2014 -- 2013 -- 2012 -- 2011 -- 2010 -- 2009 -- 2008 -- 2007
Unless noted otherwise, speakers other than Reverend Cynthia Cain are Lay speakers (members of our congregation).
Sermon title links point to PDF document of the talk, if available.
2015Top of page
June 21, 2015 - We All Need Someone Who ... -- Guest speaker David ChapmanDave discusses basic human needs we all have as individuals and as part of our communities. What do we need from our relationships with other people and groups of people? What do we have to offer our friends and families and communities and how does it benefit us when we share ourselves with others?
June 14, 2015 - SUNDOWN TOWNS: A Window on White Privilege -- Reverend Cynthia CainSome years ago, prompted by an African-American member of my church in Kentucky, I began a study of what are called "Sundown Towns," places where, historically, Blacks were explicitly or implicitly warned to be OUT by sundown. These places are everywhere, including South Jersey. As the new Civil Rights movement begins, what are white allies called to do? One thing is to learn the history. Thereby, we begin to learn and teach others about White privilege. It's painful and hard. But becoming whole can be that way. It is necessary.
May 31, 2015 - Sacred Activism -- Theresa McReynoldsSacred Activism is a transforming force of compassion-in-action that is born of a fusion of deep spiritual knowledge, courage, love, and passion, with wise radical action in the world. The large-scale practice of Sacred Activism can become an essential force for preserving and healing the planet and its inhabitants. When the deepest and most grounded spiritual vision is married to a practical and pragmatic drive to transform all existing political, economic, and social institutions, a holy force – the power of wisdom and love in action – is born.
May 24, 2015 - In Whom Do You Put Your Trust? -- Doug DickinsonTrust your instincts, and trust one another by behaving with integrity in all our relationships. In whom do you put your trust?
May 17, 2015 - Getting from Grievance to Gift -- Darah WaltherAlong with the joys and happy times in our lives, we have all experienced challenges, sadness, pain and loss. This is part of our human experience. Our choice becomes how we perceive our journey. Will we just groan - or grow? Can we heal our grievances and receive the gifts?
April 5, 2015 - A TRANSYLVANIAN EASTER: An International Responsibility -- Reverend Cynthia CainSince Rev. Cain's former congregation had a ten-year partnership with a small village church in Romania, she visited there four times, and helped lead services. Two years ago, she stayed for Easter. It's one of the 4 times a year when a (very) Unitarian "Communion" is held, so we will do the same. We'll celebrate in word and song.
March 29, 2015 - Family Systems: Part 2 -- Reverend Cynthia CainWe will look at Family Systems by looking at the family of one famous person who was also Unitarian: Frank Lloyd Wright. This will provide a lens to understand such concepts as triangulation, cutoff, sibling position, and generation transference... and how these dynamics may play out in congregational and other institutional settings.
March 15, 2015 - ISIS, Selma, and the Person Next Door (or in the next Pew): A Consideration of Evil -- Reverend Cynthia CainYes, I am going to go there. Reinhold Niebuhr wrote one of the most compelling books on the theology of evil in which he asserts that liberal people are good, but not wise, because over and over again they fail to recognize evil even when it is in their midst. What do we do with the problem of evil and the affirmation of inherent worth and dignity? How do we recognize and deal with our own shadow, and set boundaries in our communities of faith?
March 1, 2015 - Suffering, Compassion, and Support -- Jack MillerAs we come to understand our own suffering, we come to understand the suffering of others. To understand the suffering of others is to be filled with loving kindness.
February 15, 2015 - Death With Dignity in New Jersey -- Guest speaker Ethan AndersenOnly three states have a "right to die" law. Although Gov. Chris Christie has vowed to veto it, the NJ Death with Dignity Act is currently moving through the State legislature, and would allow mentally competent, terminally ill patients with less than six months to live to self-administer medication to end their lives. Our guest speaker has worked with NJ's advocacy group, Compassion & Choices, to get this law passed in New Jersey.
January 25, 2015 - Growing Together -- Guest minister Rev. David Pyle, Joseph Priestley District ExecutiveThe Rev. David Pyle is the new District Executive for the Joseph Priestly District. He visits us today to become acquainted and to help you ask/answer the questions that are most important for UUCSJS this year. His message will examine the ways our congregations can be more interconnected.
January 18, 2015 - Unitarian Universalism in One Word -- Guest speaker Raj NigamIf we are to describe our faith in one word, which word would that be?
