Texts of Selected Sermons 2010

December 5, 2010 - Childhood

This sermon was originally meant to center on ideas of Wordsworth, “The child is father to the man,” and poet David Huerta, “I don’t know how to seek you out inside me — child that I was.” But Rev. Morgenstern’s instincts led her in a different direction. The sermon was all but finished, but Saturday morning, a niggling voice told her it wasn’t where her passion lay. Our crazy economic system and how we are arguing about just how much crazier to make it — that was what she wanted to say about childhood in this country at this moment. So she listened to that voice and with the couple of hours in the early morning of Saturday and Sunday wrote this powerfully different one.

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Sermon: A Childhood Demon

Worship Associate: Peggy Marks

November 7, 2010 - Making a Difference

Several members of UUCPA will share the reasons for their social justice commitments: The stories, the feelings, the hopes, the challenges that make them try to make a difference.

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern

Worship Associate: Karen Skold
Reflection: El Salvador

Richard Duda
Reflection: Nuclear Weapons

David Harris
Reflection: Welcoming Congregation

Bill Hilton
Reflection: The Environment

October 31, 2010 - The Transylvanian Unitarian Symbol and Its Meaning for Us

Our lives are surrounded by symbols. In our homes, on the streets, even the letters we write are a kind of symbol. Our every day lives are led by symbols. Why do we need and use symbols? What does the Transylvanian Unitarian Symbol of the dove, serpent, mountain and crown represent? Peace, wisdom, levels, kingdom? Yes, but also freedom, eternity, high knowledge, being ruler of your own life — depending on your point of view. This sermon looks at the meaning of Unitarianism in this world, through the lens of this Transylvanian symbol.

Worship Leader: Rev. Levente Lázár

Worship Associates: Roy King, Karl Garcia

October 10, 2010 - Walking with Thoreau

Last month, with our service on the Transcendalist minister Theodore Parker, we asked how the Transcendentalists, who urged us to trust our consciences, ensured that the voice of conscience was clear. Henry David Thoreau’s answer was “Turn it out doors, / Into the moors.” Today we go on a walk with Thoreau to lean more about what he meant. And October 10 is the day for climate change action, an issue Thoreau would have urged us to make our own, so we will ask, “What Would Henry Do?”

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern

Worship Associate: Kay Brown
Reflection: Thoreau’s Influence on My Life

October 3, 2010 - A Church of Concord

Most of Western religious history is the history of schism: once-unified churches splitting into many smaller denominations. Our faith is a notable exception, having acquired its long name from the merger of the Universalists and the Unitarians in May, 1961. On this Sunday devoted to celebrating our Association and our association with 1000 other congregations, we also celebrate the upcoming 50th anniversary of merger, and ask, what are our next steps in making our religion one of increasing concord instead of its opposite, schism?

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern

Worship Associate: Becca Jones
Reflection: Continuity with our Past

September 19, 2010 - Broken Pottery Shards and Divine Sparks of Light

tikkun — repairing, healing, transforming the world.

Worship Leader: Rev. Lisa Wiggins
Sermon: Broken Pottery Shards and Divine Sparks of Light

Worship Associate: Roy King
Reflection: This Little Light of Mine

September 5, 2010 - A Conflict of Values

General Assembly this year had strong feelings and deep religious convictions that were focused on the General Assembly of 2012 which is scheduled in Phoenix, Arizona. What does it mean when a stand on an issue is taken by the delegates? How can our denomination make a meaningful impact on transforming our society and our world into one with more equity, justice and Compassion? What does this mean for our congregation Andrew and I will reflect on the difficulties we have when well-meaning people come together with honest conflict of values when addressing complex issues.

Worship Leader: Kathy Parmentier
Sermon: A Conflict of Values
Audio (mp3, 23 MB)

Worship Associate: Andrew Johnson
Reflection: Immigration at GA

August 29, 2010 - For We Too Have Been Strangers

The Bible repeatedly commands us to welcome the stranger. Its reasons are surprisingly modern, surprisingly UU, and compel us to embrace justice for immigrants. And yet immigration is undeniably a source of stress in American communities. In keeping with our monthly theme, today’s sermon talks about how to make that stress creative rather than destructive.

