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2019-11-27

This Week in Religious Education: November 27-December 4, 2019

LIFTING UP INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
Unitarian Universalism is a living faith, calling us to live into our values and Principles, calling us to shape the world in an image of love and justice, calling us to undo systems and a culture of racial oppression and violence, calling us into right relations and accountability. This week especially, we deepen our faith and our commitment to fully living into that faith by listening to and centering the voices of Indigenous Peoples.

In a 2018 presentation to UU Religious Educators, Julica Hermann de la Fuente reminded us that we each need to start where we are and take the next step that is ours to take. She drew a circle, then delineated a small area that looked like cutting a single slice of cake. That small area represented what we know we know. The remainder of the circle outside that slice represented what we don't know we don't know. This week, I invite you to take a step across into the area of what you don't know you don't know. Seek out indigenous perspectives and sit with what they need us to know about the holiday we call Thanksgiving. Learn about your local indigenous history and whose land we occupy. Allow this to expand what you now know. Then, around the meal table with family and friends, remember that we need to make room for each person to take their next step. As Julica taught, if we push them to the far side of their circle of understanding, we shut down communication and learning. Educate yourself. Encourage others to step across their line of understanding. Offer resources so yours is not the only voice. Advance the work of justice while remembering we are all on a journey. Below are some resources shared by the Center for Racial Justice in Education.

Native American Perspectives, Contributions and Celebrations
Historical Resources
  Resources for Families
Book Lists


DIFFICULT CONVERSATIONS
As the holidays approach, some will find themselves at dinner tables and family gatherings where discussions can be challenging, reflecting a range of positions and understanding about history and its legacy. Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) offers this Holiday Placemat for Indigenous Justice with suggestions for navigating the season.

Additional resources:
- Teaching Tolerance, Teaching Thanksgiving in a Socially Responsible Way
- PBS, A Fresh Look at Thanksgiving
- Zinn Education Project, Native American
- Westchester Magazine, Hudson Valley's Tribal History
National Museum of the American Indian in NYC
- Native Lands Map


LGBTPQIA+ SUPPORT DURING THE HOLIDAYS
While many of us are celebrating the holidays, many others are struggling with families who make it difficult to share their full selves or celebrate their loves, or who have rejected them for doing so.

To our LGBTPQIA+ family of all ages and stages: You are whole and holy, and you are loved. PFLAG offers these suggestions for taking care of yourself and navigating gatherings. Know you are not alone. Click here for links to hotlines and other support. If you need a message of unconditional love and affirmation, read this fierce message of support from S. Bear Bergman and know you can call or text Rev. Kimberley (518-423-1964) and Tracy (914-434-7539).

PFLAG also offers suggestions for friends and family. The Ossining LGBTQ Alliance shares this guide for being a LGBTQ Ally during the holiday season.


SUNDAY, DECEMBER 1st
We begin every Sunday in the sanctuary at 10:00am. 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.

Following the Time for All Ages, children and youth leave for RE classes and activities:
  • K-1st Grade Our Whole Lives - David Bowen is leading a lesson about our wonderful bodies, building on children's prior knowledge about bodies. Joni Erlich is the assistant. Pick-up is 11:30am in room 33.
  • 8th-9th Grade Coming of Age - Kate Colson is leading class about spirituality and Transcendentalism. Erin Foster is the assistant. Class meets in room 11. 
  • PreK, 2nd-3rd, 4th-5th, 6th-7th, 10th-12th Grades - Deck the Halls craft making in the Fellowship Hall with Janice Silverman, Monica Bentley, Laura Goodspeed and Tracy Breneman. 
RE NEWSLETTER
This week, there is one Religious Education newsletter. Click here to read it. If you would like to receive one or more RE newsletters, sign up here.

