Sermons

Upcoming and Past

Upcoming Sermons

Nothing Changes If Nothing Changes

Sunday, September 19, 2021 11am  Live Zoom   Rev. Claudia Jiménez, Minister of Faith Development Our congregation's racial justice initiative invites us to consider our commitment to changing oppressive systems. It can be an uncomfortable and joyful journey to explore how we can each act in ways...

The Spirituality of Imperfection

Sunday, September 26, 2021  11am Live Zoom Rev. Cathy Harrington, Interim Lead  Minister William James, author of Varieties of Religious Experience, came to believe that human existence, even at its best, is left with an “irremediable sense of precariousness”; it is a “bell with a crack.”  Human...

Past Sermons are listed by date. 

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Bread For the Journey

Sunday, September 12, 2021 11am Live  Zoom   
Rev. Dr. Cathy Harrington, Interim Lead Minister
The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are. ~ Joseph Campbell

UU Asheville is in the midst of a ministerial transition while at the same time coping with the multiple changes caused by the pandemic. All of this uncertainty can feel unsettling, but transition can also be a time that is pregnant with possibility.  We must be willing to dwell in the messy middle for a time, and just like with making bread, things can be sticky for a while. Bread undergoes many transitions and ultimately “dying” in the oven as it transforms into sumptuous aromatic loaves. Campbell famously said, “Follow your blissWe must be willing to give up the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”  What will UU Asheville look like in five years?  Ten years?  Much will depend on how comfortable we can be living in the creative, messy tension of what was and what will be.

 

 

Walking Together

Sunday, September 5, 2021  Live Zoom  
Rev. Dr. Cathy Harrington, Interim Lead Minister  
Our Unitarian Universalist congregational polity is affirmed by our covenant with one another; to support, to honor, to grow into a greater affection for ourselves and the world.  Our vision of becoming better people, better parents, better citizens of the world, are only made possible by our willingness to walk together on the journey. 

 

Water Service

Sunday, August 29, 2021  Live ZOOM
Rev. Cathy Harrington, Interim Lead Minister
I’m delighted that North Carolina is home to beautiful waterfalls, mountain streams and rivers. My home state of Michigan is surrounded by the largest bodies of freshwater in the world and is also blessed with many beautiful rivers and streams. As residents of such an embarrassment of water riches, it would be easy for us to take this rare gift of fresh water for granted. The World Water Vision Report suggests that the world water crisis is not about having too little water, but is more about how we manage our water. Billions of people are suffering as a result of the mismanagement of our world’s water. Our Water Ceremony this year honors the sacred gift of water.

Here’s a link to the slides that were used in the Water Service worship service–all 76 of them!.  Many thanks to all who contributed!

 

Faith Development, Your Say?

Sunday, August 22, 2021   Live ZOOM 
Rev. Claudia Jimenez, Minister of Faith Development
This month as we welcome our Interim Lead Minister, Rev. Cathy and prepare to launch our Faith Development programs in October, Rev. Claudia invites us to consider what faith development is, why it matters and what our focus will be this new church year. Religious educator Kim Collins will offer a reflection on our Family Ministry focus. There will be a virtual blessing of the backpacks, the briefcases/computer bags and purses during service. Rev. Cathy and Rev. Claudia invite you to pick up a special gift on Saturday 1-3pm in the parking lot that will be used during the blessing. We will be taking videos for the service, optional, of course,  so we will be asking for your consent. 

Our Chosen Faith

Sunday, August 15, 2021   Live Zoom 
Rev. Cathy Harrington, Interim Lead Minister
Unitarians and Universalists have always been considered heretics because we choose our faith, not because we are simply contrary or rebellious.  “Heresy” in Greek means “choice.” Unitarian minister Jack Mendleson wrote, “Tragedy and death stalked those who first laid the foundations in Europe that was to bear the Unitarian and Universalist names.” Unitarians were given that title because of a carefully reasoned choice to say “No.” to the doctrine of the Trinity, and Universalists were called, “the no hellers” because of their belief in Universal Salvation.  

 

Something to Believe In

Sunday, August 8, 2021  Live Zoom at 11am
Rev. Dr. Cathy Harrington, Interim Lead Minister
It’s Rev. Dr. Cathy Harrington’s first worship service with UUCA.  We’ll learn more about her and what her hopes and intentions are for this two-year interim period.

Poetry Sunday-Rekindling the Light

Sunday, August 1, 11am Live Zoom
Our Poetry Sunday team has used the theme of Rekindling the Light to select poetry for this service.  Many thanks to the planning committee of Sammy Fong, Virginia Bower, and Worship Associate Joyce Hooley-Gingrich.
 
Music this Sunday is provided by Walela, Kate Wolf, The Sandburgers, and  Dr. Leslie Downs, Music Director.  

Let’s ALL Take a Break! No New Worship Services in July!

There are no “new” UUCA Sunday worship services until August 1, when our annual Poetry Sunday will be a LIVE Zoom service at 11am.
But that doesn’t mean you have to miss worship.  On Sunday, June 27, join an entire flock of UUs at the Sunday morning worship service of our General Assembly at noon.Go out on Google and find other UU (or be bold–other denominations) worship services to check out on Sunday mornings.

Here is a 20-minute sermon? presentation? lecture? by the UU Hysterical Society called “Hysterical Women,” offered by Liz James and Rev. Anne Barker.

And finally, here are links to some of Rev. Mark’s favorite past recorded UUCA services.  (Two things to note here.  We weren’t keeping live Zoom services for most the year, and all of Rev. Claudia’s worship services were live.)

