CUUC

CUUC

2018-11-09

From the Minister, Fri Nov 9

Sabbatical? Sabbatical! Yes! I will be on a six-month sabbatical from 2019 Oct 1 until 2020 Apr 1.

That's still almost 11 months away, but I just want everyone to be aware that it's coming. Herewith a bit of a FAQ:

Q: Is this normal?

Very. I wish it were more normal in other lines of work -- I think lawyers and doctors and bankers -- and their clients and patients -- would also benefit if they had sabbaticals. As it is, professors and ministers commonly have sabbaticals to go do something different. For professors, it's typically travel and study. Ministers might do that, too.

Among full-time UU ministers sabbaticals are very common. Here's the language in the Letter of Agreement that CUUC and I have -- it's very typical of what is in most such Letters of Agreement between UU ministers and the congregations they serve:
"Sabbatical Leave: The Minister will use sabbatical leave for study, education, writing, meditation and other forms of professional and religious growth. Sabbatical leave accrues at the rate of four weeks per year of service, with the first leave to be taken no sooner than five years from the date of first employment with the Church. Successive leaves may be taken after three years of service. Not more than six months of sabbatical leave may be used in any twelve-month period."
Q: You've been here that long already?

I know! The time does fly. Yes, in summer 2019, I will have finished six years. I'll be in need of stepping back and rejuvenating and reflecting on ideas for the next six years.

Q: Has CUUC ever had a minister go on Sabbatical?

Rev. Carol Huston (served CUC 2001-2011) had a sabbatical, I understand. Jef Gamblee, who had just finished his ministerial internship as the sabbatical began stayed on to serve as the Sabbatical Minister. I don't know if Rev. Shannon Bernard (served CUC 1985-1998) ever took sabbatical. I hope so!

Q: Who will be our Sabbatical Minister?

The Board and I are working on that question. We do not, as yet, have anyone lined up. But we do expect to bring in a Sabbatical Minister for those six months.

Q: What will you be doing?

I have long yearned for the experience of an extended period of uninterrupted Zen practice. In fact, the six-month monastic training period is a requirement in many Zen schools for becoming a Zen teacher. I'm not seeking any Zen credentialing, but I figure there's a good reason for the requirement. I have chosen a Zen monastery in Oregon where I will be in residence -- living like a monk for six months.

Q: Will the experience change you?

No doubt!

Q: Will you come back?

Yes. I promise.

Q: What if we really like the Sabbatical Minister and don't want you to come back?

Then we will have some talking to do! I'll be very happy for you that you had such a good experience while I was away. In the end, of course, you, the members of the Congregation, as always, have the power to call and dismiss ministers as you see fit.

Q: Are you worried about that scenario?

No.

Q: Why is it called "sabbatical"?

The root is the same as in Sabbath. Literally, it means "ceasing." Traditionally, farmers would let any given field lie fallow every seventh year as a way to avoid depleting the soil, and allow it to absorb new nutrients. So the tradition developed of people taking every seventh year to "lie fallow."

Q: Do you need to lie fallow?

Now that you ask, I find that, yes, a feeling of need for fallow time does seem to be calling my name with increasing insistence. I sure will miss all of you, though!

2018-11-08

Religious Education News: Sun Nov 11

Happy late fall everyone as we approach the close of autumn and move toward winter. Last Sunday was another great day in RE. Liz Suvanto and I led Children's Worship in Fellowship Hall with grades K-3. Liz did an interesting twist on our monthly theme of hospitality by showing the children how to greet one another in other languages. An interactive exercise followed with children pairing off and demonstrating hospitality by way of a hug or handshake or even a bow. Then they introduced themselves to someone other than their partner and shared their greeting. Right after, Lyra was ready to rehearse the hymn “We’re Gonna Sit at the Welcome Table,” which we will all be singing at the multigenerational Thanksgiving service on Sun Nov 18. Lyra also spent time in class with grades 2-3 and had them join in singing “Yankee Doodle.” Grades 4-5 and 6-7 and their teachers did a terrific job cleaning up the triangle gardens in the RE wing. In honor of Election Day and voting, grades 2-3 made their own posters encouraging people to vote and at the end of services marched with them through the sanctuary extolling the wish for everyone to vote. It was by all standards a lively, animated Sunday!

Michele Rinaldi,
Religious Education Coordinator

Looking at what’s coming up…

RE This Sun Nov 11: All ages will be in Fellowship Hall for RE Veterans Day activities.
Service, Welcome, and Care - Our Veterans' Day Weekend RE program will focus on service, especially how we welcome people into our congregation and care for them. Children and youth will engage with the Welcome Committee to learn about their service and give input into what else we might do to be a welcoming place for everyone. Help us reimagine the RE foyer and also send cards to those we haven't seen in a while.

