Sermons Archive

The Peril of Hope

Sunday, December 8, 10:00 a.m.
The Island School

Rev. Zackrie Vinczen, Minister
Mike Cox, Worship Associate

Hope can be a perilous thing, for in hoping we risk being let down. Still, it seems life is bleak without at least a spark of hope. Join us as we consider how to make peace with the perilous nature of hope.

Among the Hustle and Bustle

Sunday, December 1, 10:00 a.m.
The Island School

Rev. Zackrie Vinczen, Minister
Jenny Weaver, Worship Associate

December is a month jammed with holidays and holy days. All these celebrations and traditions can leave us feeling excited, confused, anxious, joyous, and even sad. Join us as we explore the complexity of this season and consider ways to find meaning among the busyness of the holidays.

Let Us Gather and Give Thanks

Sunday, November 24, 10:00 a.m.
The Island School

Rev. Zackrie Vinczen, Minister
Jan Forrest and Elliott Weaver, Worship Associates

The narrative of Thanksgiving in the United States is one fraught with controversy and historical inaccuracy. And yet, still this holiday holds the potential to gather people together to share a meal and express gratitude. In this service, we will think of ways to get beyond the traditional Thanksgiving and consider the importance of reinventing this holiday.

Walt Whitman: Poet of the Soul

Sunday, November 17, 10:00 a.m.
The Island School

Reverend Dr. Barry Andrews, Guest Speaker
Gregory Cook, Worship Associate

This year we celebrate the bicentennial of Walt Whitman. He is American’s best known and most distinctive poet. His Leaves of Grass is a literary classic and a deeply spiritual meditation on life and the cosmos. We don’t often think of him as a religious figure, but in addition to his poetry, he wrote in prose about the nature of spirituality and religion in America.

Join us to hear Rev. Dr. Barry Andrews share thoughts on the life and works of Walt Whitman.

The War on Families

Sunday, November 10, 10:00 a.m.
The Island School

Rev. Zackrie Vinczen, Minister
Emily Mockett, Worship Associate

I’ve heard it said in our country that there is a war on familiesUsually when this conversation comes up, it’s in reference to the erosion of traditional values. What is meant by traditional values often is a worldview that runs counter to our Unitarian Universalist principles.

Please join us as we explore this idea of the war on families and consider what role faith communities can play in ending this war.

All Souls Day

Sunday, October 27, 10:00 a.m.
The Island School

Rev. Zackrie Vinczen, Minister
Jan Forrest, Worship Associate

Reflecting on the dead and our relationship to them can help give our lives meaning. This week you are invited to join us in a ritual of reflection as we consider the way we are still in relationship with the departed and how such relationships can help us to live our lives more fully.As part of this service, people are encouraged to bring pictures of their departed loved ones to place on our communal table during the prelude.

Existentialism: Radical Freedom

Sunday, October 20, 10:00 a.m.
The Island School

Gregory Cook, Guest Speaker
Mike Cox, Worship Associate

As each of us has a life before knowing what to do with it, it is worth considering a philosophy which assumes exactly that.

Inclined Toward Difference

Sunday, October 13, 10:00 a.m.
The Island School

Zackrie Vinczen, Minister 
Jenny Weaver, Worship Associate

As Unitarian Universalists, we strive to grow communities rich in diversity. However, despite this striving, we often fall short of being inclusive. What happens when someone within our communities feels inclined toward difference? Join us as we explore the virtues of diversity as well as what happens when bonds are tested within our communities.

Digital Citizenship

Sunday, October 6, 10:00 a.m.
The Island School

Zackrie Vinczen, Minister 
Gregory Cook, Worship Associate

As technology plays an increasing role in our lives, there has been a shift in the way we engage with one another. For better or worse, this shift has left us in need of new rules and systems of etiquette to guide our interactions. You are invited to join in this exploration as we consider what it means to be a digital citizen.

