Author: Graham Bell

▶️ Our Country: In Sickness and in Health — A Seventy-Year Perspective

With so many things going terribly wrong in this country, it’s easy to lose sight of our strengths. Today we will consider the long-term progress our nation has made, looking for signs of health and hope. Before the service, you may want to ask yourself what you think of as America’s greatest strengths, and how these can help us through our current crises. Our worship leader will be Rev. Chris Schriner, Minister Emeritus at MPUUC. Paul Davis will be our worship associate, and Rev. Barbara Meyers will offer a reflection. Jo Ann Schriner and Knuti VanHoven will provide our music.

▶️ MPUUC for a Change

This is a service based on the music that has moved us. It is a great blessing to have music that moves us. It’s an even greater blessing to be able to make music that moves us. This is a service from our music makers about the particular songs that they have brought into our worship services that meant something special. We will hear the music as well as the stories about making it that rendered that music as memorable or special.

▶️ Juneteenth

Known to some as the country’s “second Independence Day,” Juneteenth celebrates freedom. Not just the freedom of folks who assumed they were free, but what it might feel like if ALL people were free. The news that enslaved people would be freed after the civil war, took a long time in reaching some communities – especially where enslaved folks were reliant on their enslavers to tell them. On June 19, 1865 news reached the far outpost of Galveston TX. On June 17, 2021, it became a Federal Holiday.

▶️ Flower Communion

Our annual Flower Communion service asks us to remember the courage and vision of Norbert Capek who presided over one of the largest Unitarian Congregations in Prague, Czechoslovakia in the years when the Nazi regime terrorized political dissidents for criticizing the Third Reich. Capek asked people to imagine the beautiful diversity in everything – from skin color to language to cuisine. He asked people to bring flowers to represent all the difference that was possible. In this service we will be radical dissidents for diversity.

▶️ We Need One Another

A favorite reading from our hymnal begins this way: “We need one another when we mourn and would be comforted.” We all need comforting in these times, as we are barraged daily with news of pandemic deaths, climate catastrophe, systemic oppression, and war. How can we give shelter to each other in these times of fear, loss and grief? Can our Unitarian Universalist faith offer us comfort?

▶️ 8th Principle

In this service we will share some of the stories of our racial history that we recall with pride and that for which we still hold regret. As UUs, we will acknowledge our important, inspiring, compelling and confusing journey toward racial justice and what has led us to this point of feeling like we need an 8th Principle – something that explicitly announces that racial justice is an intentional core principle of UUism. We will talk about what happens if we pass the 8th Principle and what happens if we don’t.

▶️ When Angels Meet Giants

Baseball is full of heroes. The amazing catch. The game-changing home run. The play no one can never forget. And, of course, baseball is a game spotlighting the specific player who performs these unforgettable feats of grandeur. We all want such players on our team. Indeed, some say the game today is actually the game behind the game, played in the front office. It’s about how teams lure heroes to play for them. But what if championships weren’t really about signing giants of the game? But fielding the team that plays together with heart?

▶️ The Presence of a Protector, the Promise of Peace

Unitarian Julia Ward Howe was one of the first people who conceived of a Mother’s Day. But she did not envision what we currently have today – a Mother’s Day celebrated as a sentimental and gift-giving day honoring mothers. Ward, was a 19th century social reformer (and author of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,”) who was distressed over ‘sons killing the sons of other mothers’ and called on women’s groups to promote a universal peace. The holiday has strayed from its origins more than 140 years ago. In this service, we will explore the complicated messiness in a mother’s hope for peace for her children.

▶️ Peace Be With You – Reflections on Islam and Ramadan

Eid al-Fitr begins tonight - the religious holiday marking the end of the fast of Ramadan. Ramadan is a month of fasting and of prayer, reflection and community, and is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. It is the commemoration of Muhammad’s first revelation of the Quran. Many of us have little experience with fasting, but member Graham Bell often tries a modified fast during Ramadan. His teacher, Bawa Muhaiyaddeen, a Tamil-speaking Sufi mystic from Sri Lanka, considered fasting an opportunity to take on our inner “demons” or “bad qualities” (such as pride, greed, anger, and impatience) and to surrender instead to that which is greater than the self, to reflect on unity, and to find compassion for others. For many Muslims Ramadan is a time of putting others first and making donations to charity. Our service today will be lead by Allysson McDonald and Graham Bell as he reflects on what he has learned from his experiences of fasting for Ramadan,and about the meanings of some Arabic words that provide insight into the true meaning of Islam. Salaam alaikum!

▶️ The Interdependent Web of Life of Which We’re a Part

Almost everyone will tell you that they care about the earth. They care about the relationship they have helped to co-create [and re-create everyday] with the other 8.7 million species that co-habitate with us on planet earth. But what does it really mean to responsibly live up to our end of the interdependent bargain? This service celebrates our relationship – and our promise – to the millions of other plants, animals, flora and fauna that make up our creative co-existence.