Best of UU

“the countless touches of the holy. . .”

Filed under: Creative — Jess at 2:56 pm on Thursday, August 21, 2008

The vast majority, though not all, of our congregations light a flaming chalice before beginning worship, and it is customary to say some words of intention while doing so, to set the mood for the service. It is a way to mark the hour of worship as a time out of time, separate from every day life, and sacred.

These chalice lighting words come from the Rev. Hilary Landau Krivchenia of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Lafayette, Indiana.

Chalice Lighting

by Rev. Hilary Landau Krivchenia

As the windows around us glow with a hundred colors of light
So may we feel the countless touches of the holy in our world.
All the names and presences, all the ideas and the persons.
May our shoulders feel the embrace of love
Our eyes feel the gentle brush of vision
Our hands feel the stirring of strength
Our legs feel an infusion of steadiness.
May our houses and this house be cleared with the gentle wind of peace.
May we be renewed in this time together
So that we may set out again
To be the hundred touches of the holy in the world.

Source: Chalice Lighting by Rev. Hilary Landau Krivchenia of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Lafayette, Indiana, delivered September 23, 2001.

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“to open yourselves to be touched. . .”

Filed under: Sermons — Jess at 7:15 am on Friday, June 20, 2008

Here follows part 2 of “Why Worship,” by the Rev. Alan Taylor from Unity Temple Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Oak Park, Illinois, one of this year’s Breakthrough Congregations. Part 1 can be read here.

Why Worship, part 2

by Rev. Alan Taylor

While every place where we walk is holy ground, there is something especially holy about the space where we come together, open our hearts and minds, and here reflect on our deepest concerns.

So much more is possible in a group because we are relational beings. Worship points us beyond ourselves. By coming together we open up possibilities unseen and not yet imagined.

Worship therefore offers hope, hope of healing, hope of reconciliation, hope of transformation, hope of overcoming the brokenness in our lives. Worship helps us remember there is more to our lives than our various concerns, struggles, and frustrations. Worship is an embodiment of the truth that we are not alone and that we as human beings are enough, that we have the spiritual resources to get through any challenge no matter how awful or trying.

(Read on … )

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“To recharge the soul. To refocus one’s purpose. . .”

Filed under: Sermons — Jess at 7:52 am on Thursday, June 19, 2008

Every year, several member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations are designated as “Breakthrough Congregations” and recognized at the General Assembly. Each congregation is invited to give a presentation during Plenary, the business sessions, and a separate workshop to talk about their programs and effective growth. This year, the Unity Temple Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Oak Park, Illinois is among them.

This sermon by the Rev. Alan Taylor, delivered November 28, 2004, demonstrates one of the great strengths of the congregation — the worship life. It is very long, so the second half can be read here.

Why Worship, part 1

by Rev. Alan Taylor

When I was growing up, my family attended the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Bakersfield, California. The congregation called itself a fellowship and were quick to point out that they were not a church. They seemed non-religious, even anti-religious. God and prayer were spoken of only in contempt and jest. And I remember distinctly noting that they called their meeting, ‘Sunday Services’ not ‘Worship Services.’ And so when I re-discovered Unitarian Universalism in a church that emphasized the centrality of worship, it was a new and wonderful experience. In time, worship became essential to my own life.

In answer to the question “Why worship?” I offer you my answer in a nutshell: Worship brings us together; worship offers hope; worship invites transformation.

Worship brings us together—in community. As a congregation, what ultimately defines us is not our building, nor the minister, nor even our beliefs or principles. The central aspect of our congregation is the people who come together week after week. You, who consistently come together, are the core of this congregation, and this is a dynamic entity that changes little by little with every new person who comes. When one among this core departs, a change also occurs. The tapestry we call community, the interweaving of the many relationships is what serves as the foundation.

(Read on … )

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“we all offer gratitude and reverence to and for many things . . .”

Filed under: Sermons — Jess at 9:14 am on Friday, August 24, 2007

A frequent question in Unitarian Universalist churches is, “Well, if you don’t all believe in God, what do you go to church for?” The Rev. Dr. Matthew Tittle, from the Bay Area Unitarian Universalist Church in Houston, Texas, addresses this question in a sermon from last summer, “Why Atheists Go to Church.” This piece is also the title sermon of his forthcoming book, due out this fall.

You can find out more about Rev. Dr. Tittle at his website, and he also blogs for the Houston Chronicle at Keep the Faith.

Why Atheists Go to Church

by Rev. Dr. Matthew Tittle, June 11, 2006

Why would an atheist go to church? I know that this looks like just another catchy title for our marquee sign, but I have often been asked this question when people learn that we have a significant number of professed atheists in our congregations. I have an overly simplistic answer to this question: For the same reason everyone else goes to church.

Perhaps you’ve heard the story of Sam and the Rabbi. The Rabbi is talking to Sam, a regular attendee at temple, but an avowed atheist. The Rabbi says, “Sam, everybody knows you don’t believe in God, but I see you here every Sabbath. Why do you come to temple?” Sam says, “You know my friend Bernie? He comes to temple to talk to God. I come to talk to Bernie.”

I recently heard about an informal study of why people joined a particular church. They joined because the church was in the neighborhood, because a friend invited them, because they liked the windows, because they enjoyed the music, because the people were friendly, because the sermons were interesting, and so on. None said they joined because of their particular belief or disbelief in God or anything else. Some people do go to church to talk to God. Some people go to talk to each other.

(Read on … )

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