Past Sermons

Sermon text and audio (as available) for the last twelve months are arranged here in reverse chronological order.

As an alternative to this page, you may view All available sermon text and listen to All available sermon audio files.

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February 5, 2017
"Loving from the Insight Out"
Rev. Greg Ward and Bonnie Long

People always would prefer to live - and love - from a place of passion. But sometimes we lose the source. As one colleague has put it, 'we sometimes lose our shine.' We forget or lose touch with the thing that makes us glow, sparkle, really come alive. And the way we get it back is learning to see from the 'insight out.'

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January 29, 2017
"Better Together"
Marty Mendenhall and Jeannie Starke

How are you coping with all the transitions, good and bad, happening in the world today? Jazz Singer Marti Mendenhall takes us on a musical exploration of how a focus on the positive bonds of love and friendship can lead the way through the difficult challenges in our lives.



January 22, 2017
"How to Explain Unitarian Universalism without a Pamphlet"
Rev. Greg Ward and Gretchen Meyer

Think about those times when someone has seen the flaming chalice pin or necklace you're wearing and asked, "Oh... UU... what's that?" What do you say? How do you explain this church? These people? This history? This way of being religious - WITHOUT telling them everything we're NOT? Come to this service if you want to hear how we claim this faith tradition with excitement and pride!



January 15, 2017
"Strange Fruit"
Rev. Greg Ward and Jeannie Starke

Right now, until they reach the age of 15, homicide is the second leading cause of death for black young men in this country . After they reach the age of 15, it becomes the leading cause of death, until - and unless - they are lucky enough to reach the age of 35. If he were alive today, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would probably not be surprised. But he might have been sad that the civil rights he'd given his own life for had not increased any more for his descendants than they had for his ancestors. How are we, as a country, doing on the issue of racial equality and what kind of audacity is required to believe Black Lives Matter?



January 8, 2017
"Bird by Bird, Stone by Stone, Hand in Hand"
Rev. Greg Ward

Note: This sermon was intended for services on January 8 that were canceled due to inclement weather.
We are a nation of rugged individualists. We have a history of settling untamed wilderness and glorifying the episodes where heroes went the hard way alone and saved the day. The trouble is, what we need in this new millennium is not what we needed in the 18th, 19th and even 20th centuries. Now we need cooperation more than isolation and interdependence more than independence.



January 1, 2017
"The Tolling of the Bells"
Christina Dodds, Joy Overstreet and Gretchen Meyer

As the wheel of life turns and we mark the beginning of another new year, we take time to look back at the lives of several local men and women, including some from our own UU congregation, who made a difference in the world, and died in 2016. Whether we are aware of it or not, our own lives are often deeply affected by the work of people we may hardly know, so on this occasion we note their passing and thank them for their contributions to the rest of us.



December 18, 2016
"Holiday Wars"
Rev. Greg Ward and Norm Enfield

Every year just before Christmas religious conservatives announce there is a 'War on Christmas!' Christmas, they claim, is being dishonored and shortchanged because it isn't allowed to reign supreme over other religious holidays. But there is something we all lose in this holiday hoopla. This is an open letter to conservative talk show host Bill O'Reilly. QUESTION: Is there tension between Christmas and other cultural winter holidays and, if so, what is at the heart of that tension?



December 11, 2016
"The Straight Skinny on the Fat Man in Red"
Rev. Greg Ward and Bonnie Long

Who is Santa Claus? St. Nick? The jolliest of all Christmas ambassadors. What have we been told about him and what's really true. What's important for us to know as we try to separate fact from fiction. QUESTION: Does a story have to be 'factual' in order to be 'true'?



December 4, 2016
"Beyond Categorical Thinking"
Jo Victoria and Phil Giesy

We all make assumptions about people, often without realizing it. Those assumptions can be useful, but can also hinder us. As we search for our settled minister, how can we ensure that we remain open to all possibilities? Bringing awareness to how we "categorize"—and sometimes discount—others is a way for us to put our faith into lived experience and improve the odds that regardless of identity, we will find the minister who is the best match for our congregation. Let's open ourselves to a greater understanding of who "we" can be.



