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Nick Page's New Epiphany Revival Show, General Assembly 2011

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Since the Calgary General Assembly (GA) twenty years ago, Nick Page has inspired his fellow Unitarian Universalists (UUs) to sing out. Joined by Rev. Jason Shelton, Rev. Hope Johnson, Janice Marie Johnson, Jeannie Gagne, and others, Nick revives our spirits, reminds us to live in wonder and love and that our gifts of compassion are our natural response to a compassionate universe. Nick's healing prayer, “We Pray,” carries us into the Synergy service.

Songs are by Nick Page except where noted.

Report from UU World

Transcript

NICK PAGE: Good evening.

[APPLAUSE]

Harry Belafonte, in his autobiography said, whenever you're performing, you must wait until it's totally quiet before you begin, or else you will never get silence.

I want to say hi to my wife back in Boston. Nita Penfold. She developed a curriculum called Spirit Play—wonderful curriculum. And you can go to the UU curriculum booth and see her brochures and all that great stuff.

Because there's maybe stormy weather out, if, like last year, the power goes out, take a breath, the emergency lights will go on, stay where you are, wait for instructions on what to do. OK? Just wanted to say that. Cell phones off, please.

Song: “Oldest Song In The World”

So, we begin. I'd like to teach you all the oldest song in the world. It's a song sung by that first mother hundreds and thousands of years ago. Scientists have called her Lucy, that woman in Kenya they we're all related to. In the Bible she's called Eve, same woman. And this is the oldest song, and I want everyone right now to hold the baby right here. And this is the first song. You're going to go like this, look at that baby and you're going to go, ahh.

AUDIENCE: Ahh.

NICK PAGE: And the baby goes, ahh.

AUDIENCE: Ahh.

NICK PAGE: Now, put the baby down gently. You look up at the moon and you go, ahh.

AUDIENCE: Ahh.

NICK PAGE: And the baby goes, ahh.

AUDIENCE: Ahh.

NICK PAGE: And the mother is frightened and goes eee!

AUDIENCE: Eee!

NICK PAGE: And the baby goes, eee.

AUDIENCE: Eee.

NICK PAGE: His voice changed. You can go anywhere in the world, no matter what language people speak, and if you go ooh, it's going to mean the same thing. It's universal. These vowels gave birth to song. These emotions gave birth to song. And from that came language. So, I invite you tonight to feel, to let your heart sing and dance. Is that OK?

AUDIENCE: Yeah!

NICK PAGE: All right. Amen.

Song: “Do You Shine?”

NICK PAGE: So, everyone go like this. Do you let the light in?

AUDIENCE: Do you let the light in?

NICK PAGE: Do you let the light out?

AUDIENCE: Do you let the light out?

NICK PAGE: Do you shine?

AUDIENCE: Do you shine?

NICK PAGE: Really shine?

AUDIENCE: Really shine?

NICK PAGE: Do you dance with the light?

AUDIENCE: Do you dance with the light?

NICK PAGE: Does the light dance with you?

AUDIENCE: Does the light dance with you?

NICK PAGE: Do you shine?

AUDIENCE: Do you shine?

NICK PAGE: Really shine?

AUDIENCE: Really shine.

NICK PAGE: And this would be a good one to have house lights up on this one. Here we go. Repeat after me. And by the way, this is mostly my song. There's one part that I didn't write.

Do you let the light in?

AUDIENCE: Do you let the light in?

NICK PAGE: And that's where you go like this.

[LAUGHTER]

Do you let the light in?

AUDIENCE: Do you let the light in?

NICK PAGE: Do you let the light out?

AUDIENCE: Do you let the light out?

NICK PAGE: Do you shine?

AUDIENCE: Do you shine?

NICK PAGE: Really shine?

AUDIENCE: Really shine?

NICK PAGE: Do you dance with the light?

AUDIENCE: Do you dance with the light?

NICK PAGE: Does the light dance with you?

AUDIENCE: Does the light dance with you.

NICK PAGE: Do you shine?

AUDIENCE: Do you shine?

NICK PAGE: Really shine.

AUDIENCE: Really shine.