Discernment for Success

Sunday, September 29, 10:00 a.m.
The Island School

Zackrie Vinczen, Minister 
Emily Mockett, Worship Associate

In a world where choices abound, it can be hard to make a choice. Sometimes it feels by choosing one thing we close the door on countless other options. But is it reasonable to do everything? Come join us as we explore the role of discernment in achieving success as well as what success means for Cedars. 

They Called Us the Brown Kids

Sunday, September 22, 10:00 a.m.
The Island School

Gina Corpuz, Guest Speaker  
Penny Brewer, Worship Associate

“I became aware at an early age that my father, a Filipino immigrant, and my mother, an Aboriginal woman from the Squamish Nation, had been victims of both legislated acts of discrimination and social injustices. As children of Bainbridge Island berry farmers, poor and brown-skinned in the 50’s and 60’s, we were raised never to speak out when we, too, became targets of racism and prejudice in the community and schools.”

Gina Corpuz is the daughter of Anacleto Corpuz from the Philippines and Evelyn Williams, a Squamish Nation member from British Columbia, Canada. Her father, originally from Bacnotan, La Union, purchased a 20-acre farm on Bainbridge Island in the 1930’s. There he grew raspberries as his lifelong livelihood. He was one of the founders of the Filipino American Community of Bainbridge Island and the Filipino Farmer’s Association.   

Gina and her five sisters were born and raised on Bainbridge Island, and two of her sisters, Arlene and Susie, still live on the family farm on New Brooklyn Road. Gina is a graduate of Bainbridge High School; she earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Ethnic Studies from Antioch University-Seattle and a Masters in Education, Curriculum, and Instruction from the University of Washington. She is a former Trustee of Olympic College, Bremerton, Washington. She was integral to the development of the first Indian Education Program for the Bainbridge Island School District, and she is a recipient of the Kitsap County Human Rights award.

The Spiritual Life

Sunday, September 15, 10:00 a.m.
The Island School

Zackrie Vinczen, Minister
Jan Forrest, Worship Associate

In many religious traditions, rituals and spiritual practice are central to participation. These practices can help a person to deepen a sense of connection while simultaneously exploring the inner workings of the mind and soul. For Unitarian Universalists, such practices are not always readily available.In this sermon, we will explore the virtue of spiritual practice and the forms that such practices take for UUs.

Troubling the Waters

Sunday, September 8, 10:00 a.m.
The Island School

Zackrie Vinczen, Minister
Jenny Weaver, Worship Associate

Water is a source of life and healing. Water also can be a source of inspiration if we take the time to consider the lessons it has to offer us.   In this service, we will reflect on our connection to water and consider the ways in which water can motivate us to seek justice.   

As part of this service, you are invited to take part in a water ritual by bringing a small bit of water to commingle in our communal bowl. Water will be available for those who did not bring any.

Where Do We Come From? Where are We Going?

Sunday, September 1, 10:00 a.m.
The Island School

Zackrie Vinczen, Minister
Mike Cox, Worship Associate

Often I am surprised by the number of people who confuse Unitarian Universalism with other (newer) religious movements. In this sermon, we will spend some time examining our UU heritage while also looking forward at the possibilities that still await us.

When is Enough?

Sunday, August 25, 10:00 a.m.
The Island School

Zackrie Vinczen, Minister
Emily Mockett, Worship Associate

Few days pass in our country without a new tragedy being announced. Mass shooting and threats of gun violence have become such a part of our cultural fabric that many of us have simply accepted such events as inevitable. But when is enough enough? In this sermon we will explore the gun epidemic in our country and faith-based responses we can take to counter gun violence within our communities.

Gather the Spirit

Sunday, August 18, 10:00 a.m.
The Island School

Zackrie Vinczen, Minister
Gregory Cook, Worship Associate

Every Sunday we gather as a community to deepen our commitment to our Unitarian Universalist values, but is gathering together enough? What do we do once we have gathered and why is it important to keep meeting like this?

In this service we will explore these questions as we discern the role of the church in our lives and the world at large.

