Sam's Sermon Server

These sermons are offered freely for the exclusive use of individuals who find them valuable, stimulating and inspirational. All rights are reserved as is the copyright to the source. My writing is offered to the public under the principle of sharewords.

These sermons are sorted by date when they were given with the most recent first. The ones without links have yet to be converted into html or pdf and uploaded to the server. If you are interested in one not yet uploaded and linked, email me at comments {at} uumin {dot} org

Note that if you do not find an older sermon on this page, it may show up in audio on as an MP3 file for listening.

My sermons are also sorted by subject!
by year2011  2010  2009  2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002  2001  2000  1999  1998  1997  1996  1995  1994  1993  

An Evolving Faith, PDF, May 5 2013
Unitarians and Universalists were among the first religious traditions to accept Darwin's theories of evolution. Before that, we aligned ourselves with heretics that questioned doctrinal assertions that Jesus didn't have a human father, was co-eternal with God, performed miracles that violated natural law, and returned from the dead. Come hear how our faith continues to evolve today.

Loyal Heretics, PDF, May 19 2013
As a religious tradition that values individual discernment rather than conformity to revealed truth, we sometimes disagree with each other. But disagreement need not be disagreeable. Done well, conflict can stimulate our mutual growth and development as individuals and as a congregation.

Expanding Gender Identity PDF, February 17, 2013

Stuck in the “gender binary” enforcement of male and female as our sexual identity? Consider a far more fluid definition of gender beyond the sex a doctor assigns a baby at birth.

Meeting the Shadow, PDF, December 9, 2012

Peace and acceptance can be found through meeting the shadows cast by the clouds that may obscure the enjoyment of this holiday season.

When God Talks Back, PDF,   December 2, 2012

Making room for a response to directed meditations, thoughts, wishes and/or prayers is compatible with many paths of Unitarian Universalist belief and practice … including yours?

Beloved Community, PDF, October 7, 2012

The term “Beloved Community” is a 1960's phrase Unitarian Universalist ministers love to use but many in our congregations don't recognize or understand. Rev. Trumbore stated last month he thinks the Justice GA 2012 in Phoenix actually had some success in creating it. This service will dig into the origins of this phrase, how it has been used and what value it might have as a purpose and identity for FUUSA.

Prophetic Encounters, PDF, September 30, 2012

Many of us learn, grow and develop through personal relationships. Our friendships from an early age shape and mold our ideas and attitudes. The wider and more diverse those relationships, the wider and more tolerant we are likely to grow up to be. Sometimes those personal encounters are dramatically transforming. Dr. Dan McKanan has studied these kind of encounters that change lives and found patterns we will find useful in our own growth and development as individuals and as a congregation.

Crossing Borders, PDF, September 23, 2012

Unitarian Universalists have a natural, often unrecognized affinity for undocumented workers. We both cross borders some would rather we didn't cross. When the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called upon ministers to join him in Selma, many Unitarian Universalists answered his call to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge together. In the 70's and 80's we crossed borders of sexism and homophobia. Through personal study and interfaith work we cross borders of faith. Core to the practice of Unitarian Universalism is exploring those borders, especially the ones we may not even know stand in our way.

Faith for a Pluralistic World,  MP3   March 25, 2012

In a globalized world bristling with nuclear weapons, religious intolerance is no longer an option. We must learn to live side by side with people whose beliefs are very different from our own. This hasn't always been a problem. There have been times when humanity has done it very well. Those lessons are being incorporated into the evolution of Unitarian Universalism and promoted in the world.

Faith for a Crowded World,  PDF   March 18, 2012
Most world religions began at a time when our ability to affect the biosphere was quite limited. Now we on the cusp of seeing dramatic climate change for which humanity is responsible. Technology amplifies the ability of a few people to do tremendous damage as we saw on September 11, 2001. Population continues to exert tremendous pressure on the resources for our collective survival. How can religion respond in a way that helps rather than harms?

Christian Humanism (version 2) ,  PDF   March 11, 2012
Contemporary Unitarian Universalist Humanists are least tolerant of Christianity. Yet many of our values spring from the Christian tradition. Can we love and follow Jesus and be a Humanist too?

Faith Without Abusive Authority,  PDF   March 4, 2012
The Protestant Reformation had its start in the abuse of Papal authority selling indulgences to fund Vatican building projects. We've been deconstructing and questioning the authority of leaders ever since the schism. Our bylaws have elaborate safeguards against the abuse of power here. Have we gone too far? Some in our movement are innovating around empowerment of affirming leadership.

The Missing Dead Body of Jesus,  PDF   February 5, 2012
For the first nine centuries of Christianity, the dead or dying body of Jesus wasn't depicted on church walls or carved into statues or icons. The focus of the early church was his triumph over death not the way he died. Jesus' coming opened a way for Christians to return to paradise in this world and the next through preparation, initiation and baptism into a Christian community. That isn't the Christianity most practice today. What happened? NOTE: exploring the early Christian church and the loss of paradise will be the subject of Rev. Trumbore's Lenten Bible Study this year, beginning February 28.

What Emerges Out of Silence,  PDF   January 22, 2012
Rev. Trumbore attended a mindfulness meditation retreat for the first ten days of January. The sermon describes a little of what emerged for him out of silence as he sat motionless watching his respiration process, practicing "the direct path" to enlightenment.

From Civil Rights to Human Rights, King's Legacy,  PDF   January 15, 2012
In his last years, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wanted to see the civil rights movement to transform into a human rights movement. His speech to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference August 16, 1967 titled, “Where Do We Go From Here?” still has wisdom and direction for us today.

The Beginning of the End?,  PDF   January 1, 2012
2012 is supposed to be a pretty significant year. The Mayan Calendar is supposed to end this year. My financial analyst cousin is predicting a financial meltdown this year. Who knows what global climate change has in store for us. How do we live with this kind of uncertainty? Can we thrive in spite of it?

Sermons for 2011 [back to top]

Love and Hope Beyond Belief,  MP3   December 11, 2011
As a non-belief centered religious tradition, our theological source of love and hope isn't collectively defined. Yet few, if any, would want to live without them. They are critical to our well being. Thankfully we can cultivate love and hope together in a way that transcends our individual beliefs. Take a break from shopping and seasonal preparations and get recharged. NOTE: The audio is a little scratchy in parts - had a microphone failure. Also the opening readings are by Dawn Dana.

Christian Humanism,  MP3   December 4, 2011
Once again the December holiday season rolls around. Revering the birth of a Savior isn't how many Unitarian Universalists celebrate this season. Yet many of our values spring from the Christian tradition. Can we love and follow Jesus and be a Humanist too?

Occupy Wall Street: Messages and Meanings,  MP3   November 6, 2011
Much is in process as this movement spreads to places like Albany and Schenectady. Getting past the many complaints, concerns and agendas, why has this movement taken off? What is the source of energy that drives it? Where is it going? What are the deeper messages and meanings of this movement?

Prophecy, Atonement and Forgiveness,  PDF  MP3   October 16, 2011
As Sam's Outlook column pointed out this month, prophets can be difficult people with whom to sustain a relationship without a shared sense of purpose, commitment and urgency. Being present with a prophet requires a willingness to witness one's resistance and reactivity. It requires allowing unpleasant emotions to surface. And it requires a willingness to consider being changed by the encounter … for the better.

Our Prophetic Heritage,  PDF  MP3   October 2, 2011
Many Unitarian Universalists have mixed feelings or have left behind many aspects of the Biblical tradition of our institutional heritage. The characters who still have a hold on us though are the prophets. These trouble makers who rail against the status quo we honor in our principle of justice, equity and compassion in human relations. They spoke truth to power. Are we willing to do the same?

Borders, Documents, Immigration and Human Rights,  PDF  MP3   September 18, 2011
Increased border security and immigration status checking are two of our national responses to the September 11th attacks. These enhanced security measures are supposed to protect us from terrorist infiltration. The side effects of increased enforcement are separating families, endangering documented immigrant workers in our economy and killing thousands of people in the Arizona desert. As our national leaders pass the immigration hot potato around, this human rights crisis continues to get worse. And now Unitarian Universalist Association is asking us to respond and take a stand.

The War Isn't Over, Even Now,  PDF   May 29, 2011
For the last nine years, a steady stream of our young men and women have gone off to war in Iraq and Afghanistan. They serve, they kill, they witness and participate in brutality, they suffer physical and psychological harm, then they come home. And the war comes home with them, a war they continue to fight in their dreams and in their subconscious. Whether the 9/11 wars or the Gulf War, or Vietnam or or Korea or World War Two, if we send them to fight for us, we have an unending responsibility for them when they return.

Going Deeper,  PDF   May 1, 2011
Our congregational purpose talks about exciting the human spirit and inspiring its growth and development. How are we doing with that? The Sunday service is one way for that to happen but what about the other six days of the week? How can our congregation support our individual search for truth and meaning, as mentioned in the UU Purposes and Principles? What would help our congregation as well as each one of us go deeper in our growth and development process?

The Authority of Personal Experience,  PDF   March 27, 2011
Unitarian Universalists look to reality for guidance in our religious lives. We rely heavily on our personal experiences and those we trust to orient our moral, ethical and spiritual lives. While many of us are aware of the strengths of this approach, we may be less aware of the weaknesses and pitfalls. Primary among those weaknesses are the limitations of our experiences beyond our own culture, our own class, our own abilities and disabilities, our own religion, our own ethnic or racial background. How can we feel confident in the authority of the guidance of personal experience when comes from a very limited source? Are the universals really universal?

On Being Good Without a Higher Authority,  PDF   March 20, 2011
Historically, the Universalists claimed Jesus' death and resurrection meant every last one of us would be saved. The Calvinists strongly objected to this view. “Without the threat of hell, why would people be good?” they asked. In one form or another, many believe that the only reason people will be good is because of a threat of punishment, with God as the ultimate judge. Is that the case? Will some people be good without a threat? Without God? What is your answer?

Effective Power Sharing and Ministerial Partnership,   PDF   March 6, 2011
For congregations to be strong and vibrant, they must share power with their minister. For a congregation to be dynamic, transforming and fulfilling, the minister must share his or her work of ministry. The effectiveness of a congregation requires a partnership of minister and congregation guided by shared purposes and principles. Yet, often these partnerships fail. Why? What can we do about it?

The Heart of Christianity,  PDF   February 27, 2011
There are two predominant approaches to Christianity today. There is the pre-Enlightenment, pre-Darwin, fundamentalist approach to Christianity that is more comfortable forgetting the last two thousand years of human discovery, growth and development. And there is the hundred year old approach that integrates and responds to those changes. This new Christianity “with heart, ” articulated by Jesus Seminar scholar Marcus Borg, is one that many Unitarian Universalists will appreciate and find more compatible with our religious approach.

Eating for Peace and Justice,     February 6, 2011
Enormous amounts of resources and billions of people are involved with putting food on the table for us to enjoy. How each one of us selects those foods is a vote for which ones to grow, by whom and how, and for what purpose. Grain can be grown for people or cows or beer or fuel. Agricultural workers who produce that food may or may not be fairly compensated. What are you voting for with your dollars? What food policy should our elected officials advocate?

Flavor Based Ethical Eating,  PDF   January 30, 2011
Celebrated young chef Dan Barber believes the way to a better world is through the pursuit of flavor. He thinks we don't make ourselves or the world better by giving up the enjoyment of eating food that tastes good. Could his hedonistic approach to food be a path to better health, local economic vitality, and ecological sustainability?

The Margins Hold the Center,  PDF   January 16, 2011
Those in the center of American culture may not recognize they are in the center. But those on the margins of American culture definitely know they aren't in the center. Yet those on the margins actually hold and support the cohesiveness of that center. Within Unitarian Universalism, those on the margins can move the center and make it bigger. (This service was adapted from the original description to respond to the shootings in Tucson,Arizona)

Sermons for 2010

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Attachment to Disbelief,  PDF    MP3   December 12, 2010
Losing their belief in Santa Claus is the first faith crisis for many children. For them, this was just the first slide down that slippery slope of unbelief as childish beliefs crumbled under scientific scrutiny. The expression “once burned, twice shy” may describe the stance of many Unitarian Universalists with regard to their resistance to believe. Yet, attachment to disbelief isn't a satisfying answer either.

Peacemaking,  PDF   December 5, 2010
A great deal of effort has gone into the Unitarian Universalist Statement of Conscience on Peacemaking that passed at our General Assembly this past June. So what does it say about how to make peace? What are the values it upholds? And how can we put it into practice in our congregation? How can we keep the peace in our own families as the December holidays that celebrate peace approach?

Our Haudenosaunee Heritage,     November 21, 2010
As we prepare to give thanks during our Thanksgiving dinners, let us also give thanks for our Haudenosaunee (or Iroquois) Heritage. Even if we don't have one drop of Native American blood, aspects of our society and life here have been shaped by the Haudenosaunee. This is also the Sunday Rev. Trumbore bakes his renown organic corn muffins (including gluten-free ones) for our tradition of a corn muffin communion to celebrate our heritage and harvest.

Countering Despair Over the Planet's FuturePDF    Novmber 14, 2010
Many who advocate and work for world community with peace and justice for all struggle to keep despair at bay. The challenges facing our future are daunting and progress is easily reversed. What others celebrate as a sign of the second coming, most of us believe can and should be ameliorated. How do we keep our spirits up when the world seems to be turning into hell?

The Divided SelfPDF    October 24, 2010
Inner personal disharmony lurks at a deeper level than the challenges of finding unity in a congregation that celebrates diversity. Freud insightfully labeled this disharmony, the eternal struggle between the id and the superego, moderated by the ego. Society, our workplace, our family and friends all make demands on us. Our values and commitments also make demands on us. How do we find wholeness while struggling with our own inner diversity?

Can a New England Rooted Tradition Have Universal Appeal? PDF      October 17, 2010
Unitarian Universalist Association President Peter Morales, the first Latino serving in this office, is sensitive to the Eurocentric Protestant, New England bias found in our tradition. Any congregation located in a place that doesn't follow our weather patterns here, like Florida and California, notices this. Beyond the geographic bias, are there other biases in our religious tradition that are unwelcoming to non-New Englanders who share our values and commitments? If so, do we want to do anything about it?