NICK PAGE: The next part is just me.

Do you shine with the light of the sun? Do you shine with the light of the child? Do your eyes shine, your nose, and your toes? Does your soul shine through your eyes and your nose? Your nose.

Do you let the light in?

AUDIENCE: Do you let the light in?

NICK PAGE: Do you let the light out?

AUDIENCE: Do you let the light out?

NICK PAGE: Do you shine?

AUDIENCE: Do you shine?

NICK PAGE: Really shine?

AUDIENCE: Really shine?

NICK PAGE: Do you dance with the light?

AUDIENCE: Do you dance with the light?

NICK PAGE: Does the light dance with you?

AUDIENCE: Does the light dance with you?

NICK PAGE: Do you shine?

AUDIENCE: Do you shine?

NICK PAGE: Really shine?

AUDIENCE: Really shine?

NICK PAGE: Now, you have to know the dark, if you're gonna know the light. 'Cause the dark and the light, they sort of go together. Find the joy in all you do, even when you're feeling blue. 'Cause the pain and joy are part of life's full blessing. Life's full blessing. Do you let the light in?

AUDIENCE: Do you let the light in?

NICK PAGE: Do you let the light out?

AUDIENCE: Do you let the light out?

NICK PAGE: Do you shine?

AUDIENCE: Do you shine?

NICK PAGE: Really shine?

AUDIENCE: Really shine?

NICK PAGE: Do you dance with the light?

AUDIENCE: Do you dance with the light?

NICK PAGE: Does the light dance with you?

AUDIENCE: Does the light dance with you?

NICK PAGE: Do you shine?

AUDIENCE: Do you shine?

NICK PAGE: Really shine?

AUDIENCE: Really shine.

NICK PAGE: Well, this little light of mine—everyone—I'm gonna let it shine. This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine. This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Do you let the light in?

AUDIENCE: Do you let the light in?

NICK PAGE: Do you let the light out?

AUDIENCE: Do you let the light out?

NICK PAGE: Do you shine?

AUDIENCE: Do you shine?

NICK PAGE: Really shine?

AUDIENCE: Really shine?

NICK PAGE: Do you dance with the light?

AUDIENCE: Do you dance with the light?

NICK PAGE: Does the light dance with you?

AUDIENCE: Does the light dance with you?

NICK PAGE: Do you shine?

AUDIENCE: Do you shine?

NICK PAGE: Do you shine?

AUDIENCE: Do you shine?

NICK PAGE: Do you shine?

AUDIENCE: Do you shine?

NICK PAGE: Do you shine?

AUDIENCE: Really shine?

[APPLAUSE]

NICK PAGE: All right. Well, it's good to be back at General Assembly. My chorus led a sing on a Saturday night in Boston at the GA in 2002. My first sing at GA was in 1992, that was in Calgary, and that's where I introduced my atheist hymn, which goes like this. Oh, you can't get to heaven.

AUDIENCE: Oh, you can't get to heaven.

[LAUGHTER]

NICK PAGE: And I've been getting in trouble ever since.

When I name you would you please stand up? I want to introduce from St. Louis, Leon Burke.

[APPLAUSE]

Leon is a phenomenal singer, musician. He directed the GA choir a few years ago.

All right. From Nashville, Reverend Jason Shelton.

[APPLAUSE]

And, of course, Jason has changed the world of Unitarian Universalism with the gift of his songs and music, and we are so grateful for him for all the work he has done. And is one of many UU composers that are coming to the front just doing amazing, amazing things.

All right. From New York City, Denise Marie Johnson.

[APPLAUSE]

And Reverend Hope Johnson.

[APPLAUSE]

I first met them when they had a group called community, with two u's, at Community Church in New York City, and I just fell in love with them right away. They are justice workers, they are peace workers, they are singing it, they are making it happen, and I love that. From Boston, Mary Newman.

[APPLAUSE]

Mary been doing some good work this year. She's been putting on concerts, raising money for the Urban Ministry and doing wonderful work.

Also from Boston, Jeannie Gagne.

