Unity Church-Unitarian Sunday Services Podcast

On the Christian holiday calendar, between the joyful celebrations of the birth of Jesus and the wonder of Epiphany, there is an event entitled the "Massacre of the Innocents," which marks Herod’s ruthless and violent search for the baby Jesus. How do we stand against violence, especially done to the most vulnerable in our world? Lissa Gundlach illuminates gifts and challenges of this difficult text.

Direct download: Herod_and_the_Holy_Innocents_Lissa_Gundlach_December_27_2009.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:19pm CDT

This is a season of preparation, of anticipation and waiting for new birth and new light to appear once more. Explore the dimensions of preparation for the rebirth of the holy within, among and beyond us.

Direct download: Prepare_Yourself_Janne_Eller-Isaacs_December_13_2009.mp3
Category:Worship Theme: Incarnation -- posted at: 12:30pm CDT

What Are You Waiting For? — Rob Eller-Isaacs

In the season set aside for waiting Rob and Worship Associate Ann Kirby McGill offer us a service intended to provide an overview of theologies of incarnation. Why would God choose to put on flesh and walk among us? What do we really mean when we talk about the God within us?

Thanksgiving / Partner Church Service

Fellow Travelers, Common Journey — Lissa Gundlach

The poet Rumi wrote:

"O you who’ve gone on pilgrimage where are you, where, oh where?

Here, here is the Beloved! Oh come now, come, oh come!

Your friend, he is your neighbor, he is next to your wall."

Jerusalem may be the most Holy city in the world, a site of pilgrimage for Christians, Jews, Muslims, and seekers alike. The Temple Mount is a shared spiritual landmark for Jews and Muslims — the Dome of the Rock marks where Muslims believe the prophet Mohammad ascended to heaven, while the Jewish people believe the site to have supported the original Temple during Biblical times. How might a common pilgrimage journey provide fertile ground for connections amongst as well as conflict between people of faith?

Some pilgrimages involve travel to a foreign or holy destination. Others actually can occur right at home. Janne and Worship Associate Mary Baremore will explore the dimensions of staying home, recognizing the sacred lessons available in our everyday lives and the riches to be explored in the pilgrimage within.

Direct download: Staying_Put_Janne_Eller-Isaacs_November_8_2009.mp3
Category:Worship Theme: Pilgrimage -- posted at: 10:11am CDT

Our series on pilgrimage begins with a service for the Day of the Dead. When we move through the world with pilgrim eyes even our memories take on new life. Mary Oliver writes, "it matters how you carry it, books, bricks, grief." Pilgrims have to learn to travel light.

We are all sojourners, strangers, on a quest to find deeper meaning and connection in life. We are all strangers but we are all brothers and sisters. The service will explore the soul’s work of finding a true religious home.

Rev. Abhi Janamanchi has been serving the Unitarian Universalists of Clearwater, Florida since 1999. He is a native of India and a third-generation member of the Brahmo Samaj, a Unitarian-Hindu reform movement. Abhi is a member of the International Advisory Council to the UUA President. He and his wife, Lalitha, have two sons, Abhimanyu and Yashasvi.

Direct download: A_Hyphens_Progress_Rev._Abhi_Janamanchi_October_25_2009.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:32am CDT

After scoring a run in the sixth to tie the game, the Indians forged ahead with two runs in the seventh. Luis Valbuena singled to start and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. With two outs, Brantley sneaked a single through the right side of the infield… The Twins lost that game, 3-1. Cleveland taught us about what sacrifice really means. Sometimes, we think of it as an act of losing, as surrender, as a penalty for a mistake or worse. Sacrifice is also a means of getting the runner home.

Direct download: When_Sacrifice_is_Easy_Leon_Dunkley_October_18_2009.mp3
Category:Worship Theme: Sacrifice -- posted at: 8:56am CDT

San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk used to begin every speech by saying, "My name is Harvey Milk, and I’m here to recruit you." He was asking us all to come out; all of us, gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgendered, queer and each and every ally, all of us together have a right to live open and authentic lives.

