SERMON ARCHIVES

Holding It, Together

by Rev. Terry Sims | April 5, 2020

I am not alone.  You are not alone.  We are not alone.  Together, we can hold it all together.

We’ve Been Here Before, but We’re Not Going Back: Lessons on Pandemic from Marginalized Communities

by Janine Gelsinger | March 29, 2020

Find the Covid-19 Mutual-Aid Facebook Group (discussed in the sermon) and instructions to start your own mutual aid pod at https://www.facebook.com/groups/144504496872461/
The link for the petition discussed in the sermon is https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/decarcerate-arizona-criminalization-and-incarceration-are-not-public-healthcare-solutions.

Forgiveness: Restoring What is Broken

by Rev. Terry Sims | March 22, 2020

What keeps us from practicing forgiveness, even though we recognize it as a virtue? When we have been wronged or hurt, we often want to see those who have acted against us punished, to see justice done. But restoring relationships by forgiving each other may be a deeper justice.

Forgiving to Move Forward

by Rev. Terry Sims | March 15, 2020

Sometimes the mistakes we have made and the hurts we have received threaten to consume us and trap us in the past, but if we could forgive ourselves and others, we could let go of the past and move toward a brighter future.

A Musical Production

by Rev. Julian Rush | March 8, 2020

Hear about one pilgrim and his lifelong journey to become a worthy person who even Jesus would find satisfactory..

The Promise of Forgiveness

by Rev. Terry Sims | March 1, 2020

A wrong hurts people on both sides. Equally, forgiveness blesses those on each side. So forgiveness might be the most promising course ahead – what humanity needs most. That doesn’t make it easy.

Do it with a Doula: Enlisting Support for Beginning and End of Life

by Rev. Emrys Staton | February 23, 2020

An exploration of the growing availability of doulas and midwives to guide us through life’s significant transitions.

Freedom and Glad Giving

by Rev. Terry Sims | February 16, 2020

What if we all tithed in all areas of life, not just money, but also gave away 10% of our time and talents, too? In my life, I have given too often out of obligation and too seldom out of joy, but if I can loosen the bonds of attachment, maybe I could be liberated from my own stinginess to find joy in giving.

Letting Go, Breaking Free

by Rev. Terry Sims | February 9, 2020

The Buddha knew the power of our attachments to everything; that what we cling to imprisons us. Buddhist teacher, Sharon Salzberg, says: “Generosity generates its power from…letting go”. Maybe practicing generosity could finally let us break free of the prisons that hold us.

The Year of Living Generously

by Rev. Terry Sims | February 2, 2020

What would happen if this year, more than we have in the past, we made a conscious effort to live generously in all kinds of ways? What would change? I think we might become fountains of grace, replenishing ourselves as we help nurture others.

Lead When Called

by Rev. Terry Sims | January 26, 2020

Is Unitarian Universalism called to lead the world? By what authority would we dare try? Do we have the leadership qualities that will inspire others to follow? This sermon includes the New Chalice Ceremony Dedication. Chalice created by Paul Byerly.

Singing Our Living Tradition

by Rev. Kellie Walker Hart | January 19, 2020

Join Kellie Walker Hart as she shares how people can be transformed by the healing power of music and its ability to bring people together through life’s transitions.

Leading Indicators

by Rev. Terry Sims | January 12, 2020

What qualities and indicators show leadership? Who are we willing to follow and why? Spiritual traditions and some leaders show us what the world needs and what it does not.

On Whose Authority?

by Rev. Terry Sims | January 5, 2020

What is “authority”? What and whom do we trust enough to relinquish what we want, believe, or do to follow instead what an “authority” tells us? Unitarian Univeralists are generally not quick to acknowledge others’ authority over us, but that does not mean legitimate authority does not exist.

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.

Magnum Mysterium

by Rev. Cathy Corbin-Mannino, Guest Speaker | August 18, 2019

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.

 

 

 

 

Life – The Grand Improvisation Part II

by Juliet Gustavson, Guest Speaker | March 31, 2019

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.

 

 

 

 

2018 SERMON ARCHIVES

Albert Einstein said of intuition, “The intellect has little to do on the road to discovery. There comes a leap in consciousness, call it Intuition or what you will, the solution comes to you, and you don’t know how or why.” We just need to listen and then make the leap real.

 

 

 

 

I look at the various winter religious holidays; Hanukkah for Jews; Christmas for Christians; Winter Solstice for pagans; Kwanzaa for African-Americans. Each one reflects the history and culture of a particular group. But what I long for is a message of peace that all people can hear.

 

 

 

 

Hanukkah marks the culmination of a miraculous military victory, and so it may seem an odd introduction to our theme this month of peace. But Hanukkah also commemorates a seemingly much smaller miracle of one day’s worth of lamp oil lasting for eight days. Maybe in that smaller miracle lies a spiritual victory for peace.