January 11, 2015 - Forgiveness, Part 2: Moving Toward Community -- Reverend Cynthia CainCynthia continues her musings on forgiveness. How can it help build community?
January 4, 2015 - Forgiveness, Part 1: Lost & Found -- Reverend Cynthia CainWe will explore the many challenges and opportunities encompassed by the notion of FORGIVENESS. Perhaps this is the most important spiritual teaching of all. Admittedly, we fail, and yet seeking to be forgiven and to forgive are worth the effort, both individually and collectively.
2014Top of page
December 28, 2014 - The Geography of Spiritual Practice -- Alan OliverGeography at its most basic is the science of "place" - an integration of all factors at a certain location on the map and on the earth. This can be descriptive or it can be transformative as we explore, even to the spiritual level, our particular experience of "place" in our universe.
December 7, 2014 - Dreaming of a Black (and brown and white and rainbow) Christmas: Reflections on Ferguson -- Reverend Cynthia CainWhere do we go from here? What can white allies do? How can we better understand white privilege and the rage that surrounds Ferguson?
November 23, 2014 - Vocabularies of Hope and the Power of Appreciation: How to Get Through the Thanksgiving Meal -- Reverend Cynthia CainWe all know how it feels to face the ultra-conservative, negative, or just plain boorish relative at holiday times or family gatherings. What better time that this time of gratitude to learn and practice a new way of interacting, with appreciation and wonder? If nothing else, It will leave them scratching their heads!
November 16, 2014 - The Miracle of Love -- Lay speaker John WaltherJohn Walther has been leading a group of us through the lessons in the book A Course in Miracles. This is not a study of supernatural phenomena, but rather the realization that a change in perspective can free one from the bonds of fear and self-deception and lead to a life of love and actuality.
November 2, 2014 - I've Got a Secret -- Lay speaker Bud SmithIn an era of massive government meta-data collection, online trolling and drones that can peek in windows, it seems our private lives are under attack. Yet openness in communication is a requisite for health and wholeness. Should we trust one another with the "secrets" of our lives? What steps should we take to build a culture of respect where there is safety in self-disclosure?
October 5, 2014 - Mythology and Life of St. Francis of Assisi -- Lay speaker Jim GentileIn October, the tradition of St. Francis of Assisi is commemorated in a number of faith traditions, including Unitarian Universalists with a "blessing of the animals." However, there is so much more that is radical, revolutionary and Universalist in the myth and life of this 13th Century saint; traits, which speak to us today in a timeless message of humility, charity, and awe-filled wonder.
January 19, 2014 - Speaking Engagement -- Reverend Charlie DieterichThis is Rev. Martin Luther King Day weekend. Let us honor his memory by doing the work of beloved community. Today we will consider how our perspectives affect our effectiveness.
January 12, 2014 - The Gifts of Jewish Prophecy -- Guest Speaker David ChapmanWhat did it mean to our ancient Hebrew forebears to be a "prophet?" As Dave will discuss in this week's sermon, it did not refer to someone who predicted future events. What did these remarkable prophets tell us? They shared with us a message that changed everyone forever. This gift constituted one of the Jews' greatest gifts to humankind – the belief that we hold our destinies within our own hands and, with help from the God they believed had spoken to them, we have the ability to forge a better future for ourselves and our children.
2013Top of page
November 10, 2013 - The Real War Will Never Get in the Books -- Reverend Charlie DieterichIn his book Specimen Days, Walt Whitman wrote: "Such was the war. It was not a quadrille in a ball-room. Its interior history will not only never be written—its practicality, minutiae of deeds and passions, will never be even suggested."
July 7, 2013 - Faith During the Armenian Genocide -- Debbi DagavarianIn 1915, a million and a half Armenians in Turkey were systematically deported and tortured or killed by the Ottomans. Debbi’s great uncle and paternal grandmother were survivors of this genocide, and she will tell their stories, speaking of the role that faith played in this human tragedy.
June 2, 2013 - Who Are Our Neighbors? -- Guest speaker Donna RenfroWorking against racism is a spiritual practice with the power to change us as much as we seek change. We are in a transition of our denominational work on racism, continuing the journey to transformation and wholeness, with stops of cultural humility and competence along the way. Cherry Hill ministerial Intern Donna Renfro will share this new program for ministers, share her own stories and invite yours. This service will include a time for reflections and comments.
