Children’s Invocation I’ve Got Joy Down in my Heart – Children’s Choir
What Can One Little Person Do – Children’s Choir
Choral Invocation Standing on the Side of Love – UUMAN Choir
Story Part I
There was once a village that found itself in quite a pickle. They had to
choose their next mayor.
The village was known as ‘Beneficence’ - one of the most wonderful places
you could imagine. It was known, far and wide, that the people living in the
village all ate together, learned together, laughed together. They cried
when they lost something important and celebrated when the found something
important. Beneficence was, by far, the best place in the world to live.
Many felt that reason it was such a great place to live was because of the
Mayor. He had helped run the village for as long as anyone could remember.
And, when he first started, he suggested a special system of taxes. They
collected money, like most villages. But taxes in Beneficence required
people to give something of their hearts as well. People were expected to
give love. Or care. Or attention in some measurable way. It meant people
were required to visit a neighbor if they were sick. Help fix someone’s roof
if it was leaking. Put out the fires out or fetch the children when it was
time to come in.
After a short time, the giving of love and care became natural. They enjoyed
it so much, it wasn’t a requirement at all.. And the interesting thing… the
giving of love and care made people feel much better about having to give
money. The giving of love had made money not nearly as important. People
found they rarely had to pay someone to help them. So people exchanged love,
instead of money, as a way of getting things done. So people gave lots of
love – AND – lots of money. And everyone was happy. And the coffers were
And because most people felt that Beneficence had become great because of
the Mayor, he was extremely popular.
(Church President comes in and walks around looking
beneficent and even hoisting his clasped hands over his should like a
Everyone loved the Mayor.
Unfortunately he died.
(Church President appears shocked to hear the news)
And as the villagers were removing his lifeless body
from the throne where he once reigned…
(Church President comes over and whispers to Suzanne – mock complaining)
…You don’t want to die?
…Okay… Ahem… Unfortunately he was carried away by a
pack of wild marauders… and thrown into the pit of despair where he railed
against his captors and begged for crumbs of bread and scraps of raw…
(Church President complains again…)
… oh, what now?!? …
(more whispers and more exasperated erasing)
(looks at Church President sternly)
… he was called into a very looooooong meeting… from
which there was NO escape…
(Church President throws up his arms and is carried
away by other board members).
…He should have stuck with death… Anyway, now that he
was taken hostage, the village found itself in the precarious position of
looking for another leader. And thus, the pickle they found themselves in.
No one in the village could remember ever having to elect a mayor before.
They didn’t know how to decide? Or even what qualities to look for. The
village asked for suggestions. One of the biggest men in the village pointed
out that a leader must be strong. …One of the warriors who defended the
village noted the importance of bravery. The professor of the village said
they must have lots of education and degrees. One of the craftsmen mentioned
experience. The Banker pointed out that a leader must be good with numbers.
The administrator pointed out that a leader ‘should have access to a lot of
office supplies.’…And, of course, the poet and sage insisted the next leader
have lots of Wisdom. These were compelling arguments. But it wasn’t until
one of the smallest among them came forward and said she thought what made
their last mayor such a great leader was that he loved them. In every
decision made, the people knew they were loved.
That made their heads nod. So, they decided that the next leader should be
someone who could love them more and better than anyone else. So, naturally,
they would need to select the person with the best heart. Indeed, a perfect
But, they should hurry, they thought. For just in the time since the last
mayor had left, the village had become much more anxious. People’s
generosity and their calm and trusting manner became a little more cautious,
a little less willing to help when needed - and a little more suspicious of
each other’s intentions.
So they went about looking for someone who would love them as much as the
last mayor. Someone whose heart was not too small to see the big picture and
not too big to see the little things that people did for one another. They’d
have to find someone who loved more than just what was easy to love. Someone
who could see love in everything. But how would they find such a person? How
would they know a perfect heart when they saw one? And where might they
Hymn: “There is More Love Somewhere”
Our goal as UUs is not to love what is easy, or
what is safe or what is already loveable. Our goal is to love the world
into a better place – which is to say, to love fairly in unfair moments,
to love the weak in strong ways, to love the troubled back to health –
For this kind of love, we light our chalice.