July 19 – Living in Storyland, a collaboration of David Novak and me
November 1 – Rising From Our Grief, anticipating the election
January 24 – Where Art Meets Science, reflections on poets writing about science
March 21 – House for Hope – The Roof, reflection on how we cope with evil
April 4 – i thank you god, Easter service centered on ee cummings poem
April 11 – House for Hope – The Foundations, reflections on God
May 23 – RE Celebration Sunday
June 13 – Refulgent Still, Rev. Mark’s final service as UUCA Lead Minister

Worship at the General Assembly

June 23-27, 2021
Other free events during General Assembly this week (no registration required).  Use the same link as the worship service.

  • General Sessions
    June 23-27, 2021
    Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Co-Moderators Meg Riley and Charles Du Mond preside over the general sessions in which the business of the Association is conducted.​ General Session IV will include a collection to benefit Side with Love.
  • Candidates Forum and Information Session
    Thursday, June 24, 2021
    5:00 – 6:30 p.m. EDT / 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. PDT
  • Service of the Living Tradition
    Thursday, June 24, 2021
    7:00 – 8:15 p.m. EDT / 4:00 – 5:15 p.m. PDT
    Led by the Ministries and Faith Development Staff Group, this service honors fellowshipped and credentialed religious leaders; remembering those who have died, recognizing those who have completed active service (like Rev. Mark  Ward for instance), and welcoming those who have received fellowship or credentialed status in the past year. The service includes a collection to benefit the Living Tradition Fund.
  • Synergy Bridging Worship
    Friday, June 25, 2021
    7:00 – 8:15 p.m. EDT / 4:00 – 5:15 p.m. PDT
    This is a transformative multigenerational worship. Come be inspired and illuminated at a celebration of treasured worship elements, rites of passage and brilliant contemporary musical performances. The service includes a collection to benefit the Katie Tyson Fund for Youth and Young Adult Ministries.
  • Sunday Morning Worship
    Sunday, June 27, 2021
    12:00 – 1:15 p.m. EDT / 9:00 – 10:15 a.m. PDT
    Join us for the largest annual gathering of UUs joining in worship. The service includes a collection to benefit MICAH: Milwaukee Inner-city Congregations Allied for Hope.

Refulgent Still

Sunday, June 13, 2021
Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister  
For my last service at UUCA, I chose the same title as the first sermon I ever preached in Asheville, when I was candidating to become your minister. The language borrowed from Ralph Waldo Emerson still resonates, but my time with you has added so much more.

Music Sunday, A Service of Uplifting Music

Sunday, June 6, 2021  
Dr. Leslie Down, Music Director
It’s the first Sunday of June. Join us for Music Sunday!
Our very talented music director, Dr. Les Downs, has been working hard to put together an inspirational, entertaining Music Sunday for us. We’ll hear a wide range of music, from Broadway, from movies, pop, folk, and a traditional spiritual. We’re showcasing talent from our congregation (choir quartet, Sandburgers, younger members, etc.) AND from some pretty fabulous guest artists. Here’s the lineup: 

  • UUCA Choir Quartet:  Suzanne Neilson, Gail Ashburn,  Dennis Campbell, Langdon Martin
  • Congregation Members: Mia Phairas, Nick Phairas, Michelle Reines
  • The Sandburgers:  Brett Johnson, Will Jernigan, Sandra Goodson, Paul Moore, Annabelle Jernigan, Lorelei Goodson, Elliot Goodson
  • Guest Artists: Hillary Trumpler, Tabitha Judy, Olanna Goudeau, Ashley Watkins, Rita Hayes
  • Readers: Debbie Ward, Kris Stewart

 

 

 

Replacing Me with We

Sunday, May 30, 2021  
Rev. Dr. Neal Jones, Guest Minister
The insurrection at our Capital on January 6 was a graphic reminder of the fragility of democracy, even American democracy. But the threat runs deeper and politics and ideology. It is spiritual. It’s the inability to put the common good before self-interest. 

Rev. Dr. Neal Jones is a psychologist at the Pisgah Institute in Asheville. He came here after serving five congregations in North and South Carolina and in Texas, most recently Main Line Unitarian near Philadelphia, PA, and the UU Congregation of Columbia SC. He also serves as the chair of the national board of trustees of Americans United for Separation of Church & State.

 

 

Religious Education Celebration Sunday

Sunday, May 23, 2021  Live Zoom
Kim Collins, Jen Johnson, Religious Education Coordinators
Rev. Claudia Jiménez, Minister of Faith Development
A multigenerational celebration of our ministry to children, youth and families at UUCA. Voices of all ages will share music, readings and reflections to celebrate the work we have done this COVID year. We will also honor this year’s graduates with our traditional bridging ceremony adapted for this year’s virtual reality. Join us!

Savoring and Serving Life

Sunday, May 16, 2021  
Rev. Mariela Perez Simon, Guest Minister
Savoring and Serving is a framework to help us find a healing balance in life. Savoring and Serving as a way of healing ourselves and the planet; as a spiritual practice; as a social responsibility; as a way of honoring the life-force that moves through us and to give back generously to the whole web of life.

Brief bio: Rev. Mariela Pérez-Simons (she/her) is a Cuban-American UU minister who teaches about religious naturalism, soul, social change, and emotional intelligence.
Rev. Mariela was born and grew up in Cuba under a dictatorship at a time when religion was forbidden, which instilled in her a commitment to the freedom of individuals to seek truth and meaning on their own terms and create change in the world. She and her family became political refugees in the United States in 1995. Rev. Mariela earned an MFA in Writing and Literature from Bennington College in VT and a Masters of Divinity from Meadville Lombard Theological School where she received the Charles Billings Prize in Preaching (given to a graduating student for excellence in preaching) and The Faculty Prize for Religious Leadership (given to a graduating student whose tenure at Meadville embodies the values of liberal religious ministry.) Her website is www.revmariela.com

 

 

A House for Hope: The Threshold

Sunday, May 9, 2021  
Rev.Mark Ward, Lead Minister  
We close our journey considering the promise of progressive religion with an invitation to imagine the threshold for our “A House for Hope.” Here’s where we reflect on our mission, what we are called to bring to the larger world and what we should be prepared to receive.

