This summer we are exploring the use of secular works as sacred texts. Listen to the Rev. Molly Housh Gordon’s sermon on July 14, 2019 as she explicates the thesis of the book Pleasure Activism by Adrienne Maree Brown. Brown posits that there is more to this world than the pursuit of mere life, liberty and justice; that we deserve pleasure; and, in fact, that embracing what brings us joy is central in organizing against oppression.
In summer 2019 we are studying secular works as sacred texts. On June 16, 2019, we explored secular texts using the spiritual practices of Lectio Divina and Floralegium – techniques that ancient monks used to study the Bible. Tim Dickerson and Sam Otten applied these techniques to excerpts from two works – Les Misérables by Victor Hugo and “John Wayne Gacy Jr” by Sufjan Stevens. Listen to their exploration of these works for the inspiration and deeper meaning we can find in them.
At worship on May 19, 2019, we were treated to a music extravaganza as we celebrated the service of our Interim Director of Music Ministry, Marques J. Ruff, and our accompanist, Arun Garg. We also celebrated the accomplishments of our high school graduates. We apologize that this is one of the longest podcasts we have offered – however we make up for it by having rights to publish the wonderful music from Marques, Arun and our choir. Also, you can see photos from the service here.
On Sunday, May 12, 2019 we celebrated our annual Flower Communion, a tradition started in 1923 by Czech Unitarian Minister Norbert Chapek. In this podcast, we are pleased to present the reflections of our Director of Religious Education Jamila Batchelder and feature the wonderful music from our service, by permission of the performers. Although the visual beauty of the service can’t be appreciated by listeners, we make up for that with the music from our guest musicians. Mathena Claire Page sang “Meinem Kinde,” Aubrey Smith sang “Serenade,” and then together they sang “The Flower Duet.”
At worship on Sunday, March 24, the UUCC Accessibility and Inclusion Ministry Team explored the topic of disability. Some disabilities are easily observed, leading to snap judgements about the person’s inherent worth and dignity, to misconceptions and prejudices, and often to discrimination. On the other hand, many disabilities are invisible, leading to accusations that the person might be “shirking” or “faking it.” But often well-meaning people are too “helpy,” as it is sometimes described, assuming that they can grab a disabled person’s arm and lead them around. All of these attitudes, well meaning or not, miss the mark. Disability is the only minority that any of us can join at any time, and we are likely to join them if we are lucky enough to live that long. Listen as Gretchen Maune, James Cutts, Qhyrrae Michaelieu, Martha Brownlee-Duffek and Ruth Millage describe their experiences.
At worship on Feb. 24, 2019, Rev. Molly Housh Gordon’s topic was “Reparations & Soul Repair.” She explored these issues: If power is the ability to act, then our power is deeply affected by our resources. What do we do about the truth of history that many have been systemically robbed of resources and thus power? What joyful redistribution of shared power could we find through the exercise of reparations? And what does all this mean for the well-being of our souls?
You can also read this sermon.
At worship on Jan. 27, 2019, the day before the 68th anniversary of our church’s founding on Jan. 28, 1951, Rev. Molly Housh Gordon reflected on the history and future of Unitarian Universalism in Mid-Missouri. Listen to her sermon exploring the vision that connects us across generations, what it means to be a good ancestor, and how this idea can inspire us to leave a legacy that we may not harvest.
On Jan. 20, 2019, the day before the official observance of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s death, Rev. Molly Housh Gordon revealed a major new effort by Faith Voices of Columbia – an interfaith group that promotes relationships of understanding, cooperation, and respect across religious and political divides. This proposal is scheduled to be presented to our community and our City Council on Feb. 4, 2019. The proposal demands funding for a permanent shelter for the unhoused, real and full community policing, abolishment of cash bail, and a number of other measures designed to create a moral attack on amoral policies. There could be no more fitting tribute to Dr. King’s legacy. We also are privileged to have digital rights and permission to publish Marques Ruff’s inspiring vocal performances.
Church was canceled on Jan. 13, 2019 because of heavy weekend snow, so we offer an archived recording from 2015 on the topic of “thresholds.” Times of change and transition can seem significant. Below the surface of our lives, the seeds of huge changes sleep beneath the snow, but we suspect nothing. When the grip of some long-enduring winter mentality begins to loosen, we find ourselves vulnerable to a springtime flourish of possibility, a threshold that divides two different territories, rhythms and atmospheres. Rev. Molly Housh Gordon explored these ideas on May 3, 2015.
A guest preacher, the Rev. Dr. C.W. Dawson challenged us at worship on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019, a time of resolutions and self-reflection, to be courageous – courageous in the face of trouble, courageous to stand up and say “enough,” courageous in the face of criticism and controversy. Rev. Dawson said he would rather die courageous than live as a coward.
There is a word not often heard in the Unitarian Universalist Church, and it is the F-word. Dare we utter it? Faith. In our exploration of loaded words this year, faith is the loaded word for December. Sometimes we see faith set up as an idea in opposition to reason and doubt. But can faith be of use in our thought and practice? Can faith actually translate to passion and commitment? What if our “faith” is what we believe fiercely, and even irrationally, as a part of dreaming better for our world? At worship on December 2, 2018, Rev. Molly Housh Gordon explored this topic, with introductory readings by Intern Minister Alexis and Tim Dickerson.