 

 

 

 

In October, ghosts lurk and scare. In December, the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future warn those devoid of holiday cheer. In November, Thanksgiving offers a bridge from fear to accepting gifts. On this Sunday, we will explore our own ghosts and what they mean for our spiritual community.

 

 

 

 

I think all of us have cause for concern about the state of our nation and our world. But gratitude for what has been and for what remains can rouse us to act, to preserve, to restore, and to participate fully in the divine, ongoing process of creation. So concern is not all there is. There is hope, too

 

 

 

 

Doree Conner was a very social person who loved getting to know new members and writing their biography for our newsletter. She also worked with our church administrator coordinating office volunteers. Our church was very dear to Doree. She made it her home and then made it a home for us and others. We will very much miss our friend Doree’s cheerful presence among us.

 

 

 

 

Human life is a vessel. It will be filled with many experiences and emotions. When gratitude is experienced and felt, it not only fills us up, it overflows into how we engage with others and the remainder of our lives.

 

 

 

 

“The truth is this: If there is no justice, there will be no peace…If we cannot bring justice into the small circle of our own individual lives, we cannot hope to bring justice to the world.” How might we build relationships that bring justice to our localities and our state?

 

 

 

 

What do we really know?  And how does that information form us, shape our lives?  I have long believed that traditional religions do not adequately answer the deep, spiritual questions.  It is time for a new approach.

 

 

 

 

As individuals, it is the experiences, the process of life that forms us.  The sobering, perhaps terrifying truth is that we become someone with every moment, every event, every choice.  And within that truth also lies our hope.

 

 

 

 

Creation stories do their best to tell us how the wide universe and humanity came to be. But science and all our other activities are still forming humanity in our continuing evolution. Collectively, are human beings a blight or a blessing?

 

 

 

 

In his poem, the late Leonard Cohen, balladeer and musical philosopher, sang “Ring the bell that still can ring. There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” Let’s contemplate how the prayers of gratitude and forgiveness might be a vocation that allows the light to get in to “the darkness of our world.”

 

 

 

 

What did Jesus spend most of his time doing? What was the Buddha’s occupation? How did Socrates earn a living in later life, or Lao Tzu? True vocation may not fit a job description or garner a paycheck, but maybe that’s because vocation, in one sense, is the same for all of us – to find our own way to improve the world.

 

 

 

 

If you are reading this, it is at least somewhat likely that you have a basic belief system that aligns with UUism, but attendance…that is a whole different question. Why do some people choose to attend a religious service and others don’t? We gather together…but why? Listen to this sermon as we explore the value of attendance?

 

 

 

 

Vocation is anything that takes up a significant quantity of time, but a vocation is a calling for which one has a feeling of deep affinity, attraction, and/or talent. As Parker Palmer reminds us, our vocation is not something we come to by an act of will. It comes to us when we accept the gift of our true self. And that is a religious quest.

 

 

 

 

Both before and after what we may consider our working lives, vocation, our “calling”, is present. Vocation has a spiritual dimension that occupations may lack. On this Sunday before Labor Day, I want us to pay attention to the balance vocation can bring to whatever we do, at whatever stage of life we’re in.

 

 

 

 

The Golden Rule in Major Religions

by Dr. Bonnie Saunders, Guest Speaker | August 26, 2018

Usually when we think of the Golden Rule, we think of Judaism and Christianity, but it goes way beyond that. This sermon will explain the main ideas of ten major world religions and their versions of the Golden Rule.

 

 

 

 

I Don't Know

by Pat Lindgren, President, Board of Trustees | August 19, 2018

It is amazing the number and variety of things that I don’t know.

 

 

 

 

We left the month of May in gladness; we had a balanced budget at last, and there is a positive feeling among us, but we face a very sick world and a nation that is seriously divided. Where do we go from here?

 

 

 

 

Loving oneself and others takes on a myriad of forms and implications. In a spiritual community, how are we called to love one another?

 

 

 

 

A story from the “eco-confessional”.

 

 

 

 

Before we can bring change to the world to make it more just, loving, and beautiful, we need to be able to envision that new world. That vision lies within, and is limited only by our imagination.

 

 

 

 

The World is Not as Bad Off as You Think.

by Pat Lindgren, President, Board of Trustees | July 15, 2018

Let’s look at the world with “Factfulness” instead of opinion.

 

 

 

 

Despite all our beautiful differences, we share a common beginning; we are all born. As we move through this life, some of us give birth to children. All of us give birth to ideas and dreams. We will explore what we give birth to in our shared spiritual community and what this means for our individual journeys.

 

 

 

 

Looking at the universe around us and inside us for wisdom and inspiration.

