Texts of Selected Sermons 2009

December 27, 2009 - Envy and Us

How do we move from our dreams of a better world to practical, practiable deed that will make it come about? COmmunity organizing has some tools to offer us as we commit to acting on our dreams for this congregation. We also renew the commitment we share with another thousand Unitarian Universalist congregations on this Association Sunday.

Worship Leader: Rev. Roger Jones
Sermon: Envy and Us

Worship Associate: VJ Mohan
Reflection: My Christmases

December 24, 2009 - Christmas Eve Homily

What an improbable story the Christmas story is. Amy reflects on what it means to us that Jesus was called the light of the world as we spread the light of our candles from one to another.

Worship Leader: Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Homily: Christmas Eve Candlelight Service

December 20, 2009 - Winter Miracles

With some help from people in the congregation, Amy and Dan will tell the miracle birth story of Jesus. They’ll place this miracle birth story in the context of the winter solstice and the Hanukkah story of the Maccabees.

Worship Leaders: Revs. Amy Zucker Morgenstern and Dan Harper
Story: The Story of Judah Maccabee

December 6, 2009 - On the Receiving End

’Tis more blessed to give than to receive, they say … and sometimes it’s easier. We’ll prepare for the holidays by reflecting on some of the challenges of being a recipient, and how to meet them.

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Sermon: On the Receiving End

Worship Associate: Roy King

November 29, 2009 - Are We Well-educated?

We consider ourselves well-educated if we have done the academic work needed to obtain a degree at a premier university. However E. F. Schumacher asserts that modern education is fundamentally flawed. He attributes the malaise of the modern world to six ideas that dominate the monds of “educated” people today. In the place of thse ideas, in his book A Guide for the Perplexed, Schumacher offers us a philosophical map of life in this world to help us navigate our way through it more sure-footedly. On this weekend of Thanksgiving, let us remember E. F. Schumacher and be grateful for visionary thinkers such as him who stand outside the box and show us what could be. If only we will take heed!

Worship Leaders: VJ Mohan and Julie Theriot
Sermon: Are We Well-educated?

November 22, 2009 - The Story of Thanksgiving

In this intergenerational service, we will retell the story of Thanksgiving. Do you know the Univerian connection? Come and find out!

Worship Leader: Revs. Amy Zucker Morgenstern and Dan Harper
Sermon: The Story of Thanksgiving

Worship Associate: Dave Weber
Reflection: Gratefulness

November 8, 2009 - Staycation Spirituality

In this intergenerational service, we will retell the story of Thanksgiving. Do you know the Univerian connection? Come and find out!

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Sermon: Staycation Spirituality

November 1, 2009 - Option D

Do you believe in God or not? Choose one: (A) Yes. (B) No. (C) Don’t care. American culture would like to limit us to those options (or maybe even just the first two), but I’m holding out for option (D): All of the above.

Worship Leader: Rev. Dan Harper
Sermon: Option D

Worship Associate: Karl Garcia

October 18, 2009 - Here I Am — I Will Go

What an improbable story the Christmas story is. Amy reflects on what it means to us that Jesus was called the light of the world as we spread the light of our candles from one to another.

Worship Leader: Christine Burroughs, CEO, InnVision the Way Home
Sermon: Here I Am — I Will Go

Worship Associate: Kay Brown

October 11, 2009 - Beyond Homophobia: A Personal Journey

October 11 is National Coming Out day. It’s also the date of the National Equality March for gay rights, in Washington, D.C. Our guest speaker this morning is Chris Schriner, Minister Emeritus at Mission Peak Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Fremont. Christ writes: “Like virtually all children in the U.S., I grew up assuming homosexuallity was a terrible thing. I began to question this dogma in college, and I have had some amazing and memorable experiences learning that sexual preference need not divide us frorm one another.”

Worship Leader: Rev. Chris Schriner
Sermon: Beyond Homophobia: A Personal Journey

Worship Associate: Susan Owicki
Reflection: Welcoming

October 4, 2009 - From Dream to Deed, from Deed to Dream

How do we move from our dreams of a better world to practical, practiable deed that will make it come about? COmmunity organizing has some tools to offer us as we commit to acting on our dreams for this congregation. We also renew the commitment we share with another thousand Unitarian Universalist congregations on this Association Sunday.

