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.
Guest preacher, Johnnie Aseron, executive director for the Inter-National Initiative for Transformative Collaboration and former coordinator of wellness and inter-faith events at Oceti Sakowin camp on the Standing Rock Reservation, will talk about experiences and insights through an Oceti Sakowin Camp lens.
Join us in worship this Sunday as we listen to the East Coast premiere of Darrell Grant's "Step by Step: The Ruby Bridges Suite."
Though weeping endures for the night, joy will come in the morning. Therefore we must live, said Thoreau, with “an infinite expectation of the dawn.” Please join us for two glorious Easter services at 9:30 and 11:15 am, followed by an Easter egg hunt for the children.
The Latin word “tenebrae” means “darkness” or “shadow.” Join us for a hauntingly beautiful service of music, poetry, silence and darkness as we remember the crucifixion of Jesus and the brokenness of our world. A simple communion will be served.
Passover celebrates the story of how the Hebrew people mustered courage and took risks to liberate themselves from a tyrant called Pharaoh. How does this ancient story speak to our present moment?
Sometimes events in our lives—or in our world—are so challenging that we’re plunged into discomfort and uncertainty. How can we take advantage of this opportunity to evolve into something new, rather than just reforming into old patterns?
“The world is too broken to be healed by one pair of hands,” Rev. Rob Hardies has said. To “see, savor, and save” the world we must join hands with others. Aiming to “co-exist” in a religiously pluralistic world is a good goal, but more is needed. Now is the time for people of diverse faiths, cultures, and life circumstances to “co-resist” the forces of evil and injustice in our world. What does multi-faith, sacred activism offer and ask of us?
The activist Angela Davis once said something that seems to speak to our present moment: “I’m no longer accepting things I cannot change. I’m changing things I cannot accept.” How can our attention and love for the world fuel our efforts to save it? Last of a three-part series called “See, Savor and Save: A Spiritual Path for Difficult Times.”
We are bombarded with desire-stimulating advertising, but what truly satisfies the deepest desires of our hearts? The feminist essayist Susan Griffin writes, “For this is the meaning of desire, that wanting leads us to the sacred.” Spiritual traditions that honor eros, affirm desire, and invite us to savor the goodness of life here and now can teach us something important about how to live in these difficult times. Second of a three-part series called, “See, Savor and Save: A Spiritual Path for Difficult Times.”
More than a set of beliefs, religion is a way of seeing the world. Many traditions teach that attention to the world is the first step toward loving and saving it. How can we remain fully alert and attentive to both the beauty and brokenness of our world? And how can that attention fuel our efforts to save our world? First of a three-part series called “See, Savor and Save: A Spiritual Path for Difficult Times.”
We are less than 40 days into the new administration, and progressive religious people seem torn between the pragmatic and the prophetic. What stances could we take that are most faithful to the Holy's call upon our lives?
The Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt is president of Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, CA, and the author of a memoir, Unafraid of the Dark.
How can we treat one another with tenderness in a time of vitriol and scorn?
Compassion is an essential ingredient in the Beloved Community. In these dark times, our ability to summon compassion could mean the difference between a long, dark night and the dawning of a new day.
Friends, we are called to compassion and empathy in dangerous times. How do we sustain the gifts of the spirit: joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in the face of insult and injury? How is it possible to see and resist systemic evil and remain centered in one’s own grounded spiritual ecology—until the glory finally comes?
Dr. Joanne Braxton is a native Washingtonian born to a father who was a machinist at the DC Navy Yard and a mother who worked at the Census Bureau. A graduate of Yale University and the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology, Dr. Braxton is widely published. She is currently David B. Larson Fellow in Spirituality and Health at the Library of Congress John W. Kluge Center.
Rev. Hardies returns to the pulpit his weekend for the second sermon in a two-part series called "Truth and Love in the Age of Trump." This week we focus on love and solidarity. Rochelle Rice and her trio will offer music that inspires and delights.
(Click title to see both the 9:30 and 11:15 sermon recordings.) On the weekend of the Women’s March on Washington—and on the first Sunday of a new administration—we are delighted to welcome to All Souls professor, author, Unitarian, and former MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry, one of our nation’s pre-eminent African American public intellectuals. Dr. Harris-Perry will share words of wisdom and courage for the road that lies ahead.