One Congregation, Many Paths, PDF      October 3, 2010
As we consider the challenges of philosophical and theological diversity in our non-creed based congregation, it can be useful to hear about how other Unitarian Universalist congregations navigate these waters. Some of our sister congregations are doing some very innovative things that we might consider doing here.

Barriers to Authentic Community,PDF      September, 26 2010
How does one build authentic community? The heritage and traditions handed forward provide the base. Wise and compassionate leadership offer the inspiration and create the boundaries. Commitment and generosity provide the materials and support. In the process, so many things can go wrong. And the source of many of those problems start with “me.” What interferes with the process of building authentic community? And what can “I” do about it?

Hunger for Authentic Community,PDF      September, 19 2010
When many of our members are asked about the greatest source of satisfaction from participation in our congregation, they point to a sense of community. When we experience it here, it feeds an inner hunger, whetting our appetite for more. Creating and sustaining an authentic warm and loving community is very challenging. What are we doing right? What can we build on and expand to open the door wider?

Deeds NOT Creeds, PDF      May 16, 2010
As this is the day of our Annual Meeting, let us return to the core values of our congregation. The statement that “you can believe anything you want and be a Unitarian Universalist” is false. Wide as our range of beliefs are, our core values narrow the beliefs that are acceptable within our walls. One of our highest values is our commitment to action.

This is Madness!, PDF      April 11, 2010
Madness comes in many flavors. Some kinds of madness are manifestations of serious mental illness resulting from defects in how the brain functions. There are other kinds of madness, however, that are the result of human behavior. Michel Foucault, sees madness as social construction rather than a concrete reality. That madness can be a valuable social critique that can reveal our self deceptions and the flaws in our social institutions.

Jesus Is for Losers, PDF      March 28, 2010
Some may miss the double meaning here so let me be clear. Too often contemporary Unitarian Universalists may take this statement one way that casts aspersions on Christians. For the purposes of this service, the title will point to Jesus' ministry to the poor and the dispossessed. I doubt Jesus would have been very comfortable in a beautiful cathedral or associating with rich and powerful Christians. Jesus' message sounds quite different in the ears and on the tongues of society's losers.

John Calvin - Another Look, PDF      March 7, 2010
Both Unitarianism and Universalism owe their existence to the negative reaction to the Puritans who followed the theology articulated by John Calvin. But did the Puritans fully appreciate and embrace all of John Calvin's thinking? The celebration of Calvin's 500th birthday this year provides an opportunity to look again at this influential shaper of the Protestant Christian faith. Was he really as bad as we've made him out to be?

Lenten Dharma, PDF      February 21, 2010
What if the Buddha and Jesus met. Would they recognize each other and honor each other? Would they agree or disagree discussing the major ideas and practices of the traditions created to propagate their insights and ideas? Could the dialogue between Buddhism and Christianity be fruitful for us to better appreciate, learn from and follow these great teachers?

The Path to Love, PDF     February 14, 2010
The problem with relationships today is the burden of salvation has been put on them. People want to be fulfilled through their partner. Relationships have become a secular stand-in for what religion does best. In reality, another person cannot love us perfectly. The love we develop with our partner is not an end point but rather a jumping off point to a greater, more expansive kind of love.

Psychology of Happiness, PDF     February 7, 2010
Psychologists often focus on the pathologies of the mind. Much of the work of psychology and psychologists deals with mental problems and how to address them effectively. New research has taken a different tack, studying healthy minds and what factors encourage good mental health. Dr. Barbara Fredrickson is one such researcher who studies the psychology of happiness.

Plug In, Turn On,and Get Fired Up!,PDF     January 31, 2010
During the research process for our new Strategic Plan, our members and friends said “community” was one the things they valued here most. Why is that? What is it about sitting in a Sunday service with people you care about, or going to a productive committee meeting, or a potluck at someone's house that people enjoy so much? Be sure to come for this abbreviated service and discover all the different ways to experience community here during our “Getting Connected” fair after the service.

Come as You Are ... But Don't Stay That Way,PDF     January 3, 2010
This title came from a quote from an evangelical minister serving a large New England Christian church. The church has a reputation for being open and welcoming in ways similar to our congregations. When asked for the difference between their approach to religion and Unitarian Universalism, he responded, in either an evangelical or a UU congregation, "you can come as you are," but in an evangelical congregation "you don't stay that way." Is this true … for you?

Sermons for 2009

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Impossible Illumination, PDF     December 13, 2009
Long ago, there was not enough oil to keep a lamp lit for the eight days it took to purify a holy space. But somehow, the oil lasted and the light did not go out. What seemed impossible came to pass. The practice of lighting candles for Chanukah can be about far more than celebrating a miracle after a military victory. What impossible illumination might be waiting for each one of us?

Ethical Eating, PDF     November 8, 2009
The Unitarian Universalist Association is working on a Statement of Conscience on this topic. People are thinking more and more about what they eat from a number of perspectives. One is health. Another is damaging environmental effects and destructive methods of production. Yet another is examining the ethics of taking life. First, do we have any ethics about what we eat? Second, if we decide to start building one or revising one, what are the foundations?

Creating Free Will, PDF     October 25, 2009
Evolutionary Psychology is suggesting that human behavior is completely determined by our genes and our environment. This seems to strike at the heart of the idea of humanity having any free will. Perhaps the evolutionists have over-reached in their triumphal pronouncements. Could free will be created rather than innate or absent? If so, what are the consequences?

One Congregation: Many Paths, PDF     October 18, 2009
This expression is the motto of the Cleveland's West Shore UU Church. It expresses simply and beautifully what we are about as Unitarian Universalists. We call it being "non-creedal." There is no test of belief to participate in or join a UU congregation. But that doesn't mean you can believe anything you want. Come find out what the limits are.

Who Discovered What?, PDF      October 11, 2009
Most likely, your high school history teacher passed on to you many lies and distortions about American history, starting with Columbus who almost certainly didn't discover the Americas. Exposing these lies is critical to comprehending the legacy of the harmful and unwholesome practices of European settlers. Understanding and acknowledging the damaging effects of that history is critical for creating a more harmonious world.

The Beauty of Needs, PDF     September 20, 2009
Self reliant, independent, rugged-individualists often do not have an appreciation for their needs. Certainly survival needs are obvious but needs for connection and meaning may not be so obvious. Yes, we can survive without them, but can we thrive? When one explores what needs really are, their satisfaction becomes much more important. Being willing to even see the beauty of all needs as universal human qualities can become a life transforming spiritual practice.

Learning as a Spiritual Practice, PDF MP3      June 7, 2009
Unitarian Universalists love life long learning. They enjoy satisfying the urge to understand the world and themselves. Yet, can it also serve a deeper spiritual purpose through practicing a disciplined approach to learning? Can the process of learning itself have within it its own truth?

A Common Fire, PDF     May 17, 2009
Expanding global awareness and shrinking public engagement can create in us strong discomfort. A greater awareness of human suffering stimulates our moral sensibility without perceiving a viable moral way to respond. How do we develop, in Jim Wallis' words, "a sense of the common good, an emphasis on community and compassion in everyday life, and a values-based politics in the public sphere" and then make it real?

In the Service of Life, PDF     May 10, 2009
Mothers are frequently honored for being willing servants of life's longing for new birth. And sometimes accidents, sexual violence and arm-twisting hormones can coerce women into motherhood. However they become pregnant, let us honor women who consciously choose to fulfill the roles and responsibilities of motherhood in the service of life.

A Bridge Over Troubled Water, PDF  MP3   April 5, 2009
The economic troubles we've faced this fall and winter have us hunkered down, cutting spending, and fearing the worst. The massive failure of our banking system and the deflation of housing values are creating a sinkhole that threatens to pull us all down with them. Who can we turn to when the waters are rising? Let us turn to each other for mutual support through FUUSA.

How Safe is Safe?, PDF MP3   March 22, 2009
Many grandparents are noticing how much more careful their children are raising their grandchildren than they were in raising them. Children have play dates rather than just running around outside unsupervised. For a number of reasons, parents are more vigilant in making sure their children are safe … and that is affecting our congregation. Over the last ten years, FUUSA has instituted a number of policies, consolidated in our new safety policy, to prevent harm to children and adults. So, just how safe do we want to be? And what price are we willing to pay?

Reliable Uncertainty, PDF MP3   March 8, 2009
Few saw the economic collapse coming that we're suffering through right now. Looking at the past, bankers fooled themselves into thinking real estate prices could only go up. Now it seems obvious that a fall was coming. Could it be that the amount of uncertainty in life is actually increasing along with the complexity of our lives and unexpected events will happen more frequently? How do we live in a world where the risk of the unexpected is increasing?

The Questions of Jesus, PDF MP3   March 1, 2009
Jesus didn't give us a lot of answers but he did give us an amazing number of questions to ponder. Rather than give an answer to a question, Jesus often offered a teaching story. Using his questions, Jesus can become a mirror for us to see ourselves. These questions will be our source for reflection in the six week Lenten Bible Study class beginning Tuesday evening, March 3.

Darwin at 200, PDF MP3   February 15, 2009
Few discoveries have had such a big impact on the religious world as the discovery of natural selection. Many believers in a Creator couldn't swallow the idea that all life evolved randomly from the simplest cells formed out of amino acids. Unitarian and Universalist clergy had to decide whether they were on the side of reason and science or Biblically based theology. We'll honor this great man and his influence on Unitarian Universalism.

Awakening Through Brokenness, PDF MP3   February 8, 2009
Many of us have experienced adversity in our lives, moved through it, and been the stronger for it. As economic hard times weigh down our nation, this is a good time for our congregation to increase our sense of support for each other. Difficulties and challenges can be the catalyst for our spiritual growth and development – for both the ones enduring hard times and the ones offering help and support. Hard times can bring our congregational community closer together

What If?, PDF MP3   January 18, 2009
Inaugurating an African American President is a great and wonderful thing. But on Wednesday, the legacy of racism remains. Let us work to counter its effects by examining what residue of it remains in us.

Abandoning Past and Future Lives, PDF MP3   January 4, 2009
Striving to recreate the past in the present and/or striving to attain existence in a heaven realm after death are both morally bankrupt if those actions contract supporting the well-being of life on this planet here and now. If this proposition is true, why not just focus on serving the common good here and now and not be concerned about what happens after you die?

Sermons for 2008

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Making Peace with Our Spirituality, PDF MP3   December 7, 2008
There are many approaches to developing one's spiritual life. Some people pray, some sing or chant, others meditate, do Tai Chi and Yoga, some journal, some memorize poetry and contemplate it. All stimulate an inner journey to plumb the depths of our being. Part of the inner journey is making peace with what we find that will assist us in making peace in our outer journey through life.

Radical Gratitude, PDF MP3   November 23, 2008
The heart of religious life is gratitude. A wonderful spiritual practice is to write down every morning five things you are grateful for. As I ponder all the things I am grateful for, my heart swells. Yet how much do we focus on what we have, rather than what we don't have? How much of our lives do we focus on how much better life would be if (fill in the blank)? In this time of uncertainty, let us count our blessings first. Rev. Trumbore will be serving his famous organic, lactose free (and some gluten free) corn muffins as part of our yearly ritual of thanksgiving.

The Evolution of Forgiveness, PDF    November 16, 2008
The rejection of traditional atonement theology has always been central to Unitarianism and Universalism. We do not look at Jesus' death as other than an act of state terrorism with no redeeming qualities. It does not and cannot save us. Yet as social animals, we need to have a method to forgive and reconcile with each other. This need not be done in a theological framework but rather in a humanistic framework informed by evolution. Come find out how.

Making Peace with Our Politics, PDF MP3   November 2, 2008
With the election just days away, rather than telling you who you should vote for as some foolish evangelical ministers have told their churches, I'd like to speak about what I see as one of the most important issues in the political campaign that doesn't get much press. As we obsess about the economy, a much bigger world problem needs our attention. How do we use our political institutions to move the world closer to peace? Which candidate is more likely to do this?

Making Peace with Each Other, MP3   October 12, 2008
Advocating for peace in the world is one thing. Making peace with our family and neighbors is yet another. Creating the reality of peace is much, much harder than thinking about making the world a more peaceful place. Thankfully there are some very effective peacemaking tools to promote more compassionate communication created by Marshall Rosenberg called, Nonviolent Communication.

Attending to Unfinished Business, PDF MP3   October 5, 2008
The High Holy Days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, are a time of penitence and prayer for Jews to repent for their sins and ask God's forgiveness. It is an auspicious time to attend to one's unfinished business, particularly repairing relationships. Rather than bargaining one's way into the Book of Life for another year, could attending to unfinished business prepare us for a good death? Forrest Church thinks so.

What's Right with Islam, PDF  MP3   September 28, 2008
The focus on Islamic fundamentalism has tainted our view of what is good about the Islamic religious tradition. While we may have many differences in the way we worship or the way we believe, there is much to value and affirm. As Ramadan comes to a close at the end of the month, let us honor what is right with Islam.

Making Peace with Our Planet, PDF MP3   September 21, 2008
This will be the first service in a four part series on different aspects of peacemaking. One of the first and most difficult places for us to make peace is in our relationship with our natural environment. Following this service, we will dedicate our new Peace Pole to be planted by our front door.

Catching Dreams, PDF MP3   September 14, 2008
Originating with the Ojibwa Nation, dream catchers were designed to protect sleeping children from nightmares by filtering out bad dreams and letting good dreams pass through. During October, our strategic planning committee will be organizing many “Dream Catcher Circles” to help collect your dreams for our congregation. What dreams will you bring?

Many Waters, One Sea, MP3   September 7, 2008
The Rev.’s Kendall Gibbons and Jason Shelton wrote and put to music these words as part of Sources: A Unitarian Universalist Cantata performed at UUA General Assembly in June. If all goes as planned, we will bring the magic of that amazing performance to our service as we gather our many waters together into our one congregation after our summer adventures.

Always a Learner, Always a Teacher, PDF MP3   June 1, 2008
The title of this service captures the spirit of what lifespan religious education is trying to accomplish. At every age and stage of life we can be both learners and teachers. What would our religious exploration programming look like if we tried to give everyone the opportunity to be both a learner and a teacher?

Spreading Democracy ... Right Here!, PDF MP3   May 18, 2008
The Bush administration has been keen to spread democracy around the world. How are we doing right here at home? How are we doing at promoting participation in the processes of government in the city and county of Albany and the State of New York? ARISE has some exciting opportunities to participate in advocating for democracy in Albany neighborhoods in the next few months. And remember members can exercise their democratic muscles by coming to our Annual Meeting after the service.