One of our favorite guest preachers, the Rev. Dr. C.W. Dawson, pastor of Dawson Journeys Ministry, was in our pulpit on Nov. 25, 2018. He teaches religion and philosophy at several area colleges, and his eight-week course “History of the Black Church in America,” has been a hit at our and several other area churches. In his sermon, “Now the Work, Soon the Victory,” Rev. Dr. Dawson asked, “How do we correct oppression? How can we be a part of the solution?” and he made clear there is much work to be done. The sermon was introduced by our Interim Music Director Marques J. Ruff singing “The Rain is Over and Gone.”
On Veteran’s Day, Nov. 11, 2018, our worship topic was “Service and Sacrifice” – a time to think carefully about the role of sacrifice in the lives of our service members and in all of our lives. What does it really mean to serve our country? Listen to Joe Collins and Anja Eick about their experiences in the military.
In the United States we have often conceived of Halloween as a frivolous time when children don costumes and eat too much candy. However in many cultures, this is a serious season for contemplating and respecting the memory of ancestors, folks dear to us who have departed – a time for honoring their memory and coping with grief at their passing. In her homily on Nov. 4, 2018, “All We Are and Will Ever Be,” Rev. Molly Housh Gordon explored this more meaningful and somber aspect of the Day of Remembrance, explaining how love is essential even though it entails future loss.
At our “Do the Monster Mash” worship services on Oct. 21, 2018, Rev. Molly Housh Gordon and DRE Jamila Batchelder considered the idea of monsters in mythologies and in the minds of young and old alike. Listen to their thoughts as they explored how the visceral imagery of devils or demons can describe the experience of evil and help us grapple with evils in our world.
In his sermon on Oct. 14, 2018, Jeff Ordway recalled how the privilege of being a white male, which might sound desirable, instead resulted in damage to his own soul and especially to others. The events of recent weeks, when we watched several women come forward at great personal risk to describe abusive behavior by a Supreme Court nominee only to watch as his confirmation sail through a mostly-male Senate, drive home the lasting damage done by white male privilege. Jeff’s personal journey witnessing and experiencing abuses and callous behavior among young white males demonstrates how these attitudes and behaviors are perpetuated. Trigger warning: The subjects addressed in this podcast may not be appropriate for all listeners.
Writing in the shadow of the Holocaust in the years after the Second World War, German-American philosopher Hannah Arendt said: “The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.” At worship on Oct. 7, 2018, Rev. Molly Hough Gordon’s sermon grappled with the small ways people of good will can participate in evil in their everyday lives and how we can work to align ourselves with good.
German theologian, pastor and anti-Nazi dissident Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote: “There is no way to peace along the way of safety. For peace must be dared. It is itself the great venture and can never be safe.” On Sept. 30, 2018, Rev. Molly Housh Gordon explored the mingling ideas of safety and risk in these times and in our lives against the backdrop of Senate testimony by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford about her unsettling experiences. After the sermon, we celebrated our long-time and well-loved church administrator, Kathie Bergman, upon her retirement.
At worship on Sept. 23, 2018, our Sanctuary Team (Immigrant Ministry) explored how to create an expansive sense of what it means to offer sanctuary in these challenging times. Together, we considered how claiming our identity as a sanctuary congregation relates to creating deep connections, radical welcome and courageous love – not just for our immigrant friends and guests, but for ourselves as members of this sanctuary community. With the addition of a shower in the church, we now have made our building even more accommodating should a person or family need the shelter of our church as they pursue legal remedies to avoid deportation – the Sanctuary Team thanks everyone who helped make this possible.
Our Jewish neighbors, members, and friends observed the high holiday of Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, Sept. 18-19, 2018. We all make mistakes. There is something reassuring about that – we have all fallen short, every one of us. Listen to the podcast of our Sept. 16, 2018 interactive worship service for all ages, in which we took the opportunity to contemplate what it means to make amends and acknowledge our failings and the importance of creating a community that continually recommits to our promises.
“Loaded words” is our worship theme for the year, and September’s loaded word is “sanctuary.” Listen to our worship service on Sept. 9, 2018 when the Rev. Molly Housh Gordon’s sermon, “An Altar in the World,” explored what it is to create and experience sacred space, and sanctuary, in the world and in our lives.
What is the work of love? Work can be a sacred gift, a meditation, and a prayer in itself. Listen as Reverend Molly Housh Gordon considered the many ways that we serve our deepest calling in this life at our Sept. 2, 2018 worship service on Labor Day weekend.
Every year, at the end of the warmth of summer and the beginning of the coolness of fall, we hold an ingathering ceremony – to gather the waters from out diverse travels over the summer and gather our grounded souls as we begin a new church year. Water is in our very bodies, and is found wherever we go whether that be the far reaches of the Earth or right here at home. Listen to this ceremony held on Aug. 26, 2018.
