Upcoming Sunday Services - 11:00 a.m.

Next week – June 16, 2024
“Universalism for the 21st Century”
Rev. Michael J S Carter

Liberal means free – that is, worthy of a free person (as opposed to being servile).  It means being free in bestowing, being bountiful and generous and being free from bigotry or unreasonable prejudice in favor of traditional opinions or teachings.  It also means being receptive to new ideas which denote a political or social philosophy that promotes individual rights, civil liberties and democracy.

Unlike every form of fundamentalism, the liberal religious spirit grows and evolves. Revelation is not sealed. This Father's Day, I would like to explore a vision of Universalism for the 21st Century.  Please join me.

Previous Sundays

Next week – June 9, 2024
“Human Beings & Artificial Intelligence”
Rev. Michael J S Carter

From the British publication of The Guardian on July 25, 2022: 

A seven-year-old competitor was playing a chess match against an AI robot. Apparently the boy rushed the robot on his move and the robot retaliated, swiftly reaching out with its mechanical arm and clamping it down on the boy’s finger before he could lift his chess piece. The boy, his finger broken, and those watching including the chess officials rushed to extricate the boy’s finger from the robot’s hold, were shocked.  The robot showed no emotion at all. But then again how could it? It was programed to win--- by any means necessary and at all costs. Most humans have at least some sense of morality. The AI did not. This is my second talk on the topic. Let's go deeper.

Next week – June 2, 2024
“Adages: A War Time Love Story”
Meta Commerse

We all know that our world is in chaos. So much so that it’s tough to watch today’s news reports. But what can we do to find internal calm in times like these? Could it be that we have forgotten the things that make us whole when we feel broken? Join local author/word medicine woman, Meta Commerse, as she shares stories from her grandmother’s teachings to warm the heart and remind us of what is precious and life-giving. There will be a time for sharing of your thoughts and insights with Ms. Commerse right after the service.

Next week – May 26, 2024
“Lest We Forget”
Rev. Michael J S Carter

There is debate as to the location and date of the first observance of a Memorial Day in the United States.

Some say that Memorial Day was started by former slaves on May 1, 1865, in Charleston, South Carolina, to honor 257 dead Union Soldiers who had been buried in a mass Confederate prison camp. They dug up the bodies and worked for 2 weeks to give them a proper burial as gratitude for fighting for their freedom. Others claim the custom of honoring war dead began in Boalsburg, Pennsylvania. Others claim the custom was originated by some Southern women who placed flowers on he graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers after the Civil War. One writer states the first Memorial Day service took place on May 30, 1866, on Belle Isle, a burial ground for Union soldiers in the St. James River, at Richmond, Virginia. Nevertheless, the observance of Memorial Day was started in this country in remembrance of those who died in the Civil War. Let's explore the origins of this solemn holiday, lest we forget....

Next week – May 19, 2024
“Shared Ministry”
Rev. Michael J S Carter

If you have not had a chance to read it, The Spring/Summer 2024 Journal of the UU World Magazine is featuring the entire issue on what the UUA and other Protestant denominations refer to as “Shared Ministry.” It was brought to my attention by Anna Marcel de Hermanas. A little more than a decade or so ago, early in my ministerial journey, the UUA came up with the concept of what came to be referred to as “Shared Ministry.” It was less hierarchical in its approach, rethinking and de-emphasizing the traditional divisions among the role of clergy, religious educators, music ministers and lay leaders. I I'd like to explore this notion today using the ideas of a Chrisitan Bishop and two UU ministers to elaborate on this concept.

Next Week - May 12, 2024
“The Mother Goddess”
Rev. Michael J S Carter

In our ecologically sensitive age, the divine female, procreator and keeper of Creation, offers a dimension to the holy that seems both natural and more obvious than it has been since before the time of the patriarchal rulers of the city-state; there was a time when goddesses ruled over the rites of sowing & reaping, birth & death. Yes, indeed my friends, there really was a time when "God" was a woman. It also stands to reason that if you want to protect a mother, you must first protect her children. I would like to explore the relationship between The Divine Feminine (from my limited male perspective) and the Holiday we celebrate as Mother’s Day. Hope you can make it.

Next week – April 28, 2024
“Anger, Boundaries & the Word “No.”
Rev. Michael J S Carter 

It took me many, many years to realize that much, if not all of the anger that I had about my early life, was because I did not know how to say “no” when I needed to. I didn’t have good boundaries then, and to make matters worse, I didn’t know that I didn’t know that I didn’t have good boundaries. I wanted to be a nice guy you see, and a nice guy or gal does not really say no to anyone because it might hurt their feelings. My parents were from another generation and they didn't have them either. That's why I am a proponent of good therapy. This morning, we will unpack what Robert Frost may have meant when he said that "good fences make good neighbors."

Next week – April 21, 2024
“The Church of Baseball”
Rev. Michael J S Carter

My father loved the game of baseball. I did as well when I was younger but somehow over the years, I got away from it. About 15 years ago, mostly because of his enthusiasm for the game, it rekindled something in me. I do enjoy the game, especially attending in person. I so enjoy watching the Tourist games in Asheville and especially when Susan Hicks coordinates how we can attend the games in the summer for the congregation. There are a few beautiful life lessons we can all appreciate from the game and I'd like to explore some of those with you this morning. So, for today's sermon, we will be attending the "Church of Baseball." I hope you will attend!

Next week – April 14, 2024
“Time, Talent & Treasure”
Rev. Michael J S Carter

Now I know many of you here are from other faith traditions or perhaps different traditions of more orthodox Christianity, are familiar with what we call tithing. Its origins are in the Hebrew Bible where the people were asked to give of the first fruits of their labor, which was to give 10% right off the top of their earnings. UUs do not ask for tithes but it is important to give back to where your good comes from.