May 19, 2013 - Flower Communion -- Reverend Charlie DieterichYes, let's embrace the word communion in its original meaning of "shared gifts." We ask you to bring a flower from your life; we will arrange it into a congregational bouquet. Then we will each take a flower from the bouquet, symbolizing the gifts we receive from community.
May 12, 2013 - Curiosity As a Way of Life -- Joe TerrazziniThey say curiosity killed the cat but it has propelled the human race into the 21st century. An examination into this most basic human trait.
February 10, 2013 - The Little Seed -- Reverend Charlie DieterichIn his classic essay "All I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten," Robert Fulghum asked us to remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup. That seems an appropriate focus for a late winter service on Expectation, doesn't it? Put down those heirloom vegetable catalogs and come to the service!
February 3, 2013 - Mardi Gras Mindset -- Reverend Charlie DieterichWhat would life be like if everyone was getting ready for a party all the time? What do you spend your time preparing for?
January 6, 2013 - Prayers of the Magi -- Reverend Charlie DieterichOne chapter in Matthew deals with astrology and slaughter, rich and poor, power and escape. It is oddly relevant today. This week we will also begin the UU Service Committee's "Guest At Your Table" campaign.
January 13, 2013 - Permutations of Prayer -- Lauren PorrWhat do the rosary, spells, meditation, singing, and martial arts all have in common? Spiritual adventurer Lauren Porr examines the universality of prayer and its many names in different traditions.
2012Top of page
December 9, 2012 - Hanukkah and Hope -- Reverend Charlie DieterichThe story of Hanukkah is one of oppression and hope, transformed into a story of pride and sharing. As people of differing faith backgrounds, what can we learn from this celebration?
December 2, 2012 - Spreading Hope: UUCSJS > AIDS -- Reverend Charlie DieterichDecember 1 is World AIDS Day. Our congregation can be greater than HIV, be a force in eliminating this disease in our community and the world. How? The "WE>AIDS" Campaign says: Knowledge, Talk, Protection, Testing, and Action will eliminate AIDS. Come, build a world where we bind up the broken.
November 18, 2012 - Thanks Giving -- Reverend Charlie DieterichIn preparation for the largest "Civil Holiday" of the year, Pastor Charlie offers a reflection on gratitude.
November 11, 2012 - Veteran's Day with Poet, Scholar, and Teacher Bill EhrhartAs a Vietnam War poet, Bill offers a unique perspective on Veteran's Day through his poetry and reflections. This is Bill's second visit to UUCSJS.
October 14, 2012 - The Business of Death -- Reverend Charlie DieterichEmily Post says that when someone dies, the butler should draw the curtains. But what is a real, 21st century understanding of the mechanics of going from death to memorial? Can we find the love in this busyness?
September 30, 2012, 4 pm - The Ordination of Charlie Dieterich
Video highlights (11 minutes)
September 30, 2012 - Flaming Chalice -- Pastor Charlie DieterichWhat does it mean to become an ordained minister? Are the beacon fires only for dire need, or should ministry be an every day affair?
September 23, 2012 - Coming Home: Becoming the Pulse of the Universe -- Alan Oliver“Coming Home” is about becoming your true self and returning to what is safe, caring and comfortable. Our true “home” is the whole universe. How can we be comfortable and achieve balance with both the energy and concrete forms of this home? Do we directly experience our own dynamic process and the evolutionary and creative energy of our home?
September 2, 2012 - Reports from the Freedom Road -- Casey and Ryan Sturts, Deanna Terrazzini, with Bob Baum and Arlene YackaOur high-school Civil Rights sojourners Casey and Ryan Sturts and Deanna Terrazzini are back from their adventures. Selma, Montgomery, Atlanta -- the places, people, and events are etched into our collective consciousness of that turbulent and nation-changing time. They will give us their impressions from the road almost a half century later and the challenges we still face. Arlene Yacka and Bob Baum will assist with some personal commentary.
August 12, 2012 - To Boldly Go -- Lauren PorrWhen you're a UU, you see your principles everywhere. When you're a space cadet, you look to the stars. Logically, our lay speaker this week sees UU principles in the stars. Join Lauren Porr and the Enterprise crew (Ronda Cluff, Steve Hall, Wayne Andress, and Jeff Taylor) as they explore the universe with eyes to the telescopes and one hand on the warp drive!
