March 26, 2017 Service about Love (and perseverance, and justice)
Today Karen spoke on the topic of love and supporting communities under siege. (spoiler alert the sermon was cribbed from Victoria Safford of the White Bear UU Church in Minnesota.)
This is about love. It is a reminder that people have been struggling for a long, long time, against destruction, against disappointment and despair, against desecration of the planet and desecration of each other, devastations of the spirit and the body and the body politic, and people have been grieving for a long, long time; and for generations, those who came before us threw in their lots again and again, age after age, for hope, for compassion, for justice, for freedom, for human rights and civil rights (people with a lot more to lose than most of us here); they cast their lots for dignity and kindness, for beauty, truth and mercy. Perversely, ironically, against the odds and against powerful, normative rules and realities, people come together, people sometimes from very different places, backgrounds, histories, in every age, combine their ordinary powers and reconstitute the world.
And it is an honor and an act of love to sign on to that history and carry it on.
This is about love, not politics, or the kind of love that is politics, the faith that unfolds in the public square and the private heart, and everywhere. "It is midnight in our world," said Martin Luther King, "and the darkness is so deep that we can hardly see which way to turn."
The faith of a Unitarian Universalist comes from courage and moral clarity. We are on the threshold now of a terrifying moment in our country, in our world, when we will be called as never before to clarify, to testify, to a faith that sometimes even we cannot articulate. Sometimes it is hard being a Unitarian Universalist. What do we believe in, and what do you believe? The answer comes in whispers, when we’re most afraid, confused, unsure, when someone’s story touches us, someone’s courage, their humanity, and we remember: we are saved by love.
If this sounds like a community you would like to join, then we would love to have you come visit with us some Sunday morning... 11 O'clock.
March 12, 2017 Service about the ACLU
Today Gary Daniels, a representative from the ACLU, came to talk to us about the work of his organization. There was a lot to talk about.
Interestingly, he started off by saying there are two groups who are strong supporters of the ACLU and he didn't know which one was most dedicated. One was Librarians, and the other was Unitarian Universalists.
The big lesson for me was his explanation of the way the ACLU addresses religion and the constitution. The Constitution encourages the government to accommodate religious practices wherever practicable but it prohibits endorsement of a religion. This is a very difficult line to walk. The government should allow prayer, but never encourage or lead a prayer. Ironically, many of the protections for religious practice built into case law go back to a time when evangelical Christians were seeking protection (see Danbury Baptist Church letter from Thomas Jefferson.)
We also discussed a fair amount of the most recent bans on immigration from a list of middle eastern countries by executive order. He explained that even if the executive order didn't explicitly ban people of one religion, all the things that the President said on the campaign trail will be introduced as evidence of the true intent of the executive order. It will be up to the judge to determine whether those arguments are persuasive.
Terror has often been used as the underlying reason to suppress religious practices, especially in surveillance cases. He said the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) takes the lead in many of these cases when it comes to discrimination against Muslims.
If you are a strong believer in the mission of the ACLU, then you really should consider coming and hanging out with us next Sunday. (next Sunday we are going to have a service on Jobs, unemployment, and what the heck it has done to politics in this country.)
March 5, 2017 Service about US
This was a Sunday in which we try to come to an understanding of ourselves as a congregation. We are a small congregation, but we believe in ourselves and in establishing our sense of spiritual community where we take care of one another and we stand up for social justice in the world. We don't have a creed, but we have a sense of truth and our doctrine is truth and service. In any dispute, we stand on the side of love The great religions of the world agree with that.
Please come add your spiritual journey to ours. We respect the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part. And so are you. Please come join us some Sunday.
Feb 26, 2017 Service about the first Universalist Congregation in Columbus
Our congregation is the founding congregation of Universalist in Columbus Ohio. Founded in 1844, we had a church building constructed at 186 S 3rd Street by 1847. Elisabeth gave us a taste our hour history in today's service.
We don't know a lot about what our spiritual ancesters thought and felt, but Elisabeth constructed an interesting narrative of what was going on in the nation in those years and interpreted that through a Universalist lens. Interestingly, a lot of issues that concern us today were issues that concerned people back in 1844. There were concerns over how far technology has gone, will the telegraph replace the Post office? Great leaps in transportation concerned them now that the steam engine tracks have reached Columbus, and transportation is accomplished with a mechanical steam engine? We were in the middle of a trade dispute with China (at the periphery of the opium wars.)
In politics, no one expected the election of James K Polk and a lot of people were upset about his policies of taking on new territories without a promise that the new territories will remain slave-free. We even had lying and fake news. A small booklet was published to let people know that the other guy, Henry Clay of Kentucky, "spends his days at the gaming table and his nights in a brothel." The Whig national convention in 1844 was held in Baltimore Md at the Universalist Church Building.
After the service, we had a sit-down discussion for those who wanted to stay about the issues raised by Elisabeth. The Universalists were among the first to start to wrestle with the idea that our wealth and our morality come in conflict and maybe we can live on less wealth in order to get more morality working for us.
We also discussed what is the purpose of a congregation? Why do we assemble here each week? One of the reasons is our collective belief in the inherent worth of fighting for social justice. If you are a like-minded individual, please come sit with us some Sunday. We don't bite.