Last weekend, our very own Leslie Chartier became the Rev. Leslie Chartier at a beautiful ordination that was filled with joy, humor, and spirit.  While Leslie joined the ranks of Unitarian Universalist ministers, her installation was held at the First United Methodist Church of Corvallis, where Leslie has served as an intern on her path to ordination.  One of Leslie’s requests for the ceremony was that the UUFC and FUMC choirs join in song, and together, our choirs made beautiful music.  This was part of the inspiration for today’s music for meditation and offertory, in addition to Jill’s thoughtful words about centering and de-centering.  One piece is a well-loved staple from the United Methodist supplemental hymnal The Faith We Sing, which transitioned into a lesser known but very lovely hymn from our own “teal book”, Singing the Journey – another way for two different faith centers to come together in music with a similar message.

The music for today’s meditation is based on an old American hymn from the 1800s, BEECH SPRING.  While this tune has accompanied many texts, the lyrics from The Faith We Sing – “Come and Find the Quiet Center” – stand out among others because of their message of peace, calm, and envisioning a bigger picture.  I rarely reprint whole sets of lyrics when writing about Sunday’s music, but these words fit Jill’s message so well that they bear reprinting in their entirety here:

Come and find the quiet center
in the crowded life we lead,
find the room for hope to enter,
find the frame where we are freed:
clear the chaos and the clutter,
clear our eyes, that we can see
all the things that really matter,
be at peace, and simply be.

Silence is a friend who claims us,
cools the heat and slows the pace,
God it is who speaks and names us,
knows our being, touches base,
making space within our thinking,
lifting shades to show the sun,
raising courage when we’re shrinking,
finding scope for faith begun.

In the Spirit let us travel,
open to each other’s pain,
let our loves and fears unravel,
celebrate the space we gain:
there’s a place for deepest dreaming,
there’s a time for heart to care,
in the Spirit’s lively scheming
there is always room to spare!

As we moved into the offering, the music transitioned into a work from our own collection of songs, “The Oneness of Everything”.  The choir has sung this piece a few times and the text resonated with me today in light of Jill’s sermon.  The lyrics are as follows:

Far beyond the grasp of hand
or light to meet the eye,
past the reaches of the mind.
There find the key to nature’s harmony
in an architecture so entwined
Like the birds whose patterns grace
the sky and carry all
who join in love expanding.
The message of peace will rise in flight
taking the weight of the world upon its wings,
in the oneness of everything.

Peace is in the dance of trees,
who stir beyond the first
breath of wind is yet perceived.
Trust in the song becoming one with the dance,
and all mysteries can be believed.
Songs of lives long past that touch
our own are written in the earth
written in the earth ever giving.
And now maintain the harmony
gives to us all lives worth living,
for the oneness of everything.

Still we seek to find a truth,
that we might understand
and reduce to words defined.
Vast and immeasurable time and space
all so overwhelmingly designed.
Oh, passing years just might I know the faith
that winters in the hear to be reborn in spring,
written in the earth ever giving.
To hear and to feel the pulse of life
enters my soul as a song to sing,
of the oneness of everything.

It is such a gift when song lyrics reinforce the sermon so powerfully.  As Jill stated, centering can be a very good thing – as long as we remember that the center includes a broad area of people and issues and not just ourselves and the things we hold dear.

Performance of “Come and Find the Quiet Center”, conducted by Oregon conductor John Baker

Performance of “The Oneness of Everything”, sung by composer Jim Scott