Please join us for conversation, coffee and snacks after the service!
Upcoming Sunday Services:
Sunday, October 27, 2019 11:00 AM
Rev. Michael J. S. Carter
Halloween, All Saints and All Souls
I thought it would be interesting to explore Halloween, and the Catholic Holy Days of All Saints and All Souls. We as UUs may not canonize or commemorate "saints" but we all have individuals who have touched our lives in some way, who have inspired us to create happiness and joy our own lives as we bear witness to theirs, for there is much truth to the adage that nothing is as motivating as a life well lived. With the help of a recovering Catholic friend of mine whose conversations prompted my exploration of this topic, I want to discuss the significance of Halloween, The Roman Catholic Holidays of All Saints and All Souls Day--- and if you will bear with me this Sunday, our Unitarian Universalist Faith. It promises to be quite the journey!
Past Sunday Services:
This Sunday I would like to present another biographical sermon. The person presented will be poet Langston Hughes. I loved his poetry growing up and was even fortunate enough to have met some individuals that had known him. In his younger days, his nomadic spirit led him to travel to Mexico, Africa, Japan, the Soviet Union, and other stops around the globe. Associating with political activists, patrons, and fellow artists, and drawing inspiration from both Walt Whitman and the vibrant African American culture which he loved so much, Hughes soon became the most original and revered of African American poets. Yet his life was not an easy one. He never amassed great sums of money, and he was called to testify before The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and senator Joe McCarthy, (as did W.E.B. DuBois and Paul Robeson before him.)
In 1989 a resurgence of interest began for Langston Hughes and his works and at that time many young and gay African American men claimed him as their mentor and role model, although Hughes had died in 1967. Hughes' sexuality continues to this day for many to be the source of much controversy. It appears that like most human beings, Langston Hughes was many things to many people. Yet for sure he was a man, and we shall not look upon his like again. Join us as we explore the life and genius of Langston Hughes.
Sunday, October 13, 2019 11:00 am
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter
"A Day of Repentance"
October 9th, 2019 marked the Jewish Holiday of Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement & Repentance. It is a wonderful holiday in my mind, albeit a solemn one. It is the holiest day of the Hebrew Calendar. It is a time for purification. It is a time for reflection on the past year. It is a time to reflect upon the content of our life journey, our triumphs and challenges, those family, friends, and others who have touched our lives and have died or moved on. It is also a time to reflect on those instances where we as individuals have not been the people we like to think we are. It is a time of repentance.
For many UUs, the word repentence is somehow connected to the word sin, and perhaps both concepts have been forced down our throats, especially if our religion of origin was a more traditional Christian theology. Let's explore what this "Holy Day" can mean for us as UUs and just regular old human beings trying to make sense of our life journey.
Sunday, October 6, 2019 11:00 am
Dr. Susan Murty
Immigrants at the Border and Here in Our Community: Welcoming New Neighbors.
Susan has been a resident of Black Mountain for 6 years, after retiring from teaching social work in Iowa. She is an ESL teacher and a member of the Migrant Support Committee at Swannanoa Valley Friends Meeting and works with immigrants in our community. She spent 2 weeks last spring in El Paso TX working with refugees at the border through the Annunciation House there.
Sunday September 29, 2019 11:00 AM
Ruth Pittard, Laura Staley, Larry Pearlman
"Love Starts Here"
Our UUCSV Choir will perform today!
Three of the "Love People" share thoughts from our experiences standing with love signs in downtown Black Mountain for the past year. With stories, reflections, and music, we will invite you to consider your own expressions of living with love at the center of all that you do.
The words “Know Thyself,” were inscribed on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi according to the Greek writer Pausanias. This maxim or aphorism has a few meanings attached to it.The Suda, a 10th century Greek encyclopedia, says the proverb is applied to those whose boasting exceeds who and what they are. It is also said that to “know thyself” is a warning to pay no attention to the opinion of the multitudes. This Sunday I would like to talk about the art of knowing oneself.
First of all let me say that we are talking today about Acceptance and not Exceptance. Exceptance is when you exclude something or someone that you don’t want (or don’t want to face up to.) Acceptance is when you receive something or you come to grips with something.
Many people feel that when they are asked to accept something that this means that they must somehow acquiesce to a situation, become resigned to it or to simply give up. This is not necessarily true but it must be remembered that before you can change something you must at first see it for what it is.
Ernest Hemingway is quoted as saying that he was always suspicious of people who wanted to change the world without first taking the time to figure out what the world was really like in the first place. To accept something, someone, or a situation is to see it for what it really is at that moment. The challenge is to see ourselves for what we really are before we try to change or to accept someone else. Let's explore the idea of what acceptance really means.
(Homecoming and Water Communion Sunday)
American novelist Thomas Wolfe was once quoted as saying that you can't go home again. But the stories of the human race are nonetheless replete with homecoming stories of people who did go home again, and in many cases, they recognized what home was really about for the very first time.
In contrast to Thomas Wolfe’s observation, Rod Serling, the writer who became famous for the hit television show, The Twilight Zone, said that, everybody has to have a home to go back to. This is so very human, for there is a need in all of us for a place to hang a hat, or a kind of geographical womb to crawl back into, or maybe just a place that’s where you grew up. What does it mean to come Home? What exactly is a homecoming? Is it something more than a geographical place? Let's explore.
Everyones’ doing it! The Christians, the Muslims, the Jews. Everyone can have one! The Sikhs, the Buddhists, the Hindus. Atheists, Agnostics, and Humanists, too. Indigenous Peoples, Wiccans, and even UUs. Have you had your personal Spiritual Encounter yet?