August 5, 2012 - Lies My Cortex Told Me -- Michael CluffOur senses fail us, our brains store memories imperfectly, and we are blissfully unaware of our own biases. So how should we find truth and meaning with the brain we have, not the brain we wish to have? (WARNING: be on the lookout for invisible gorillas and dragons. As a bonus, we may meet a Straw Vulcan just in time for Lauren's talk.)
July 8, 2012 - The Art of Happy -- Guest speaker Catherine WieczorekOur souls long for it, our lives are spent pursuing it, yet how many of us describe ourselves as "happy"? This elusive state called "joy" is not simply a by-product of our consumer culture, attaining a certain status, or achieving a certain goal. "Joy" has spiritual connotations that go far beyond a goal we are chasing. But how do we get there? How do we become masters of the "art of happy"?
June 17, 2012 - In an Infinite and Timeless Universe, Do WE Really Matter? -- Richard GrzywinskiOur UU faith is very much a product of the power of human reason and the revelations of science. But science is now uncovering a universe infinitely larger and far more complex than our predecessors could have ever imagined. Will you conclude that our place in the universe grows correspondingly smaller and of lesser consequence? How will this affect your beliefs and, most importantly, your view of the significance of human life? “Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?”
June 3, 2012 - John Muir -- Pastor Charlie DieterichThe subject for today's sermon is the late-19th century explorer and naturalist and preservation advocate John Muir. The topic was suggested by Bud Smith as the high bidder in this year's "Sermon Title Auction." The service will reflect on how we are driven to acts of kindness based on our own life experiences.
May 27, 2012 - Let It Be -- Theresa McReynoldsIs there something you are holding onto that no longer serves you? Theresa will reflect on the wisdom of the saying, "Let It Be."
May 6, 2012 - Healthy Congregations -- Jack Miller, Michelle Tomko, Lauren Porr, Barbara Miller, and Karen YorkAs we live and breathe! Time for our organizational check-up with our Healthy Congregations workshop team to reflect on the pulse of our organizational "body". Let's get to the heart of the matter and get a grip on our shared vision. Our team will introduce some of the concepts learned at the workshop and open the door to further discussion.
April 29, 2012 - When Logic Fails -- Pastor Charlie DieterichParadoxically, mathematicians can prove that there are some things which mathematicians cannot prove. Do we know what we know we can't know? Make a casserole and come to the shared meal that follows... we know that will be good.
April 22, 2012 - Baseball As Religion -- Debbi Dagavarian, Steve Fiedler, Jack MillerLike any other religion, baseball is rich in tradition, ritual, superstition, myth, memories, and the sacred. We offer this service to honor this rite of spring.
April 1, 2012 - Practically Speaking -- Pastor Charlie Dieterich, and Michelle TomkoThis is both April Fools Day and Palm Sunday, the day Jesus and his friends entered into Jerusalem. Adults and children are invited to bring a toga... or a beach towel... this morning and take part in our "Instant Theater" lesson about Welcoming from one Unitarian perspective.
March 25, 2012 - Putting Our Principles To Work -- Pastor Charlie Dieterich and Former UUCSJS President Paul UttsWith very special music, we will celebrate our home and perhaps see it with new eyes. Please plan to stay after the service for small group stewardship discussions.
March 18, 2012 - Salvation and Social Justice -- Richard GrzywinskiIs dedication to Social Justice only based upon our reasoned personal ideologies, guided by philosophical principles or religious dogmas, or does it flow more easily and simply from somewhere else - deep within us? Is altruism a forced behavior?…or a learned one?…or is it intrinsic to humanity? Do the admonitions of Judeo-Christian, Islamic and Hindu teachers to serve the cause of justice only reinforce what our conscience has already told us is true and correct, but which our ego denies? Acting for social justice might be the only path to human self-realization, that is, our salvation. Amen!
March 11, 2012 - Were You There? -- Pastor Charlie DieterichThis title comes from an old hymn about the crucifixion of Jesus... The Bible teaches us that none of the disciples were there to see it. I'm not going to concentrate on the biblical story, but instead investigate why Mahatma Gandhi loved this hymn so much. What terrifies you about today's Social Justice work?
March 4, 2012 - Social Justice From the Underside -- Stephanie GarrettIn recognition of Women's history Month, we will take a Look at "Social Justice from the Underside", women in general and women of color. Historically, with few exceptions, women have been viewed as a second tier under male superiority and domination. Women of color, at least in the United States, were considered the 4th tier with the minority male as the third. At an early point in history we had power. Religion, dogma and theology, including our own Unitarian Universalists, defined social justice and the role of the woman. They still do.
