HUU Sermon Archives - 2006

All sermons are the exclusive property of the writer.
Additional sermons will be added as they become available. All sermons are in HTML format.  Some are available for download in MS Word format.

The first paragraph of most of the sermons is included.

The Winter Solstice:  Welcoming Back the Light by Jennifer Spiller on December 17, 2006

  • At 7:22pm on this Thursday, December 21st, winter will begin and I must tell you, I am practically counting the minutes.  Any of you who know my complete aversion to cold weather might well be surprised by my fervent desire to dance and sing and shout, "Hurray! Winter is coming!"  And it is true, I'm not particularly looking forward to cold weather and snow, seized up muscles and frozen toes.  But I will be enormously thankful that we will have reached the darkest point of the year and that the light will begin to return.  My family and I have not been around much at HUU this fall.  There are lots of reasons, Chris' increased work schedule, the endless round of colds and illnesses that toddlers seem to pass along, or family obligations.  But if these things had happened in June?  You might have seen more of us.  And the reason for this is simple.  It is Fall and the light is dying faster and faster and my mood generally plummets along with sun.

Happiness Is? by Jim Geary on November 12, 2006

  • On a small bulletin board on the wall at the back of my desk in my study, I have a picture of my two-year-old great grandson, Taz. His mother, my granddaughter Virginia, emailed me the photograph from Boulder, CO, where she lives with her husband, Matt. I have never seen Taz in person. And he has only about an eighth of his inheritance, his genes, from me. . . . My talk this morning is going to be about life, about life and about justice. It is also going to be about the pursuit of happiness. This talk is very important to me, because it embodies my most deeply felt philosophy of living. It defines, more than anything else, who I am.

Losing Faith by Merle Wenger on September 24, 2006

  • The faith of my childhood seems simple--so simple that I have attempted throughout my life to reject it entirely. It was the faith taught to me from the pulpit of the conservative Mennonite church by men only, that faith that celebrated carefully selected passages from the King James Bible--passages chosen to attempt to bring me to a condition of the begging repentant not unlike those subjects of the Spanish Inquisition who were tortured with heated braziers filled with red hot burning coals placed at their feet and left there until they perished--sometimes taking days.

If It Rains on Everyone, And Your Prayers will Not Be Answered, Why Give Thanks?  by Frank Albrecht on July 30, 2006

  • When I was sixty seven, a friend asked me to say grace the next day at Thanksgiving dinner. I said I didn't know any graces. "Then write one," she said. I sat down and wrote a Thanksgiving prayer in 38-a bit long for a grace but we had to make do with it.  That's how I became a poet. I've been writing ever since. "Thanksgiving Prayer" starts like this: ......

The American Scholar: Emerson’s Declaration of Independenceby Robin McNallie on June 4, 2006

  • I find it especially appropriate to speak today on Emerson’s “American Scholar” address and to approach it as his declaration of independence since we are just finishing the season of college graduation speeches and also find ourselves exactly one month from the 4th of July. His speech, the annual Phi Beta Kappa address, was actually delivered the day after Harvard’s commencement at the end of August 1837, but, for all intents and purposes, can be called a graduation talk, since it was attended by students, faculty, including those of the theological School, and the Fellows of the Harvard Corporation, i.e. the overseers of the college. Emerson’s statement on the nature and duties of the American scholar, furthermore, is nothing other than a full-throated call for his auditors to liberate themselves from what William Blake dubbed “the mind-forged manacles.”  The AS stands as the center piece of 3 works produced in quick succession by Emerson, which, taken together, represent his first enunciation of the Transcendentalist vision: “Nature” (1836), AS (1837), and “The Divinity School Address” (1838).

Sacred Spaces by Elizabeth Ihle on May 7, 2006

  • This idea of discussing sacred spaces originated with a UU service I attended in Knoxville TN in last January. I’ve used nearly the same readings and hymns, but this sermon is different because I thought there was a lot more to say about the subject than what I heard and we need to have an HUU sacred space appreciation day. Although we HUUers are genuinely fond of each other and of our visitors, today I’m not talking about the magic—the sacredness-- of human interaction but of natural places and constructed buildings. This is a brick and mortar kind of talk, and that’s why I have taken the liberty to dedicate this service to the many committed folk who for over a decade now have given their time and talents to maintaining and improving our HUU building. They deserve our deepest appreciation and our heartiest thanks.

