On this Ingathering Sunday, we will come together as one community, formed from all the living generations, to bless each other through our water communion. As we begin our series “Let Justice Roll Down,” we will consider how the justice-making that we do collectively ought to begin with blessing, forgiveness, commitment, and love. Children and youth are invited to bring their backpacks to be blessed as they head into a new school year. All are invited to bring some water from a favorite local swimming hole, a kitchen faucet, or somewhere they've been this summer. Featuring Rev. Anastassia and the All Souls Choir.
The first Father's Day was a sombre event. It was held as a pastoral response to the Monogah Mining Disaster, which killed 361 men and 250 fathers in West Virginia. Today, we honor the sacrifice of fathers and all the fathering we have received and given.
Memorial Day has its origins in the United States when Americans began honoring those who died on both sides of the Civil War. America is again in a period of deep division. How can this holiday encourage us to see value in those who sacrifice themselves not only for what they believe in, but also for those who hold significantly different values? Sermon beginning at 31:40.
Once we have seen the world and savored its beauty, then we know we are called to save it, both for itself and for ourselves. Let us dedicate ourselves to saving this earth.
Ralph Waldo Emerson recognized that the world is meant to be savored and we are designed to savor it. Why is the act of savoring essential for our spiritual lives?
No amount of teaching can parallel the assurance we get from first-hand experience. To see really is to believe, but what are we seeing in the world today?
Sports have often been a metaphor for war and an outlet for human aggression and competition. In this fourth book in the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling intentionally blurs the line between "fictional" and real violence. In our own lives, we see that the rules of civility and order have begun to break down and that many Americans are forming opposing and radicalized camps. What are the signs of this happening? What does it call us to pay attention to?
Our fears paralyze us and prevent us from living fully. No matter what stage of life we are in, we are living with fears that hold us back. In the third Harry Potter book, Harry and his friends discover powerful tools to face their deepest fears - tools that will serve them throughout the series. Come and learn how memories of joy and love, and the timely use of humor and imagination, can help us face what frightens us the most.
In the second book of the Harry Potter series, Harry and his companions are faced with an ancient deadly secret, discover prejudice amongst their fellow witches and wizards, and are threatened by dark magic. It is only when they learn to share, be vulnerable, and lean on the help of their community that Harry and his friends are able to survive. Our high school youth reflect on this theme in this service with sermonettes.
In the first Harry Potter book, Harry encounters the Mirror of Erised, which shows the most desperate desire of a person's heart, a vision that has been known to drive men mad. Ancient myths and theologies too played with the metaphor of reflection, as a means to show what we often have trouble perceiving without assistance. In this case, the Mirror of Erised is a good reminder of the Buddhist practice of non-attachment.
Let’s explore what the next stage is beyond polarizing identity politics. This is a stage where one has claimed a particular identity, as well as identifying as anti-racist. What does this look like?
As we conclude our Gift of the Dark Woods series, we will consider the story of Peter’s failure as a primary spiritual gift. Peter’s story so parallels our own failures, fears, and missteps. Even towards the end, Peter fails to keep his promise to Jesus, denying any association with him three times when the going got rough. But again it is this utter failure that will guide and strengthen him for what came next. It was Peter who helped the church build and expand to include others considered “other” or “unworthy.” Where do we go from here? So too our failures beckon us into extraordinary life.
The path of life is rarely clear or straight-forward. We find ourselves lost in a Dark Wood, unclear which direction to go, perhaps having strayed from the path we thought we were on. It is at these times that the gift of getting lost is that we begin to pay more attention than we usually do. Perhaps we are looking for blatant signs when the subtle nudges from the Universe are already right there.
The idea of temptation may conjure remembrances of small or significant longings. But instead, this week we will explore the temptation we face to live by the “shoulds” dictated only by logic, outside expectations, or shiny “rewards” instead of follow-ing the path our intuition and imagination suggest is right for us—the path that helps us bring the best of our energy and joy to the world.
Ancient civilizations and religions all metaphorically describe the voice of the divine coming through thunder and lightning. We often describe experiences of insight as a “sudden flash,” “seeing the light,” or “rocked my world.” The storms of life can make way for moments of insight that can offer us direction. Rev. Anastassia preaching.
When we allow ourselves to accept the journey within the Dark Woods, the resiliency of the human spirit tends to shake things up a bit as we begin to awaken to nudgings toward a fuller life. But life is messy. Life is uncertain. Rather than a problem to be solved, what if we saw uncertainty as a gift helping us let go of all we cannot know so that we can live more wholeheartedly? Rev. Anastassia preaching; Greg Sanders on piano.
The Rev. Dr. Fred Muir speaks about how UU churches have gone astray by practicing a “trinity of errors,” and how we need new practices to have a vital ecclesiology that allows the church to be vibrant in our personal and collective lives. What core understandings can we take away from Muir’s message for our own practices of church? Rev. Anastassia preaching.
Church is where we learn what it is to be human. It is the place where we return to our most basic feelings and longings, our most true essence. It is the place where we are pulled into our most complex challenges of living together in community. In what ways can you more fully grow into your humanness?
Though our constitution prohibits our governments interfering with or promoting religious beliefs or practices, our religious expressions have always influenced our civic sphere. In this time when the bonds of our society are fraying, how might the practice of our congregational democracy be just the balm needed?