November 27, 2016
"The Communion that was Hard to Swallow"
Rev. Greg Ward and Gretchen Meyer

We live in a world of great disparity. Some get a lot. Some get enough. And some live every day on less than enough. The inequity of distribution of wealth and privilege and food is striking when we look at it. What we do to see this or ignore it will determine whether it changes or remains in place.



November 20, 2016
"There's a Crack in Everything--That's How the Light Gets In"
Rev. Greg Ward and Jeannie Starke

When things are at their hardest and you're facing something painful - maybe even something bigger than you, what do you do? There's an old trick of embracing your brokenness - and even looking for what there is within that you're grateful for, that helps locate our strength and purpose. How does that help us toward becoming who we really want to be?



November 13, 2016
"Power vs. Force"
Rev. Greg Ward and Michele Glover

All that happens in life is made possible by energy flow and distribution. This includes everything we do as human beings. But do we ever stop to notice the kind of energy we're bringing to each situation? Is it compelling energy or coercive energy? This is a service where we get to stop and take stock of the energy we're experiencing and the energy we're offering.



November 6, 2016
"An Open Letter to the Next President of the United States"
Rev. Greg Ward and Bonnie Long

The next President of the United States is positioned to manage and execute powers of unfathomable magnitude. And such powers will have an enormous impact on citizens not only of this nation, but the many global citizens who depend on what our unique democracy represents. So, there are a few things that this minister wants to say.



October 30, 2016
"Vasalia and her Quest for Fire"
DRE Sara Cloe and Phil Giesy

This multi-generational worship service celebrates the Gaelic holiday, Samhain (Sa-win) and its modern version, Halloween. Our celebration includes songs, story, music and costumes.



October 23, 2016
Rev. Greg Ward and Jeannie Starke

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus once talked about our quest for stability and permanence and the pain that's inevitable in a world that never stops unfolding and evolving. He said, "The only thing constant in this world is change." Now, a couple months into this transition, many of us at UUCV are understanding the depth and difficulty of the change we're in. And we're also beginning to see the possibility and the promise.

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October 13, 2016
"The Circle that Draws Us In"
Rev. Greg Ward and Gretchen Meyer

Acceptance and inclusion are very powerful religious principles. UUs take these very seriously. So how do we treat those who have made mistakes? In these, the High Holidays of the Jewish calendar, what can we turn to that will speak of forgiveness and inclusion?

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October 9, 2016
"Spiders, Dragons, Webs and Churches"
Rev. Greg Ward and Michele Glover

Certain things scare us. Things that trigger the cascade of mental, emotional and physiological responses to fear are intending to retard our interactions with danger. But preoccupation with fear leaves us spiritually 'retarded' - unable to exchange love and understanding at a deep level.

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October 2, 2016
"Babies, Bathwater and the Belonging That is our Birthright"
Rev. Greg Ward

The path toward health and wholeness is a long, bumpy and circuitous road. Every journey will encounter moments where, because something hurt us so significantly, we need to leave it behind. And every journey includes moments we learn to reclaim essential parts of ourselves we, unintentionally, left behind.

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September 25, 2016
"Beyond Light Bulbs: Covenant and Collective Action"
Matt Meyer

Ours is a faith guided by covenant. As Unitarian Universalists, we believe that some things are better accomplished in community. A spiritual life is one of those. Social justice work is another. This is a service of rhythm, music, covenantal community and collective action.



September 18, 2016
"God of Our (Mis)Understanding"
Rev. Greg Ward

Millions of people through history have tried to understand God. That search continues. Whereas some see the search as a way to unify all things, it has also been quite divisive. How does this search connect us beyond 'us' and 'them' and connect us to something larger?



September 11, 2016
"Noah's Dilemma"
Rev. Greg Ward

Noah understood about the need to bring people together. In the midst of a great flood of change, he prepared for people to discover the best of one another. Come hear UUCV's multi-generational Ingathering story where we will pour our lives into this community and notice what a blessing each person brings.



September 4, 2016
"Circles of Friends"
Donna Shaver, Char Lindberg, and Sue Morey

Three congregants who have been Chalice Circle facilitators share experiences and insights from their groups over the years. Come hear how these small groups have helped participants learn about themselves and others in our church community.