A Tree Telling of Orpheus

Sunday, May 2, 2021  
Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister 
Denise Levertov’s poem describing an imagined meeting between a tree and the Greek musician Orpheus invites us to muse on the experience of spiritual awakening.

Earth Day

Sunday, April 18, 2021  LIVE Zoom at 11am
Rev. Claudia Jimenez, Minister of Faith Development
This is our annual multigenerational Earth Day Live Zoom service planned in partnership with the UUCA Earth Community Circles action group. Our theme will be emergence. Reflections will be shared by Kate Jerome and Dan Clere. We will also have special music, details TBA.

 

A House For Hope: Foundations

Sunday, April 11, 2021
Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister
This next service in our series exploring progressive religion considers what we make of the question of God or that in which we most deeply trust.

i thank you god

Sunday, April 4, 2021 Easter  
Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister  
Our service will center on ee cummings’ poem that celebrates the beauty and wonder of simply being and will include a performance by Rev. Ward’s brother Terry of a song based on that poem that was written by his brother Scott.

This Little Light of Mine

Sunday, March 28, 2021  
Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister

Once again as we confront times of turmoil this simple Civil Rights song rises again in relevancy. What does it have to teach us today?

A House for Hope: The Roof

Sunday, March 21, 2001  
Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister

Next on our journey to lay out our theological House for Hope we consider how we confront sadness, tragedy, oppression, injustice and evil that we find in the world. The theological word for this is Soteriology: What is the roof that protects us from the storms and helps us repair and restore community when it is damaged?

Public Theology: The Writings of Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz

Sunday, March 14, 2021
Rev. Claudia Jimenez, Minister of Faith Development
Sor Juana’s commitment to writing and learning during the 1600’s in Nueva España (modern Mexico) when women were expected to be “silent in church” invites us to consider our commitments and the challenges of keeping them.

Live Zoom at 11am.

 

A House for Hope: The Sheltering Walls

Sunday, March 7, 2021   
Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister

In the second step of our building this theological House for Hope we move from the site, the ground that we have chosen to build on, to erect walls that define our community. This is the work of Ecclesiology, where we declare the nature of the community we’re building: What holds us together and defines who we are?

YRUU Sunday

Sunday, February 28, 2021
YRUU Class
Join us for the annual YRUU – Young Religious Unitarian Universalist – service. Our 10th-12th graders will reflect on appreciation, hope and the role they play in creating Beloved Community. This is a multigenerational service so we encourage all ages to worship together!

Encountering Thurman’s Jesus

Sunday, January 21, 2021
Rev. Mark Ward Lead Minister
In one more week with Howard Thurman, we focus particularly on his unique perspective on the life and ministry of Jesus.

Encountering Howard Thurman

Sunday, February 14, 2021
Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister
Amid our work in support of Black Lives Matter, we spend some time with perhaps the most important Black theologian of the 20th century. What does Howard Thurman have to teach us UUs?

Interrogating History: Who Was Rosa Parks? Live Zoom Service

Sunday, February 7, 2021
Rev. Claudia Jimenez, Minister of Faith Development
Join us for an exploration of the depth of Rosa Parks’ activism beyond the historical account of the passive, tired woman who gave up her seat on the bus. How does her story inform our activism today?

Where Art Meets Science

Sunday, January 24, 2021
Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister

When poets confront science they offer new grounds for our imagining. Come hear what happens when they do.

Creating Beloved Community

Sunday, January 17, 2021 Live ZOOM
– Rev. Claudia Jiménez, Minister of Faith Development

On this Sunday as we honor the work of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. we will explore his call to create a Beloved Community which “requires a qualitative change in our souls as well as quantitative change in our lives.” What does that change look like?

A House of Hope

Sunday, January 10, 2021
Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister

The work of building a liberal theology begins on the land that gave us birth and is our final resting place. How do we frame the ultimate end of all things?

Imagine

Sunday, January 3, 2021
Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister

This new year dawns on the cusp of so much change for us as a congregation. How will we rise to meet it?

Rumi: A Poet For Our Times

Sunday, December 27, 2020 11am ZOOM
Rev. Mellen Kennedy, Guest Minister

Rumi was a 13th century Sufi poet and mystic.  We’ll gather to hear his poetry, sing or chant and listen to stories about his inspiring and challenging life.  He grew up and lived in a time of turmoil and his insights speak so clearly to our time. Join us for a celebration of Rumi. You’re invited to bring your favorite Rumi poem to share if you’d like to share.

Christmas Story Time

Thursday, December 24, 4pm Zoom
Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister and Rev. Claudia, Minister of Faith Development

Christmas Eve at UUCA this year will unite our two traditional services into one live Zoom service at 4pm. Our time together will be centered on Christmastime stories and music from members of our congregation and special guests. And, to end the service, be sure to have a candle ready in the room where you Zoom so we can do our traditional candle lighting and sing “Silent Night” together.
Since we’re not able to have our usual 9pm Christmas Eve Service and Pre-Service Mini-Concert, we’re offering a video concert of carols performed  by  Finn Magill, Fiddle; Sue Richards, Celtic Harp; Olanna Goudeau, Soprano; and Dr. Leslie Downs, Music Director. 
This is our gift to those of you who enjoy Christmas music.

