The Spiritual Practice of Right Relationship – Revisited

This sermon on The Spiritual Practice of Right Relationship by Rev. David A. Miller is one I’ve referred to on more than one occasion over the past couple of years. It is ever important, especially when conflicts or misunderstandings arise, for those in positions of power to establish a place of safety and trust. It is important too to be mindful of our assumptions about each other and to respectfully work from a place of gentleness and compassion towards reconciliation and to overcome challenges so that our relationships are loving, and that we may all flourish.

https://uucf.org/sermon-042416/

 

Grow with the Flow by Bishop Carlton Pearson

I appreciate so much about Bishop Carlton Pearson’s ministry, and I honor the unusual path he traveled to arrive where he is today serving our UU Faith.  He was mentored by Oral Roberts and ordained first by the Pentecostal denomination and later was accepted as a United Church of Christ minister. In 2008 his ministry and his congregation became part of All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa.  I commend All Souls Tulsa, and their senior minister Rev. Marlin Lavenhar, for inviting this evangelical minister into our UU Faith tradition and welcoming the gifts he brings and his unique ministry, even though the path he took to get here was not the one typical UU ministers take.

In this sermon Bishop Carlton Pearson talks about how our spirituality grows and changes throughout our lives.  He talks about how our “certainties” can paralyze us not only from personal growth, but also prevent us from offering authentic welcome to others.  He emphasizes that we see the divinity in each other and love each other “way beyond belief.”

 

Tammy’s 50th Birthday Celebration!

Saturday, July 21st we gathered together at a friend’s home in Pittsfield to surprise our sweet friend Tammy! She will turn 50 later this year so she was not expecting a birthday party of any kind in July. She was truly surprised! What a delight and a much welcome celebration.  Every day is precious. Every moment counts.

The Righteous Mind

Whenever I watch an interview or read an article where people are expressing views and opinions that are counter to my moral compass (and catch myself judging others’ moral compasses) I am reminded of Jonathan Haidt’s book:The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion.

Last autumn through this spring I was part of a UU group of community and parish ministers who met via Zoom video calls to study and discuss the book.

The premise of the book, and our conversations therein, was that humans are highly intuitive beings who act first, and justify later based on our moral predispositions. Regardless of where we are religiously/politically, our beliefs, convictions, and values are far less “rational” than we imagine. But because they are built and supported by our tribal/societal norms, they have the appearance of being rational. This trait is seen beyond politics and religion, as it remains true for all group/class subsets we are part of as we “rationalize” with self-interest based on the preservation of our group and/or our group’s ideals.

Understanding this helps create the kind of empathy that can open doors and build bridges. The other good news, as Haidt concludes, is that:

“we all have the capacity to transcend self-interest and become simply a part of a whole. It’s not just a capacity, it’s the portal to many of life’s most cherished experiences.”

May it be so. Amen.

of Joy and Sorrow

I once preached a sermon where I talked about (as a reflection of my life experienced) always having two buckets – one filled with all things joyful and the other filled with things that bring anything but joy and that they can co-exist, not separate from but part of the whole. We tend to think of emotions as individual. Existing singularly. In pathways to understanding communication within the sphere of human interactions, Aristotle sites emotions with their opposites:

Love and Enmity

Confidence and Fear

Joy and Sorrow

We often align our minds to think that opposing emotions cannot co-exist in the same moment. Kahlil Gibran suggests that joy and sorrow are inseparable. He says that the deeper the sorrow carves into our being (into our hearts), the more joy we can contain. He talks about how when one emotion is active, the other lies in wait.

I would like to suggest that Joy is not the absence of Sorrow. (or any opposing emotions) I feel the two can co-exist. And that when Sorrow presents in its many forms, that if we train our hearts to look and listen,we can discover that Joy has not left the building. That it is still present. May it be so.

Joy is not the absence of Sorrow. The two can co-exist, not separate from but part of the whole.  When Sorrow presents in its many forms, if we train our hearts to look and listen,we can discover that Joy has not left the building. Joy is still present.”