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Sermon: From Dream to Deed, from Deed to Dream

Worship Associate: VJ Mohan
Reflection: Dream to Deed

September 27, 2009 - Let the Thirst-Quenching Waters Flow

How do we move from our dreams of a better world to practical, practiable deed that will make it come about? COmmunity organizing has some tools to offer us as we commit to acting on our dreams for this congregation. We also renew the commitment we share with another thousand Unitarian Universalist congregations on this Association Sunday.

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Sermon: Sources of Inspiration

Worship Associate: Roy King
Reflection: You Come Too

August 23, 2009 - The Real Wealth of Silicon Valley

In her book The Real Wealth of Nations, Riane Eisler proposes an approach to economics that incorporates our highest values instead of discarding them as irrelevant. Her work, along with others’, such as David Korten’s Great Turning/ Agenda for a New Economy, has inspired the Real Wealth of Portland Project, an economic-justice initiative of the First Unitarian Church of Portland, Oregon, that supports the movement toward an economy that fosters justice and peace. If we are interested in supporting a caring economy here in Silicon Valley, we can start by identifying the sources of our real wealth.

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Sermon: The Real Wealth of Silicon Valley
Audio (mp3, 21 MB)

Worship Associate: Wynne Furth
Reflection
Audio (mp3, 6 MB)

August 16, 2009 - The Religion For Our Time

In his successful campaign to become the Unitarian Universalist Association’s newest president, Peter Morales proclaimed, “We can be the religion for our time.” According to him – and to many others, Amy included – we are particularly situated to welcome the spiritual seekers of the 21st Century United States. How so, and how can we meet this great opportunity?

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Sermon: The Religion For Our Time
Audio (mp3, 22.6 MB)

Worship Associate: Sam N.
Reflection: Robotics Team
Audio (mp3, 3.1 MB)

August 9,2009 - Surviving Suicide

Every eighteen minutes, someone in this country takes his or her own life, leaving agonized friends and family to wonder why and whether they could have done anything to prevent it. Our congregation was struck by this tragedy recently, and today Amy speaks from that experience and her own experience of losing a loved one to suicide. She’ll also share current knowledge about why people consider suicide and what others can do to help them survive that urge.

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Sermon: Surviving Suicide
Audio (mp3, 22.6 MB)

Worship Associate: Rita Hays
Reflection: Suicide
Audio (mp3, 3.8 MB)

August 2, 2009 - Crossing Christianity: Hegemony, Backlash, & Healing in UU Congregations

Have you been hurt or frustrated by the idea of “One True Christianity” and/or the idea that only Christians on the “right” path will be “saved”? This service explores diverse responses to the blows we encounter when we cross Christianity. Kathleen defines Christian Hegemony and discusses the challenges UUs face in responding to this brand of oppression.

Worship Leader: Kathleen Bardin, M.Div.
Sermon: Crossing Chrisitanity
Audio (mp3, 17.9 MB)

Worship Associate: Dave Weber
Reflection: My Thoughts on the Religious Right
Audio (mp3, 4.17 MB)

July 26, 2009 - Don't Call Us the Future - Call Us the Present

Over the course of this summer and fall I’ll be bringing in lots of tidbits from our annual General Assembly, which took place in Salt Lake City last month and was as inspiring and energizing as always. The first I’d like to share came from the Rev. Sean Parker Dennison, who begged us, “Don’t call our youth our future – they are our present!” What does it mean for our communities if we treat children and teenagers as fully a part of the present? It means more diversity, justice, inclusion, enthusiasm, FIRE.

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Sermon: Don't Call Us the Future - Call Us the Present
Audio (mp3, 23.1 MB)

July 19, 2009 - Jesus Is Just Alright with Me

As an associate of the Jesus Semiar since 1995, Bob has acquired a good deal of knowledge he will share with us. Bob has been a very active leader in the San Jose UU church, as well as being a Ministerial Settlement Representative.