Mothers for Peace, PDF MP3   May 11, 2008
What do mothers want on this holiday inspired by Unitarian Julia Ward Howe in the 1870’s? They want to end the death and destruction of their children in war. Peacemaking is a deeply religious activity all mothers appreciate. How can we return to the original peacemaking purpose for Mother’s Day?

Love Never Dies, PDF MP3   March 23, 2008
Our Easter service will attempt to blend the insights and traditions of Paganism and Christianity in a joyful intergenerational service that will inspire new hope.

On Being Betrayed, PDF MP3   March 16, 2008
While Judas’ betrayal was likely a fabrication, as a folktale, it has tremendous power and significance. The story of the loyal disciple betraying the leader repeats itself again and again. Examining how Jesus deals with betrayal may have meaning and a message for us that is still fresh and relevant.

Living with Failure, PDF MP3   March 2, 2008
Who doesn’t have to deal with failure in their lives? Yet so many of us strive to put forward a fault-free appearance. We all want to look good in the eyes of our peers. Yet in the back, in the anxiety closet, or under the bed, the failure monsters lurk. Can an appreciation of tragedy help us live with failure?

Plunging, PDF  MP3   February 17, 2008
Leaping off a diving board for the first time, head and arms extended in front hoping they penetrate the water first is a powerful metaphor for being fully awake in the present moment. Zen master Roshi Bernie Glassman and his wife Sensei Eve Marko used this metaphor during a presentation for the Unitarian Universalist Buddhist Fellowship Convocation in the spring of 2007. They used it to describe an unconventional yet powerful spiritual practice that can stimulate a moment of satori, or a sudden experience of enlightenment.

Negotiating Expectations, PDF MP3   February 10, 2008
The promise of courtship often stumbles on the rocky reality of marriage. One of the key reasons is the expectations we bring into our relationships and then project onto our partners. Few of us negotiate those expectations before we get married because we may not even know what they are. Only when our partners fall short of them do they become glaringly obvious. It doesn’t have to be this way. Love can conquer our expectations through skillful communication.

Articulating our Unitarian Universalist Faith, PDF(notes) MP3   January 27, 2008
Traditional religion has a goal of getting to heaven, nirvana, union with God, or escape from rebirth. They’re trying to escape this world of woe, to escape the reality of death. What if eternal peace wasn’t the goal of humanity but rather bringing our capacity for consciousness to the evolutionary process of life?

The Silence of Good People, PDF  MP3   January 20, 2008
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote from the Birmingham jail, “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people. ” “Non-cooperation with evil,” said Gandhi, “is as much a duty as is cooperation with good.” As we remember Dr. King let us reflect on our own silence and the exciting and powerful opportunities to speak facilitated through our congregation.

Evolutionary Enlightenment, MP3   January 13, 2008
Traditional religion has a goal of getting to heaven, nirvana, union with God, or escape from rebirth. They’re trying to escape this world of woe, to escape the reality of death. What if eternal peace wasn’t the goal of humanity but rather bringing our capacity for consciousness to the evolutionary process of life?

Sermons for 2007

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Tree Hugger's Unite!  PDF MP3  December 16, 2007

Health Care is a Human Right, PDFMP3   December 9, 2007
The Michael Moore movie that came out this summer called “Sicko” helped energize the debate on healthcare reform. Bring friends and family Saturday night, December 8 at 5:30pm for pizza, soup, and salad followed by a showing of Sicko at 7:00pm. However we organize health care in the future, government has a central role in defining the moral framework and imperatives.

The Atheist Revival PDFMP3   December 2, 2007
Ever since Sam Harris’ book “The End of Faith” was published in 2004, there has been a flood of books about atheism. People are buying these books so there is strong interest among those who reject the hegemony of religion in the public square these days. Will we Unitarian Universalists be following up our exploration of a language of reverence of a few years ago with a language of unbelief?

Auschwitz as an Object of Contemplation PDFMP3   (Lenore Flynn) November 11, 2007
Upon her return from a meditation retreat at Auschwitz, Lenore Flynn shared her experiences using Auschwitz as an objection of contemplation. She  explored the relevance of such places to our lives today and for anyone who aspires to work for peace in our world. She discussed the personal role Auschwitz played in her life and how it inspired her.

Descent into Fear PDF,MP3  November 4, 2007
Ascent to Hope PDFMP3   November 11, 2007
These two linked sermons will address two powerful forces in human and religious life. The first will explore the uses and abuses of the instinctive urge to protect ourselves from danger. That danger can be an immanent threat or a vague suspicion or a dread of the future, in the case of the fear of hell. Hope, on the other hand stimulates our will to be and become. Hope outlines what is possible and what we can aspire to. Unitarian Universalism encourages us to move from fear to hope to action.

Getting “The Great Turning” Going Right Here PDF, September 30, 2007
David Korten’s book titled The Great Turning was featured this year at the Unitarian Universalist Association’s General Assembly in Portland, Oregon. Much as our planet is in crisis right now on many levels, there are also social movements and opportunities for transformation that the world has never seen before. Rather than becoming paralyzed contemplating the many possible disasters that could be in store for us, there are ways to act right now, right here that can make a positive difference!

Beginning Again in Love PDF, September 23, 2007
On the occasion of the High Holy Days coming to completion the night before this service with Yom Kippur’s conclusion, let us take the occasion to remember a core value of our congregation: love thy neighbor. Those three words are easy to say but very hard to practice. Yom Kippur is a yearly reminder to rededicate ourselves to this moral imperative and begin again in love.

Imagination into Reality PDF, September 16, 2007
Having thanked and appreciated all the people who helped create our new space and having dedicated our new building the afternoon before this service, now we have to get real. How do we take our dreams which helped create our new space and bring them to life?

Becoming a Learning Community MP3, June 3, 2007
Critical to our success in achieving our dreams of growing our faith here in the Capital Region is learning. Our health as an organism depends on our ability to respond to our environment, communicate effectively, and adapt to changing conditions. Learning is central to who we are as a religious community.

Lighting Our Beacon MP3, May 20, 2007
“Beacon of light” is an architectural theme that has inspired the design of our new building. The different light sources in the community room promise to make our community room very attractive. So, how will the light our new beacon also shine out of our community room and into the world? This sermon contains a good summary of the values of our congregation.

Our Fight For Women's Reproductive Rights PDFMP3, May 13, 2007
On a day set aside for mothers, we’ll celebrate it as a choice rather than an obligation. Members of our congregation had been staunch advocates for women’s reproductive rights.  Some foremothers from our congregation worked hard to secure these rights. Come and hear their stories.

Facing Loss MP3, April 1, 2007
Jesus’ humanity is vivid as he prays that the cup pass from him in the Garden of Gethsemane. Most of us waiting for the surgeons knife, a tooth extraction, a vaccination, or in a hospital waiting room know the anguish of anticipating the possibility of pain and loss and wishing it would go away. Jesus makes his peace saying, “nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” Is this how we, too, should face loss?

UU History: Samuel Johnson PDF MP3, March 18, 2007
UU History: Free Religion PDF MP3, March 25, 2007
During my 2006 sabbatical, I spent a week looking through the Harvard Divinity School Library for original nineteenth and early twentieth century books by Unitarians and Universalists. My research led me to an inspirational minister and an important organization that helped shape our religious tradition today. In Rev. Johnson’s life and in the papers presented to the Free Religious Association, key religious questions were given shape. Understanding these questions through their eyes can give us insights into our answers for today. These two sermons explore those historical roots and their contemporary connections.

Sacred Sexuality, March 11, 2007
Our sexuality can be a powerful and often under appreciated resource in our personal and spiritual development. Some in the gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender communities, in particular, are exploring the connection between sexuality and spirituality. When society rejects you for not being heterosexual, one’s sexual identity can get magnified in importance. That greater recognition of sexual identity can also open new doors to explore the nature of one’s humanity and spirituality through the body.

Sermons for 2006

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Good Enough ... And Getting Better, November 12, 2006
In the depths of a Buddhist meditation retreat at the beginning of his sabbatical, Rev. Trumbore had a powerful moment of insight, connecting core ideas and traditions of Unitarian Universalism and Buddhism. He continues to discover strong associations that offer many Unitarian Universalists a non-theistic approach to spirituality compatible with our UU heritage and values.

The Intersection of Liberal Politics and Religion, November 5, 2006
What political imperatives come from our liberal religious values? Certainly any imperatives cannot be Democratic, Republican or Green Party. We can however focus on issues. What are the important issues we should be reflecting on as we select the candidates we vote for? Is there a liberally religious political framework to guide us?

Neurotheology: The Urge to Believe, October 22, 2006
The media is bombarding us with scientific research results suggesting our lives are governed by our hormones, genetic makeup, and the structures of our brain. Now, some research suggests that we are genetically programmed to believe in God. If so, how does it affect our valuing of free will and personal responsibility? Is this programming the result of random natural selection or a genetic equivalent of revelation? What might this mean for Unitarian Universalism and our free liberally religious tradition?

Sermon gap here because Rev. Trumbore was on sabbatical and vacation during the winter, spring and summer of 2006

Sermons for 2005

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Impossible and Irresistible Grace, December 24, 2005

Remembering the First Born, December 18, 2005
The Christmas story has a tragic dimension that is often overlooked. Herod killed Jerusalem's first born attempting to destroy Jesus. Doubtless their mothers and fathers didn't herald Jesus' birth. How do we reconcile the "collateral damage" of doing good in the world?

Ever Green and Growing, December 11, 2005
The evergreen is symbolic of the spirit of this season as the cold and dark descends upon us. Decorating our FUUSA interfaith holiday tree will follow this abbreviated service

Coping with Christmas, December 4, 2005
This can be a difficult time of year for people particularly those who have had significant losses. The pull of materialism taints the joy of the season. High expectations among children can put parents on edge. Can we design our holidays to be what we want it to be? Please come prepared to share some of your family traditions that brighten the holidays.

Grateful Atonement, November 20, 2005
The peaceful story of cooperation between Native Americans and the Pilgrims is an atypical story of how the early Colonists got on with Native peoples. These stories are generally ignored in teaching our children American history. Can remembering these stories be an act of atonement which moves us toward gratitude? Rev. Trumbore will be making his famous corn muffins for our yearly corn muffin communion.
Intelligent Design vs. Evolution, November 13, 2005
Creationists are back with a revision of their old ideas to persuade school boards that evolution isn't the only creation story that should be taught. Intelligent design has gotten some you wouldn't expect asking questions of evolution. What is going on here? Is there something "intelligent" about Intelligent Design?
Liberal Bible Study, November 6, 2005
An important denominational report looking at what holds us together as a association recommended that we reaffirm and reinvigorate the foundations of our faith, which come from Judaism and Christianity. The taproots from which today's Unitarian Universalist values grew are these traditions. Today we draw sustenance from roots in other religious traditions such as Paganism, Buddhism, Islam, Humanism and Science as well as other sources. We still need to recognize our strong connections with the Bible even if our personal roots grow stronger in another direction.
Liberalism and Democracy, October 30, 2005
The philosophy of liberalism seems to be on the ropes these days. Yet the Founders of this nation were anything but conservative traditionalists. Liberalism informed much of their vision of democracy. Liberalism isn't defeated or bankrupt; rather, it is ripe for reinvigoration . through religion.
Sitting to Make a Difference, October 23, 2005
Sometimes one can make a big difference just by showing up. Come for an update on what ARISE hopes to accomplish at its yearly public meeting Tuesday, October 25. Be ready for great music, stimulating speakers, issue cuts and a feeling of satisfaction seeing progress happen right before your eyes as leaders make commitments for the good of the people.
Bearing Witness, October 9, 2005
Roshi Bernie Glassman, the social activist Zen teacher is well known in the American Buddhist Community for his novel ways of bringing people together and transforming them. In the spirit of the Jewish High Holy Days, let this service be an opportunity to renew your commitment to work for a peaceful world.
Our Family Values, October 2, 2005
George Lakoff has done a brilliant analysis of what separates liberals from conservatives - different family values. In the process he has almost perfectly described Unitarian Universalist family values. A place to start "engaging our theological diversity" may be through these values
Reality Based Religion, September 18, 2005
Because Unitarian Universalism focuses on serving its members rather than indoctrinating them, people get confused and think it doesn't have core ideas. Not true! One of our core ideas is seeking truth in reality rather than in the supernatural. This separates our approach from many other religions. The search for truth and meaning must begin with what is in front of our nose.
Quality of Life, February 27, 2005
In the right to die debate, people often say that they don't want to die in a severely debilitated state, bed ridden, incontinent, and dependent on machines to stay alive. What is the effect of this belief on the disabled who live in this state? Do they have quality of life worth protecting?
An Unflattering Mirror, February 13, 2005
As social beings, relationships attract us. But once we're in one, particularly a relationship with strong commitment, it, well, has problems. And the love offered may not be returned in kind. The reflection of our actions in our partner's eyes may not be flattering - but it may also be a source of mutual growth.
Chinese Wisdom and UU Philosophy , February 6, 2005
This year, Chinese New Year is February 9, which, interestingly, also is Ash Wednesday. We will learn about and enjoy this celebration as well as investigate the connections between the Chinese and Unitarian Universalist approach to religion and philosophy.

Biodiversity vs. Humanity , January 30, 2005
Without question, human beings are a menacing threat to our biosphere. The new science of ecology is showing us the importance of protecting the biodiversity to the future viability of human life on this planet. Could protecting biodiversity be more ijportant than protecting human life?
The Science of Humanity , January 23, 2005
Rev. Sam Trumbore Advances in scientific understanding continue to redefine what it means to be human. As they unravel the genome, scientists are getting a clearer and clearer understanding of the human body. Research into artificial intelligence continues to change our understanding of the human mind. The exploration of the universe and the atom reveal a world stranger than ever imagined. What does all this mean for being human?
Hot Enough for You , January 9, 2005
It may seem strange to discuss heat during the coldest time of the year. The topic of Global Warming was selected as our Study Action Issue at last year's General Assembly. Given the warmth of this past fall, we may be feeling the effects already. This may seem like a big topic but each one of us will need to be part in the solution.