February 19, 2012 - Bard in UUSA Part III - Revenge of the Myth -- Michelle TomkoThis final installment of Michelle Tomko's series is taking place during love month. To capture the mood, scenes selected to dramatize the final three principles will all include famous Shakespearean couples: Macbeth and his lady, Oberon and Titania, and of course Romeo and Juliet. Iambic pentameter will be explained using the balcony scene from R&J! And rounding out this festival of sight and sound will be UUCSJS's talented musicians and singers corralled by the venerable Barbara Miller.
February 12, 2012 - Throw Me Something, Mister -- Pastor Charlie DieterichThis could easily be a sort of critique on how society forces excluded groups to beg... but it won't be. It is Mardi Gras season, when we can all be princes or paupers, or even both at once. “Love baby, love. That's the secret, yeah.”
February 5, 2012 - Our Love Affair With Football -- Jack MillerFor decades, Sunday church attendance has been dropping, and on any given Sunday, the chance of having more men in attendance than women is about as likely as an Eagles Superbowl appearance. Meanwhile, interest in spectator sports continues to rise. What makes the NFL such an attractive religion?
January 29, 2012 - Come Into This Place -- Pastor Charlie DieterichMany of us experience our congregation as a place of peace, of memory and prophecy. It may be time to consider whether our Sunday meeting really is a safe space, and also to ask: How will we know?
January 22, 2012 - Getting to Know You -- Richard GrzywinskiThis well-known song from "The King and I" contains the following lyrics "...Suddenly I'm bright and breezy, Because of all the beautiful and new things I'm learning about you." How much do we miss out of life by not being receptive to learning about others, particularly strangers; their life stories, joys and tragedies. Is it possible to truly know ourselves without knowing others? Is the Buddhist practice of "deep listening to others" a key to understanding and compassion? From Lao Tzu, the founder of Taoism: "Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is enlightenment."
January 15, 2012 - Always Use Your Best China -- Pastor Charlie DieterichThe words of the prophet are written on the subway walls! But what does it mean? Pastor Charlie gives one answer... maybe you have another?
January 8, 2012 - Bard in the UUSA Part Deux: The Muse of Fire Strikes Back -- Michelle TomkoWe will continue the review of our principles via Shakespeare's characters. In this, the second installment, the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large (Julius Caesar) and the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all (Richard III) will be considered. To set the mood for our monthly theme, which in January is "Welcome," our Core of Fire dancers will perform the Trenchmore dance, popular in the 16th century, during the prelude.
2011Top of page
December 11, 2011 - Bring Many Names -- Pastor Charlie DieterichEven in the 19th Century Unitarians were noticing that congregations diverged in their religious practices, but there were common threads running through the many beliefs. What was the "landscape of religion" like then, and what is the Unitarian Universalist landscape like today?
December 4, 2011 - Lessons From My Youth - Bob BaumIn our youth we tend to accept things the way they are -- attitudes about race, lifestyle, and gender roles. Bob can remember events that made him question the rightness and wrongness of these attitudes. He'll share with us some of his stories of coming of age viewed through the lens of adulthood.
November 27, 2011 - Poems to Honor the Earth -- Penny Harter(PDF) In the Preface to her book Lizard Light: Poems From the Earth, Penny writes: "I have written these poems in response to Earth's geological and evolutionary history, its place in the cosmos, and our place as part of the whole . . . I am consistently aware that we are on a planet, and that it is alive . . . We need poems that speak of universal concerns and point out that all beings exist as integral and inter-connected parts of the larger community of the universe. Poems that affirm." She will share with us poems that sorrow for the harm we have done and continue to do to our planet, and poems that joyfully praise Earth's gifts to us and our deep connections with it and the cosmos.
November 20, 2011 - We Gather Together -- Pastor Charlie DieterichDon't forget the cranberry jelly... Yes, Thanksgiving is almost here, and it is a chance to reflect on our blessings.
November 13, 2011 - Let It Be a Dance -- Pastor Charlie DieterichThe title, from a song by Ric Masten, assumes that life already is a dance, we just have to let it happen. Stop worrying about the upcoming holidays and come enjoy! Perhaps we will even get you up and moving!
November 6, 2011 - Indifference and Complicity: Reflections on Kristallnacht -- Michael CluffSeventy years ago this week, the world watched while Nazis looted and vandalized Jewish communities throughout Germany, offering a glimpse of what was to become the Final Solution. Despite these horrors, the Nazis faced little resistance. In the spirit of "Never Again," we reflect on what might keep good people from doing the right thing.