Faith Development Friday, Fri Nov 9, Fireside Area, 6:15 PM Pizza and Salad Community Dinner, 7:00 PM Programs, 8:30 Coffee and Chat
An evening of spiritual growth, learning and community. Programs include: “Faith Like A River” Adult RE (You may also join the program online via ZOOM video-conferencing: zoom.us/j/2898507899); Family Journey Group where parents discuss the monthly theme while children have related activities; Social Time for Adults where people may just chat and be together (this week in room 41) after the meal. Everyone may stay for coffee and conversation after the programs. RSVP by 4:00 PM Fri Nov 9 to CUUCEvents@gmail.com.

Music at CUUC presents “Robert and Clara: A Domestic Drama,” All–Schumann Piano Recital featuring Adam Kent, Sun Nov 11, 12:00 noon, Sanctuary
A family-friendly concert including appearances by CUUC’s Kim Force and Craig Hunt. Childcare available with advance reservation to concert@cucwp.org. Tickets at cucwp.org/concert-series.

RE Next Sunday: Sun Nov 18 - All ages in the sanctuary for our multigenerational Thanksgiving worship.

2018-11-07

Music: Sun Nov 11


“Hospitality and the Stranger” seem to be embodied in the life and music of Franz Schubert (1797-1828). Alienated from his family over his choice of career, and estranged from much of society because of his sexuality, Schubert nevertheless found a close circle of admirers in the artistic community of Vienna. His incomparable Lieder and numerous short piano works—like the Impromptu and Moment Musical heard this morning—were performed at intimate home gatherings known as Schubertiades. The CUUC Choir is also on hand with a Ghanaian folk song, which encourages inclusivity, as well as the prayerful “Open My Eyes”, based on a text by Clara H. Scott. Read on for programming details.

Centering Music: Adam Kent, piano
Impromptu in C Minor, Op. 90, No. 1                                 
                                                Franz Schubert

Anthem: CUUC Choir directed by Lisa N. Meyer and accompanied by Georgianna Pappas
Tue, Tue (Come Sing a Song)*    
Ghana Folk Song arr. by Sonja Poorman and Berta Poorman
Kim Force, soloist

*Translation: Come sing a song, oh come sing along.
                       Come dance along, oh come dance along.
                         Come on and join us all together, come celebrate!
                         Come on and join us all together on this new day, Hey!
                         Oh, on this new day!

Offertory:
Moment Musical in Ab Major, Op. 94, No. 2
                                                            Schubert

Anthem:
Open My Eyes    
Words by Clara H. Scott, Music by Sara R. Nussel and arr. by Douglas Nolan

2018-11-02

From the Minister, Fri Nov 2

My theology of prayer is not that some external person-like (i.e., having beliefs and desires) hears prayers and takes them into account when deciding events. It’s true that I do address my prayers to something -- I address them to the ground of being, or the source of healing and wholeness we call by many names, or the spirit of love, or the community-forming power.It’s also true that I address these addressees as if they were person-like. As if. But I do this because orienting myself as if I were addressing a person signals to my ultra-social brain that I’m saying something I want to be important to me. In prayer, I express my gratitudes and my hopes, and thereby orient myself. Prayer is the way I remind myself of how I want to live.

Voting works the same way. It’s like prayer. Indeed, a vote IS a prayer. I don’t do it because it “makes a difference” – the chances that any candidate I vote for will win by one vote are vanishingly tiny. I vote, as I pray, as a way of expressing to myself the values I hope to live by.

Both prayer and voting also have the effect of making me feel a part of something bigger than myself – that I am held in a relationship of accountability and responsibility. These are the relations in and through which our lives have meaning.

Yours in faith,
Meredith

The Liberal Pulpit

Index of past sermons: HERE.
Index of other reflections: HERE.
Videos of sermons are on the Liberal Pulpit Youtube Channel: HERE

Practice of the Week: The Vending Machine God /Ecospiritual. Whether or not we bought into the overt health and wealth gospel, it is not easy to let go of the paradigm of seeking contentment from material possessions. Especially since the turn of the twentieth century, advertisers have aggressively worked to convince us that we can find happiness and life satisfaction if only we purchase whatever they are selling. Since the early 1960s, they have used psychology in increasingly subtle ways, playing on our deepest longings for acceptance, love, inner peace, and contentment. We can't avoid the message.READ MORE.
Your Moment of Zen: Anger /Sometimes anger is petty. Just stare at that anger for a couple minutes, and it goes, "Oh, sorry, never mind" and it slinks away. I'm not saying suppress it. Just look it right in the eye and see what it's made of.