The whole idea behind tithing was to give back to where your good or spiritual inspiration comes from. In this way money is viewed as a means and opportunity for self-expression to give back to the source of one’s acknowledged good. Now I don’t have to remind you all that yes, we are a faith community and that we have a mission; and we also need money to keep the doors of this congregation open. We need money to fulfill that mission. We need your time and talent as well and this goes without saying. At least I hope it does. It's that time of year again! See you on Sunday.

Next week – April 7, 2024
The Downside of Hero Stories
David LaMotte

If we care about the world around us and would like to have a positive impact, what really changes things? Our culture tells us that big problems are fixed by heroes, but that story works against us in more ways than one. There is a better story.

David LaMotte is a musician, writer, and activist who lives in Black Mountain and works throughout the world on issues of peace and conflict resolution. In 2008 he accepted a Rotary World Peace Fellowship and obtained a master’s degree in International Relations, Peace and Conflict Resolution at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, doing field work in Andhra Pradesh, India. His most recent book was issued in a new edition by Chalice Press, under the title You Are Changing the World Whether You Like It Or Not.

Next week – March 31, 2024
A Congregation Without Walls
Rev. Michael J S Carter

I believe this is the first time since I have served here that we have had a New Member Sunday on an Easter Sunday as well as our Flower Communion which is our Easter Sunday ritual. I like it. Each of us has different beliefs that brought us to this place in our lives, especially regarding the holiday of Easter. That is to be expected and to my mind is the beauty of this UU tradition. We must remember this. This morning I will attempt to link the Easter story with our UU history for our New Members and a reminder to our "veterans." The Flower Communion is its own added beauty. Bring your flowers!

Picking Jefferson’s Pocket
Chris Highland
March 24, 2024

During the Revolutionary War, Thomas Jefferson wrote “Notes on the State of Virginia” (1781). The chapter on “Religion” remains as relevant today as in those days of risky and radical change.  With an emphasis on religious tolerance, reason, free inquiry and common sense, this freethinking founder hands us practical wisdom for our mental pockets today.  His handy “rule of thumb” for inclusion of diverse beliefs in America, can help us maintain and sustain (patch and protect) the essential wall of separation between religion and government, the wall that is crumbling before our eyes.

Next week – March 17, 2024
The Language of Music
Eric Thomas & Helen Wesson 

This largely musical service takes the congregation on an emotional journey. It uses music to examine a range of strong emotions and powerful images. The journey includes joy, sorrow, wistfulness, humor, and elation. The congregation is met with a piece of medium energy that evokes an image that is not emotionally charged. From there, the music and commentary take the congregation through several emotional steps to a place of deep contemplation. From there, the congregation is taken back up through laughter and elation to celebration.

March 10, 2024
The Human Need for Approval
Rev. Michael J S Carter

Many people today pride themselves on "not caring what others think."  They say this with pride as if in some way they have liberated themselves or even implying they are somehow better or more evolved than the rest of us. Not only are they mistaken and not aware of how ego driven this statement is; they don't seem to realize that the need for
approval is a very human and healthy desire---just not at the cost of your integrity or your authentic Self (with a capital "S"). Let's explore.

Next week – March 3, 2024
Bless This Mess
Anne Tolou

Do you have a hero? How about a historical (or current!) figure you love to hate? Is there a story from your past that you return to again and again? Join us for an exploration of our individual and collective habits of history and of how we regard the stories and personas of those who came before, both in our own lives and in the living tradition of Unitarian Universalism.

Next week – February 18, 2024
Race & The Year of Jubilee
Rev. Michael J S Carter

Levticus 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 its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee year for you; you shall return every one of you to your property and every one 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 also restored to its 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. A tabla rosa. Perhaps this idea can give us a fresh start on the issue of race in this country. Let's explore.

Next week – February 11, 2024
To Flirt or Not to Flirt
Rev. Michael J S Carter

Well, it’s that time of year again and I’m not referring to “ground hogs’ day.” We are probably the only nation known to deny climate change but rely on a rodent to tell us how much more of winter we have. But it’s Valentine’s Day this week, the day for lovers! Tons of money will be spent on flowers, romantic dinners, candy, movies and other gifts. No doubt babies will be made during this time as well. New romances will begin and old romances will be rekindled, or at least attempted to be rekindled, and it’s usually a fun time for many.  Bars and restaurants will be filled to capacity and everyone will be doing the same thing… flirting! Let's explore the fun.

Sunday, February 4, 2023
Imbolc: Awakening Brigid’s Light
Peggy Reeder Moore

Imbolc, one of four cross-quarter Celtic Holy Days, celebrates Earth’s awakening from the depths of winter to receive the incoming light of spring.   The ceremony called by many names, Imbolc, Brigid’s Day, Candlemas and more, reminds us that dormant seeds and roots underground are ready to rise through the cold soil and dance with the Light.  While still in the cold of winter, we light candles asking Brigid to help us rise to the challenge of growth and open our hearts to welcome the Light. Sue Richards will play the Celtic Harp.  

Sunday, January 28, 2023
The Formula
Rev. Michael J S Carter

I appear on quite a few podcasts on various topics but mostly on the topic of spirituality and religion. The question I hear most in various forms is usually this one… How do we cultivate, navigate, and negotiate our interior lives? Inquiring minds want to know. People are hungry for some type of formula; some way to remain secure in a world of insecurity. I try to remind people that there is no formula to life that works for everyone, for we are all unique individuals and our paths may be different regarding how we arrive at the answers. We need to come to an inner sense of self and security, and identity regarding our place in this multiverse. Let's explore this curious desire human beings have on needing a formula for the challenges of life.