Scott is an ordained Interfaith Minister, retired Professor of Business and Humanities, and retired from the U.S. Army. His post-retirement interests include working with Hospice patients, teaching about the Pan-Mediterranean social context of the 1st and 2nd centuries C.E., attempting to play the hammered dulcimer, and researching the role consumerism, science, and secularism have had on the shape and influence of the American religious landscape. His academic credentials include a Ph.D in religion and a Doctorate in management.
Sunday August 25, 2019 11:00 a.m.
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter
"Thoughts From Bill Walz"
Music featuring the UUCSV Choir
"I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know…that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land” - Martin Luther King, Jr.
This Sunday's talk, aside for a brief intro from me, and a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., are entirely the words of a man by the name of Bill Walz. I was introduced to his writings by a member of our congregation, and I find his words inspiring, practical, insightful, and full of hope. There is nothing else I felt needed to be said on the topic, so the "sermon" is entirely the thoughts of Mr. Walz. I have only heard this done once. While I was serving a UU church in Brooklyn, NY, the minister, during the King Day Holiday Service, just used a sermon by Martin as his text. I didn't know then if it would "work" but it most certainly did. And why not? The philosopher Friedrich Nietzche reminds us that, "nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come." Join us on Sunday for this powerful, heartfelt essay written by Mr. Bill Walz.
Sunday August 18, 2019, 11:00 am
"The Spiritual Teaching of Gandhi"
Music featuring vocal trio: Suchittra Temesrisuk, Susan Hurley and Andy Reed
Mohandas Gandhi, born 150 years ago this October, gave full credit for his many accomplishments to his faith. He also said, “I have not the shadow of a doubt that any [person] can achieve what I have, if he or she would …cultivate the same hope and faith.” What might we UUs learn and take away for our own lives? Anne Murray is the Proprietor at Anne’s Books and Papers.
This talk is about the lost or forgotten art of listening. It appears that we all have at least two voices: We use one of these voices when talking to each other. Then there’s the one inside our head that is almost always talking to us nonstop!
Kahlil Gibran was once quoted as saying that people talk when they are not at peace with their own thoughts. Yet we must speak at times, even if our voice shakes, and we must also listen. The trouble is that oftentimes we listen to respond and not to understand.
What exactly is the difference between religion and psychology? Is there really a difference between the two? Is today’s religion a form of psychology? In my training as a pastoral counselor, my supervisor preferred his chaplains to be in therapy at the same time they were visiting patients. He wanted us to be in touch with as much of our own baggage as possible and to leave as much of it at the door of the patients room as possible. Why is it that UUs are much more accepting of the insights of professional counseling and therapy, while our more conservative brothers and sisters appear to be much more hesitant and some outright hostile to the idea? Let's explore.
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter
Many if not all of us have been at some point in our lives what is known as a “control freak.” Perhaps we know people who are. Perhaps some of us still are. There are many reasons for this but the most obvious and common reason is that of fear. We are simply afraid of life and the unknown quality that it brings. This is an existential fear because we know life is unpredictable and finite and we fear the unknown. In many cases, the person who craves this illusion of control is oblivious to the fact that they are operating out of fear. They rationalize that they are doing what they are doing for the greater good, or to help someone, some organization, some person or thing. Yet I believe that on some unconscious level we do get it that in this life that anything can happen to anybody at any time, and we think we need to be on top of that reality. Granted, life can be scary and unpredictable. But we can learn to "go with the flow" with some conscious effort and some hard work on our part. Let's unpack this together. See you on Sunday!
Because of the current state of affairs in our country, I wanted to tell this story again as it has a timeless wisdom to it. This month on July 4th, our nation once again celebrated "Independence Day." What does that really mean in this time in our country's history. We as UUs affirm and "respect the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part." This is our 7th Principle. Are we really "independent" from anything or anyone, as a society and as individuals? Come and take my hand---let's explore!
Last summer our UUCSV poetry group shared our love of poetry with you for the first time. This year, given this July 4th weekend, we thought we would share poems, thoughts and songs based on the concept of FREEDOM. Not only Freedom FROM some current condition, but also Freedom TO act on what our inner selves tell us is the right thing to do. Come participate in a service to enhance your own freedom and our collective freedom as a community in how we navigate our inter-dependent lives. Larry, Mamie, Ruth, Bill, Laura, Damaris, Ann, Jim and Carolyn (in absentia) will share their thoughts on a whole range of freedom via poetry and music.
As Unitarian Universalists, we know there are many interpretations of the life and death of Jesus. Drawing on the work of Cynthia Bourgeault, an Episcopal Priest who draws on Christian scripture and the Wisdom tradition, we will look at the non-dual Jesus, the Jesus who urged us to be fully present with others, the Jesus who urged us to be free of ego and to not keep score of rights and wrongs. This Jesus advocates for the transformation of human consciousness.
In June 2017, Rev. Jeff Jones left full-time parish ministry (nine years in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and seven years in Marietta, Georgia) to pursue Community Ministry in Compassionate Living, a cornerstone of which is Nonviolent (Compassionate) Communication, developed by Marshall Rosenberg. He and his wife now live in Asheville, and he is creating this new ministry as a student, aspiring practitioner, facilitator, and activist.
What exactly is this thing called integrity? The word comes from the root word, integrate, which means to combine on thing with another so that they become whole. So, it can mean bringing awareness of our oneness with, God, The Tao, The Universe, humankind, The Whole, etc. into the many different aspects (the parts) of our lives. Another definition is that integrity means doing the right thing in a reliable way. It means having “wholeness” of character, acting in an authentic way. I have also heard it said that integrity is the way one behaves when no one is watching. I like that one.
