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Sermon Archive

 

March 30, 2014

10am

Rev. Karen Hutt

Crossing the Yellow Line

Rev. Hutt will discuss her personal experiences working as a prison chaplain as she asks us to consider new ways to consider the people behind the statistics in the criminal "just - us" system.

Rev. Karen Hutt is a graduate of Meadville Lombard Theological School and Boston University and has been a Unitarian Universalist minister for 15 years. She is an affiliate community minister at Beverly Unitarian Church in Chicago and has served as DRE at First Unitarian Chicago and was co-pastor of Church of the Open Door.. Rev. Hutt has been active over the years in local and national UU initiatives in religious education, preaching and diversity training. She currently is a Clinical Pastoral Educator with Advocate Health Care where she teaches seminarians and lay church leaders the arts of pastoral care giving  Rev. Hutt has worked as a chaplain specializing in trauma and pediatrics at Rush Medical Center, The University of Chicago Medical Center, Stroger Hospital and Northwestern Memorial Hospital.  Skinner Books has contracted with Rev. Hutt to edit a new book on the theology and praxis of Unitarian Universalist chaplains. Rev. Hutt is a religious humanist who has a passion for our faith's history and  promise to change and heal the world.

March 23, 2014

10am

Rev. Darrick Jackson

"Holding Life Loosely"

Taoism teaches us to be open to what life brings us. In our fast paced society, is their room to bring this principle into our lives?

The Rev. Darrick Jackson is the Director of Contextual Ministry at Meadville Lombard Theological School. Previously he served as the Consulting Minister of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Storrs, CT and the Unitarian Universalist Parish of Monson, MA. Darrick is the Chair of the UUA Nominating Committee and the Chair of the board of the UU Military Ministry at Great Lakes.

 

March 9th, 2014

10am 

Rev. Barbara Child

Lessons from the Wilderness: Creeds, Covenants, and Free Religion

How can you be together “in the wilderness” while you search and experiment in this life?  What do you need from each other?  What might be worth it for you to promise each other as common commitments to enable you to be vulnerable with each other and feel safe enough to stretch and risk?  After all, what do you need as a congregation to be able to engage your unknown future with serenity?

March 2, 2014

10am

Aidan McCormack

More Than Marriage

Recently, the conversation about LGBTQ rights has been limited to the discussion of same sex marriage and yet there are so many other issues at stake. Given the recent anti-gay laws passed in Arizona and Kansas and the severe oppression happening in Russia and Uganda, how can we respond as liberally religious people? What do we need to know in order to empathetically and powerfully work for equality and love? Join Aidan McCormack as he discusses these questions and more.

 

 

February 23, 2014

10am

 

Youth Lead Service w/ NSUC Junior Choir

 

"Overcoming Adversity Through Our Beloved Community"

Join our Youth Group for the annual Youth Lead Service, with a special performance by the Jr. Choir students and accompanied by Jennifer Merry, Jr. Choir Director on the piano. Each year, our Youth Group works diligently to put on an entire service planned by the young members here at NSUC.

 

 

 

February 16, 2014

10am

Rev. Dr. Nicole C. Kirk

New Transcendentalism

Long associated with Emerson and Thoreau, transcendentalism continues to
shape Unitarian Universalism. But what is transcendentalism really about
and what does transcendentalism require of us?

Nicole Kirk is the Schulman Professor of Unitarian Universalist History at Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago. She earned a Master of Divinity from Vanderbilt, a Doctor of Ministry and a Ph.D. in American Church History from Princeton Theological Seminary. Nicole served two churches in Ohio and New Jersey. She is currently working on her book Wanamaker¹s Temple: John Wanamaker and the Wanamaker Department Store.

 

February 9, 2014
10am
Rev. Dr. Clare Butterfield


What the Poet Sees


This week's sermon will inspire us to look at the world with the eyes of a poet, incorporating four poems by Brian Doyle.
Rev. Dr. Clare Butterfield is a Unitarian Universalist community minister and an old friend of NSUC. She is currently running the grants program at the new Illinois Science and Energy Innovation Foundation. Prior to that she was the founder and director of Faith in Place, an interfaith environmental ministry.

February 2, 2014

10 am

Rev. Barbara Child

"Who Are You This Time"

What is the present identity of this congregation?  The same as when you built your building?  The same as when you called your first minister?  The same as when you called Rev. Gary James?  This Sunday service comes the day after I begin my Saturday series called “Creating a Beloved Community Right Here, Right Now.”  The session on Saturday afternoon, February 1 (1:30-4:00) is called “Telling the Truth about Who You Are – or – Who Are You This Time?”  

On Sunday, I will surely have some things to say about what happened Saturday afternoon.  I am hoping to welcome many of you into the beginning of the conversation on Saturday afternoon and continuing reflection at the Sunday service.​

 

January 26, 2014

10am

Rev. Mark D. Morrison-Reed

"Never the Water; Only a Wave"

Like rolling waves heading toward a distant shore our lives are ever moving, changing and unique and yet they are with one with life as a wave is to the ocean. This is a personal story of loss, and how grief led me to a deeper understanding of life and eternity.

 

January 19, 2014

10am

Rev. Mark D. Morrison-Reed

"The Little Boy"

While hiking up a mountain in Switzerland an excruciating moment set me on the path to social activism. Along the way the challenges taught me some hard lessons, including learning to be thankful for the obstacles I encountered.

 

January 5, 2014

10am

Rev. Karen Hutt

"What Are You Welcoming Into Your Life This Year?"

Does the change in the calender make it a new year, or is there a change in you? To begin this time  of reflection, we will participate in rituals with stone and fire that serve as metaphors for personal and spiritual affirmations of our human potential. 

 

December 22, 2013

Rev. Denise Tracy

A Unitarian Universalist Christmas

What have Unitarian Universalists contributed towards the celebration of Christmas?  What traditions, stories, songs and ideas have come from our faith to the larger community? Come to learn and take home a new appreciation for our heritage and history.

 

December 8, 2013

 

Rev. Karen Hutt

"To Savor the World or Save It?”

Unitarian Universalist claim a portfolio of social justice as the inheritors of the Social Gospel movement. Yet, we must still ask ourselves, what is the relationships between our personal freedoms and our social responsibilities . Is there a place for both our piety and our prophecy?

 

 

December 1, 2013

Rev. Denise Tracy

The Art of Appreciation

Some people say the most basic human fear is of death but Humanist Religious teacher Jean Houston says what people actually fear most is being unacknowledged.  This service will explore acknowledgment and appreciation.  As we enter the holiday season, this might give us a new dimension for thinking about the greater meaning of life.

 

November 24, 2013

 

Reverend Karen Hutt

 

Is Your Gratitude Barometer Working?

 

What if gratitude was a way of being in the world that went beyond thank-you notes, and lists of things to be thankful for?  Does your gratitude spur you to take action or sit complacently in self – satisfaction? Today we will think about gratitude as a spiritual practice that we can develop and nurture.

 

November 17, 2013

NSUC Choir Joined by Edgebrook Lutheran Church Choir of Chicago

"REQUIEM" by French composer Gabriel Fauré

In the worship service on November 17, the NSUC Choir will be joined by the Edgebrook Lutheran Church Choir of Chicago in presenting REQUIEM by French composer Gabriel Fauré. The 48 voices will be accompanied by a small orchestra, all under the direction of Codrut Birsan. The seven-movement work, one of the most beautiful in the sacred choral/orchestral repertoire, is a serene prayer to grant eternal rest to all who have died.

November 10th, 2014

Marguerite McClelland and readers from the NSUC Poetry Group, Charlie's Garden

"A Journey in Poetry"

This service will feature poems to illustrate our various stopping points along the road of life, our bubbly beginning, our highs and lows and level stretches along the way, and our final days.  We hope to lovingly evoke your own journeys and remind you of our bond in this, our common adventure.

 

Our speaker today, Marguerite McClelland, is a 31-year member of NSUC and writer of poetry. She is a member of the Worship Arts Committee and also writes a column for the Environmental Task Force.

November 3rd, 2014

Aidan McCormack

"Stumbling Toward Grace"

Everyday. With every relationship we have the opportunity to build something beautiful, to begin to live into love and the possibility of a culture and an Earth where we are all welcomed and accepted. Join frequent pulpit guest, Aidan McCormack as he wrestles with the ancient theological concept of grace in a whole new light and looks at the power of encounter to change our lives and the world.

October 27th, 2013

10:00am

Rev. Karen Hutt

 

"Can we Suspend Our Disbelief?"

Samhain marks the end of the agricultural season and the beginning of the winter foe Celts for over 1,000 years. What can  the ancient tradition of Samhain teach us about the doorway between life and death?

October 20th, 2013

10:00am

Mui Baltrunas - The Care and Feeding of the Monkey Mind

Title – The Monkey Mind Diet(Care and Feeding of the Monkey Mind)

Buddha described the human mind as being filled with drunken monkeys, jumping around, screeching, chattering, carrying on endlessly. We all have monkey minds, Buddha said, with dozens of monkeys all clamoring for attention. Fear is an especially loud monkey, sounding the alarm incessantly, pointing out all the things we should be wary of and everything that could go wrong. With are more distractions than ever and the modern monkey mind is more like King Kong crashing through the jungle on amphetamines. This critter needs to be fed.

It is estimated that our brains are bombarded with seven times as much stimuli as our grandparents experienced. Add to this the longer working hours, the traffic jams and the rising stress levels and it is amazing we cope at all. The good news is that no matter how busy the mind is and how distant the prospect of finding inner peace seems to be right under our noses.