Sunday, January 21, 2023
The Power of AI
Rev. Michael J S Carter

The year is 2035 and artificial intelligence is everywhere. AI systems run hospitals, operate airlines and even confront each other in the courtroom. Productivity has spiked to unprecedented levels, and countless businesses have grown at lightning speed generating tremendous advances in
human progress and well-being.

Science, technology and the free market kick into overdrive, and yet the world is growing more unpredictable and fragile, as terrorists find new ways to menace society with new cyber weapons and people (both blue collar and white collar) are losing their jobs en masse.

Just a few years ago this would have sounded like science fiction; today it seems almost inevitable. Let's talk about the challenges and the power of artificial intelligence.

Sunday, January 14, 2023
Grudges
Rev. Michael J S Carter

So, this morning I want to talk to you about some resolutions, some commitments which I guarantee will make a radical difference in my life and your life, if you and I are committed to follow through on them. In fact, what I want to do is to offer to you a way of starting the New Year which could significantly change your life.

Here is what I want to suggest to you: if you will make these two commitments this year, I guarantee you that the start of 2024 could become one of the most significant years in your life.  I want to challenge you to make 2 new commitments for this New Year. See you on Sunday!

Sunday, January 7, 2023
Grieving What We Never Had
Julie Lehman

I plan to tell our family's story of raising a transgender child, who transitioned during high school in Asheville during the NC "bathroom wars." Then I plan to bring a message from our experience that applies to all of us.

Julie Lehman is Director of the Montreat Fund and Major Gifts at Montreat Conference Center. A graduate of Columbia Theological Seminary and Davidson College, she has served as a lay leader at several churches including PC Greensboro, Trinity PC Atlanta, FPC Asheville and now at Land of Sky UCC and FPC Spruce Pine, NC, where her husband, Michael Poulos, is pastor.  

While both Julie and Michael have always believed that loving and protecting the marginalized -humans, animals, and
creation - as a biblical mandate, their experience of God has been stretched and deepened by becoming parents of a transgender child. 

Their story is a happy one which they like to share, especially now when misinformation is being used by politicians to divide us for political gain. 

Sunday, December 31, 2023
2024 - Merry & Bright?
H. Byron Ballard

We are facing another year that is guaranteed to be filled with beauty and pain, death and birth, illness and triumph--and political fervor! Join BB for an experiential session filled with hope, with techniques for thriving in the coming year, and a little magic, too. Together, as a community, we can support one another, inspire one another and be truly present for this terribly wonderful thing called life.

Byron Ballard, BA, MFA, is a native of Western NC. She is a writer and amateur folklorist with a specialty in Appalachian folk magic & healing. She tours extensively in the US & Great Britain. Her books include four on mountain folk magic. The first was Staubs and Ditchwater, and the most recent (2023) is Small Magics. She lives in Asheville.

Sunday, December 24, 2023
Look Deeper
Rev. Michael J S Carter

Look Deeper… dig a bit deeper and look deeper again. The journey without distance is an inner journey. This is the message for our homily on this Christmas Eve Service. How do the Gospel stories of the birth of Jesus facilitate this journey? Good question. I’m not challenging the historicity of this story as I do believe it actually happened, I just have another interpretation on the event that works for me. And yet there is even another interpretation that I want to share with you this evening because I do feel that there is a universal message in this story, and a very powerful one, and so it makes no difference whether one is Christian, Jewish, Muslim,
Humanist, Buddhist, an Atheist, or anything in between. 

Sunday, December 17, 2023
The First & The Second Half of Life
Rev. Michael J S Carter

It’s been said that everyone wants to live long but no one wants to get old. Carl Jung was once quoted as saying that, “The greatest and most important problems of life are fundamentally unsolvable. They can never be solved, only outgrown.”

Carl Jung also said that life has two halves. The first half is devoted to forming a healthy ego. The second half of life is going inward and letting go of it. In my experience, the first half of life is just about finding the starting line. It’s a warm up but not the entire journey. It’s the raft but not the shore.

We know about this journey from the voices who have been there. This morning I'd like to take some time to listen to those voices.

December 10, 2023
The Self-Centered Self
Rev. Michael J S Carter

If we are honest with ourselves, we realize that in life and in truth that there are people who are egotistical and self–centered. There is no doubt about this. They may not even realize this, but it is there. One definition of the term ego is described as a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance. For instance, if you say someone has a “big ego,” then you are saying he or she is too full of him or herself. In psychoanalytic theory, the ego is the part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity. To be self-centered is to be preoccupied with oneself and one’s affairs. And there is such a thing as a "healthy ego." This sense of self is quite attainable; however, takes work. Let's explore.

Sunday, December 3, 2023
5 Songs, 5 Messages
Todd & Meg Hoke

If the sermon is the worship service’s “main course”, metaphorically speaking, then the songs, hymns and music are often “side dishes” on the menu. For this particular service, Meg & Todd Hoke will present more of a “tapas” worship service for our spiritual delight. They will share five original songs with accompanying messages scattered throughout our “buffet.” It will be a new experience and different. That’s a good thing, isn’t it?

November 26, 2023
What Do You Expect?
Rev. Michael J S Carter

This time of year is representative of many things to many people, and one of those things is this being the season of preparation and expectation. By “preparation” I mean the reflection on one’s interior life and the outer world of the individual expecting a certain event to transpire, a certain thing to happen. For instance, when I personally think of the word “expectation” it means to me that I have absolutely no doubt that something will manifest, much like flipping on a light switch. I know that light will come on most of the time. I don’t even think about it. But when I anticipate, I leave room for doubt. Perhaps these are semantics. In our culture at this time of year, theologically speaking, many liberal and conservative Christians are in preparation for the long-awaited birth of a savior. But whether we are waiting for the bus, a paycheck, or the messiah, expectation is in the equation. Let's explore.

