Upcoming Sundays (virtual services)

Sunday November 1, 2020
"Show Me What You Love"
Annelinde Metzner and Alison Tynes Adams

This Sunday's service features the music and poetry of Annelinde Metzner, sung by Alison Tynes Adams with Annelinde at the piano. As a composer, Annelinde has been motivated by the idea that whatever you notice increases. Teachers learn this in the classroom. Physicists agree. Let us hear about what you love, not what you hate, and we will create a field that will amplify. Annelinde's beloved vision is that of the return of the Divine Feminine.

Annelinde Metzner is choir director, pianist and music coordinator at the UUCSV. She has been creating multimedia productions with her music and poetry, with musicians, readers, dancers and puppets, since 1998. She is the founder of Asheville's Womansong and Sahara Peace Choir.

Soprano Alison Tynes Adams, (BM, Guilford College; MM, Voice Performance, Peabody Conservatory) has been honored to sing Annelinde's music since early 2009. Alison is the daughter of Bette Bates and Robert Tynes and grew up in the UU Congregation of Asheville and later the UUCSV. After singing and teaching in New York City and Santa Cruz, CA, Alison is happy to be back in Black Mountain where she lives with her husband, Drew, and one-year-old son, Cy.

 

Sunday November 8, 2020
"Post-Election Community Discussion - A Time to Gather"
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter

Annelinde Metzner, Piano
Second Sundays: Marianne Vail, viola, and Coline Clark, cello

For our virtual service on November 8, you are invited to share and pre-record your thoughts on Wednesday, November 4

It's been a difficult and challenging year dealing with COVID-19 and now the election of the President of the United States. With that in mind, we will not feature a sermon on Sunday, November 8, but rather offer to congregants a time to share their personal reflections about these events and more.

 

There will be two opportunities on November 4 to pre-record your thoughts for the November 8 service:

Nov 4, 12:00 p.m.: During the usual time of Rev. Carter and Evan Yanik recording the service, up to ten people may offer their reflections; a few more may attend for a maximum of 15 attendees. Masks and social distancing required.

Nov 4, 7:00 p.m.: We gather on Zoom. Between 10 and 15 people may be recorded although more may attend to listen live. Evan will record remotely and Rev. Carter will moderate the meeting.

At both meetings, Evan will record 60 to 90 seconds of each person talking; you must register with Evan if you would like to be recorded at either time. Please be succinct so that everyone gets a chance to speak, Evan will create a schedule as there can only be about 20 short recordings to fit the time otherwise reserved for the sermon and Joys & Concerns.

 

Sunday November 15, 2020
"Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Woman For All Seasons"
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter

Annelinde Metzner, Piano

We will journey through the life of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, aka RBG, honoring her legacy of fighting for justice for women as well as men. She said her mother told her to "be a lady", and for her that meant to be your own person, to be independent. Ruth Ginsburg said she believed in "fighting for the things you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you." She was ready to cope with any contingency and her behavior was appropriate to any occasion. Today we label that as having "class." RBG was an icon and a national treasure, let's journey through her life as best we can in the short time allotted and give thanks for Justice Ginsburg, "A Woman For All Seasons."

 

Sunday November 22, 2020
"The Lion's Whisker"
Becky Stone

Annelinde Metzner, Piano

Becky Stone, a native Philadelphian, moved to the mountains 40 years ago with her husband to start their family. With a background in theater, reading stories to their four children came quite easily. A librarian heard her reading to her children and asked Becky to volunteer to tell stories at Pack library. Becky said “yes”, and a storyteller was born! Becky has told at schools, libraries, universities, churches, festivals, and private events in the region for over 30 years. Becky, Janet Oliver, and the late Rocky Fulp worked together as Thrice-Told Storytellers, a group that specialized in African-American history and stories. She has appeared with Asheville Community Theater, SART, Asheville Contemporary Dance Theater, HART, Montford Players and in plays in Greenville, SC and Lexington, VA. Her storytelling skills have served her well as, since 2003, Becky has portrayed Pauli Murray, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, and Maya Angelo for Chautauquas in Asheville, Greenville, Spartanburg, Colorado, Nebraska, and Ohio.

 

Sunday December 6, 2020
Diana McCall

Annelinde Metzner, Piano

Diana McCall has served as a community organizer and educator for over a decade in Western North Carolina. In her role as manager of the Dr. John Wilson Community Garden, she has facilitated partnerships with numerous agencies and institutions to educate her community on how to grow, access and prepare healthy food for themselves and their families. Her work as a consultant and facilitator supports community driven growth and development. Her techniques emphasize Asset Based Community Development and participatory engagement strategies, nurturing the seeds of strength and wisdom inherent within every group of people. Diana has been a practitioner of Kundalini Yoga for 20 years and a teacher for the past 10. She is the proud mother of Cyrus, Eden and True and powerful wife to Brett McCall.

