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Sermons 2007

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December 30, 2007
Ring out the old, ring in the new!
Eli Briggs and the Worship Committee


This service will feature readings and music appropriate to the New Year’s Holiday. In place of a sermon, members of the Worship Committee will offer thoughts about the year that is ending and the new year soon to be starting. Come ready to share your thoughts about the past year, hopes or resolutions for the New Year or anything else that moves you as we make this transition. UUCSS’s own jazz ensemble will provide the music

December 23, 2007
'Tis the Season!
Michael Holmes, Music Director, Barbara Stoddard, Interim DRE and Rev. Elizabeth Lerner


An orchestra of old and young, seasoned and novice, practiced and rusty. A choir of little ‘uns in stoles that slip off their shoulders while they sing us songs. Music from different faith traditions, all to do with right now. Seasonal and holiday readings. Cheer. Fun. Joy. Inspiration. Reflection. What can it be?!?!?! That’s right, the annual UUCSS intergenerational celebration of winter and its holidays. As always, not to be missed!

December 16, 2007
"I was raised a Unitarian Universalist."
Jimmy Schreiber, Doyle Rice, Catherine Buckler, Geoff Gavett and Susan Clark


Most of us weren't raised UU, but more were than you might think. Come hearwhat those lucky enough to be UUs while they were young have to say. What do these insights mean for those of us who are parents as we raise our children UU? You will also learn a bit about UUCSS and its history from the experiences of those who raised their children here or were raised here. Four members of UUCSS and one from Cedar Lane will give us their perspectives. Come hear Jimmy Schreiber, Doyle Rice, Catherine Buckler, Geoff Gavett, from UUCSS and Susan Clark from Cedar Lane.

December 9, 2007
What Would You Take With You?
Rev. Elizabeth Lerner


As we enter the holiday season, it’s a good time to reflect on what really matters. There are many, many methods for doing this – during this morning’s services we’re going to do it using a blog from NPR (created in response to the fires that devastated Southern California in mid-October) and a question: What would you take with you? This service will include time for reflection and a medium for sharing responses – come prepared to contribute and listen and refocus as we prepare for the pace and sometimes distracting elements of the winter holidays.

December 2, 2007
Zeal, Love, Courage, Commitment, Excellence: The Non-Secrets of Growth
Rev. Elizabeth Lerner


November 25, 2007
Spinoza and Unitarian Universalism
Daniel Spiro


Our guest preacher will focus on the life and teachings of Baruch Spinoza, the seventeenth century Jew who was such a heretic that he was excommunicated by the rabbinate of his native Amsterdam. It is the view of the presenter that UUadults and teenagers need to appreciate Spinoza as one of the movement's greatest patriarchs. But just as importantly, UUs might want to enlist Spinoza in the great debate over the word "God." At the time of his life and for a centurythereafter, Spinoza was generally considered an atheist. More recently, though, many of our greatest geniuses, including Einstein and Goethe, have recognized his unique and inspiring religiosity. We will examine why it is that Spinoza can be called a UU, and why the movement might benefit greatly from studying his ideas. Daniel Spiro is a Senior Trial Attorney with the United States Department of Justice and the author of The Creed Room, a novel of ideas (Aegis Press, 2006). He is also the coordinator of the Washington, D.C. Spinoza Society. This past summer, Mr. Spiro taught a workshop on Spinoza at the Southeast Unitarian Universalist Summer Institute, and looks forward to doing the same next year. His second novel, Moses the Heretic, is expected to be released in 2008.

November 18, 2007
Learning to Love Jesus
Rev. Elizabeth Lerner


Most of you know that your minister grew up Unitarian Universalist and doesn'tremember much, if any, talk of Jesus or bible during that time. It was whiletraining for ministry that I felt I discovered' him and it was a pretty pleasantdiscovery. This morning's service will explore some of what we skeptics andreligious liberals can love about him, what in his life and work resonates withus. He wasn't always brave or patient or even polite but he gave ministry his best and worked to change the world for the better and can be inspiring to anyone as a model for ministry.

November 11, 2007
Get Ready
Rev. Elizabeth Lerner


A year from now, we'll be voting for a new president. This service will includereflection, declaration, preparation, repudiation, and reclamation - in music andwords. Come prepared for some strong sentiment, perhaps catharsis, and, ofcourse, some context that allows us to retain our tax status as a faith community in this world where the IRS cracks down on congregations that speak ill of anadministration, even as that administration works to erode the very separation ofchurch and state on which that tax code is based... oops, getting ahead of oneself. Church and state will be covered in the service, and, actually, perhaps not as you might predict!