IN THE COMING WEEKS
  • Fri Dec 6 - Youth Group
  • Sun Dec 8 - 8:15am RE Council meeting. Begin in worship then leave for RE Classes and Youth Group. Craft Fair.
  • Fri Dec 13 - Faith Friday Journey Groups, Youth Group, Adult RE class.
  • 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

From the Sabbatical Minister - November 27, 2019

Let Us Give Thanks

Thanksgiving mornings in my house always began the same way: a slice of Mom’s coffee cake, warm from the oven, a big glass of orange juice, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade on the television, and newspaper spread out on the dining room table so we could polish the silver. The scents of cinnamon and tarnish remover blended into an oddly comforting mélange of warm tininess, made more complex by the sautéing onions that would go into the stuffing, which would go into the bird. Even now, just thinking about it, I can smell that odd combination of scents and I am transported to a different time and place.


My memories of childhood Thanksgivings are positive – and I am grateful for them, because they remind me of my family and of experiences that shape who I am today. Yet not all of us are grateful for our memories of this time of year. We are entering a complex season, where messages of family and connection and tradition may bristle against memories of anger or scarcity or frustration. Some of us may struggle with loneliness or depression because of loss or simply distance. Others may overload their Thanksgiving tables to make up for all the years when there wasn’t enough. Others still may have to work and may have always had to work, and so the day isn’t a holiday at all.

But no matter how we view the day – with all its complexities – I want to remind us to find the space to be grateful.

Gratitude isn’t an easy thing some days, I know. In our darkest times there seems to be nothing to be grateful for. But I want to challenge you to look around you right now and express gratitude for what is nearby. Perhaps it is the computer or mobile device you’re reading this on; you can be grateful for the technology, for eyes that work well enough to see it, for the electricity to power it. Perhaps it’s the table and chair where you’re sitting; you can be grateful for the hands that crafted them and their sturdiness. See? Things to be grateful for already! There’s no limit to what you can be grateful for. It doesn’t have to be big things; it can be the little things – the smile from someone across the pew on Sunday, the smell of the crisp fall day, the cup of coffee that fuels your morning tasks.

The key is not to stay stuck at the chair or the coffee – it is to then to be grateful for bigger things: the breaths we take, the thoughts we have, the tenderness and generosity we feel, the ability we have to help and serve others, the inspiration we get from truth and beauty, the comfort we draw from others, and the memories of places, people, and moments that make us who we are. The CUUC community, who holds us in covenant, and who always makes room for one more.

Let us be grateful for the abundance of gratitude, remembering what Meister Eckhart taught us: if the only prayer we say is “thank you” it is enough.

Let us give thanks.

Happy Thanksgiving.


2019-11-26

Music: Sun Dec 1


I went to the hillside, I went to pray; I know the angels done changed my name.
So begins the traditional African-American Spiritual “The Angels Changed My Name,” heard this morning in an arrangement for solo piano by the British-born composer of African descent Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. Franz Liszt’s imaginative setting of the Catholic legend of St. Francis of Assisi preaching to the birds follows. According to tradition, St. Francis was walking with his companions, when he strayed off to preach a sermon to a flock of birds overhead. So impressed with the power of prayer were the birds, that they listened in rapt silence, and then flew off in all four directions, in the form of a cross. The morning’s Offertory is a beautiful setting of two Cantigas de Santa MarÍa by the twentieth-century composer Federico Mompou. The Cantigas originated in the court of Alfonso the Wise of Castile in the thirteenth century, and consist of over 400 hymns to the Virgin as well as accounts of miracles attributed to Her. Elsewhere, the CUUC Choir is on hand, with another Spiritual as well as the opening movement of Benjamin Britten’s touching A Ceremony of Carols. Read on for programming details.

Centering Music: Adam Kent, piano
“The Angels Changed My Name”
                                                African-American Spiritual, arr. by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
“The Sermon to the Birds of St. Francis”
                                                Franz Liszt

Opening Music: CUUC Choir directed by Lisa N. Meyer and accompanied by Georgianna Pappas
“Every Time I Feel the Spirit”
                                                Traditional African-American

Offertory:
Canción y danza No. 10
                                                Federico Mompou

Musical Interlude:
Procession from A Ceremony of Carols
                                                Benjamin Britten
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2019-11-21

From the Sabbatical Minister - November 21,2019

Conversations and Community

Sunday will be a day full of sharing – from our traditional cornbread and cider communion, to our stone soup community meal.

