2019 SERMON ARCHIVES

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Good Night

by Patricia Lindgren | December 29, 2019

End of Year Report from Board President

Sharing a Season of Joy

by Rev. Terry Sims | December 22, 2019

Compassion is often defined as suffering with another, but the roots of the word also show that it can mean feeling with another. In this season of holidays, we hope not only to find some joy for ourselves, but to share joy with our neighbors and the world.

Compassion: The Virtue of Being Human

by Rev. Terry Sims | December 1, 2019

All the world’s wisdom traditions teach compassion as the highest virtue. But that is only the recognition of a universal human capacity to feel with others. In that capacity lies the hope that humankind and the humanity within us.

No One Else

by Amy St. Peter | November 24, 2019

Over the years, some of us have been taught to know our place as a way of keeping us in place. A mindfulness of moments can take us beyond the deeper within our place. What is our place as UUs and how does this help us to build a shared vision and mission?

No One Else

by Rev. Terry Sims | November 17, 2019

It is true that each of us has a unique mission in life because each of us is unique. But there is a difference between a determination to do what we are in a unique position to do and grandiosity which is believing that only we can do it.

Answering that question depends on what the mission is, of course. As is written in both the Quran and the Talmud: “The person who saves one human life, it is as if (that person) has saved the whole of humanity.”

If dreams are too small, obstacles can seem too big. To keep moving forward, maybe we should increase the size of our vision to give it fantastic proportion in order to shrink the relative size of what stands in our way.

Rev. Elizabeth Nguyen, Boston-based organizer, UU minister and former Sr. Strategist for Side With Love encourages us to ground ourselves in community care and fortify for the road ahead in working for collective liberation.
The truth about democracy is that it is always messy, frequently frustrating, and dependably depressing. But it is also true that it is an inspiring ideal that calls for the best in our individual selves and all of us together. That’s something worth fighting for.
Speaking in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln declared in his Gettysburg Address that “government of the people, by the people, for the people. shall not perish from the earth.” Maybe Lincoln did not think it necessary to include the word “all” in his resounding epistrophe. But it makes a profound difference whether all people are included in our ideal of democracy.
Why should we, Unitarian Universalists, concern ourselves with democracy in a Sunday morning worship service? Because we know about commitment to an ideal, and because in doing our part to save democracy, we might just save our spiritual selves.
As Unitarian Universalists we draw on many faith traditions, and we try to honor various truths handed down to us over the ages. Today we will focus on the Jewish tradition of “sukkoth”…a time to contemplate the fragile nature of our living.
Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Until recently, this seemed to me like a good, black-letter rule. But I have begun to believe that a new understanding of covenant may call for us to see sacred promises, even broken ones, differently.
In our efforts to impose order on a chaotic world, a legalistic approach treats others’ promises as rules we can use to achieve power over others and protect ourselves. But a covenantal approach finds the real power of our promises to each other not in the rules they establish, but in relationship.
What are we trying to do when we make and rely on promises? And what promises are we willing to make? A covenant is a solemn or sacred promise. Discovering the purpose behind different kinds of promises tells us much about what we hope to do in church.
A compilation of wisdom words from Rev. Ralph Waldo Emerson, a major player in our UU heritage.
As a historian, I have given sermons on white women who were ardent suffragists. I have recently learned about black women who were instrumental in helping all women get the vote. This sermon will deal with several of these interesting women and what they did for the cause of women’s suffrage.
The great mystery. Love is an essence that defies analysis as does life itself…it is that which IS and cannot be explained”. Ernest Holmes
During tumultuous times and blurred lines, how do we define courage? How do we inspire courage in others and cultivate it within ourselves? We will delve into the catalysts for courage and the demands the spiritual places upon us to be courageous.
What holds us together? Not a creed but a covenant to affirm and promote 7 Principles…or what we are called to be.
“I do believe in an everyday sort of magic-the inexplicable connectedness we sometimes experience with places, people, works of art and the like; the eerie appropriateness of moments of synchronicity; the whispered voice, the hidden presence when we think we’re alone.” Charles de Lint

Optimist, Pessimist or Realist - which describes you best?

by Pat Lindgren, Board President | July 14, 2019

Is the glass half full? Is the glass half empty? Is the glass too big for its contents?

Humility and Love: The Powerful Lessons from Harm Reduction and Needle Exchanges

by Rev. Emrys Staton | July 7 2019

Hospice Chaplain, Emrys Staton, will explore a UU view of a growing movement among drug users and those who aim to help harm reduction. By defying the prevailing wisdom about addiction, harm reduction advocates are tapping into the core of our common humanity to try and heal our deepest wounds. 

