Rev. Jennifer Brooks

The Leading Causes of Life

Watch the Video (YouTube link) 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

Watch the Video (YouTube link) "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

Watch the sermon (YouTube link) “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

Watch the Video (YouTube link) 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

Watch the Video (YouTube link) 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

Watch the Video (YouTube link) 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.