 

Previous Sundays

Sunday October 25, 2020
"Sowing Seeds"
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter

Sue Stone, Piano
Annelinde Metzner, Choir Director
UUCSV Choir performs

 

I want to use this parable from the teachings of Jesus this morning to get us thinking about what kind of seeds we are sowing in our lives, especially during this time of fear and confusion.

Sowing Seeds

2 Cor 9:6-8 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each person should give what he or she has decided in his or her heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion.

One of the laws of our Universe is that we reap what we sow. This is not a personal attack on any individual, it just a part of the natural law of things. Some call it Karma, some call it cause and effect, the National Security Agency and the CIA of this nation refer to it as blow back, which means they too are aware of this law or concept. So, it’s good to know that most of us can agree on one thing. What goes around eventually does come around.

If this is true, then what kind of world are we creating? What kind of seeds are we planting to create the world we want to attain, a world where our UU seven principles are lived out each and every day in some way shape or form?

Sunday October 18, 2020
"Monumental Decisions"
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter

Annelinde Metzner, Piano

 

Much has been made on what America must do in order to make amends for her “original sin” of slavery. Part of any type of reconciliation is being able to admit when something has gone wrong or when something needs to be made right. James Baldwin once said that not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced. This Sunday, we will consider what the United States can learn from Germany regarding Monuments here in this country celebration White Supremacy.

 

Sunday October 11, 2020
"The Role of Religion in a Time of Crisis"
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter

Annelinde Metzner, Piano
Second Sunday Music

People are searching. People are frightened. They are looking for security or at least some semblance of it. These are indeed the times that will try our souls. It is precisely at times like these that people look to religion for guidance and consolation. And the fact remains that whether or not one identifies as a humanist, religious, or spiritual, we are all on the hunt for meaning and answers in times like these. Let's explore the role of religion in a time of crisis and what this can mean for us in these exciting and challenging times.

 

Sunday October 4, 2020
"The Journey Back from Us and Them - the Return to Sanity, Stability, Kindness and Respect"
Pana Columbus

Annelinde Metzner, Piano

Pana Columbus is an award-winning playwright, director, and producer of ritual theater. She has been using the power of the arts to catalyze positive and demonstrable community transformations since 2000. panacolumbus.com/

Sunday September 27, 2020
"Bringing The Timeless Into TIme"
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter

Sue Stone, Piano
Annelinde Metzner, Choir Director
UUCSV Choir performs

Many of you have mentioned to me from time to time the need to be able to navigate challenging times, especially, but not limited to, these last four years even before the time of COVID-19. There are some who have even began to measure time as "before COVID" and "after COVID", BC and AC if you will, although we are still wrestling with this pandemic globally.

My suggestion has always been to bring the timeless into time. By that I mean that those timeless truths, be they religious, spiritual, humanistic, earth-centered, call them what you will. These truths are timeless and that is why we need them, our ancestors needed them and used them to navigate their times as well. At times we have to look backwards in order to move forward. Let's explore.

 

Sunday September 20, 2020
"September Days"
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter

Annelinde Metzner, Piano
Phil Fryberger, Piano

 

I would like to pay homage to the last quarter of an historic year in so many ways by talking about the month of September, its symbolism, and its promise. Join me this Sunday as we explore the month of September.

September
A poem By David Whalen

More an emotion
Than a month
In many ways

More than the sum
Of it’s crisp
And bracing days

More so a taste
Of days of wine
And fading roses

More than just the smell
of leaves and smoke
in our noses

More than the changing
Of the guard
Of the seasons

More than the shrinking
Of the freshening days
And e’en less of the reasons

More fond do I grow
As the years come and go…
The Septembers I have left? (Who knows)

More should I taste
And the less
Should I waste

Of the fine
Piquant tang
And remember

Devotion, emotion
September is an ocean
That I feel each gust and tremor

And when Winter is nigh
Comes a tear to my eye
And I sadly bid sweet September

…Goodbye…

 

Sunday September 13, 2020
"The Self-Centered Life"
Homecoming, Water Communion

Rev. Michael J.S. Carter

Annelinde Metzner, Piano
Second Sundays Music: Andy Gwynn, singer-songwriter

We’ve been hearing a lot during the past months about people who are being self-centered and selfish, especially because they don’t want to wear face masks because of the protocols concerning COVID-19. I personally believe the topic is much more complex than "folks who want to wear masks are caring & altruistic" and "those who don’t are bad selfish people", but that is another topic for another time. In truth, there are people who are egotistic and self–centered. There is no doubt about this. Many of them are deeply wounded people.

