Texts of Selected Sermons 2008

December 28, 2008 - Unwrapping Our Gifts
Did you get what you hoped for this holiday season? I bet whatever you received is far surpassed by the gifts that lie within you. What do you need to do to unwrap that package and find out what’s inside?

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Unwrapping Our Gifts
Audio (mp3, 15.5 MB)

December 14, 2008 - The Best-Kept Secret in America
In today’s service, which includes a ceremony to welcome new members, we ask: Why don’t more people know about the Unitarian Universalist option? What can we do to turn that around?

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Sermon: The Best-Kept Secret in America
Audio (mp3, 16.9 MB)

Worship Associate: Joy Morgenstern
Reflection
Audio (mp3, 6.4 MB)

December 7, 2008 - Our Prophetic Women And Men
Men and Women whose lives and writings have inspired us:  Thoreau, Bridges, and Coffin.
Worship Associates: Ed Frieberg, Wynne Furth, Rev. Amy Morgenstern

Ed Freiberg: Henry David Thoreau
Audio (mp3, 5.7 MB)

Wynne Furth: Bridges
Audio (mp3,12.8 MB)

Rev. Amy Morgenstern: William Sloan Coffin
Audio (mp3, 9.7 MB)

November 30, 2008 - How My Spiritual Path is Changing My Life
What spiritual path are you on? Does being a religious person change you? Have you found your life unexpectedly moving in a different direction or gained insight that changed your view of yourself or others. Three Worship Associates will tell of paths discovered or chosen and the impact on their lives.
Worship Associates: Kay Brown, Susan Owicki, Kathy Parmentier

Reflection 1 by Kay Brown
Audio (mp3, 7.3 MB)

Reflection 2 by Susan Owicki
Audio (mp3, 7.7 MB)

Reflection 3 by Kathy Parmentier
Audio (mp3, 7.7 MB)

November 23, 2008 - Bread!
In a long UU tradition, this is a “question box” service. Everyone is invited to submit a question early in the service, and in lieu of a sermon Amy will answers as many of your questions as time allows.

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

Worship Associate: Rita Hays
Reflection: Health Care Equity

November 16, 2008 - Out of the Question Box
In a long UU tradition, this is a “question box” service. Everyone is invited to submit a question early in the service, and in lieu of a sermon Amy will answers as many of your questions as time allows.

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Sermon: Ask the Minister
Audio (mp3, 23.6 MB)

November 9, 2008 — Now What?
The election is over. We’ve cleaned up after our huge celebration/mopped up our tears of disappointment (fill in the blank depending on how the election went for you). Now what do we do? Explorations on how to carry out the undramatic but so-important work of democracy.

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern

Sermon: Now What?
Audio (mp3, 16.3 MB)

Worship Associate: Wynne Furth
Reflection: What We Already Knew
Audio (mp3, 7.1 MB)

October 26, 2008 — Saving and Savoring
E.B. White said “I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve (or save) the world and a desire to enjoy (or savor) the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” It may make it hard to plan the day, but giving both of these impulses their due can help us to work on world-impreovement without getting burned out. Today the newly constituted Action Council will introduce itself, and UUCPA’s work for justice, peace, and sustainability.

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Sermon: Saving and Savoring
Audio (mp3, 20.2 MB)

Worship Associate: VJ Mohan
Reflection: Savoring and Saving

October 19, 2008 — Our Sources of Insight
All this church year, in the “Our Sources” series, members of the UUCPA community speak about the wellsprings of their spiritual lives. Today’s speakers share answers to one or more of these questions: Where have they found insight? What guides them and gives their lives meaning? What has givin them a moment of epiphany? Later services in the series will speak of what inspires us to act for change in the world and what gives us hope and comfort.

Worship Leader: Dave Weber
Introduction
Audio (mp3, 1.5 MB)

Reflection: Mood Music by Philip Hodge
Audio (mp3, 3.6 MB)

Reflection: Bhagvad Geeta by Kay Brown
Audio ( mp3, 9.6 MB)

Reflection: Jesus of Nazareth by Leslie-Anne Bain
Audio (mp3, 5.8 MB)

Reflection: Wilderness by Sonja Dieterich
Audio (mp3, 4.9 MB)

Closing

October 12, 2008 — More Than Sunday
What are “Association Sundays”? Association Sundays are a request by the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) for all congregations to recognize and support, both in spirit and financially, the national work of the Association. The vision is of a day — an “Association Sunday” — during which thousands of UUs across the nation are simultaneously celebrating our shared commitment to Unitarian Universalism. It is an opportunity for us to support the work that individuals, congregations, and the UUA do to make Unitarian Universalism a haven for those who seek a liberal religious home.

