Carolyn McDade’s “Spirit of Life.” Lighting the Chalice. Two Incredibly Unitarian Universalist Things, and only one championship stole to be bestowed. My popcorn is popped and my coffee is stirred in preparation for this truly splendid final round match-up. Which will you choose as The Most UU Thing of All Time?
Your UU World selection committee seeded “Spirit of Life” as the top entry in the bracket when we embarked on this endeavor. Many churches sing it every week. We’ve learned that not everyone’s a fan, though—“Spirit of Life” has gotten the most votes, and has also garnered the most criticism of all the entries, at least going by Facebook chatter. It’s slow. Some folks prefer “Blue Boat Home.” Still, a song need not be perfect for it to feel truly UU. We know the words, and when four-dozen youth around a campfire belt out “sing in my heart / all the stirrings of compassion,” or 300 folks in Oregon proclaim “wings set me free,” it’s tough to get more UU-feeling than that.
I asked the children at my church this past Sunday morning what they thought about what it meant to light the chalice. One, a seven-year-old who carried our church’s “Black Lives Matter” banner for most of a 1.7-mile march in January, said, “Lighting the chalice is how we know it’s church and not just people doing whatever.” I can’t say it any more powerfully. We only seeded Lighting the Chalice sixth when we set the bracket; we certainly know better now. It’s no empty practice—it’s a ritual that has deep roots in our faith’s justice work, and means a great deal to UUs of all ages.
So which will it be? We’ve yet to have a true nail biter in this contest. Something tells me we’re due for a great duel. Vote below!
(1) “Spirit of Life”
“No other song, no other prayer, no other piece of liturgy is so well known and loved in Unitarian Universalism as ‘Spirit of Life’ by Carolyn McDade.” —Kimberly French
(6) Lighting the Chalice
The flaming chalice symbol used by the Unitarian Service Committee while rescuing refugees in World War II evolved into the ritual that starts UU gatherings large and small.
How to play: Log in to your Facebook account before you cast your vote in this contest. (One ballot per person!) When you click "Start Voting" below, you'll see two images in each round, from the list above. Make your selection to go on to the next round. Enter your name after the last round and click "Enter" to record your vote.