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2019-11-12

Music: Sun Nov 17


Music by LGBTQ composers is featured this morning, although none of the composers enjoyed a sense of belonging to such a defined community. Each of them suffered from some sense of alienation or depression, in spite of their abundant creative gifts.

As a young man, Poulenc fell in love with the painter Richard Chanlaire, although he remained conflicted about his sexuality, and endured familial disapproval and estrangement from his Roman Catholic faith. In his 31 years, Franz Schubert created a veritable avalanche of great music. His almost exclusively male circle of close friends—some of whom were known to have been gay—and his penchant for setting poetry with homoerotic overtones, have led many musicologists to conjecture about the composer’s own sexual identity. The great Russian composer Tchaikovsky, represented this morning by one of this charming series of pieces for each month of the year, was purported to have been driven to suicide over the threatened exposure of his sexuality. While his official biography alludes to his death in a cholera epidemic, the deeply homophobic culture in which he operated makes the aforementioned rumors credible.  

ON A MORE POSITIVE NOTE: We are thrilled to welcome back to CUUC the composer Kara Allen, who will offer a special musical interlude as part of our worship service!

Read on for programming details.

Centering Music: Adam Kent, piano
Suite française
            Bransle de Bourgogne
            Pavane
            Petite marche militaire
            Complainte
            Bransle de Champagne
            Sicilienne
            Carillon
                                                Francis Poulenc

Opening Music:
Moment Musical in F Minor, Op. 94, No. 3
                                                Franz Schubert

Offertory:
Troika Ride (November), Op. 37, No. 11
                                    Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Musical Interlude:
Music of Remembrance
                                                                        Kara Allen

Postlude: Bennett Rink, piano
“Somewhere Over the Rainbow”
                                                Harold Arlen

2019-11-07

From the Sabbatical Minister - November 7, 2019

Transmogrified.

I first learned the word “transmogrified” from Calvin and Hobbes, a comic strip by Bill Waterston that ran from 1985-1995.

One day, seven-year old Calvin built a transmogrifier. To us, it was just an upside-down cardboard box with a dial drawn on the side. But to Calvin and his stuffed tiger Hobbes, it was a machine that could turn them into whatever they wished to become—eel, baboon, bug, dinosaur, tiger, toad. While everyone else still saw a little boy and his stuffed tiger, Calvin and Hobbes saw themselves transmogrified—transformed in a surprising manner

I think sometimes we forget that we can transmogrify things—especially in religious communities. Which is why I was struck when my colleague Ian Riddell wrote, “I’m in a bad mood that our principles are in a list. So I transmogrified them.”

Huh. It’s true that our UU principles appear in a numbered list. We even tend to quote them by number: Our fifth principle calls me to fight for responsible gun control legislation. I’m doing third principle work in learning about Hinduism. I’m a seventh principle guy so I invest in renewable energy.

A handy, step-by-step list. Nice. Neat. Ordered. Isolated. Each principle an individual.

But that was bugging Ian, so he devised something new. Instead of an ordered list, a wheel. No numbered principles, but rather a different pattern of organization. A surprising way to approach them.

The center—the axle—is the inherent worth and dignity of every person. It’s where we start, where everything else moves from. Then, encompassing it all, is the interdependent web of which we are all a part. The spokes are the other principles, the ways we understand ourselves in the world, the ways we act in the world because of who we are and where we are.

What does this mean? How would we approach our faith, our work, our connection to other human beings, our sense of the divine, if we were willing to transmogrify how we think of them?

Let’s start with the spoke calling for justice, equity, and compassion in human relations. Alone, it sounds pretty good; it’s the cornerstone of every social justice action we take, both within and outside Unitarian Universalism.

There’s something missing, however.

Unitarian Universalists are good at questioning things, but we can forget to examine what’s underneath our own principles. Often we might ask What?—What do they mean? or How?—How do we affirm and promote them? But rarely do we ask Why?—Why are they important for us to affirm and promote?

But when we change how we see them, we suddenly have a way to question the why of our principles, to interrogate the deeper meanings, to see the connection between the individual and the world.

Why is justice, equity, and compassion so important? Because if I as an individual am inherently worthy of dignity, then every other individual must be as well. And if we are all connected, how can I be like the pigs in Orwell’s Animal Farm and say some animals are more equal than others? How can I fail to notice that the compassion I hope you’ll show me might be worth showing to everyone else?