The current era of blood-sport, winner-take-all politics marked by xenophobia and hyper-nationalism may feel new and different, but it’s actually a recurring pattern in American history. How can we as Unitarian Universalists resist these ugly phenomena while remaining true to our principles? Steve Scott leads us in this challenging topic, with a bit of humor and a reminder to adhere to our principles.
At worship on Sunday, Aug. 5, 2018, our congregation heard from three of our delegates to General Assembly, the Unitarian Univeralist Association’s annual gathering. This year’s General Assembly was held in Kansas City, Mo., which allowed about two dozen of our members to join thousands of other UUs from around the country and the world for five days of learning, reflection, meditation, and the business of the association. Delegates Steve Scott, Peter Holmes and Todd Iveson shared their experiences at this exciting gathering.
At our worship service on Aug. 12, 2018, the Rev. Molly Housh Gordon explored the concept of fractal reality. Fractal patterns move from small to large, and not entirely the other way around. The small changes we make every day, in our lives and our organization, matter. In this podcast you’ll hear Rev. Molly propose that how we do the work of change matters.
At worship on Sunday, July 29, 2018, the Rev. Molly Housh Gordon reflected on the meaning of Sanctuary. A sanctuary literally means a church, yet also means a place of spiritual and even legal refuge. Rev. Molly explored how we can create a culture of compassion and expand our circle of warmth and care to those around us.
This podcast is an archived recording of our March 18, 2018 worship service. We have the privilege to hear our YRUU youth group share their feelings and thoughts about gun violence and the toll it has taken on their young lives.
At our worship service on July 22, 2018, Director of Religious Education Jamila Batchelder and others offered a spiritual exploration of human sexuality and information about our “Our Whole Lives” (OWL) program of comprehensive sexuality education for all ages.
In her sermon “Try a Little Tenderness” on July 15, 2018, the Rev. Molly Housh Gordon explored what it means to engage tenderness as a tactic of resistance in a time when appeals to security, strength and “other-ing” are used to oppress. She suggested how to bring softness and openness to the time at hand.
On Sunday, July 8, 2018, we explored “Everything Must Change: A Woman Gets Older,” organized by Connie Ordway. What does it mean for a woman to age in this society? Connie mapped the journey for women to reclaim their status as “Wise Women” with the help of several other women.
Rev. Molly’s homily on July 1, 2018, “Spiritual Tools to Sustain Us,” focused on four tools: Lamentation, Connection, Hope and Enjoyment.
On Dec. 10, 2017, Worship Associate Rebecca Graves explored “The Wildness of The Season.” Focusing on the northern European figure of Krampus, she examined what it means to tap into the wild within.
On Dec. 3, 2017, we heard a story about a woman who showed up anyway. Amid the inevitable struggles of life and relationships, one of the most profound things we do in religious community is to explore how to remain faithful to one another, to our highest values, and to love. When the going gets tough, it takes spiritual maturity to stay at the table and find our way through. “If it hadn’t been for the drag queens, I don’t know what we would have done.” Are you intrigued? Listen to Rev. Molly Housh Gordon’s inspiring story about Ruth Coker Burks from Little Rock, Ark.
In her sermon on Nov. 19, 2017, “Staying at the Table,” Rev. Molly Housh Gordon spoke of how Thanksgiving time with family is sometimes fun, sometimes hard, and always meaningful, and she explored how we can stay at the table through it all. Listen as she starts with a closer look at a hymn popular in the Civil Rights movement – “We’re Going to Sit at the Welcome Table.”
Our members Kevin EarthSoul, Connie Ordway and Melissa McConnell spoke at our “Struggling Together” worship services on Nov. 12, 2017 about how they grappled with struggles of different kinds in their lives and the meaning they found in their struggles. Listen as they tell their stories. You can also read the text of Connie Ordway’s remarks, “When I Grow Up, I Wanna Be an Old Woman” (PDF).
One way we build resilient community is by engaging struggle together. In doing so we learn that we can do hard things, engage in emotional complexities, and struggle together for justice. When we wrestle with the difficulties of life together, sometimes we just may find our way to a blessing. Listen as Rev. Molly Housh Gordon explores these ideas in her Nov. 5, 2017 sermon, “Wrestling to the Blessing.”
Difference enriches our communities, but could it also enrich the identity of our very own souls? Listen as we consider the complexities of the self, how we contain contradiction, and how we grow over time, awaking a different self each day. In her sermon on Oct. 22, 2017, Rev. Molly Housh Gordon explored how this complexity colors the portrayal of victims and perpetrators in the media – mainstream media flattens some into a two dimensional characture, while allowing us to examine the three dimensional depths of others. Is this difference driven by fear of the other?
On Oct. 15, the Rev. Molly Housh Gordon’s sermon was “Listening So Others May Speak, Speaking So Others May Listen. ” Jeff Ordway presented related readings. Rev. Molly explored how we can have useful conversations across difference in a polarized and polarizing time, how we might listen in a way that others will speak, and how we might speak so that we might truly be heard.