I for one love the stone soup story – not just because it means a tasty meal, but because of all it portends for connection and conversation. Relative strangers come together, each bringing what they have, creating something larger and more nourishing for their bodies. In the sharing of food, they create something more nourishing for their souls, too: they create community. And once they’re in community, they can talk about – and do something about – what really matters. They harness the Power of We.

At our stone soup community meal on Sunday, we will have an opportunity to talk about the Power of We in this congregation, in our denomination, and our world. We are at a crucial moment – a moment where we both recognize and are ready to harness the power of our principles, the grounding of our spirits, our call to challenge systems of oppression, and our commitment to inclusion.

But how can we do it? It’s a big task, drawing the circle wider in a time when others would have us tighten the circle and thus cause harm to others. Where do we start? What are our assumptions? What does Unitarian Universalism have to offer us in this work?

Thankfully, we don’t have to answer any of these questions alone – congregations around the country are engaging in similar conversations right now (although I suspect ours is among the most delicious). As a community of communities, we will be charting a new path forward with a common framework for doing this work of building beloved community, all the while asking ourselves “whose voices are heard, who is asked to take risks, how we negotiate our relationships, and what our priorities are as a community?”

The conversations are starting – what the Unitarian Universalist Association is calling “Conversations for Liberation.”  (The full invitation from the UUA can be found here.)

We’ll start on Sunday with some grounding questions – which, by the way, also support the CUUC studies our own Committee on Ministry and our Board of Trustees are taking up on spiritually and inclusion. Over our delicious bowls of soup, we’ll discuss the following:
  • When is a time that you felt “the power of we” in Unitarian Universalism?
  • What is so important in Unitarian Universalism that you would be willing to sacrifice for it?
  • What will it take for Unitarian Universalism to fully embody “the power of we”?
  • Who is the "we" at CUUC that we need to be thinking about?

There will be a discussion outline on each table – as you fill up tables and get settled with your meal, begin the conversation. Tracy Breneman and I will be in the room and available to answer questions as you engage in this conversation.

We look forward to seeing you on Sunday!

2019-11-20

This Week in Religious Education: November 21-28, 2019

DIFFICULT CONVERSATIONS
As the holidays approach, some will find themselves at dinner tables and family gatherings where discussions can be challenging, reflecting a range of positions and understanding about history and its legacy. Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) offers this Holiday Placemat for Indigenous Justice with suggestions for navigating the season. Additional resources:
- Teaching Tolerance, Teaching Thanksgiving in a Socially Responsible Way;
- PBS, A Fresh Look at Thanksgiving;
- Zinn Education Project, Native American;
- Westchester Magazine, Hudson Valley's Tribal History;
- National Museum of the American Indian in NYC.

FAITH FRIDAY
This Friday is Faith Friday! Join us at 6:15pm for pizza and salad. RSVP to CUUCevents@gmail.com by 12 noon on Friday so we know how much pizza to order. Journey Groups, Youth Group and the Adult RE class meet 7:00-8:30pm:
  • The November Journey Group theme is Compassion. The packet is online here.  Alex Sehdeva is leading the Adult Journey Group. Christine Haran is leading the Children's Journey Group with Diane Keller. 
  • 8th-12th grade youth meet for Youth Group with Cyndi and Dan Tillman and Imelda Cruz Avellan. This is a social evening. Bring games to share. 
  • Rev. Kimberley's class, Habits of the Heart, meets for the second time. The group will learn stillness practices and look more closely at their spiritual timelines. All are welcome, even if you missed the first session. 
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 24th
9:30am: The Coming of Age class begins cooking Stone Soup for the community lunch.

10:00am: 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. This Sunday is the whole congregation Thanksgiving worship service with a cornbread and cider communion. A children's area is available in the sanctuary where children can enjoy quiet activities while experiencing the words, music and rituals of our faith. RE classes and Youth Group do not meet.