Love the Hell Out of This World

Worship Service
Sunday, August 11, 10:00 a.m.
The Island School

Matt Meyer
, Guest Speaker
Penny Brewer
, Worship Associate

When the culture around us does not encourage us to be our best selves, how do we model the kind of world in which we want to live?

Matt will reflect on the good and bad of middle school, the time he picked the very best costume for a high-stakes 5th grade costume party, and how we find the skills for beloved community.

Matt Meyer is a musician and community organizer who has led hundreds of services for UU congregations across the country. He has a degree in hand drumming and has studied abroad in Cuba, Ghana, and Central America. Matt serves as Director of Community Life for Sanctuary Boston, a contemporary UU worship community.

Healing Our Soil, Healing Our Planet

Worship Service
Sunday, August, 10:00 a.m.
The Island School

Suzanne DuPont, SSC Coordinator
Mike Cox
, Worship Associate

Our soil has been diminished over the years by the clearing of land for development and agriculture. It has been degraded by the overuse of chemicals, fertilizers, and unsustainable agricultural practices. To combat the climate crisis, we need to start using farming techniques that will help regenerate the soil and sequester carbon. In this service, we will share stories about working with the soil and explore how “healing our soil” can help in “healing our planet.”

Please bring a small amount of soil from your garden to place in a communal bowl.

Creative Praise

An All-Ages Worship Service
Sunday, July 28, 
10:00 a.m.
The Island School

Sunday Service Committee
Emily Mockett
, Worship Associate

As UU’s we embrace diverse sources of inspiration. As humans we are infinitely creative beings, and our creations take many forms, from how we place food on our plates, to singing in the shower, to our novel inventions, to fine art installed in museums. In this service we will come together to worship with music, movement, and art to creatively express our reverences. This will be an All-Ages service and will include a community art project to create a welcome gift for our new minister, Rev. Zackrie. 

Blessing of the Animals

An All-Ages Worship Service
Sunday, July 21, 10:00 a.m.

The Island School

Sunday Service Committee
Jenny Weaver
, Worship Associate

This Sunday, we will have our annual ceremony to celebrate the non-humans in our lives. We especially honor and bless our pets, those who share our days and homes. Then we also include and bless those other individual beings that share our neighborhoods and our world. 

There will be a Special Collection for the Doney Coe Veterinary Clinic. 


Cedars UU Church at the Island School
June 23, 2019
Rev. Thomas Perchlik has made the entire text of his sermon available at the following link: Always the More Beautiful Question

©2019 Reverend Thomas Perchlik

Men in Me Too

Cedars UU Church, VETERANS DAY Sunday
November 11, 2018
Rev. Thomas Perchlik has made the entire text of his sermon available at the following link  Sermon_Men-in-Me-Too

©2018 Reverend Thomas Perchlik

What Does Humanism Mean Today?

Cedars UU Church at The Island School
Rev. Barry Andrews, Guest Speaker
December 30, 2018

The entire text of Rev. Barry Andrews talk can be found by following this link: What Does Humanism Mean Today?

Copyright @2018


Inside Out

Cedars UU Church at The Island School
12 August 2018
©2018 by Thomas M. Perchlik

Rev. Perchlik has made available his full sermon for “Inside Out” held on August 12, 2018. To read the full sermon text click here.

Unitarian is an Adjective

Unitarian is an Adjective
Cedars UU Church at The Island School
20 May 2018
©2018 by Thomas M. Perchlik

Rev. Perchlik has made available his full sermon for “Unitarian is an Adjective” held on May 20, 2018. To read the full sermon text click here.

Is Dad Gender Expansive?

Is Dad Gender Expansive
Cedars UU Church at The Island School
17 June 2018
©2018 by Thomas M. Perchlik

Rev. Perchlik has made available his full sermon for “Is Dad Gender Expansive?” held on June 17, 2018. To read the full sermon text click here.

Choose Life Sermon

Cedars UU Church at The Island School
25 March 2018
©2018 by Thomas M. Perchlik

Rev. Perchlik has made available his full sermon for “Choose Life” held on March 25, 2018. To read the full sermon text click here.

