May 11, 2014
On this Mother’s Day, we remember all those who nurture us in small ways and in significant ways. We give thanks for our mothers, some of whom are no longer with us. We remember today those mothers who have passed on, knowing that while they are gone, they live on in the lives of those who were loved by them. We are grateful for the people in our lives who offer us nurturance when they offer a kind word, when they listen, when they sit beside us and offer their holy presence. May we be ever mindful of the gift of loving presence, that we may give to others as we receive from others.
Amen and may it be so.
Introduction flower communion – Pete
The Unitarian Universalist Flower Communion service which we are about to celebrate was
originated in 1923 by Dr. Norbert Capek [pronounced Chah-Peck], founder of the modem
Unitarian movement in Czechoslovakia. On the last Sunday before the summer recess of the
Unitarian church in Prague, all the children and adults participated in this colorful ritual,
which gives concrete expression to the humanity-affirming principles of our liberal faith.
So, now I’m going to interview Maja Capek, Dr. Capak’s wife about the message of hope that Norbert Capek brought to Unitarianism.
Interview with Maja Capek– Pete and Amy
Interviewer: You and Dr. Capek came to this country, to New York in 1914?
Maja: Yes, Dr. Capek had been writing about his views about religion and freedom of religion and he was threatened by the officials in Bohemia where we lived. We moved to New York where Norbert became the minister of a Baptist church. Then after a year, Dr. Capek left that church to become the minister of a Baptist church in Newark, New Jersey.
Interviewer: And later you and Dr. Capek left the Baptist church? Is that when you became Unitarians?
Maja: Norbert and I decided that we could no longer remain Baptists because we believed in a religion free from creeds, free from constraint. We joined a Unitarian church in Orange, NJ in 1921. Our children had heard of the wonderful religious education in that church and we discovered it was a wonderful program.
Interviewer: But then you left this country and went back to Bohemia?
Maja: Yes, later in 1921, we decided that we needed to bring Unitarianism back to our country which was later called Czechloslavakia. Norbert and I helped to found the Unitarian church in Prague which later grew to be the largest Unitarian church in the world. We went all over the country helping to found six Unitarian churches. Norbert was very dedicated to the idea of religious freedom. He helped to build an organization called the International Association for Religious Freedom founded by Unitarians.
Interviewer: But later your husband was arrested by the Nazis?
Maja: Yes, both my husband and my daughter were arrested by the Nazis in 1941. They were arrested for listening to international radio broadcasts and for spreading some of the ideas from them that were seen as treason, as against the country. My husband was sent to a concentration camp in Austria where he was killed by poison gas.
Interviewer: So, he was a hero in standing up for religious freedom?
Maja: Yes, he believed every person is an embodiment of God and that we all struggle to find ways to express that part of God that is inside of us. He said that “religion can never die because human beings cannot but be religious regardless of the form of their religion.” That religion should give us “inner harmony” that creates strong character, good health, and a joyful, creative life.
Interviewer: So tell us about the flower communion that we celebrate in our UU churches today.
Maja: We started the flower communion in our church in Prague in 1923. The people there did not want to have a Christian communion, but we wanted to celebrate a communion of the spirit. So, Norbert asked everyone to bring flowers from their gardens in the spring to the church one Sunday. The flowers were to represent the gifts that each person brings to the church and shares with others. The communion is a representation of the brotherhood of the people coming together. “The exchange of flowers means that I shall walk, without reservation, with anyone – regardless of his social status, or his former religious affiliation, as long as he is ready and willing to go along in search of truth and service to man.”
Interviewer: Thank you for sharing with us about your husband, Dr. Norbert Capek. We are very grateful to you and your husband for the religious freedom you fought to uphold and for the sharing of this flower communion which has become so important in our UU churches representing the unique and special gifts that each of us bring to our communities.
What Gifts we Bring – Pete
We’ve heard about how this flower communion tradition was started in our Unitarian churches and how Maja Capek, Dr. Capek’s wife came to our country after her husband’s death and taught our churches to use this tradition. The flower communion service reminds us that each one of us here at Davies is like a flower.
So, flowers are all different, right? What’s different about these flowers that you see?
• Color, size, petals, when they bloom, etc.
And we’re all different, too. What kinds of things are different about all of us?
• Color, size, hair, eyes, gender, etc.
But also we’re all different in the things we can do in this church, right? We are have different talents and skills and ways of being that we bring to our church. These are the “gifts” that we bring. They aren’t gifts wrapped up in boxes, they are gifts in that we choose to offer who we are in all our differentness to share in the congregation. Like one person is really good at singing- that’s their gift, and one person is really good at counting money – that’s their gift. What are some of you good at? And what about the person who is really happy all the time and makes others feel good- isn’t that a gift? And what about a person who is really good at helping others feel good- they are a feel good person. And of course, many of our women here are good mothers, and we want to thank them all for being mothers not just to you, their children, but many of them are mothers to all of us. They offer their warmth and caring so often. Those are their gifts. So, I want you all to think of all the different kinds of people we have and to just call out the gifts people have that they bring to this church. Okay?
Musician, Cook, Teacher, helper, cleaner. Etc.
Now we’re going to share in the financial gifts that we bring to this church.
Blessing of the Flowers by Norbert Capek– Amy
Infinite Spirit of Life, we ask thy blessing on these, thy 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 thy holy will. May they also remind us of the value of comradeship,
of doing and sharing alike. May we cherish friendship as one of thy most precious gifts. May
we not let awareness of another’s talents discourage us, or sully our relationship, but may we
realize that, whatever we can do, great or small, the efforts of all of us are needed to do thy
work in this world.
We also want to offer blessings to our mothers this day. May the spirit of love surround them each and every day as they bless us with their loving, caring selves.
Amen and may it be so.
Now you are all invited to come and choose a flower that was brought here as a gift by someone else to share with you. As you choose a flower, remember that we all bring these unique flowers of ourselves to share and bless each other. So, come forward take a flower and then return to your seat and we sing our final hymn.
Little Light of Mine
Benediction- Now we’d like you to hold hands or a shoulder with someone near you as we sing our benediction. After we sing the benediction twice, we’re going to invite you to go around the room and find someone you’d like to give your flower to- and if you’d like you can thank that person for whatever gift you’ve seen them bring to this church. And then we’ll end with a final benediction.