Sunday, November 19, 2023
Thanksgiving is a Choice
Rev. Michael J S Carter

When you think of Thanksgiving, what images cross your mind? A decadent and treasured gathering of your relatives at someone’s home? Seeing family members after years or months of separations and catching up on past events? Seeing old friends from childhood and traveling to the big gathering and dinner? Perhaps your memories are not quite as heart-warming as that, but Thanksgiving offers us a buffet of memories that mix the savory, sweet and sometimes distasteful all together. Viewed in this way, to celebrate Thanksgiving is a choice. Let's explore.

Sunday, November 12, 2023 - 11 a.m.
Vaclav Havel: A Political Life
Rev. Michael J S Carter

Born in Prague in 1936, Vaclav Havel went from dissident playwright to the President of Czechoslovakia (and later the Czech Republic) from 1989-1992. He was President of the Czech Republic 1993-2003. He was just as at home in local pubs as well as halls of political power, he was a humanitarian and saw politics as the art of possibility. We may never see the likes of him again.

Sunday, November 5, 2023 - 11 a.m.
The Power of Memory & Imagination
David Madden

Our guest in the pulpit on November 5, 2023, will be David Madden. He will speak on the power of memory and imagination, including a dramatic reading of Momma’s Lost Piano, a memoir.

When she is 17, Emily Merritt’s beloved father gives her the piano she has always wanted. A few days later, having lost his job, he sells Emily’s piano and moves the family from their fine two-story home in Cleveland into his mother’s three-room house in Knoxville, Tennessee.

The loss of her piano casts a shadow over Emily’s life in Knoxville, a city she could never love. Emily is a courageous fighter as she raises three boys in poverty.

David Madden, author of 15 works of fiction (including Bijou, set in Knoxville),

turns to the memoir genre to tell the story of his close relationship with his mother over seven decades. Born and raised in Knoxville, he taught creative writing for 60 years and is the Robert Penn Warren Professor Emeritus at Louisiana State University. He has published 65 books in every genre. In the 1970’s, his novel The Suicide’s Wife was made into a CBS Movie of the Week.

He lives in Black Mountain with his wife Robbie. Their son Blake lives in Old Fort.

Sunday, October 29, 2023 - 11 a.m.
A Gathering of Saints & Souls for Halloween
Rev. Michael J S Carter

This coming Tuesday is Halloween. Now I was never really big on the holiday myself, even as a kid. Yes, there was plenty of candy but I was never into scary costumes or a lot of candy because I had really bad acne as a child. I’m sure my Baptist upbringing had something to do with my not being a particular fan of the holiday. Demons, ghosts and goblins were sooo not Baptist. I wasn’t taught that there were spiritual origins to the holiday. I was not told back then that the origins of Halloween could be traced back to the ancient Celts who called it Samhain (pronounced Sow-in). I wasn’t told that Samhain was the final harvest festival of the season, celebrated at the exact point between Fall Equinox and the Winter Solstice. I wasn’t told that Samhain marked the end of the growing season, the entrance into the winter months, and was seen as a powerful turning point in the cycle of the year representing life, death and re-birth. In this cycle of the year Samhain was the time of death. It was the time in which the trees shed their leaves, animals go into hibernation, and the days grow short and cold. Time to explore the message of the holiday.

Sunday, October 22, 2023 - 11 a.m.
Moral Autonomy
Tim Perry

I've often said that when I finally go off the deep end and start my cult, anti-cult, or whatever, the only dogma will be individual moral autonomy. By that I mean the right, responsibility, and possibly even sacred duty to think for ourselves, and not surrender our moral self-determination to any other group or individual, even one that we love and trust. Let's kick that notion around a bit and see what we come up with. We could explore things like how to think for ourselves in a world that clamors to think for us, how to question almost everything without being paralyzed by doubt, or how to know whether we're being ruggedly individualistic, or just plain cantankerous. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

Sunday, October 15, 2023 - 11 a.m.
Joys, Concerns & Sacred Time
Rev. Michael J S Carter

I’d like to talk a bit about time this morning. For me personally, I always think about time and the seasons of our lives (my life in particular), especially as the month of September and the autumn equinox approaches.  I love the fall, it is my favorite season.

As many of you are keenly aware, we speak of the concept of time when we come to the joys and concerns part of our service.

We speak of Chronos time (which refers to a moment, or an exact time, for instance a season, such as harvest time) and we speak of Kairos time (sacred or the opportune time). I want us to continue thinking and feeling about this idea.

Sunday, October 8, 2023 - 11 a.m.
The "V" Monologue
Rev. Michael J S Carter

Why we need them and why we want them. Use your imagination. 

Sunday, October 1, 2023 - 11 a.m.
An Almost Chosen People
Rodger Payne, PhD

The recent rise of “Christian Nationalism” is the latest manifestation of a recurrent theme in the religious history of the United States. Beginning with the colonization and destruction of indigenous cultures, through the expansionist years of Manifest Destiny, to contemporary calls to “make America great again,” many Americans have expressed a belief that the United States has a divine calling to fulfill. We will briefly examine some historical examples of this idea, as well as consider the implications that arise from it.