One definition of the term "ego" is 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. It can also be a trait of a wounded person. Let's explore the life of the individual who lives the self-centered life.

September 13th, 2020 is Homecoming Sunday at UUCSV. There will be a notification later from Board President Kathryn Coyle regarding "Water Communion" this year. Stay tuned and stay healthy.

 

Sunday September 6, 2020
"Laboring to Birth a New World"
Jewelsong

 

Based in the Triangle area of North Carolina, Jewelsong shares original music to inspire personal, spiritual, and global transformation, exploring rich vocal harmonies and evocative acoustic instrumentation.

New songs are constantly flowing from the Muse, inspired by different spiritual traditions, by the beauty of Nature, by the sacred trust of caring for the Earth and our human family, and by our own imaginations and insights.

On this Labor Day Sunday, our theme is Laboring to Birth a New World. We are now living through a time when the old is passing away and new energy is being born all around us in many ways -- literally, a new world. How will this new world emerge? What are our individual tasks in the birthing? Through music, participatory singing, meditation, poetry, and reflections, Jewelsong will invite us into a vision of this time of laboring and of the coming birth.

 

Sunday August 30, 2020
"Perfect Imperfection"
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter

 

Professional sports is trying to make a comeback after the reality of COVID-19. Professional Basketball has started its season as of this writing and The National Football League is gearing up for the fall season. Not to be left out, Major League Baseball has begun its shortened season as well. Yes, it's rather late for both basketball and baseball but here we are. Sixty games are to be played this year in Major League Baseball in 2020.

In this strange time of plague and social unrest, I want us to explore the lessons we can learn from the game of baseball. I happen to enjoy many sports, but baseball is constantly reminding us that we as human beings are perfect in our imperfection. This is a hard lesson for every one of us (particularly for those folks born under the sign of Virgo, or have Virgo in their chart, but no more of that). Except to say that I was raised by a Virgo mom, bless her heart.

Let's talk about the spirituality of imperfection and the game of baseball and the game of life!

Sunday August 23, 2020
"The A, B & C of Religion"
Davidson Loehr

Annelinde Metzner, piano & choir director
UUCSV Choir will perform

This service will explore the three stages or levels by which we interpret and understand the scriptures. Our speaker uses the writings of Origin, St. Augustin, Annie Dillard, John Steinbeck and Soren Kierkegaarde to help us find our own path moving from a literal understanding of religious writings into a deeper level that may help guide humans towards more loving and compassionate lives.

David Loehr may be either a Renaissance man or just someone who never really grew up. He started his adult life as a professional musician. Then he enlisted and was an officer in the Army, serving first as the Vietnam Entertainment Officer, then combat photographer and finally as a press officer. Back home, he finished a degree in music, then studied photography and owned a portrait and wedding studio in Ann Arbor, MI. Bored after a few years, he sold the studio and became a self-taught woodworker/carpenter. A big mid-life transition put him in graduate school studying religion and science, and when he finished, he became a UU minister! He served the Austin, TX congregation for many years, served as interim minister for a couple of years and then retired to Weaverville, NC. He continues to study and lecture on Big History and explores deep questions like what is the meaning of life.

 

Sunday August 16, 2020

Rev. Michael J.S. Carter
"John Lewis"

Annelinde Metzner, piano

John Lewis was born in 1940 and died on Friday July 17, 2020 from pancreatic cancer. Before the sit-ins and freedom rides, before being nearly beaten to death by an Alabama state trooper at the Edmund Pettus Bridge (named after a confederate general and a member of the KKK), and before ascending the ladder to the top ranks of Democratic politics, John Lewis wanted to be a minister.

As a young boy tending to his family’s chicks in rural Pike, County, Alabama, John Lewis would recite bible verses to some of the chickens in the evening. He also conducted funeral services and the occasional baptism.

However, his role in the Civil Rights Movement put an end to those dreams of being a clergyman. Yet his moral compass and his unswerving commitment to non-violence and the “Beloved Community” influenced his life. It also earned him much respect. As Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden commented, “We are all made in the image of God. And then there’s John Lewis.” Martin Luther King dubbed him, "The Boy From Troy." This morning, we honor the life of the late U. S. Congressman, John Robert Lewis.