Imagineering

Sunday, January 31, 2021
Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister

It’s the title that Disney engineers give themselves: “Imagineers.” But in many ways it is what we seek in our spiritual lives. Find out how.

What’s Water?

Sunday, December 13, 2020
Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister

We’ll explore how the writer David Foster Wallace used that question from a Sufi teaching story to prod us to reflect on how we think about the present moment.

The Meaning of Home

Sunday, December 6, 2020
Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister
UUSC and Guest at Your Table

Our Unitarian Universalist Service Committee will lead a service inviting us to consider how our justice efforts support the notion of home, a place where we are safe, secure, and cared for. Sunday afternoon we will accept your holiday donations and make available our Guest at Your Table boxes to support our UUSC collection.

Gaia, Mother Earth and the Oneness of Everything

Sunday, November 29, 2020 Jim Scott, Guest Artist

Come celebrate the earth with the music of renowned UU musician Jim Scott. Jim is a composer, guitarist and singer and former member of the Paul Winter Consort who has contributed several hymns to UU hymnals. Join him for this live Zoom service.

Moving Towards Gratitude

Sunday, November 22, 2020 11am Live ZOOM Service
Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister and Jane Bramham

Gratitude is the balm that soothes weary souls. This Sunday we’ll explore how.

At Peace With Mystery

Sunday, December 20, 2020
Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister

The stillness of the longest night of the year invites us to embrace the dark and with it the mystery it holds.

What IS an Anti-Racist Congregation?

Sunday, November 15, 2020 11am Live ZOOM Service
Rev. Claudia Jiménez, Minister of Faith Development

Our Board of Trustees has set UUCA on a path to be an anti-racist congregation. This move is grounded in our UU faith, literally requiring us to act for justice.  But what does it mean to be an anti-racist congregation? What are we currently doing? How will we change, because we surely will.  What are our dreams of what is possible?

Now What?

Sunday, November 8, 11am Live ZOOM Service
Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister

 This live service will be a moment to take stock of how our lives have been changed by this most consequential election.

Rising From Our Grief

Sunday, November 1, 2020 9am
Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister

Gratitude is the balm that soothes weary souls. This Sunday we’ll explore how.

The Call to Revolutionary Love

Sunday, October 25, 2020 Live ZOOM
Rev. Claudia Jimenez, Minister of Faith Development

In this time when our highly polarized nation prepares to vote, what does love call us to do? Join us for a service inspired by the work of Valerie Kaur, author of See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love. Kaur asks us to reclaim love as a revolutionary act so we will explore Kaur’s mission of fighting for justice through the ethic of love — love for others, our opponents, and ourselves.  (Yes, she means love for those with whom we deeply disagree.  What does that even LOOK like?)

I Hear You

Sunday, October 18, 2020
Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister & Carol Taylor

Do we? Hear each other, that is? In a time of toxic politics, how do we develop a discipline of listening?

On Second Thought

Sunday, October 11, 2020
Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister & Joyce Hooley Gingrich

Uncertainty is one of the shoals of the religious life. We think we’ve got things figured out and then, oops, along comes something that throws us into doubt. Maybe that’s not an altogether bad thing.

Here and Gone

Sunday, October 4, 2020
Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister

The change of seasons always offers a good reminder of the ever-evolving flow of life. How do we come to terms with the fact of impermanence?

Mutual Liberation

Sunday, September 27, 2020 9am link
Rev. Scott, Neely, Guest Minister

Beyond being an ally, in the fight for racial justice. That we may all be free.

Bio: Rev. Scott Neely serves as minister at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Spartanburg, SC. He is a facilitator and strategist for Speaking Down Barriers, an organization that uses dialogue to build our life together across the differences that divide us. In April 2015 he presented a TEDx talk on race and racism entitled “What Will I Teach My Son?

Here For You-Forgiveness

Sunday, September 20, 2020 9am link
Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister

Our forgiveness service this year focuses on how we hold ourselves accountable, and how we respond when we fail.

We Are…

Sunday, September 13, 2020 Live ZOOM Service
Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister

We begin our fall worship season with Ysaye Barnwell’s song of celebration to gather us once again as a community memory and hope. In this time of COVID, meeting and worshipping online, who do we proclaim that we are?

Fear Itself

Sunday, September 6, 2020 9am ZOOM
Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister

The last time our nation was struggling to recover from economic catastrophe, then-President Roosevelt urged a way forward centered on renouncing fear. Here we are again in economic calamity with fear, once again, in the driver’s seat. Perhaps there’s another way.
Click on this link for a print version of the service.

Our Multigenerational Water Service-Safeguarding the Water

Sunday, August 30, 2020 (Live ZOOM Service)
 – Rev. Claudia Jiménez, Minister of Faith Development

Celebrate water and the life it supports with an amazing, amusing cast of characters.
Join us for this year’s Live Zoom version of  our annual water service.  Be prepared to share your water from home representing places in your life or places you would like to visit once the pandemic subsides. Puppeteer Jennifer Murphy has created a special toy box theater for the telling of this year’s story.  You don’t want to miss this.  See you there!

Speaking of seeing you there, we really do want to SEE you.  It’s half the fun of these live events.  If at all possible, please leave your camera on; everyone wants to see each other.  It’s all we’ve got for now.