August 28, 2016
"Perfect Strangers"
Rev. Greg Ward

What is your relationship with trying to be perfect? Have you ever tried to be perfect in order to be noticed... to be appreciated... to be loved? Trying to be perfect may sometimes get us attention, but often it comes with a price: people only know us for what we do and not who we are. And in the process, we become perfect strangers.

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August 21, 2016
"Praying to a God Who Will Laugh"
Rev. Greg Ward

Becoming an adult is serious business. So serious, in fact, that many of us lose our sense of humor along the way. When did we lose our mirth? Our imagination and whimsy? When did we finally surrender our playfulness? And how do we coax these essential tools to return?

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August 14, 2016
"Transylvanian Enigma: Our Heritage, But is it Our Religion?"
Chris Smith and Patty Page

Chris and Patty share their visit to the land where Unitarianism was born, a pilgrimage rich with experiences that led to more questions than answers.



August 7, 2016
"Letting Go and Creating Anew"
Sue Morey, Norm Enfield, and Gretchen Meyer

Three UUCV members share their experiences of meeting life's challenges, letting go of what no longer works, and living into new adventures.



July 31, 2016
"Prepare for Harvest!"
Laura Campbell

Store away these golden hours to sustain you through the dark months ahead. Are your crops ready to be gathered? What will you preserve? What have you learned this season to carry into the next?



July 24, 2016
"It's Not the Same River, You Know"
Rev. Heather Lynn Hanson

People change; churches change; religions change. Rev. Hanson shares her thoughts about transitions, and how members of a congregation can adapt while dealing with the desire to resist the process.



July 17, 2016
"Give Me That Old Time Religion"
Christina Dodds

We retrieve the baby from the bathwater and take a second, perhaps surprising, look at some familiar stories from the Bible. How were they understood in antiquity? What wisdom did some of our prominent Unitarians and Universalist forebears find there?



July 10, 2016
"Roller Derby Saved My Soul"
Jennifer Smith

The path that leads to wholeness is not the easiest nor the expected. A mother, religious educator, and pacifist shares her story through New Thought and Ancient Greece, to find her strength clashing with strong personalities and concrete floors in women's flat track Roller Derby.

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June 26, 2016
"The Tao Te Ching: An Invitation to the Path of Least Resistance"
Marjorie Spears

Marjorie describes the Tao Te Ching and explores how the Eastern wisdom contained in this ancient collection of short poems might serve as a spiritual guide and tonic for striving westerners.

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June 19, 2016
"What I Believe"
Junior YRUU and their Mentors

The Finding Your UU Faith (FYUUF) Junior High students present their individual belief statements. These credos are the result of this RE year of study, great discussions and lots of fun.



June 12, 2016
"Community Sunday"
Rev. Lee Bond-Upson

At our annual Community Sunday, we review the work of the Church as presented in the Annual Report, and think about what is past, passing, and to come. We also present the Bridging Ceremony, which marks the passage of our High School seniors into young adulthood.



June 5, 2016
"Flower Communion, and Notes at Year's End"
Rev. Lee Bond-Upson

This Sunday we enjoy the exchange of flowers, symbolic of our shared lives in religious community. We are reminded of the origin of the ceremony in Prague, which honors the individuality of each person. Rev. Lee also adds some remarks about the past church year, and ideas for 2016-17.



May 29, 2016
"This, I Believe"
Rev. Lee Bond-Upson and Participants from Building Your Own Theology classes

A patchwork service of credo sharing by members of the two recent Building Your Own Theology classes.



May 15, 2016
"Humanism: Roots of Our Faith #6"
Rev. Lee Bond-Upson

This service is devoted to talking about, in effect, putting people at the center of our attention and care, rather than God-centered devotion. Humanists from our Humanist group participate.



May 8, 2016
"Mothers, Mothering, and Mother-love"
Rev. Lee Bond-Upson

We honor the mothering impulse and its effects on us. It's a great thing when it works the way it's supposed to.



May 1, 2016
"Beltane and the Gift of Embodiment"
Rory Bowman

May Day or Beltane provides an opportunity for us to consider the gift of embodiment. Are we physical beings having a spiritual experience, or just the opposite?