Sunday August 9, 2020

Rev. Michael J.S. Carter
"The Case for Compassion"

Annelinde Metzner, piano
Second Sundays performance by Spence Foscue & Family, original folk music

The Dalai Lama says that compassion “belongs to the category of emotions which have a more developed cognitive component.” Compassion is a blend of empathy and reason. When we practice compassion we will have more strength, peace, and joy and this will transfer to everyone with whom we associate. In these trying times, let's explore the case for compassion.

Sunday August 2, 2020
"Exploring"

Rev. Chris Andrews

Annelinde Metzner, piano

Exploring seems to be in the DNA of everything: a calf is born and as soon as it emerges from its mother it begins to explore, struggles to stand and take those first tentative, shaky steps, and begins to root around its mother’s body until it finds her udder and nourishment. A baby, as soon as she is able to move on her own is constantly exploring, reaching out her hands to pick something up, usually to put into her mouth and explore the taste, always looking, reaching. Even plants seem to want to explore. A vine stretches its tendrils, wrapping them around a tree and up into the branches, always reaching for more, exploring what’s there to be discovered. Life is about exploring the fullness of living; there is in us a great curiosity about the mystery of life. We are each called to our own journey to the fullness of life.

Sunday July 26, 2020
"Awash in a Sea of Change"

Rev. Michael J.S. Carter

Annelinde Metzner, choir director & piano
The UUCSV Choir will perform.

Without a doubt, the times we live in are  historic. These times can be both frightening and exciting times for many of us. The world is changing and we must change with it; we must let go of the old paradigm or be dragged. You see many of us say we want change but when the time actually comes we shirk from it. Why? Because in so many ways change is beyond our control.

It’s an interesting dynamic that I witness in some people. Even during this time I have come across people who don’t think that things have changed much regarding the cultural issues of our time.

I marvel at this. And I hear it from folk of color and white brothers and sisters as well. Mostly I hear it from people of color who are weary after marching and protesting after decades for social action. I hear it from white brothers and sisters who say that the more things change the more they stay the same. There is some truth to this line of thinking; however, that does not mean that things don’t change for the better. I think that what they really mean is that things are not changing fast enough, or not the way they want it to. You see, change is messy. Justice is messy. Equality is messy. Democracy is messy. Let's explore the times we are fortunate enough to live in and the "sea of change" we are all witnessing to at this time in our country and our planet's history.

Sunday July 19, 2020
"New Member Sunday"
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter

"Strange and Foolish Walls" by the late UU minister A. Powell Davies:

"The years of all of us are short, our lives precarious. Our days and nights go hurrying on and yet we find time for bitterness, for petty treason and evasion. What can we do to stretch our hearts close enough to lose their littleness? Here we are—all of us—all upon this planet, bound together in a common destiny, living our lives between the briefness of the daylight and the dark. Kindred in this, each lighted by the same precarious, flickering flame of life, how does it happen that we are not kindred in all things else? How strange and foolish are these walls of separation that divide us."

Here at UUCSV, we strive to break down these walls. This Sunday we honor our New Members. Initially, because of the COVID-19 outbreak, our leadership and I had decided to skip New Member Sunday. But it just didn't "feel right." We honor and cherish you, our new members. We also need to let you know just what you have gotten yourselves into. Thank you for choosing us as your spiritual community and congregational home.

 

Sunday July 12, 2020
"Sophia Lyon Fahs" - Intergenerational Service
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter

Susan Enwright Hicks, RE Director
Annelinde Metzner, piano
Second Sundays music performance by Sue Stone

Sophia Lyon Fahs was born August 2, 1876 to Presbyterian missionaries in China. Sophia returned to the U.S. and Wooster, Ohio, with her family when she was just a mere toddler. There she excelled academically and graduated with honors from the College of Wooster.

Sophia Lyon married Charles “Harvey” Fahs, who shared her dream of missionary work. But plans changed. The young couple headed for New York City for Charles’s employment. Motherhood and academia consumed Sophia. She earned and M.A. from Teachers College, Columbia University, and taught in a number of Sunday Schools.

She and Charles became parents of five children, two of whom they lost to illness. At the age of 47, Fahs began classes at Union Theological Seminary, graduating with a B. D. (Bachelor’s of Divinity) in 1926. The next year she joined the faculty of Union’s department of religious education and within a few years began teaching at Riverside Church.

Fahs believed and taught that children’s religious development was driven by their sense of wonder and questioning mind, and not by the prescribed belief of others. Her teaching, as you can imagine, drew much criticism, especially from faculty, but she pressed on. Aren’t you glad she did?