[APPLAUSE]

And Jeannie you know is just a phenomenal jazz singer, sings at Berkeley, professional singer, and we are so blessed to have her. She's a wonderful songwriter as well. And after the New Epiphany, she will be selling CDs up that way, up on the top up there. So, after that. And her website is jeanniegagne, G-A-G-N-E, dot com. Check her out. And my website is nickmusic.com. Great. All right.

So, I want to do a little children's song that I wrote with my grandchildren one day. It's actually published in a book that the UUA, the UUMN publishes. It's called May This Light Shine. The project manager on that was Reverend Wendy Bartel.

[APPLAUSE]

And if you know her, you love her.

Song: “The UU Children's Blessing”

NICK PAGE: So this is a little thing I wrote. You're going to go like this. Everyone go like this. Well, well, well, well.

AUDIENCE: Well, well, well, well.

NICK PAGE: Hey, hey, hey, hey.

AUDIENCE: Hey, hey, hey, hey.

NICK PAGE: This little piggy.

AUDIENCE: This little piggy.

NICK PAGE: Believes in God.

AUDIENCE: Believes in God.

NICK PAGE: And this little piggy.

AUDIENCE: And this little piggy.

NICK PAGE: Believes in the goddess.

AUDIENCE: Believes in the goddess.

NICK PAGE: And this little piggy.

AUDIENCE: And this little piggy.

NICK PAGE: Believes in multiple deities.

AUDIENCE: Believes in multiple deities.

NICK PAGE: And this little piggy.

AUDIENCE: And this little piggy.

NICK PAGE: Believes in none.

AUDIENCE: Believes in none.

NICK PAGE: But all of us little piggies.

AUDIENCE: But all of us little piggies.

NICK PAGE: All of us little piggies.

AUDIENCE: All of us little piggies.

NICK PAGE: Got to say thank you, thank you, thank you.

AUDIENCE: Got to say thank you, thank you, thank you.

NICK PAGE: Thank you, thank you, thank you.

AUDIENCE: Thank you, thank you, thank you.

NICK PAGE: Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.

AUDIENCE: Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.

NICK PAGE: All the way home.

AUDIENCE: All the way home.

NICK PAGE: Blessed be.

AUDIENCE: Blessed be.

NICK PAGE: Amen.

AUDIENCE: Amen.

NICK PAGE: Salam.

AUDIENCE: Salam.

NICK PAGE: Shalam.

AUDIENCE: Shalam.

NICK PAGE: Have a nice day.

AUDIENCE: Have a nice day.

[APPLAUSE]

NICK PAGE: I was also inspired by Meister Eckhart who said if you say one prayer in your life, let it be thank you. Let it be thank you. There's a children's song sung during the Passover Seder called Di, Di, "Dayanu." Di, Di Dayanu. And it says basically, had God given us the Torah, that would have been enough. And I ask myself what would be enough? And I said, to dance with the mystery, to receive the mystery. This would be enough.

A woman took her grandson to the beach. The grandson was playing in the sand. A wave comes, grabs that boy, pulls him out to the ocean. Gone. She calls up to God, please, please, bring back my grandson. A wave forms, huge wave lands in front of her. The boy comes jumping up laughing and giggling. She turns to the heavens and said, he had a hat!

[LAUGHTER]

What? That's not good? Am I going to get in trouble with that one? Oh, my goodness. I'm a troublemaker. Oh, my goodness.

We UUs are very diverse in our beliefs. We love to disagree, debates are actually part of our faith. My goal as a song leader is always to bring us together with the common language of the heart. So, I gave you permission to sing out today. I gave you permission to speak while I'm speaking, or speak, if Jeannie gets up and does a solo, just say yes. Say that—yes.

AUDIENCE: Yes.

NICK PAGE: Say, that is wonderful.

AUDIENCE: That is wonderful.

NICK PAGE: All right. Now be very careful. If you don't normally say preach it, sister, don't say preach it, sister. In other words, it's very important to be honest to who you are. For me, I go, I concur with that sentiment completely.

[LAUGHTER]

Be honest. Be who you are. Don't ever imitate. Last summer I was at SWUUSI, the Southwest Unitarian Universalists. And I just absolutely loved it. Reverend Aaron White who is brilliant, he was speaking and people were just crying out, yes! Yes! And it was powerful. So is that OK?

