Texts of Selected Sermons 2007

December 16, 2007 — W(Holy) Family
In this season when the Earth’s great solar cycle bears toward the northern hemisphere into greater light, and scenes of nativity lift families into our awareness, it is good to celebrate our vision of family: a diverse, complex, and variegated source of human generativity. Join us as some step forward out of the wild garden of UUCPA families to offer their stories.

Worship Leader: Rev. Kurt Kuhwald
Sermon: Words about Families (part 1)

Reflection: Our Family Journey by a UUCPA Family

Reflection: Reflection on Family by another UUCPA Family

Sermon: Words about Families (part 2) by Rev. Kuhwald

December 9, 2007 — Build Your Own!
The name of a Unitarian Universalist adult religious education program written thirty years ago (and going strong) sums up one of our guiding principles: we each have to “build our own theology.” Sound daunting? Well, you don’t have to build from scratch — or do it all by yourself. And what you get when you’re done building is a believe system you’re happy to live in.

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Sermon: Build Your Own!

Reflection: Building My Own Theology? by Joy Morgenstern

December 2, 2007 — For the Earth Forever Turning
Words from a favorite UU hymn joyously turn our hearts to the great solar event that marks the entry into winter: the Winter Solstice. What wisdom can we draw from Earth’s relationship with the sun? What wisdom calls us into a fuller love for life and a stronger rebellion against the forces that exploit and degrade it? Naturalist John Muir once said: “I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”

Worship Leader: Rev. Kurt Kuhwald
Sermon: For the Earth Forever Turning

Worship Associate: Dave Weber
Reflection: Seasons

November 25, 2007 — Vote Your Way out of Hell
Rev. Kurt A. Kuhwald will provide some guidance from the pulpit on how to apply the power of our preciousness to the dirty ways of the world. It will be good to get in touch, once again, with the heart of democracy. We deserve it. (On this weekend traditionally given to giving thanks, this service is offered as a tribute to the indigenous people of our land from whom our basic form of government was learned.)

Worship Leader: Rev. Kurt Kuhwald
Sermon: Vote Your Way out of Hell

Worship Associate: Phyllis Cassel

November 18, 2007 — Enough
We have been greatly blessed, as U.S. citizens, as Californians, Unitarian Universalists, and members of this faith community. Yet rarely do we consider just what we need! The founders of our country articulated these “unalienable rights” of all men[sic]: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That last one can have some pretty broad interpretations. How much is enough in that pursuit? What are the boundaries of that quest?

Worship Leader: Rev. Eva Českava
Sermon: Enough
    (Contact Rev. Českava for text of this sermon.)

Worship Associate: Florence Haas

November 11, 2007 — Many Roads to Peace
Via our delegates from all over the country, we Unitarian Universalists have set ourselves a provocative study/action issue (SAI) question: should we be a “peace church,” rejecting the use of all forms of violence? Whether or not our church as a whole, or we as individuals, choose pacifism, we still want to move this world toward peace. So this Veterans Day morning, we engage the SAI by asking a broader one: in what ways can we devote ourselves to creating peace? What does it mean to be a peacemaker?

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Sermon: Many Roads to Peace

Reflection: Peace on Veterans Day by Rita Hays

November 4, 2007 — Democracy, Fascism, and Magic
Torture, racial purity, secrecy, control by fear … the Harry Potter saga is complete, and it turns out that one of its major themes is the development of fascism. (And they say these are children’s books!) What can wizards teach us about Washington? This is the first of three services on Harry Potter this year.

(Fair warning: This service will not give away the ultimate plot twists, but you might want to start reading now so that subsequent services on a Potter theme don’t spoil it for you …)

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Sermon: Democracy, Fascism, and Magic

Reflection by Joy Morgenstern: Fascism

October 28, 2007 — A Party in the Graveyard
Our Mexican neighbors … and many of us … celebrate Día de los Muertos this time of year. The Day of the Dead correlates roughly to All Souls Day in Western Christian traditions. Much richness exists in the very different styles, and we will explore remembering our deceased loved ones with parties and merrymaking along with the mourning and dirges.