Worship Leader: Rev. Eva Českava
Sermon: More Than Sunday
Audio (mp3, 16.8 MB)

Worship Associate: Sam
Reflection: Association Sunday
Audio (mp3, 2.1 MB)

October 5, 2008 — “Come Out, Come Out, Whoever You Are”
October 11 is “Coming Out Day” for bisexual, gay, lesbian, and transgender (BGLT) people, but coming out is for everyone! There are so many ways to be “in the closet,” hiding aspects of ourselves we wish we could reveal. History shows how the simple act of opening the closet door can not only empower each of us as individuals, but can transform society.

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Sermon: Come Out, Come Out, Whoever You Are
Audio (mp3, 24.7 MB)

September 28, 2008 — Full Aliveness in Deadly Times
Here at Yom Kippur, the teachings of Judaism remind us to take stock of our character, atone, and make changes. And the rabbi who would posthumously found Christianity shrewdly noted how tricky this can be, since we can clearly see the tiny mote in another's eye and miss the enormous beam in our own. Fortunately for us, those motes in others' eyes can help us see ourselves more clearly.

Worship Leader: Nichola Torbett
Sermon: Full Aliveness in Deadly Times
Audio (mp3, 21.9 MB)

Worship Associate: Karl Garcia
Reflection: Inner Deadness
Audio (mp3, 5.7MB)

September 21, 2008 — Motes and Beams
Here at Yom Kippur, the teachings of Judaism remind us to take stock of our character, atone, and make changes. And the rabbi who would posthumously found Christianity shrewdly noted how tricky this can be, since we can clearly see the tiny mote in another's eye and miss the enormous beam in our own. Fortunately for us, those motes in others' eyes can help us see ourselves more clearly.

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Sermon: Motes and Beams
Audio (mp3, 14.7 MB)

Worship Associate: Kathy Lewis Parmentier
Reflection: Blind Spots

Audio (mp3, 3.9 MB)

September 14, 2008 — Speaking Up for Moral Values
The religious right has successfully redefined political and religious language to the point that in 2004, poll respondents took “moral values” to mean almost exclusively right-wing principles. How can other reigious voices — such as ours — take back the language of principle and morality? With insights from George Lakoff and some UU and US history, we’ll learn some ways to reclaim moral ground. This is the sermon topic chosen by the winning bidder of the UUCPA auction.

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Sermon: Speaking Up for Moral Values
Audio (mp3, 24.2 MB)

Worship Associate: Rita Hays
Reflection: Conflicts of Interest
Audio (mp3, 3.9 MB)

September 7, 2008 — Water Communion
In our annual ingathering at the end of summer, we reflect on our origins in the oceans of Earth. as we gather together in our spiritual home, we gather the waters together as well. Please bring a small amount of water for this ritual — whether from travel to somewhere special or from your kitchen tap. it all comes from the same ocean …

Worship Leaders: Revs. Eva Českava and Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Sermon: Returning to the Source by Rev. Morgenstern

Audio (mp3, 8.2MB)

Ritual: Water Communion

August 31, 2008 — Language and Deception
Language is for communication. but it can also be used for miscommunication, including deliberate miscommunication — deception. Stanford linguist Tom Wasow will talk about what it is about language that makes deception so much a part of our communication. Hearing Dr. Wasow’s knowledge of our society and the ways in which he sees business, entertainment, and advertising use language is an intriguing experience.

Speaker: Dr. Tom Wasow
Sermon: Language and Deception

Worship Associate: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern Reflection: Problems in Translation

Audio (MP3, 4.5MB)

August 24, 2008 — Blessing the Animals
We humans are such a small percentage of the animal life on our planet. Today we celebrate and explore our complex connection with the other animals with whom we share the world. We extend a special welcome to non-human animals, who will be blessed in today's service.

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Worship Associate: Bill Landauer

Reflection: If St. Francis Were Alive Today (and a UU)
Audio (mp3, 2.3MB)

Reflection: Kindred
Reflection: Swimming with Turtles

Audio (mp3, 2MB)

Reflection: When Animals Talked

Audio (mp3, 7.3MB)

Litany: Litany of Blessing

August 17, 2008 — What Will I Leave?
One of the most profound questions of our lives is: What will our legacy be? We earn and save in order to leave a material legacy, and write wills to articulate it. What about our spiritual legacy? What can we do to help our values and principles endure beyond our days?