But there is also noble anger: the energy to stand against injustice. You can stare at this anger, and it'll stare you down because it knows it is righteous. This anger is your friend -- giving you the energy fire for standing up for what needs standing up for.

Case
When the community was discussing ethics after zazen one evening, Black Bear remarked, "I have a hard time dealing with my anger."
Raven said, "Check it out afterward."
Black Bear said, "What good will that do?"
Raven said, "It might have been Great Bear's anger."
Verse
When Great Bear's grievance commands redress
The autumn wind in the leaves takes notice.
Coyote thinks of somewhere else to go.
Badger pauses from her digging.
Later, rain washing the hillside
Seems to take greater than usual care.
Case by Robert Aitken, adapted; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
Zen at CUUC: Sat Nov 3

2018-11-01

Religious Education News: Sun Nov 4

It feels like fall… a nip in the air, colorful foliage, and of course Halloween and Thanksgiving rounding out the festivities. The ghosts and goblins have departed the building but they and other characters were a sight to see in our children’s Halloween Parade through the sanctuary last Sunday! Everyone from nursery babies to our Youth Group participated. Many many thanks to Chandeerah Davis, Julie Gans, and Youth Group for creating the wonderfully fun Monster Mash experience for the children after service!

Michele Rinaldi
Coordinator of Religious Education

RE This Week: Grades 5-8 OWL, Fri Nov 2, 6:30 PM Pizza Dinner, 7:00–9:00 PM Class

RE This Sunday: Sun Nov 4 - Grades K-3 start in FH for Children’s Worship, including music with Lyra. Grades 4-7 meet in RE lobby for triangle garden clean up. Grades 8-12 start in classrooms.

Looking Ahead:

Faith Development Friday, Fri Nov 9, Fireside Area, 6:15 PM Pizza and Salad Community Dinner, 7:00 PM Programs, 8:30 Coffee and Chat.
An evening of spiritual growth, learning and community. Programs include: (1) “Faith Like A River” Adult RE (facilitated by Rev. Meredith), exploring the people, ideas, and movements that shaped our faith heritage. You may also join the program online via ZOOM video-conferencing: zoom.us/j/2898507899; (2) Family Journey Group where parents discuss the monthly theme (facilitated by Barbara Montrose ), while children have related activities (facilitated by Director of Faith Development Perry Montrose). Adults without children are welcome in the parents’ group; (3) Youth Group Gathering for fun and games with fellow high schoolers; (4) Social Time For Adults where people may just chat and be together (this week in room 41) after the meal. Everyone is welcome to stay for coffee and conversation after the programs. RSVP by 4 PM Fri Nov 9 to CUUCEvents@gmail.com.

RE Next Sunday: Sun Nov 11 - Veterans Day Special Sunday–Focus on Service. All grades start in Fellowship Hall for activities.

Music at CUUC presents “Robert and Clara: A Domestic Drama,” All–Schumann Piano Recital featuring Adam Kent, Sun Nov 11, 12:00 noon, Sanctuary. A family-friendly concert including appearances by CUUC’s Kim Force and Craig Hunt. Childcare available with advance reservation to concert@cucwp.org.

2018-10-31

Music: Sun Nov 4


Thoughts of Election Day carry musical associations from diverse peoples and disparate eras. Legendary folksinger Woody Guthrie probably best summarizes a contemporary UU take on collective participation and shared responsibility in his “This Land Is Your Land”, performed this morning by Kim Force. Elsewhere, the music of a traditional Spiritual reminds us of the many peoples disenfranchised in our country’s paternalistic origins, while the music of Aaron Copland—a gay Jew from Brooklyn—reminds us of communities at once intensely invested in the American vision and, at the same time, still at risk. Leonard Bernstein, whose centennial is commemorated this year, furnishes a tender portrait of his one-time wife, the Argentine-born actress Felicia Montealegre, an example of many immigrant voices which contributed to the American fabric, and a Colonial-period riff on “Yankee Doodle” recalls the early years of a republic, still trying to define itself today. Read on for programming details.

Centering Music: Adam Kent, piano
“Let Us Cheer the Weary Traveler”
            African-American Spiritual, arr. by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
Sentimental Melody
The Young Pioneers
            Aaron Copland

Opening Music:
“For Felicia Montealegre” from Four Anniversaries
                        Leonard Bernstein

Offertory:
Variations on “Yankee Doodle”
                        Traditional Colonial arr. by Anonymous

Interlude: Kim Force, vocals
This Land Is Your Land
                        Woody Guthrie

2018-10-30

The Vending Machine God

Practice of the Week
The Vending Machine God

Category: Ecospiritual. These practices are oriented toward developing our spirituality through our connection with our planet home and our responsibility to care for it.