 

 

 

 

UU General Assembly at Kansas City, MO 2018

 

 

 

 

Big Daddy from “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” is not my favorite character; however, Tennessee Williams wrote some powerful words for a flawed father to offer his struggling son.

 

 

 

 

We live in a world graced by beauty and marred by violence.  As a spiritual community, how do we reconcile the violence and the beauty that persist and what are we called to do?

 

 

 

 

Unitarian Universalists don’t universally agree or disagree on the existence of an afterlife. Each day, moments take us further on our path. Each day, we build a bridge to somewhere. Where are we going and how do these moments contribute?

 

 

 

 

It is a challenge to create community anywhere, especially a beloved community.  But making real our Sixth UU Principle, “world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all”, may be both humanity’s most difficult task and our most important calling.

 

 

 

 

Why do we need community?  What does it take to make communities work?  Who will teach us these things and where can we learn them?  On this Teacher Appreciation Sunday, we will consider not only our own beloved learning community at UUCS, but the promise and possibilities of public schools as places where community is built and taught.

 

 

 

 

Mother’s Day was first observed in the churches of Philadelphia, PA, on May 10th, 1908, in response to a suggestion made by a Miss Anna Jarvis of that city.  In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson following a resolution by the Congress of the U. S. issued a proclamation designating the second Sunday in May to be Mother’s Day. I am not the first to point out that there is a degree of hype and hypocrisy surrounding our observance of Mother’s Day. There is, still, some ambivalence in the culture regarding the role of women and mothers. Perhaps you have noticed?

 

 

 

 

Deep within us is the need to belong to something larger than ourselves.  But in our time, it is difficult to find any community, much less the beloved one the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King spoke so passionately about.  Today we will try to find a path to both.

 

 

 

 

Sing, talk, laugh out loud, and maybe shed a tear or two as we make this trip together with Patricia Balfour and Rev. Julian Rush.

 

 

 

 

On this Earth Day, we will consider how humanity has transformed the Earth during our brief history on the planet.  Some are looking for a new Earth-like planet to colonize.  But maybe we ought to ask ourselves first to transform the Earth again by reversing our destructive habits.

 

 

 

 

One word has the power to transform a life. As children,  we incessantly ask why as we explore the world around us.  As adults,  we ask why as we try to reconcile the world around us with the world inside us. Unitarian Universalism embraces the why and our pursuit to answer our own why.

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There are too many people who tell other people how to live their “one wild and precious life,” to quote poet Mary Oliver.  Today, celebrating Phoenix Pride, we will look at personal transformation from the perspective of our LGBTQ friends and how they offer the rest of us our own life-changing possibilities.

 

 

Having an attitude of scarcity, a feeling that there will never be enough, confines us to death’s tomb. But an attitude of abundance lets life burst open. This Easter, we will celebrate transformations that offer themselves to us continuously, both personally and as a church.

 

 

A Jewish sage once said, “Keep two truths in separate pockets always, and take them out as needed: In the first, ‘For my sake the world was created;’ and in the second, ‘I am but dust and ashes.’”  This Sunday, we will delve into this paradox to see how we might use it to guide the rest of our lives

 

 

Humility seems to be a demoted virtue in our culture at best.  But what’s so great about humility, exactly?  In the struggle between feeling that we should cultivate the virtue and questioning its utility, we might find something we want to hold onto.

 

 

I Corinthians 13:4 states that love is patient and kind; however, Congressman John Lewis believes patience is a “dirty and nasty word”. I believe there is no longer any time for a gradual movement towards freedom and equality. Our patience has run out. We cannot stop, and we will not.

 

 

In 1984, singer Tina Turner released her most successful single, “What’s Love Got to Do with It?”  I think we might ask that question about religion.  Through the ages, traditional religion lost its way, lost me, and millions like me.  Maybe the way back to religious life is to put love at its center, beyond belief.

 

 

My own life has been transformed by love, so I believe in the power of love.  But I also know that I have sometimes viewed love in an overly sentimental way.  On this Sunday before Valentine’s Day, we will look at love’s power beyond misty notions and once-a-year gifts.

 

 

For something that plays such a central role in human experience and thought, I think secular society is often unclear about what love is, confusing it with other emotions or behaviors that masquerade as love.  As religious people, it falls to us to know the love humanity needs at the most fundamental level and then to infuse the world with it.

 

 

With our tendency to group people by shared characteristics, it is not hard to identify distinct groups of people who are treated unjustly.  How can those who are given justice understand what it is like for those who are denied justice?  Are we getting closer to our principle of justice for all?

 

 

Musical sermon offering as a plea for all of us to seek ways to convince our country to set free all of our marginalized people.

 

 

There are various ways to think about justice, but I keep coming back to the idea that all forms of justice make ethical demands the privileged probably will not like.  How we respond to those demands determines whether we can honestly think of ourselves as just persons or a just society.