Unity Church-Unitarian's Sermon Podcasts

There is a challenging passage in the Gospel of Matthew (2:16-18) to which we return, year after year. We ask what scared King Herod so much that he unleashed such violence upon the world. What strength within us is tough enough to resist him?

Direct download: Home_By_Another_Way_Leon_Dunkley_December_28_2008.mp3
Category:Worship Theme: Repair -- posted at: 11:53am CDT

Every great religious tradition kindles new light in the midst of the darkness.


This question is legitimately asked by people new to Unitarian Universalism. Though our religious taproot is the Judeo-Christian heritage, our religious perspective and inspiration is not confined there. At the same time, we do not throw away the powerful stories or images that exist in the Christian narrative. This Sunday we will celebrate the ancient invitation to rebirth and renewal. This podcast includes the Story for All Ages delivered by Kerri Meyer.


Is our relationship with Jesus beyond repair? We say we follow Jesus but we do not worship him. What exactly might that mean? As we once again await his birth, we will reconsider our relationship to Jesus.

Direct download: The_Silence_of_Jesus_Rob_Eller-Isaacs_December_7_2008.mp3
Category:Worship Theme: Repair -- posted at: 12:43pm CDT

Such a small thing to be thankful for... not even three feet square. In 1936, Georgia O’Keefe put oil on canvass. She painted the skull of a deer and some flowers floating in the clouds above a barren range of gentle hills as a way of saying "thank you" for their beauty and their gift. What great and small things have we to be thankful for?


Our dear friends in Homorodszpeter, our partner village in Transylvania, have done so much to deepen and enrich our lives. Ray Wiedmeyer, recently returned from pilgrimage, will offer a reflection on his journey as the whole Unity Church family gathers to give thanks.

Direct download: Partners_in_Joyful_Thanksgiving_November_23_2008.mp3
Category:Worship Theme: Gratitude -- posted at: 2:30pm CDT

Saying thank you is good manners but it can be ever so much more. Giving thanks can be a way of life. It can be a deeply nourishing spiritual practice.


Like grammar and syntax provide structure for our language and communication, gratitude can provide the underlying structure to our lives. Explore the role that gratitude can play in everyday living, particularly when challenged with pain and disappointment.


We owe so much to so many. As we prepare our minds and hearts for the election Tuesday let’s think about thanking the Georges; George the Third, George Washington, George M. Cohan, George Gershwin and yes friends, the Georges Bush.

Direct download: Thank_You_George_Rob_Eller-Isaacs_November_2_2008.mp3
Category:Worship Theme: Gratitude -- posted at: 3:56pm CDT

Throughout the centuries people in the public realm have had to be accountable for their destructive or immoral behavior. Some refused to apologize, while others lied and schemed about their illicit deeds. Others have apologized but to what aim? Explore the dimensions of public apologies. Is the common good enhanced or diminished by public apologies and what constitutes the difference?

Direct download: Forgiving_Others_Janne_Eller-Isaacs_October_26_2008.mp3
Category:Worship Theme: Forgiveness -- posted at: 11:38am CDT

Sometimes, forgiveness in the world outside depends on forgiveness in the world inside, on the delicate grace of self-acceptance, on a turbulent courage that one might call "deepest hope." Sometimes our own best efforts fail us and fail us well...right into the open arms of a noble gift.


Mark says of his sermon, "Give me that old time religion because today’s world needs 19th century Universalism’s proclamation of a loving God as much as it ever has."


We enter into the spirit of the Jewish High Holy Days contemplating the story of Jonah the reluctant prophet. But we won’t focus so much on his reluctance as on his inability to forgive.


Who are the moral owners of Unity Church? What is the relationship between personal and institutional morality? How can we move from "charity to solidarity" in our efforts for social justice?


The founders of our church chose their words carefully. For them the word pointed to the unity of religious experience. For us the word implies a quality of curiosity, engagement and respect. Are we living up to our name?

