Sunday Services November-December 2019

Sunday, December 24, 2019 11:00 am.
Rev. Michael J. S. Carter

The UUCSV Choir will perform
with Linda Metzner leading

We now know that Christmas existed before Jesus was born. That is to say that the elements of the Christmas Holiday originate from pagan sources. The Roman festival of Saturnalia took place from Dec. 18-24, followed by something called Brumalia on the 25th. Brumnailia was a solstice celebration and Saturnalia was a time of celebration in honor of the god Saturn. Both festivals included feasting, drinking, and merriment.

The Christmas tree traces to the tree worship of the Druids. Reindeer come from the ancient tribes of northern Europe. Thor was the yule god. Santa Claus comes from St. Nicholas and he originated with the Dutch.

So the question is with all of these pagan customs, how has the holiday of Christmas survived? The Gospel stories in Matthew and Luke contradict each other. Did wise men come to visit Jesus, or was it shepherds? Do stars move across the sky and hover over a manger while shinning a light down on it? Were angels actually singing in the sky? Why are Zoroastrian priests in the story, for that is what the wise men were. Christmas is celebrated, observed, and respected by completely intelligent, literate, educated people. Is this a historical event?

I submit to you that what holds Christmas in the hearts of so many is not whether it celebrates an historical event, but that it is a question of faith. Let's explore.

Sunday, December 22, 2019 11:00 am
“Loving the Darkness, Loving the Light”
Rebecca Williams & Annelinde Metzner

In honor of the winter solstice, Rebecca Williams and Annelinde Metzner with members of the congregation will examine and celebrate the beauties of the two complementary poles of time and existence, the darkness and the light. Can we accept this beautiful duality without seeing one as good and one evil?

Join us as we center ourselves in the dark time of the year in our hemisphere.

Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019 11:00 a.m.
Rev. Michael J. S. Carter
Rumi, Advent, and UUS

This time, for Christians in the world, is the season of Advent, from December 1 until December 24, 2019. Advent is a liturgical time of year when Christians prepare themselves for the original birth of Jesus and for his second coming as well. That latter part is significant for Christians whose theology is told in the Nicene Creed, which reads, “Jesus will come again to judge the living and the dead.” Christians who observe Advent will take this time to reflect on how their souls are ready to meet Jesus when he comes again. Unitarian Universalists generally have a different understanding of Jesus, and when we recognize the season of Advent, it is not to prepare ourselves for the second coming of Christ. Unitarian theology squarely understands the historical and religious figure of Jesus as a man, a great prophet, and like all humans who die, he will stay buried but live on in the hearts and memories of those who love him. So, on Christmas, some Unitarian Universalists will celebrate the birth of an ancient, wise prophet named Jesus of Nazareth and remember the real and symbolic births in our lives. This Sunday, I want to talk about a Rumi poem, and what this season of Advent can mean for UUs.

Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019 11:00 a.m.
Rev. Michael J. S. Carter
To Live in the Beloved Community

Music: Ann Sillman, Mary Soyenova, Suchittra Temesrisuk, and Ruth Pittard perform seasonal music with autoharp and psaltery.
Second Sunday Potluck follows the service

What does community mean to you? Growing up I always thought "community" was the place where you lived, and the people that surrounded you were part of your community. And yes, that is one definition of community.

Community is an important buzzword these days. People recognize that social structures are deteriorating and that people want more of a sense of connection with others. Suburbia is almost perfectly designed to keep interaction to a minimum. Consumerism and capitalism are other important factors. We’re bombarded by messages promoting individual ownership, which is supported by laws and financial institutions. But that is not what we mean when speaking about community. With that said,what does it really mean to live in and to be a part of the "Beloved Community?"

Sunday, December 1, 2019  11:00 am
“Whose Inherent Worth?”
Rev. Robert Hughes

Who are we talking about when we “affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity…” Really? We  will consider who is included and reflect on some ways we might carry out the “affirming and promoting.”

Rev. Hughes is a retired UU minister who currently lives in Matthews, NC. He previously led worship here in May 2017. He has particular interests in therapeutic storytelling, holistic living, and enjoying his grandchildren.

Sunday, November 24, 2019, 11:00 am
Rev. Michael J. S. Carter
A Seat At The Table

Music by the UUCSV Choir, Linda Metzner, Director

The year 2020 will mark the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the Mayflower and the colonization of New England. This history is not entirely negative. There are aspects to be honored as well. The pilgrims are some of the people Unitarian Universalists recognize as forebears. Many churches established by pilgrims and early colonists in New England in the 1600s later became Unitarian Universalist churches. The pilgrims came to this country in search of religious freedom and provided models of community that have informed our understanding of living in covenent communities.

Let's explore the myths and realities of that first Thanksgiving, where we are today, and how we can make more room for all to have a seat at the table as we strive to create a "Beloved Community"  for this Thanksgiving Holiday, and for Thanksgiving Holidays to come.

Sunday, November 17, 2019, 11:00 am
Rev. Michael J. S. Carter
Religion as Politics by Other Means

The idea of politics being informed by religion is a thorny one in American society. We were established as a secular democratic republic where religion and politics were meant to be kept separate. Science and religion were also distant cousins who rarely if ever spoke to one another.

It is the law that there shall be no established religion of the state, and all are free to practice their religion as they understand it, providing it does not transgress the laws of society. From the very beginning, however, and certainly continuing today, people’s religious convictions have been deeply intertwined with their political views and the establishment of law in this country. Let's explore what happens when religion becomes politics by other means.

Sunday, November 10, 2019, 11:00 am
Rev. Michael J. S. Carter
War is Obsolete

Music by "The Black Mountain Community Band Sextet"
with Linda Tatsapaugh
Second Sunday Pot Luck Luncheon

I have heard it said that God created War so that Americans would learn geography. Our Emperor has been quoted as saying  that sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win the war. Perhaps. I have never attended West Point and so my insight is limited in these matters.

We have the most expensive and lethal military force in the world, but we face no existential threat; nonetheless, liberals and conservatives alike declare the defense budget sacred. It is difficult for me personally to believe that at the moment, ISIS, an organization that could not fill up a football stadium on a Sunday afternoon is the threat the media makes it out to be. Now that can change, but I’m not buying it for now. And yet we are here at another Veteran's Day Holiday. Let us take the time to explore honoring the warrior, and being against war. The nuclear clock is ticking....

Sunday, November 3, 2019, 11;00 am
Rev. Chris Andrews
“YOU Are So Needed!”

There has never been one like you in this world and there will never be another one after you’re gone. So, live your life in affirmation of your uniqueness. YOU MATTER and the world needs the gifts you bring to the fount of healing and wholeness.

Rev. Chris Andrews is a Creation Spirituality theologian. He is a minister connected to Jubilee! in Asheville and leads a Jubilee! community in Baton Rouge. The defining marks of this accepting community are love and compassion, and all are welcomed regardless of creed, color, orientation, or any other label.