The Myths of Ministry Sermon

Cedars UU Church at The Island School
17 September 2017
©2017 by Thomas M. Perchlik

Rev. Perchlik has made available his full sermon for “Myths of Ministry” held on September 17, 2017. To read the full sermon text click here.

Ministry in the Bardo

Reverend Thomas Perchlik has made available his sermon on Ministry in the Bardo from the Sunday, August 13, 2017 service. You can download the PDF here.

The Humanist Tradition Sermon Now Available

Our guest speaker and member, Eric Rasmussen has made availble his talk on The Humanist Tradition from the Sunday, April 2 service. You can dowload the PDF here.

Tweeting Thoreau Feb. 19, 2017 Sermon

The sermon by Rev. Barry Andrews held on Sunday, February 19, 2017 is now available for review.

Click here to open the PDF document.

Nothing Secure But Life,.. Nov. 6, 2016

Rev. Barry Andrews sermon from Sunday, November 6, 2016: “Nothing Secure But Life, Transition, the Energizing Spirit” by Rev. Barry Andrews, Cedars Member and retired UU Minister is now available to read by clicking here.

Reclaiming Mythos in a Logos World Oct. 2, 2016

You can now read here Reverend Barbara ten Hove‘s October 2, 2016 sermon.

Reclaiming Mythos in a Logos World

which notes that rational religion has its place, but the longing for spirit remains even within our faith tradition. It lifts up the work of religious thinker Karen Armstrong, who suggests that “it’s time to look again at mythos, in new and different ways.”

Latest Sermon by Rev. Jaco ten Hove Now Posted

Latest Sermon by Rev. Jaco ten Hove Now Posted

You can now read (HERE) the August 28, 2016 sermon, After a Dying Dad, which features Rev. Jaco’s reflections on his experience caring for his father on home hospice earlier this year.

“Caring and Giving - They’re Fundamental”

“Caring and Giving – They’re Fundamental,” Rev. Barbara ten Hove’s Oct. 16 sermon based on Jonathan Evison’s The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving: A Novel (Kitsap Regional Library’s 2015 “One Book, One Community” selection) is now posted as a  HERE. (A copy was sent to the author, who was “thrilled and touched” by the piece, according to Rebecca Judd, manager of the B.I. Branch Library.)

Many Stories, One Identity

Al Tringali’s message “Many Stories, One Identity,” which was shared as part of the Becoming American service on Sunday, July 26, 2015 is now available here.

Rev. Barry Andrew’s Aug. 2, 2015 Sermon Now Posted

“Intimations of Immortality,” delivered by retired UU minister (and Cedars member) Rev. Barry Andrews, is now available online HERE.

Messengers from the Source

“Life goes on as we continue to evolve, hopefully for the better. Always there are folks who push the front edges of our self-awareness as planetary denizens, and thereby improve the odds for productive growth. We can learn important depth and breadth from Miriam MacGillis, Janice Benyus and Wendell Berry, three interconnected “messengers” who ground us in both earthy and cosmic consciousness.”

Rev. Jaco B. ten Hove, co-minister, Cedars Unitarian Universalist Church
Bainbridge Island and Greater Kitsap County, WA — May 10, 2015
View in PDF here.

Sustaining Each Other

There are stresses in our lives that urge us to reprioritize things, and as we do we might feel the full range of our feelings, up and down. We may also notice a palpable need to be in sustaining relationships, both individually and collectively, casually and intimately. How we do this–or not–matters, so we consider ways to improve the odds for such relational sustenance.

Rev. Jaco B. ten Hove, co-minister, Cedars Unitarian Universalist Church
Bainbridge Island and Greater Kitsap County, WA — February 1, 2015

Read sermon PDF HERE.

The 'Is' and the 'Ought'—Social Ethics for Social Justice

Martin Luther King, Jr., suggested that “Justice, at its best, is power correcting everything that stands against love.”
We might know this in our hearts, but the ethics that guide us in that direction are elusive, even if inspirational. 