November 4, 2007
Blessing of the Animals
Rev. Elizabeth A. Lerner


Our annual extravaganza of tails, paws, claws and fur-- and sometimes also scales, shells, synthetic fur, and more! Bring your actual or virtual pet(s)-- appropriately leashed, crated or otherwise contained-- to our wonderful intergenerational blessing of the animals service. Bring a blanket if you'd like to join them on the floor. (Chairs are also always available). And feel free to bring friends or neighbors-- it's a fun morning. Readings, reflections, and a rich array of music will supplement the ritual of asking blessing for our pets and giving thanks for them. As always, memorial photos of pets are welcome on the pulpit table for this morning.

October 28, 2007
Samhain Service
Gaia Circle


On this Sunday, Gaia Circle leads our Samhain service. Trees ablaze with crimson and gold. Deep asure of a crystalline fall day. Cold nights growing longer, speaking of freezing, short days to come. The beauty of the dying year draws our thoughts to the subject of death. Samhain represents the point in the wheel of the year where we acknowledge death and honor it as important and necessary to life. We celebrate death for making space for and providing food for life. Join us this day in remembering and honoring our beloved dead, our ancestors, both physical and spiritual.

October 21, 2007
Spiritual Growth at Bargain Prices
Rev. Elizabeth Lerner and Rev. Arvid Straube


It's our annual opportunity to hear one of our movement's leaders talking to us about how we understand and value our movement and our community. This year, we're bringing in renowned preacher Rev. Arvid Straube from the First UU Church of San Diego who will co-lead the service with our own Rev. Liz. Arvid will be looking at the way consumerism impacts the way we think about church and will offer a better way of thinking about church. Music is pulling out all the stops on their end-- this is going to be a rousing, inspiring, momentous worship opportunity. Don't miss it!

October 14, 2007
Letting The Springs Flow
Rev. Elizabeth A. Lerner


Since time out of mind, we have sought to become more racially and culturally diverse-- both our own congregation and our larger denomination. And we've made progress, but not enough. This fall UUCSS is taking significant steps towards making that vision a reality, starting by affirming it in our strategic plan and holding two meetings jointly with intentionally multicultural and multiracial Davies Memorial UU Church in Camp Springs, MD. Our service this morning will go deep, looking at what challenges us about this, what makes it hard, what can also make it easier sometimes than we think, and what really can make it worth it in the end.

October 7, 2007
The Truth About Lies
Nicky Mackiewicz


Open your eyes and heart to see the truth-- the truth that lying does not work and hurts people and yourself. This sermon by YRUU member Nicky Mackiewicz will give you the truth about all the lies you have told and hopefully open your eyes to a new truth.

September 30, 2007
Occasions of Sin, Occasional Sin and the True Nature of Evil
Rev. Elizabeth Lerner


The title of this service comes from a sermon I preached back in the early 1990's. It refers to the nature of life and the meaning of life - elements generally hard to get a handle on, and hard to hang onto even after we've gotten a grip. What is there really in the world, in living, in dying, in the interrelatedness of things and the developments in the world and the universe to offer a sense of goodness, of beneficence, of the sacred? What really is sacred, when all's said and done, in the real world? This sermon is prompted by the release of a pair of new pamphlets by the UUA on UU Views of Evil and UU Views of the Sacred - both including brief reflections by your minister. Two hundred words was only enough to pique my interest - there's more to say and this Sunday is our time to consider what, if anything, is sacred, and why.

September 23, 2007
Music as Worship - Part III: "Service on the Hymnal"
Michael Holmes, Music Director, UUCSS


Michael Holmes will lead this special hymn singing service aided by other UUCSS song leaders, designed to involve, include and engage everyone in the joy of singing hymns. This service will give you a chance to learn some of the vibrant hymns in the new UU hymnal supplement to Singing the Living Tradition (the gray hymnal from 1993). The supplement that UUCSS now owns, appropriately entitled Singing the Journey, was published in 2005, and it has proven to be very effective in transforming the musical identities of several UU churches in North America, including our own. There will be no sermon at this service, but only a short homily addressing how Unitarian, Universalist, and UU hymnody has evolved since the 16th Century.