Today we will recognize the establishment of a very special garden on our property. In addition to providing a place of remembrance for deceased members, friends, and loved ones of the UUCSV, The Garden is intended to provide a place for you to reflect upon the value of your relationship to and within our congregation. How does your memory of the loss of a loved one fit into your vision of the future? How does the loss of a member of our congregation fit into the your vision for the future of our congregation? We invite you to bring a photograph and/or memento of any of your loved ones who has passed away. We will have an alter at the front of the Sanctuary for the placement of your items.
UUCSV Choir will sing
In 1988, The UUA Board of Trustees formed a committee to create a program for local congregations interested in becoming more inclusive to our Brothers & Sisters from the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning community). Those congregations who committed themselves to this vision are called "Welcoming Congregations." In 2007, UUCSV became certified as such a congregation and many of our current members spearheaded the drive to make this happen. On Sunday, May 26, 2019, join us as we celebrate those hard-working members while also affirming our diversity as a Welcoming Congregation. In doing so, we renew our commitment to our first principle (affirming the inherent worth and dignity of human and sentient beings) with a deeper understanding of what inclusion really means. Don't miss this service. See you there!
Today we acknowledge and no doubt celebrate Mother’s Day. We don’t have to let Hallmark, Macy’s, or Victoria’s Secret, or our own guilt feelings define our behavior or impinge on our ability to celebrate (or not) as we see fit. We don’t have to over-sentimentalize. Sentiment is good. We can be romantic, loving, poetic, syrupy, yes—even corny. But we can also be truthful. We can celebrate joy while acknowledging pain. We can celebrate how far we’ve come and how far we have to go. We can celebrate the tender and the tough. As far as Mother’s Day is concerned, we all have one thing in common--we all have had biological mothers. After that, our experiences are many and diverse. Let’s explore!
Eric Bannan is a husband, father, songwriter, storyteller, U.S. Coast Guard rescue flight crew veteran, back country adventure racer, and cancer survivor. He has a master’s degree in computer science. He has been called to share his art to inspire, motivate for positive change, and build community.
His theme is inspired by the first and seventh U.U. principles. We will explore our connections to the natural world and how they might inform our interactions with our fellow human beings.
UUCSV Choir will perform
Therapist John Bradshaw once told a story about the price of nice. He noted that many times, after a shooting made headlines, the media almost always interviews neighbors or friends of the killer. All of these people usually remark that they had no idea who there were living next to, or who they were really friends with, which is reasonable enough; but they always remarked about how nice the person was. "He was such a nice man, we had no idea." "She was a wonderful neighbor, personable, and really nice." We do this ourselves on occasion, I'm sure. So and so is just so nice. As if "niceness" was a mark of character. We get taken in by this all the time. Yes, be nice, but also be real, be authentic. Robert Frost was on to something. Good fences make good neighbors.
Sunday, April 21 2019, 11 am
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter
For many UUs, the traditional story of the Easter Resurrection gives us pause. I like to remind folks that Dr. King and Dr. Howard Thurman did not believe in the literal resurrection of Jesus either. UU History is firmly rooted in Protestant Christianity and during most of our history we affirmed these roots even as we moved further from orthodox Christianity. We challenged the traditional understanding of Jesus but never doubted his central importance. We applied reason and critical methodology to scripture and we redefined God as love. Eventually, many within our tradition did have doubts and new certainties were born.
UUism likes to trace our roots to the radical Protestant Reformation for we are just a bit over two centuries old. And it is worth remembering that the emergence of religious humanism within our tradition is a fairly recent phenomenon, occurring in the 20th century. The idea of resurrection is central to Christianity, but the idea of a literal resurrection from the dead causes many religious liberals to ignore the idea of resurrection entirely. We need not throw out the proverbial baby with the proverbial bath water. Let's explore this touchy topic from a UU perspective. Happy Easter! Don't forget your flowers for flower communion.
A recent New York Times story reported that many nannies serving Silicon Valley tech designer families are not allowed to use electronic devices around the children. It seems our tech developers don’t want their own children affected by the tools of entertainment and social media they peddle to us. For their own kids they prefer board games and walks in the park. One of the shadow sides of our current culture is that childhood—a time to explore the world around and within—is being influenced by the rush of information from the outside. For their real journey—their life journey—children need to gain the wisdom and values that we, parents and grandparents, must provide to protect childhood and prepare them for the future as the heart of our society moving forward.
Some of you know that Lent was always my favorite season of the liturgical year when I was a more traditional Christian. It all begins with Ash Wednesday, and the ominous sounding - but undeniably true - reminder: "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return." But does it have to be so grim? Join me as we dare to gaze into the void of our transience and mortality for a bit, and let's see if we can't find a message of hope and joy, even there.Tim Perry is a former fundamentalist, a former Catholic, a minister for most of his life, “A priest forever after the order of Melchizedek,” according to his ordination, and these days a hopeful agnostic who doesn’t believe much of anything he believed ten years ago, yet somehow finds a reason to get out of bed, and can be frequently seen lurking around these parts.
I was listening to NPR on the way to church one Tuesday morning and the conversation ( I forget who the guest was at the time, a writer for The Weekly Standard I believe) turned to how the country is so polarized around politics and culture that no one can agree on what data or facts really mean. The host spoke about the Trump base and how even if they are going against their own interests that it doesn’t seem to matter as long as it benefits the president, and yet many of them are convinced that what they are doing is right. This type of tunnel vision knows only one particular political party, or religion for that matter. But it is a curious thing. What makes any of us act against our own best interest when it can appear so obvious to others that we are stuck? Let's explore.
