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The Unitarian Universalist Church of Silver Spring

Sermon Archives

There are transcripts available to read for most sermons. To access the transcript, select the linked sermon title; to listen to a sermon, click on the audio of sermons link near the sermon title.

Click here for access to sermons from other years.


November 15, 2015
Was Jesus a Racist?

Dr. Miguel De La Torre and Rev. Liz Lerner

Dynamic theologian and activist Dr. De La Torre is spending the weekend with us, and will be preaching, with Rev. Liz as his liturgist, this Sunday. One of Dr. De La Torre’s areas of focus is building multicultural, multiracial community, looking at the challenges and opportunities with unflinching honesty and compelling depth. We’ll look at the challenges of this journey through the lens of one story in the New Testament and what it can teach us all across all progressive theologies and creeds. Dr. De La Torre is one of the best preachers around - don’t miss this long-anticipated and exciting Sunday.


November 8, 2015
The River Jordan and Wet Feet, or, Have You Personally Changed?

Rev. Liz Lerner Maclay

What binds us at here at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Silver Spring? Faith, kindred spirits, shared vision, shared experience, shared questions and answers… our bonds are not uniformly the same between us all, but we are all necessarily bound in part by our shared covenant, and by our commitment to the church and what it means in each of our lives. This Sunday we’ll explore that sense of covenant and church, looking in particular at the essential truth that being bound in community changes us which, by and large, is a good thing.


November 1, 2015
Draw Them Close, Draw Them Near-- The Samhain Service at UUCSS

Rev. Dr. Leon Dunkley

In Ireland and Scotland, the festival of Samhain is widely observed. It is one of eight annual festivals in the wheel of the year. Situated between the end of harvest and the early days of winter, Samhain is the festival that encourages us to let go of the difficult past and to take up fresher ways of moving forward. On this journey, we may be led by those who came before. We may be led by those who have died but have not left. And we follow when they share their soulful wisdom. We follow as they lead us beyond the mysteries of life and beyond the veils of death to new horizons, connecting all of us together in the mystery. Come and join us!


September 6, 2015
MLK's Dream of an Anti-Poverty Coalition: Economic Justice through the Civil Rights Movement and Labor

Jeffrey Noel-Nosbaum, UUCSS member

The prophetic Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. lived and died fighting for the empowerment and equality of all human beings. These days, we tend to remember the civil rights and racial justice implications of this struggle; however, those are just two threads in his consistent ethic of humanity, what Eileen Egan called the "seamless garment." Pacifists and those in the anti-war movement will remember his opposition to the Vietnam War. Labor Day weekend provides an opportunity to look at his connections with Labor Unions and his work for economic justice.

Jeffrey Noel-Nosbaum is a member of UUCSS and serves on the Worship Committee. (He previously served as Worship Committee chair and representative to the Program Council.) He has led a number of services at UUCSS, including Labor Day services for the last several years. He has also preached a few times at Takoma Park Presbytarian Church, where he grew up. He works as a shop steward for the Municipal and County Government Employees Organization (MCGEO) - UFCW Local 1994 at the Income Supports Programs of the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services.


August 30, 2015
Patience Flowers, Joy Abides

Rev. Dr. Leon Dunkley

In each of us, there is a fire burning quietly. The fire is life itself and it does not burn forever. Questions rise to the surface before us: What will we do with this fire? Will we be warmed by it or singed? Will we share it lovingly, share it often and share it well? Although the answers to these questions are clear but life gets in our way sometimes. The deeper question is how does one choose patience and choose joy when life gets in the way?


August 23, 2015
An Encyclical for Us

Daniel and Melissa Clark

UUCSS members Daniel and Melissa Clark will share from their own inner challenges as individuals and as a couple, as they contemplate this question, "If we were really functioning at full capacity, what kind of trouble might we create out there in the world?" As we look out and confront the endless array of wicked problems facing our world, let us periodically look inward to determine what we need to be doing, as individuals and as a community, to be stronger together.


August 16, 2015
Sacred Space

Kathleen Holmay, visiting speaker

How can we tap more fully into this living space right here - ourselves - when dealing with challenging times. Come and explore the benefits of being present to yourself. Kathleen Holmay is a UU Buddhist and yoga teacher. Formerly a communications consultant, she began teaching yoga to ease into retirement and now teaches several times a week. She lives in Kensington and is a member of Cedar Lane UU Church.