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Sermon: What Will You Leave?
Audio (mp3, 18.2 MB)

Worship Associate Reflection: Leaving a Legacy

August 10, 2008 — Dealing with Our Expectations
What do you expect from life? From those around you? From the leaders of our nation? What are the best ways of coping with realities that turn out so differently from your expectations? Do you suffer from unfulfilled expectations? Do others lay expectations on you? Should you diminish your expectations? Do you vacillate between optimism and pessimism? Today we explore some of the ways of dealing with uncertainties about the future and your expectations.

Worship Leader: Robert Schwaar
Sermon: Dealing with Our Expectations
Audio (mp3, 16.9MB)

Worship Associate: Susan Owicki
Reflection: Expectations
Audio (mp3, 4.1MB)

August 3, 2008 — Gratitude
This will be Rev. Kuhwald’s last sermon for his year (plus) of Consulting Ministry with UUCPA (08/07 – 08/08). He will lift up gratitude as a force in human life as the focus for the Service. He will also weave in some reflections on Ministry and its paradoxical, courageous and complex place in UUism and this Church community.

Worship Leader: Rev. Kurt Kuhwald
Sermon: Gratitude & So Long …
Audio (mp3, 20.1 MB)

Reading: Coming Back to Life by Joanna Macy

Worship Associate: Dave Weber
Audio (mp3, 2.3 MB)

July 27, 2008 — Out of the Silence
How are you being called to be present at this time on the Earth? How may we, in the words of the great minister/theologian/activist Howard THurman, keep fresh before us the moments of our high resolve? As we enter the thick of the political season, Rev. Kuhwald will deliver this sermon he offered to the students and faculty at the Starr King Chapel earlier this year: it is a call to clarity, deep listening and commitment for Earth and human healing.

Worship Leader: Rev. Kurt Kuhwald
Sermon: Coming Out of the Silence
Audio (mp3, 25.6 MB)

Worship Associate: Florence Haas
Reflection: Soft Sweet Silence
Audio (mp3, 5 MB)

July 13, 2008 — Becoming a Sage
Rev. Kurt turns 65 on July 10, and will offer reflections on aging, and reaching one's majority! What is the meaning of wisdom? What is the place of long life in these times? What is old? Was psychiatrist/mythologist Carl Jung right when he said: “A human being would certainly not grow to be seventy or eighty years old if this longevity had no meaning for the species to which [she or] he belongs.”

Worship Leader: Rev. Kurt Kuhwald
Sermon: Becoming a Sage
Audio (mp3, 24 MB)

Reading: Coming Out by Naomi Newman

Worship Associate: Rita Hays
Reflection: Aging
Audio (mp3, 5.8 MB)

July 6, 2008 — In Such a Time as This
How are you called to be present at this time on the Earth? How may we, in the words of the great minister/theologian/activist Howard Thurman, keep fresh before us the moments of our high resolve? As we enter the thick of the political season, Rev. Kuhwald will deliver this sermon he offered to the students and faculty at the Starr King Chapel earlier this year: it is a call to clarity, deep listening and commitment for Earth and human healing.

Worship Leader: Rev. Kurt Kuhwald
Sermon: In Such a Time as This
Audio (mp3, 23.5 MB)

Worship Associate: Florence Haas
Reflection: Answering our Call to Life
Audio (mp3, 6 MB)

June 29, 2008 — Immigration Touches Everyone
In every generation the new residents have become the native generation which has complained that the new immigrants are spoiling the country. Come let us explore some of the issues that surround our continually changing population.

Phyllis, a member of this congregation who led the League of Women Voters of Palo Alto immigration study over the last two years, will share a little of what she learned about this hot topic.

Worship Leader: Phyllis Cassel
Sermon: Immigration Touches Everyone
Audio (mp3, 20.7 MB)

Worship Associate: Florence Haas
Reflection: We Are All on the Move
Audio  (mp3, 3.6 MB)

June 22, 2008 — Lessons from the Welcoming Congregation
Come join us as we honor Pride weekend in the Bay Area. Come celebrate as we make clear our commitment to live on the side of love. Come explore the profound and life-saving learnings we have gained as we continue to walk the Welcoming Congregation vision of inclusiveness for this UU community.

Worship Leader: Rev. Kurt Kuhwald
Sermon: Living on the Side of Love
Audio (mp3, 20.4 MB)

Reading: Heterosexuality Questionnaire
by Martin Rochlin, PhD

Reflection: On Becoming Welcoming
by Kathy Parmentier
Audio (mp3, 4,8 MB)

June 1, 2008 — Universalism — Now More Than Ever
When 19th century Universalists preached that there is no hell awaiting us, it was a radical message and the religion spread fast and far. The conventional wisdom says that Universalism dwindled because its message was adopted by mainstream religions. If that’s true, it’s time to bring it back, because doom is alive and well in American religion and the Universalist message of hope and love is badly needed.