Sunday, March 24 2019, 11 am
"The Goddess's Abundance"
Music and Poetry by Annelinde Metzner with Kim Hughes, Soprano
Bypass the self-absorbed greed of patriarchy, and there is enough for all beings to thrive on this beautiful planet. Rest for a little while in the abundance of the Goddess with art songs and poetry written and played by our choir director, Annelinde Metzner, with the richly expansive voice of soprano Kimberly Hughes. With Rebecca Williams, reader, and Maggie Moon, dance.
Kim Hughes is a singer of sacred music and a former opera singer, now living locally. She co-founded White Horse Black Mountain, and maintains a private psychotherapy practice here. Annelinde Metzner is choir director at the UUCSV, teaches music locally, and also directs Sahara Peace Choir. Her poetry is featured in the We'Moon Datebook and Goddess Pages of Glastonbury. Kim and Annelinde will offer their full-length concert, "Feminine Faces of God," on July 21st at the Light Center in Black Mountain.
For this Canvass Sunday I want to talk about a Theology of Money. We stand on the shoulders of so many people, our spiritual ancestors. They sacrifice, family, friends, careers, even their very lives that we might be here. Their sacrifice, (to coin a phrase by Dr. Howard Thurman) " holds a crown over our heads that each day we are striving to grow tall enough to wear."
We know we support what we value. You have heard why people attend this church, or any UU church for that matter. You know better than anyone else why you are here. When time allows, I invite you at some point to take the time in your quite moments on what would be missing from your life if this congregation and Unitarian Universalism were not in the world. See you on March 17th.
May it always be so! So be it!
We UUs place a tremendous emphasis on social action and the struggle for justice in our society and world, and rightly so. We assert our freedom and our right to protest for what is right. No cleric or politician will force their will on us without a fight. We are “free radicals” in a sense. Many of us say this struggle for the “beloved community,” or “The Kingdom or Queendom of Heaven” is the main reason for identifying as a Unitarian Universalist. We, by definition are spiritual progressives, free thinkers, etc. Yet how do we struggle for a fair and just world through social change without maintaining an "us vs. them" attitude. Let's explore.
Most of the world's major religions as well as our level of psychological analysis have yet to take into account the theological and philosophical implications of scientific discoveries in astronomy and quantum physics during the last century. We have yet to move beyond biocentrism to rise to an integral vision of reality in defining human existence.
Harry Petrequin is a retired Senior Foreign Service Officer having served 33 years in the State Department, 20 of these overseas in Asia and Africa. His final assignment was on the faculty of the National War College, Washington, DC. He continued work overseas as an International Development Consultant after moving to Black Mountain with his wife, Katharine, and their three sons in 1991. He is eternally grateful for the many marvelous peoples of various cultures, religions, and ethnic groups he encountered during his career for the enrichment they imparted to his life. He hopes that some of this is reflected in what he has to say today.
UUCSV Choir will sing
Pope Francis once said that this is the way prayer works. You pray for the hungry. Then you feed them. Many elected officials send their prayers during a time of tragedy but enact no different legislation. I don't know about you but the best apology in my mind is changed behavior. A retired UU minister friend of mine once said that prayer doesn't change things. Prayer changes people and then people change things. I may not totally agree with his statement but that is a personal belief. I do believe that we are the ones we have been waiting for and human beings must change the state of the world with our actions as well as our words. We cannot wait for any god(s) or benevolent extraterrestrials to get us out of this mess we have made on this planet. Any extra help is always appreciated but cannot always be counted on. In other words, actions speak louder than words. Let's explore!
Let’s celebrate Valentine’s Day with an exploration on the meaning and power of love. Through personal stories and joyful music we will express and share unique perspectives on this passionate, universal theme.
Lay Leader - Lee Reading
Speakers - various UUCSV members and friends
Pianist - Linda Metzner
In the first sermon of the new year I spoke about "Compassion." Today we will speak of "Renunciation." Compassion is not wanting others to suffer. "Renunciation" is not wanting me to suffer. Yet, if our fulfillment and happiness depend on obtaining or doing something, will we be unhappy or frustrated if we don’t obtain it or do it? Is our happiness dependent on something that is ultimately beyond our personal reach? Does it depend on other people, other events? If those things, people, events, states or relationships that we depend on for our fulfillment change, what happens? They will change, they do change. Sometimes for the better—but not always. Then what?
Perhaps it may be useful to take a closer look at what actually makes us happy. What do we mean by happy? Where do we find peace? Can we find true inner peace? I believe we can. Mick Jagger reminds us that we can't always get what we want, but if we try sometime, we just might find, we get what we need. See you on Sunday!
As we celebrate Black History Month in February, we also have the opportunity and obligation to study the history of racism and white privilege in America. That opportunity makes many of us uncomfortable because we do not intend to be racist. We intend to be inclusive and accepting – but good intentions are not enough. Join us February 3rd as we examine our participation in white privilege and consider ways to repair the breach.
The Reverend Edna Banes, our neighbor in Montreat and ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church, has spent years working on racial justice in the church and in the larger community. She is currently parish associate at Kenilworth Church in Asheville.