Rev. Jaco B. ten Hove, co-minister, Cedars Unitarian Universalist Church
Bainbridge Island and Greater Kitsap County, WA — November 16, 2014
Read sermon PDF HERE..
Please also note copyright message at beginning of sermon.

Rev. Barry Andrew's Recent Sermon Now Posted

“God and the ‘What’ of Unitarian Universalist Spirituality,” an acclaimed July 27 sermon delivered by retired UU minister (and Cedars  member) Rev. Barry Andrews, is now available online HERE .


My Journey From Homophobia

It doesn’t feel like a particularly dramatic story, my movement away from the homophobia of younger years, but, upon reflection, it matters that I tell it—especially as we endeavor to help America move toward a religious value of inclusivity.

Rev. Jaco B. ten Hove, co-minister, Cedars Unitarian Universalist Church
Bainbridge Island and Greater Kitsap County, WA — March 23, 2014
See sermon posted in PDF.
Please also note copyright message at front of document.

Noah and Klatuu Walk into a Bar...

Written for “National Preach-In on Climate Change” Day, this is an angle you’re not likely to hear anywhere else, linking Noah (of Ark fame) and the main alien from “The Day the Earth Stood Still” to help us come to grips with climate disruption. Joke, No Joke.

Rev. Jaco B. ten Hove, co-minister, Cedars Unitarian Universalist Church
Bainbridge Island and Greater Kitsap County, WA — February 16, 2014
(Please also see copyright notice at end of document.)

NOTE: Since numerous references within the sermon are thematically connected to other sections of the service in which the sermon was embedded, the author recommends that this entire document be experienced as one integral presentation.

Continue reading (PDF)

Meaningful Momentum

There are formative times in our lives that create deep identity energy that can sustain us for a lifetime, and to which we return (in mind, heart and community) for inspiration and renewal.

by Jaco B. ten Hove, co-minister
Cedars Unitarian Universalist Church, Bainbridge Island & Greater Kitsap County, WA
June 2, 2013

I invite you to recognize what was undoubtedly a formative era in your own life, a time captured by the title to one of A.A. Milne’s delightfully evocative little books: “When We Were Very Young” (in which an indelible character appears for the first time: Winnie-the-Pooh).

We adults continue to research and learn about the astounding importance of the early years of a growing human being’s development, but this only confirms what we likely know in our hearts anyway: it greatly matters what young people experience, how they take in their expanding world and absorb what becomes for them, and I daresay for all of us, meaningful momentum.

Continue reading (PDF) …

Slouching Toward Awareness: Deeper Discovery

Most of us understand ourselves as Americans of various ethnic backgrounds, united by landscape and laws. As is often true for each of us psychologically, the deeper our awareness of earlier origins, the more we discover how complex our identity really is, individually and collectively. The 21st century continues to co-mingle us in diversity, so it matters which lenses we use to perceive our shared national meaning. 

by Jaco B. ten Hove, co-minister
Cedars Unitarian Universalist Church, Bainbridge Island & Greater Kitsap County, WA
November 25, 2012

Comin’ on winter, it is—often an introspective time, when we earthlings reflect the planet’s call to hunker down through the darker days, literally and metaphorically; when the web of creation moves more internally; when the invasive vines of our own soil maybe go dormant, too, and allow us to dig a bit inward. This is as it should be: our natures in harmony with Nature. “Wake, Now, My Senses,” even as the earth’s call is to slow down.

So I chose Awareness as an overall theme for this sermon heading into winter. But “Slouching Toward Awareness” may or may not ring any bells for you, referencing, as it does, a William Butler Yeats poem that has been formative for some of us, at least by giving lesser poets a way to work into our titles that evocatively docile word: slouch.