AUDIENCE: Yes!

NICK PAGE: Is that OK?

AUDIENCE: Yes!

NICK PAGE: All right. Two years ago I heard a group from New jersey called Joyful Noise, and they were a wonderful chorus of adults with intellectual and physical disabilities. And they expanded my whole sense of community, and what it means to be part of the world. They're a group that's been marginalized and left out, and here they are standing in malls, going to baseball stadiums, singing all over the place, showing that community means everybody.

But most important, they taught me something about emotions, because they made me realize that I'm the one with a disability. That my emotions are disabled. And so I wrote them a piece that's all about the heart. And I'm going to teach it to you now, and the words are going to come up on the screen.

Hymn: “You Have a Heart”

So, go like this. You have a heart, use it.

AUDIENCE: You have a heart, use it.

NICK PAGE: You have a heart, let it out.

AUDIENCE: You have a heart, let it out.

NICK PAGE: Let your heart dance.

AUDIENCE: Let your heart dance.

NICK PAGE: Let your heart sing.

AUDIENCE: Let your heart sing.

NICK PAGE: Let your heart love.

AUDIENCE: Let your heart love.

NICK PAGE: And the next part's really easy, you'll pick it up. So we're going to do it through once, all right?

[CHORAL MUSIC]

[APPLAUSE]

Diana, can you show the slide again of that woman from the group Joyful Noise? Can you do that? I'd love to see her image again. Her name is Beth. And she and her sister, who's a choir director, started the group. And that's them singing "You Have A Heart," use it. Thank you. I just wanted to introduce her.

So, what is the New Epiphany? I call this the New Epiphany. The old epiphany is the story of the good news. The good news of the birth of Jesus Christ. The New epiphany is something I call about the good news of the unlimited magnificence of an interdependent, self-organized universe. I'll say that again. The unlimited magnificence of an interdependent, self-organized universe.

Brian Quinn says if you leave hydrogen alone for a long enough period of time, it will create great symphonies. And that is self-organization. That is the world starting with a single-cell and becoming the magnificence that we are here today. I like to remind people that we do not become alive at birth because we were alive in the womb. We do not become alive at conception because both the sperm and the egg were already alive. Therefore, scientifically speaking, we are all billions of years old. Sometimes we feel it. But anyway, life in a scientific sense is eternal.

So, the New Epiphany is about the story, the new story. I went to a John Cage lecture. It was at Harvard University. And he had written what was probably a brilliant speech. And then they had the computer scramble it so it came out completely random. And people were walking out. I was sitting there, what do I do? Do I stay or do I leave? If I leave I'm going to look like I don't get it, and if I stay I'm going to look like I'm pretending that I get it.

So, what do I do? And I started thinking about who John Cage was—composer—who, in the late '30s and early '40s rejected the old paradigm of a patriarchal father God, who rejected the concept of a controlling theist God—rejected that completely. And embraced instead the eastern philosophy, particularly the I Ching, which manifested itself in his chance operations.

So, I began to think, well what is my belief? And it was then that I said, I'm going to dedicate my belief, not to those, but I have respect for those, but to the unlimited magnificence of an interdependent, self-organized universe. In high school, like a lot of people in the late '60s, I fell in love with the works of Buckminster Fuller. I remember reading his epic poem, which is called No More Secondhand God. It made no sense to me until I got to one sentence: God is a verb, not a noun.

This music stand is atoms in the act of being a music stand. This music stand is not a noun, it is a verb. And that is true for all things—all things are a verb. My father is a dedicated humanist. He was raised Unitarian, as was his father and mother. He was dedicated to science and us exploring science. And on the walls of the house of the rooms in my house were the words, what, where, who, when, how, why stenciled all over the place. All right. I don't know how many of you grew up in houses where you're sitting on the toilet, what, where, who, when, how, why? To this day, it's still a philosophical experience for me.

