Water Communion Homily

Andy Grizzle, 9/10/2017

Thinking Things

By Alison Reiheld

The story by Terry Bisson presents an interesting kind of question: what kinds of things are capable of thinking? Do we know them by their works, or what they are made of?  We humans are indeed thinking things.  Indeed, our thoughts about our thinking can be used as a fundamental proof of our own existence.

As Rene Descartes famously said in his Meditations, “I think, therefore I am.”  He said this in the context of examining what we can really know. Suppose, Descartes said, that an evil demon—or, in our modern age, a computer simulation—has manufactured for me illusory sensations.  I then could not trust my sense data about the external world.  I cannot at any point be precisely certain these sensory impressions of the world are true in any sense.  Even if I am not being manipulated, I still cannot be sure how true they are for I can perceive only part of the picture both because I am an individual and because my senses do not perceive all that exists. There are colors I will never see, degrees of translucency I will never perceive, smells I can never detect.  Well, Descartes, said, what then can I know?  Is there anything? We can at least know that if we are deceived, there is something to be deceived. If we are only partial knowers, there is a knower.  If I am thinking, there is a thinker, and I am that thinker.

...click here to read the entire sermon.


For the Beauty of the Earth

By Rev. Dawn Fortune

This is the day the earth has given us. Let us rejoice in its beauty.

Carl Sagan says we are made of star stuff, but Marge Piercy reminds us that we are all of this humble earth, that we are all connected to it as much as every tree or blade of grass.

Mass, like energy, can be neither created nor destroyed. It can only be transformed. The atoms of the earth that make up the rich soil that grow our food were once part of other kinds of life – of plants, of animals.

...click here to read the entire sermon.


Leaving Egypt: Envisioning a New Future

By Rev. Morgan Forrest

Good morning! It is spring, and we are only a few days away from what
most of you know as Passover. In Hebrew, we use the word Pesach. We also
refer to this festival by several other names, such as Chag ha’Aviv, which
means Festival of Spring. And there is Chag ha’Matzot, which means
festival of Matzahs, and if any of you have ever eaten the cardboard we call
matzah, I don’t know why anyone would call it a festival! Some people call
it The Feast Without Yeast. But perhaps the least often heard, yet most
meaningful term we use for this time is, Z'man Cheiruteinu, which means,
the time of our freedom.

...click here to read the entire sermon.


(Un)Holy Mischief

By Rev. Dawn Fortune

Laughter is the best medicine. We’ve all heard it, and to some extent, it is easy to believe at face value. Certainly there are scientific studies done by serious people in lab coats and clutching clipboards, resulting in dull, dry reports that use words like ‘qualitative’ and ‘within vectors of tolerance.” Or some such. There’s nothing like science to take the fun right out of fun.

But laughter is the thing we need when times get tough. Not to dismiss or diminish whatever kind of pain we’re in, but to ease the stress, to let off steam like a pressure valve on one of those old terrifying pressure cooker things.

...click here to read the entire sermon.


The Power of Nope: A View of Religion and Science

By Steve Harvey

Good morning. Our story today begins with a group of kids around a
campfire. It’s a true story. I was around 11 or 12 years old, and the other
kids were about the same age as me. It was a Boy Scout camp. All of us
were from the same small town, and we all knew each other from
school. Most of us even lived in the same neighborhood and played
tackle football together in the big open field – which was on the other
side of the dirt road that ran in front of my house. That night at the
campout we were standing there, trying to warm up by the
fire. Occasionally the wind would change direction, and we’d all kinda
shift around to the other side to try to get away from hot smoke blasting
into our faces.

...click here to read the entire sermon.


Losing King Again: The Whitewashing of his Legacy

By Lauren Lyerla

How does one introduce Dr. King as a subject? Our schools start teaching kids as young as preschool about him, so pretty much everyone knows who he is. But on the other hand, what most of us learn about him is pretty limited, not all that much more than was included in the book Kevin read to us this morning: "A man named Martin Luther King Jr. taught us unyielding compassion. He gave us a dream that all races and creeds would walk hand in hand. He marched and he prayed and, one at a time, opened hearts and saw the birth of his dream in us."

And so it is with losing Dr. King. Most of us know that he was assassinated in the prime of his life. He was only 39 years old when he died on April 4, 1968, in Memphis. James Earl Ray spent the rest of his life in prison for taking Dr. King from us.

....click here to read the entire sermon.


Still, She Persisted

By Rev. Dawn Fortune

“She was warned. She was given an explanation. Still, she persisted.”

Let it be noted that today I quoted United States Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in a sermon.

People who are socialized as female in our culture recognized easily what happened this week when senators from one party voted to silence a senator from the other party. This was about more than stopping uncomfortable words from being spoken into the congressional record: this was about exerting power, flexing muscle, sending a message that uppity behavior would not be tolerated, particularly by women members of the body.

After Warren was formally censured and barred from speaking again, no fewer than four of her male colleagues read the same letter from Coretta Scott King into the record. None of them were opposed, silenced or harassed in any way.

....click here to read the entire sermon.


The Tension Between Reason and Wonder

By Rev. Dawn Fortune

All around us, we are surrounded by wonder, if we only choose to see it. The cold this week has created intricate patterns of frost on windows and metal railings, and the lingering, bent remains of last summer’s tomato plants that never got pulled at the end of the season.

And yet, wonder can have a darker side. Rarely are things as idyllic as we’d like to imagine them to be.

Thunderstorms that light up the night sky can also blow down trees and damage homes. Frost that etches delicate lace on windows and spiderwebs can kill delicate plants and freeze pipes.

Fields of flowers carry pollen and bugs and all manner of things to irritate humans – things that make us sneeze or itch or break out in a rash.

....click here to read the entire sermon.


"News to Me"

By Rev. Julie Taylor

Three years ago I preached a sermon at the Fourth Universalist Society in New York City called "Wearing a Hoodie."  It was a response to the killing of Trayvon Martin. I joined ministers all around New York preaching in hooded sweatshirts that day to remember a 17 year old African American high school student walking home to his father’s house unarmed, when he was killed in Sanford, Florida —shot to death by a white, self-appointed neighborhood watch captain, George Zimmerman. At the time I preached that sermon, Zimmerman had not been charged with any crime. Ultimately he was charged and would be found not guilty of the murder.

....click here to read the entire sermon.


"Turn and Face the Strange: Changes"

By Rev. Julie Taylor

David Bowie’s song, Changes, initially became very important to me my senior year of high school. I was on the senior film team. In my high school we had a film program; now we’re going back to the late 80s so this is not high definition, not even camcorders to VHS, I’m talking about Super 8mm film that gets developed and we spliced by hand and taped together, and to get the soundtrack right you put a tape on and started the film and hoped you caught it at the right time so it would synch. Some of you know what I’m talking about. As part of the senior film team we spent the entire year documenting our final year of high school and debuted the film at our senior banquet in the spring. The theme we chose was David Bowie’s Changes. And so for me this song always means one place, one time, it always takes me back to then.

....click here to read the entire sermon.


"Freeing the Forest Floor" 

By Rev. Krista Taves

"Peace and balance doesn't happen on its own.  It happens because human beings make strategic choices that allow us to take the place that is meant to be taken."  

....click here to read the entire sermon.