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Sermon: Universalism — Now More Than Ever
Audio (mp3, 21MB)

Worship Associate: Wynne Furth
Audio (mp3, 6.8 MB)

May 18, 2008 — Worker Justice, Sacred Work
Rev. Kuhwald is a board member of the Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice, a community-organizing project committed to fair labor practices, sound ecological policies, and a celebration of community. He says, “Let us explore how the infusion of an interfaith way of supporting the dignity of work and fairness for exploited workers reveals common yet sacred trughts for us all.”

Worship Leader: Rev. Kurt Kuhwald
Sermon: Worker Justice, Sacred Work
Audio (mp3, 18.3 MB)

Worship Associate: Joy Morgenstern
Audio (mp3, 7MB)

May 4, 2008 — Playing It Safe
True or false? The homicide rate has risen dramatically in the last couple of generations … It’s much more dangerous nowadays to let children play unsupervised than when we were kids … Heartburn indicates you are at high risk for cancer. The answer to all of these is “false.” So why do we think the world is such a dangerous place? Come feel the freedom of letting go of unnecessary fears.

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Sermon: Playing It Safe
Audio (mp3, 18MB)

Worship Associate: Phyllis Cassel
Reflection: Playing It Safe

Audio (mp3, 5.9 MB)

April 27, 2008 — A UU View of Miracles
I’ll spend some time highlighting Theodore Parker’s and Ralph Waldo Emerson’s perspectives and then bring it all up to date with my own perspectives and those of author Annie Dillard. Ultimately life itself becomes the miracle par excellence.

Worship Leader: Rev. Scotty McLennan
Sermon: A UU View of Miracles

Worship Associate: Bill Landauer
Reflection: Coincidences or Miracles?

Audio (mp3, 5.8 MB)

April 20, 2008 — This Day on the Earth
On this Sunday, April 20, we will celebrate the Earth whose “Day,” world-wide, comes the following Tuesday, April 22. Let us celebrate together the joys of this wondrous planet. Each day we learn more about threats to and degradation of the Earth … but for today we will lift up its beauty, its abundance, its miraculous diversity, and our own long history as children of its powerful processes.

Worship Leader: Rev. Kurt Kuhwald
Sermon: This Day on the Earth

Audio (mp3, 19MB)

Worship Associate: Dave Weber
Reflection: Celebrating Planet Earth

Audio (mp3, 5.5MB)

April 13, 2008 — The Voice in the Whirlwind
In the Old testament, God speaks to troubled Job in a whirlwind. We who have lived more than a few years have experienced such whirlwinds. I’ll tell you of one of mine, and the importance of community.

Worship Leader: Rev. Eva Českava
Sermon: The Voice in the Whirlwind

Audio (mp3, 27MB)

Worship Associate: Susan Owicki
Reflection: A Sense of Connectedness

Audio (mp3, 3MB)

April 6, 2008 — Health Care for All — A Matter of Faith?
Why should we as Unitarian Universalists care about Health Care reform? As the debate drags on over what the “best plan” is to deal with our growing crisis here in California, we will explore some of the questions that we must address in the face of this crisis: How do we understand the role of health in our community and our country? Is health an individual commodity or a matter of public policy? How did we get into this situation anyway? Where do the seventh and the fist principles come in to play? How can we best work together for effective change?

Worship Leader: Suzanne Marsh, Community Ministry Intern
Sermon: Health Care for All — A Matter of Faith?

Worship Associate: Rita Hays
Reflection: The Health Care Dilemma

March 30, 2008 — Blessed Unrest
There is a powerful movement, underneath the radar of the major media and the national governmental bureaucracy, a movement for sanity, environmental integrity, and for human equity that Paul Hawken (entrepreneur, international speaker and writer) reveals in his latest book. Blessed Unrest holds out powerful reasons for hope in our times that will be the basis for this sermon.

Worship Leader: Rev. Kurt Kuhwald
Sermon: Blessed Unrest
Audio (mp3 20.12MB)

Worship Associate: Bill Landauer
Audio (mp3)(5.26MB)

March 23, 2008 — Saying Yes to Life
If you’ve ever wondered what Easter is really all about, this year Harry Potter explains it all to you. In our last sermon of the Potter-inspired series, the books teach us that those who live most fully are those who do not deny the reality of death.