This principle calls us to be in that state of becoming just, equitable, and compassionate. We are never JUST just. But if we remember who we are and where we come from, we are becoming just. The justice, equity, and compassion we see in the world helps us become more just—to others, yes, but also to ourselves.

It reminds me of what my colleague David Bumbaugh wrote: “In this interconnected existence the well-being of one cannot be separated from the well-being of the whole…. We all spring from the same source and all journey to the same ultimate destiny.” In other words, y’all can’t grow into harmony with the Divine without me, nor I without you, nor all of us without each other.

It is this connection—from the individual to the collective and back again—that helps answer questions of why. Why do we affirm and promote justice, equity, and compassion in human relations? Because it’s about me and it’s about you, neither of which can stand alone, so it becomes about us. As theologian Frederick Buechner famously said, “It’s the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you, too.”

The question of why can apply to any of our principles. Why do we affirm and promote this? Why, of course, being the question this wheel seems to ask of us over and over. And over and over we see the need both for affirmation of the individual and for commitment to all of our complicated relationships—including those that reach beyond the human realm.

Each principle connects the self to the interdependent web and back again, in areas of truth, justice, community, connection, process, growth, and compassion—leading us from the familiar form that asks what, to the transmogrified form, which inquires why.

Once you see it, it can’t be unseen. Now we can’t think of the principles without thinking about the wheel and the spokes and the interconnectedness. We have transformed our way of thinking about it. We’ve transmogrified our principles, our ethics, and our faith.

And maybe that’s the real message. Not that we become something new overnight, but that we—and our world and how we act in it—are always in process, always rolling forward on this wheel which carries us to new lands, but always brings the essentials with us as we go: You matter. You are not alone.

2019-11-05

Music: Sun Nov 10


Outward projections of compassionate love are embodied in this morning’s musical selections. Whether in the form of an African-American Spiritual or a Lutheran hymn, music holds forth the potential for spiritual healing and inner strengthening on every level, from the most intimate to the universal. The work of the “3 B’s” is highlighted first in two movements from Beethoven’s twelfth Piano Sonata. The third movement is a funeral march, a sort of public expression of grief for some unnamed fallen hero, The fourth movement seems to represent regeneration, in its flowing optimism and high spirits. Johann Sebastian Bach, who worked for so many years as Cantor of St. Thomas Church in Leipzig, is represented in Ferruccio Busoni’s transcription of his reworking of “Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ” (I Call on Thee, Lord Jesus Christ) from the composer’s Cantata for the fourth Sunday after Trinity. The original text beseeches God to “not let me despair” and “to live for You, to be of use to my neighbor, and to keep Your word faithfully.” Finally, Johannes Brahms makes an appearance in one of his final compositions, a tender Intermezzo prefaced by the words of the old Scottish ballad, Lady Anne Bothwell's Lament:  “Balow, my babe, lie still and sleep! It grieves me sore to see thee weep.”
Across the Atlantic, the traditional Spiritual “Deep River” gave comfort and hope to many an oppressed people. It is heard today in the piano arrangement by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. Read on for programming details.
Centering Music: Adam Kent, piano
Piano Sonata No. 12 in Ab Major, Op. 26
                        III. Marcia funebre sulla morte d’un eroe
                        IV. Allegro
                                                Ludwig van Beethoven

Prelude:
Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ
                                    J. S. Bach, transcribed by Ferruccio Busoni

Offertory:
Intermezzo in Eb Major, Op. 117, No. 1
                                                Johannes Brahms

Interlude:
“Deep River”
                                                Traditional African-American, arr. by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor



This Week in Religious Education: November 8-14, 2019

Hello Families and CUUC Community!

I will be in Baltimore November 6-10 for the Liberal Religious Educators Association (LREDA) Fall Conference. Given my background in conflict transformation, I serve as a Good Officer for Continental LREDA and will attend annual training.  I am co-convener of the LREDA Small program which will offer resources for grounding our programs in affirmation and inclusion. In addition, I will be a small group facilitator for white caucus work as we continue advancing our own learning and skills around dismantling white supremacy culture and systems, and I will attend related conference programming. As described on the LREDA website, "we will explore a Unitarian Universalist Theology of Suffering and learn to better understand and embrace our Universalist Theology of Wholeness. The conference will balance going deep into these theologies while also providing concrete tools and skills for religious professionals to use when we encounter suffering and work for collective liberation." I look forward to sharing learning and resources with you. 