The "gospel of health and wealth" declares that God wanted people to have the big house, car, boat, or whatever, and to enjoy a luxurious lifestyle. It’s is based on an old idea: that wealth is a sign of God's favor—and that the poor deserve to be poor. Never mind that it stood the core teachings of the Jewish and Christian scriptures on their head.

In “How Much Is Enough?" (HERE), we looked at concepts of status. Underlying the surface concepts of material status are more profound psychological beliefs that declare material things to be a source of deep contentment and life satisfaction. Whether or not we bought into the overt health and wealth gospel, it is not easy to let go of the paradigm of seeking contentment from material possessions. Especially since the turn of the twentieth century, advertisers have aggressively worked to convince us that we can find happiness and life satisfaction if only we purchase whatever they are selling. Since the early 1960s, they have used psychology in increasingly subtle ways, playing on our deepest longings for acceptance, love, inner peace, and contentment. It is impossible for us not to have absorbed at least some of this message. For working class people especially, the idea that wealth is a sign of God's blessing is particularly cruel. Fortunately, when we recognize the health and wealth gospel for what it is and bring it into our conscious minds, we can begin to let it go.

There are two aspects of faith in the Vending Machine God. The first aspect is believing in a health and wealth deity – i.e., an insert-prayers-get-stuff sort of God. This vision of God, along with consumerism as a whole, has been challenged by various groups who take seriously the social justice message of the ancient Hebrew prophets. One such group, Alternatives for Simple Living, issues publications confronting the excesses of holiday consumption and connecting voluntary simplicity with environmental causes.

The second aspect is more pervasive, and less obvious. It is the belief that deep satisfaction will come from the next purchase. The vending machine itself is the God. Endless pursuit of the next possession, experience, or situation to the exclusion of cultivating contentment in simple pleasures and grounding ourselves in the natural world is the adult version of being the kid at the vending machine. We chase illusions, oblivious to the utterly beautiful Earth on which we live. But the Earth is calling to us. It says: Let go, unlearn, come home.

Practices

1. Bookshelf Rethink. Sort through the various spiritual and self-help books you've accumulated over the years with an eye for what really resonates and what doesn't. Are there any health and wealth sorts of books in your collection? What do you recall about your life circumstances when you purchased or received them? Looking at them now, do they still have any value for you? After considering each book, ask yourself if there are any in the collection that you could let go of. Can they be given to charity? Maybe there's one that's so awful you want to send it straight to the trash. That's okay. It's entirely your choice.


2. Simplicity, Simplicity. Clear your altar of all decoration, and give it a good dusting. Look around your home at objects that might be suitable for placing on your altar. Choose one. Place it on the altar and simply sit and ponder it for a while. Consider the meaning that your object holds for you. What does it symbolize? Can you find several meanings to it? Leave it there for a week or so, and sit with it several times, pondering some more. See if other meanings come to light over time. After the week has passed, switch your object for another one and try the process again. Do not rush into switching objects, and do not purchase anything new for the exercise. Work only with what you have, and find or create meaning as you go.

3. Chart Your Journey. Take a sheet of plain white paper, and draw a horizontal line near the bottom of the page. Now, draw a vertical line up from the center of the horizontal one. On one end of the horizontal line, write the words spiritual confusion/frustration. On the other side, write spiritual contentment/peace. Now, starting at the bottom, where the horizontal line meets the vertical one, write your birth year. At the top of the vertical line, write the present year. Then draw a graph representing your own spiritual journey, marking a meaning line from the bottom to the top. The vertical line in the center represents a neutral state and the right and left edges represent opposite extremes. You'll probably end up with a wavy or zigzag sort of line that roughly shows the broad sweep of your spiritual life. Look at that broad sweep and consider your beliefs, practices, and life events. When were the times of greatest growth? They may have been the times of confusion and frustration. Reflect on the concepts of consumerism and materialism as you examine your graph. Consider whether there were times in your life when accumulating material things was very important to you. How do these times in your life relate to the spiritual aspects of your life?

Group Activities

Your Common Journey. Have each member of your group do the Chart Your Journey practice, above. Then gather together to share. You don't need to get into personal details unless you want to. Discuss any patterns you find

Questions for Group Conversation:
  • How does the insert-prayer-get-stuff God fit with the overall zeitgeist of the twentieth century?
  • Have you ever heard the message of any health and wealth preachers or advocates first hand? What was your reaction?
  • Have you heard any spiritual teaching that struck you as psychologically manipulative? Did it utilize any health and wealth elements?
  • Can simplicity also be a kind of abundance? How?

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