It is true that human evolution can appear to occur at a glacial pace, especially for those of us who want to see humanity progress and evolve into "The Beloved Community." Yet one can see a shift in consciousness happening. For many human beings in our society, a new concept of "God" is being born. This new consciousness has been foretold centuries ago by prophets, saints, and sages. Behold the words of a more contemporary scientist and prophet by the name of Albert Einstein: “The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend a personal God and avoid dogmas and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual, as a meaningful unity. For Einstein, Buddhism fit the bill. I say there are other paths as well. Get ready to explore!
Leviticus 25:9-10: On the day of atonement you shall have the trumpet sounded throughout all of your land and you shall hallow the fiftieth year and you shall proclaim liberty throughout the land and all of it’s inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee year for you; you shall return every one of you to your property and everyone of you to your family.
You see in First Testament times (sometimes referred to as the “Old Testament) around 1000 to 800 BCE, every seventh year was a Sabbath year of rest and rejuvenation. After 49 years, the 50th year was called a Jubilee year during which time liberty was restored to the slave so that equality was restored, property was restored to it’s rightful owner exonerating debt and to remit debt to the indebted, thereby restoring the economy and to restore rest to the land so that the earth could replenish itself. The Jubilee year allowed people to come together and to start over with a clean slate. We could sure use that Jubilee year right now in America. On this Dr. King Holiday, let's explore Race and the Year of Jubilee.
In the West we label it love. In the East, it is referred to as “compassion.” I like this distinction because in my experience, “love” is so misunderstood somehow, and can be mistaken for martyrdom, sacrifice, and dysfunction. It is also very difficult to live up to the idealized concept of love here in the West. In the Buddhist tradition, Quan Yin, is the Goddess of compassion. Perhaps Miriam, the mother of Jesus is the closest we in the West come to as a female figure of the embodiment of compassion. Yet whatever you want to label it, compassion is something the world does not seem to be overflowing with at the moment. But just what is this thing called "compassion" and how do we attain it?
Change agents, caregivers, activists and cultural workers all have skills for keeping focus for the long haul. Join Eco-Chaplain Sarah Vekasi in a discussion about the often overlooked secret to preventing burnout: inner resiliency, a good skill for all of us.
Sarah Vekasi, M.Div., is the founder of the Eco-Chaplaincy Initiative which offers support for environmental and social justice activists throughout Appalachia. Sarah lives in Black Mountain and makes her living as a potter with Sarah Sunshine Pottery.
Joseph Campbell tells us that, "We must let go of the life we planned so as to accept the one that is waiting for us". As we approach the New Year, Murphy Funkhouser Capps helps us to lighten our "load" by unpacking our expectations and disappointments in order to "carry on" successfully into the future. What appears as "the end of the road" or "the belly of the whale" is more often a beautiful and unexpected new beginning. Using excerpts from the Hero's Journey and personal insights from her own "redirections" in life, Murphy hopes to inspire and provide a little "love for the road."
We as UUs do not gather on Christmas Eve to worship the infant Jesus. Our Unitarian ancestors agreed that they came to follow his teachings, not to worship him. The teachings of this great teacher talk about we as human beings, "not hiding our light under a bushel." He said that we should let our light shine before others, that they may see our good works and give thanks. What does it mean to be a light to the world, especially in these times, and especially on Christmas Eve night. The fact of the matter is that we are the Light we have been waiting for in a beautiful and at times broken world. We are the visible reminder of invisible light. Let us encourage each other to let their light shine, for it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. This is the Season of Lights! See you on Christmas Eve Night.
This is our annual Christmas Eve Service. In addition to the minister's homily, you can expect music, the opportunity to sing some Christmas Carols - and, afterword, COOKIES! We bring in home-made cookies to share in our post-service coffee hour, and all the leftovers are delivered to the Veterans' Recovery Quarters.
The holiday season can be a hectic time with parties, shopping, and a seemingly endless list of non-stop obligations. Yet as the nights grow longer and the days shorter, the rhythm of winter is actually calling us to slow down and reflect. In the Goddess’ wheel of the year, the Winter Solstice initiates the most inward turning season. Escape the holiday madness and join us in a quiet celebration of winter’s gifts.
"The word "Advent" is derived from the Latin word adventus, meaning "coming." And so winter is fast approaching, and the liturgical season of Advent, with its emphasis on "anticipation" (waiting and expectation) and reaching its climax at Christmas, introduces a sustaining note of hope into the darkness of the winter season. The winter season of darkness and death contains within itself the promise of life and renewal. We are searching for and will be discovering new beginnings. Ironically enough, we find these beginnings in the life of a child.
Some of you know that Lent was always my favorite season of the liturgical year when I was a more traditional Christian. It all begins with Ash Wednesday, and the ominous sounding - but undeniably true - reminder: "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return." But does it have to be so grim? Join me as we dare to gaze into the void of our transience and mortality for a bit, and let's see if we can't find a message of hope and joy, even there.
Tim Perry is a former fundamentalist, a former Catholic, a minister for most of his life, “A priest forever after the order of Melchizedek,” according to his ordination, and these days a hopeful agnostic who doesn’t believe much of anything he believed ten years ago, yet somehow finds a reason to get out of bed, and can be frequently seen lurking around these parts.
The bible is not a bad book. It may not even be a good book for some. But it is a book about the human struggle to find meaning in the act of existence. How did all this begin? How will it end? Why am I here on this planet? Why must I die? Why is there evil, suffering and violence in this world? Are there other worlds? How do I know what it right? The Bible attempts to answer these existential questions. No matter what your theology, or lack thereof, we all wrestle with these fundamental questions. The Bible gave us a a way to talk about these things. No, certainly not the only way, but a way. The Bible is not a book that is the final authority or the final revelation on anything. It can point the way to some of life's questions, but it is not the final word. I want to explore the Bible and its meanings for us this holiday season, and I also want to offer a new UU definition of what the word Revelations can mean for us as a progressive, free thinking community.