September 16, 2007
Something With Good At Its Core
Rev. Elizabeth A. Lerner


The title of this service comes from a sermon I preached back in the early 1990's. It refers to the nature of life and the meaning of life - elements generally hard to get a handle on, and hard to hang onto even after we've gotten a grip. What is there really in the world, in living, in dying, in the interrelatedness of things and the developments in the world and the universe to offer a sense of goodness, of beneficence, of the sacred? What really is sacred, when all's said and done, in the real world?

September 9, 2007
Ingathering Water Communion
Rev. Elizabeth Lerner


Our annual intergenerational ritual of reconnection and sharing, full of good music and joy of gathering once more-- come with your actual or virtual water from sources near and far to this special service as we welcome in the year, beloved friends and new faces.

September 2, 2007
Being a Woman
Yvonne Brunot, Alexa Fraser, Jo Paoletti, Khadijat Rashid and Colleen Robichaud


Five UUCSS congregants will share their unique insights and individual stories. Come join this personal and provocative portrayal of womanhood.

August 5, 2007
Sex in Church
Rob Keithan, Director, Washington Office for Advocacy, UU Assoc. of Congregations


Although Unitarian Universalism congregations (including UUCSS) have been providing values-based comprehensive sexuality education to children and youth for decades, on the whole we still tend to avoid talking about sex in church-- except when something bad happens, or we want to prevent something bad from happening. Can we lift up a positive, healthy vision of sexuality for everyone in the congregation?

July 29, 2007
Coming Home to Ourselves
Amanda Poppei, Candidate, UU Ministry


Have you ever discovered something new about yourself... but it now seems so much a part of you that you can't imagine life any other way? Join Amanda Poppei as she considers this strange paradox: the new discovery of who we have always been.

July 22, 2007
On Being A Man
Erik Leaver and Other UUCSS Members


Come share and explore what being a man means in today's day and age from a Unitarian perspective. This service will be lay led by several members of the congregation.

July 15, 2007
Avarice and Us
Sam Pizzigati


The great religious traditions of our world have had, down through the centuries, precious few kind words to say about greed. Yet here today in the United States, the most ostensibly religious nation in the entire developed world, greed seems to be thriving. Why does greed find a welcome in some societies-- and epochs-- and not in others? The prophets understood how this "deadly sin" takes root. We can as well.

July 8, 2007
This Constant Yearning
Rev. Alida DeCoster


Longing and desire are inherent to being human. There is so much we want in life, and to a point that is good and healthy. Our longing for meaning and connection drives relationships and productive work. At the same time, materialistic hungers can become addictive and rob us of vitality. How do we discern the difference between healthy and unhealthy desires? How do religious traditions and spiritual practices help us in that discernment? Rev. DeCoster is Minister to the Internship Program at the Unitarian Universalist Washington Office. She has completed the Shalem Institute’s Spiritual Guidance Program and meets with individuals for spiritual companionship. In the 1980s and ’90s she was Associate Minister at Cedar Lane UU Church. She lives in Silver Spring with her husband and son.

July 1, 2007
Annual Poetry Service


Just what is poetry anyway? Is it necessary to define it? How important is poetry in our day-to-day lives? What role can poetry and other forms of literature play in helping us, as Unitarian Universalists, live a life committed to our beliefs and principles? We will explore these questions during our annual UUCSS poetry service. In the interim, you are strongly encouraged to revisit your bookshelf and select a poem or two (or write one yourself!) that you would like to share with the congregation.

June 24, 2007
This I Believe
Jane Jackson, Nicole Levesque, John Mobley and Dale Stephens


Inspired by the popular segment “This I Believe” on National Public Radio, four UUCSS members will share their take on this theme.

June 17, 2007
What Kind of Legacy? 400 Years of Slavery
Emira Woods, Co-Director of Foreign Policy In Focus, Institute for Policy Studies


This year marks the 400th Anniversary of the establishment of Jamestown, the first permanent English colony in North America; the 200th anniversary of the end of the trans-Atlantic slave trade; and the 175th anniversary of the first meeting of the New England Anti-Slavery Society.This year also represents the 50th anniversary of independence for many African states, a credit to the visionary leaders who led decades-long movements to throw off the yoke of colonial slavery. In West African mythology, “Sankofa” is a bird that flies forward while looking backward with an egg in its mouth that symbolizes the future. In the spirit of Sankofa, Emira Woods will reflect on Africa’s tragic history and detail forms of modern-day slavery. Ms. Woods will also share the inspiration of movements for change that are working to abolish lingering forms of slavery and advance true political independence and economic justice for the African world. These movements hold the promise of justice, equality, and peace for future generations.