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Sermon: Saying Yes to Life
Audio (mp3) (19.77MB)

Worship Associate: Rita Hays
Reflection: Self Sacrifice
Audio (mp3) (5.56MB)

March 9, 2008 — Keeping a Channel Open
In the previous two sermons in this series on UU views of prayer, the focus was on the kind of prayer that we utter: offering praise and thanks or asking for help. Another tradition of prayer is less about speaking than about listening: becoming receptive to whatever holy teachings the universe may have for us. Uf you sometimes feel that the noise of the world — even your own thoughts — makes it hard to remember where you’re going and what your purpose is, these practices may clear the path through the thicket.

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Sermon: Keeping a Channel Open
Audio (mp3) (20.3MB)

Worship Associate: Florence Haas
Reflection: Contemplative Prayer
Audio (mp3)(3.57MB)

February 24, 2008 — Thank-You Notes
Your mother always told you to write thank-you notes. When she told you to thank Uncle Egbert for the sweater and to say how nice it was, she may not have know she was following in a long spiritual tradition that encourages prayers of thanks and praise. What does a UU perspective suggest about this kind of prayer? What difference, if nay, does it make when we voice our gratitude?

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Sermon: Thank-You Notes
Audio (mp3) (18.1MB)

Worship Associate: Florence Haas
Reflection: Gratitude
Audio (mp3) (3.05MB)

February 17, 2008 — Dear Mr./Madam President …
On this weekend nationally dedicated to honoring the life of the Justice Giant, Martin Luther King, Jr., let us extend the curve of his vision, a vision which was, in part, inspired by Theodore Parker, 19th Century Unitarian Abolitionist and Giant in his own right, who said: “The moral arc of the universe bends toward justice.” Does that bending have the momentum necessary to reach some liberative “finish line” in time? What depths must we draw on to do our part?

Worship Leader: Rev. Kurt Kuhwald
Sermon: Dear Mr./Madam President
Audio (mp3)(22.5MB)

Worship Associate: Dave Weber
Reflection: President’s Day 2008
Audio (mp3) (5.34 MB)

February 10, 2008 - Find Us And You Shall Seek
In the wizarding game of Quidditch, Harry Potter plays the all-important position of Seeker. While your Quidditch skills may not be up to Harry’s level, if you’re a UU, you are probably a Seeker too. Spiritual seeking is serious business, but also lots of fun. This is the second in a three-part series of services inspired by J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books. Children will join their parents in the Main Hall for a story in the last part of the service.

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Audio (mp3) (16.38MB)

February 3, 2008 — Sacred in Our Bodies
Many of us try and counter the prevalent dualistic body/mind philosophy to provide a better healing presence for ourselves and our loved ones. Jeffrey Melcher, seminarian and former massage therapist, will speak to the experience of our bodies as sacred source for manifestation of spirit, bodywork as spiritual practice of listening, and his developing UU spiritual humanist framework for body inclusive prayer.

Worship Leader: Jeffrey Melcher
Sermon: Sacred in Our Bodies
Audio (mp3) (26,288 KB)

Worship Associate: Bill Landauer
Reflection
Audio (mp3) (4.64MB)

January 20, 2008 — Are We Winning the Race?
On this weekend nationally dedicated to honoring the life of the Justice Giant, Martin Luther King, Jr., let us extend the curve of his vision, a vision which was, in part, inspired by Theodore Parker, 19th Century Unitarian Abolitionist and Giant in his own right, who said: “The moral arc of the universe bends toward justice.” Does that bending have the momentum necessary to reach some liberative “finish line” in time? What depths must we draw on to do our part?

Worship Leader: Rev. Kurt Kuhwald
Sermon: Are We Winning the Race?
Audio (mp3) (18369KB)

January 13, 2008 — Anyway
There is a list of rules for life, written nearly 40 years ago, called the Paradoxical Commandments. In the face of disappointment, failure and human frailty, we are encouraged to continue to strive for the seemingly impossible. We are asked to face the worst in the world with the best in ourselves.

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

Worship Associate: Susan Owicki
Reflection: Paradoxical Commandments
Audio (mp3) (5.08MB)

January 6, 2008  - To Whom It May Concern
Prayer is a puzzle for many of us, and the most puzzling kind is petitionary prayer: the kind in which people make a request. Are such prayers ever answered? Is anyone even listening? And if we suspect that the answer to either question may be “no,” what’s the point of praying? There are other kinds of prayer as well, and future services will explore them (on February 24, we’ll consider prayers of praise and thanksgiving), but the acid test is petitionary prayer and so we’ll start there, this morning.

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Sermon: To Whom It May Concern
Audio (mp3)(13.81 MB)

Worship Associate: Wynne Furth

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