So, I'm sitting there—I probably shouldn't have said that, no. Anyway, it's too late. God, I get into trouble all of the time. My wife is at home going, yes, yes. But I remember in high school, a teacher going to the class and saying, why doesn't man fly? And he offered the answer, because if God had meant man to fly, he would have given him wings. So, naturally I asked, why doesn't God fly? He said, why? I said, if we had meant God to fly, we would have given her wings.

So, why do we celebrate the inherent worth and dignity of every human being? Why do we celebrate the interdependent web? Because compassion is part of what we do as Unitarian Universalists. Compassion, service, is our prayer.

Responsive Reading: “Declaration of Interdependence”

[By Nick Page © based on the words of Thomas Jefferson]

NICK PAGE: I'd like to invite you to join with a responsive reading—the words will be up in a minute—I call this the declaration of interdependence based on the words of Thomas Jefferson.

When in the course of conscious events it becomes necessary for one living creation to unite the common bands, common bonds, that for too long have separated us from one another. And to assume among the powers of creation the inseparable cosmic dynamics of nature. A compassionate response requires that we should declare the causes which impel us to such unity.

There we go.

We hold these truths to be self-evident—

AUDIENCE: The creation is in all things.

NICK PAGE: Now, remember before I asked for emotion? So instead of the creation is in all things, can you go that creation is in all things!

AUDIENCE: That creation is in all things!

NICK PAGE: And that all things are created with equal magnificence.

AUDIENCE: That they are endowed by Creation with certain inaliendable responsibilities.

NICK PAGE: To live in mystery and awe.

AUDIENCE To live in compassion as co-Creators.

NICK PAGE: And to give thanks in the pursuit of wonder.

AUDIENCE: For this we declare our interdependence.

NICK PAGE: That snail and breath and star and water are interconnected.

AUDIENCE: That children and mountains and laughter and [UNINTELLIGIBLE] are interdependent.

NICK PAGE: That we, the living, are co-creators in one magnificent creation.

A Pledge (recited by Nick Page)

NICK PAGE: I pledge my allegiance to the moon and stars and to all the living things, one world magnificent with wonder and compassion for all.

[APPLAUSE]

With wonder and compassion, our universe is both destructive and compassionate. Our universe is both competitive and cooperative. But if the world had been totally destructive and totally competitive, life would have begun with a single-cell organism and that would have been it. But there's a basic formula, mathematicians call it non-zero sum, in which there is still the competition. But a single-cell organism, more organisms, more bacteria, more life, trees, plants, fish, all of us. And only in a universe where compassion is part of it can that happen. There's a wonderful book by Dr. Elizabeth Sahtouris called Gaia, The Human Journey from Chaos to Cosmos. She says, the Earth is not a planet with life on it, the Earth is a living planet. Can I have an amen?

AUDIENCE: Amen.

NICK PAGE: The life is the Earth is a living planet. She goes on to give the history of bacteria, explaining that if the universe—no, if life on the planet were a 24-hour period, bacteria would have been the life of the party until around 6 o'clock at night, and then the other life forms begin. She explains that bacteria could not digest oxygen, so it let it back out into the atmosphere creating the air, the atmosphere, that we have now. She explained that during the catastrophic events where clouds of dust covered the Earth for many, many years, most life went extinct during those catastrophes. But it was bacteria that always brought it back. She explains that if we had 1% more oxygen, the atmosphere would burn 1% less and we would suffocate, and she says it's bacteria that creates that balance.

Song: “The Blue Green Song”

So, we're going to sing a song in a second that gives praise to bacteria. Say this, I'm a single-cell mama.

AUDIENCE: I'm a single-cell mama.

NICK PAGE: I got the blue-green blues.

AUDIENCE: I got the blue-green blues.

NICK PAGE: I'm a single-cell mama.

AUDIENCE: I'm a single-cell mama.

NICK PAGE: I got the blue-green blues.

AUDIENCE: I got the blue-green blues.

NICK PAGE: Don't think that you're superior.

AUDIENCE: Don't think that you're superior.

NICK PAGE: To that lowly mold bacteria.

AUDIENCE: To that lowly mold bacteria.

NICK PAGE: 'Cause I'm a single-cell mama.

AUDIENCE: 'Cause I'm a single-cell mama.