Worship Leader: Rev. Eva Českava
Sermon: A Party in the Graveyard
    (Contact Rev. Českava for text of this sermon.)

Worship Associate: Dave Weber
Reflection: Death

October 21, 2007 — Deep Democracy
Rev. Kurt A. Kuhwald will lead us in an exploration of the meaning and practice of Deep Democracy and how it is the underpinning of building Another World, a world many name as Earth Community. Seeking the fundamental elements of Deep or Radical Democracy is a critical spiritual and activist practice of our times. Let us risk using this single hour to touch freedom: Another U.S. is possible.

Worship Leader: Rev. Kurt Kuhwald
Sermon: Deep Democracy

Worship Associate
Reflection: Deep Democracy

October 14, 2007 — Association Sunday
This morning hundreds of other congregations will be joining us in celebrating our Association of Congregations. On this “Association Sunday” we reflect on our extended family of Unitarian Universalists, each in our own home working for a better world and following a faith of freedom, reason, acceptance, and love.

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Sermon: Our Home Away from Home

Worship Associate: Wynne Furth
Reflection: Association Sunday

October 7, 2007 — Meanings in our Music
The music we share on Sundays can evoke some of our most profound personal theology. Many of us can point to a particular hymn and say “that sums up what I believe” and we have many personal associations with the music or words that make the experience of sining together doubly meaningful. In this service, we enrich our congregational singing — and deepen our knowledge of each other — by sharing some of these musical meanings.

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Worship Associate: Dave Weber, with additional reflections from the congregation

Reflections:

Meanings in Our Music
We Laugh, We Cry
Spirit of Life
The Fire of Commitment
Raghupati
I’m On My Way
We’ll Build a Land

September 30, 2007 — The Seven Deadly Virtues
Occasionally something that ought to be a virtue goes a little bit wrong, as the cartoonist Roz Chast illustrated with such “deadly virtues” as “total honesty,” “uncalled-for thrift,” and “morning perkiness.” We’ll take a lighthearted look at some of the deadlier virtues in our lives.

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Sermon: Seven Deadly Virtues

Worship Associate: Susan Owicki
Reflection: Two Lively Virtues

September 23, 2007 — Excavating History
“Why dig up painful stuff that happened in the past? It’s over, let’s move forward.” This well-intentioned fear of kicking up old dirt often keeps us from teh important work of eradicating racism. James Loewen, whose books Lies My Teacher Told Me and now Sundown Towns have received attention at our General Assembly, provides a textbook case of why ignorance isn’t bliss, and looking at his historical research, Amy talks about why excavation is well worth the dust.

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern

Worship Associate: Joy Morgenstern
Reflection: The “Other

September 16, 2007 — The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community
Joanna Macy created this name. She is an ecofeminist and international leader in the “Work of Reconnecting” for the rebirth and healing of the Earth. Will future generations recall this time and our work as the point when we turned toward true planetary healing — or will it be known as The Great Unraveling? What are our chances? What will it take? What is the role of this loving band of UUs/Cultural Creatives/Justice Activists in The Great Turning? Join us as Rev. Kuhwald returns to the UUCPA pulpit.

Worship Leader: Rev. Kurt Kuhwald
Sermon: The Great Turning

Worship Associate: Florence Haas
Reflection

August 26, 2007 — Fences and Neighbors
“Good fences make good neighbors” says the poet’s neighbor in Robert Frost’s Mending Wall, but the poet doubts it. What fences do we put up to keep the peace and keep our distance from people we know? And is the poet right in thinking that perhaps we are better off with barriers between us? Some thoughts on what those barriers are and how to take them down.

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Sermon: Fences and Neighbors

August 19, 2007 — What Can UUs Learn from Liberation Theology
Karen talks about the opportunity and the privilege of traveling to El Salvador three times with the South Bay Sanctuary Covenant, a local interfaith organization founded during the Salvadoran civil war to offer sanctuary to refugees fleeing for their lives.

