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.)
Feb 10, 2019 Service about Remembering Selma by one who was there.
Today, we were honored to hear the recollections of Dr. Ron Payne, a retired Methodist Minister who, as a student minister at the Methodist Seminary here in Ohio, drove to Alabama to participate in Dr. King's march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. Rev. Payne was known to us as a local representative of the ACLU, but Madeline prevailed upon him to return this month to talk about his remembrances of 1965. Today was the first time Rev. Payne had gathered his thoughts in a formal presentation, and the raw emotions broke through.
It was interesting to note that his sharpest memories were of the events leading up to the March and the events surrounding the march, but the day itself he remembered as less eventful. That is due to the fear and anticipation was more palpable than the actual walking. And the realization of the enormity of the thing that they had done, looms very large in retrospect of the actual walking.
Dallas County, Alabama was a remarkable only in that when the Freedom Riders came to Alabama and Mississippi, this county and it's Sheriff, Jim Clark, were particularly resistant to having black people be registered to vote. So, the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and John Lewis picked Selma, the county seat to be the focus of their protest on March 7, 1965. This was the Bloody Sunday march where the sheriff and troopers beat the marchers unmercifully. Dr. King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) became involved and then called for ministers to participate in the protest. The Methodist Seminary here in Columbus sent a delegation that included young Mr. Payne. Try to remember that Dr. King and the SCLC did not have the national and international recognition then. This was a small group of unknowns going up against the established law enforcement officials of a county in America. The police had already killed protesters. There was a great deal to be feared.
I won't describe any more of Rev Payne's recollections. If this sounds like the kind of thing that you would like to know more about, please come visit some Sunday morning at 11:00. We would love to see you. We have coffee.
Feb 3, 2019 Service about Black History Month
Today we listened to a lecture given by the Reverend William J Barber and discussed it afterward. The lecture was in celebration of Black History Month and was titled America, America, whats going on?
Rev. Barber covered a lot and we had a very interesting discussion about it afterward, but, as with many of Rev. Barber's talks, it is very hard for me to distill it down to a summary here. He drew a sharp parallel between historical events and the world we have in America today. Specifically, he said that following the American Civil War (1861-1865) the state legislatures of the Southern states were no longer dominated by the landed elites. The political power was suddenly in the hands of less well-to-do whites and newly freed black men. These same newly empowered people were being elected to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives with profound implications.
In Washington, these new Southern representatives gave us the first civil rights act. In the state legislatures, they changed the state constitutions to provide for the poor, the sick and the uneducated. North Carolina provided guaranteed public education for the first time. The established labor rights, and they guaranteed access to the ballot for all (well, all men anyway. Rights for women were still in the future.) So, it turns out that if you take power away from the monied classes, legislators from the middle class and poorer classed did a pretty good job of governing the states. But, with the election of 1876, reconstruction ended. The redeemers movement put the wealthy back in charge. They lowered the taxes so that the states couldn't pay for all of the education and welfare programs, and then ended the programs. Not unlike what politicians do today when they start off by promising to lower taxes, and then start cutting out the programs that those taxed paid for.
Reverend Barber also criticised Donald Trump directly for his campaign tactics that were just like the ones the Redeemers movement used to gain power in the 1870's. Donald Trump claimed that everything in the nation was bad without explaining what was bad. He claimed that he alone could fix it, and he did not say what it was that he alone could fix, and did not say how he would fix it. And he pointed out that justice requires everyone in the community to participate in justice, no one acting alone can bring justice. He further pointed out that the President promises to pursue a more perfect union, to ensure domestic tranquility, neither of which has this president done. And, he pointed out, that improving the nation's welfare is in the constitution (Article 1 Section 8 for those of you who are still paying attention.)
Rev Barber concluded: we must never give up our moral beliefs. We must refuse to allow our government to act immorally in our name. We can work together, as we have in the past.
There was lots to unpack today. if you would like to participate in the discussion, please stop by occasionally. Up next week is the delayed presentation of the retrospective remembrance of what it was like to be on the Pettis bridge in Selma Alabama with Dr. Martin Luther King.