On All Souls Sunday we remember those in our community who have died over the last twelve months and consider what death means for us, the living. How can our contemplation of death point us back to life? When death comes, what consolation and understanding does our Unitarian Universalist faith offer us?
I once heard Cornel West observe that while our smartphones keep getting smarter, we’re not getting any wiser. “Smart is for phones,” he said, “let the people be wise.” This morning we explore how our “high-tech, low-touch” society impacts our spirits, as well as our capacity for resilience and wisdom.
The strength to hold on and the flexibility to let go—resilience is born from both. In countering the toxins of white supremacy, how do we deepen our spiritual wisdom to know what is most needed at any given time? How do we create a resilient faith community that engages our different identities, communities of accountability, histories, and choices in the struggle for just and sustainable life for us all? This Sunday’s sermon honors the call from Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism for Unitarian Universalists across the country to hold a second “White Supremacy Teach-In.” It will be followed on Wednesday evening, October 25, 7-9 p.m. with a “Teach In and Topics-In-Formation” session on “Countering White Supremacy” for further discussion and exploration.
Income inequality has reached Gilded Age proportions. Nations build walls along borders and declare some human beings “illegal.” Aid to the poor and vulnerable is on the chopping block while corporate America awaits another tax cut. Big money, foreign hackers, and vote suppressors undermine our democracy. This Sunday I want to lift up a different vision, a vision of a world of generosity, mutuality, and justice--a shared world.
What if the Balm in Gilead is to be discovered from within as a source of resilience? Our individual experiences may leave us wounded, but in community they may also give us the tools that we need to help others who have suffered similar wounds.
Every year on the Sunday closest to Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, we explore themes of forgiveness and reconciliation and end our service with the words of our Litany of Atonement: “We forgive ourselves. We forgive each other. We begin again in love.” There can be no new beginnings—no resilience of spirit or community—without atonement, forgiveness and reconciliation.
“Not a moment but a movement,” has become a popular slogan in progressive circles, a reminder that our social justice work must go beyond mere resistance to the immediate political crisis, and strive to build a lasting movement for justice and equality. As people of faith committed to building beloved community, we understand this. Yet I would argue that as people of faith we seek something beyond the moment and the movement. I would argue that our current climate of division and suspicion and fear offers the possibility of an even deeper transformation, a spiritual and moral transformation. This Sunday I share what’s at stake religiously in this moment.
Many of our life events are not planned with a timeline, goals, and objectives. Often the most valuable lessons come to us like unexpected guest, and we learn what it really means to say “Welcome!
In times such as these, community becomes essential. Beloved community nurtures our dreams, our humanity, our capacity for compassion, and yes, our collective courage. Join Rev. Hardies, UUA President Susan F. Gray, and our Festival Choir for a celebratory, intergenerational Homecoming Sunday focused on racial justice and beloved community.
The value of education has become a controversial topic in our nation. Our Unitarian forbears, however, pioneered a transformative spiritual understanding of education that can illuminate what is at stake now. In honor of the beginning of a new school year, in appreciation of teachers and students everywhere, and aware of the challenges before our society, how might we re-imagine teaching and learning as essential to our souls and our calling to build beloved community?
On the day after the violence in Charlottesville, a gay dad and his multiracial son board a train for a trip across Trump’s America, in part because the son loves trains … in part because the father wants to reclaim America for his family. What did they learn along the way?
Rev. Hardies returns to the All Souls pulpit this Sunday for our annual “Questions of Faith” service, when he responds to your questions about faith, spirituality, and current events. We are living through times in which many of the values and people we cherish are threatened, and Rev. Hardies is eager to know what you’re wrestling with during these troubling times. Submit a question to our communications director Gary Penn (firstname.lastname@example.org). Gary will collect your submissions and send them to our lay worship associates, who will select from among the questions. On Sunday, Rev. Hardies will address as many as time permits.
No matter who you are, where you live, what you do in life – each morning you awaken, you're given another opportunity to chart your life’s course.
Dr. W.E.B. Dubois said, “In the treatment of the child the world foreshadows its own future and faith. All words and all thinking lead to the child – to that vast immortality and wide sweep of infinite possibility which the child represents.” He is saying, what we do to children is what we do to the future. How do we model a healthy village not only for our children, but for all children?
Unitarians have had strong associations with Hindu sages and reformers since the mid-nineteenth century. Derek Mitchell will tell the story of one such sage, Paramahansa Yogananda, and how Yogananda's message inspired his own faith journey in India. He will explore multiple aspects of Hindu tradition's beliefs and practices. Through this exploration, Mitchell will show how an individual holding progressive values can find a home in the Hindu faith.
For Jews, this summer includes three weeks of mourning leading up the saddest day in our calendar, the 9th of the month of Av. This was the day Jerusalem fell and the temple was destroyed. That moment of our history turns out to be, in many ways, the defining one of Jewish memory and a pivotal event in the creation of rabbinic (modern day) Judaism.
While many of us reject a negative, fear-based view of sexuality and reproductive health, the topic overall is still incredibly loaded and rarely gets talked about openly. What's stopping us from having a healthier relationship with sexuality and reproductive health, and what do we do about it?
Frederick Douglass was an outspoken and eloquent critic of the institution of slavery. On July 5, 1852, he delivered a speech before a large audience of New York abolitionists: “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” He attended Unitarian churches. While visiting President Lincoln he worshiped at the First Unitarian Church of Washington, DC – now All Souls Church, Unitarian. If he were alive, what message would he deliver to us on this Fourth of July?
Sometimes love asks more of us that we feel we can do. Sometimes love seems powerless in the face of overwhelming difficulties. From the challenges in our personal circumstances, family life or workplaces to the global struggles to resist great evils such as war, racism, and ecological destruction—-what do we do when love feels inadequate to the task or calls us beyond our strength? How do we find what Martin Luther King Jr. called the “strength to love.”
One of my favorite lines from my favorite All Souls hymns goes: “Disappointment pierced me through, still I kept on loving you.” For love to endure, it must be willing to change and adapt. How can we learn to love in ways that are supple, flexible and resilient?
Henry David Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience”—his ode to the prophetic power of conscience—inspired both Gandhi and Dr. King. Thoreau’s life and writings offer many lessons on the persistence and courage that love requires in difficult times. As we mark Thoreau’s 200th birthday, we may discover that he is more relevant in the Age of Trump than ever before.
In the sacred and secular realm, many proclaim belief in “The inherent worth and dignity of all people.” It’s wonderfully inspiring when we say it publicly, but have you ever struggled privately with this principle? Are there some folk you hope will go to someone else for help, because you’d rather not deal with them? If so, you’re in good company. One day Jesus ignored the pleas of a person in need, because his culture taught him they were not worthy of attention. Let's see how "Love" taught the teacher a lesson, and what we can learn.
In her poem “What I’ve Learned from the Dark” Julia Fehrenbacher writes, “It seems we must be stripped/of the skin/of all we think beautiful/before we open to the kind of beauty/that can’t go away.” Sometimes our struggles with loss and sorrow help us discover the source of our strength and resilience.
Have you ever felt like you’re losing your way? Things just don’t feel right. You can’t pinpoint it, but it’s something going on in your life. Something is missing. Something is different. Something slipping away. Life is sending you a message – listen.