October 23, 2011 - Hell as a Tourist Destination -- Pastor Charlie DieterichIt seems reasonable, what with Halloween coming up, to talk a bit about the evolution of Hades/Hell, from the Zoroastrians to Universalists. What vision of "the Underworld" do you hold inside?
October 9, 2011 - Association Sunday -- Pastor Charlie DieterichThis should probably be called "Associations Sunday", as it will be a reflection on how the professional associations for Ministers, Religious Educators and Musicians contribute to "Ministry" in our Unitarian Universalist faith. We have chosen to celebrate this on October 9th and include a second plate collection in support of UU Religious Professionals.
October 2, 2011 - Serving With Grace -- Jack MillerWhat if your committee work could offer spiritual rewards as potent as working with your hands, creating art, or a meditation practice? What would that feel like? Would we still accomplish what we need to do?
September 25, 2011 - Platform Diving -- Pastor Charlie DieterichNo, not the Steel Pier, but an examination of the founding document of Congregational Polity. The Cambridge Platform, a document from 1649, defines how our congregations work together and govern themselves -- Seventeenth Century decisions which still influence us today, and guide us into the future.
September 11, 2011 - Thirsting For Community - a Water Ceremony -- Pastor Charlie DieterichThis intergenerational service will include commemoration of 9/11/01 and also celebration of community, for joy and sadness are often intertwined. Bring about an ounce of water in a reusable or recyclable container.
August 21, 2011 - The Journey Through Loss and Healing - Penny HarterBy sharing her poems, Penny will share her journey through various kinds of losses: the sorrow of divorce, the grief of losing her both parents in 2003, and most recently, the death of her husband in 2008 after thirty years together. She will talk about how writing can help one confront and transcend pain and sorrow, and move into healing and light. She feels that her losses have cracked her even more open to empathy and unconditional love, and she wants to bring you both, along with hope for healing from your losses.
August 14, 2011 - Truth or Consequences - Richard GrzywinskiIn our “free and responsible search for truth and meaning,” would we Unitarian Universalists recognize “Truth” when we encounter it? Is our search for universal truth a necessary journey or a “fool’s errand?” Do we mold truth to fit our own reality? How can we tell right from wrong, or good from evil, when something as seemingly concrete as the truth is yet so elusive? Perhaps reason alone is inadequate, and our search tools must include transcendence and spirituality.
A reprise and expansion of Richard's previous talk on Truth in September 2009.
June 5, 2011 - Living Love: Radical Selflessness and Universalism - Michael Masters, guest speaker from Murray Grove“Radical selflessness” and Universalism ultimately come down to the same thing: love, the only source of real meaning in human life. How do you find meaning? Live love.
May 29, 2011 - Death as a Spiritual Journey - Richard GrzywinskiBenjamin Franklin said “...in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Now that the tax season is behind us, perhaps it’s time to look at that other certainty, death. Why does it consume our culture and, in particular, the world’s religions... will we cross the river Styx or be greeted at the pearly gates, or enter into a world of nothingness? Maybe we all harbor a haunting belief that perhaps we haven’t lived as well as we should have. Welcome to the world of the macabre.
April 24, 2011 - The Sermon on the Mount: Jesus' Political and Moral Discourse - Richard GrzywinskiIn the era of Roman domination and Jewish religious elitism, Jesus Christ reached out to the commoners with his message of love and hope. Do the Beatitudes contained within his “Sermon on the Mount” as described in the Gospels still have relevance 2,000 years later? The Hindu leader Mohandas Gandhi reportedly said to the British Viceroy, “When your country and mine shall get together on the teachings laid down by Christ in this Sermon on the Mount, we shall have solved the problems not only of our countries but those of the whole world.” Focusing on the Beatitudes, we’ll look at what is considered by many to be the most important religious message of all time.
April 17, 2011 - The Last Week - Margaret ReaThis Sunday is, in the Christian calendar, Palm Sunday... the day that commemorates the arrival of Jesus and his followers in Jerusalem for the celebration of Passover, just a few days before (according to tradition) his execution. Margaret Rea, a member of this congregation, will draw on the book, The Last Week, by Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan to suggest that the events of what is known among our Christian family, friends, and neighbors as Holy Week can as easily support the thesis that Jesus' death was the result of anti-imperial political activism as they can the more traditional thesis that the Jewish religious authorities felt threatened by the words of an itinerant preacher.