Fahs had long been intrigued by the Unitarian’s curricula in religious education. Beacon Press invited her to become editor of its course material. As editor, author, and sought after workshop leader, she thrived within the Unitarian denomination, and in 1945 she became a Unitarian. At the age of 82 she was ordained a Unitarian minister. In honor of Rev. Fahs, UU RE Philosophy, Susan Enwright- Hicks, Kathryn Coyle, and the many dedicated RE parents and volunteers, let's talk about Rev. Sophia Lyons Fahs.

Sunday July 5, 2020
"African Americans & The 4th of July"
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter

Annelinde Metzner, piano & choir director
The UUCSV Choir will perform.

The holiday of July 4th always rang hollow to me as long as I can remember. I appreciated the day off as I got older and entered the work force, but it seemed so hypocritical and I could not understand why many people could not see this, especially my white brothers and sisters. Yet, as I matured, I began to realize that no one, no nation wants to be reminded of its history, especially a history that is littered with the corpses of enslaved as well as indigenous people from a land that was taken. No one wants to remember genocide and pillaging. And yet, unless one can, or a nation can reconcile its past, no real future is truly possible. Generally speaking, people of color are disappointed in America. However, Dr. King reminds us that there can be no great disappointment where there is no great love. So here we are again, the 4th of July, 2020. I will share a bit of history regarding African Americans and the Fourth of July after the Civil War, and I also want to riff on Frederick Douglass and his speech delivered on July 5, 1852 titled

"What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?"

 

Sunday June 28, 2020 - 10:00 a.m.
UUA General Assembly Sunday Service

On Sunday June 28th, the UUA is strongly recommending that congregations attend virtually the service from the UU General Assembly via live-streaming video. Therefore, we will not hold UUCSV services on June 28 at 11 a.m. We will continue with our regular services the following week.

Thank you for your cooperation in this matter. It is deeply appreciated.

In Faith,
Michael
Rev. Michael J S Carter

 

Sunday June 21, 2020
"Father's Day"
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter

Annelinde Metzner, piano & mountain dulcimer

It takes more to becoming a father than just making a baby. To become a father is really not that difficult, but to be a father is. So today we salute fathers for their love and commitment. We salute those fathers who have come to realize that the best thing they can spend on their children is their time. In a society where babies are making babies, the challenges are enormous.

Perhaps you have a Father or Father figure you want to appreciate today. Then by all means do so. If father is still alive, there is still time to communicate and to perhaps even forgive. Time to let him know how much you love and cherish him. Of course don’t tell him that if you don’t feel that way. If he has died, there is still time to communicate and forgive if there is need for forgiveness. For those who have or have had a difficult time with father, forgiveness is the key. It’s the only way I know to let go and move on without having the baggage, without carrying a ball and chain around your leg through life. Today we acknowledge, explore, and (some of us) celebrate the history of Father's Day.

 

Sunday June 14, 2020
"Wisdom Beyond Words"
Chris Highland

Annelinde Metzner, piano
Second Sundays Music: David Reed, vocals & piano

 

Carl Safina's book, Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel, presents some ways we might learn from our wild world (including viruses!) to better communicate and discover wisdom, even a "wild freethought gospel." Henry Thoreau will share some insights.

Chris Highland is a freethinker and humanist celebrant. He was a Protestant minister and Interfaith chaplain for many years in the San Francisco Bay Area. Chris writes the weekly “Highland Views” column for the Citizen-Times and teaches classes on Freethought at the UNCA Reuter Center and the Blue Ridge Center for Lifelong Learning.

His published books include Meditations of Henry David Thoreau and My Address is a River. His last book, A Freethinker’s Gospel, is a collection of 52 of his columns. His next book, A Natural Gospel, will be published soon.

Chris and his wife, Carol, a Presbyterian minister, live in Asheville.

His books, essays, blogs and photographs are displayed on his website.

Sunday June 7, 2020
"Sin"
Andy D. Reed

Sin. What is it, and why does it matter? After all, it’s as human as breathing. (As Descartes might say, Peccavi, ergo sum.)

Without a creed of salvation, lacking a liturgy of confession, contrition, and atonement, what do Unitarian Universalists do when we commit a sin? How can we be redeemed, when our faith doesn’t offer a redeemer? Is there really a difference between what Catholics deem mortal sins and venial transgressions? Tune in to learn how the Seven Deadly Sins—and many others—can affect our lives, and what atonement can mean for Unitarian Universalists—even you.

Andy Reed joined UUCSV in 2018, where he sings in the choir and is honored now to preach to it. He works as an editor and publisher and in the past has been a theater director and manager, corporate television marketing hack, Manhattan political activist and gadfly, and a perpetually “optimistic cynic.” A birthright Asheville Unitarian, a U-U since the denominations’ 1961 merger, and an Ethical Humanist since 2008, he made his first acquaintance with the Seven Deadly Sins early in life.