*Hand of Friendship
Story Part II
After much debate, it was decided that the next mayor would be decided by a
contest. Posters sprang up throughout the land that the next Mayor of
Beneficence would be the individual who proved to have the perfect heart.
And that person,, it was decided, would get, not only the throne, but all of
the great wealth that had accumulated in the village of Beneficence. And
everyone knew what that meant.
Beneficence was famous. Not only was it known for kindness and love. But for
riches as well – Everyone knew that the people who lived there gave away
most of their money voluntarily to taxes because they always knew they would
always have friends and neighbors to care for them. What use did they have
for money when they had all the care they could imagine?
Well, it seems that the longer they went without a mayor, the more anxious
the people became. The village became more and more afraid that the love and
care the people of Beneficence once showed so naturally to one another would
stop. And they worried that if they couldn’t count on love and care, they
better protect not only their hearts, but their money. In their anxiety,
people actually began to calculate how much of the money in the village
treasury rightfully belonged to them. Greediness and a need for attention
and recognition grew. And because control of the village coffers went to the
next leader, the list of people who applied for the job of Mayor also grew.
It was decided that the contest for the perfect heart would be judged by
empirical evidence. An atrial nuclear magnetic, resonance imaging machine
was acquired so that, as the contestants for the mayor’s job began showing
up, a picture of their heart would be taken and examined. And all the people
of the village stood in the middle of the square waiting to see who would be
the next mayor.
Many hearts came into view. But none of them appeared to be perfect. Some
seemed way too small to love everything about the village. Some too big to
make some of the harder decisions that required a delicate touch. Some
seemed a little withered from lack of use. Some seemed tough from being
over-exercised. Some were cold and meant they would not be forgiving. Some
were too fiery hot indicating they might be too passionate. Most were torn
and mended and patched together.
For two and a half days people filed past the monitor. One by one, young and
old, girl and boy, big and small, people revealed their heart while the
village held its collective breath hoping the perfect heart would be found.
After almost every heart in the village had been tested and showed rips and
tears, a stranger walked into the village square. He smiled boldly and
confidently. He waved to the crowd of people as he was stepping up to the
machine and said to them:
“I have heard of your contest,” he said. “And I am here to claim the prize –
the throne of this village and all the money in the coffers. Because I have
the most perfect heart in all the land.”
Some in the crowd rolled their eyes. This was not the first time they had
heard such a claim. The bold and the brash were the ones that usually had
hearts that were much too big, or much too small. So when the stranger stood
in front of the machine no one was expecting to see the image that came into
view: a perfectly shaped, perfectly sized heart in perfect condition!!
Suddenly, murmuring erupted everywhere. Whispers and gasps everywhere. Some
folks bowed down when they saw the image of the perfect heart.
“There!! You can see for yourself. My heart is perfect. I have done nothing
but care for my heart since the day I was born. My parents made sure that
everyone who crossed my path loved me unconditionally. I have been lavished
with attention and always given the best care. And because of that my heart
has grown to become the envy of the land. You can see, there is not a
scratch on it. It is the heart of a true leader. And so I shall be to all of
you for the days to come.”
The people of the village stood and stared. No one could deny what was being
said was true. But somehow, something seemed wrong. Although the machine
showed he had a perfect heart, there was something that didn’t feel right.
Everyone had come to believe that when the new leader appeared, their
anxiety would vanish. But if anything, the people felt even more anxious
then ever. Something about the way he looked at the people… How he spoke
with such expectancy. Entitlement. It was quite different from their
previous mayor. And though it was something they couldn’t put their finger
on, each and every person felt it in their own heart.
Though this stranger did indeed meet all the conditions of the contest of
having a perfect heart. He did not give the people confidence. He did not
make them feel the love they were looking for. He did not bring hope. And as
the stranger approached the podium to take the throne, the people wondered
what to do.
