John Rutter's initial inspiration for his Magnificat was another great masterpiece, The Magnificat by J.S. Bach. The Magnificat, the canticle of Mary (Luke 1: 46-55) traditionally formed part of the ancient service of Vespers in the medieval Roman rite. It has been set to music more often than any liturgical text other than the Mass itself.The West Shore Choir is joined by a chamber orchestra to present this work along with special holiday organ selections to open and close this special morning. Following an introit that includes our Junior Choir.
Featuring the West Shore Choir
David Blazer, Director
The time between Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas morning often feels like a sprint to the finish line instead of a leisurely drive through the landscape of the holiday season. During the advent season, the "road trip" that first comes to mind is the journey of Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem, a journey we can imagine involving hardships, rest stops and roadside distractions. As we make our own journey to Christmas Day, how do we keep ourselves from being distracted by all the glittery possibilities on the way to our destination?
with Worship Associate Tom Hughes
>> An unabbreviated version of the gathering music (by Free Spirit Band) has been placed at the end of the service.
As we head for this season of Thanksgiving, families and friends try hard to be together to celebrate and enjoy each other. When that's not possible, the "sacred texts" we send are simple and poignant. "I miss you." "I love you." These words mean a lot. In this service we will consider the words that say the most about the lives we share. We will celebrate a Thanksgiving Bread Communion, hear our Junior Choir sing "A Wish, A Hope, A Dream," and collect the Outreach Offering for Habitat for Humanity.
If you were raised with the Bible, you most likely had the experience of coming across parts that made you say "OMG! (Oh my God!) I can't believe I'm reading this stuff!" You encounter stories of violence, homophobia, sexism, and religious intolerance. So why would a religious liberal still love and appreciate this "sacred text?" Come and find out. Caution: This will be an adult-oriented sermon, with themes and topics which may not be suitable for children.
All of us will face significant transitions in our lives; whether a new school, a new job, a first crush, a first heartbreak, going away from home for the first time, saying goodbye to a loved one for the last time. We may find ourselves in a strange place, where everything is the same, and nothing is the same. What resources does our faith provide for us during these times of transition - during the in-between times? Join us for this inter-generational service featuring the West Shore's Junior Choir performing "UU Kids."
Most of us don't carry around lucky rabbit's feet or search to find four leafed clovers, but we might say "bless you" when someone sneezes or avoid booking a room on the 13th floor. We may not realize it but these old superstitions are based on real fears; many of them useless but some serve a purpose. Do the things we fear the most serve any purpose in our daily life or like superstitions are they something to be discarded? We'll ask William Shatner, in the Twilight Zone episode Nick of Time, for some help and guidance.
This service introduces October's monthly theme "Twilight Zone." Rod Serling's teleplays of the late 1950's to mid 1960's were morality tales that reflected his Unitarian values and his sense that all of us, either willingly or unwillingly, will find ourselves in unfamiliar places of mind, body, heart or spirit. This sermon will use the episode Nothing in the Dark, featuring a very young Robert Redford, to explore what happens when we invite the "stranger" into our lives. The Free Spirit Band will play.
Last year, the Catholic church officially sanctioned the use of a "Confession" app which helps you keep track of all the wrongs you have done since your last confession. Jews can send a prayer via their smart phone which then can be printed out by a rabbi in Jerusalem and placed in the Western Wall. In an era when so much interaction is done in cyberspace, the Jewish act of atonement still requires face to face communication. This Sunday we'll participate in some of the great rituals of Judaism's Yom Kippur service as we begin again with the "new" year.
Our "Apps for Life" series kicks off with what we have learned from the app that most people have the most experience with, in their car, desktop computer, or smart phone - GPS! What-ever global positioning map application you might use, it seeks to answer the same questions: Where am I? Where am I going? How can I get there? Are these spiritual questions or what??? It's an appropriate Sunday to dedicate our teachers for the new church school year as the service begins, and tell your kids we love them as they head for the year of RE classes.
Two of musician/activist Pete Seeger's lasting legacies will surely be his commitment to our country's labor movement and the environment. His efforts to support labor unions and to clean up New York's Hudson River teach us that all work has dignity and that clean water is not to be taken for granted. Join us for story, song and reflection on this Labor Day Sunday as we begin our new church year that includes our annual Water Ceremony. Don't forget to bring a small amount of summer water collected from the backyard pool, the local river/lake, or a more exotic place from your travels.