Sunday, September 24, 2023 - 11 a.m.
Practical Ethics & the Sin of Pride
Andy Reed

Many conservative theologians (not just Christians) consider Pride to be the father of all sins. They view Lucifer’s challenge to god’s supremacy, and his subsequent eviction from heaven, as the origin of sinful behavior and its consequences. When we “woke” Unitarian Universalists apply our personal or faith-based ethics to do good in the world, even those of us who discard the concept of “sin” can taint what we do with pride . . . to the point that we might not anticipate some consequences of our activities that are not so good. Because Yom Kippur begins at sundown on September 24, 2023, it seems like a good day for us to consider what we do within our own penumbra of pride . . . and, if necessary, atone for the sin.

Sunday, September 17, 2023 - 11 a.m.
Homecomings
Dwight Mullen, PhD

Humble or grand, home is where your heart belongs. When it is a place of shelter and love, there is no place like home. It is then, one of the sweetest words in any language. It suggests a nest where intimacy and belonging can foster identity and individuality. UUs congregations celebrate "Homecoming" during the month of September to welcome folks back after the summer. We will also have our Water Communion service that Sunday as well.

Sunday, September 10, 2023 - 11 a.m.
Reparations in Buncombe County/Asheville
Dwight Mullen, PhD

Dr. Dwight Mullen, retired professor from UNC Asheville, will discuss the goals, accomplishments, and timeline of the Asheville-Buncombe Community Reparations Commission. The Commission — approximately two dozen Black residents of Asheville and Buncombe County—focuses on both the historical injustices of discrimination (urban renewal, red-lining, private and public discrimination, etc.) as well as disparities and policies that, by design or inadvertently, continue to further disparities in job opportunities, education, income and wealth, and access to power.

Sunday, September 3, 2023 - 11 a.m.
Entering the Silence
Rev. Michael J S Carter

We now live in a culture that embraces continuous sound in the form of white noise, machinery, idle conversation, music and a variety of other forms of media. They can all have a detrimental effect on our mental health and our ability to connect with nature. Have you ever just taken a walk with your pet dog for instance or walked in the woods in silence alone without talking on your phone? Let's discuss as a gentle reminder what it means to enter the eloquence of silence.

Sunday, August 27, 2023 - 11 a.m.
Compassion for the Cries of the World
Rev. Michael J S Carter

Wherever we go, wherever we wake, we are challenged to hear the cries of the world very personally. The cries are unending and overwhelming, and our noble charge to hear them - to hold them and to keep them alive—is how we keep the life force, the eros energy that we need, kindled between us. As Black Elk was once quoted as saying, the reason to lament is that it helps us to realize our oneness with all things, and to know that all things are our relatives. Let's talk about how we can still keep our sanity and our compassion with our world in turmoil.

Sunday, August 20, 2023 - 11 a.m.
Seeking the Spiritual Teacher
Rev. Michael J S Carter

There have been times in my life when I needed to seek the listening ear. I needed to talk to a professional in order to get some insights into my life and how I was choosing to live it. I am an enthusiastic proponent of getting the wise counsel of a friend or a professional to gain some insight and wisdom. Let's excavate what this may look like when seeking a spiritual teacher. See you on Sunday!

Sunday, August 13, 2023 - 11:00 a.m.
"Offering Compassion"
Rev. Claudia Jiminez

An invitation to explore our religious history and theological grounding as members of a denomination that advocates for reproductive justice. In particular, Rev. Jiménez will highlight the Clergy Consultation Service and UU involvement in their work before Roe. How can that history inform us today, post Roe?

 

Sunday, August 6, 2023 - 11:00 a.m.
"Hello on Earth"
Rev. Michael J S Carter

If within the next 10 years, the next year, the next 30 minutes, the ravages of nuclear war are unleashed upon humanity – murdering billions of people, inflicting excruciating injuries upon countless others, sending civilization back to the Stone Age and destroying most of the rest of the earth, it won’t have happened without much warning.

The first warning was the worst. On Aug. 6, 1945, a United States Boeing B-29 bomber dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima instantly killing over 70,000 – mostly civilian – children, women and men.

Three days later, on Aug. 9, 1945, the U.S. dropped a second atomic bomb, this time on the Japanese city of Nagasaki, killing at least 60,000 people – again mostly civilians.  A Nuclear midnight for civilization is upon us. The clock is winding down---it is later than we think.

Sunday, July 30, 2023 - 11:00 a.m.
"Joy & Contentment"
Rev. Michael J S Carter

Joy, it seems, mostly comes on its own. By that I mean that we cannot plan joy, yet it touches our lives. Joy gladdens our hearts; it eases the mind; it has the feeling of delight and happiness.

We may associate joy with the dramatically happy and intense moments in and of our lives: falling in love, the birth of a child, a reunion with a friend, the beautiful sunset. Yet joy can take us by surprise, born of the simplest of life experiences. Let's unpack this wonderful emotion and see just how we can feel it more deeply in our lives.

Sunday, July 23, 2023 - 11:00 a.m.
"The Choice"
Rev. Michael J S Carter

In the modern world, time is considered linear and spatial—you   waste it, run out of it, or equate it with money. We are supposed to be making “progress” towards some technological goal. Yet, this is just one way of conceiving time, of exploring its many dimensions. For instance, there is the time we call the dreamtime. Native peoples consider this as an even more valid or legitimate way of exploring time.

Aboriginal people don’t conceive of history, of progress and redemption, or decline and fall.

For them, the universe is a sacred continuum, an ongoing ceremony. These two very different visions of life and the world present us with a choice. Which choice will you make?