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Sermon: For We Too Have Been Strangers
Audio (mp3, 29 MB)

Worship Associate: Becca Jones
Reflection: Immigration

August 22, 2010 - The Wisdom of the Inward Judge

The Transcendentalist Theodore Parker confidently proclaimed: “Outward judgement often fails, inward judgment never.” We draw on some of the prodigious wisdom of this founding father of Unitarianism today, the week of the 200th anniversary of his birth, and reflect on our own inward judgment.

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Sermon: The Wisdom of the Inward Judge
Audio (mp3, 25 MB)

Worship Associate: Melissa Thomson
Reflection: Inward Judgment
Audio (mp3, 3 MB)

August 15, 2010 - Wake, Now, My Senses

To wake up to the world and engage with it more fully involves a lot of quiet time, the waiting before the waking. Amy returns to the pulpit today after several months of her own sabbatical periode of quiet.

Worship Leader: Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
Sermon: Wake, Now, My Senses

Worship Associate: Mike McLaughlin

August 8, 2010 - Unitarian Universalism and the Arts

While in seminary a professor of Art and Religion told me that all art lovers eventually convert to Catholicism or to the Episcopal church, since liberal Protestants are all about the word, not about beauty, feelings or a sense of divine presence. I was floored. Is there really no art here? Here are some of the results of my quest to find UU artists.

Worship Leader: Roy King
Sermon: UU and the Arts

Worship Associate: Dave Weber
Reflection: Art and UU

August 1, 2010 - The Primacy of Caring

As a young nurse I read The Primacy of Caring, a theoretical framework for nursing. I have since discovered that it has informed not only my nursing, but my emotional and spiritual life.

Worship Leader: Becky Williams
Sermon: Primacy of Caring

Worship Associate: Susan Owicki

July 18, 2010 - Stevenson House

Thomas Pamilla is current the Executive Director of Stevenson House of Palo Alto, our next-door neighbor. He will share with us its mission and some of the history of our relationship with Stevenson House.

Worship Leader: Thomas M. Pamilla, MSW
Sermon: Stevenson House? Now Tell Me What That Means

Worship Associate: Kay Brown

June 13, 2010 - Trusting in Mystery

Rev. Sean says “farewell” to UUCPA with a service that celebrates the fact that “life is a riddle and a mystery…”

Worship Leader: Rev. Sean Dennison
Sermon: Trusting in Mystery

Worship Associate: Susan Owicki
Reflection: Presents

May 16, 2010 - Heaven on Earth

What if heaven is not a place separate from earth? What if heaven does not mean some life after death? What if heaven is for everyone?

Worship Leader: Rev. Daniel Harper
Sermon: Heaven on Earth

Worship Associate: VJ Mohan
Reflection: Heaven on Earth

May 2, 2010 - Religion and Spirituality for the 21st Century

Part of the female wisdom of God has to do with thoroughly romantic love — entirely appropriate for Valentine’s Day. But many social scientists have described romantic love as essentially narcissism. What does more mature, committed, interpersonal love look like?

Worship Leader: Rev. Scotty McLennan
Sermon: Religion and Spirituality for the 21st Century

Worship Associate: Dave Weber
Reflection: Religion and Spirituality for the 21st Century

April 25, 2010 - We Are Called

Rev. Sean will explore the concept of “calling.” Who is calling? What are we called to do? Can Unitarian Universalists claim and articulate a sense of our calling as religious liberals?

Worship Leader: Rev. Sean Dennison
Sermon: We Are Called

Worship Associate: Kay Brown
Reflection: What Is Your Calling?

April 18, 2010 - Walking on the Earth

A spiritual discussion of walking the Appalachian and Pacific Crest trails (approximately 4650 miles of backpacking).

Worship Leader: Sven Thesen
Sermon: Walking in the Faith

Worship Associate: Kathleen Bardin
Reflection: Love and Nature: A Reflection for Earth Day

April 4, 2010 - We Are Children of the Earth

This Easter we’ll mark the turning of the seasons with a service that brings together music, poetry, and movement to celebrate the return of Spring and the miracles of rebirth and re-creation.

