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 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 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 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.
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 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.