Sunday, July, 16, 2023 - 11:00 a.m.
"Do We Really Live in a Cruel World?"
Rev. Michael J S Carter

From time to time, people will ask why a certain tragedy occurred, on either a personal or global scale. They wonder what we can or should be doing to resolve the world’s problems. It is in the nature of life that people we care for get ill or go through times of great difficulty. And it is natural that we feel empathy and are compelled to help in whatever way we can. Often, we wish for such things not to happen, but do we actually know what people truly need? With this in mind, the question becomes... Do we really live in a cruel world? Let's explore.

Sunday, July, 9, 2023 - 11:00 a.m.
"Learning to Pray - A Thousand Ways to Kneel & Kiss the Ground"
Eric Bannan

Using personal narratives from people of different faiths we will explore what it means to pray on our own terms.

Eric Bannan is a vocal explorer, Storyteller, performing songwriter and worship leader based in Pittsboro, NC.  He has been called to share his art to inspire, heal, motivate for positive change and build community.

Sunday, July, 2, 2023 - 11:00 a.m.
"Perseverance With Permission to Pause"
Lyn VanOver

The word “karma” comes from the Sanskrit, the sacred language of India. The oldest language in the world, it fell out of common usage around 600 BCE. It is now a liturgical language that is used in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. Originally it simply meant “doing” or “action,” but its usual meaning had to do with the law of cause and effect, though with a caveat. Karma means not only that certain causes have certain effects, but that a cause produces good and bad deeds.

Sunday, June 25, 2023 - 11:00 a.m.
"Seeds"
Rev. Michael J S Carter

The mystic Julian of Norwich, holding an acorn in her hand in the 14th century said, “In this is all there is.” A profound statement to be sure, for in every seed lies the components of all life the world has ever known from the beginning of time. One of the laws of our Universe is that we reap what we sow. 

If this is true, then what kind of world are we creating? In every seed is the gift of life to those seeking life, wanting life, and those denied the kind of life the seed has to offer. Let's talk a bit about seeds.

Sunday, June 18, 2023 - 11:00 a.m.
"Universalism, God & Fatherhood"
Rev. Michael J S Carter

This Father’s Day, I would like to explore the influence of our Universalist theology on our contemporary notion of God and what it means for the holiday of Father’s Day and our spiritual maturity regarding God and Fatherhood.

Sunday, June 11, 2023 - 11:00 a.m.
"Karma & the Power of Forgiveness"
Rev. Michael J S Carter

The word “karma” comes from the Sanskrit, the sacred language of India. The oldest language in the world, it fell out of common usage around 600 BCE. It is now a liturgical language that is used in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. Originally it simply meant “doing” or “action,” but its usual meaning had to do with the law of cause and effect, though with a caveat. Karma means not only that certain causes have certain effects, but that a cause produces good and bad deeds.

Sunday, June 4, 2023 - 11:00 a.m.
"Building Community through Restorative Practices"
Cynthia Berryman-Fink, PhD

We have a communication problem in our country due to social isolation and divisiveness among people. Today we will examine the extent and effect of this problem as we seek to rebuild community and strengthen communication. We’ll look at the purpose and application of restorative practice, hear examples of how it can work, and consider ways to use this loving and spiritual practice in our lives.

Dr. Cindy Berryman-Fink taught at the University of Cincinnati for 31 years, has published numerous articles and books on communication, and has consulted for many organizations about improving communication practices. She and her husband Chuck retired to Asheville 14 years ago.

Sunday, May 28, 2023 - 11:00 a.m.
“The Courage to Change Course”
Rev. Michael J S Carter

It has been said that those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything. A dying tree branch hits a friend in the head and lays open her scalp. When she recovers from the coma, she says someone was trying to tell her something. A loved one discovers a deadly tumor. An expensive ring is lost, or discovers that the internet stock that was guaranteed to make a fortune is worthless. You awake from a dream; you stumble and fall down and break a leg. Life is messy. What does it take for us to "get it?" What does it take for us to change?

There is a Zen saying: “One accident is worth a thousand meditations.”

Sunday, May 21, 2023 - 11:00 a.m.
“Eastern Thoughts on Happiness for the Western Mind”
Rev. Michael J S Carter

The Western intellectual tradition suggests that in order to be happy, what we need to do most of all is to go out and subdue the world; secure resources, found businesses, run governments, gain fame and conquer nations.

By contrast, the Eastern tradition has for a long while told us something very different. In both its Buddhist and Hindu strands, it has insisted that contentment requires us to learn to conquer not the world but the instrument through which we view this world, namely our minds. Let's explore!

Sunday, May 14, 2023 - 11:00 a.m.
“A Mother's Day Vision of Healing"
Rev. Michael J S Carter

As you have heard me say, Mother’s Day is a difficult time to write a sermon for clergy. How many times can we talk about our mother s (love them or hate them?) So, this morning, I want to talk about the “mother of all
mothers” if you will, our Mother Earth.

Everyone by now knows that humanity is in crisis… politically, economically, spiritually and ecologically (or any way you want to look at it.) There are many people who see humanity as close to suicide and on its deathbed by way of our own technology and lack of maturity while using it. Many others see humanity as deserving of the wrath of an angry god or nature’s wrath in retribution for our “sins.” Let's explore a different vision for our Mother Earth---a vision of healing.

Sunday, May 7, 2023 - 11:00 a.m.
“Re-Enchantment”
Marc Mullinax

Through culture, philosophy, religious texts, and social conditioning we, who are naturally webbed into all creation, come to regard ourselves as stand-alones: Stand-alone species (human); stand-alone tribes, and stand-alone individuals. This unnatural process leads to the "thingification" of all that we are not. So once-sacred earth, creation, animals, plants, mountains, and rivers become "its" -- thing-ified.

Marc's talk will focus on this thingification process, and show ways to re-enchant time, space, creation, even our enemies!