Worship Leader: Rev. Daniel Harper
Story: The Easter Story

Worship Leader: Rev. Sean Dennison
Homily: Another Easter Story

March 28, 2010 - Unitarian Universalist Principles & Reconciliation

The arc of the universe is long and it does bend towards justice; but it also bends towards reconciliation, forgiveness, and love — for there is no justice, there cannot be justice without reconciliation, forgiveness, and love. While justice and love are explicitly stated in the seven principles of the Unitarian Universalist movement, Rev. McCall asserts that forgiveness as well is captured in our seven principles in the words “acceptance of one another” because there cannot be acceptance without forgiveness.

Worship Leader: Rev. Chester McCall
Sermon: Unitarian Universalist Principles & Reconciliation

Worship Associate: Karl Garcia

March 21, 2010 - We Come from the Fire

Unitarians and Universalists have long been passionate people. This “fire in the belly” has driven our forebears to challenge religions orthodoxy and change the world, even at the price of their lives. How is this passion present in 21st Century Unitarian Universalism? What are we passionate about?

Worship Leader: Rev. Sean Dennison
Sermon: We Come from the Fire

Worship Associate: Susan Owicki
Reflection: Caring Passionately

March 14, 2010 - Whose Are We?

Are we self-reliant individuals, threads in the interconnected web of all existence, a link in evolution, children of God, the product of our cultures and heritages, stardust, small grains in the hourglass of time, brief bit-players on the world’s state, pawns in the game, flunkeys of the system, consumers, blips on the radar of the universe, students of life, embodiments of the highest, the sum of all known reverence, fragile bodies, eternal spirits, immortal beings…? What are our answers and do our answers matter?

Worship Leaders: Revs. Barbara and Bill Hamilton-Holway
Sermon: Whose Are We?

Worship Associate: Dave Weber
Reflection: Whose Are We?

March 7, 2010 - The Permanent and Transient in Unitarian Universalism

William Ellery Channing preached a sermon at the ordination of Jared Sparks in 1819, that dared to declare what in Christian theology and ritual would endure and what would pass away. Rev. Sean considers the same question in modern Unitarian Universalism. Is the flaming chalice only a fad or has it become an important symbol that will stand the test of time?

Worship Leader: Rev. Sean Dennison
Sermon: The Permanent and Transient in Unitarian Universalism

Worship Associate: Roy King

February 21, 2010 - Reasonable Love

The Hallmark corporation, the movies, and popular music all tell stories where love triumphs over reason. Rev. Sean considers the possibility of a more balanced, peaceful partnership of head and heart.

Worship Leader: Rev. Sean Dennison
Sermon: Reasonable Love

Worship Associate: Susan Owicki read “Bifocals” excerpted from The Relationship Between Religion and Science by Rev. Gary Kowalski

February 14, 2010 - Female Wisdom of God

Part of the female wisdom of God has to do with thoroughly romantic love — entirely appropriate for Valentine’s Day. But many social scientists have described romantic love as essentially narcissism. What does more mature, committed, interpersonal love look like?

Worship Leader: Rev. Scotty McLennan
Sermon: Female Wisdom of God

Worship Associate: Wynne Furth

February 7, 2010 - It Matters Most What We Love

Reflecting on this statement by the Rev.Alice Blair Wesley, Rev. Sean shares his perspective on Love and its power to motivate us to act and work for a better world for all.

Worship Leader: Rev. Sean Dennison
Sermon: It Matters Most What We Love

January 17, 2010 - This Blue Bowl

Rev. Sean leads a service focused on mindfulness and simplicity, reminding us to stay centered on what is really important and sustaining in our lives.

Worship Leader: Rev. Sean Dennison
Sermon: This Blue Bowl

Worship Associate: Susan Owicki
Reflection: Choosing

January 10, 2010 - The Integrity of the In-Between

Rev. Sean tells a little of his own story to reflect on the beauty of “in-between.” All of us are too big, too messy, too complex to fit in the little “boxes” on all the forms we face in our culture. This link will take you to Rev. Sean’s web site where he tells the story he shared with us.

Worship Leader: Rev. Sean Dennison
Sermon: The Integrity of the In-Between

Worship Associate: Wynne Furth

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