What If Nobody Forgave?

In a land far away, a wise old man who knew a great deal about people because he traveled from place to place arrived at a strange village. In this town all the people were carrying what seemed to be great bundles on their backs....

B Barbara Marshman

The Unseen Skeleton

We in the developed world are like homeowners who inherited a house on a piece of land that is beautiful on the outside, but whose soil is unstable loam and rock, heaving and contracting over generations, cracks patched but the deeper ruptures waved away for decades, centuries even....

I Isabel Wilkerson

Decolonizing My Desire

Since I was a kid, I have had a penchant and passion for my touch on my body. This was sometimes shameful, sometimes wonderful, and deeply private from fairly early on, as I received messages from family and neighbors that it wasn’t “right.” It has only been as an adult, as i have witnessed...

A Adrienne Maree Brown

The Promise and the Practice: "Words Matter" Reading

Diverse. Multicultural. Inclusive. Welcoming. If I made a list of every single Unitarian Universalist congregation I have served, visited or worshipped at, they would have a few things in common—including the use of these words. Perhaps on the front of the Order of Service?...

C Carol Thomas Cissel

The Grout

Unitarian Universalists are mosaic makers.

M Marcus Hartlief

On Being Asked to Change "Black Lives Matter" to "All Lives Matter"

As a Unitarian Universalist minister, it is sometimes my role to answer correspondence that comes to our congregation from members of the community. Last night, I received this brief note in my inbox: Good Evening: I am very upset at the signage that is outside of your church stating that “Black...

D Daniel S. Schatz

Litany of Comfort for Blue Christmas

Please speak the response when you hear: "...this season brings forth many feelings" Response: We find comfort in naming these feelings; we find some peace in being together All around us are bright lights and merry messages Yet in our heart not all is joyful There is grief with the loss of...

D Debra Faulk

A Gospel of Living

At the core of American racism is the belief that the things we the Blacks desire, the fact that we the Blacks desire, are perversions.

I Imani Perry

Every Place Is a Battleground

I was born nine years after four little girls were killed in Birmingham, Alabama, and two other boys later the same day.

I Imani Perry

Goodbyes Are Hard

It’s important to honor the footprint others leave on our heart.

L Lauren Robbins

Spring Surprise: Interactive story written for an Easter Service

Squirrel: tch tch tch Sparrow: cheep cheep Mouse/mice: squeak squeak Frogs: ribbit needeep Tadpoles: ribribrib Grass: oooohhhh Pond: plip plop Peepers: peep peep peep Nighthawk: scree scree Daffodils: nodding head/trumpet sound It wasn't a particularly hard winter that year, but it was long and...

K Kirsty Johnson

"Hallelujah!" Is a Dangerous Word

Hallelujah! is a dangerous word, especially in the mouths of the creatively maladjusted.* Hallelujah! is a dangerous word, for it comes always with an exclamation point. Hallelujah!...

M Marcia McFee

Tapping Out of Fake Fights

This reading is an excerpt of the sermon delivered by Rev. Nancy McDonald Ladd on Sunday morning at General Assembly 2016. For as long as two or more have gathered in the name of the spirit, those two or more have fought some fake fights. You remember, perhaps, the classic wedding reading from...

N Nancy McDonald Ladd

I pledge allegiance to the earth and all life

I pledge allegiance to the earth and all life: the fields and streams, the mountains and seas, the forests and deserts, the air and soil, all species and reserves, habitats and environments; one world, one creation, one home, indivisible for all, affected by pollution anywhere, depleted by any...

V Vern Barnet

Acknowledgment of Limitations

Knowing that we do not always live up to our best expectations of ourselves, let us in quietness seek the good within, which some call the inner light, and some "a spark of the divine." Knowing that we live in a society which falls far short of the ideal, let us in quietness resolve to do one thi...

M Maryell Cleary

Ritual for The Day of the Dead/All Souls

(Tea lights are set up in groups of 50 on either side of the chancel in this ritual borrowed from Soulful Sundown.) The long Summer has faded, now, and these first days of November mark the beginning of the coming of Winter....