Sermons for 2004

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The Deification of Jesus, December 5, 2004
As the season of Jesus' birth rolls around again, the question of how a human baby born of a human mother ended up being thought of as co-eternal with God raises some troubling questions for those who believe in one and only one God. The sordid and tortured story of how Trinitarianism came to be the dominant Christian belief will surprise and amaze you.
The Error of Seeking Salvation, November 14, 2004
One of the great evils of human civilization is seeing life as preparation for an afterlife. The question, 'Are you saved?' is the wrong question. Next time someone asks you that question, respond with 'Are you living?"
In Defense of Political Diversity, October 24, 2004
You can be liberally religious and politically conservative. Even though our congregation is heavily populated with Democrats, it is fine to be a Republican. To honor the Republicans in our congregation, this service will focus on how they combine religion and politics and membership in our congregation. You may not change your party affiliation, but hopefully you'll come away from this service with a greater appreciation for your political rivals. What matter most is your vote November 2.
Taking Refuge, October 10, 2004
This is the second of two sermons which focus separately on the balance between doing and being. Striving to change the world for the better is integral to Unitarian Universalism. Taking refuge honors the opposite inclination, to retreat from action and rest within, accepting whatever the universe can offer for support. The challenge of life is finding the balance between them.
Taking Action, October 3, 2004
This is the first of two sermons which focus separately on the balance between doing and being. Striving to change the world for the better is integral to Unitarian Universalism. Taking refuge honors the opposite inclination, to retreat from action and rest within, accepting whatever the universe can offer for support. The challenge of life is finding the balance between them.
Building and Rebuilding Public Relationships, September 19, 2004
One of the great benefits of involvement in our congregation is the opportunity to expand one’s circle of relationships. Most of these relationships will be of a special class called ‘public relationships.’ The Jewish High Holy Days of Awe are a great time to reflect on the quality of our relationships and how to improve them.  Small Group Ministry can help.
The Last Supper that Wasn't, April 4, 2004
One of the great benefits of involvement in our congregation is the opportunity to expand one’s circle of relationships. Most of these relationships will be of a special class called ‘public relationships.’ The Jewish High Holy Days of Awe are a great time to reflect on the quality of our relationships and how to improve them.  Small Group Ministry can help.
The Last Supper was a Passover Seder. It may have been the last meal Jesus ate, but the Jews have continued to have Passover every year. In that meal, two great religious traditions converged. To understand what Jesus did that night, we need to understand Passover.
The Faith of the Historical Jesus, March 21, 2004
What if we could build a time machine and travel back 2000 years. What if we saw Jesus passing by and we had the opportunity to witness his faith first hand. Would the description of that faith found in Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Thomas, or the letters of the Apostle Paul match what we saw? Or perhaps could a group of scholars analyzing these texts uncover another understanding of the faith of Jesus and come up with a description closer to the truth?.
Right to Live vs. Right to Die, March 14, 2004
Korean advances in human cloning once agian bring up the need for defining the beginning of life. Ethicists like Peter Singer have stepped up with some answers. But the most interesting challenges to these controversial ideas do not come from the research community, nor from conservative Christians, but rather from the disabled community, from activists like Harriet McBryde Johnson.
Sadie Hawkins Sunday, February 29, 2004
This service will be a once in a lifetime experience! Many of us may never again experience a Sunday service on February 29th. The day has been celebrated as an anomaly, a time out of time. Adding a day to keep the calendar in order can create its own disorder as well.
Emotions and Morality, February 15, 2004
Should justice be dispassionate? What is the appropriate place for emotional intelligence in the courts and public policy? Can our emotions serve as a base for building a good society? What are the dangers?
The Intelligence of Emotions, February 8, 2004
Do emotions have their own reason and logic? Throughout the ages, emotions have been ostracized by intellectuals as usurpers of rational thought that cast us into the sea of passion and impulse. Rather than eliminate it from our reasoning process, it needs a central place if we are to find personal meaning.
Hometown Heroes of Racial Reconciliation, January 18, 2004
Martin Luther King Jr. was but one of many who has worked for civil rights and racial reconciliation. Some grew up and lived right here in the Capital Region. We will honor them and their work as we remember the work of Rev. Dr. King.
The Spirituality of Falling, January 11, 2004
Facing debilitating disease and an early death shakes even the best adjusted and psychologically together person. Yet some of the most powerful spiritual growth can happen when we are threatened. Rev. Trumbore will take his inspiration on this topic from Philip Simmon's Excellent book, Learning to Fall .
Praising Percipiency, January 4, 2004
Percipiency means having the power of perceiving, especially perceiving keenly and readily. As we enter the New Year, percipiency is a wonderful quality to work at developing. Buddhism has specific techniques to cultivate percipiency that don't require you to become a meditation master.
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Sermons for 2003
Passing on the Gift, December 14, 2003
December is the time of year to have your joy in giving challenged through commercial exploitation. Every year we need to reconnect with the value of giving that shakes the merchant off our backs. This service will be an exploration of different traditions of giving that may stimulate some new ways to celebrate the season.
Ultimacy and Intimacy, December 7, 2003
The respected 20th Century Unitarian Universalist Theologian James Luther Adams said what people want out of their religion is Ultimacy and Intimacy. Yet these are two of the most difficult areas for us to find shared answers. How do Unitarian Universalists define these terms and how do we practice them?
Emerson at 200, November 16, 2003
This year we have been celebrating the 200th birthday of Ralph Waldo Emerson. We take great pride as a religious movement in Emerson's training and service as a Unitarian minister. Is Emerson's thinking still relevant to Unitarian Universalism today? Does he still have message that will inspire our membership?
A Theology of Relinquishment, November 2, 2003
Whether through our family, our connections, our jobs, or our racial or cultural background, we have access to social, economic and political power others do not. If we want to commit to building an anti-racist, anti-oppressive, multicultural world, we need an inspirational religious story to guide us, a story about sharing and relinquishing power that may be a little different than the traditional stories found in the Bible.
Idealism as Mental Opium, October 19, 2003
This phrase captured my attention while reading an article written by Christopher Calder describing one particularly delusional approach to Buddhism. This expression jarred me at first, as a coveter of powerful ideas. We Unitarian Universalists love ideas and constantly search for better ones. So can finding and attaching to some good ones be bad?
In Search of Soul, October 12, 2003
Joe Batal, who co-led my Startup Weekend with his wife, Ann, used this expression to describe an enduring preoccupation of Unitarian Universalists. Soul is a difficult word for some of us, including your minister. Let us wrestle with it together.
Peace Through Understanding, October 5, 2003
The situation in the Middle East is a very difficult one that continues to deteriorate. IImagining some way to resolve those conflicts is a sure fire way to start a raging headache. And yet the possibility of world peace hinges on progress here. Rabbi Michael Lerner shared some sensible ideas with us at General Assembly that deserve wider consideration.
On Seeking a Language of Reverence, September 21, 2003
One important theme discussed at UUA General Assembly this past June by our President, Bill Sinkford, was his feeling that we needed to better define a common language of reverence. This motivated my sermon last spring on prayer. So who will do the defining? Do we have one?
Casting Our Values in Stone, September 14, 2003
Inspired by architects Scott Knox and Terry Way, our Architectural Committee has been refining our plans by looking at how the design will reflect our values and vision. Can the plan and the vision be united in a guiding sentence, phrase or image? Come and hear how.
Patience & Humility for Liberals, March 2, 2003
Celebrating the individual and pushing for change can seem at odds with the value of patience and humility. Yet the success of liberalism in our individualistic society has also highlighted its weaknesses. A balance can be struck between these values that complements rather than contradicts.
Mystery and Mysticism, February 16, 2003
The inspiration for this sermon comes from a conversation with Bob Blank who suggested the title. As a Religious Humanist, he doesn't believe in the supernatural. As someone who was transformed by mystical experience, Rev. Trumbore takes a different approach to the supernatural. Can mystery and mysticism find common ground?
Make Love Not War, February 9, 2003
War isn't just something nations declare against each other. Low-grade conflict happens in many intimate relationships. How can we expect nations to make peace when we cannot make peace with our partner? Thankfully, there are effective strategies to make love last and build healthy relationships. Let's make more love and less war.

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Sermons for 2002

How to Fight Terrorism, November 2, 2002
One of President Bush’s primary justifications for invading Iraq is fighting terrorism. With the destruction of September 11th haunting us and renewed terrorist activity from a reconstituted Al Qaeda, we need to look rationally at what strategy works to reduce terrorism. War may actually increase the threat, not lessen it.
What's It All About?, September 29, 2002
Rev. Trumbore will explain the Unitarian Universalist approach to religion and spirituality. This will be an excellent opportunity to bring a friend or neighbor or learn how to better answer that vexing question, "What is Unitarian Universalism anyway?" He believes our approach is a natural evolution of where religious institutions are headed for the 21st Century.
Growing Bigger by Getting Smaller, September 22, 2002
People who are comfortable fear change and growth. People who hunger and thirst long for it. Our vision of Unitarian Universalism for Albany can both feed the spiritually hungry and thirsty as well as being a place of comfort and care. The secret is getting smaller while getting bigger.
Choosing Faith, Nurturing Hope, September 15, 2002
The Jewish High Holy Days are celebrated this week. The Days of Awe feel more like New Year to many of us who follow an academic calendar. Following the Jewish calendar for this Sunday, this will be a service of introspection, renewal and resolution.
A Trailblazing Religion, June 2, 2002
We need signs and markers as we grow up and move through our religious lives. Unitarian Universalism encourages us to read those signs and make up our own minds which road to take. This Sunday was religious education Sunday so this message focused on children and their needs for guidance and our responsibility to guide them.
Looking for the Big Rocks, May 19, 2002
Three years ago, the Rev. Davidson Loehr gave a sermon here using a story about big rocks. I'll retell that story (with a little embellishment) and use it as the focus for us to share with each other our stories of what the big rocks are in our personal lives, family lives and our congregation's life. This will be a shorter service to accommodate our Annual Meeting.
Wonder and Awe of the Womb, May 12, 2002
Bringing new life into the world recapitulates the chain of evolution. Some of the details of the process go beyond fascinating. They give us a glimpse into the inner workings of the universe. Let us return to the womb together as we celebrate Mother's Day.
Stigma of Mental Illness, May 5, 2002
Not all of us experience the world the same way. Unfortunately people get stigmatized for any deviation from the norm. This sermon will be a short excursion out of normative reality so we can appreciate better those who do not share it.
The Permaculture Solution, April 21, 2002
We must move toward living in sustainable balance with our ecosystem or risk disaster. We are so far away from that sustainable balance it is hard to even imagine how to get there. Thankfully there are people working on solutions. A solution created by Bill Mollison called "Permaculture" could be a viable one to consider as we celebrate Earth Day.
The Power of Commitment, April 7, 2002
My involvement in community organizing has been one lesson after another about the power of commitment. In one way commitments appear to tie us down and limit us. In another they liberate our energy and focus our strength. The challenge is to make commitments wisely and follow through.
Easter 2002: The Truth Lives, March 31, 2002
This was our intergenerational Easter service. We celebrated it all: The promise of returning spring, easter bunnies, and the man whose eternal story and wisdom will not die. The great truths live. And even if they are forgotten, they will be rediscovered. We celebrate the living truth we inherit and pass on to the next generation.
Grief and Resurrection, March 24, 2002
Unitarian Universalist minister, Jack Kent, has a fascinating theory of the resurrection story. He understands it as a grief response to Jesus' death. Could this finally be a reasonable explanation of the empty tomb and the appearances of Jesus after his crucifixion?
Examining an Ethic for Taking Life, March 17, 2002
The taking of life is abhorrent to many of us, particularly human life. The pacifist wouldn't take a life in war or even perhaps in self-defense. Yet there may be times when it is ethically appropriate. A good argument can be made for physician assistance in dying. What would a socially acceptable ethic look like to permit the taking of individual life? (This sermon was purchased by Reese Satin at the 2001 auction)
Eclectic Spirituality, March 3, 2002
Sometimes Unitarian Universalists are criticized because of our individualistic approach to religion. We are accused of taking a smorgasbord approach to spirituality - a little of this and a little of that. I will argue this is our strength and not our weakness. In fact we are the vanguard of a religious tradition that can have a global span yet respect and draw strength from individual difference.
Religion of the World Bank, February 24, 2002
The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank exert tremendous control over the lives of countless millions of people in underdeveloped countries. In exchange for money, they impose their beliefs and values, partly in our name, under the banner 'globalization.' We need to reflect on these 20th century values and whether they should be carried forward into the 21st century. (This sermon is a response to the Study/Action Issue passed by the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly in June 2001)
Living with Sleeping Dragons, February 5, 2002
The Rev. Faith Scott, recently retired as co-minister of religious education in Little Falls, recently described her experience of remission of cancer as living with a sleeping dragon. A sleeping dragon is a powerful metaphor for the uncertainty the cancer survivor experiences. Cancer is but one of the many sleeping dragons we take great care not to disturb as we journey through life. What are the sleeping dragons you step around and what if they wake up?
Making Racism Abnormal, January 13, 2002
What makes fighting Racism so hard is overlooking the problem because it is normalized and institutionalized. Most of us are not overt racists. Yet we often unknowingly cooperate with it. To become human race activists, we must learn to see white privilege at work and interrupt it.
Breaking New Ground, January 6, 2002
December 9th, our congregation voted to ask our architect to design a new sanctuary on the west side of our building. This vote broke new ground for our congregation. This vote signals an emerging vision about who our congregation wishes to be in the twenty-first century.

