Sam’s Sermons 2011

Love and Hope Beyond Belief  MP3 December 11, 2011
As a non-belief centered religious tradition, our theological source of love and hope isn’t collectively defined. Yet few, if any, would want to live without them. They are critical to our well being. Thankfully we can cultivate love and hope together in a way that transcends our individual beliefs. Take a break from shopping and seasonal preparations and get recharged. NOTE: The audio is a little scratchy in parts – had a microphone failure.
Also the opening readings are by Dawn Dana.
Christian Humanism  MP3 December 4, 2011
Once again the December holiday season rolls around. Revering the birth of a Savior isn’t how many Unitarian Universalists celebrate this season. Yet many of our values spring from the Christian tradition. Can we love and follow Jesus and be a Humanist too?
Occupy Wall Street: Messages and Meanings  MP3 November 6, 2011
Much is in process as this movement spreads to places like Albany and Schenectady. Getting past the many complaints, concerns and agendas, why has this movement taken off? What is the source of energy that drives it? Where is it going? What are the deeper messages and meanings of this movement?
Prophecy, Atonement and Forgiveness  PDF  MP3 October 16, 2011
As Sam’s Outlook column pointed out this month, prophets can be difficult people with whom to sustain a relationship without a shared sense of purpose, commitment and urgency. Being present with a prophet requires a willingness to witness one’s resistance and reactivity. It requires allowing unpleasant emotions to surface. And it requires a willingness to consider being changed by the encounter … for the better.
Our Prophetic Heritage  PDF  MP3 October 2, 2011
Many Unitarian Universalists have mixed feelings or have left behind many aspects of the Biblical tradition of our institutional heritage. The characters who still have a hold on us though are the prophets. These trouble makers who rail against the status quo we honor in our principle of justice, equity and compassion in human relations. They spoke truth to power. Are we willing to do the same?
Borders, Documents, Immigration and Human Rights  PDF  MP3 September 18, 2011
Increased border security and immigration status checking are two of our national responses to the September 11th attacks. These enhanced security measures are supposed to protect us from terrorist infiltration. The side effects of increased enforcement are separating families, endangering documented immigrant workers in our economy and killing thousands of people in the Arizona desert. As our national leaders pass the immigration hot potato around, this human rights crisis continues to get worse. And now Unitarian Universalist Association is asking us to respond and take a stand.
The War Isn’t Over, Even Now  PDF May 29, 2011
For the last nine years, a steady stream of our young men and women have gone off to war in Iraq and Afghanistan. They serve, they kill, they witness and participate in brutality, they suffer physical and psychological harm, then they come home. And the war comes home with them, a war they continue to fight in their dreams and in their subconscious. Whether the 9/11 wars or the Gulf War, or Vietnam or or Korea or World War Two, if we send them to fight for us, we have an unending responsibility for them when they return.
Going Deeper  PDF May 1, 2011
Our congregational purpose talks about exciting the human spirit and inspiring its growth and development. How are we doing with that? The Sunday service is one way for that to happen but what about the other six days of the week? How can our congregation support our individual search for truth and meaning, as mentioned in the UU Purposes and Principles? What would help our congregation as well as each one of us go deeper in our growth and development process?
The Authority of Personal Experience  PDF March 27, 2011
Unitarian Universalists look to reality for guidance in our religious lives. We rely heavily on our personal experiences and those we trust to orient our moral, ethical and spiritual lives. While many of us are aware of the strengths of this approach, we may be less aware of the weaknesses and pitfalls. Primary among those weaknesses are the limitations of our experiences beyond our own culture, our own class, our own abilities and disabilities, our own religion, our own ethnic or racial background. How can we feel confident in the authority of the guidance of personal experience when comes from a very limited source? Are the universals really universal?
On Being Good Without a Higher Authority  PDF March 20, 2011
Historically, the Universalists claimed Jesus’ death and resurrection meant every last one of us would be saved. The Calvinists strongly objected to this view. “Without the threat of hell, why would people be good?” they asked. In one form or another, many believe that the only reason people will be good is because of a threat of punishment, with God as the ultimate judge. Is that the case? Will some people be good without a threat? Without God? What is your answer?
Effective Power Sharing and Ministerial Partnership   PDF March 6, 2011
For congregations to be strong and vibrant, they must share power with their minister. For a congregation to be dynamic, transforming and fulfilling, the minister must share his or her work of ministry. The effectiveness of a congregation requires a partnership of minister and congregation guided by shared purposes and principles. Yet, often these partnerships fail. Why? What can we do about it?
The Heart of Christianity  PDF February 27, 2011
There are two predominant approaches to Christianity today. There is the pre-Enlightenment, pre-Darwin, fundamentalist approach to Christianity that is more comfortable forgetting the last two thousand years of human discovery, growth and development. And there is the hundred year old approach that integrates and responds to those changes. This new Christianity “with heart, ” articulated by Jesus Seminar scholar Marcus Borg, is one that many Unitarian Universalists will appreciate and find more compatible with our religious approach.
Eating for Peace and Justice February 6, 2011
Enormous amounts of resources and billions of people are involved with putting food on the table for us to enjoy. How each one of us selects those foods is a vote for which ones to grow, by whom and how, and for what purpose. Grain can be grown for people or cows or beer or fuel. Agricultural workers who produce that food may or may not be fairly compensated. What are you voting for with your dollars? What food policy should our elected officials advocate?
Flavor Based Ethical Eating  PDF January 30, 2011
Celebrated young chef Dan Barber believes the way to a better world is through the pursuit of flavor. He thinks we don’t make ourselves or the world better by giving up the enjoyment of eating food that tastes good. Could his hedonistic approach to food be a path to better health, local economic vitality, and ecological sustainability?
The Margins Hold the Center  PDF January 16, 2011
Those in the center of American culture may not recognize they are in the center. But those on the margins of American culture definitely know they aren’t in the center. Yet those on the margins actually hold and support the cohesiveness of that center. Within Unitarian Universalism, those on the margins can move the center and make it bigger. (This service was adapted from the original description to respond to the shootings in Tucson,Arizona)