Worship Leader: Karen Skold
Sermon: Liberation Theology in Action: Stories from El Salvador

Worship Associate: Bill Landauer

August 12, 2007 — Religion: Don’t End It, Mend It!
This sermon responds to the book The End of Faith by Sam Harris which advocates doing away with religion. Hershey Julien proposes, rather, that popular religion needs to be amended by rejecting the authority of holy books, eliminating the concept of an immortal soul, and adopting new thinking about God.

Worship Leader: Hershey Julien
Sermon: Religion: Don’t End It, Mend It!

Worship Associate: Phyllis Cassel
Reflection: Acting on my Faith is a Challenge

August 5, 2007 — A Distant Mirror: A Victorian’s Search for God While Looking for Love
Religiously takes all sorts of forms. Some religious folk seem mystical and spiritual, others sadistic and mean, and still others are nice but naive. Some are sincere and well-meaning but still distant. All of them affect our impressions of religion. In the 19th Century when Universalism was creating ferment in the Church of England, the daughter of a clergyman wrote a romantic novel in which a young woman encounters a wide range of religiuos characters. She was Charlotte Bronte and the novel was Jane Eyre. Bypassing the novel’s romantic main plot, Jon Harvey will examine the various religious types that appear in the novel and how they affect the lead characters’ “search for (religious) truth and meaning” in a way that will echo with us in the 21st Century.

Worship Leader: Jonathan Harvey
Sermon: A Distant Mirror

Worship Associate: Dave Weber
Reflection: What Is Religion?

July 29, 2007 — Talk, Trust and Community
Drawing upon research in Fiji and in the academic world, this service explored some of the complexities of language and communication in communities of equals. Don Brenneis is a linguistic anthropologist at UC Santa Cruz, as well as a new member of UUCPA’s Board of Trustees.

Worship Leader: Don Brenneis
Sermon: Talk, Trust and Community

Worship Associate: Phyllis Cassel
Reflection: Misunderstandings

July 15, 2007 — Flaming Chalice and Interfaith Action
The evangelical-liberal divide often seems unbridgeable in America. Scotty McLennan will offer some prescriptions in his sermon about how to cross the gap. Liberals may be surprised how much they can learn from evangelicals about courageous engagement in a society which is often hostile to their message. Evangelicals may be able to benefit from the liberal commitment to combining head and heart in one’s faith commitment. Both communities have a lot to lose and not much to gain by continuing animosity.

Worship Leader: Krystal Caves
Sermon: Love, Purpose & Organizing

Worship Associate: Rev. John Beverly Butcher
Reflection: Flaming Chalice and Interfaith Action

July 8, 2007 — World Peace Diet
Directly from General Assembly in Oregon, Will Tuttle will be speaking on the spirituality of diet and its effect on world peace.

Worship Leader: Dr. Will Tuttle

Worship Associate: Bill Landauer
Reflection: Vegan Gourmet is Not an Oxymoron!

July 1, 2007 — Consensus and Democracy
What do we mean by our 5th principle, “the use of the democratic process”? How do “we the people” make decisions together when we are so diverse, and how do we live with the decisions we have made? We’ll take some wisdom from the Quaker practice of consensus. Although we don’t make decisions by consensus, as a congregation or a country, there’s a lot we can learn about democracy and community from groups that do.

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Sermon: Consensus and Democracy

Worship Associate: Rita Hays
Reflection: Being in the Minority

June 24, 2007 — Leadership

Worship Leader: Rev. Alicia McNary Forsey

Worship Associate: Rita Hays
Reflection: What makes a good leader?