Sensei Mui (Venerable Mui Ananda Baltrunas) took formal refuge and bhikkhu ordination as a Theravada monk in Thailand in the Dhammayuttika Tradition, in 1971. He remained in Thailand until 1975 when he entered the Vidyodaya University of Sri Lanka receiving a doctorate in Buddhist Studies. After his return to the United States e spent years studying Pure Land Buddhism and took ordination as a Dharma Teacher. He also studied Soto Zen for two years and underwent unsai tokudo as a Zen priest and later as a Tendai priest. He is the Spiritual and Abbot of the Hongaku Jodo Compassionate Lotus Buddhist Tradition and the Director of Buddhist Education for the Hongaku Institute of Buddhist Studies. He has been the author of a dozen courses including, Pali Canon Studies, Abhidhamma Studies, Death and Dying: a Buddhist Perspective, Taming the Monkey, and The Way of the Mind.

October 13th, 2013

10:00am

Rev. Emmy Lou Belcher, Ministerial Settlement Representative - By Their Groups Ye Shall Know Them


Rev. Emmy Lou Belcher is the person who is appointed by the UUA to help our congregation in its search process - to make sure that we are on the path to a successful search, so to speak. This service is her chance to "speak" to the entire congregation about some aspect of this process. Rev. Belcher will follow it with a workshop for the board of our congregation. In the meantime, the renowned Unitarian theologian James Luther Adams used to say that the true quality of a person or church was reflected in the groups to which they belonged.


Unitarians and Universalists have always believed that the proof of a person's value is in the works one accomplishes, not in the beliefs one holds. So what does this have to do with the process of searching for our next minister?

October 6th, 2013

10:00am

Deb Rostorfer - Restorative Justice

 

The moral imperative that people of privilege have to aid in the restoration of dignity and inherent worth of the marginalized of society cannot be ignored.This Sunday's service will be about moving ourselves, our hearts and minds, toward restorative justice for the oppressed and away from the punitive justice of the prison industrial complex.

Deb Rostorfer is a candidate for ministry finishing her studies at Meadville Lombard Theological School. She plans to graduate in May of 2014 and hopes to become a parish minister. Currently, she coordinates the UU military ministry for the worship services at Great Lakes Naval Station's Recruit Training Command. Deb has two prison penpals through the CLF Prison Ministry program. She looks forward to preaching at NSUC on Sunday.

September 29th, 2013

Rev. Darrick Jackson- "Saying Yes"

Learning to say “Yes” can be a powerful tool for bringing wholeness into our lives, and into our relationships with those we love.

The Rev. Darrick Jackson is the Director of Contextual Ministry at Meadville Lombard Theological School. Before moving to Chicago he served churches in Storrs, CT and Monson, MA. Darrick is currently the co-chair of the UUA Nominating Committee, and the Chair of the Transition Board at the UU Military Ministry at Great Lakes. He is also the treasurer and Workshop Leader for Healing Moments (a ministry for caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s). In his free time, Darrick likes to knit and to be involved in theatre. He is married to James Olson, a United Church of Christ minister and lives with their two cats, Merlin and Morgana.

September 22th, 2013

Rev. Nicole Kirk- "Life's Penitentiaries"

Have you ever observed a plant that outgrew its pot?  The roots begin to
circle, round and round, finally squeezing out its own life.  And
sometimes, even when re-potted, the plant¹s roots refuse to stretch out
again since they are unaccustomed to the freedom of the bigger pot.  Our
lives are like this at times and history sometimes plays a role in this.
This Sunday we will explore the traps and penitentiaries that are in our
lives--sometimes of our own making.

 . Nicole Kirk is the Frank and Alice Schulman of Unitarian Universalist History at Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago.

She is currently working on her book on the department store merchant prince John Wanamaker and contemplating book projects on Unitarian Universalist history. There are few pleasures greater than spending time in the archives of Meadville Lombard.

September 8th, 2013 -  Rev. Karen Hutt

"Yom Kippur"


Yom Kippur is a time of deep personal reflection. Join us for our tradition Yom Kippur service of music and prayer.

Rev. Karen Hutt is a graduate of Meadville Lombard Theological School and Boston University and

has been a Unitarian Universalist minister for 15 years. She is an affiliate community minister at Beverly Unitarian Church in Chicago and has served as DRE at First Unitarian Chicago and was co-pastor of Church of the Open Door.. Rev. Hutt has been active over the years in local and national UU initiatives in religious education, preaching and diversity training. She currently is a Clinical Pastoral Educator with Advocate Health Care where she teaches seminarians and lay church leaders the arts of pastoral care giving  Rev. Hutt has worked as a chaplain specializing in trauma and pediatrics at Rush Medical Center, The University of Chicago Medical Center, Stroger Hospital and Northwestern Memorial Hospital.  Skinner Books has contracted with Rev. Hutt to edit a new book on the theology and praxis of Unitarian Universalist chaplains. Rev. Hutt is a religious humanist who has a passion for our faith's history and  promise to change and heal the world.

 

August 25, 2013 - Polly Hansen,

"The One with the Tiger"

In the book Life of Pi, Yann Martel's character Pi asks a question at the end of the story. The answer is a choice. What would your answer be? Spoiler alert! You don't have to have read the book or seen the movie to understand the sermon, but a bit of the plot line will be revealed.  To attend is your choice."

Polly Hansen has been a member of NSUC since 1991. She has served the Worship Arts Committee as the Summer Music Coordinator for the past several years, and is our Communications Chair. She is a flutist and producer of a nationally syndicated radio program called Radio Health Journal heard on over 400 stations around the country, including many in the Chicago area.


Aug 18 - Rev. Denise Tracy

 

"All I Ever Needed to Know..... I Learned from..... Robert Fulghum"  

In every school in America there is a poster of this most famous writing by a Unitarian Universalist minister.  The most well known liberal religious writer of our time has wisdom about dish drainers, lost plane tickets, cobblers and mermaids.  He is among the most approachable theologians of our time.  As some among us prepare to go back to school...it might be important for us to remember we were five and what we learned.  It is also a good Sunday to invite a seeking friend to worship.


August 11, 2013 - Lenny Xavier

"The Hare and the Tortoise – Explained."

In a world where Internet speeds are never fast enough, and the automobile can never get you home soon enough, we should pause to wonder about the continued popularity of an ancient Greek fable that glorifies slowness.  Did Aesop know something about human nature that still escapes us?  Does faster always mean better?  And what are we to make of the Slow Movement, and its many spin-offs:  Slow Food, Slow Travel, Slow Church, and now Slow Sex?   Come and see why this ancient fable still has things to teach us about the human spirit.

Lenny Xavier, has been an NSUC member since 2001 and has presented several sermons at the rock in the past.  He was a theology student at Fordham University, and has degrees in English and Management.


August 4 - Aidan McCormack

 

"Home is Where?" 

Homelessness is a big problem in our country and in Chicagoland. Thousands of people experience homelessness nightly throughout Chicago and nearly a quarter of those people are youth. How can we respond to this huge issue from a place of faith and hope? What would it mean to be a community building shelter, starting with our hearts? Join Aidan McCormack as he explores the issues and the questions that arise.

Aidan McCormack is a frequent and enthusiastic guest to the NSUC rock. He's a graduate of Meadville Lombard Theological School and has served NSUC as our Director of Youth Ministry. Aidan has recently become the Community and Congregational Relations Coordinator at The Night Ministry. He is excited about the work he's doing to combat poverty and homelessness and to be back at NSUC.


July 28 - Rev. Denise Tracy

"The Importance of Little Things"

Many religions are based on huge events like crucifixion or resurrection, ever lasting life, sin and redemption.  In reality it is the little things that count.  Toss a pebble in a pond and feel the wave on the west coast....how the small can change the world...is something for each of us to remember each day as we awaken.  "How will I spend this one precious day?"  This is a question of faith.


July 21 - Schuyler Vogel

"God on Hold" 

If Unitarian Universalism were in a relationship with God on Facebook, it would read "It's complicated." My experience is no exception, and as I prepare for the ministry, I find myself continually pushed to solidify my understanding of God. Yet I find this hard to do, both because of who I am and because of my gut feeling that God-talk must resist easy definition. Our task then becomes the spiritual practice of accepting the inherent mystery and ambiguity around us, both around ideas of God and our world. And it is through exploring these, with an open mind and heart, that our faith is made real and most alive.

Schuyler Vogel served our congregation as the Director of Religious Education from 2009 - 2011 and is now studying for the Unitarian Universalist ministry at Harvard Divinity School. He is currently the summer minister at the First Church in Boston, where is he completing his ministerial internship. Since his time at NSUC, Schuyler has worked with the UUA Office of Congregational Advocacy and Witness, UU Mass Action and the General Assembly Youth Caucus. In addition to his studies, Schuyler also serves as President of the Harvard Unitarian Universalist Ministry for Students, on the Steering Team of the Sanctuary Boston, and remains involved with the Midwest Youth Leadership.


July14 - Rev. Denise Tracy

"The Spiritual Emerson"

Most Unitarian Universalists like to explore the founder of Transcendentalism.  Learn about Ralph Waldo Emerson and how his story connects with the founding of his radical theology.  See how it connects with your faith as well.