Direct download: Whats_in_a_Name_Rob_Eller-Isaacs_September_14_2008.mp3
Category:Worship Theme: Unity -- posted at: 1:42pm CDT

It’s a common question among Unity parents: "What about the Bible?" Do the stories of the Old and New Testaments have a place in the religious upbringing of our children? Why does the Bible elicit a wholly different response from Unitarian Universalist adults than other sacred texts? Drawing wisdom from our liberal religious ancestors, William Ellery Channing and Sophia Lyon Fahs, worship leader and Director of Religious Education Kerri Meyer will frame a possible approach to the Judeo-Christian scriptures, useful to parents and Sunday School teachers and of interest -- Kerri hopes -- to all.

Direct download: For_the_Bible_Tells_UUs_So_Kerri_Meyer_August_24_2008.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:17pm CDT

At age 6, Sophie discovered that time moves effortlessly from "now" to memory. It’s a wonderful insight, but how important is "now?" What does it mean to be in the moment? Why do we live our lives in "future mode" while clinging to the past for guidance? If we are open, we can discover the "now" that calls us to play and to "dance in a spring wind." Then we can realize that "Only this moment is life."


Hear from several youth who -- in the eyes of their church and community -- are turning out to be fine human beings in a generation subject to our doubts. We will explore what ingredients contribute to the growth of a whole person in this moment in history. How are parents, other adults and the youth themselves cooks in the kitchen that is adolescence? Recipes and tasty morsels of young wisdom will be provided by worship leaders from among the youth of the church.


Mindfulness meditation encourages us to recognize the inevitability of pain and struggle in daily life - the embracing of this reality allows us to let go and find peace. This is the essence of what the Buddhist nun Pema Chodron calls "letting go of the story line." She writes, "real life problems are the material for waking up, not the reason to stop trying" - holding our struggles with the same honor that we hold our joy is the essence of waking up to life. But how do we learn to just "be" while still needing to do the "do"? Jenny explores the challenges in reaching this state of awareness, the journey to find peace there, and the role of faith and religion in this process.

Direct download: Learning_to_Surf_Jenny_Wilson_July_27_2008.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:44pm CDT

Our liberal religious tradition values the role of rational inquiry more than other traditions. But careful, rational inspection of the best of our information and deepest of our intuitions can lead us into strange places. What happens when familiar truths are shown to have disconcerting implications? Some examples from the history of mathematics can be both cautionary and enlightening.

Direct download: To_Infinity_and_Beyond_Craig_Allen_July_20_2008.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:27pm CDT

Unity Church encourages us to create lives of integrity, service and joy. How do we engage in this effort within our own lives, with each other, and beyond the walls of Unity Church? What holds us back and what drives us forward? Laura Smidzik takes a thoughtful look at the journey our faith calls us to take.

Direct download: Making_the_Effort_Laura_Smidzik_July_13_2008.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:45am CDT

At the center of German philosopher Hegel’s construction of logic is the concept of Aufhebung, a word which carries three meanings: to lift up, to preserve and to destroy. This is a look into the spiritual practice of dialectics, or accepting seemingly contradictory ideas to be true, and the practical implications for those on the journey to integrity, service and joy.

Direct download: Out-Uplifting_Neely_Crane-Smith_July_6_2008.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:31am CDT

July 4 is Independence Day, the premier national holiday, and we are called upon to demonstrate our pride in our independence, our freedom. But before we are washed over by the sea of red, white, and blue flags, and become transfixed by the fireworks red glare, let’s reflect. Do we dare to acknowledge our interdependence on Independence Day? And what can we understand about this iconic word, freedom?

Direct download: A_Religious_Look_at_the_4th_of_July_Chico_Hathaway_June29_2008.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:16am CDT

Extraordinary rendition, denial of habeas corpus, enhanced interrogation tactics, waterboarding, torture. We have been hearing and reading these words too often since September 11, 2001. It has been difficult to follow the recent history. It’s tough to sort out facts from spin, and for some, the issue is too abhorrent to think about. CVT and the National Religious Campaign against Torture have determined this June to be Torture Awareness Month and have charged religious communities across the country to recommit themselves to their most deeply held convictions and act in this effort to ban torture. Come hear what this means for our church and the larger Unitarian Universalist community.