Worship Leader: Bob Miess
Sermon: A World Downside-Up/OUtside-In

Worship Associate: Kathy Parmentier
Reflection: Bible Literacy

July 12, 2009 - UUism: Liberating or Limiting?>

Unitarian Universalists have choices that most religions don’t offer. We are free to question, to act, to protest, to follow our heart on causes that stir us. We are free of creed that could be stifling. But are we also, in some way, limited by UU affiliation? Would we be more effective in pursuing our truths if we were simply out there in the world, unchurched and results-focused? Or does UUism provide a strong platform for activism? We will explore the choices.

Worship Leader: Ray Schuster
Sermon: Ode to Activism and UUism

Worship Associate: Kathy Parmentier
Reflection: Faith and Activism

July 5, 2009 - Sortie at St. Lo — Assault in the Ardennes

A few days ago President Sarkozy of France and President Obama of the United States memorialized the men of the U.S. who fought on Omaha and Utah beaches. While reporting about the two presidents, the young television reporter more or less said that the U.S. Army and Allied forces moved onto Germany after the bold landings in Nomandy. Whoa young reporter! There were some barriers that neither you nor an enormous number of Americans are aware of. July 5 is an appropriate day to mention some of the details.

Speaker: John Indergand
Sermon: Sortie at St. Lo — Assault in the Ardennes
Audio (mp3, 27.1 MB)

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

June 28, 2009 - How Humanists Could Use Historians

The Humanist and Skeptic movements are deeply committed to a strictly evidence-based and naturalistic view of reality. This is in turn motivated by the powerful success of modern science and the weaknesses of religion. Many in the humanist camp are trained in sciences such as astronomy, biology, or chemistry, which like many disciplines emphasize that facts matter. However, some humanist literature is fire with fairly significant mistakes about the history of religion, with some misconceptions appearing quite frequently. At the same time, many religions don’t understand the passions that motivate the humanist. In any dialogue, people need to understand each other.

Worship Leader: Jonathan Harvey
Sermon: How Humanists Could Use Historians
Audio (mp3, 26.4MB)

Worship Associate: Chris Lindstrom (read by Susan Owicki)
Reflection: What’s Important to Atheists
Audio (mp3, 5.6 MB)

June 14, 2009 - A World Free of Nuclear Weapons: Fantasy or Serious Goal

President Obama and a growing number of world leaders, strategists, and diplomats — including former US Secretaries of Defense and Secretaries of State from all over the political spectrum — agree that global nuclear disarmament is a practical necessity, not merely some utopian dream. Dr. Robert Gauntt, founder of the World Democracy Project and past National Education Chairman of the world Federalist Association, will talk about how this vision can be made a reality. Dr. Gauntt has a background as a professor of mathematics and logic and is a leader in the Humanist Community here in Palo Alto.

Worship Speaker: Dr. Robert Gauntt
Talk: A World Free of Nuclear Weapons
Audio (mp3, 19.2 MB)

Worship Associate: VJ Mohan
Reflection: Disarmament

May 31, 2009 - Saying Goodbye

As Rev. Eva nears the end of her two years with our congregation, she will share her reflections on her time with us as interim minister of religious education. Saying good-bye is seldom easy and can often be filled with conflicting emotions and reactions. This may well be an “interim report” of a sort.

Worship Leader: Rev. Eva Českava
Sermon: We Will Always Be Part of Each Other

Worship Associate: Rita Hays
Reflection: Saying Goodbye

May 10, 2009 - Flower Communion

Rev. Eva will tell the story of Norbert Čapek, the originator of Flower Sunday, and we will celebrate creating a community where our individuality is allowed to blossom, while we are also united like one beautiful garden of flowers.

Worship Leaders: Rev. Eva Českava and Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Sermon: The Story of Flower Sunday

Worship Associate: Susan Owicki
Reflection: Mothers and Flowers

May 3, 2009 - Poems You Made Me Write

At the very beginning of my ministry, I came to you as a freshly-minted “Rev.” Now, at the other end of my ministry I return. In the mean time I have served three UU congregations: West Los Angeles, Tampa and Honolulu. The family joke is that Mike and Nancy have had at least one kid every way it is possible except cloning and artificial insemination. Nancy just counted them up — thirty-two! Roughly 1000 sermons preached, a book of poems recently published, and several awards for meddling in the communities I’ve served. And I’m still my college football playing weight.