August 9, 2015
Why I Work for Racial Justice

UUCSS Racial Justice Task Force (Eli Briggs, Daniel Clark, Al Nathan, Susan Westenbarger)

On the one year anniversary of Michael Brown's death in Ferguson, MO at the hands of Officer Darren Wilson, the Racial Justice Task Force will explore where we are today and how we are called to respond to racial injustice. A discussion circle in the Sanctuary follows the service.


August 2, 2015
The Unity of the Spirit in the Bond of Peace

Mike Harris, visiting speaker

An exploration of the evolution of "community" in the United States and its implications for Unitarian Universalist congregations today and tomorrow. As a long-time member of Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church and a friend of UUCSS, Mike is part of the adjunct staff team of The Joseph Priestley District of the Unitarian Universalist Association and served as JPD president from 2008-2012.


July 26, 2015
Heal Thy Heart: Reflections on the Art of Healing

Rev. Dr. Leon Dunkley

A broken leg, a broken heart, a soul that grieves and can't break free... All of these require energy from us to truly heal, more energy than we normally give. How do we cultivate personal practices that guide us along the road of healing? How might we relate to one another in was that call us all to health?


July 19, 2015
Take a Breath. Sabbath Moments

Alexa Fraser

Spaciousness, that feeling of open joy that fills you up with its - well - emptiness. Take a breath and we'll explore the spiritual side of spaciousness.


July 12, 2015
Hope When the World is On Fire

Ashley Burczak, Membership Coordinator and Candidate for UU Ministry

How do we maintain our hopefulness in the face of such dark times? Membership Coordinator and Candidate for Unitarian Universalist Ministry Ashley Burczak will speak on realistic hope in an age of destruction and conflict.


July 5, 2015
Oh, Beautiful...

Rev. Dr. Leon Dunkley

We were born as a country, as a nation, with the Declaration of Independence. We fought for independence. We died for independence. And we killed for independence too. An Iraq veteran named Dweylon Fifer asks, "What does it mean to kill someone? I mean do you really have to squeeze the trigger of your rifle to kill somebody?" In this land of the free and home of the brave, what does independence really mean for us today?


June 21, 2015
What Will Matter?

Joseph Farruggia

If your spouse, children, parents, siblings, friends and co-workers were asked to describe you now, what would they say? What would they say about you after you have passed on? How would future generations remember the person that you were? Based on an inspirational meditation by Michael Josephson, this message asks us to consider whether our lives are focused.


June 14, 2015
Flower Communion

Rev. Dr. Leon Dunkley, Sarah Gonzalez, DRE and Michael Holmes, Music Director

Norbert Capek founded the Unitarian Church in Czechoslovakia. He introduced a special service to that church on June 4th in 1923. His special service, his flower service was a ritual that was to bind people more closely together in community. As summer begins, come join us as we explore this wonderful tradition in our faith! Come blossom and bloom. Come rain or shine. Come, all good people, come!


June 7, 2015
Leadership, a Dark Horse, and a UU Cowboy

Rev. Dr. Leon Dunkley

This service explores the power of Unitarian Universalism as exemplified by an outspoken, 19th-century Unitarian minister named Rev. Abner Kneeland. He spoke his truth in love and - some say - he paid a heavy cost. Yet, is there not a cost for choosing not to speak one's truth? Had Rev. Abner chosen otherwise, if he had chosen to be silent, would he have had to pay a lighter cost?


May 31, 2015
What is Your Truth?

Rev. Dr. Leon Dunkley

This may sound like a question that one answers privately, within the safety of one's one experience. It is not. It is a question of beauty, of culture and of community. How we answer it tells us a lot about who we are. Georgia O'Keefe answered this question with flowers. Bruce Jenner answered with courage and grace. Our truths are difficult. Our truths are lonely. Most deeply, though, our truths are shared. In their differences, they connect us to one another. Come find out how!


May 17, 2015
Circle of Life

Sarah Gonzalez, DRE and Rev. Dr. Leon Dunkley

Every year we spend a Sunday celebrating the many transitions we each go through in our life's journeys through this annual tradition of the Circle of Life service. We will welcome new babies into our community through an Infant Dedication Ceremony, hear from a multigenerational choir, and lift up the joy of being in community at all ages.