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Sermons for 2001

On the Beginning and Ending of Life, December 9, 2001
Ever since President Bush made his pronouncement about stem cell research, your minister has been itching to preach on the topic. Even though it's December, we don't have to spend the whole month wallowing in sentimentality. Come for a sober look at the arguments surrounding this controversial topic.
A Rational Faith, November 18th, 2001
One of the distinguishing marks of Unitarian Universalism is the use of the mind in the realm of religion. We believe that reason is a critical component of one's religious and spiritual development. The use of reason however does not undermine our need for faith. We will celebrate our once a year corn muffin (baked by your minister) and cider thanksgiving celebration as part of this service.
Public Ministry, November 11th, 2001
In the realm of Christian Theology lurks the faith vs. works debate. Are Christians saved by their faith in Jesus or because they lived their faith doing good works? Unitarian Universalism has a different set of questions. The inner and the outer meet in public ministry. Can we have a meaningful faith without good works? Can good works have value without coming from a meaningful faith commitment?
Ahistorical Wicca, October 28, 2001
I've been watching the evolution of Wicca for the last twenty years as it tries to connect itself to a pre-Christian woman centered religious tradition of which little is known. Some creativity has been applied to that history to shape it to suit modern sensibilities. A mythology is being created out of little more than speculation in some cases. Can Wicca evolve into a real religion without relying on these distortions?
Zen and the Art of Recovery, October 7, 2001
Addiction is a scourge on the human spirit. Tremendous suffering is caused by alcohol, substance abuse, and gambling. The most effective treatments involve reliance on a higher power which can create barriers to recovery for those who are not believers. Buddhism offers another path to recovery
A Place Where Everyone Knows Your Name, September 30, 2001
Our congregation will be embarking on a new program this fall called small group ministry. In a world of accelerating change, fragmented families and mobility to find satisfying work, human relationships suffer. Many today feel isolated and alone. Small group ministry promises to help us find greater intimacy in our congregation.
The Practice of Letting Go, September 23, 2001
This Sunday lands in the middle of the Jewish High Holy Days. After the New Years Celebration on Rosh Hashanah, follows a time of atonement where Jews seek forgiveness from those they have harmed and offer forgiveness to those they have harmed. How do we forgive others and ourselves?
On Becoming a Human Race Activist, September 16, 2001
Rev. Dr. James Forbes, minister of the Riverside Church in New York City, gave an electrifying Ware Lecture at UUA General Assembly in June. He challenged us to become "human race activists." So just what is a human race activist and how do we become one? NOTE: This service was adapted to the September 11th attack.
Cosmic Mariner: Destination Unknown, May 20, 2001
These are the words written on the Tombstone of Conrad Aiken. They wonderfully capture so much of what it means to be a traveler through time on planet Earth. Before our Annual Meeting, let us step back from the issues and gaze in awe at the Big Picture we're framed in.
Failure is Impossible, May 13, 2001
This was the motto of Susan B. Anthony, the foremother of Feminists everywhere. Women may not have gotten the right to vote without her single-minded dedication to an irrevocable belief that women could not advance without it. Come for inspiration on what it takes to make a difference in the world.
Jesus: Spiritual Humanist, April 15, 2001
The original Humanist was Jesus of Nazareth. The values Jesus professed are ones most Humanists would affirm. And Jesus was more than the words he professed. If you would have met him, you would have probably said, "He has something I want." This service will have a special intergenerational component in honor of Easter.
Let My People Go!, April 8, 2001
The themes of Passover are timeless. The path to freedom be it a people or a person is never easy. It is more comfortable to live with oppression than to challenge it. This morning we will lift up the Jewish feast of Passover and its universal connections to the human spirit.
Crime and Punishment, March 18, 2001
With apologies to Dostoyevsky for poaching his book title, Rev. Trumbore will look at the state of criminal justice and our prison system. Does the punishment fit the crime? Is there a better way to deal with people who break the law? What happens when they get out? This sermon was bought by Ann Brandon at last year's service auction.
Eudaimonia, March 4, 2001
Aristotle used this word to describe the good life. The Greek word translates poorly as happiness and well-being. Thomas Jefferson was probably thinking of eudaimonia when he put the words "pursuit of happiness" in the Declaration of Independence. Just what kind of happiness were the Greeks interested in and is it what many people are looking for today?
It Takes a Congregation, February 4, 2001
The often repeated expression, it takes a village to raise a child, is the springboard for the idea that it takes a congregation to accompany us through all our years. When we are young we need religious education teachers and inspirational examples. When we are middle aged we need a social network and encouragement to look inside and grow. When we are older, we need a helping hand and an ear to pass on our wisdom.
Welcoming, Exciting and Growing, January 21, 2001

Responding and Sustaining, January 28, 2001
This is a two part sermon series which is an investigation of our congregational identity. Who are we, what meanings hold us together, what do we do, and what do we promise each other. I have poetically recast our mission statement as the Chalice Lighting we do each Sunday. This Chalice Lighting is rich with meaning that may not be obvious without analysis.
The Challenges of Interfaith Partnership, January 7, 2001
The Social Responsibilities Council and the Board have committed our congregation to join the faith based community organizing group ARISE. There is much good that can come from this partnership but there are also challenges for us as we join with people who do not share our approach to religion. To succeed together we must set boundaries but also live our message of tolerance.

Sermons for 2000

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Unplugging the Christmas Machine , December 3, 2000
Every year Christmas seems to get more unmanageable. The festival of light and love becomes a chore of shopping, cooking, cleaning, rushing around and gaining weight. We can choose to do things differently, perhaps for only $100.
Techno-Theology, November 12, 2000
For many people today, technology has become a religion. It seems as though for every problem or concern there is a technological fix. Are we wise to put so much faith in technology to save us or are we worshipping a false god?
Our Most Important Civic Ritual, November 5, 2000
Your vote matters! It matters not just because it is needed to select our political leaders. Voting is one of the most important rituals of citizenship. There can even be religious, perhaps even mystical satisfaction standing in the voting booth!
Eco-Theology, October 29, 2000
Unitarian Universalists have long looked to nature as a source of meaning and inspiration. The refulgent beauty of New England inspired the rapture of the first Unitarian Transcendentalists. Many today are finding meaning in Earth Centered Spirituality. This will be one of a two part series on contemporary ways of thinking about the divine.
Flossing Your Teeth, October 8, 2000
These are the days of Atonement, the Days of Awe as Yom Kippur approaches. It is a time to reflect on the ways we have fallen short of our highest good. And how about the good of our teeth? Just why do so many of us ignore the threat of bone loss and gingivitis?
Religion, Philosophy and God, September 17,2000
Religion and Philosophy intertwine when one approaches the topic of God in the Western religious tradition. Judaism, Christianity and Islam have all been deeply influenced by Greek thought. Yet the relationship has tension to it. The God of the book is different than the God of Plato and Aristotle. The struggle continues today even in liberally religious circles.
What If We Are Unconditionally Loved? June 11, 2000
Lynn Ashley shared this question with me that one her seminary professors encouraged his students to ask again and again, almost like a spiritual practice. How would life be different if we looked at love as an unlimited resource freely offered to us? As we end our church year, let us ask this theologically rich question and bring it down to earth looking for implications in our daily lives.
UU Character Education, June 4, 2000
Character development has been a cornerstone of Unitarianism and Universalism. We believe we can grow in virtue, ethics and morality through intentionally developing these qualities. Now we see this idea taking shape under the name "Character Education" in our schools. Let us look today at Character Education and how it might fit with our lifespan religious education programming.
Take off or Die Off? May 21, 2000
The recent gas supply crisis has brought our attention back to the big dark secret of our economic boom. It is almost entirely paid for with cheap imported oil. What happens when production peaks as the global supply starts to diminish? Will we take off or die off?
The Light of Love Never Goes Out, April 23rd, 2000
We celebrate Easter story as a victory of the Spirit of Life. Our focus will be the lived experience of rebirth as expressed in poetry and song. If the forces of nature cooperate, we will have a lovely warm day to revel in the glory of spring after a bone chilling winter. This will be an intergenerational service for children and adults alike.
Journey to Jerusalem , April 9, 2000
Why did Jesus need to go to Jerusalem and stir up trouble? He had premonitions that he'd need no round trip passage. Why wasn't he a little more pragmatic make alternate plans? What compelled him to speak truth to power and make the ultimate sacrifice?
Theodore Parker: The Man, March 12, 2000
Theodore Parker: The Preacher, March 19, 2000
This will be a two part sermon on the life, thought and action. While we revere his memory today, he was an outcast among Unitarian Clergy in his time for his outspoken abolitionist views. We all have heard of the famous Transcendentalists Emerson, Whitman and Thoreau. We also should know their contemporary Parker because many of his ideas are alive in our congregation. The first sermon will be primarily biographical and the second will be focussed on his thinking.
Unconditional Love , February 13, 2000
Unconditional love is what we all want from our relationship partners, friends and family. We are attracted into relationship by this promise. And then many of us grow up and become jaded when the promise isn't fulfilled. Is unconditional love a romantic fiction or is it a worthy ideal we can cultivate and approach?
Bitter Sweet Silence, February 6, 2000
Meditation cultivates a great appreciation for the joys of being still and silent. Inner calm brings great peace and happiness. And there are times when keeping silence perpetuates suffering in society. Becoming anti-racist, for example, means speaking out rather than keeping a complicit silence. Knowing the difference between when to speak and when to keep silent is a fruitful area of exploration for all of us.
Responsible Consumption as a Moral Imperative, January 30, 2000
This is a study action issue passed by the UUA General Assembly last June: "Irresponsible consumption endangers our future as it wastes raw materials and precious resources, depriving people in other countries as well as our won future generations. Can UUs and their congregations influence people to become more responsible in our consuption of resources?"
Reevaluating Anti-Racism, January 16, 2000
Unitarian Universalist theologian Thandeka presented a paper at last year's General Assembly challenging the UUA Jubilee Working Group's ideas on how to do anti-racism work effectively. By examining her ideas, and the Working Group's responses to her ideas, some new light has been shed on dismantling racism that may help move us a step forward in creating a greater climate of diversity in our congregations and the world at large
Reconciling Science and Religion, January 9, 2000
There is much talk today about reconciling the rift between science and religion. We've certainly seen many a battle this past century within our Association's walls between the scientifically oriented humanists and the spiritually oriented theists. Philosopher Ken Wilber believes the rift can be crossed in a way that doesn't violate science or religion's dignity.

Sermons for 1999

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The Gift That Keeps on Giving, December 19, 1999
With the commercial exploitation of the December holiday and New Year season, the joy of giving gets lost in the flood of merchandise. As we take a rest from shopping fatigue, let's reflect together on the kind of generosity that inspires more giving. The kind of generosity that transforms lives.
Millennial Madness, December 5, 1999
So much madness about the changing of the date. Jesus said, no one will know the hour of my coming. No one certainly includes some of the crackpots predicting the end of the world. And yet, scientists and environmentalists are predicting an awful catastrophe coming in the next century. Overpopulation. Ecocide. Global Warming. Ozone depletion. Nuclear Proliferation. Global plagues. Perhaps we should be listening to the apocalyptic doomsayers, and hearing a different message.
Pilgrim Pride, November 21, 1999

For all my excursions into Oriental and Asian religion and philosophy, I have a strong sense of affinity with our Pilgrim heritage. Back in the early 1600's, a little ragtag band of religious dissenters left England to seek a place to freely practice their beliefs. Important parts of our congregational identity came with them on their journey to America. While we have grown beyond the narrowness of their thinking, it affirms some of our core values to be thankful for this part of our religious heritage.
Vision of a New Millennium, November 17, 1999
The Power of Positive Process,October 24, 1999
Group Process can accomplish amazing things. The foundation of a democratic organization such as our Society is the belief that people talking with each other publicly leads to good decisions and actions. if we were rational creatures thsi would be easy. We are not. Strong feelings can gum up the works. Skillful group leadership and communication techniques with effective follow through, on the other hand, can move mountains. Come hear how this is done.
Agnostic Spirituality,October 10, 1999
A longing for something more than what secular life provides brings people in our doors. For those of us who reject the traditional conception of God or are alienated in our search by New Age language, exploring that something more may become frustrating. There are ways to approach spiritual seeking that are agnostic and hold the promise of satisfying the seeker's longing without a leap of faith.
On Being Social AND Religious, October 3, 1999
This sermon will be a response to a controversy stirred up last year by Rev. Loehr. One of the great assets of this congregation is its strong social programming. That programming supports a warm feeling of community, yet there are also unfulfilled desires for greater religious content. This will be a vision of how to bring them together.
Why I'm Here, September 26, 1999
We weren’t looking for each other. We met because a matchmaker in Boston thought we might be compatible. After a week of getting to know each other in January, a congregational vote and my acceptance of your call, we decided to begin our ministerial partnership in August. During my candidating week, I didn’t speak from the pulpit about why I decided to accept your call to serve as your minister. This morning I’d like to speak about my vision of what we can DO and BE together.
Lone Wolves and the Lambs of God, September 19, 1999
Yom Kippur begins this evening bringing the Jewish Days of Awe to an end. The Jewish New Year is being celebrated this year under the shadow of the shootings at the Jewish community center in California. As we approach the new millenium, the forces of hate have found a new expression through Internet web sites which encourages lone individuals to terrorism. Will the wolves and lambs ever be able to lie down together?
My Answers, June 20th, 1999
Since Rev. Sam has all his sermons on his computer and the internet, he thought he'd survey some of his favorites, extract out the great parts, and collect them into a sermon. He thinks he has said some wise and wonderful words worth repeating. If you have a sermon that was especially important to you, please let him know. He'll try to roll up everything he has been trying to preach in one sermon. Think of this sermon as "Sam's greatest hit paragraphs."
The Universal Communicator, May 30th , 1999
Whether or not you are attracted to Esperanto, the life story of Ludovic Zamenhov is worthy of your attention because of his pluralistic ideas. As we struggle with ethnic and racial hatreds in Kosovo, we can learn a thing or two from a man born a Polish Jew in 1859 into a similar negative social climate. He dedicated his life to solving the ethnic and racial problems we face today and move the world toward peace.
Stability or Progress?, May 9th, 1999
We are seeing two different cosmologies in conflict right now in Unitarian Universalism. One sees human action and meaning having a direction and a destiny to fulfill. It is our religious obligation to improve the human condition. The other sees the spiritual path our lives as one seeking peace and harmony in this world for the individual today rather than in some future time for some future ancestors. Can these two views coexist in one religious home?
Buddhism and Christianity in Dialogue, May 2, 1999
As many in the congregation know, Rev. Sam is very interested in Buddhism. What many may not know is that he enjoys the interplay and tension between Buddhism and Christianity, two radically different outlooks on religion. As the scholars and the monastics in these two faiths dialogue with each other and find mutual understanding, there is encouragement for the liberally religious message. Come learn what value can be discovered by people who believe in opposite ways coming together in dialogue.
Who Killed Jesus?, April 4, 1999
One of the roots of anti-Semitism in Christian cultures is traced to the Passion Narrative. Jesus goes to the cross instead of Barrabus when Pilate gives "the people" a choice of who to set free. To find a deeper more profound message of the life, death and teaching of Jesus, we must open up this troublesome passage to discover what is hidden between the lines.
Spiritually Uplifting City Planning, February 28th, 1999
Our love affair with the automobile has dictated the shape of many of our modern neighborhoods driven by developers educated by how to make money building houses and not by how to build livable communities. With the proposal by President Clinton in his State of the Union message, let us explore what can be done to make our communities better.
Discovering James Luther Adams, February 21 st, 1999
The Unitarian Universalist theologian who deserves more recognition than he has gotten is James Luther Adams. Having died only a few years ago at a ripe old age, Adams saw most of the twentieth century through liberally religious eyes and wrote powerfully and insightfully about what he saw. Come be introduced to his legacy which many are only now beginning to appreciate.