NICK PAGE: With the bacteria blues.

AUDIENCE: With the bacteria blues.

[SINGING]

NICK PAGE: This instrument I'm playing is called a Thumb Piano. In Zimbabwe it's called Mbila.

Instrumental: “Mbira Song of Zimbabwe”

[SINGING]

So, in this non-zero sum world, life can begin with a single-cell organism and become all the life that there is. This suggests that compassion is the behavior of the universe. It's certainly true in our lives. Every day there is more art than there was the day before. Yesterday I heard a new piece by Reverend Jason Shelton that did not exist a year ago and it was glorious.

[APPLAUSE]

Every day, we as Unitarian Universalists work for more justice, more peace, more beauty. There's a beautiful, old Hebrew saying from the Old Testament, eretz zavat chalav u' devash, which means sweet honey flowing from the rock. And the rock in Hebrew is Tzur, as in Ma'oz Tzur, rock of ages. And from this rock, which is the Earth, but it's God, from this rock comes ultimate compassion, sweet honey flowing from the rock.

Hymn: “There's Honey In The Rock” (Spiritual)

Repeat after me. There's honey in the rock.

AUDIENCE: There's honey in the rock.

NICK PAGE: For all God's children.

AUDIENCE: For all God's children.

NICK PAGE: For all God's children.

AUDIENCE: For all God's children.

NICK PAGE: Honey in the rock, honey in the rock.

AUDIENCE: Honey in the rock, honey in the rock.

NICK PAGE: There's honey in the rock for all God's children.

AUDIENCE: There's honey in the rock for all God's children.

NICK PAGE: Feed every child of God.

AUDIENCE: Feed every child of God.

NICK PAGE: Does it feed some children of God?

AUDIENCE: No.

NICK PAGE: Does it feed only the special children of God?

AUDIENCE: No.

NICK PAGE: Is it only the certain religion?

AUDIENCE: No.

NICK PAGE: Is it all the children?

AUDIENCE: Yes.

NICK PAGE: A Universalist spirit?

AUDIENCE: Yes!

NICK PAGE: To which I say amen.

AUDIENCE: Amen.

NICK PAGE: So, we're going to be singing this song. It's an old spiritual. I've added a couple verses, and it's powerful. In the spirituals, we must always honor the spirituals, where they come from. They come from bondage, they're songs of compassion, they survived. Groups like the Fisk Jubilee Singers bringing the spirituals, "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" to the stages of Europe. Singing them with Brahms, showing to the world the beauty, the art, of this great tradition.

The songs are songs of compassion and they are universal in their message, but we must never forget where they come from. So, we're going to sing it through once, and then we're going to bring you all in on "There's Honey in the Rock." And if you feel like, if you're able, if you want to rise in spirit or body, you may. But not yet. We'll learn it first. G minor. So, we're going to do it a capella first. There's honey—

[CHORAL MUSIC: "HONEY IN THE ROCK"]

NICK PAGE: Now I want to teach you how to sing that. Everyone go like this with your hands. In your hands are some marshmallows. When I say put the marshmallows in your mouth and repeat after me, [MUMBLING THERE'S HONEY IN THE ROCK]. All right. That's not the way to do it.

Chew the marshmallow, swallow the marshmallows. Make your voice into a drum. You're going to hit the notes percussively, like you're hitting a drum. There's honey in the rock for all God's children. Try that.

AUDIENCE: There's honey in the rock for all God's children.

NICK PAGE: Next, I want to invite you to sing harmony. How do you do that? The Nick Page, no-fault harmony technique. It's like no-fault driving, particularly in Boston, no-fault driving where you drive until you hit something and then you turn and it's nobody's fault. No-fault harmony, find a note that sounds good. When it doesn't sound good anymore find a new note. And if you sing the wrong note it's nobody's fault. And then finally, don't sing it the way the person next to you is singing it. If you want to add something add it. In other words, it should not be in perfect four-part harmony, it should be in one thousand part harmony.

[APPLAUSE]

All right?

AUDIENCE: Yeah.