Remember that fist dance with someone you were attracted to and barely knew. It may have been scary wonderful, awkward, transformative or all of this at once and more. Community Intern Jacqueline Duhart will explore the sometimes mysterious dance of ministry, learning, and letting go.
Direct download: May_I_Have_This_Dance_Jacqueline_Duhart_June_15_2008.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:56pm CDT

In the Buddhist tradition, the first of the three marks of existence is impermanence. This idea that reality is constantly flowing has become embedded in modern, Western theological thought as ‘process’. In this continual flux, is there anything permanent and unchanging? What is our place in this transient world? Where is the joy?

Direct download: What_Remains_Matt_Alspaugh_June_8_2008.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:37pm CDT

Did you know that Irma Rombauer was a Unitarian? And that Joy of Cooking has its roots in the Women’s Alliance of the Unitarian Church in St. Louis? Janne and Worship Associate Jean Olson will lift up the unique contribution of Joy of Cooking and the importance of kitchen wisdom.

Direct download: The_Making_of_Joy_of_Cooking_Janne_Eller-Isaacs_June_1_2008.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:41am CDT

Did you know that the "K" in K-rations refers to U of M professor, Ansel Keyes? During World War II, Keyes was asked to devise a compact, nutritious packet for use by the troops. What did he include and why? What do soldiers need and why? Rob and Community Intern minister, Jacqueline Duhart, a retired Air Force officer will offer a service for Memorial Day.


Come celebrate the affirming, uniquely Unitarian Universalist ritual of Flower Communion. Developed by Czech Unitarian minister, Norbert Capek who died a martyr at Dachau, the ritual celebrates the intrinsic beauty of each and every soul. Bring a flower for the arch. This Family Sunday service is for the whole church family.

Direct download: Our_Sure_Blossoming_Rob_Eller-Isaacs_May_18_2008.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:21am CDT

Barry Lopez asks, "How is one to live a moral and compassionate existence when one is fully aware of the blood, the horror inherent in life, when one finds darkness not only in one’s culture but with oneself?" How do we embody the generous spirit of mothering in this troubled time? The answers may lie in the workings of an anthill or the language of our very DNA. Ruth MacKenzie is a student of theology at United Theological Seminary in New Brighton, as well as a professional creative and performance artist.

Direct download: Community_of_Mothers_Ruth_MacKenzie_May_11_2008.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:29am CDT

Increasingly, we are not only conscious of the nutritional value of the food we eat, but also its source and sustainability. We are also increasingly aware of the ethical and political dimensions to the food we eat. Explore the dynamics of the food chain and what is healthy eating when the well-being of the whole planet is considered.

Direct download: Food_for_the_Spirit_Food_for_the_Planet_Janne_Eller-Isaacs_May_4_2008.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:55am CDT

We conclude our series on covenant and creed with a service to honor those who are Coming of Age this year. Building on the Saturday night ceremony at which each participant will offer their theological statement, the services will highlight those practices, which are essential to our liberal faith. Community Ministerial Intern, Jacqueline Duhart, who has been working with our Coming of Age class all this past year, and Kerri Meyer, Director of Religious Education join Rob in conducting the service.

Direct download: What_Matters_Most_Rob_Eller-Isaacs_April_27_2008.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:22pm CDT

"Although there are considerable differences between American UUs and Transylvanian Unitarianism - because we live in different societies and in slightly different kinds of cultures - I am more and more conscious about our common passion for justice, human dignity, true fellowship, real peace and love – and I know that we all feel responsible for these values. As a progressive liberal from Transylvania, being here gives me the unique opportunity to learn from your experience, spirituality, and social involvement. "  Rev. Bela-Botond Jakabhazi

Direct download: A_Passion_for_Freedom_Rev._Bela-Botond_Jakabhazi_April_13_2008.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:00pm CDT

The liberal church was founded upon the understanding of covenant as the central binding agent, not creed.  Given that historic understanding, Janne and Worship Associate Elizabeth Alexander will explore the promises the liberal church makes to its members and friends.  