 

Sunday May 31, 2020
"The Days The Earth Stood Still, Or: Covid19 and Civil Liberties"
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter

"My Rights Don't End Where Your Fear Begins."

There has been, and perhaps always will be, a tension between the rights of the collective vs. the rights of the individual in democratic countries. I do not believe that we are a democratic nation, mind you, for democracy is still the great experiment in my opinion. There are still too many inequalities.

This virus has highlighted these inequalities quite neatly and nicely thus far. Yet when a conservative associate reminded me that in his opinion, the government attacked these things first in a time of crisis, it got me thinking. He said that the church, gun stores (not so sure about this one as far as the founders were concerned but I kept listening), freedom to run your business, and the freedom to assemble, all of these are rights that are protected by the Constitution.

Let's talk about civil liberties and Covid-19

 

Sunday May 24, 2020
"The United People of America - Connection in an Age of Isolation"
Jeff Hutchins

Jeff Hutchins, a lifelong UU and long-time friend of UUCSV, will lead our service with a tribute to Memorial Day and a sermon entitled, “The United People of America - Connection in an Age of Isolation.” He will look for those important connections that can sustain us during these challenging times.

Jeff and wife wife, Diane, have lived in Black Mountain since 2008. He has been honored as one of the pioneers who helped develop and implement closed captioning. He grew up in Saudi Arabia from 1954-1966, attending high school in Beirut, Lebanon. Since then, he has lived in Boston, Northern Virginia, and Pittsburgh.  He is the creator of Denton the Dragon and other characters who inhabit his children’s stories.

Sunday May 17, 2020
"The Artist as Activist"
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter

I love artists because I love art. Art brings us together because it is an individual expression of the human experience. The word art nowadays has been turned into something that is supposed to only happen in museums or concert halls, to be done and seen only by experts. To make us purchase art as a commodity, is to keep us divided from each other for the benefit of the few, for we are told that art is a luxury and not a necessity.

When educational institutions want to save money, the arts are the first casualties in the battle for school budgets. This is indeed sad, for as a culture we seem to have lost what little respect we had for art and the artist, for the artist keeps in touch with the music of the soul, the soul of the artist, and our souls as well. Yet, the artist is also an activist, especially in this day and time when our culture seems to have lost its way. We live in a society and culture which seems to have lost its soul. Let's explore the way of the artist as activist.

 

Sunday May 10, 2020
"Mother's Day"
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter

Is being pregnant with a child or trying to raise a child during a pandemic more difficult than any other time? As a man in this incarnation I would imagine yes and no. Are the issues surrounding relationships with mothers different in a time of pandemic? I would answer yes and no.  The Rev. Lynn Ungar, a UU minister says that Mother’s Day sermons are difficult. I happen to agree wholeheartedly. For every person who brings a Mother to church, physically or emotionally, that is cherished, loved, and appreciated, there are always others who are scarred from the inadequate jobs their mother’s did in raising them. The same can also be said of fathers.

Perhaps this is true due to the high expectations we have of our mothers. I mean after all, they are only human. Let's explore the history of Mother's Day in our nation and the relationship with what I believe is with the primary source figure of our lives.

Sunday May 3, 2020
"The High Priest of the American Religion"
Rodger M. Payne, Ph.D.

In 2016, Donald J. Trump won the presidency when “fully eight-in-ten self-identified white, born-again/evangelical Christians” voted for him according to Pew Research. Just a few months away from another presidential election, Trump’s support from this group has not wavered, and evangelical leaders such as Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell, Jr. continue to offer enthusiastic support for the president, suggesting at times that a vote for his opponent would be against the will of God. In a nation pledged to religious neutrality, how do we understand the dynamics of this development?

How many of you can remember a time when a candidate’s religion seemed not to be a significant issue during a presidential campaign? Perhaps some of you may recall the 1960 election, when John F. Kennedy’s Catholicism was a major campaign issue; more of you will probably recall Jimmy Carter’s famous announcement that he was a born-again Christian, ironically, perhaps, declared during an interview with Playboy magazine. Surely, we all remember the controversy over Barrack Obama’s Protestant pastor Jeremiah White saying “God damn America” in a sermon, even as one in five Americans believed that Obama was a Muslim.