 

Creative Circles

Sunday, August 23, 2020
Jane Bramham, Worship Associate

Every day we are creating new educational, occupational and recreational realities; cheering those creating needed vaccines; and reviving or adding new artistic skills to our creative toolbox.  We gather to celebrate and nurture our universal creative spirit, and to attend to how creative the useful can be.
Creating your worship space
Do you have a button jar?  Or just a loose button or two in the drawer?  Set them with your chalice or candle near your watching device.  
You can download and print a coloring page connected to Time for All Ages

The New Normal

Sunday, August 16, 2020
 – Rev. Lisa Bovee-Kemper

We welcome back Rev. Lisa, our former Associate Minister, now Developmental Minister of the Greenville (SC) UU Fellowship, who reflects on the thrills and chills of trying to solve adaptive challenges using technical solutions. (BTW, it’s not going well.)

It Takes Practice

Sunday, August 9, 2020
Matt Meyer, Guest Artist

Our favorite songs, whoever the artist or whatever the style, were created in a strange alchemy of study and inspiration, of strict practice and of letting go. Spiritual Practice and social justice work are a similar combination of dedication, muscle memory, and perhaps a little divine inspiration. Join us for a musical exploration of learning to risk, building the muscle memory of courage, and the spiritual practice of relationship.

Matt Meyer is a musician and worship leader who has led hundreds of services for UU congregations across the country. He has a degree in hand drumming and serves as Director of Community Life for Sanctuary Boston.

We Remember

Sunday, August 2, 2020
Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the US twice dropping atomic bombs on Japan. We reflect on how we remember this world-changing event as the generation of both Japanese and Americans who experienced it are dying.

Click on this link for a print version of the sermon.

Poetry Sunday

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Our theme this year is “Uplifted Together.”  Indeed, we hope that this Poetry Sunday will do just that–uplift us as we “gather” together. You can anticipate an inspirational lineup of poetry, original and/or published, as well as music that will make our hearts glad, thanks to our musical director, Les Downs. In these turbulent times, allow poetry and music to be a balm that lifts, encourages, and delights.

Living in Storyland

Sunday, July 19, 2020
David Novak, Storyteller and Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister

Stories, whether they are our own or from ancient traditions, shape our lives and our sense of meaning. Today, we’ll explore how stories are operating in these times and how they help us make sense of them.

Bio: David Novak tells stories to enhance learning, engage emotion, and find common ground. A performing and teaching artist with over 30 years of experience, David is an A+ Fellow for the North Carolina Arts Council, instructor for the graduate storytelling program at East Tennessee State University, and veteran of the National Storytelling Festival, as well as schools and stages across the nation. David’s international tours include Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Poland, and the Czech Republic. A recipient of the Circle of Excellence from the National Storytelling Network and formerly Master Storyteller for The Disney Institute. David lives in Asheville and regularly leads workshops and gives concerts for The Mountain Retreat and Learning Center.

Spiritual, Religious, Neither?

Sunday, July 12, 2020 – Video link arrives at 9am (We will be experimenting with Live Zoom worship at 11am)
Rev. Claudia Jiménez, Minister of Faith Development

In these times of societal disruption, what is the role of the church in grounding our spirits and nurturing hope? Join us for an exploration of how our individual journeys led us to this non-dogmatic tradition known as Unitarian Universalism. You will hear from participants of the “Haunting Church” program as they share reflections from their search for meaning and connection.

What’s Democracy For

Sunday, July 5, 2020 – Video Link Arrives at 9am –
Rev. Sally Beth Shore, Guest Minister

The development of American democracy is intertwined with the development of our faith, important enough that our 5th principle states “we affirm and promote the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large.” I was taught that democracy was the best system of governance because it was fair. But what if this is an incomplete view? Starting with the unofficial motto of the United States, E pluribus Unum (Out of many, One) we explore the tantalizing possibility that democracy’s aim is not fairness, but success through unity. If we understood this, could we use it to help mend the rifts in our society?

The Rev. Sally Beth Shore received her MDiv from Meadville Lombard Theological School in 2012 and was ordained by the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville in 2013. She has been a member of UUCA since 2001. She and her husband, Michael, raised their children, now 24, 22, and 19, here. She has just completed a year of interim ministry with the Unitarian Universalists of Transylvania County.

Rooted, Inspired and Ready

Sunday, June 28, 10am, 2020
General Assembly

We join thousands of UUs across the country in online worship prepared by leaders of the Unitarian Universalist Association and presented live at 10 a.m. Click here to view.

The Meaning of Life

Sunday, June 21, 2020 – Video link arrives at 9am
– Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister

The old cartoons tell you you need to climb to the top of a mountain to ask a guru about this. Maybe we don’t have to go quite so far.

UUCA would like to recognize congregants that are considered essential workers during the COVID-19 outbreak. If you are (or know a UUCAer who is) a healthcare worker (medical or social), an educator, a grocery store worker, a community volunteer, or any other job that is considered essential, please let Venny know. Stand up and be recognized, you have earned it!

You Gotta Own It

Sunday, May 31, 2020 9am
Rev. James McKinley, Guest Minister

It was the middle of a 24-day raft trip through the Grand Canyon last December. It was cold, I was suffering, and the Canyon is the ultimate “no way out only through” experience. When I mentioned it, my daughter’s response was, “Ya gotta own it, Dad,” where “own” is embrace and love and “it” is me, who I am here and now.

 That “a-hah” moment and phrase have become my guide, touchstone and koan in more adventure, study, personal growth and now the solitude, isolation and disruption of sheltering in place. My hope is that our reflections together reveal a helpful touchstone or two for you.

Rev. Jim McKinley retired in June 2019 as minister of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Hendersonville.

The Seventh One

Sunday, May 24, 2020 9am
Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister

It’s been argued that with our seventh principle – affirming and promoting respect for the interdependent web of existence of which we are a part – we Unitarian Universalists were given our key to the future as a religious movement. What might that mean? And look for a fun story from the Fletcher-Williams family and a bridging ceremony honoring our seven graduating seniors.