11:15am: Community Stone Soup Lunch provided by the Coming of Age class. During lunch, everyone is invited into table discussions as part of the Unitarian Universalist Association's Conversations for Liberation and in support of our own CUUC Inclusivity Project. Read Rev. Kimberley's blog this week for more information.

RE NEWSLETTER
This week, there is one Religious Education newsletter. Click here to read it. If you would like to receive one or more RE newsletters, sign up here.

IN THE COMING WEEKS
  • Sun Dec 1 - Begin in worship then leave for Deck the Halls festivities in the Fellowship Hall. K-1st OWL & the Coming of Age classes meet. COA Mentor meeting after worship. 
  • Fri Dec 6 - Youth Group
  • Sun Dec 8 - 8:15am RE Council meeting. Begin in worship then leave for RE Classes and Youth Group. Craft Fair.
  • Fri Dec 13 - Faith Friday Journey Groups, Youth Group, Adult RE class.
  • 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

2019-11-19

Music: Sun Nov 24


Historical recollections are embodied in this morning’s Centering Music, as the Pilgrims’ initial journey and the indigenous people they encountered are evoked in the work of Edward MacDowell, prefaced by the composer’s own verse. Carlos Surinach, who emigrated to the U.S. from his native Spain in 1950 and became a citizen nine years later, represents the welcoming embrace of the Thanksgiving spirit. The CUUC Choir is also on hand with celebratory as well as nostalgic salutations in song. Read on for programming details.

Centering Music: Adam Kent, piano
From Sea Pieces, Op. 55
            A.D. 1620

The yellow setting sun
Melts the lazy sea to gold
And gilds the swaying galleon
That towards a land of promise
Lunges hugely on.

From New England Idyls, Op. 62
            VI. Indian Idyl
Alone by the wayward flame
She weaves broad wampum skeins
While afar through the summer night
Sigh the wooing flutes’ soft strains.

                                                Edward MacDowell

Sentimental Melody
The Young Pioneers
                                                Aaron Copland
Variations on “Yankee Doodle”
                                                Traditional, arr. by anon

Opening Anthem: CUUC Choir directed by Lisa N. Meyer and accompanied by Georgianna Pappas
“Hey, Ho, Nobody’s Home”     
English Round, arr. by Greg Gilpin



Offertory:
Chanson Espagnole No. 3
                                                            Carlos Surinach

Meditation in Song:  Mary Lane Cobb and Ted Kuczinski, soloists
"Homeward Bound "
Marta Keen/arr. by Jay Althouse

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2019-11-14

This Week in Religious Education: November 14-21, 2019

Hello Families and CUUC Community!

I spent five days in Baltimore for the Liberal Religious Educators Association (LREDA) Fall Conference November 6-10. I look forward to sharing notes and resources with you from the conference in the coming weeks. 

CLASS NEWSLETTERS
Each class receives their own weekly newsletter. Click on the class below to read this week's newsletter:
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 17th
We begin every Sunday in the sanctuary at 10:00am. Our Music Director, Adam, 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. This Sunday, we will sing children out to Children's Worship and RE classes.
  • Childcare is offered in room 31 with Diane Keller and Hans Elsevier.
  • K-1st Grade Our Whole Lives begins this Sunday in room 33. David Bowen is leading a lesson about our wonderful bodies, building on children's prior knowledge about bodies. Janet Wafer is the assistant.
  • PreK and 2nd-5th graders are invited to the Fellowship Hall for Children's Worship where Tracy Breneman and Ray Messing will discuss the story read in worship then lead a social action project. Children will make posters to announce collection of toiletry donations. Please send in small, empty toiletry packaging that can be glued or taped to posters, e.g., travel size toothpaste boxes or empty tubes, or empty deodorant boxes. 
  • 6th-7th grade Neighboring Faiths & World Religions class meets in room 41. Sophie Mitra is introducing the Christianity module with a focus on Catholicism this week. Alejandro Forte is the assistant. 
  • 8th-9th grade Coming of Age class meets in room 11. Charlie McNally, CUUC Environmental Justice team, is leading class focused on Unitarian Universalist beliefs and our connection to the world, being stewards of the earth and tending to our web of interdependence. Christine Haran is the assistant. 
  • 10th-12th grade Youth Group is attending the Transgender Day of Remembrance worship service. Youth Group does not meet. 
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.

