
The senses quicken with delight;
The scene grows pure upon the sight.
Our fixity is lost; the eyes
Look out with passionless surprise,
And in that instant we may see
The shape of an eternity.

What strikes me in this poem—and I realize that it could well be a poem about the moment of death, certainly the greatest and most terrifying change that we must ever encounter—is the idea that “our fixity,” what I take to mean our complacency, or our inability or refusal to look at things in a new or different way, can be overcome if only we are open to change, if only we are willing to pay attention in that “holy pause/between what is and what once was.”  And God knows we could all use some “passionless” surprise from time to time (consider the current state of our political affairs) in order, as my friend Philip Booth wrote in his poem “Seeing Deer,” to “see what we see.”  More clarity, less passion, is certainly the demand of our time.

It is really helpful in times of personal or societal change to have a faith which is not pessimistic about the future, for the problem, as Alexander Graham Bell once wrote, is often that “When one door closes, another opens, but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one that has opened for us.”  We need a faith which points our gaze firmly in the direction of the door which is always opening before us, if we have but eyes to see.

My own tendency, I know, is to look backward at the closed door, to gaze too “fixedly” on what has been and not on what might be, to miss seeing that “shape of an eternity” which is always there, and that is why I think it is important from time to time that we shake things up in our lives.

I’m not sure at this point that I would recommend moving and building a new house, even one that is only seven miles away, in order to shake things up.  For me it has been a much more stressful and dis-orienting experience than I expected, filled with a certain amount of second-guessing and doubt, even while it has been fun and exciting to contemplate a new beginning in a place where I can pursue some long-dormant interests.  But I know that when I have made such changes in the past, even uncomfortable ones, perhaps even wrong ones, they have almost always resulted in positive growth and in seeing things with fresh eyes.  That is my hope this time around, also, though, of course, the jury is still out.

Trust me, I don’t think moving and building a house is necessary to make the kind of changes I have been talking about, though some of us do need a bigger kick-start than others to change the road we are on.

Years ago, in a New Year column, the wise Erma Bombeck wrote about how for years she had been “overdressed for New Year.”  The articles of clothing that she wished to discard included “the mantle of guilt,” “the hair shirt of self-pity,” and “the belt of prejudice.”  In her metaphorical footlocker was a goodly supply of anger, and “the jewels of frustration over things that I can never do anything about, but that I wear like medals to torture myself.”  Also contained in her baggage were all the old grudges, “many of them antiques,” she wrote, “that I plan on handing down to my children.”  “Every year of my life,” she continued, “the load gets heavier and heavier to carry into a new year.”  “Frankly,” she concluded, “I don’t know if I can face a New Year without my clothes on.  Can I look at old friends and see them for the first time?  Can I keep my eyes forward and not look back?  Do I have the guts to emerge with nothing on but a smile and a top hat?  I’m gonna try.”

Ultimately, that is all that is asked of any of us: that we try.  It is what our faith demands.  Not that we succeed, but that we don’t give up.

Bernice Martin, the Board Chair of the First Universalist Church of Norway, Maine, where I once served, wrote a perceptive New Year column this year in the church’s newsletter: 

Whether we begin our new year with the winter solstice, the lunar new year, or on January 1st, we find in this time of darkness limitless possibilities for the year to come.  While not all the possibilities before us will take us where we want to go in our lives, we nevertheless find ourselves once again on the threshold of what could and will be.  So what is it that we wish to nurture in our lives as we move into the growing light? 

Making meaningful changes that shape the course of our lives can often come slowly.  Reflection on our spiritual or life journey over the past year can reveal pathways that have led us to where we find ourselves today and point to possible headings for our tomorrows to come.  As we look back over the year, what experiences call to us to open our hearts and minds more fully to what might be?

As we rest in the quiet of the long night and the peace of the dawning light, seeds of hope flow in the heart.  It is a hope nurtured by new discoveries as we move through the changing landscape of our lives.  It is a hope sustained by embracing the change we desire.  It is a hope that trusts in the infinite possibilities of Holy Mystery and finds fulfillment in our actions in the world.

At this point in my journey through life, the view forward sometimes looks pretty scary.  I’m not always sure I want to go there.  But I am convinced that the only way to proceed is to embrace the inevitable change.  And I am more certain than ever that, with a little hope and courage, it is possible to start over, to shed the old, worn-out clothing and baggage, and to become the kinder, healthier, and happier people that we long to be.  So many of you have shown me the way to go, that all I need to do is follow in your brave footsteps.

Howard Thurman, the great Black preacher and teacher, once wrote,

I will sing a new song.
I must learn the new song for the new needs.
I must fashion new words born of all the new growth of my life—of my mind, of my spirit.

I must prepare for new melodies that have never been mine before.
That all that is within me may lift my voice unto God.
Therefore, I shall rejoice with each new day
And delight my spirit in each fresh unfolding.
I will sing, this day, a new song unto God.

May our songs, to whomever they are sung, ever affirm our capacity to “delight . . . in each new unfolding,” to embrace the change we seek, and to begin again.  So may it be.  Amen.

– The Rev. Harold E. Babcock

Reading: from “Moment,” a sermon preached by the Rev. Roy D. Phillips on December 28, 1975  


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