Worship Leader: Rev. Mike Young
Sermon: Poems You Made Me Write

April 19, 2009 - Immigration

Madre Anna Lange-Soto, the priest of El Buen Pastor in Redwood City, was our guest, sharing her and her parishoners’ experiences of recent immigration to California.

Worship Leader: Madre Anna Lange-Soto

Worship Associate: VJ Mohan
Reflection: One World

April 12, 2009 - Making Easter Ours

Easter is such an ancient rite, with a supernatural event at its center.  How do modern, skeptical people make this holiday our own?  We'll talk about it by traveling from Chicago to the Ukraine to ancient Palestine and back to Palo Alto in a service chock-full of singing and stories.  The choir will sing at both services, and special coloring pages of pysanky (Ukrainian Easter eggs) will be on hand.

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Reflection: Making Pysanky
Audio (mp3,  6.2 MB)
Reflection: Making Easter Ours
Audio (mp3,   7.0MB)

Worship Associate: Kathy Parmentier
Reflection: I Grew-up in a Christian Unitarian Church
Audio (mp3,  5.7 MB)

April 5, 2009 - Out of the Narrows

Passover, the Feast of Freedom, is this week. In the Hebrew Bible, the word for Egypt is Mitzrayim, which means “narrow place.” Passover, the celebration of the exodus from slavery in Egypt, guides us in escaping the narrows. The spiritual challenge for each of us is to widen the places we live and gain more freedom.

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Sermon: Out of the Narrows
Audio (mp3, 17.8MB)

March 29, 2009 -The Lighter Side

On request from the sermon topic auction winner, Amy will be funny on command – if she doesn’t decide to give a dry, scholarly, and very long sermon on the winner’s chosen topic, “Humor.” The choir will sing its comic tribute to Dick Alexander (also an auction item). And you’ll finally find out how many Unitarian Universalists it does take to change a lightbulb.

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Sermon: The Lighter Side
Audio (mp3, 14 MB)

Worship Associate: Joy Morgenstern
Reflection
Audio (mp3, 5.75 MB)

March 15, 2009 - Earth Teach Me Balance

The year’s exploration of the sources of our tradition continues with the teaching of earth-centered traditions. We approach the Spring Equinox this week, one day of balance between light and dark. Earth’s turning can teach us balance. If you find it hard to balance your many priorities; if a sense of equanimity in the midst of turmoil eludes you; if you wish you had a way to regain this peace: then today’s service may be just what you need. The congregation’s children will join the service for the last fifteen minutes.

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Sermon: Earth Teach Me Balance
Audio (mp3, 16.6 MB)

March 8, 2009 - Communion
(the Christian ritual and other linked meanings: partaking of the holy by breaking bread together)l

The year’s exploration of the sources of our tradition continues with Jewish and Christian teachings. The practice of Communion is so wedded in most people’s minds to traditional Christianity that as Unitarian Universalism broadened beyond its origins in liberal Christianity, this ritual has become rarer. And yet it can reconnect us, not only to the most beautiful teachings of Jesus, but also to meanings that precede and go beyond Christianity: that as we break bread together, we commune with one another and the holy. Bring a friend who has been looking for a deeper sense of community connection.

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern

Sermon:Communion
Audio (mp3, 21.2 MB)

Worship Associate: Karl Garcia
Reflection
Audio (mp3, 4.6MB)

March 1, 2009 - Holding On In Uncertain Times

Whether we’ve been hit directly by the recession or not, all of us are feeling the effects of the current uncertainty. What helps in times like these? This is a great Sunday to invite a friend who’s feeling the stress of the economic crisis.