CLASS NEWSLETTERS
Each class receives their own weekly newsletter. You can read each of the newsletters here:
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 10th
We begin every Sunday in the sanctuary. This Sunday, we will sing children and youth out for Special Sunday activities.  RE classes and Youth Group do not meet. Special Sundays for children this year will have the theme of music as spiritual practice. This Sunday, PreK-7th grade children are exploring how music makes us feel and how we can use music to lift us up when we need a boost, to relax us when we are feeling anxious, and to remember special times in our lives. We will play musical instruments and act out parts to a story. Lyra Harada is leading. Christine Haran and Janice Silverberg are assisting. 

Youth will work in two of the triangle gardens between class hallways to prepare them for planting. Kids should wear seasonally appropriate work clothes (jeans and work shirts). Tools from home are not needed, though, garden snippers that might come in handy. Youth will be working with Steve Miller and Tim Lynch. 

6th-7th GRADE HINDUISM TRIP
The 6th-7th grade World Religions and Neighboring Faiths class visited the Hindu Temple in Queens last Sunday. We enjoyed a tour from one of their staff and learned more about Hinduism, attended a worship service and received a special blessing from one of the priests, then had lunch in the canteen. It was a wonderful way to end the Hinduism module. 

CHRISTMAS EVE OPPORTUNITY
Rev. Kimberley is planning a beautiful Christmas Eve service that will include many voices. We invite children and youth to participate by reading short passages during the service. Contact Tracy to volunteer.

FAITH FRIDAY DATE CHANGES
Due to scheduling considerations heading into the end of the calendar year, the previously scheduled November 15th programs will instead be Friday, November 22nd.  The December 20th programs are moved to Friday, December 13th.

The November On The Journey packet includes a page for families and conversations across the generations. The theme this month is Compassion. Click here

IN THE COMING WEEKS
  • Sat Nov 16 - CUUC Service Auction. RSVP for childcare by November 10th. Contact Chris Kortlandt.
  • Sun Nov 17 – Begin in worship then PreK-8th graders leave for RE classes. K-1st Our Whole Lives (OWL) begins. 10th-12th Youth Group is attending the Transgender Day of Remembrance worship service. 
  • *Fri Nov 22 (changed from Nov 15) - Faith Friday: Rev. Kimberley's class, Habits of the Heart; Journey Groups for adults and children; 8th-12th Youth Group. Click here for the November packet.
  • Sun Nov 24 – Whole Congregation Worship Sunday: Thanksgiving. No RE classes or Youth Group. Stone Soup community meal offered by the 8th-9th grade Coming of Age families and lunchtime discussion groups led by Rev. Kimberley and Tracy. 
  • Sun Dec 1 - Begin in worship then leave for Deck the Halls festivities. No RE classes or Youth Group. 
  • Save the Date: Sat Dec 15 - Gingerbread House Decorating at the Rockland UU congregation in Pomona, NY (click here for the flyer)
I look forward to seeing you!
in fellowship, Tracy

2019-10-31

This Week in Religious Education: October 31-November 7, 2019

Hello Families and CUUC Community!

The November On The Journey includes a page for families and conversations across the generations. There are prompts for conversations over dinner or in the car, Ted Talks and films to watch together, stories, games, music and more. The theme this month is Compassion. Click here for the packet

CLASS NEWSLETTERS
Each class receives their own weekly newsletter. You can read all of the newsletters here:

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!
Last Sunday was so fun and what a great turn out! We loved seeing all the creative Halloween costumes. Adam played Graceful Ghost Rag by William Bolcom during the children's recessional. The Youth Group put on one heck of a Halloween party decorating the hallway and setting up games in all four rooms. They played musical chairs and Halloween Twister, made masks and decorated pumpkins, opened treat cups, and identified all sorts of slimy, sticky, icky things while blindfolded. And, several adults handed out goodies to our Trick-or-Treaters. Thanks so much to everyone who made it such a fun morning! Scroll down for photos.



FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 1st
8th-12th Grade Youth Group meets 6:30-8:30pm in the youth group room with Jason Stoff and Cyndi & Daniel Tillman for film and discussion. 

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 2nd
Join us for Day in Place. We start at sunrise by lighting the spirit fire at the fire circle on our grounds. During the day, we walk the trails around the CUUC property, clean up the trails, springs and streams, removing invasive plants and picking up wood. We need many hands and all ages can help! Contact Terri Kung or Bice Wilson for more information. 
Children's Area in the Sanctuary


SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 3rd
Daylight saving time ends this Sunday at 2am so remember to "fall back"!  Then join us for whole congregation worship. Our Music Director, Adam Kent, invites children and youth to find a nook under the piano where they can enjoy the centering music he plays before worship, 10:00-10:10am.

During worship, a children's area is available which offers quiet activities as children experience the words, music and rituals of our faith. There will also be a special children's order of service to help them follow along, play worship bingo and other activities. 

RE classes and youth group do not meet. 
The 6th-7th grade Neighboring Faiths & World Religions class is visiting the Hindu Temple in Queens. Families should reply to my e-mail so we can coordinate transportation. We will leave the CUUC from the middle parking lot (bottom of the stairs) at 9:20am for a tour before services. Following services, we will enjoy lunch in the canteen and visit the gift shop. 

The afternoon Healthy Youth Relationships Retreat is canceled. 

AWAY FOR PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
I will be in Baltimore November 6-10 for the Liberal Religious Educators Association (LREDA) Fall Conference. Given my background in conflict transformation, I serve as a Good Officer for Continental LREDA and will attend annual training.  I am co-convener of the LREDA Small program which will offer resources for grounding our programs in affirmation and inclusion. In addition, I will be a small group facilitator for white caucus work as we continue advancing our own learning and skills around dismantling white supremacy culture and systems, and I will attend related conference programming. As described on the LREDA website, "we will explore a Unitarian Universalist Theology of Suffering and learn to better understand and embrace our Universalist Theology of Wholeness. The conference will balance going deep into these theologies while also providing concrete tools and skills for religious professionals to use when we encounter suffering and work for collective liberation." I look forward to sharing learning and resources with you. 

FAITH FRIDAY DATE CHANGES
Due to scheduling considerations heading into the end of the calendar year, the previously scheduled November 15th programs will instead be Friday, November 22nd.  The December 20th programs are moved to Friday, December 13th.

COMING UP
  • Sun Nov 10 - Multiage Activities. Children enjoy a morning of music with Lyra. Youth clean up two of the triangle gardens during RE with Steve Miller.  Classes and youth group do not meet. 
  • Sun Nov 17 – K-1st Our Whole Lives (OWL) begins. Ray Messing visits Children's Worship to make posters with the children for toiletries donations.  Neighboring Faiths and Coming of Age classes meet. Youth attending the Transgender Day of Remembrance worship service. *The Neighboring Faiths class needs an assistant; sign up here (no need to log in, just enter your name and e-mail on a date then click "Submit & Sign Up.") 
  • Fri Nov 22 - Faith Friday Adult & Children's Journey Groups, Habits of the Heart class, 8th-12th Youth Group Social.
  • Sun Nov 24 – Whole Congregation Worship. RE classes and Youth Group do not meet. COA families host the Stone Soup Community Meal where Rev. Kimberley and I will lead lunchtime discussion groups. 
  • Sun Dec 1 - Deck the Halls! We are bringing holiday cheer to CUUC. Join us to make decorations.
  • Sat Dec 15 - Save the Date: Gingerbread House Decorating at the Rockland UU congregation in Pomona, NY (click here for the flyer)
  • Tues Dec 24 - We are looking for a couple children and youth to be readers for the Christmas Eve service. Contact me if you're interested. 
I look forward to seeing you!

in fellowship, Tracy
CUUCWPTracy@gmail.com

Scenes from the Halloween party:















From the Sabbatical Minister - October 31, 2019


Be Kind


How many of you grew up watching Mister Rogers Neighborhood – or showed it to your children as they were growing up? I was born at just the right time – I was 4 when it first appeared on our local PBS station – the perfect age for this unique show. And paired with Sesame Street, which came out at the same time, this little white girl from a rural community in Rensselaer County was suddenly learning about towns and cities, counting and spelling (in both English and Spanish), what other people looked like, what it meant to use our imagination, and what it meant to be a neighbor. And I recently thought about how important it was to hear these messages in the wake of the King assassination, in the midst of the Vietnam war, in the restlessness of the country – something I as a small child knew nothing about except that things seemed wrong and some of my schoolmates’ dads never came home.