What are the voices inside of your head telling you? Are you harder on yourself than you are on others? Do you have unrealistic expectations for your life as a way of not moving forward? Of course you do. We all do to a greater or lesser extent, yet we think that only "crazy" people hear voices. The truth of the matter is that whatever those voices tell you, if you think you can do something or think that you can't do something---you're right on both counts. If we begin now, perhaps we can change those voices as we edge closer to the end of this year, and begin the next one with a new attitude.
“Aging is not for the faint of heart.” Many of us have heard variations of this saying during our lifetimes. There is no doubt that for some, especially those battling a terminal or long term illness, aging can be a time of extreme hardship. And yet, life is a gift and we only have it for a short time, no matter how long we may live. Perhaps if we switch perspectives from “why is this happening to me?” to “what lesson can I learn here?” aging may be something for which we give profound gratitude. The words of of poet May Sarton ring true, “real old age begins when we look backwards instead of forward.” Let’s explore.
Just a few days ago I was speaking with a mother who has a 16 year old son who said that he did not believe in God and she was very, very, concerned. She comforted herself by saying that he was only 16 and that he was still “evolving”, which is true. I inquired of her if she would love him any less if he decided not to believe in a God and she said of course not! She replied that it was just difficult for her to accept that he does not believe there is a God overseeing our lives and world. I asked her if she ever thought that it took a great deal of courage and faith to identify as an atheist in our culture and that to have a faith in one’s fellow human beings instead of a deity is a particular kind of faith but a faith nevertheless. She said she had never even considered it. In a sense all children are born atheist as they have no belief in God initially. I did not tell her that... Let's explore the perspective of the Atheist.
In this age, it seems to be getting more and more challenging to discern what is and is not "our stuff." Our own personal desires, fears, and general blueprint for how we believe our life should be all cloud our recognition of what life really is about. Let's explore together all of the nuances of this theme and see if we can clear away some of the tarnish of delusion that is resting on the crystal clear mirror of our awareness. A traditional naturopath and yoga therapist who studied at the Institute for Functional Medicine, Brad Rachman is medical director of the Rachman Clinic in Black Mountain, North Carolina. He is also the co-founder, with his wife Martia, of the Black Mountain Yoga Center. More than a few of our members take advantage of both these local gems, and we are pleased to bring him back for another visit to our sanctuary.
When Shakespeare put these words, this question, into the mouth of Hamlet (Hamlet is contemplating suicide), this question about existence, Hamlet is asking what it means to live. He is asking whether or not people should even exist. Heavy stuff. In this soliloquy, he is contemplating suicide and he compares death to sleep which he thinks actually wouldn’t be so bad. But then Hamlet begins to wonder if it’s better to put up with the bad things one knows about life than to run off into death’s “undiscovered country.” Life is a mystery and so is death. But what is it that compels us, urges us, to desire to live, to keep going? Is this desire to be (or not to be), this desire to exist, is it sacred? I answer in the affirmative! Out of the primordial desire to exist, everything comes. This sacred force is different from clinging, which is the source of attachment and frustration. Let’s explore.
When I was much younger and studying the bible, I became obsessed with what Christians refer to as The Last Judgement. The Last Judgement was supposed to be the end of the world or at least the end of the world as we know it). I could not stop thinking about how that event would occur in human history. Yes, these obsessive thoughts were due to the fear I was subjected to from the clergy and their interpretation of the bible; yes, it was because of the indoctrination I received as a child and even today, occasionally, I think, but “what if they were right?” Yet for every so called "ending" there is usually a new "Beginning." Life is at least on some level, a series of beginnings and endings, of knowing when to hold on and learning when to let go. How do you view beginnings and endings in your life experience?
Sunday, 14 October 2018, 11:00 am
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter
Rev. Dr. James Cone - the Father of Black Liberation Theology"
While attending Union Seminary, I had the privilege of studying Systematic Theology with Dr. James Cone, the founder of "Black Liberation Theology." He was not a perfect human being, but his passion and love for African American people, his belief that "God" was on the side of the oppressed, and his intellectual gifts were simply astonishing. He also happened to be one of two professors who encouraged me to stay on at Union for a Ph.D. ( This was after reading my Master's Thesis on the topic of UFO's and the Bible).
Professor Cone died on April 28th, 2018. You have heard me say on more than one occasion that we as UUs must always remember that the religion of the oppressed is different from the religion of the privileged. Dr. Cone was a privileged academic and intellectual, but he never forgot where he came from. Join me on Sunday September 30th, as I present another "Biographical Sermon" on the life of yet another extraordinary human being--The Rev. Dr. James Cone, Father of Black Liberation Theology.
Sunday, 7 October 2018, 11:00 am
"The Resurrection as Fact"
Some (most?) members in our congregation do not believe in the literal resurrection of Christ as a real event but rather as mythology arising out of our fear of death. I have researched in detail this subject and found, much to my astonishment, that Christians DO HAVE a rather strong case to make for the resurrection of Jesus Christ being a historical fact in the history of our world. I will be giving their side during this talk.
The Grahams, Richard and Diane, have been Unitarian Universalists for 42 years. They were members of the Charlotte UU’s during the time they built a huge church and, when they moved to Boone, were members of the Boone UU Fellowship. Richard, although a college graduate, said his real education came from reading books about various subjects. He has given 19 talks in Boone on subjects that interest him and two in Black Mountain. He volunteered for Hospice in Boone and gave talks to civic and church groups asking for their financial support; also he is a past president of Crime Stoppers in Boone. His ongoing interest in early Christianity is because we are today very much a result of what they were back then.