June 10, 2007
Flower Communion
Rev. Lerner and Mandy Keithan, DRE


Our beloved annual ritual with which we conclude the regular church year will feature especially rich music from various UUCSS sources, readings led by Mandy and Rev. Liz, and of course the sharing of flowers you all bring for our special communion. We will have two services, both intergenerational. Bring blossoms from your garden, your florist, your supermarket—and any friends you think would enjoy the morning. This will also be our final service co-led by Mandy— come join us for this poignant Sunday.

June 3, 2007
Church o' da Fewtchah
Rev. Elizabeth A. Lerner


As we are wrapping up the creation of our strategic plan, and another year of powerful experiences both grievous and wonderful, I am filled with optimism and ambition for UUCSS's future-- both because of who this church already is, and because of what we are becoming. This service will offer the minister's take on where we're at and who we are-- our gifts and our challenges, our possibilities and potentialities. "Don't do it for me," as the saying goes, but I can't resist the opportunity to speak my own take on this church I love.

May 27, 2007
Authentic Unitarian Universalism
Rev. John T. Crestwell, Jr.


Live a religion-less life! "What did you say? The preacher has lost his mind."

I'm saying to you that authentic Unitarian Univeralism preaches to the world what A. Powell Davies said well: "An end to all exclusion!" When we finally do that, we will live the "new heaven and new earth" reality. Come hear more.

Guest minister Rev. John T. Crestwell is minister of Davies Memorial Unitarian Universalist Church in Camp Springs, MD. Under his leadership, Davies nears being 40% diverse. The church has been named a 2007 Breakthrough Congregation by the UUA.

May 20, 2007
Religious Education Sunday


Our annual celebration of Religious Education at UUCSS, featuring our children, youth, teachers, youth advisors and, of course, our beloved Director of Religious Education, Mandy Keithan.

May 13, 2007
Life After Death, Part 2
Rev. Elizabeth Lerner


Some topics are too big for a single sermon, and this is one of them. Continued from May 6, this service will treat more aspects of life after death, including that most pressing and obvious issue: Is there any?

May 6, 2007
Life After Death...for the Living
Rev. Elizabeth Lerner


Generally when we ask 'is there life after death,' we mean for the dead, including ourselves, when our time comes to leave this mapped land of the living and enter the uncharted world of death. No explorer has returned to tell us what wonders await us there - which suggests to some that there are no further wonders, to others that life is a one-way street and while it has no dead-end, no u-turns are allowed. Our service this morning will be the first of a 2-part back-to-back series on death - but we will begin by addressing the question of what life is like for the living who go on carrying the memories, conflicts, love and loss... how do we do that, how ought we do that, how can we do that? Life after death... for all of us, will follow on May 13th, and will return to the issues above. After we die what, if anything, happens then?

April 29, 2007
Coming of Age Service
UUCSS 8th Graders


This is our special annual service, planned and run by our 8th grade youth, in which youth share their beliefs as they prepare to leave our middle school religious education class and join the high schoolers in YRUU.

April 22, 2007
The Holy Act of Eating
Megan Foley


Has eating lost its fun? When you think of dinner, do you think first ofshoulds and don'ts instead of Yum! and Thanks!? Are you forced to eat"healthy" food that tastes a lot like cardboard? Don't have time to savoror enjoy your meals? Too stressed to eat "real" food? Bring all youreating frustrations to church this Earth Day, where we'll take a new look atour relationship with the act and the life that sustains us three times aday.

April 15, 2007
Strange Bedfellows: Eroticism and Spirituality
Rev. Elizabeth Lerner


Love surely has a divine component - and many would argue, so does sex. It's not hard to find erotic language in the most 'spiritual' of texts, from the writings of Hildegard of Bingen to the Song of Songs which Jewish interpretation holds is a completely metaphorical discourse on the relationship of the soul and the divine. How does this come to be, and what does the common, controversial juxtaposition of these superficially antithetical arenas - the body and the spirit - say about our experience of living and of transcendence?

April 8, 2007
Dazzling Stranger: The God in Disguise
Rev. Elizabeth Lerner


Services this morning will focus on the Easter story and thematic parallels with other faiths wherein divine or saving messages and opportunities are relayed by means that mask their real significance and potential to change a life for good or ill. We'll explore stories from the gospels and mythology, and then look to ways they apply in our own lives. There will be Time for All Ages, and the choir will sing.

