"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.
Wondering what this title refers to? Oil? Sweets? Love? All good answers, ones that expand our understanding of what "addiction" means, beyond alcohol or drugs. The answer Rev. Wayne wants to explore goes a little deeper into who we are as human beings, into the Buddhist teaching that we all have addictive patterns of relieving the suffering that is routine in our everyday lives. Those addictive patterns create more suffering in and of themselves. Compassion can be understood as a spiritual response to another's suffering that arises from recognizing it as our own. Anne Osborne, founder of our Addiction Ministry will join Wayne for this service.
With Anne Osborne, Worship Associate
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.
With Worship Associate Dave Clements
If you watched A Christmas Story during this past holiday season, you may remember the scene where Flick sticks his tongue on the frozen lamp post after he was "double dog dared" to do it. This year we have explored how group pressure makes us do things we shouldn't do! How about looking at the times when accepting the challenge brought about by group pressure is good for us? The Junior Choir will join us and offer "Lean on Me."
Readings by Worship Associate Dave Clements
This phrase from Gandhi described the political courage to do the right thing and accept the consequences. How rarely do we see this kind of courage exhibited in today's political life. How can leaders be sure what the "right thing" is, and how is that different from fanaticism or fundamentalism?
Readings by Worship Associate Andy Kosiorek
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.
There is a now-familiar disparagement by those baby-boomer age and older of the shallowness of the "friends" we have through social media. Does this skepticism come too easily? In a world where the art of deep conversation is disappearing and sorely needed, what does electronic communication offer and what can only be done face to face? How can church help make both experiences richer? To connect on a deeper level with fellow UU's, see page 4 of your "Shorelines" newsletter.
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.
Our Annual Flower Service invites you to participate in a favorite ritual at West Shore. We invite you to bring a flower to church - purchased, from your home garden, or from the side of the road. As the service begins we will build community bouquets at the front of the church, and enjoy them during the service. At the end of the service, we'll all take someone else's flower home
The service will tell the story of a boy whose parents invited him to join them in creating their flower garden this year. We'll find out what he learned about himself, and about life, as a result.
An Intergenerational Service with Rev. Wayne Arnason and Kathy Strawser, Director of Lifespan Faith Development
This Mother's Day will have a political theme. We'll look at the role that women are playing in revolutionary movements for freedom in the Middle East, North Africa and around the world. The work of SAVE, Sisters Against Violent Extremism, will be explored, along with the spiritual challenges that this work presents to women and men in developed countries who feel supportive of by isolated from these changes in our world. The service will include a Ceremony of Dedication for Children. The Social Action offering will be received for Habitat for Humanity.
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In its simplest historical form, the Easter narrative is the story of the death of a spiritual teacher in Palestine over 2000 years ago and what happened among his community of followers after he died. Because authoritative spiritual teachers have died generation after generation throughout human history, we don't need to confine ourselves to the Christian doctrinal narrative to understand how a teacher's death can point to what a spiritual community needs to do to survive and be saved.
Almost all of us, young and old, remember the times when we got accused of something bad we didn't do! We also remember when we got away with something bad we did do! For children, avoiding blame can be the first major moral temptation and challenge they encounter. But it's a challenge that continues throughout our adult lives.
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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?
This was the title used for Hannah Ahrendt's book about evil arising from being an observer at the trial of Nazi Adolf Eichmann. "Banal" means "common" or "trite." Is our human capacity to act in evil ways "common" in the sense that all of us have such a capacity that can be brought out? What does that imply for the UU belief in humanity's basic goodness? Worship Associate Anne Obradovich joins Rev. Arnason for this reflection.
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?
In partnership with the Timeline Task Force of our Inclusivity Ministry, we will reflect on how an honest look at our history helps us understand who we are and who we can become. How does any individual who joins a community take on that community's story as your own? Do we pick and choose the parts of our history that tell the best story about "us."
