Speaker: Rev. Larry Peers

Harmony with the Infinite: Flower Communion Sunday

A Flower Communion is celebrated as an annual ritual in many Unitarian Universalist congregations around the world. It celebrates beauty and wonder, and also the gifts of human uniqueness and diversity in community. This ritual originated in 1923 with Rev. Norbert Čapek, a Unitarian Minister in Prague who, because of his advocacy for human freedom, died a prisoner in Dachau concentration camp. Norbert Čapek celebrated the “hidden cry for harmony with the Infinite” in every soul.” In October 2017, Rev. Peers visited with and taught Unitarians in the Czech Republic who celebrate a Flower Communion. Their communities have blossomed in recent years.

The Most Important Question You Can Ask

There is a question that we most often avoid, even though it is probably the most important question we can ever ask. It is the kind of question that often has no immediate answer, or if our answer was immediate, we should probably pause—and ask the question again. In fact, it is helpful to ask the question frequently. Well it may be most helpful to ask the question several times a day.
You might ask, “What is the question?” Well, that’s not the question. See you at the service!

Ways of Resurrection

We tend to think of resurrection as something that happens, if at all, after death. Yet, if we look around we can begin to see all the ways that “resurrections” occur in our own lives and in other examples of the resilient spirit. Some of us identify with the “Doubting Thomas” more in the Easter narratives. Yes, even Thomas has a role in helping to reveal to us something about the “ways of resurrection” in our lives, in nature and in communities that continue to arise with hope and resilience, joy and perseverance. Since this Easter is also on the cusp of Earth Day, join us as we sing songs celebrating Easter and the Earth, starting with this verse from Samuel Longfellow’s hymn, ““Lo, the earth awakes again from the winter’s bond and pain.”

I Felt as If My Legs Were Praying

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel in returning from the voting rights march in Selma Alabama said, “I felt as if my legs were praying.” In our own lives and world, sometimes we have to move in a different direction, prayerfully and intentionally through uncertainty and toward an uncertain freedom. What are the steps that are beckoning to you right now? On this Sunday, Christians commemorate “Palm Sunday” as Jesus’ deliberate entry into Jerusalem on a donkey on the first day of Passover. Contemporary scholars understand this as a spiritual act and also a political parody that had dire consequences for Jesus. Later this week (April 19th), Jews and others from around the world will begin gathering in Passover Seders to commemorate a march to freedom, “an Exodus.” Both Palm Sunday and the Exodus commemorate a journey that began with one step, just one step.

The Stories We Have, and the Stories that Have Us

In our individual lives and in the lives of congregations, we are guided by our stories. We organize events into coherent ways of making sense of our experience. Sometimes the stories we compose open horizons of possibilities before us. Other times, our stories can serve to limit our possibilities. Being human religiously means to become conscious of our creative role in shaping and reshaping not only the circumstances of our lives, but how we interpret our circumstances. The Unitarian Universalist social ethicist, James Luther Adams puts it this way: “Humanity lives both in and above history. We are fatefully caught in history, both as individuals and as members of a group, and we are also able to be creative in history.”

The Knowing Heart

Of course, there is more to the heart than heart-shaped Valentine’s products! The Sufis, a living mystical tradition within Islam (who many of us know through the poet, Rumi),  teach that the human heart is not a “fanciful metaphor but an objective organ of intuition and perception.” A contemporary Sufi teacher, Kabir Helminski, conveys a practical education of the heart. Likewise, contemporary understanding of “heart intelligence” has expanded some of our understandings of what it means to be human. Both Sufi teachers and scientific research from the HeartMath Institute may offer us perspectives and practices to help us more fully value our heart’s guidance and intelligence.

A Love Letter from the Future

Ta-Nehsi Coates’ book, Between the World and Me, is a book-length letter from the author to his son who was 15 years old at the time. Coates’ book adopted the same structure that James Baldwin took in his book, The Fire Next Time, which was also a letter (in part) to Baldwin’s nephew. Each book addresses from their own perspectives and times African American experiences in the United States. Though Coates’ is a “harsh realist,” he is also not without hope. How does our own “world” skew our perspective on “what is real” and “what is possible?” What letter might we write to a future generation (to children and teens today) from our experiences and our own “world” that convey our wisdom, recognize our faults, and express our hopes for them?