Like many people, Yeats was in a fiercely reflective mood after the horrors of World War I, when he crafted his poem called, “The Second Coming,” which I take to be a reality check for Christians, and meaningful to others as well. It’s always risky to excerpt from a poem, but here’s my dangerous attempt to pull out just eight lines:

  • Turning and turning in the widening gyre…
    • Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    • Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world…
  • The best lack all conviction, while the worst
  • Are full of passionate intensity.
  • Surely some revelation is at hand;
    • …And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    • Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Continue reading (PDF)

The Universal Spirit of Compassion

By Rev. Barbara W. ten Hove, co-minister
Cedars Unitarian Universalist Church, Bainbridge Island & Greater Kitsap County, WA
November 18, 2012

Today marks for us the beginning of the Holiday Season, so we acknowledge the importance compassion plays during this time of year and in the many religions of the world. Though at times it seems as if religion is used as a club to hurt those who are different, if you dig just a bit, you discover that compassion is at the heart of all major religions.  As an example, let me call you into worship with a wonderful story from the Jewish Hasidic tradition. (Scholars have discovered versions of it throughout the religious world.)

    A Rabbi had a conversation with God about Heaven and Hell. “I will show you Hell,” said God and pointed to a table. The people sitting at it were starving and desperate. In the middle of the table there was a large pot of delicious stew. The people round the table were holding spoons with very long handles. They found that it was possible to reach the pot to take a spoonful of the stew, but because the handle of the spoon was too long, they could not get the food back into their mouths. The Rabbi saw that their suffering was terrible.
    “Now I will show you Heaven,” said God, and they went into another room, exactly the same as the first. There was the same table and the same pot of stew. The people, as before, were equipped with the same long-handled spoons—but here they were well nourished,laughing and talking. At first the Rabbi could not understand. “It is simple,” said God. “You see, they have learned to feed each other.”

(From Storytellers, Saints and Scoundrels: Folk Narrative in Hindu Religious Teaching, adapted by Kirin Narayan)

Continue reading The Universal Spirit of Compassion

The Dialectic Loom of Democracy

What inner resources do we bring to the tumultuous table of our times, when fractious embitterment tends to disable our noble system of self-government? We can contribute to “Healing the Heart of Democracy,” as inspired by Parker Palmer’s latest book of that title.

By Rev. Jaco B. ten Hove, co-minister
Cedars Unitarian Universalist Church, Bainbridge Island & Greater Kitsap County, WA
 — September 16, 2012 —

Page references from Healing the Heart of Democracy
by Parker Palmer (2011, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco)

OPENING SONG — “Building Bridges,” #1023 in Singing the Journey:

Building bridges between our divisions, I reach out to you, will you reach out to me?
With all of our voices, and all of our visions, friends, we could make such sweet harmony.

Certainly one of the most momentous times of division in our land was the Civil War between the States, which began its four-year swath of ruin in April 1861. Any “sweet harmony” in the still formative and supposedly United States seemed swept away by voices of dissension and warmongering. Would the Union and its ambitious democracy even survive? It is perhaps hard for us today to imagine the anxiety and discord that swirled so dangerously at that time.

In early March of 1861, just weeks ahead of the opening attack on Fort Sumter, newly elected President Abraham Lincoln made his first inaugural address, as sabers rattled. The closing paragraph of his speech, offered in the face of such deep-seated division, has resonated across the chambers of time and speaks to us still during yet another extremely divisive election season that has many of us dispirited and worried. Listen to Lincoln’s message, spoken as Civil War was imminent:

We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature (27).

“(T)he chorus of the Union” will again be “touched…by the better angels of our nature.” This could seem like overly idealistic, unrealistic talk, given what was unfolding. But Lincoln was on to something important, and stayed true to his notions throughout the bitterly destructive war, despite public opinion often against him.

