April 21, 2019 Flower Service
The Flower Ceremony, sometimes referred to as Flower Communion or Flower Festival, is an annual ritual that celebrates beauty, human uniqueness, diversity, and community. Originally created in 1923 by Unitarian minister Norbert Capek of Prague, Czechoslovakia, the Flower Ceremony was introduced to the United States by Rev. Maya Capek, Norbert's widow. In this ceremony, everyone in the congregation brings a flower. Each person places a flower on the altar or in a shared vase. The congregation and minister bless the flowers, and they're redistributed. Each person brings home a different flower than the one they brought.
It is our golden hour together with flowers. There is wisdom in flowers. In spring there are flowers coming up in places where no one has planted them. They planted themselves, or nature did, but we humans did not. Sometimes we see long abandon tulip bulbs coming up in the place where some long-ago homestead may have stood... Tulips arranged as if some long forgotten housewife had put them there in her garden and they still bloom. Sometimes we see the little flowers in the yard... wild violets... or dandelions. On our church property we have snow drops every spring and soon the "pink ladies" will be coming up as they do every year unprompted by us. There is wisdom in flowers, and their grace is stronger than our indifference.
Children of the earth and sky, we are nurtured, sustained, given warmth and light from above and below.
Supported by earth's strong, firm crust, we build our homes, till the fields, plant our gardens and orchards.
When we turn from self and seek to be aware, we will find holy light in human faces, in blossom, birdsong, and sky.
Then earth is truly our home, and we are one with all earth's creatures,
Parents of earth's children yet to be.
April 7, 2019 Service about Flat Earth
Today we were given a presentation about the Flat Earth Society and their beliefs. This turned out to be a very interesting exercise in how cults work. The basis of the belief system is that NASA faked the moon landings and all the rest of the "evidence" flows from that starting point.
The essence of it is to use cognitive dissonance to discourage people from giving it independent thought, or from doing any independent research on the topic. If you receive no other information than what is being handed to you by the leader, then it is easy to believe, especially when the leader is charismatic. Often, the evidence that contradicts is right in front of you waiting to be read, but the leader tells you what the evidence is, and so you don't read it for yourself.
This is the experience described by people who have escaped cults. It is also the experience described by people who have emerged from the jihadist sects of Islam. For those Muslims who have fallen into it and escaped it, they say that the jihadists don't teach you about the parts of the Quran that teach peace and tolerance. The Quran is there in front of them to read, and yet they did not read it. The same phenomenon occurs within Christianity. A charismatic leader will point to Leviticus and say such a thing as being gay is not allowed, and yet comfortably ignore Leviticus when eating ham is described as an abomination.
It was an interesting discussion. If you think you would enjoy having an interesting discussion, then please join us some Sunday.
Feb 24, 2019 Service about Jesus
Today, Rick lead the service by presenting information about how the historical man Jesus came to be considered to be God. That is to say how did an itinerant Jewish rabbi in Palestine who taught people to praise God end up being considered to be God himself (equal in every way with the Father and the Holy Spirit) by people who started a new religion which was dedicated to the proposition that the founder of the movement was an equal to God. Its a lot to take in. (Spoiler alert! We are a Unitarian Church and the one thing that Unitarians agree on it is that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are not co-equal with God.)
This is a difficult topic to summarize. In the early church (First Century) the followers of Jesus began to think of him as the son of god after he died. Some in the early church believed that Jesus became divine at the crucifiction. Some thought that he became God at is baptism. Some thought he became divine at birth. And some thought he was God with God (Yahweh) from the beginning of time.
Then the Romans got involved in the person of the Emperor Constantine. Constantine wanted the Christian Theologians to agree on one answer. He did not care particularly what the answer was, so long as they agreed on something. This was the Council of Nicea held in about 325 A.D. Their answer is found in the Nicene Creed which has been adopted by all the major sects of Christianity. And that answer is that God and Jesus co-existed from the beginning of time, both are the same "true-god."
If you find the Council of Niceas' answer troubling, you just may be a Unitarian. Unitarians do not believe in multiple gods. Come visit and give us a try.
Feb 17, 2019 "What gives you Hope?"
Today, Madeline's open question "What gives you hope" was the topic of the service. We at UUCE sometimes have services where a presenter gives a Sermon. Sometimes the presenter gives a sermon and it is followed by a lively discussion. Lively discussions are possible because we have a very small building (the building started off life as a house... a small house.) Sometimes, like today, Madeline begins with some readings and it is mostly discussion. While this may seem a little off-putting to you, it is actually makes for a very interesting day.
So, what gives you hope?
The first thing that comes into your mind is somewhat telling.
For example, one of the interesting observations about today was that as we commented on the topic, it became clear that there were three basic approaches to answering the question. One group believed that the question was community and politically focused. This group made comments about our current governor and President and about elections. One camp believed that the question was inherently personal. This group made comments about the hope they enjoy being among family and and non-family young ones just coming of age. The third camp believed that the question was inherently spiritual. Hope springs from a belief God and that arc of justice that Martin Luther King spoke about.
What gives you hope?
What gives me hope is that you will come visit us next Sunday and get to know us. We are not a large church, but we are friendly, and we serve snacks (unless someone forgets.)