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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November 26th, 2017
"Confessions of a S.P.A.C.E. Cadet"
Rev. Rick Davis and Dave Irwin

The number of people we don't know will always be vastly greater than the ones we do know. Which is to say: Most folks are strangers to us. How shall we relate to them?

 

 

November 19th, 2017
"Enough"
Rev. Kathryn A. Bert and Bonnie Long

Walter Brueggemann suggests that honoring the Sabbath is a form of witness, it is an antidote to the frenetic activity that characterizes our society. It tells the world there is enough. As we approach Thanksgiving, let us consider the ways in which there is enough and we are enough. Let us learn to resist the anxiety driven scarcity mentality that pervades our culture.

 

 

November 12th, 2017
"The Gift of Presence"
Rev. Millie Rochester and Jeannie Starke

"We need one another," proclaims the author George Odell, in a reading from Singing the Living Tradition. When we're in the depths of distress or despair,and by the same token, when we're feeling on top of the world, we crave caring companionship. This morning we reflect on one of the gifts that an attitude of abundance can offer - that of being fully present with one another.

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November 5th, 2017
"Abundance in an Age of Too Much"
Rev. Kathryn A. Bert and Gretchen Meyer

Abundance is the perfect November theme, of harvest time and plenty. But what if our "cup overfloweth," and not in a good way? What kind of abundance do we wish to cultivate and which kind just becomes "too much?" How do we decide anything in a world of many choices?

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October 29th, 2017
"Remembering our Dead: An All Ages Service Honoring our Loved Ones Who Have Died"
Rev. Kathryn A. Bert, Amy Brock, and Jeannie Starke

It takes courage to grieve our loved ones when they die, but the reward for such courage is celebration.

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October 22nd, 2017
"In Brave Pursuit"
Rev. Kathryn A. Bert and Seth Moran

Last spring, UU congregations were asked to participate in a "UU White Supremacy Teach In." I led a "teach in" in Michigan before coming to candidate with this congregation in Vancouver. Congregations across the country will participated in another teach-in this Fall (UUCV had its teach-in on Octobr 22nd). In this sermon we find out what this teach-ins are all about.

 

 

October 15th, 2017
"This Little Light of Mine"
Marjorie Speirs and Gretchen Meyer

"This Little Light of Mine; I'm gonna let it shine." We sing these words, but what is this light and what are we to do with it? Marjorie explores the light within each of us and how we might tend it so that we may use it with courage to light our way and shine a light for others.

 

 

October 8th, 2017
"On Choosing to Risk One's Significance"
Rev. Kathryn A. Bert and Dave Irwin

What does it mean to risk significance? As we continue to explore the theme of Courage, I will consider a line by Dawna Markova. Sometimes it takes courage to get out of one's own way, and trust the unfolding of life itself.

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October 1st, 2017
"With Full Hearts "
Rev. Kathryn A. Bert and Norm Enfield

What does it mean to be a people of Courage? This is our October theme which we explore in worship, chalice circles and religious education. It is my suspicion that to be a people of Courage requires both full hearts and "empty" minds.

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September 24th, 2017
"Welcoming Second Chances"
Rev. Kathryn A. Bert and Bonie Long

With the start of the school year and program year for church, we welcome new beginnings. With our Jewish and Muslim neighbors we also celebrate the new year. We can let go of the old year as we enter the new. We let go of old grudges and begin again in love.

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September 17th, 2017
"The Generosity of the Poor"
Rev. Kate Rhode and De Stewart

One of the lessons I took home from living in a village of returned refugees in El Salvador, was a deeper understanding of the generous spirit.

 

 

September 10th, 2017
"Longing for Home: Sharing and Receiving Welcome"
Rev. Kathryn Bert and Seth Moran

"In sweet company, I am home at last," writes Margaret Wolff. We celebrate "homecoming" as we return to two worship services and begin a new ministry together. The world needs our welcoming faith now more than ever. This is our very special "coming home," even if this is your first time (like it is for our newly called minister.)