Hymn: There is more hope somewhere
Joys and Concerns
Reflection – Meditation – Prayer
Take a moment to stop, turn inward and ponder the
essence of goodness you have inside you – the possibility, the mystery
of unveiling truth, the light that goes by many names. We are grateful
for this time and these people. For the care they show and the renewal
we find. Help us to remember that we are often larger than the worries
and doubts and fears that cross our path. That our response – especially
when it is in concert with the people around us – enables us to do
greatness. With the help of others we can know
- the joy of
- the sorrow of
Let us know that our lives are more because of this time and these
Story Part III
The time came for the stranger with the perfect heart to take his reign in
the village. But before he made it to the podium and took up the crown,
another woman stood up and got their attention.
People knew her as the woman at the well. She stood by the village well and
helped people draw water. In that way, she knew everyone who lived there.
Her face was always kindly. But now she looked serious. Her walk to the
podium was deliberate, but not proud. And when she turned to the people, all
their caution turned to curiosity.
“Good people of Beneficence. We lost our leader. And that has made us
anxious. And in thinking about who we would get to replace him, we reflected
on who we have been. Who we are. And what we most wish to become. We
decided, of all the qualities we want in our next leader, the most important
is love. The kind of love that has helped us care for one another so well up
till now. The kind of love that has always prompted us to do right by our
neighbor. The kind of love that made everything – including money – seem
much less important.
“We thought we could recognize a perfect leader by their having a perfect
heart. And so we have stared into this machine for days to find a heart that
has no flaws. And that is what we have found in the man who stands before
“But I contend to you this day, we have not found someone who has a perfect
heart. We simply have found someone whose heart has never been broken. And a
perfect heart is more than that,” she said and she stepped in front of the
All at once a roar came up from the crowd. The woman’ heart, which appeared
on the monitor wasn’t perfect at all. Although it was beating strongly, it
was more riddled with scars, rips and tears than any other heart in the
village. There were places where pieces were missing. And lots of places
where pieces seemed lumped onto the side. It was a funny hodge-podge
“This old heart of mine is, I suspect, like many of yours. Worn with age,
broken in places, mended with time and attention. It has been held together
by consoling stories, memories of how things once were and hope of the way
things might still become. Wisdom and reason have both torn it apart and
pieced it back together again. And the scars – which have kept it working
long after it knew it was broken, are fashioned from sympathy and faith. It
is the scars that actually make it stronger than it once was. I believe this
heart of mine – like the heart many of you have earned – is more perfect
than one without any scars.”
Of course, this led the stranger to protest that he had won the contest fair
and square. He started to demand the crown which only confused the people of
the village. They stood in the middle of the square and listened – on the
one side, the stranger held up the image of his perfect heart. And on the
other side, the woman held up a very different image. The people, it seemed,
were torn between a choice they hadn’t anticipated. And many of them felt
even more anxious than before.
A call came forth from the crowd that the people should decide type of
perfect heart would most likely lead to the love they were looking for. “It
is up to us to decide! Stand on the side you believe will make the best
mayor of Beneficence!” And as the call went out, the people milled about.
Shoving began. People started to argue. Some took their place on one side or
the other, believing that was the side were love would be found. But
overall, the feeling was not one of love – but of anxiety and Unrest. And
many knew not where to look or how to respond.
Hymn: There is more Peace Somewhere
Anthem Standing on the Side of Love
“We sing now together in joyful thanksgiving
acclaiming creation whose bounty we share; both sorrow and gladness we
find now in our living, we sing a hymn of praise to the life that we
Story Part IV
The commotion would not die down. Most of the people, who had still not
chosen a side, felt frustrated and anxious. People began to lean toward one
side and see that their friends were moving to the other side. For a moment,
they were paralyzed in indecision.
Just then, someone asked what the last mayor would have done. And then
another asked ‘what a perfect heart might choose in this situation?’ The
crowd turned to the two candidates and fixed an expectant look in their
direction. “What would someone with a perfect heart do in this situation?”
they asked. “Let us decide based on their answers. And they all became quite
as they waited for the two leaders to speak.
The stranger with the perfect heart stepped up first and shouted before
“A good heart always remains strong, true to the course. It doesn’t waver
and falter. A good heart always makes the right choice – based on the most
perfect of reasoning, the evidence of a sure thing. A good heart never
chooses a course that might lead to regret. Look at the woman over there.