NICK PAGE: And that comes from the African-American church where every voice is part of it. That comes from West Africa where every voice is part. If a drummer's playing, it's not a solo, it's a participatate—partici—we're all involved.

[LAUGHTER]

We are all involved. So, I invite you just to let it out, and if we end up doing a little movement, why that's OK, too. We're going to do the Pentecostal version, not the Baptist. All right, here we go.

[CHORAL MUSIC: "THERE'S HONEY IN THE ROCK"]

Yes. Yes.

Brian Swimme said the universe evolved for billions of years to create the child, and the child became the unlimited expression of the universe. He says, we are the stars, become aware of themselves. And I would actually say we are the stars becoming aware of themselves. We're not quite there yet.

Join in with me, please.

Solo: “Twinkle Twinkle Dialogues”

[SINGING: "TWINKLE, TWINKLE LITTLE STAR"]

And being the son of a scientist, I sometimes get very rational about things. So I hear a child singing that and I say, I'm sorry, you have it all wrong.

[SINGING TO MELODY OF "TWINKLE, TWINKLE LITTLE STAR"] Great big burning mass of hydrogen and other terrific energies, how nice it is to know just what you are. Way out in space is where you lie, not at all like a diamond in the sky, twinkle, twinkle for the birds, just a bunch of silly words.

But the child sings back, [SINGING TO THE MELODY OF "TWINKLE, TWINKLE LITTLE STAR"] But without the twinkle the wonder is gone, the world without wonder would be wrong. Up above the world so high, like a crystal in the sky, it may be silly to sing to a little star, but we need the wonder to know who we are.

[APPLAUSE]

Body Prayer: Laughing Buddha Ritual

So, it's time to fall in love. 1992 I did this ritual. I call it the laughing Buddha ritual. It's based on the Buddhist om. So I'm going to ask you to fall in love right now. Brian Swimme says fall in love five times a day. The more in love you are, the more alive you are. I got the chance earlier today to work with the young adult and youth chorus that are going to be performing—[APPLAUSE]—they're going to be performing, they're going to be singing as part of the service which follows my New Epiphany. And I fell in love with them. They are so special. They are so wonderful.

AUDIENCE: We love you too.

NICK PAGE: Thank you. Thank you. So, I invite you to fall in love. I invite you to fall in love. Think of something you're in love with. It could be a flower, it could be the person next to you. We're going to make love sounds, appropriate for us, made sacred by our love.

[LAUGHTER]

And we're going to use our hands on this. Let's have the house lights up. Everyone go like this, you're going to go like this. Ahh.

AUDIENCE: Ahh.

NICK PAGE: And that's love. Let's do that again. Ahh.

AUDIENCE: Ahh.

NICK PAGE: Turn to someone near you and do it and you should feel their love. Here we go, do it again. Ahh.

AUDIENCE: Ahh.

NICK PAGE: All right. If I get too new age, you can just go oh, wow, all right? I actually wrote a new age song, but I'm not going to do it right now. Here we go. And now I want you to be in awe, and so what is it that fills you with wonder and makes you go, wow. so you're going to go, ohh. Here we go. Ohh.

AUDIENCE: Ohh.

NICK PAGE: Now be in love and in awe at the same time. Here we go. Ahh, Ohh. On a summer day, go out in the country on a summer day if you get a chance when there's no lights nearby from street lights. Go into a field, lay down, look at the stars, and imagine that you're not looking up at the stars, but that you're laying under the Earth being held to the Earth by gravity and you're looking down on the stars. And then imagine that you are floating among the stars. You're floating above and among the stars. Joni Mitchell, "We are stardust." So again, awe.

AUDIENCE: Awe.

NICK PAGE: Now be surprised. This thing you're in love with is constantly changing, constantly evolving, growing up. We're going to be celebrating the bridging in a few minutes where the young people are going into adulthood.

[APPLAUSE]

Well, I want you to be surprised and go like this. Ohh.

AUDIENCE: Ohh.

NICK PAGE: Or the advanced Three Stooges version, wo-wo-wo-wo-wo-wo-wo.

AUDIENCE: Wo.