June 17, 2007 — How to Be a Great Ally
Since we are Unitarian Universalists (whose Association has supported gay rights for decades) and members of a Welcoming Congregation (covenanted to proactively welcome people of all orientations and gender identities), most among us want to be supportive of bisexual, gay, lesbian, and/or transgender (BGLT) folks. Sometimes it’s hard to know how — what’s the right thing to say? What's the most helpful thing one can do as a would-be ally? How does one keep from inadvertently making things worse? Today’s service answers all of your questions (well, most of them). And for those who are BGLT, Amy offers some thoughts on how to support the allies who support you. June is Pride Month — a good time to learn new ways to be proud of ourselves and our community.

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Sermon: How to Be a Great Ally

Worship Associate: Mike McLaughlin

June 3, 2007 — How Can Religious Liberals Speak with Evangelicals?
The evangelical-liberal divide often seems unbridgeable in America. Scotty McLennan will offer some prescriptions in his sermon about how to cross the gap. Liberals may be surprised how much they can learn from evangelicals about courageous engagement in a society which is often hostile to their message. Evangelicals may be able to benefit from the liberal commitment to combining head and heart in one’s faith commitment. Both communities have a lot to lose and not much to gain by continuing animosity.

Worship Leader: Rev. Scotty McLennan
Sermon: How Can Religious Liberals Speak with Evangelicals?

Worship Associate: Mike McLaughlin

May 27, 2007 — The Guide
Do you recognize a guide when you see one? The charismatic leader may be easy to spot, but will that person be your guide? What is the journey in need of a guide, anyway?

Worship Leader: Rev. Alicia McNary Forsey
Sermon: The Guide

Worship Associate: Mike McLaughlin

May 20, 2007 — A Wagon Full of Sardine Barrels
We may admire the risks and the sacrifices of radical reformers who came before us and influenced our Unitarian Universalist tradition in no small way, but we can’t behave as they did nor practice our faith in the same way. Is it possible to move with the same sense of commitment and passion for what we believe today?

Worship Leader: Rev. Alicia McNary Forsey
Sermon: A Wagon Full of Sardine Barrels

Worship Associate Reflection: Acting on our Principles

Coming of Age Youth (1st service)
Reflection: Voices of Our Youth

May 6, 2007 — Compassion
The true meaning of compassion has sometimes been confused with charity, tolerance and material generosity. What is at the root of compassion and what does the practice of compassion require of us?

Worship Leader: Rev. Alicia McNary Forsey
Sermon: Compassion

Worship Associate: Rev. John Beverly Butcher
Reflection: How Do you Motivate & Energize Compassion?

April 29, 2007 — Sharing the Ministry
In our Unitarian Universalist tradition, we talk about Shared Ministry. But what is ministry? What lies at the heart of what we are trying to achieve as a religious community, and how can we discern our own ministry within that work? This was Rev. Laine’s last Sermon for adults at UUCPA.

Worship Leader: Rev. Darcey Laine
Sermon: Sharing the Ministry

Worship Associate: Phyllis Cassel
Reflection: Leadership as Ministry

April 15, 2007 — 60th Anniversary of UUCPA
A celebration of UUCPA’s Roots and our Future

Worship Leader at first service: Rev. F. Danford Lion, our founding minister
Sermon: In the Beginning …

From the Red Class (preschool–Kindergarten) at first service
Closing Words: Wishes and Hopes for the Future

Worship Leader at second service: Dr. Charlie Clements, President of UUSC
Sermon: Protests That Endure

Worship Associate: Rev. John Beverly Butcher

March 25, 2007 — What Are We Missing?
Researchers are starting to inquire about the personal and societal benefits of our contact with nature, and what we lose when this contact is missing from our life. As Richard Louv notes in his book Last Child in the Woods, today’s children have less contact with the natural world than previous generations. What are they missing? What do we stand to gain by restoring this connection?

Worship Leader: Rev. Darcey Laine
Sermon: What Are We Missing?

Worship Associate: Florence Haas

March 18, 2007 — Time and the Soul
Our time is our life. Every time we agree to attend a meeting, have lunch with a friend, buy a house that will require us to work long and hard to pay the mortgage — this parceling out of our time equates to giving away a piece of our life. What do you keep for yourself, what do you give away and what do you sell?