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September 3rd
"The Saving Grace of
Poetry"
Rev. Sue Ayer

A poem may be as brief as haiku, as silly as nursery rhymes, as majestic as Homer's Odyssey, as comforting as the 23d Psalm. There is magic and power that flows from the simple act of stringing words together in particular ways, affecting our minds and emotions. For the healing of our hearts and the saving of our world, we might well invoke the power of poetry to comfort and inspire.

 

 

August 27th, 2017
"What do I Really Want?"
Kathy Marchant

Words can inspire connection and community or stimulate defensiveness and separation. Being able to connect with what we value...what matters most to us...what we really want...has the power to transform our communication and enhance the quality of our relationship with self and others. This practice of self-awareness can bring a sense of connection and peace, even in stressful situations.

 

 

August 20th, 2017
"Beauty: A Call to be Gratefully Present."
Joy Overstreet

Regardless of what's happening in the news, it is spiritually grounding and uplifting to notice the beauty that surrounds us. Joy's photographic meditation is about paying attention to the many guises of beauty—both natural and man-made.

 

 

 August 13th, 2017
"The Power of Story"
Bonnie Long

Story is one of the more powerful tools we humans use in building relationship, culture, and civilization. We tell stories to learn, to connect, to heal, to remember. As one great storyteller has said, stories are "holy and nutritious and crucial. Stories change lives. . . they crack open hearts, they open minds." This is a patchwork service during which two congregants share stories they've written for different purposes.

 

 

August 6th, 2017
"The Conversation"
Karen Valbuena

As Unitarian Universalists we are called on to "live our values". Yet at the end of life, health care decisions are often made outside the context of the values we have spent a lifetime defining, causing needless trauma and suffering for all. How have we reached this point as a society? How do we ensure that living our values does not stop in the final chapter of our lives?

 

 

July 30th, 2017
"Souls, Sunsets, and Cross-Species Spirituality"
Bonnie Long

Many believe the soul to be the metaphysical glue that connects all living species. In this day's service, we explore this idea as it relates to our 7th Principle of Interconnectivity. Further, how might we distinguish 'soul' from 'spirit' in this context? Do nonhuman animals have a spiritual dimension to their lives? What are the potential rewards—and the possible pitfalls—of developing spiritual connectivity with our four-legged, finned, and winged cohabitants on this planet?

 

 

July 23rd, 2017
"Wait, wait! Can we do that over?"
Sue Oshiro-Zeier, Betty Montgomery, and Amanda Awasom

Many of us have good intentions when we meet someone who is different than us and try to be welcoming. Then suddenly the conversation may become awkward. What just happened? Come learn about microaggressions and how they may be a factor.

 

 

July 16th, 2017
"Live Forever, Die Tomorrow"
Rev. Craig Moro

Upon the death of a beloved son, the Prophet Muhammad gave his followers some advice on how to live. Rev. Moro will share that advice with us this morning--along with the wisdom that two of his Italian relatives would share on the telephone.

 

 

July 9th, 2017
"The Spiritual Practice of Risk Perception"
Seth Moran and Norm Enfield

As Carmelo Anthony once said, "Life is risk." Every day we make thousands of decisions large and small - Should I live in earthquake country? Should I talk to that stranger? Should I walk down this street at night alone? - that are rooted in how we perceive risk. In this service we will explore how risk perception works and how our sense of risk can influence our ability to bring our core UU values into practice in our daily lives.

 

 

July 2nd, 2017
"Surviving Domestic Abuse"
Jeannie Starke and De Stewart

Domestic abuse is deeply traumatic. How do we keep ourselves safe and open our hearts to love and trust again?

 

 

June 25th, 2017
"To Tell the Holy: Storytelling As Spiritual Practice"
Will Hornyak and Bonnie Long

Every tribe, culture and people has its sacred stories. But, there is also a sacred manuscript of personal spiritual experiences within ourselves that reveal moments of connection, inspiration, understanding and knowing that seem to stand apart from other events in our lives. Mr. Hornyak is highly regarded in our congregation and throughout our regional UU community as a master storyteller.