Direct download: The_Promises_We_Make_Janne_Eller-Isaacs_April_6_2008.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:19am CDT

An introduction to our way of being religious. Who were our spiritual ancestors? What do we promise each other? Covenant for us is more a verb than a noun, a way of being religious together rather than a set of fixed beliefs.

Direct download: Promises_to_Keep_Rob_Eller-Isaacs_March_30_2008.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:38am CDT

The entire church family will gather to "practice resurrection." Easter celebrates far more than simply the coming of spring. Easter is the joyful recognition of the ministry of Jesus and the many ways his work lives on in all our lives.

Direct download: Practice_Resurrection_Rob_Eller-Isaacs_March_23_2008.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:33pm CDT

Theologian James Luther Adams identified five smooth stones of liberal religion. These stones can be thought of as the stepping stones that we walk upon as we move forward into the future. Explore the smooth stones of our liberal religion that speak to what we might become in the future.

Direct download: The_Stones_That_We_Might_Walk_Upon_Janne_Eller-Isaacs_March_16_2008.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:12pm CDT

There are times in life when only faith will suffice. Rob and Worship Associate Elizabeth Alexander have collected stories of such times in the lives of church members and will offer them in collage as part of the service. Even though we know that spring is on the way there are times when even the resilience of the seasons seems in doubt.

Direct download: Hard_Times_Rob_Eller-Isaacs_March_9_2008.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:01pm CDT

How do we keep our heart attuned to the harsh realities of what happens in the public squares of our sacred world? How do we become more and more conscious and spiritually engaged? Explore the road toward becoming an Active Witness; a tool that may reawaken/reconnect us to the fullness and wholeness of life.


Sometimes our efforts at keeping our lives in balance are not enough. With a chance misstep, the world tilts, and we take a tumble. Can we fall with grace, or do we resist the inevitable outcome? Can we recover, and how? Who is there to help us, and can we accept that help?


The Blues tradition embraces the reality that some times "just gettin’ down" with our blues can be the wisest thing to do in response to our disappointments.

Direct download: Singing_the_Blues_Janne_Eller-Isaacs_February_17_2008.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:12pm CDT

There is no work (outside of serving as an instrument of evil) that cannot be made worthwhile. Both suffering and joy are largely a matter of consciousness. Gandhi taught that caste was a matter of karma. In other words, know your place and find happiness there. That approach is in direct conflict with working for human liberation. Or is it?

Direct download: Know_Your_Place_Rob_Eller-Isaacs_February_10_2008.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:05pm CDT

W. E. DuBois states, "Now is the accepted time, not tomorrow, not some more convenient season. It is today that our best work can be done and not some future day or future year. It is today that we fit ourselves for the greater usefulness of tomorrow. Today is the seed time, now are the hours of work, and tomorrow comes the harvest and the play-time." In justice-making work is there room for joy? If so, how do we find joy and sustain it? This service will be led by Jacqueline Duhart and Worship Associate Neely Crane-Smith.

Direct download: Intentional_Joy_Jacqueline_Duhart_February_3_2008.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:57pm CDT

Every great tradition points to the fact that compassion can take root in a heart that’s been broken. There is work we do that we know won’t be accomplished in just one generation. We do it anyway because we know it’s right. Rob and Worship Associate Estelle Brouwer will speak of their own heartbreak and of why good work is sometimes worth the risk.

Direct download: This_Work_Will_Break_Your_Heart_Rob_Eller-Isaacs_January_27_2008.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:40pm CDT

The first service dedicated to the theme of "Work Worth Doing" will explore the important work of raising and mentoring our children and youth.


Direct download: A_Tolling_of_Bells_Rob_Eller-Isaacs_January_6_2008.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:51am CDT