Rev. Jennifer Brooks

Many Voices, One Song

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Nearly 500 years ago, the first Unitarians used the phrase “unity in diversity” to describe their openness to diverse spiritual paths within one faith tradition. In this service of songs and readings, we explore the diversity of world music connected with the Christian tradition and of world religious faiths connected with values of Christmas. In a diversity of music and faiths there lies a unity of hope and love. The UU Singers, directed by Choir Director Karen Kraemer, sing us through this journey of expectation and discovery. UU Singers; Bruce Martin, pianist.

The Second Turkey and Other Stories

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This service features tender, light-hearted stories about family Thanksgivings that didn’t go exactly to plan. The tales invite us to cherish the love that has touched our lives, even if it didn’t arrive in exactly the way we expected. May we be aware of the abundance that sometimes slips in through the crack under the door.

Stone Soup

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The old story of Stone Soup tells of two weary travelers who arrive in a small village and unexpectedly bring a community together under the guise of making a delicious soup from stones.To make this story come to life, we’re encouraging everyone who can to bring pre-cut veggies to add to the pot, as well as non-perishable food to support the children with their food drive. This participatory service will engage young and old alike in this important tale and also offer food to the hungry in our community. Special music by visiting musician Peter Mayer.

Time

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In this month when we explore the worship theme of “Abundance,” it’s worth wondering whether we ever have enough time. What is time? Can we make time slow down, or get more of it than we have? This service takes a thoughtful look at science’s current understanding of time, and offers philosophy’s wisdom for managing it, as we come to appreciate the lives that have shaped ours and the love that’s there to guide our choices.

Cherish: A Service of Remembrance

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This service for all ages remembers the loved ones who have passed away. As we honor their memories, and the ways they shaped our lives, we’re also reminded to cherish every moment we have with those we love. Please bring a photo or item of remembrance for any people and/or animals who has passed away that you (or your family) would like to remember during this service.

The Leading Causes of Life

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News from the medical world typically focuses on the leading causes of death: all those killer diseases and the multitude of medications and special diets created to resist them. This week our focus is on the leading causes of life: connection, coherence, agency, blessing, and hope. When we shift our focus from death to life, we begin to discover reasons for courage despite the challenges in our lives and our nation. Gary Gunderson & Larry Pray, authors of the transformative book Leading Causes of Life, urge us to think about life “with the precision and rigor that we use when we try to postpone death.” How can we do that? How can we be accountable to life? In every field of human endeavor, there are groups working on the margins to explore explore what could be, what should be, if we are to fully engage life and treasure it. It’s time for a paradigm shift in the way we live. This service features the musical gifts of Amy Anderson Sorensen, Scott Stilwell, and the UU Ringers.

The World is Filled with Overcoming

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“The world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming.” Those words are from Helen Keller (1880–1968). Though blind and deaf from the age of two, Helen Keller became an inspirational writer and speaker. She championed women’s right to vote and workers’ right to unionize. She learned to sail a boat and ride a bicycle. When we look at our world today, sometimes all we can see is suffering. But the world is filled with overcoming. If we turn our attention to the overcoming all around us, we gain courage to overcome the challenges in our own lives; we gain courage to help overcome the challenges facing our world.

A Few Words

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“A word means what I say it means,” said Humpty-Dumpty to Alice. But Humpty-Dumpty’s thinking is a bit unbalanced. Meaning is both as intended and as received; to communicate successfully across the often invisible chasm of difference, it helps to be aware of the assumptions embedded not only in our own thinking, but in the words themselves. Today we go down the rabbit hole of just a few words.

Welcome Home

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Maya Angelou wrote, “The ache for home lives in all of us—the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” To be welcomed as we are, with all our identities, with our failures as well as our success, with our dreams as well as our origins, is a deep-seated longing in the human psyche. UU congregations seek to be truly welcoming to all people regardless of theology, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, or place of origin. What does welcome mean to each of us? What does it mean to people most at risk in our world today?

River of Life

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Each September, we celebrate our “ingathering” as a community and reaffirm our covenant as people committed to transformation of our own lives and the life of the world. In this service, we use water, the source of human life, as a symbol of our interconnectedness to all living beings. All life emerged from water; all life requires it; and the water cycle, from rain to rivers to oceans to clouds to rain, is a continuing reminder of the cycle of life. In today’s service, we reflect on our passage along the River of Life and the ways we restore our hearts, minds, and spirits through life’s challenges and changes. Just as water buoys us up, this community supports and sustains us during our life’s journey. Together we covenant, and together we renew, our life together.

Beginning Again

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As First Unitarian embarks on a two-year transition between settled Senior Ministers, we have the opportunity to reflect on the way that each ending is also a beginning. It’s as true in our individual lives as it is in our congregational life. This Sunday, our Interim Senior Minister gives us a glimpse of our beloved community’s road ahead during this transition—along with some reflections on personal transitions, and the challenges and opportunities that are part of any change.