Sermons for 1998

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Alphabets, Images, Gods and Goddesses, December 13, 1998
Laparoscopic surgeon and author Leonard Shlain has written a provocative book suggesting that the development of alphabets dethroned the ancient Goddesses and the rising power of visual communication is bringing her back. Rev. Sam will sift through his theories and apply them to our UU religious frontiers.
Gratitude For Small Acts of Kindness, November 22, 1998
This will be our Thanksgiving Sunday. As part of the service, people will be invited to share their appreciation of particular acts of kindness during the past year. Once in a while it warms the heart to hear about all the good which is going on in our midst. We don't say thank-you often enough!
Thinking Like a Horse, November 8, 1998
The movie The Horse Whisperer with Robert Redford and books by other skilled horse trainers have made a bit of a splash this past summer drawing peoples attention to human-animal communication. In reading and watching some of these trainers, I was fascinated to see changes in the riders as well as the horses. Can we learn something about improving human behavior while taming horses?
Plugging in to the Source, November 1, 1998
When visitors come to our congregation, they are looking for something. They are looking for religious community to plug in to and charge up. What is our source of energy and power we have to offer them?
The Early Jesus Movement, October 18, 1998
The Jesus image we usually think of is the wounded fellow nailed to a cross. This is the image favored by St. Paul who focused more on his death than his life. The early followers of Jesus in the twenty to thirty years after his death had their own ideas of what Jesus taught because they knew him. Theologian John Dominic Crossan, who Rev. Sam will be seeing at the Florida UU minister's meeting this week, tries to recover the "original Jesus" in what we can discover about him from the historical, archaeological and literary record with some surprising results.
Can Fear Be a Gift?, October 11, 1998
Most of us avoid situations which generate a fearful response. We don't walk down dark alleys at night. We cross the street when a menacing looking character approaches. Fear warns us but can also control and limit our actions. For some, fears can be paralyzing. Can we work with our fears and convert them into our teachers?
Character, Parenting & Peers October 4, 1998
Developmental textbook author Judith Rich Harris discovered on January 20, 1994 an idea which has rocked the field of developmental psychology. She asserts that peer relationships are more important than parental relationships shaping the character of a child. How does this new theory work and what are the implications for religious education?
Bargaining with God September 20, 1998
The Jewish High Holy Days begin tonight with Rosh Hashanah. Observant Jews believe between the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, God passes judgement on us and determines our fate for the coming New Year (using the Jewish calendar). They believe they cannot earn God’s forgiveness because of the impossibility of living without sin but are allowed to bargain with God for forgiveness. What does it mean to bargain with God?
Our Identity Trinity: Passion, Dream & Promise September 13, 1998
What is our passion, what is our dream and what do we promise to one another? When we discover the answers to these questions, we begin to discover the identity of a group. The clearer the answers to these questions, the more cohesive and powerful a group can be. The answers to these questions varies with each congregation and many resist answering them. If we wish to strengthen and grow our congregation, these questions need good answers.
Resting from our Labor September 6, 1998
I saw a cute cartoon (Baby Blues) in which the father arrives home from work and sees preschool daughter is a little sad. He asks her what is wrong had she says, Oh I just got up had breakfast, played, played some more, had lunch and a nap, got up and played some more. The Father puts his head in his hand and says a bad day for her is better than the best day for most adults. The split between work and play gives us all gray hairs.

A Crack in the Vase, June 14th, 1998
The beauty of an object is easily marred by an ugly crack which breaks its shiny surface. The potter strives hard to finish the vase so nothing detracts from its elegance. In a moment, the vase can be destroyed by a careless movement. The Zen master holding up the tea cup enjoys it intensely since for him it is already broken.
The Universal Journey, May 31st, 1998
All the world's religions have many differences. The sects within Christianity which share the same savior and sacred text have even more differences with each other. In the great diversity of religious faith, it is hard to realize that the religious impulse is fundamentally human. The Catholic, Jew, Muslim, and Buddhist all seek to resolve the same dilemmas we all have that we share in common. While the answers look quite different, we all share the same universal journey.
An American Faith, May 24th, 1998
As we celebrate Memorial Day, we will reflect on American history and some of the notable Unitarian Universalists who have shaped this great land. Unitarianism and Universalism are religions which are strongly rooted in the values which make this nation great.
Living Life Without Answers, May 17th , 1998
Unitarian Universalism isn't the kind of religion which hands out all the answers and tells us how to live our lives. We believe the answers are within each person and our responsibility is to seek them out. These personal answers are provisional since we strive to be open minded and be willing to change when we get new information or have new experiences. This morning we will explore the challenges and rewards of living life without answers.
How to Get Along with Your Mother, May 10 th, 1998
Many of us have some sort of trouble with our mothers or our mothers-in-law. No matter what our age we are still someone's son or daughter who keeps tabs on us. Many of us are mothers who have children. Even if we've lost our mother, she is still inside our heads telling us what to do. As we celebrate Mother's Day, let us reflect on how to improve relationships with the outer and inner mother.

What's So Funny?, May 3rd, 1998
Your minister has been feeling the desire to increase the amount if humor in his preaching. After purchasing several books on the subject of comedy writing, I've discovered that there is no magic formula for creating jokes. In fact, what is funny is quite contextual to the audience and the speaker. So just what is funny about Unitarian Universalism? Come and find out!
Shades of Liberalism, April 26th, 1998
Liberalism is at a low ebb these days in the public minds. The word has become a pejorative. Yet, if we rightly understand the word, people have never before been so liberal. Liberalism means different things depending on the context. Political liberalism is NOT the same thing at religious liberalism. (This sermon was bought by Robert Hansman at the service auction)
Teaching Transformation, April 12th , 1998
Those of us who doubt the voracity of the Christian Passion story, will also want to discount the whole story and discard it. Whether the Passion narrative is historical, as a heroic story it teaches truth about the process of human transformation and growth. Seen allegorically, the story is one from which we can all derive meaning. We will have a FLOWER COMMUNION as part of this service. Please bring a few flowers from your yard or the store for this ceremony.
Living in the Shadow of Death, April 5 th, 1998
Christians around the world celebrate this day as the day Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem to the delight of the multitudes. In the middle of this celebration, Jesus knows the dangers and threats he must face ahead of him. Was his courage just bravado? Did he know what would happen to him before, during and after the cross? What can we learn from the way he approached living in the shadow of death?
It's a Wonderful Congregation, March 29, 1998
Yes, I know it's not Christmas, but your minister is a big fan of the movie, "It's a Wonderful Life." In the movie, George Bailey gets to see what life would be like if he had never been born. We can identify with George as we struggle to get the Fellowship's message of freedom, reason and tolerance out to Charlotte County. Sometimes its hard to see we are making a difference here. In the shadow of powerful conservative Christian churches and illiberal times, we can lose sight of all the ways this congregation makes a positive difference in the lives of members of this congregation and Charlotte County.
On Being Anonymous, March 8, 1998
If you are an alcoholic seeking recovery, anonymity is very helpful. It allows people to face parts of themselves with the help of others who they do not know outside the group. Yet the anonymity of the city, makes us more vulnerable to crime. Many today don't know their neighbors. Anonymity clearly has its good and bad points--so is anonymity a good thing in our religious life?
The Power Behind Prayer, February 15th , 1998
Fascinating scientific studies are beginning to come in suggesting, for whatever reason, prayer seems to make a difference for people. The actual substance of the prayer doesn't seem to be determinant in outcome. Intention and emotional energy do matter. Can Unitarian Universalists find an effective way to receive the benefits of prayer without compromising our beliefs?
Are Two Better Than One?, February 1, 1998
Cloning has been in the news on and off since the appearance of Dolly, the cloned sheep. Just about everyone wants to get into the fray with their opinions. Now the possibility of doing cloning research using human tissue has everyone in an uproar with legislation possibly going to congress to outlaw it. Just what are the moral issues here?
The Congregational Way, January 25, 1998
The Unitarian Universalist Association has an independent organization called the Commission on Appraisal which presented a report this past summer on congregational polity. Since this term may be unfamiliar to many, this service will explore the origin of this form of governance and its relevance to modern Unitarian Universalism. Is it really the best way to run our Fellowship? Our Association?
Interfaith Cooperation, January 18, 1998
The Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly last year in Phoenix, Arizona, passed a resolution asking us to study Interfaith Cooperation. Even though we have many differences with the local Christian churches, we share some of the same concerns. Is it time for us to become more active working with other faiths in cooperative action or should we stay focused on the issues that uniquely matter to us which these churches either disagree with us or will not touch? We can’t do everything so we must choose wisely.

Sermons for 1997

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The Immaculate Super Mom, December 21, 1997
The most probably imaginary story about the birth of Jesus is fascinating as a way to open up the depths of human consciousness. Usually Jesus gets all the attention in this story as he is getting the gold, frankincense and myrrh and the angels sing for him. What about the new mother who has got to raise this special child? What is she thinking and feeling as the family escapes to Egypt before all the first born of the land will be slaughtered by Herod?
Spiritual Humanism, December 14, 1997
If you have read your most recent UU World, you will see the controversy which has been building spilling out onto its pages. It seems some humanists are feeling squeezed by the younger members coming in looking for "spirituality." I personally don't see that there need be any conflict between them since these new members are often just as humanistic as those who complain about them. The difference is that they are Spiritual Humanists.
The Pilgrims weren't Puritans, November 23, 1997
Those of us who are not history buffs or not of New England stock are likely to confuse these two 17th Century American immigrant movements. While they both were English, they had some important differences. Our religious heritage also comes from the Pilgrims as well as the Puritans. There are some important values the Pilgrims passed on to us we can celebrate as we sit down to Thanksgiving dinner this year.
Global Ethics, November 16, 1997
As the idea of a global interdependent village is quickly becoming a reality, the differences in our ethical systems and values in the different world cultures is creating increasing friction. There are some great differences in values between the Islamic world, the Chinese Communist world, the Buddhist and Hindu world and the Jewish and Christian worlds. Is there a common basis for the foundations of a shared global ethic which can bring us together?
Choosing Adventure, November 9, 1997
Twenty years ago, I decided to leave home and strike out on my own seeking adventure, dropping out of college and, to use the jargon of the time, find myself. It was one of the pivotal moments in my life when I chose the uncertain path of adventure over the smooth, easy path which required little risk. The choice of path, of taking risks has far reaching consequences, some good, some bad. Both paths are valuable and each choice is unique. And how we choose matters a great deal.
The Tao of Practice, November 2, 1997
The Taoist way is very compatible with what many Unitarian Universalists already believe and is a needed counterbalance to an overvaluation of acquisition and the search for the holy grail of safety and security which plagues our society. The seeming simplicity, even paradoxical equivocation of Taoist thought teaches a balanced way of life which will bring joy and peace to the individual and healing to a world gone mad with overstimulation.
The Shadow Knows, October 26th, 1997
I am walking down a dark path in a dream. Suddenly two glowing eyes emerge out of the forest in front of me. I recognize the form of a tiger padding slowly toward me emerging from the shadows of my unconscious. Is it possible this fearsome tiger may have a key around its neck which will unlock the chains to my deepest fears?
Pass It On, October 19th, 1997
One of the desires that grows as one matures is to pass something on to others. For some this means a greater appreciation of family, writing an autobiography, recording one's genealogy, or spending more time with grandchildren. At a deeper level, the conviction to pass on one's values and experiences of faith also intensifies. We need not wait till our old age when this desire comes naturally--any age is a good time to "pass it on."
Four Ways of Knowing, October 12th , 1997
As individualistic as we Unitarian Universalists like to think we are, Rev. Fred Campbell noticed during his years of ministry that most of us can be classed into four ways we think about what we believe. Recognizing these four ways of knowing can help us understand ourselves and accept others better. This sermon will kick off an eight week adult education class starting October 19th.
Schools of Hope, September 28th, 1997
If one listens to the negative press the public schools get day in and day out in the press, one could easily be discouraged, especially in regard to the inner city schools. Yet there are innovative pilot programs which offer a great deal of hope for reaching inner-city kids. Re-segregating the schools isn't the answer.
Interfaith Christianity, September 21st , 1997
This sermon is also inspired by a presentation at General Assembly this year by a Korean Christian Feminist theologian. I will show my video of her presentation from 9:00am to 10:00am. As Christians accept relationship and dialogue with other faith traditions, Christianity is beginning to change in ways I think are quite friendly to Unitarian Universalism.
Give up the Search for Meaning?, September 14th, 1997
Rev. Judith Walker-Riggs gave the prestigious Berry Street Lecture this year at General Assembly. In the lecture, she challenged us to give up our search for meaning. I will show my video of her talk from 9:00am to 10:00am and then give my response to her statement during the service.
Quiet Mind, Open Heart, June 15th , 1997
I will be leaving for General Assembly immediately after I complete this sermon to catch a plane in Tampa. I've been asked to speak on a panel at GA about Unitarian Universalism, Buddhism and social action. Since on the panel I'll only have a short time to speak, I thought I'd outline my ideas in greater detail with you. The fusion between UUism, Buddhism and social activism is ripe with potential for positive social change.
Spiritual Practice at the Keyboard, June 8 th, 1997
There are many books hitting the marketplace right now describing how to become more spiritual in your everyday life. I doubt many of them have done much exploration of how to use the time spent in front of a computer to further one's spiritual development. I'm not advocating using computers for this purpose--yet many of us do find ourselves spending a lot of time using them. Every experience of life can be used for growth in our religious lives. Working with computers is no exception.
Divine Creativity, June 1st, 1997
What is the purpose of life? In the view of your minister, it is to be a willing participant in the ongoing process of creation. It isn't necessarily to achieve a particular goal, or accomplish a particular life task, or attain some level of being or cultivation. It is to become what you are becoming. And this becoming is unique to each individual as well as the same for all of us. It is the "process" that matters.
Honoring the Sacrifice of Self, May 25 th, 1997
A liberal religion centered on the individual has a hard time dealing with sacrificing one's individuality. There are times when such sacrifices are imperative for the survival of a society such as in a time of war. Can such sacrifices be honored even when the societal reasons are suspect or corrupt? And how does that fit with liberal religion? Come here a liberal perspective on Memorial Day.
The Politics of Meaning, May 18th , 1997
I've been following the writing of Michael Lerner who edits the liberal journal Tikkun. He has influenced both Bill and Hillary Clinton and done dialogues with people like Cornel West. Lerner is trying to get a movement rolling to refocus politics on issues of caring centered on meaning. I think he is on to something important that we care about too.
If You Don't Live It, You Can't Give It, May 4, 1997
I heard a blues song on the radio with this title and enjoyed it so much I thought I could turn it into a sermon. I have always been fascinated by the blues as a vicarious way to here about others misery, touch our own pain and feel better. There is something paradoxically attractive and repulsive about the blues, a cathartic celebration of depravity. And if you don't live it, you can't play it.
Real Heroes, April 27, 1997
This sermon topic was bought by Rusty Stetson at our January service auction. She puts it this way: I have often thought that we honor many famous people in this country, but who are the real heroes? Who is it that we depend on to keep our country and all business, and families going - the ordinary everyday kind of person!!
Awe and Wonder, April 13, 1997
When was the last time you walked out on a clear night, looked at the stars and were captured by the wonder and awe of being part of the universe? Dag Hammarskold put it this way: God does not die on the day when we cease to believe in a personal deity, but we die on the day when our lives cease to be illumined by the steady radiance, renewed daily, of a wonder, the source of which is beyond all reason.
The Eternal Messenger, March 30th , 1997
The Romans thought they could silence a troublesome prophet from Nazareth by killing him. How wrong they were. The message may perhaps be more alive today than it was coming from his lips. He spoke an eternal message needed as much today as it was then. This service will include some special music and an intergenerational story for the kids.
Many Hands Make Light Work, March 23rd , 1997
This may sound demented but I find some of my most rewarding experiences of being a minister doing the routine committee work of the congregation. I love people and I love doing things. When a committee successfully works well together great things can happen. And the leaders who can do this deserve our praise.
Transforming Acceptance, March 16th , 1997
Since the beginning of October, I have spent my Mondays from 8 till 7 involved in a Clinical Pastoral Education Pprogram at St. Joseph's Hospital. The program has been a precious opportunity for me to examine myself and grow. I'd like to share with you what I have gotten out of the program and the ways I see it enriching my ministry with this congregation.
When Giving Hurts, March 9, 1997
We have all seen them. Women who are totally devoted to men who do not return that love. Yet ministers are always preaching that we should love each other. The conflict arises when people become too enmeshed and dependent on each other. The term used today to describe this dysfunctional relationship is codependency
Does Life Begin? February 16, 1997

