All Sermons

All Sermons

“Lent: Into the Wilderness”

March 10, 2019

The video starts with a reading made up of excerpts from Jon Krakauer’s “Into the Wild”. Following that is my sermon, “Lent: Into the Wilderness”. This morning was the first Sunday during Lent, the Christian season leading up to Easter. Specifically, Lent is the 40 days from Ash Wednesday to Easter (leaving out the Sundays). For many Christians, Lent is a time for sacrifice. It’s a time to repent, and take stock. And of course, Lent is to Easter what Advent is for Christmas; a time for preparation. We considered what Lent might offer for 21st century Unitarian Universalists.

“All the Stirrings of Compassion?”

March 3, 2019

In the hymn “Spirit of Life” we sing, “Spirit of Life, come unto me. Sing in my heart all the stirrings of compassion.” But why are we so restrictive — so selective — with our compassion at times? In this sermon I consider how we decide to mete out our compassion. And, hot sauce.

“The Theology of ‘The Wizard of Oz'”

February 24, 2019

I preached this sermon on the morning before the Oscars, on the 80th anniversary of “The Wizard of Oz”. Synchronistic events (meaningful coincidences) reminded me of this wonderful story recently (the book as well as the movie). Watch and listen to explore some of the hidden theological and spiritual messages of the great tale by L. Frank Baum! (And note my rainbow stole, as well as my blue gingham shirt in honor of Dorothy’s dress.)

“Forget Your Perfect Offering”

January 27, 2019

My short sermon was part of a whole church (also known as “multi-generational”) worship service reflecting on the concept of “Perfectly Imperfect; Impossibly Possible”, and considering things we “used-to-think”. (The service was followed by a whole church “Winter Comfort” Sunday Social where members and friends were asked to bring their favorite comfort food to share, and to wear pajamas. That is why I’m in pajamas!)

“Remembering the Astronauts”

January 6, 2019

This reading (the poem “Astronauts” by the great Robert Hayden) and my short sermon (“Remembering the Astronauts) were shared at the end of Remembrance Sunday. Remembrance Sunday is an annual FCU tradition; the congregation lights Candles of Love and Memory to recall irreplaceable family and friends who died in the past year as well as Candles of Hope and Joy to celebrate children dear to us who were born in the past year. Errata note: The beautiful line in Hayden’s poem is “once Absolute Otherwhere” (not “Everywhere”, as I mistakenly say a couple of times in this video.) My apologies! Read his gorgeous poem at this link.

“Does the Shadow Know?”

December 23, 2018

In this month of mystery, I continue on with a look at the ideas of Carl Jung. We usually think of our “shadow side” as scary and negative. In the midst of this dark time of year, I consider Jung’s concept of the shadow and whether there’s something useful lurking there.

“From Puritan to UU”

November 11, 2018

When I have given a brief overview of UU history to newcomers, there is sometimes still a bit of mystery in the air. Namely — hold on — did modern Unitarian Universalism come from Puritanism? My sermon attempts to explain this phenomenon. Learn about your puritanical spiritual ancestors, and how this history is relevant today. This sermon was preached on November 11, 2018 (Note: The Unitarians and Universalists merged into the Unitarian Universalist Association in 1961. It sure sounds like I say 1969 in the sermon; if so, I misspoke! It was 1961. In any case, most of what I learned about this era of Unitarian history I learned from Prof. David Hall at Harvard Divinity School in the fall of 1994. I will be forever grateful. Any mistakes are my own.)

“Learning from the Blues People”

November 4, 2018

At the UU General Assembly in June 2015 (in Portland, Oregon), Cornel West delivered the Ware Lecture. It was a rousing talk, and he had much to say in appreciation of Unitarian Universalism’s justice efforts. One of the intriguing bits of advice the Dr. West gave, at least to my ears, was that Unitarian Universalists “should learn from the blues people”. West has written (in Democracy Matters) that we should “learn from the blues people how to keep alive our democratic energies” in difficult times. He wrote, “In the face of cynical and disillusioned acquiescence to the status quo, we must draw on the tragicomic”. He talks about “the black invention of the blues in the face of white supremacist powers.” West tells us to listen to the people who formed their music on “the night side of America”—music that is “open to people of all colors”—music that “expresses righteous indignation with a smile and deep inner pain without bitterness or revenge”. Further recommended viewing: Cornel West’s Ware Lecture: click here
Selected blues videos shown after the November 4 service: click here

Reflection for “Whole Church” Water Ceremony

September 9, 2018

Like many Unitarian Universalist congregations, First Church Unitarian in Littleton has a Water Ceremony (sometimes called Water Communion) for its ingathering, homecoming Sunday. This was the all-ages reflection that I delivered that day, my first Sunday leading worship as the settled minister of FCU, September 9, 2018.