Click on this pdf for a text version of this sermon.

Credo Sunday

Sunday, May 17, 2020 9am
Coming of Age Class

“Who am I?”
“What does my UU faith mean to me?”
“What does it look like to live Unitarian Universalism?”

Finding answers to these questions requires some serious effort—exploring, excavating, interpreting, and differentiating from societal programming…not for the faint of heart! Our Coming Of Age youth have been hard at work this year trying to answer these questions for themselves, and they would like to share their journey with YOU on Credo Sunday, May 17!  This is a multigenerational service–all ages are welcome and encouraged to attend. Please join us and prepare to be inspired, moved and entertained! Please join us and prepare to be inspired, moved and entertained!

The Sixth One

Sunday, May 10, 2020 9am
Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister

Our sixth principle is where UUs go global: where we extend our concern far beyond our local situation and aspire to helping to bring about a community of all humankind united in peace and justice. How do we respond to these grand hopes?

Click on this pdf for a text version of this sermon. 

The Great Transition

Sunday, May 3, 2020 9am
Rev. Claudia Jiménez, Minister of Faith Development

Heard of the Great Depression?  Maybe now we are in the Great Transition.  We know things are going to be different sooner or later, but in what ways?  Can we take this time right now, this pause from our daily routines, to imagine how we might be different as individuals, as families, as neighbors, as congregants, as citizens? What if this isn’t a pause but a reset?

Liberating the Earth-Earth Day

Sunday, April 26, 2020 9am
Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister

Around the world, skies clear of smoke and smog due to social distancing remind us of the true beauty and wonder of the Earth. For all the fear and stress surrounding COVID 19, it also offers us a chance to explore how we might liberate the Earth from two and a half centuries of humankind’s polluting ways.

Flower Communion Service

Sunday, April 19, 2020
Rev. Claudia Jimenez, Minister of Faith Development

Join us for a celebration of Spring as we listen to the story of Norbert Capek and the ritual he created to bring people closer together. Please bring a flower real or created by you to our virtual coffee hour at 12:30 PM. Members and friends of all ages are invited to share a photograph of a favorite flower (real or created by you). E-mail it to faithdev@uuasheville.org

Easter-Renewal in Trying Times

Sunday, April 12, 2020
Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister

The Easter story has long been a touchstone for people who are struggling. Now we face another struggle, new to us but not to humankind. What does this ancient story offer to us today?

Click on this pdf for the text of this sermon.

The Fifth One

Sunday, April 5, 2020
Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister and Rev. Claudia Jimenez, Minister of Faith Development

So, what is “affirming and promoting the democratic process” doing in the middle of the principles of a religious body? Well, let’s just say that, yes, it has something to do with liberation.

Click on this pdf for the sermon text.

The Wisdom of “What Now?”

Sunday, March 29, 9:15 & 11:15am
Rev. Tiffany Sapp, Guest Minister

As a hospital chaplain, Rev. Tiffany Sapp encounters the questioning connected to suffering. Often, the questioning is phrased as “Why?” But she’s discovered that a Unitarian Universalist response often comes in the form of a different question, “What Now?” Come explore how we can navigate the difficulties of life together.

The Problem With Heaven

Sunday, March 22, 9:15 & 11:15am
Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister

The power claimed for the theological notion of heaven is that it’s what we all want. But what if it’s not what we want, what if it’s the last thing we want?

Click on this pdf to read text of sermon.

The Fourth One

Sunday, March 15, 2020 9:15 & 11:15am
Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister

There it lies at the center of our seven principles: “a free and responsible search for truth and meaning.” Can it hold this august place that we give it?

Click on this pdf for sermon text.

Celebration Sunday

Sunday, March 8, 2020 9:15 & 11:15am
Annual Budget Drive Team & Rev. Claudia Jimenez, Minister of Faith Development

With song, story, and inspiring words, we close our annual budget drive with a celebration of all that we make possible as people committed to the work of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville.

No audio or text available.

Rekindling Moral Imagination

Sunday, March 1, 2020, 9:15 & 11:15am
Rev. Claudia Jimenez, Minister of Faith Development
In these challenging times we are called to imagine possibilities that do not yet exist and are based on the good and the just.  As always, we are called to action! Join us in an exploration of how our UU faith can sustain our moral imagination during moments of despair.

YRUU Service

Sunday, February 23, 2020, 9:15 & 11:15am
Friendship and Community
YRUU Youth
Join us for the annual YRUU- Young Religious Unitarian Universalist multigenerational service. Youth will reflect on friendship, community and the positive effects they have on our lives. Children in grades 3 and up are invited to join us. Childcare will be provided for those in grade 2 and younger.

Living Bravely, Giving Generously

Sunday, February 16, 9:15 & 11:15am
Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister, Will Jernigan and Wes Miller, Annual Budget Drive Co-chairs
It’s a time these days when we need to be brave, when we need to step up to what our values call for from us and support each other in doing it. We begin our Annual Budget Drive celebrating the role that each of us in this congregation has in making that happen.

Click on this PDF for sermon text.

The Third One

Sunday, February 9, 2020 , 9:15 & 11:15am
Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister

Acceptance & encouragement, what nice words! What could be hard about them? Today we’ll explore how our UU Third Principle can challenge us.

Click on this link for the pdf of this sermon.