May 10, 2015
The Power of this Day

Rev. Dr. Leon Dunkley and Alex Posner

Look to this day for it is life! Sunday, May 10th is Mother's Day. It is a time of celebration that can be joyful. It's not always joyful - we have different experiences in life - but it is always celebratory. Life exists and we get to live it. We have all been given the very same gift. Even through the greatest challenges, there is gratitude. Join Alex Posner and Rev. Leon. Come share the power of this day!


May 3, 2015
Church Involvement: Finding the Right Fit for You

Chris Lindsley, Program Council, Chair

If you could do any one thing at UUCSS, what would that be? So what is stopping you? Discover how getting involved can make you feel alive, inspired and connected.


April 26, 2015
For the Beauty of the Earth

Rev. Dr. Leon Dunkley

Seven years ago, in April of 2008, Paul Hawken wrote a book entitled Blessed Unrest. In it, he explores his belief that we are part of a movement that is greater and deeper and broader than we know. As he explains, “It has many roots but primarily its origins are indigenous culture, the environment and social justice movements.” He says that something beautifully complex is rising up within us, that it is a civil rights movement, a human rights movement and a democracy movement all in one. As we reflect on Earth Day, do we notice that something is rising? Can we see it in ourselves and in one another?


April 19, 2015
Black Water Woods: A Conversation About Dying

Rev. Dr. Leon Dunkley and Alexa Fraser

How will we call deepest grace and kindness to our side as life's journey nears and reaches its end? What does it mean to our souls towards dignity? Join Alexa Fraser and Rev. Dr. Leon Dunkley as we explore an issue of great relevance today.


April 12, 2015
Staying Awake!

Vanessa Southern, visiting speaker

Most major religions, after their talk of rules or guiding principles, of histories and traditions, or rituals and rites, have somewhere near the core the implicit or in-practice commitment to keeping their people awake. Awake to joy, awake to beauty, awake to the preciousness of life and each other. Awake to the Holy scattered around by some lavish unseen hand. Why and how do we keep one another awake?


April 5, 2015
Something Beautiful is Coming

Rev. Dr. Leon Dunkley

Easter means many different things to many different people. Around the world, the word Easter, itself, has an array of different meanings—depending, of course, on the process of translation. The most important question to ask is: What does Easter mean to you?


March 29, 2015
Planting the Seeds: Annual Budget Drive

Rev. Dr. Leon Dunkley, Erik Leaver, Emily Tien

Life is the soil.Our choices and actions are the sun and rain.But our dreams are the seeds.-Richard Paul Evans

Sheltering tender life within, the seed shell wards off wind and weather. When the time is right, in the proper season, it lets down it begins to let in the rain. Life swells within the seed shell until it burst forth as new life. It grows and strengthens overtime until it becomes a mighty tree, until it reaches out with strong and able branches, sheltering tender life. The cycle begins in spring with our stewardship and with the planting of seeds. Please join Erik Leaver, Emily Tien and Rev. Leon and help us to till the soil.


March 15, 2015
Letting Go In Grace

David Smith, Music Director, All Souls Church, Tulsa, OK

The David Smith Weekend. Join us for our annual weekend of joy and harmony as David Smith joins us once again in song. David Smith is the Music Director of All Souls Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. As has become our tradition, David comes each year to visit and rallies up our energies, weaves our voices into magic and brings beauty and celebration to us all. Reach higher, love bolder, live stronger in song. Join us for a fabulous Sunday service.


March 8, 2015
YRUU Worship Service

UUCSS Young Religious Unitarian Universalists (YRUU)

Every year, the UUCSS high school youth group creates and leads a worship service on a topic of deep meaning to them. This year's service will focus on the concept of fandom and why we connect so strongly with certain themes.


March 1, 2015
The Letting Go of Sabbath

Rev. Liz Lerner Maclay

This will be Rev. Liz's final day and final morning of worship at UUCSS before she leaves on sabbatical. Our morning will be to begin to explore March's theme of Letting Go, in the context of sabbatical - which comes from the word sabbath - the break from ordinary living, from the working week, from the usual rhythms, to take time for the spirit, for study, for reflection, for renewal. This service will be an exploration, a celebration, a benediction - please come and be part of it as we begin the sabbatical together.