Worship Leader: Rev. Alicia McNary Forsey, PhD
Sermon: Time and the Soul

Worship Associate
Reflection: Time and the Soul

March 11, 2007 — Deepening the Connection Between Ecology and Faith
Researchers are starting to inquire about the personal and societal benefits of our contact with nature, and what we lose when this contact is missing from our life. As Richard Louv notes in his book Last Child in the Woods, today’s children have less contact with the natural world than previous generations. What are they missing? What do we stand to gain by restoring this connection?

Worship Leader: Rev. Sally Grover Bingham
Sermon: Deepening the Connection …

Worship Associate: Rev. John Beverly Butcher
Reflection

February 25, 2007 — John Brown
John Brown stood up in church one morning, raised his hand as if taking an oath, and said “Here before God, in the presence of witnesses, I consecrate my life to the destruction of slavery.” He is commonly seen as either a zealot (and written off) or a saint (and hailed as perfect). The picture is much more complicated than either of these views suggests, which helps us to be guided in our own ethics, justicemaking and action by his choices. Can harm be done without tainting the outcome, regardless of how lofty, worthy or worthwhile the endeavor? A reflection for Black History Month.

Worship Leader: Rev. Alicia McNary Forsey, PhD
Sermon: John Brown

Worship Associate: Mike McLaughlin

February 18, 2007 — Stepping into the Unknown
As a religion whose people have long resisted definition, balked at creeds and dogmas, and insisted on the primacy of individual experience, one of our hallmarks is our willingness to step out into unexplored territory. Being a Unitarian Universalist means having a spirit of adventure. This will be Amy’s last sermon for three months as she embarks on a new adventure as well. One thing we know during this journey into the unknown is that we will all be exploring together.

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Sermon: Stepping into the Unknown

Worship Associate: Rita Hays
Reflection: Entering the Unknown

February 11, 2007 — Always Learning
“The deeper the questions, the closer to the Universal the learner comes” says Sophia Fahs, the great UU Religious Educator. This deep questioning is an endeavor of the youngest child and the sagest elder. Religions learning takes a lifetime. It takes the whole of the self. It takes a whole community. How then shall we learn together?

Worship Leader: Rev. Darcey Laine
Sermon: Always Learning

Worship Associate: Phyllis Cassel
Reflection: 65 Years of Religious Education

February 4, 2007 — Planting for the Future
On this congregational Theme Day, we will join across generations to plant a tree that will make our piece of the Earth more beautiful and healthy. In the Main Hall service, guest Cilla Raughley, District Executive of the UUA's Pacific Central District, and Rev. Amy will also talk about what we can do now to plant the future UUCPA.

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Worship Associate: Cilla Raughley

Family Chapel: Rev. Darcey Laine
Ritual: Tu B’Shevat

January 28, 2007 — Crossing the Desert
Do you ever feel like you are wandering in the wilderness? You are not alone. Some of the earliest Judeo-Christian stories speak to this experience. What wisdom can we gather to help us through those intense dry journeys?

Worship Leader: Rev. Darcey Laine
Sermon: Crossing the Desert

Worship Associate: Bill Landauer
Reflection: Immaculee Ilibagiza

January 21, 2007 — A Sense of Abundance
Life feels very different when we replace an attitude of scarcity with a sense of abundance: more joyful, more relaxed, richer in every sense. How can we live more abundantly?

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Sermon: A Sense of Abundance

Worship Associate Reflection: Giving from Abundance

January 14, 2007 — The “Gnostic Gospels”
Look at the bloody history of Christianity since it was taken over by Constantine and the Roman Empire and ask, “Why would anyone with any conscience want to be associated with it?” Before throwing in the towel, take a look at the so-called, “Gnostic Gospels” containing energizing teachings of Jesus of Nazareth and his companion, Mary of Magdala.

Worship Leader: Rev. John Beverley Butcher
Sermon: Getting All the Evidence: The “Gnostic Gospels”

Worship Associate: Phyllis Cassel
Reflection: Not a Christian?

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