It was not always so. The presidential election of 1800 is famous for its vitriol against Thomas Jefferson, who was labeled an “infidel” by his opponents, but in general, until 1984, religion was largely considered part of a president’s private life and thus not open to public scrutiny. But things had been changing since at least the 1950s when, during the Cold War, the office of president had taken on a new role as the High Priesthood of the American Religion. What does this mean? What are the sacerdotal functions of the president? And what is the American religion? Let’s explore these questions together.

Rodger M. Payne is Professor and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at UNC Asheville. He earned his BA in Religious Studies from UNC Charlotte before completing graduate degrees at Harvard Divinity School and the University of Virginia, receiving his Ph.D. in American Religion from the latter in 1989. Prior to coming to UNC Asheville, he was chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Louisiana State University. He is the author of The Self and the Sacred (1998) and co-editor of Southern Crossroads (2008), and has published in a wide range of journals such as the Journal of Southern History, Early American Literature, and the Journal of the American Academy of Religion. His current research interests include immigrant and diasporic Italian Catholicism in the American South. At UNC Asheville, he offers courses in religion and American culture, Judaism and Christianity in the ancient world, and the core Humanities course "The Medieval and Renaissance Worlds." He and his wife Janice live near Weaverville and have two grown daughters and four grandchildren.

 

Sunday April 26, 2020
"Soul"
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter

When I first discovered UUism, I was living in NYC.

The minister when I attended (who is now retired) was The Rev. Bruce Southworth; he is a native of Tennessee. Rev. Southworth would always remind us that one of the reasons we attend UU church services was to grow our souls. I liked that idea and it has stuck with me these many years. But what does this really mean? What is Soul? What does it mean to have a sou?. Do we have a soul?

Granted, it’s a loaded word for many of us. The word is loaded with all sorts of baggage from our past---Sunday school, religious education, catechism class, etc.  Our souls go to heaven if we are good and go to hell if we are bad. It can bring up painful and or uncomfortable memories for some of us. Yet for others, we are more than just our physical bodies and the soul is really who we are.

Let's explore!

 

Linda Metzner, piano; UUCSV choir performs

Sunday April 19, 2020
"Patience"
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter

One of the things this modern day plague can teach us if we are willing to allow it is  to cultivate patience. You see, I am not by nature a very patient person.  Yet life has taught me to be this way. I am impatient about the way the state of the world is and the behavior of others who I think and feel should be further along in their spiritual journey like I think I am.  They should behave the way I would behave during this time of fear and uncertainty. Why can't they see the situation as clearly as I do?  Not only that, but the impatience I direct at myself, the baggage I carry with me, I project onto others. When will this virus be over? Things are not moving fast enough for me, or they are moving too fast for me. Why are these people behaving this way? They are so irresponsible! They are so inept! What is wrong with them? And of course there is the unspoken sentiment "Why can't they be more like me?"  Now all of these things are very human emotions and very human thoughts to have, and yet they cause me to suffer. The gift is that in times like these, I can reflect on who I am and who I want to be as a person. In my rush to want things to be normal, perhaps I can reflect on what so called "normal things" I want to rush back to.

Patience can be developed and it is also a gift. In times like these it can be the gift that keeps on giving. Let's come together on Sunday, April 19th (virtually and spiritually) to explore this wonderful opportunity to cultivate patience. It will serve us well -- I promise you.

 

Sunday April 12, 2020
"Easter & The Universal Need For Hope"
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter

Long before there was a Jewish or Christian religion, 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.

Let's explore this celebration of rebirth in the context of a human universal need---the human need to hope.

 

Sunday April 5, 2020
"Autism: Think Different, Love Alike"
Linda Tatsapaugh

Society often views autistic people as curiosities, having strange behaviors and speech that disrupt our sense of normal and somehow make us uncomfortable.  But did you ever stop to think that they may feel the same way about you – and the rest of the neuro-typical world?  Take a brief journey with me into an autism perspective, and let’s contemplate what it means to love alike those with whom you really don’t think alike.

Linda has been working with quirky kids for three decades, helping them interpret and navigate the illogical world of the rest of us.  She is an owner of Talisman Summer Camp, which helps children with autism and ADHD build social and independent living skills while having big fun.

 

Sunday March 29, 2020
"Shining the Light in the Darkness"
Larry Pearlman

COVID-19 is nothing new. Just an old friend with a new name. The bogeyman has been under the bed as long as humankind has been on the planet, whether it was saber-toothed tigers, "natural" disasters, wars or rumors of wars (remember the run on grocery stores in the 60's to stock bomb shelters?), climate change, or pandemics (1918, 1957, 1968, 1997, 2003). People have always had the same choice to make: Fear or Love?

This Sunday we'll take a look at what is involved in that choice, what each looks like and why I call these occurrences friends. We have chosen to share this service on video rather than coming together and we made that choice out of Love.