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Sermon: Holding On in Uncertain Times
Audio (mp3, 19.8 MB)

Worship Associate: Dave Weber
Reflection: Life Is Full of Surprises
Audio (mp3, 4.4 MB)

February 22, 2009 - Relax: You’re Doing Pretty Well
What does an outsider see when she looks at this congregation … from the inside? Rev. Eva has been with us for 18 months as our interim minister of religious education and will hold up a mirror for us to see if we recognize ourselves, warts and all (as they say).

Worship Leader: Rev. Eva Českava
Sermon: Relax, You’re Doing Pretty Well

Audio (mp3, 23.6 MB)

Worship Associate: Kathy Parmentier
Reflection: On Interim Minister Evaluation
Audio (mp3, 4.5 MB)

February 15, 2009 - The Torah of Reconciliation
How do we make a friend of an enemy? How do we make someone we hate someone we love? After September 11, 2001, Rabbi Sheldon Lewis, now Rabbi Emeritus of Congregation Kol Emeth in Palo alto, began work on a book about peaceful conflict resolution within Jewish sources. His talk to us grows out of that writing. That work, in turn, has been shaped not only by his scholarship, which includes study with the theologian and civil rights hero Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, but by his service as an Army chaplain in Vietnam, his time in Israel, and his interfaith work on reconciliation. If we read, and listen, compassionately, what might we learn from texts and people we thought we already knew?

Worship Leader: Rabbi Sheldon Lewis
Sermon sources: Transforming an Enemy into a Friend

Audio (mp3, 19.3 MB)

Worship Associate: Wynne Furth
Audio (mp3, 7.5 MB)

February 8, 2009 - The Great Emancipators
On February 12, 1809, two babies were born who would shape and shake their world: Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin. On the occasion of their bicentennial, we celebrate their legacy to us: the understanding that life is never stagnant but must change. And we celebrate this Church We Can Believe In for the same teaching, and for the ways it supports us in making the changes always be for the better.

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Sermon: The Great Emancipators
Audio (mp3, 14.1 MB)

Worship Associate: Kay Brown
Reflection
Audio (mp3, 7.6 MB)

February 1, 2009 - Letting Go
The teachings of Buddhism are an important guide for many members of our congregation. Today, via Amy’s personal journey through this tradition — starting in high school, through her concentration on Buddhism during college and her time in Bodh Gaya, India, and in the years since — we’ll explore some of these teachings together.

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Sermon: Letting Go
Audio (mp3, 24 MB)

Worship Associate: Susan Owicki
Reflection: Letting Go
Audio (mp3, 4.7 MB)

January 25, 2009 - Don’t Call Me a Racist!
What a moment in history we are living: an African American president inaugurated during the time of celebration of the birthday of an American icon and hero, another African American. On this historic weekend, I will share some of my journey growing up in the South/West/ Midwest (Oklahoma!) during segregation, the struggles of integration, the Civil RIghts Movement and how much has changed … and so much hasn’t.

Worship Leader: Rev. Eva Českava
Sermon: Don’t Call Me a Racist!
Audio (mp3. 21.8 MB)

Worship Associate: Rita Hays
Reflection: On Racism
Audio (mp3, 4.0 MB)

January 18, 2009 - An Ever-Fixed Mark
Martin Luther King often referred to "the beloved community" we seek to create.  Churches are places we practice that love, trying to unite as one community even when we don't all see things the same way.  If we learn that here, we'll improve our ability to live together as citizens of a much larger community — something we need at the inauguration of a new era in our national life.  But what kind of love is it?  Shakespeare and our Universalist heritage will guide us.

Worship leader:  Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Sermon: An Ever-Fixed Mark
Audio (mp3, 20 KB)

Worship Associate: Sam
Reflection: A Better Person
Audio (mp3, 5.25 KB)

January 11, 2009 - Our Children Can Fly
On the momentous occasion of the inauguration of the first African-American president, in this week’s and next week’s services, we reflect on our racial history, and celebrate – and commit ourselves to – the advance of freedom. Today’s service asks: how did we make the amazing transformations that have brought us this far from a slavery society? What is our role as justice-lovers and peacemakers in bringing our society closer still to the vision of beloved community, and what will be our strength and inspiration?

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Sermon: Now Our Children Can Fly
Audio (mp3, 17 MB)

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