April 1, 2007
Global Warming and Our Faith
Bob Geiger


Global warming poses the greatest moral challenge of this time and a threat so grave it is difficult to look at directly. To move past denial and beyond despair will require spiritual strength. Come contemplate what is at stake, what our faith demands of us, and what our faith has to offer our overheating world.

March 25, 2007
Examining Inherent Worth and Dignity
Rev. Elizabeth A. Lerner


March 18, 2007
Blessing of the Animals
Rev. Elizabeth A. Lerner


Join in this annual tribute to the animals that grace our lives and our world. Please bring your pet(s): real, virtual, or other, to this morning's services of readings, reflections, music and ritual. Bring a blanket if you'd like to sit on the floor with your animal companion(s) and make sure your pets are appropriately leashed, crated, aquariumed or otherwise contained. Memorial photos of pets lost in the past year are welcome, as always, for display by the pulpit. Always lots of fun, these services will be graced by live music from our own in-house talent.

March 11, 2007
...because it is Soul Work
Mandy Keithan, UUCSS Director of Religious Education


The UU minister Rosemary Bray McNatt asks "Will there... be a time when we can authentically be who we are, believe what we believe, speak our own truth, sing our own song-- and be with one another?" What does her question mean for us at UUCSS in regard to issues of race and culture? How can we more fully live her vision given the pervasive power of racism? From a position of faith, we will explore together possible first steps in an anti-racist journey. (This service is our annual 'Swap Sunday,' where Mandy leads the worship service in the sanctuary and Rev. Liz will be leading Religious Education programming with our elementary ages.) The choir will be singing.

March 4, 2007
Three Faces of Compassion
Jaco B. ten Hove, guest minister


February 18, 2007
Gay Rights and Marriage Equality in MD
State Sen. Richard S. Madaleno, Jr.


State Senator Madaleno, one of several Unitarian Universalist elected officials in Maryland, will speak about efforts to achieve marriage equality and promote gay rights in the state. Learn how our UU faith can be put into action on this important issue.

February 11, 2007
Love: That Vast, Silly, Wicked, Blessed Thing
Rev. Elizabeth Lerner


In honor of Valentine's Day, we're looking at the many faces and ways of love. Our services will feature poetry and prose, as well as a sermon and music on the topic. We'll hear from the choir as well as from some Balkan musical guests. Come set your mood and mind for this day and its perenially compelling elusive theme

February 4, 2007
Whence Come We? Part II.
Rev. Elizabeth Lerner


Though many UU congregations date back centuries, ours is relatively young: just a little over 50 years. This service will explore the story of this congregation, from its inception, as the faiths merged, as the first combined Unitarian Universalist church in the country, up to now. We will also mark the 10-year anniversary of our becoming an officially -Y´Welcoming Congregationˇ for gays, lesbians, transgender, and bisexual people. AND we will conclude the special ritual as we hold our first morning of 2 Sunday Services.

January 27, 2007
YRUU Service


What do the Prophet Mohammad, L. Ron Hubbard, and Jesus have in common? They'll all be attending the YRUU service in order to discuss UU-ism. This roundtable-esque discussion, will be moderated by a committee of YRUUs.

January 21, 2007
Whence Come We, Part I
Rev. Elizabeth Lerner


Contrary to popular conception, Unitarian Universalism is not a new-age phenomenon. Though much of our character feels so contemporary as to suggest our existence is entirely modern, we have denominational roots that go back hundreds of years, and thousands of years of theological heritage and evolution that led to us. This service of readings, reflections, and music will explore some of the turning points and critical moments that brought Unitarian Universalism to now. This service will also incorporate the first part of a ritual honoring our transition to 2 services on February 4.

January 14, 2007
One Step Closer to the Promised Land
Rev. Elizabeth Lerner


A special service of music and messages regarding the life, enduring charge, and hope of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s work. Back by popular acclaim, Dr. Jeffery Ames will work with Michael Holmes, our choir, and other singers in offering songs in the spirit and heritage of Dr. King.

January 7, 2007
New, Improved Commandments
Bob Hirshon


In this sermon, Bob Hirshon returns with his own brand of warm and fuzzy secular humanism, this time with a modest attempt to improve on the Ten Commandments. Failure to attend will be punishable unto the third and fourth generations.