When is Life Over? February 23, 1997
Some of the thorniest issues in medical ethics today have to do with defining the beginning and ending of life. At what point does an emerging human being have the right to be born? At conception? After three months? After six months? After birth? After high school? And at the other end of life, when do we recognize that life is finally over? What solid ethical base can we build for our opinions on these issues? These are thorny, difficult issues which go right to the heart of the meaning of life. Forming an answer is an important task for all of us.
Following the Call February 9, 1997
As I approach my 40th birthday February 14th, I thought I would look back over the last ten years of my ministry. I entered seminary in the fall of 86 with the feeling of embarking on a new life full of possibility. I will be reviewing my writings from seminary and over the years since to see how I’ve grown, how my ministry has matured and what lies ahead.
Emerson: The Man, January 19th, 1997
Emerson: The UU Visionary, January 26th, 1997
If Unitarian Universalists canonized people, Emerson would be high up the list. One can’t speak about Transcendentalism without almost beginning with Emerson. Deep introspection, synthesis from contemporary 19th century thinking in Germany and England, and fascination with the discoveries of science unlocking secrets from nature stimulated the fire of this great man’s creative genius. Only now is Unitarian Universalism harvesting the fruit of his groundbreaking work. Despite personal hardship and tragedy, I will argue Emerson has significantly shaped the Unitarian Universalism we inherit today.
Rainbow Thinking, January 12th, 1997
Racial and Cultural Diversity is a primary 21st century issue for the world, for UUism and for our congregation. Can we fight discrimination and racism outside our congregation while not encouraging diversity of religious expression within our congregation? Is it good to encourage diversity within this Fellowship or will it just stimulate divisiveness? What does it take to be successful in creating a healthy diverse community which by its composition feeds us rather than taxes us?

Sermons for 1996

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A New Year Prayer for Peace, December 29th, 1996
As the old year passes away and the new one is preparing to be born, let us gather to focus on improving the prospects for peace in the world, in this continent, in this community. We may be a tiny minority but speaking our desire for peace to the world matters. (Be sure to come for the World Peace Meditation Tuesday morning)
A Simple Gift, December 22nd, 1996
This will be our special Sunday intergenerational service before Christmas. Rev. Sam will have a special story for the children during the service. Every year many of us get caught up in the gift buying frenzy and forget the most meaningful gifts which are very simple. Come prepared to share your ideas and memories of the simple gifts that matter and have mattered to you the most.
Was Jesus a Buddhist?, December 15th , 1996
There are some interesting similarities between the teachings of Jesus and the teaching of the Buddha. During the years before Jesus began his ministry of which we have no record, could he have traveled to the India? Could he have had contact with prophets or philosophers influenced by Buddhist monks? Come and hear the evidence for making Christianity a Buddhist sect.
A Harvest of Thanks, November 24th, 1996
No matter what our circumstances are, there is much to be grateful for. Too often we do not set aside time to share that gratitude. The effect of sharing our appreciation together can uplift our spirits and prepare us to celebrate Thanksgiving Day with joy. (And think about having Thanksgiving here at the Fellowship). There will be a special children’s story for this service.
Communitarianism, November 17th, 1996
Sociologist Amitai Etzioni has championed a new intellectual movement which many in our congregation likely will find interesting . (Etzioni was featured in an article in the September/October 1994 UU World) Their purpose is to put right what ails society by, in Etzioni’s words," people committed to creating a new moral, social and public order based on restored communities, without allowing Puritanism or oppression."
The Glorious Ritual of Democracy, November 3rd, 1996
Tuesday, November 5th we will gather to express the collective power of the people to determine who will captain the ship of state for the next four years. The ritual of entering the booth varies from location to location depending on whether there are voting machines or computerized forms to be marked with pencils or cards with holes to be punched out. And it could be that your solitary vote could determine who is elected! Be sure to educate yourself and vote!
Hungry Ghosts, October 27th, 1996
A number of different religious traditions believe that troubled people who die often become ghosts who linger in this world unable to move on beyond it. Could this be a metaphor (whether or not it is a reality) for our own lives as the past haunts our present preventing us from moving on beyond them? Are their any insights from other religious traditions which could help our ghosts move on?
Everyone’s a Parent with Philomena Moriarty Trumbore, October 20th, 1996
We should all think of ourselves as a parent in the gentlest sense of that term – as a guardian of the young. To put it another way, an aunt, uncle, step parent, grand parent or merely citizen of our country or member of our society should seek the well-being of children above all else. Those are the functions of adults of all species. And we a re not an exception. Let us examine our attitudes towards children and create a vision of a world where children are our top priority.
Valuing the Candidates, October 13th, 1996
Watching the television or reading the newspaper one could easily conclude that the upcoming elections were personality contests. Vote for me because I kiss babies, give you a tax cut bribe or invent a poll targeted special program for your constituency. What really matters is what the candidates believe more than what they are promising. Where do they stand on Unitarian Universalist values?
Medical Ethics in a Pluralistic Society, October 6th, 1996
Many of the dilemmas the medical community faces today such as euthanasia, abortion, allocation of medical resources, and patients rights depend on a shared societal ethic. Because we are a pluralistic society without religious mandate, settling the question of ethics for all turns out to be quite difficult. So just how do we do it?
Values Not Beliefs, September 29th , 1996
The Florida UU ministers will be meeting in October next month to reflect on the enduring center of our faith. Unlike just about any other religion, our enduring center is shared values rather than shared beliefs. The road to a stronger more vibrant UUism will be to have the courage to articulate and stand on those values - always leaving open how we come to believe them valuable.
Already Saved, September 22nd, 1996
The central belief of Universalism, universal salvation, is as challenging today as it was in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries. How different would life be if we really embraced this belief? Would it be ... a miracle?
Flawed and Worthy, September 15th , 1996
UUs forever struggle with the place of evil in our UU beliefs. How do we reconcile our first principle of the inherent worth and dignity of all people with the existence of genocide and serial murderers? Even more important, how can we believe in our own worthiness when we discover we ourselves are deeply flawed?
Searching for God, September 8th , 1996
I've long felt that the only honest response to speculation about God is silence. We don't know and cannot know as our minds do not seem to have the capacity to come to common understanding as we have about the laws of gravity and the speed of light. Yet the process of searching for God can bear fruit, if only to discover what God is not. Thankfully, faith, hope, and love are not dependent on belief or non-belief.
Returning, September 1st, 1996
Labor day is an odd holiday for UU ministers as many of us are just getting back to work after a period of rest, reading and reflection during the summer months. The cyclical nature of our liturgical year begins again September 1st. This ritual return renews and revitalizes us as we come together in partnership again.
Moving Toward Anti-Racism, August 4th , 1996
Our Association of congregations is committed to dismantling the personal, cultural and systemic racism toward creating a multicultural, diversity inside our movement. Guided by the higher value of justice over comfort, we believe this work to be essential to the growth of an authentic and vital church for the 21st Century.
Masculinity Today, June 16th, 1996
As we celebrate father's day, Rev. Sam will reflect on the what it means today to embrace one's masculinity and express it in the world. Post-feminism masculinity is definitely softer but by no means tamed. Women as well as men need an authentic experience of their masculine side to be fully human.
In Praise of Idleness, June 9th, 1996
Resisting the ever faster pace of life and just sitting around with nothing particular to do on a steamy summer afternoon can be restorative to the soul. We need quiet time to allow the contents of the mind to settle enough to gain new insight, understanding and energy. Your minister in particular needs idleness to creatively restore the sermon idea bank before a next fall begins.
A Thousand Invisible Strands, June 2nd , 1996
Hillary Rodham Clinton begins her book, It Takes A Village, with this quote from Herman Melville: "We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers, our actions run as causes and return to us as results." I will reflect on her book and invisible strands of community.
Expanding Forgiveness, May 26th, 1996
Many of us have a narrow view of the many dimensions of the word forgiveness. Forgiveness is an integral component of our mental health. It is also one of the hardest to practice in the face of our enemies. We can forgive but we do not have to forget.
Neo-Luddites and the Unabomber, May 19th, 1996
With the capture of the prime suspect in the Unabom case, let us examine his thinking for a glimpse into the Neo-Luddite thinking which rejects modern technology. Is there any reason in his madness? Are we on the wrong path as we worship at the altar of the machine?
Hedge: The Man in the Middle, April 28th, 1996
Rev. Dr. Frederick Henry Hedge is not well known to most of us but he was a very important figure in the development of Transcendentalism in Boston. His German education served as a bridge for the European transcendentalist ideas to America. But he did not leave the ministry as Emerson did. Come and find out why.
Wall Street vs. Main Street, April 21st, 1996
As we celebrate Earth Day and renew our dedication to be a friend of the earth, we must remember how tenuous our relationship is and vulnerable to manipulation. The takeover of the Pacific Lumber Company by the Texas based congomerate Maxxam Inc. with junk bond trader Michael Milken's money is a valuable lesson for us all.
The Dead Shall Rise, April 7th, 1996 (Easter)
This will be our intergenerational Easter service. UU's often have the difficulty with the resurrection of Jesus. Rev. Sam will hopefully go beyond this Easter antipathy in poetry, prose and story using language accessible to those of all ages.
Journeying into a New World, March 31st ,1996 (Palm Sunday)
Traditionally this is known as "Palm Sunday." It is the beginning of the end of Jesus' earthly ministry. By crossing over the boundary of itinerant preacher and healer to prophet and revolutionary, he (and we) create a new world.
Changing Our Minds, March 17th,1996
The title of this service came from the humorous song by Joyce Poley Cyndy Stiehl sang at our talent show. The song has a serious message in it. Just what does it mean for us to celebrate changing our minds? Is this a good thing?
Wholes and Parts, March 10th, 1996
Ken Wilbur has written an excellent synthesis of a new philosophic outlook which attempts to bring together the results of science, the insights of modern psychology and the wisdom of the ancients. The fundamental building block of his ideas is the concept of wholes and parts and their relationship with each other.
A Case For Deep Ecology, February 18th , 1996
A Case Against Deep Ecology, February 25 th, 1996
This is really a two part sermon which will explore the origins and philosophy of Deep Ecology giving the case for it first and then the case against it. Deep Ecology is quite in vogue with feminists and environmentalists and has some good ideas about how to change our thinking toward more respect and care for mother earth. But there is also a strain of anti-humanism which needs to be carefully examined as well. This should be both educational and controversial as we examine our place in the world and its relative importance in the ecosystem.
An Emerging Vision, February 4th , 1996
From our Saturday Workshop and from observation of our congregation over the last 2 1/2 years, I getting an idea of how to unify our energies inside and outside our doors. Come and hear an articulation of a vision which will validate who we have been, recognize what we are now and suggest what we can be in the future.
Watering the Roots of Liberalism, January 21 st, 1996
Liberalism of any sort is in a bad way so it is time to return to the root ideas of modern liberalism as expressed by the great philosopher John Dewey. Let us water these roots by remembering some of his vision and take a mental cutting home to revitalize our own intellectual garden.
Integration and Self-Segregation, January 14 th, 1996
The inspiration for this service comes from concern expressed in Conversation Among Friends that young African Americans are self-segregating themselves in classes, organizations and dormitories. Why is this happening and what does it have to do with our dream of racial integration?
Why Are We Here?, January 7th, 1996
Besides being a profound theological question, answering, "Why are we here?" is of great importance to any organization. Our health, well being, and future as a Fellowship is contingent upon finding satisfying answesr and periodically revising collectively those answers to this question which will energize and inspire us.