NICK PAGE: Now you're going to be in love, be in awe, and be surprised at the same time. Here we go. Ahh, ohh, wo. Now, you're going to hold and embrace this beautiful thing in your arms, no matter how big it is, and you're going to go ohh.

AUDIENCE: Ohh.

NICK PAGE: Now you're going to be in love, in awe, you're going to be surprised, you're going to embrace all at the same time. Here we go. Ahh, ohh, wo, ohh.

Love is not a selfish act, you must give it, so we're going to give it away. We're going to give it away on this note here. We're going to go like this Om. Here we go. Om.

AUDIENCE: Om.

NICK PAGE: Do it again. Om.

AUDIENCE: Om.

NICK PAGE: Now we're going to be in love, we're going to be in awe, we're going to be surprised, we're going to embrace, we're going to share all on that pitch. So let me do it first. Om. Om. Again. Om. With harmony—nice harmony. Om. Om.

I did that in the Twin Cities once with 40 Tibetan Monks. And I was so worried that I was going to offend them and they were loving it. They were loving it.

So, our celebration here today will be followed by the Bridging Synergy Program, a wonderful service being prepared for you. I'd like to teach you a hymn that sort of sums up everything I've talked about here today, and the words are going to come up on the screen right now. It quotes, by the way, some of my favorite hymns, "For The Beauty of the Earth," and "All Creatures of the Earth and Sky."

Hymn: “Our Purpose Here”

So, repeat after me. Our purpose here is growing clear, compassion is the key.

AUDIENCE: Our purpose here is growing clear, compassion is the key.

NICK PAGE: And that's been my message today, that there's compassion. It starts with a single cell and becomes all the life and diversity we have today—only in a compassionate universe. What started with a single cell became the life we see.

AUDIENCE: What stared with a single cell became the life we see.

NICK PAGE: And it works that way with justice. A bunch of people today, I wasn't there because I was rehearsing, went out and did a rally. OK?

[APPLAUSE]

They stood on the side of love, and the rain came down, but they still stood on the side of love.

[APPLAUSE]

What started with a single cell, what started with people in a park, grows and grows, and that is the nature of the universe. To magnify magnificence a task for you and me.

AUDIENCE: To magnify magnificence, a task for you and me.

In the old epiphany, an angel comes to Mary and says, you will be with child, and that child will be the child of God. And Mary says, my soul doth magnify the Lord. And in the New Epiphany we are all magnified, and we all magnify magnificence.

To make this world a better place.

AUDIENCE: To make this world a better place.

NICK PAGE: Give back to all you see.

AUDIENCE: Give back to all you see.

NICK PAGE: Give back to all you see.

AUDIENCE: Give back to all you see.

NICK PAGE: So, please rise in body or in spirit to sing this hymn.

[CHORAL MUSIC]

So before we go into the Bridging, I offer a prayer, a prayer of healing. A friend of mine, Steve Cummings, who played at my wedding, was diagnosed with leukemia. I said, what can I do? He said, pray for me. I said, you know, I've never really been much of a prayer. He said, pray for me. So being a songwriter, I wrote him a song. And I was searching for words and I could find none more powerful than the old spiritual, Balm in Gilead. B-A-L-M in Gilead. So that became my words.

Closing Prayer: “We Pray (Healing Prayer)”

[Words from the Spiritual “Balm In Gilead” and by Nick Page]

[CHORAL MUSIC]

So Steve passed away, and at his memorial service I saw his smiling face. I knew that his joy was still with us. Life is eternal, and the joy we create, the justice we create, the work we create lives on after us. What started with a single cell became the life we see. If you leave hydrogen alone for a long enough period of time it creates great symphonies.

So I'm on this bus from New York having my chorus—we just performed at Community Church in New York. We're back on our way back to Boston and I'm surrounded by love and I see Steve's smiling face, and I think feel the love around you. And I paraphrase Balm in Gilead—sing we pray.

[SINGING]

The flower's simple message: Shine just like sun. Give back the light, the love that you receive. Give back the light, the love that you receive.

New Epiphany Revival and Synergy Bridging Worship is General Assembly 2011 event number 3063.

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Monday, June 11, 2012.

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