What’s Love Got to Do with It? — Janne Eller-Isaacs

What does sacrifice mean in a liberal religious context? As its meaning becomes more elusive in today’s post-modern world, is it possible that it is exactly what we need now?

Stuck in a dead-end job? Move. Or don’t. Sometimes a change of attitude or perhaps, of consciousness is really what’s called for. Could it be that our upwardly mobile, self-centered culture puts too much emphasis on moving on and too little emphasis on staying put? There are times in our lives when only faith can see us through.

Direct download: A_Job_of_Work_to_Do_Rob_Eller-Isaacs_September_27_2009.mp3
Category:Worship Theme: Vocation -- posted at: 11:46am CDT

How do we know when we have been "called" to particular work or tasks? How do we respond to numerous calls coming from different directions? How do we do as Quaker educator Parker Palmer says, "Let our lives speak"? Janne explores this dimension of vocation.

Direct download: Holy_Discernment_Janne_Eller-Isaacs_September_20_2009.mp3
Category:Worship Theme: Vocation -- posted at: 2:43pm CDT

Labor advocates and spiritual progressives have found common cause for a century and a half in Minnesota and the nation. The righteousness of all God’s children getting fair recompense and enjoying the fruit of their labor is foundational for the Judeo-Christian tradition, and others too. After decades of progress earlier in the 20th century for working people, Labor Day 2009 finds us at low ebb. Union membership has declined sharply over the last 30 years and middle- and lower-income households now have a smaller share of total income than they’ve had since the Depression. But there’s new hope and energy rising, and a growing understanding among business leaders that we must obey Donna Summers’ message in her hard-driving 1983 anthem for working women (and men): We’d better treat them right.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that our real sacred text is "...life passed through the fire of thought." In other words, we find the holy when we share and process our stories with each other. This Sunday, we will explore the ways storytelling and storyhearing let us cross barriers of difference and allow us to meet each other in our deepest humanity.

Direct download: The_Stories_We_Tell_Ashley_Horan_August_30_2009.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:37am CDT

This I Believe: Holding Onto Doubt — Richard Foushée

During the past year I have struggled with two of the central issues of religion. Join in the exploration and personal reflections on faith and doubt and what they mean to our lives.

Direct download: This_I_Believe_-_Holding_Onto_Doubt_Richard_Foushee_August_23_2009.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:02am CDT

In his book A Path with Heart, Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield writes, "...it is not by moving rocks that we find happiness and awakening, but by transforming our relationship with them." When we suffer, it is often because we are defining ourselves by a life story that we have come to believe as absolute truth. We define ourselves by this narrative because in many ways it is easier than the work that is required to create a new story. Changing our story requires a faith that many of us as religious liberals struggle to define. How do we do the hard work of transformation when we may not have faith in a higher power? Where is our source of comfort?

Direct download: Defying_Gravity_Jenny_Wilson_August_16_2009.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:01am CDT

When we tie our words together as if making nets large or small, what is it that we hope to catch? What is the power of poetry and story, of naming and metaphor, to catch or to carry that which is beyond words? How do we use these tools of language in matters of faith?

Direct download: The_Surprise_Catch_of_the_Day_Karen_Hering_August_9_2009.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:00pm CDT

It’s a small world. Our tendency to shuffle life’s debris around rather than confront the mess is not without its consequences. From the broken toasters in the city landfill to the children in our broken foster care system, worship leader Kerri Meyer and Worship Associate Steve Harper explore the geography of human responsibility.

Direct download: No_Such_Thing_as_Away_Kerri_Meyer_August_2_2009.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:22pm CDT

Youth Sunday: The Street COA Experiment

When’s the last time someone struck up a conversation with you about religion in a public space? The youth of Unity Church have taken their Coming of Age questions out on the streets, engaging folks on the bus or on the sidewalk in respectful discussion about their beliefs around death, the sacred and God. Come hear their reflections on the experience of going deep with strangers as our youth lead us in worship.