This I Believe by David Lane and Company on April 30, 2006.

  • We hardly need to be reminded that we are living in an age of confusion – a lot of us have traded in our beliefs for bitterness and cynicism or for a heavy package of despair, or even a quivering portion of hysteria. Opinions can be picked up cheap in the market place while such commodities as courage and fortitude and faith are in alarmingly short supply.

Circles and Cycles by members of the JMU Campus Ministry Group on April 16, 2006

  • Once there was a village of Unitarian Universalist people who gathered together on Easter morning. The sun was shining brightly, they were all dressed up in their finest clothes, some had awakened to find Easter baskets all filled with eggs and chocolate and jelly beans. Some had already eaten chocolates and jelly beans! They gathered together in their big room for worship and listened to music and sang. While they sat there, one young woman looked around and asked the elder: Holly: "Why is this day different from all other days?"

Lee and Grant at Appomattox by Jim Geary on April 9, 2006

  • They say "never say never." So I didn't say "never" last September. And here I am again, this time to talk about General Robert E. Lee's surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House 141 years ago today. . . . . Well, I do think it's an appropriate subject for today. I also think it's an appropriate subject for me. Because 41 years ago I was executive director of the Virginia Civil War Commission. That commission, made up largely of legislators, was charged by the General Assembly with putting on a four-year state-wide observance of the centennial of the Civil War — a war in which Virginia played such a prominent role. The centennial lasted from 1961 through 1965. And Appomattox was the climax.

Learning to Fall by Claire Prideaux on April 2, 2006.

  • For me, the story of Adam and Eve and their fall from grace in the Garden of Eden, rather than establishing original sin, acts as a developmental metaphor for what happens in life. Most of us are born into an "ignorance is bliss" paradise and so we remain for some time. Then, at some point, we fall from innocence into the knowledge of good and evil.

Biloxi Bubble or After the Storm presented by Cathy Strickler on March 26, 2006.

  • We got to the Hands On Network center on Martin Luther King Day after a smooth 2-day road trip down I-81, stopping at the Civil Rights museum in Birmingham that morning. My husband, Charlie, and I, retired, wanting to be warm, physically active and hopefully, helpful, had come to work for 2-6 weeks, depending on when we wore out. We lasted five.

Why We Come presented by the Membership Committee and members and friends of HUU on February 5, 2005.

  • Reasons for coming - Some come for the music, so they feel uplifted and inspired in ways that words can never manage to achieve. Some come simply to see their friends and to feel connected to a society of neighbors with whom they share common history, common values, and a common vision. Or perhaps they are feeling fragile and alone and long for a sense of connection to something larger and more enduring than themselves. Community is about the common life that we share with one another.

Moments of Transformation delivered by Ann Payne on January 28, 2006. Ann is a chaplain at Rockingham Memorial Hospital in Harrisonburg.

  • I have found that one of the most helpful practices one can develop is to be aware of the moment. This awareness brings about transformation. We are becoming…Our personalities are developing. We are forming beliefs, establishing confidence, through our experiences and encounters with others. By practicing and being aware of the inherent worth and dignity of every person, we are helping ourselves and others find transformation.

Observations on Happiness delivered by J. Barkley Rosser  on January 22, 2006. Barkley is a member of the Fellowship and a Professor of Economics at JMU

  • The Declaration of Independence begins with a paean to the pursuit of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” At about the same time the British philosopher, Jeremy Bentham, argued that society should be organized so as that the largest number of people can achieve the greatest amount of pleasure or satisfaction or happiness, which he labeled “utility.” Natural law philosophers and theologians denounced this view as a pernicious doctrine. People should do what is right or moral and not just what feels good at the moment. However, this “utilitarianism” became the foundation of much of modern economics and politics, “the greatest good for the greatest number.”