The Rev Ms Denise Tracy was ordained as a U-U Minister in 1974.  She has been a campus minister (74-76, Hartford, Ct), a parish minister (76-84, Greater Lansing, Mi),  District Executive for CMD/UUA (84-92), Church Consultant (Alban Institute 92-2007), Interim Minister ( South Bend, Cincinnati, San Mateo 07-12).  She resides with her husband and son in Elgin Il.  She continues to consult with congregations as a partner in Insight Facilitators.  She has written five books, four on stories for use in Intergenerational Worship.


July 7 - Jim Kenney

 

"The Sacred Month"

Ramadan starts on July 8th this year.  Ramadan is a time of spiritual reflection, improvement and increased devotion and worship.  Its name comes from the Arabic root “ramida”, which means “scorching heat or dryness”.  Jim Kenney, a frequent and favorite speaker at NSUC, will give us his thoughts and insights into the month-long Islamic observance of Ramadan, the most sacred month of the Islamic calendar.

Jim Kenney is the Executive Director of Common Ground in Deerfield, and has been involved in a number of inter-religious engagement initiatives around the world.  He is the past Global Director for the World Parliament of Religions and the Co-Editor of Inter-religious Insight: a Journal of Dialogue and Engagement.


June 23 - Rev Denise Tracy

 

The Art of Possibility

Based on the book with the same title, by Ben and Rosamund Zander, this service will explore possibility thinking.  The Zanders' set about to revive the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra by employing the gifts of every musician in the symphony.  It is a story that inspires hope in anyone facing change or needing new inspiration.  It is a good story for a congregation embarking on a transition.

The Rev Ms Denise Tracy was ordained as a U-U Minister in 1974.   She has been a campus minister (74-76, Hartford, Ct), a parish minister (76-84, Greater Lansing, Mi),  District Executive for CMD/UUA (84-92), Church Consultant (Alban Institute 92-2007), Interim Minister ( South Bend, Cincinnati, San Mateo 07-12).  She resides with her husband and son in Elgin Il.  She continues to consult with congregations as a partner in Insight Facilitators.  She has written five books, four on stories for use in Intergenerational Worship.


June 16, 2013
Fatherhood: Flesh of My Flesh – Flesh of His Flesh
Rev. Gary James 
Our lives, like our father’s lives and their fathers before them will all too soon be ended, become history. We live in time and with time are lost, but if we continue in the life of another, then our flesh will rhyme its part in immortal song.  There is a wondrous kinship that gives to the living the breath of the dead. The revolutions of the Wheel-of-Life never falter and are perfect.  When we hear Creation’s song - its changes and returns - we know his life is our life passing into life.  Ancient many-lived, we reach through the ages with the seed.

 

June 2, 2013
The Wise Weakness of the Congregational Way
Rev. Gary James
As an introduction to our annual meeting following our 10 o’clock service the sermon and readings will address Unitarianism Universalism’s democratic congregational polity and its importance in sustaining our free faith.  It will be a reflection on Churchill’s description of “democracy as the worst form of government except for all the others.”


May 19, 2013
Affirmation Sunday
Rev. Gary James

May 12, 2013
Mother's Day Sunday
Rev. Gary James

May 5, 2013
Roots & Wings
Special Bridging ceremony and teacher appreciation Sunday.


April 28, 2013
Art Fair Sunday


April 21, 2013



April 14, 2013
Music Sunday
At both services on April 14, the NSUC Choir and soloists will be joined by a guest string quartet, all under the direction of Wayland Rogers, in a program of Handel, Mozart, Schubert, Brahms, Sibelius as well as contemporary composers Eleanor Daley, Philip Stopford, Ola Gjeilo. Please invite your music-loving friends to join us. As is customary, the offering will benefit the music program.

April 7, 2013
Rev. Gary James
Atheism: The First Step of an Enlightened Faith
It is relatively easy in this day and age to examine and reject traditional formulations of faith. The risk of irreverence is almost non-existent.  It is the constructive work of faith that we are far more likely to find difficult and illusive and lonely.   In this age of disenchantment it is easy to be a dogmatic believer who believes nothing.  To venture beyond the assurances of dogma, including the dogma that there is no God, is our challenge.

March 31, 2013
Rev. Gary James
Easter Sunday
Easter Sunday  will be a full intergenerational service, meaning that all children are encouraged to join their parents for the service. The nursery will remain open for the youngest children.  The service will be appropriate for all ages and will include Easter Communion. The Easter Communion is in celebration of Spring, recognizing that out of death comes life, out of Winter comes Spring. Our Easter Communion service is also in memory of a life infused with a trust in the ultimate triumph of love over hate and compassion over greed. The sharing of wine [grape juice] and unleavened bread is in the healing and redemptive spirit that Jesus made present through his life and death.

March 24, 2013
Rev. Gary James
Palm Sunday
Hey You, Wake Up!  The Future is Now!
“The kingdom of heaven is at hand!”

March 17, 2013
9:15 and 11:15 am
Rev. Gary James
Earth’s Body
"There is another world, but it is in this one" Paul Eluard 
Our bodies and land on which we live are one flesh.  They are made of the same stuff.   The earth’s body is our own body sensuously calling to us in the same perennial voice.  The Earth is our mother … we like to sing, but it is also our father; it is our brother and sister, husband and wife, male as well as female.  The earth is crying to us, inviting us to Come see, come touch, come listen and smell, and O come taste.   There are many, many other worlds, but they are all hidden within this one humble, imperfect, but infinitely mysterious sensuous world reaching up to embrace us.

March 10, 2013
9:15 and 11:15 am
Rev. Gary James
Reclaiming the Lost Art of Prayer
"He that shuts Love out, in turn shall be Shut out from Love, and on her threshold lie Howling in the outer darkness." Tennyson  "Love is like bread.  It has to be made fresh everyday." Old Saying   "Love is the bright  foreigner, the foreign self." Emerson

I believe in prayer in the same way I believe in love and love’s imagination.  I don’t often pray in  a formal manner,  Sunday is my exception.  But I do attempt to enter into a communion with the creative spirit of love on a daily basis.  This has an enormous impact on my life.  It is often a disturbing experience, overturning my desire for an ordered life.  When I pray I enter into communion with the spirit of love and I recover my lost soul, wild and rebellious, leading me out of destructive relations that would alienate me from its presence, leading me into a good relationship with the world.  I believe it is important for all of us to acknowledge this spiritual dimension and build a relationship with its ways and its depth, listening to its advice and receiving its vitality.

March 3, 2013
9:15 and 11:15 am
Youth Group Service
This service was planned and delivered entirely by Youth Group members. The congregation does not have the opportunity to see us much, except for the occasional brief appearance and maybe a sighting in the distance on a full moon. Well, have come full out of our shell with the heartfelt theme of unconditional love. There is so much to see and do at our service: music, stories, poems, meditations, and discussions. We have put a lot of time and effort into making this the most enjoyable and exciting service.

February 24, 2013
9:15 and 11:15 am
Rev. Gary James
Whatever Happened to Sin and Our Search For Integrity?

In this season of lent in the Christian tradition I am drawn to a reflection on Sin.  We have prided ourselves on being the religious tradition that discarded the notion of original sin and ultimately the concept of sin altogether.  We were the “children of the enlightenment”  with a positive world view and a vision of human progress.  Sin was thrown in the dustbin of antiquated history.  However, I believe we now find ourselves lost in an unrealistic optimism unable to acknowledge the reality of evil and our betrayal of the good.

February 17, 2013
9:15 and 11:15 am
Guest Speaker Rev. Sarah C. Stewart
Gotta Serve Some Vision
What tools do we have to confront the true emergencies of our time, such as global warming? We have the tools of our liberal faith: commitment, humility, and vision. We can bring the liberal religious principle to bear to make the world a better place for us and generations to come.

February 10, 2013
9:15 and 11:15 am
Rev. Gary James
You That Love Lovers, This Is Your Home, Welcome!
"Humankind is being brought to a moment where it will decide between suicide and adoration." Teilhard de Chardin
Spirit of Life and Love: Open my heart and teach me to remove all obstacles I place in the way of love – Open my mind and prevent me from rejecting any person on the basis of superficial flaws – Open my mouth and let my words reflect the beauty and wisdom of my soul – Open my ears and let me be still so that I can truly hear what others are trying to say – Open my arms and give me strength to be vulnerable, the courage to let down my defenses – Open my eyes and help me find the lovers of life. Come and open yourself, like the door of a small temple, so that you might step inside and be cooled and refreshed and less yourself than part of everything.

February 3, 2013
9:15 and 11:15 am
Rev. Gary James
This Holy Place
In other religious traditions listeners are informed as to what they need to do to be acceptable.  Some tell the gathered faithful, why they had been born, and what would happen to them after they died.  They were told how to live so they could find bliss in another world to come.  Great numbers believed and obeyed.  But one community did not command people how to live.  It encouraged the seekers to be themselves.  It challenged the authority of other communities who claimed to have the mold which all should fit.  It questioned any that tried to claim the people’s total allegiance, for this thoughtful place knew that in the heart of each is the unique design for the individual’s own becoming.  Only the person can determine how she or he will unfold.

January 27, 2013
9:15 and 11:15 am
Rev. Karen Hutt
Noisy and Messy and Complicated: The Challenge of Democracy

Drawing on the work of Parker Palmer’s new book, Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit. Rev. Hutt will challenge us to appreciate the value of “otherness” and explore how democracy can give us a sense of personal voice and agency while holding community tension in life-giving ways.

January 20, 2013
Deb Rostorfer
Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr.: A Call to Action
9:15 and 11:15 am
If he were alive today how would he continue to work for the rights of African Americans? How can we honor his legacy? The answers may be different than you think.