From Concern to Action

Sunday, January 19, 2020,  9:15 & 11:15am
Rev. Claudia Jimenez, Minister of Faith Development

Join us as we honor the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and reflect on how we can put our values into action.  As Rev. King said, “Every step toward the goal of justice requires the passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”  Let us explore ways of translating those concerns into purposeful action for justice in this new decade. Special guest, Womansong, will be providing music for our multigenerational service next Sunday

Magi and Wise Men: A UU Perspective

Sunday, January 12, 2020  9:15 & 11:15am
Phil Roudebush, Guest Speaker

The magi or wise men are regular figures in accounts of the nativity celebrations of Christmas and are an important part of the Christian tradition. Epiphany, which traditionally falls on January 6th, is a Christian feast day and western Christians commemorate the visit of the magi to the baby Jesus. Phil Roudebush will explore the magi story from biblical, historical and contemporary religious viewpoints with thoughts on how Unitarian Universalists might view these scholars and their message.

Click on this pdf to sermon text.

The First One

Sunday, January 5, 2020, 9:15 & 11:15am
Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister 

We begin the New year with a reflection with the first of our UU principles, which calls us to affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity. How does this principles call us to live and grow? We will also be welcoming new member to our congregation.

Click here for a pdf version of the sermon.

Christmas Music, Revels & Stories

Sunday, December 29, 2019  11:15am (SINGLE SERVICE)
Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister

Our musical guest for our service on December 29 will be Musicke Antiqua,a 13-member recorder consort of musicians who perform in costume and offer historically informed live performances and educational programs designed to inspire appreciation of early music and support its study.
    Musicke Antiqua began as a recorder trio in Brevard, NC, in 2001, and now includes 13 members from several areas of Western North Carolina, including UUCA members Jim Manhart and Nanette Muzzy-Manhart.
The single service, will be coordinated by Lead Minister Rev. Mark Ward and Worship Associate Susan Andrew and will include stories, readings and a meditation.

The Long Goodbye (audio only)

Sunday, December 1, 2019
Rev. Iris Hardin
Dementia’s effects on memory impacts many of our lives and relationships in profound ways. Join us for worship on Sunday, December 1st, when we try to make meaning of the disease sometimes called “the long goodbye.”
Bio: Iris Hardin, MDiv, facilitates Advance Care Planning for the Mission Health System. Prior to relocating to Asheville in 2017 with her spouse Clyde, she worked in the Boston area as a Hospice and Palliative Care Chaplain and Bereavement Counselor.

Who, What Deserves Our Attention (audio only)

Sunday, November 24, 2019
Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister
In a world where so much shouts for attention, today we turn to people’s stories of hope gathered by our UU Service Committee that aren’t as loud as some but just as worthy. We will be invited to welcome these folks and many more like them as Guests at Our Table this holiday season.<i>Click on title to continue</i>

Transformed by Forgiveness (audio and text)

Sunday, October 6, 9:15 & 11:15am
Rev. Claudia Jimenez, Minister of Faith Development
Forgiveness isn’t easy. It takes courage and vulnerability to forgive those who have hurt us. And yet the ability to do so can be transformative. Can we choose to cultivate love instead of hate in our hearts? Can we always forgive? Should we always forgive? Join us for an exploration of the complexities and possibilities of forgiveness.

READING

To Forgive by Desmond Tutu
To forgive is not just to be altruistic. It is the best form of self-interest. It is also a process that does not exclude hatred and anger. These emotions are all part of being human. You should never hate yourself for hating others who do terrible things: the depth of your love is shown by the extent of your anger.

However, when I talk of forgiveness I mean the belief that you can come out the other side a better person. A better person than the one being consumed by anger and hatred. Remaining in that state locks you in a state of victimhood, making you almost dependent on the perpetrator.

If you can find it in yourself to forgive then you are no longer chained to the perpetrator.

You can move on, and you can even help the perpetrator to become a better person too.

But the process of forgiveness also requires acknowledgement on the part of the perpetrator that they have committed an offence. I don’t like to talk about my own personal experience of forgiveness, although some of the things people have tried to do to my family are close to what I’d consider unforgivable. I don’t talk about these things because I have witnessed so many incredible people who, despite experiencing atrocity and tragedy, have come to a point in their lives where they are able to forgive

Sermon

Last Wednesday I watched a video of 18 year-old Brandt Jean offering his forgiveness to the woman who killed his brother a year ago. Amber Guyger, a white Dallas police officer was sentenced to 10 years in prison for killing Brandt’s 26 year old brother, Botham Jean, after Guyger apparently mistook his apartment for her own. Botham was in his apartment watching TV and eating ice cream when he was shot. Brandt’s statement included his saying, “If you truly are sorry, I know I can speak for myself, I forgive you. I know if you go to God and ask him, he will forgive you.”[1]

Is there a possibility of restorative or transformative justice beyond the punitive for Amber Guyger? We know that she will serve prison time and will have the rest of her forever-changed life to contemplate her actions that resulted in the taking of an indisputably innocent life.  After his statement, Brandt asked the judge for permission to give Amber Guyger a hug. It was granted and he did.

Brandt’s words and the image of his embrace of his brother’s murderer – this unconditional act of forgiveness that elicited both praise and outrage from the bipolar twitterverse.

There was praise for a young man responding to personal tragedy with compassion based on his Christian values. There was outrage, anger and frustration with what some perceived as a continuation of a history of black people forgiving white people when the same grace is not extended to them. And, there was dismay with a 10 year prison sentence for the taking an innocent life. I found myself feeling outrage because of our well documented propensity – historical and current – of disproportionately incarcerating black men and youth and disproportionately suspending or expelling black youth from our public schools. But my outrage at the seemingly light sentence was tempered by the impossibility of knowing the motivation and in-the-moment emotional and cognitive state of the woman pulling the trigger. How can that be judged? And how can it be adjudicated?