William Channing Gannet’s Bond of Fellowship, which we read in unison with new members, speaks of a community of helpers wherein it is made easier to live a thankful, trustful, loyal and helpful life. We are in covenant with one another, a religious family which values the sacredness of every individual and encourages us to live lives of integrity, service and joy. Laura Smidzik will explore the impact of a sacred covenant and how belonging to a spiritual community enhances one’s life.

Direct download: Sacred_Covenant_Laura_Smidzik_July_19_2009.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:42am CDT

We’re Americans, and we breathe American culture. But does our Unitarian Universalist religion tell us something about our role as citizens? How should we engage with America? If it is true that neither politics nor religion should be spoken of in polite company, it could be that UUs are more likely than others to get thrown out of dinner parties. Maybe that’s not all bad.

Direct download: Religion_Citizenship_and_the_American_Life_Chico_Hathaway_July_12_2009.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:48pm CDT

Gardens in spring are easy to love, but what about the times when all your garden reminds you of is mortality? Some thoughts about faded flowers, crispy lawns, and the dog buried in the perennial flower bed.
Direct download: Death_and_the_Garden_Patricia_Ohmans_July_5_2009.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:40pm CDT

Direct download: The_Ogre_in_the_Closet_Duncan_Baird_June_28_2009.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:15am CDT

Come welcome summer Rob, Janne and Karen Hering in the final service of the formal church year. Though not everyone is able to "go to the lake," everyone can make room in their lives for the deep restorative rest that brings us back to life.

This is not a website. It is the sermon title. This is an exploration and a celebration of beauty — an exploration in the sense that we will discover its variety and a celebration in the sense that all of this variety is held in boldest embrace. It is a gentle and difficult journey that beauty takes through our lives. Joining it makes us beautiful as well.

Those who equate the Sabbath with daily spiritual practice misconstrue its meaning. For Sabbath has a communal dimension that transcends the purely personal. Rob and worship associate Jackie Hendrickson will offer a service focused on the communal implications of Sabbath practice.

Direct download: Keeping_the_Sabbath_Rob_Eller-Isaacs_June_7_2009.mp3
Category:Worship Theme: Sabbath -- posted at: 2:22pm CDT

Jacob wrestled all night with an angel. As the sun rose the angel tried to end the struggle. And Jacob said, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." This Memorial Day Rob will ask us to consider how we have been blessed by those who have fought for our country.

Direct download: Unless_You_Bless_Me_Rob_Eller-Isaacs_May_24_2009.mp3
Category:Worship Theme: Blessing -- posted at: 12:45pm CDT

The whole church family gathers to celebrate the uniquely Unitarian Universalist ritual of flower communion.This year the ministers will be joined by Justin Schroeder who has recently been named the candidate to become Senior Minister at the First Universalist Church of Minneapolis. Justin will be preaching.

Direct download: Flower_Communion_Justin_Schroeder_May_17_2009.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:40pm CDT

We celebrate the challenges and blessings of mothering and mothers. Explore the relationship between our very real mothers and the archetype of the great mother and acknowledge those women in our lives who have been informal but none the less formative mothers.

Rob Eller-Isaacs brings us the final sermon of our redemption theme. We say each child more is one more redeemer. Even when they challenge our assumptions? Even when they make us squirm?

Direct download: Redeem_This_Rob_Eller-Isaacs_April_26_2009.mp3
Category:Worship Theme: Redemption -- posted at: 2:36pm CDT

Hankering For a Higher Quality of Life — Michael A. Schuler, Senior Minister, The First Unitarian Society of Madison, Wisconsin

In his just-released book Making the Good Life Last, Michael Schuler argues that sustainability must become a major consideration as we ponder the future not only of the natural environment, but of our families, finances, communities, and individual physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. In a culture which encourages the pursuit of evanescent "good times" we sorely need a strategy that delivers more lasting benefits.

Includes Kerri Meyer's Story for All Ages. What can resurrection mean for those of us for whom the bodily resurrection is a metaphor at most.