Deb Rostorfer is a third year student at Meadville Lombard Theological School and a Candidate for UU ministry. She coordinates the Great Lakes Military Ministry which provides UU worship to Navy boot camp recruits. Deb has previously preached at North Shore and is excited to return to it's pulpit again.

January 13, 2013
Rev. Mark Morrison-Reed
Dragged Kicking and Screaming into Heaven
9:15 and 11:15 am
Dragged Kicking and Screaming into Heavenis sure to arouse interest as Rev. Mark Morrison-Reed revisits the popularity of Universalism in the early 19th century.  States Morrison-Reed, “Universalism proclaimed a truly radical message. Is it time for us to return to the message  that God's love brooks no resistance?”

Rev. Morrison-Reed is a highly regarded Unitarian Universalist minister and his visit in the area is exciting.  We can thank Gloria Schneider who worked tirelessly to get him to our church; and the Worship Arts and Trust Fund committees for making it happen.

Raised in the Unitarian Universalist faith, the Rev. Mark Morrison Reed was ordained into the ministry in 1979. For 26 years, he and his wife, Donna, served as co-ministers--first in Rochester, New York, then in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Morrison-Reed's graduate thesis, Black Pioneers in a White Denomination, was published in 1984 and is still in print.

In the book In Between: Memoir of an Integration Baby, Mark gives voice to the unspoken story of those Afro-Americans who were among the first to bring racial diversity to their neighborhood, school, church or workplace; to the increasing number of partners in interracial relationships, and to those blessed with and still struggling to raise multiracial children in a polarized world.


January 6, 2013
Lenny Xavier
Three Cheers for the Devil
9:15 and 11:15 am
Fresh from the glow of Christmas and the promise of the New Year, we indulge in a lighthearted look at that most misunderstood child of God, the Devil. Is it just possible that we may find something positive to say about Satan? That this fallen angel upon whom we project so many of our own failings and prejudices, just may be more sinned against than sinning? Or is it just possible that we may have discovered the dark shadow of God? Join us on this first Sunday of the new year as we play the Devil's advocate with Lenny Xavier.
Our speaker, Lenny Xavier has been an NSUC member since 2001 and was a theology student at Fordham University. He has degrees in English and Management.

December 30, 2012
Youth Group Sunday
11:00 am

December 24, 2012
Rev. Gary James
Christmas Eve Services
Services at 5:00 pm and 8:00 pm

December 23, 2012
Rev. Gary James
Sundays in Advent
Services at 9:15 and 11:15

December 16, 2012
Rev. Gary James
Sundays in Advent
Services at 9:15 and 11:15


December 9, 2012
Rev. Gary James
Finding the Sacred in Christmas
Services at 9:15 and 11:15
We Unitarians can be a suspicious and skeptical lot when it comes to religious celebration and holy days.  Finding the sacred in this world of ours can be difficult for us.  We know what is highest and deepest in reality is not to be sought far off in other realms or in long agos, in far aways, in the heavens, or in distant ages to come.  We do not sit and wait for the coming Kingdom of God.  We ascribe with greater commitment to the doctrine of the incarnation than do the Christian churches.  It is in this world that the sacred is to be discerned by us.


December 2, 2012
Rev. Gary James
The Journey of the Heart
Services at 9:15 and 11:15
When one thinks of Advent the phrase "waiting patiently in expectation" comes to mind.  I have preached during advent on this spiritual sensibility many times during my 21 years of ministry at NSUC.  I usually go on to say something along these lines: "What we truly expect, what we ache with desire for, is what we will in the end receive.  The Christ expected, the Messiah, will come when he or she is truly expected, but when they are truly expected they will no longer need to come."
Well, this year my approach is different.  This year it is the Magi in the Christmas story who have captured my imagination. Having recently announced my retirement and my departure next year from the North Shore with its "comforts of princely living," the image of that ancient journey is what comes to mind.  No more patiently waiting around in expectation.  No longer content with the world as I have known it, restless and unsatisfied, Julie and I have become a seekers following a dream and a star, which in our case lies in the far West rather than the East.


November 25, 2012
How Religious Were Our Founding Fathers?
Guest Speaker Laura Emerson 
9:15 and 11:15 am
November is a time of year when political and seasonal events turn our thoughts to America's early history, so perhaps it is an opportune time to ask, "How religious were our founding fathers?"  How much religious animosity existed among various religious groups?  What decisions did our first four presidents make, on religious issues, that many UUs may agree with today, and that set these brilliant leaders apart, not only from European leaders but even from their own home states? I, for one, am immensely thankful this time of year for the enlightened choices and compromises they made, especially in light of regional religious laws that existed at the time.

About the speaker: Laura Emerson and her husband live in an off-grid, solar and wind powered  log cabin in Alaska. She was a religion and classics major at Duke U and gives frequent sermons at UU and other congregations around the country.  This is her third visit with us.

For more information, see:  http://alaskauu1.blogspot.com


November 18, 2012
Harvest Communion
Rev. Gary James
Services at 9:15 and 11:15

November 11, 2012
Standing On the Side of Love - With Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transgender - Against Hate and Fear
Rev. Gary James
Services at 9:15 and 11:15
Our children are taught the beauty of difference and given a faith that nurtures self respect, dignity and courage.  In other churches children are connected and give an identity based on sameness.  We nurture an affection for what is unique about every person.  Each of us “passes” in this world as “normal” by cutting off parts of ourselves.  The more restrictive the keyhole through which each of us must pass, the more each of us suffers.  I believe we are blessed to have gayness among us, especially Queers - those who are strange or odd from a conventional viewpoint - including lesbians, bisexuals and transgender.  Blessed be the beloved free religious community calling each and every one of us out of the closet in which we hide – the unique human being we are – to join hands with each other, all part of one loving family.
This sermon was purchased at the 2011 Heart and Hand Auction by Karen Topham

November 4, 2012
All Souls Day Sunday
Rev. Gary James
9:15 and 11:15 am
We have adopted in our congregation in recent years in the Fall season, honoring All Souls Sunday, a day on which we remember all those in the family of the church, as well as friends and loved ones, who died in the past year.

All Souls Sunday speaks to us of death and the transience of life, of the lives that have gone before us and of our own lives.  It reminds us that we may live our lives, but what our lives mean is not wholly ours to determine. Their meaning lies with those who come after us.  What is permanent is the pattern linking memory and hope from generation to generation and age to age.  Whether our dead have died in vain rests in our hands, as the meaning of our lives will some day rest in the hands of those who come after us.  In this sense, the living – you and I for the time being – are the caretakers of the souls of the dead.

All Souls Sunday reminds us that we are the ever-living dead, for the dead are ever-living in those to whom they have passed on their dreams and labors.  We have not only our lives to live, but theirs also.  If we do not fail them, the dead will live on.

Please join me in our All Souls Sunday

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.  Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.  And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy.  And you would accept the seasons in your heart, even as you would have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.  And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief. Kahlil Gibran


October 28, 2012
Services at 9:15 and 11:15
Rev. Gary James
March of the Goblins:  Learning to Play in the Dark Shadows of Our Earthen Cellar
Let us descend into the dark cellar with sharp toothed Jack-o-Lanterns and demonic masks.  There let us light a fire and dance with the shadowed spooks of our imaginations.  We might then begin to unpack the long bag of all the little monsters we have kept locked away.  Where do all the little monsters come from?  They are all those aspects of our lives and all those parts of ourselves that because we do not honor them, do not love them, do not embrace them, become hostile to us.  Our consolation is that their hostility exists only so long as they are kept in the Dark.  So, on Halloween we are reminded that our task is to call them into the Light , to welcome them, to treat them.  And it is the refusal to welcome them, to treat them that opens us up to their tricks, the frightening tricks of our unconscious thoughts and destructive behaviors that come when we deny them their reality.

October 21, 2012
Services at 9:15 and 11:15 am
Rev. Gary James
Sermon – Healing Fictions
So long as human beings change and make history, so long as children are born and old people die, there will be tales to explain why sorrow darkens the day and stars fill the night
We invent stories about the origin and conclusion of life because we are exiles in the middle of time.  The void surrounds us.  We live within a parenthesis surrounded by questions marks.  Our stories and myths don’t dispel ignorance, but they help us find our way, our place at the heart of the mystery.  In the end, as in the beginning, there will be a vast silence, broken by the sound of one person telling a story to another. Sam Keen

October 14, 2012
Services at 9:15 and 11:15 am
Reverend Gary James
To Comfort the Afflicted and To Afflict the Comfortable
How can a pre-dominantly upper middle class religion escape its self-interest and be an advocate for the underclass?  Can a religious movement consisting largely of people who have “succeeded” in the American economic system be expected to give radical critique of that system, much less provide impetus for its radical reform?  I will examine the Achilles heel in the Unitarian universalist pantheon of social values, Economic Justice.

October 7, 2012
Services at 9:15 and 11:15 am
Guest Speaker Luis Urrea
No writer understands the border culture between Mexico and the United States more intimately than Luis Alberto Urrea.His own life is the stuff of great novels. Son of a Mexican father and Anglo mother, Urrea grew up first in Tijuana and then just across the border in San Diego. Over the years he has produced a series of acclaimed novels, including The Hummingbird's Daughter, The Devil's Highway,and his latest, Queen of America - each a rich and revealing account of the people of the borderlands that join and separate our two nations.