She has wasted her time and attention on things that led to heart ache. She
has opened herself to disappointment. Her heart records the number of time
she has loved and lost The variety of ways she has discovered brokenness.
She has watched love slip through her fingers. And felt the sting of
emptiness and loneliness. Her path is never certain. Follow me and I promise
you will never know loss. You will never know disappointment. Because you
will understand what it means to have a perfect heart.”
As he finished speaking, he could see a few of the people in the middle of
the square shaking their heads. And a few – especially those who had been
most anxious – were comforted. And they moved toward him, till he was
surrounded by dozens of folks calling for their friends to follow behind
them and stand on this side of love.
The woman stood up next and looked around at the crowd. And she smiled.
“Of course,” she said, “everything he has said is right. A good heart always
makes the right choice. Never wavers or falters or chooses a path it
regrets. And, he’s also right: I have followed down many paths that led to
disappointment and heartache. And there is a reason for that,” she said as
she walked in front of the machine.
“Do you see that scar – the one that runs down the middle?” she asked as she
pointed to the image on the screen. “It was the first broken heart I ever
had. It came when the boy I had a crush on in second grade asked, on the
last day of school, if I would walk to the bus with him. I said, ‘no’
because I wasn’t sure what would happen. I was afraid I would say something
silly or that he would reject me. So we never did. He moved away during the
summer and I never saw him again. I vowed it would be the last time I ever
cried for not loving someone.
Since then, my life has been about taking risks. Little ones where I let
others know I liked them. Big ones where I opened my heart – and my world -
to people, even when I didn’t know what would happen next. I made best
friends with people I knew would move away. I waited for some of them to
come back. And sometimes they did. I watched people – and pets – I loved
dearly get sick. I even watched as some of them died. And I chose to be with
them all the way – even though I knew it would hurt more than I could have
imagined. I stayed with the woman down the road when her son left home –
even when she cried and cried for days and I had nothing I could think to
say that didn’t sound stupid. But eventually she stopped crying and I
stopped feeling stupid. I tried and tried to be a ballerina – because it was
my dream. I didn’t give up even when I wasn’t picked for the recital. No
matter how many times I wasn’t picked. And I cried when it didn’t happen
like I imagined. But I found a way, in my mind, to think of myself as a
ballerina - and that has made a world of difference to me.
I risked losing friends by standing up for people who were treated badly for
being different. Either because they were a different color than me or spoke
a different language. Or because they were gay. And I sometimes fell in love
at the wrong times. With the wrong people. For the wrong reasons. And I have
the scars to prove it. But I never let fear of making a fool of myself stop
me. Or fear of being hurt. Because every time I have loved something truly,
deeply, honesty – my life became a little more worthwhile. And I like to
think that others lives became worthwhile too.
My friend is right. My scars are proof that I have had my heart broken. But
I wear them proudly because each one is a badge that says I tried, over and
over, to say ‘yes’ to life. Because, ultimately, I believe life is worth
saying ‘yes’ to. And I love it when life says ‘yes’ back.
I have been hurt because there are things in life worth hurting for. And
most everyone of them has a name, a face and a story.
And as she continued to speak, the people drew closer to hear what she had
to say. Until they were sitting all around her. Even the stranger, who had
come across the square from where he was standing. He saw everyone crowded
around the woman and knew that it meant that he would not be the next mayor.
And he was very disappointed. In fact, it was enough of a heartbreak that it
became his first scar. And his first glimpse of everything he had never, to
this point, been able to know. Everything that would make all the difference
in his ability to really know love. And to really be happy.
So he walked over to where everyone else was standing to join them. And he
began to sing.
Hymn There is More Joy Somewhere
*Closing Hymn Standing on the Side of Love
It is said that the village of Beneficence went on to become even greater
than before. It became more loving and more wealthy than anyone could
imagine. And the reason is that the people there came to an important
realization. To stand on the side of love was not to choose one person over
another. Or one side over another. It was to reach out and form the largest
possible circle you could make from stretching your arms – and your hearts –
as far as they could go. Everything standing on the inside was standing on
the side of love. Everything on the outside – well, that was just another
possibility… waiting to be discovered.
Go in Peace
*Please stand as you are able