As the New Year begins the cultural cliche associated with New Year Resolutions raises the question of how and why we make commitments that we then break, and why we resist commitments that we know would be good for us and for the planet. Has "convenience" become our highest value? If you have taken home and acted on the "Carbon Footprint Pledge" we promoted back in September, come prepared to tell a story about your experience!
When his friends first encountered him after his enlightenment, this was the question they asked Buddha. He answered with four words. The first word was "No." We'll explore the importance of this answer and the next three words Buddha spoke, as we honor the Buddhist religious holiday, Enlightenment Day.
Whenever we consider the theme of peace, I am haunted by the ghost of our 19th century Universalist spiritual ancestor, Adin Ballou. He haunts me not just because of his deep personal commitment to peacemaking as a lifestyle, but because he makes me wonder whether and how we can know whether the moral stands and choices that are important to us can ever make a difference.
The Veil Between the Worlds: An Intergenerational Service with Rev. Wayne Arnason and Kathy Strawser
Samhain (pronounced sow-en, from a Gaelic word meaning the "end of summer") is the ancient Celtic New Year and an important holiday in the contemporary pagan practice that has attracted some of West Shore's membership. Rather than conforming to the co-option by popular culture of this holiday and offering an intergenerational Halloween service, we have invited the advice and support of West Shore's pagan practitioners in fashioning an intergenerational service that honors the ancient and contemporary Samhain traditions.
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Fifty years ago the Unitarian and Universalist denominations were completing their consolidation and preparing to announce a new religious faith to the world, Unitarian Universalism. What can we learn about our personal lives, and our life together as a church, from the risk that this generation of our spiritual ancestors took a half century ago? On Association Sunday we are asked to bring a generous financial gift to a special offering in support of the growth programs of the Unitarian Universalist Association. This year the team of West Shore leaders who were invited to the "Leap of Faith" training in New Orleans the previous week will introduce this opportunity by telling us about what they learned.
Why do Catholics have confession as a sacrament while Unitarian Universalists do not? Is confession being downplayed in Catholic practice? What can we learn about a personal practice of confession from Catholic experience? What does it mean in our lives when we dare to confess our selves?
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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.
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What’s the relationship between Wholeness and Holiness? Are people who aren’t conventionally religious any less happy than people who are? Are people who make commitments to serve others happier than those who don’t?
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!
In his classic book, "The Varieties of Religious Experience", William James published the first psychological study of the components of religious experience. In this service, we'll ask how different "religious experience" is from "ordinary" experience. Where does one end and the other begin? We'll look at how intense experiences of trauma, threat and loss shape our religious lives and honor the rituals of Memorial Day in our liturgy.
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All ages and stages of life involve us in balancing body and mind to make our dreams come true. Parents and children feed each other with the dreams they share and act upon. In a service where we will celebrate motherhood and remember parents both present to us and lost to us, a service in which we will dedicate children, honor a graduate, and thank our teachers, we will find many ways to encounter the dreams that sustain us throughout our lifespans. Bill Hudson and our youth choir will each offer special muisic. Please remember to bring canned food for our monthly collection for local pantries.
What do we really know and how do we know? I used to think that the agnostic was a person who was copping out, who couldn't make a commitment, who dodged religious questions. Now I think differently. Our worship focus on the "web of life" invites us to take a new look at how faith may be something that agnostics can teach us all to better understand.
At some time in our lives, all of us will experience feeling abandoned--by God, by what we thought made life worthwhile, by those we thought we loved and who loved us. As Christians focus on the stories of Holy Week, one of the most poignant images of the week is Jesus' cry of abandonment from the cross. Rather than pray for mercy, he cried out to God--in despair? Or in anger? What do we do with our emotions of abandonment?
Shakespeare wrote that the "quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven." Did he mean that mercy comes easy to us? Is it a quality of being human or is it an attribute only of the divine? What does mercy mean as a quality of living day to day? Weaving through the month will be the poetry and music of one of our favorite artists, Leonard Cohen.