September 30, 2012
Services at 9:15 and 11:15 am
Reverend Gary James
Saved By Laughter
In tragedy we view life and its many contradictions as a curse and a problem to be transcended.  In comedy we laugh at the absurdities of life.  I am  closer to comedy and comic wisdom than I am to tragedy and its tragic vision.  Who wants to be Job on the ash heap, or King Lear on the heath, or Captain Ahab on the quarter deck harboring a violent distaste for the created order  and profound distrust for creation.  Give me the clown over the tragic hero, reminding me of how inescapably human we all are.  Teaching us to laugh at ourselves, at our weaknesses and our many foolish pretensions.  The fool, the clown, and the comedianlead uson that path of wisdom journeying through this familiar world of the earth which is our home,  leading us to joy and laughter.

September 23, 2012
High Holy Day Sunday-Yom Kippur-The Day of At-one-ment,
Reverend Gary James, with special music
Services at 9:15 and 11:15 am
We recognize that our Unitarian Universalist roots go back over two thousand years and begin in ancient Judaism.  This holy day contains a deep psychological wisdom, reminding us of what we have done and who we have become in our relation to others, particularly in regard to the last year.  It is a call to repentance and renewal of our covenant – the promises we make to one another.  Our understanding that we have sinned is a summons to life and salvation … wholeness … at-one-ment.  I believe the central purpose of the religious community is the salvation of sinners, that is to say, you and me.  We come here, and especially on this High Holy Day, to be reminded of all the ways in which we need healing, in which we are invited to TURN and begin the healing work, beginning first and foremost with ourselves.  
The holiness of this congregation is in the wholeness which we may  find here, the contemplation which we may experience in recognizing our place within a wider community of spirit, knowing not merely that we are not alone, not merely that we stand in need of others, but that others stand in need of us, that we are a part of  their wholeness as they are part of ours.

September 16, 2012
Let Inward Love Guide Every Deed
Reverend Gary James
9:15 and 11:15
I believe love is an instinct planted in us by God – the Spirit of Life.  This instinct acts to reconcile all who are separated.  This love is with us from the first breath and stays until the last breath is drawn.  It is our separateness that is the prison and delusion from which we are called to awaken.  God is love and there is a golden door that opens only with the key of love and compassion.  Those who acknowledge the rule of love in their hearts will discover the keys with which to open the door to the only true Heaven-On-Earth.  The Beloved Community is present whenever we love, whenever we express our compassion for another person.    Our task, writes Albert Einstein, must be to free ourselves from our prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

September 9, 2012
Rev. Gary James
10:00 am
Welcoming Sunday and Church Picnic

September 2, 2012
Marcia Bernstein, Holly Kerr, Karen Kortsch and Ray Perry
10:00 am
The UUA and Immigration
This year’s UUA General Assembly, in Phoenix, will be attended by delegates from UU congregations throughout the US. It will devote a significant portion of time to social justice issues, particularly immigration.  Four who will attend as delegates from our church—Holly Kerr, Marcia Bernstein, Karen Kortsch, and Ray Perry-- will speak about their experience. To read more about services held in the past at North Shore Unitarian Church, take a look at our sermon archives

August 26, 2012
Polly Hansen
10:00 am
Our Sacred Connectedness
Even in the midst of loneliness and despair, we can find comfort, and yes, even wholeness in our sacred connectedness, to ourselves and to each other. The trick is in finding it, seeing it, and being it, especially when we're feeling isolated. Polly Hansen is a professional flutist and writer/producer for the nationally syndicated radio program, Radio Health Journal, heard on over 400 stations across the country, including several here in Chicago. She and her husband Bill have been members of NSUC for 21 years. They have two children Ian and Kelsey ages 22 and 20.

August 19, 2012
Laura Barrows
10:00 am
Grieving our parents: Loss and transformation
Conventional wisdom states that grieving older parents is relatively uncomplicated because it is part of the natural order and/or the parent is no longer suffering. Surviving adult children are often surprised at the intensity of feelings and the life-altering aftereffects that can follow parental death. With an aging baby boomer population, this is an issue that is affecting more adults.

After losing both my parents within five months of one another, I became very interested in the topic both personally and professionally.  In the course of working through my own grief, work with grieving clients, and research my understanding of the process has grown tremendously, including seeing how grief can be a catalyst for transformation. Areas I will be highlighting are:

  • understanding the grieving process and what types of issues may come up
  • supporting ourselves and others through this experience
  • finding meaning in grief and how we heal

Laura is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in private practice with offices in Chicago and Park Ridge. She specializes in helping adults with depression, anxiety, relationship issues, grief, divorce, life transitions, and anger and works to help clients make meaningful changes in their lives. Laura received her B.A. from The University of Dayton and her Psy.D. from The Illinois School of Professional Psychology.  Laura has worked in a variety of settings, including both inpatient and outpatient programs, and as a Clinical Supervisor providing training and supervision in psychotherapy to graduate students.  She has received extensive training in the areas of mind-body work; emotions, stress, and disease; trauma; personality disorders; crisis intervention; and addictions.  Laura has presented on the topics of mood and food; exercise and mood management; and grieving the loss of parents.


August 12, 2012
Marguerite McClelland
10:00 am
Doomsday, or what?
2012 is definitely an unsettling brew of events.  Many theories are put forward on what this all means, from the end of the world on Dec. 21 to business will continue as usual.  Are you building your underground bunker, or shrugging your shoulders, or just a little bit nervous? Marguerite McClelland will share her explorations on the subject.

Marguerite serves on the Worship Arts Committee and writes a column for NSUC’s Environmental Task Force.


August 5, 2012
Rev. Pam Rumancik
10:00 am
Grace in a Graceless Age
Grace – what does it mean to us today? Grace is rather an old fashioned term. People can be graceful – or grace-filled. We can be gracious or graceless. It feels like a term from another era; grace is no longer valued as it once was – just look at Congress!

But as religious people does grace have meaning for us today? How can we live lives ‘full of grace?’ Would it make any difference?  Join Pam Rumancik she explores the nuances of Grace in a Graceless Age.

Pam Rumancik  graduated in 2011 from Meadville Lombard Theological School and is a newly ordained minister. She's just finishing serving a Chaplain Residency at Elmhurst Memorial Hospital and lives in Chicago with her partner, her youngest daughter and two cats. Pam is a poet, a spiritual director  and a seeker looking for moments of grace.


July 29, 2012
Lenny Xavier
10:00 am
The Atheist and the Theist: Celebrating a Symbiotic Relationship
NSUC member Lenny Xavier has been debating the “God issue” for a number of years. Come hear how this long debate between friends has reshaped, reinforced, and enriched his views on reality and ultimate things. Lenny Xavier, an NSUC member since 2001, has degrees in English and Management, and was a theology student at Fordham University. 

July 22, 2012
Mui Baltrunas
10:00 am
What did the Buddha really promise?
The Buddha did not promise that we would be any happier in our lives if we practice what he taught. He only promised that we would understand life more fully. Sensei Mui will address the basics of Buddhism and how they are used in practice leading to understanding. This practice is one involving both wisdom and compassion. Sometimes the practice is pure cognitive self-therapy.

 

Acharya Mui Ananda Baltrunas (also called Sensei Mui) took formal refuge and bhikkhu ordination as a Theravada monk in Thailand in the Dhammayuttika Tradition, in 1971. He remained in Thailand until 1975 when he entered the Vidyodaya University of Sri Lanka receiving a doctorate in Buddhist Studies (specialty in Abhidhamma) in 1976. He returned to the United States in thereafter. He spent two years studying Pure Land Buddhism and took ordination as a Dharma Teacher. He also studied Soto Zen for two years and underwent unsai tokudo as a Zen priest. His Holiness the Dalai Lama ordained him as an Acharya (Teacher). Later he was ordained as a Tendai priest. He is the Spiritual and Executive Director of the Hongaku Jodo Compassionate Lotus Tendai Tradition and the Director of Buddhist Education for the Hongaku Institute of Buddhist Studies. He has been the author of a dozen courses including, Pali Canon Studies, Abhidhamma Studies Taming the Monkey, and The Way of the Mind.


July 15, 2012
John Burrell
10:00 am
What is the Meaning of Life?
"In the Movie “About Schmidt” (played by Jack Nicholson), Schmidt’s wife dies. Afterwards Schmidt is alone in his house when he thinks “When I die and everyone I know dies, who will know I’ve lived?”This question “who will know I’ve lived?” really bothered me. It goes to the heart of why are we here, and what does life mean? Like many I always accepted that these questions must be confronted to live a fulfilled life."

John Burrell, his wife Cindy and sons Matt and Mark joined NSUC in 1991. John has been treasurer of the NSUC FoodBank almost as long and did a stint as the Social Action Chair. For several years John ran the Rummage Sale Clean Up operation. John remains with the FoodBank and at the same time is NSUC Council Vice Chair. John continues to work full time selling IT Infrastructures to large businesses and still does bike, swim, running and triathlon races. He also plans to work political campaigns this summer and fall.

Click to download a pdf version of the sermon and readings from July 15, 2012


July 8, 2012
Rev. Karen Hutt
10:00 am
What is the Shape of Your Theology?
As Unitarian Universalists we are charged with the constructive task of continuously envisioning and evolving our theologies. How has your personal theology developed? How have you integrated your personal stories and challenges to create a theology or philosophy that serves your heart and soul? We will ask these questions in light of the work of theologians Gordon Kaufman and Anthony Pinn.
The Rev. Karen Hutt is a Community Minister at First Unitarian Church in Chicago. She is a Clinical Pastoral Education Supervisory for Advocate Health Care System at South Suburban Hospital. She attended Meadville Lombard Theological School and serves as Executive Director of Companions Journeying Together, a prison ministry that serves seven facilities in Illinois.

