Sam’s Sermons 2009

Impossible Illumination PDF December 13, 2009
Long ago, there was not enough oil to keep a lamp lit for the eight days it took to purify a holy space. But somehow, the oil lasted and the light did not go out. What seemed impossible came to pass. The practice of lighting candles for Chanukah can be about far more than celebrating a miracle after a military victory. What impossible illumination might be waiting for each one of us?
Ethical Eating PDF November 8, 2009
The Unitarian Universalist Association is working on a Statement of Conscience on this topic. People are thinking more and more about what they eat from a number of perspectives. One is health. Another is damaging environmental effects and destructive methods of production. Yet another is examining the ethics of taking life. First, do we have any ethics about what we eat? Second, if we decide to start building one or revising one, what are the foundations?
Creating Free Will PDF MP3 October 25, 2009
Evolutionary Psychology is suggesting that human behavior is completely determined by our genes and our environment. This seems to strike at the heart of the idea of humanity having any free will. Perhaps the evolutionists have over-reached in their triumphal pronouncements. Could free will be created rather than innate or absent? If so, what are the consequences?
One Congregation: Many Paths PDF MP3 October 18, 2009
This expression is the motto of the Cleveland’s West Shore UU Church. It expresses simply and beautifully what we are about as Unitarian Universalists. We call it being “non-creedal.” There is no test of belief to participate in or join a UU congregation. But that doesn’t mean you can believe anything you want. Come find out what the limits are.
Who Discovered What? PDF MP3 October 11, 2009
Most likely, your high school history teacher passed on to you many lies and distortions about American history, starting with Columbus who almost certainly didn’t discover the Americas. Exposing these lies is critical to comprehending the legacy of the harmful and unwholesome practices of European settlers. Understanding and acknowledging the damaging effects of that history is critical for creating a more harmonious world.
The Beauty of Needs PDF  MP3 September 20, 2009
Self reliant, independent, rugged-individualists often do not have an appreciation for their needs. Certainly survival needs are obvious but needs for connection and meaning may not be so obvious. Yes, we can survive without them, but can we thrive? When one explores what needs really are, their satisfaction becomes much more important. Being willing to even see the beauty of all needs as universal human qualities can become a life transforming spiritual practice.
Learning as a Spiritual Practice PDF MP3 June 7, 2009
Unitarian Universalists love life long learning. They enjoy satisfying the urge to understand the world and themselves. Yet, can it also serve a deeper spiritual purpose through practicing a disciplined approach to learning? Can the process of learning itself have within it its own truth?
A Common Fire PDF May 17, 2009
Expanding global awareness and shrinking public engagement can create in us strong discomfort. A greater awareness of human suffering stimulates our moral sensibility without perceiving a viable moral way to respond. How do we develop, in Jim Wallis’ words, “a sense of the common good, an emphasis on community and compassion in everyday life, and a values-based politics in the public sphere” and then make it real?
In the Service of Life PDF May 10, 2009
Mothers are frequently honored for being willing servants of life’s longing for new birth. And sometimes accidents, sexual violence and arm-twisting hormones can coerce women into motherhood. However they become pregnant, let us honor women who consciously choose to fulfill the roles and responsibilities of motherhood in the service of life.
A Bridge Over Troubled Water PDF  MP3 April 5, 2009
The economic troubles we’ve faced this fall and winter have us hunkered down, cutting spending, and fearing the worst. The massive failure of our banking system and the deflation of housing values are creating a sinkhole that threatens to pull us all down with them. Who can we turn to when the waters are rising? Let us turn to each other for mutual support through FUUSA.
How Safe is Safe? PDF MP3 March 22, 2009
Many grandparents are noticing how much more careful their children are raising their grandchildren than they were in raising them. Children have play dates rather than just running around outside unsupervised. For a number of reasons, parents are more vigilant in making sure their children are safe … and that is affecting our congregation. Over last ten years, FUUSA has instituted a number of policies, consolidated in our new safety policy, to prevent harm to children and adults. So, just how safe do we want to be? And what price are we willing to pay?
Reliable Uncertainty PDF MP3 March 8, 2009
Few saw the economic collapse coming that we’re suffering through right now. Looking at the past, bankers fooled themselves into thinking real estate prices could only go up. Now it seems obvious that a fall was coming. Could it be that the amount of uncertainty in life is actually increasing along with the complexity of our lives and unexpected events will happen more frequently? How do we live in a world where the risk of the unexpected is increasing?
The Questions of Jesus PDF MP3 March 1, 2009
Jesus didn’t give us a lot of answers but he did give us an amazing number of questions to ponder. Rather than give an answer to a question, Jesus often offered a teaching story. Using his questions, Jesus can become a mirror for us to see ourselves. These questions will be our source for reflection in the six week Lenten Bible Study class beginning Tuesday evening, March 3.
Darwin at 200, PDF MP3 February 15, 2009
Few discoveries have had such a big impact on the religious world as the discovery of natural selection. Many believers in a Creator couldn’t swallow the idea that all life evolved randomly from the simplest cells formed out of amino acids. Unitarian and Universalist clergy had to decide whether they were on the side of reason and science or Biblically based theology. We’ll honor this great man and his influence on Unitarian Universalism.
Awakening Through Brokenness PDF MP3 February 8, 2009
Many of us have experienced adversity in our lives, moved through it, and been the stronger for it. As economic hard times weigh down our nation, this is a good time for our congregation to increase our sense of support for each other. Difficulties and challenges can be the catalyst for our spiritual growth and development – for both the ones enduring hard times and the ones offering help and support. Hard times can bring our congregational community closer together
What If?, PDF MP3 January 18, 2009
Inaugurating an African American President is a great and wonderful thing. But on Wednesday, the legacy of racism remains. Let us work to counter its effects by examining what residue of it remains in us.
Abandoning Past and Future Lives, PDF MP3 January 4, 2009
Striving to recreate the past in the present and/or striving to attain existence in a heaven realm after death are both morally bankrupt if those actions contract supporting the well-being of life on this planet here and now. If this proposition is true, why not just focus on serving the common good here and now and not be concerned about what happens after you die?