IN THE COMING WEEKS
  • *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. The November On The Journey packet includes a page for families and conversations across the generations. The theme this month is Compassion. Click here
  • 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

From the Sabbatical Minister - November 14, 2019

Stories of the Compassionate Life

In her book Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life, Karen Armstrong writes
"All faiths insist that compassion is the test of true spirituality and that it brings us into relation with the transcendence we call God, Brahman, Nirvana, or Dao. Each has formulated its own version of what is sometimes called the Golden Rule: DO not treat others as you would not like them to treat you, or in its positive form, ‘always treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself.’ Further, they all insist that you cannot confine your benevolence to your own group; you must have concern for everybody – even your enemies."

As we saw in Sunday’s responsive reading, compassion and the Golden Rule shows up across the world in a variety of ways. Armstrong highlights this connection, reminding us that compassion isn’t an anomaly, it’s a hallmark of being human. Armstrong may start with the world’s religions, but she then sets us on a journey that begins – and ultimately ends – with us. You see, this stuff is personal. It’s about you, and it’s about me. It’s about how I see myself and how I can be compassionate to myself, and how my understanding of myself as having inherent worth and dignity helps me see your inherent worth and dignity. It’s how my understanding of how little I actually know about other cultures, other situations, other ideas can be an opportunity to create space, connection, and lovingly take on a responsible search for truth and meaning.
And we see it reflected in our own Unitarian Universalist principles, which are a call to live a compassionate life – if we take them seriously. A compassionate life calls us to affirm and promote inherent worth, peace and justice, spiritual exploration, the search for truth and meaning, connection, interconnection, civic responsibility, and a sense of the interconnected world community – that includes the very earth itself.
Over and over again, we are reminded in these twelve steps how central compassion is – not just to us, but to everyone. We see it reflected in stories from around the world – passages from sacred text, from historical, from folktales, tall tales, fables, art, theatre, and literature. Each of them confirming – over and over again, with one clarion voice of humanity – that compassion must be at the center if we are to survive as a person, as group, as a community, as a world. 
Below are three stories I particularly like, and I hope you find meaning in them as well. Please read them one at a time – and let the truths in those stories write compassion on the tablet of your heart.
A pupil asked a great teacher, “How do I find wisdom?” The teacher answered, “By good choices.” “And how do I make good choices?”, asked the pupil. “From experience”, said the teacher. “And how do I get experience?”, asked the student, “From bad choices”, said the teacher.
Four pilgrims gathered together to peregrinate to India: a Persian, a Turk, a Greek and an Arab. The four pilgrims were resting by the shore of a river when there passed by a religious man, who, seeing that they were pilgrims, offered them some rupees so that they could get breakfast.
When the man had departed, the Persian said: “With this money I am going to buy angur so that we all can eat”. The Turk protested: “No way, we will buy unzum”, but the Greek replied bluntly: “Nothing of that; we’ll buy stafyllia”, while the Arab intervened to affirm: “We’re going to buy inab”.
At that moment all started to argue and even exasperated they turned to hit each other. But other peaceful pilgrim passed by there and tried to appease and reconcile them. “What is going on among you, good friends?” When they explained to him what’s happening, the man said: “Give me your money. I will go to the marketplace and will satisfy all of you.” He departed and, a little later, came back bringing a package with great amount of grapes. When the Persian saw them he exclaimed: “My angur!”, and the Turk: “My unzum!”, and the Greek: “My stafyllia!”, and the Arab: “My inab!”
The holy Buddha was sitting on the side of the road when a handsome young soldier walked by and seeing him said “you look like a pig”. The Buddha replied “and you look like a god”.
The soldier taken aback asked him what he meant be that. The Buddha replied that he sits all day contemplating god and so that is who he sees. “You, my friend, must be contemplating other things.”

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