July 1, 2012
Aidan McCormack
10:00 am
Gather the Spirit
We, as Unitarian Universalists, are a people dedicated to doing good works in the world. Unitarian Universalism is known as a faith interested in social justice. But at the heart of every faith community is the need for something that connects us and makes our hearts beat for a world that not only needs our hands but our hearts and our spirits. Join frequent guest preacher Aidan McCormack as he explores the spiritual and mystical aspects of what it means to be Unitarian Universalist.
Aidan McCormack is always happy to be preaching from the Rock at NSUC. Since his stint as Director of Youth Ministry, Aidan has been taking a break from ministry and enjoying the 9-5 life. Aidan is the winner of the Meadville Lombard 2011 Charles F Billings Preaching prize. He is a writer, a singer, a poet, an advocate for LGBTQ rights, and a lover of sloths (the animal, not the deadly sin). He lives happily in the city with his orange kitten, Finch.

June 24, 2012
Deb Rostorfer
10:00 am
Becoming More Human
What do human rights, gay pride, and a Chinese poet have in common? Come find out as we explore the universal themes of hope, redemption, and joy.   Deb Rostorfer was born in a suburb of Detroit, Michigan. In the summer of 2010 she moved to Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood to attend Meadville Lombard Theological School. She may be remembered for this – historically speaking – since she represents the last student to have relocated to Chicago to attend Meadville Lombard. Deb divides her time between school and helping out at many neighborhood outreach programs.

June 17, 2012
Randy Moffat
10:00 am
A Day in a Deployment – A morality play in four acts

One of the roles that the men's movement identifies with men is that of Warrior. As a follow-on to Memorial day and as a tribute to father's on father's day an utterly unique service will be presented which allows you to understand what it means to be a father and a warrior by reliving a single day based on actual events during a deployment by a UU US Soldier. You will laugh, you will cry and you will leave with a deeper understanding of the role that is acted out every single day as the drama of the play and of the life unfolds in directions you might never have imagined if you have never been there. This play will involve the youth of the church and the congregation. Come worship with us...be a part of the experience...and for heaven's sake have fun.

June 10, 2012
Rev. Gary James
10:00 am
The Religion of Happiness

The religion of happiness is represented in the iconic image of the round golden smiley-faced god who rebukes everyone who has not yet attained the blessed state of perpetual euphoria.  We are now burdened with the duty to be happy. But how did we become unhappy about not being happy?  Is happiness truly achieved by our own efforts?  Is all that we sacrifice to the modern cult of happiness so as to achieve earthly paradise, time, fortunes, health and peace of mind, worthy of our efforts?  We are concerned about our own happiness in the way people in the past were concerned about the salvation of their souls.  Is the religion we now teach our children - To Be Happy - because we no longer have children in order to transmit to them values or a spiritual heritage, but rather to increase the number of fully realized individuals on Earth?  Is the religion of happiness worthy of our devotions?

June 3, 2012
 Rev. Gary James
10:00 am
Community Means Strength To Do the Work That Needs To Be Done
“Unitarian Universalists sometimes spend so much time and energy worrying about and praising the autonomy of the individual that we forget that individuals standing alone have about as much strength as a bunch of stones lying around on the ground.  It is only when a mason picks up these stones and builds a wall that they become powerful.  And that is how it is with communities.  Alone, we’re not much; together we have power.” Ken Collier

In the free church our individual freedom has replaced the constraints of outgrown traditions and outside authorities with the chosen constraints of individual principle and democratic practices in a thoughtful and experimental religious community.  Our individually chosen beliefs and chosen paths are changed and corrected in their encounter with the realities of the world and the wisdom of other people.  In the crucible of the free religious community we correct our errors, outgrow our ignorance, and learn to be responsible for ourselves while caring for one another.  We do not offer an easy - ONE WAY – path and not everyone will welcome the journey, but it is our way in religion.  In this spirit our Sunday morning worship service and sermon will be a celebration of our democratic faith and our religion of democracy.  The worship service will be immediately followed by our annual congregational meeting in which we will elect new officers and democratically determine the important decisions of the church.  In doing so we affirm our unity forged from our diversity.

May 27, 2012
Chuck Menges
10:00 am
Same Ol' Boots
This commemorative service will honor veterans of all wars who have either returned from war or who are presently serving  as well as those who sacrificed their lives in a soldier’s noble cause. Veterans from the Capt. James Lovell Federal Health Care Center will bring their heartfelt music and poetry to you. If you are a veteran, this special service will honor you.  If you know a veteran who you can bring to this service, you are encouraged to do so as we will honor them.  If you wish to honor a serving or fallen serviceman or servicewoman, this is a time and place to honor them.  You are all encouraged to attend with your children for this special service. Just your presence is enough to give them the support which is so necessary at this time in our history.

May 20, 2012
Rev. Gary James
9:15 and 11:15 am
Affirmation Sunday
The men's and women's affirmation ceremonies complete the 8th grade year of Affirmation. These rituals welcome our youth into adulthood and into the church community. We hope that you will choose to participate in  these ceremonies! They are an important part of our Affirmation celebration and allow us to extend a welcoming hand to our young people as they enter adolescence.

During both Sunday services, 8th grade affirmants will share their belief statements with the congregation. Over the year, affirmants have worked with mentors to develop their personal belief statements and explore their spiritual beliefs.


May 13, 2012
Rev. Gary James
9:15 and 11:15 am
Mother's Day Sunday
Today is a time to reflect and celebrate mothers.

May 6, 2012
Rev. Gary James
9:15 am and 11:15 am
Strap Those Wings On and Learn to Fly
Alternative Music Sundays celebrate modern music and instruments. Today we recognized new members, seniors who graduated from high school this year, and our dedicated and talented religious education teachers.

April 29, 2012
Marguerite McClelland
10:00am
Art Fair Sunday
On Art Fair Sunday, NSUC traditionally holds only 1 service at 10 am. This service will be brief, as all who attend are eager to see the beautiful artwork in our building.

April 22, 2012
Eric Hansen
9:15 and 11:15 am
Our Ferocious Love of Life vs. Catastrophic Climate Change
Humans, both as individuals and societies, have confronted towering crises before. What lessons and hope can we draw from those experiences? How do humans perceive that a crisis is at hand – and an immediate change in course is wise? Eric Hansen is an award-winning conservation essayist and public radio commentator, lifelong Unitarian, and frequent pulpit guest.

April 15, 2012
9:15 and 11:15 am
Music Sunday

The NSUC Choir and guests will present the annual Music Sunday on April 15 at the 9:15 and 11:15 services. Director Wayland Rogers will conduct selections ranging from Russian Liturgical music by Rachmaninoff to spirituals and gospel, opera, and an Irish hymn. You will hear the Chicago-land premiere of Wayland’s “The Golden Rule,” written in an Afro-Cuban style. Guest instrumentalists from our church will also be featured: Hannah Andersen (our new Junior Choir director) on Harp, Andrew Carpenter on Saxophone, Polly Hansen on Flute, John Diaz on Percussion and Gregg Rodriguez on Bass. The Sunday offering benefits the NSUC Music Program.

April 8, 2012
Rev. Gary James
9:15 and 11:15 am
Easter Sunday
: Full Intergenerational Service
The service will be appropriate for all ages and will include Easter Communion.   The Easter Communion is in celebration of Spring, recognizing that out of death comes life, out of Winter comes Spring.  Our Easter Communion service is also in memory of a life infused with a trust in the ultimate triumph of love over hate and compassion over greed.  The sharing of wine [grape juice] and unleavened bread is in the healing and redemptive spirit that Jesus made present through his life and death.

April 1, 2012
Rev. Gary James
9:15 and 11:15 am
Palm Sunday & Child Dedication
Beginning the Journey to Jerusalem
Jesus didn’t want to start a religion about Jesus.  He was not looking for a fan club.  Jesus was issuing a summons to follow and learn what the heart had to teach.  He was calling us to begin a journey of simply putting one foot in front of the other and begin moving toward the  world’s pain and hunger, buoyed by a creative and transforming spirit with whom we form a partnership in revisioning and changing the course of human history.   We are the architects of the Beloved Community, disciples of the Free Church and the Church Universal, walking after Jesus, who is but the first of many prophets who come from simple folks to free us from bondage, to restore our minds to wisdom, and make known the holy life, the way that leads through love and justice to the peace crowned days.


March 25, 2012
Rev. Gary James
9:15 and 11:15 am
To Inhabit a Place

To inhabit a place - one’s home, one’s church – according to the Oxford English Dictionary, means literally to have made it a habit, to have made it the custom and ordinary practice of our lives.  To truly live somewhere is to have learned how to wear a place like a familiar garment, like the garments of sanctity that nuns once wore.  The word habit, in its now dim original form meant, to own. We own places not because we possess the deeds to them, but because they have entered our lives.  What is strange to us – unfamiliar – can never become home.  To inhabit a place is to marry oneself to creation by knowing and cherishing a particular place, just as we join ourselves to the human family by marrying a particular man or woman. Wherever you are is home and the earth is paradise.  Wherever you set your feet is holy land . . .  You don’t have to live off it like a parasite.  You live in it, and it in you, or you don’t survive.  And that is the only worship of God there is.

