In the autumn, as the leaves turn brilliant colors and then drift to the ground, we often feel both the richness and the fleetingness of life. How do we give thanks in the midst of impermanence? We’ll contemplate this question on Sunday with the help of a Zen teaching story: a man walking in the woods sees a tiger following him. He runs but the tiger is gaining on him fast. The man comes to the edge of a cliff and must either jump or face the tiger. He jumps. A fragile branch catches his fall. Below, another tiger is pacing, waiting to devour him. As the branch begins to crack, just within reach he sees a wild strawberry growing from the cliff, red and ripe. He plucks it and eats it. So delicious!
Viewing ourselves as a beacon of democracy and freedom is deeply ingrained in our national self-image. And yet, the history of how we’ve acted—both abroad and towards our own people—tells a very different story. A similar struggle plays out in our personal lives as well. A day after returning from the All Souls BorderLinks trip to Arizona and Mexico, Rev. Keithan will reflect on the gap between our aspirations and our reality--and what we can do about it.
This Sunday is All Souls Sunday, when we remember those in our community who’ve died this year, and consider life’s preciousness in the context of our mortality. I think some people fear that All Souls Day is morbid or depressing. Why would I want to consider death when I’m already feeling anxious and afraid? Truth is, All Souls Day is one of the most beautiful Sundays of the year, and exactly what we need to help us put this violent and bitter season into perspective.
What binds spirit to matter? When we have a diversity of cherished beliefs and belongings, what connects us in sacred relation within the liberal church? Join us as we explore the power and the possibility of covenant as scaffolding for the growth of the soul.
In times of challenge and despair, writes the author Barbara Kingsolver, “The very least you can do...is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof.” How do we live our lives from a place of hope? What does it mean to dwell together in hope? This Sunday we’ll share our hope with one another.
Sunday is Generosity Sunday, when we make a financial pledge to support the ministries of All Souls Church in 2019. Join us for an inspiring service followed by a celebration in Pierce Hall.
One of my favorite spirituals is “Walk Together Children,” a song that suggests that liberation is something we accomplish together, not alone. Yet community is hard, and sometimes it feels easier to go our own way. That’s why we need covenant. “Walk Together Children” is an invitation to live our religious lives within the embrace of a covenanted community.
The Jewish mystic and theologian Martin Buber conceived of human intimacy as a covenant between I and Thou, between two human beings relating authentically and humanly. Scientists have since confirmed that such relationships help us lead longer, more fulfilling lives. How do we cultivate and strengthen authentic, intimate relationships?
Sometimes new possibilities interrupt the well-established order of our lives. Are such disturbances a blessing, a curse, or maybe both? This Sunday we will explore the wisdom of spiritual traditions that regard unexpected disturbances to be the workings of a holy trickster breaking into our lives.
Our world is constantly telling us what we can't do. We are bombarded with reassurances about just how little we can have an impact and how long the odds are of us feeling a sense of the meaning in our lives. Possibility suggests that there is a dimension beyond the naysaying. This morning we will look for glimpses of where and how possibility emerges in our daily living.
Rev. Shana Lynngood served as the associate minister at All Souls from 2003 to 2010. She now serves as co-minister, with her wife Melora, of the First Unitarian Church of Victoria, BC, Canada.
It was the Unitarian preacher Theodore Parker who first defined democracy as government “of all the people, by all the people, and for all the people.” Yet today our democracy faces assaults on many fronts, not least the conspiracy to suppress the vote of people at the margins. This fall’s mid-term elections are a critical test for our democracy. This Sunday we continue the struggle for which our former minister James Reeb gave his life at Selma and launch our Reeb Voting Rights Project’s 2018 “Democracy Challenge.”
Somebody once defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome. Yet we all get stuck in routines that don’t serve us or others well. Zen teaches that to overcome these unhelpful patterns and see things fresh we must practice “Beginner’s Mind.” As we return for Homecoming Sunday to begin the new church year, let’s practice Beginner’s Mind.
In his novel Cutting for Stone, physician and author Abraham Verghese writes “You don’t always know the answers before you operate. One operates in the here and now. … Life, too, is like that. You live it forward, but understand it backward.” How can we learn from the past without getting stuck there?
This Sunday is our annual “Questions of Faith” service when Rev. Hardies responds to your questions about faith, spirituality, and current events … whatever is on your hearts and minds. Let us know what spiritual questions you are wrestling with; e-mail your questions of faith to Gary Penn (email@example.com) by 5 pm on Thursday. Gary will collect your submissions and send them to our worship associates, who will select from among the questions. On Sunday, Rev. Hardies will address as many as time permits.
In the midst of cultural swirl, political fractures, and haters hating, day-to-day life can feel chaotic. This we know. We are called to bear witness, and act with clarity and equanimity, in such a time as this. How might we move from more strategic inner awareness to make bold change in the world? A sermon about organizing within and without.
Love for the earth, Love for our neighbors and our selves, Love for our nation and our communities. In these dangerous times, what does siding with Love look like and how do we ground ourselves spiritually in sustainable ways? Rev. Joanne Braxton will probe these and other questions in her sermon.
The work of building more loving and justice-seeking communities can be messy business that often requires that we dwell in the discomfort of learning and unlearning toxic habits and relational patterns. Showing up requires a nagging persistence that insists on not cutting and running when times get hard. The good news is that like any good spiritual practice, persistence can be learned and cultivated if are willing to take the risk of being transformed.
When we face challenges in our lives, sometimes we can get stuck, paralyzed. Other times, friends will encourage us to just “move on” from our challenges and “get over it.” Somewhere between these two extremes lies a healthy, middle path for moving forward and getting our lives back on track.
We are restless souls yearning to be understood. Inspired by the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, guest minister, Rev. John T. Crestwell, Jr. of the UU Church of Annapolis, explores how learning to relate and understand each other is our highest calling and the key to creating beloved community.
I once heard Cornel West observe that while our smartphones keep getting smarter, we’re not getting any wiser. “Smart is for phones,” he said, “let the people be wise.” This morning we explore how our “high-tech, low-touch” society impacts our spirits and our capacity for relationship and resilience?
Life can feel so out of control. We can feel powerless against massive political abuses from our government, we can feel helpless against disease within our own bodies. Sometimes, even the joys can be overwhelming. What can we do when it all feels like too much?
In many Buddhist cultures the lotus flower—blossoming serenely on the pond’s surface—is a symbol of transformation and enlightenment. But the secret to the lotus’s beauty is its roots that are buried deep in the muck at the bottom of the pond. How can we find transformation and wisdom when our lives have run amuck?
This Sunday we’ll reflect on the spiritual importance of fathers of all sorts—ancient and new—who nurture holistic expressions of humanity, open space for tears and laughter, and whose struggles help us learn more about love.
In the Declaration of Independence, the Founders suggest “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” as the great goals of human living. Life and liberty, certainly. But happiness has always been a problematic pursuit. What are the traps of pursuing happiness? And is happiness what we really want, after all?