C Christine C. Robinson

Easter and Ostara

Easter gets its name from the Teutonic goddess of spring and the dawn, whose name is spelled Oestre or Eastre. (The origin of the word east, the direction of the rising sun, comes from various Germanic, Austro-Hungarian words for dawn that share the root for the word aurora, which means “to...

A Adrianne Ross

Christmas Eve

The tree is all set Packages piled at its base. Telephone calls from the kids confirming the times of dinner and church. Nothing much left to do. The Fed Ex guy just delivered the last late order. I'll wrap it, and then what? Time on my hands. Time to think. What is this all about? Christmas is...

K Ken Nye

Standing with Love

If you're new to Unitarian Universalism, one of the things you will learn is that we are extremely proud of our history. In truth, our history is full of great things but it also has its share of shameful moments and embarrassing episodes....

T Thom Belote

We Can Never Know

How can we begin to understand what hope and healing mean in the face of a deadly illness with no known cure? We have many sources of hope and healing in our lives—singing, praying, thinking, communicating, acting, giving, and remembering. Dr. Richard Cabot tells the story of a young theological...

J Jay E Abernathy, Jr

Mother's Day Proclamation

Arise, then, women of this day! Arise, all women who have hearts, whether our baptism be of water or of tears! Say firmly: "We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies, "Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. "Our sons shall not be...

J Julia Ward Howe

This Is the Landscape

So reads the doormat of conditional welcome: Here will pass the en-abled, blessed be their less complicated bodies. They will be able to hustle up a flight of stairs, decipher the PA, endure fluorescent lights, and follow long, thick, complicated words....

J Julia Watts Belser

To Ask is to Give

A voice screeched gate assignments through a nerve-jangling public address system. Even if the announcements had been in English, I doubt that I’d have been able to make sense of them. But whatever was being broadcast to the cavernous waiting area of the Moscow airport prompted mobs of people to...

J Jeffrey A. Lockwood

Trust Walk

My high school years were speckled with trust walks. In my ­Unitarian Universalist youth group at the First UU Congre­gation of Ann Arbor, each year, the incoming freshmen were given blindfolds and a partner. They were led out into the dark, with only hands on their shoulders to guide them. When...

R Rianna Johnson-Levy

Pulled Between Parts

Identity is one of those concepts I have tried desperately to push to the sidelines for most of mi vida. It was always too complicated, too painful, or too divisive....

S Saul Ulloa

A Covenant Invites Relationship

A covenant is not a definition of a relationship; it is the framework for our relating. A covenant leaves room for chance and change, it is humble toward evolution. It claims: I will abide with you in this common endeavor, be present as best as I can in our becoming....

L Lisa Ward

Vessels of Divine Love for Each Other

The religious mystics of every tradition tell us union is what we are here for — union is what we are: we are connected to each other, to the earth, to everything that exists, and to the force that lies beyond it all—only most of the time we don’t realize it. Union is not a myth or a pipe...

L Laura Horton-Ludwig

The Flawed Understanding of Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a radical. He was called “the most dangerous man in America” by the FBI and had a 17,000 page FBI file at the time of his death. It wasn’t just KKK members or those in positions of power who disagreed with him or hated him. As Cornel West explains in...

A Aisha Ansano

The Promise and the Practice: "Missing Voices" Reading

When I started attending a UU church, I was excited by the promise of worship that would draw from the arts, science, nature, literature and a multitude of voices. Indeed, some of the voices that Unitarian Universalists hear in worship each week belong to Thoreau, Emerson, Ballou, and others....

C Connie Simon

A Recipe for Resilience

This recipe has been tweaked over time, so adjust as necessary. Sometimes it yields more servings than anticipated. Sometimes it needs a bit more of this ingredient or that. It comes from generations who have gone before me, and I've added my own flavor along the way. A Recipe for Resilience One...

M Margaret Weis

May our time together renew our hope

May our time together renew our hope. May the stories we share refresh our courage. May the songs we sing lift our spirits. May the words we speak invigorate us. May the touch of hands, the sound of laughter, the sight of faces new and familiar, restore us in faith. Amen.