Fred Rogers, this gentle Presbyterian minister from Pittsburgh, was never a parish minister, but rather went into the community – the community of television, and children – an alien land, to be sure. The grounding of his faith and his local congregation allowed him to flourish as he brought these incredible messages of care, support, openness, intimate justice, and kindness to not just children but their parents.

I don’t think it’s a mistake that Mr. Rogers is resonating so deeply right now. The lessons he was teaching us – and is still teaching us – help ground us when we feel utterly ungrounded. They are there for the taking – these things that Unitarian minister Robert Fulghum also reminded us that we learned in Kindergarten – how to be kind and how to share, and how to forgive, and how to take care of ourselves and each other.  

And we need these reminders. Too often, I fear, we get so caught up in the hustle and bustle – and lately, existential anxiety – that we forget to pay attention to others. We forget that while we are the lead characters in our own stories, we are but bit players and maybe just background extras in the stories of other people. So many times, it seems, other people try to upstage us with their ideas, opinions, and criticisms – or worse, we upstage them as if we’re more important or valued. It’s no wonder Mr. Rogers Neighborhood continues to be so important. The ministry of Rogers focused on teaching children how to live out the assertion that we have inherent worth and dignity just by being human, and how we are all worth care and consideration. Mr. Rogers’s ministry continues to teach us that if we have any hope of changing the world, it starts with us.

It matters how we treat each other, how we support each other, how we hold one another in care, how we hold one another to our responsibilities to others and the earth. Our Universalism teaches us that hell is on earth and we are here to love the Hell out of the World – we do that by how we love, how we act, how we live. If we have any chance of building this world from love, or we must ground ourselves as people of compassion, openness, and a willingness to be genuinely kind.

This month we’ll be exploring the topic of compassion, which I think begins with a focus on kindness. In the TV show The Good Place, we hear over and over the question “what do we owe to each other?” and the answer to me is kindness. Grace. Compassion.


We can all be kind. We are called to be kind. And in our individual acts of kindness, we make a difference. As Unitarian minister Edward Everett Hale wrote, “I am only one, but I am still one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.”

Kindness is how we live into covenant with one another. Kindness is how we change the world, one compassionate act at a time.






2019-10-29

Music: Sun Nov 3


Catalan composer Federico Mompou’s first published work, a suite of pieces for solo piano entitled Impresiones íntimas (Intimate Impressions), provide the perfect musical embodiment of loving compassion envisioned in this morning’s service. Gitano (Gypsy) was inspired by an incident when the car the young composer was driving accidentally knocked over a gypsy. According to Mompou, the piece reflected the gypsy’s reaction of good-humored forgiveness and grace. Joaquín Turina was a native of Seville, and his three Danzas fantásticas highlight dance rhythms from different regions of Spain. Exalatación is lovingly dedicated to the composer’s wife with the following lines from the novel La orgía  (Yes, it means what you think.) by  José Mas:

It seemed as though the figures in that incomparable picture were moving inside the calyx of a flower.

The CUUC Choir is also on hand with more loving expressions by Jason Shelton and Ruth Elaine Schram. Read on for programming details.

Centering Music: Adam Kent, piano
Exalatación from Danzas fantásticas, Op. 22
                                    Joaquín Turina
From Impresiones íntimas
Pájaro triste (Sad Bird)
Cuna (Cradle)
                                    Federico Mompou

Prelude: CUUC Choir directed by Lisa N. Meyer and accompanied by Georgianna Pappas
“You Are Loved”       
 Jason Shelton and Gretchen Haley

Offertory: Gitano from Impresiones íntimas
                                                      Mompou
Anthem:
“No Greater Gift”     
Ruth Elaine Schram   
Interlude:
Secreto           
                                                      Mompou