With Kathy Strawser, Director of Lifespan Faith Development
The ancient Hungarian-speaking kingdom of Transylvania is home to the oldest Unitarian movement in the western world. West Shore is proud to be a partner church with a Unitarian church in Bagyon, Translyvania, Romania. The visit of our Partner Church minister culminates in a service of celebration at which Rev. Fekete will offer the sermon. Join the co-ministers and Partner Church leaders in a service that honors the traditions of the oldest surviving Unitarian movement in the western world, and the friendship we have built with them.
With Reverend Kathleen Rolenz and Reverend Wayne Arnason
The Biblical story of Jacob wrestling with the shadow can
hold great power and wisdom for us in the darkest times
of our life journey. Jacob shouts, “I will not let you go
until you bless me!” How can we wrestle with our “dark
night of the soul” and not let go until we deepen our capacity
for joy, hope and courage as well as our understanding
of who we are and can become?
Are you ready for Christmas or the Holiday Season yet? What, you say, it's only June? Many of us grumble when we see retail stores preparing for Christmas in September, but don't really know how to create a different kind of holiday for ourselves or our families. If we want to envision a values-based holiday season, we must start NOW and not the day after Thanksgiving. This service unveils an initiative undertaken by some members of West Shore, called "WSUUC Holiday Rescue Project," who believe that we can create a different kind of response to the consumer clamor which involves the paradox of living less, but getting more.
Service offered by the Advisors to our
Youth Group and Junior Church
If you aren't serving someone or something, are you breaking UU law? Our Jr. Church and Youth Group Advisors explore the idea of service with a focus on what we learn from serving the Youth of our church. The Advisors will also lead the annual Bridging Ceremony as we send off our graduating seniors into the larger world.
No, this sermon is not about certain government individuals inappropriate behavior in Cartagena! With our ability to post our every thought and deed for the world to see, why is it that the most important things that we do often go unnoticed? This sermon begins a month of reflection on the theme of service; why we do it, why we feel guilty when we don't, and how to live a life of service - all day, every day without burning out.
This is our Annual Flower Communion Sunday. Purchase or bring in a flower to share from a backyad garden. Extra flowers will be available for those who forget. Our children and youth will be with us at the beginning and end of the service, both to share in the Flower Communiom and to join us in thanking their volunteer Teachers in our Religious Education program, who are being recognized for their service during this past year.
In most other churches, the worst thing that could be whispered behind your back is "I think she is really a closet atheist!" In our church, the worst thing is "I think he's a closet Republican!" Is that really true, or a stereotype? What is the political mix at West Shore, really? And does that matter? If we believe in "deeds not creeds," doesn't your political affiliations say a lot about your faith? Join us for a sermon that's intentionally six months ahead of the election!
"They have taken away my Lord!" said Mary Magdalene when she found the empty tomb. So might we all, as a congregation of people in the liberal religious tradition contemplating the empty tomb on Easter Morning. The Jesus we know has been stolen from that place and from the place in history that he deserves. Who stole Jesus and why?
Tenebrae means "darkness" and "shadows," and explores the betrayal and death of Jesus of Nazareth through both ancient and modern testimony.
With: Reverend Kathleen Rolenz, Reverend Wayne Arnason, Music Director David Blazier, Worship Associate Anne Obradovich, Worship Associate Tom Hughes, Worship Associate Anne Osborne, Jim Felder, Sarah Belles, and Clint Anderson.
In this highly charged political climate, it seems that no one is talking about compassion as a moral force that can shape both our personal lives and the larger culture. Is it because showing and practicing compassion is seen as a weakness? Being compassionate is one of the most difficult spiritual tasks we can take up; and one that is essential for the well-being of our common life on the planet. Suggestion for a book to read before the sermon: Twelve Steps for a Compassionate Life by Karen Armstrong.
When you sit at the dinner table, you might ask to pass the salt or pass the peas but it's doubtful that anyone says "hey, can you pass me some passion?" Where do you find your passion? What if you find it and then, like pesky peas, it rolls on the floor and you can't find it anymore? Through music, story and song, we'll explore how to find your passion - and when you've lost it - how to get it back! The Junior choir will sing "The Gospel Beat of West Shore" at both services.