 

 

June 18th, 2017
"To Leap, To Soar, and So To Land..."
Rev Heather Lynn Hanson and Bonnie Long

Rev. Heather Lynn is a familiar guest in our pulpit. This Sunday, she shares the wisdom of her 20 years of interim ministry with us. "As a congregation, you've been through an extended flight, from the decisions that triggered your search process to the exciting candidating and call of your next minister. And your next minister has also been through a complicated process, daring, and preparing to leave familiar "ground" and soar to a different congregation in the milieu of the Pacific Northwest. We reflect on what it means to be "in the air" and what a "safe landing" might feel like—from both perspectives."

 

 

Sunday, June 4th
"Umbilical Cords and Apron Strings"
Rev. Greg Ward and De Stewart

Unitarian Minister Theodore Parker helped navigate Unitarianism through a theological questioning of Christian doctrine. He wrote a powerful and widely published sermon called 'The Transient and Permanent of Christianity' which claimed that. there are truths which are transient and fade with time, and there are truths which rest at the center of all life and are eternal. This could be said for each person and each religious community. This sermon will endeavor to name the transient and permanent of UUCV.

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May 28th, 2017
"Juneteenth in Memory and Celebration: The Spiritual Legacy of Slavery"
Bridgette Fahnbulleh and Gretchen Meyer

The Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1863, but the official end of slavery was June 19, 1865 when Union troops brought the "news" to Texas. Juneteenth is a national holiday that goes almost unnoticed in the Northwest but is celebrated in a big way in the South, especially Texas. The Vancouver chapter of the NAACP invites us to a deeper awareness and commitment to racial justice.

 

 

May 21th, 2017
"The Rapture"
Rev. Greg Ward and Norm Enfield

In the 'Left Behind' series, author and minister Tim LaHaye talks about the rapture. The rapture, for those of us who haven't spent time in the south or who don't listen to Garrison Keillor, is the apocalyptic accounting of the end times where good souls are swept up and taken to heaven and 'non-believers' are 'left behind. Where are Unitarian Universalists in the rapture? In this exploration of apocalyptic thinking, we endeavor to find our place in the end of times.

 

 

May 14th, 2017
"Faith and the People"
Rev. Kathryn Bert and Karen Valbuena

It takes faith to be kind when others are not, and to have courage when surrounded by fear and terror. This courage and kindness allows us to resist when justice demands and to be resilient, recovering quickly from difficult conditions.

 

 

May 7th, 2017
"The Beauty of the Blues"
Rev. Kathryn Bert and Gretchen Meyer

Blues (blooz) pl.n. (used with a sing. or pl. verb)

  1. A state of depression or melancholy. Often used with "the".
  2. A style of music that evolved from southern African American secular songs and is usually distinguished by a strong 4/4 rhythm, flatted thirds and sevenths, a 12-bar structure, and lyrics in a three line stanza in which the second line repeats the first.

Ralph Ellison calls the blues "an art of ambiguity" that "constantly remind us of our limitations while encouraging us to see how far we can actually go." This service is a reflection on the importance of "the blues" as nothing less than revolutionary.

 

 

April 30th, 2017
"Faure's Requiem... a 'Lullaby of Death'"
Directed by Patrick Scofield and John Boelling

One of the most well loved and performed works of any genre, Faure's Requiem is an offering of peaceful rememberance of the dead, with a focus on eternal rest and happiness. Someone once called it a "Lullaby of Death", a title which Faure himself resonated with. This Music-Centered-Service features a professional chamber orchestra and extended choir, with solos by our own Alexis Balkowitsch and Music Director, Patrick Scofield. Conducted by Patrick and guest assistant conductor, John Boelling.

 

 

April 23, 2017
"Lost in Translation"
Rev. Greg Ward and Seth Moran

Have you ever been 'called' to something important but missed the 'call' because you didn't understand what was being asked? What was at stake? Being able to hear, understand and interpret what the world is asking of us is of critical importance if we are to figure out how to become integral and necessary to the future.

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April 16, 2017
"The Easter Exam"
Rev. Greg Ward and Bonnie Long

There are few things that stymie and stupify Unitarian Universalists more than the idea of Easter. Ask A UU to explain Easter and they will often look at their watch and change the subject. The concepts of resurrection don't always make sense - at least in the way they have long been explained in our culture. And the idea of a 'violent atonement' is part of the problem. This morning we will celebrate an Easter that is incredibly real and incredibly needed in this world.