April 3, 2011 - Who Do You Think You're Fooling? - Jack MillerDespite the fact that "playing the fool" is easy and natural for most of us, we still tend to leave the role to be played by the experts as often as we can. Is anyone thinking "I bet this Sunday's speaker is going to make a fool of himself?"
March 27, 2011 - Commitment Sunday - Paul UttsIn eleven short years we have built a community that nourishes our individual souls. Together, with remarkable generosity, we have built a vital center for religious exploration and social justice, having fun and making connections along the way. Are we finished? Not quite. On this Commitment Sunday Paul Utts will share his recollection of our journey, building a community that strengthens our hearts and minds. Now we must reach out and bring our message of peace, love and environmental responsibility to the community at large. How do we turn up the volume?
March 6, 2011 - The Great Dissent Tradition - Guest minister Rev. Manish K. MishrahUnitarian Universalism prides itself on being a “dissent tradition,” one that has stood apart from conventional understandings of religion. While this is true to a degree, how does that understanding both shape and limit our religious understanding of ourselves? In what ways is being a dissenter a strength, and in what ways does it hold us back?
February 6, 2011 - The Legacy of Transcendentalism - Richard Grzywinski"We are a club of the like-minded... no two of us think alike." This statement, and others like it attributed to the American transcendentalists of the early 19th century, could very well describe our own congregation today. How has transcendentalism shaped our UU faith? As we begin our search for a new UUCSJS minister, what can we learn from those early Unitarians like Emerson, Fuller, and Thoreau that can help us understand our challenges and shape our expectations?
2010Top of page
November 14, 2010 - Adventures of a UU Buddhist - Cynthia GrzywinskiCynthia discusses how Buddhism has affected her spiritual and emotional growth by exploring Buddhism and many of its themes manifested in literature and art. She will describe how drawing on and applying some of Buddhism’s basic facets such as mindfulness (aka “being in the moment”), acceptance of impermanence, seeking one’s own truth, universal compassion, and meditation have helped her more fully experience the wonder of life.
November 7, 2010 - The Sermon on the Rock - Richard GrzywinskiHow can we find solace at times of sorrow and despair - those “dark moments of the soul”? Can the “Creation Story” as told by modern-day scientists offer inspiration and a possible answer? Let's pause a moment and reconsider the extraordinary events that created “us”. Perhaps the Christian Bible provides a clue… must we really be “born again?”
October 17,2010 - Changing the World One Neuron at a Time - Guest speaker Dr. Keith ColemanWhy does the brain get wired into certain beliefs (literally)? This process makes it difficult (but not impossible) to be open to new beliefs. Dr Coleman will talk about the process (called brain plasticity) in which we can cultivate a new attitude and a brain that is willing to be open to new ideas and beliefs through meditation and mental focus.
July 25, 2010 - A Letter From Your Minister - Guest minister Rev. Libby SmithUsing the format of a letter to a fictional congregation (one that looks a lot like UUCSJS!) , Rev. Smith explores the joys and and the challenges of part-time ministry. Following the service, she will facilitate a congregational discussion about ministry, answer questions about her own half-time consulting ministry, and help us seek clarity about our needs and expectations.
March 14, 2010 - All Creatures Great and Small, or Things You Can Learn From Your Dog - Richard GrzywinskiAre you become increasingly overwhelmed by issues regarding animal rights? How should you respond? What is the proper ethical relationship between human and non-human animals? Better yet, why should we even trouble ourselves with this question? Can reason and philosophy provide the answers, or must we reach within to our own spirituality?
March 7, 2010 - Unitarian History: World War II Footnotes - Bill FelixThe subject of the sermon is the WWII activities of three Unitarians. Charles Rhind Joy and the Rev and Mrs Waitstill Sharp. These three helped hundreds flee the Nazi regime.
February 28, 2010 - There Be Dragons Here - Guest minister Rev Dr Len DeRocheEarly European maps marked the end the world as they knew it with the statement, “There be Dragons here.” Locations where people had never gone or returned from, were thought to contain dragons; so it is with our inner lives. Len looks at looking in these dark places.
2009Top of page
December 6, 2009 - Unitarian Universalist History Series: Part 2 -- American Steppingstones - Jon LuomaIn the late 18th century through the late 19th century, uniquely American forms of Universalism and Unitarianism blossomed and, as always, continued to evolve. Even back then, two separate U and U strands showed signs of intertwining commonality. (Central theme: Dogma Aren’t Us.)