Annelinde Metzner, piano

 

Sunday March 22, 2020
"The Wit and Wisdom of Anne Lamott"
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter

Anne Lamott was born on April 10, 1954. She is an American novelist and non-fiction writer.

She is also a progressive political activist, public speaker, and writing teacher. Lamott is based in Marin County, California. Her nonfiction works are largely autobiographical. Marked by their self-deprecating humor and openness, Lamott's writings cover such subjects as alcoholism, single motherhood, depression, and Christianity. She is also a very profound and wise woman. I would like to share with you a bit of that wisdom by exploring her insights about life, death, family, relationships, and the writer's life.

Sunday March 15, 2020
"Roots Before Wings" (RE Sunday)
Susan Enwright Hicks, Director of Religious Education

 

“In any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety.”

― Abraham Maslow

 

The imagery of “ Roots and Wings” has been used many times in UU circles and beyond, but how much thought have you given this pair and the way they relate to one another? In this fully Intergenerational Service (in which students will be invited to stay for the entirety) DRE Susan, children from our RE program, and others will explore this classic pairing, hopefully inspire you to dream big, and perhaps leave you with something to think about. We hope you’ll join us.

Sunday March 8, 2020 11:00 a.m.
"To Receive Our Good"
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter

Potluck after the service

One evening a Hindu ascetic was just getting ready to sleep under a tree when he was approached by a villager running up to him asking that he give him a precious stone. “What stone?” the ascetic asked. “Lord Shiva appeared to me in a dream last night and told me that if I came to this place at dusk tonight, a very devout holy man would give me a precious stone that would make me unbelievably rich. The sannyasi rummaged in his bag for a moment and, smiling, said, “Lord Shiva probably meant this one. I found it in the forest today and you certainly can have it.” The villager gazed at the stone in wonder. It was as large as his fist and, even in the fading light, filled with luminosity. He took it and walked away. However, that night he could not sleep. He was deeply troubled. Next morning at dawn, he rushed back to the sannyasi, and thrust the diamond back into his hands. “I don’t want it,” he said. “What I want is whatever you have that makes it possible for you to give it away so easily.”

This story brings us to the heart of stewardship. Stewardship is not primarily about money. It is about gratitude and what we think we really deserve in order to make our goals and dreams a reality. It's Canvass Sunday. Let's talk.

Sunday March 1, 2020
"Why Do We Sing?"
Eric Bannan

What is it about singing together that has become such an essential part of our worship experience? We will explore these musical questions!
Eric Bannan brings stories to life with moving personal narratives, a sly sense of humor and a soulful singing voice. He is a husband, father, songwriter, storyteller, US Coast Guard rescue flight crew veteran,  back country adventure racer and cancer survivor with a masters in computer science.
Eric has been called to share his art to inspire, motivate for positive change and build community. His music is rooted in folk, driven by foot-tapping funk and seasoned with the blues. With almost 40 years of performing experience, Eric’s presentations are an energetic celebration of life.

Sunday February 23, 2020
"Prayer"
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter

Music by the UUCSV Choir, Linda Metzner, Director; Sue Stone, piano

This morning I would like to talk a bit about prayer. All genuine spiritual traditions talk about the practice of prayer. We have all heard the many pithy sayings about the act of prayer. A minister I knew in New York said that “prayer does not change things. Prayer changes people, and then people change things.” Some people have said that the difference between prayer and meditation is that prayer is talking to God. Meditation is listening to God. I believe prayer and meditation are both talking and listening and you can define “God” any way you choose.

One thing is for certain, our words and thoughts reflect and affect our reality because quantum physics is just catching up to the fact very recently that thoughts are things. They are forms of energy.

Sunday, February 16, 2020, 11:00 a.m.
"Gandhi, Dr. King, and Buddhism on Suffering"
Rev. Michael J. S. Carter

My goal this morning is to provide you with a Christian and Buddhist  (and Hindu) understanding of suffering, using Dr. King to represent the Christian perspective. The Hindu perspective will come from Gandhi. In this way perhaps you may see suffering differently—your own as well as others, especially since suffering is not going anywhere anytime soon, and for those of you with an activist spirit, this may assist you in weathering the storms which most assuredly will come your way in your work. Bear in mind that although Dr. King learned this perspective from Gandhi, that unearned suffering is redemptive, this is still an Eastern teaching, as is Buddhism’s perspective on suffering. See you there!

Sunday, December 15, 2019 11:00 am
“Rumi, Advent, and UUs”
Rev. Michael J. S. Carter

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