A couple of thousand years ago, plus a few decades, Plato taught that everyone seeks the good. Not that everyone finds the good, or enjoys the good, but that everyone seeks it, in their own way. Even those people whose lives seem so futile, or self- destructive, or doomed to failure, even they too are seeking, somehow, the good--think about it. They're not trying to fail, they're not looking for sadness, doom or misfortune, at least not consciously. They're trying to capture the gold ring, make the big score, win the lottery; they’re seeking happiness. The Declaration of Independence says that we have a "right" to pursue happiness, but it doesn't say that we will always acquire happiness. Do we really have a "right" to be happy? Let's explore.
Jeff Jones returns to our pulpit for a sermon about language. He writes, "My wife the English teacher says, 'Commas matter.'" She asks her students to consider the difference between 'Let's eat, Carol' and 'Let's eat Carol.' If a comma can make the difference between an invitation to lunch and cannibalism, imagine how much difference our choice of words will make. My sermon is NOT about compassionate communication, dirty words, or political correctness. Instead, it will be an invitation, with ample examples, to consider how our language can both reflect and shape our attitudes.
In June 2017, Rev.Jeff Jones left full-time parish ministry (nine years in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and seven years in Marietta, Georgia) to pursue Community Ministry in Compassionate Living, a cornerstone of which is Nonviolent (Compassionate) Communication, developed by Marshall Rosenberg. He and his wife now live in Asheville, and he is creating this new ministry as a student, aspiring practitioner, facilitator, and activist.
An article from the Feb. 16th, 2016 Psychology Today magazine talks about over thinking, or what I like to call living life from the neck up. The article was written by Amy Morin, licensed clinical psychotherapist and social worker. Amy Morin talks about the dangers of overthinking and gives us some suggestions to remedy the problem. She says that whether they beat themselves up over a mistake they made yesterday or fret about how they’re going to succeed tomorrow, over thinkers are plagued by distressing thoughts—and their inability to get out of their own heads leaves them in a state of constant anguish. While everyone overthinks things once in a while, some people just can’t ever seem to quiet the mind. Are you one of those people? Do you constantly worry about things you can't control? Let's explore.
It is also our Homecoming Sunday so there is Water Communion. Please bring your water. Its also Rosh Hashanna. Please keep your hearts open. See you then!
Physician and researcher Dhruv Khrullar observed “The key to a deeper, healthier life, it seems, isn't knowing the meaning of life — it's building meaning into your life.” Work provides a sense of meaning and purpose for some. What is yours? Is it changing? This morning we’ll explore why having a clear sense of purpose and acting on it is perhaps the most life-affirming thing we’ll ever do.
Rev. Terry Davis pursued Unitarian Universalist ministry after a 25-year career in corporate communications. Rev. Davis currently serves as a transitions coach for the UUA Southern Region. She has served as the solo minister of UU congregations in St. Louis and Atlanta, as well as the resident chaplain of the women’s maternity center at Atlanta’s Emory University Hospital. A native of Washington, DC, Rev. Davis earned her Master of Divinity degree from Candler School of Theology in Atlanta in 2008. She was ordained at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta in 2010, where she was a 20-year active member.
Marc Mullinax returns for a new angle on an old Christian theme. Using Wendell Berry’s phrasing (Practice resurrection), we’ll discover/recover/uncover practices of hope in these apparently dead and barren days, nearly halfway through President #45’s term. There are things that we can only see clearly when we are at the ends of our ropes. “Ya’ see,” Marc will say, “there are things we need to lose, to save what we love. Practicing the awareness of what needs to die is a good spiritual practice for the living (well) of these days.” Practicing losing is actually a joyous way to live and love again.
The Oxford English Dictionary describes faith as a reliance on trust, belief in a religious doctrine, a system of religious belief, loyalty or sincerity. As UUs we may not always think of ourselves in this way but I believe that we are people of faith. What does this mean? How do we define, and experience, or even respond to, let’s say, a crisis in faith? Many of us have faced this in one way or another, especially if we were not raised UU and left our religion of origin to join a UU Church, Congregation, Fellowship, or Society. For you see, what we put our faith in will influence how we will walk through the world and act out those beliefs; and those beliefs will create behaviors. So what is faith anyway? See you on Sunday!
Our view from the top of the food chain reveals the precarious state of our planet. Can we balance the needs of the entire interconnected web of life against our own needs? Can we find a way to live in harmony with the whole world?
Modern-folk duo Friction Farm is a husband and wife team of traveling troubadours. Aidan Quinn and Christine Stay combine storytelling, social commentary and humor to create songs of everyday life, local heroes, and quirky observations. From ballads to anthems each song is filled with harmony and hope. Aidan and Christine are also mainstays of the UU music scene, often to be found at The Mountain, SUUSI, and offering services in many UU congregations.
Sunday, 29 July, 11 am
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter
"Handle with Care"
What does it truly mean to care for someone? I'm speaking in the context of being with someone while they are in pain, their so called, "brokeness." I am very much struck by this etymology of the word care because we tend to look at caring as an attitude of the strong toward the weak, of the powerful toward the powerless, of the haves toward the have-nots. And, in fact, we can sometimes feel quite uncomfortable with an invitation to enter into someone’s pain before doing something about it. Still, when we honestly ask ourselves which persons in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not-knowing, not-curing or fixing, not-healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness---that is the friend who cares. How can we better learn to handle each other with care?
