To read recent sermons, please click on the sermon titles below.
Note: A sermon is an interactive oral presentation, a conversation in a sense, between presenter and congregation. To read it is to experience it in quite a different way. It is not the same as being there! This is an approximation of what was said in person.
In a recent visit to Christchurch, New Zealand, I heard about a multitude of effects on people’s lives from the series of huge earthquakes that have occurred there. But it is also true that everybody’s lives have metaphorical earthquakes that shake them up. It isn’t what we would wish for, but it’s what we are sometimes given.
In our society, it seems that certainty is more respected than doubt. We get the impression that one should never doubt oneself; one should be decisive and sure in stating opinions almost as if they are facts. Religiously, doubt is considered to be unfaithful, disrespectful even. But is this so (she asks, doubtfully)? I want to explore a more positive side of doubt, whether religious doubt, self-doubt or just general skepticism.
Our fifth principle refers to democratic practices. Our fourth source refers to the instruction to love one’s neighbour. As I read “Healing the Heart of Democracy” by Parker Palmer, I find links between our habits of the heart, how we attend to one another in institutional settings such as schools and churches, and our attitudes about democracy. The Active Democracy Study Group is looking at how well we respect each other in our democratic processes in the CUC. My sermon is more about Loving our Neighbours than it is about voting – but the two are definitely connected.
Today’s EGM (extraordinary general meeting) is about our making a congregational statement on how we feel about proposed oil pipelines and coastal tanker traffic. Any statement we make would be based in the relevant principles and sources: "Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part"; and "Spiritual teachings of Earth-centred traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature".
Words of Ralph Waldo Emerson offer us this title, in our grey hymnal. Following on Rev. Meg Roberts’ workshop on Everyday Spirituality, today’s service will be grounded in our third “principle” and our third “source”: We covenant to affirm and promote the acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations; our tradition draws on wisdom from the world’s religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life.
Unitarianism has many gifts to offer to a world in need of new paradigms. On this Thanksgiving weekend, the morning's sermon will begin to name some of the aspects of Unitarianism that draw me, and maybe you, to it.
The New Testament story of Mary and Martha sets up the dilemma we each have – to be conscious of how best to spend our one “wild and precious life”. Should we be trying to savour the world or to save it? How can we choose, on any given day, what is worthy of our time?
My 80-something friend Sterling’s poem says “I don’t do Old”. In some senses, the goal of life is to grow old. Although we are all aging, we try to resist it, or we do things to avoid acknowledging it. Let’s have a look at how this push-pull affects us.
A few years ago, many environmentalists and I were heartened that ecological sustainability seemed to have finally hit the public radar in a big way. Nationally and internationally, people were talking about the need to take urgent action, and, indeed, many were. Then came the recession, and suddenly, the whole climate changed (pardon the pun). Sustainability found itself knocked off the priority list completely, replaced by “economic imperatives” that left no room for “luxuries” like saving the planet ...
Sylvester the Cat’s expression (“sufferin’ succotash” – said in frustration and with a lisp) apparently originated during the 1930’s Depression, and is said to be a minced oath (polite version) of "suffering saviour". In this week preceding Good Friday, the last week of Lent in the Christian calendar, it is timely to consider the place of suffering in our lives. Each of us suffers our own slings and arrows in different ways. Our responses to our own and others’ suffering can be supportive – or not. Perhaps offering a dish of succotash is sometimes the most helpful thing we can do.
Our Unitarian ancestor Margret Benedictsson was one person who worked for woman suffrage in Canada. The fifth in our statement of Principles and Sources says that we affirm and promote “the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large.” A simpler version says - “all people should have a voice and a vote about the things which concern them.” On the day of our UUFK Annual General Meeting, this seems a fitting subject to explore : who has a voice, whose voices are muted, and how we decide about matters that concern us.