Sermon given by Kimberly Cloutier Green, June 30, 2019.
Last Sunday we heard from our Coming of Age youth, and I’m glad so many of you were here to receive that blessing, of their words and presence. If I had one wish for our young people, it would be this: that they feel at home: in themselves, in their families, in this church, and in the world. Isn't this what we are all seeking? The way home?
A couple of weeks ago, Josh Goulet preached a wonderful sermon and something he said has stayed with me, about our third UU principle; which affirms “acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth.” Josh noticed that acceptance of one another comes first; that it’s only after you feel some level of belonging, that you are ready to stretch and grow spiritually. In other words, once you feel at home, once you feel safe and secure enough, then you can go deeper and reach out and take risks and help others.
From the worship service on June 16, 2019.
Sermon given by Joshua Goulet, June 9, 2016.
“The letter fails, the systems fall, and every symbol wanes;
the Spirit overseeing all, Eternal Love, remains.”
(words by John Greenleaf Whitter, from the hymn “Immortal Love”)
What is the church, if not a community that reminds us and helps us to put Love at the center? We are here to hold open a space where people can gather, where you can ome expecting that there is big Love to be found. Where you can come, hoping, “There’s a place for me here,” and not be disappointed. It’s what Starhawk says we are looking for and longing for: “Somewhere, there are people to whom we can speak with passion without having the words catch in our throats. Somewhere a circle of hands will open to receive us, eyes will light up as we enter, voices will celebrate with us whenever we come into our own power.”
“’Tis a gift to be simple, ’tis a gift to be free, ’tis a gift to come down where you ought to be.” I love that hymn from the Shakers. Several weeks ago my study group, a dozen UU ministers who gather twice a year, traveled to Canterbury Shaker Village in New Hampshire so we could experience directly what they had created there. The Shakers are all gone now, but their spirit still pervades that place, in their buildings, and the furniture they made, and the land they farmed.
In their work and in their worship, the Shakers knew how to put themselves in the way of grace. Our trip to Canterbury reminded me of what a sacred place looks like and feels like. How I feel better in such a place; it’s like being in church. It certainly has something to do with beauty, and with the care people have taken in a place over the years, and with an attentiveness to the Spirit. And it can happen anywhere.
Thank you for coming along with me on my Humanist’s Hunt for Grace. Why you might ask would anyone need to hunt for Grace when the word itself is so easy to find? Grace under pressure - Grace notes in music - disgrace. I’ve known several Graces in my life, a childhood playmate, the mom of a valued colleague, Graciella, Grace in Italian and Grace, our friend here at church. I heard Grace as a theme in one of President Bush’s eulogies. We’ve had a month at church with Grace as a theme. Maybe you even hear it daily at your Grace before meals. I could go. But in spite of Grace’s ubiquitous nature, finding its meaning has been my own spiritual “earworm”, for the past several years. I felt a need to understand it and the ways it has shown up in my life. I’m honored to share my search with you.
Sermon given by Rev. Jason Shelton, May 12, 2019
Our worship theme for this month of May is “grace.” These days, when I think of grace, I find myself thinking of you, and this place. Feeling so grateful to be your pastor, so grateful that we are in this together. Even when things are hard, or challenging, I know, deep down, this is where I’m meant to be. And I think this is at least partly due to the fact that we have been together for a while now. Some of you have been here longer, for decades, and there’s something graceful and grace-filled about that kind of constancy, isn’t there? Especially in a society that is constantly changing, that is so often telling us to keep our options open and to leave when things get hard; that the grass is always greener somewhere else. So staying put is an act of faith, that is counter-cultural these days.
That’s a prayer we just sang, isn’t it?:
For the world we raise our voices, for the home that gives us birth;
in our joy we sing returning home to our bluegreen hills of earth.
I so love this season of slowly unfolding warmth and growth, the invitation to be in touch again with this good earth. Earlier this week, I was driving down the highway, and a little patch of grass caught my eye. Because it was green! Which it hasn’t been for a while! And the thought came to mind: “Just this, right now, is enough.”