March 18, 2012
Rev. Gary James
9:15 and 11:15 am
The Promise of Fidelity

Sermons advocating monogamy are usually delivered by those who are disturbed by changing patterns of sexual behavior and eager to call the world to the standards of the past.  I came of age during the sexual revolution and embraced its liberating message.  I have moved through it and beyond.  I discovered the importance of sexual fidelity.  Intimacy and commitment enrich our lives.  The powerful physical tempest that is sexual desire is connected to  heart and soul.  When sexuality is reduced to casual encounters it will injure the capacity for ultimate sexual happiness that can exist only within the full development of true intimacy.  Some marriages collapse and divorce can be a blessing, but any marriage, be it the 1st 2nd or 3rd is grounded in an intimacy that arises as fidelity which is established when a promise is kept.  Fidelity and devotion is also what sustains lasting generous caring friendships.  All lasting relationships are built on a commitment, a faithfulness that makes intimacy possible.  It is through our faithfulness to one another that we create an abiding love and a growing intimacy for which we have been searching all our lives.

March 11, 2012
Guest, Rev. Karen Hutt
9:15 and 11:15 am
All That My Yearning Spirit Craves
Rev. Hutt will explore this history, contributions and challenges  of  African American women who were and are Unitarian Universalists.

March 4, 2012
Rev. Gary James
9:15 and 11:15 am
In Praise of Radicals, Mavericks, Gadflies, Rebels and Dissidents
The courage and capacity to take a stand is a commitment to living and thinking, right now, in a society not as it is but as it might be.  To many people today succumb to the lazy consensus of going-along-to-get-along, preferring to seek approval and security rather than passionate disagreement with the powers that be.  The practice of critical thinking is in decline and with it goes personal integrity, informed discussion, true progress and democracy itself. We make progress by conflict and in mental life by argument and disputation.   Where people are invited to speak truthfully, which is the fundamental principle of the Free Church, there must be confrontation and opposition.  Our experiences do not have to be harmonized or spiritualized.  Balance, integration and wholeness are oftentimes ways in which we abandon the creative tension that would stretch our heart and expand our imagination.   

February 26, 2012
Guest Speaker Aidan McCormack 
Universalism: A New Kind of Superhero
9:15 and 11:15 am
Able to leap tall troubles in a single bound?
Faster than a speeding doubt?
More powerful than hellfire and damnation?
Can Universalism save the world?
It's a superhero that works through us!

February 19, 2012
Rev. Gary James
Building the Free Church – New Member Recognition
9:15 and 11:15 am
In biblical scripture it is written that God created the natural universe and then created man and woman in the image of God.  The implication is that we – incredibly free and powerful - are called on to create the social universe in such a way that it too is ordered and rule-governed as are the planets and the stars.  This is our great challenge:  to build a free religious community, a place of integrated diversity where in honest difference we order our lives together.  This Sunday we welcome into membership who have chosen to join us in our common quest.  

February 12, 2012
Rev. Gary James
Come Sing a Song With Me - Growing the Beloved Community with Music
9:15 and 11:15 am
Full Intergenerational Child Friendly Worship Service – No Religious Education
We have the joy of welcoming the 30 member Children’s Choir of the Maywood Fine Arts Association, co-directed by Katie Calcamuggio [NSUC quartet]  and Becky Wilson. Our NSUC Junior Choir will also perform.  The Maywood choir will be joined by our children’s choir in one song  and the NSUC adult choir for another.  Singing together is a wonderful way to make new friends – reaching across boundaries with the natural grace and spirit of a child.   Come as a family or individually.  Come one-and-all and sing a more joyful world alive! 

February 5, 2012
Rev. Gary James
Super Bowl Sunday -Team NSUC 
9:15 and 11:15 am
Sports fans have some important things to teach us.  On Super Bowl Sunday and the beginning of our Canvass Kick-Off we are invited to become faithful fans and enthusiastically identify with our favorite team:  NSUC.  1) Unitarian Universalists are not fanatics.  But like true sports fans we are loyal!  We don’t betray our team.   We are its faithful supporters.  Once you become a true fan of a certain team, the bond is for life - if you are a true fan.  2) Another truth about the sport fan we could emulate is their reputation for investing money in support of their team – think college bowl game tickets, travel expenses, hotel accommodations.  Or maybe if the Bears or Packers were to be conference winners, Super Bowl tickets.  Fans are spenders.  They don’t withhold!  3) Sports fans are tireless.  They don’t rest!  They are emotionally attached to their team and the goal of being a contender season after season.  4)  Sports fans are passionate.  They don’t give up!  They never stop believing in their team no matter what the circumstances.  Become a true and faithful NSUC fan. Come celebrate our  Beloved Community and the big canvass kick-off.

January 29, 2012
Guest Speaker Jim Parrish
9:15 and 11:15 am
Jim Parrish  gave a sermon on the development of the Principles through our U and U and UU history, liberating our spirits from dogmas and creeds, hence building the building the basis for our beloved community.

January 22, 2012
Guest Speaker Aidan McCormack
The Spirit and Social Change
9:15 and 11:15 am
During this month we rightly turn to how to make a difference in our nation and our world when it comes to issues of racial equality and oppression. We hear a lot about how to act outwardly, but what about inwardly? How to we prepare our inward selves to act justly in the world? And what might this look like as Unitarian Universalists?

January 15, 2012
Guest Speaker Pam  Rumancik 
Guest Singer Calesta Day
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Sunday
Updating the Dream
9:15 and 11:15 am
Pam Rumancik is a recent graduate of Meadville Lombard Theological School and has recently received prelimary fellowship from the MFC in December. She is working this year at Elmhurst Memorial HealthCare serving a chaplain residency. 

The service will feature an abundance of music from the African-American tradition including spirituals and gospel songs performed by the NSUC Choir, directed by Wayland Rogers and the guest singer, Calesta Day.

Calesta A. Day, from Atlanta, Georgia, made her University of Kentucky Opera Theatre debut in February 2011 as Lily Holmes in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess.  She has also appeared as Fiordiligi in Mozart's Cosí Fan Tutte with Miami University Opera.  In Cincinnati Opera’s premier performance of Margaret Garner, she was seen as a Slave Chorister.  Her operatic roles also include Countess Almaviva in The Marriage of Figaro with Miami University and Bowling Green State University Opera, Third Spirit in Cendrillon with Bowling Green State University Opera and she premiered the role of Alice in The Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn with Sinclair Community College Theatre.

Ms. Day currently serves as Music director and church pianist at East Maple Street Christian Church in Nicholasville, Kentucky.  Ms. Day holds an Associate of Arts in Voice Performance from Sinclair Community College, Bachelor of Music degree in Voice Performance from Bowling Green State University, Master of Arts degree in Education with a Music Concentration from the University of Dayton, and the Master of Music degree in Voice Performance from Miami University.   She is currently a doctoral candidate in Voice Performance at the University of Kentucky under the supervision of Dr. Everett McCorvey. Calesta's doctoral project is "Exploring The Role Of African American Opera Singers In The Establishment Of The Spiritual As A Musicial Art Form From 1900 To 1960".

January 8, 2012
Guest Speaker Ashley Horan
I Call That Church Free
9:15 and 11:15 am
When we talk about Unitarian Universalism, we often speak of ourselves as a 'free church'--one that has no creeds or hierarchy.  Such a church may not impose restrictions on individual freedoms, but can it do the work of freeing people in mind, body and spirit? Ashley Horan will graduate from Meadville Lombard Theological School this spring, and was recently granted Preliminary Fellowship by the Ministerial Fellowship Committee in Boston.  She served as the Intern Minister in Davis, CA, last year.  Ashley lives in Hyde Park with her partner, Rev. Karen Hutt; their very feisty eleven-year-old, Lisa; and two terribly misbehaved cats.

January 1, 2012
Guest Speaker Deborah Rostorfer
Evolutionary Resolutions
11:15 am only

December 18, 2011            
Rev. Gary James
Unto Us a Child Is Born   [Child Dedication]
9:15 and 11:15 am
In Genesis, the Creator proclaims, Let us make humanity in our image, after our likeness: so God created them in the divine image; male and female God created them.
Inthe birth of each new life, the ancient cry of hope and joy is here again. For unto us a child is born. Unto us a son or daughter is given and the future of the world shall be on their shoulders . . .   Their name shall be called wonderful . . .  “Yet if nothing else, each time a child is born there is a possibility of reprieve.  Each new child is a new being, a potential prophet, a new spiritual prince (or princess), a new spark of light precipitated into the darkness.” [R.D. Laing]

December 11, 2011
Rev. Gary James
Looking For Love in the Cold and the Darkness       
9:15 and 11:15 am               
At Christmas the summons to love calls us.  Love is the foundation of that which is highest in civilization.  The human community is realized in its capacity to love.  Christmas reminds us of a love that reaches beyond our small circle of family.  We must have a love that stretches us, a love beyond sweetness and tenderness.  The kind of love the Christmas story points to would require of us that we serve others through justice, courage and humility.  We Unitarian Universalists try so hard to think and talk our way to wholeness.  We put our religious eggs in the basket of consciousness and end up knowing a great deal about love and yet rarely do we know love in its demanding depth and commanding integrity.  


December 4, 2011
Rev. Gary James
Waiting Patiently in Expectation
9:15 and 11:15 am
Waiting patiently in expectation is the foundation of spiritual life,” said the French Christian mystic, Simone Weil.  Waiting, alert to the world, expecting and looking out to what wants to address us is what the spiritual life is all about.  To use a more traditional language, Waiting patiently in expectation - is to pray and meditate without ceasing.  It is when we stay alert to grace and love and mystery and holiness that we are able survive the turmoil and contentiousness of the world.  By learning to wait with patient expectation we gain the capacity to stand with courage in the midst of that which causes fear.  This waiting attitude allows us to be a people of faith and hope and love in an often suffering and chaotic world.      O spirit of Advent and Christmas past, prepare in us an expectant heart. . . .