September 20, 2009 - Into the Valley of the Shadow -- On Death and Dying - Stephanie GarrettPlease join us to hear a UU’s perspective on death and dying. Based in part on Rev. Forrest Church's last book Love and Death: My Journey through the Valley of the Shadow (he announced in 2008 that he has terminal cancer), Stephanie’s will share her own thoughts and experiences.
August 16, 2009 - Sacred and Profane: The Common Roots of Theater and Worship - Pam HendrickAs far as historians and anthropologists have been able to discern, religion has existed in all human societies. The same is true for public performance. In many cultures these two phenomena were at one time inseparable, and in some cultures they still are. Most forms of worship contain elements of performance, but do elements of the sacred still reside in our many forms of public performance?
July 5, 2009 - One Unitarian’s View on Religion - Carl BennerCarl Benner will present his view on God, organized religions and their prophets. If you hear echoes of The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine, no one will be surprised.
June 28, 2009 - Patriotism and Social Conscience: The Stars & Stripes, or The Chalice? - Richard GrzywinskiWhile we frequently oppose our nation’s engagement in wars, or decry its social policies that we view as inconsistent with our UU principles, can we (and should we) endorse or participate in acts of “patriotism?” Is patriotism somehow contrary to the idea of the oneness of humanity because it promotes separateness and highlights group differences? Ideas to consider before another Fourth of July.
March 22, 2009 - Unitarian Universalism: What’s Love Got to Do With It? - Lay leader Richard GrzywinskiFrom the perspective of a “devout spiritual humanist,” and with a little help from Shakespeare and a morning poem, we will explore the meaning of love, its spiritual roots, its consistency with our UU Principles, and why it is so important to our emotional well-being.”
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November 16, 2008 - Fourth Source: Jewish and Christian Teachings Which Call Us to Respond to God's Love by Loving Our Neighbors As Ourselves - Michael CluffMichael will provide his own insights into one of the Bible's Prime Directives.
October 19, 2008 - Second Source: Prophetic Words & Deeds of Women & Men - Mariann Davis MaeneWho are these prophetic women and men which "challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love?" And should we get involved, or just let them handle it?
September 28, 2008 - Fifth Source: Humanist Teachings - Richard GrzywinskiThe fifth source from which Unitarian Universalism draws is “Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit.”
April 20, 2008 - Fourth Principle: With Freedom Comes Responsibility - Michael CluffIn the spirit of the fourth principle and its promotion of a "free and responsible search for meaning," many UU congregations welcome everyone from Agnostics to Zoroastrians -- and a whole alphabet soup of isms in between. We UUs probably have a handle on what it means to have a free search for meaning. But what does it mean to undertake a responsible search for meaning?
April 6, 2008 - Third Principle: Acceptance of One Another and Encouragement to Spiritual Growth - Bob GilliesAre these principles mere platitudes? What does the third principle really mean? Is it one principle, or two? And are the two redundant? Bob will try to tease apart the interrelated third principle.
February 3, 2008 - 2nd principle: Justice, Equity, and Compassion in Human Relations - Richard GrzywinskiWhat do we really mean by "justice," and can it exist without equity and compassion? Join us in a slalom course through historical justice as we push off with Plato, Aeschylus and Aristotle, hurdle over Hammurabi, tumble through the Testaments, call out to Immanuel Kant, study the Semai of Malaysia, cavort with five female capuchin monkeys, and, with a blatant secular bias, find the meaning of justice within ourselves.
January 20, 2008 - The First Principle - Jack MillerWhen we say we believe in the inherent worth and dignity of each person, we see that the words are few, the idea is clear, but the practice is unbelievably difficult. How do we honor this principle in our everyday life, at work, at home, at play, and at UUCSJS?
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October 7, 2007 - Even Atheists Need Ritual - Richard GrzywinskiAs Unitarian Universalists, we thrive on the use of reason in our “free and responsible search for truth and meaning.” We characterize ourselves as free-thinkers, unconstrained by absolutism or dogma. Yet in our Sunday services, we do incorporate stylized customs, symbols, and repetitive acts reminiscent of traditional faiths. Are these elements important to our “faith,” or are they mere artifacts of our Judeo-Christian origins? How and why do they affect us so deeply? Perhaps we can enrich our spiritual growth through a greater understanding of our ritual practices and the mechanisms which engender positive feelings.
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