Sermons for 1995

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Seeking the Beloved, December 17th, 1996
Whether single and seeking a spouse or married and renewing affections, we seek a deeper connection to love. Seeking the Beloved can also be a mask for seeking a connection to eternity that satisfies.
Practice Living, November 12, 1995
Many of us hear the advice that we should stop and smell the roses and live for today. We laud the ordinary as the home of the holy. But how easy is it to really live this way? Is it really possible? Rev. Sam will outline an approach which will be the subject of a series of classes Sunday morning at 9:00am called "Build Your Own Spiritual Practice."
Homo Economicus, November 5, 1995
This term comes from the theoretical understanding of human behavior derived from economics. Homo Economicus' behavior in the marketplace is controlled by perfect reason and exclusive self interest. Are people really like this? What are the results of such a theory on human relationships? On society? On religion?
Passion and Patience, October 29, 1995
Many are uncomfortable with the emotional dimension of human existence. Our passions often grab hold of us and take us where we later regret we followed. Is it possible to be passionate and still feel good the next morning about what we have done? Or is it wise to patiently wait them out like a storm blowing by, until we regain our rational minds?
Emptiness, October 1st, 1995
I spent nine days at a Buddhist meditation retreat sitting silently doing nothing this past summer. For those who have not had this experience it may sound like self imposed torture. My experience of it was blissful joy. Part of the joy of the experience was being empty. This week is also the high holy days of the Jews who set aside this time for emptying their spirit of the sins of the past year. To begin again anew, we must become empty.
Freedom, Reason and Tolerance, September 24th, 1995
This is a commonly used phrase to distill key principles of Unitarian Universalism. Of late, the words reason and tolerance have lost favor as central organizing principles of our faith. We see a rising interest in spirituality. We see a preference for the word 'acceptance' rather than tolerate. Have we left reason and tolerance behind or are they still central to our faith?
Four Ways to Worship, September 17th, 1995
Each person comes into our Fellowship Sunday morning with different needs, desires and wishes for our service. There are a variety of ways we are tuned for inspiration and emotional satisfaction. Rev. Peter Richardson serving the U.U. Congregation in Andover, Massachusetts has written some inspiring words on the subject which I will use to shape my remarks and to guide my design of our services this coming year.
Spanning the Web, September 3rd, 1995
An internet networking system called the "World Wide Web" has become tremendously popular over the last year. This system has brought us even closer together electronically. What will the religious implications of this new technology be? Rev. Sam will demonstrate access to the Word Wide Web after the service for those interested.
Cyberian Religion, June 11, 1995
Rather than isolating people, computer networking can actually overwhelm the "Cybernaut" with relationships and correspondence. Where people often connect are on one of the 1000's of ongoing discussions on just about any topic. I've been watching U.U. discussion groups to see if our faith translates well to "Cyberspace."
The Stranger in our Midst, June 4, 1995
Being constantly surrounded by strangers while driving, in the market, and eating in restaurants is one of the unsettling aspects of our mobile, high density society. We must develop a personal method of interacting with those who we don't know and may never meet again. And often we rely on prejudice to guide our actions. Can a world of strangers get along with each other?
Ain't It Awful!, May 28, 1995
The title of this service comes from participants in Conversations Among Friends on Tuesday mornings who sometimes get caught in framing our world this way. I'll dig a little deeper this Sunday to unearth the feelings and beliefs which contribute to AIA thinking and suggest ways beyond it.
Pluralism vs. Fundamentalism, May 21, 1995
Our religious tradition is quite different from the "true believers". A visitor would feel this in our congregation immediately. Yet understanding the roots of the differences, why we don't worship Jesus, why we don't have a creed, why we value diversity, is easier in contrast with another belief system.
Wisdom of Motherhood, May 14, 1995
We U.U.'s have great appreciation for personal experience as a source of wisdom. If you have some wisdom to share with today's generation of mothers and fathers and parents to be, please speak with Rev. Sam so he can incorporate it into the service celebrating the great truths being a mother teaches us all.
Self Improvement vs. Self Acceptance, April 23, 1995
Upon discovering an unpleasant, undesireable, or imperfect part of our selves we can either improve it or accept it. The traditional Unitarian view suggests improvement to build our character. The traditional Universalist leans toward acceptance since God loves us anyway. We are blessed to have both in our merged tradtions but the two perspectives are often at odds with each other.
Did Jesus Laugh?, April 16, 1995
Most of us have a pretty one dimensional view of Jesus. The fundamentalist upon a search of the Bible, would not find any mention of Jesus laughing and assume that he never did. But when you seek it out, there is biting humor in some of the words attributed to Jesus.
How Free Should Speech Be?, March 12,1995
The American Civil Liberties Union has long proclaimed and fought in court to defend wide freedom of speech. Yet there must be a limit such as yelling "fire" in a crowded theater. This morning we will walk the limit and discuss if and where it should be changed.
Wrestling with Relativism, March 5,1995
In the background, driving the Fundamentalist Christian political agenda is a belief in unconditional, absolute truth. Unitarian Universalists have been at the forefront of the drive toward situational, relative truth. Have we gone too far? Can a society function without a 'truth' consensus?
Fasting, February 26, 1995
Going without has the most value and meaning when one can have whatever one wants. Perhaps partially because of the abundance that surrounds us, we haven't been forced to learn the benefits of going without. As we approach Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent, join me in considering the value of fasting to the body and soul.
Are We Becoming Borgs?, February 12, 1995
The term 'Borg' comes from the television series Startrek. The Borgs are creatures that are half humanoid and half machine. They surrender their selves to their automated machine intelligence in exchange for tremendous power. Are we on the road to this end?
Our Path of Interdependence, January 29,1995
Where is the free-thinker's religion headed as we approach the 21st Century? This will be the question U.U. ministers will be wrestling with in March of this year at a convocation in Arkansas (Rev. Sam will be attending). Rev. Sam will articulate his vision of where we are going and the unique qualities we uphold that the world needs to survive.
Four Noble Truths, January 22, 1995
The Four Noble Truths are "Buddhism 101." No matter what flavor of Buddhism one investigates, they all revolve around the core concern about the seemingly unremoveable unsatisfactory quality of existence and the way to find liberation from it. The Buddha was not concerned with heaven or hell but how to find peace and happiness in this life right now.
Buying a Better World, January 8, 1995
The consuming habits of the industrialized nations are destroying our ecosystem. Multinational corporations, empowered by demand are cutting down tropical rain forests, digging ever deeper mines in the earth, and growing cash crops on land that is needed to feed the local inhabitants. We as aware and concerned shoppers can make a big difference by voting with our dollars.

Sermons for 1994

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The Mystery of a Star, Dec.18, 1994
The cold-hearted rationalist always scoffs at the fictional nature of the traditional Christmas Story. Yet as myth it speaks powerfully to the non-rational side of our being. It is the mystery that many find engaging and enjoyable.
In Praise of the Puritans, Nov 20,1994
The Puritans have a bad reputation in the libertine excess of our pleasure centered culture. Yet we trace our institutional roots back to these folk and retain some of their spirit. As we approach Thanksgiving, I'd like to lift up some of our UU heritage grounded in Puritan ideas.
Shadows of the Spirit, October 30, 1994
As the ghosts stand poised to return to earth and spook us, we will consider the hidden and scary sides of our psyche that lurk usually out of conscious view. I will be using Thomas Moore's book, "Dark Eros" as a starting place for my remarks. Perhaps if we begin to see that which is hidden, we may not be spooked by the ghosts already within us.
Ethical Population Control, October 23, 1994
The dust has settled from the Cairo conference on population. Now is time to set back from the fray and examine the minority opinions from the Vatican and the Islamic nations to see if their arguments have value. And if they do, how might this affect our ideas about population stabilization.
How Wide an Embrace?, October 9, 1994
The week before this sermon, the Florida ministers will be gathering at UU in the Pines to survey the work of making our congregations more diverse. Many UU's want our congregations to look more like America. But diversity comes with a price. We need to know these costs so we can decide if we are ready to pay them.
Healing Words, October 2, 1994
Do words spoken to oneself assist in the healing of others? Scientific research being done today on the oldest form of healing, prayer, is yeilding significant results. If scientists prove the value of prayer, how might we engage in prayer to help each other?
Seeking Forgiveness, September 11, 1994
Real forgiveness is not a calculated act but a turning of the heart. Forgiveness is essential for relations between imperfect beings. The Jewish high holy days are a time of forgiveness and reconciliation. Yet the mechanics of this vital human process are at times mysterious.
Reflections on Fatherhood, June 19th, 1994
My son having just turned 2 years old last month, I'm still getting used to the idea of being a father. Being a first time father at 35 is different than becoming a father in one's early 20's. I have reflected on who Philomena and I were before Andy came into our lives, and found some unanticipated changes in my identity.
Mickey Mouse Religion, June 12th, 1994
Along with Coca Cola(tm), Mickey Mouse(tm) is one of the symbols of America around the world. Over the many years since the awkward early animation brought him seemingly to life, Mickey and the rest of the Disney characters have had a tremendous impact on our culture. I'll look at the values Walt Disney has imprinted on us and decide if they are good for us or not.
Hosea Ballou: Champion of Universal Salvation , May 29th, 1994
Hosea Ballou was an early and influential leader in the founding of Universalism here in this country. A likable country bumpkin turned minister, he helped set the course of Universalism preaching the greatness of God's love for all.
Poisoned Altruism, May 22nd, 1994
Is anyone out there having more trouble loving thy neighbor these days? The precarious state of our world, wars across the globe and unending news reports of social degeneration here at home, are putting people on the defensive. Do we need to redefine our understanding of altruism in this new world order?
Re-Visioning the Feminine, May 8th, 1994
Much of the feminist revolution in our society focused on women's equality in the public and private spheres. Often this has meant women had to sacrifice their "feminine" identity to attain power in male dominated power centers. Now that women have footholds in these arenas of power, they seek to retrieve a power full vision of the feminine that may have existed thousands of years ago.
Affliction of the Soul, May 1st, 1994
The tornado that destroyed the Alabama Methodist church and killed a number of children as a wall fell on them has bothered many people. One might think churches would have some immunity from "acts of God". And what about the minister who lost her four year old daughter? This morning we will use the French writer Simone Weil's words on affliction to try to come to terms with the tragic aspect of life.
Watch Your Language, April 24th, 1994
How many of us think about the ethics of our speech? If we wanted to come up with rules for ethical speech, what might they be? Wise speech is one element of the Buddhist eight fold path that leads to enlightenment. Some of the Buddhist ideas can help us monitor the way we use speech to help or to harm.
Think Ahead!, April 10th, 1994
The rush to expand our building for next fall has slowed down as the cost went up. The original motivation was to provide space for the R.E. program which as yet doesn't exist. Rev. Sam will present his vision for the congregation with the hope of spirited discussion as a step toward building a congregational vision for the year 2000.
The Road to Emmaus, April 3rd, 1994
There are two understandings of Christian communion. The first is found in the Last Supper. The second is found on the Road to Emmaus. This understanding I think most U.U.'s can accept. This service will have special music and the choir will also sing.
The Triumphant Entrance, March 27th, 1994
The Biblical Story of Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem, a traditional story on Palm Sunday, is an interesting place to begin a reflection on life. Many projects in life begin with great fanfare and end abruptly with a whimper. However things end, fanfare is still important.
The Wisdom in the Body, March 20th, 1994
Our bodies are the end result of billions of years of intelligent choices. Great wisdom can be discovered by learning about the processes and relations of the body. Our bodies can teach us about what is true.
Integrity vs. Despair, March 13th, 1994
Of integrity Erik Erikson states that each person "knows that an individual life is the accidental coincidence of but one life cycle with but one segment of history, and that for each person all human integrity stands and falls with the one style of integrity of which each individual partakes." As we arrive at the top of the mountain of life and gauze upon our life path, do we accept that path?
The Value of Renunciation, March 6th, 1994
Many Christians are now in the middle of practicing Lent. a forty day devotional preparation for Easter traditionally based on Jesus' wilderness fast. Irrespective of one's beliefs, there is value to be found in voluntarily deciding to go without.
Nightly Revelations, February 27th, 1994
Ever have a strange dream and wonder where it came from? Many would accuse the surfeit of food the night before. But the images and symbols in our dreams are uniquely our own. Getting to know the cast of characters in your inner theater can be a great source of understanding of our selves and each other.
Environmental Justice, February 13th, 1994
If the soil could talk, trees could hire lawyers, the dolphins could elect representatives to the U.N., things might be a little different. Our natural environment is not our enemy but the ground of our being. The destruction of our biosphere demands a human response - or else!
Passing on the Faith, February 6th, 1994
Many of us came to U.U.ism as adults thus we don't have the experience of being raised to be a U.U. How does one pass on this religious heritage to someone else? How do we explain this individualistic faith to our friends and relations? How does one teach children the values of our tradition?
Race Matters, January 15th, 1994
I have been reading Cornel West's book of the same title on the state of race relations today. He has some penetrating insights into what is happening today and some positive visions of what we need to do next.

Sermons for 1993

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No Room at the Inn, December 19th, 1993
What if there had been room at the inn that fateful night in Bethlehem? What if Jesus had been born at the Econo Lodge. Would that take some of the sparkle out of the guiding star?
Addiction and Recovery, November 14th, 1993
Addiction is a pressing issue for our society and for our families. Most of us have a friend or relative struggling with substance abuse. Is there a satisfying answer for the Unitarian Universalist?
Setting the Boundaries, November 7th, 1993
The ideas for this sermon come out of a workshop on sexual abuse presented for the Florida U.U. Ministers Association. There is more here to consider than just the obvious issues - where do we draw the line on intimacy?
What about those Pagans?, October 31st, 1993
We are seeing a growing movement within our association called the Coven of U. U. Pagans. If your like me, that word 'Pagans' makes you uncomfortable. Come and find out about them.
Facing the Final Days, October 17th, 1993
Dr. Kovorkian has forced us to look at uncomfortable options for concluding life in the midst of great suffering. We will open the book on euthanasia but I doubt we will be able to close it again.
Facing Aging with Grace, October 10th, 1993
Most of us don't die suddenly, we fade away over many years. Meeting the loss of function and abilities can be difficult. Yet with the loss can come a sense of the word "grace".