Upcoming Sundays (virtual services)
Sunday June 7, 2020
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 June 14, 2020
"Wisdom Beyond Words"
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 21, 2020
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter
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 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.
Rev. Michael J S Carter
Sunday July 5, 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 August 23, 2020
"I'll Have What She's Having"
Our evolutionary story as animals, related to all other life on earth, is the oldest, deepest and most adequate framework for understanding who we are, both good and bad. We can also find in this story better clues than we can find through religion, philosophy, psychology or any other cultural creation on how we should live, what we owe to other life and to the future. I’m suggesting that we can answer the two most basic religious questions — “Who are we?”, and “How should we live?” — in empowering and challenging ways from within the oldest life story of all: the story of life on earth, of which we are a part but not the pinnacle.
Davidson Loehr may be either a Renaissance man or just someone who never really grew up. In his late teens and early 20’s he was a professional musician. Then an officer in the Army, The Vietnam Entertainment Officer, then a combat photographer and press officer. Back home, he finished a degree in music, then studied with a half dozen of the best people photographers in the country and opened a high-priced portrait and wedding photography studio in Ann Arbor. Bored after a few years, he sold the studio, taught himself carpentry and woodworking and did that for three years. Then, deciding he needed a more challenging and fulfilling adult career, he got his Master’s and Ph.D. in the area of religion and science, and became a Unitarian minister for 23 years, before retiring in 2009. Moving from Austin, TX to Weaverville about four years ago, he is now active in the OLLI program in Asheville, and in two camera clubs. Also, since 2014, Davidson has been active in the International Big History Association, presenting papers at their biennial meetings around the world. Just three weeks ago he presented a paper at their meeting in Pune, India, and added a 12-day tour of India, returning about a week ago.
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, 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
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
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.
Linda Metzner, piano; UUCSV choir performs
Sunday April 19, 2020
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"
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"
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.
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.
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.
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.