C Calvin O Dame

Let us pause now to look inward

Let us pause now to look inward, exploring, if we dare, the secret places where motives are made and intentions live. Beneath appearances, what kind of persons are we? Is the inner self congruent with the one that rejoices with friends, assists the infirm, comforts the crying child? No....

M Michael A Schuler

May Means Mother's Day

May means Mother’s Day. I’m going to trust Hallmark and daddies and six year-olds and grown-up kids who are mommies themselves to honor the mothers among us as they deserve to be honored—with brass bands, flags flying, breakfast in bed (and kitchens cleaned up afterwards). I wish for those...

K Katie Lee Crane

Religion in the Ribbons

"Christ is born! Alleluia!" "Only ten shopping days until Christmas!" We lament tying one to the other, but this is not naked materialism. There is religion in the ribbons. A wintry night. A tiny baby, a cattle stall, a bed in the hay, two thousand years ago. From hundreds of miles Kings come to...

K Ken Nye

Simply Cherish The Earth

Regardless of our differences, there are a host of affirmations that we embrace as the basis for our faith. Whatever we think the holy may be, Creation itself is holy. We make no distinctions between the natural and the supernatural, the secular and the sacred. We simply cherish the earth and all...

W William F. Schulz

A Litany of Wholeheartednes

Because there have been times when shame has crushed our ability to be wholehearted We let go of who we ought to be and embrace who we are. Because we have not always had the courage to be imperfect We let go of who we ought to be and embrace who we are....

D Dawn Skjei Cooley

Let Our Table Stand Like an Altar

I [do not] mean to present myself as some kind of bodhisattva of compassion. However, in my better moments—at least in my more conscious moments—while I’m eating, I do try to imagine the lives and even the deaths of the creatures who nourish me. I try to think of the freedom and exhilaration...

L Lillian Nye

Who Cares?

In our modern age of apathy and egoism, there is cause for hope whenever people care about something beyond themselves. But there is more to being human than feeling deeply, for we risk becoming impassioned fools. Our minds must conspire with our hearts. We should care enough to think—and think...

J Jeffrey A. Lockwood

A Failure

“So last week I tried to hang myself on a stretch of land off I–35,” said my friend, who I called my cousin. “Jesus,” I swore. “Why?” But I already had an inkling that I knew the answer. My cousin’s story ­wasn’t very new to me anymore. “I was tired of feeling like a failure,”...

R Raziq Brown

Losing My Religion

I somehow lost my chalice necklace on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston the same day I lost my marriage and my religion. I must have dropped it while I was walking down the street. It was a bad day. Let me back up. I grew up Unitarian Universalist. I had a chalice necklace for a long time that I only...

R Robin Bartlett

The Paradox of Ancestry

We gather together this morning, Because others came before us. Some have left examples for us to follow, Others lessons for us to learn from, and the paradox is that many have left both pain and joy. We honor our ancestors this morning, not because they are perfect, But because, without them, we...

C Chris Rothbauer

Our Desire is a Gift from the Stars

The word desire comes from the Latin desiderare: “to long for,” but the Latin desiderare comes from de sidere: “from the stars.” From the stars. I find this extraordinary: to think that somehow our desire, our longing, is connected to the very stars in the sky. The stars, which share their...

L Laura Horton-Ludwig

Visitors in the Struggle for Racial Justice

No matter what tactics and methods racial justice activists use, the general response of society will be a collective head-shaking and tsk-tsk-ing — because what people are actually complaining about are not the specific tactics that are being used in the struggle for racial justice, but that the...

A Aisha Ansano

The Promise and the Practice: "Black Joy" Reading

Joy Unspeakable is not silent, it moans, hums, and bends to the rhythm of a dancing universe…. For our free African ancestors, joy unspeakable is drum talk… For enslaved Africans during the Middle Passage, joy unspeakable is the surprise of living one more day… For Africans in bondage in the...

K Kimberly Quinn Johnson 

In This Delicate Turning

It is time to throw out our exceptional identity and humble ourselves... We have always done good in the world—it is in our DNA. The question is, are we ready to do better for our own people? Because the world includes every person in our faith—many of whom have been micro-aggressioned right out...

M Marta I Valentín