Sunday, April 30, 2023 - 11:00 a.m.
“Knowing & Being”
Rev. Michael J S Carter

One of the oldest texts in any Indo-European language is the Rig Veda from the Hindu tradition. Let me share a quote with you. “I know not whether I am the same as this cosmos; a mystery am I, yet burdened by mind I wander.”

And now from the book of Psalms (Psalm 8).

“When I consider the heavens, the work of your fingers, The moon and the stars which you have ordained, what are human beings that you are mindful of them?”

As seekers of truth, the only thing we need to do is to take ourselves seriously. The question of “Why am I here?” naturally will arise eventually. We are naturally interested in both the cosmos and the person, nature & consciousness, flesh & spirit. Let's explore the essence of being human. Let's explore what it means "to know" and "to be."

Sunday, April 23, 2023 - 11:00 a.m.
“Fully Embracing & Sustaining Our Higher Frequencies ”
Chaitanya

Despite our highest intentions, we tend to lose momentum, stop, then start again. It can take significant energy to begin anew. We may become disheartened and even self-denigrating. Often, we know what we want to do, so why does it "fall apart"? Why do we allow the world to sabotage us, pulling us down from the beautiful spaces that we've accessed? What are the keys to sustaining a vibrant, pure frequency? As part of the service, we'll sing a few universal mantras as a powerful, joyful way to stay in a higher vibration.

Sunday, April 16, 2023 - 11:00 a.m. 
“Stay Awake”
Rev. Michael J S Carter
 

The word “woke” has long been used, especially among Black folks, to denote that a person should be aware of structural inequality, informed of the nuances of racism and sensitive to the prevalence of anti-Black violence. 

The word “woke” is now at the center of the battle over books – a war against wokeness has turned into a war against Black history and sharing the true stories of the Black experience. Woke may feel like a term that has lost all coherent meaning or one that has been twisted so much it has bent into a slur, but its roots, undoubtedly, are Black. Woke used to belong to African Americans. Let's explore.

Sunday, April 9, 2023 - 11:00 a.m.
“A UU Easter”
Rev. Michael J S Carter

Long before there was a Jewish or Christian religion... Long before there was a Passover or Easter... Long before any religions as we know them ever

existed... Long before history or sacred texts were ever written down, men and women gathered to witness and to greet the coming of spring with joyful celebration.

Winter could be frightening. Each day the sun gave less-and-less light and stayed in the sky for shorter periods of time. I’m sure this would have given our ancestors pause, and perhaps they asked, what if the sun faded away entirely? What if it slipped down behind a mountain or sea and just was too weak to ever rise again? The waning of the sun brought on extreme cold and vegetation died. Birds and other animals seemed to just disappear.

And yet each year the sun did return and it did become stronger once more, as did the vegetation and fruits and flowers. This meant life would continue and the sun and its great power to make things grow was not only much appreciated, but also much celebrated. Here comes the sun! Let's explore what it means to celebrate a Unitarian Universalist Easter.

Sunday, April 2, 2023 - 11:00 a.m. 
“Inviting Delight”
Jewelsong

There are always a multitude of challenges in this world, and the last few years have been especially stressful for many of us. As an antidote to this, how do we stay connected to Source, to Center, to our true selves? One way is to enjoy, appreciate, and cultivate Delight! Jewelsong will share some of our favorite delights through music, poetry, and inspiring texts, and will offer a guided meditation so we can each travel to our own inner Land of Delight.

Sunday, March 26, 2023 - 11:00 a.m.
“Using Our Inner Wealth”
Rev. Michael J S Carter

What gifts are you not using in this life? What of your inner wealth are you not sharing with the world? All of us are wounded creatures. All of us have had wounds to our self-esteem. These wounds have come from family, friends, religions and the world. None of us escape this. These wounds sometimes devastate entire lives.

They have come from poverty, self–identifying with the poverty around them, internalized the racism, the abuse they suffered or witnessed, and thereby collude with victimization. Others find their resolve to achieve triggered by these circumstances.  

Carl Jung observed that there are times when behind the wounds lies the source of a person’s genius. Let's explore.

 

Sunday, March 19, 2023 - 11:00 a.m.
“The Evolution of God”
Rev. Michael J S Carter

There is, it seems, a deep unconscious instinct in humanity to recognize and be in reverence of the source of all things. However, this instinct can be, and has been perverted. That religions have been the source of so much conflict and misery throughout human history points to how the instinct to religion (which when it is healthy, when what is experienced in its true and inexpressible dimension, can be a source of strength and profound comfort) has been so often distorted into something very unhealthy and destructive. In short, we have created God in our image. With some assistance from the ideas of Albert Einstein, revisiting a bit of human religious history, and good old fashion common sense, let's explore the possible evolution of God in our life -time. Well, I can dream, can't I?

Sunday, March 12, 2023 - 11:00 a.m.
“What It Means to be A Sentient Being”
Rev. Michael J S Carter

On occasion you have heard me refer to the animal kingdom as well as human beings as sentient beings. The Dali Lama and the philosophy of Buddhism talks about showing kindness to creation, to sentient life. Native Americans refer to nature and its inhabitants at times as different tribes or nations. The Bird tribe or nation, the Winged tribe or nation, etc. They refer to Extraterrestrial life as people belonging to the Star Nations or Star People. For me, the reasoning is obvious. It shows a connection with all that is, in the hopes that perhaps if we saw others as connected to us, as other nations or tribes or even people, we would treat them better. Today we explore what it means to be sentient---a sentient being.

Sunday, March 5, 2023 - 11:00 a.m.
“Waking Up to Your Dreams”
Tayria Ward, Ph.D.