Continue reading (PDF)

The Answer to Bad Religion

Progressive Christian evangelical Jim Wallis has what he calls “the answer to bad religion,” which I respect and appreciate. But not surprisingly, I propose a different alternative religious geometry, one that looks with hope into a challenging but stimulating future. 

by Jaco B. ten Hove, co-minister
Cedars Unitarian Universalist Church, Bainbridge Island & Greater Kitsap County, WA
— August 26, 2012 —

The author of our reading this morning, Jim Wallis, calls himself a “public theologian” and has been known to speak at upwards of 200 events a year, addressing “the crossroads of religion and politics in America.” He is a progressive evangelical Christian, founder of Sojourners, a nationwide network of similarly optimistic religious folks “working for justice and peace.” One of his more recent books gives evidence to his approach. It’s perhaps wishfully titled: “The Great Awakening: Reviving Faith & Politics in a Post–Religious Right America.” (Would that we were in a “Post–Religious Right America”!)

But Wallis’s earlier book, God’s Politics, which was mentioned in the lead article of one of our UU World magazines (“The Religious Left“) and is the initial focus of my talk this morning, also has a catchy subtitle: “Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It.” It’s a rambling treatise that nonetheless contributes a lot to this public discussion, especially as an important qualifier to the Religious Right.

Continue reading The Answer to Bad Religion

Great Moments on the Inexorable March Toward “BothAndia” — Eastern European Roots

“BothAndia” is an idyllic alternative to “EitherOrland,” and there have been some significant turning points in our early heretical UU history that aimed humanity in that fortuitous direction, although certainly not without resistance. 

by Jaco B. ten Hove, co-minister
Cedars Unitarian Universalist Church, Bainbridge Island & Greater Kitsap County, WA
— February 19, 2012 —

Just so there’s no confusion, if you were to search the internet for references to the term “BothAndia,” you would find mention of it almost entirely in works associated with me, so I have to be accountable for whatever fallout there is from this invented expression. It has become one of my favorite words, along with “inexorable” (which means steady, unstoppable)—and today I get to use them both in the same sermon title!

I find BothAndia to be a very handy and expressive tool, especially as an adjective — “bothandian.” But more than that, it helps me highlight an important, maybe even essential liberal religious value: inclusion. And I will draw your attention momentarily to some early Eastern European roots of the Unitarian side of our religion, by profiling two pivotal moments that are decidedly “bothandian.”

I believe the arc of the universe is leading us—slowly, perhaps, but inexorably — toward BothAndia, an idealized state of being, where “both/and” solutions to apparently oppositional dilemmas are eagerly sought, found and utilized to strengthen the common
good. This inclusive vision is in contrast to reliance on more closed and often absolutist “either/or” responses to life’s challenges.

My hope is that after I do this here, any of you will be at least a little bit better able to explain what we stand for and why our heritage matters, both then and now. To be able to adequately speak up for our religious perspective in the current national climate is a challenge I hope none of you will shy away from, since we are the latest generation of both caretakers and innovators of a “freedom that (both) reveres the past (and) trusts the dawning future (even) more” (from Hymn #145, “As Tranquil Streams”).

Read the whole sermon (PDF)

Resilience as a Spiritual Strength

We try to find strength of spirit to carry on when faced with adversity—or even just in the day-to day struggle to stay focused and productive. Resilience, says one expert, reflects a “character of personhood and quality of community that faces difficulty and stays in touch with purposeful life and meaningful relationships.” It is also valuable as a proactive resource.

by Jaco B. ten Hove, co-minister
Cedars Unitarian Universalist Church, Bainbridge Island & Greater Kitsap County, WA
— February 5, 2012 —

In any community and on any individual path there will be struggles, adversity, trials of one sort or another. Such is life. The strengths we muster to face any challenge come from deep within us. When pushed, our individual hearts and the heart of a community often draw from the resources that we have collected, the inspirations that guide us, during times easy and hard.

Resilience would seem to be a valuable quality—spiritual or otherwise—to bring to the fore, certainly when challenge knocks us for a loop, but also as a healthy, proactive part of one’s life. I agree with Gigi Leach, that stasis or merely recovering from adversity is not progress. I’m convinced that using a lens of resilience can help us strengthen both our individual and collective paths forward, especially if, as seems likely, the 21st century will continue to throw the weight of the world at us in ways that we don’t expect—or at least don’t want to expect.

Read the whole sermon (PDF)

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