With Intern Minister Ellen Carvill-Ziemer and Worship Associate Tom Hughes
When Cil Knutsen bought the Service Auction sermon last spring, she knew immediately that in some form, she wanted the ministers to preach a sermon on the Nicene Creed. Does that sound boring? The early centuries of Christian belief and the process by which the Trinitarian creed about who Jesus was became formalized is actually an amazing soap opera of passions, personalities and intrigues. It's a story that also reminds us of why the Unitarians still cling to the Jesus we knew before he became God.
The distortion of the Islamic teaching of "jihad" into a word that means "terrorism" in the minds of Americans is tragic. The spiritual meaning of the word is by far the most important meaning for Islam, and it refers to the spiritual struggle with needs, wants, passions, commandments and aspirations - a familiar struggle to us all - as we try to be the best people we can be. This Sunday, we will celebrate a Welcoming Ceremony for West Shore's new members.
Over the years, people both outside and inside our congregations have wondered whether Unitarian Universalism is an "alternative religion" or an "alternative to religion." With so many people identifying themselves as "spiritual, not religious," do you avoid describing yourself as a "religious" person?
Chaz Bono's emergence this past year as the celebrity face of transgender people has brought the conversation about the courage of people with minority gender identities into public discourse. Each of us to some degree can relate to this struggle, because we all have to ask ourselves what it means to know who we really are, and how we can affirm and accept ourselves.
Opportunities and demands to "start over" can appear at any time in our lives, not just at the formal New Year. Economic downturns, health setbacks, a new job or career, a new child are all changes that challenge us to begin again.
Childcare for children, ages infant to Pre-K, is available this Sunday, but older children are invited to attend the service with their parents in the Sanctuary. Although not a formal inter-generational service. the ministers will keep the presence of children in mind.
In a companion to the September 18th sermon titled Connecting with "Friends," Rev. Rolenz asks whether connecting with our highest values can only happen with those who share them, or whether the truest experience of what you value most highly can best be found when you work together with others whose values differ from your own?
What fell on September 11, 2001, was more than the twin towers of the World Trade Center. In this service of memory and hope, we will explore what else has fallen during the last decade - the individuals who fell in innocence and in battle, the ideals that fell from the grace of innocence, the aspirations that fell from sight and from mind. Do any of these rise again? On this first day of church school, this service will include a Ceremony of Teacher Dedication.
This traditional weekend of honoring those who labor for others and whose worth and dignity is shaped by how employers value them provides the theme for this service. This Labor Day arrives after a year of conflict between political leaders and those who work for government. Is this the same conflict that the labor movement has engaged in for the past century, or is this something unprecedented that we are only beginning to recognize? Familes and children are welcome and included in this intergenerational service.
with Kathy Strawser, Director of Lifespan Faith Development
Regrettably there is no recording for this service.
The Writers’ Group at West Shore investigates the what, how and why of being our authentic selves by exploring spiritual teachings of Jesus, the Buddha and modern wisdom and song. Instead of confining ourselves and others into boxes, find your true nature and live with it. This service includes water communion and a sharing of how our experiences create our being. Bring a sample of water that is meaningful to you from the experience of your summer.
The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer
Stay Where you are by Lama Surya Das
Reverend Kathleen Rolenz
Worship Associate Barbara G. Howell
Music performed by:
David Blazer, Director of Music
Have you or your partner experienced an unplanned pregnancy? Have you chosen not to have children? If so, would you be willing to share your story, either anonymously or as part of the service? Rev. Kathleen is looking for stories from members of the congregation who have had to make a tough choice around abortion, adoption, parenthood or childlessness. Contact her by phone, email or set up an appointment for a private conversation by May 20. 11:27 AM 11/28/2010
A Musical Celebration of Liberal Religion and Freedom of Thought with the West Shore choir, directed by David Blazer, and featuring the Dave Blazer Trio. The music is by Elizabeth Alexander and the words by Centuries of Strong-Minded People.
David Blazer's organ recital concluding a seven year process of obtaining two Masters degrees from Cleveland State University. The program will be in two parts with the first part honoring the Baroque period and the second part a mix of more modern organ music.
Spring is a time when everything is "breaking forth," from birds to butterflies. Transformation - the movement from one state to another - is a metaphor that holds true for the human spirit as well. This service will look at the journey of the monarch butterfly and what that might teach us about the interdependent web.