This morning I invite us to reflect on the complexity of forgiveness. What was your response to this story? As I listened to Brandt’s statement I recognized he made a choice: he chose to forgive. His forgiveness did not condone his brother’s murder. His statements implied that he was not seeking revenge. He responded to this tragedy, a year later, with compassion, grounded in his Christian faith and going as far as saying to Guyger that there was a possibility of redemption; that if she were truly repentant God would forgive her.

We have seen this theologically grounded response before. In 2016 during the trial of a white supremacist who massacred 9 people in their church during a bible study gathering, some of the survivors and family members who spoke forgave him. Because this was explicitly a racially motivated killing, there was concern that forgiveness interfered with accountability for the horrific consequences of white supremacy culture.

In these two tragic incidents, religious doctrines provide the foundation that allows family members to forgive; they can begin the process of healing that cannot occur if resentment or the desire for revenge is allowed to consume them as they seek to regain their lives and adapt their daily existence to the new reality of loss.

I may not share the theological concept of divine judgement that motivated the families of the slain, but I must admit to a most sincere admiration for their gestures and the courage to act on their beliefs.

In our Unitarian Universalist tradition, we do not have specific religious language around redemption and grace. We take inspiration from various sources and personal spiritual practices as we grapple with the reality of evil and its manifestations. We reject the notion of original sin while recognizing that we all have a capacity for good and evil. And when evil and misfortune strike, we step up, offering each other comfort and support. For UUs, our covenant to affirm our principles includes respect for all beings. That covenant binds us and holds us accountable to each other. So do the many covenants we create as participants in congregational life.  When we miss the mark, we recommit to our covenant and begin again in love. Even when we or others fail, we don’t give up. We work to repair relationship. We work to re-enter that sacred space of covenant, of fellowship, of commitment to love and to doing the larger work that can only be accomplished in community.

And yet, when others transgress feelings of anger, bitterness, and hatred are inevitable. They are part of being human. Holding on to them can be self-destructive, weighing down our spirits and closing us off to the possibility of moving into a future with a transformed narrative: a victim becoming a survivor.
We can’t change the past, erase transgression, but we can choose our response. Do we hold on to resentment, anger and grudges? As Desmond Tutu reminded us remaining in a state of anger and resentment locks a person in a state of victimhood making [the person] almost dependent on the perpetrator. He said “if you can find it in you to forgive then you are no longer chained to the perpetrator.” This changes how you tell your story. I think it allows for a transformation from victim to survivor.

And it’s not an easy path. There are many questions to consider: What if the person won’t apologize or express remorse? Does forgiveness require reconciliation with the offender? What if the transgression is deemed unforgivable? Each person will answer these questions for their particular situation maybe with support from a therapist, a spiritual leader, a close friend. Brandt was able to forgive his brother’s killer. We do not know what his process was for reaching that decision a year later. I wonder over time how it will impact his family, his community and Guyger? UU minister Forrest Church explained it this way many years ago:

“This is how forgiveness works well. When we forgive her we don’t change her, but ourselves. We liberate ourselves from all obligation to continue bitterness. This doesn’t reverse the past. It doesn’t remove from the record whatever crime was perpetrated against us. But it changes the present and the future.”[2]

Forgiveness can change the present by allowing us to be liberated from carrying the story of the perpetrator. It might even allow us to be curious and shift from asking “why me”? to asking “why them”? Why would someone do that? I think that is the empathy Charlie was talking about in his opening words. Reaching that level of empathy takes time. Each person decides their readiness and capacity for forgiveness. I close with a prayer written by Mpho Tutu, Desmond Tutu’s daughter who is also a Christian minister:

Prayer Before Prayer

I want to be willing to forgive

But I dare not ask for the will to forgive

in case you give it to me and I am not yet ready.

I am not yet ready for my heart to soften.

I am not yet ready to be vulnerable again.

Not yet ready to see that there is humanity in my tormentor’s eyes.

Or that the one who hurt me also cried.

I am not yet ready for the journey.

I am not yet interested in the path.

I am at the prayer before the prayer of forgiveness.

Grant me the will to want to forgive.

Grant it to me not yet, but soon.

Acknowledging the complexity of forgiveness, and recognizing the importance of forgiving ourselves as well as each other, I invite you to partake in the “Litany of Atonement” inserted in the Order of Service. We will sing the first verse of hymn 218. Then, you are invited to repeat the litany “I forgive myself. I forgive you. We begin again in love.  When we finish, we will sing the second verse of Hymn 218.

[1] https://www.newsweek.com/botham-jean-brother-bryant-offers-forgiveness-hug-amber-guyger-dallas-1462868

[2] Life Lines by Forrest Church, p 98

 

Common Courage (no audio or text available.)

Sunday, September 22 2019,  9:15 & 11:15am
Rev. Mary Katherine Morn, Guest Minister
For nearly 80 years, the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee has been advancing UU values by working with justice makers the world over confronting unjust power structures and challenging oppressive policies. Join us to hear UUSC President and CEO Rev. Mary Katherine Morn, describe how deeds of common courage are transforming the world; one brave, ordinary act at a time.

There Are Covenants Amount Us! (audio only)

Sunday, September 15, 9:15 & 11:15am
Rev. Claudia Jiménez, Minister of Faith Development
Have you heard that Unitarian Universalism is “covenantal not creedal?” What does that mean? Interestingly (and probably surprisingly to you), there are several covenants that inform our relationships here at UUCA. Let’s explore the ways that covenants underpin our behaviors, our mission, and even the theological grounding of our faith.<i> click on title to continue.</i>

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