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April 9, 2017
"A Life Less Ordinary"
Rev. Greg Ward and De Stewart

The greatest of epiphanies provide something amazing - something we couldn't imagine. But they also take from us something we thought we would always have... something we couldn't live without. The greatest periods of growth always come when we are ready to stop holding so tightly to 'what is,' long enough for 'what can be' to slip in and take root. It is a adventurous and visionary to let go of the ordinary and be willing to live a life less ordinary.

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April 2, 2017
"Here if You Need Me"
Rev. Greg Ward and Jeannie Starke

We are all asked - from time to time - to navigate moments of disabling loss and grief. Even more often, we're called upon by someone who is in such a place to provide something that would help get them back on track. In the moment, we may feel a little lost or disoriented – too out-of- sorts to continue. It's like we are standing before someone who has lost their place in their own story. But we have also lost our place, because – for a moment – we think we're supposed to go in and fix everything. To change the bad that has happened into good. So, we feel paralyzed. But we're not supposed to change anything. We're just supposed to help the story-teller remember and speak and accept their own story - even the really hard parts. Which it sometimes takes tremendous love and good company to get through the harder parts. How do we help remind someone – who's own story has come to a screeching halt – to find their place again? How can we be the person to, as writer Nell Morton says, 'listen someone back into their truth"?

 

 

March 26, 2017
"Cultural Misappropriation in Our World"
DRE Sara Cloe, SR YRUU Youth, and Gretchen Meyer

Our youth will explore cultural misappropriation in this service that invites each of us to examine our practices, and ask if the culture, tradition, or religion we are practicing is ours to adopt. Have we acknowledged the sources? Are we clear about the sacred nature of any rituals or prayers we practice? Do our practices convey a sense of respect for the material and the history and culture being represented? How does globalization affect our culture?

 

 

March 19, 2017
"Enthusiasmos"
Rev. Greg Ward and Karen Valbuena

How do we continue to love and feel compassion, curiosity, connection even after we've been hurt, abandoned, betrayed or disillusioned? How can we keep our soul pliable and resilient, receptive and open? We will look to the wisdom of Vincent Van Gogh to help us understand.

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March 12, 2017
"A Religion Willing to Say 'Hell No!'"
Rev. Greg Ward and Seth Moran

Long ago in our Universalist heritage there was a man named John Murray who said, "Give them not hell, but hope and courage..." It was a way of both denouncing a fear-based religious approach to Love AND learning to approach Love by modeling hope and courage. In this sermon, we will examine the hell created to scare us and the hell we create ourselves.

 

 

 March 5, 2017
"A Vulnerable God"
Rev. Dr. Emily Brault and Bonnie Long

We have an addiction in our culture to the Strong and Almighty God. But what about the Vulnerable One? And what does our faith have to do with it? Rev. Dr. Emily Brault explores a little God language and how we can envision our faith in these interesting times.

 

 

February 26, 2017
"Five Dollars is Five Dollars"
Rev. Greg Ward and Norm Enfield

What is this church worth? What about the denomination? Or the principles of love and justice that we profess? What is any of this really worth? What are the people worth? Their integrity? Their autonomy to believe as they choose? And what are WE worth? What value can we really put on 'the inherent worth and dignity' that is our first principle? In this service, we will talk about the investments we make and the dividends we enjoy when we live a LIFE-WORTH living.

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February 19, 2017
"Heart Communion - An Intergenerational Service on Love"
Rev. Greg Ward and Sara Cloe

Somewhere, far, far away - in a community - ironically much like ours - there lived people in the midst of great transition. And they were looking for their next leader. And that search asked them to consider some very profound questions - not only about who they were looking for, but who they were themselves and what was truly in their heart. This is a timely intergenerational story.

 

 

February 12, 2017
"The Sky is Falling"
Rev. Greg Ward and De Stewart

Has there ever been a call to do something important but you missed the 'call' because you didn't see the signs or understand what was being asked? What was at stake? Being able to hear, understand and interpret what the world is asking of us is of critical importance if we are to figure out how to become integral and necessary and relevant to the future.

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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.