Dreams are a universal language spoken by all living things. Everything dreams! Babies dream, animals dream, plants, trees, the Earth itself is dreaming. Scriptures throughout the world tell countless stories of dreams that guided the people. Buddha’s teachings are condensed in 5 famous dreams of his. Mohammad received the Koran in dreams. Joseph was told in a dream to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt.  

With the dawn of the Age of Reason over the last few centuries, the ways of knowing through the symbolic and mythic language of the dream became marginalized and mostly forgotten. Losing the dreaming, it would seem that we have lost our way. However, we can recover this language, and thereby remember who we are and our connection to the Dreamtime dimension of consciousness available to us at all times, waking and sleeping.  We will explore these ideas, as well as suggestions for ways to work with your personal dreams in this presentation. Watch your dreams! 

Sunday, February 26, 2023 - 11:00 a.m.
“We Bid You Welcome”
Rev. Michael J S Carter

This morning we acknowledge and celebrate our New Members. New members are the life-blood of any congregation as we attempt to grow not only in numbers, but in our individual and collective lives. Rest assured that we do not take your presence here lightly. Obviously, you felt compelled to join this community for you feel that on some level we reflect your beliefs, opinions and values. To belong means to be suitable and appropriate in the proper situation. We want you to feel that you belong here. And so, this morning, we want to extend a warm and hearty welcome to our free, liberal, religious
community.

Sunday, February 19, 2023 - 11:00 a.m.
“The Bounty of Our Faith”
Rev. Michael J S Carter

In the book of Matthew, chapter 13:44-46, we are told that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that was hidden in a field and a man discovered it and because of his joy he went and sold everything he had and purchased that field. Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant seeking valuable pearls and when he found that one costly pearl, he sold everything he had and bought it.

What are you willing to do to keep the legacy of UUCSV alive? We are at a crucial time in our culture where a liberal and free religious voice is vital to our community (and the nation's) narrative. What is the bounty of our faith? The time is at hand and we have much work to do. Let's explore.

Sunday, February 12, 2023 - 11:00 a.m.
“Wisdom of the Ancients”
Rev. Michael J S Carter

I want to discuss a few worldviews of diverse cultures that I feel can be extremely helpful in encouraging a healthy sense of a community on a micro-and-macro level. The Native American view of “all my relations” (Lakota) views all reality and life as related and interconnected.

Every aspect of life is seen as part of one intrinsic family. For instance, in the Blackfoot tribe, when people meet, they don’t say “How are you?” but Tza Nee Da Bee Wah? which means, “How are the connections?” If the connections are in place, then we must be ok. If the connections are not in place, we need to tend to our business first. Sound, practical wisdom for everyday life. Let's go further on Sunday.

Sunday, February 5, 2023 - 11:00 a.m.
“Hard Times”
Meg & Todd Hoke

Through music and word, Todd & Meg connect our American and UU heritage from Stephen Foster, Woody Guthrie and Margaret Fuller to our modern time, exploring some common themes and challenges as well as offering hope and encouragement.

Meg and Todd met in the early 90's while serving as full-time volunteers at a residential hospice for people with AIDS in
Baltimore. They have worked in health-care related fields ever since and both currently work at Four Seasons Hospice – Todd as an RN, Meg as a Social worker. 

They are both vegan, enjoy sauntering in the woods, reading, hanging out with their three dogs and live music. Todd is an
accomplished singer/songwriter who has recorded several albums and developed a variety of projects. Meg volunteers at a farm Sanctuary and counts pigs, goats, turkeys and a bunch of chickens, cats and dogs as friends.  

Sunday, January 29, 2023 - 11:00 a.m.
“Aging Is a Gift”
Rev. Michael J S Carter

Poem on aging by Maya Angelou:

“When you see me walking, stumbling, don’t study and get it wrong. Cause tired don’t mean lazy and every goodbye ain’t gone. I’m the same person I was back then, with a little less hair, and a little less chin. A lot less lungs and much less wind, But ain’t I lucky I can still breathe in.”

I have learned that aging is necessary but maturity is optional. However, if Madison Ave. had its way, while living in a culture that fights aging with all the energy it can muster, I wonder if we as a culture will ever really come to accept the gift of aging. This talk is my contribution to that acceptance. Hope you can join us.

Sunday, January 22, 2023 - 11:00 a.m.
“Social Justice in Action”
Hosted by Jim Carillon with Guest Speakers:
Katie Alexander, Fred Littleton & Annie Myers

Pisgah Legal Services provides pro-bono legal and social justice services throughout WNC. Two of their services are helping clients navigate Affordable Care Act Health Insurance enrollment and free tax preparation for lower income families. These comprise their new “Health & Economic Opportunity Programs.” HEOP Regional Director Katie Alexander, volunteer Fred Littleton and client Annie Myers will describe this social justice work in action. Come hear how area families are served and how you might get involved in these vital social justice efforts at Pisgah Legal. A potluck lunch follows this service.

 

Sunday, January 15, 2023 - 11:00 a.m.
“Broken Hearts, Open Hearts & Trees”
Rev. Michael J S Carter

Belvie Rooks and Dedan Gills are the co-founders of Growing a Global Heart, a vision inspired to promote the planting of memorial trees to honor those forgotten souls of our past--- from victims of
urban violence, the Underground Railroad, and the Trans-Atlantic Slave Route in West Africa—as part of a process of collective healing and as a solution to climate change. Their motto is: “Healing the wounds of the past—in the present--- while creating a sustainable future.” I'd like to use their story and philosophy to share their
wisdom, passion, and commitment on this Dr. King Sunday.