Universalists have always professed the belief that the only way to save a soul was through the development of one's character, not by appeal to supernatural, capricious God. If that's the case, then is there any reason to explore what salvation might look like for 21st century Unitarian Universalists? I think there is enough evidence to suggest that salvation is a daily practice.
This year every regional chapter of the UU Ministers Association was invited to address this question through a dynamic group process. Rev. Rolenz was asked to be a co-leader for our Ohio Meadville ministers, and she learned a lot about how we might respond to the question "Whose Are We?" To whom, to what, do our lives belong?
People break up and things break down. We all mess up and nobody's perfect! Can we learn to accept our own and each other's errors? A worship service you won't want to miss with story, music, and movement plus a special appearance by a Junior Church Free Spirit Band!
When something goes wrong or gets broken, what's the first thing we do? More often than not we either try to ignore or deny it, fix it ourselves or give up in despair. The one thing that we could do that would make a difference is to ask for help, a practice that no one likes to do but one that has much to teach us about the world and our place in it.
This Sunday will also highlight the work of the Addiction Ministry Team. Do you ever feel like Humpty-Dumpty, or do you know someone who does? Is it possible that this feeling of brokenness is somehow related to addiction? Unlike Humpty, our brokenness can be healed. Join us to hear a message of hope.
We say "no" to a lot of things - no to broccoli, no to bad television shows, no to being dragged to places we don't want to go. In some ways it's much easier to say "no" to small things than "yes" to big things. What are those big things? Why would we want to say "yes" to them?
Join us to hear stories of women and men who have overcome their fear of resistance to oppressions both large and small - people in our own church community as well as exemplars in the larger society. One special focus today will be on resistance against those who traffic in human beings, and how we too, can be part of that movement.
Today's Social Action offering will benefit the "Renaissance Male Project," led by Jewel Woods, a program that addresses male responsibility for ending gender-based oppression.
The idea of "incarnation" has not really taken hold in most Unitarian Universalist congregations; perhaps because of the human tendency to separate ordinary human experience from that which is considered divine or holy. This sermon begins the monthly theme of "incarnation" and will explore the places at which the divine and human meet. Music by West Shore's Free Spirit Band will include the song "When Soul Meets Body" by the band Death Cab for Cutie.
Holidays are often a time when peace is hard to find, yet we all play an essential “piece” in "keeping the peace" with our relatives, families, friends and ourselves. What are the elements that make for peaceful interactions? What spiritual resources can we draw upon? The Junior Choir will join us today to sing Gaudeamus Hodie. We welcome gifts of homemade bread loaves from your ethnic tradition to share during and after the service. Bring a can of food, as non-perishable food donations will also be collected. The Social Action Offering today will be given to the Cleveland Food Bank.
"If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes." ~Luke 19:41-43.
This month's theme "Peace" begins with a sermon that reflects not on the large global issues of world peace, but the smaller, individual decisions that affect our peace of mind. Often, the things that make for peace are right there in front of us—how is that we can't see them? How we deal with those decisions can, and do, have an affect on the broader landscape of peace.
The purpose of a guardrail is to guide and protect cars from hitting each other or going off the road. The purpose of guidelines is to keep us in our own lane! The purpose people often cite for bringing their children to church is to offer them some kind of moral and ethical instruction. How do these metaphors help us understand how we do this—at church, school and home?
As our Jewish friends engage with the spiritual discipline of Yom Kippur, we are witnesses to a national debate about the impact of decades of ill-advised immigration policy on our economy and this country’s soul. The UUA General Assembly voted in June to make immigration the focus of our next three years of study and action for Unitarian Universalist congregations. The ministers will ask us whether an attitude of atonement rather than political name-calling is the place where we should begin.
We use water to dedicate children because water is both commonplace and extraordinary. As we start a new church year, we’ll hear the story of the “Water Boy” and consider water’s many meanings. For the Water Ceremony in this service, bring any water you collected that symbolizes something about the summer that had meaning for you. We alternate the forms of the sharing we do, and this year people will be invited to offer a brief word about their symbolic water.
How many times have you been asked “so what do UU’s believe?” Where do you go next after that question? Would it be easier to answer the question “What’s the UU story?” Everyone’s religious and political belief systems are based on more than intellectual conclusions. They are all connected to experiential stories! What’s yours? This sermon is the 2010 Service Auction sermon purchased by Ward Pallotta. Thanks, Ward!