February 22, 2015
A Champion of Grace

Rev. Dr. Leon Dunkley

Capture your soul and your heart and your mind and your body and your soul once again. Hold them close and never let them go. Let them remind of the beauty and the grace that is within us. Who reminds you of dignity and calls you to be your joyful best? Who do you choose in 2015 as the champion of grace? In 1965 and in Harlem, that champion was Malcolm X. Malcolm X distinguished himself as the fiercest voice for justice. Come learn why. Dare yourself- in ways both great and small- to become a champion.


February 15, 2015
Gratuitous Grace

Rev. Liz Lerner Maclay

The poet and essaying Annie Dillard wrote about gratuitous grace in her volume Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. It's an enduring piece of insight that inspired Rev. Liz to a sermon many years ago, which became in turn an enduring piece of personal theology. This morning we'll revisit that sermon, theology, in the wake of 15 years in which much has changed, and much is the same, to look again at the relationship of nature, cruelty, life and grace.


February 8, 2015
Grace Out of Context

Rev. Liz Lerner Maclay

Anticipating Rev. Liz's upcoming sabbatical, we'll consider what it means to be out of context, what we learn about ourselves and our world when we don't know what's "normal," what's expected of ourselves and others, and why a little time out of context can be not just a time for discovery but also an occasion for grace.


February 1, 2015
Grace and Gravity

Rev. Dr. Leon Dunkley

What is grace? What is gravity? Have these words changed over time?Fifty years ago next month, in March of 1965, hundreds of American protestors gathered at the foot of a bridge in Selma, Alabama. They gathered to demonstrate for human freedom. They gathered to achieve our country. And they gather to boldly claim the right to vote. Among the many was a Unitarian Universalist minister named James Reeb. In that year, on March 11th, he gave his life for his ideals. His morality was met with violence. His grace was met with gravity. As we approach the 50th anniversary of these momentous events and with the release of Selma, the film by Ava DuVernay, what sense are we to make of our history?


January 25, 2015
When We're Out of Prayers

Rev. Liz Lerner Maclay

Our service this morning will explore the story of a small group of refugees, over 3,000 years ago; Minoan people chased out of their prosperous and beautiful land by the violent and invading Mycenaeans of Trojan War fame. Invaded and overwhelmed, eventually the last of the Minoans had been driven from every other more habitable place. So they arrived at the roof of the world, a hidden, desolate mountain crag where they could live out the last waning of their own way of life and their gods. The sparse archaeological record from this tiny settlement tells a poignant story about what it means to hold onto faith in the face of insurmountable odds, and leaves us with haunting question: what does it take for us to bury our Gods?


January 18, 2015
MLK Sunday

Rev. Liz Lerner Maclay

We're at another crossroads of race and culture, when we learn or realize anew, how differently some of us experience our nation, our police, our justice system, our people, our possibilities. This Sunday, as we approach the 50th anniversary of the Selma marches, we need to re-engage with Dr. King's wisdom as we seek our own way forward in our own time of race turmoil and, hopefully, change for the better for all of us.


January 11, 2015
The Bones of Faith

Rev. Dr. Leon Dunkley

How does one nurture the deep wishes of the soul? How does one grow sacred hope? With great humility, many of us learned that we should get down on our knees. When we were children, many of us were taught to pray each night before we went to bed. And so, perhaps, we did. We prayed. Few of us do this anymore. Did we know something then that, somehow, we learned to forget over time? After all these years, can we remember what that was? Is it worth the effort? Come find out!!


January 4, 2015
Learning to Pray

Rev. Liz Lerner Maclay

Over time, Rev. Liz has learned that not all forms of prayer work for her. This actually took a while to figure out. For some time it seemed that earnest application of effort and learning would open many doors of prayer - and maybe so, but in fact, for her, some forms of prayer do not really flow and some really do. It began to seem that maybe prayer should be an experience of flow, rather than frustration or even worse, boredom. Prayer as an arrow to God, prayer as communion with the world or with the self - this sermon will explore some very different understandings of prayer, and how we might find, even if we haven't already, the prayer for each of us.


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