Norbert Capek – 1870-1942
With a congregation filled with members who had left various protestant, Catholic and Jewish faith communities, Norbert Capek was faced with the same challenges that Unitarian Universalist members face today. Similarly, people were not completely satisfied, because the element of spirituality was missing. Setting out intentionally to create a ritual that would unite the various backgrounds without alienating those who had left those traditions he turned to the native beauty of the countryside for elements of creating something that would be acceptable to all. Much like one of an earlier forefather, Ralph Waldo Emerson, who tells us that the soul of the whole dwells within us, Capek believed in “the hidden cry for harmony with the Infinite” that is within every soul. He believed that all humans are an expression of god, and god struggles for higher expression in all of us.
The flower communion borrows from the universal beauty of nature, because it reflects the universal beauty of humans, various sizes, shapes and colors. No two are alike but each beautiful in its uniqueness. This service symbolizes our uniqueness, and our coming together. That we are celebrating the flower communion on the day that we celebrate new members is very fitting, because our community would not be the same without the uniqueness each member brings. The flower communion is a celebration of Hope, because no matter how challenging times have been over the past year, when we come together and exchange flowers, symbolizing a willingness to walk together in a search for truth and meaning despite the differences that could possibly divide. It matters very little whether we self identify as theist, atheist, humanist, naturalist, Universalist, Unitarian, or Unitarian Universalist. Whether we share a belief in creation, or the big bang theory, we are interconnected with the elements of the planet that we inhabit. We are spirit housed in our mortal flesh, and it is in being called to our higher selves, our spiritual selves that keeps us going.
From My Heart to Yours,
Presented by Joe DeMasi — May 30, 2010
That every individual by right of birth has inherent worth and dignity is the first principle of Unitarian-Universalism; this was highlighted in an engaging talk and original music presentation by singer-songwriter Joe DeMasi on Sunday May 30 2010. Joe, along with Chris Burke (Corky from “Life Goes On”) and John DeMasi (Joe’s brother and a member of the Dorothea Dix UU community) have created an inspirational and heartwarming video from Creative Arts and Abilities. The video, which is called “Yes I Can,” is inspiring people all over the world to believe in their abilities despite their differences. All people are valuable and all people possess abilities.
You can help spread the powerful message of hope and encouragement that this video brings by forwarding this link to everyone you know.
Creative Arts and Abilities is a not-for-profit organization that promotes inclusion and ability awareness through the visual and performing arts. To learn more about Creative Arts and Abilities and how you can continue the work of promoting and supporting inclusion, make a donation and help make a positive difference in people’s lives visit their web site: www.CreativeArtsAndAbilities.org.
You can order a DVD copy of this wonderful video for only $10.00 by visiting www.chrisburke.org. All proceeds benefit Creative Arts and Abilities.
Presented by Dennis Moyer – Jan 10, 2010
Reading/Meditation: “The heart has its reasons….” Compiled by Professor Neil Greenberg, Member of the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church
The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing, / For the intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. / Woe to the society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift. / Let us remember that in the end, our choices are aesthetic. / Let us remember that when power leads man toward arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. / That when power narrows our concern, poetry reminds us of the richness and diversity of our existence. / That when power corrupts, poetry cleanses. / Let us honor the art that reflects the basic human truths which are the touchstone of our judgment.
I read somewhere that Americans don’t read poetry, because poetry requires emotional involvement and we are uncomfortable with our emotions. As a result, poetry takes an undeserved rap in our culture. Does anyone remember the Erie Kovacs character, Percy Dovetonsils, a spoof of poets and poetry? It pretty much sums up the general attitude that many people today have toward poetry. Percy was an effete, lisping poet whose stereotyped, effeminate image would probably be considered politically incorrect today. I watched as a teenager, and I laughed and imagined this was an accurate portrayal of poets and their fellow travelers.
In the 1960s, three events altered my concept of poets and poetry. My first awakening to the power of poetry occurred at a reading by Alan Ginsberg at Temple University when I was an undergraduate. He read Howl and Kaddish, and I was drawn into the power of words to connect you to another level of consciousness that transcended everyday reality.
As a small child I loved Christmas. It was a magical time for me. When we went to bed Christmas Eve the house looked the way it did every other night. No tree, no decorations, no presents. We awoke Christmas morning to the magic of the tree ablaze with lights. Presents were beneath it. It looked wonderful because there were presents for the four children – me and my three brothers. With the lights sparkling on the tree and the presents beneath it the room looked like a magic land. We opened presents, dressed in our finest clothes and went to the local Episcopal Church for the tradition Christmas service where we sang carols galore. We visited friends and relatives but mostly they visited us because we were six and they were fewer in number.
As a teen-ager I began to question the meaning of Christmas and had trouble singing the Christmas Carols as I did not believe the story they told. If I sang them I felt like a hypocrite. If I did not I felt out of sync with those around me. This feeling continued long into my adulthood even after joining the Unitarian Universerlist Church. I attended many UU Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services – some of which met my needs. Some of which didn’t even come close. I learned to pick and choose what fit my needs from the various services. I threw away was did not. I was a long coming to this conclusion- that it was okay to disregard what I felt was inappropriate for me. I could sing a few verses of some carols but not all verses of all carols. I could put the singing of carols down to being a part of the season even if I felt that the story was inaccurate and unbelievable. I could get up and walk out if something deeply offended me or I could tune out while appearing to pay attention. I could put together a service which met my secular needs – knowing that such a service might not meet someone else’s needs. I need not sit and be quiet. I could be proactive.
Lay-led services are a part of DDUUC tradition. In fact, of 40 services each year the majority are lay-led. The following sermon was delivered by DDUUC member Tom Reilly on Sunday, December 7, 2008.
“The Stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”
Throughout the years of being in the Unitarian Universalist world I’ve heard questions raised about membership. Who do we welcome?
Who do we treat as one of “us’’? Is the stranger required to meet a standard? Or are they welcome because they have come into this place?
There are times when it seems to be important to set rules for membership in Unitarian Universalist congregations. And by the way, these rules vary from congregation to congregation. Some take the control approach that requires a minimum amount of instruction in the Unitarian Universalist faith. Perhaps, a minimum pledge is required. Others (the majority, I hope) are happy with involvement in the life of the community. [Read more →]