Direct download: Practice_Resurrection_Easter_Sunday_April_12_2009.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:20pm CDT

How can we best cultivate those aspects of our character which encourage us to perform redemptive acts in the world?

Direct download: One_More_Redeemer_Rob_Eller-Isaacs_April_5_2009.mp3
Category:Worship Theme: Redemption -- posted at: 2:14pm CDT

What is sin in a liberal and progressive faith? Janne will examine how sin has been viewed in Unitarian Universalism and what might be sins in today’s church. Janne is joined by Balazs Scholar Endre Nagy who will explore sin in the Transylvanian church.

Despite history's best efforts at creating commandments and rules of all sorts and sizes, sin can be hard to pin down in specifics. Explore what these ambiguities mean for our ability to wrestle honestly with the definition of sin - and to address it in the world and in ourselves.

Direct download: I_Know_It_When_I_See_It_Karen_Hering_March_22_2009.mp3
Category:Worship Theme: Sin -- posted at: 4:45pm CDT

From Augustine to Aquinas, from Freud to Matthew Fox, understandings of the nature of sin have shifted and evolved. Though we have rejected the concept of original sin and though many of us have distanced ourselves from shame-based theologies, we can’t ignore the fact that they exist.

Direct download: A_Brief_History_of_Sin_Rob_Eller-Isaacs_March_15_2009.mp3
Category:Worship Theme: Sin -- posted at: 1:33pm CDT

Engaging the concept of sin can be a challenge. Confronting the possibility that sin might engage us can be even more challenging. The traces that we leave on the wind, the footprints we leave in the sand... Evidence of our having lived... sometimes wastefully.

Direct download: Visiting_Sin_Leon_Dunkley_March_8_2009.mp3
Category:Worship Theme: Sin -- posted at: 2:39pm CDT

What are the ideas which guide th eliving of your life? What are the blessings and assurances that echo in the liminal spaces between slumber and awakening?

Direct download: The_Words_We_Dimly_Hear_Rev._Vail_Weller_March_1_2009.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:57pm CDT

We are not the first doubters to struggle with prayer. Our spiritual ancestors thought deeply about many of the same question with which we still wrestle. And they found some answers.

Since Copernicus displaced the earth from the center of the universe, we find ourselves increasingly dwarfed by the infinite creation of expanding space. How, and who, and wher is God in this vastness? Marjorie Suchocki askes, "Can we really believe that creatures such as our sorry selves in the littleness of our histories are invited by the creator of the univers to pray?" We will explore an old image of an ever-present God within a new understanding of space and time.

Direct download: Praying_into_the_Center_Ruth_MacKenzie_February_15_2009.mp3
Category:Worship Theme: Prayer -- posted at: 2:16pm CDT

Prayer is a state of being. Practice is what gets us there. Words can make it hard to pray especially when it matters what they mean.

What in the world does the role of prayer play in the life of someone who if they do pray, prays To Whom It May Concern? What do prayer and meditation have in common?

Direct download: TheTaxonomy_of_Prayer_Janne_Eller-Isaacs_February_1_2009.mp3
Category:Worship Theme: Prayer -- posted at: 12:34pm CDT

Thom Belote, minister at Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church in Overland Park, Kansas, preaches the concluding service of our series on resistance.

Martin Luther King Jr. was part of a community of resistance. Without Ralph Abernathy, Rosa Parks, Bayard Rustin and a host of others, there would have been no Martin Luther King Jr. Janne and Intern Minister Leon Dunkley will help us understand the many ways in which we are a community of resistance and suggest what heroism may be needed now.

We know what’s good for us. But for some reason we hesitate to do those things we know full well will help us to be happier, healthier, more effective, more loving people.

Direct download: No_Way_No_How_Rob_Eller-Isaacs_January_11_2009.mp3
Category:Worship Theme: Resistance -- posted at: 3:34pm CDT

We begin each New Year with a service to honor those who have died in the previous year. The ministers will eulogize a number of "world shapers" artists, musicians, writers and leaders.