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Transcending Life’s Vicissitudes: Lessons From A Teacher, A Tailor, and Hemingway

by Rev. Dr. Melaie Cloonan-Schulte | June 30, 2019

This sermon is about using the pain in life to make us “softer” rather than “harder” and how this increase in empathy and flexibility is a form of strength. Data from literature, medicine, and real-life experiences are used to explore how this works.
Three movie characters rise above, change shape/function, and move forward. What do they tell us about Transcendence, Transformation, and Transition?
In looking at the story of Jeanne Manford, who was called by love to support her gay son, we see clearly the power of one and the building of a community, even in times incredibly hostile to LGBTQ people.
Our faith community is made up of the people who share their spiritual journey with us. Our members, visitors, and friends define who we are as a church. This sermon will reflect the voices of the congregation through feedback offered via a survey conducted in April 2019.
Theology in a pluralistic world.

 

 

 

 

A sense of oneself is, we are told, essential to our healthy development as an individual. But I think that is not the end of our journey, only its beginning. Because I also sense a lure toward a mystery beyond the boundary between what is only me and what is everything.

 

 

 

 

I don’t have that many earth-shattering insights; not like some great scientists, artists and spiritual leaders seem to. But every once in a while, I have the feeling of what transcends my everyday existence. I think that might be enough.

 

 

 

 

There is no question that there is satisfaction in finding answers. But an even more enduring satisfaction may come with living in and appreciating an ongoing mystery we cannot solve. Knowing, it turns out, is not what I want most. What I want most is the experience of awe.

 

 

 

 

A look at the role of controversies in Unitarian Universalism; how they push, inspire, challenge and define our religious identity.

 

 

 

 

The question of salvation is almost always considered from the standpoint of whether an individual will be saved. But in a deeply intertwined world, during Passover, on Easter, and on the eve of Earth Day, I want to know what will save all of us together.

 

 

 

 

Recently, I gave another talk about our faith to non-Unitarian Universalists. After I told them that some of us are humanists and agnostic about many theological issues, including the possibility of an afterlife, someone asked me directly, “So what does salvation mean for Unitarian Universalists”?

 

 

 

 

No one gets saved as someone else; not even a better version of themselves, although we can all strive for improvement. No, if we are to be saved, it must be as our whole, fragile, broken selves, but with hope for healing.

 

 

 

 

How can we loosen up, think on our feet, and take on everything life has to offer with skill, chutzpah and a sense of humor? We look at more improv wisdom.

 

 

 

 

Every religion and most cultural norms I’m aware of adjure us to tell the truth.  And yet people consistently lie.  If there are times when honesty is not the right ethical choice because another virtue is more important, how do our spiritual values help us make that decision?

 

 

 

 

Wear green this Sunday in honor of St. Patrick, St. Bridget and the gifts of the Irish.  In these days of spiritual fragmentations and ennui, the Celtic saints have much truth to teach us: the Earth is sacred and all things are connected.

 

 

 

 

There may be some practical, objective truths that apply to all of us.  But there are definitely personal truths, things we know about our individual selves because of our experiences, desires, and perspectives.  I think our spiritual task is to make room for our own and others’ personal truths in our shared lives.

 

 

 

 

The idea of truth is under attack and has been for some time. I believe that as religious people, as Unitarian Universalists, we have a moral duty to stand up for and protect truth – not the truth, but the idea of truth, the goal of truth, the belief that there is such a thing that everyone can agree on.

 

 

 

 

“Let’s face it: Life is something we all make up as we go along. No matter how carefully we formulate a “script”, it is bound to change when we interact with people with scripts of their own.” Patricia Ryan Madson – Improv Wisdom.

 

 

 

 

Letting go of what we care about, surrendering to someone or something is difficult in many cases. I don’t believe we can let go or surrender without trust in something larger than ourselves; which is what makes developing our ability to trust a spiritual practice.

 

 

 

 

Surrender seems directly opposed to control. And we value control so much that it is not surprising that “surrender” holds such negative connotations. Maybe what we surrender from is only the illusion of our control, and what we surrender to is reality

 

 

 

 

There are all kinds of things to let go of. But how can we tell what is worth keeping and what is not? Before I let go, I would like to know that there is something more important to be gained than what letting go will cost.

 

 

 

 

I know someone whose entire spirituality consisted of believing in angels. She perceived them everywhere, believed in them passionately, credited them for every good thing that came into her life. And in approaching her life that way, she became an angel of grace for others.

 

 

 

 

Mary Oliver said “You have to be in the world to understand what the spiritual is about, and you have to be spiritual in order to truly be able to accept what the world is about”. We will unpack some ways her words speak to our congregation.

 

 

 

 

One of the phrases I remember from childhood is “There, but for the grace of God go I”. As a child, I heard that as an expression of compassion for someone less fortunate, as well as humble relief that the speaker had been spared the hardship. But there is another aspect to grace – gratitude for something that might never have been.

 

 

 

 

Luck seems easier to define than grace. Is there a meaningful difference between those two ideas? I think the answer may depend on whether we view what happens to us through a spiritual lens.