November 27, 2011
Guest Speaker: Debra Rostorfer
Thanksgiving: Gratitude in Action
9:15 and 11:15 am
How do we show our thankfulness? Is gratitude found in our actions as well as our words? If so, what does it look like? These questions and more will be explored by Deb Rostorfer student minister at Olympia Brown UU Church in Racine, WI.  

November 20, 2011
Rev. Gary James
Harvest Communion
9:15 and 11:15 am

November 13, 2011
Rev. Gary James
The Sweetness of Ripening
9:15 and 11:15 am
There is a further journey that begins in the second half of one’s life.  We are familiar with the first journey, the goal of which is establishing one’s identity, seeking security and engaging in a life project, such as raising a family and establishing a career.  But these goals are the warming up act and the starting gate for the next journey.  They are the raft and not the shore.  Our soul’s discovery is utterly crucial, momentous, and of pressing importance.  The discovery is usually realized by way of our falling apart causing the many achievements of the first half of life to appear wanting.  The second journey is begun with one’s inner blueprint in hand, which is a good description of our soul,  and returning it humbly to the world  and to God.  This is the fulfillment of our life’s purpose.  We are here to give back fully and freely what was first given to us – but now writ personally – by us!   This second journey is not for the spiritually lazy who are inclined to stay on the same old path, even when its going nowhere. 

November 6, 2011
Rev. Gary James
Prophets of the Strangeness of God
9:15 and 11:15 am
Can we know the nature of God?  There are so many competing claims to religious certainty or fundamentalism, including some forms of atheism and humanism.  In contrast to this certainty there is the acceptance of radical uncertainty that is  religious liberalism.  Fundamentalism tends toward the domestication of God.  It claims that the nature and will of God are not only knowable but known.  The alternative, religious liberalism, is the acceptance of the uncertainty and living with the questions.  The strangeness of God is a threatening image, challenging our limited conception of life, threatening conventional piety with its narrow, domesticated God, as well as the attempts to dismiss or evade the question of the reality of the divine altogether.   I like to think of God as a great iconoclast, continually smashing every concept we construct to capture ultimate reality.  I think in many respects we Unitarian Universalists  are prophets of the strangeness of God.

Sunday October 30, 2011
Rev. Gary James
March of the Goblins: Facing Evil
9:15 and 11:15 am
The famous psychologist C. G. Jung wrote:The sad truth is that man’s real life consists of a complex of inexorable opposites – day and night, birth and death, happiness and misery, good and evil.  We are not even sure that one will prevail against the other, that good will overcome evil, or joy defeat pain.  Life is a battleground.  It always has been, and always will be; and if it were not so, existence would come to an end.

The 17th century English Unitarian and poet, John Milton, author of Paradise Lost wrote this thoughtful epigram regarding evil: It was from out of the rind of one apple tasted, that the knowledge of good and evil, as two twins cleaving together, leaped forth into the world.  And perhaps this is that doom which Adam fell into of knowing good and evil:  that is to say, of knowing good by evil.  And therefore the state of man now is;  what wisdom can there be to choose, what continence to forbear, without the knowledge of evil?

The Book of Genesis, the creation story for Judaism and Christianity teaches us that if we are to know goodness and do good, we must first become conscious of evil.  It is only by understanding evil, including the evil within ourselves, that we can prevent its destructive manifestations.

 

 

My friend and colleague, Earl Holt is critical of Unitarian Universalism. Liberal theology, if it can be said to have an overriding weakness, tends toward a sometimes unrealistic optimism; hope is its central virtue.  But essential as hope is, it must be grounded in something deeper.  A potent religion must address the darkness, inner and outer.  The darkness is real.

 

 

The famous British radical psychologist, R. D. Laing, offers this wise insight: The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice.  And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice there is little we can do to change until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds.

October 23, 2011
Rev. Gary James
Why Am I Alive?
9:15 and 11:15 am
There are some who argue we are nothing more than genes and environment.  But I have known since childhood that I am more than what science alone can reveal.  We are all more than the physical reality that we presently perceive.  The meaning of our lives is invisible, however this does not mean it is not real or does not exist.  The visible itself has an invisible inner structure and the in-visible is the secret counterpart to the visible.  In the final analysis, we count for something only because of the essential we embody, and if we do not embody that, life is wasted.  How do we recover a sense of personal calling and a feeling of destiny.  What is your answer to the question:  Why am I alive?

October 16, 2011
Bill Schulz President of UUSC
The 8th Deadly Sin  
9:15 and 11:15 am 
How many of the seven deadly sins can you name?  How many have you not committed?  Bill Schulz, President of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC), will offer an eighth-one he contends is the worst of them all and one of which we all have been guilty at one time or another.  But hosannah!  He'll also describe how UUSC is working to vanquish this preeminent sin and, in the process, save your souls. Dr. William Schulz,has been in our pulpit several times in the past and has always inspired us to more fully live our UU values. After Bill Schulz's 11:15 service on Oct. 16, there will be a workshop "Human Rights and the UUSC Difference."  This will give everyone an opportunity to learn more about human rights in the world and how the UUSC approach is so valuable and useful. It will explain all the new programs the UUSC is undertaking- and what makes the UUSC unique and successful.  Do plan to attend.  Sandwiches will be available for purchase.  

October 9, 2011
Rev. Gary James
High Holy Day Sunday 
9:15 and 11:15 am
Come to High Holy Day Sunday, our Unitarian Universalist Day of At-one-ment. We recognize that our Unitarian Universalist roots go back over two thousand years and begin in ancient Judaism and so we celebrate  High Holy Day Sunday in the tradition of Yom Kippur.  This very special service drawing on the liturgy of the Day of Atonement will be lead by Reverend Gary James. Wayland Rogers will lead the choir and soloists in music specific to the holiday.  Many of the members of our congregation and their extended families consider this service to be the most beautiful and moving of all of our worship services in the church year.

October 3,  2011
Rev. Gary James
Annual Association Sunday: Celebrating Excellence in Ministries
9:15 and 11:15 am
This year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Unitarian Universalist Association.  As we begin the next 50 years of our Association, the Unitarian Universalist Association is joining with our professional organizations and congregations to raise funds for outstanding continuing education and professional development for all of our religious professionals.  The UUA will partner with the Unitarian Universalist Minister’s Association [UUMA], the Unitarian Universalist Musicians Network [UUMA], the Liberal Religious Educators Association [LAREDA], and other professional organizations to celebrate Association Sunday on October 3, 2011. Proceeds from this service will be distributed as grants to support scholarships, continuing education, an assessment for our ministries and other projects that help religious professionals get the ongoing training they need to support thriving ministries. Thank you for growing our faith in one another and our way in religion.  We are better together!

September 25, 2011
Rev. Gary James
Building the Free Church – To Liberate the Spirit – To Create the Beloved Community
9:15 and 11:15am
Unitarian Universalism is much more than a radical commitment to a personal search  for truth and meaning. We are not an individualistic religion, but rather a communal spiritual journey.  The growth of our own souls is not the work we do individually, but as a community.  Our independent wills are intended to serve the interdependent web.

It was American philosopher, Josiah Royce (1855-1916)who first used the term beloved community to refer to the aim of organized religion on earth. If the creation of the beloved community is our goal, then our task is to invent and apply those arts which shall win all over to unity, overcoming our separateness by the gracious love, not of mere individuality but of communities – the Spirit of Love incarnate in human fellowship. The core of our faith and the purpose of our lives is the Beloved Community, a community in which individuals do not seek private and selfish security for their souls, but join in a new adventure, a spontaneous fellowship of dedicated men and women seeking a new world.

September 18, 2011
Rev. Gary James
Finding a Wisdom for Dispelling the Plague of Anger that Consumes Us and Our World
9:15 and 11:15 am
Anger plagues all of us on a personal, national, and international level.  Yet there are people who have faced circumstances far worse than those many of us have faced and do not succumb to anger, or rage, or seek revenge.  How do they do it?  All of us can learn to live with greater tolerance, love and forgiveness.  Learning to handle our anger is one of the great challenges in living an emotionally intelligent life.  If you carry grudges, and criticize people .  Have trouble sleeping?  Fly into fits of rage.  This sermon is for you.  We will study a Buddhist approach to bringing harmony to yourself and your relationships.

September 11, 2011
Rev. Gary James
Welcoming Sunday - Let It Be a Dance (Intergenerational)
9:15 and 11:15 am
In music, song and liturgical dance we will celebrate our gathering together as a sacred community for the beginning of a new church year. 
We clasp the hands of those that go before us, and the hands of those who come after us.  We enter the little circle of each other’s arms and the larger circle of lovers, whose hands are joined in a dance.  And the larger circle of all creatures, passing in and out of life, who move also in a dance, to a music so subtle and vast that no ear hears it except in fragments.  So writes Kentucky poet, Wendell Berry. 

As is found in ancient cultures around the world, we need to approach and respond to life with the attitude of a dancer.  Willing to connect and interact with all the music and rhythms we encounter, and engaging as full participants.  We UUs tend get lost in mental concepts and word constructs and lose touch with the rhythmic singing in the blood.  Our ancestors viewed dance as sacred.  The protective whirl of dance keeps opposing forces in dynamic balance, a sacred partnership of give and take, leader and led. And then, following the service, we can dance out into the sunshine and join in the festivities of our all church picnic.