“So, What Is the Meaning of Life?”

September 1, 2018

I haven’t preached this at First Church Unitarian in Littleton… But this is the sermon your search team heard me preach back when I was a pre-candidate! Follen Community Church in Lexington recorded it when I was there on February 18, 2018, so here it is for the rest of you to watch if you like. And seeing as it’s your big chance to learn the meaning of life, you probably want to watch, right?

Endings and Beginnings

April 1, 2018

The Easter story is being told in countless thousands of Christian congregations today. As varied the content of the Sunday services may be from one Christian congregation to the next over the course of a year, they are all on the same page today.

The Sixties: Still Crazy After All These Years

March 25, 2018

Culturally and politically speaking, what is generally referred to as “The Sixties” ran from, I’d say, late 1963 with the Martin Luther King March on Washington and the Kennedy assassination, and ended in the mid-70s with the end of the Vietnam War and the whole Watergate episode. However you frame it, it was a very tumultuous time in our nation’s history; and its legacy and meaning continue to be debated.

From the Bottom Up

February 4, 2018

Sometimes when the bottom falls out of life we are set free. We attain enlightenment, or an enlightenment of sorts, so perspective, some clarity, some sense of reality, some sense of dealing with things as they are.

God and the Constitution

January 28, 2018

One of our great national paradoxes is that practically every movement in this country to achieve greater levels of social justice, equity, and equality have been, to one degree or another, religiously inspired and driven. And at the same time practically every effort to oppose, subvert, or undermine these movements has also been religiously inspired and driven.

How Martin Luther King Has Informed my Ministry: A Homily for MLK Sunday

January 14, 2018

It will be 50 years ago come this April, but the memory is vivid as ever. I was a 22 year old seminarian in Rochester, New York and was doing my field education at a large, liberally oriented American Baptist church in a Rochester suburb. Just as I was going into a meeting there on the evening of April 4, 1968 someone said they’d heard on the news that Martin Luther King had been shot.

On Being Remembered

January 7, 2018

A few weeks ago, I attended a Memorial Service for a woman named Nori. She was about 10 years my junior and had died from pancreatic cancer. Nori discovered Unitarian Universalism by way of the Nashua UU Church in the early years of my ministry there, and very quickly became involved in the life of the congregation. I felt honored to be her minister.

Abundance at Tinker Creek: A Homily

November 19, 2017

Annie Dillard’s book “A Pilgrim at Tinker Creek” is an account of time she spent living in a rural area outside of Roanoke, Virginia in the early 1970s. Here’s how she describes her home of that time: “I live by a creek, Tinker Creek, in a valley in Virginia’s Blue Ridge. I think of (my) house clamped to the side of Tinker Creek as an anchor-hold. It holds me at anchor to the rock bottom of the creek itself and keeps me steadied in the current…It’s a good place to live; there’s a lot to think about.”

Does The Earth Need Us?

November 5, 2017

Mr. Alan Weisman came out with his book “The World Without Us” some ten years ago. In it Mr. Weisman uses a very fanciful premise to play out some very factual, and scientifically based, scenarios.

A Story from an Old Yearbook

October 29, 2017

The memento I brought for the service today is an old high school yearbook, published in 1927. Among the senior class pictures is one of an attractive young woman known as “Lottie.” I never even knew she had that name until I discovered the book after she’d died, and I was helping clean out the house in which she’d lived for much of her life.

Where Race and Class Unite? Part Two

October 15, 2017

Today I want to bring this matter of class closer to home. Home in this case being our Unitarian Universalist movement, and this congregation as a part of that movement—our UU Association. I’ll be drawing in part on a report that came out last summer, just prior to our UU General Assembly, by our Association’s Commission of Appraisal titled Class Action: The Struggle with Class in Unitarian Universalism. And I’ll be throwing in some of my own stuff as well.