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April 24, 2016
"Why Worship"
Jeanette Leardi

Throughout time and cultures, humanity has had a need to come together in spiritual ways, especially during moments of crisis. What is behind the human impulse to worship? What do we reap when we do so alone or in groups? We examine this life-affirming impulse, with a special focus on UUs.



April 17, 2016
"Nature Bats Last"
Rev. Lee Bond-Upson

At the end of this week (Friday, April 22) we celebrate the 47th Earth Day. Let's remember and refresh the cause of tender care for our Earth, the attempt to mitigate the despoliation we are continuing to wreak.



April 10, 2016
"Roots of Our Faith: Unitarianism and the Principle of Utility"
Rev. Lee Bond-Upson

Rev. Lee preaches on Unitarianism, which was born as a church in the early Reformation, but carries a set of ideas from classical philosophy and early Christian theology. Its impact on the world has come more from its individual members than from the Denomination. One magazine article about us was titled "Small Church, Big People." Maybe Unitarianism's utility is for a purpose we haven't thought about lately.

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April 3, 2016
"Gossip and Other Velvety Evils"
Rev. Lee Bond-Upson

Gossip, bad-mouthing, rumor campaigns, parking lot plots, needles and smears. All are destructive to Community, therefore not beloved by well-meaning people.



March 27, 2016
"Easter Risings"
Rev. Lee Bond-Upson

Almost no religious liberal believes in the Risen Christ, but Easter still has great and good power. That's because it is imbued with feelings of spring, and rebirth, and the grace of second chances. And the music is glorious.



March 20, 2016
"Convergence of Science and Spirituality"
Senior YRUU

Throughout the breadth of the universe, all are sacred and worthy. The fact that we exist at all, beings made of stardust from billions of years ago, evolved over time from single celled organisms, is awesome!



March 13, 2016
"For What It's Worth, the Annual Budget Drive Sermon"
Rev. Lee Bond-Upson

Let us meditate on the value of what church and congregational community provide, and could represent in the future. Then, let's talk turkey about backing up that valuation with financial and other support. A new minister is coming!



March 6, 2016
"Roots of our Faith: Christianity"
Rev. Lee Bond-Upson

Both Unitarianism and Universalism are descended (or ascended) from Protestantism. We retain much of that inheritance, which is seen by many of us as having some very good parts. Others of us want a complete break. There is a tension about this throughout UU-land. Let's examine the most populous religion in the world, looking for peace within this congregation.



February 28, 2016
"Dangerous Love and the Prophetic Call of Community"
Rev. Emily Brault

As a prison Chaplain, Rev. Dr. Emily Brault navigates communities both inside and outside of prison. But what happens when the two worlds collide? It's called "The Spiritual Book Club for Lifers (and Churchladies)", that's what. Come hear what she has to say about who's inside, who's outside, and how we can change the world.



February 21, 2016
"Buddhism for Liberals"
Rev. Lee Bond-Upson

Buddhism was founded by a Hindu. Its meditative peacefulness has found increasing appeal in the West. It can be strict. It can be easy. Can we just borrow the parts we like?



February 14, 2016
"In Praise of Women"
Rev. Lee Bond-Upson

Then: "Man's work ends with set of sun, but women's work is never done." – 19th C. couplet.
Now: "The Western woman will rescue the world." – the Dalai Lama.



February 7, 2016
"Thinking Outside the Box"
Rev. Lee Bond-Upson

Between the end of September and the beginning of December we held 21 House Meetings, involving 190 attendees. In the last couple of weeks the Interim Ministry Transition Team, led by Robbie Bertram and Jesse Lavine, has compiled the data from your responses to more than two dozen questions and discussion points. Come and see out self-portrait, and if the data points to solutions.

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January 31, 2016
"The Goddess and the Groundhog"
Rev. Sue Ayer

A little-known tradition connects Punxutawney Phil with an old Celtic saint, the baby Jesus at the Jerusalem temple, and freshly blessed candles in the church -- not to mention poetry, art, and the birthing of new life. We'll look into the spiritual lore of this liminal time in earth's yearly cycle of the seasons -- February Eve.



January 24, 2016
"We're All Normal and We Want Our Dignity"
Rev. Lee Bond-Upson

It hurts to be left out, scorned, laughed at. Liberation movements have something to teach us about claiming our rightful place as individuals.