Sunday, 22 July 2018, 11 am
Rev. Irene Gillespie
"The Oneness of Everything"
After a chance encounter a decade ago, the trajectory of my spiritual and vocational journeys were radically altered. In the Sikh religion, a 500 year-old monotheistic tradition from North India, I have found community, a higher power, and my calling to the Unitarian Universalist ministry. Sikhism and Unitarian Universalism share many theological similarities and common values. Come to this service to learn more about the oneness of these beautiful faiths, and what we as UUs can gain from experiencing other religions with openness.
Rev. Ilene Kaur Tompkins-Gillispie grew up in an interfaith Unitarian Universalist family in Alexandria, VA. She is a lover and scholar of world religions and has been a practicing Sikh (a religious tradition from North India), in addition to her lifelong roots as a UU, for almost ten years. Rev. Ilene holds a B.A. in Religion from New College of Florida and an M.Div. from Boston University School of Theology. She has a deep commitment to justice work in many forms, including a long history of work with the UU Partner Church Council in Romania and India. Rev. Ilene has spent seven periods of time over the last decade living and studying in India. She serves as settled minister to the Unitarian Universalists of Transylvania County in Brevard, and lives with her spouse in Mills River.
Sharing ones creative work is akin to leaping off the high dive. Naked. In public. So why pursue a creative life? Why take the risk of making art? Because it can save your soul and heal the world in the process. This Sunday we will reflect on taking the risk and inviting the butterflies into your gut.
When Todd's not being a Nurse at a hospice inpatient unit in Hendersonville, and Meg's not being a Social Worker visiting hospice patients or managing a State Senate Campaign, they can be found playing music, listening to live music, drawing sidewalk chalk mandalas and pursuing various other creative outlets in the comfort of their home with two curious dogs. To date, Todd's greatest creative achievement (aside from his 4 CDs) was gluing hundreds and hundreds of beads on a Honda Civic. Meg can't nail down just one - but she has undertaken some pretty fancy knitting projects.
Sunday, 8 July 2018, 11 am
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter
"The Challenge to Grow"
Spiritual principles do not change, but we do. As we mature through the years, we access more deeply information and lessons we had only abstractly understood before. Life was, or at least seemed much more innocent for many people not so long ago. Today the world seems filled with such sorrow and danger; it’s not so easy anymore to simply spout metaphysical spiritual principles and expect everything to be okay later in the day. These are times that challenge our notion of the Golden Rule; these are times that challenge our spiritual assumptions, as the shadow side of humanity appears to be taunting us, demanding, “How’s that change you wanted working out for ya? “So where’s all of that love you believe in now?” The answer of course is that the love is inside of us waiting to be unleashed. The shadow is an invitation to light, calling forth the best that is in us. Every challenge implies this question---are you really willing to embody what you say you believe?
Sunday, 1 July 2018, 11 am
"Life in Poetry"
Members of UUCSV
Poetry in a few words tries to describe feelings from the poets’ hearts to the hearts and minds of their readers. When it works, poetry brings depth to this human communication. Some of us have been meeting monthly to write and share with each other good poetry. Sometimes we share what we have read, sometimes what we write or compose; all times we share important life moments.
We dig deeply to understand ourselves and share meaningful stories with each other. Join Ann, Bill, Carolyn, Jim, Larry, Mamie and Ruth as we share some of our moments along this spiritual journey. Come and enrich your life with us.
Nancy Gavin and Ginny Moreland will lead us in a celebration and exploration of the seven principles which we, as a member congregation of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant to affirm and promote. This service is modeled on one originally prepared by Amanda Udis-Kessler of Colorado Springs, CO and features a carefully curated selection of readings and hymns which illustrate our much-loved principles. It will be lay-led and highly participatory!
Sunday, 27 May 2018, 11 am
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter
"Unitarian and Universalists: Why all the Fear?"
The Religious Education Program cordially invites you to join us on May 20 as we recount our travels around the world and over the rainbow and listen to our music. Find out how we have used the rainbow as a mnemonic device for remembering our 7 Guiding Principles. Learn about all the countries (and states) we visited learning about different spiritual practices. Sing with us as we share our songs about the social justice issues that are closest to our hearts.
This Mother's Day, Robbie Madden and I will be talking about the change this nation is undergoing regarding the role of women in our society. I will briefly note the differences I see in the Me Too/ Time's Up movement, as well as discussing the plight of women in Western Culture because of the Genesis Story and the Bible. Robbie will "bring it home" if you will, discussing the changing consciousness and roles women have experienced during this country's recent history. We want this to be a celebrations as well, for the times, they are a changin'. Thank the Goddess! This will also be the Sunday we have our Flower Communion. Please bring flowers!
Rev. Andrews is a frequent visitor to our congregation. He writes, "I am going to use some ideas from a book I read recently by Dr. James Doty--'Into the Magic Shop'. He is a neurosurgeon who, as a young boy, has the good fortune to meet a woman who teaches him the magic of opening his heart through a series of exercises.The lessons learned as a teenager guide Dr. Doty in his career of medicine. He shares how an open heart brings one to the real magic of accepting others and caring deeply for all."
The Rev. Chris Andrews has lived in Louisiana for most of his life. Formerly a minister in the United Methodist Church for 42 years, he served at 1st UMC in Baton Rouge for many of those years. He now leads Jubilee Pioneers, an eclectic group of folks in Baton Rouge seeking ways to practice “good religion.” He is not a Christian, but instead calls himself a “follower of Jesus.”